Shock Movies? Why?

by Pat Antonopoulos

Sex, violence and sex combined with violence work the shock movie genre.  Chain saws, razors and buckets of gore are designed for shock value.  I read about these movies in articles such as “Shock and Yawn” by David Ansen.  (Newsweek, October 26, 2009)

I read about them, but I do not understand.

If the value is to shock then my question is “Why?”.  Shock for its own sake?  Push the limits of obscenity for what purpose?  To challenge complacency?  For what end?

How does mutilation move an audience to change?  Change what?

So someone wins the Ugly/Nasty Contest?  What exactly have they won?  A few minutes to relish the trophy while waiting for a new director to cut deeper, that sexual violence/performance to new levels of theater?

How about this? How about reading the papers for the shock value of child abuse?  Why not be shocked into advocacy for children?  Or read about domestic violence and step up to that need?  Visit a military hospital.  Look at those brave women and men who have seen and suffered the horrors.

If that is too difficult, too shocking, too much of the blood-stuff then we can start with the less visually messy.

Look long at the effect of the economic situation.  People surviving, but only ‘just’ surviving. Watch those desperate faces at library computers as they search for work.  Follow the homeless as they struggle for good and shelter.

Go to the funeral of a member of the military and observe the obscenity of pickets claiming to speak in the voice of God.

Not ready for human abuse to be prime time?  Animals suffer horribly from the perverted human need for gore.  Maybe that can shock out of complacency and into action.

What is wrong here?  Why do we need entertainment that is designed to show us degradation?  We are better than that, right?  Why am I so consumed with sadness as I type this?


Gentle Readers

by Pat Antonopoulos

On Monday, October 26, progress is about to interrupt our communication.  The expression that works here is “going dark”.  Seems that a cable hook-up might finally happen.  Our dial-up connection will be sporadic at best until change is completed by very early November….at least that is what I have been told.

I will miss you.  Each time I write a blog, I know you are with us…with Four Ordinary Women…so please check every day to see if we are active.  Consider rereading the newest blogs and adding your comments.  Consider rereading older blogs that you might have missed.

Consider how we might meet you in person through your book clubs, church groups, organizations.  Each time we are invited to speak with a group, we learn.  We learn about the depth and power of communicating from the heart.  We learn that our book has touched the hearts and spirits of our readers.  We are touched by sharing the time with you, Gentle REaders.  Our website gives contact information.

So…talk to you soon.

Autumn and Mom

My mother accepted the change from wife to widow with great grace. Within a year of Dad’s death, Mom sold the home and moved into an apartment becoming the independent woman. Granted, the apartment was not far from the family home and from my sister who lived a few houses down the block. Mom created her card playing social circle, continued to sew and read, and became the unofficial ‘ear’ for the other women in the apartment. Mom listened and helped.

When Mom’s car had more scraps and dents than Maaco wanted to tackle….when the concrete curbs and telephone poles were marked with red auto paint….when Pete, the mechanic, could no longer accept her business…the time had come. We had to sell her car.

Time isn’t gentle and Mom’s decline went far too quickly. She left the apartment for assisted living. Even after she was moved to the locked-door Alzheimer wing of the facility, Mom continued to enjoy going ‘for a ride’ often asking that we circle Wyandotte County Lake where she and Dad had enjoyed fishing. She loved the Fall colors. She loved the search for Bittersweet to decorate her night stand. Often, she wanted the window down so she could smell the dampness.

Eventually, the rides to the lake would end almost before they began. We would get to the Manor’s parking lot exit ramp and Mom would say it was time to go home now…before it got too dark to see any more colors. Mom thought we had already looked at the spill-way where she always remembered the stories of Mark’s climbing escapades. She thought we had looked at the beautiful oranges, yellows and reds that she called
nature’s best.

I miss her. I miss the way she was before dementia took her. And I miss the woman she became when she looked at me with uncomprehending eyes. Not that she didn’t know me. She did. But she didn’t know her place in this world. She seemed so sad and lost. I do miss her.

But Mom never lost nature’s best colors. That might be why this time of year feels so soft and looks so glorious…and why my face is wet with memory.

Going The Distance

In the beginning the ‘distance’ might have been a football field or any version of a race. A sports phrase became cliche because it fits so much of what we do. The difference being that in a sporting event, we see the end-point–the uprights, the checkered flag, final score, the finish line. Day to day takes a different kind of perseverance.

We might hope for, work towards a specific result, but we don’t know the distance. Some might say that positive thinking will get you what you seek, that if one believes, success will happen. Others might say that commitment and determination are the qualities needed for reaching any goal. Still others will say that any outcome is part of a Larger Plan and we should accept whatever results. Not my choice.

One of my elementary school teachers, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, had a rule for test study. “Pray like everything depended on God, but work like everything depends on you.” She covered both sides of that Larger Plan without giving her students any reason to make excuses. I liked that.

Four Ordinary Women has benefited from the persistent commitment of Patti’s husband, Wood Dickinson. Take a look at our website
Look a bit more and enjoy our blogs as listed on the website. They are beautiful. They have taken a tremendous amount of Wood’s time and talent.

Have you ever been really good at something and been asked to share that hobby with someone just learning? Maybe play tennis or golf with a total beginner? Patience, right? Takes unbelievable patience to pull it off without deep sighs, barely perceptible shakes of the head and a sore spot from biting the tongue. Wood is computer expert and we are rank duffers, but I have never felt his impatience even when I ask the same stuff over and over.

I have often talked about the steep-learning-curve that has taken us from writing to publishing to marketing to distributing. Patti has used the expression, “slogging through waist deep sand” to describe parts of this adventure. There are days when her words felt exactly right. However, we could not have come this far without the constant commitment of Wood’s perseverance.

There is no doubt that we are going the distance.

In Search of Short Term Memory

Another fair warning, Gentle Reader. This is a ramble, unstructured and without a worthy conclusion.

A conscious decision needs to be made.
Forget it.
Forget the list.
Forget the spider web of thought that clings with sticky residue.
Move all those moments of meanness out…away…gone.
Erase any long term lingering thoughts that keep the dregs fresh.

This isn’t forgive and forget. Too often forgive is a phantom, only vague and indistinct. We think we forgive. We say we do. But the next time a pinch happens, the dregs resurface, good as new. Forgiveness is hard.

There is the forgiveness of the Bible, 70 X 7. Corinthians admonishes not to keep a record. “It is in God’s hands” is a waver and a waver diminishes my responsibility. St. Francis’ verse is a goal, but pretty impossible for most of us. And there is that “if only” as in If Only She/He would apologize, all would be forgiven. Not so. It helps but forgiveness needs much more. Forgiveness needs change. I might forgive 71 X 7, but by that time, my turn is definitely winding down.

Some would say that those ‘dregs’ are life lesson…that we need them to make good decisions. Maybe. And maybe they are stepping stones to a better way of handling those life lessons.

And I admit that forgetting is as close to impossible as forgiving. Further, I know that I need to step away from several ‘lists’ that have been growing uglier. And I am trying. But how does a person step away without walking away? How can we forget without relegating the person to a totally different place in our life?

Disengage? Disengage from the patterns that allow the list. But that comes very close to disengaging from the person. And sometimes keeping a person close might be worth fighting the list and accepting that getting pinched is part of the bargain. But why must renewable pain be part of a relationship? How important is it to stay close to hit-and-run?

Wish I could ramble this one to some kind of conclusion. I can’t.

Murphy Again??

by Pat Antonopoulos

Never, ever let the gauge register less than half. Life long self imposed rule and do not remember a time when I let that travel security blanket fall. Until today.
Sounds like a Murphy’s droplet when refills are every few miles. But Murphy likes the elbow to elbow kind of pressure and I am scrambling to make today happen as planned.

Thunder and lightening through the night so sleep was brief and surface. Alarm was not suppose to be set, but ‘not-suppose-to’ is a hedge. It went anyway. Usual coffee and bagel to start the morning and bingo! Murphy #3 in the form of a filling falling out. Not just any filling but my golden-pirate-tooth that secures my place in Frank’s gang of shark fighting ship mates. Dentist leaving town tomorrow so a scramble to find a slot for me. Not yet.

Had to cancel another medical appointment for this morning, hoping to reschedule. That phone call hasn’t been returned.

Bob off to the range and I discovered a plumbing issue that I cannot handle with patience and a plunger.

Best (and only) dress-up blazer at the cleaners and ready on Friday.

Hey, Gentle Reader, this is NOT a laughing blog! Why?

Because….after weeks of trying, we get our important, but brief, TV interview on a local news show. Four Ordinary Women had one day notice and Murphy must have doubled with laughter knowing that Murphy’s Law is definitely Law. But we are doggedly persistent. We might not get our full fame allotment of fifteen minutes, we will prove that Murphy is no match for Four Ordinary Women. Check Loren Halifax, WDAF TV Fox 4 at about 12:50. Then let us know what you think.


by Pat Antonopoulos

Steve and Lisa walk across the field separating our places. They come bearing gifts.
Lisa has read our book, Four Ordinary Women, and she talks about her reactions to our words, to our stories, to our connections with her life. They are a wonderful couple with earth solid values and hearts stretched by years of sharing their values. To me, they look like a young couple in love with one another, not old enough to have a married daughter and a college son.
Lisa brings the gift of validation. Through our book, we have touched her deeply. She wants copies to share our stories with her family.
And eggs…fresh eggs from their hens.
Body and spirit are fed.

Mary Ann phones and asks that I meet her where she is working on St. Anthony’s fundraiser dinner. She is a friend from high school…fifty three years since that graduation. “For my boyfriend”, she says as she hands me a bag of candy—mostly chocolate. She always refers to Bob as her boyfriend. “The second sack is for your Sammy”. Sammy loves flashlights and Mary Ann has given us a jack-o-lantern light complete with batteries. Mary Ann has never met Sammy, but she loves him because I do.

A 75 year old man, Bob, is using a come-a-long to ratchet a four hundred pound tractor tire off the lug nuts and closer to the trailer. By himself.
By himself—he gets is handled. I do the step-and-fetch-it kind of things, helping where I can. But he does it….by himself. Finally, we have the huge tire loaded on the trailer and are heading towards Platte City where a repair shop can fix the damage.

Once we find the place, a young man named ‘Bud’ (honestly) and his helper roll the tire off the trailer, smiling as they ask how we managed to get it off the tractor, onto the trailer and delivered. He said, “You guys are still smiling??” He was so like by Uncle Bud—tall, strong and the definition of good natured. This young man honored what my husband had handled. I like that a lot.

My friend just phoned with a story of her weekend trip to Texas. She shared the touching moments, the poignant sense of this beautiful story. She gave me a part of her daughters…handed their beauty to me. A gift.

My album is rich with amazing people.