Happy Father’s Day!

15 06 2014

Happy Father’s Day to all those who have taken on the role, whether you are biologically connected to your children, or merely through the heart. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, FRIED CHICKEN AND SYMPATHY, about my biological father, Theodore Roosevelt Oliver, Sr., followed by a link to an Examiner article that I wrote a few years back about my spiritual father, Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick.

Blessings!

My father when he worked at the Naval Base in North Chicago, IL.

My father when he worked at the Naval Base in North Chicago, IL.

Oliver’s Twist: The Father I Barely Knew…

“People can never predict when hard times might come.
Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy.”
Ecclesiastes 9:12

I only have two memories of my father: The first one was in life, the second in death. The first was of a family trip to Brookfield Zoo in 1969. I consider June the unofficial family historian, and even she is surprised that I remember it so well. After the nine of us had spent our day at the zoo, we ambled single-file through the parking lot, to get into our lovely green four-door Oldsmobile with the chrome bumpers and the white-green interior, and head back to Cabrini-Green.

I was a vision of two-year-old cuteness, in a sky-blue pinafore with little embroidered flowers, blue socks with frilly borders, and braids that were contacting Mars; to this day my hair still has a life of its own. I distinctly remember Oliver (as most people, including us kids, called him) swooped me up with one large hand, and tucked me in his arm, holding me in the crook, while he used his other hand to retrieve the car keys from his pocket and open the door for the rest of the family. Oliver was stylish, in his button-down shirt, suspenders and tweed slacks. He had on one of his classic wide-brimmed hats, and I attempted to grab it off his head—an attempt which amazingly he dodged—seeing that his arms and hands were full.

He whispered something in my ear, but at that age I didn’t understand or care about words. All I cared about was his arm around me, holding me close, and the feeling of contentment it gave me.

My second memory of him is not really about him, but about his funeral. We were at Burr Oak Cemetery in Worth, Illinois on July 12, 1970. By today’s standards it’s a ghetto cemetery, but back then, it was one of the few options for people of color. Grandpa Joe and Grandma Annie had been laid to rest there, so it was in keeping with tradition.

So there we were, all seven of us kids standing around the gravesite in the rain, like strong little soldiers in black. I was holding onto Bay’s black-gloved hand, and something struck me so suddenly that I began to urgently tug on her arm. She looked down at me, her head wrapped in a black scarf, eyes shielded by the dark glasses she wore.

“Is Oliver coming back?” I asked. I didn’t get an answer. Just silence, with all eyes plastered on the hole in the ground. My first lesson in family dynamics. When faced with a hard question, pretend it was never asked.

I still have a knack for asking hard questions that have no answers.

I felt about as confused, and cheated as I sometimes feel now. At the age of three, I was not mature enough to wrap my heart around death’s finality. The little girl now buried within the adult still doesn’t.

It puzzles me how you can ache and long for someone you didn’t really know. I’m still that little girl in the blue dress at the zoo—except now, I long for my daddy’s arms instead of enjoying being in them. It’s a gaping hole—no matter how hard you try to fill it, it remains a bottomless pit. I pinpoint a lot of my emotional problems to the fact that my father was stolen from me. The depression I struggle with, my choosing emotionally-, and physically-unavailable men, and the subsequent lack of trust which has resulted from all those dead-end relationships.

As part of my own therapy to get a handle on the past, I’ve attempted to piece together Oliver’s life, like shards of a shattered plate. A delicate and painful exercise, with the end result being bloodied hands, and a piece that lacks the beauty, function and worth of the original. To some, it might serve little use except as a reminder of what used to be; but, painstakingly, I continue with the task. With each piece that comes together, and every little bit of new knowledge I acquire about him, I get a sense that I’m doing something significant and important—even if it’s for no one else but me.


My spiritual father, Glenn "Kirk" Kirkpatrick. A reflection of the Father Heart of God

My spiritual father, Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick. A reflection of the Father Heart of God

 The Father Heart of God

Father’s Day has often been a foreign holiday to me. My father was murdered when I was three, and it wasn’t until thirty years later that someone came into my life who helped me understand the Father heart of God. Because of that consistent witness, I asked Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick to step into the role of “Father of the Bride”, and walk me down the aisle.

This father role was not a place he sought, nor I pursued. But Kirk’s heart’s desire was to be the man God wanted Him to be, and as he sought the Father’s heart, he could not help but emulate it. And God’s divine purpose for us is to know his heart; it does not matter if it is demonstrated through human or spiritual genetics. He used Kirk to grant me this gift, and I make it a point to honor him as a father. I wish him a Happy Father’s Day, whether with a card or a message–now, Father’s Day is more familiar, and less foreign. Read more at Examiner.com: The Father Heart of God.

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In My Orbit: Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Year!

26 12 2013

Electronic Christmas Card 2013

Greetings, fellow turners. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of love and good food. I feel a day late and a dollar short over not posting an Advent or a Christmas post, but my sentiments are the same no matter what the time of year–may you be blessed, well, and fulfilling your life’s purpose!

My Washington Times Communities column is humming along swimmingly! I continue to beat the drum on Obamacare, its deficiencies, and its abject failure on delivering little of what it has promised. As a Christmas present(?) to Americans, the Obama administration hacked away at the individual mandate to help out those whose individual policies had been cancelled due to the new Obamacare regulations. Make sense? Didn’t think so, but not much does with this convoluted law. Give it a read: The Obamacare individual mandate death watch.

Over at Examiner.com, the ever-changing world of the film industry continues to stay in focus. I was recently asked by KCET to review a series called Bridge to Iran, and to interview its host Parisa Soultani. I gained insight and an education into a minority group that makes up a huge chunk of the Los Angeles population, yet remains shrouded in mystery. I hope that the review and conversation with Parisa removes a bit of that shroud. Give those a read, if you get a chance: Artist Profile: Parisa Soultani uses media to connect to a higher essence; and, TV Series review: Bridge to Iran spotlights Iranian filmmakers.

My holiday was filled with family concerns and family joys, but I count this as one of the best Christmases we have had in a long time. I pray 2014 brings you renewal and joy to your world.

 

 

 





In My Orbit: Working for the weekend

8 11 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s week has been occupied with interviews of fascinating individuals.

Dr. A. David Matian used to be my primary care physician, and he was honored to be interviewed about his philosophy as a medical professional, and how the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare will affect his practice.

Omar Akram is a talented and accomplished New Age musician, who just released a new album called Daytime Dreamer. At his album release party, I got to cover the red carpet and met some accomplished musicians, authors, and fashionistas.

Shyra Sanchez, actress, singer, fitness coach, activist, and humanitarian sat down with me and her publicist at the Mandarette Cafe, and talked about her music, life vision, and why she will always stay connected to a metropolis.

Lance Lindahl and Credere Joseph met me at the Village Bakery and Cafe, and I got to see firsthand how this connected collaboration of old souls, music, and film helped create the delightful comedy, Hay Days.

Omar, Shyra, Lance and Credere will be featured at Examiner.com on my Faith & Community page. Dr. Matian will be profiled on Examiner.com, and some of his quotes may make it into an article on my Washington Times Communities “In My Orbit” column.

Speaking of of the WT Communities column, this week I discuss President Obama’s non-apology Apology.

“In an effort to get ahead of the narrative (too late), Obama did the one thing at which he is proven effective: he decided to talk. Yet this talk which supposedly included an apology did not express any accountability for lying over 29 times, the current mess those lies are producing, nor did he offer any real solutions to fix it.

If you actually listened to the President’s words, he kept emphasizing the “only 5 percent”, or “a small percentage” of the population that are receiving cancellation notices. By his consistent usage of “only” and “small”, Obama delegitimizes the anger and concern of the people whose policies have been cancelled.”

According to Henry Louis Gates, 388,000 Africans actually survived the Middle Passage and arrived in America to be used as slave labor. That’s less than half a million people. Did that make slavery any less heinous because it was such a small number?

Obamacare is fast becoming an albatross around the President’s neck. Give the rest a read over at the WT Communities site.

Hope you have a fun weekend!





In My Orbit: my Red Carpet Moment and the 2013 Oscars’ recap

25 02 2013

Farshad Farahat with Jennifer Oliver O'Connell (Formatted)So the Girl got the closest she’s ever been to a Red Carpet a few weeks ago at the 2013 MovieGuide Awards. You can get the skinny from the write-up I did for my Examiner.com column “On the Red Carpet at the 21st Annual MovieGuide® Awards“. Please give it a read, and feel free to comment!

The only thing I’ll rehash from that experience is my photo op with actor Farshad Farahat, whose star turn in Argo was critically acclaimed. Argo won the Best Picture Oscar last night, so I’m sure Mr. Farahat’s currency has risen exponentially. Well deserved, and I wish him all the best. Thanks for the opportunity to say that I met you when!

I enjoyed watching the show with industry friends who gave me the insider take on some of the Oscar guests and other gossip–gives some added color to an already colorful night! Here’s my summation of the evening:

Host Seth MacFarlane. Sue me, but I like Family Guy and American Dad, and I liked Seth MacFarlane as Host. Unlike several of the past Oscar hosts (since Billy Crystal’s first departure), MacFarlane did not desperately try to resurrect Crystal’s mojo (as if anyone could). He simply brought himself, his style, and his humor; and for the most part, it worked. If you have watched an episode of any one of his shows, or saw Ted, then you full well knew what expect. So what exactly is everyone so shocked and disappointed about?

I’m getting quite a chuckle reading the articles (many by women) about how sexist and misogynistic MacFarlane was, ad infinitum. Riddle me this: since when did Buzzfeed, the bastion of testosterone-laden muscle flexing, care about sexism?

And tell me, feminists, how do you rate the women MacFarlane lampooned in the “We Saw Your Boobs” sketch? Where is the commentary on a Hollywood that gives high kudos and awards to the female roles where pretty women ugly themselves (The Hours, Monster), or bare their comely parts (Monster’s BallThe Reader) in order to have their acting prowess recognized and score a big win? MacFarlane did swift work of  the sheer ridiculousness of this machine with just that one number, and I appreciated it. We will see if he is invited back next year; frankly, I hope so. As a musical/variety fan, it was nice to see singing, dancing, and movement incorporated back into the show in a fresh way.

Quentin Tarantino. As I wrote on my Twitter feed, Tarantino is a joke and a fraud who has parlayed video-game style revenge fantasies masquerading as high art to new levels. The same people who screamed about The Help being racist and a detriment to Black people are lauding and applauding a white man’s take on slavery in Django Unchained. More twisted logic and hypocrisy on display in that one. I refuse to see the movie, as being assaulted with the N-Word for two and a half hours is not my idea of a fun time. Suffice to say the fact that Tarantino eked out even two awards from this farcical product is egregious.

Jennifer Lawrence. Not really a fan of her work, although Silver Linings Playbook was watchable, and the roles were well acted. I have no idea whether Jennifer’s particular choice of attire was foisted upon her or if she actively chose it, but it clearly was not well thought out by someone. When Jennifer came up as a presenter before her category was announced, a Facebook friend joked about how many people were under her dress–it truly was a giant moving mass of fabric, and one has to learn to walk in such a contraption. I don’t think anyone gave Jen lessons, poor thing.  So when she took an almost face plant as she walked up the steps to receive her Best Actress award, I wasn’t surprised. I was among some Jennifer Lawrence haters, so they considered it schadenfreude. Interesting….

I rather admire Diane Keaton, who mostly eschews the pretty Barbie doll attire for a more polished, practical, and personal look. Should the day ever arrive when I get such an invite, I would probably trend in that direction.

In Memoriam: They gave the technical and behind-the-scenes folks some real honor, but they left out the likes of Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Alex Karras, Gore Vidal, Richard Dawson, and Sylvia Kristel. These individuals were also television, literary, stage, and sports figures, so they received commemoration from those respective fields. But what hit home to me is that all the great ones are dying off, and fairly quickly. A fact of life, but still sad to see.

Daniel Day-Lewis. I have great admiration for this man’s talent. I think that appreciation also stems from the fact that he does not overly saturate himself. It’s obvious that he loves and delves deeply into his craft, yet he hasn’t appeared in a ton of movies. But each time he does appear, it screams for Oscar gold. This is a record third Best Actor Oscar: something that has never been accomplished in the 85-year history of the Academy Awards! So hats off to you, Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, for bringing our 16th President to magnificent life, and being a credit and fine example of your profession.

Singing and Dancing. I love both, especially when they are done well. And all the numbers, from Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum (who knew she could dance?), to Seth himself doing an old soft shoe, and belting out a few tunes, was all great fun.

Unlike my criticism of Bouncey‘s lip-synching the Inauguration National Anthem, I cannot be critical of a 10-years-older Catherine Zeta-Jones doing the same while performing her “All that Jazz” dance number from the movie Chicago. One Facebook friend pointed out that actresses/dancers sing and dance on Broadway six days a week, but Catherine hasn’t been on Broadway (or much of anything for that matter) in quite some time. The fact that she can still dance and look fabulous while doing it, is enough for me.

I can be critical of Barbara Streisand, though. Babs still sings and tours (despite several “Farewell” performances… go figure), so this rendition of “The Way We Were”, though heartfelt, was not very good. Contrast that with the powerhouse performance of Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger”, and Streisand’s performance pales even further. Shirley is not a regular performer, but she’s still got her chops–and she looked awesome in that gold dress.

Jennifer Hudson represented as always, delivering an abridged version of “And I’m Telling You” with iron lungs. I recently watched Dreamgirls again, and I will say publicly that Jennifer had a fuller, lusher sound when she had a bit more… substance. My vocal coach agreed with me, though he said he’d never go on the record–but he admires my freedom to do so. Hey, I’m just a lowly writer who also sings–he actually has to work with these people. Enough said.

She’s still Jennifer Hudson, and still fabulous–so do yo’ thang, girl, do yo’ thang.

Adele. What more can I say about Adele? I’m a fangirl, not only because she is an awesome songwriter with pure vocal supremacy, but she’s a big girl and is neither apologetic, nor ashamed about it.  Adele performed with class and polish, despite the technical mess they made of it–who puts their orchestra in another building several blocks down?! Her Best Song win for Skyfall is just another jewel in a tremendously weighty crown.

Steven Spielberg/Lincoln. Well, one thing was glaringly obvious: Spielberg is no longer the favorite son.  Tommy Lee Jones was robbed by Christoph Waltz, who basically reprised his role in Inglorious Basterds with a different accent and costume. Then Tony Kushner, who is a brilliant writer, was trumped by Argo-writer Chris Terrio. So save for the Best Actor prize, folks in the Academy are no longer in paroxyms over Spielberg’s accomplishments: and Lincoln really was a stellar accomplishment all around.  Shame it wasn’t more recognized.

Argo. I must say I was impressed by Argo, and by Ben Affleck as director. I still say Lincoln deserved Best Picture, but I can’t be mad about it. It was predictable that a movie where Hollywood was the hero would receive the biggest film nod of the night, and sometimes the Academy is nothing less than predictable. Over the years, the Academy has picked some stinkers for Best Picture, but thankfully this was not one. Argo was a nicely conceived, historical vignette, weaved  with layers of humor, suspense, and intrigue in presenting its story. It worked for me, and for most audiences.

Michelle Obama’s Bangs. With poorly trimmed bangs and another ugly dress, Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance via satellite, to lecture us about the meaning of films and present the Best Picture Oscar. For me, part of the point of entertainment is to escape the routine and vagaries of life–and that includes politics. So for the Obamas to once again inject themselves some place where they clearly do not belong was jumping the shark. This is not just my conservative bent talking: Read the comments on the Yahoo! and The Hollywood Reporter articles. These publications aren’t exactly right-leaning, so the fact that these viewers were equally mystified or appalled speaks volumes.

Despite the inauspicious ending to the evening, all-in-all, it was one of the better Oscar telecasts. Here’s to more Red Carpets and Oscar brushes In My Orbit!

 





“Kumaré”–Enlightenment of Different Variety

6 08 2012

The Guru, Sri Kumare–aka Vikram Gandhi courtesy of Kino Lorber

So on top of my birthday this week, the Girl also celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary [pause for cheers, hoots, and confetti tossing]!

It was low-key, as both me and the hubby are dead-busted broke; but that didn’t stop us from celebrating. After a low-key morning of sleeping in and breakfast, we took advantage of a couple of Groupons purchased months prior (pays to plan ahead),  and one of them was for a screening, two popcorns and two drinks at the independent theater Cinefamily.

This weekend, Cinefamily happened to be screening Kumaré, a gem of a film in limited release throughout the country.

I was quite surprised by the film’s rare honesty and nuanced portrayal of spiritual leadership and faith. Check out my review on my Examiner.com page‘Kumare’ offers enlightenment of a different variety, and see the Official Movie Trailer below for a tidbit on what to expect.

It will be at the Cinefamily (in the Fairfax District) through August 9. You can visit the movie website for where it may be showing in your city.

My weekend tip for you!





In My Orbit…

29 10 2011

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s the weekend of All Hallow’s Eve. For you 99 percenters, that’s Halloween.

For certain Christians, this holiday is anathema, while others celebrate, preferring not to toss out good clean fun and fond memories of Halloween’s past for superstition and misplaced hysteria. Thanks to a friend, I got to thinking about those past Halloweens, and how they made a positive impact in my life. So I decided to reclaim the day in my own way. Read about it on my Examiner page: My return to All Hallow’s Eve.

I get to spend the rest of today hobnobbing with women professionals for At The Helm: Women in Biz 2011. Alaia Williams of the Entrepreneur Connection has created an event that will be the talk of the town! A full day of networking with entrepreneurs and industry leaders, engaging in panel discussions geared toward the business person, and a host of speakers from all across the spectrum.

At the top of my list: my friend Susan M. Baker (The Escape Hatcher), Lizzy Shaw (Lizzy Shaw PR), Nailah Blades (Polka Dot Coaching), and Lisa Steadman. But I am particularly excited about the energy and ideas generated when like-minded people come together. You’ll be hearing more about this when it’s all said and done.

Happy Saturday, and Happy Halloween!





Illustrating Absurdity

5 10 2011
Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin/publicdomainpictures.net

It’s raining in Los Angeles today. The saving grace  is that we probably won’t have any Anti-Wall Street protesters in front of City Hall whining about the “Capitolist” and imperialism. People cancel appointments rather than drive in the rain around here, so do you think they’re going to make their way to a protest? Oh, I think not.

Manhattan has not fared so well, and I’m sure Wall Street and every other working person they have disrupted for the past two weeks are hoping for snow storms to drive out that lot.

You know your movement is whack when George Soros says he “sympathizes with protesters speaking out against corporate greed in ongoing protests on Wall Street[..]” The man who single-handedly funds many Democrat politician’s campaigns and PAC groups? Are you sh@tting me?

Even more absurd is Michael Moore waxing philosophical about this “movement” ad nauseum. This Fat (literally)-cat filmmaker who lives high on the hog off his returns from propaganda films, while railing against the capitalist system that allows him to rake in those very earnings, has always rung false. He’s a tool, but unfortunately, a loud one.

Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon are no better. Say Alec, what’s your annual salary from 30 Rock and all those endorsements, like Capital One?

Now that I’ve expressed my disdain, I’m going to finish an article for my Examiner job so that I can get more virtual pennies. Then it’s off to my other job as a Yoga instructor, where I hope my gas tank lasts to the next pay day.

I might be inclined to protest, but I’m too damn busy trying to earn a living.








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