- The theme to my college’s homecoming weekend. I have no desire to go to homecoming but I’m guessing it brings in a lot of money for the Alumni Association. Everything about the theme is silly, from the copy to the design of the logo. Slightly off-topic, but I follow the Alumni Association on Twitter and after they posted a #tbt photo of freshmen moving into dorms and asked for Move-In Memories, I exercised great restraint and did not post any of the 15 snarky responses that came to mind.
- The presidential election.
- The Pennsylvania Attorney General resigned this week after a tumultuous two years and a trial that ended with a felony conviction. My township’s beleaguered school board is supposed to be investigated by said Attorney General for violations of the state’s Sunshine Act and pushing through tax hikes and cutting programs despite hoarding a hefty surplus.
- Ryan Lochte. (Edit to add: I just saw a headline from Salon referring to him as Swim Shady and I am so jealous I did not think of that nickname that I can’t see straight.)
- Amy Schumer and the head writer of her show.
- Taking this blog out of anonymity.
By the time spring and all of its attendant craziness rolls around, summer seems to be this huge, yawning expanse of time for me to fill up. So much possibility! So many goals!
It may seem like a logical time to get the house in order, but that never seems to happen. My husband has made headway in some areas of the house, but I’ve spent most of the past nine weeks appeasing, refereeing and avoiding my offspring.
During the first week of August, we were on vacation and that’s when the onslaught of fall-related emails began. I was on a beach and literally the only thing I was thinking about was a creative way to torture the seagull who snatched a sandwich out of my hand. My husband solemnly stood guard with a pink shovel to prevent future incidents and after I took his picture and posted it, I checked my email and was immediately besieged by a flood of messages, each more urgent than the last. Softball! Soccer! Scouting! Piano! Guilt-inducing volunteering solicitations!
I shut down, had a good cry the night before we went home, and now we’re a little over a week away from school and our fall schedule isn’t set yet. I have to keep telling myself this is beyond my control and it’s OK to politely and repeatedly say no to the guilt-inducing volunteering solicitations. (I was raised Catholic and that organization is professionally guilt-inducing; nothing beats learning about original sin in the first grade.)
I’m not going to enjoy the final week of my children whining about all that didn’t happen this summer instead of concentrating on the things that did, telling each other that their favorite sibling is the cat and protesting every chore I suggest.
I’m just going to make a list of programs to binge-watch when school starts.
A few weeks ago, my husband asked me to go see Suicide Squad with him. Comic books are not my slice of nerddom, but I appreciate flawed, troubled heroes in conflict with complicated, brilliant villains. As a bonus, the actors genuinely seem to be having a good time. I don’t put a lot of thought into these kind of action movies; I’m just along for the ride. In fact, I was so distracted by the background scenes in Zack Snyder’s Batman trilogy (Pittsburgh, where I went to college) that I completely wasn’t paying attention to the plot at some points.
I didn’t read that much about Suicide Squad, except that fans got so upset about poor reception from critics that they wanted to completely dismantle Rotten Tomatoes, a service that aggregates reviews.
On paper, I should have loved this movie. The characters were nearly all complicated, brilliant villains. The “good guys” arguably were worse than the villains. But after I watched the film, I spent a good two hours trying to process what I’d just seen (my husband liked it, unequivocally) and then woke up a lot during the night, tossing and turning about it.
Here are my thoughts, in random order:
- Too much Joker. The movie was excellent in explaining Harley Quinn’s backstory, and Jared Leto doesn’t eat scenery, which is an easy trap to fall into when portraying the Joker, but half his scenes could have been cut and the movie would have been fine.
- Not enough Katana. Why is she on on the government’s side? Because she’s a vigilante, like Batman? Who is her alter ego? Why does Flag trust her implicitly?
- Too many “bad guys”. The premise of the story is that evil meta-humans are captured and manipulated by the government to become the last line of defense should another meta-human attack the country. The government official in charge of the program, Amanda Waller, is arguably a worse human than the criminals are. Her human deputy, Flag, is slightly better, only because he falls in love with an archaeologist who is the host body of a meta-human witch. (I would have liked to have seen more of these scenes, because Hot Solider Guy falling in love with Bookish, Shy Woman is totally my thing.) All the evil and no one really good makes the movie unintentionally too dark and hopeless.
- Croc is misused. Croc didn’t do anything wrong, except be cast in a DC Comics movie when he should be a character in an X-Files reboot. He just wanted to be left alone (except I think he would have gotten along well with Mulder and Scully), and only became an animal when the government treated him like one.
- The big rescue. The criminals are dispatched to Midway City because the meta-human witch wiggles her way out of Flag’s control, reunites with her meta-human brother, and immediately proceeds to build a weapon to destroy the human race. The ensuing construction zone traps someone important, whom the villains must rescue. They have to get to one of the top floors of the building, and after the target is safely in hand, they plan to escape by helicopter. (You need a bunch of people risking life and limb to help you climb two flights of stairs? Maybe you should invest in some cardio training.) The target is none other than Amanda Waller. I’d been hoping it would have been Batman, whom half the squad wanted to have killed, but it’s the person who least deserves to be rescued.
- Weaponry. The meta-human witch captures soldiers, makes out with them, and they become part of her army. Flagg and his cronies can’t kill the new soldiers with the best artillery Uncle Sam can buy, but Harley Quinn destroys them with her … baseball bat. OK.
- Changing from bad to good. Diablo and Deadshot flirt with the idea of not using their skills anymore for evil. Diablo is riddled with guilt after killing his family in an uncontrollable fit of rage, and Deadshot sorely wants to be reunited with his daughter. But there’s nothing in it for them! Waller refuses to commute their sentences, even after they accomplish their objective and kill the meta-human witch. (Harley, who gets credit for the demise, receives an espresso machine in her Hannibal Lecter-esque prison cell.) Harley encourages everyone to “own their shit” and just embrace evil.
- The hero gets the girl. The Bookish, Shy Woman returns after the witch is killed. We don’t know why this happens. We don’t know what hold Bookish, Shy Woman has over Hot Soldier Guy in the first place, except Waller uses his love to her advantage. In a movie that wants characters to embrace evil and own their shit, true love is a big cliche that seems out of place here, although it’s arguably the only good outcome of the entire movie.
Proctor & Gamble is laying it on real thick during these past two Olympic Games, tugging heartstrings with Pixar-worthy commercials illustrating all the sacrifices moms of athletes make to ensure their children’s success. You know, wrap their entire existence around that of their children so nothing is left except their mom-ness. It’s a great message.
But this morning I came across this broadcasting gem from the 2004 Olympiad and I’m about to invite Mary Carillo over for some drinks. Because this? This is what my childhood was like and what my mom-hood is like now.
I am most at peace when I’m near a large body of water, preferably an ocean. When I think about it, it’s kind of counterintuitive: the ocean, near land, is in a constant state of chaos. Waves are constantly crashing, dredging up earth and shells and seaweed and other detritus . The tide keeps the water in unrelenting advance or retreat.
Being on the beach is being in a state of constant turmoil. Someone (that’s me) always gets sunburned, despite constant applications of SPF Infinity Plus sunscreen. The sand appears in the strangest and most uncomfortable of places, thanks to the tumultuous wind. There’s always that special someone who smokes nearby. The beach is littered with cracked shells and hard stones that I love to call “nature’s exfoliants” but really just lead to me limping awkwardly. The seagulls and green flies are ruthless.
We spend a week in a shore town during one of the busiest times of the summer; there are too many people, too many cars, too many bicycles, too many runners.
It takes me a least a day and a half, but I can truly relax at the shore. I sit and empty my mind and enjoy the salt air and the sounds of the surf. The anxiety is still there, but the volume is turned way down low. The time goes by so quickly that a week there feels like a long weekend, and I’m filled with intense melancholy when we leave to return to home and to real life. Right now, I’m trying to focus on being thankful we get to spend a week with friends and each other at one of my favorite places every single year.