The Movie of the Week

There is a searing, harrowing horror in watching a sexual assault survivor recall live what happened to her when she was 15 and her attacker was 17.

Still, this is nothing compared to what the survivor experiences.

So we were riveted when clinical psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford expertly described the encoded memory of her 15 year old self being thrown unwilling into a tiny bedroom where a 17 year old version of US Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh ground his body into her as he laid on top of her young body and tried to remove her clothes in a drunken stupor.

When this story feels like too much, remember to VOTE.

It got even more horrific when she tried to scream, his hands covered her mouth and another drunken 17 year old in the room, his best bud, jumped on the bed in gleeful excitement at the spectacle and caused them all to roll onto the floor.

Still, what put it over the top and made it a peak experience never to be forgotten was their incessant laughter, at her and her powerlessness, reverberating almost 40 years later in her mind.

She recalls it as the irremovable primary memory, one that makes us wonder how a girl that young was ever able to move out from under him, run out the door and lock herself in a nearby bathroom until the sound of that drunken teenage boy laughter stumbled down a winding, skinny set of stairs and out of earshot.

If there is something TV movie sounding-ish about all of this, it’s because there is.

This is real. And it feels more real than ever.

This all might easily be mistaken for a TV-movie done by one of the Big 3 networks in the 1970s or perhaps Lifetime in the early aughts, had so many of us not just seen it live in a US Senate Judiciary Hearing this week.

And perhaps it will be.  Meaning, of course it will, all that’s missing is the grotesquery of the date.

Real-life couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy could easily play Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.   Really think about it.  They both look the parts and they have the acting chops!  He even plays an alcoholic Dad on Showtime’s Shameless, albeit one who makes no bones about it.  Well, her riveting appearances on American Crime and so many other series and feature films will make up for that, if we’re at all worried about appealing to Red State America, which of course we are.

Though SNL’s choice of Matt Damon was oddly inspired. #ilovebeer

And who to play Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, sputtering with rage at the gall of these forces conspiring to derail what felt like a fait accompli for the married, straight white judge?  Is Tommy Lee Jones too old?  What about Sean Penn, is he just too…Sean Penn to play, as Mr. Graham referred to himself as during the hearings, a single white, Southern male?   Well, few of us could have ever pictured, much less thought we’d buy, Penn as gay icon Harvey Milk, if you think about it.  And you should about now.  (Note:  Oh yes, I DID write/bold that).

Oh, Chairy. #hehe

It seems certain if we could get big stars to appear as supporting cast, a la the classic Judgment at Nuremberg, Meryl Streep could manage Dianne Feinstein, Scarlett Johansson might make a fine Amy Klobuchar and Tracey Ellis Ross could evoke Kamala Harris.  Of course, no one could top Frances McDormand or Angela Bassett as the California senator who in any just world (Note: Hah!) will one day be president.  Still, all would-be producers these days are already terrified of being non-PC on this kind of project, at least publicly, so we can’t even go THERE.

Oh wait, we can stay within the TV realm and still get a great actress for Kamala.  What about…Sarah Paulson!!!!   Oh, again, not PC enough?  Yikes.

Well we know Sarah has range. #neverforget

Of course, the octogenarian men are even tougher to pull off…in so many ways. (Note:  Get it?)  For TV viewers we could age Chris Cooper for 85-year old Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Bruce Dern would need no makeup, just his awesome talent, to make 84 year old Orrin Hatch seem real.  Except it might be a mistake to make him too real when he refers to a sexual assault survivor in her early fifties as an attractive woman.  On the other hand, maybe we want reality?  Maybe that IS the point?

Now, who for amiable Chris Coons, the Democratic senator from Delaware who helped broker the handshake deal with Jeff Flake, his telegenic friend and soon to be early retired Republican senator from Arizona, to acquiesce into asking the committee to have the FBI spend one week further investigating the now multiple allegations against Judge Kavanaugh?

People are saying this, not to mention the herculean efforts of the two rape survivors who cornered Flake in the elevator, were key, especially since Sen. Flake had just one hour before committed to voting YES on the Kavanaugh confirmation.

Hell. Yes.

Don’t laugh but it’s more than possible Jason Alexander could play Sen. Coons.  Even Howie Mandel.   He’s amiable, right?  They both are.  (Note:  Stop the chuckling, this is serious).

Ahh, but who for Flake, the guy we’re scripting to be the reluctant hero who rises to the occasion, key word in that being reluctant…or perhaps hero?  Hmmm.

Ya gotta admit, Flake’s a good-looking guy at 55 with great hair and a big toothy smile in the mode of Ronald Reagan but without the Hollywood/California baggage.  Maybe…gosh I’d like to say John Malkovich with makeup but clearly no one is buying that.  Anyway, it’s probably just because someone who worked in my periodontist’s office told me this week that I reminded them of sexy Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons, which at first seemed insulting but is now kind of growing on me.

But back to Flake.  Okay, let’s go with the obvious of Hugh Jackman since they’re both really tall, Flake is a devout Mormon and none of Mitt Romney’s sons have any acting experience as far as we know.  Though wait, how about Scott Eastwood???  He would certainly cost a lot less than Hugh and has a great pedigree to evoke reluctant hero.

If he wasn’t so damn British, Hugh Grant would nail the “about to cry at any second” Flake look. #boohoo

Not that we are all not ALOT more than our heritages.  Especially white, straight men cause, well, let’s be fair to EVERYONE.

If this all seems to trivialize the events of this week, the searing, harrowing horror of it all, it wasn’t INTENTIONAL.  It was NEVER MEANT to have THAT EFFECT.  It was only meant to sound angry and bitter.

Actually, it wasn’t.  It was meant to make a point.

Nothing could trivialize what happened this week, or be any more bitter, than the reactions of half the Senate Judiciary Committee to it.

This will forever be seared into my memory. #DidIMentionVOTE

We all know which half and exactly who they are.   But whether they will ever be willing to change, or even partially admit their culpability, remains a far different story.

It is one that pales in comparison to the REAL STORY in every possible way.

Kelly Clarkson – Because of You 

 

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The Talented Mr. Ginsberg

A very famous actor once told me that although he did study, acting was something he could always do.  It came natural.  Almost easy.  That is not to say it didn’t take effort.  And an emotional toll at times.  But it bears repeating,  from a very early age he knew it was something he could do.

My path as a writer was similar.  It’s not as if I thought as a kid I could make my living putting words together.  When I was young there were three professions being offered a. doctor b. lawyer 3. accountant.  Well, we can scratch a. and 3 right off the bat.  I skipped high school chemistry and I was not a numbers man.  That left me and my mouth – so lawyer would seem like a perfect fit.  You’d think.

But one business law class (yes, it was at 8am every Tuesday and Thursday but still…) changed all that.  I always thought there were at least 2 or 3 right answers under the law because isn’t life all about shades of gray and spinning a tale to prove your point?  Uh, no.  Being a lawyer was more than arguing.  It was also about memorizing.  Well, screw that.

Thankfully that left me with only this thing I could always do – write.  But geeez – how do you get paid for this?  Uh, if anyone still knows the answer to this question please email me back?  PLEASE?

I’m only half-kidding for dramatic effect about the paying part (sort of).  If you have talent and really want to, you can find a way to get paid for it in some form.  It might not be in the arena you prefer (at least not yet) or you might not be using it in the exact form you had in mind, but what you learn as time progresses is that no matter how screwed up things or people are, no one can take away your innate ability at what you can, almost instinctively, do well.  (Note: This is not to say that you don’t need to practice or that you even have to pursue payment for your talent – talent is just the raw material.  But both of these are subjects of another discussion).

Guess the famous "raw" talent?

Insecurities, comparisons and the infernal American system of rating who is the “best of” in any category of life (from the Oscars to nursery school certificates) convince many people to believe that they have no real talent.  In a word – WRONG.

My belief in my soul of souls is that everyone has a talent, especially those who are convinced they don’t.  It might not be your preferred one, or perhaps it is but you don’t know it because you don’t think of it as a talent.  Well, why would you if it’s something you could always do?  That’s not talent, if it comes so naturally is it?  Uh, yeah, it is.

I truly marvel at anyone who is mechanical and can put together something without it immediately collapsing or eventually falling apart. ( I used to think this was a nerdy, Woody Allen-ish Jewish thing until I became friends with a Jewish best friend in college who proved this theory very and quite wrong).  I also don’t understand how someone invents something, anything.  And how does a television work?  Yeah, I’ve read how countless times.   But sound waves?  What about electricity?  I just don’t get it.  I can wire a sound system if the wires are color-coded but that’s about it.   How about fixing stuff?  Plumbing?  A car?  Or why would anyone take the chance of surgically opening something or someone up, even after 10 years of schooling?  What if you’re having a bad day?  And — how about raising a child?  Uh, no thank you.  I don’t have the patience and would surely screw them up worse than myself.  Thankfully, there are others who want to do all of that.  Yet I teach.  And I’m good at that.   And then they even say, those who can do, and those who can’t teach – as if it takes no talent to teach?  Oh please, give me a break.  Try going through a time machine and sitting through my 9th grade social studies class and see if you don’t agree with me and disagree with that.  But I digress.

The other funny thing about talent is how easily it can be misused.  As Glinda asks Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” and it too bears repeating.  For example, I’ve always been wary if my actor friend is being real with me in conversation, if he’s that good at pretend.    As for me, I can write my way out of anything I don’t want to know.  Why acknowledge it’s real if I can make it into my own story and change it (or at least fix the ending?).  It took me a very long time to recognize this because, truly, in my heart this wasn’t an ability but simply a way of being.  And anyway, this wasn’t a talent.   If I were talented it would be something else.  Because the talent I really wanted was to sing.  Like, really sing.  Broadway, movies, Carnegie Hall.  I’m not kidding.

Yet at some point it becomes apparent that there is both talent and destiny and that John Lennon was right – “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”  If you’re lucky enough, at some point you begin to not give up learning new stuff but also begin to embrace all that you can do really well.  At first it might feel like you’re settling for the next best thing, especially when you want to star in Hugh Jackman’s one-man show.  But I can acknowledge what is real if I can make it into my own story and change (or at least fix) the ending.

But when it becomes apparent what your personal destiny is calling you to, you slowly (or for some, quickly) begin to recognize, enjoy, hone and appreciate it.  It takes work but in my case I’m grateful that I can, well, do something.   And though it took me awhile, I finally got the point to where I wouldn’t trade it because, well, then I wouldn’t be me.   Besides, how happy can Hugh Jackman be anyway — singing and dancing on Broadway in a one man show with his name over the title.  Or, actually, as the title.

I hate him... I love him... I want to be him!

Thanksgiving is a time where you’re supposed to appreciate/look at what you have and give thanks.  But this is difficult when you don’t appreciate it or don’t honor it.  I think we’re taught not to value something that is natural and that achievement is only about when something is (or seems) impossible.  It’s kind of backwards, if you think about it.  Give thanks for the talent.  Own it.  Love it.  And appreciate what you have.  And then – try to make it better.

Unless you can sing – then all bets are off.