Movie Review (MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS)

I very much enjoyed the movie MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. The script was tightly written with much intrigue. I found the acting impeccable, which is what you can often expect with a cast of largely British Isles raised and trained actors.

I have long considered Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary to be interesting, tragic figures in history. Queen Mary’s dilemma of being an ambitious woman in a time and place governed by men in every sphere was made heart-felt and immediate by the frequent closeups and claustrophobic, dark interior scenes throughout the film. Outside shots of Scotland’s beautiful yet spare countryside underscored the sense of isolation and emotional desolation Mary and her cousin Elizabeth surely experienced during their adult lives as female monarchs in a time of such misogyny and ongoing patriarchy.

Large-scale organized religion is mainly presented in the movie as a means of social control over the masses. Mary, being Catholic and a woman determined to think for herself– as she is portrayed in this screenplay at least– is villainized by Scottish Protestant Reformers, an official leader of them in the film referring to her as a “harlot” and other sexual insults. So while Scotland and England had broken free of the behemoth Catholic Church, another religion simply took its place to dictate human thought and behavior. I thought of American right wing evangelicals of today while watching the fire and brimstone preacher pillory Mary and agitate for revolt. In many ways, modern industrialized societies haven’t changed much since 1600s Britain.

Implications about gender and sexuality are believably explored in the movie, with Queen Elizabeth explicitly identifying more as a man than a woman, given that she chose not to marry (which would mean giving up most if not all of her power), did not bear any children, and lost much of her physical beauty after surviving small pox. She basically becomes a caricature of femininity, a drag queen, with her wearing of wigs, white makeup (to cover facial scarring), and grand dresses and jewelry. Identity-wise, all that is left for her is to be a ruler over a thriving kingdom that takes her seriously, like a king.

On the other hand, Mary’s path is less clear and more fraught, given that she is beautiful, clearly fertile, and enters a comparably less stable kingdom than England to rule. And this after being raised elsewhere (France) in a different culture and religion. The movie conveys that old Scottish culture was stark and had less appreciation for continental, soft, artistic sensibilities, as represented by Queen Mary’s gay, cross dressing Italian minstrel she keeps among her ladies in waiting. Like Mary, musician David Rizzio (Ismael Cruz Cordova) does not fit in though tries to within such a precarious context. Rizzio embodies and affirms Mary’s own softness, sensuality, and emotionality, her femininity (as understood in the old traditional sense), while she must quickly harden up for a traditionally masculine leadership role over a country. Mary’s complexity is a believable mix of both soft and hard, the masculine and feminine, fluid and so human really, conveyed through her willful determination to have power over others at all costs while also valuing music, spirituality, and close relationships. Aside from ruling, the young queen’s immediate priorities are God via an unwavering Catholic devotion, her treasonous half brother, her handsome but self-serving and sexually conflicted husband, the devoted and talented Rizzio (the only man around who– though a feminine man– seems to truly love her as a person), her ladies in waiting, her cousin Queen Elizabeth, and, finally, her motherhood (albeit brief) to Prince James. He would later be the king to unite both Scotland and England, fulfilling a deep wish for the Queen of Scots. Mary clearly has a lot on her mind at all times, for which a sense of androgyny comes in handy.

Twenty-four-year-old Irish American actress Saoirse Ronan portrays Mary Queen of Scots with deep mastery. Margot Robbie plays the comparably more hardened Queen Elizabeth just as capably. I could not think of a single actor who was less than stellar in this movie.

I appreciated the downplay of blood-letting and lack of overall violence shown throughout. If you are someone who must have gore and battle scenes, this film is not for you. Emotional expression and conflicting motivations are the primary arc of movement over the entire narrative. There is no reliance on extreme displays of aggression except where doing so cannot be avoided in order to further the storyline. Such action occurs with economy and thought, which is hard to come by in a lot of cinema these days. I highly recommend MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, especially if you enjoy period dramas.

Me, Maria Muldaur, and Black Panther

In February of 1975, my parents decided to resign their posts as English teachers at Modesto Junior College to travel around California and, if I remember correctly, British Columbia, Canada for the rest of the school year.  We mostly stayed at friends’ and friends of friends’ homes, driving around in my mom’s 1960-something VW station wagon and then, soon, a 1969 VW van.  It may have already been the latter vehicle we rode in entirely during this period.

In any case, my parents made it a point to go to my 3rd grade classroom and gather text books and consumable lesson manuals for me to work through during the months ahead.  I did not consciously know it at the time, nor did my parents, but this method of on-the-road homeschooling would be problematic for me.  I learn best by listening to and watching someone disseminate information in a classroom setting, taking in information primarily via my hearing, enhanced along by visual aides, such as viewing writing on a chalkboard, slideshows, movies, etc.  Some interactive question and answer time can help with my learning as well.  But, alas, here I was left to my own devices to take in information and express it back via only the two-dimensional pages of texts and workbooks.  Through life experience, one lives and clearly learns what works and what doesn’t.

Focusing was a challenge to no end, made particularly difficult by having no routine of place and time as we moved around from day to day or week to week.  My parents’ minds were preoccupied elsewhere, such as deciding where to go next and how to save money, among many other adult concerns.  “Did you finish your homework today?” was a frequent refrain I heard from Mom and sometimes Dad.  “No, not yet,” I often replied.  “Well, get to it!” was said, usually by my mother, or some other similar response.  That was largely the extent of my parents’ involvement with my schooling during this latter part of my year in 3rd grade.  I was eight years old.  I sat with school books in other people’s dining rooms, living rooms, outside on sidewalk curbs, doing my best to get through some reading, writing, or math lesson (though the math I barely remember working on, as it’s possible I did not have a math workbook).  My imagination and ever-changing environment distracted me to no end, that and a deep sense of loneliness and uncertainty.  Looking back, it is amazing that I managed to complete whatever schoolwork I did.  Many of the pictures in the books and manuals were interesting to look at, which helped somewhat to sustain my attention.

Around the beginning of this itinerant period, I remember us staying on a few occasions in a semi-communal household of young women.  This was still in Modesto, or somewhere close by, I believe.  One of them, Christy Ellis, had been a student of either my father’s or mother’s and had taken an interest in me.  The year before, when she lived alone, I had spent a lot of time with Christy in her small apartment listening to then popular music, such as Joanie Mitchell’s latest album, and doing things together in downtown Modesto.  But, that is perhaps for another story.  So, there we were, hanging out with Christy and her roommates, a group of women in their early to mid twenties, my parents being older by less than ten years.

I started talking to one of the roommates, bonding with her around the new Maria Muldaur album she was playing one morning.  “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion,” crooned a sultry woman’s voice through the stereo.  I was entranced.  Some months before, I’d been swept up by Ms. Muldaur’s 1973 and ’74 hit song “Midnight at the Oasis,” my imagination carried along to an exotic desert locale with camels and a large, bejeweled tent filled with plush cushions and female belly dancers.  I was thrilled that this beautiful woman singer had another record out, this time with a song that made me want to move from within a deep erotic place that I was far too young to understand.

While staying in this household, two publications made deep impressions on me.  One was the week’s current issue of PEOPLE MAGAZINE laying prominently out on a coffee table in the living room.  A closeup of Cher was on the cover.  She wore multiple turquoise necklaces and her head of long black hair was topped with a cowboy hat, feathers stuck in its brim.  A Native American look was clearly going on, which was especially trendy at the time.  She smiled broadly at the camera, her long purple polished fingernails matching her dark lipstick and eye makeup.  I was impressed and intrigued but in a muted, interrupted way.  On one hand, this photo embodied the dark-haired witch imagery of powerful, mysterious women with whom I’d already started to become intrigued.  On the other hand, my parents disapproved of such an expression of blatant excess and, I’m pretty certain, co-opting of Native American culture.  Mom also found imagery of women in commercial media, such as that of Cher on PEOPLE’s cover, to be sexist, objectifying.  Dad found that particular picture pretentious and, again (I strongly believe), co-opting of Native Americans.  I remember him complaining about the picture to someone when we were away from the house.  (My folks had already begun researching Native American cultures and we would later visit Indian reservations in the years to come.)  So, to avoid irking Mom and Dad, I secreted away my own fascination with this photo, which was neither borne out of sexist objectification or viewing it as having anything to do with crass, superficial emulation of Native Americans.  To me, in a deep intuitive way, the image simply embodied an aspect of the Great Goddess, who I would grow up to understand and revere as a core part of my spirituality.  I would go on to watch THE SONNY AND CHER SHOW on TV now and then, enjoying Cher’s chameleon-like quality of colorful, showy costume changes and theatricality, though never caring much for her singing.  There was something magical to her then that captured my rich imagination.

The other periodical that struck me deeply at this time– far more so than the PEOPLE issue’s cover– was the Marvel Comics series BLACK PANTHER.  I was either in a local supermarket or convenience store with Christy or one of her roommates when I came across the latest issue of it on a stand.  The actual initial moment of discovering the comic is vague to me, but I know I was accompanying one of the young women of the household and not either of my parents.  At my request, she bought a copy for me, which I’m pretty sure neither Mom nor Dad would have done at the time.  Back then, they often were reluctant to buy me such mindless “trash,” especially my mom.  (She has long since relaxed around my liking of comics, having even bought me one or two as gifts.)  The comic cover was that of a hyper muscular man covered from head to toe in a tight black costume that stuck to him like a second skin, a pointy little feline ear on each side of his head.  Pure masculine strength stared out at me with virile determination, ready to lunge.  I was hooked.  Complementing Maria Muldaur’s wonderful, sizzling “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion,” here was the object of my interest to act out that song, except it was both the meat and the motion.  However, I had no idea about such a connection between the song and this image for me at the time, I just knew I had to have the comic.

Back at the house, I proceeded to look through the colored newsprint pages and managed to recruit Christy to read the story to me, which I found both suspenseful and disturbing.  I have very little recollection of the actual narrative, which was mid-story, following from previous issues.  What I do remember is that the opening scene beheld the hero, Black Panther, bending over a pool of water in a wild jungle, nursing his wounds.  His body suit was torn in several places, revealing bleeding, brown-skinned flesh.  His vulnerability and pain upset me deeply.  I wanted to go to him and help somehow in his time of need.  I wanted him to be strong and healthy again, like how he was portrayed on the cover.  Some villains were stalking Black Panther and it was basically a kill or be killed situation.  I think I had one of Christy’s friends read the comic to me as well.  I stashed the comic somewhere and eventually misplaced it during our travels and many moves.

Like Black Panther by himself in the wild and facing danger, I felt alone and uncertain during that year I discovered him and throughout most of my childhood and adolescence.  My wounds weren’t physical like his in the comic book, but they were there inside me due to familial discord resulting in my parents divorcing before I turned five and me subsequently having to adjust to a new mother, Dad’s second wife.  In the summer of 1973, I had lived with my father and (new) mother in a thatched roof hut in the jungle of Belize for two months, which I had very much enjoyed, the weather being warm and the lizard and amphibian fauna particularly fascinating to observe.  I’m sure this positive experience further enhanced for me the mystique of Black Panther and his own jungle life.  In short, I could deeply relate to Black Panther and his predicament in the comic, even though my jungle was no longer a literal one but one often made up of asphalt and concrete, unpredictability, and social isolation from peers and consistent adult attention.  I had to learn to navigate this frequently rough outer and inner terrain on my own, or so it felt at the time.

The primal male strength yet vulnerability and heroism of Black Panther deeply appealed to me as a fatherly protector in my colorful, wish-fulfilling fantasy life.  This contrasted with the actual life of a sensitive, sad little boy in need of more tender attention than he happened to be getting from loving, but otherwise preoccupied and insecure parents.  Obviously, though, there were more implications than this.  Black Panther was clearly an early fantasy crush for me, one clue of many that I was different from most latency-aged boys and their nascent sexual interests.

In 1975, my imagination did not just find ways to comfort and entertain me, for it often met those deep needs just well enough.  My creative thinking led me to inwardly and outwardly listen to my very own growing life impulses, impulses of how my body wanted to move and feel and who I wanted to move and feel with in the world.  Listening to Maria Muldaur awoke something in me, her singing giving voice to these budding stirrings, those nonverbal, primal urges to celebrate life, such as through dancing alone and with others, which I would eventually do now and again over the  years to come, while enjoying feeling deeply erotic, both alone and with others.  Black Panther offered me a sense of where and to who I would direct and share those impulses as I grew up.  This would almost entirely be with men, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.  And both Ms. Muldaur’s singing and the images of Black Panther gave me meaning when I so badly needed it, being an oasis or safe clearing for me in a desert or jungle of fear, loneliness and frequent boredom, affirming that the sky was the limit as far as being able to envision the great expanse of beauty and wonder in the universe.  From grand tents filled with belly dancers in a faraway desert to hunky, powerful feline men in a jungle, or anything else you can possibly imagine, there is always more to life than whatever tedious, solitary-feeling difficulties happen to be at hand in the moment.  Meaning and connection to something more and bigger than one’s own lonely existence is there to be found.  Connecting one’s imagination to the imaginable in the world around you, it’s all good.  Doing so has been a life saver for me.

 

 

Reflective Moments

It feels a bit surreal to be somewhat wise and old enough now with a lot of past to reflect on, whereby I put more pieces of it in their natural-feeling place of meaning and understanding within the arc of my life. Fascinating.

For all the difficulties in childhood I experienced, I am ever-grateful for my parents exposing me to such neat people and places, so many of who left powerful impressions in my psyche and helped make me into the person I am today.

In Memoriam (JULIA VINOGRAD, 1943-2018)

I was about nine years old when I first met Berkeley, CA native and poet Julia Vinograd, who just died at the age of seventy-five. A year or so before our meeting, I’d seen her picture on the cover of one of her books of poetry my parents had laying around the house. She looked so unique and sincere in the photo and in real life, a lone woman blowing bubbles everywhere she went.

One day on (most likely) Telegraph Avenue, around late 1975/early ’76, I told Julia about seeing her on the cover of a book. She replied matter of factly, “That was me,” and blew another bubble. Shortly after this on another occasion while again walking along, but on Shattuck or a street other than Telegraph, she asked my parents for directions, looking vulnerable. “I’m lost,” she said with a frown and sad puppy eyes. My folks gave her directions to wherever she’d requested. She then limped away in her long skirt and ever-present leather cap with pin-on buttons attached to it.

At yet another time in 1976 or early ’77 in Berkeley, I saw Julia read at a large gathering of poets, a short-statured woman with a long, dark braid down her back, leather cap in place. She stood before the mic looking small yet focused and determined. I remember only her over and above all of the other poets who read that evening.

Julia was a shy, expressive loner who cultivated her eccentricity with a sense of dignity and fun, all of which I could very much relate to being in my own ways, odd fairy child that I was. She was a Berkeley icon. I’m glad I got to meet her and witness her fun bubbles in 1970s downtown Berkeley. May Julia Vinograd rest in peaceful eternity, blowing bubbles while floating happily on a big one of her own as she recites poetry to the universe.

Movie Review (SHOCK CORRIDOR)

The movie SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963), starring 1960s B-movie ingenue Constance Towers, is one of those campy flicks with an often shoddy script. However, it’s punctuated now and again with touching scenes of men in anguish over different social and political struggles (e.g., racism, the Cold War, and patriotism) and how these adversely affect one’s sanity and relationships with others. Borrowing blatantly from the earlier cinema genre known as “film noir,” the movie was filmed in black and white, has several night-time scenes, and highlights some of life’s undersides, such as a strip club. It is there where Ms. Towers’ character dances for the gawking fellas, all to make an honest living while her journalist boyfriend goes undercover as a mental patient in order to investigate an unsolved murder.

Trying to be focused and allegorical, the bulk and heart of the movie take place in a locked psychiatric ward. The stark set is believable but the kinds of mental problems the patients have are laughable, due to clinical inconsistencies of actual symptoms and seemingly arbitrary diagnostic labeling. The script writer has people suffer from a hodge-podge mix of PTSD, schizophrenia, and OCD– to name a few of the diagnoses that come to mind. Clearly, he had done, well, zero research about mental disorders. On the other hand, there were far less clinical studies completed by the mental health academe then that have long since been done. Also, other forms of psychotherapy beyond traditional psychoanalysis were not yet very widespread in 1963.  So, I guess I should cut writer and director Samuel Fuller a bit of slack. If you can turn most of your brain off and watch for sheer period piece early ’60s entertainment, the film is sometimes atmospheric and fun, if often, perhaps, unintentionally so. Preview hint: I’m thinking especially of the scene in which a male patient somehow gets trapped in a room full of raving nymphomaniacs. What was the director thinking (other than him clearly being a sexist pig)?? Oh, that’s right, the movie is campy, and we can leave it at that.

(Semi)Book Review (GLORY AND THE LIGHTNING by Taylor Caldwell)

I had to stop reading the somewhat trashy GLORY AND THE LIGHTNING, by Taylor Caldwell. Since I have been on a roll with reading tales that take place in ancient Greek times, a good friend recently recommended this 1974 published book to me.

Set in 5th century BC Persia and Greece, this historical novel follows the lives of Aspasia and Pericles.  The former is a brilliant and beautiful hetaira (courtesan) who eventually meets and pairs up with the latter, the renowned general and elected leader of Athens for over thirty years, a time which saw the peak of that great city state’s flourishing.

I found both the characters and overall outlook and tone of the third person narrator to be deeply cynical, elitist, and often contemptuous. There was only one supporting character I could consistently sympathize with and like, that of a female physician friend and lover of Pericles’, who does the key transitional act of introducing him to Aspasia at a dinner party.  Unfortunately, this supporting character’s name eludes me now.  (I put the book down a few weeks ago.)  This left me feeling like a distanced observer most of the time rather than an emotionally engrossed reader. Granted, some passages of sexual intrigue were entertaining, along with the many descriptions of pretty women and men in their ornate clothing, jewelry, perfumes, buildings, and gardens, including when they ate exotic, delectable foods. I can appreciate abundant detail, though it was excessive in places even for me in this often indulgent yarn.

The first several pages of the book were devoted to laying out how Aspasia is a brilliant, challenging student to her teachers. I think one brief classroom scene would have sufficed, instead of three or so extended scenarios, to relay the author’s point of how exceptional, gifted, and strong-willed this woman was. Parallel to Aspasia’s teachers’ anger with her know-it-all argumentativeness, I honestly felt exasperated with the writer’s diarrhea of the pen.

Then there is all the blatant sexism, classism, and racism. How one chooses to write about two inherently classist, sexist, misogynist cultures (Greek and Persian) in an ancient time period takes great thought and skill. I myself prefer the inclusion of a more informed, modern perspective that integrates understandings gleaned from discourses of feminism and anti-racism/egalitarianism, among others. Unfortunately, Ms. Caldwell’s avowed conservatism shows through in this tale. Bound by reductionist conventional thought along the lines of “men are from Mars, women are from Venus,” the author has all of her characters existing and operating from this tired old paradigm, with the partial exception of both Aspasia and Pericles’ physician and socialite friend.  Aspasia’s courageous attempts to live and succeed in a man’s world, surely parallel to what the author was doing during her lifetime through most of the 20th century, come through as often admirable (while other times not) in the narrative, and for that I am appreciative. I admire and respect anyone who can succeed against great odds, so long as minimal harm is done to others along the way.

So much reliance on racist stereotyping of the “dark” and “mysterious” Persians and “Easterners” lends a very dated, often irritating feel to the writing. If this book is out of print, I won’t be at all surprised.

I looked forward to Ms. Caldwell’s descriptions of Athens and rendering of Pericles, a historical figure I’ve read about elsewhere with a mix of admiration and sadness. Well, Pericles is portrayed as an often quiet (i.e., “strong silent type”), arrogant ass, surrounded by elitist and petty people even worse than he.  Clearly, the author did not like the actual concept of democracy and found every moment of digression in the story to criticize it as “feminine” and unreliable, preferring a more fixed laws republic.  Hmmm, since human needs evolve somewhat over time as technology progresses, how can all laws remain completely unchanged?  She never answers that question.  Caldwell has her characters even pragmatically think and suggest that “benign” tyrants or dictators heading up governments are perhaps the best solution, albeit not a realistic one.  Her contemptuous attitude about the “rabble,” i.e., the peasant/working class was distasteful to me.  Caldwell did not believe in the possibility that a critical mass of people in a civilization could govern themselves and others fairly and effectively.  And while that is a topic open to debate, I do think the author used this position as an excuse to portray most of humanity in her book as petty and unsympathetic.  Sadly, Pericles comes across as cold, calculating, elitist, and cynical with– sure enough- contempt for the “plebeians” and “peasants,” who are all “less” than “superior” men.  And while Pericles undoubtedly was likely largely this way in actuality within such a misogynist, classist culture and time in history, I found his actual humanity in this novel present but often lacking, certainly not enough to connect me, the reader, with him.  The writer’s repeated description of Pericles as being like a statue did not help warm me to him in the least.  He often seemed two dimensional and overly extreme.

Caldwell’s blatant touting of Christian monotheism in the book annoyed me to no end.  She had Pericles agreeing with a few of his friends’ endorsement of the “Unknown God,” and largely reduced the Greek pantheon to being symbols of and for a corrupt, petty bureaucrat priesthood that was going out of style.  Lovely.  Granted, the author did allow for some beauty of the ancient and sacred to come through via some descriptions of picturesque scenery and the artful practices of courtesans.  This was a nice reprieve here and there from her otherwise constant return to polemicizing against democracy, polytheism (via touting monotheism instead), and the working class “rabble.”  She just could not help herself.  This diverted away from the flow of the narrative of people and place.  Personally, I do not read novels to be lectured at again and again about the writer’s political, spiritual, and philosophical views, even if I happen to agree with them.  It’s like watching a movie on television interrupted with too many commercials, only perhaps even more bothersome.

By the time I got to the third and final section of the book, in which Pericles and Aspasia are together as a couple, I lost patience and interest.  It starts out with an overview of Pericles’ narcissistic former stepson’s cruel and criminal acts, including his killing of two slaves, a child and an elderly woman.  I briefly thought of Donald Trump as that character and started to shut down a bit, an indication that I really could not be aggravated further.  Besides, now that the two main characters were together, after an admittedly intriguing and sexual-tension-filled scene (minus the author’s usual inserted- in polemics via conversations between the guests, including Socrates) towards the end of the novel’s second part, I no longer cared much about the story.  Also, Pericles mother had long-since died, another somewhat sympathetic side character, albeit a very sad and often helpless one.

I hope this will be my only “semi” book review, as I do prefer to write about texts that I’ve actually finished from cover to cover.  GLORY AND THE LIGHTNING had some beautiful, thought-provoking moments of description and human feeling here and there. But, I found the tale generally frustrating, unsatisfying, and alienating due to what felt like constant, long-winded interruptions of the author’s obnoxious personal views.  These coarse interweaves into the narrative I could have done without.  With them all removed, the novel would have been far shorter, faster moving, and more relatable.

Rant: A Certain “Missionary Position” Facebook Meme Is Not Funny

Over on Facebook, there is a cruel meme going around referring to the missionary (or missionary-leaning) man who was recently shot dead with arrows by member(s) of an isolated indigenous island tribe off the coast of India. While I do indeed agree that his actions were not thought out and that he had no right to barge into the territory of a protected tribe of people who were innocently minding their own business as they went about their lives, I find it in very poor taste to mock his death.  Posting a picture of a man with arrows in his back with the accompanying description “Missionary Position” is tasteless mockery, yet it has been reposted by people who know better.  Doing this only adds ammunition to the ongoing polarization between us and those who mock so many other kinds of lives lost, lives who most, if not all, of my friends over on Facebook say they value, be they those of trans people, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Black people, other peoples of color, and so on.

I’m not a Christian, but I know many wonderful Christians, including those who would not sanction this recently deceased man’s ignorant behavior, even though, in his own mind, I think it was actually well-meaning. (Please consider that possibility, and think of “forgiving our trespasses,” as part of a worthwhile Christian prayer goes.) Problematic evangelicals who do support what this man did and seek “justice” against the tribe will only martyr the man and themselves in their cause, drawing justification from being antagonized by anyone mocking his death. Do you like being antagonized? I suspect not. Let’s try and step away from such a protracted, pointless fight by not stooping to the same low level of those we deeply don’t agree with and perhaps don’t even like. Burning Pagans back in ancient times didn’t somehow get made better by burning Protestants, Jews, or Catholics, or whoever else.

I don’t find actual, real-life violence against another person funny, certainly not when it leads to death, no matter how much I may not like the individual. And this dead individual has been duly labeled by others as acting from a place of hubris and arrogance, among other negative adjectives. Yes, and be that as it may, I have no doubt he had positive qualities as a human being, another member of the human race like the rest of us. Let the judgments of him and his harsh fate be enough, then leave the matter be. He has a surviving family, I’m sure.

Let’s please consider not mocking the death of any other human, even if the incident occurred from an act of self defense. I love humanity as much as whole segments of it frustrate and anger me, as I know it does for so many others, including those reading this. I will not intentionally, consciously laugh at the killing of another. Let’s not participate in dehumanization, please. Others who anger us already do far too much of that. We know and can do better.