The Toilet Zone: A Government of Men

Note: This is the third installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.

“The Tweet speaks for itself.” — Sean Spicer

Just over a week ago on May 4th, I had carpal tunnel release surgery. It occurred on the same day the House of Representatives voted to forward their proposed bill to the Senate, H.R. 1628, The American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare). My sister Tami, my post-surgery driver and support person and I watched television while we waited for me to be rolled into the operating room. We switched channels between a show featuring men pulling pranks on the unexpecting public, adult cartoons, and the House of Representatives vote live on the AHCA. There wasn’t much thematically separating the three narratives. All three shows could alternatively be entitled, “Men Behaving Badly.” Continue reading

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Music to My Ears (and Heart)

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” ― Bono

Today is the 100th day of the 45th President’s new administration. Many of us are weary of his Tweets, Executive Orders, his incompetence, narcissism and probable untreated mental illness, his misogyny and prejudice, and his lack of understanding how government works and who government represents. As I’ve written before, I probably spend too much time watching cable news and the parade of talking heads, the circus of Trump’s cabinet and Republican Congress, and reading fake news, social media posts, and online opinion pieces. Like many others, I periodically take a break on Facebook and look at videos of babies, jumping goats, mischievous cats and cucumbers, and dogs who talk or do other incredible feats. This week I also played a Facebook game by listing 10 concerts, nine of which I attended, one that was a lie. It helped me survive this week of political madness. Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Dispatch: 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time…” ― Martin Scorsese

The first signs of spring in Madison, Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Film Festival premieres in theaters on the University of Wisconsin campus and near east and westside neighborhoods, usually during the end of March and early April, the terrace chairs return to the UW Memorial Union, and the first Dane County Saturday Farmer’s Market arrives. Continue reading

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The Toilet Zone: Truth & Lies

Note: This is the second installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.

“Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler—for the liar—than it really is, or ought to be.” — Adrienne Rich

This is not how I prefer to spend my time: reading and monitoring the daily news and social media, compulsively watching cable network talking heads, and blogging about our 45th President, his family, the Republicans, the cabinet, and the white-men-in-suits minions. I’ve created this series to inoculate myself, The Toilet Zone, a virtual letting-go device, a way to flush or cleanse my brain of the toxic waste and shit storm created by the diverter, distorter, and misleader of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Continue reading

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The Itchy Restlessness of Spring Fever

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ― Mark Twain

It’s true, I came down with a case of spring fever again this year, beginning in February — the symptoms were clear: itchy restlessness, daydreaming, and questioning the choices in my life — wondering what the future holds for me. Desires and appetites grow stronger. I begin to wear clothes outdoors that are inappropriate for the weather, light jackets, short-sleeves, go sockless with canvas shoes or sandals with snow underfoot.   Continue reading

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No More 9 to 5!

It’s still winter in Wisconsin. After a week of record-breaking temperatures of spring-like weather — a hopeful tease of things to come — then came the rain, sleet, ice pellets, followed by snow and howling winds. We’re reminded that winter remains for a few more weeks before spring arrives. Spring is a season of hope and new beginnings. So is my life today, as I cross the threshold of my third act. Cue up Dolly Parton, no more “9 to 5.”  Continue reading

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One Is NOT the Loneliest Number

A Valentine’s Day Dispatch from a “Just One.”

First, I want to go on record that yes — I would L-O-V-E to be in a long-term, committed, romantic relationship with the right person — heck yes — perhaps I’d even consider getting married again, unlikely, but possible. Having said that, I must admit that being single, or “just one,” is not the loneliest number, despite the lyrics of the song One (click to hear Harry Nilsson perform the song) made famous by Three Dog Night, which was written by Harry Nilsson, who is one of my favorite songwriters, (I know I’m dating myself here). H-m-m-m — “dating myself” ­ — it’s kind of a metaphor for being single on Valentine’s Day. Continue reading

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Marching, Mourning, & the Meaning of It All

How marching with the pink pussyhat power posse of my family and friends — and people from all over the world — helped me mourn and mark the anniversary of my mother’s death.

My mother’s favorite color was pink. I grew up in a home in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that boasted a curvaceous coral pink sectional couch. Our bathroom was always painted pink, with bubble gum pink towels, little pink perfumed soaps, and plastic pink flowers. Mom always dressed in pink, including the day we buried her. At the visitation, our family wore pink in her memory; pink flower sprays adorned her white casket and flanked her like honor guard sentries. When family members returned home after the funeral service and burial — the sky was resplendent in pink — a message from our mother wishing us safe travels. Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2016

I dedicate this essay to my mother, Ethel Mae Lenzke, who shared her love of movies with me while I was growing up, and to my filmgoing friends and family who join me for movies and post-film discussions. And — as a thank you and a tribute to Roger Ebert — I give you Two Thumbs Up!   

There were some interesting trends and controversies again in 2016, even before all the award shows have named their winners and bestowed their accolades. This year, more than in the past, independent films rose to the surface competing with the studios and their marketing machines. Word of mouth by filmgoers, especially on social media, had a measurable impact. Many franchises and/or remakes didn’t capture the audiences and box office receipts they projected. More options affected where and how we viewed content, from additional film distributors, downloads and subscription services, expanding the choices and the venues, from theaters, to home, to the backseat of a car, or at work during lunch breaks on Smartphones.  Continue reading

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Drinking from a Glass Half-Full

“Every last one of us can do better than give up.” —Cheryl Strayed

Looking back at 2016 with gratitude and ahead to the New Year with optimism.

Before you jump to any conclusions — I’m not crazy — 2016 sucked!  I’m not going to rehash all the reasons why, because we all know why, and we’ve talked about it around the virtual, social media water cooler from glasses half-empty for the past year and more.  As we’ve all been reminded by a quote from Albert Einstein (who knew he was the first to say it?), “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Continue reading

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