You’re a Wonder, Wonder Woman

So, “Wonder Woman” opened this past weekend and it’s a big hit (It’s also a great movie. I have pre-ordered it for the permanent collection). Yes, our film culture is awash in superhero movies, both good and bad, mostly portrayed by white men. And it has taken YEARS to bring the Amazing Amazon to the big screen. They got it right.

Let me explain a few things:

I was born in 1961 and part of my early TV watching was “Batman” starring Adam West and Burt Ward. (I don’t think Robin ever got out of the giant clam. I think they cancelled the show). I never bought or read comic books, but boy, did I want to be a hero. I wanted to right wrongs, and make the world a better, safer place. When Batgirl was added to the Batman cast, I was in heaven. That could be me, kicking bad guys (she never threw punches) and mysteriously disappearing after the fight was won. Of course, she had to be rescued a few times. It was the 60s.

I don’t think I knew who Wonder Woman was until the “Super Friends” cartoon started airing on ABC, and I watched that because of Batman. The only episode I remember is one where the Justice League (and a bunch of other people) were being turned into zombies and the “cure” was tying them to dead trees with dead branches. (Somewhere, Rick Grimes and Darryl are laughing their asses off at that)

And here she is with my main man.

Here was a woman holding her own with the guys.  I didn’t care for the costume, but she was getting it done.

Understand: The Women’s Movement was still active and the ERA was still on the table (Fuck Phyllis Schlafley for eternity. She should have been the first warning shot that “Christians” were going to force their regressive agenda on the rest of us). We had Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan. I didn’t watch “Super Friends” regularly (my Dad developed a strict “One hour of cartoons on Saturday morning” policy and I would choose “Bugs Bunny/Road Runner”).

Even Batgirl got in on the action:

Wonder Woman was developed by a psychologist named William Marston and she was supposed to be a less violent response to Batman and Superman. Marston was a feminist (and had an interesting family life, but that’s for you to read on Wikipedia) who had a bondage kink, thinking that the powerful should relax and learn to enjoy it. And she was bound up, but she always broke free. Some see it as a metaphor for women breaking the bonds of misogyny. We’re still working on it.

Whoever draws these things has no concept of gravity, musculature, or how clothing stays in place.

Marston also developed the polygraph test. That golden lasso that makes one tell the truth? Guess where that came from. WW was created as a feminist icon. Of course, there are the segments of the population who believe that women who want equality with men are just bitter man-haters who can’t get (or don’t want) a man and they have applied the lesbian/bisexual label to her. An episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” had Mary trying to relate to a boyfriend’s comic book-reading son by telling him how much she loved Wonder Woman. The kid cut it short by saying, “She’s too butch.” (the boyfriend didn’t last)

Not sure how her current boyfriend feels about that.

I saw myself as strong, smart, and able to right wrongs and wanted super powers so I could do that. (Starting with jumping off picnic table with an umbrella because I wanted to fly like Mary Poppins. Tell me she didn’t have super powers. And I was four years old)

 hormones were shocked into life by a short-lived “Spiderman” series on CBS and I had my first celebrity crush, Nicholas Hammond:

(Also a Von Trapp kid in “The Sound of Music.” Frederich)

Him, I wanted to be with.

 I also loved “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman,” but Jaime Sommers was a slender, athletic woman that I couldn’t relate to.

Something to keep in mind for the next section: around this time, my mother had started projecting her weight and self-image issues on to me and the campaign of harassing me about my weight, exercise, and dietary habits began, and did not end until she died.

ABC debuted “Wonder Woman” starring Lynda Carter.

She wasn’t a skinny little woman like Jaimie Sommers or Charlie’s Angels. Nobody around me called Lynda Carter “fat.” She was allowed to be smart on the show, too. Nobody told her that boys don’t like it when girls are smarter than they are, or called her a “showoff.” Diana Prince would find a place to hide, take off her glasses, spin and POW!, there was Wonder Woman running to the rescue (I noticed that when she ran, the spike heels were replaced by flats).

She did the rescuing and saving.

“Star Wars” came on the scene and I moved on from people in costumes to Jedis, because robes seemed more practical and I had recently read “A Gift of Magic” by Lois Duncan, so I was into telekinesis and extraordinary mind power.

Flash  forward a few decades. I’m middle-aged and focused on other things.

I saw the publicity stills of Gal Gadot for “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and my thought was “Good casting. Looks like they got it right.”

I’ve been to all the Batman and Superman movies from Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve on down to Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. And that movie was not great. However, during the climactic battle sequence, when Batman is about to become a Bat grease spot,

https://youtu.be/bX8VzUvCke8

They even gave her a killer guitar riff for theme music.

Yes, Marvel has the Black Widow and Scarlet Witch as part of the Avengers (and I prefer Marvel to DC because they have a better sense of humor). But they’re part of the group and need saving by one of the guys  from time to time.

Thursday night, Wonder Woman did the saving (probably the DC film franchise as well as Steve Trevor and a Belgian village).

I met a woman wearing these:

They are for sale TO ADULTS on Amazon. (Perfect retailer)

Her husband told me, “She’s been waiting 45 years for this movie.”

I guess I was, too.

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me

June 1. It actually is my birthday.

56. How the hell did I get to this age? I was 35 last week, I swear. And 25 the week before.

Did you ever read “A Wrinkle in Time”?

One of the best sci fi books ever written. Scared the hell out of me. However, there was a concept in it that the scientist parents were investigating when the father disappeared: the tesseract (not to be confused with the first Infinity Stone of the same name in the Marvel Universe. For that, you need Thor. And Loki), whereby one can “fold” time like bringing one side of a sheet of paper to the other (thus the titular Wrinkle) and stepping across.

I think that’s what has happened to me. Oh, I know I’ve lived the past thirty plus years. Got the scars to prove it. It just feels like it was the 1980s last year. Like I was working in the Mutual Funds Customer Service department at Fidelity Investments in downtown Boston. If I hear “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythmics, it takes me back to the flower stand on the corner of Milk and Washington, in front of the Old South Meeting House (from which the Boston Tea Party was launched. Read “Johnny Tremain.”).

Maybe if I’d had my own family, I’d have a better grip on the passage of time. I didn’t. I’m not a big fan of children and I never met anyone I felt I could trust closely enough for an long-term intimate relationship. Saw quite a few go bust in an ugly fashion. I didn’t want that. Had too many people who were supposed to have my back turn out to be the last people I could rely on.

So here I am.

Unlike some previous years, I have friends around me, geographically speaking. I will be going to see “Wonder Woman” tomorrow night and eating AMC’s mozzarella sticks after a day’s work. I will be doing other things as well. But how I spend the day isn’t the big issue.

56.

That’s on the far edge of middle-aged. I have never visualized myself at this stage of life let alone the one that comes next. Why am I really here? Will I finally find enough success as an author that I don’t have to rely on the day job? Am I going to be financially secure enough to retire? When will I die and how? (Yeah, I think about that. It’s inevitable. We’re all mortal)

What’s next? Only God knows, and He ain’t tellin’.

PS: Go buy my books.

 

Memorial Day Perspective

From the Department of Veterans Affairs website:

“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.”

On June 6, 1944, in Operation Overlord, the Allies (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Free France, New Zealand, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Norway) made a major push into northern continental Europe through the beaches of Normandy in France.

Over 10,000 men died, but the objective was achieved and Germany surrendered 11 months later.

In September 2013, two artists etched over 9,000 silhouettes into the sand of those beaches to commemorate the soldiers and civilians who died on that day.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/09/the-fallen-9000/

I grew up in Rutland, Vermont. Rutland is divided in Rutland City and Rutland Town. I grew up in Rutland Town. Current population: City 16,495 as of 2010. Town: 4,038 as of 2000 (statistics from Wikipedia).

Rutland City would have lost 55% of its population. Rutland Town would have been eradicated twice over.

Think about that for a moment.

And that was just one day. One battle. One war.

Not the first. Not the last.

It is the ultimate sacrifice by some for the greater good of the many.

One final link:

 

A Long Time Ago (40 Years, If You Want to Be Exact)

May 25,1977 “Star Wars” was released. Not “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Just plain “Star Wars.”

What’s a less-cliched way of saying, “My life hasn’t been the same since”?

There are those who scoff, call it cheesy (blasphemy), insist “Empire” is better because it’s darker and more complex. or think this was the beginning of the end of actual culture because film-making turned into “What can we merchandise out of this?”

I don’t care. I saw (I don’t know how many times) a story with a kid who desperately wanted to do bigger things with his life than was possible where he lived.

https://youtu.be/o_CIdZJBx1k

(This, this right here, this piece of music? When all seems to be lost for me, when I look at my situation and think, “I don’t see a way out of this. Are things going to be this bad for the rest of my life?,” this piece of music saves me.  ‘The Force Theme.” Someone on Youtube has it on a one-hour loop, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one so moved)

“The Gee Whiz Kid from Tatooine,” Newsweek magazine covering the release of “The Empire Strikes Back”

I did most of my growing up in Rutland, VT, from the age of 7 until I left home for UVM. I know there are people who love it, but to me it was a prison. (As I saw it) I was uprooted from a happy existence in Brattleboro, VT where I had a group of friends to a new neighborhood that was a converted cow pasture and a mile outside of city limits. Where I’d had sidewalks and playgrounds in walking distance, now it was fields, old barbed wire fence, a big rock in the middle of the neighborhood, and, not much else. I hated every minute of living there. It was my Tatooine. I do not like rural.

Here was a movie where one of the heroes was a princess.

We still had hope for the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment, not Earned Run Average). Here was an ambassador, rebel leader, and fighter wearing a dress. And smart-mouthing the bad guys, not acting like a simp. I miss you, Carrie Fisher.

Between Hamill, Fisher, and Ford, I saw a few bad movies because they were in them. On the plus side, I became an Alec Guiness fan and discovered his Ealing comedies, like “The Lavender Hill Mob.” Of course, my favorite role of his will always be Obi Wan Kenobi

(Yes, I was 16, not 4, but did I tell you how friggin’ BORED I was in Rutland?) I would try to feel the Force, to move things. No, I was not successful, but I did move myself out of Rutland eventually, so there is that. And, while I am not an atheist or an agnostic (I do believe there is something “out there” or “inside us” that is greater than us), I’ve considered the idea that maybe the Bible didn’t describe the Greater Power accurately, creating God in Man’s own image, but the Force: “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Given the findings of quantum physicists, maybe that’s a more accurate description. We are all stardust. And energy.

 

There were even talking robots that were almost human. I concocted a back story where they’d been put in some kind of spacecraft and launched from their galaxy, crash landing into a young George Lucas’s backyard and telling him the tale. Sort of like how they met up with Luke.

And plain and simple: the good guys won. The bad guys who would obliterate an entire planet to get information out of one person who wasn’t even on it at the time, they lost. They had a “technological terror” and the biggest movie villain ever in Darth Vader, who could choke a guy to death without laying a hand on him, the Empire had those things, and they lost. To the Gee Whiz Kid who just wanted a bigger life than he had.  To the badass princess who could shoot and fight with the guys. There was hope.  I needed that.

Cue the Force theme.