Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My husband hates the song "Dream Weaver"...

Word to the wise.  This post is going to be TMI and probably kind of inappropriate.  If you are easily offended, kindly move on to your next Internet station.

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends shared this video of the song "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright.

This song was made famous in 1976, when I was a wee lass of about 3 or 4 years old.

In 1976, my dad was the base engineer at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England.  This song was popular, along with a lot of other great songs from the 70s.  I've always liked it, although I was a small child when it was a hit.  It still sounds pretty good in 2018, at least to my ears.  I also like Wright's other big song, "Love Is Alive."

This video includes the version of "Dream Weaver" I know best.  It says this song comes from 1972, but that's incorrect.  It was released in 1975 and was a hit the following year.

When Bill and I met, he told me there are a few songs he hates.  For instance, he doesn't like the songs "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow or "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams, mainly because his ex used to play them as a means of demonstrating to Bill what kind of man she thought he should be.  

If you know my husband (and a few readers do), you know that he is one of those people who bends over backwards to please others.  He's got a really kind heart and does whatever he can to make other people happy.  To hear that his best efforts weren't enough for his ex wife was shattering.  The fact that she used music to drive home that point was especially cruel.  She ruined some good music and a lot of children's books that way.  She was also fond of using books by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to make her points about Bill's alleged shortcomings.

So, although I do like "Strong Enough", I never play it when Bill is around, because I know it reminds him of dark times.  Fortunately, I don't really like Bryan Adams' love ode, so we have no problems, there.  For a long time, I avoided playing anything by The Muppets or Kenny Loggins' wonderful children's album around Bill because I knew they would make him sad.

Another song Bill hates is "Dream Weaver", but that's because of another person in his life-- his first stepfather.  When Bill was about ten years old, his mother decided to remarry.  I think remarriage of a parent is hard enough for most youngsters, but it's especially difficult when the new spouse turns out to be abusive.  The guy Bill's mom married was a very handsome fellow and talented artist I'll call B.J.  Actually, B.J. was the name he went by.  Come to think of it, it was probably an inspired nickname.

At least on the surface, B.J. had a lot going for him.  He was tall, blond, athletic and handsome, and he was legitimately blessed with artistic gifts.  Although I never met the man myself, I have seen a beautiful portrait he did of my mother-in-law.  She kept the artwork, although the marriage was mercifully brief.  Bill and B.J. didn't really hit it off very well.  Evidently, B.J. used to do things like blow cigarette smoke in Bill's face and tell him that he was "emotionally unavailable".  B.J. once said that talking to Bill was like talking to a brick wall.  Bill really took that comment to heart and it made him feel shame.

B.J. was a big fan of Gary Wright's music, and he especially liked the song "Dream Weaver".  He used to play that song a lot.  B.J. also liked wearing women's clothing and, in fact, was probably transgendered.  The reason B.J. wanted to be married was because he was hoping to learn how to be a woman.  This was not something B.J. had disclosed before he and my mother-in-law tied the knot.  Once she found out what his agenda actually was, she got a divorce.  My mother-in-law and B.J. lost touch after that.

I try to be open-minded about most things.  I don't know anything about what it's like to be transgendered.  I can only imagine that it's extremely difficult even today, and was almost certainly much more so in the 1970s, when people had less understanding and consideration for those who are different.  I'm sure B.J. had some traumatic issues that caused him to be the way he was... not necessarily transgendered, but mean and abusive.  There was some reason B.J. found pleasure in being disrespectful to Bill and saying cruel things that he knew would upset him.  Hurting people tend to be hurtful to others.  It's a vicious cycle. 

I didn't know B.J., although I've heard some stories about him over the years.  He wasn't Bill's stepfather for very long, which is a good thing.  However, even though B.J. was Bill's stepfather for only a few years, he did leave a lingering calling card, besides that beautiful portrait of Bill's mother.  Now, whenever the song "Dream Weaver" plays, Bill is reminded of that guy-- a man he hasn't seen in over forty years.  And although I never knew the man myself, when I hear it, now I'm reminded of the stories I've heard about him.

It's amazing how the most innocuous things can leave a lasting impression.  It might be a piece of music or art.  It might be certain foods or smells.  I have written a few times about how much I hate mushrooms.  I have always hated them.  When I was a child, I was literally phobic of them.  I'm still a bit phobic of mushrooms, though not nearly like I was when I was a young child in England.  In those days, whenever I saw a mushroom growing in the yard, I would freeze and start screaming hysterically.  Today, I still kind of cringe when I see them, but I don't scream anymore.

My sisters were kind of mean spirited teenagers at that time.  In our English backyard, there were a lot of toadstools that grew wild.  Sometimes, my sisters would pick them and chase me with them, all the while laughing hysterically at me as I screamed and ran away.  One of my sisters went as far as reinforcing the phobia by drawing mean faces and shark teeth on any mushrooms in my coloring books.  To this day, when someone posts a picture of a dish with mushrooms on social media or I smell them cooking, I'm reminded of that time when I was a child.  It makes me cringe, even though it's been years since anyone chased me with a mushroom (one of my cousins did years later, to the same effect).  Those experiences are imprinted on my brain, much like certain songs are imprinted on Bill's.  

I thought I was alone in my hatred of mushrooms until one day, I was watching the Montel Williams show and the topic was phobias.  Montel had a guest who was phobic of mushrooms.  I watched in amazement as she reacted the very same way I used to when I was very young.  To be honest, if someone tried to force me to eat a mushroom or touch one, I'd probably react the same way I did when I was a child.  I wrote an article about mycophobia on Associated Content.  It generated a lot of hits and was even noticed by the woman who was on Montel Williams.  She sent me an email about her experience on the show.  Although Montel did get her to touch one and, in fact, kissed her with one between his lips (that would not have worked for me), she said she's still a bit phobic.

I once entertained the idea of becoming a chef, but abandoned that notion when I realized I couldn't be a chef and have a mushroom phobia.  Maybe I could have been a pastry chef, but even then, I'd probably still have problems.  And then I worked at a restaurant for awhile and realized that lifestyle wasn't one I wanted for the rest of my life.  It's too stressful.

I understand why Bill hates the song "Dream Weaver", although I like it and probably always will.  He understands why I hate mushrooms, although he loves them and truffles and always will.  He respects my idiosyncrasies and I respect his.  When Bill is around, our house is a Gary Wright free zone.  And when we go out to dinner or eat at someone's house, Bill is supportive when I have to explain why mushrooms are verboten.  I'm sure more than a couple of waiters have filed away memorable stories about me telling them about my irrational fears.  I guess these things make us more interesting people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It's crunch time...

As much as I'd like to bask in what was a lovely four night break in Baden-Baden, it's now crunch time.  This is Bill's last "week" at work in the Stuttgart area.  He took yesterday off and, of course, gets Thursday off.  Then on Monday of next week, the packers will arrive.  The dogs will go to Max's for the week.  We'll spend a night in a hotel in Nagold.  Tuesday, they'll load up the truck and we'll drive to Wiesbaden, where we'll spend another night in a hotel.  Then Wednesday, the movers deliver our stuff there.  Thursday, I'll start putting stuff away while Bill finishes closing out down here in Stuttgart.  He'll probably spend the night in Stuttgart, finish closing out, and pick up the dogs on Friday.  By next weekend, we should be somewhat settled, although I don't know if I'll have the Internet.

Usually, at this time of year, I'm decorating for Christmas and doing some shopping.  This year, we're moving, which is a real pain in the ass.  I do look forward to the new house, though, even though I'll miss country living.  I think a change of scenery will do us good.  

We visited the dentist yesterday after we got back from Baden-Baden.  It was a month before we were due, but it seemed better to just go ahead and get the cleanings done.  I don't know if it was really more convenient, though, since we had to go get the dogs from Max's and then got stuck in nightmarish Stuttgart traffic.  I have heard traffic isn't quite so bad in the Wiesbaden area, although having seen how crowded it is up there, I kind of wonder.  Seriously, almost all of the neighborhoods we looked at were packed with homes.  Our new house pretty much has a zero lot, which isn't bad, since I'll be doing the lawn work.

I keep looking around the house, wondering what chores I can take care of before we really get busy. Even as Bill and I were lamenting about this hated process of moving, we realize that this move will probably be somewhat easy as moves go.  It won't be as major as our last move, which was from Texas to Stuttgart.  There won't be a month spent in a tiny apartment, for instance, or masses of veterinary paperwork.  We won't be driving a rental car for a month, either.  This move is probably the shortest distance we've ever done, unless you count our move within Fort Belvoir, which doesn't really seem like it should count.  I mean, yes, we had to pack everything and move it, but that was pretty much the extent of the pain.

It doesn't seem real that we're about to leave Unterjettingen, which has been home for four years and two months... the longest we have spent in one place as a married couple.  Bill was actually tearing up as he was talking about it yesterday.  But if you think about it, for most people, every home is temporary.  This is especially true if you are perpetual renters, like we are.  I had always expected I'd own a home by this point in my life.  We're at a point at which we could buy one.  But now, it just doesn't seem smart to buy a house, because having a house ties you down.  Neither Bill nor I want to be anyone's landlords.  On the other hand, I am ready not to have landlords.

I don't know if I'll ever own a house.  I'm getting too old to think about it seriously.

Our next house is going to cost almost twice as much as this one does.  We can afford it, but it was nice having so much disposable income for a couple of months.  It seems like whenever I pay off a debt or get close to paying one off, we have to move.  I paid off my student loans this year, so we can't stay in this cheap house.  The same thing happened last time we lived in Germany.  I got within $300 of paying off my credit cards and we had to move back to the States.  It wasn't until we came back to Germany that I was able to pay that card off, since we had to make some major purchases.

Oh well...  When we get settled in Wiesbaden, I'll get back to work on rebuilding our cash pile.  I saved several thousand dollars in a CD that happened to mature this month.  I gave it to Bill.  It's a damn good thing we had it, because that money has come in handy.  We had to buy heating oil for this house and we have to buy it for the next house, although when we move out of the next house, we don't have to fill the tank for the next tenants.  We had to pay a huge Kaution (deposit), while the one we paid for this house won't come back to us until after we leave.  Bill's company is covering a lot of the move, but it's a situation in which he pays upfront and gets reimbursed.  

Such is life.

Maybe later, I'll come back and write about current events or something.  For now, I think I'll scrub the bathroom.  That's one more chore I can cross off my list of things to do.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A day of nakedness...

Hey y'all.  We're on our last night in Baden-Baden and will be heading back to our soon to be former house tomorrow.  We've had an unbelievable trip.  I will start writing about it on the travel blog tomorrow, once we're home.  I was kind of thinking I might blog tonight, but I think I need a night to recover from today.  We visited two spas and I found out how exhausting it can be to relax.  Especially when you're American and you spend a lot of the day nude in front of total strangers.

I must say, this will go down as one of my favorite trips thus far.  It's hard to believe that we've lived so close to Baden-Baden for over four years and this is our first visit.  I hope it won't be our last.  We really had a wonderful time... and we spent a lot of euros.

It's even harder to believe that we're going to be leaving the Stuttgart area again.  I'm not as upset this time, since I know we're going to be living somewhat close and can visit.  But it really does feel a lot like home.  In 16 years of marriage, we've spent six years in the Stuttgart area.  It does feel like home to me, even if I still cant speak German worth a damn.

Ah... things to work on, I guess.  So glad I have Bill at my side as I learn.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Happy 16th to us...

We are currently chilling out in Baden-Baden, enjoying a four night trip to regain our senses before our big move and celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary.  It's, so far, been a magical trip.  We were upgraded to a junior suite from the deluxe room I booked.  Yes, it's bloody expensive, but we really needed a break.  16 years ago, the idea of a weekend like this was unthinkable.

My husband is my very best friend.  Sorry, I know that's a very Duggar thing to say, but it's the truth.  I still pinch myself every day when I realize what a wonderful life we have built together.  As much as I despise his ex wife (and will continue to trash her mercilessly), I remain very grateful to her for the gift she gave me when she decided to divorce Bill.  He was very loyal to her, despite everything.  As hard as their split was for him, ultimately, the divorce was a kindness on her part, and it came at just the right time.

Bill is my soulmate, and I adore him.  We have an incredible partnership.  He is the one person I never tire of being with.  I miss him when he’s gone, and enjoy every minute we’re together.

I realize that by posting this, I may open myself up to crappy comments from the ignorant.  One time, someone even posted "One woman's trash is another woman's treasure, home wrecker."  I am not a home wrecker, because I didn't even know Bill when he was getting divorced.  We met in person for the first time about a year after his divorce was final.  I don’t know...  we just clicked...  probably while trading fart jokes.

However, I have been around for the aftermath and the extensive cleanup he's had to do in the wake of his first marriage.  I had nothing to do with his divorce (and yes, some people are rude enough to ask), but I like to think I've had everything to do with his current reality, which is pretty freakin’ nice.  Even one of his daughters is coming around and realizing that her dad is pretty damned awesome.  I’m so glad we found each other.  He’s an absolute joy in my life.

Anyway... here's to my Mr. Bill... and to sixteen more years or more of wedded bliss.  We make a great team.  And for those of you who are regular readers and understand the angst I write of, here's to you, too.  Thank you for reading!

I haven't been a bad wife.  For one thing, I have introduced him to the wonders of spa culture.  We'll be heading to the nearest nude spa by the time the weekend is done.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Marine shows his ass at Disney World...

A couple of months ago, I discovered the genius of J.D. Simkins, a reporter for the Military Times, when I read his hilarious account of an Air Force Colonel who got drunk at a Boy George concert and wound up arrested.  Ever since then, whenever I see his byline on a military related article, I know I can count on getting a few laughs while I get the scoop.

This time, Simkins writes about Marine veteran Dion Cini, who recently paid a visit to Walt Disney World and decided to hold up a sign that read "Trump 2020" as his log flume took its final slide.  Cini was aboard the popular attraction Splash Mountain when he decided to make his political views known.  This was not the first time Cini showed his ass at a Disney park.  A few weeks ago, Cini did something similar at Magic Kingdom, when he hung a re-elect Trump banner there.  Cini also hung a pro Trump banner at Yankee Stadium last July.

Park officials had put Cini's annual pass on hold after the first incident, but then decided to ban him from Disney parks for life after the second one.  It seems the ex Marine ran afoul of the rules at Disney parks, which prohibit “Unauthorized events, demonstrations or speeches, or the usage of any flag, banner or sign for commercial purposes, or to incite a crowd”.

Simkins cleverly weaves Disney references into his account of the story, noting that Cini lamented on Facebook about the ban.  He quotes:

“Banned for life from Walt Disney World for the 2nd time in a month," Cini vented on Facebook in response. "They hate my signs, or the President? Maybe both?”

Apparently, Cini isn't going to take the ban lying down.  He says he's going to fight Disney's decision in court.  Personally, I think Cini would be better off re-evaluating his priorities in life.  I truly don't understand people who support Donald Trump as president.  Why do people admire a man who is so rude, offensive, undiplomatic, and ignorant?  It's not even about his being a Republican.  This is a man who openly mocks the disabled, brags about molesting women, praises racists, stiffs his contractors, alienates other world leaders, and acts like he wants to be a dictator.  

And yet, Cini thinks Trump is awesome.  According to the Washington Post:

Cini said he knew the photos showing him with pro-Trump banners would go viral — and he was counting on it, saying it was his way to contribute to the campaign. He said he believes that Trump is “doing a better job than any president I’ve ever seen.”

“I do things differently,” he said. “I do things that will go viral to support the president. I’m trying to let other Trump supporters know that you don’t have to go to rallies. You can do this on your own.”

“One person can have a bigger voice than a thousand people,” he added.

After his recent photo-ops, Cini said he has gotten a wide response from people — some expressing appreciation and some sending death threats.

I think people who find Trump's behavior admirable must be closely related to cretins.  I look forward to the day when Trump leaves office.  I'll probably throw a goddamn party when he drops dead.  I don't think Cini is very intelligent, although I also don't think he should be getting death threats for his idiotic hijinks.  I would prefer to simply vote the stupid orange fucker out of office.  But I do think Disney was well within its rights to deny Cini access to its parks, which are on private property.  People don't spend shitloads of money to go to Disney parks to be assaulted by political bullshit, particularly when it's promoting a disrespectful moron like Trump.  Moreover, Cini could have seriously injured someone if he'd lost his grip on that sign.  It might have hit someone in the face.  

As for J.D. Simkins, I hope he sticks around at the Military Times for awhile.  His entertaining style of journalism is a breath of fresh air, even if it doesn't show much decorum.  It's not so often that a news article about the president makes me laugh, especially in these dark Trump days.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Don't let your dick run your life..."

Many years ago, for the very first time, I watched a comedy film starring Mr. T.  The film, which was made in 1983, was called D.C. Cab, and it was about a group of misfit cab drivers in Washington, D.C.  It was a mostly forgettable movie, but it did have a few funny lines in it.  For that reason alone, I bought it on DVD and still watch it when I need a cheap laugh.  One of my favorite lines in D.C. Cab comes at the very beginning.  The late actor Whitman Mayo, who plays a character called "Mr. Rhythm", says to the camera, "Don't let your dick run your life."

Sage advice from Mr. Rhythm, and cheap, too!

This topic comes up after I spent about an hour yesterday watching videos on YouTube starring Chris Hansen of "To Catch a Predator" fame.  I remember back in 2007, when Bill was in Iraq, sitting at home on weekday evenings watching Hansen busting would be perverts who were caught trying to meet teenaged girls they met on the Internet.  These guys were chatting and sending dick pics to people they thought were young girls, but were actually young looking police officers posing as teens.

A few months later, Bill and I moved to Germany the first time, and I lost track of Hansen's show, which I think was eventually canceled.  But then yesterday, I discovered that Hansen was back with a newer show called Hansen vs. Predator, which aired in 2016.  Someone uploaded a bunch of videos from that show on YouTube.  Below is the first one I encountered.

32 year old math tutor Mike Manzi, who goes by the handle "Mike Thrilla" online, arrives at a house intending to "chill out" with a thirteen year old girl while he smokes marijuana.  Instead, he meets Chris Hansen and gets busted.  Then, amazingly enough, he argues with Hansen when Hansen tells him who he is.

Before he visits the "girl", Manzi admits that he shouldn't be talking to her.  He has suspicions that he could be walking into a trap.  And yet, he takes the risk anyway... obviously not having seen D.C. Cab and heard Mr. Rhythm's excellent advice.  Hansen asks Manzi what he's doing at the girl's house, and Manzi claims he came over just to make sure "everything was okay."  Yeah... I don't think so.  Don't let your dick run your life, buddy.

Mr. Rhythm also says "That what makes you can also break you."  Given that the origin of life is at the end of a man's penis, I think that's also good advice.  After all, without a man's contribution, a woman can't get pregnant.  So don't let your dick run-- or ruin-- your life.

Contrary to his big plans for the day, Mr. Manzi doesn't spend the afternoon smoking weed with a young girl.  He begs Hansen to let him go.  Hansen says "no" and Manzi goes to jail.  But he's not the only one who gets caught in Hansen's web.

Here's a guy from Boston who brings pizza to meet a 13 year old girl... and offers Hansen a slice just before Hansen drops the hammer.

I sat there yesterday and thought to myself that the sex drive in some men must be extremely irresistible if they're taking these kinds of chances.  Obviously, these dudes have seen Chris Hansen on TV.  They know what's going to happen if they run into Chris Hansen.  And yet, when they are trapped in Hansen's clutches, they try to wriggle out of them in a most pathetic way.  If only they'd listened to Mr. Rhythm.  His advice is so good.  

Come to think of it, Mr. T.'s speech is worth listening to, as well.  Dignity, self-respect, and pride... all well worth maintaining.  And if you're chatting with adolescents on the Internet with the intention of getting busy with them, you have no dignity, self-respect, pride, decency, pot, or pizza...  What you have is a criminal record and public humiliation as you get publicly busted on primetime TV and/or YouTube.

Adults, male or female, have no business "chatting up" teenagers on the Internet, particularly when it comes to anything sexual.  And they have no business going to a child's house in search of companionship or to make sure they're "okay", especially after they've been caught having explicit chats with them online.    

Here's Jesse Velez, 28 years old, and looking for companionship with a boy he thought had only just turned 13, but was actually a young looking 19 year old actor.  Velez had actually been chatting with Lori, a police officer.  When Hansen confronts Velez about sending the "boy" a picture of his private parts, the guy tries to deny it.  How embarrassing!

I'm glad all three of these guys were busted and didn't actually harm anyone.  I don't envy today's parents.  I'm sure it must be a challenge to constantly monitor their children's Internet activity, as well as the adults with whom they come into contact.  On the other hand, there was no Internet during my childhood and I still managed to run into a pervert.  

I guess it just goes to show that it pays to be vigilant, and make sure you're thinking with the right head.  If you let your dick run your life, you may find it impossible to talk your way out of the mess.  So remember Mr. Rhythm whenever you get the urge to make rhythm with someone inappropriate.  Remember, that what makes you can also break you. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The NRA says, "Stay in your lane," to physicians...

For most of my life, I haven't really thought too much about gun control.  I grew up in a rural county in Virginia, where a lot of people hunt and fish.  The people of my hometown are "salt of the earth" types.  Many of them vote Republican and love their firearms.  A lot of people from Gloucester, Virginia are veterans and are very comfortable around guns.  When I was in sixth grade, every child took a hunter safety course.  It was not unusual to see people bringing their guns to school so they could go hunting after class.  I distinctly remember seeing full gun racks on the back windows of pickup trucks.

I suppose that given my rural upbringing, I was desensitized to how dangerous guns are.  It wasn't until April 1999, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris went on a school shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado that I even started to think about the issue of gun violence.  Much to my shame, it took many more years before I actively started thinking that we in the United States need to do something about gun violence.  Just four years ago, I had a very different opinion about gun laws.  In looking at my blog posts, I see I was not in favor of gun control in 2014.  In 2018, I have changed my mind.  I still don't favor disarming people completely.  I don't think we could even do that.  I just think there needs to be a lot more restriction.

It's getting to the point at which going to the store, a concert, a movie, school, or even church, is taking one's life in one's hands.  Every day, I read another story about someone who died just going about their daily business.  And I've noticed that certain lobbying groups are more vocal now than ever, promoting their violent agenda over the good of all people.

Recently, the National Rifle Association (NRA) mocked physicians on Twitter.  They were criticizing the American College of Physicians' position on gun control, which was recently presented in a paper.  The paper outlines its public health approach to reducing deaths and injuries from firearms.

Seriously?  Someone should tell the NRA that it's not smart to argue with physicians...

Physicians responded to the NRA by posting graphic photos of injuries they've struggled to repair in hectic emergency rooms.  Some shared photos of where they sit when they tell a family that a loved one has been killed by gunfire.  A few shared photos of bullets removed from their patients.  One haunting photo was of a bullet that a physician removed from a six month old baby's brain.  Another physician invited the author of the tweet to join her at the hospital when she takes care of a child who was hurt or killed by someone's improperly stored gun.  A new hashtag was born, too...  #ThisIsOurLane.

Do people in the NRA have loved ones?  Do they not understand that flying bullets don't discriminate?  Does it not occur to NRA members that their child could be mortally wounded by someone's stray bullets?  

I think many people in the NRA must be both brain dead and soul dead.  They clearly care more about their guns than they do about people.  And since so many people in the NRA vote Republican, they also don't give much of a shit about affordable healthcare or even access to healthcare.  It's disgusting.

For years, the NRA has done its best to prevent the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun violence.  Since 1996, there's even been a law that specifically outlaws using funds for injury control and prevention to advocate for gun control.  I can't help but think this must be entirely about money, since I can't think of another reason why sensible people wouldn't want to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries caused by gun violence.  I know many gun enthusiasts talk about owning guns to protect themselves.  I also know there are a lot of gun owners who are serious about safety and handle their firearms appropriately.

But I can't help but notice that every day, there's a new story about people being killed, either by gun toting lunatics or freak accidents.  It's especially heartbreaking when a child gets his or her hands on a gun and it discharges.  So many children have been killed that way or have accidentally killed someone else.  Just one year ago, I shared this story on Facebook about a Tennessee man whose three year old accidentally shot his one year old daughter with his gun.  I've read so many other stories about babies who have accidentally shot their parents, siblings, or selves with unsecured weapons.  Clearly something needs to be done about this.  

I've heard many Republicans claim that they are "pro-life".  They mean they are against abortion.  They want to force women to give birth.  But they don't give a damn about what happens to the babies after they are born.  They are perfectly fine with innocent babies being killed by gun freaks or negligent parents who don't practice gun safety.  They are perfectly fine with families going bankrupt after they seek medical care for gunshot wounds.  It matters not a whit to them that gun violence both ends and ruins lives.  The people who are left behind after gun violence must cope with the aftermath and to hell with them.       

I am so ready for politicians who actually care about people.  I am so ready to get rid of power and money hungry creeps who are more interested in fattening their bank accounts than improving the quality of life for all Americans. 

I'm not saying that people shouldn't have access to guns.  I'm saying that we need more gun control.  Too many stupid people have them.  Too many hateful people are using them.  And way too many innocent people, particularly babies and children that Republicans claim to care so much about when they are still in utero, are dying because there are too many guns and too many people who don't respect what they can do.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I just saw Bohemian Rhapsody...

This is kind of a big deal, too, because I never go to the movies.  Prior to yesterday, the last time I saw a film in a cinema was in June 2011.  I like to watch movies, but I'd prefer to watch them at home.  That way, I can pause them when I want to and wear whatever I want.  I don't have to deal with tall people sitting in front of me, kids kicking my seat and/or talking during the show, or any other annoying behavior.  It's also cheaper to watch movies at home.

We decided to see Bohemian Rhapsody because a number of my friends were talking about how good it was.  I also happen to love Queen.  I think Freddie Mercury was a genius.

There's a movie theater in Vaihingen, a suburb of Stuttgart, that has an international movie theater.  The movies are shown in their original languages, sometimes with English or German subtitles.  Bohemian Rhapsody was presented as it's being presented in the United States, with no subtitles.

It's basically the story of how Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek), whose original name was Faroukh Bulsara, grew up the son of conservative Parsi parents.  He was born in Zanzibar and grew up in Tanzania and India before his parents moved to England during his teen years.  Freddie was working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport when he encountered the guys who would become his bandmates in Queen.  As luck would have it, by the film's account, Brian May and Roger Taylor were playing in a band one night at a bar and the lead singer quit.  Freddie Mercury offered his services to the two crestfallen guys, who initially said "no" because of his pronounced overbite and large teeth.  Then Freddie let loose with some of his trademark vocal chops and he was soon in the band.

I think I'm a fan of Rami Malek's now.  He did a great job of portraying Freddie Mercury.  I know it couldn't have been easy!

For several years, Freddie Mercury had a girlfriend named Mary Austin.  He had wanted to marry Mary, but she was wise to the fact that Freddie wasn't attracted to women.  Nevertheless, she remained a lifetime friend and confidant.  Mercury was inspired to write beautiful music for and about Mary, including the love ballad "Love Of My Life".

Meanwhile, the film shows Queen creating their brand of music, which has an unmistakable and indelible sound.  Mercury composed the six minute masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody", which a record company executive refused to promote as a single.  The band walked, and later, he was shown looking devastated that he didn't trust the band's wisdom and missed out on their success.

As it happens when a person finds great success, Freddie attracted his share of swindlers.  In the film, the biggest snake of all is portrayed as Paul, his personal manager, who exploits him for his money and fame.  Freddie mistakenly thinks his lawyer is cheating him and fires him, not realizing that his personal manager, Paul, had set him up.  It would take several years before Freddie would realize that Paul was a snake.  Paul's treachery was one of the main reasons Freddie's relationship with his bandmates soured.  Freddie was offered $4 million to go solo, which greatly offended the rest of Queen.  They temporarily disbanded.

At one of Freddie's lavish parties, he meets and falls in love with a gay waiter named Jim Hutton, who threatens to beat him up after Freddie touches him inappropriately.  The two have a long chat, then Hutton tells Freddie to come find him when he's learned to love himself.  Toward the end of the film, Freddie finds Jim and introduces him to his very conservative parents and sister.  Then, he takes Jim, Mary, and Mary's husband to the Live Aid concert, where Queen triumphantly plays together again after several years apart.

I can see by reading up about Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody kind of glosses over a lot of the true story.  The band's history is presented as much simpler than it was in reality.  However, Bohemian Rhapsody runs for at least two hours, so I'm not sure adding more to it would have been a good idea.  The basic story is covered very well, although there's not much about Freddie's youth or his illness.  Sadly, Freddie Mercury died in November 1991.  He contracted AIDS, which killed so many bright, talented legends.  I imagine the film didn't dwell on Mercury's sickness because Mercury had never wanted to be a "poster child" for AIDS.  He famously didn't make it public that he was ill until the day before he died.

I was moved by Freddie's story and charmed by the many comic elements that were added.  Mike Myers was a nice touch as the record executive who missed out on Queen's fame.  Besides the witty dialogue that made me laugh and cry, I also really enjoyed the soundtrack.  Queen is a band like no other and Freddie Mercury was a one of a kind frontman.  I was thoroughly entertained by the film, even if it's not an entirely accurate presentation of Queen's history.  I definitely want to learn more about the band and listen to more of their music.  Ultimately, that's probably the goal of making the film in the first place.

I left the theater kind of awestruck... then I started wondering what Freddie could have done if he'd only lived longer.  Mercury is depicted as having a deep soul and a big heart... a love for art and music and cats, and real friends who loved and cared about him deeply.  It's tragic that he lived such a short life, but he left a wonderful legacy.

I have heard that critics haven't liked Bohemian Rhapsody, but I count myself among those who found the film very entertaining.  I will definitely add it to our personal library so I can watch it at will.