Friday, August 11, 2006

When my friend Chris heard me say I think we have to have some sort of profiling for security for plane flights, and rate people on their likelihood of being an enemy or terrorist to us, he said, “Oh yes. That’s perfect. And you know who doesn’t have America’s best interest in mind? Democrats.” And he’s right. We can’t have profiling. I would be on the list. Dear God, I’m a democrat AND and atheist. So, I take it back.

But now I am too afraid to fly. I can’t stop thinking about how I can have a no-fly life. But I just bought tickets to New York on JetBlue for October 18th. Now, the terrorists, they don’t know about JetBlue, do they? I mean come on, they aren’t going to blow up a JetBlue flight, the-little-airline-that-could? Plus, as my friend Julia noted, you would have you watch yourself disintigrate on television as you watched yourself from the TV on the back of the seat in front of you. No, no, no. Weirdly, I feel safe on a JetBlue flight from Burbank to JFK. I wonder if I feel safe on Alaska Airlines? That’s what I fly to Spokane. Dear lord, if I have to take the train to Spokane. Well, we won’t be going all that often, that’s all I can say. Oh dear, oh dear. And now I have a boyfriend who like, flies all over the place. Damnit! He can’t stop it. Damn, now I have to worry about him! I probably can’t stop it either. I go around thinking I can just stop flying if things got scary, and the truth is, if I stopped flying it would seriously change my life.

And then I wonder if I will look back, or all of us will look back at these times and say, “We were still so optimistic about everything then. Even after 9/11. There were those five years where it hadn’t really sunk in yet.”

Wow. This whole thing is really throwing me for a loop.

I am going through this period where nothing is working. My Internet connection works only about an hour a day. I feel I am on the North Pole or something. I have called sbcglobal three times and it’s always arduous and time consuming and then it never really gets fixed. And then, after the brown outs happened and the electricity was off for a couple of days while we were in Hawaii, my cable connection to the television went out – as far as I can tell, completely. So, no TV and no Internet. Also, my air conditioning system is not working exactly right. Cool air comes through, but there is a big clicking sound that makes me feel it’s warning me of imminent demise. Anyway, the whole reason I go into this now is that because nothing is really working right, Mulan and I are enjoying watching DVDs when we would otherwise be watching television.

And tonight I decided her film education had to start. I mean, I’ve shown her Buster Keaton silent films. She sort of watched The Awful Truth (Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, 1937) when she was two and a half. But tonight, I figured I needed to really start explaining some things. So, we watched “Some Like It Hot” on DVD. She was very confused about the beginning and I had to even stop the DVD and explain about liquor being outlawed in the “olden days.” Which I don’t think she really got. But there were moments, like when Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe are in the top bunk on the train and then all the girls pile in for the “party” and Mulan started to laugh really hard and it made me so happy. I think she barely could follow the plot, but she sure got that two men were trying to act like two women. Wow, Marilyn Monroe. She could barely act, but she blows everyone off the screen. She’s so vulnerable, so unfiltered by the usual actor-y-ness. It almost seems like if you scratch her, she’d really bleed. And this time I watched it, all I could notice was how revealing her outfits were. She’s practically topless in two dresses that she wears. And of course, as I get older, it’s continually arresting that the actors are so young. They just get younger. Every year, those old actors get younger and younger. Tony Curtis seems like a teenager.

Today I went to my cd manufacturer and signed off on the artwork for the “In The Family Way” cds. It’s weird to think I’ll have two cds available within the month that represents three years of work, but it’s true. Wait, no – four years of work. I think they are going to let me sell the cds at the Hollywood Bowl when I perform there. I will sell both “Letting Go Of God” and “In The Family Way.” It’s funny to think of being in the monologue cd business, but here I am. In it.


Sheldon said...

Thinking about your daughter watching "Some Like It Hot" makes me want to repeat a line my Black drag queen friend, Strawberry, always utters when she sees two gay men with a kid - "Tsk. They gonna make that child gay." : )

But seriously, I love that you're exposing your little girl to that kind of diversity. It's not exactly a gay-friendly film per say, but it's never too soon to teach your child that there's more to life than the two symbols on our bathroom doors.

Glad you're back, Miss Sweeney!

Sheldon said...

This is apropos of nothing, but I wanted to put it out there for your readers and you to comment on.

I have a theory that celebrity operates from the same psychological processes as religion, and I'm seriously considering doing some research into this and publishing on it. Firstly, let me say that I can't even BEGIN to imagine what it must be like living life as a celebrity. Not only is the whole privacy issue something that would drive me mad, but I’m not sure I’d handle the power that well.

I've never been on tv or in a movie, but as a Psychology Professor, I experience a bit of “fame” on our campus, and I find it the most difficult aspect of my job. As I said, I can’t imagine what it’s like to experience REAL celebrity, but I do know what it's like to walk around being recognized all day by people you've never met (and with classes of 120 students, that’s a rather common occurrence for me). Luckily, this all ends for the most part once I leave campus; but while I'm there, it feels as if someone always wants a piece of me, and I’ve had to create an entirely separate set of behavioral tendencies to deal with it. It’s my defense against hundreds of students, constantly competing for a chance to get something from me, even if it’s just attention or approval. One wants to share a news story she recently saw about Bulimia Nervosa. Another wants my advice about his brother’s drinking problem. The next needs a letter of recommendation for graduate school. Etc., etc., etc. Some days, it's more than I can handle, and it's even a bit scary at times.

One thing I've noticed about these students is their almost slavish obedience and willingness to take whatever I say as gospel. I do my best to give good advice (especially since I’m so often dealing with psychological and emotional issues), but given my upbringing, I'm constantly amazed that anyone even wants my opinion, let alone thinks of it as correct. But, it’s become an everyday at this point in my life, and I’ve had to adjust to it.

In a related way, I find it intriguing and disturbing how often we turn to celebrities for their input on important matters in our lives. I mean, at least I have a few degrees in the field I’m being asked to speak about. But that’s rarely the case with celebrities. Rarely do we stop to ask, "Does Jennifer Aniston really have anything to offer in a discussion of the Middle East?" But we still listen, don’t we? And if we’re honest with ourselves, we take the information a bit more seriously than we would if she’d never been cast in “Friends.” To me, that’s the same psychological process as the one that tells us to listen to religious leaders (and perhaps the one humans have always used). I don't know if any of this is making sense, but those are my thoughts on the matter.

In short, this "guru effect," as I like to call it, seems to emanate from the same part of the mind whether we’re listening to a celebrity or a religious leader (and let's face it, there's a lot of overlap between those two professions).

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

-- Sheldon

Forrest said...

Sheldon, I totally ignored what you said since you are a "known" entity albeit on campus. Wait, of course I didn't. My point is it is important to listen to anyone who is willing to put forth a rational and well conceived idea.

I work in Georgia with a large group of fundamentalists christians. I consider myself someone who enjoys the exchange of ideas. I can't get anyone to engage on an intellectual level about religion, politics or the human condition.

I understand your point, however I will take a good piece of thinking wherever it may come from.


Atheism Quotes said...

I understand exactly what you're saying Sheldon. I've never had a "fan" mentality myself, but I know many people who do. It's the "sheeple effect." Most people are followers. They seem to have a deep-seeded need for someone, anyone to tell them how to think, what to do, how to live. For a lot of people, this guide in life is religion and priests. For many of these people, they also seem to think celebrities have a magic insight into life.

I guess it's just hard-wired into us as humans. Some of us don't have the "need" for this and can function on a different level of independent thought.

Part of me wishes there were more people who could think for themselves.

But then I realize that most people are idiots, and without a way to control them, who knows how bad it could get? ;-)

On an unrelated note, I'm flying to Cleveland next week with my son to visit my mother. It will be my son's first flight. Now I'm going to have to explain how the 'security' measures we have to put up with are nothing more than knee-jerk reactions that don't do anything to make us safer, but really inconvenience every one.

I mean, think about it... one of the guys arrested in this plot was an employee with *all area* access. And we have to worry about my toothpaste. Yeah, that'll work.

Anonymous said...

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Jenny said...

No, Julia; you had it right the first time. We need some kind of profiling, because it *is* ridiculous to search grandmothers and middle-schoolers and stay-at-home moms. There *are* psychological profiles (the Israeli airline uses them) that actually are effective in screening out potential terrorists.

Would Democrats be profiled? Come on. I'm paranoid, but I'm not THAT paranoid. First of all, I don't think there's any legitimate profiling expert who would suggest "party affiliation" as an effective screening tool. (Was Tim McVeigh a Democrat or a Republican? My guess is he never registered to vote, ever.)

If they don't want anyone bringing in anything that could be used for weapon on a plane, and they're serious, they shouldn't allow carry-on luggage, period. Airlines should give out complimentary mouthwash, miniature toothbrushes, toothpaste, chapstick, and deodorant (what else do you NEED on the plane?); this would just be part of the cost of doing business in the "new world."

Am I the first person to think of this? Or is there such an obvious flaw in this plan that I'm an idiot for not having already figured it out? (Other than that Americans are so spoiled they would never "allow" airport security to keep them from carrying on their precious carry-on baggage.)

Anyway, glad you're back! You're one of the few blogs I enjoy reading on a regular basis. Maybe it's because I'm a single-by-choice (mostly) mom, too, of a 3 almost 4-year-old boy. Hang in there, sister :)

Douglas Byrne said...

I'm not sure why... but this line made me laugh:

"Dear God, I’m a democrat AND and atheist."

I guess I've never seen the "Dear God" and the "atheist" in the same sentence before.

Though I'm sure it wasn't your intent, it certainly brought a smile to my face today.

Thank you for that.


TJ said...


I enjoyed reading your post, but I'm not entirely sure I see the celebrity/religion connection.

Although there is a certain power in celebrity, I think that the religious leaders have a MUCH larger role. If a celbrity says something that makes you mad, you just stop liking the celebrity. When a priest/pastor/rabbi/bishop/ayatollah or whatever says things that you don't like, it's chalked up to "the lord works in mysterious ways" or some other catchall nonsense.

I agree that Jennifer Aniston probably doesn't have anything to add to the Middle East debate; most people don't. People listen to her because she is a celebrity, but she would never be able to convince a group of people that it's god's will to fly airplanes into buildings. There's a huge difference between celebrity and charisma.

Look at what happen when the Dixie Chicks spoke out against President Bush. Many applauded them, many booed them. Many people burned their Dixie Chicks CDs. Then what happened? They played an international, sold-out tour. Their celebrity made their opinion a little more visible, but it was still an opinion.

Similarly, after Brad Pitt filmed "Seven Years in Tibet" he was approached by the media and asked for his opinions about the plight of the Tibetan people and was he moved to action by this movie, etc. He replied: "I'm an actor." and left it at that. Many thought that this reponse was callous or whatever, but at least it was honest. Could he have drummed up an army to free Tibet from their oppressive overlords. No.

Many assume that Osama bin Laden is bat-shit insane, just as Hitler was accused of being, but it doesn't change the fact that they are/were both VERY effective leaders who could make people believe whatever they wanted people to believe. That's not celebrity, that's charisma.

By having the presence to tap into someone's belief system and subvert it into accepting your own version of the truth, you have real power.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. To me the connection is pretty thin.

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