Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wow. Just wow.

Saw Spotlight today. It's thrilling, intense and disturbing ... which is quite an accomplishment for a movie whose basic plotline is well known to us all before we even buy a ticket.

On one level, it's about how The Boston Globe broke the story that the archdiocese not only knew about priests abusing children, they perpetuated it by moving the offending clergy from one parish to another ... and on to more young potential victims. It shows how The Globe invested time -- important and unusual in this 24-hour news cycle world -- to get the right story right. Meaning, when they had it cold that 13 priests were guilty of molestation, a shocking allegation, they held it and waited until they could prove misdeeds by a dizzying 70+ priests. Their goal was not just to notify the public, not just to let the victims feel validated and heard. Management at The Globe wanted to make sure that the numbers were so staggering that Bostonians had to know this was institutional abuse, that Bernard Law and The Vatican had to know about it.

It reinforced the difference between print and broadcast journalism. Every year on 9/11, MSNBC rebroadcasts it's minute-by-minute coverage of the attack on the Twin Towers. It's fascinating to watch history unfold in real-time, to watch as our lives changed forever. It's important, too, to see how TV news is gathered and disseminated. National Geographic has made the original footage of 11/22/63 and the Kennedy assassination available and it struck me the same way. TV news is about getting us the visuals and getting them first. Print journalism gives us context and accuracy. As consumers of news -- and citizens -- we must never forget that. We must be sure we pay attention to both.

Spotlight is also about the reporters. The toll this story took on them. How they kept going. Some were parents. Many were Catholic. They felt a a certain responsibility that this sexual abuse had gone on as long as it had, unreported. It reminded me of hearing Carol Marin of the NBC5 here in Chicago talking of the Laquan McDonald police shooting. She recently said the news media here in town had to take responsibility for not going after that story with greater dedication. At a time when the press is the punching bag of right wing politicians, it's refreshing to see that they consider themselves public servants, nevertheless.

Rachel and Sacha
It gave me a chance to watch Rachel McAdams. One of my favorite actresses, she plays real-life Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer and delivers some very effecting moments. Michael Keaton and Mad Men's John Slattery are very good, too.

I almost forgot Stanley Tucci! He disappears  completely into this character. Mitchell Garabedian is a difficult-to-like lawyer you just have to respect and admire for his tenacity on behalf of the victims. It leaves you shaking your head in disbelief and sadness that a law firm can support itself defending victims of sexual abuse at the hands of those in power.

I cried at the end of this movie. For the enormity of the problem. For the lives ruined. For the faith shaken. For the City of Boston, which (not the first time) has felt like a mirror of my beloved Chicago. For myself, an unheard victim of abuse myself (though by a relative, not a clergyman).

Now let me have it.

I wish my non-Christian "happy holidays" because I respect their feelings and their faith. That level of respect and sensitivity seems like a good way to honor my Savior at the time of his birth.

I respect our President. I don't always agree with him, but I'm proud of him. And no, he's not a Muslim* or a fascist/socialist†.

It's Christmastime! Why is social media so jacked up and crazy? Take a pill, people. Enjoy life and one another.

And happy holidays!

*Not that Muslim is a bad thing to be
†Not that those terms are interchangeable

The one on the bottom

When I stopped at Pier One on Friday afternoon, I bought my last gift of Christmas 2015. The bottom bottle stopper, accompanied by a corkscrew, are going with me to Key West. That's for one of my friends. His partner is getting a gift card to Five Guys, and I have little treats for each of their three dogs.

These are relatively inexpensive gifts, but carefully thought out. Gift giving makes me feel even more Christmas-y.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

1) According to a marketing research firm, this song is both one of the most played and most hated songs of the season. Do you like it? It seems like an easy question, but it's not. On the one hand, it's a stupid song, overplayed and badly sung. Yet back in the 1980s, when it was new, it brought my favorite uncle a lot of joy. I miss him a lot this time of year.

2) In this song, Grandma's troubles start when she drinks too much eggnog. Do you like eggnog? No, though it's bearable when it's spiked.

3)  In the song, Grandpa recovers from losing Grandma by drinking beer and playing cards with Cousin Mel. Will you be celebrating the holidays with cousins? Nope

4) When did you most recently drink a beer? Was it in a bottle, a can or a glass? Bottle

5) The lyrics refer to "pudding of fig." In "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," the carolers demand figgy pudding. Yet despite its popularity in holiday songs, Sam has never tasted fig pudding. Have you? Nope

6) Thinking of holiday sweets, would you prefer a gingerbread cookie or slice of pumpkin pie? Gingerbread, every time!

Hot, isn't he?
7) This song was recorded by a duo named Elmo & Patsy. It occurs to Sam that she has never met anyone named Elmo. How about you? Any Elmos in your life? The first Elmo that popped into my head is Elmo Lincoln. I learned about him when I was reading about author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Elmo Lincoln was the first Tarzan, back in the silent 1918 movie.

8) Do you need snow to get "into the spirit?" It helps.

9) Random question: Are you going to get/have you gotten a flu shot this year? Yes, and so far, so good. Barely a sniffle!

Day 19 is something I didn't know I remembered

Day 19: Favorite stocking stuffer

My mom hung our stockings on our doorknobs. That way, the stockings would keep us occupied a little longer so she and my dad could sleep until 7:00 AM. When I read this question, I recalled Christmas morning, 1966,when I could see this bright red book cover and the word "BEATLES" (the most beautiful word in my vocabulary) peering out of my stocking. I haven't thought about this in years.

To play along with this challenge, click here.