Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Social Media Time Out

Facebook for me is usually a happy place.

I've managed to surround my digital self with lots and lots of like-minded individuals, and so my Facebook world tends to run towards liberal ideas, cat videos, and teacher-loving puns.

When people post about all the negativity they see on social media, I think, Ha! Not me! Will you just look at this adorable puppy going sledding?

I also have friends who don't do Facebook.  They avoid it for entirely reasonable reasons:
"I just know I'd get sucked in and never get anything done."
"I'm not comfortable with putting myself out there on the internet so much."
And I think, I hear you, but I'm pretty good about not getting lost in Facebook land, and I understand the privacy stuff so I'm pretty well protected.  Plus I never publish anything too personal.

And so, periodically throughout my day, I take a spin through the latest info on my Facebook wall.  (Do we still call it a wall on Facebook?  Or is it a feed like Twitter?)

Speaking of Twitter, I've got one of those accounts, too, though I use it a lot less.

But since the election....oh the election.

The election broke my heart.  I, like many, many others, walked around in a fog for days and days, and often, when I wasn't staring blankly off into the distance, I was staring at my phone.  My Facebook World was mourning too, and I was glad to have the company.

And then the article sharing started.  "The President Elect did What?"

And before I knew it, I'd spent too many minutes to count chasing stories down rabbit holes, only to emerge more miserable and foggy than ever.  I wasn't finding solace.  I was finding heartache, anger, and dismay.

My husband kept saying, "maybe you need to take a break" when I'd look up from my screen all weepy or shell-shocked.

As Inauguration Day and the Women's March on Washington neared, I made a big decision: I needed a Social Media Time Out.

The last straw snapped when I cruised through Trump's Twitter Feed.  When he didn't include an apostrophe where he should have, I nearly sobbed.  It wasn't so much the missing apostrophe, of course, but that's what tipped the balance.

I've been grumbling a lot lately about a lot of things: no time for reading for pleasure or exercising, no time to just relax, and I've been blaming it on work, which has indeed been busy.  I've had more essays to grade than ever this year due to my combination of classes and student numbers.

But I began to wonder just how much time I was wasting with my "quick peeks" at Facebook, etc.

So I decided I had to be part of my online community for the Inauguration, and then I was eager to see the turnout for the Women's Marches all around the world.  I'm glad I made these decisions, as I could cry in the company of my electronic friends on Friday, and then "LIKE" a million posts on Saturday showing the strength of women around the world--and also the awesomeness of their signage.  Take that, you nasty old apostrophe abuser!

Woo. Ok.  So ast night I checked Facebook for the last time, and I'm going to take a break for a while now.  Probably not forever, but until I break some bad habits, at least.

By midday today, on Day 1 of my Social Media Block-Out, I had reached for my phone, thumb extended toward the little blue square, at least six times.  So I removed the shortcut from my home screen.

I'm a bit alarmed at how often I reach for it.

Instead, when the urge strikes me, I think of what else I could be doing: playing music, reading a book (I'm taking a break from my online news outlets too.  I've probably spent countless hours on articles that I could have spent on novels.  I haven't read much fiction at all lately.), doing some stretches.  I even downloaded a meditation app.  My friends who know me well know that that is a crazytown move for me.  I don't meditate.  Like, ever.

So here I go.  We'll see if this break has the effect of freeing up time for healthier pursuits, both mental and physical.

And lest you fear that I'm putting my head in the sand at a time when we should be extra vigilant, please note, I will still listen to the news on my rides to and from work.  That will be enough for now.

Maybe I'll even blog again.  Seems I stopped when school hit.

If we're friends on FB, I'm sure I'll be along again sometime to see you there.  But I can be reached in an abundance of other ways if you need me.  Until later, Friends.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bustin' Makes Ya Feel Good

(All movie photos in this entry are from the official Ghostbusters Website)
I like the new Ghostbusters movie.  I mean, I really like it.  I laughed.  I jumped.  I squeezed Abby’s arm.  I even got a little misty at the end.  After the exciting opening, Abby leaned over to me and said, "I didn't eat a single junior mint during that whole scene!" She captured my sentiments exactly. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it after the movie was over, on the car ride home, while making dinner, and as I brushed my teeth last night.

Having heard about the controversy surrounding the movie (some people were really upset about this movie before it even got released, and its trailer had over one million dislikes on YouTube), I decided to do a little research on it, thinking there might be some interesting material in the reviews and discussions for my AP Language and Composition class.  I ended up going down a rabbit hole of opinions that varied from love it to hate it.  That’s not unusual for any movie, but there was definitely something ugly going on with this one.  The backlash before it even debuted seemed unprecedented.  Before the release, arguments against the the movie included, but were not limited to:

  • A reboot of the classic Ghostbusters is ridiculous.  The first movie was iconic, and any “redo” is disrespectful.
  • Women can’t be ghostbusters.
  • The CGI in the trailer looks terrible.  In fact, the whole trailer stinks.

Since the release, critics have added the following responses:

  • The movie is sexist and racist.
  • The movie is misogynistic.
  • Despite an awesome cast, the script is terrible.
  • Zach Woods and Chris Hemsworth were the only funny people in this movie.
  • The CGI is terrible and there is too much of it.
  • The movie doesn’t acknowledge the original Ghostbusters enough.
  • The movie spends too much time acknowledging the original Ghostbusters.

On the flip side, there have been some positive reviews, mostly including variations on the following:
  • The film is funny; get over it.

How could these four people be anything but hilarious?

The new Ghostbusters currently has a 73% rating from movie critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 57% “liked it” rating from the general audience.  Over at, the critics average is 60 out of 100, while the users (average movie goers who log in to this site?) give it a 2.7 out of 10.  This disparity feels fishy to me.  A quick look at the scores for previous big movies (the new Star Trek, the new Star Wars, the new Jurassic Park (that is, Jurassic World), reveal much closer scores between critics and regular viewers, with the critics tending to be slightly lower than the rest of us movie-goers.

So what on earth has the general public got against the new Ghostbusters?

I’m tired of trying to figure it out.

Instead, I’ll repeat what I said at the start of this post: I like the new Ghostbusters movie.  I mean, I really like it.

To prepare ourselves, we watched the original Ghostbusters last week, showing it to Abby for the first time.  (I usually stick pretty close to Common Sense Media’s recommendations for ages when deciding what Abby can and can’t see, but I was Abby’s age when Ghostbusters came out, and I don’t think it damaged me.  She has also demonstrated that she is not prone to freaking out or having nightmares after watching spooky movies).  

Remember these guys?
Rewatching this classic revealed a number of things:

  • The plot is pretty darn thin.
  • Bill Murry’s character, Peter Venkman, is a jerk.
  • Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dana Barrett, is ridiculous, especially because she falls for Venkman.
  • The special effects are gosh darn funny by today’s standards.
  • The theme song is still fabulous.
  • What’s not to love about Annie Potts’s character, Janine Melnitz?
  • The movie is still fun to watch and I’m glad it was part of my childhood.
  • Abby loved it.  (Probably because we told her that we loved it.  I don’t think she understood half of it.)

So going into the new Ghostbusters, I was cautiously optimistic, but kind of expecting it to be only mediocre.

In fact, one review that really stuck with me from my trip down the rabbit hole said the following:
All this misplaced misogynistic hostility that has been sliming the reputation of director’s Paul Feig’s gender-reassignment redo (co-written with Katie Dippold, his partner on “The Heat”) has stirred the girl-power advocate inside of me. But, the reality is, there is perhaps one, maybe two moments that come anywhere close to being as memorable as that 32-year-old not-quite-family-friendly joke [from the original]. And that reality leaves me in the unhappy position of having to admit that this feminized attempt could have used a makeover itself.
The critic, Susan Wioszczyna, goes on to write,
What really galled me was the attitude that these supposedly brilliant and successful women are forced to assume. While nerdy wise guys Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd never questioned their belief in afterlife inhabitants or wavered in their confidence to control them despite a raft of skeptics, she-geeks Wiig and McCarthy are cowed into playing misfits who were shunned by others because of their spooky interests when they were young girls, and are now emotionally damaged goods trying to prove themselves right. All I know is I don’t want my funny gals muted. I want them full blast.
I was afraid I was going to feel the same way.

Instead, I like the new Ghostbusters movie.  I mean, I really like it. (Is there an echo in here?)

Ghostbuster Erin Gilbert!
Admittedly, at one point during the movie, I found myself wishing that Kristen Wiig’s character (Erin Gilbert) had more confidence and didn’t make stupid decisions.  “Come on, Erin!  You are woman!  You are powerful!  Why are you so afraid of that big jerk who holds your university tenure in front of you like a carrot on a stick?”  And when Leslie Jones showed up as Patty Tolan, the subway worker, I spared a moment to think, “Why couldn’t there be three African American scientists and a white subway worker?”

Ghostbuster Patty Tolan!
But I checked both of those thoughts.  You know why?  Because I realized that it was supremely ridiculous to think that a movie starring four amazing women should have to DO ALL THE THINGS.  One movie can’t fight all the fights.  And this new Ghostbusters does indeed fight some of the fights while still being fun and engaging.  I mean, this movie passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors.  Woo! When does that happen?

When you look at what the women in this year’s Olympics accomplished (if the US women were their own country, they would have tied Great Britain for number of gold medals) but also observed the flack Gabby Douglas got for not putting her hand on her heart during the National Anthem, you’ll clearly see that women are held to absurd standards.  That’s just crazytown. Women, of all people, need to watch out for that sort of foolishness and put a stop to it.

Look! They put their hair up to fight ghosts!  That was a nice change from other action hero ladies in movies.

When we came out of the theater yesterday, and Abby and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, “That was awesome!” the movie won on a million levels in my book.  We discussed which Ghostbuster we would want to be (I’m torn between Patty and Jillian; Abby preferred Abby and Jillian).  We swapped memorable lines (“Get out of my friend, Ghost!”), and effused over the effectiveness of the opening scene (door knobs turning when they shouldn’t be turning ALWAYS makes my heart pound).  There was debate over best moment in the movie.    My favorite scene is when Jillian Holtzmann whips out a couple of fancy ghost-busting-guns during the epic battle at the end and whoops some serious ghost butt.  She is super badass. And funny.  WIN!

My whole family appreciated the cameos by actors from the original film, loved the nods to the 1984 version, and appreciated the variations.  It felt like a good song cover to me: it’s reminiscent enough of the original to pay respect, but definitely provides a new take.

So yeah, I like the new Ghostbusters movie.  I mean, I really like it.  

Which is way more fun than trashing it.

Bonus!  Chris Hemsworth’s character is named Kevin.  So now I have two goofy, golden-haired Kevins to adore.  What is not to love about that?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Acadia Diaries: Going Home

Day 5: The Last Day of our visit to Acadia

Waiting for a table at breakfast
We decided to have our last breakfast on MDI at a restaurant.  Bar Harbor is So pet friendly.  And Cafe This Way is So delicious.  It was a little warm sitting in the sun, to Kevin's dismay.  But then he found a nice shady spot in the aisle where all the servers had to walk, and he was happy.  Good thing they were indulgent.

After breakfast, it was time to pack up the campsite. (This a 35 second time lapse of a process that took about an hour.)

Then it was time for the car ride home.

And that was that--our latest Acadia camping adventure, in the books.

Some favorite moments:

From Abby's camera:

From Jon's camera:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Acadia Diaries: Day 4, Good Eats, Great Hikes

After the nighttime adventures of thunderstorm and crashing awnings, we all slept in on Day 4 of our Acadia trip.

After our leisurely morning, we headed to the Jordan Pond House for an early lunch.

Thanks to Abby for these photos!
I don't know how people feel about the Jordan Pond House.  Some may say it's a tourist trap.  Others may say it's a cultural icon.

I just really like eating out on the lawn and looking over Jordan Pond.  I mean, how can that be bad?  And of course, there are always the popovers.

Abby's photo

Jon's photo (Abby's hands)
The place is ripe for photo-snapping:

I love tea. (Photo by Jon)
Kevin liked joining us for lunch, too.  Though he didn't get any popovers. (Photo by Abby)
Kevin, enjoying the view.
Following lunch, we took a stroll by Jordan Pond, and this is probably my favorite photo of the whole Acadia adventure.

We filled up the afternoon on Day 4 with two fabulous hikes, and I highly recommend both of them.  They are not long, but they provide some spectacular opportunities along the way.  Both are on the Quiet Side of Mount Desert Island.

Flying Mountain

The first hike we did was the Flying Mountain trail.  This trail is a 1.5 mile loop.  Part of the loop is along a logging road.  This is not the exciting part.  I think a lot of people hike the trail through the woods/over the summit first, and come back to the parking lot via the logging road, but we did the opposite, which I highly recommend.  

The road itself is boring, but not long, and at the end of it, you find yourself in Valley Cove.  When I think of gems on hiking adventures, Valley Cove is tops on the list.  It is a charming beach with a rocky, pebbly shore, perfect for a quick swim.  Sailboats conveniently moored in the distance added even more delight to the scenery.  

We didn't know about this little beach, and so were not quite prepared for swimming, but Abby and Kevin made the most of it:

The rest of the hike, up and over the Flying Mountain summit, is like walking through a fairyland.  We kept describing the hike as magical.

 We did not overlook the scenic overlook, but made far too many jokes about how some people might overlook the overlook.
At the Overlook (photo by Jon)

The Ship Harbor Nature Trail

Our second hike of the afternoon was one we had found on a previous visit.  The Ship Harbor Nature Trail is also short (1.3 miles) and yet has a little bit of everything (except a lot of climbing up up and up).

There's forest walking, an incredible pebble beach/inlet with calm waters, and then a section of the trail along the rocky coast.  Who doesn't love scrambling over rocky coastline?

Photo by Jon
People like to build little towers with the stones on this beach.  Kevin preferred swimming. 

Kevin swimming! A whole minute of it!  I know!

Photo by Jon

Photo by Jon

 All in all, it was a great day--one of the best of our whole vacation.