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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Comedy? Really?

There's a reason I don't like Lucy Ricardo. She's schizo. No, actually, in my mind she's a sociopath. What else would you call someone whose sole interest is in getting her own way, no matter what the cost to her husband's career or her personal relationships?

Why this tempest in a teapot? Why take seriously a 50's sitcom whose only goal was to entertain and pour laughter into the homes of post-war America?

Because of Jack Black and Olivia Newton-John, that's why.

Tonight, for the umpteenth time, my kids watched School of Rock, and I viewed it with them. Together we laughed at Dewey Finn's (Black's) stage antics and marveled at his ability to turn a bunch of straight-laced prep school students into a rockin' band. But when it was all over, I demanded equal time.

I insisted the boys critique the film from the standpoints of morality and reality. Morally, everything this shyster did was against the rules. He copped his best friend's identity to make a fast buck. He abused his authority with a bunch of impressionable pre-teens to further his musical aspirations. He lied to everyone with whom he came in contact to satisfy his own goals. In the end he not only escaped punishment, but built a new career based on the fraud he had perpetrated, with the full consent and admiration of the very victims he had been conning. I pointed out to the boys that, beyond the realm of screenwriter Mike White's imagination, this outcome was utterly fictitious. First of all, he would have been carted off to jail for questioning, at the very least, the second his misuse of minors was discovered, rather than escaping to sleep off his shame on his scammed roommate's living room floor. Next, he would be hit with a slew of legal charges, undoubtedly by both parties he had deceived. Above all, his misdeeds certainly would not have been rewarded by the continued entrusting of tender minds to his corrupt tutelage.

I would raise the same objection to the hit 1978 film Grease. This blockbuster starred stunning Olivia Newton-John as insecure Sandy Olsen, who was so intent on keeping bad boy Danny Zuko (John Travolta) that she reinvented herself into a leather-clad sex kitten. The message: do what you have to do to get what you feel you must have.

When we consider Grease's nearly $200 million lifetime earnings, and School of Rock's just under half of that, we begin to realize the vast impact these film vehicles have. Sadly, films like Freedom Writers and Rudy, targeted to the same youthful audience, but both offering uplifting themes of hope and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, max out at around a quarter of these profits.*

So when I complain about the fundamental elements of I Love Lucy, I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. It's just that, 50 plus years later, Americans are still reveling in - and paying dearly for - the Machiavellian philosophy underlying the shenanigans of the wacky redhead, and her enabling entourage.

I'm just not sure the laughs are worth it.

Lifetime Gross Figures
$188,755,690 Grease
$81,261,177 School of Rock
$36,605,602 Freedom Writers
$22,750,363 Rudy

*All box office statistics taken from

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Letting Go

The other night my son gave me a barrage of things to pray about. Different friends had different needs, and they all sounded pretty urgent. As he rattled off the last one, he added apologetically, "If you can take it."

"Don't worry," I responded. "I don't 'take it.' I just take it to God."

Sometimes, like tonight, when my dear friend lies deathly ill in the hospital and her husband lies awake at home without her, God's yoke seems oppressively heavy and His burden, anything but light. Times like this, I have to force myself to cast my burdens on Him, as Peter suggested (1 Peter 5:7).

I know this works because I have done it so many times. Releasing is the hardest part.

I offer my blessings and prayers for all who are struggling to release their troubles into almighty arms.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
        Matthew 11:28-30


As children bring their broken toys 
with tears for us to mend, 
I brought my broken dreams to God, 
because He was my friend. 
But then, instead of leaving Him, 
in peace, to work alone; 
I hung around and tried to help, 
with ways that were my own. 
At last, I snatched them back and cried, 
"How can you be so slow?" 
"My child," He said, 
"What could I do? 
You never did let go."
~ Lauretta P. Burns ~