It really has been a busy week in the world of soztheo.me. I have been delighted to have been involved in the Writerly Yours #NailbitersNovel Blog Tour. This week has also been a busy week on The Blog Tag Group, where the weeks prompts have been centered around fitness and excercise.
What do I have to say about mommy blogging – well, I’m not a mommy for one, I’m a daddy; b) I do have a mommy (it was her birthday this week… Happy Birthday again Mamoo); 3. I am in love with a beautiful mommy, who is also a great partner in crime and who teaches me everyday about this parenting thing. So, as a member of The Blog Tag, in a week theme centered around Mommy Blogging, who better than these two to help me tackle the subject matter – they are my invited co-conspirators for this weeks interview/Q&A.
So, without further ado, I proudly introduce you to the two most important mothers in my life:
Stella “Mamoo” Nestoridis, the woman that gave birth to me and managed to keep me alive (which was no easy task let me tell you). A single mother with two kids (my sister and I) who battled and soldiered forward after a disastrous marriage, and with limited support or contribution from the sperm-donor.
One day I promise to repay you for everything you have done for us!Love you Mamoo!
Anabela “AnaB” Pinto, the woman who makes my heart do boom-titty-boom; the woman who has given me the two greatest gifts in this world (apart from her love); the smile I get to look forward to on the bleh-est of days.
She amazes me with just how much of an awesome Momma she is. My boys are truly blessed to have her as a mom (and me to have her as the Mrs).
Love you babes!!!
– and then there’s me, soztheo.me, “Dad“, I’ll occasionally offer my thoughts…
So to start off, before I get to the Friday Q&A, I think we’ll briefly tackle the daily challenges that were up for posting this week:
Monday – Most memorable Mommy Moment
AnaB: The first time I held my boys – Surreal! It’s the first time you feel unconditional love.
Dad: And I would have to concur… I remember when we were in the ward after the event, just holding them and staring at them both for hours, as the brain tries to catch up with what has just happened… For a dad, it’s the first real moment of connectedness, for moms the baby has already been a part of them for nine months, but the first solid and tangible realisation happened once they were in my arms.
With Ari it was a little harder, as he was in ICU having been delivered early as my beautiful Bela had developed gestational diabetes – it was so scary – and to top it off, when he came out his umbilical cord was in a knot, so we were really blessed after the trials before! so we had to wait before we could hold or even touch hime, but when it finally happened… #Love
Tuesday – Tips for a new Mom
Mamoo: For an expecting mom, prepare to be uncomfortable, I hated the discomfort… They romanticize it, it’s actually okay, you are not alone, the discomfort sucked! When it comes to toddlers, give them the freedom to explore, but with boundaries – so that means you have to watch the Hell out of them. For teens… It doesn’t really change… Watch Them, Watch Them, WATCH THEM (They are up to SH1t)!
Dad: Thanks Mom
AnaB: Lol!!!1. Ask for support, you don’t have to do it all yourself. 2. Relax and Enjoy every moment, they grow so fast! 3. Figure your own way out… Each child is different.
Wednesday – What does it mean to be a Mother
AnaB: Being a mother is the most challenging yet rewarding thing you will ever do in your life. When you don’t have kids you know no better, when you have kids you can’t imagine your life without them.
Thursday – Day in the life of a Mom
Dad: She doesn’t stop, she’s amazing like that – I do my best to keep up, but she’s just amazing at being everything she is…
Mamoo: And you have to do your part Dad!!! It’s really tiring, I was working five jobs.
I had a “morning” half-day office job until 13h00,
Then I would travel to the ballet shop I owned (and which your father destroyed), trying to keep that alive was tough (eventually suppliers wouldn’t work with us, and this was after the divorce, but just because of his association with business, I eventually sold it to other owners for literally nothing, all we did was sign the papers over).
I was working as a hostess at a restaurant in the evenings, I would pick you kids up from school, have dinner with you quickly to be at work at 18h00, and only get home at about 02h00 in the AM.
On the weekends I then taught dancing lessons,
and I sold clothes in what ever little spare time I had after all of that!
1. When did you become a mom/dad? & 2. How many kids do you have and what are their names?
Mamoo: I have two big babies; My son (let’s call him soztheo.me) who is 36 years of age and a daughter, Miranda (33).
Dad: The first time we became parents was on 23rd April 2012 when Alexi José Nicolaos Pinto Theofrastos was born (yeah, our kids are going to hate us, but they say your parents mess you up, and we started early – his names printed into the serated edge of his birth certificate)…
Ari Nestor Antonio Pinto Theofrastos came this year, he is 5 months old and was born on the 3rd February 2016 (his name just fit on his birth certificate :P).
3. Do you want more children?
AnaB: When my hubby becomes a millionaire, then we can have a third :)…
Dad: …coz I really, really want three; which is a surprise because I never wanted to have kids… but they really do change you!
4. What is the most challenging thing about being a mom/dad?
Mamoo: In retrospect… Keeping the peace in the household. When you’ve got two brats like I had… I never succeeded… It was World War 3 daily!
Dad: Totally justified (we really were nightmare children)… So which of your two kids is your favourite (just jokes)?
AnaB: The most challenging thing for me is spending quality time together as a family, and splitting time between the boys.
Mamoo: It’s so important! Those are actually my favourite memories of raising my kids, those quality moments when we spent time together without the two of them trying to kill each other (which was quite seldom)… It’s also some of the favourite memories of my mom, like when we used to sit up watching movies, my kids, me and my mom, watching movies in the flat.
Dad: For me, that’s a part of it, for me it’s the whole “are we doing the right thing?”, coz while they didn’t come with manuals there are alot of manuals, and opinions, and best intentions we as parents have for our children…
5. What was your first reaction when you found out you were having a baby?
AnaB: I was delighted, always wanted to be a mom.
6. Does your child/children have a favourite toy they can’t live without?
AnaB: Alexi and his Teddy
7. Are you a stay at home parent? If so how has being a stay at home parent impacted your life? If not how do you handle work and family?
AnaB: I’m a working mom. I really do try to keep a balance between the 2, I dedicate time from 16h00 – 19h00 to the boys, and ensure that’s dedicated time – no compromises…
Mamoo: So I was a single, working mom. It was all I knew, I never had the luxury to compare it to anything else. It was financially difficult. I don’t know if I handled it all that well, but it was a thing of survival. The single parent must be as stern as the father should have been in the house, without over-pampering the children, and prepare yourself for a bit of a financial battle… Mind you not every single parent has a financial battle, some are very, very well looked after – in my day, it was a stigma as well…
Dad: I remember, I was one of two kids in my class who came from a family of divorce, it’s a lot more accepted nowadays…
Mamoo: And it’s never what I wanted for my kids. I was very fortunate, my memories of my mother are of me coming home, just her being there every day when I came home from school, it was amazing, she took such pride in her mom duties, fully cooked meals, quality time…
8. Do you co-sleep?
Dad: We do co-sleep, it’s a rather controversial topic when you really delve into it, but it’s such a delicate balance and it’s at these moments you go with your gut and instincts.
9. What is your childs favourite TV show?
AnaB: Alexi – The Lego Movie; Angry Birds
Dad: LOL! It started with Teletubbies – we put it on when he was very little just to see if there was a reaction (I am a child of TV and Film); those things are evil man – it was an instantaneous connection. Then we went through the Barney phase (and I said I would never… ever…), but like I said, they change you – it was when I was singing all the songs that I realised that it’s not always a good thing!
10. Favourite baby/kid item that makes your life easier?
AnaB: Bottle Warmer; dummy; bouncing chair
Dad: It’s not a popular answer, but sometimes the hypno-box is just the distraction you need…
11. Why did you start blogging about your kids?
Dad: I don’t really blog exclusively about my kids and parenthood, but my blog is all about the world around me and my family are a huge… correction, the hugest aspect of my reality!
12. What are your favourite baby care brands?
AnaB: Fissan Bum Creme; Johnson & Johnson Top to Toe; Sterimar; Sudocreme
13. What are you favourite kid friendly restaurants?
Dad: Papachino’s is great (although the one we frequented was out of our immediate area and is now closed!?!} Spur is the natural answer, every parent’s best friend (although you do get sick of the food after a while), but at least it keeps Alexi occupied and having fun! Lastly, there is a gem in Bedfordview called Happily Ever Laughter, look it up if that is within your range of necessity – great food, great atmosphere and great children’s facilities.
14. Have you been on holiday with your kids, how was that experience? If not where would you like to go?
Dad: We’ve been on holiday a few times, it is a bit of a logistic nightmare (and suddenly boot space becomes the most important thing when choosing a car), but…
AnaB: …when we took Alexi to Cape Town in December! It was his 1st time on an aeroplane, he swam in the ocean for the 1st time and he loved Table Mountain – It’s the best holiday we’ve had!!!
15. Do you have any help with your children? Family, friends a nanny?
AnaB: Vovo (My mom, Portuguese for gran); Yia-Yia (His Dad’s Mom, Greek for gran); my husband
Dad: It’s all about Bela (AnaB), I don’t know where I’d be without her, she really is the center that makes it all worth. The grandmother’s of our Portu-Greek household are vital, and I have to mention my brother-in-law José and my sister-in-law Lauren; they has guided us (parents to three boyz) through this parenting-thing from the beginning. First thing in the morning after Alexi’s first night home we called them to our rescue – Family is so important!!!
Mamoo: For me there was my mom who lived next door, and Nahsisi, she was our maid then, our domestic worker now, an integral part of this families journey, so much so that her kids are our kids and siblings to my kids – I couldn’t have done it all without her!
16. What are your favourite places to shop for your kids?
AnaB: Cotton-On; Woolworths; Ackermans
Dad: Anywhere that sells toys 😛
17. Your kids naughtiest moment.
AnaB: Alexi ran away from me in a hotel, straight into an elevator and the door closed immediately – him on the inside; me on the outside; and the elevator started moving…
Dad: I remember that, Anabela was very pregnant at the time… For me it was when Alexi started his new school and about two weeks in when I went to collect him his teacher pulled me aside and said, “Your son, yesterday, snuck away during lunchtime in the dining hall, and we found him flooding the classroom…” – He was literally, repeatedly, filling up his drinking cup at the basin and pouring it on the floor… Laughing when they found him… I was mortified and embarrassed, but I also chuckled inside (in fear, because it’s a scary kind of mischief), and all I could say was, “Wait… You lost my kid…”
18. What is your best advice for new parents?
AnaB: Spend time together as each moment passes you by, you never get it back – enjoy every little moment!
Dad: Sleep!!! Don’t sweat the little things (and that is easier said than done)…
19. Have you had any bad experiences as a parent?
AnaB: I think for me it is just how judgmental, rude, discourteous and impolite people can be towards parents and pregnant mothers, especially during my pregnancy with Ari – I mean, you are actually incensed with me because I am in the parent way!
Mamoo: But you don’t take criticism, you brush it off and let it run off like water off a duck’s back because every situation and every child and every character is different, because I honestly believe it’s too dynamic, there isn’t a correct way to do it. So it is just a case of, what right do you have to criticize someone else because you’re not in that situation and vice versa, what right do they have to criticize you.That’s basically it.
For me, you guys, my kids, always fight! I never managed to get that out of you, to knock it out of you, you are still always bickering! You still fight like cats and dogs.
Dad: Yeah, but we love each other!!! And woe be to those who cross our united battle faces!!!
Mamoo: That’s fine, but the memories that come to mind are of me being at work and getting those phone calls (especially during the holidays)… constant… do you know what it was like?
MOMMY! Sozos hit me…
Well there’s nothing I can do, I’m at work! Sort it out!
two minutes later…
MOMMY! Miranda bit me…
I can’t do anything about it, I’m at work!!!
(put the phone down)
two minutes later…
Madam! The children she’s fighting!
Well sort them out, I’m at work, what can I do?
But she’s fighting
Just… hit them… put them… separate them
two minutes later; the phone…
Listen here Stella! WHAT KIND OF CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE?
(It was my mother)
And then (from school):
I’m done, come fetch me.
I’m at work!
But it is your lunch time, leave the office quickly, you’ve got a lunch hour come take me home
(these were daily phone calls from school)
You guys were unrelenting and demanding!!!
Dad: #WeDon’tCondoneChildAbuse – we really were horrid kids, and in between the above renditions there are copious amounts of laughter at the memories of how difficult we were…
20. Complete the sentence I love being a mom/dad….
AnaB: …because I love what my boys teach me daily. They remind me to smile, be patient, be young and have fun! Their sweet innocent nature and ability to be carefree – they remind me to enjoy every moment I have with them.
Dad: FULL STOP… because of the meaning they bring to this journey called life! With them I got a new name, Daddy (well two, like Superman), but really one that will forever be associated with me, they have changed me in the simplest and most profound of ways. The short answer? #LOVE
Mamoo: …’cos when I look at my kids now I’m really proud that despite all the difficulties they have turned out to be honest, hard-working, good characters and people. When you hear how tough it was from everything I’ve said before, it’s a great sense of pride for me!
I love being a grandparent because when I get tired I get to give them back to their parents (Laughter!?!)
I cannot believe that we live in a time where on the day of Elie Wiesel’s death, the day that Night fell upon the light it produced, that today of all days, I am penning a post entitled ‘Defending Madiba’.
TRIGGER WARNING: POLITICAL COMMENTARY; RHETORIC WHICH CAN BE LABELLED WHITESPLAINING WHICH IS SYMPTOMATIC OF THE WHITE FRAGILITY WHICH WILL BE EVIDENCED BY THE AFORE-MENTIONED ‘SPLAINING THAT IS WHITE…
OH! IT’S A LONG ONE!!!
I actually cannot believe that I am sitting here thinking about how I am going to construct this post…
I cannot believe that we live in a time where on the day of Elie Wiesel’s death, the day that Night fell upon the light it produced, that today of all days, I am penning a post entitled ‘Defending Madiba’. It has been brewing for a while, this need to say something, to offer a perspective, an admittedly white one which wants to now defend a legacy which is slowly being dismantled and dragged through the proverbial mud.
It commenced with a tweet stream shared on Facebook:
I do not agree with an approach to a topic in which the achievements of a mere human being; an individual who has stepped into the role of leader during a tumultuous time; a man who took on the role to lead, inspire and direct the course of a damaged country as an ideological proponent and ambassador, can be so flippantly undermined and disregarded, while at the same time an admission to the fact that a civil war was avoided by his choices are so matter of factly stated.
Think about it… The man’s Rainbow Nation unification ideal prevented a civil war. Only a civil war. Only murders, deaths, kills. Bloodshed. Stats really.
A man. Madiba. Any of us could have done that right? A man. What makes a man? Who knows for certain what the burden and thoughts about his actions and decisions meant to his self assessment of his work? Is a man only human?
Was the atrocity of the apartheid legacy lost during that time, whitewashed? I don’t have all the answers. I Believe that yes it was. I imagine that the state controlled news sought to hide and downplay the atrocity of it, kinda like the SABC does today? No longer in Mandela’s control, there have been two full presidencies since his one term “reign” which could have un-whitewashed his terrible contribution to the South Africa we live in today… Did Mandela make concessions? Yes, I am sure he did. I am sure that like any other leader, he was just a man, approaching the problems before him in what he believed was the best way to do so – hmmm… How interesting. Just a man. Not God. A mere mortal. Who inspired a people. Who inspired the globe in a way that his own constituents were not even aware of. Who prevented a war…
Hindsight. That wonderful space where armchair critics get to operate.
I admit it, there hasn’t been enough done to address the issues that exist as part of the inherent legacy of apartheid. But maybe our Doctors should be focussing on healing, plumbers focussed on drains, pilots keeping aeroplanes in the sky. Maybe parents and teachers were selfishly more concerned about ensuring that their own children got the best chance at a future in uncertain times, that therefore they never actually read the “How to be a Rainbow Nation” handbook…
Oh wait, there is no handbook is there, was there? There was too much practical work done around creating an ideology which a single man believed to be the best approach to ensuring a future for this country. A black man in post-apartheid South Africa. A former political prisoner with full capability to create a nation soaked in the blood of vengence. A black former political prisoner in post-apartheid South Africa who wasted his time and breath and life in trying to steer us away from a civil war… Stupid man…
I must say I have heard it said many a time, in amongst calls for genocide, that “white people were given a get out of jail free card.” Ummm, no they/we weren’t, because get out of jail free implies freedom from the jail which imprisoned us, where was the memo issued to our parents that directed them on where to report to for parole evaluation and community service? The onus was on white people to know that they should do this… How and when? Who said so? I honestly believe that when you hear the majority of white people exclaim in perceived ignorance and surprise that there is and was an onus on them, it’s because they really are ignorant and surprised. Point? Maybe the white person who says “but I have black friends”, is someone who happens to have black friends, and who genuinely believes that they are doing enough in appreciating their friends despite of and because of the colour of their skin, while unblocking drains, performing open-heart surgery and flying terrorists to far off lands.
And as for the idea that Germany is the handbook… Rainbow they are not! They have had seventy one years to rebuild their economy, the rebuild included breaking down a divisive wall which cut the country in half. They also had their get out of jail free card when 17 billion marks of debt was written off (in 1953, 17 billion, that’s alot today), and a 30 year extension on the remaining 15 billion marks was given, allowing them the greater latitude to take better control of their financial destiny and opportunity of investment into building a Germany they could be proud of… A Germany that doesn’t believe in writing off debt. And yes, there is something to be said about the fact that in that there was a space to focus on the human decency in school which teaches them that Nazism, concentration camps and genocide are bad – I also remember learning that in school in History, I’m sure that in our super connected modern world many people know this is wrong…
It’s intrinsic common human decency (except on South African social media), and I can tell you this with unqualified certainty, that the majority of white people in South Africa today do not think that apartheid was an awesome idea, or actively call for genocide and the mass murder of black babies.
Could we/they, white South Africans, learn and do more? Yes for sure, please step away from your scalpel, put your wrench down, and let go of the steering wheel, don’t you focus on the futures of your kids, they need to be secondary to the lessons that need to be taught but for which no agreed process or handbook exists. We can’t even agree on the validity of reverse-racism, whitesplaining vs blacksplaining, freedom of speech, censorship, the role of satire, how parliament should work, the role of the public protector, the SABC, state funds or the president himself…
What do we know for certain? That if you have the opportunity in your lifetime to steer your nation away from a civil war, think twice, for that may not be the decision which needs to be made, maybe we should relook at the advantages of a civil war, we can get vengence, put people in concentration camps and maybe throw a little genocide into the mix… We are just people after all. We are merely men (and women). It’s only natural for man to engage in war right? One man cannot be lauded with the attribution of merely avoiding that in the pursuit of a greater ideal, could he?
For surely if he did something so atrocious as to lead a country down the wrong path for 5 years, 17 years and two presidents from the same party controlled government ago, he must be solely to blame? It cannot be the same party who has done nothing to correct the false course that crazy man set us on, could it? No, that would be tantamount to white people not accepting their role in getting us to this point, because white people have all the power you know, they are solely responsible for our current state! Average white people, who don’t understand sociology, psychology, philosophy, political discourse and that atonement is more than just an olden day British movie starring Keira Knightley which sometimes plays when there should be other exciting, informative and educational movies like White Chicks to watch; the average white people should have psychically known that it was and is their role to take a stand during and after apartheid, and that being that they are ignorant (which is the root of all prejudice) they should magically discover what there ignorance induced limitations are, and address them. Silly, white, just people…
Perhaps, just perhaps, the same will be said of all South Africans today in the future. A lack of accountability for our actions. A lack of focus. A lack of the kind of idealism and unity that has built great nations. Like a nation united by a leader of substance and idealism. An approach that would seek to unify us, people of all colours, together, like the colours of the rainbow. Together. Standing up and collectively taking ownership of the cause, instead of expecting those who know no better to know better. That as the minority, we must solely effect the kind of change that would be easier for a majority to achieve. Where’s my “I am David” t-shirt, when i wake up tomorrow it’s my duty to take on Goliath… I’m just a man after all, I can do this right? Can’t I? One man can inspire and steer the masses towards unity against the insurmoutable right? Wouldn’t it be great if there was such a legacy to aspire to?
Because, 20 years ago I thought I had a great leader, and I thought this because he did manage to steer us away from a civil war, but I am sitting here now going that this terribly flawed human being had misled me and an entire nation. So now I must do something about this because as a white man it all sits on my shoulders. I must atone. And as an individual I do, I really and truly do apologise that I am a benefactor of a systemic anomaly which resides within the system (it’s Matrix-y, but really it’s not flippant because); this anomaly has the minority in a position of power over the majority, because being white of skin affords me the financial and social advantages which the majority have been, and are, unable to attain unless I and all like me “atone” – and what does that look like…
Well I should know, I’m white. I cannot ask a person of colour for guidance, I have in fact been told categorically by “learned” peoples of colour (learned because obviously they’ve been through all of this before and they have a handbook I don’t have access to apparently); that it is not the role of black people to hear us, answer our questions, work with us, they’ve given us more than enough. This is a white issue, we must figure it out for ourselves… Hmmm…
Now here is the irony. Our country is in turmoil, and the majority is in power, any action of meaning the minority takes would imply that because we are on our own in this space, we would need to make a movement, a movement meaningful enough to effect change implies a force of power, and we would need to get it right to a standard which would be set on-the-fly by a majority that does not want to engage with us on what said movement should look like. This force to effect change, uninformed by the input of the majority which is essential to it’s success, could, if it were to not be deemed satisfactory by the majority, result in a civil war (I mean remember what happened the last time the minority white leadership “made a mistake”). Seriously, must this minority shoulder the responsibility and weight and risk (in the face of race-based/historic-based consistent prejudice), to attempt to achieve the insurmountable, so that if it fails they take the full responsibility thereof?
I absolutely do not seek to diminish the atrocities of Apartheid. I hate apartheid. I hate being a beneficiary of apartheid. I apologize for apartheid on behalf of all of mine who can’t. I live everyday knowing that this country I live in is the way it is because of apartheid, and I try in my way to actively address it…
This country is also in the state that it is in because of a systemic Bush-esque, manipulative and subliminal fear campaign which threatens the security of every man, woman and child which lives on its soil, whose ancestors are buried in its earth. If racism and systemic racism is all about power, and we want to change the society we live in, we should seek to unify, like a nation of all colours, like a rainbow.
If we go the other route, and take a minority and force them to be supplicant to the majority, we thereby endorse the establishment of a system of power based on the idea that because of a persons skin colour they are inherently an inferior class citizen of a nation divided upon racial lines. That because I am white, I must hang my head in shame, and me and my progeny must forever exist to atone for the fact that I was born in a country which was setup amorally by people who kinda looked like me (sans big nose and olive complexion) in a land that was built upon an ideology that was set to divide, and that therefore could not embrace an ideology that sought to unite…
I know this:
All my life I’ve heard stories about children and people of colour hating on their own skin, chasing an ideal of what is beautiful and what is desirable at the cost of their own personal identity. It is atrocious that we live in a society where people hate on themselves for being who they were born to be – I never want to be one of those people, I never want to view my identity as an affliction, or to view my skin colour as an undesirable aspect of myself – I am a white man.
When I think of Nelson Mandela, I do tend to lean toward the symbolic arena, with a history like ours we deserve a legacy of esteem and pride, something and someone which speaks to the ideals we hope to live by. But I also think of a human being, an imperfect member of this human race. I hear people say “These whites and their Madiba”, what about it? What is so offensive. Do you know what about the man I hold in esteem? If I must not presume to know what goes on in the head of a person of colour, is it not a fair expectation to accept the same level of human regard and consideration. Defensive much? Sorry…
I can’t understand the need to not hold our heroes up high, to allow populist rhetoric to undermine a legacy worthy of its place in history. If he was but a pebble thrown into a lake, the power and force of that ripple has tsunami’d around the world. And it is a quintessentially South African Tsunami.
For me, Nelson Mandela offered himself as a beacon of light, he became a major icon of a time, the face and voice of a cause that needed a face and a voice. A face and a voice that effected and inspired activation of international involvement in the fight against apartheid… A lot of that was “white” support, in a “white” world. Knowing that he had become to symbolize something greater than himself, he made decisions, often unpopular in hindsight, which fed a legacy that would be sad to be so grossly unappreciated by his own people. A legacy that demonstrated selflessness, forgiveness, humility, triumph, empathy, understanding, hope, inspiration – this is the icon, the man was a black person in South Africa, one of many who took a stand against evil, standing for what you believe in, being prepared to die for it, that alone speaks to a man who is worthy of admiration, and worthy of forgiveness himself if you are that angry.
There is so much work which needs to be done in this beautiful land. White people holding other white people accountable is one way to do it, but I fear a different kind of divide, especially in a country where, no matter what, people will vote for the ANC, not because they are the best party, but only because of the liberation legacy. A legacy which has been destroyed over the past decade. But one that now shifts the blame to the man that ushered it into a new era. He was a human being with a huge task. Just a man…
In closing I take it to the core. It’s motherhood week on the blog tag. Let me tell you about just a woman. I love my mother very much, I don’t agree with every decision this divorced mother of two, working four jobs made for my life. In my twenties I was damn resentful of some of those decisions, some memories of tough love still smart, but I can’t ever understand the full extent of her reasons and thoughts during that decision making process – and believe me I’ve tried, and discussed, and theorised. She was just a woman who had to make some decisions in my best interest.
It’s her 63rd birthday this week, some of those decisions she made most probably have contributed negatively to my life path, some of them toughened me up. I love my mommy. I could be angry at her until the end of her days for her mistakes. Instead, I acknowledge she is human. I trust that her intent was genuinely in my best interest. I know sacrifices were made in the hopes for my life. She has taught me in ways and with lessons that are applied, and improved on in light of her imperfections, in my raising of my kids. She set an imperfectly perfect template which I could only but hope to aspire to and improve upon. She is an amazing testament to overcoming and rising above personal circumstance and tragedy. She is a light…
I know it’s been a long one, and if you made it to this point thank you and I hope that it wasn’t a complete waste of your time. This was a free flow, but I couldn’t in good conscience not respond to the twitter thread of someone who like many of us just wants to do the right thing in this time, in this country.
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
– Elie Wiesel
Now, do we really really want to take a genuine South African beacon of light; our Madiba; Nelson Mandela; Father of a Rainbow Nation, and cast him back into the Night?
It’s been an exciting week on The Blog Tag though, as the group of inspirational bloggers have been dealing with a week themed travel
I’ve been away from my blog for way too long – such is the life of “making it happen”…
It’s been an exciting week on The Blog Tag though, as the group of inspirational bloggers have been dealing with a week themed travel, and as much as I wanted to contribute I was unable to. And now, here I is :)!
In brief this week for me was going to be about a personal journey I have been on. I’m a Sagittarius, our natural urge is to travel (if you believe in that), I have dream destinations including Iceland, New Orleans, South America and back to my ancestral home of Greece, but for me this week was going to break the norm expected in the themed tag…
I wanted to tell you all about a holiday I have been on recently. 2016 has been a year of great personal change and flux; a new baby, new employment path, it’s been exciting and scary. This blog is one outcome of that, but the best holiday I took this year was a holiday from my problems. I have taken the initiative to step away from petty yet destructive fears and self-doubt, and have found my way to a Home of Hope…
Home of Hope is an organization I currently have the privilege of working with. It is an autonomous, self-started initiative Founded in 2000 by Khanyisile Motsa which provides real care for exploited, trafficked and abused children in the city of Johannesburg. More than just a shelter, it is a home in the truest sense of the word, restoring dignity to those who need it most, nurturing love and a future to those who should not be without.
I have had the privilege to volunteer, contribute and collaborate as part of the team which is realigning the digital strategy of Home of Hope, and we will be launching the new website soon, so stay tuned! In the interim please like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter @A_HomeofHope. It has been an enriching experience and I look forward to the journey on the road ahead with the home, it is truly the most rewarding vacation from the trivialities of my existence…
So if you, like me, have ever thought about getting involved, do it today!
“There is one way to learn, it’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
If you find yourself in a relationship with an individual whose day is occupied with an over-inflated and dangerously oppressive personality, who does not listen, accepts no accountability and wallows in there own self-importance, who needs constant admiration and seems to take pleasure in putting you down, look a bit further – I recently learned that narcissism as I understood it (vanity) is not narcissism at all.
Narcissists are actually an extreme personality type, a pathologically dangerous one at that, that could cost you more than you know. They are charmers and liars, and ultimately everyone in their realm are emotional punching bags and pieces in their game. They are power hungry and will leave you damaged in their wake, to such a degree that it will take you a long time to recovery. They are damaged people, who damage other people, and will never have your best interest at heart because they are disabled of empathy.
If these traits are sounding, even in their briefness, a little too close for comfort, it may be time to do some homework (there is alot of info out there)…
Identify and step away before it’s too late… Not much more to say…
Well, one stupid post by a stupid Real Estate Agent threatened to overthrow all that is positive about the South African Dream… The South African Dream, and ideal, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, Nelson mandela himself, have all been effectively trampled on for the last couple of years…
Her name was Penny Sparrow, and she made a comparison of the throngs of black beach goers on New Year’s day, and the chaos left in the wake of said masses, to monkeys… Social media picked up on it, and the start of 2016 went spiralling down the proverbial drain, along with almost any consideration of a shared humanity and national purpose between the races in South Africa. Racism it seems is everything that is wrong with South Africa, and the fact that “whites” thought it was okay to air such rhetoric upon an unsuspecting populace was proof of this (and alot of “whites”didn’t, but they are irrelevant apparently). In the wake of this radio personalities and leading national economists were knocked down on by one, as threats of white genocide became acceptable and defensible… Controversial enough?
Lost in all of this madness were the occurrences of the year before, the allowances that have been excused have now rendered action that is currently underway permissible, and our beautiful capital city Tshwane burns tonight… We have a corrupt leadership, a Parliament that has spiralled out of control under a leadership that can only correct itself by accepting the responsibility! And yes, as Tshwane teaches us, where there is smoke there is fire! If our President is not corrupt then pass the tobasco, I have a hat to eat. Just last year we allowed our students to cause chaos and destruction, it was publicized, it was commended, and to those who witnessed the power of the students who are more privileged than they, it demonstrated that if you are angry, then be chaotic. In it’s wake we had a xenophobic catastrophe that cost people lives… People are angry, the actions of the masses which liberated a country and put people in power, is now working against them, and there will be casualties…
Controversial posts? How about not enough time to fully explore the meaning and intention of our fellow humans? I mean, this is high-level and will be interpreted, misinterpreted and perceptions will be impressed upon it. And…
Shocker! I am white! I am controversial, because not only am I white, but I am white and have an opinion… Are you angry? Provoked? Then surely I must be worthy of a death threat?
Do you know Marina Abramović? Check her out, one of the most shockingly provoking artists of the past century, and watch her documentary please – it’s amazing!!! Anyway, the reason I bring her up is because of a certain performance:
To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her. Abramović placed on a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions. This tested how vulnerable and aggressive the human subject could be when hidden from social consequences. By the end of the performance, her body was stripped, attacked, and devalued into an image that Abramović described as the “Madonna, mother, and whore”. Additionally, markings of aggression were apparent on the artist’s body; there were cuts on her neck made by audience members, and her clothes were cut off of her body.
Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained passive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it later: “What I learned was that … if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.”
Relevance? As a member of this society in which I have given but a brief glimpse of my perceptions, I have experienced two instances of “controversial” expressions of opinion biting me in the arse…
First: There was a Real Estate agent who left her dog in a company branded car. People were angry and photos were taken after she swore at members of the public who confronted her. I shared the image on her employers FB page and asked if this was okay? I, among others, tried to contact her to say it’s not okay. I then gave her the benefit of the doubt, contacting her, telling her that i was sure she was a nice lady and loved her animals, having just left them there for a moment to buy them some nibbles from the Woolies. But, by the end I had her friends phoning my house and threatening to harass me if I didn’t talk to them. My Mrs was accused of being the person who took and posted the original photo – and in all of this she never once accepted that what she had done was in any way wrong, and that it was her actions that resulted in the situation at hand… Funny that… A Real Estate Agent… Like Penny Sparrow…
Then: In the wake of all the racial tension and hatred flying so venomously around me, I requested to join a prominent Facebook Page (let’s call it A Converstion Whatsit) which advertises itself as the place to be to engage the issue of racial relations honestly. I was eventually kicked off the group as I was confronted by levels of hate I could not understand, and questioned these rather aggressively after being targeted by a specific member of the group. Ultimately all I can say about this is that white people are entitled to a voice, and offence can be issued from both directions.
The idea that reverse racism doesn’t exist is false, you may not like that, but if racism is all about power, and you exist in a domain where power is race-aligned (in a Facebook group, for example), where the colour of your skin renders you not entitled to an opinion; that if you have an opinion it is invalid because of the colour of your skin (if you are white); that if you have an opinion it will be white washed and labelled as whitesplaining; that to be a part of said group you must accept, without comment for the reasons already raised, any offensive propoganda and leftist ideology that is hurled your way; that any relationship you have with people of colour exists as a master/servant dynamic because you do not accept the “fact”, notions or attacks by people on the group; that malicious targeting and provocation on social media is acceptable by people of colour, and that a response by a white person to provocation is proof of “white fragility”, but that if you as a white person challenge or provoke then you are labelled; etcetera, etcetera and so forth…That because of the above, if you don’t align, because the colour of your skin (and only that) has fed your point of view, that because you are white in skin and opinion, well then you are exited by those in a position of power on the group… but it’s not racist (even though racism is about power, but apparently not within a social medium)…
It was rough, because the intention to engage was pure, and when I was ex-communicated and blocked, I struggled with it for a very long time as I dealt with the months of conditioning and the guilt that was flung around in the space like a bag of doo-doo attached to a ceiling fan. And then months passed, and I witnessed a person who I knew to be a member of this group launch into their self-righteous attack upon another uneducated, less-than-human, white person, on a community WhatsApp group. It was then that I realised something, an epiphany if you will, that in having unpopular opinion, especially in public, is like being Marina Abramović, you welcome the response of the aligned hordes. The problem with aligned hordes is that not a single one can look in the mirror and intellectually quantify unanimously what aligns them, they are just wrapped up in a zeitgeist of unqualified sentiment, and armed with pieces of other people’s appetizing (to them) thinking…
The point! I don’t try to be controversial or offend, but we are how many people on this planet? There is always someone who is going to be offended, and I am always happy to apologise for offending if there is an ability to have a civilized conversation and explore the offence caused. But when it comes to self-censorship, I made a decision last week that I am ashamed by… I was tasked with a creative challenge regarding creating an image around proving Sea Monkeys in the real world, and I started and then stopped for fear of backlash… The opportunity available in the task? (Sea Mankeys, See Monkeys… I had an idea of Zuma’s head open, and where his brain should be would be a bunch of sea Monkeys driving it, Sea Monkeys… Monkeys of the Sea… Our President… Sea Monkeys, which aren’t even monkeys but are shrimp called Sea monkeys… But there’s the possibility of people reacting to the idea of the combination of Monkey, Sea and Skin colour… Our South African President is the leader of the ANC, and he’s black… Sea Monkeys… DON’T DO IT!!! What will other people think!!!), and I went in another direction, even though my response was actually not playing on the monkey aspect, it was intended to play on the idea that our presidents brain is being driven my microscopic shrimp, who happen to be called sea monkeys…
I am not the SABC (or any other government organ), I will not tell a lie. Inevitably it is I who has to look at myself in the mirror and know that I am a good person, sometimes off-sides, but never intentionally hurtful… And well I am prepared to learn and explore other opinions and thought, I care about what I care about, life is an equal opportunity, we can give life, we can take it away, and so we are equally powerful in our ability to effect and affect each other’s lives (directly or indirectly). Man, my actions up to now have had very little to do with the impending Junk Status, but I will bear the effects of it caused by other peoples actions! No matter what your defining circumstances may be, you have the ability to effect my life. So when it comes to self-censorship (even though these days, for purposes of inner-peace these kinds of post will be few and far between), I must declare that My Cup of Giving a F–k, really and truly is running empty…
It has been a really busy week for me personally, and I missed a day of blogging yesterday, but not for nought – it’s hard work being a family man, so I thought I would take the time today to answer yesterdays question on The Blog Tag, as well as the end of week Q&A 🙂 I also didn’t do the tag post from Tuesday as my Monday Book Review was also about my favourite book of all time, Beloved by Toni Morrison, so that was a two for one-er – apparently while missing a day or two I also over-delivered (it’s all about balance 🙂 )!
So without further ado, My list of my Top 5 Favourite Book (Series) of all time
– Wait a minute soztheo.me, it’s your Top 5 Favourite Books of all time?
– Did you not hear me, voice on my screen, I’m over delivering here, so without further ado, soztheo.me’s favourite:
Top 5 Book Series of All Time
1. The Discworld Novels – Terry Pratchett
Over the last two years I have been on a monumental literary journey into a world I have only ever visited briefly before. I read my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was a teenager. Over the years I sporadically revisited his writing. I was always entertained but I never got into the world of Terry Pratchett until I made the decision two years ago to dive into the world whole-heartedly, committing myself to reading the entire series.
Since then I have read nineteen of the forty-one published Discworld novels, tackling them in order, reading them in between (or in conjuction with) my other readings, loving each one as this ever expanding world continues to expand in partnership with the guided realms of my imagination. It is nothing short of completely inspirational to step into the immense world of another man’s hysterically funny and entertaining inspiration.
The Witches, The Wizards, The City Watch, Death… The realisation of all these characters and their melding into the illogical-except-for-in-the-Discworld themed novels, has me absolutely in awe everytime I reach the end, and commence another journey set on a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin…
May he Rest in Peace, and while he rests may his brilliance forever live.
(28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)
2. The Vampire Chronicles; Lives of the Mayfair Witches Series – Anne Rice
It all started with a movie… The first time I ever went to a movie by myself was when I was a young impressionable 14 year old lad, the movie was Interview with the Vampire and in the viewing I was exposed to a type of story telling I had never experienced before. I loved horror movies from a very young age. As a child I grew up with entertainers for parents. I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s Making of Thriller Beta video. I grew up in a world of stage make-up. I knew that what happened on screen was the work of experts. I watched the classics, Dracula et al. However, I had never seen vampires and villains, anti-heroes, like Louis, Lestat and Claudia. I had never seen horror so grandiosely humanized and humour; so gothic; so macabre.
As soon as the movie ended I went to the bookstore and bought the book. I devoured it, a vampire upon its prey, and the love affair began. Astoundingly intricate and breathtakingly ambitious are the best ways I can think right now to describe the shared universe of the Vampires and the clan of the Mayfair Witches – two worlds from separate series that would later collide as the Vampire chronicles reached an end, from which they would again arise but a year ago. The style of storytelling that flies from the past into the present, from the metaphysical to the real. In one book we are engaging with the devil himself. In another we are re-experiencing mortality. We examine through the studying of ancient records, the lives of an entire family-lineage of witches. My favourite villain of all time, Akasha The Queen of the Damned, explodes out of these pages. Best of all, we bare witness to the creating of an entirely new mythology and rich history of vampirism, and in that we discovery the insanely rich tapestry which has born such pale spawn who will forever pale like Twilight, True Blood and Fifty Shades of Grey…
Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s strangely ironic, that this sad example of literacy, born as fan-fiction from the pale waffle of Twilight, is yet again pale against the erotic literature of Miss Rice… Look that up! The mind that birthed these is one of the most intriguing creations. When we read books or engage with any art form for that fact, it is actually the mind of the artist we engage with. It is really a footnote here, but:
1. The key Vampire Lestat is a literary representation and manifestation of Anne Rice’s husband Stan Rice;
2. Anne Rice wrote Interview With A Vampire while dealing with her daughter’s death from Leukemia – that’s blood cancer. #ArtIsPain
3. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman
There are those who would raise an eye at the inclusion of a graphic novel series in any list pertaining to literature… Well poo to you :)! Graphic Novels have a well deserved place in literature, with the best of the best winning major literature awards, including a Pulitzer ( and that would be in 1992; Maus aka Maus: A Survivor’s Tale — My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman). But my personal, most fantastical, most magical, most mythological, most inspiring-al and ambitious of these works which beautifully marry art of picture and art of word has got to The Sandman Series.
Neil Gaiman is the best friend of fantasy and genre breaking storytelling, a man whose love of fantasy has him in the good company of Terry Pratchett (with whom he collaborated on Good Omens). In his masterpiece collection of The Sandman Series, he introduces us to The Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of nature’s most confounding forces, more powerful than even the Gods and as eternal as the universe. They are the siblings, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium and our chief protagonist in the tales, Dream aka Morpheus; who upon being released from a 70 year entrapment into a changed world, is reunited with his most dysfunctional of families. A family whose relationships with each other are as complex as the very idea of turning the seven forces they encompass into a dysfunctional family within the pages of a graphic novel collection spanning twelve multi-dimensional, multi-reality, truly-inspired story arcs. From the depths of Hell to the pages of Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman has comprised a collection of such grandiosity that the mind can only but be amazed 🙂
There’s It :)!
4. The Left Behind Series – Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
This one is a guilty pleasure and I fully accept that many will argue it’s place on any list, but it’s my guilty pleasure, a series of books I quite literally enjoyed reading.
I am a human who was raised as a christian, spirituality is a deeply personal journey for every human on this planet. It has fed wars and hate, but each individual, at least at some point in their lives, has engaged with their understanding of the world and the amazement of existence. As a christian child I have been raised on Bible stories. The bible is an amazing collection of faith, reason, answers, historical reference and mystery, and the question of my own spirituality is deeply tied into the christian faith in which I was raised. The final book in the Bible is one of great fear and reckoning, Revelations is about the end times, about the wrath of God upon a world that has forsaken him, in which he withdraws himself and his arc-nemesis is allowed to do with the world as he will.
In light of this I am quite disgusted by how much I enjoyed this series (like I said, guilty pleasure). There is not an original thought in these books, and I would not necessarily recommend them to anyone else (although admittedly I have, to a select few). They are a fictional interpretation of the cryptically mystical final chapter of one of the oldest and most powerful of books. They tells the story of those Left Behind, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, as per the bible. It centers on a band of survivors who realise that the mysterious new world is a result of God’s will, and in that they seek to redeem and survive as the Anti-Christ rises to power. The books can get heavy on the christian rhetoric, they are written with a strong agenda, but for me they are engrossingly easy reading, and most probably as well written as Fifty Shades of Grey. In the past in my ruminations I have likened them to a soap opera, once hooked I had to see what would happen to the characters next, I did really enjoy these books, but they are rubbish and yet, like I have reread most books I enjoy, even now as I type, as I take stock of the absurdity that I am publishing a post of books I enjoyed and that these are on the list, I shrug my shoulders in acknowledgement of the fact that I will read them again…
And No! These books do not factor into my continuing journey of spirituality…
5. Harry Potter – JK Rowlings
This one is about respect, for appreciation of the journey, this one is for the ideal of the American Dream (as lived and achieved by a non-american),this one is for Enid Blyton, this one is for Roald Dahl :)!
I have had the same relationship with every Harry Potter movie, except for the last two: I hated every single one of the movies on the first watch and then every time I watched the movie again, I enjoyed it. It’s bizarre! I only picked up the books after the sixth movie was released, so before the last two which I enjoyed, funny that. For me, it’s all about the imagination unleashed within the world of Hogwarts, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s about the legend and legacy created, and as someone who believes in reading the books after watching the movies (because then you are never disappointed), I am a huge fan of the work.
If I am 100% honest, I am enjoying JK Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike series much more (check them out), but it is with the Harry Potter books that JK Rowling earns my respect, and why it owns this spot, on this list, today. What exists within the Harry Potter universe is nothing short of inspiring, the product of a storyteller, and what she has done in curating a massive audience to the literary world is nothing to be sniffed at. Fact: JK Rowling is the reason that an entire generation of reader’s exists.
And there you have a list of my 5 Top Book Series, now while these books really do exist in the fantastical, if you look at my choice of reading for stand alone novels, there is a vast difference in subject matter, but that, I believe, is for another day, for now, lets get to the Q&A for the week.
1. Do you have a specific place to read? Generally I read before I go to sleep, it is not very often that I will read while not in bed (before I go to sleep), when that does happen I must be alone, or on holiday, I enjoy reading when on holiday.
2. What book/s can you re-read without getting tired? As I generally read before I sleep, I do welcome getting tired, the disadvantage (especially at the end of a book) is that I can land up reading and not being able to put the book down – so sometimes reading can take me beyond tired.
3. Who is your favorite author? Toni Morrison
4. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi (2001), La Prisonnière (Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail) – one of the most astoundingly heart breaking and rewarding reads.
5. What is your most memorable childhood book? Roald Dahl’s The Witches
6. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant? I cannot tell you the significance, but the first two verses from The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll has been in my head since I first encountered it as a child.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
7. What books did you hate reading in school? I am ashamed to admit it, but the most difficult book for me to enjoy, and maybe it’s because it was presented to me as school work, and it has always been one of my favourite books to get halfway through, having tried many times even before it was prescribed reading, I really do love the universe and mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, was The Hobbit. 8. Do you read before bed? Yep. 9. How many books is on your book shelf? I can’t count, but kindle has changed my life 10. What genre of books do you prefer? Epic Storytelling 11. Can you read while there is noise around, like music or T.V? No 12. Have you wrote any books? The stories are there, the worlds exist, they’ve been constructed and are authored in my brain, but not yet. 13. You walk into a book store, what do you walk out with? Children’s Books – it is now important to grow a love of books in my sons. 14. Worst book you ever read? It has got to be Gone Girl. I hated everything about it, which is the genius of the book really, because I hated all the characters but that is what kept me reading until the end, and I was engrossed, and it shocked me, but i hated it as much as I hated the characters… And it is so terrible I will recommend it to everybody, because that is the brilliance of it. 15. Do you have any collections of books? I collect Graphic Novels and book series like those in my list. 16. Do you have a library card? Yes, but I do not use it. 17. What is the last book you read? The last book i completed was Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. 18. How many books do you read per year? It is inconsistent, last year was a great year, i can’t even recall how many books I read, but it was over forty, I was devouring them. 19. If you could write a book what would you title it? Haha! Wouldn’t you like to know! 20. Why is reading important to you? Reading is an excercise of appreciation, it’s about escapism and inspiration, like all art, like movies, it’s about being entertained and evoked emotionally.
Book mark or Anything that can hold your place Trade paper back ?(big book) or Paper back (small book) Novel or Biography Read the book or Watch the movie first Romance (Surprise, Surprise – but not schlockmance) or Science-Fiction
I was troubled by the task at hand, especially because I have read so many books, taken so many lessons from them all, and I looked at the question and was drawing a much upsetting blank… I was reading a fellow blogger-(and member of The Blog Tag)’s post this afternoon, and so it was that while reading Rajeshweri Meloshnee Naidoo‘s eloquently nail-on-the- head post (which is a contribution to this week’s Blog Tag theme), entitled True Love (see I was always gonna mention it), that I realised what the biggest lesson I’ve always taken from the reading (of novels) has been – and how this core lesson still applies today as I read the posts of my fellow bloggers…
Inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes, the masterful ability to put yourself and your creations down through the medium of writing, to create worlds and material into which your reader can escape, and be challenged, and be entertained, and learn and into which we can be an integral part; that is the greatest lesson I have learned. It has often left me slack-jawed. Be it Shakespeare, Stephen King, Shelley Smidt-Booys, Wally Lamb, Toni Morrison, Anne Rice, Cassarica Nadas, Terry Pratchett, Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu, (to name a few)… I am always in awe by the ability to create, to put on the writer’s hat and put your thoughts and mental activities down in words…
It’s not just from a single book, it’s not just from a single reading and it’s not just from a single lesson, it’s so much more bigger than that…
I love reading, I love writing, I love that we can have a week dedicated to thinking about our love of reading and writing, and the greatest lesson I have taken from reading and writing is that what I want to do is write and read!
Like in all those good stories her Nan used to tell her, the struggle was real. It was immense, perceivably insurmountable. There would be many obstacles. There would for sure be many tears. There may be death. Hopefully there will be survival on the other side. Nothing is certain. There was her and the road ahead. And that is what makes a story one that is worthy to be told, at least that’s what she used to like about those stories she was told as a kid. She just never thought she would be the star in one of those stories. She laughed because those were usually the best characters in the stories she loved, those that were there unexpectedly.
She drove down the cold, harsh streets of AuCT. They were deceptively quiet. The ominous chill in the air screamed at her as up above the red clouds rolled in. The rains were coming. The residents scuttled for shelter. She herself was heading for cover too. This storm would only be a temporary respite from the one that lay waiting with dawn.
Her mind wondered back to the shady memory of her mother, a woman who had weathered many storms herself. A true Survivor; dead now, but a survivor all the same. She knew that this moment that she was preparing to face, so many had faced before her. Her mother was not a believer in the idea that we are ruled by circumstance; She believed that we controlled our own adversities. She believed that when the struggle loomed ahead, it was each individuals choice as to how they would face it.
You could run, but in AuCT there was only so far you could go forward before you had to turn around and run back in the direction from which you came. Yes there was always the option of going up or down but they too were limited, Hide and Seek was a favourite pass time of the low-life’s who spent their time playing the Finders. You could fight them, which was a terrifying prospect, especially when your opponents outnumbered you, outgunned you, and pretty much just out-fought you. Lastly you could hope that a hero would come along and rescue you, wouldn’t that be nice? But heroes were not really a thriving commodity within the walls of AuCT, too many of them had risen only to be cut down, leaving the remnants of Hope smoking in their wake.
“Fat lotta good that does me,” she said out loud to the ghost whose advice she held true… and who she hated for it!
As she pulled under cover she took a deep breath… The rain would fall. She would pack as it fell. When it stopped falling she would run. While she ran she would prepare for the fight. And while she ran and while she fought, she would prey for a hero. If a hero didn’t come… “
Well, we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it, won’t we…”
Is it possible to say that an entire novel is a metaphor? Well I just inferred that it was, so I guess that question is settled…
When I was was in my twenties I commenced a BA in English Literature, Toni Morrison’s book Sula was one of the elective readings we had to choose from (which I selected), and it was here that my appreciation for the writing’s of Toni Morrison began, but it was with her amazing novel Beloved that that appreciation became love…
Right from the books opening dedication to the “Sixty Million and more”, Toni Morrison commences a work of art which is worthy of it’s 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning place in history. It is a dedication which, like much of the novel, is constructed to resonate against the backdrop of historical reference which exists in the global consciousness. More specifically the implied juxtaposition of the dedication contrasts to the horrific figures of Jewish life lost during The Holocaust.
Toni Morrison is an Africa-American author; she is a descendant of slavery, and her works are written from this perspective, but to me Toni Morrison is a human author. I make this statement because it is Beloved, her greatest work, which magnificently transcends the focused nature of it’s subject matter, to speak to a greater commonality, which is our shared humanity. I use sweeping statements of grandiosity whenever I speak and write of Toni Morrison, and more specifically of Beloved (a book I am currently reading for the umpteenth time), because engaging with a Toni Morrison work is like taking the blue pill of literature.
It is a known fact that Toni Morrison’s prose in her novels are painstakingly thought out, they are a unique construction of symbolism and poetry in the guise of prose, that’s not really a guise because that is exactly how the prose is presented, steeped in symbolism and poetry… What do I mean – every time I read Beloved it is almost as if I am reading another novel, the design pattern out of which the story is cut is the same, but the fabric used in the weaving is that of a mirror, it reflects the readers interpretation back, for every eye that interprets the challenge of the story of Beloved will bring to it there own interpretations of empathy, redemption, beauty, love and humanity.
The book is centered around the character of Sethe, a former slave (one of Sixty Million), living her post-slavery freedom with her daughter Denver. They are both quite literally being haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s past life, and life as it is before the start of the book is about to change with the arrival of Paul D. A man from Sethe’s enslaved past, also free, Paul D has traveled far on well-worn feet to, and had arrived to the familiarity and shared-history of company from a time gratefully gone.
What does Paul D’s arrival mean for a former slave mother and daughter surviving with only each other? How do you move forward from horror? How do you build a life of freedom if all you have ever know is the cage and plight of slavery? What stories and secrets have been lived since Paul D and Sethe parted ways? And who is the strange woman who arrives on their doorstep shortly after Paul D, strangely familiar, oddly innocent and unquestionably beguiling? Who is Beloved and what does it mean to be beloved?
There are many questions that come up during the reading of Beloved, it is a challenging read, satisfyingly so, and answers you would not expect abound, more often than not having been already provided prior to the asking. Toni Morrison masterfully weaves the fantastical into a story which is so completely grounded in the realm of the real as to be unbelievable; the roots of the story, so horrific that metaphor becomes the only way to achieve the telling, and in doing so it becomes beautiful.
I promise you this, if nothing at all, you will step away from the book knowing you have read something like no other. The book will take you on a journey you can only imagine full of heartbreak and triumph, mystery and revelation, secrets and promises, pain and joy, life and death, desolation and hope, pain and beauty – If I was to give a traditional rating here, it would be a well deserved six out of five stars.
In conclusion, it was after I had personally discovered Toni Morrison that Oprah Winfrey took her works to a whole new audience when she included a selection of her works as Book Club selections, already a fan I watched an interview with Toni Morrison in which Oprah told the story of how she contacted Toni upon reading her books and told her how she struggled with the layered prose of her novels, finding herself having to reread passages, to which Toni Morrison replied, “That, My Dear, is called reading…”
It’s a cold Sunday Night in Johannesburg and a week of creativity comes to a close.
As you may know if you have been following me, I have been participate (rather lightly) in the DS106 Digital Storytelling course, although this has also been relegated to a daily excercise in creativity as prompted by the Daily Create prompts on the DS106 Daily Create Handle @DS106DC – I recommend this to anyone aspiring to be creative, it is an incredibly satisfying mental flex, and there is a community of creatives participating who are supportive, friendly and fun! :)! The selected image for this post is for today’s Daily Create #TDC1617 which was to Draw the dark side of the ds106 moon (with the “Draw” being incredibly loosely interpreted).
I have also been participating in the writing prompts associated with a brilliant site called The Blog Tag – where I have got interact with fellow participants in the Blogger World, and contribute some of my writing to the plethora of themed content currently being uploaded onto the web by this initiative – I have had two of my contributions selected as part of their Reading Nook (which is itself a product of the activity, with selected readings from their theme being shared). You can read these contributions as well as those of the other selected reads on The Music Week Reading Nook and on The Movie and TV Week Reading Nook.
I find myself wanting to write and create all the time, and I have to balance this need for creativity in my life with the realities of what life requires of us – being a father, a partner, a husband, a son, a worker… But I always have loved and have come back to this quest for creativity, having been a Film Student, having been a student studying a BA in English Literature with a focus on Creative Writing, in the hopes of expanding into those perceived versions of myself, it’s funny but not so surprising, that I have synched back up to that vision of what I want to be when I’m all growed up (and that’s already happened). I feel that this blog is a step in the right direction… So…
Thank you to all who are taking the time to engage with me, thank you for accompanying me hereon…
I’ve really had fun with this weeks movie activity – with some belated posts coming to the fore… I find myself in the stars – Today on DS106 we had to come up with a repeated word poem – mine was rather planetary. And at the same time I had the below perusing in my head in relation to a plot/theme appreciation task that was on the card this week, so there it is, below the DS106 video of course…
Yoh, it’s been quite a week a I tell you! Juggling will be the word that exists in summation of this first full week of June 2016, I almost feel like I never got to give my full this week to the tasks I had set myself, but am also very happy with my movie focused outputs. There was a throwback reminisce to my favourite movie of all time, Aliens (click here to read it), a poem in honour of those who mess up our wish list for anticipation in movies (click here and have a squizz) and a Top 10 List entry, the first of a series, which I hope will become a thing on this site (herezit now)… And then some!
Also, this week it was announced that a Roald Dahl Gobblefunk Dictionary is to be published, a great forerunner to the impending Spielberg release of The BFG – that’s just Scrumdiddlyumptios! Thanks to my DS106 team for the task they gave this week #TDC1614 which was in honour of this news, in which we had to come up with a gobblefunky slogan – DS106: It’s packed with splendiferousness!
So without further ado, here’s my close of the week The Blog Tag Q&A answers!
What is the worst Apocalyptic scenario you have seen in movie/tv show? Without a doubt, the scariest Apocalyptic scenario I am aware of is to terrible and unbelievable to have even been conceived as a possible scenario based in reality… Until now where reality is becoming stranger than fiction… The election of President Trump…
What’s your favourite genre? I am ahuge Sci-Fi fan, this includes comic book movies, but I will have to say that actually what I love are saga’s, long-going storylines even drama’s (I think that everyone actually loves saga’s, hence the popularity of series).
In what movie/tv series would you like to replace the main character? Wow! I am not a fan of Nicholas Cage, so pretty much anything he acts in could do with a recasting… Also, and this is because he does not have the dedication to his fans to give back! I wish Will Smith had never starred in Independence Day, a movie that made his movie career, because he is to big now to do the fans the honour of having him return for the sequel – pretty much makes me feel that it is okay if neither he nor any of his bunch ever come to an Academy Awards ceremony again!
Do you believe in happy endings? This is a hugely philosophical question, you can’t trick me 🙂 The only real ending is death, even in romance movies, once the credits roll, the two having fallen lovingly into each other’s arms, they still have to move in together and like real people learn the intricate rules that will govern the sacred space that is the bathroom…
Which movie represents the best love story? I’m gonna go with the classic here and say Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, only because it is a story which has captured the imagination of viewers for centuries…
Best representation of a book? A movie should be inferior to the book. I love watching movies and only then reading the books because then you get to never be disappointed 🙂 think on that, I will say that it sits somewhere between The Lord of The Rings Movies, Interview with the Vampire and The Shawshank Redemption.
What do you consider a “binge-worthy” TV series? My favourite series of all time are Alias and Survivor, I can binge watch, and have re-binged on both repeatedly (I know… Survivor… The Reality Show… So sad right…)
Do you get emotionally attached to characters? Absolutely yes! My biggest disappointment was the Irina Derevko storyline in Alias, I loved the character so much that the arc her story ran just slayed me…
Do you get emotional while watching TV Series or Movies? I do allow myself to get emotional in movies. Titanic made me cry… 🙁
Do you watch Anime? No, I know I should, I love animation, but I do not.
If you had to choose a main character from a tv series/movie to come save you, who would you choose?Lieutenant Ellen Ripley from Aliens…
Who was your childhood Hollywood crush? Michelle Pfeiffer – it’s the Catwoman costume!
Which popular shows do you think is overrated? Arrow, The Bold and The Beautiful!
Which movie/tv series centralized around one of your favourite cars?? Herbie, Supernatural, Back to the Future… Haha… Well, I am dieing to watch Back to the Future again…
Which movie do you think deserves a sequel the most? Interview with the Vampire – Those books are amazing! The Queen of the Damned that was released just does not count!
Which movie would you like to see a prequel? The same answer! That’s the beauty of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and vampires in general – long lives equal centuries of back story!
Which TV series would you love to revive ? Ummm… ALIAS!
What’s your favourite mythical creature / monster from movie / series ? The Xenomorph from the Aliens movies – or are we the real Aliens in those movies? Whatever, H.R. Giger’s art come to life really is a masterpiece.
Whose your favourite director? Right now I am on a whole Quentin Tarantino revival in appreciation – that said, I really am a huge fan of James Cameron. Ridley Scott, most of the time. And Steven Spielberg just seems to get it consistently right, right?
Do you prefer older movies, or movies with a lot of CGI? I can’t decide – I love the newness and expansion of CGI, but I savour old movies (my Mrs’ hates old movies and the fact that I enjoy them – she loves newness).
Whose your favourite actor? It’s a funny thing, cos as much as I am not a fan he never disappoints… Tom Cruise… I know, right? But what does a bad Tom Cruise movie really look like?
Anime vs. Reality TV
Cooking show vs. Car repair show
Horror vs. Comedy
Superman vs. Ironman C’Mon… Batman and Captain America
I was going to write a post listing my favourite movies vs my least favourite, that changed halfway through my brain perusals as I soon realised just how much I was a fan of the female protagonist.
There is something beautiful about strength exuding from a woman. In an era where women in the film industry are still fighting for respect and the equal pay that comes with that, where I am a man whose favourite movie happens to be Aliens, I thought it fitting to shift the focus there… So there… Let the rankings commence…
The Official soztheo.me Top 10 Rated Female Protagonists in Film
The woman listed below were the main characters in their respective films, and in that they delivered performances that will forever set the stage for the next generation – I have of course chosen movies and performances that I appreciate, so we hereby accept that this is just a matter of opinion – of my chauvinistic, mysoginistic, male opinion, based only on those performances which sit front and center in my mind right now, at this moment (I haven’t gone back to before Soz-Mas), while I type – so really, they’re just suggestions, and worthy of your challenges, comments and suggestions, but please do take a peak… I may just surprise you!
1. Lieutenant Ellen Louise Ripley – Alien (the Full Quadrilogy)
“I’m no Ripley. I had doubts that I could play her as strongly as she had to be played, but I must say that it was fun exploring that side of myself. Women don’t get to do that very often.”– Siguorney Weaver
I have already expressed my appreciation for these movies on this blog (click here) this week, and for me the success thereof relies completely on the strength of Siguorney Weaver’s shoulders – one of many strong independent characters she has played in her career, Lieutenant Ripley as brought to life is her cinematic work of art bequeathed to the History of Cinema.
2. Clarice Starling – The Silence of the Lambs
“I’m not sure I know how to play weak. I really don’t know how.” – Jodie Foster
Another one of my favourite movies of all time belongs in the cannon of another one of the Hollywood Greats, Jodie Foster. The amazing thing about this performance is that Clarice Starling is as damaged a character as the villains in the piece (a special kind of damaged if you consider the full scope of the character’s trajectory in literature… Unofficially it is the arc that the character took in the books that stopped Jodie Foster from participating in the sequel).
It is an amazing performance because the strength of the character rests in a still performance. A focused FBI agent, still in training, forced to face the exact antithesis of her structured and controlled being. Strong. Sharp. Smart. But flawed, and struggling with the fact that while she may be out of her depth, she has to swim because the sharks are circling… It’s a role and a performance which has been mimicked repeatedly since…
3. Evelyn Couch, Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode, Ruth Jamison, Ninny Threadgoode – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
“See, now is a time for courage. I guess you already know that there are angels masquerading as people walking around this planet and your mom was the bravest one of those.” – Idgie Threadgoode (Mary Stuart Masterson)
And in a single moment, Whoosh! All the manly men disappear… During my teen years I suffered from insomnia, and so I stayed up with my trusty pal the television and watched whatever was on (a relationship with the TV which was born in my youth). This movie amazed me, so much so that I went out, bought and read the book, which merely by it’s construction and approach to storytelling was a revelation for me…
This is the first ensemble presence in this list series (and it won’t be the last)… I recommend this movie to anyone who is prepared to take the risk. Sounds ridiculous, but this kind of movie really is a challenge for many, men and women, cos you gonna deal with racism, sexism, ageism, homosexuality, abuse, murder, menopause… Even during the adaptation of the novel certain aspects were muted, only hinted at (yet obvious) in the telling. I’ll tell you this, every female character in this movie has earned their place, great performances of strong women… I await the day when someone I know tells me that I am wrong, because I have recommended this movie to many people over the years… Soppy maybe… But definitely not wrong…
It’s hysterically funny and heartbreaking… Quite simply…“The Secret’s in the Sauce”…
4. “The Bride” – Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2
“I get shot in the head, raped, kicked, beaten and sliced by samurai swords… The movie should have been called Kill Uma.” – Uma Thurman
And because I’m a guy we boomerang right back to beautiful girls with guns and knives and things – I may be sentimental, but I still love a good action movie, and enjoy balance, nothing is more un-chick-flicky than a Quentin Tarantino Masterpiece (and isn’t every Quentn Tarantino movie a masterpiece?)…
You know this movie is about the breakdown of Fox Force Five right? Check that Sh!t out…
The Bride, a character created by Q&U, originally (unoficially, but c’mon) conceived in a scene in Pulp Fiction in which Uma Thurman’s character Mia Wallace speaks about a failed TV pilot she did… A premise developed and brought to life year’s later in this masterpiece…
Revenge is the subject central to many a great story, and this ode to Japanese Martial Art films, comprised almost entirely of the most entertaining set of strong, fast, high-flying female characters, is the stuff of every fanboy’s fantasy – and yes I know that this is about the girls, and to that I say that compared to the admittedly entertaining schlock of the Charlie’s Angels endeavors, this movie is the true zigga-zig-a of girl power…
5. Celie & Nettie – The Colour Purple
“The way I played Celie was to stand back from her. There’s a theory that an actor should identify with the character. Well, I loved her, but I didn’t identify with her. Celie is so far away from me, it was easy to allow her pain to be there, because her life has so little to do with mine.” – Whoopi Goldberg
I have never read Alice Walker’s masterpiece, but it does exist alongside my favourite kind of literature (FYI, Favourite Author is Toni Morrison). So what is it about this movie? Hear me out…
I am a brother. I have three sisters. I remember once watching an interview in which Maya Angelou spoke about how she was challenged for some reason for participating in the Million Man March, to which she replied, and this is not verbatim (probably the biggest hash-job I have ever done paraphrasing, but it was a long time ago), ‘I am the daughter of a man, the sister of a man, the mother of a man, the spouse of a man, this is why I march…’ I’ve totally messed it up, but the essence of it has always stuck with me.
Nettie and Celie. Two sisters. A bond that is physically severed at the beginning of the movie, but which remains the one constant longing throughout, strong in memory and heart, separated by hatred and oceans, the l
ove of two sisters, the sacred love of family, the strength and tale of one woman’s journey to her best self, to emancipation from a form of slavery born out of the legacy of slavery. This single girls journey to womanhood is set alongside fellow members of her sisterhood, in which her acquisition of strength within her own self runs parallel to other women who come into her life.
The movie boasts Oscar Nominated performances for not only Whoopi Goldberg in the titular role, but also for Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey. Not only was the film nominated for 11 Oscars (of which it won a big fat none), but three of those nominations belonged to African American Women, nominated for acting Oscars, from a single movie, a whole 16 years before Halle Berry would win her Best Actress Oscar for Monster – these figures speak to the power of the movie, the power of the story, and of the power of the players in their respective roles. Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of Alice Walker’s novel; oft referred to as an inferior work; woefully denied its justice at the Oscar’s; is a movie that in our household has been, and is, and will always be, a sacred and constant piece of enlightenment, contemplation and appreciation.
6. Police Chief Marge Gunderson – Fargo
“At least three times a week I’m approached by someone who says something about Fargo. Or, I’ll pass someone on the street in New York and someone will throw a line at me. People love to drop in ‘you betcha’ often as they can.” – Francis McDormand
It was in 1996 that a small town, with a small crime, introduced us to a largely pregnant, small town police chief named Marge Gunderson. It was the role of a lifetime for Francis McDormand, written and directed by the power pair comprised of her husband and brother-in-law (they of the genius Coen brothers), it earned her a well deserved Academy Award for Best Actress, but beyond that the character and film have gone on to surpass the more loftier and over the top creations by team Coen to be the masterpiece for which they will most probably always be remembered – a large part of that result rests solely on the shoulders of the genius that is this character who sits at Number 6 on my list.
It is the subtlest and smallest of performances, yet it is a presence in cinematic history that cannot be ignored because of its genius subtlety. From the quaint execution of the Mid-Western dialect, to the ever looming fact that the character’s pregnancy seems to be so huge yet is actually acknowledged briefly in the narrative of the movie (I mean, stamps got more conversation time than the pregnancy – And yet… M-Net; South Africa’s Pay-For-TV Service which provided a monthly program guide which include film blurb’s of the month’s movies in English and Afrikaans, had this entry under Fargo in the Afrikaans blurb, I remember because the tears rolled and pants were nearly pee’d, I quote, “Die polisie-hoof is swanger.”, ie direct translation: The Police Chief is pregnant)…
Francis McDormand’s Marge, out to solve a kidnapping, is faced with a criminal element and level of dishonesty which just does not compute as rational in the mind of the character… She’s just a cop, doing her job, baby on the way, living her life, appreciating the little things, and it is from that space that the humour exists… A true duck out of water, from a pond we could all learn to swim in…
7. Erin Brockovich – Erin Brockovich
“I have great admiration for what she stands for. A lot of women in our culture are facing being a single mother, trying to make ends meet. They are the heroes of out time, aren’t they?” – Julia Roberts
And from the fictional beauty residing in the perceivably simplest of women to the a real, larger than life woman, who stood fast and beat the odds. From an expecting working mother-to-be to an actual unemployed mother of three. From understated to over the top. From small town crime, to fighting for, defending and ultimately uphelding the rights of an entire poisoned town against the corruption of a big business chemical company, we land at Erin Brockovich. To Justice.
It was always going to be but a matter of time before Julia Roberts won that Oscar, but that matter of time did take its sweet time, with amazing career cementing performances just not hitting the mark – the amazing thing about this performance is its effortlessness, it’s Julia Roberts at her most seemingly natural, like the role was simply meant for her. And it’s entertaining, it’s fall down funny delivery, it’s gut-wrenching tragedy, it’s real life David and Goliath-ness – except David actually wears stilletto’s and way to revealing clothes (for her office colleagues, I rather liked her outfits, especially her blouses – there I had my man moment), Erin Brockovich is not just a movie hero, she’s the real deal, and Julia Roberts does the real deal real justice
8. Sarah Connor – T2: Judgement Day
“It’s not about the fame – it’s about the very nature of Sarah Connor who is a savior. I know people don’t necessarily buy it was the truth, but I go out in the world for all of these years and people stop me and say, “Hey I Love you!” It’s kind of an insidious thing because they think of me as the person who saved the future. It’s subtle how it works on people, but I just go out and people treat me like I’m a hero. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s really great to be Linda Hamilton. I really think it’s because on some level that character I played is working on them in their subconscious.” – Linda Hamilton
In the first Terminator Sarah Connor was a deer in the headlights, on the run from the machine, round two came around and Sarah Connor was ready to hand it to them – she was tougher, stronger, crazier, pissed off, and she weren’t no victim!!! I mean check out those guns, as a Madonna fan, I like to think of her as a trendsetter, but Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor version T2.0 was a mean MoFo!
I love Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I need to watch that movie again, like soon, there’s no mistaking the fact that James Cameron is at the helm of this movie and Aliens, the female characters of James Cameron’s Sci-Fi Fantasies are It! That piece of acknowledgement to the man behind the scene done, the Sarah Connor on this list really is all about Linda Hamilton, the originator…
Hopefully… one day… She’ll be back…
9. The Rockford Peaches – A League of Their Own
“There’s no crying in baseball!” – Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks)
It’s the story of a team, it’s a sports movie, about girls (ahem… women) playing baseball while the men are off fighting The War – a fictional dramatization of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Yes, we enter into the Penny Marshall directed movie with sisters Dorothy “Dottie” Hinson and Kit Keller, but this really is a movie about the team. It’s about Marla Hooch, “All the Way” Mae Mordabito, Doris Murphy, Betty “Spaghetti” Horn, Evelyn Gardner and their Coach Jimmy Dugan – it is a movie which in 2012, was cited as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and was accordingly it was elected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
When you consider the rigorous filming the actresses went through to deliver the final product, that before even auditioning they had to pass a fitness and ball skill assessment, that for the purposes of stock footage for montages they had to play dozens of actual baseball games, that the Director’s Cut of the movie runs at over four hours (with many storylines cut that documented various characters arcs), and that by the end of the movie Penny Marshall felt sorry for the crew as, “Unfortunately everyone’s cycle synched up. The mood swings…”
This movie is a celebration of women surpassing expectations imposed upon them by society and by themselves, it is hysterically funny, while also dramatic – a really good piece of cinema…
10. Frances “Baby” Houseman – Dirty Dancing
“I carried a watermelon…” – Baby
Yeah, Yeah… I hear you… But this one is for the girls, and the boys that were forced to watch it so many times that they actually, maybe, but we won’t admit that will we, kinda enjoyed it?
So, for context sake, me and my siblings (three sisters remember, and a much younger, fortunately for him not yet born) are children of professional dancers and dancing teachers, this movie was the first age-restricted movie I ever saw, it was required viewing in our house… Funny story, my dad lived in Rustenburg at the time (when the dorp was still but a few blocks wide) and we went to watch it at the two cinema complex called the Rustra – the ladies came with their hair did up eighties high, with sequins and shoulder pads, and when Patrick Swayze came on screen… My ears have still not yet fully recovered, nearly thirty years later.
How about this… There are soooo many “chick flicks” out there, hate them much guys? Our ladies love them, and many of them have watched, re-watched and re-watched them again (and some times forced us to watch some really, really bad ones), these are their favourites, these strong women in our lives, these dreamers – it would be wrong of me to right a blog post like this and not include a real solid chick flick heroine (and in fact there are a couple I would have, and did, consider for this spot). I know this…
If I am ever fortunate enough to add a daughter to our family, I hope that she too has a romantic spirit, that she also wants to dream, and be a little girl of dreams… Drive us guys crazy with having to watch Dirty Dancing (although by that stage we’ll be in a bigger house and they can watch in the other lounge) – Lord knows, my daughter will also be raised on Aliens and Terminator as well, but girls will be girls – she is the elected representative for the honour of representing one of the biggest genres in the movie magic world, and for being the best within that huge genre of film… Could be worse, could be a Katherine Heigl movie (I think that’s how you spell it).
See the pictures I’ve added to this post? Nose be damned Jennifer Grey was hot (sorry Ladies)! That scene, in those shorts, up and down those stairs… And she was a good girl ultimately, selfless, kind, caring – and yeah, she owns this place proudly with all the dreams and eyes of little girls, little women, ladies, old girls and old women who have entrusted their hours of enjoyment upon this brand of Cinderella fantasy and escapism…
It’s that damn Patrick Swayze I tell you, he even made housewives bad…
So that’s my first list of the three… Coming Soon: The Bad; and The Ugly…
I actually come to the end of this list and I don’t know who it actually is for… This is just my opinion based on my life experience shaped appreciation. The fact is that there are certain fundamental truths that transcend beyond that which should define and separate us. These instead speaking to the commonality that exists in being members and equal participants in the human condition. I feel sorry for those that can’t or are unable to access that…
To end off, here are just a few movies that landed on and then fell off, and then were shuffled around, and ultimately lost out on appearing on this list but which own a spot in this mention:
Amelie; For The Boys; The Blind Side; Gravity; Clueless; Sense & Sensibility; Beloved; The Help; Scream; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Pretty Woman; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Girl, Interrupted – and finally, the one that I struggled the most with, the movie that was on and off and on again but which I just could not justify due to the lead protagonist not being the actual lead protagonist of the film – Mad Max: Fury Road…
Decisions made aplenty here have gasolined this flame,
But two in particular I can’t get past,
Listen close and understand my pain…
My fellow SAffer, Gavin Hood, C’mon Man,
How could you get it soooo wrong?
Wolverine; Deadpool; Sabretooth;
You’ve fed this sad sad song.
But can’t blame you for the next travesty
Of Chipmunk cheeks Mystique,
A villain? No now a heroine cos,
Jen Lawrence must be with ethi-que.
I now wait patiently for her evil turn,
It better be fast approaching,
Coz now I’m dealing Age of Apocalypse,
Which within my brain’s been encroaching.
Just so you all know that it’s not just the current,
I will travel back in time, just to say,
Francis Ford Copolla, with your talented daughter,
You ruined that trilogy’s day.
And finally, for this poem at least,
Because this issue is ever expanding,
Let’s think on the sad song of LadyHawke,
The cursed soundtrack which needed dismantling.
Oh it’s hard to admit there’s more to get wrong,
Those Magic Minds, those King of Screens,
There is no foreseeable end to the vicious cycle,
No Safety assured in my dreams.
This is my Tuesday contribution to The Blog Tag prompts on which I am currently participating, a poem, well Duh…
But maybe, just maybe, had I been on the creative team behind LadyHawke I could have contributed greatly to ensuring that that music never got out of the vault, but I was post-foetal back then, and really, Michelle Pfeiffer would have fallen head over heels with me, and fought on my behalf to eliminate Rutger Hauer from the production, and we could have had this (with cool music):
Once upon a time there was little boy whose world was torn apart when his parents got divorced. It was 1986, and at only six years old Daddy was not at home anymore… 🙁
Even Home wasn’t at home anymore as he, his mommy and his little sister were forced to move out of their lovely house and into a flat on Jules Street, which today is a place that many fear to tread… 🙁 🙁
His Mommy had to take up 4 jobs so that she could make ends meet… She had an office job during the day, on weekends she sold clothes and taught dancing lessons, but it was the evenings that were the hardest, as she had to take a job at a restaurant which meant that she was gone every night until the wee hours of the morning; on a daily basis she got to spend maybe only two hours a day maximum with her kids… 🙁 🙁 🙁
Sad right, but I promises I won’t use up any more of your kleenex, because the little boy made some friends! Every night the local TV station would play hours of company for him and his little sister, she was three years younger than he so she never got to experience the truly exciting hours. Late, late, late at night, when he should have been in bed, when even his beloved maid (as she was called back in those days of apartheid) who was the surrogate mother he had when his own couldn’t be there; when even she was asleep recovering from her long day; those were the hours when movies made an impression upon his life; it was here, at a way too young age, that he discovered the joy of escapism…
But it was one particular movie on a particular evening that forever altered his relationship with everything he understood. All alone one night, younger than ten years old, having promised on numerous occasions that he would go to bed early (he lied), a movie came on called Aliens (which he went on to watch Aleen – Afrikaans for Alone)…
I was terrified beyond belief, my little brain nearly burst out of my skull I was so exhilerated and terrified, “Why are those funny hands with tails jumping on peoples faces!?!” (Bow-Chick-A-Wow-Wow!); “HER STOMACH EXPLODED!!!”; “What’s those things eating and chasing them”; “Run Newt Run!!!”; “Save the little girl Ripley!!!”; The blood, the guts, the horror… The sheer beauty of imagination and potential that commenced from that day, the love I have for this movie (these movies) knows no bounds…
It’s ironic that whenever I think of this movie it is so deeply attached to my blessed mother’s absence which was born of necessity (love you mom), because if you (like I) have ever studied these movies you understand that these movies are all about motherhood – A strong female character who also has been separated by circumstance, who through four movies explores with the use of the most astonishing of metaphors, the suffering and pain of childbirth, of parenthood, of a lost child, of surrogacy, of motherly love, of the relationship between mother and child – there’s egg laying, there’s love, there’s pregnancy, there’s unwanted pregnancy, there’s unconditional love and sacrifice, there’s even adoption…
The Alien movies are as much about Motherhood as the Prometheus movies are about fatherhood. In the Xenomorphs (aliens) we have the queen battling a human mother, both fighting for their children; the exploration of nature and the maternal contrast greatly with the paternal relationships and archetypes explored in the Prometheus series – this is so calculated as to be manipulative, and yet because the movies are so far in the extremity of Sci-Fi/Horror, there are so many who lose out on the pervasive themes which exist in contrast within the shared universe – because they are terrifyingly layered!
As Aliens 5 exists on the horizon which unless I am wrong (because I’m not following the developments because the wait is a decade plus long for me and the disappointment will kill me), our own South African (well my own at least) Neil Blomkamp will be at the wheel, at the same time Prometheus 2 is also looming with it’s exploration of the God like male architects who somehow create life in the absence of the feminine force (it’s all science and faith)…
I think that just at a peak you can understand when I say that this is my favourite movie, I have definitely given it too much time, I have watched these movies repeatedly over the years (so that anything starring the most underrated actress of our time, Siguorney Weaver, gets watched as a result) – and yet, would it surprise you that movies like The Colour Purple and Fried Green Tomatoes (at the Whistle Stop Cafe) also reside among some of my favourite films? Clearly those are stories for another day…
I’ll leave with this… An image of a little boy, all alone, sitting cross legged, on his mommy’s bed, shivering from fear, in darkness except for the flashing screen before him, tranfixed by the moving pictures, as figures quickly move through the dark, a flash of light and noise, a scream from the television and immediately from him in reply, as the duvet flies, covering his entire little being, his heart beating fast, nightmares ahead… and yet… There’s stuff happening that he cannot see, he has to come out from under the protection of the duvet shield, okay I’ll just peak through and see, I think I’ll be okay, sounds like it’s safe, no one around to hear me scream… Aargh!!!