Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News Junkie No More

I try to stay informed.

Everyday I read the important bits from a variety of online newspapers. I listen to the radio news casts, and I also watch a variety of news stations and every night, it was our habit, my husband and I, to watch the National together before bed.

Not so much these days.

I have had to cut back on the television news in recent weeks. The disaster porn was just getting to be too much. Some stations are worse than others to be sure, but they all gleefully wallow in the misery. The misery that hasn’t really changed much since their last “BREAKING NEWS” update on the topic…an update on the update they pronounced ten short minutes ago.

So I gave it up for a bit.

My husband has kept to his news watching habits though, especially the National at 10:00 pm. While he is glued to the set I am puttering around getting things ready for the next day, or working on the computer.

I think he might be missing me a little because he seems somehow compelled to fill me in a variety of details while I am most doggedly doing something, anything, else. I could be cleaning out the fridge and hear him call out some random headline from the living room:

They said the radiation not be as bad as they thought it was. Looks like a mistake”

“Some house exploded in Woodbridge!”

“Looks like the radiation is worse than they thought it was. It is in the groundwater”

And last night:

“Apparently there seems to be a trend in Nursing Homes now where seniors are beating each other up”

To which I replied. “Now there is something to look forward to”

I guess I should head back to the gym.

Tonight when the National comes on, I am going to bed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Have Come a Long Way Baby

But have we come far enough?

Today is International Woman's Day, and yes, we have many things to celebrate and be grateful for but it is clear there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Women in Canada struggle with our lack of parliamentary representation and resent that our average wage is less than that of our male counterparts. We are more likely to live in poverty and become the victims of violent crime than men. However, we have recourse in many cases to try and address these issues- all the women who struggled before us have given us a voice.

We forget that far too many women in this world do not have a voice at all. Too many women on our planet live in a society where rape is a weapon of social control, where women struggle for reproductive rights and have limited access to education (if at all), where women continually suffer at the hands of men, in the name of religion and politics.

James Bond (Daniel Craig), traditionally the very example of a character who uses and objectifies women to further his own needs, takes a turn at highlighting many of the issues women struggle with daily- not just in the developing world- but everywhere.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Force Still Moves Me.

I was only around four years old when Star Wars a New Hope opened in theaters- and I was immediately hooked. Not just on the Star Wars franchise- but anything space, science fiction or fantasy related. Cripes, I remember having an unhealthy fascination with Boney M's Night Flight to Venus just because my mom told me they were all astronauts. She flashed the cover of the album just to prove it. I swear I never would have listened to that crap otherwise...honest.

When the disco glow of Boney M grew dim, my Aunt Catherine, desperate to hear something, anything, else introduced me to the Carpenters- who covered the old Klaatu song "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (the recognized Anthem of World Contact Day). I played it over and over and over again- it mesmerized me. Before the end of my visit home that summer my Uncle Billy snapped the album in half.

While I was jonesing for the next installment of Star Wars I was taken in by its more cerebral cousin: Star Trek. The reruns used to play at suppertime everyday on CBC- and I never missed one episode. I even watched Spock's Brain.


Now that is devotion.

Most of my favourite books, music and toys had a space theme- with the only notable exception being all things Tolkien. All my stories and games I created in my head were set in the distant future where everyone knew how to fly, technology was a saviour and women could kick some serious ass. Especially the green women.

It appears I am not alone.

George Lucas created a winning formula: the ultimate quest with heroic and compelling characters who millions of people grew up with, rooted for and loved. Lucas took us on an intergalactic joy ride for those first few magical years and then brutally; without compassion or finesse, unleashed the prequels to the original series upon his unsuspecting fans- ramming the entire mythology down the crapper of popular culture. He didn't even bother to flush.

And yet, the magic of the original series still has power. It still speaks to millions of little boys and girls who tinker with Star Wars figurines long after bed time- hiding under the sheets with a flashlight and a makeshift rebel base made of stuffed animals and books. There, locked in a noble battle for the safety of the universe, they lovingly create their own star wars until sleep overtakes them.

And all those kids, myself included, who so loved the series as children hold a place in their hearts for it still. That is why Williams Sonoma can sell a mock up of the original lunch box, or ThinkGeek can hook you up with a Tauntaun Sleeping bag (it was on my wish list this year, but Santa didn't figure it was worth 100 bucks). We have also introduced the magic to our kids. Somehow, in this age of ADHD they don't seem to find Jar-Jar Binks as offensive as their adult counterparts. Star Wars, despite George Lucas' recent fumblings, remains popular; from the Clone Wars cartoons to the Star Wars Lego products it still speaks directly to our hearts.

This would explain why the recent explosion of genuine affection for the recent Volkswagen commercial. How many millions of parents have a little guy or gal at home exactly like this? How many of us could put ourselves in this pint size version of Darth Vader's shoes? A lovely little take on the magic of childhood, and the power of creative parenting.

For the two of you who missed it:

As with all good things on the Internet- there is a parody to be found as well. This time with Toyota at the wheel. Perversely enough, I believe I found this one even funnier then its forerunner. It has quite a different take on children today and creative parenting... and car companies?

May the Force be with you.