Marquee Humor

January 28, 2015

It’s been a while. This was up the other day at the Fresh Pond Cinemas in Cambridge, MA:

Paddington Selma

The story of a talking stuffed bear from Peru marching for its civil rights??? Well, an injustice for one…  Also At Fresh Pond Cinemas:

Taken Mordecai

Glad someone else took it. Is it me or does that film look REALLY awful???


For the second week in a row I am participating in the church services from the pulpit, this time as part of a group. The concept is an interesting one: the title comes from the last line of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” (“what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”). Nine people were chosen to speak about the decade of life we are in and take 2-3 minute to talk about what is important to us and what we plan to do. Mine is more abstract because I still feel caught up in all the shifting going on, but my reflection is below.

As a writer we’re taught not to repeat ourselves if we can help it. It takes on an ugly sound quality and looks sloppy as well. Pop psychology backs this up when they say insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting a different result; although analytical psychotherapy is based on talking over the problems you continue to repeat over and over in hopes you stop repeating them. Somewhere in between that lies my issue with this reflection.

It seems your forties is about change; about leaving behind old habits and ways of doing things for new ones. It seems simple enough, but it isn’t. You spend almost all of your young adult life trying to forge an identity and values for yourself and living them out. By this time you should be stable in how you behave, how your life is going, and where you are heading. Instead, as I have been experiencing for some time, the butterfly effect of the universe conspires to completely shift the way you have to look at things in order to survive. Managing the shift depends on your ability to perceive change as a good thing and not bad. This is where I have trouble.

Even as I am sometimes forced to change habits I’ve learned over my life, I find the change excruciating. It shouldn’t be like severing a limb but it feels that way to me. Even if the dreams I had or plans I made are of no use anymore, I found comfort in them enough so that the choice to leave them behind is painful; the act of doing it even more so. So it is basically a decade of this process of leaving things behind and learning to do new things. If it were one or two things to change or to do it in a few months, that would be all right. But to change many things that once held you up or have those seismic changes happen over years, it is almost impossible to deal with. Almost.

It is hard not to see the loss, but it helps to realize the opportunity behind it. There is a chance to make new pathways for yourself that are simultaneously exiting and terrifying, but if you only concentrate on the terrifying you cannot move forward. The changes made can be liberating as well. A chance to do a project you never had the time for before. Time to spend with people you want to instead of have to. New responsibilities to take on that you never imagined but are suddenly open to you. This isn’t possible if things stay exactly the same.

I should be personal in this reflection, but it is hard to say exactly what changes I am trying to make when I am still in the middle of the transformation. A friend of mine once told me that as a Pisces, like me, the hardest part of the journey for the fish is to change directions in the current. Once you make the transition it is okay, but it is that turn with the waters hitting you at all sides that is hard. I will say that I am trying harder to see the opportunities rather than the loss, embrace the exciting rather than focus on the terrifying. I need to do this so I can move on. Yes change is scary, but stasis is a slow death. It is better to move forward than to keep doing the same things over again.

Cartoon Physics

January 24, 2015

Sophia and I were watching the end of Despicable Me on TV for the thousandth time (actually she was multitasking between her 2DS, her laptop and occasionally the TV; I was channel flipping a lot but stopped with Despicable Me). It was the climactic part where the moon snaps back to normal size trapping Vector on the moon (sorry for the spoilers). Suddenly Sophia asks “how did Vector get the helmet in space?” I said I don’t know, though I think it was a part of his outfit. It takes me a few seconds to fully get it but then it hits me:

Me: “You’ve seen this movie how many times and NOW you’re asking about the helmet in space?
Sophia: (pause) Well, now that I know about physics… (chuckles)

So she gets physics, but the question she has is on the very END of the film? Okay… but if she were really paying attention to the film, I should be expecting a lot more questions.

This past Sunday I had the honor to be a major part of the Martin Luther King Service at our church.  I did a sermon about King last year the week after MLK day, kind of extending the holiday, but this was my first time to be a part of the MLK church service. I got to read a lot of poetry–Langston Hughes and a Javon Johnson slam piece (which was AWESOME!)–but I also did something in tandem with the minister to talk about racial identities and privilege. Read interspersed was so revealing and hit home for a lot of people. I will try to get permission to use her portion as well, but for now I really wanted to post what I had written for my stuff. Was very exciting getting this together.

I am adopted and claim all the nationalities of all my parents.

I am Colombian, African, some South American Indian, Puerto Rican, and Jewish of Russian/Polish descent.
Some of these are known and sure, others are best assessments from forms I can gather.
Like many people of color, I can only trace my ancestry so far before the trail runs cold.

I am a Native New Yorker born and bred from 25 years in three of the five boroughs of the city.
My parents—my father a Catholic and my mother a Jew—married in a Unitarian Church and I was raised in the religion all my life, a rarity in this denomination.
I went to a private Quaker school for grade school and a public art school for high school.

My parents were both highly educated people.
My father had a Doctorate in Romance Languages and was tenured at Queens College where he taught in the Romance Languages department, mainly Portuguese, for most of his adult life.
My mother got her Masters of Divinity in Religious Philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, but never used her degree in her career.
She worked in rape crisis centers in the 1970s, for the New York Board of Health in the 1980s and eventually municipal union District 37 from where she retired.
My younger sister, also adopted, is the only sibling I have and the only one of the nuclear family without a college degree.
I myself have two degrees—a Bachelor’s and a Masters—and have taught adult education ed at colleges.
But you would never know this by my appearance.

I am a product of 1970s and 80s New York culture and politics, of latch key kids, of divorced parents, of too much TV, of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, of the changeover from comic books to Graphic Novels, of AIDS marches and homeless protests, of worn down Beatles albums and Broadway soundtracks.
My upbringing was middle class and somewhat fortunate, but because of my skin color it can never be called privileged.

I know this because when I look at the records of my birth parents—both Colombian—they listed themselves as “White”; yet when I look at my hands, I know they were not. They considered themselves white because in that society, you are “less than” if you are colored. But when my mother came here to put me up for adoption, she was noted as Hispanic.

Because I am a person of color:

    • While I know I’ve always been hired based on my ability, I can never be 100% sure ethnicity was a consideration.
    • While I know I’ve never not been chosen for a job because of my race, I can never be 100% sure.
    • When asked to speak publicly, I know it will be based on my ability and knowledge, but I can never be 100% sure if it’s not to speak on behalf of my entire race.
    • I have been followed around by security in store in a neighborhood I lived in for years.
    • People automatically assume I speak Spanish (I don’t and know very little of it)
    • I still struggle to find quality representations of my life in TV, movies, and entertainment.
    • When talking one-on-one about influences on my art, people are surprised when not every person mentioned is of color.
    • When talking in a group about influences on my art, I have to include artists of color because they will otherwise not be represented or recognized.
    • I have to teach my daughter to be aware of how systemic racism can affect her in addition to how gender inequality can affect her, both for her own protection.
    • I do not always feel “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

There are great things about my heritage and culture to show, but not given the privilege to accept or reject all the negative aspects of them—deserved or undeserved.
I am multi-racial and multi-ethnic, and racism affects my spirit.

I have stated the last few years that I don’t make New Years resolutions anymore. I was tired of getting hopeful to do something big for the year and have nothing come of it by the end of summer. This New Years I didn’t make any resolutions or plans either. I am not looking towards the new year with any illusions or rose colored glasses, but I’m also not expecting the apocalypse. I honestly want to get through the next few months one day at a time. A lot of issues that I had to deal with the past year are still present and I need to be aware of myself and my surroundings to deal with them. I’ve spent too much of my life living inside my own head that I can’t seem to move about in real time. Now is the time I need to focus on being in the moment.

That’s not to say I don’t have things I want to accomplish. I have two short stories to finish and I’d like to get back to screenwriting again even if in some short form work. I still have my weekly radio show and I hope to have the recordings from the School of the Americas vigil to air for Martin Luther King day (tentatively on target for that). Writing is still important to me, but I can’t make the reward be project based or monetary. Having said that, sorry my blog posts for this site are rather sporadic. Trying to fix that.

I’m not indifferent to the coming new year, nor am I dancing on the grave of the old one. I am simply glad I get to see another one with clearer eyes and mind than I may have in the past. That’s a big accomplishment.