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November 03, 2010

Taking It Down a Notch

Taking It Down a Notch

 by Nancy Martin          Go to fullsize image

While my grandson visited, I found myself contemplating the human condition known as The Meltdown.  Not that our adorable Bobby ever threw a temper tantrum.  (He is perfect.  An angel.  Okay, now and then he got “tired,” but that’s all I’m calling it.  He’s two.) 

 Charlie Sheen, on the other hand, had no such excuse for throwing a tantrum in a hotel room with a naked escort.  Apparently, Charlie thought he’d “lost his wallet,” so he tore the room apart. ($7K in damages.  That must have been some hotel room!)  The police came and escorted him to the looney bin (can I call it that?  Probably not) for evaluation.  Sheen’s publicist later announced he’d had an “allergic reaction” to his “medication.”  Okay, since Charlie has a couple of daughters who don’t deserve to hear bad things about their daddy, I’ll button up here, but we can draw our own conclusions, right?


Remember when Christian Bale—he of the adorable performance in that Steven Spielberg movie with John Malkovich and also Newsies, which for some reason my daughters still swoon over--had a similar on-set hissyfit?  The audio version of his rant is here, but take it from me Christian Is No Gentleman.

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These two guys are examples of people who have gotten, as my grandmother might have said, “Too big for their britches.”


Thank heaven the election is finally over, because I particularly felt like throwing a tantrum when a grand total of eight (EIGHT!) robo calls to our house on Sunday. (Whatever happened to that “day of rest” concept?  Okay, I’m glad the wine store is open on Sundays now, which I thought was the last holdout here in staid Pennsylvania, but jeez—can’t politicians take a break—they, who seem totally unholy these days?)  Some of those calls came from celebrities. (Pat Boone?  How old do those ad men think I am, for crying out loud, that I’d take voting advice from Pat Boone WHO WAS A SENIOR CITIZEN WHEN I WAS STILL IN JUNIOR HIGH?)  Some calls came from former governors and current governors and two guys who wanted to—for reasons I cannot fathom, considering current economic times—become governor.  I was so sick of robo calls after the spring primary elections that I vowed I would not vote for one candidate because his first robo call for the November election CAME ONE DAY AFTER THE PRIMARY.  I don’t care what he’s in favor of, I decided last May I’d never vote for him.


But I haven’t thrown a temper tantrum.  Maybe because I was raised by WASPs to be everything a WASP is supposed to be.  I endeavor to be polite, even when I’m seething inside. I do slip up and use all capital letters sometimes, which is Bad, I know.  Don’t make a scene—I think those words will be on my mother’s tombstone. I used to say it’s a Presbyterian thing, but nowadays even Presbyterians get loud and obnoxious when they want to make a point. It’s dogs-and-cats-living-together kind of crazy.


I am a firm believer in The Meaningful Silence. When faced with incivility, I attempt to keep silent. (I don’t always succeed, but I try.) That kind of silence is a lost art. Don’t you think so? It's a shame it no longer packs the punch it once did.

Remember the day when you asked a question and nobody answered?  You took their answer to be a very firm: “No.”  But nowadays, people keep asking the question over and over until you’re forced to say no aloud. Sometimes forcefully. Or in all capital letters. It’s too bad we’ve become such a literal society.  Used to be, silence sent the message loud and clear. Now it seems you have to throw a temper tantrum just to be heard.

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Over the weekend, my daughter and her young family (including my perfect grandson) planned to attend the Rally To Restore Sanity. “A rally for reasonableness.”   For a while, people were calling this the “Million Moderate March,” but that was in the weeks before the word “moderate,” morphed into another word for “nutty liberal,” so they quit calling it that.  Anyway, since my daughter, her husband, and my adorable grandson live in a suburb of DC, they decided to take the metro downtown and walk over to the rallying point.  But after waiting 45 minutes JUST TO GET ON THE TRAIN, they stood on the train for another 20 minutes at which time my daughter----who is pregnant, have I mentioned that?  It’s a girl, and she’d due in February!--Yay!—decided she couldn’t cope, so they walked home and watched the rally on TV. (Nobody gives up a seat on the subway for pregnant ladies anymore.  Which is another sign the world is going to hell in a handbasket, right?)


To me, giving up and going home makes perfect sense. Why rally for reasonableness if the trip to get there is unreasonable?—And it’s a perfectly WASP thing to do—not make a scene, that is. Which is why so few of us attend rallies, I suppose. Right or wrong, my ethnic group has always believed in taking it down a notch. (Well, except for my relatives who joined the Tea Party.  I'm not going to mention their names here because surely some day they will see how far astray from don't make a scene they've wandered.)  It’s nice to see what I'll call the Simmer Down concept catching on again.

I am proud of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their reasonable rally.  I am sorry I couldn't make it, but then again, that was sort of the point, right? (It was also touted as a rally for people who are too busy to rally.) I remain a reasonable person---most of the time---and I hope the rest of the nation simmers down now, too. We deserve a little peace.

Has anyone seen John Malkovich in the Red movie? The one with Helen Mirren, too? I can only imagine those two on screen together. I hope to catch it this weekend. Opinions?



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I'm no WASP, for sure, but at work I am known for being "reasonable" in my practice, which involves negotiating contracts and resolving the occasional dispute. Something about "understanding the big picture."

Not known for that so much in my personal life.

Nancy..I was never so happy to be without phone service! The day before the election, comcast phone service crashed in parts of Mass.....because of the robo calls...it was pleasantly quiet! And I still somehow figured out who to vote for! Glad it's over...no more crazy commercials....nice.and.quiet. Thank you!

The one that gets me is when asked, and I reply "no", and that is taken as a signal to open negotiations. As if the other party must prove their Superior Persuasion Skills. All it does it irritate everyone eventually.

RED? Have not seen the movie, have seen the commercials. Helen Mirren with a machine gun.... think I'm going to miss this one?????? No, I don't think I'll miss this one....

Nancy, my youngest daughter (age 23) saw "Red", and she loved it, and recommended it to us. If we ever get to a movie again. We only go once or twice a year. I know, life in the fast lane!

My long TV fast (have not watched a single show since late August) is almost over. Maybe by Thursday I'll be ready to turn on the tube for a minute or two. At this point, and about 70 books later, I'm out of the habit, which is a good thing, I think.

Nora, whoda thought I'd be jealous about not having phone service??

William, forgive me, I wasn't thinking. Of COURSE you'll see the movie. I wish I could sit behind you, dear, just to hear you sigh!

Karen, not even Project Runway??

And Josh, Josh, Josh. Maybe you should take a little work home? Or at least some of the techniques?

Especially not Project Runway, since we've never had cable. But I kept up with that on Project Rungay, anyway. :-)

I can see why people get rid of their landline phones, although my cell phone-only daughter said she got tons of texts from politicians.

Well, Nancy, after all, it IS Helen Mirren...:)

Nancy, not many bad emotions at work. I saw a client executed, once. Business contracts just don't have the same level of importance.

Wow, Josh. Just . . . goodness! I don't think I could deal with that one. Execution of contracts is one thing, but execution of clients?

Nancy, thank you. Just what I needed at 4:50 a.m., Christian Bale screaming at some poor guy. Call me jaded, but I don't think I wanna blame this on him being an actor. I've heard as bad from producers. Agents. I've heard worse from lawyers. Oh wait -- maybe it's a Hollywood thing.

You know, my kids often greet my questions with a stoic silence that drives me absolutely I-am-about-to-lose-it-just-like-Christian-Bale-does batty. It now becomes clear: they're being trained in this art by some invisible WASP living in the house, unbeknownst to me, probably hiding in the attic.

Ah, WASPness. I swear horribly, but always in a rather calm voice.

And Pat Boone IS STILL ALIVE? Are we sure he's not a zombie? Did he mention brains during the robo-call?

First off, the Rally was AMAZING! All four of us made the trip along with some other friends from Pittsburgh. Here is all you really need to know, assuming you've already read Jon Stewart's closing statement, which is epic:

Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osborne and the O'Jays all on the same stage - Peace Train, Crazy Train and Love Train.

As for Red - saw it, loved it - reminded me of an old-fashioned movie - some humor, some drama, a subplot love story, fantastic cast. But really, really violent, which is the only reason for the PG-13 rating. If you miss it in theaters, be sure to put it in your Netflix Queue.

I've never received robo calls and that is a good thing.

The crowd would have kept me from attending the rally.

Red is one of the few movies I'm willing to pay $15 to sit in an old movie house with sticky floors and broken seats.

Matt Lauer did a piece on "what happened to civility" the other day. It was depressing. The cussing on tv. The fights on "reality" shows. General rudeness. Crudeness. People yelling at each other, unable to have a civilized conversation, neither side shutting up long enough to hear what the other was saying. We are raising children who see adults act so horrible...what message are we sending? Charlie Sheen get millions for a 30 minute sit-com while at the same time abuses women, drugs, and apparently hotel rooms. What message does this send? Not a good one.

The political ads - The results in my area of the world were surprising. In my little town, the votes threw out EVERY incumbent except one! The county clerk, tax assessor, tax collector, county judge...one after another gone. We have a group of inexperienced people driving the bus. Should be interesting.

The movie RED....haven't seen but plan to. I hear it's excellent. (I bet some of you thought I dropped off the face of the earth, huh? LOL)

Cyndi! How nice to see you here. We assumed you were NaNoWriMo-ing!

Harley, I have a cousin who's been missing for a while. Maybe he's in your attic?

Cornelia, you take WASP to a whole new level from mine!

I have not-a-friend-but-an-acquaintance who calls NPR the "bastion of even-toned news". He says that as if its a bad thing. I guess he listens to the other end of the dial.
That's what I love about NPR, the discussions. It's hard to tell from my side of the spectrum, but I believe that they attempt to cover the wide middle of the spectrum with enthusiasm, credibility, and respect. I respect their efforts.

Hi, Cyndi -- welcome back to earth.
Reminders of kindness and civility are always useful . . . Someone told a mean Republican joke Sunday, I tried to counter with a non-partisan but still mean joke, which I flubbed because I couldn't remember it from however long ago I heard/last thought of it. I realized I would rather emulate Maya Angelou and not participate in anything that puts down anyone. I like the Miss Manners approach.

Stories in Kansas City this weekend if anyone is close . . .

Nancy, temper tantrums are never pretty. Civility beats everything.

I saw RED and loved it.
The whole cast is great including Mary-Louise Parker.
Action sequences including loads of gun play by Helen Mirren. Helen is even saved by a long lost lover so it is all good.

I adore Mary Louise Parker!

Mary, I'll be in Florida this weekend and have to miss the storytelling. I hope you have a wonderful time. You're performing, right?

Great post, Nancy.

WASP, sigh. I am a reformed Presbyterian, myself, which doesn't require much reforming, lol. I get big-eyed around families that yell and scream. "People actually act like that?" But I've always envied them, too. I had to drink a lot to let it all out like that, and of course that didn't feel great in the morning. There must be something in the middle between full-out tantrum and punishing silence, right?

Wait, let's cut to the chase. PAT BOONE???

Public decorum and polite discourse seems to have gone the way of the Beatle haircut. Between the Jerry Springer-type talk shows and hair-on-fire screaming "news"people, it's pretty hard to find anyone willing to calmly discuss anything these days, and without slurs and name-calling.

It makes me really tired.

RED is laugh-out-loud funny in spots but uses more bullets in a hundred minutes than our troops have used in the past year in Afghanistan. It's not gory violence, but it's LOUD. Saw it with my mom, 76, who wants to see it again.

After months of those robo calls (which annoyed) and then the latest calls to remind us to vote (didn't really mind as they didn't push an agenda), it was nice and peaceful last night.

I am also not a wasp, am I? Or how would it be with a little mexican in the mix? Anyway, I am also one who gets quieter, and will usually try to not stir things up.

Have seen the promos for RED, and absolutely plan to see it. The next free few hours that I get. Gotta a brownie-baking binge going this week (three batches) for the book signing at TTP on Saturday. Marti has requested the tequila rose. Tami the gran marnier. And Lisa has asked for the virgin raspberry, so that she can drive later. LOL!! Even taking Friday off for the effort. Saturday is the signing and then marine corps bingo. Sunday is church and the Veterans Day parade (gotta be the photog for the marines again). Maybe Sunday night? :)

Did someone mention NaNoWriMo..I thought so!

Sitting in NaNo Purgatory at this moment my hats are off to all who write and become published.
Salute to everyone before I plunge into NaNo Hell..it's not going to happen to me..nope..I will reach for Heaven and the stars!!!!

When I was a teenager fan idol decisions had to be made. Elvis or Pat Boone..that was my choice.
Having been weaned from idolizing Roy Rogers and Gene Autry..Gene Autry won because of his mellow voice, I gravitated to Pat Boone. "April Love" and "Love Letters in the Sand" dominated the charts and I felt safe.
Imagine my horror when Pat Boone later released a Heavy Metal album and wore a vest that bared faux tattoos.
He is releasing two more albums soon.
I hope that he keeps his shirt on..this old heart probalby would collapse..maybe not with the same adulation as in my youth.

Any fans of NCIS will love the newest issue of TV Guide. A story featuring the ladies of NCIS is fabulous.

Irish Catholic, French/Protestant/Aboriginal... not a WASP, as my in-laws continually let me know. They like their heritage. I like mine. Their Christmas involves an old fruitcake with hard frosting. Mine is all about Apple Calvados Cheese Cake and more Calvados brandy. Now would you rather be a Pilgrim or de Bourbon?

Reine, you have the "P" part. What more could they want? And the French could be Gaul instead of Anglo-Saxon. :-)

I was reading last week's issue of The New Yorker while I was eating lunch today They gave a positive review of Red. And I finally finished their long article on Keith Richards, spurred, no doubt, by the publication of his new book, Life.

Wow, Nora, you still managed to vote without "phone guidance"? How ever did you manage? How did you know what to think?

In my boys' school, every teacher has a "manner" that has to be focused on all year. in the Media Center (which used to be called a library when I was little) we are focusing on "Not talking while someone else is talking". I am hoping every little bit helps.

Apple Calvados Cheesecake....

Oooh, Karen in Ohio, they only think they are Protestants. They're Anglican, something I took to at ChCh, Oxford. My mother-in-law offered to pay my entire tuition if I would only go to The Episcopal Divinity School instead of Harvard Divinity. Heh.

Nancy, it is so fantastic! Look, here is someone elses recipe. Mine has Calvados cheese and lots more Calvados in it. I also sometimes make the crust with crushed shortbread cookies. Mm. http://nonchefnick.com/index.php?p=2_13

Now as Mork would say- NaNo-NaNo.

OMG-I'm glad the elections are over, no more ranting ads, etc. Another OMG-apple calvados cheese cake. I better just read about it and drool, I'm a diabetic. Will see RED, will not trash a hotel room, and promise to adore my grandchildren-and I'm just a little Jewish grandma. Hope it works for good karma.

Tried to get my Steve to stop answering the phone... but nooooo, he would not! Then I had to listen to him go on and on. XD

Not so funny, is how it started up again for 2012 with a vengeance.

In Tucson, the votes haven't been counted yet, so we don't know who our US representative will be. The teabaggers are accusing the democratic party of busing illegals through Yuma to vote. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh! Get me outta here!

Nancy, congratulations on your upcoming grandaughter's birth in February..that is such good news.

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