Trapped – An Homage to Alfred Hitchcock

SCENE ONE

INT KITCHEN SHOT – MORNING

A young woman stands at a stove. She is blonde, patrician, with cheeks like sherbet. She is making breakfast.

Her husband, played by RYAN GOSLING sits at the table reading the paper. Their child TOMMY is in a high chair next to him, banging his spoon.

CLOSE SHOT OF PAPER – It is the Prairie Grove Dispatch. The headline says, “SHOVEL-READY AND RARING TO GO.”

RYAN GOSLING: You should take Tommy out today, darling. The two of you have been cooped up for nearly a week.

WIFE: We’re finally feeling better now. I’m going to run some errands and take him to the park!

RYAN GOSLING: Sounds swell, dear.

SCENE TWO

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE is in driver’s seat; we can see baby in car seat in back.

EXT SHOT – STREET

Through the front windshield we watch the movement down a pleasant residential suburban street, then out onto the main road.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE: Isn’t this exciting, Tommy? We’re getting out of the house.

EXT SHOT – STREET

Brake lights are lit in front of them for an indeterminate length. There is a large flashing traffic arrow indicating a lane closure.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE: (her good mood faltering) Oh, dear. This is going to take longer than I thought.

EXT SHOT – STREET

We watch for a few minutes as the cars inch slowly forward.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE sighs and rests her creamy cheek on her well-manicured hand, looking beautifully distressed.

SCENE THREE

INT SHOT – KITCHEN  – THAT EVENING

WIFE is by the stove, making dinner. RYAN GOSLING is at the table and TOMMY is in his high chair. RYAN GOSLING is feeding TOMMY.

RYAN GOSLING: How was the park today, dear?

WIFE: We never made it to the park. There was construction on Cherry Blossom Drive today.

RYAN GOSLING: You could have gone around on Downers’ Circle.

WIFE: Oh. I didn’t think of that.

SCENE FOUR

INT SHOT – CAR – NEXT DAY

WIFE slides into the front seat and look back at TOMMY in the car seat through the rearview mirror.

WIFE: Today, it’s the park, Tommy!

EXT SHOT – STREET

We are looking out the front windshield at the same row of brake lights as before.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE: It’s okay! Father suggested we could take Downers’ Circle!

EXT SHOT – STREET

We watch the street as she turns the car around.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE smiles jauntily at TOMMY as they drive.

CLOSE SHOT – STREET SIGN.

A green street sign that says Downers’ Circle.

EXT SHOT – STREET

There are traffic cones and a cop redirecting traffic.

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE looks defeated.

SCENE FIVE

INT SHOT – KITCHEN A decidedly more morose-looking wife is at the stove.

RYAN GOSLING: You didn’t make it to the park again?

WIFE: No. Downers’ Circle was also closed. I think I’ll try the library tomorrow.

SCENE SIX

INT SHOT – CAR

WIFE adults her rearview mirror, looking apprehensive. TOMMY coos in his car seat.

EXT SHOT – LIBRARY

The camera zooms in on a sign that says, “Closed for Renovations.”

SCENE SEVEN

INT SHOT – KITCHEN – EVENING

All characters look vaguely defeated.

SCENE EIGHT

INT SHOT – KITCHEN – MORNING

Everyone’s in the same places they always are in the kitchen – WIFE at stove, RYAN GOSLING at table, TOMMY in high chair.

RYAN GOSLING: Try to go somewhere today, darling. It’s not good for you and Tommy to just stay home all day.

WIFE: (nods bravely)

TRACKING SHOT – RYAN GOSLING

RYAN GOSLING ties his shoes, gets his coat, and walks out the front door.

CLOSE SHOT – WIFE’S FACE

We see her register his departure. We hear his car start and drive away.

WIFE: Okay, Tommy, Mommy is just going to put the dishes away and then we’ll get going, okay?

CLOSE SHOT – TOMMY

We watch Tommy playing to the sounds of dishes being put away. Then WIFE’S arms come into the shot and lift TOMMY out of the high chair.

TRACKING SHOT – WIFE’S BACK

We see WIFE from the back, holding TOMMY, walking towards the front hall

EXT SHOT – FRONT LAWN THROUGH THE WINDOW

There is now police tape up and down the street; WIFE’s driveway is blocked.

CLOSE SHOT – WIFE’S FACE

A single tear trickles down her cheek.

SCENE NINE

INT SHOT – KITCHEN – EVENING

Stone faces all around.

SCENE TEN

INT SHOT – BEDROOM – MORNING

WIFE is on the bed, crying softly. A crisp linen handkerchief is clutched in her hand.

WIFE: I can’t get out! I can’t get out!

THE CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal police tape and orange cones surrounding the door to her bedroom. It pulls back further and we see RYAN GOSLING holding TOMMY, looking into the bedroom at his WIFE. We can’t see his face

THE END

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Sorry, folks. The amount of construction going on around my house – in every possible direction – is making me a tiny bit nuts.

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More Zoe

So there’s no new “Glee” this week. What should I write about instead?

Oh, I know! Zoe!

1. She was pretending to be me. I was supposed to be pretending to be her. She said to me, “I’m so lucky about you, sweetheart!” Am I a good mom or what?

2. The bad stuff, I feel, is important to write about, too, especially as I know a lot of moms, and it’s not only important for me to remember this, and even for Zoe to know this once she’s old and has her own children. So here it is. A month or so ago, we were having one of those days where the tantrums/hitting were out of control, for, like, three hours. And sitting here as a rational, 30-year-old woman, it strikes me as completely incomprehensible that I could have such a strong emotional response to a preschooler hitting me and screaming at me, but in those moments, sometimes I feel completely at a loss – frustrated, broken, barely more than a baby myself. And so angry. When I am in that state I try to put some distance between us – give both of us a time-out, if you will – but of course Zoe is an uncontrollable state of anger and fear and sadness, and she doesn’t want me to go away. She wants me to stay with her so she can hit me some more. The rational adult me knows that’s to reassure herself that no matter how ugly it gets – no matter how ugly her feelings are, no matter how ugly her behavior is – I’m still her mommy and I still love her. But the middle-0f-the-tantrum me just wants to get away from it. And that one day, I was so frustrated and furious, I put my hand through a door. I mean, not all the way through, just through one layer, and it’s a cheap-ass door, but still, there’s now a my-palm-sized hole in it. It was pretty frightening.

3. The love you have for your children is intense, no question, and everyone knows that. I don’t know that everyone knows is how deeply your child will love you. And it’s wonderful. But sometimes I see Zoe when she’s all blissed out because we’re dancing cheek-to-cheek or whatever, and I think, “Really, kid? Me? Boy, do you have lousy judgment.”

4. But back to the good stuff. We took out a book from the library for Zoe, which is the first time we’ve done that. I’d like to say it’s because I seriously considered that Zoe is now mature enough not to destroy books, but the truth was, I wanted to get out of the library and the fastest way out was to agree to let her take out the book. In any event, the book has been on my desk in the room in our house we call the library. Jason went to clean up the desk, including the book, when Zoe stopped him. “No! You can’t put that away! It’s a special book!” Jason said, “What do you mean I can’t put it away?” Zoe said, “It doesn’t belong to us! It belongs to the library! Don’t put it away!” What’s remarkable is not only that she understood that taking something home from the library is different from taking something home from the store, but that she made the connection that the book shouldn’t be shelved with ours because it needs to be returned. I didn’t really give her speeches on either of these topics. So I am impressed.

5. She continues to love running around the house singing at the top of her lungs. Everything is included – songs she learned at preschool, songs she heard on a CD my sister made for me. Her favorite of those is “Rock and Roll Queen” by the Subways.

6. She is also very into the soundtrack of The Wedding Singer: The Musical. Yes, there was a musical of The Wedding Singer. And you know what? It was pretty good. Not every song/moment was a winner but there was a lot of good about it. So then we showed her the movie The Wedding Singer. She likes that, too.

7. She continues to be very interested in people’s emotions. When she sees me smile at her, she says, “Are you happy?” She usually follows it up with, “Are you happy because you have a Zoe?” She also is concerned with how happy I am. If I am in fact having a bad day but am happy to be playing with her at the moment, I sometimes say, “I’m happy a little bit.” She has turned this into insistence that when I’m happy, I be happy “a big bit.”

8. She says that someone has brown hair/blue eyes/a pink shirt “just like me has.”

9. She is constantly asking for stuff, especially stuff her friends have. A Tinkerbell “berlella” like Abby has, a blue sparkly headband like Morgan has.

10. To stem the tide of this constant stuff-requesting, I have instituted a wish list for her. I keep a little notebook in the cabinet in the kitchen and whenever she says she wants something, instead of getting into a discussion of whether and when she can have this, I say, “Let’s put it on your wish list.” Then she watches me write it. Sometimes we go over letters and spelling when I do this. She’s very into it so far. I’m pretty sure I got this idea from Wendy Mogel.

11. Still super-snuggly. My favorite thing lately is, when we’re driving, when I come to a red light, I sometimes reach back to squeeze her knee or something, just to give her a little affection. Lately she will grab my hand and hold it, or press it to her leg or something, letting me know she really wants the affection.

12. When she really wants snuggles (and we’re not in the car) she pretends to be a baby. Her pretending to be a baby involves, yes, draping herself across my lap, or being carried like a baby (which I told her was a “fireman’s hold” but now she insists on calling it a “policeman’s hold.” And then I’m not even sure I’m correct. Is a fireman’s hold where you hold the person across both arms, one arm under their neck and the other under their knees, or is a fireman’s hold where you throw the person over your shoulder, facedown?), but she also scrunches up her face, speaks in a high(er)-pitched, stilted voice, and waves her hands around with delicate finger movements. All the of the kids she plays with, actually, do “baby” with the scrunched face and the voice. It’s sort of funny.

13. Sometimes she is also a kitty. One time she and her two buddies were all being kitties together, rolling around on their backs and mewing, and I wondered why the three small, cute children felt the need to pretend to be something also small and cute.

14. She’s still trying to walk like a cat on her hands and feet rather than her hands and knees, because it’s more accurate.

15. We watch “The Sing-Off”. Because, yes, we are that dorky. She loves one of the boys from the University of Rochester’s YellowJackets. (That’s how NBC’s website lists them. I have a hard time believing that a group founded in 1965 is not, in fact, Yellow Jackets, or Yellowjackets.) The tenor, Aaron. She requests that we watch their songs a lot and when he comes on, she says, “That’s the boy I love,” and she presses her hands over heart on the world “love.”

16. Her geek education continues. She loves Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

17. But because of the kind of kid she is, she has a hard time accepting the existence of “bad guys.” So, for instance, when we look at her Star Wars ABC book (yes, really), she points to the Stormtrooper and says in her cuddly cutie-pie voice, “Aw. He loves Darth Vader!”

18. She can buckle herself into her car seat! She won’t, always, but she can!

19. She’s totally fine at preschool now. Last Friday, Jason came with me to drop her off. (He had taken the day off of work because it was iPhone day. Okay, not really. But sort of.) He was sort of shocked that when we got to the door of her classroom, she just walked right in and sat next to her friend without a backward glance at us. No hug goodbye, no “See you later,” just gone.

20. She’s getting better at Hebrew School, too. She’s sort of willing to accept Kris as a companion and she LOVES playing with the kids. Last week she spent half the time in the other classroom because a third-grade girl had on a sweater she liked and she wanted to sit next to her and admire it. This week she got really into the game of Whiz-Bong I started with the kids (to prevent them from doing whatever violent-looking game they wanted to do, right near the elevator – I swear, Whiz-Bong is still the most useful thing I learned by going to a Jewish youth group) and even “stole” the invisible ball. She also really enjoyed the first week when my boss was tossing around a “matzah ball” with the kids as a mixer-activity, and every time she passes the site where we played, she goes, “This is where we played with the ball with Heidi last morning!”

21. Everything that happened in the past happened “last morning.”

22. She was really good at High Holiday services this year. Even when we went at my home temple in NJ for the regular services, she was appropriately behaved through the sermon. Twice! She mainly occupied herself by playing with my brother’s tie. But she also likes holding a prayer book and standing when we stand and everything. And when we were at the temple where I teach, she kept asking to see Heidi (my boss) and Todd (our music guy) on the bima.

23. She likes making predictions. Like, I’ll say, “Oh, Daddy will be home later,” and she’ll say, “When Daddy comes home, he will have a special treat for me,” or “When Daddy comes home, he will like my nighting gown. He will say, ‘Oh! It’s Tinkerbell nighting gown! I like Tinkerbell nighting gown.'” A lot of her predictions involve people responding positively to her clothing choices.

24. She is very, very, very invested in her fashion choices. She picks out her own clothes, both at the store and at home. My main function is to try to the best of my ability to keep her choices weather- and activity-appropriate.

25. In addition to the predictions, she’s into story-telling. One thing that was really interesting to me was, we were doing a Brain Quest thing, and one panel invited us to ask the child to tell a story in a book with three bears on the cover. Zoe said that the little girl bear was playing, and then she threw a temper tantrum. (And Zoe demonstrated the temper tantrum.) Then her mommy was mad. Then she said, “I’m sorry for throwing a temper tantrum.” And her mom hugged her. That’s . . . not a bad story, really. She also walks around all day recounting events both real and imagined. They’re not always as coherent as that but it’s still pretty cool.

26. We went to Jo-Ann with two purposes – to get fabric markers to decorate onesies for a baby shower we were hosting, and to get Zoe the scrap-booking stuff that her friends Ero and Lou have so she could do art projects. When we were in the fabric section of the store, she spotted a Little Mermaid appliqué and asked for it. I said she could hold it while we were in the store, but we would not be buying it. So we got our fabric markers, and we got her glue sticks and scissors, and we looked through all the cool papers and stickers and paper punches and debated them, and then we were ready to go pay for everything. She was helping me unload the cart when she spotted the Little Mermaid appliqué in the heap on the counter. She pulled it off, handed it to me, and said, “Mommy, we said we weren’t going to buy this.” Awesome!

27. So she can be fairly emotional, which is not unusual in a three-year-old. But she will also tell me how to help her feel better and she’ll tell me when she does. So, for instance, yesterday, we were at Hebrew school, having a cupcake before the kids came in. She started talking about a Dorothy costume for Halloween. Now, ordinarily, I would just say, “Let’s put it on your wish list,” but as Halloween approaches, I’m getting nervous. Jason bought her the expensive, sparkly Tangled dress and matching hair thingie, and he’s going to be pretty upset if she refuses to wear it come Halloween. So I said, “Remember, we’re wearing the Tangled dress for Halloween.” She burst out crying. But it was because I didn’t understand what she was saying; she was saying the store had the Dorothy costume (the store which she calls Gatherween. I have no idea what that means.). But even once I understood that, she was still upset. So she asked me to tell her about Dorothy. So I started telling her the story, and about a third of the way through, she said, “I’m calming down,” as she wiped tears from her face. Sometimes she likes to be held or rocked when she’s like this, or just have my hand on her cheek. Sometimes she leverages a moment of sadness to get candy or ice pops. But she always lets us know when she’s “calming down.”

28. Her pre-school teacher told me Zoe is “very independent.” I feel like in some ways that’s pre-school teacher talk for “She’s driving us crazy.” But I know my baby is the specialist, most wonderfulest baby and obviously her pre-school teachers adore her just as much as I do.

29. When she’s tired, she says to her father, “Will you snuggle me in the bed? I’m so tired.” Reason #256 that’s she’s still sleeping in our bed.

ETA: Ugh, this always happens. I start one of these things going, “What do I really have to say? Zoe is doing all the things Zoe always does.” Then I write 20-30 things. Then I post it. Then I think, “Oh, but I forgot all these other awesome things Zoe’s been doing.” Like wiggling her nak’dy butt in front of the mirror before she gets into the shower. Or pretending to be other people all the time. Or asking me to “tell her something.” (Or telling me she has to tell me something.) The other night when she was tired, she crawled into my arms and asked me to tell her something. So I told her all the things I love about her. Then I told her all the other people who love her, too. And the whole time I’m stroking her cheek and she’s looking into my eyes and it’s just the nicest thing ever.

And then there’s her throwing a temper tantrum earlier this week and then demanding to be left alone.

Un-Hippies

So last week, I was sort of harsh on the 99% demonstrators. But the thing is, I really have a visceral negative reaction to protests in general that fueled it, because protests are generally about dealing with social issues via emotion, and that makes me squirmy. Please be assured, however, that regardless of my Victorian British levels of discomfort with emotions on display in public, the people who speak out against the 99%ers annoy me a hell of a lot more.

I’ve been seeing a lot of “Well, maybe if they’d go out and get jobs, they would be in the 1%, too,” like, that’s not how math works, and “I’m not going to waste my time on foolish protests. I’m just going to make sure my kids end up in the 1%.” And that’s also thoughtless, not to mention short-sighted and narrow-minded.

The truth is, if your kids become one of the 1%, it will be because of a) extraordinary luck, and b) the work of all the 99%ers who make it possible. I know Elizabeth Warren said this already, and said it shorter, but I’m going to go ahead and beat it in to the ground. Your future 1% will need schools, and those schools will need teachers, administrative staff, and maintenance staff, as well as a larger board that decides things like what will be taught by whom when and and where the money will come from (and this is true whether you send your child to public or private school). They’ll need to get there on roads that are built and maintained by construction workers, support staff for construction workers, and government bureaucrats who manage road projects, as well as engineers who design roads and elected officials who collect taxes to pay for them. And they’ll likely be driven there in buses, by bus drivers, and helped along by crossing guards, and those buses will have to be manufactured and sold and distributed. Likewise the books they read, which need to be written, edited, published, sold, and distributed by authors, editors, salespersons, and distributors. They’ll play in parks, which require designing, constructing, and maintaining, and they’ll make friends in extra-curricular activities which require guides of various kinds, facilities (usually) and support staff. They’ll grow big and strong on food that needs to be grown, harvested/killed, sold, distributed, checked for safety and prepared. They’ll need their health attended to by at least one doctor and support staff for that doctor, and the doctor’s office needs medicines and tools, not to mention a government bureaucracy to license and check up on him or her. They’ll do their homework on computers someone designed, built, sold and distributed, and then someone else powered by the electricity flowing into your house. They’ll wash themselves in the clean water coming out of your faucets. And they’ll go through their daily life relatively safe because of the criminal justice system that involves police, law makers, jailers, judges, court officers, and related support staff, as well as someone to build jails and make guns and print the paper on which the legislation is written.

Given that you’re determined to get them into the 1%, you probably will require that they do enriching activities in addition to school. That means they won’t need to get dinner on the table for their siblings or do much in the way of chores. It also means that they probably won’t need to work, or, if they do, they’ll be able to use the money for things like gas for the used Volvo you bought them, or designer jeans, or pot. They won’t need to use it to contribute to your utilities bill, or to save for college tuition, since you’ve probably got that covered.

And given all that, they still might not make it to the top 1%. Maybe some kid who did have to scrimp and save to afford college or even his/her family’s next meal, who knows a thing or two about hard work, time management, and throwing an elbow will beat your cushy, entitled kid to the top spot.

But maybe your kid will be in the top 1%. At which point, your kid will still need all the food, housing, electricity, clean water, clothing, etc., s/he has always needed, plus the government services s/he has always needed, like roads, mail, and police, plus support staff in the office – receptionists, janitors, mail room staff, office managers, sales guys, managers of sales guys, accountants, lawyers, maybe factory workers and managers. And they’ll need for a lot of that support staff to be reasonably well-educated, well-fed and housed, and able to get to and from work somehow. S/he will even need customers who can afford to buy whatever s/he is selling to become a 1%er.

And if s/he has kids, s/he will need, in addition to the doctors and staff and suppliers of stuff like car seats and diapers, someone to take care of those kids, since 1%ers can rarely afford the time to do it without help. That means either hiring nannies and/or entering day care, or having a spouse who’s going to not work and take care of the kids instead. And since you’ve taught your kid not to respect anyone in the 99%, because it’s their own damn fault for being lazy hippies, I don’t really know how your kid’s marriage is going to work out when it’s only your kid’s income that’s preventing his/her spouse from being a 99%er. So then your kid will need a divorce lawyer and the lawyer’s staff, as well as all the trappings of the civil justice system. And then your kid will have to pay for a nanny or something after all.

And all these people that your kid will need to become and stay a 1%er cannot themselves be in the 1%. Math doesn’t work that way. 1%ers need non-1% to make them 1%ers, both as support and as consumers. This is not to say all of them will be poor. Lawyers and doctors can come pretty close to the 1%. But they’ll all be somewhere in the 99%. And in order to live in the kind of society that I think we all want to live in – the kind where there’s a reasonable standard of living for everybody; the kind where even the poorest can rely on some basic social services so they’re not dying in the gutter of utterly preventable disease; the kind where crime, if not absent, is minimal; the kind where the fruits of civilization, like the arts and scientific progress, can flower; the kind where, as our imperfect but still idealistic founding fathers said, one is guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – the 99%ers have to be doing okay.

(And spare me the shit about how Americans have become too spoiled and entitled in terms of what they think a decent standard of living is. You’d have a valid point – if that delusion had not been created and enforced by the 1%ers to make money. Luxury goods companies deliberately create an envy effect such that a $300 Vuitton seems like the reasonable alternative to the $1500 one you saw your favorite celeb sporting. Sure, it’s dumb, but it works. You want to talk about every family needing at least two cars? Then let’s talk about funding for public transit and pedestrian- and bike-friendly communities. You want to talk about the growing American home? Then let’s talk about why aren’t you building nice, livable 1500 sq ft homes anymore? Oh, right, because they don’t net a high enough profit. You want to talk about fucking student debt?! Don’t even get me started. For at least the last 40 years, the golden ticket is supposed to be higher education. As it turns out, if everyone does it, it’s devalued. I don’t have to be an Econ major to understand about SUPPLY AND MOTHERFUCKING DEMAND. You think everyone should just get an MBA like you and then they’d all be 1%ers? Evidently that MBA didn’t teach you a damn thing. But if you need proof, go survey recently graduated law students about promises of prosperity and devalued degrees.)

There have been, in human history, societies which reflect what you apparently think the social order should be – a top 1% with all the stuff, a bottom 99% in servile penury, and maybe a few people in between to support the luxury the top 1% want. But you know what? In societies like that, the people with a penchant for mathematics or mechanics are not the people in the top 1%. The people with a penchant for ruthless violence are. You know, the same people we keep under relative control with our superior criminal justice system. (Note: I think there’s plenty wrong with our criminal justice system. But in terms of keeping us away from warlord-fueled daily violence and strife? They’re the tops.)

Furthermore, history has shown us that even the most uneducated peasant can operate a guillotine just fine. So even if you put aside questions of ethics and morality, it’s better for the 1%ers if people in the 99% can still have decent lives.

I’ve been reading the Hunger Games series (which is pretty f-ing awesome and you should just read it [Unless you still haven’t finished the Harry Potter series, which you should get on already. Yes, you know I’m talking to you. You are one of the few people I’m pretty sure will read this.] but for the purposes of this discussion, I will give you a bit of the premise here). In it, dystopian Panem, which used to be America, is composed of twelve Districts and a Capitol (Well, there used to be thirteen, but . . . nope. Off topic.), and the Capitol is horrible and oppressive and most of the twelve Districts are dirt poor, and the most horrible and oppressive thing the Capitol does is host these annual Hunger Games, in which each District must send two competitors – all in their teens – to this specially constructed arena and they’ll all fight in the arena until twenty-three of them are dead and one is declared the victor. Now, let’s make an analogy here. To say you just want your kid to be in the 1% is like saying you just want your kid to be the victor. And, okay, fine, obviously if I had a kid in the Hunger Games, I’d prefer they be the victor than not (although being a victor is . . . nope. Off topic. And maybe spoiler-y.) but what I’d really prefer is that there not be any Hunger Games. Because in order for my kid to be the victor in that situation, twenty-three other kids had to have died. And as much as I want to think that I can train my kid to be the victor, so much is out of my control – and even out of my kid’s control – in this situation that it should still be unacceptable to me that the Hunger Games exist. Or that the ability to have a reasonable middle- or even lower-middle-class life is disappearing and more and more, you can either be one of the ones living in luxury (the Capitol) or you can be scrambling from paycheck to paycheck (in the Games).

I know that in the analogy, that makes it seem like I want to overthrow capitalism (get rid of the Hunger Games) altogether. I don’t. I mean, I kind of do, but the population of the United States is over 310 million people. I think when you’re dealing with a society that’s anywhere over 10,000 people (Where did I get that number? I dunno. Out of my ass, I guess.) the levels of fascism you need to keep socialism going are too onerous (unless I get to be the Head Fascist). Plus there are good things about capitalism. Like encouraging the flowering of the fruits of human civilization. I like that. But we still need the government to heavily regulate the flow of goods and services to create the optimal balance between a free market and a protected populace. And that doesn’t come from saying, “I just want to make sure my kid is in the 1%.” Because we all have to live here.

Homophobia

My “Glee” post will have to be late this week. We’re not watching tonight and Wednesdays are my crazy days. I know this is enormously disappointing to absolutely no one and a relief to my sister because she doesn’t have to keep up.

But in the meantime, and I guess in honor of National Coming Out Day, I want to write about Bill O’Reilly’s reaction to Jon Stewart’s joke that Jon found Bill’s use of Spanish “arousing.” (Start watching at around minute 5:45 if you just want to see that.) (Yeah, I’m ignoring the rest of the interview, especially the nonsense bullshit about the goddamn $16 muffin.) Anyone else would have laughed. Everyone knows Jon Stewart’s patter. But Bill O’Reilly glared at him and then backed way up. He backed up so far the camera couldn’t see him anymore, which I would think would produce some sort of allergy in Bill O’Reilly, being that far away from a camera lens. (I kid because I love! I love kidding, I mean. Not Bill O’Reilly.)

And this reminded me of a thing I always think. If you are a straight guy, you know how you react to being attracted to a woman. And if your reaction, upon hearing that a man might be attracted to you, is to treat that man like a threat to your person, well, that tells me a lot about how you treat the women to whom you’re attracted.

“Oh, that’s not it, you don’t get it, see, when I hit on a girl, she’s straight, whereas I am NOT GAY NOT GAY NOT FOR ONE SECOND GAY so it’s different.”

Okay. But . . . you know that just because she’s a straight girl and you’re a straight guy, it doesn’t mean she’s attracted to you, right? Just because you’re attracted to a given gender doesn’t mean you’re attracted to every member of that gender.

“Well, heh heh, guys are. We totally are.”

Um, believe me, you aren’t. You just only see as “female” the women you’re attracted to. Ever see that episode of “Coupling” where we’re seeing a flashback of how Patrick and Sally met and we see that, in reality, he was talking to Susan, Sally, and a heavier-set, less skankily dressed, more ordinary woman (and it’s British TV, so the woman actually looks fairly ordinary, not just as gorgeous as the other two but a brunette with glasses), but in his memory, he was talking to Susan, Sally, and a dude? (No? Then go watch.) That’s how men like you operate.

“It’s still totally different. Because I’m NOT GAY.”

It’s not different. If you react to a man expressing (even joking) attraction to you by treating him as a threat, it tells me that you treat the women to whom you attracted in a threatening manner. And, in Bill O’Reilly’s case, I already know that to be true.

Nothing makes me happier than to have the suspicions I hold confirmed.

Not being gay doesn’t mean you react like that to a man expressing attraction to you. Know how I know? My husband didn’t. When Jason and I got engaged, a friend of mine, who is male and gay, said something to the effect of, “Wow, congratulations. He’s really good-looking.” (I should mention that this man was a nice Jewish boy from nice Southern Savannah and had manners that would make Emily Post feel inferior. ‘Good-looking’ is as vulgar as he was ever going to get.) I told him I would pass on his compliment. He got nervous. “Oh, no, then he’ll act weird around me; he’ll be mad; all straight boys are.” I said, “No, seriously,” and then predicted how Jason would react, which was exactly how he did react: He made this cocky motion with his head and gave a smirk with which those of you who know him are very familiar and said, “See? I’m a catch. You are lucky to get me.” And I got to be extraordinarily pleased to have my choice of spouse validated like that. And, of course, to have my prediction confirmed.

Sophia would like a word:

I must agree entirely with my twin here, darlings. I could never be sexually compelled by a man who could not handle the attraction of other men – or of anyone to whom he was not attracted – with grace and aplomb. Such behavior as this Bill person displayed is the mark of an immature ape and it makes my insides positively arid.

 

Hippies

When I was young and stupid (Gosh, I’m having a lot of nostalgia for my young and stupid days here, aren’t I? Odd considering I didn’t enjoy them the first time around.), I thought I would have loved being young in the late ’60s – early ’70s. I wanted to have been at Woodstock; I wanted to have sat in somewhere. I wanted to have damned the man.

Then I got, like, two years older and learned that actually, I’m not really much of a one for protests. Two things happened in college to make me realize this – I took a course called The ’60s: Continuity and Change in American Culture with the fabulous Jerry Cohen and started thinking all those sit-ins were just a bunch of entitled brats who didn’t want to take their finals. (My parents were horrified that their coming-of-age years were a college class. But whatevs, dudes. When my coming of age years become a college class, the professor will have to give a lot of time to the discussion of blow jobs and the definition of “is”.)  And, also, Charlton Heston came to speak at my college.

I don’t know how he got there. If I’m remembering correctly, the campus Republicans group (of which there were, like, two members, and both were Zionist hawks) invited him and then NRA members in the broader suburban Boston community made up most of the audience. There was a very limited number of seats reserved for students. So for the weeks leading up to the event, and then on the day of the event itself, there were protests. People pretending to be gunshot victims (which was almost laughable on a campus with as little crime as we had), people saying things like, “Thou shalt not kill, right, Moses?”

And I was pretty fed up with the whole thing. First of all, it’s “Thou shalt not murder.” There’s a big difference and the difference is that the sixth commandment (or fifth, if you’re Catholic) is perfectly compatible with the second amendment.

And second, CHARLTON HESTON IS (was) AN ACTOR WHO PLAYED MOSES, NOT THE REAL THING, YOU STUPID HIPPIES.

Now, I say all this as a person who believes that gun control is good and guns are, in general, bad. Even when my husband suggests getting one for our civilization-collapses stockpile, I veto the plan. I tell him that when civilization collapses, the big strong guys who already know how to use weaponry will take our gun, shoot us with it, and eat our peanut butter. But I am not fond of protests. I am not fond of summing up a political position with, “2! 4! 6! 8! Guns, guns, guns are what we hate!” I like to consider both – or all – sides of the issue. I like thoughtfulness, consideration, compromise. A clear delineation of an agenda with an understanding of what the ideal is versus what the acceptable is. Protests just aren’t for me. (I also don’t see that they do much good, but I am very possibly wrong about that.)

So I feel with this Occupy Wall Street protest. Yeah, I think the banks are horrible and the governments kowtowing to them is horrible and all the rest. But I am not reading any coherence or thoughtfulness into their protesting. And they’re stalling traffic and interrupting my sister’s commute to work and, according to The Daily Show, they’re pooping in people’s bodegas without paying for so much as a soda so fuck them.

But then there’s a lot of talk of, “Oh, these protesters, hating on Wall Street while mourning the death of multi-billionaire CEO Steve Jobs. What hypocrites!” And that’s a willful misunderstanding, too.

Look, God knows I’m predisposed to mourn Steve Jobs. I came home Wednesday night to a teary-eyed husband. I’m typing this on my iMac. My iPhone is by my side. My internet is coming over an Apple router. My daughter (whose first movie in a movie theater was Toy Story 3) and I were playing a matching game on her iPad earlier today, which is also loaded with nearly every Pixar movie. We are an Apple house and I love these products, especially my iPhone, which you will have to pry from my cold, dead hands. (I tried to stop that joke from happening but it overpowered me. With its gun.) And a lot of people who have Apple products feel this way about them because they WORK, they MAKE SENSE, and they are BEAUTIFUL.

(Not to get all weird on you or anything but I am experiencing, vis-a-vis Jobs’s death, this weird thing that has happened to me since my stepfather died. When I see public figures who are significantly older than my stepdad was, like when Jimmy Carter was on “The Daily Show” very shortly after my stepfather’s death, I’m irrationally pissed at them for still being alive when he’s not. But when a man like Steve Jobs dies at ten years younger than my stepfather, I feel sort of . . . at peace about it? I don’t know; I know this is pretty fucked up and I’m trying to figure out how to get past it. And that’s our TMI for this week.)

But that’s kind of the point. People are mourning Steve Jobs because Steve Jobs made things that they love to use. Sure, it’s a little bit of a cognitive dissonance thing when the oppressed masses streaming to the streets to protest the evil bankers have expensive electronic devices with them. But they’re good products.

The banks were putting out bad products. Bad mortgages, bad loans, bad everything. They KNEW that the products they were putting out were bad; they were betting on it! They were telling Mrs. Social Security, “Of course, our 5-year 6% APR with 2% down is going to be the PERFECT mortgage for you and you should trust us because we’re you’re banker!” while at the same time they were using their own money to BET AGAINST MRS. SOCIAL SECURITY. Then, when all that shit hit the fan because it turns out you can’t just create money out of thin air to cover all the bad loans you knew were bad, the banks got money from the government! And Mrs. Social Security got evicted! And now we’re still up an economic creek without a fucking paddle because the banks have decided to be “responsible” and not lend us the money our fucking government gave them to buy paddles! And with the money they are not lending us to buy paddles, they are buying themselves a THIRD private jet! And the federal government is doing fuck-all about it! So people are pissed! Whereas Steve Jobs, yes, charged a lot of money for his products, but they are good products that made the lives of those who could get them better.

That the same people who will protest Wall Street will mourn Steve Jobs is only confusing if you think they’re just pissed that some people are rich and some people are not. And look, some of the protesters on Wall Street (or, apparently, Broad Street, my sister tells me) do probably think that. (And some within that set probably do use Apple products because they’re stupid hippies.) But for the most part, people are pissed because people who don’t deserve it in any sense of the world have money and almost everyone else doesn’t. And they’re pissed by the gross disparity of the very few (they are claiming 1%) on the top and the very many (they are claiming 99%) on the bottom. They’re not pissed at Steve Jobs.

Lesson to Unlearn from Glee – Season 3, Episode 3

Lesson: If you have a funny line, say it at least three times. An A- is an Asian F. They used it in the title, then Mike Chang’s father delivered it, then Tina delivered it. I must admit, that’s surprising restraint from “Glee.” Last year, I’d have expected that several songs would need to have been rewritten to include the phrase “Asian F” just to make sure we’d noticed the theme. This year they stuck to three. Good job.

The truth: A joke is still usually only funny once. (I mean, sure, callbacks can be funny if handled deftly but that’s a reference to a previous joke, not making the same joke again.) And if you’re doing it once, do it right. Especially do it right the first time you tell it.

See, in this case, the first time is the episode title (or the countless trailers featuring Tina going “An Asian F”?) That spoils the joke because you’ve already told the punchline.

Then, the first appearance in the episode is one of those “Let me explain why this is funny” moments, in which Michael Chang’s father informs the principal, very drily, that the A- Michael Chang got on a chemistry test is known as an Asian F. Dude, when it’s the father in the principal’s office, explaining that to him? It’s not funny. And you’ve now undermined the actual funny moment, when Mike tells his (Asian) girlfriend Tina that he got an A- and she says, “You got an Asian F?”

And it’s not even that good a way to get to that punchline. It would have been better if he had just showed her the test paper with a red 93 on it and then she could say, “An Asian F!” That would be funnier, but only if you hadn’t already given away the punchline. Twice.

Maybe you’ve heard that humor comes in threes, but that doesn’t mean, “Repeat the same joke three times.” It means, tell jokes with three parts. Like, if Mike had showed the group the red 93, and Tina had gone “An Asian F!” and Brittany had said, “A blonde A+!” and Rachel or Artie had said, “A Jewish shiva call.” See, three parts.

Don’t forget to check out my sister‘s lesson! And I swear I will write a non-Glee post sometime very soon.

Lessons to Unlearn from Glee – Season 3. Episode 2

Sorry (to anyone who cares which I imagine is zero people) for the lateness of this. I was in NJ for Rosh Hashanah and didn’t watch the episode until Saturday night. This of course caused my sister to delay her post, which can be found here.

I must say, the writing is better this year. They keep this up, and I won’t be able to make these posts anymore. Which, if anyone over at “Glee” headquarters is reading, would be GREAT. But this episode still had some troubling lessons.

Lesson: A baby who was adopted ALWAYS needs his/her biological parents in their lives.

So in this week’s episode, Idina Menzel (whose character name I refuse to remember, especially as it implies that a woman who looks like Idina Menzel is, of all things, Irish) is back for some cockamamie reason involving that new character I keep hoping I can forget exists, and has also apparently decided that it is necessary for a) her own character growth, b) their maturation, and c) the baby’s emotional development that Quinn and Puck be involved in the life of the baby Idina adopted from them at the end of Season One.

(I’ll ignore for a moment that Quinn and Puck have made no mention of the baby from then until now, when suddenly she’s the single emotional driving force for both of them. I get what happened. The new writers came on and said, “Look, this was a major storyline and you dropped it like it was Puck’s pants, so let’s go back there.” And the producers said, “Lea Michele and Idina Menzel singing together is solid gold.” And so it was written. And so it was done.)

So Puck cleans up his act (He’s only drinking beer, now, people!) and Quinn pretends not to be a Skank anymore (after one episode) and everyone acts like this is the most logical, normal, emotionally healthy thing in the world. (Well, Quinn is planning on getting her baby back but . . . I promised not to comment on the fact that she hasn’t mentioned this baby in over a year so I’m not.)

The truth: Look, I don’t know what the truth is. I’m sure that, as regards adoption, in some cases, maintaining the involvement of the biological parents is a fabulous idea, and in some cases it’s a neutral idea, and in some cases, like for instance if there’s a chance that the boundary between “person who donated a gamete” and “person who is responsible for raising the kid” isn’t going to be respected, it’s a fucking awful idea. (And in case you’re confused, that last thing, that’s how it’s going to play out here, until the writers/producers realize that a story line like that doesn’t really go with dancing to pop songs and belting out Streisand tunes.) But I am absolutely certain that a) the kid’s needs come first, not the need for emotional growth on the part of the dopey-ass teenage gamete-donators, and b) presenting the option of biological parent-involvement in adoption as THE ONE TRUE PATH is fucking irresponsible. I am also sure that the writers don’t really know what the truth is, but for some reason, the characters on this highly campy, highly satirical television show about teenagers who sing have to stand on their high horses about some random-ass thing once a week, and this week, they decided it was this. I hope they drop it soon.

Lesson: Only one thing defines who you are, other people get to tell you what that is and how it manifests itself, and if you don’t celebrate it, you are ashamed of it. This week, Kurt a) wanted to be Tony in West Side Story but fey-ed around to a Barbara Streisand song instead of singing anything a heterosexual male love interest would sing, and then tried to make up for it by performing a scene from Romeo and Juliet, which I thought he did a fine job of, but which was apparently also far too effeminate, because Shakespeare is for girls, doncha know, and b) started his campaign for senior class president (which apparently wasn’t decided last spring at McKinley High) and argued with Britney about posters using pink and sparkles and unicorns (yes, literally) versus using a black-and-white faaaaaabulous photo of Kurt. In the end he chose the unicorns so as to embrace his fully gay self.

The truth: We are all multifaceted creatures who do have and should use the power to choose how we define and represent ourselves. And homosexuality is not just about glitter.

I have nothing to add to that, so instead I will leave you with a family anecdote. My mother ran for (and won) freshman class president. She only ran because the boy who was running smugged to her that he was sure he was going to win and anyway there was no way an icky-picky girl was going to beat him. So she did. And she made some awesome Peanuts-themed posters to do it. Go, Mom! (Then she hated being on student council and didn’t run again. But that’s not the point.)