Category Archives: judges

Beginning a Week of Book Banning Awareness

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From September 21st through the 27th, the American Libraries Association has

declared this “Banned Books Week.” They wish to encourage our freedom to read.

The ALA’s slogan for this week is, “Discover What You’re Missing.” I think it is so

important to remind people of how recently we had books destroyed, censored

and banned in our country.

In my opinion, books on any subject are meant to expand our world views. They

open our eyes where we may hold insulated views. Some have been protected,

kept safe and ‘closed off,’ from what is being presented in their community or

‘tribe’ (or family.)There are some who home school, some who don’t believe

in public news, some who wish that all offensive subjects not be mentioned to

or around their children. I respect their freedom to do so and they have valid

concerns. But they must also be careful for ‘what they wish for.’ After having

a protected Catholic roommate my sophomore year in college go, ‘haywire,’

with her sudden freedom. Also, knowing a relative who sent her 3 daughters to

a Christian college, only to have one get married to a Catholic, a Jewish man

and another to live with a man out of wedlock, I think one must be careful

about what kind of life you are presenting to your children and family.

By the way, just so you don’t misunderstand, I felt all three of these choices

were find and acceptable choices. It is just the fact the parents had tried to

prevent this ‘kind of thing,’ from happening, that I mention it at all.

Creating awareness of censorship and banning books may seem ‘foreign’ to

ones in their twenties who may live in a city where this has not recently

happened. Historically, it is no so far in the distant past, as one may think. It

is also part of many cultures’ and countries’ current practices. Awareness of

the dangers in such behavior, burning books, taking black markers and

removing words, opinions, and whole passages of different perspectives is

so important for everyone to recognize.

The definition of ‘ban’ that applies to this practice is defined as to prohibit

especially by legal means or social pressure some form of information.

Censure or condemning through public opinion.

The definition of ‘censor’ is to examine in order to suppress or delete

harmful or dangerous material.

The major problem in both banning and censoring is “Who is doing this?”

Who has the authority to choose what we are able to read, write or talk

about?

The subjects of McCarthyism, Apartheid, Racial Issues and Governmental

Control are the ones that “leap to mind’ and produce a cold hand upon my

heart.

Do I think the military servicemen should have had their letters censored,

for fear of accidentally getting into the hands of our enemies? I would not

wish to make a decision that might cause death or infiltration of the enemy

in times of war.

Do I think that some subjects are ‘gross’ and upsetting to my mind? Yes,

but again, I would not wish to impose my thoughts upon others. I don’t

feel this would be fair or just behavior.

While teaching my first year of middle school, in 1979, I was in a small

town where the principal and the superintendent were from cities. They

said it was important to not feel that parents should dictate how their

students be taught. They made me feel comfortable about approaching

them with topics. Sixth grade Language Arts, along with English, Spelling

and Current Events were part of my instruction responsibilities. We had

team teaching, where the students moved from classroom to classroom.

Once I found out I was expecting my second child (my first miscarriage

had been the year before) I asked when it would be appropriate to tell

the students. We were going to be riding in a bus, in the winter months

to a swimming pool, I would be helping the kids to learn floating and

Life Saving techniques. I would be wearing a maternity bathing suit by

then. They suggested telling the parents in November and I listened to

their more experienced advice. We also were having Sex Ed discussions

in the Science classes. I was a little embarrassed as students would see

my belly expanding, but it turned out they loved getting in a line after

lunch in December to feel the baby move. Then, I would have them put

their heads down, as they rested and listened to the chapter book, “The

Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

What books do I think of that have been banned? Without referring to

a list, I imagined “Clockwork Orange,” from my high school readings.

I pictured and remembered that the word, ‘nigger,’ was considered very

controversial and some schools and libraries during the Civil Rights

Movement, mistakenly removed the book, “Huckleberry Finn,” from

their book shelves. The third immediate ‘banned’ book I could think of,

was “The Scarlet Letter.”

Why ban “Clockwork Orange?” Graphic language,  the governmental

control and the futuristic idea of mind control over a criminal. The main

character is injected, I believe if my memory serves me well, with something

that causes him to have pictures of violence and he suffers excruciating pain

from this. Why should we accept this book and not ban it? This is an intriguing

start to a whole new genre of books, which opened our minds to possibilities

and also, made us aware of the dangers of choosing how a criminal should be

punished. Do we have the right to do this? It can also be argued, do we have

the right to kill a man because he killed or committed dangerous acts. Our

legal world, with a ‘jury of our peers,’ makes those kind of powerful judgments.

Why ban “Huckleberry Finn?” I think fear of repercussions and misunderstandings

during a very dangerous, emotional period of our times. We can look at this

rationally, knowing the language was supposed to depict what was acceptable

during Mark Twain’s time. Why accept the book? Because it is an outstanding

story that does cross racial barriers and shows a black man and a young boy in

a fantastic piece of American literature. Their unique friendship and reliance

on each other shows a trust unexpected between two such characters, prior

to Mark Twain’s writing this book.

Why would “The Scarlet Letter,” which has a 19th century woman wearing a

red “A” across her chest be considered censorable? I think some would say

go ahead and promote this book. It holds their own judgments of the situation

on adultery. I am not sure if it is on the banned books list, which I had decided

when I set out to write this, that I would not ‘peek’ at the list until I finished my

opinions or had a chance to ‘editorialize.’ I think it may have been on the list

but would take it off, due to my determination that usually the WOMAN is

given the scarlet letter, not the man who was part of the couple engaged in

adultery. This is an antiquated viewpoint, but sadly this is still held in some

form or other, which is not the time nor place to talk about why this still goes

on.

 

The Office of Intellectual Freedom gets reports and complaints. They usually

get the most “challenges” to freedom from the public wishing to ban books

after the Top 10 Book List is published.

Here are the Top 5 out of a list of Top 10 the OIF received after the 2013 Top Ten

List was published:

1. “Captain Underpants,” by Dav Pilkey.

The complaints were: Offensive language and unsuitable for age group.

2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

The complaints were: Offensive language, sexually explicit, violence and unsuitable for age group.

3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ,” by Sherman Alexie.

The complaints were: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.

The complaints were: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoints, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.

The complaints were: Religious viewpoints and unsuitable for age group.

Hmm…I would have added violence possibly.

Overall, there are large numbers given on the official website of the Office of Intellectual Freedom

of the population that wish to restrict our reading materials.

 

 

The funny thing that someone in my life mentioned about censorship, I am

not quite sure who, but he asked this thought-provoking question:

What book has many adult themes within its pages, including adultery,

fornication and murdering one’s family members, but is considered

‘acceptable’ by those who wish to forbid and censor books?

(The Bible, he answered.)

What books came to mind, when I first started this post, that may be on past

banned books lists?

 

Nelson Mandela’s quotation seems apropos:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,

but to live in a way that respects and enhances

the freedom of others.”

 

Some Humor among the Sarcasm

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I laughed at a real life news story, where a mother of four children

came out from shopping with her kids, of one of those ‘box stores,’

having a cart load of groceries and necessities. She walked over to

where her car was supposed to be, and it was gone!

Stolen!

She managed to catch a person who allowed her to use their phone.

She called “9-1-1” and then turned to the sympathetic man, who had

been asking, “What else he could do?”

 

The single mother, smiled, as she asked him,

“One more favor, may I use your cell  phone just one more time?

It’s local!”

 

She then asked her kids and the man to move away.

Go back on the sidewalk and get far away.”

Again, she promised to make it quick!

 

This true story was told on the news on Monday, so there may even be a

video of the next part of the story. . . You know how Youtube catches the

news!

 

The woman called her own cell phone, knowing she had left it in the cup

holder. Like idiots, the thieves opened her phone and asked, “Hello?”

She blurted out a blazing trail of swear words, saying that she was a

single mother with four kids and “Why in the world would you choose

my  ‘piece of junk’ car to steal, anyway?”

 

She then added to the unfortunate robbers of her van, “You morons,

I know that my phone has some kind of a chip in it for locating where

you are at. Get back here NOW!”

 

Supposedly, the van was returned, before the police had arrived, and

they even handed her the keys before they took off, through the busy

shopping plaza, on foot.

I was smiling all the way to work on Monday, due to this genius move

by a desperate single Mom!

 

Another funny part of the news was that supposedly “Mr.T” had to show up

at his local courthouse, since he got an official letter telling him the date to

go and serve  on Jury Duty! He actually  was dismissed. He was very

disappointed that he was not asked to serve on a case. There was a group

of people in the waiting room, having coffee and talking to him. They had

some selfies taken with “Mr. T,” too. The funny thing that someone asked

him, was would he ‘pretend hit him,’ posing for a picture. Now, the radio

announcer for this ‘news flash,’ used a comical voice, imitating “Mr. T.”

in his response,

(Using the unique and amusing way that “Mr. T.” use himself  in the third

person, too.)

“Mr. T.”  cannot look like he is hitting you, because “Mr. T.” don’t want any

trouble with the ‘po-lice.'”

Of course, he did not actually say this but the gist of the situation is true,

that a young man wanted him to pretend fight with him, for his cell phone

but “Mr. T.” politely declined and instead gave him a hug.

 

Now  this one is from my friend, Melvin, who was on a ‘rant’ so excuse the

angry sarcasm. Our mutual young friend, Cody, who we have both given rides

home, in the heated afternoons and early evenings, after what we consider

‘grueling’ days, got too many ‘points’ and lost his job.

Here is the way the excited tone and words were exchanged in the parking

lot today:

Melvin uses a Martin Lawrence/Chris Tucker shrieking voice that is very

indignant in this rampage:

“So, Robin, we have three situations here. All three are given the exact SAME

Number of Points, am I clear on this?

First, Tina, who is a ‘white girl,’ gets 9 points but has no other points so she

gets to keep her job, after hitting a security guard and leaving.

(And honest to Pete, he did add this ‘racial’ clarification. Sorry, don’t be too

offended because under the rant, there is an element of truth. I am upset, too.)

Second, our good friend, Peggy, turned 60 and we had a grand party for her,

but she gets assigned to using one of those awful heavy bulk riding machines.

(He is really stretching the high pitched tone, which makes me laugh, despite

myself.)

Poor Peggy, unwittingly trips over her feet getting off the machine, falls and

hits her head on the concrete, and gets the SAME number of points, ‘white

girl’ gets no breaks. 9 points! She had to go to the hospital, get X-rays and

set up for an MRI tomorrow, and she will get Workman’s Comp, which means

she will not have to pay for this accident, EXCEPT Peggy will have to be careful

for the rest of the next 12 months, or she will lose her job for hitting her head.

Do I have this right, Robin?”

I looked at him, expressing disgust with the unfairness of these two very different

situations. Peggy should not have had to be on equipment, without any kind of

re-training. She should not get any points, in my opinion! (And Melvin’s, too.)

Then Melvin concludes his story, with his agitated distorted voice, since you

would think normally he were an “upper crust” New Englander, being raised

by his island parents, going to school in Boston and having served in the Army

in Europe:

“Robin, my man Cody, arrives late to work and has accumulated the one point

for poor attendance, Right? Then, my good boy who is very good in his position

in Heavy Bulk, is parking his equipment, runs the metal fork into a metal rack.

He is done with his work, just parking it. There rings out a metal ‘Clash!” and

someone runs to the Bin Order Filler office, someone who for some Ungodly,

Unholy reason ‘has it out for my black young friend, my ‘brother’ Cody gets

9 points today and is ‘walked out,’ like a common criminal!”

Tammy and I have listened to Melvin’s tirade. We have had sympathy for

Tina (awhile back her hit and run was a subject of a post) and Peggy, just is

devastated, having never received more than 2 points in the 15 years of working

here.

Tammy was the one who stopped laughing over Melvin’s hysterical rendering

of the unfairness of it all, first. I was just shaking my head. I have a feeling that

Peggy’s sister or brother, both having been to college and have attorneys, will

be looking for a settlement. This will all ‘back fire’ on the administration. I just

hope that Peggy will come back since she has not reached 62 nor retirement age.

Melvin’s summary is (again NOT politically correct), “So, if you are a ‘white lady,’

you can hit a security guard, leave the scene of the crime, keep your job and not

serve time. You get 9 points.

You be a ‘white lady,’ you have been getting a little on the ‘old’ side of things,

you trip and fall, hurt your own self, and get 9 points.

Then, you show up late once for work, as a black boy needs his sleep, you get

1 point. You hit a rack, no injuries whatsoever, no one even close by, you make

some noise, someone notices, and you get reported on. You get 9 points, make

it to that darn 10 you lose your job!! Gimme justice!”

 

Melvin wanted to come up with a better ‘punchline,’ but this was it:

“The inequitable number of ‘9’ must have been pulled out of someone high up in

the organization, to be used three times in three different situations. They must

have pulled it out of their high falutin’ behinds!”

If you had heard his vocal impression of the irritated actors then you may be

laughing. (I think he does a great job of Chris Tucker, from those movies with

Jackie Chan.)

But you know this one is not a laughing matter!

As Melvin got into his car, he raised his arm in the old “Black Power” fist

and said, “I want Justice for my man, Cody!!”

 

The continuing saga of  work, just glad I have received no points this year!

If you are a minute late from lunch you earn a ‘point’ and are considered,

‘tardy.’ If you miss work on a day that you are supposed to have a doctor’s

excuse, (Mondays and Fridays) you will earn that random number of 9 points.

 

 

The Tony’s Are Coming! The Tony’s Are Coming!

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Oh yeah, the place to be tomorrow night is in front of your television set, with

the 68th Tony Awards’ Ceremony about to begin. Or better yet, if fashion,

style and grace are part of your repertoire, before the Tony’s, watch the

outrageous, beautiful and sometimes the most stunning dresses of the year!

After all, the ones who are able to wing it on stage, in front of a Live audience

on a large stage, whether it is Broadway or Off-Broadway, are the ones

to watch!

Here are some television names to watch for:

Tyne Daly, who is known from being part of the police drama, ‘Cagney and

Lacey.’ She has been performing since February in “Mothers and Sons,”

written by Terrence McNally.

Bryan Cranston, who went from playing a bad guy, let’s face it, that we could

not tear our eyes off of in, “Breaking Bad,” to playing a famous man in “All the

Way!” (Hint: He is playing Lyndon Baines Johnson, and doing an outstanding

job!)

Neil Patrick Harris, who has been the Host for the Tony’s has played in the

performance of a lifetime in a dark play called, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

Who knew that N.P. Harris could make a strange and dark character come

to life? I always have loved the ‘boy’ who was Doogie Howser and made me

laugh as Barney, in “How I Met Your Mother.”

Tony Shalhoub, has my interest in his role as part of Moss Hart’s play, “Act One.”

Since I have watched him, with my Mom mainly, as “Monk,” the quirky and

rather interesting man with OCD. Apparently, “Psychology Today,” did not

find his real enough nor true to the obsessive compulsive disorder, though.

His role as a police support staff who had to have a companion to settle him.

I liked to watch him while being amused by his techniques. There are OCD

moments caught and featured on Youtube, too. His partner would help him

stay in touch with work, changed and I liked each of his assigned female

‘babysitters’ on that show. The Hart play has been ‘panned,’ also. Too bad.

Idina Menzel has been featured in my posts, since my grandkids love her

voice, raised in song. (In the animated children’s film, “Frozen,” she belts

out “Let it Go!”) Her performances in the show and movie, “Chorus Line,”

along with “Rent” have made her quite a Broadway performer. The 2014

Tony nominated play is called, “If/Then.” I am not familiar with this one,

I have to admit, but knowing the versatility and talent of Idina Menzel,

I will hope it gets an award!

Harvey Fierstein’s gravelly voice can give me chills. He is a fine director

and writer, his 2014 nominated play is called, “Casa Valentina.” This has an

unusual ‘premise,’ men gathering in a cabin in the Catskill Mountains and

tapping into their ‘feminine side.’ Could be fascinating…

His brief presence on the CBS Today Show, this morning, Saturday, June

7, 2014 included asking him what drives him in his writing. Here is his

quote being paraphrased (I am not great at writing each word, but I am

sure that you can look up this and this is the ‘essence’ of its meaning:

If you want to capture my attention and hold it, don’t show me a meteor

going to hit our planet.  Show me people interacting, human connections

and THAT is the show I will watch!”

In other words, Harvey is saying that the human condition is what he has

drawn from,  while writing his plays and screenplays.

One of the most beloved and most performed plays, “The Glass Menagerie,”

is again up for a 2014 Tony Nomination.

I have a personal reason why I follow the different award shows. Some of you

who have followed me for quite some time, may recall that I have always been

a person who followed plays, movies and theater productions. I was very lucky

to have parents  who thought that taking the three kids to these, would be fun,

educational and meaningful. I liked, Musicarnival, The Lakewood Summer

Shakespeare Festivals, and Cleveland productions of Broadway plays. I have

only once been to a Broadway play, to see Joel Grey play as George M. Cohen,

in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But, my interest went beyond watching, I became

part of children’s plays, worked back stage in makeup freshman year of high

school, set design sophomore year and worked side by side with actors as

understudies. I never was on stage until I went to National Acting Camp

held at Notre Dame University. It was fun trying out and being part of

this, I came back and was senior director of the play, “Take Her, She’s

Mine.” I worked side by side with Miss Marilyn J. Frazier. She was a

beautiful and classy woman, who I believe could have become a famous

actress, had she pursued it.

I would like to give a ‘Shout Out’ to the people who went on stage, under

my direction. All wrote such lovely things on cards and notes, along with

a few special words in my 1974 (senior yearbook), Bluebook.

Hope some of you will be at our 40th reunion this September, 2014!

Billy Bush, (no, not the one on Entertainment Tonight!), Megan Peters,

(she is a Hallmark designer, artist and lovely person), Torry Cavanaugh

(doesn’t that just sound like she should be famous?), Ralph Cutcher

(you stole my heart, but just friends), Lynn Kuhlow (a ‘class act’),

Cheryl Anderson (you played a teenager who was a ‘handful’ just

right!), and good Science Club ‘geek’ and friend, David Frackelton.

When the musical “Hello Dolly” was not available to high schoolers

due to high Equity dues’ cost, we had our other play, “The Matchmaker,”

that year. Alice Cepulo, another Science Club ‘geek’ (I was secretary one

year, my brother president, so we were very active in this club…) was

the student director for this great play. She went on in film making,

after college, joining NASA’s ‘team’ in Texas. She has made a lot of

non-fiction space films. I was so sorry to hear the 1975 graduate and

one of my brother’s and my dear friends, Andy Cepulo killed himself.

in 2013.

That is a summary of my ‘real life’ experiences and I am sure they

are enough ‘credentials’ to let you know that I do know a ‘thing or

two’ about theatre!!

 

Other Tony nominated plays to ‘watch’ and ‘see’ if they get an award are:

“After Midnight,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” (this one has

the most award nominations so far) “Beautiful- The Carole King Musical,”

(which includes two of my favorite songs, “One Fine Day” and “Will You

Love Me Tomorrow?” By the way, I loved her “Tapestry” album!), “Aladdin,’

and Shakespeare’s “Twelth Night.”

Oh, and all the ladies and gentlemen out there who have enjoyed Hugh

Jackman’s singing in the movie, “Les Mis,” and his extremely entertaining

performances in roles like, “Wolverine,” will wish to see his performance

tomorrow night as the Host of the 2014 Tony Awards!

Just to let you know, watching Hugh Jackman is more than enough reason

to be watching the Tony’s!!

Voting Today

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I called my Mom, fearing that she would not remember to set her

alarm and make it on the bus for voting today! She was walking the

dog at 9 a.m., claiming to be dressed and ready to go! When I left

on Saturday, Mom had had me go over pushing her alarm from

“off” to “on” and also, helped make two big notes, one on her

night stand and one on her coffee table. I had written on her

calendar and her bulletin board “sported” a notice that the

senior apartments had posted for a reminder. I had with some

trepidation moved all of her clocks backward, hoping she would

check her phone if she needed to go somewhere after I left, like

DINNER on Saturday night. I took a later morning snack break to

ensure my getting to my locker and phoning her.

I released a big sigh of relief and as I was hanging up, Mom told

me to blog about the clam bake the weekend I arrived. I told

her I had forgotten to do that and thank you so very much! Then,

we exchanged “I love you’s” and “I miss you’s” until I had to tell

her I needed to go eat my snack to fortify myself until lunch!

I added quickly, “Mom, I am proud of your wanting so badly to

vote.”

She answered back with humor, ‘Well, it wasn’t for nothing that

my mother marched with suffragettes!” (I laughed and said,

“Thanks Mom, for that thought!”

It is with amusement that I tell you that my grandmother was

naturalized as a teenager and was very excited to be part of

those women in New York City. She was a waitress at the “best

restaurant in the world,” she would say! She worked at the

Waldorf Astoria and could tell story after story of the Morgans,

the Rothchilds, the Roosevelts, and other famous families. I

wish my Mom had written some of them down. I wished I

had thought about such things, but when she lost her breasts

due to cancer, she also, inexplicably, lost her mind. She was

not able to recognize my grandfather, my mother, aunt or

any of us children. I was only 13 when she went through this,

by the time I started really enjoying writing, my grandpa had

her cremated and was getting married to my step-grandma.

Vergene was getting married for the first time, I was her special

“Maid of Honor” (or flower girl? I was 16 and we did not have a

program, just a simple ceremony. She declared my Mom as her

special “Matron of Honor.”

After work, several of us were exclaiming that we were so happy

not to have put in more than our usual nine hours. We all were

reminding each other, “Don’t go straight home! Don’t forget to

vote!” One of my good friends, Tammy (of the Fence Post Friends

love story), said she had an MMRD, Mental Health and School Levy

to vote “Yes” to. I was not sure what was on the ballot but knew

the ones for Judge and City Council that I would choose.

Upon arrival, a good, old friend, Roger who I met when I was first

single in 2006 was giving out the tickets and stickers, one for going

into the booth, other obviously afterwards. After I “checked in”

with my proper identification and signature, I went with Roger, as

he had the mechanical “doo dad” that was inserted for my voting

machine to record my vote. He and I joked around for a moment,

but were not willing to let too much information fall upon the line

of waiting voters. He did ask, “Is your phone number the same?”

very quietly, and I responded “Yes.”

By the way, this is an “easy” way to volunteer your time since you

are only needed twice a year at most for help at the polls! I am

always admiring the dedicated retired men and women who help

out with the voter process. Roger actually took a “personal day”

he mentioned to volunteer and rand errands for the other ones

there, like “fetching lunch.”

As far as that goes, we will see! He is a fun man who is able to fix

himself up and pass for a gentleman, but is sometimes a little too

wild for family and the one couple I introduced him to way back

when did not really like him. Since that is my best friend and her

husband, I decided to pull away and distance myself right out of

that beginning relationship over 7 years ago!

Thank you for voting!

I will proceed to a new post to tell you about the outstanding event

that my youngest brother, Rich, took my Mom, a couple of ladies

from the senior apartments and me to! A Clam Bake in the Fall!