Tag Archives: Terrorism

Summer School

So I’m driving toward Longport on Tilton Road for my family’s annual pilgrimage to my childhood beach community down the shore, and we pass the Shore Mall movie theater. I was instantly transported back to my adolescence, and in particular, one jaunt to that theater occupied my thoughts on this passing. After all, it had been pretty much 30 years to the day when two of my favorite guilty pleasure movies were released. Because I was 14 and did not have my license yet, getting a ride off the island to one of the two Cineplexes (Cineplexi?) in the vicinity happened pretty infrequently (i.e., when my friends’ or my parents wanted quiet, or when any of them were headed to the movies themselves due to rain). We were otherwise confined to the limited selection at the Margate and Ventnor Twin theaters, but more often than not, had seen all four of the movies offered in pretty short order.

Summer_school_poster

Summer School and The Lost Boys came out the very same weekend during the summer of 1987. At the time, I wasn’t entirely over my childhood fear of horror movies (I went to see Poltergeist with an older cousin when I was 9 years old and had nightmares for a full year). So despite the fact that pretty much everyone I knew was talking about TLB…especially the girls…and I was at an age where I definitely preferred to go places where girls might be present…I made the difficult choice to see Summer School, a movie I knew little about and which proffered a B-list cast (other than one of the stars of my then-favorite television show Cheers). As an aside, I had no idea who Mark Harmon was at the time, and would see the movie Stealing Home later that summer for the first time. Melrose Place wouldn’t put Courtney Thorne Smith onto the map for a few more years.

To this day, I am not disappointed in my decision. Summer School was great. Mr. Shoop, roller skates, Wondermutt and all, saved the day, against all odds. Ana Maria was great (and would go on to play Alotta Fagina in Austin Powers). And the dude who spent the entire summer in the bathroom was, put plainly, my favorite character in the movie. Summer School did highlight a great deal about why America’s education system is so horrific…from the emphasis on standardized testing, the tenure system, the lack of resources in the public school system and of course the complete neglect of those students, whom for whatever reason (and this particular film highlighted a multitude), failed to grasp the basic skills to move forward in their education, as determined by a Scantron test. But nevertheless, it was a fun summer movie chock full of classic quotable lines and characters, and is a movie I will seldom turn off if I happen upon it flipping through the channels.

It wasn’t until The Lost Boys made it to the premium cable channels the following year that I finally found the courage to watch it. And watch it again and again and again. This movie featured a cast of mostly male youngish actors who were heartthrobs. This was not the reason it resonated with me. I did not subscribe to Seventeen, Tiger Beat nor Teen Magazine. I did not find any male member of the cast dreamy, not the Coreys nor Jason Patrick nor Jack Bauer nor William “Bill” S. Preston, Esquire, for that matter (I did have a thing for Jamie Gertz for a hot minute, but it wasn’t a love that was pursued after the credits rolled). The movie won me over because its script was well written, its plot was intriguing and suspenseful and its soundtrack…all I can type is wow. In the opinion of IDROS, whatever that is worth, TLB has a Mount Rushmore level soundtrack for movies not about music or musicians (this idea alone is worthy of another post sometime in the near future, so stay tuned).

TLB is one of those movies that is sneaky good in so many ways. Among the many reasons it is nearly impossible to turn off whenever I happen upon it are the fact that its themes are timeless (brotherhood, being the new kids in a strange town, family dynamics, the dangers of love and how clueless we can be when falling under its spell, etc.) The movie also offers plenty of comic relief throughout, be it from the Frog brothers or Grandpa, to cut the horrifying tension and counteract the overarching evil that lurks beneath the seemingly innocuous teen romp the movie often appears to be. And finally, at the base of it all, TLB is a Vampire movie. Before True Blood, the Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, and a generation before the Twilight saga, one could argue that TLB was one of the first (no, IDROS did not forget Anne Rice) to successfully expand upon Bram Stoker’s themes and package them for teens and young adults thirsting for a blood-sucking Brady Bunch story…or at least a more modern twist on Vampiric lore.

Anyway, during a recent viewing of TLB, which spawned the idea for this post, IDROS began to see Max’s family of undead in a new way. My epiphany occurred during the most unpleasant scene in the entire movie, IMHO, which is when David and his Lost Boy brothers take Michael out to “hunt” for the first time, and they horrifically feed on a group of partying young adults around a bonfire. As I watched the awful scene unfold for the umpteenth time, I realized that Vampires, particularly those in this movie, are a terrorist organization not unlike ISIS, or Al Qaeda. Think about it…they kill innocent people in gruesome ways; they recruit others by promising eternal youth (a trip to heaven surrounded by virgins); they blend into society, even having jobs such as the friendly town video store proprietor; they use caves as a hideout/lair/home; they are vengeful; and the greatest connection of all – Kiefer Sutherland who plays David, arguably the most fearsome terrorist, I mean vampire, in TLB, would basically reinvent himself more than a decade later playing the foil to terrorists worldwide as Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) superman, Jack Bauer.

If you want to know how this post came to be…the truth is it was on a dare. Someone who reads IDROS gave your author four themes, and threw down the gauntlet. “You seem to be posting less and less frequently. Here’s some motivation. Combine the themes ‘Summer,’ ‘Education,’ ‘Terrorism,’ and ‘Tina Turner’ in your next post and I will bestow upon you my own version of a Pulitzer” (when pressed for details on said prize, IDROS was told that it involved a ticket to an upcoming concert).

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Oh, and as for Ike’s ex-wife: The shirtless, long-haired saxophone dude who plays on the amusement pier in TLB (“I Still Believe”) is none other than Ms. Turner’s chief of brass on tour. Check him out here basically pleasuring the venerable pop star with his horn in an amazing version of Private Dancer.

Happy Summer all.

IDROS

Trivia:

Did you know that TLB was originally written to be an updated take on Peter Pan, in which Peter (which was David’s original character name) was a vampire? It’s true. There are a multitude of Easter eggs from that storyline that remain in the movie, including the title itself, that point to that original theme. IDROS is glad Joel Schumacher, who directed, insisted on removing the overt Peter Pan references.

There is one actor/actress who appeared in both movies referenced above. Can you name him or her?

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This Israel: For those who bleed blue and white, and more so for those who don’t

As the London Olympics 2012 approach, and the 40th anniversary of yet another monumental and horrifying chapter in Jewish world history is more or less swept under the international community’s proverbial rug, I wanted to write a blog entry focused on Israel.

It is difficult to articulate what Israel means to me. I know I get just as emotional and animated when I read or watch news stories involving Israel as I do for similar coverage regarding my own home nation. Maybe even more so at times.  Leave it to celebrities to drive this point home.

In an era where everyone has a soapbox, I can sometimes appreciate when the Hollywood elite and other famous personalities rally around a pressing issue or criticize our US government (think The Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, George Clooney, etc.); other times I downright loathe celebrities using their fame as a platform to demonstrate just how vapid and ignorant and truly awful they really are beyond their stage personae (think Hank Williams Jr., Ted Nugent, David Tyree and of course, Mel Gibson). Sure, my own personal politics determine, to some extent, which celebrity opinions are relevant and which are complete rubbish. But the point is, I care enough about my own country, its policies and its leadership (questionable as the latter two may be) to give a rat’s ass what people say about them…especially famous people. (Sadly, I actually do care what celebrities say because of the rise of the Kardashian empire, Jersey Shore and other similar blights on society that catapult brain-dead nobodies into our homes and lives each day and the terrifying fact that so many people watch and listen to every word some of these reality troglodytes have to say…and I fear that these naïve people, who have the same right to vote that I do, will actually heed or adapt some of the scarier political and societal “ideals” espoused by tabloid fodder that couldn’t name one Supreme Court justice, their own State Governor or the last president etched on Mount Rushmore if you spotted them the first three).

Oddly, I am even more sensitive to what celebrities say (and do) regarding Israel, its government and its policies than what they say about the United States. So in the spirit of the coming London Olympics, two recent examples come from celebrities living in none other than Jolly old England. First, the Material Girl opened her most recent MDNA tour in Israel and created quite a stir. (Yes, she is American…never accused her of being anything else. But Madge does live in England, and she has conducted most interviews and speaking engagements since she moved across the pond with an inexplicable British accent). Two noteworthy nuggets made headlines and dominated YouTube following her tour opener:

1)      Before playing her first song, she greeted the crowd with an eloquent, heartfelt, non-partisan speech that basically was a prayer for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I loved what she had to say (watch it here).

2)      During one of her new songs “Nobody Knows Me,” the video screen on stage showed French politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika emblazoned over her face for a millisecond..subliminal stuff. Known to be a vocal anti-Semite, Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was convicted of condoning Nazi war crimes earlier this year. Seriously, Jean-Marie, the French equivalent of Mel Gibson’s father, came very close to winning the French Presidential election in 2002…that’s right, a friggin’ Nazi-sympathizer came unacceptably close to attaining the highest office of a nation with a SECURITY COUNCIL VOTE in the UN! WTF? No wonder France rolled out the red carpet for Adolf 70 years ago, and anti-Semitism continues to run rampant between the Alps and the Pyrenees. And now, 10 years after her fascist father won, Marine garnered nearly 20% of the popular vote in the wake of Sarkozy’s scandal-ridden term, setting the stage for the daughter of a Nazi to muster votes for her party’s parliament hopefuls.

*The best part of Madonna’s clever and opinionated “photoshopped” commentary was the reaction it received from France, whose right-wing party (Marine’s party) warned the pop icon that if she tried any of that bullsh$t in France they would sue the crap out of her highness. (Read this for more)

On the other end of the spectrum, Emma Thompson and her recent infantile attempt to grab headlines reeked of putrescence. I have no problem if a celebrity (or anyone, really) has a well-reasoned, educated argument against Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians (there are very few…and I mean both acceptable arguments and people who have voiced them over the years). I don’t agree with everything Israel’s government, army and citizens do when it comes to that difficult and tension-filled situation. However, I have a serious problem with snaggle-tooth Thompson’s take on the matter. You see, Israel’s premier theater company, Habima, was set to participate in a Shakespeare festival at London’s Globe Theater last month. But Ninny McPhee vocally joined and spearheaded a list of debatably impressive theatrical stars in boycotting Habima’s participation. And why? She and her lackeys claim it was because Habima failed to participate in a boycott of a “controversial” cultural center opened in Ariel, a West Bank settlement, in 2010. So, in other words, a boycott of a group that failed to boycott. In actuality, Kenneth Branagh’s cuckqueaned ex-wife and others simply do not like Israel or the Jews. There really can’t be any other explanation. Chinese theater groups were not boycotted, and China’s long tradition of stellar human rights policies was never questioned. And adding insult to injury, a Palestinian theater company, Ashtar, was invited to participate and met no similar resistance.  Ironically, Habima was slated to perform Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” a work notable for its anti-Semitic undertones, at the festival. (Another irate voice)

But I digress….

So what does Israel mean to me?

Here are seven words that immediately come to mind:

Pride: You know when you walk down a street full of run-down properties, where tall grass and weeds dominate the yards, the driveways are cracked, litter is strewn all over and the houses are all dilapidated…save for one. One home that stands proudly in spite of those that surround it; one home whose owners consider it a sacred, meaningful source of personal pride?

Appreciation:  You know when you see true heroes acknowledged, whether in person or in books, movies or the news? Like Captain Sully, or Oscar Schindler, or all of the fire and police men on 9-11. People whose bravery and courage are undeniable and inexplicable in the face of grave danger; people who you want to hug and tell them “thank you,” even if their acts do not directly affect your own life. And the kicker is, you don’t really understand these people, how they can be so incredibly selfless and unflappable in the face of evil and unimaginable events. And yet, you are eternally grateful that people like that exist, your faith in humanity is restored or confirmed, and you know the world is a better place because of them.

Admiration: Who doesn’t like a great underdog story? Ever since David slew Goliath (and likely even before that), the thrilling prospects of an upset have tantalized our sensibilities as humans; we sympathize with and even favor those with fewer assets and resources, facing monumental and improbable tasks, to somehow prevail against all odds. What if there was an outcast in your high school, someone who few people liked (or at least were willing to admit they liked publicly); someone with limited strength, intellect and charisma? And what if this person worked tirelessly, in the library, in the gym and with a life coach, and humbly rose to achieve impressive accolades in numerous areas of his or her high school’s (and community’s) academic, social and athletic arenas? This person probably wouldn’t realistically hijack an 80s movie and become captain of the football or cheerleading team, valedictorian of his or her class, king or queen of the prom and class president; but what if this person graduated in the top five percent of his or her class, earned varsity letters as a meaningful contributor to three athletic teams, won top honors at the science fair, was elected to class office, secured a leading role in the school musical, had a part time job helping his or her school district clean up its parks and playgrounds and also volunteered at the local hospital, improving the lives of cancer patients?  (“Student’s” full resume here)

Sanctuary: Have you ever played Musical Chairs? What if, for millennia, in a global version of the game, whenever the music stopped, it was always one specific group of people who were left without a seat? Then, one sad but hopeful day, what if a plush seat was proffered, a comfortable old easy chair that had historical and traditional significance? Providing the unconditional love of a family, the security and comfort of a home and the acceptance and understanding of an old friend, said seat opens its arms and footrest (read: heart) to an often persecuted and much maligned and misunderstood group of people, regardless of  geography, economic strata and dedication to and observance of religious scripture and tradition. Best of all, this “chair” remains eternally open, unlocked and unchained to a road-weary people who have wandered with nowhere to rest for too many years.

Hope: You know when you’re watching a sporting event…any sport…and the team or player you are rooting for has been getting crushed for the entire game, but suddenly there is a spark, or a noticeable change in momentum? You almost turned off the television, or left the stadium, but you didn’t. There is a lot of ground to make up, but the possibility for something remarkable, something special begins to seep into your consciousness.

Frustration: Does it bother you when you hear negative rumors about someone, something or somewhere you care about? What about when you know the rumors are vicious, nasty lies spread by stubborn, ignorant or just plain stupid people? What if seemingly everyone that hears or reads these rumors believes them? What if the victim of said rumors has been abused, bullied, libeled and slandered since the day he or she had been born? What if the vast majority of those around the victim simply ignore the constant injustices being promulgated? Furthermore, what if most people, and worse, the global media, even piled on with undue rhetoric and even tacit praise and assistance of the bullying and terrorizing? What if the verbal abuse and rumors lead to violence? And most mind-boggling of all, what if the most virulent and hate-filled rhetoric and abuse is hurled by parties with access to game-changing technology that could literally destroy the victim and anyone close to him or her?

Fear: Imagine sending a beloved child away to school, or camp or any other activity away from home. Now imagine you receive word that your child is being mistreated, bullied, tortured or abused. What if any attempts you make to talk sense into the school or camp directors, to negotiate a non-violent, peaceful experience for your son or daughter are met with resistance, general refusal to negotiate or worse still, the directors casting all blame upon your child? You would pull your child out of said camp or school, obviously…but what if you couldn’t? And what if the legal team or security detail you hire to help to protect your child is the only friend or ally your child will ever truly have? And what if even that “ally” becomes corrupted by new leadership that is more interested in appeasing the camp or school directors and the other campers and students than in the safety and well-being of your child?

Happy Flag Day,

IDROS

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