Friday, August 1, 2014

I'M SORRY

I'm sorry, but movie weekend will have to wait.

I hurt someone's feelings. She knows who she is, and I am so sorry.

I hope no one else saw the terrible thing I did. It's especially bad because I just had the series on bullying, and I bullied this person.

I am very, very sorry.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

MY BRAIN HURTS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Thank you for all your kind responses to the BULLY FOR YOU posts.

I remember seeing a Monty Python sketch years ago in which a man kept saying "my brain hurts." I remember laughing at it, but I don't know why it was funny. Maybe it was the way he said it.

I didn't write MOVIE WEEKEND today because I've been busy trying to hire a new yard guy (Original Yard Guy hasn't been here since the end of June so my yard is a jungle). I think I have found the man for the job. He's not as cute as Original Yard Guy, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices.

I also didn't write because my brain hurts. My eyes are tired. My head hurts.

However, I had a lovely experience yesterday. I went to an appointment, which went very well, and on my way home I stopped to have lunch at a restaurant I usually don't visit.  A woman with three young children was sitting near me. Two boys and a girl. The servers came out and announced that the little girl was there for her eighth birthday. The servers asked the customers to join them in singing happy birthday to her.

Many of us joined in the song and applauded her. I caught the little girl's eye and said happy birthday. She said thank you. Her eyes were beautiful, filled with hope and love and goodness.

When I left, I went over to the table and said, Normally it's not okay to take gifts from strangers, but since you're with an adult I want to give you a birthday present.

I gave her some money and told her I hoped she would buy at least one book. She jumped up and dashed to my side to hug me. I felt I was in the presence of pure love and gratitude.

Then they said that one of the boys will have his birthday on August first, so I had to give him a gift, and I couldn't leave out the third child.

The lady who was with them turned out to be their great-grandmother. She said she has permanent custody of the children because their parents abandoned them. A year ago the children were homeless and foodless and alone, she told me. I was impressed that she was so calm with the children and corrected their behavior if she thought they were too loud. They weren't badly behaved at all, though.

Love and intelligence shone in their eyes.

She said I had blessed her life by giving something to the children, but, really, the children blessed my life. They hugged me and thanked me over and over again. As I left, they called out, Thank you, Janie. We love you.

I had tears in my eyes as I walked to my car. I felt so overwhelmed I could hardly think.

God has blessed me. I wouldn't have had enough money to give gifts to those children if Willy Dunne Wooters hadn't helped me.

We live in a circle of life and love. The circle--the image of perfection. The image of endlessness.

No sharp corners for me.

I'll try to write MOVIE WEEKEND tomorrow. I know how lost you are without it. tee hee


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Faulkner died July 27th, 2010.

The Hurricane was born July 31st, 1986.
This photo is not meant to indicate that she is an ass.
Rather, she enjoyed a visit to a donkey sanctuary several years ago on her birthday.

Monday, July 28, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: KARL SCHONBORN BRINGS US FULL CIRCLE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

We began our BULLY FOR YOU journey on May 12th when I announced a series of guest posts, and one week later, I reviewed our special BULLY FOR YOU book, Cleft Heart: Chasing Normal by Karl Schonborn. To read the review, click HERE. If you haven't read the book yet, I encourage you to do so. It's packed with interesting information about Karl's life. He defeated the bullies who tormented him because of his cleft lip and palate, became a champion debater, traveled the world, and earned more than one college degree. He has what some people call "book smarts," but he has plenty of common sense, too.

I'm so pleased that Karl has weighed in on the BULLY FOR YOU guest posts when he could. He's been a pretty busy guy and undertook a book promotion tour while we were reading and pondering part of the series. Today, Karl provides a capstone to BULLY FOR YOU, by writing the final guest post.

Here's Karl:



Here's his book, which you can order at  http://goo.gl/MQfZ4C or http://goo.gl/ZY84Sb.




You can learn far more about what Karl experienced by reading his book, but for now, here's Karl Schonborn's guest post:

Dad dropped me off near the Varsity Theater on a Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto. I was happy because he and Mom had given me money for four movies in lieu of having a party on my 12th birthday. After I spotted the Art Deco sign of the theater a coupla blocks ahead, I stepped into a side street to check my money for It Came From Beneath the Sea, about a killer octopus. I wanted to see if I’d have any left over for popcorn and an ice cream bar.
Soon, despite the summer sun glinting in my eyes, I made out the silhouettes of Perry walking toward me from one side and Brad from the other. Mom had told me to never be with either bully, let alone both of them. She also said, don’t ever show your money in public
            “Going to Hsee a Hmovie?" Brad asked, mimicking my nasal speech.
            “None of your business," I retorted.
            “It's the monster movie today," Perry said.
“Give us the money, Squish Nose,” Brad demanded.    
As they closed in on me, I could feel my heart pounding and see sweat on Brad's upper lip. 
         “Give us the f***in’ money!" Brad insisted.
         “No! Go f**k yourselves!” I said.
With that, Brad wrestled the dollar bills from my grip.
       “Scram, Dipshit, before we beat you,” Perry threatened. “And don't tell a soul!”
          I bolted like a madman out of the side street onto the main street, my face expressing the anger my legs acted out. Soon I encountered kids standing in the movie line in front of the theater. Kids stepped aside and others watched me pass. 
        "What's wrong?" someone shouted
        "Schonborn's crazy," another said. 
         Others looked down the street to see what I was running from.
         I kept running. Possessed, my face and psyche glowed red from exertion and embarrassment. I knew I shouldn't be running because of doctor’s orders, but I feared Brad and Perry. I ran until I could breathe no more.
          After a moment, I started fast walking, still oblivious to my surroundings. Eventually, I found myself in the residential part of town. Once home, I told Mom I'd changed my mind about the movie. She sensed something wrong, but let me brood in my room. An hour later, the phone rang. It was Dad calling from the phone booth next to the theater, wondering where I was.   
Fast forward to the present … 
My being bullied like this—combined with an early interest in nonviolence—led me to study violence and eventually conduct research into various forms of it. Government agencies funding bullying research require adherence to specific definitions. To wit, bullying  must involve
-an imbalance of power between parties,
-physical or verbal abuse/injury,
-repeated incidents of abuse/injury the above.

Interestingly, except for the twist in Rick Watson’s story about Jack the Gentle Giant being bullied, most of the incidents related in Janie’s great BULLY FOR YOU series involve an imbalance of power:
-Mr.Squid’s Wonder incident about facially-challenged 5th grader Auggie vs violence-prone 7th grader Eddie,
-the Silver Fox vs a bigger older kid, 
-Stephanie Neighbour vs a bro-sis duo whose dad was a teacher,  
-Shady vs Ross’ posse [solo v group], and
-Shady and Neighbour’s accounts of autistic/cerebral palsy kids vs normals
Generally, the BULLY FOR YOU incidents meet the other criteria for bullying (abuse/injury, repeated occurrences). I mention the criteria because the 3 criteria help researchers stay focused on “bullying,” a phenomenon that may be growing (there’s debate) that profoundly influences kids’ development and life chances (let’s hope Rachel continues her recovery). Note from Janie: I have faith that Rachel will be successful.
[Cyberbullying is growing ‘cuz it’s relatively new. It’s scary for just that reason: adults don’t know what to make of new technology, which has created “new” kids.]
The phenomena, which’ve rightly been researched, too, but aren’t “certified” bullying, include
-hazing in frats, sororities, and adult social clubs

-taunting by teammates in sports (e.g., the Miami 
             Dolphins’ Martin-Incognito affair)

-hassling and brawling among equals in families and workplaces (Sorry, Nicki   
 Elson and your coworker)

It’s life, after all!

BTW my social science colleagues would ding me if I didn’t theorize a bit. Here goes:
I’ve noticed that some BULLY FOR YOU cases seem part of society’s trying to support and enforce “norms,” those informal understandings that govern one’s behavior (e.g., shaking hands).   In most societies, people squawk when deviations from norms and “normal” threaten them.  It’s like coworkers wanting everyone to work within a range—not too fast or brilliantly, but not too slow or stupidly. Just right.
-Linda’s pretty tapdance daughter kicked and soaked with milk by a “mousy” classmate,
-Janie’s daughter Hurricane bullied for being too smart,
-Shady’s CP friend Clifton for being too slow,

-Neighbour bullied for her differentness.


I’d like to conclude by sharing some hard-earned—along with expert-derived— advice for parents re: bullying:

-wait till the 2nd nonviolent incident (forget the one-offs) in school, elsewhere
-talk with the bully/ies, the parents, teachers, playground personnel & superiors  if   
    necessary
- insist that school and district policies be enforced (ditto any other institution)
-work out a nonviolent plan with all parties  

If violence is involved beyond pushing, shoving, etc., move up the ladder quickly from officials, to the police, to lawyers. Save torn clothing, broken glasses, etc.

For cyber bullying,  
-educate yourself re: the signs your kid’s being bullied (e.g., set up Google Alerts for
     your children’s names)
-learn the ins and outs of any chat rooms, message boards, IM sites, and social media 
  networks your children use
-role model care, respect, and civility in your own tech use
-notify all parties and talk things out re: teasing; use threats, attorneys, therapists if sex
impropriety or crimes are involved
-preserve evidence (emails, posts, tweets)

Don’t expect miracles. Everyone’s hands are tied in some way. Again, it’s life, after all. 


Thank you, Karl. I wish I'd been able to learn from your experience and advice twenty years ago. The Hurricane will be 28 in just a few days.

Thank you, also, to everyone who commented on a post or shared an experience. Special thanks to our guest posters: Rachel of  When A Lion Sleeps Let It Sleep, Tom of Shady Dell Music & Memories, Sherry of Mama Diaries, The Silver Fox of The Lair of the Silver Fox, Stephanie of http://www.stephanieneighbour.com, Nicki of Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts, Linda of PRACTICAL PARSIMONY, The Armchair Squid of The Armchair Squid, Rick of Life 101, and


Karl Schonborn
  
Author Cleft HeartChasing Normal
        Love, tragedy, mystery and triumph.
"A poignant, heartfelt tale."
                Secretary of State John Kerry  
        -   KarlSchonborn.com  
Available at Barnes and NobleBooks Inc, Amazon  


If you want to continue our discussion by writing a guest post, then please let me know. We don't have to stop talking about a topic with which so many people need assistance or need to get what happened to them off their chests.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Sunday, July 27, 2014

KARL SCHONBORN & SHEER DRESSES

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

What does Karl Schonborn have to do with sheer dresses?

Nothing more than Rick Watson had to do with sheer yoga pants last week.

But so many of you seemed fascinated and appalled by the yoga pants that when I saw an article about sheer dresses, I figured we'd better learn about the trend.

Karl is here because he'll write our final BULLY FOR YOU post tomorrow––a post that incorporates one of his experiences with being bullied as a child with advice for parents trying to protect their children. You can learn far more about the bullies who tried to keep Karl down by reading his book, Cleft Heart: Chasing Normal. 



You can also connect with Karl here:

Author Cleft HeartChasing Normal
        Love, tragedy, mystery and triumph.
"A poignant, heartfelt tale."
                Secretary of State John Kerry  
        -   KarlSchonborn.com  
Available at Barnes and NobleBooks Inc, Amazon  

Now, on we go to the sheer dresses. Remember the sheer yoga pants?



How can I forget? you may ask.

I wasn't very surprised when I saw an article this week about the trend in sheer dresses. I've been seeing the dresses when I shop online. They began as normal dresses that were sheer below the knee. Not particularly attractive to my way of thinking, but not hideous. The sheer dresses have now advanced to the point that they often provide coverage of only certain strategic areas. Or not.










Sure, these are photos of models and celebrities such as Anne Hathaway and Charlize Theron, but trends have a way of falling like a shit storm onto normal, everyday people. When you go out to dinner, or worse, to the grocery store, and spot someone in a see-through dress, then you'll know we've gone to heck in a handbasket.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Friday, July 25, 2014

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for this month's meeting of The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid. To join us or to visit other participants, please click on the link in the previous sentence and you can get the info. I don't put the sign-up list on my blog because every time I do, it comes out wrong and I don't know how to fix it and sometimes I'm so tired of fixing things, like I repaired my own toilet recently, that I just don't want to fix anything else. Furthermore, it is not a simple task, this being The Queen of Grammar. I'm held to a higher standerd than other people because I hold myself to that standerd, and does anyone know why the word standerd has a red line under it? 

Ah, it's because it's such a good word. Am I right, or am I right?

Here's what we do in The Cephalopod Coffeehouse:

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.


All righty, then. The best book I finished during the past month is The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With HARPER LEE. This book is a can't put it down book. If you have other stuff you need to do, like if your toilet is broken, then don't start reading this book. You'd better fix the toilet first. 

I started Mockingbird about ten minutes after my mail carrier delivered it last Thursday, and I finished it the following afternoon. I took time out to do stuff I had to do, but I took no pleasure in my usual tasks. I wanted to read, and I wanted the book to go on forever.


The cover photo is of Harper Lee and Mary Badham,
who played Scout, on the set of To Kill A Mockingbird in 1962.

In The Mockingbird Next Door, former Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills presents a tender and touching portrait of two very unusual sisters: lawyer Alice Finch Lee and author Nelle Harper Lee. 

Mills traveled to the Lee sisters' hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 2001 to work on an article about the town, which is the model for Maycomb in one of America's most famous and popular novels: To Kill A Mockingbird, published by Harper Lee in 1960. Mills was pleasantly surprised when Alice Lee agreed to speak to her, and gave her a tour of the Lee sisters' modest home. 

Mills was even more surprised when publicity-shy Harper Lee asked to meet with her.



In 2004, Mills rented the house next door to the Lee sisters. She went to McDonald's for coffee with Harper, fed local ducks with the two sisters, helped them watch movies from Netflix (they thought she was a technological genius because she could order movies and operate the remote control), and, best of all, listened to their memories––recollections of Monroeville and of their lives. They were particularly eager to have Mills debunk some ridiculous rumors that had spread about them over the years.

Their mother was not mentally ill, they point out, and she did not try to drown Nelle Harper, which childhood friend and neighbor Truman Capote claimed Mrs. Lee attempted on two occasions. Nelle Harper denounces Capote as a sociopath. Their friendship ended long before Capote's death in 1984. 

Although Mills states that Nelle Harper told her stories that she should include in her book, and pointed out insistently that some stories were off the record, Mockingbird  isn't a biography of Lee. It's more of a memoir about the time Mills spent with the sisters and their friends in and around Monroeville. She delighted in Alice and Harper's companionship, intelligence, ability to use words precisely, and their kindness.

I now enjoy knowing that Alice calls her younger sister Nelle Harper, but some friends call her Nelle, some call her Harper, and some use the nickname "Bear." I like it that the Lee sisters value achievement over celebrity. Harper Lee is proud of the Pulitzer Prize she won for her cherished novel, but she doesn't like people fawning over her or asking her for interviews and money, while they seek ways to exploit her. I like the anecdote about Truman Capote spending so much time at their house when they were children that their father, A.C. Lee, often asked if anyone had put Truman out for the night. 

Mills reveals a couple of unpleasant facets of Harper Lee's personality, but does not dwell on them.

Sadly, Harper Lee had a stroke in 2007 and never regained the ability to walk. She became a litigious person. She also said she had never authorized Mills' book. Alice Finch Lee, still practicing law at 100 (the age at which she retired; she is now 102), issued a statement that they had indeed cooperated with Mills. Alice and some other old friends say that Nelle Harper is mostly blind and deaf and will sign anything put in front of her by someone she thinks is trustworthy. We don't know, however, if someone convinced Nelle Harper, for nefarious reasons, to try to kill the book, or if Nelle Harper just plain changed her mind, as she has long been wont to do.

It's sad to observe the life of Nelle Harper Lee after reading such a charming book, but I wouldn't trade reading the book for not knowing that Harper Lee is elderly, confused, and less than perfect. I've read and seen some interviews with Mills. She doesn't seem the con artist type. Besides, if she wanted to cheat the Lee sisters, all she'd have to do is repeat the lies that have followed them for years. Concentrating on the negative aspects and rumors about their lives would probably make for a better selling book than one that tells about little trips to Scratch Ankle, Alabama, and eating at a diner called Wanda's.

I purchased my copy of Mockingbird from Amazon at http://goo.gl/SN2LXA.

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With HARPER LEE earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Can't Put Down That Book Approval.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Note: Alice Finch Lee and Nelle Harper Lee now live in separate assisted living facilities. If you've never read To Kill A Mockingbird, then hop to it. There's a reason I have a dog named Harper Lee and used to have one named Scout.

And have you noticed that Harper and Atticus have joined the lists of the most popular current names for girls and boys? Most students read the book in high school. Obviously, the characters stay with them. Gregory Peck played the part of Atticus Finch in the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird. Peck remained friends with Harper Lee until his death. His daughter named her son Harper. 

Shockingly, To Kill A Mockingbird was not included by the editorial board of the Modern Library in their list of the one hundred greatest books of the last century. It continues to sell thousands of copies and brings in about $1.5 million in royalties each year. Mills says that Harper Lee used her wealth generously, but quietly, providing support to charities and educating a number of people who never knew that the famous author took an interest in them.









Thursday, July 24, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: GRAVITY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I wasn't going to watch Gravity (2013, Rated PG-13, Available On DVD). It's just a boring movie about a couple of people floating around in space, right?


But then Gravity won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron (the first Hispanic person to win the award), and I decided I'd better check it out.

I'm glad I did. It's beautifully made.

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer, is on her first space shuttle mission with astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) in command. During what should be a routine space walk, the shuttle is destroyed. Stone and Kowalski float off into the blackness of space, seemingly without any hope of rescue.

The special effects and lighting in this movie are gorgeous. The Internet Movie Database explains:

Alfonso CuarĂ³n, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber decided they couldn't make the film they wanted using traditional methods. For the space-walk scenes, says Webber, "We decided to shoot (the actors') faces and create everything else digitally." To do that, Lubezki decided he needed to light the actors' faces to match the all-digital environment. Whether the characters were floating gently, changing direction or tumbling in vacuum, the facial light would need to perfectly match Earth, Sol and the other stars in the background. "That can break easily," explains Lubezki, "if the light is not moving at the speed that it has to move, if the position of the light is not right, if the contrast or density on the faces is wrong." Lubezki suggested folding an L.E.D. screen into a box, putting the actor inside, and using the light from the screen to light the actor. That way, rather than moving either Sandra Bullock or George Clooney in the middle of static lights, the projected image could move while they stayed still. The "light box", key to the space-walk scenes was a nine-foot cube just big enough for one actor.

More important to me, though, are the themes in the movie. The director and many other people seem to focus on the theme of rebirth. I can understand that, but I see Gravity more as a film about uncaring nature. The romantic poets, such as William Wordsworth, focused on the interaction between the pastoral and the individual. Remember Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality?


Though nothing can bring back the hour
          Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
              We will grieve not, rather find
              Strength in what remains behind

Later poets focused more on nature being nature and not something that relates to us. Let's take Wallace Stevens' The Snow Man as an example:


"One must have a mind of winter/To regard the frost and the boughs/Of the pine-trees crusted with snow . . . . "


In other words, we impose order on the natural world. The making of a snow man is an act of imposing the imagination on nature and giving it shape and form.


For all the beauty that Stone and Kowalski see in space, nature does not care about them:


[opening title card]: At 600KM above planet Earth the temperature fluctuates between +258 and -148 degrees Fahrenheit. There is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen. Life in space is impossible.
I wouldn't show this movie to young children. I think it would frighten them. But it should be okay for older children and teens. It has some profanity, but nothing they don't hear at school. :-(
I felt a little glow and a touch of magic after I watched Gravity, which earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.

Happy Viewing!

Infinities of love,
I don't know why these great big spaces are here between my valediction and name and I can't get them to behave and I want my breakfast, so this post is staying the way it is.
Janie Junebug



Monday, July 21, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: RICK WATSON, MIGHTY GENTLE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Our BULLY FOR YOU guest poster today is Rick Watson from Life 101. I've never met Rick in person (although he and his wife Jilda were in Jacksonville once and FAILED TO LET ME KNOW but of course I forgave that long ago), but I know he's the kind of person who doesn't bother to open his mouth or tap on his keyboard unless he has something intelligent to say.

Read and learn:

I was born in rural Alabama in the early 1950s. Being small for my age, I was the target of bullying from time to time.

When I was in the fourth grade, one of my classmates was a gentle giant. I’ll call him Jack. Jack was big enough to whip all the boys in class at the same time, but for some reason he always walked away from confrontation.

Spring came a little early that year and we all had spring fever. That afternoon a group of kids lingered on the playground playing dodge ball with a ragged basketball. Afterwards we sat around talking about all the things we’d do when the last school bell rang turning us loose for summer.

The conversation ended abruptly when a kid who was a notorious bully started picking on Jack. The taunting got ugly, and soon the bully was hammering away on Jack’s head with his fist. There were no teachers or adults around so the bully was having his way.

I stepped in to break it up. “Look, that’s enough.” The bully, who outweighed my 30 pounds, wheeled and punched me in the face, knocking me backward. I struggled to maintain my balance. The fist felt as hard as a hammer. This was the first time I’d ever been struck in the face. The punch he threw cut my lip and I tasted blood in my mouth.

Before I found my footing, the bully jumped on my back and clamped his arms around my throat.  It was hard to breathe. Just like in the movies, kids gathered around. Some were shouting for him to stop, and some egging him on.

He wouldn’t turn loose of my throat. Anger flared from somewhere deep inside and I found strength I’d never known. Reaching over my shoulders, I grabbed his neck, and flipped him over my shoulders.

He landed flat of his back hard enough to knock the wind out of him. The throw surprised him, but it surprised me even more. Blood oozed from the corner of his mouth where he’d bit his lip. I thought for a second I had killed him, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I could feel my heart beating in my temples.

What’s interesting is that I didn’t experience a feeling of triumph, or satisfaction, as one might expect. It was almost as if I were embarrassed. Some of the kids who had gathered around to watch the altercation came up afterwards to congratulate, but I was so upset that I had tears in my eyes and I didn’t know why.

I left him whimpering on the ground.  Squatting down by the oak tree in the yard, I picked up my books and lunch kit and headed down the railroad tracks toward home. Jack grabbed his books too and walked home with me. Neither of us said a word.

The next day I feared the bully would team up with his friends and corner me to get revenge, but it never happened. In fact, the bully never bothered me, or Jack again.

That incident taught me something basic about human nature. A bully will never pick on someone strong enough to kick their ass, they seek the weakest one in the herd. It’s how they feed their ego.

I also learned that standing up for yourself is necessary, and often it’s the right thing to do, but don’t expect to walk away feeling like Rocky.


Thank you, Rick. You're right: winning the fight, no matter what kind it is, doesn't always feel good.

Rick has three books available on Amazon, or you can purchase them directly from Rick at Life 101.  They're compilations of his newspaper columns. The titles are Remembering Big, Life Happens, and Life Changes. Read and relax and learn. Rick is our Alabama philosopher.

Please leave Rick some bloggy love in a comment, and I urge you to visit his blog.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug