Memo to self: Just shut up and let them dance

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The young woman on the TV last night was talking about her dad dying. She missed her dad. And, probably worst of all, he would never get to see her compete on “So You Think You Can Dance.” 

It was all very sad. I could tell it was sad because there was very sad music playing and tightly framed cutaways to dance judge Mary Murphy welling up with tears.

You always know how to feel about what you are seeing on “So You Think You Can Dance” by watching Mary Murphy. She has no emotional filter, by television standards. It is all out there on-screen.

This, of course, is where I should have just shut up and watched the show.

But, no.

“I get that they need to have emotional hooks,” I fumed. “But, I mean, why do they always have to exploit some personal tragedy, why is it always about a parent dying?

“Can’t they have stories like somebody being born with one leg shorter than the other who overcomes all kinds of barriers to become a great dancer?”

I blathered on over the top of the onscreen dance commentary – completely missing the dark reddening hue of annoyance gathering strength around Rose, the former ballet dancer and teacher. It was growing crimson, toward rage and I never noticed.

“Some of the greatest artistry in dance comes from pain and loss!”  she finally said. In a burst of exasperation, the words toppled out, “Personal suffering inspires creativity! These people have experienced very real pain. What is wrong with them talking about it? And do you mind? All I want to do is watch this show!”

Me, stupidly: “Yeah, but ….”

OK, that didn’t end well.

After I’d pretty much destroyed the magic of the moment, Rose retired to the bedroom to read. Closing the door behind her. That was a first.

Sure. I was wrong. And I do this all the time — this stupid, snarky commentary; this ah-ha fingering of plotline improbabilities; this chortling disdain of dippy dialogue.

I tell myself it is the vestige of those years as a newspaper editorial writer and then arts & entertainment critic. Hell, back then I was paid to have an opinion. Pretty well, too.

Now I can’t stop myself. I’m giving it away, folks!

And it isn’t just TV and movies.

Somebody, please, stop me.

My kids have pretty much blocked my comments on Facebook. I’m sure others have, too, as I’m more than a little to the left of Elizabeth Warren on social issues and to the left of Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart in my disdain for the FOX-Limbaugh-Hannity-Beck-NRA septic spew.

Even last night after Rose called me out, I was on Facebook posting  about Biblical teachings masquerading as science in elementary school s and the devil-incarnate Rep. Louie Gohmert using his House seat to promote—nay, impose – his extremely conservative Christian values on political proceedings.

I got into a brief exchange with my wife’s former sister-in-law in Australia.  She is a wonderful, gracious woman and a devout Christian and I felt bad that she might have perceived in my writing an attack on Christianity. And it probably sounded that way — but I was angered by the abuses of Christianity.

We’ll be seeing each other in another month in England and we both look forward  to visiting and the wedding we’ll be attending.  I did advise her that I have promised Rose that I will not discuss religion or politics while in England. Rose’s  idea.  And probably an excellent one, under the circumstances.

I should just shut up and listen more.  In fact, no more angry Facebook postings.

For a while.

This one’s for you on Father’s Day, Dad.

My father was a big believer in all things FOX and Limbaugh. We didn’t get together much in his later years but when we did our conversations were famously short.

“Hi, Dad. Love you. Missed you.”

“Hello, Robert. Love you too, son. So, are you still proud of that Obama guy after this?”

“Uh. Obama? What did he do?”

“Well, Rush says … “

“Jesus, Dad. End it right there. I won’t have a discussion where you use those guys as references. You have exited the real world. They are propagandists ….”  And I would go on and on.

And he would just grin.

Pushing all the right buttons, getting payback for all the parental pain and suffering that I’d generated in my teens and twenties, I suppose.

He’s gone now. So is my Mom, who kept her own politics pretty private. I think she was a Republican, too, back in the day when it was respectable to be a Republican with a social conscience.

I’d give anything to have one last civil discussion with my Dad. I don’t have to tell him I love him. He knew that. But if I could only have convinced him that FOX News is pure garbage ….



18 thoughts on “Memo to self: Just shut up and let them dance

    Tom wagner said:
    June 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Didn’t know you were a card carrying commie!


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Hi Tom. Naw, more your garden variety bleeding-heart liberal/progressive!


        Tom wagner said:
        June 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

        And horseshoe game interrupter-I enjoy your blog-just busting your tomatoes


        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        June 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

        Oh, gosh. Yes, that too. I wonder if there is a metaphor in the horseshoe thing??
        Busting my tomatoes will keep me humble! Thanks, Tom.


    Tia Chocolate said:
    June 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Don’t worry, I have the EXACT SAME RAGE AND THOUGHTS running through my head and hence I hardly watch TV. Anything where they exploit those stories (and they’re ALWAYS about some frakkin tragedy blah blah blah) I’m like, ‘switching channels now’…or just turn it off…just once, JUST ONCE, I’d like to watch something without feeling manipulated into ‘feeling’…I just can’t…


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

      And, see? That’s why you are such a good writer! You channel it!


        Tia Chocolate said:
        June 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

        Ha…not lately since I lost my mojo 😦 . I’m trying some new tactics to see if I can get back on track…


        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        June 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

        You must! I insist!


    Bb said:
    June 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Your prose is great, your politics ludicrus (sp?) i agree with your dad . You are in Belize because of lib policies. Run away from their results . Wish I was there (g)


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Almost! “Ludicrous” unless you are mixing me up with the rapper Ludacris … 🙂


    lifeagain said:
    June 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Me, a super liberal progressive. I just stand face to face and listen to a conservative all the while peering into their life and the advantages and benefits they enjoy and have received from the fight, struggle and yes loss of a liberal/progressive people in our lives and smile at their ignorance and move on.

    PS. I have never owned a television because it saps away your life. Now i must say that television is sooooooo ubiquitous in our lives that i know whats going on and have a talking knowledge of whats on it. I have to think of the day when i move to Belize and will have a television for awareness purpose…….it will be a big change.

    Thank to a liberal…..just a short list of 150 acts that saved our country and gave us a leadership position in the world.
    Robert your father……hmmm, just ask to see his Social Security card, Medicare card, retirement benefits from a career of working. GI bill, his home mortgage (backed by a government construct)….Take a look at the list and then the list of a conservative/republican. Nixon and the EPA…..

    Liberals/progressive thinking, movements and actions that gave the country and set the standards for a majority of the world.
    1. The 40-hour work week.
    2. Weekends
    3. Vacations
    4. Women’s Voting Rights
    5. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
    6. The right of people of all colors to use schools and facilities.
    7. Public schools.
    8. Child-labor laws.
    9. The right to unionize
    10. Health care benefits
    11. National Parks
    12. National Forests
    13. Interstate Highway System
    14. GI Bill
    15. Labor Laws/Worker’s Rights
    16. Marshall Plan
    17. FDA
    18. Direct election of Senators by the people.
    19. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Workplace safety laws
    20. Social Security
    21. NASA
    22. The Office of Congressional Ethics. Created in 2008.
    23. The Internet
    24. National Weather Service
    25. Product Labeling/Truth in Advertising Laws
    26. Rural Electrification/Tennessee Valley Authority
    27. Morrill Land Grant Act
    28. Public Universities
    29. Bank Deposit Insurance
    30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    31. Consumer Product Safety Commission
    32. Public Broadcasting/Educational Television
    33. Americans With Disabilities Act
    34. Family and Medical Leave Act
    35. Environmental Protection Agency
    36. Clean Air Act
    37. Clean Water Act
    38. USDA
    39. Public Libraries
    40. Transcontinental Railroad and the rail system in general
    41. Civilian Conservation Corps
    42. Panama Canal
    43. Hoover Dam
    44. The Federal Reserve
    45. Medicare
    46. The United States Military
    47. FBI
    48. CIA
    49. Local and state police departments
    50. Fire Departments
    51. Veterans Medical Care
    52. Food Stamps
    53. Federal Housing Administration
    54. Extending Voting Rights to 18 year olds
    55. Freedom of Speech
    56. Freedom of Religion/Separation of Church and State
    57. Right to Due Process
    58. Freedom of The Press
    59. Right to Organize and Protest
    60. Pell Grants and other financial aid to students
    61. Federal Aviation Administration/Airline safety regulations
    62. The 13th Amendment
    63. The 14th Amendment
    64. The 15th Amendment
    65. Unemployment benefits
    66. Women’s Health Services
    67. Smithsonian Institute
    68. Head Start
    69. Americorps
    70. Mine Safety And Health Administration (This has been weakened by conservatives, resulting in recent mining disasters.)
    71. Food Labeling
    72. WIC
    73. Peace Corps
    74. United Nations
    75. World Health Organization
    76. Nuclear Treaties
    77. Lincoln Tunnel
    78. Sulfur emissions cap and trade to eliminate acid rain
    79. Earned Income Tax Credit
    80. The banning of lead in consumer products
    81. National Institute of Health
    82. Garbage pickup/clean streets
    83. Banning of CFCs.
    84. Erie Canal
    85. Medicaid
    86. TARP
    87. Bail Out of the American Auto Industry
    88. Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
    89. Wildlife Protection
    90. End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
    91. Established the basis for Universal Human Rights by writing the Declaration of Independence
    92. Miranda Rights
    93. Banning of torture
    94. The right to a proper defense in court
    95. An independent judiciary
    96. The right to vote
    97. Fair, open, and honest elections
    98. The right to bear arms (Do you really think extreme right wingers would allow anybody besides themselves to have firearms if in power?)
    99. Health care for children and pregnant women
    100. A stable and strong government established by a Constitution
    101. The founding of The United States of America
    102. The defeat of the Nazis and victory in World War II
    103. Paramedics
    104. The Brady Handgun Act
    105. The Glass-Steagall Act (It has since been repealed and we’ve been paying the price for it.)
    106. Oil industry regulations (The Gulf paid the price after conservatives tore many of these regulations down.)
    107. The Affordable Care Act which makes insurance companies more honest and fair.
    108. Woman’s Right to Choose
    109. Title IX
    110. Affirmative Action
    111. A National Currency
    112. National Science Foundation
    113. Weights and measures standards
    114. Vehicle Safety Standards
    115. NATO
    116. The income tax and power to tax in general, which have been used to pay for much of this list.
    117. 911 Emergency system
    118. Tsunami, hurricane, tornado, and earthquake warning systems
    119. Public Transportation
    120. The Freedom of Information Act
    121. Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery
    122. Antitrust legislation which prevents corporate monopolies (These laws have been savaged by conservatives, which is why corporations are getting huger and competition is disappearing leading to less jobs and high prices.)
    123. Water Treatment Centers and sewage systems
    124. The Meat Inspection Act
    125. The Pure Food And Drug Act
    126. The Bretton Woods system
    127. International Monetary Fund
    128. SEC, which regulates Wall Street. (Conservatives have weakened this regulatory body, resulting in the current recession.)
    129. National Endowment for the Arts
    130. Campaign finance laws (Conservatives have gutted these laws, leading to corporate takeovers of elections.)
    131. Federal Crop Insurance
    132. United States Housing Authority
    133. Soil Conservation
    134. School Lunch Act
    135. Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act
    136. Vaccination Assistance Act
    137. Over the course of nearly 50 years, liberals contributed greatly to the eventual end of the Cold War.
    138. The creation of counterinsurgency forces such as the Navy Seals and Green Berets.
    139. Voting Rights Act, which ended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other voter qualification tests.
    140. Civil Rights Act of 1968
    141. Job Corps
    142. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    143. Teacher Corps
    144. National Endowment for the Humanities
    145. Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966
    146. National Trails System Act of 1968
    147. U.S. Postal Service
    148. Title X
    149. Kept the Union together through Civil War and rebuilt the South afterwards.
    150. Modern Civilization


    Robert Chodowski said:
    June 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Well now! I was about to make a short comment in support of your ideals regarding politics & religion, being very close to my views (I’m probably not to the left of Maddow), but I can’t compete with Lifeagain’s historical synopsis. Very good and comprehensive recap of historical Dem achievements. I’m not allowed to have conversations about religion and politics either UNLESS someone else starts the conversation-per Riki.


      lifeagain said:
      June 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      List is Liberal/progressive thought achievements. While 94% of the list do reflect Democrat initiatives and enactments there are few on the list that were/are Republican achievements. Now there was a time in history when Democrats were Republicans and the now Republicans were what is now called Democrats so it’s creates some time line historical confusion. That is why the list is slated Liberal. So for those of us who embrace progressive and liberal the list gives you something to read and be proud of what you are in mentally in think with and some real ammunition for people on the other side to start back tracking on the stuff that they spew.

      PS: the Republicans/Conservatives has no such list and cannot produce the equivalent in achievements or a list of societal benefits. And this list is short.


        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        June 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        Most impressive, Donald. Thank you. There was a time when Democrats and Republics could work together for the greater good. Would love to see those days come back, too. Real Republicans had something to offer society once.


    Maya said:
    June 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Your blogs have masterfully crafted narrative arcs but read like easy, top of your head reflections. Never let them see you sweat, and you don’t. Thanks Bob. I loved this.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Wow, Maya! Thank you for that. Your comments really make me happy! Are you still exploring Guatemala?


    Emily said:
    June 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    My politics are very much like yours. I found it interesting that more times than I care to recall, visitors from the US to Belize would assume that we were there because of a desire to “escape Obama” or mentioned that they were thinking of moving to Belize for that reason. I found the assumption that we must be right wingers because we left the US to be kind of bizarre. These folks just assumed we were “like them” and had the same opinions and motivations, which I found really presumptious. I would never, ever presume to assume that anyone agreed with me politically or any other way. I just didn’t get it, and it bothered me quite a bit. I did not have any desire to debate or discuss US politics with anyone who came at me with that kind of attitude right from the get go, upon a first meeting, even! Meeting these folks led me to believe that I might not have much in common with many US expats in Belize. I am glad to see there are at least a few progressive expats in the mix. 🙂 Thanks for a great blog post, Bob!


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Emily. I saw a post in expa tblog a while ago from some guy urging people to flee the US for Belize because, according to him, the Belize government doesn’t care and leaves people alone. Of course, he’d never set foot in Belize personally.
      US politics haven’t come up in conversation yet, although I’m sure many of our new friends hold different views. I’m hoping political persuasion will matter far less than other traits.
      Thanks for the note!


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