In General

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Breaking News: Barack Obama worst President since WWII

Published July 3, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

According to a Reuter’s poll, voters aren’t very happy with President Obama right now.(http://news.yahoo.com/u-poll-more-voters-see-obama-worst-president-122609810.html)

After reading the article, I question the authenticity of the poll results. Who was polled? What’s the age demographic of those polled in relation to rating the presidents from President Truman’s administration?

“Most voters said Ronald Reagan, who served two terms in the 1980s, was the best president since 1945, the survey showed.”

Ah yes, President Reagan. About ten years ago, I was talking to a college student who was going on and on about what a great president Ronald Reagan had been. I thought about this for a moment and said, “Wait…you were born in 1981, right?” He affirmed this, and I then said “How can you say what kind of President he was? You were born during the first year of his presidency and you wearing diapers for the first two or three years.” Judging from the look on his face, the student didn’t appreciate my candid argument.

I was seven years old when Reagan became President, and even I only remember bits and pieces from his presidency – the assassination attempt, the Iran Contra scandal, and the end of the Cold War. It wasn’t until I was much older –  well after President Reagan was out of office – that I was even aware of events like the Immigration Reform Act or the kerfuffle between President Reagan and Bruce Springsteen when the President attempted to use Springsteen’s “Born In the USA” as a campaign song for his re-election campaign. You know why I didn’t know about it? Because I was a child during both terms of the Reagan administration. In his first term, I didn’t pay attention to any sort of news outlet unless the news was being delivered by one Kermit the Frog. I don’t have enough information to ascertain whether President Reagan was a good or bad President.

According to the results of the Reuters poll, “33 percent said Obama was the worst president since World War Two, while 28 percent pointed to his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the worst.”

I will admit, I was not a big supporter of some of the decisions made by President George W. Bush. But would I rate him as the worst President? What would be my basis for comparison? It would be unfair to give him any sort of rating since I didn’t start developing any real interest in politics until Bill Clinton was campaigning for President. Even then my interest didn’t go any further than “ooh, this candidate from Arkansas sure knows how to give a good speech!” I find it difficult to believe that some of the people who were polled recently were far more politically aware than I was.

All I’m saying is take these poll numbers with a grain of salt, folks.

I may not be a lesbian, but my Barbies sure as hell were!

Published February 12, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Yesterday, Chuck Wendig wrote in his blog about the gender divide with children’s toys. His comments opened a discussion among his subscribers.  Some subscribers mentioned that their parents championed their child’s right to play with any toy they chose, whereas other subscribers had been victims of the divide: boys who wanted an E-Z Bake Oven, girls who wanted to play with toy soldiers, but were stopped by an adult and guided toward the “appropriate” toys.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/02/11/boy-toys-girl-toys-and-other-cuckoopants-gender-assumptions/

In an attempt to expose the horrific, social conditioning my own parents imposed on me, I started making a list of toys I had as a child, certain that I would be able to point at my aged parental units and shout, “Aha! Mere humans! Your attempts to turn me into a pink-clothed shopaholic stereotype have failed! They have failed miserably!(Cue laughter, thunder, and lightning as I swirl my cape around me and exit, stage left)

My brainstormed list of toys was short, consisting of Barbies (sans Ken…more on that later), a Cabbage Patch Kid and a few board games. This meager amount of toys perfectly coincided with my oft-told adult tales of the Dickensian poverty of my later childhood in which the birth of my brother compelled my family to accept government assistance.

*edit* When I read this blog entry aloud to my mother, she was quick to point out, “We didn’t get government assistance! You made it sound like we were on welfare!” Let me clarify: the “government assistance” I talked about was WIC, a government-funded program.

Still, I knew I had more toys than what I could instantly remember, debunking my woe-was-my-childhood stories.  I then did what anyone else would do: I took to the Internet. This turned into an hour of me pointing excitedly at my screen, squealing, “Oh my God, I had that toy!”  In total, I had over thirty different toys, many of which began with the words “Fisher Price.” If we could have afforded it, we should have bought stock in that company.

As I looked at my list, it turned out that my Barbie dolls and possibly my Cabbage Patch Kid, Walter, were the only evidence to any kind of conditioning on my parents’ part.  I also had board games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherry-O ―I’m sorry, what exactly was the point of that game?― , Battleship ―worthless if you don’t have an opponent sitting across from you―, and Candyland. Not only were we not as dirt-poor as I recalled, but I was never even a victim of gender-based social conditioning,?  What kind of world is this?

It was a magical world full of musical Ferris wheels, coloring books, Superman trading cards, a lone shark puppet, and Play-doh.  There were, of course, toys that I wanted and never got, such as the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine, Lite Brite, Star Wars stuff (but only after I went to Matty Cepkauskas’ house and saw the toy Millennium Falcon he had) and a Ken doll.

Wait, a Ken doll? Why did I have four or five Barbies but no Ken? I asked my mother about this and the conversation went a little like this.

Me: Why didn’t you ever buy me a Ken doll when I was little? You were trying to turn me into a lesbian, weren’t you?

Mom: I didn’t want you undressing him and checking out what was on the front. (Uh…my mom has seen the non-descript genitalia on those dolls, hasn’t she?)

Well, ha! I found a way around the lack of a Ken doll when Barbie went on a date! I simply took one of my other Barbies, dressed her up, tied her hair back, and turned her body around so her boobs were behind her, but she was still face-to-face with Main Barbie for their kiss at the end of the date.

Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.

I’ve discovered that I am simply the doesn’t-fit-into-a-gender-stereotype offspring of two people who also don’t fit into stereotypes. My dad spends his free time reading and cares nothing about sports. In fact, he only reads about sports so he can have a conversation with his co-workers. The only shopping my mother engages in is grocery shopping yet she is not what I would call a “domestic” woman.  She cooks, but only because her family needs to eat. She’s not the kind who is always in the kitchen whipping up something just because she felt like it.  There was never a time in my life where I pictured my mother as a June Cleaver type. My mom, though a housewife until I was 17, was more like Roseanne Conner, a bossy working-class wife who had no problem speaking up.

So, for all their faults, they never forced me to be a girly girl-child. And now, I’m off to play The Sims where I can have girl and boy Barbies. I win.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

Published February 3, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

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I can count on one hand the number of deaths of famous people that saddened me to the point of tears. Yesterday, 46-year old actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died in his New York apartment, becoming one of that small number of deaths to make me cry.

I first saw Hoffman in Twister as a member of the storm-chasing team. I liked his character, a young guy who loved his job and laughed a lot, not taking himself or the storms too seriously. I saw him in a few other films throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Whenever he showed up on the screen, I always thought, “hey, it’s the guy from Twister and (insert other films I’d seen him in up until that point.)” Watching his films, I realized that, like so many actors, he could play a good guy and a bad guy with equal skill. That made him a good actor.

The film that made me sit up and take notice, going so far as to remember his name, was called “Flawless.” Hoffman played a drag queen-cum-Florence Nightingale to Robert De Niro’s homophobic stroke victim. While this film would not necessarily go down in history as one of the greats, it was the first time I noticed how many layers Hoffman brought to the character he played. That, in my book, made him a great actor. Plus, he got to go toe-to-toe with De Niro, every actor’s wet dream.

(Incidentally, De Niro released a statement on Hoffman’s death. “I’m very, very saddened by the passing of Phil. He was a wonderful actor. This is one of those times where you say: ‘This just shouldn’t be. He was so young and gifted and had so much going, so much to live for’. My family and I send our deepest condolences to his family.” You took the words right out of my mouth, Bob.)

As the years went on and Hoffman appeared in more films, my favorites were the ones where he played a character who was neither good nor bad. He had a knack for locating that darkness that lies in every soul, channeling it, and then projecting it as part of his characters identity. Not all actors can do that. In fact, many actors could not find that deep darkness if you handed them a map, a snack, and one of those miner’s helmets with an attached lamp.

It’s astounding that he played so many memorable film roles in less than twenty years.  I was ecstatic when I read that Hoffman was cast as Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games series. A great actor would join an incredible cast to tell a unique dystopian story. Now when I see Plutarch on the screen in the next two Hunger Games installments, it will be a bittersweet viewing

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the rest of the day in front of my computer, enjoying a Phillip Seymour Hoffman marathon, and crying.