A Review Of The Lone Ranger And Other Ramblings

loneranger1 Notice- no crow on Tonto’s head

Despite such stellar reviews as, ” Colossal, misguided, dust-choked mess,” (Dave White of Movies.com) , “An extravagantly squandered opportunity,” ( Stephanie Zacharek of “The Village Voice.” )and my personal favorite, “Except for the dynamite finale, The ‘Long’ Ranger feels like a long, slow ride to the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump,” ( Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post- Dispatch) We took Zoe, Parker and Nathan to see “The Lone Ranger” Friday night.

Our alternative was spending another sweltering evening sitting by the floor dryers half-naked, scavenging for whatever particles of food Parker could reach if we hung him upside down over the dehumidifier blocking our pantry. There was no way going to the movies could be worse.

I will say, the reviews made sure I had very low expectations, so in that regard, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure it was long, and Parker was extremely antsy, and Zoe had to go to the bathroom 3 times because she drank too much iced tea at dinner. But I’ve sat through longer. “Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo” comes to mind. Yes, I know it’s an hour shorter. But time is relative. “Lone Ranger,” in contrast, was a reasonably entertaining movie.

Many people complained that the Lone Ranger played second fiddle to Tonto in this movie, and I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. Johnny Depp is difficult to contain. He’s a scene stealer. I did find myself wondering why he would choose to play Tonto, the sidekick, but eventually the backstory on the enigma that is this new incarnation of Tonto revealed an unexpected depth to the character. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I found Tonto shift from amusing to tragic in that moment.

I do think that Disney should have been more careful in some of the scenes in this movie. Was it necessary to show Butch Cavendish eating the heart of the Lone Ranger’s brother? Whether the movie is PG-13 or not, kids will want to see it. They can’t claim they didn’t intend for it to be a kids movie and then put out stuff like this to entice children:

Lego-lone-ranger Amazed that Parker hasn’t requested this yet. Tonto even comes with the bird on his head.

There is a lot of violence, which I wasn’t surprised about, but there is a line between criminals and true evil. They chose to make Cavendish the latter, and several times his behavior had Zoe and Parker covering their eyes and ears. There is a way to show his character without being so graphic.

The family in front of us was a father and his two young boys. They came in late, and the dad seemed to either have hearing problems or a lack of theater etiquette. This knucklehead constantly snorted when he laughed and made loud commentary about each significant scene. When it appears that John Reid (aka The Lone Ranger) was dead just a few minutes into the film, he bellowed, ” Ok boys! Movie’s over! Time to go!” Chuckle snort chuckle. Sometimes I wish there were a vetting process for movie goers.

My favorite part of the movie came when The Lone Ranger and Tonto are captured by Comanche. I have a confession to make: I’ve never been much for cowboys, but from the time I was a very young girl I have had a mild obsession with Native American culture. I don’t know where it came from, but some of my earliest memories are of sitting on the floor of my bedroom with my fisher price record player

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playing with my doll with the papoose on her back, listening to my 10 Little Indians Record.

10indians45rpm Notice the “Indians” on the cover.

Even at such a young age, I seemed to grasp the idea that something terrible was happening to these 10 little Indian boys. First, their numbers were increasing, but then things would happen to them, and one by one they were gone. It’s a pretty sick song if you listen to it. Here is the original poem:

Ten little Injuns standin’ in a line,One toddled home and then there were nine;

Nine little Injuns swingin’ on a gate,
One tumbled off and then there were eight.
Eight little Injuns gayest under heav’n.
One went to sleep and then there were seven;
Seven little Injuns cuttin’ up their tricks,
One broke his neck and then there were six.
Six little Injuns all alive,
One kicked the bucket and then there were five;
Five little Injuns on a cellar door,
One tumbled in and then there were four.
Four little Injuns up on a spree,
One got fuddled and then there were three;
Three little Injuns out on a canoe,
One tumbled overboard and then there were two.
Two little Injuns foolin’ with a gun,
One shot t’other and then there was one;
One little Injun livin’ all alone,
He got married and then there were none.
See what I mean? I was traumatized.
I was even more traumatized when I went to search for these lyrics and came to realize that there were alternate (even more racist) versions of this song performed by The Christy Minstrels in blackface all over the country, and that one of my (previously) favorite authors, Agatha Christie,also wrote a book titled “Ten Little ____ (N word)” which was then changed to be called, “Ten Little Indians” before being made into a movie as “And Then There Were None.” What’s worse? It’s her best selling novel of all time. Deep sigh.

I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old when my obsession began. We were living in Huntington Beach, California. I didn’t live anyplace where I was exposed to Native culture, really. My mother says one of her favorite things I ever said as a child was, “If I cut slits in my clothes, do you think people might think I’m Indian?”

You tell me. Do you think a little fringe in my clothing would give people the impression that I was Native American?

image Looks like I tried to “fringe” my bangs, as well, also without much success.

My mother made me a dress to wear. I still have it.

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My kids have used it for dress up occasionally, but none of them ever got too into the Native American culture the way I did. Poor Sydney was forced to sit through “Pocahontas” several times as a kid when she would have preferred “Lion King’ or “101 Dalmatians.”

sydscan230 Also not a convincing Native American.

Parker loved wearing the dress, but more as part of his obsession with Peter Pan.

image Not sure about the eye patch.

A couple years ago I decided to wear a Native American costume to our neighbor’s Halloween party.

image Yes, that is my husband, the SWAT officer. And yes, I am a natural blonde who dyes her hair brunette. It probably only PARTIALLY has to do with my childhood obsession.

The dress was below knee-length, not tight, not revealing in any way. But give men a few drinks and a girl in braids, and suddenly they’re pun masters. “Pocahotness” “Poke-your-heiny” “Pocahottie” “Peekyourhontas” and “Me want Wampum on your bum bum.” Doesn’t have to make sense, they all think they’re hilarious. Soon after the party I started wondering if it’s culturally insensitive for a non-Native to wear such a costume, but for me, it was less of a costume and more of a fantasy come true.

Last year, my mom gave me a Native American doll for my birthday. It was a thoughtful, sentimental gift.

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My daughter’s friend took this pic and has, on occasion, pulled it out just to giggle about it. My children are convinced the doll is possessed and have taken to putting her in each other’s beds, moving her around the house, and sometimes I will find her shoved in a closet just so she will stop staring at them.

image Or, riding a giant purple dolphin.

Oh wait, I was doing a movie review, wasn’t I?

The truth is, I don’t feel so protective of the Lone Ranger’s legacy. If he is a little boring, or not portrayed so much as the hero, but Tonto’s stooge, it doesn’t really bother me that much. I think my biggest gripe is that the best part of the original “Lone Ranger” story was a little lost in this remake. Yes, He refuses to shoot a gun, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, it’s all about justice. But in the midst of the violence and quick-witted snarky lines, the true heart of the Lone Ranger wasn’t shown.

The best way I can explain that is by showing the creed from the original show. If they had made THIS Lone Ranger, I think the response may have been different:

“I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That ‘This government, of the people, by the people and for the people’ shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later… somewhere…somehow… we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
the-lone-ranger-movie-poster-1938-1020202735 Am I the only one who thought he said, “Hi-Ho Silver!” ?
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Diary,

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Day 5 in the jungle. The natives are getting restless. Last night there was a full-blown scuffle involving Zoe, Parker and a dinosaur.

We haven’t seen Sydney for days. We think she either ran away or has been kidnapped by a neighboring tribe.  Tuesday night the rains came, and she had left all the windows and the sunroof open in her car. She should know better. Any sort of creature, especially a snake, could have gotten inside.

We can see where the food is but cannot navigate the treacherous obstacles to get there.

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You would think under the intense heat and moisture, and the lack of accessibility to food, I would be wasting away. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

Last night we ventured into a neighboring village for tacos and s’mores. This village was cooler and less muggy. We spotted a wild animal stealing a s’more before making a fast getaway.

image Very frustrating that you can never get a clear shot of these things, so no one ever believes they really exist.

We’re losing track of time.

Me:is it Friday? What day is it?
Parker: I don’t know. Yesterday was Wednesday.
Wrong.
Our camp has gotten a little messy. No one seems to feel the need to try. Parker has been holed up in the playroom surrounded by colorful creatures I never imagined existed (and sometimes wish didn’t).
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Zoe has been able to find fresh water twice this week to swim in. Nathan is in serious need of a shower, and Parker needs a bath. No 7 year old’s armpits should smell like a grown man who has just chopped down a giant sycamore tree with a hatchet.
I was able to make coffee this morning, but it’s too hot to drink it, and we have no ice. Isn’t that what they call an O. Henry irony? No, maybe more like an Alanis Morissette irony.
We lost one of our party this week to the heat. Carnival goldfish #2 simmered in his own bowl. As I said that day, probably an environment that ripens green bananas in 45 minutes isn’t great for a goldfish. We had a small ceremony for her. I said a few words, Zoe and Parker fought over who got to flush her, Parker took matters into his own hands (literally) and Zoe ran off crying.  RIP Carnival Goldfish #2.
Zoe just crawled into the room begging me to take her over the hill to the village IHOP for breakfast. She has beads of perspiration on her forehead and her cheeks are flushed. The workers came today and sealed off the kitchen and pantry with plastic tarps that have zippers. Before it was sealed off Parker and Nathan managed to acquire a mostly empty box of fruit loops and half a bag of goldfish crackers. Looks like IHOP it is.
And if you hear a Tarzan-like cry coming from our house, please just try to ignore it. You really don’t want to know.
Tarzan-Jane-1

Ten Reasons Why A Kitchen Flood Ain’t So Bad

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Yesterday morning I awoke to Parker saying, “There’s water in the kitchen.” No, technically that’s not true. The first time he woke me up, he was talking to my husband about Skylander Giants. Again. Then they went downstairs and I started to drift back to sleep. The second time he woke me up he said, “There’s water in the kitchen.” “Yes,” I answered. He said, “It’s everywhere. It’s a flood.” I mumbled, “Is this daddy’s way of getting me to get up?” He said, “There’s water all over the kitchen. Everywhere.”

He wasn’t kidding. As I waded across my kitchen floor in my pre-coffee stupor, I almost had to laugh. This day was already supposed to be difficult because of some things my hubby had to deal with, and this was just the icing on the cake. There was still water coming out of our suspected culprit, the refrigerator. My husband was trying to move our giant fridge that’s technically too big for the space it inhabits so that he could get behind it to turn the water off. He spent about an hour sucking up as much water as possible with our shopvac, but it was clear that the water had been going for a while, and had been sitting on our hardwood floors for hours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsShi0yqdv8&feature=youtu.be

(don’t judge me for the laundry on the floor- it probably absorbed a ton of water preventing it from getting further. It may be the one time my laundry failings were helpful.)

I called the insurance company and left a message, since their office wasn’t open yet. Their response email seemed to indicate they thought I meant I had a little water around my fridge. They reiterated my thousand dollar deductible to scare me off. Eventually I convinced them they needed to send someone out.

So here I sit in a torn up house on a hot summer day, my kids haven’t eaten because our kitchen and pantry are unavailable, and yet I am counting my blessings. Here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons why it ain’t so bad:

1. The butterscotch schnapps bottle that Zoe knocked over a couple weeks ago, sending shattered glass shards and sticky sweet liquor all over the kitchen has now been thoroughly soaked and eliminated.

2. Last week, I finally got around to ripping up the carpet in the pantry so I could lay the linoleum tiles I bought for the Spring break project that never happened, as mentioned in my previous blog : http://kbjackson.com/in-case-youre-wondering-i-think-its-poprocks-an-apology-letter-to-my-housecleaners .

This was what I discovered underneath:

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It precipitated a lively discussion about what could possibly be down there. Someone guessed “Narnia.” Another said, “hiding place for Zombie apocalypse.” Some said it reminded them of “Being John Malkovich” or “Panic room.” My husband claimed it was his “escape hatch.” Of course there were the practical ones who said, “crawl space,” but they’re no fun, so I ignored them.  All I knew was that I wasn’t opening it. But I decided to tile around it, so that it could be opened without disturbing the tile.

IMG_5077 That white dot in the middle is a screw that, you will soon see, is useless, but I went out of my way to work around.

But my daughter’s curiosity soon got the best of her.

She decided to look.

Here’s how that went:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxBZwQ6AGeo

Ironically, less than 24 hours later, when Servpro asked me where the crawlspace was, I was able to tell them.

IMG_5143 This machine is now sucking the water out from under the house through the crawl space access in the pantry. Please note, they ripped up my newly laid tiles that I had very carefully laid so they wouldn’t have to do that.

3. The white noise of the 8 fans and humidifiers is blissful. When my kids are whining at me I just point to my ears, shake my head to indicate I can’t hear them, and then stare blankly at them until they give up. I also can no longer hear the youtube video Parker has been watching over and over of the kids playing “Skylander Giants.” They shriek and cackle and he giggles and I want to pull my hair out. I told him a couple days ago that I don’t want to hear some kid that isn’t even mine screaming in my house. The sound of his voice makes my head hurt. Why do kids watch videos of other people playing video games? To me, this is worse than sitting around playing video games.

IMG_5142IMG_5139 “WHAT??? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!”

4. They ripped up the molding in my kitchen that was nicked and in need of repainting. I can check that project off my summer to-do list.

5. I don’t know if this counts as a “good thing,” but it was pretty funny. Last night at about 9pm and the Servpro guys were setting up their fans and laying paper down, I saw Parker sneaking around the corner with a giant loaded nerf gun in each hand. I said, “You can’t shoot them. They’re working.” He got a mischievous look on his face and crept closer. “Parker. You can’t shoot the guys. Take the guns upstairs.” He gave a look of disappointment, then went off in search of his brother to unload his ammo on.

6. A non-functioning kitchen means no cooking.

7. This isn’t MY idea of a good thing, but my husband is thrilled that the damage to the laundry room necessitates me washing the dirty clothes that got soaked to get them out of the way. *editor’s note- The Servpro guy just asked me if I wanted him to take the wet laundry to the shop and have them wash and dry the clothes. I almost fell over. “You do that?!?” He said, “Not me personally, but back at the shop they do.” I responded, “Well I certainly wouldn’t fight you washing my clothes.”

8. So much electrical equipment plugged in means limiting electronic use in this house. Nothing to do inside means heading outside with no guilt. This afternoon I will be sitting by the pool.

9.  The necessity to move the fridge revealed things that haven’t been seen in a while. My husband yelled, “Hey Parker! I found some fruit leather behind the fridge! Come eat it!” I looked at it. “That’s not fruit leather.”

IMG_5129

He said, “Are you sure?”

I gagged a little and flipped it over. “Yes. I’m sure.”

IMG_5130 Yes. That expiration date is September. Of 2011.

10. New floors, baby! Those dirty basketball-court looking ugly wood floors will soon be refinished with a lovely dark sheen. All for the bargain price of our $1000 deductible. If you’re gonna have a disaster, there are worse things to have happen than to end up with pretty newly refinished floors.

I’m sure in a week or so I will be very annoyed with the chaos. I already had to cancel the housecleaners for this week. (but at least that means no pre-housecleaning hysteria.) In the meantime, I am counting my blessings.

 

 

Devastated. But Not Surprised.

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Like that family member who has let you down, time and time again. Devastated. Betrayed. Angry. But not surprised.

“I am not angry, but my mommy heart is broken…”

” I’m not surprised, but Soooo disappointed!!!!”

   “I expected a not guilty verdict.  Since when has American justice placed any value on black lives?  I pray daily for my son that his name is not added to the ever-growing list of black Americans deemed unworthy of justice and dignity both in life and death… ‪#‎RememberEmmettTill‬ ‪#‎RememberNewOrleans‬ ‪#‎RememberRodneyKing‬ ‪#‎RememberWatts1965‬  ‪#‎RememberRonSettles‬ ‪#‎RememberRosewood‬ ‪#‎RememberTedLandsmark‬ ‪#‎RememberFrankWills‬ ‪#‎RememberTreyvonMartin
   These are just some of the posts that that came through my facebook feed in the early moments following the verdict Saturday night.
   But some argued those feelings of anger and despair weren’t justified. That political correctness and radical activists made this case about race, when it wasn’t really a case about race. It reminds me of that scene in “You’ve Got Mail” when Tom Hanks says putting Meg Ryan out of business “wasn’t personal,” and she responds, ” What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people.” This case was about race. It was about race from the beginning. As a matter of fact, it was about race before the beginning.
   We in this country have a bias against black men. Particularly young black men. They are thugs until proven otherwise. “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” “Ok, and this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?” “He looks black.”
   Racial profiling is real. It happens every day. What was it about this 17 year old kid with skittles and an iced tea that made him look suspicious? That question cannot be answered without bringing race into it. Race came into this case because of the mindset that a black teenager walking through an upscale neighborhood must be up to no good. I wonder if there was anything Trayvon could have done differently to NOT arouse Zimmerman’s suspicion. I cannot think of any.
   Someone tweeted earlier, “How cool would it be to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night?” But that isn’t the world we live in. Does that make George Zimmerman any more racist than the rest of us? Not necessarily. George Zimmerman had black friends. He worked at a community center with minority kids. And if you asked him before this incident whether he would consider himself a racist, I’m sure he would vehemently deny it. As many of us would. But the ugly truth is we don’t even know how deeply embedded our biases lie.
   “What would you do?” did a segment about racial profiling by the general public.
That young black man was instantly surrounded by concerned citizens who immediately suspected he was up to no good. The white guy was mildly questioned but no one really confronted him, and the hot chick actually had men offering to help her steal the bike. This is the world we live in, and if you don’t believe it, you’re lying to yourself.
   I have no intention of trying to prove or disprove the merits of this case (or lack thereof.) I believe the jury did their job under the law as they understand it, according to the way the prosecution presented their case. I believe the system was in George Zimmerman’s favor. I believe the prosecution was either incompetent or made deliberate choices in both the charges and their handling of the case so as to achieve this outcome.
   What I do hope to do is provoke some thought amongst my white friends as to why the black community DOES view this as a case about race. And why there is not surprise amidst their grief.
   Fact: While people of color make up about 30% of the population in the US, they account for 60% of those imprisoned. 1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men. 1 in 3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. 1 in 3. Let’s just stop and let that sink in for a moment.
   Why might that be? Well, if we believe in the fairness of our judicial system, that is an indictment of a whole race of people.  To say the system is good and just means the people must be bad, right? Black men are just thugs. Criminals. Up to no good.
   In our rabid defense of our legal system, it might behoove us to consider a few things.
   “Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Dept. of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately 3 times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost FOUR TIMES as likely to experience use of force during their encounters with police.” *
   Those stats don’t even include the fact that just driving while being black, you are more likely to be stopped by police. I have heard it all from “Your music was too loud” to “Your windows were too dark.” They question. “Why are you here? What are you doing? Who are you visiting?” And then they search. It’s happened to my friends. It happened to my college boyfriend in my own home town.
   Fact: Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70% of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. African Americans make up 2/5 of the kids in juvenile detention. According to the Sentencing Project ( http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm) even though black juvenile youth make up 16% of the total youth population, 37% of their cases are moved to adult criminal court and 58% of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.
   I just had to catch my breath for a moment as I absorbed those numbers and the far-reaching effects of sending so many underage kids to adult prisons.
   I recently watched a stunning documentary called “Gideon’s Army” on HBO about public defenders in their crusade for indigent defense. ( http://gideonsarmythefilm.com/ ) I believe that poverty is a strong contributing factor to both crime and the failings of our legal system. And I believe that juvenile problems amongst minority populations are often in the schools with the least amount of resources and communities where most families are barely making it. I won’t simplify these stats and claim that race is the only factor. But it cannot be separated from them either. It’s all intertwined.
   And it gets worse.
   Fact: In the federal system, black defendants  receive sentences 10% longer than whites convicted of the EXACT SAME CRIMES, and are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than their white counterparts. How do you explain that, proponents of out “fair and just” legal system?
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   Yesterday Zoe had a 3 hour gap between games at her soccer tournament, so we headed to the street fair happening nearby. At one point, Zoe and Parker decided to escape the heat and plop themselves down under the shade of one of the booths to cool off. This particular booth was sponsored by the Kent Black Action Commission. ( http://www.kentblackactioncommission.com/ )
The gracious woman manning the booth offered them candy and told them they were welcome to take advantage of the shade.
   As I stood there feeling awkward and looking over her pamphlets, we began to talk about her organization , along with the Statewide Poverty Action Network.  (http://povertyaction.org/) She had voter registration forms, as well as information about the Voting Rights Restoration Act.
   Oh, you don’t KNOW what the Voting Rights Restoration Act is? There’s a very good reason for that. When it was passed, one of the stipulations was that there were zero dollars allotted  for advertisement. If people don’t understand or know their civil rights, they are less likely to exercise them. The cynic in me thinks that may exactly be the point.
   In this case, the Voting Rights Restoration Act was a 2009 law that the Statewide Poverty Action Network was instrumental in passing that reinstates voting rights to Washington State residents who were convicted in the state and have completed parole and probation.
   Not a fan of convicted felons regaining the right to vote? I used to feel the same way, back when the naïve me believed that all people could get a fair trial. I never once had a problem with the idea of convicted criminals losing their right to vote.
   Until last summer. I call it my “Summer of discovery,” when I read two books that turned my world view upside down.
The first was “Some of My Best Friends Are Black.”
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Do you have any idea how many times I had to explain what I was reading because of the title of this book? I cringed every time I said it out loud. But the book changed my life. I suddenly saw history in a way I had never seen it before. And I became aware that my idea of how we got here was very misguided.
The next book I read was even more intense. It’s called “Worse Than Slavery.”
Worse-Than-Slavery-9780684830957
   Up until reading this book, my linear brain had viewed things this way:
We had slavery. Slavery was bad. Good white people in the North decided to stop the bad people in the South from having slaves, so we had the Civil War. We (good white people) won! The slaves were free! Lincoln is awesome!  Oh wait… (cue the duh duh duh dramatic music when things take a turn for the worse.) The South still hates black people. Martin Luther King jr marched and inspired people with his dream. Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat and move to the back of the bus. Someone offered to buy the world a Coke and we all lived happily ever after like that song I learned in Sunday School, “Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight.” ( I am sure the person who wrote that song didn’t understand how offensive the terms “red” and “yellow” are. I’m sure they had the best of intentions.) The End.
   And so going forward, any black person born in the greatest nation in the world, America, had the same opportunities as anyone else, and they could either succeed or squander them. Anything is possible! We are awesome! And free!
   And if you fail, it’s because you chose it. We value personal responsibility. Overcoming obstacles. But as my friend said to me today, “All obstacles are NOT created equal.”
   The legacy of the greatest humanitarian crime in the history of the world should not be taken lightly. Approximately 4 million Africans died during the Middle Passage alone. 300 years of slavery. 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Mankind’s apology was the reestablishment of the State of Israel. But what of the freed slaves and their descendants?
   During slavery, the black family was broken. If you haven’t read the Willie Lynch Letter, please take a moment to do so. It is enlightening about the long term effects on the slaves and their children and their children’s children; About pitting them against each other, breaking parental and spousal bonds, inhibiting learning and self-sufficiency.
It is hard to argue the visible, tangible results that these tactics have had on the African American community.
   Slaves were set free, but soon the courts and prisons became slave masters. Prison labor was big business, and they needed strong men, disposable men. They worked in the coal mines, they built roads and bridges in the most dangerous of conditions, doing the jobs no employee was willing to do. But the prisoners had no choice. They were often stacked in cages when they weren’t working, left outside in the elements.
   The black community was targeted. A black child could be sent to prison camp for the crime of stealing gum. Sometimes people just disappeared off the streets, never to be heard from again. Often the white convicts were sent to actual prisons, but the black convicts were almost always leased out to do dangerous work under the direst of circumstances. I highly recommend reading “Worse Than Slavery” to get a clear picture of how our prisons have been used to profit off of the backs of black men and women.
   And yet, when crimes committed by whites against blacks occurred, justice was scarce. Kangaroo courts, mistrials, acquittals.
My friend Marques lost his cousin Friday night. He was shot and killed on the streets of Hollywood, Florida on his way to get a hamburger. Imagine being that family and hearing this verdict. What would that tell you about the kind of justice to expect for your own loved one?
   So friends, when you look at this case, and you say to yourself, “Why are they trying to make this about race?” Take a moment to read and study the true history of this country, the legal system, the injustice, the institutional racism that still permeates every aspect of our society whether we want to admit it or not, our own personal biases and prejudices. Stop being so defensive and try to understand. Try to see why just because it doesn’t feel like racism to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t.
   There is a privilege we have that we don’t even understand because it’s such a part of our lives. We walk down the street every day knowing that people will give us the benefit of the doubt. It never occurs to us that our boys look suspicious just because of the color of their skin, because they don’t. Not in the eyes of the general public. We cannot possibly comprehend what it is like to be black in this country. Most of us do not know what it’s like to be mothers of black or biracial children. To know that the lives of our sons are worth less to society, to each other. Someone earlier wrote that being a black male is often a fatal condition. We cannot possibly comprehend that. Not even a tiny bit.
   I want to end this with something my friend Charles said. It is profound and needs to be heard.
   “Our Judicial System sets the bar when it comes to the “Value” it puts on life by how it protects it. The value of a Black Life is not the same as that of a White Life in our society. That simple message is CONSISTENTLY reinforced in our courts and even adhered to by other Blacks. We don’t value Black Life either because of that fact. I don’t believe human beings are capable of being just. Nothing about history tells me that “Justice” and Equity are human traits. Those in control, fight to stay there. Eventually all societies crumble because of injustice.”
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* http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/

 

My WHAT Has Shipped?!?

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This is not an usual site on my front porch. Ok, maybe not quite this much, but it is a rare day that we don’t receive some sort of shipment from somewhere, and often from Amazon. I love Amazon. I love that I can think to myself, “Hmm I really want ______, but don’t feel like driving around looking for it. I wonder if Amazon has it.”

And they almost always do. And I can get it delivered to my door in 2 days with free shipping. It’s almost like having a magic genie to grant my wishes.

Because we own our own business, my husband also often has packages shipped here. My kids always get excited when there are packages on the porch, even though they hardly ever are for them. This was my conversation with Nathan last week:

Nathan: Did you see you got a package from Amazon?
Me: Yes. Did you open it?
Nathan: No. But I want to.
Me: It’s nothing exciting.
Nathan: I wanna open it.
Me: If opening that box that contains my Tahitian lotion will make you happy, be my guest.
-He opens the box and pulls out a jar
Me: Surprise!
Nathan: It’s body butter.
Me: See? Exciting.

He then proceeded to read the ingredients off the side of the jar, as if that somehow validated his interest in opening my package.

ProductBodyButter-TahitianFlower It really is amazing lotion. Smells like the ocean (If the ocean smelled like flowers and not dead sea creatures.)

Most of our packages are delivered by UPS. I always figured that my UPS drivers never paid that much attention to the houses on their routes because they see so many. One day the driver, a woman, had to deliver a large package that I needed to sign for. As I signed the paperwork she said, “I see you got a new car. Got tired of trying to park that giant Escalade on this steep driveway, huh?”

My friend Rebecca over at http://www.blushcelebrations.com is married to a UPS driver. Sometimes he works in my neighborhood. Last Christmas Eve she told me he would be out in my area so I put out some cookies and candy for him and his partner. I put a giant note on them that said “UPS.” I felt really bad, though, because it turned out that one of my expected packages was delivered by FedEx prior to them picking it up. I stopped feeling bad when it turned out that the other package that was supposed to be delivered at the same time mysteriously got lost at my local FedEx office until two days after Christmas. I am convinced they got huffy and decided not to deliver both packages.

Soon after, my friend’s hubby started vomiting violently and spent much of the next few days in the hospital. I’m not pointing any fingers or anything, but the timing is a bit suspicious. That’s all I’m saying. (*Editor’s disclaimer- I do not really believe that the FedEx driver poisoned the treats I left out for the UPS drivers. I think he actually had a virus.)

tumblr_m7lah1NMAs1qhqad1o1_500 Lesson learned- If you’re gonna leave treats for the UPS guy, you’d better leave them for the FedEx guy too.

Anyways. Back to Amazon. Since we use Amazon Prime all the time, sometimes the account doesn’t get logged out. This is where things have gotten complicated around here.

Parker is really into action figures. He likes to play out whole episodes of his favorite shows with the character toys. He seems to think every character from every show is represented by a real life toy, so he often is begging me to look for them. Somewhere along the line he figured out that Amazon is where I find the majority of his toys. Last year, when he was still 6, I allowed him to create an Amazon wish list in my account, where he can accumulate all the toys he wants in one spot for further evaluation.

One night last summer, I received this email:

314492_10151062988164089_24144485_n My WHAT has shipped?!?

What this was, was a giant blue balloon that cost $1.79 and an additional $2.99 for shipping. It wasn’t eligible for free shipping, so the shipping costs were more than the actual item. Nearly $5 for a balloon that wasn’t even blown up.

The next morning I said, “Parker, did you order a giant blue balloon on Amazon without my permission?”

He said, “It’s an adventure sphere.”

“A WHAT?”

“An adventure sphere.”

He told me that he was trying to order something he had seen on a commercial for one of his favorite shows, “Adventure Time.” Here is the commercial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgZhA2bIfgA

adventure-time-live-action 482120_10151062567529089_1613220176_n (Commercial on the left, Parker on the right)

About 2 weeks later, the adventure sphere arrived.

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Parker said, “That’s not what I thought it was,” and threw it down on the bench.

About a month later, Nathan walked into my room and was holding the balloon and the package.

“How long ago did my balloon get here?”

I stared at him for a moment in disbelief and then started laughing hysterically.

It turned out that Nathan had thought he was ordering a giant ball of some sort. I don’t think he ever attempted to blow up the “adventure sphere.” Later I asked Parker why he took the blame for ordering something he didn’t order. He responded, ” I thought I did it.”

A couple of days ago, Nathan mentioned wanting to order something for himself as an early birthday present. I said, “What is it?”

“It’s a wearable sleeping bag.”

“A what?”

“A wearable sleeping bag.”

I went over to the computer and got ready to google it, when Nathan came over and edged me out of the chair.

“You’ll never find it. Here, let me pull it up.”

He then proceeded to pull up one of the most awesome displays of random useless crap I have ever seen in my life: http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/ .

Here are some of my favorite items listed for sale on this website:

suit-pajamas Pajama suit. As seen on “How I Met Your Mother.”

bottle-opening-sandals Sandal bottle opener- for those days on the beach drinking Corona and listening to Jimmy Buffet.

beer-bottle-chandelier Beer bottle chandelier. You could make one yourself with all the Corona bottles you opened on your sandal, but you’re too drunk to put it together. We’ve done it for you.

batman-brake-light-cover Batman taillight cover. You know you want it. You can also purchase the accompanying Batman Snuggie.

toiletbowlmug You know what your breath smells like in the morning. Why not just be real about it?

thug-life-fake-tattoos I’m getting this for all my Bible study friends to wear to our next get together.

baby-crib-dribbler What’s good for the bunny is good for the baby.

So finally after perusing things I never could have imagined actually exist for purchase, we came to the wearable sleeping bag.

wearable-sleeping-bags

My nearly 15 year old son is going on a youth group camping trip with the church. There will be girls there. I started hemming and hawing and saying thinks like, “Do you really imagine yourself walking around in this?” And, “What if it is too big? You might trip all over the place.”

He said, “Yeah, maybe I will get something else.”

This morning I received this email:

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I asked my husband if he had ordered some sort of metal. He looked at me like I was crazy. I looked up what it is, and this was the description:

gallium-metal“Experience the mind-blowing power of science every time you place some gallium in your hands. This unique metal transforms from a solid to a liquid while in your hands because of its unusually low temperature melting point – and once you let it go it returns to a solid form.”

It had to be Nathan.

Me: Nathan, did you order some sort of metal chunk from Amazon for $35?

Nathan: Yes, I got it instead of the wearable sleeping bag.

Out of everything he could buy, he bought a piece of metal.

I get why he didn’t get the “DJ catscratch turntable” since we don’t have a cat.

cat-scratch-dj-turntable “You might not know it, but cats are natural DJs. Now you can let Mr. Fluffums practice his wicked DJ skills while also keeping his nails sharp with these cat scratch posts shaped like turntables that will actually spin when your cat puts his claws into it.”

But at least maybe he could go with something more entertaining than a chunk of metal.

smartphone-laser-tag Smartphone laser tag. Now THIS is genius.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Bless ‘Merica

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Zoë: Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

Me: Why do you think?

Zoe: America.

Me: ‘Merica

Zoe: Polo!

Me: No. Not Marco. ‘Merica. Say ‘Merica

Zoe: Why?

Me: That’s how the rednecks say it.

Zoe: Who are the rednecks?

Me: Never mind.

Zoe: ‘Merica.

Me: So what happened on July 4th, 1776?

Zoe: The war?

Me: What war?

Zoe: The Pilgrims?

Me: No.

Zoe: Is it God’s… no, it can’t be God’s birthday. That’s Christmas. Freedom?

Me: Freedom from who?

Zoe: Are you sure it’s not about the Pilgrims?

Me: Yes. Freedom from who?

Zoe: England?

Me: Good job. So, they signed a paper on July 4, 1776

Zoe: The Declaration of Independence!

Me: Right! So there was a war. We declared independence from England, they didn’t like that. There was a war. Which war?

Zoe: The first one? Second one? Fourth one?

Me: No.

Zoe: The Revenolutionary War?

Me: Yes! Sort of. Revolutionary war. (High five)

Zoe: And you’re sure it wasn’t about the Pilgrims?

Later…

Me: Parker, do you know why we celebrate the 4th of July?

Parker: Fireworks?

Me: Well, not really. What else?

Parker: I don’t know.

Me: What colors do you see on the 4th?

Parker: Red. and Blue. Oh and white.

Me: What are those colors like?

Parker: The flag.

Me: So when you say the Pledge of Allegiance, what do you say?

Parker: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Emerica.”

Me: Emerica. You have no idea how true that is. Do you know who the first president was?

Parker: I can’t remember.

Me: Do you know any presidents?

Parker: Well, George Washington. And Obama. And Garfield. Nathan! Did you know there was a president named Garfield?!? Like the cat! (dissolves into giggles)

Me: So do you know about the war?

Parker: I wasn’t in the war.

Me: Nathan, what do you know about the 4th of July?

Nathan turns and walks silently out the door to the back yard and lies on the hammock.

It’s always a little sobering to realize what your kids DON’T know. But then I think about my own experience with history, and it has been shocking finding out how much I don’t know, how much what I thought I knew was either the tip of the iceberg, or completely wrong.

Did you know that George Washington probably never chopped down a cherry tree? And he certainly wasn’t incapable of lying. He was a man, not a messiah. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t really even the first president of our country.

“Washington was the first president elected under our Constitution, taking office in 1789. But the United States came together as a nation years before the Constitution was enacted. In 1781, when the last of the thirteen colonies ratified the Articles of Confederation, the new country was officially brought into being.

Shortly thereafter, Congress unanimously elected JOHN HANSON of Maryland as the first president of the United States. His full title was actually, ‘president of the United States in Congress assembled.’ Congress voted to provide the new president with a house and servants, and ruled that he ‘takes precedence of all and every person in the United States.’

Hanson served only a year and is now largely forgotten, but at the time, a colleague wrote: ‘I congratulate your Excellency on your appointment to fill the most important seat in the United States.’

That letter was signed by none other than George Washington.” (“The Greatest Stories Never Told,” By Rick Beyer)

(There is a strong contingent who believe that John Hanson was not only our first president, but was also our first BLACK president. I haven’t seen convincing evidence that John Hanson of Maryland was also John Hanson the Moor. But it makes the conversation interesting, that’s for sure. )

The declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776. It was agreed upon that day. It wasn’t signed for a month.

The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a protest against a tax hike, it was actually a lowering of taxes. Once British tea became more affordable, it would ruin the black-market these “patriots” were making a killing on. (Cuban embargo, anyone?) So they dressed up like Native Americans in hopes of making them take the fall, and dumped the tea in the harbor. I gotta say, the story isn’t quite as inspiring as I was taught as a kid, once you know the truth about it.

3tge1q  “We are fighting for a cause… to keep lining our pockets”

Just like every other significant relationship, I love this country, but I don’t always like it. I like the ideals it was founded upon- “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,” “All men are created equal,” Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The reality is that at the time of the signing of this historic document espousing liberty and unalienable rights, 1/5th of the population was enslaved. That’s a hard patriotic pill for me to swallow.

One third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence actually OWNED slaves themselves. Many of our revered founding fathers spoke freedom out of one side of their mouths while defending slavery out of the other side. Thomas Jefferson, great orator and author of such gems as “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.” and “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”- 150 slaves. George Washington, father of our country- 316 slaves at the time of his death. Even Ben Franklin had 7 human beings in bondage prior to becoming an abolitionist.

I’m not saying that what they did in their pursuit of freedom from England wasn’t brave. I’m not saying that they didn’t have a lot to lose, their lives included. But I view all of the things they said and did through the lens of one who feels that you can’t only be for freedom of some, while enslaving others. How could they say those words and not hear the hypocrisy in them?

Today when I celebrate, I think of all of the people over the past 200 plus years who fought, bled and even died for the cause of liberty. I think the best way to honor them is to know the whole truth about this country’s history. Not the legends, the white-washed version, the cutesy, rhyme-y version, but the truth. We the people owe it to those who came before us. We owe it to the 19 year old boys who stormed the beaches, to the brave revolutionaries who knew that signing their name was an act of treason, to the enslaved men and women upon whose backs this country was built, to the immigrants who saw this place a beacon, and came here in hopes of making a better life for themselves, their families.

I believe our current greatest failing as a nation is that we no longer feel the need to contribute. We have loud opinions about how things should be, but no action backing it up. We care more about our “rights” as they affect us personally, and less about the people surrounding us who are supposed to be our brothers and sisters. We care more about political affiliation and we spew hate towards those who would check a different box on election day. We look for problems, rarely solutions. We are a nation divided, a people divided. Yes, we are in a time where liberties have been infringed upon. But my guess is that if our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves, it’s more likely because of our apathy about our history, and our antipathy towards  each other.

We are the UNITED freaking States of America. We are not each other’s enemies.

As my second favorite president once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

image Now let’s go blow some stuff up!