Giving Oscar the heave-ho

At least I didn’t throw up this year.

The past few Academy Awards have left me with little more than a few dry heaves, but Billy Crystal restored much-needed balance to the celebration. Like Pepto-Bismol, he coated everything in frothy relief.

I did not once feel the need to hurl insulting invectives at the screen. Except for Jennifer Lopez, who looked like she was dressed for an upscale toga party, I felt the women’s apparel exquisite and their demeanor feminine and worthy of stardom. The men were stately and stunning in their own right. Women of color were front and center; beautiful and strong.

Don’t we all want to get glittery-eyed watching the Oscars?

I loved the throwback theme to the grand old movie days; and I kind of love that Jean DuJean won for “The Artist,” but I will reserve judgment until I see it for myself. Personally, “The Help” had my vote, and I was disappointed that Viola didn’t take home an Oscar.

I was deliriously thrilled to see a return to healthy, non-politically correct jokes, i.e. Billy Crystal:

“I loved that movie (The Help)…when I saw it, I wanted to hug the first black woman that I saw. Which from Beverly Hills is about a 45 minute drive.”

The audience even laughed. Cautiously.

But still…this is progress.

If someone was offended by that joke, they need to take a deep breath and realize it was funny, not racist. If anything, it poked fun at Beverly Hills.

The past years were so full of green and homosexual and politically correct agendas that my eyes glazed over, I became nauseous, and made a dash for the Pepto-Bismol. I finally boycotted the Oscars. I am sure it made no dent in the ratings, but at least I felt personally vindicated about planting a conservative stake in the sand.

This year, for some reason, I decided to tune in, and winced my way through the first twenty minutes. Gradually, Billy Crystal won me over and my face relaxed. I stopped clutching my stomach in anticipation of impending nausea and started enjoying the show. I was delighted to see a return to slightly left of center. I know that slightly right of center is a dim and distant dream, but one can hope.

In my HDTV fantasies, I envision an Academy Awards night filled with red-carpet, pro-life banners, and a special row for those hardy souls that have produced or directed non-animated, G-rated movies. I envision couples parading down the red carpet that are actually married instead of living together and announcing that they are “married in their hearts.” The homosexual couples among Hollywood’s star-studded gallery would not plant passionate kisses on each other publically, and would consider Christianity a viable religion, and not a dirty joke. In my dream, Hollywood becomes a catalyst for a major return to family values and the foundations that have made this country great. Rush Limbaugh would be wildly celebrated (this is a dream, remember?) in Hollywood. He would have small cameos in pictures that are up for an Oscar, and the audience would point and gasp in recognition and glance knowingly at each other with tiny, approving smiles.

Movies that win Best Picture would feature loving families, with strong fathers that stick around and do not beat or kill their wives. If a character has slid into an unsavory situation or characteristic, there would be a strong incentive for redemption and resolution; showcasing a sense of right and wrong that is not blurred by the director’s vision. Women would support, love and respect their husbands, and not lust after young bucks with rock-hard abs.

Okay, maybe that last remark is a stretch, but I am sure you get my point.

I am sick to death of an Academy Awards committee that celebrates homosexuality, divorce, immorality, lying, killing, adultery, stealing and drug use. For me, excellent acting and character interpretation do not outweigh subject matter that should be scraped off one’s shoe. Content is important. Movies shape how people view life. They are powerful graphic segments that imprint our minds.

I am lobbying for a committee that includes a few conservative viewpoints and less agenda-driven decisions. I want to see movies that feature strong, honest and loyal men; honorable, feminine women, and kids that do not start having sex at age 12, then dissolve into addiction of one sort or another. And, of course, I would love to see more politically incorrect innuendo

Billy Crystal, you have restored my hope in the Oscars.

I will not be fully convinced, though, until after the presidential elections, which are right around the corner. If America experiences a return to less left-leaning leaders and agendas, I may give my bottle of Pepto the heave-ho instead of the Oscars.

I can dream, can’t I?

New Sport Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Seriously?

I have recently happened on the zany new trend of “Hotel Bed Jumping” and am certainly intrigued by this phenomenon.

First of all, lest your mind go there, it is NOT an immoral activity. When I told my adult daughter I was thinking of writing an article about bed Jumping, she was silent a few moments, and then said she could not believe I would write about something like that.

The jumping takes place in hotels primarily, because these beds are higher, fluffier, and conveniently, do not belong to the jumper.

Jumpers are professionally or casually attired, depending on the scenario they have dreamed up. I am wondering what the hotels think about the trend. Or more importantly, the helpless beds.

The goal is to photograph oneself in mid-launch enroute to the bed, ostensibly suspending gravity, in a memorable pose.

The jumpers go to great lengths setting up tripods, timers, launching themselves repeatedly, creating funny little mid-air scenarios, and scurrying to explain when hotel personnel pound on the door demanding to know what in the world is going on in there.

A successful hotel bed jump scene is supposed to take at least an hour to capture.

An entire aerobics team used this practice as part of their competition. They said it was really hard to coordinate five people launched and gymnastically posed with perfectly pointed toes and smiles, hovering above the bed at the same time.

This is all true. Check out the photos on their Web site: http://www.bedjump.com.

An actual quote from a gleeful participant states: “There is something completely intoxicating about today’s hotel bed jumping. Don’t deny yourself the indulgent luxury of taking a running start and launching yourself up and and over that heavenly mattress. It’s fun, and it’s free!”

So let me get this straight – all that time I spent disciplining my kids for jumping on their beds over the years — was WASTED?

I have a feeling the people that find this type of behavior intoxicating were raised by parents that strongly prohibited bed jumping.

These kids may, in fact, suffer festering resentment because they were prevented from acting out these impulses. Bed jumping for young adults who have left the nest may constitute a form of therapeutic healing.

Who could have guessed? Their parents might have considered buying them a trampoline instead of crippling them emotionally.

Bed jumping is not big news – it is simply being brought to light now.

I remember when, as a pre-teen, a sleep-over entailed lots of sneaky bed jumping, routinely accompanied by giggling, which ultimately culminated in a lot of parental yelling.

After a while we quit because:

1.  We couldn’t seem to jump quietly, thereby avoiding parental yelling.

2. The beds would sometimes collapse. Parental yelling.

3.  Our heads occasionally indented the ceiling. More parental yelling.

4.  There loomed the very real threat of parental grounding, which was way worse than parental yelling.

Besides, we had lots of other cool stuff to do, like eating four tons of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers and making calls to boys to let them listen to our mysterious, labored breathing; then hang up.

One major hotel chain is actually rolling out a marketing campaign around this bed jumping phenomenon. I can only guess what the talent casting advertisement for their TV commercials might say:

“Men and women needed for hotel chain commercial. Must have well-developed calves and upper thighs. Swim diving competitors and gymnasts preferred. Must have ability to smile perkily while sailing through air. Will not need to learn speaking part. Must have disability insurance.”

Apparently, bed Jumping is a spin-off of “art jumping,” which I had never heard of, either.

Art jumping entails covert leaping in front of famous pieces of art and snapping a photo while suspended. Even my daughter, at her wedding, insisted upon a ‘groom and groomsmen’ jumping picture.

There they were, in all their youthful, exuberant glory, smiling giddily in mid-air. Does jumping fill an innate psychological need that was somehow denied in early development?

My husband, who has a camera glued to his hand at all times, has studied the bed jumping web site. I could almost see smoke exiting his ears as his brain chugged into overdrive creating hotel bed jumping scenes.

This discovery has unfortunately dove-tailed with our two-day drive home for Christmas, which entails an overnight hotel stay.

I am guessing his parents didn’t let him jump on beds, either. If he digs out the tripod, I am going to book a separate room.

Article first published in The Capital Journal, Pierre, SD, “The Lighter Side,” December, 2009

Walkie-Talkies Go For The Gold

A woman’s mouth can move faster than any other part of her body.

I discovered this last Saturday when I was invited to speed-walk with a group of women.

I showed up in Nikes, hastily applied make-up (the days are long gone where I can zing out of the house without make-up – it would scare people) and an energetic attitude.

I really needed the attitude.

I arrived a little late, a passive-aggressive response to my niggling resentment about a 9 a.m. appointment on a Saturday.

I approached the track at the YMCA and head-swiveled, locating them easily after a few seconds of squinting. They were the ones whose mouths, arms, and legs were pumping like mad, leaving a trail of conversational fumes in their wake.

I waited for them to whoosh by, took aim, and leaped into the group. They all smiled, briskly introduced themselves, and resumed their discussions, never missing a beat.

I felt like I had stumbled into a human whisk, and I was the omelet.

Since my two-year sabbatical from full-time employment, I have become much more relaxed in my approach to life. Conversation is filled with thoughtful pauses, meaningful sharing and phrases like “finding my purpose,” and “focusing on priorities.”

In fact, my whole season of life at this point is a thoughtful pause. On purpose. I will re-enter the hyper-productive and myopically-focused workaday world soon enough, but for now, my tempo is set to “somewhat slow.”

These women were serious about their tempo, and it was set to “presto.” (You musical buffs, know exactly what this means. For you non-musical buffs, “presto” is the Italian equivalent of the American word “presto,” which means really, really fast.)

I was delighted to find that I rather enjoyed the mental exercise.

For every three words out of my mouth, my companion countered with 25. By lap four, I was matching her word for word.

We were so deeply enmeshed in speed-talking, that we began to fall behind in the speed-walking part. At one point, the rest of our group paused and turned toward us with question marks on their faces.

“What’s keeping you?” they asked, as we caught up and they energetically resumed leg and arm pumping.

My companion explained we were talking about ex-husbands. I explained they needed to stop us because it was getting depressing. They looked at each other and responded that they had no experience with ex-husbands.

My walk-mate and I glanced at each other with expressions similar to those that have endured the horrors of war and emerged triumphant, but scarred, on the other side; shrugged, and acknowledged the fact that speed-talking is not a level playing field.

To have maximum impact, a common life experience may be an important consideration.

We let the group whoosh on ahead, content that our mouths might outpace our legs, but at least one part of our body was getting a really, really good workout.

Afterward, the women asked me to join them for coffee at a local deli. I was a bit torn about this idea, because typically on a workout day, I do not use my facial muscles at all. I had tentatively planned to spend 20 minutes in the weight room, pumping other things besides my mouth.

The group stared at me expectantly, waiting for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to the coffee. I said yes, figuring speed-talking is an important exercise, too.

The weights could…well, wait.

We talked about everything, nothing, and in between. On this sunny, energetic Saturday morning, my mouth, jaw and brain muscles were fully pumped. If speed-talking was a team sport, we would have won the gold that day.

It was difficult to part ways, but we each had things to do, husbands to see, and laundry to avoid.

I smiled all the way home. Women need other women like plants need water. I had just treated myself to a long, satisfying blast from the hose.

The next day, I kept conversation to a minimum. My jaw muscles needed a recovery period

Article first published in The Capital Journal, “The Lighter Side,” Pierre, SD, March 2010