Still Alice (2014)
Away from Her (2006)
Cherry Blossoms (2008)
There is a movie genre I would call “the spouse gets alzheimers and dies.” Or very close to it. My favorites:
Still Alice (2014)
Away from Her (2006)
Cherry Blossoms (2008)
They say that Hollywood is ageist and doesn’t think there is an audience for movies about older people.
(Pause for laughter and snide comments.)
Here are my current favorites for old farts and crones having a good and meaningful time. I don’t give you descriptions because you can find everything online, including movie trailers, if you google the title of the movie.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Land Ho! (2014)
Frankie and Grace (2015, Amazon Prime)
Elsa and Fred (2015)
I’ll See You In My Dreams (2015)
Whales of August (1987)
The Bucket List (2007)
Jeff’s grandchildren brought masks to our Seder, representing the ten plagues of Egypt. There was a set of finger puppets too.
According to the Book of Exodus, there were ten calamities threatened or inflicted by the God of Israel on the Egyptian Pharaoh, to persuade him to release the Israelites from slavery. It worked. The Pharaoh let these people go, and their exodus began.
Whether you think they are figurative or actual, the story is great. They are mostly “natural” disasters:
Of course the calamities are commensurate with the suffering of the Israelites, the slaves.
The pageant of this brings to mind Chinese New Year’s dragons and Tibetan demons: personifications of evil that become fodder for colorful festivals. Yes, the root story is frightful, sad, devastating. But the memorial can be fun.
Meanwhile, I thought: what are the plagues of our age? More precisely, what plagues has MANKIND WROUGHT on this Earth?
My wish: this becomes a theme for murals all over the world. Somebody holds a contest and comes up with a colorful template that children can execute on any sizeable wall.
Also, somebody hold a contest for a set of masks and a set of costumes that can be hauled out for festivals (Earth Day?), to raise awareness of our need to STOP IT.
Update: The fundraising has begun, in order to organize a contest. PLEASE DONATE, so we can hold the contest. See https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/the-7-plagues-mural-contest
Among memoirs and novels is a genre I call “rotten childhood” stories. The ones I’ve read seem to fall in these groups:
I don’t know anybody with a childhood that was all puppies and ice cream. Maybe you do, and you won’t identify here. Reading these “Oh my GOSH” tales is therapeutic. They might make your own childhood and its disappointments feel downright boring and trivial. (“Nobody taught me how to cook an egg!”) Or, you can think, “That’s nothing, wait until you hear what happened to me.”
A childhood happens to us before we have any wits about us. We don’t get a “do-over” on our childhood. (We do get “do-overs” in romance, jobs, etc.) By the time you figure out just how it was faulty, you are old, your parents are old, and you need to get over it, get strong and healthy, and redirect your life from a path of hardship and trauma to one of blissful happiness or satisfaction.
Here’s some do-it-yourself therapy. We might has well enjoy unraveling the mysteries of our misery, as these authors do.
Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Charismatic, artistic hippy parents keep moving the kids from one hovel to another, totally uninterested in the conveniences of daily life like food and heat. The kids have to scrounge for food, clothing, dignity. The only way out is to grow up and go away.
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. The author’s mother gives him to a psychiatrist to raise. There are no rules. The house is neglected. A guy living in a backyard shed is a pedophile. The bizarre family prides itself on being anarchists.
What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell. A portrayal of what life is like as a bipolar mother, and then bipolar son. Lies told to cover up rejection by family. Lack of supervision, crazy adventures.
Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. Her mother dies when she is young and the stepmother is a witch, with no protection from her father. The kids are kept in a back room, starved, tormented, abused. The author struggles to be loved, far into adulthood, demonstrating the powerful grip of even abusive parents. Hair-raising story of surviving cruelty and misfortune as a Chinese girl in 1940s Hong Kong.
Stitches by David Small. A boy is the son of a radiologist who subjects him to x-rays and gives him cancer. He loses his voice. A graphic novel that captures the silent scream of this child, who finally gets away.
Help Yourself For Teens by Dave Pelzer. This is not a memoir or a novel; it’s an advice book. Inside, however, the author tells us about his early life with an unbelievably abusive mother. Basically, she tortured him. She put him in a bathroom with ammonia and bleach, which could have killed him. She didn’t feed him for fourteen days. She stabbed him and wouldn’t take him to the emergency room. He was taken away and put into foster care. The wisdom he shares is phenomenal: a testament to the potential for recovery of a healthy sense of self. This is like reading the wisdom gained by a survivor of the holocaust, only it was personal.
A House in the St. John’s Wood by Matthew Spender. The author compulsively reconstructs his parents’ lives, separate and together. They are English elites with a fabulous bohemian social life. Stephen Spender is a famous poet, his wife Natasha well known. The father has frequent openly gay relationships, Natasha is loyal to her gay husband. There are crazy family feuds. A glamorous literary life fueled by sex, and the kids are on the side, trying to figure it out.
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. A boy’s mother takes him away from his father and brother on a crazy life on the move that is all about her and her flight from reality. There’s a hostile stepfather. He runs away to Alaska, steals cars, and finally makes a life for himself out of the chaos.
(Pending, April 2016) The Rainbow Comes and Goes: a Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. The famous mother who is a designer and tycoon, who had relationships with Howard Hughes and Frank Sinatra, lives a very full whirlwind life. One son commits suicide in his twenties. At ninety-one, she connects with her son Anderson Cooper, a busy and famous journalist, in a new closer relationship. The book is an email correspondence.