Friday, June 29, 2007

Tis the season of heat, humidity, and escaping the aforementioned in the air-conditioned comfort and splendor of your local movie theater. Even better, in the Seacoast we've gotten sort of a Movie Theater 2.0 with the new Regal here in Newington, complete with stadium seating -- which from a branding perspective, maybe shouldn't really be called stadium-style, lest someone think of cold aluminum bench-style bleachers. (In fact, the seats themselves are more like captains chairs with their rocking recline, high backs, and individual cupholders.) Anyway, I was stunned to see the marquee in Newington the other day... There's all kinds of movies I'd actually want to see playing right now, from Shrek to Spider-man (well, maybe not Spider-man per-se, but Kirstin Dunst, oh yes) to Pirates to Ratatouile (Brad Bird does it again!) to Evan Almighty. Heck I'd even watch Ocean's 13 or Transformers or Nancy Drew under the right circumstances. Check out the plethora of options!

But the one movie I really want to see isn't there... Or anywhere near here, it seems. I'm talking about Sicko, the new Michael Moore vehicle. Have I ever called a movie theater wondering if and when they would be getting in a particular movie? Not until Moore's scathing documentary about the American health care crisis. That's pretty damn good advance buzz, my friends.

After poking around online for a while, and wondering if I could justify driving 45 minutes to Massachusetts to see a movie, I found this. Could it be a conspiracy to minimize the impact of his message? Normally I'm not much for conspiracy theory, but with Michael Moore, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

What makes this even more ironic (or suspicious?) is that Moore purposefully picked NH last week to premiere the movie in the first place: "We are in New Hampshire today because we hope this film will have an impact in the coming election," Moore said during a press conference. Hmm....

In any event, I have a friend who attended the premiere and she said she "cried the whole way through." Not exactly the stuff of a prototypical summertime blockbuster, is it?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Happy Father's Day!"

This is how a column in today's Sunday Globe begins. A good start, no doubt, seeing as it's Father's Day. But it's all downhill from here.

The article is by Jane Rosenzweig, a writing teacher at Harvard. The teaser on page A1 was promising: "Daddy Memoirs: Recent memoirs deliver a more nuanced look at the experience of modern fatherhood."

But instead of a detailed, thoughtful review of new books, we get bitterness and belittlement. In the very first graf, she implores dads on our special day of honor to "relax, secure in the knowledge that cultural expectations for you remain low." Nice. It's like waking up and having your wife tell you, "That's OK honey, I'll make the coffee, like I always do." On your birthday. Gee, uh, thanks dear.

She says, "In a culture that's deeply invested in scrutinizing mothers, it seems you still have to do something spectacular -- let your daughter videotape you drunk, perhaps, like David Hasselhoff, or call your daughter a "rude, thoughtless little pig" on her voicemail like Alec Baldwin -- to be deemed a truly bad father."


That's spectacular? I wonder what superlative she'd apply to a parent like this. I think severing your baby's arms or drowning your kids in a bathtub is on a level somewhat more spectacular than a dad getting angry with his daughter because she missed a visiting date with him.

Overall, it seems Ms. Rosenweig is disinterested in the subject matter of the day, constantly comparing fathers' situations with mothers' and a few fatherhood memoirs to several "Mommy Wars" books, with which seems much more familiar.

Throughout the article, Ms. Rosenweig seems to have a chip on her shoulder, apparently jealous of some perceived advantage that fathers enjoy with our "lower societal expectations." But for which parents is it socially acceptable to work full-time, or part-time, or not at all? Moms have all these choices, but dads are expected to work full-time (overtime, actually, if they want to get a raise or promotion and be good providers for their families), and find time to be good dads, and "help out" around the house, and take care of their traditional yard/home/car maintainance duties. It's almost like she has no idea what fathers actually do, or doesn't care. For a while I wondered if she even bothered to read the books she was assigned.

In her conclusion, Ms. Rosenzweig quotes an anecdote from Crawling: A Father's First Year. The author, a children's book writer/illustrator, was in a grocery store when his daughter began to cry. A woman at the store said: "Ohh, she must want her mommy." The author was a bit insulted by the unintentional dig, and quite rightly so. But Ms. Rosenzweig dismisses his experience and, again, turns it around to a faulty feminist perspective, interpreting it as an implicit criticism of the absent mother! Wow.

Next year, Globe editors, do us proud, self-respecting dads a favor and leave Ms. Rosenzweig's opinions out of my Father's Day. Perhaps next year, the Father's Day article could be penned, by, you know, a father?

And now, Ms. Rosenzweig, if you'll excuse me, I've got a family fun day planned.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The feel-good story of the summer, right here. It's rare these days but always good to see a community of people pull together for a friend in need. I was there on Sunday for the save-the-farm yard sale and concert, and I was struck by the notion that it was sort of real-life reenactment of "It's a Wonderful Life."

In this version, instead of George, the townsfolk cried, "Katie is in trouble?!" and rushed to her house with fists full of dollars. Katie, a long-time and well-respected citizen in Durham, has given so much time and support to non-profits, local musicians... provided gainful employment to so many (including me) through her entreprenuership... hosted so many political candidates and plain-old barn-busting parties... well, her friends just had to come a-running when she needed them most.

The evil Potter's bank in this case was Ocean National, hell-bent on taking her beloved homestead, which she rebuilt from ashes, to public auction, regardless of the circumstances or the good faith shown.

This story has a happy ending of course, but before we get too carried away, I hasten to add that as far as I know, no bells rang on their own and no angels earned wings in the process.

"Here's to Katie, the richest woman in town." ;-)