Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SouthLAnd Spoilers???

There are many important things being discussed online today.  Well, I am not going to discuss any of those things.  I am going to talk about "SouthLAnd" and my end-of-season predictions regarding the fate of Officer Ben Sherman.  Why am I going to talk about this?  Because it amuses me.

It is my opinion that in Episode 10 of "SouthLAnd" (the final episode of the season), Officer Sherman is going to be shot.  At first, I thought Schoolteacher Brooke would be the one doing the shooting.   But, I have changed my mind.  I think the "associates" of Elena are going to commit this dastardly deed.  I am not sure if Officer Sherman will live or die, and I don't think we'll find out this season, either.  We will find out if, and only if, the show gets a sixth season.

Why do I believe this?

There have been many clues.

The first set of clues revolves around the shady cop character known as Officer Mendoza (played by Chad Michael Murray), who appears in the first few episodes of the current season.  Officer Mendoza serves a similar purpose in regard to Officer Sherman that the Ghost of Bob Marley serves to Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."  He does all the crappy things that Officer Sherman is starting to do, but in a more extreme way.  And he comes to a very bad end.  There is a scene in Officer Mendoza's hospital room, a face-off between him and Officer Sherman, where the latter is defiantly telling the former, "I am not like you."  But, Officer Mendoza just looks at Officer Sherman kind of like the devil might look at a soul perched on the edge of the abyss. 

What things does Officer Mendoza do that are also temptations for Officer Sherman?  He is willing to "bend the cop rules," if you will, in order to obtain what he views as the desired outcome.  He lives too large on his limited cop income, becoming deeply in debt.  Now, I am not sure that Officer Sherman is deeply in debt.  But, he does enjoy the expensive cup of coffee, the nice car, and the fancy sushi restaurant.  I have added up his expenses in my head and they seem to be greater than his monthly income could possibly cover.  Officer Mendoza also seems to be somewhat of a sexoholic, if you will.  He is a married guy, but he is apparently quite comfortable at the strip club.  He is also (and this is VERY important) sleeping with a gang-associated gal.  Officer Mendoza is, basically, an extremely cynical person, a person with a rather warped sense of entitlement.  And this leads him into doing the things he does which ultimately result in his ruin.  Does Officer Sherman seem to be adopting the attitudes which have led to his fellow officer's demise?  He sure does.

The second clue I have employed in my end-of-season hypothesis concerns Officer Sherman's habits with his gun.  As he exits the fancy, budget-breaking restaurant with Schoolteacher Brooke, the show's writers go to great pains to make the point that Officer Sherman is in the habit of carrying his gun on his off-time.  After all, as he says, you never know when there might be a shoot-out in a restaurant.  He learned this from watching "Numb3rs" -- there is an episode where Colby and David are involved in a shoot-out in a restaurant on their off-time, and it is a darn good thing they are carrying their guns.

The third clue revolves around Officer Sherman's two-timing habits.  Right after he introduces Brooke as his "girlfriend" -- the very next day, I think it is -- he gets all lusty about a cute little artsy gal (Elena) who has a cool and edgy place.  We know from earlier seasons of "SouthLAnd" that Officer Sherman is into artsy-ness, so faced with this overwhelming display of creative womanhood, he cannot help but leap immediately into bed with her.  Unfortunately, though, Elena's brother is a gang-associated young man.  That is how Officer Sherman met her, after all.  He had just arrested her brother.  And, if her brother is gang-related, well, you know she's gonna be.  And Officer Sherman finds out just how gang-related she is when he emerges from her bedroom to find a couple of large gang specimens hanging real casual-like in the living room.  No worries, though.  Elena is happily making food for all.

This third clue relates back to the whole Officer Mendoza thing.  He, too, had been "seeing" a gangster gal.  And when he was shot, it was thought that it was retribution by gang members.  Although this turned out not to be the case for Officer Mendoza, the point is definitely made of how cops sleeping with ganster gals might be viewed negatively in certain gangster circles.  Especially if they are two-timing their wives or nice schoolteacher girlfriends.

The fourth clue is Sammy's helicopter ride.  Officer Sammy Bryant is Officer Ben Sherman's partner.  He is played by Shawn Hatosy.  On the last day of shooting for Season 5, Shawn Hatosy filmed a scene in which he rode in an LAPD chopper.  How do I know this?  Because I follow Mr. Hatosy on Instagram and he put up some pictures of himself in the helicopter.  But -- Officer Sherman is not in the helicopter with Officer Bryant during this scene.  Indeed, Ben McKenzie (who plays Officer Sherman) wrapped his Season 5 work two days before Shawn Hatosy filmed this helicopter scene.  How do I know this?  Because of Twitter.

The fifth clue?  The title of Episode 10 of Season 5 of "SouthLAnd" is entitled  "Reckoning."

And finally -- the sixth clue -- the writers have been doing an outstanding job this year of making all the individual events in the episodes add up to a big, beautiful, coherent masterpiece.  Nothing is without meaning.

So, this is how I think it's gonna go down in Episode 10.

Elena's gangster friends are going to find out about Ben's two-timing and get ticked.  They are going to locate the fancy restaurant where Officer Sherman is taking Schoolteacher Brooke to dinner.  This restaurant is going to have a lot of fancy glass windows in the facade.  Ben and Brooke are going to be seated by the windows.  The gangster dudes are going to drive their gangster mobile -- which is going to look highly out-of-place in the neighborhood where the fancy restaurant is located -- down the road in front of said restaurant and shoot out all the front windows hoping to do away with two-timing sexaholic Officer Sherman.  Officer Sherman is going to pull out the gun he always carries with him -- thanks to the lessons learned from Colby and David -- and return fire.  Now, Officer Sherman has a sharp-shooting medal, so his aim will be true and he will manage to hit at least one of gangsters.  Thus, he will save (at least most of) the innocent bystanders.  Unfortunately, I don't think he will manage to save Brooke.  I think she is going to die.  And Officer Sherman himself will be seriously wounded.  Although, I am not sure he is going to die.  After this dramatic shoot-out, the gangsters who Officer Sherman did not manage to hit will attempt a getaway, resulting in a dramatic high-speed chase, involving an LAPD helicopter.  And since it is his friend and partner who has been (perhaps mortally) wounded, Sammy is going to be on that chopper.  Whether it scares the crap out of him or not.

Now, will Officer Sherman die from his gunshot wounds?  Well, it depends.

Upon what does it depend?

It depends on whether or not the pilot that Ben McKenzie is filming for a new show turns out to his satisfaction, and whether or not it gets picked up.  Mr. McKenzie says that he is doing the new pilot in second position to "SouthLAnd."  He says that if "SouthLAnd" is renewed, he is definitely staying.  But, what else is he going to say?  Saying anything else would be incredibly dumb.  (Now look who's being cynical.  Sorry.)

So, we'll see.  We'll see, first of all, if "SouthLAnd" is picked up for a sixth season.  And, if it is, we'll find out the ultimate fate of Officer Sherman.  For my part -- I hope they both return.  The show and the character.

"SouthLAnd" forever. ;-)

Yes.  This is what I think about while doing the grocery shopping.  And it is why I always forget at least one item. :-/


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Baseball Kerfuffle

When my husband was a boy, he was a very good baseball player.  Although, he told me that he decided to depart the sport when the pitchers got strong enough to really hurt people with the ball, but had not yet mastered the art of accuracy.

When I was a girl, I pretty much sucked at sports.  Although, I played them anyway.  In junior high, I participated in competitive basketball and softball.  I was also a cheerleader.  In high school, I was on the swim team, where I competed in the butterfly, although I did not actually know how to do it.  The coach made me do it because I was the only girl who didn't complain about swimming the 50 yard fly in a very, very outside lane.  I basically flailed and drank a bunch of chlorinated water the whole way.

But, back to baseball and softball.

When I was in the 8th grade, not enough girls in my class signed up for varsity softball, which meant that there could be no school team.  And if there was no varsity team, the league rule was that there could be no junior varsity team, either.  Thus, the very few 8th grade girls who were actually athletic -- in partnership with the numerous and very sports-oriented 7th grade girls who really, really wanted to form a junior varsity team -- begged us un-athletic 8th grade females to please, please sign up for softball.  A few of us kindhearted souls did agree to go along with this foolhardy plan.  That is how I came to be a junior high varsity softball player.  I played right field, where I pretty much prayed that no fly balls would come my way.  Although, one day I did find one hurtling in my direction -- and I caught it.  Much to my surprise.  It was one of the high points of my life because Maria -- the most extraordinarily athletic female at our whole school -- whooped and hollered and cheered for me for about 10 whole minutes.  "MARLA CAUGHT THE BALL! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT MARLA ACTUALLY CAUGHT THE BALL?!?!?!  MARLA, YOU REALLY CAUGHT THE BALL!!!"  And in case you are thinking that I am just plagiarizing the Peter, Paul, and Mary song here, let me assure you that I am NOT.  This truly happened.  So there.

Meanwhile, at a similar age, my husband was deftly running around the baseball field, hitting homers and catching flies and throwing extraordinarily aimed throws wherever they needed to be thrown.

Anyway, upon my marriage to my husband, I was vaguely aware of his baseball-playing past.  And he was vaguely aware of my softball-playing past.

One day, we were talking in the living room of our little newlywed apartment.  I don't remember how the subject of baseball came up, but it did.  And he started telling me about those annoying kids on the baseball team who couldn't hit or throw or catch anything and how they frustrated him to no end, back in his glory-days of 12-year-old Little League.

I burst into tears and ran into our newlywed bedroom and flung myself upon our newlywed bed, racked with 24-year-old girl sobs.  I think I briefly considered divorce.  For a fleeting moment, I could not imagine myself spending the rest of my life with this horrid male person.

Anyway, my poor new husband had absolutely no idea what had set off his new wife.  He probably figured that he had accidentally married a crazy woman.  He came timidly into our room and timidly asked me what was wrong.  I recounted my softball-playing story.  I told him that I was just exactly the kind of player who used to drive him crazy back in his jock days.  I told him something to the effect of, "You have crushed my soul and I will NEVER have your babies, you terrible testosterone-filled he-person."

Somehow, though, he calmed me down and we did stay married and have babies.  And he learned to be a more sensitive dude.  And I learned... Well, I'm not sure what I learned.  But, it must have been something valuable.

And Ben McKenzie should read this story.  In case he ever gets married.  ;-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This Post Is Not About Sex ;)

Pope John Paul II used to speak about the New Evangelization -- bringing the good news of Jesus to the modern world.  People have taken up this idea in different ways.  There have been new Catholic colleges and universities opened, books written, TV stations created, and MANY lectures given about Catholicism -- its teachings and practices and moral ideas.  And this is all fine and good. 

But, to me, one of the best ways to spread the love of Christ involves a lot of just being quiet.  And praying.  Not praying in some loud and noticeable way, with the idea that people will see and hear us and so gravitate to our way of thinking.  Just quietly praying -- more for our own sorry selves than for the "others" we wish to convert or influence to our way of thinking.

When we are quiet -- in our way of interacting with others and in our manner of prayer -- it allows us to do many things.  It allows us to be humble, as we reflect on all the ways we have fallen short in our own lives.  It allows us to be grateful -- to see the blessings in our lives, especially the more subtle ones.  It allows us to really listen to others -- to their hurts and concerns and thoughts -- thus allowing us to learn compassion.   This compassion is especially important when dealing with people who are different than we are.  As human beings, we are all prone to jump on other people if we believe they are in the wrong.  We want to "fix" them.  And, sometimes, maybe we want to "fix" them so that we can feel comfortable with them -- not threatened by them and their ideas and their lifestyles -- more than out of an actual concern for them and their well-being.  Being quiet allows us to discern our real motivations and to think about how to behave toward others with real love.  And real love always includes an acceptance of an individual just where he or she is right now.

At the beginning of Lent of 2012 (I believe), our pastor gave a really good sermon.  He spoke about cultivating the practice of looking for the virtue in others, rather than looking at their faults.  This was pretty eye-opening for me.  As a "good" Catholic mom, living in our rather turbulent times, I had inadvertently stumbled into doing a lot of judging.  I was motivated primarily by wanting to raise my children well -- teaching them the truths of their faith and helping them develop habits which I hoped would help them lead happy lives.  And without realizing it, I had become very judgmental.  And it occurred to me that my judgmental attitude was coloring the way my young adult children saw the world and all the people in it.  I also realized that I was not happy being this narrow-minded crankypants.  So, I did a 180.  At least that was my goal.  I started looking for the good in people -- in their actions, intentions, and ways of viewing the world.  I tried to cultivate compassion in my heart, especially for people with whose ideas I did not agree.  I decided not to feel threatened by the so-called "far left," primarily by studying their ideas more carefully and quietly reflecting on the truth in those ideas.  I started having joy in my relationships with others -- even others who are very different than I.  I started taking delight in other people -- without worrying about how their opinions stood up to mine.  I became a happier person.  And I think my kids became happier, too. 

And so I return here to the idea of quiet.  In order to cultivate this new joy, I had to start to be quiet.  Not just with my mouth -- though that was important -- but inside my head, as well.  I had to learn not to react so strongly to ideas with which I disagreed.  Instead, I had to look at those ideas with a serene mind and calm heart.  I had to look upon others with a smile and a peaceful countenance. 

Some people will object here, saying, "But, how are you converting the world to Christ if you are keeping your mouth closed and entertaining ideas which are 'untrue'?"

This is my response:

If you are a Christian, you know that the Lord loves everybody.  Unconditionally.  And so I just want to ask the Lord to allow me to love people, too.  Not with the "goal" of "converting" them.  That would not be real love.  That would be manipulation.  I had a friendship like that -- where I just felt, in the end, that the person had spent time and energy on me basically in order to win me over to her "correct" way of thinking.  And this made me feel like crap.  I don't want to do it to anyone else.  So, I will just attempt to accept and love people -- to see the virtue in them -- and trust the rest to God. 

Also, nobody is going to listen to a word you say if you don't hear them -- and I mean truly hear them -- first.  And let's face it.  There is at least some merit in most people's opinions.  You owe it to them to listen before you speak.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today, I am going to talk about sex.  Not really in a theological or philosophical way.  Just reflecting on things I have observed.

I hope I don't offend anyone.  If you have different ideas, that's cool with me.  I'm not claiming to be an authority figure here.

On the TV show "Angel" -- which is actually not extremely recent, but recent enough for my purposes -- the pretty lady is coming onto Angel (who is a vampire, played by David Boreanaz).  She, though, doesn't know he is a vampire.  He is rather taken aback, and asks her if she "wants to make love."  She scoffs and asks what century he is from.  This, of course, is meant as a comic moment, since he is hundreds of years old (being a vampire and all).

My daughter Andrea started me watching "Angel" and various other current TV shows and movies.  She also got me doing more things on the Internet.  This caused me to be more "in touch" with modern society, as I had been busy for many years homeschooling my kids.  Andrea thought that since I was finished with homeschooling that I might enjoy connecting with the world once again.  And it has been quite fun.

One of the things I started noticing is how people are looking at and talking about and having sex.

Now, I have never been naive about sex.  I am not a prude.  I grew up during the sexual revolution, after all.  My education was provided at public institutions by many sexual revolutionaries.  I do not mind talking about sex and thinking about sex.  I have never shunned movies and TV shows with sexual content.  I enjoy the good "dirty joke."  But, with homeschooling and the lifestyle which that required, I had sort of been away from these things for a number of years.  Just didn't really have the time for them.

So, when I started observing once again the world of modern sexual ideas and practices, there are some things I have noticed.  I present them to you for your consideration.

And that brings me back to "Angel."  When the young lady scoffs at the handsome vampire for referring to sex as "making love," she acts as though no one calls it that anymore.  And guess what I have discovered since?  Nobody really does.  Not that everybody called it "making love" back in my youth, either.  But, the term was much more common than it is now.  Even the hippies wanted to "make love, not war." 

I am not trying to sound all prudish and judgmental here.  But, as I look at young people today and hear them referring to sex as anything but "making love," I find it a little sad.  And the reason I find it sad is that it seems, on some level at least, to make them sad.  I am not seeing a lot of happiness or joy in the "hook-up" culture.  I am not seeing a lot of young people who feel valued and cared for in their sexual relationships.  I see not a little bit of cynicism.

Please don't get me wrong.  I am not what you would call an "ultra-conservative" in these matters.  I would never be able to wait for my wedding day to have my first kiss with my new husband.  I have always enjoyed physical affection, and I have a hard time doing without it.  And I had a hard time doing without it when I was young, too.  (Sorry if this is TMI.)  So, I understand people's desires. 

I hope, though, that people would really think about what is actually healthy for themselves.  Yes, we hear a lot about "safe sex."  We hear about how women need reliable birth control in order to have sex lives which are satisfying and free -- without worry about unplanned pregnancies.  And I understand the reasoning behind these ideas.

But, maybe with all the talk about condoms and birth control pills and whether or not we should support the HHS mandate, we are forgetting that sexual health also includes healthy relationships.  Relationships that include friendship and true affection.  Relationships where people can actually trust and rely on one another.  Relationships that include love... 

So, yes, I admit I enjoy a good "off-color" joke.  There are people who would probably disapprove mightily of some of the things I "favorite" on Twitter.  And I understand that not everybody is Catholic or Christian.  I understand that nobody wants to get forced into conforming to someone else's ideas of morality.  We all have the freedom to choose what we will believe.  That is part of the definition of human dignity.

Given that, though, I think most people want to feel valued by their sexual partner.  Most people want to feel loved and cherished.  Some people deny that these things are important to them.  But, I don't quite believe it.  I think the people who deny they want love are people who -- somehow, some way, for some (probably painful) reason -- have given up on finding it.  And so I think, as a society, we should reflect on this.  Condoms and birth control pills can prevent physical events, but they don't do anything for our psyche.  And maybe the health of our hearts, minds, and souls is just as important as the health of our genitals.

In conclusion, I am going to mention -- once again -- the TV show "SouthLAnd."  (You knew I'd find a way.  Tee-hee.)  In the current season of this epic series, we see Officer Ben Sherman -- young, handsome, star on the rise in the LAPD -- juggling two women.  First, he starts dating a pretty schoolteacher.  Things start to get a little serious (a.k.a. she likes him quite a bit).  So, what does he do?  He goes off and sleeps with this rather wild young lady -- who, in her own right, is lovely and interesting.  Why does he do this?  It seems that he is rather freaked out at the idea of commitment and, thus, is shooting himself in the foot.  Now, Officer Ben has always had a rather wild sex life.  This is nothing new.  And I often wonder about the trail of antibiotic-resistant bacteria he is leaving in his wake.  But, as the show progresses, we see that this footloose and fancy-free sex life does not actually make him happy.  And I think this particular aspect of this particular show (as well as the above-mentioned scene in "Angel" and many other themes in current TV, movies, songs, books, etc.) reflects what I have spoken of in this post.  There is a lot of sex going on.  But, is it really making people happy? 

We do have the freedom to choose.  And we really always will, no matter what the state of the law. May we have the wisdom to choose that which will actually lead us to happiness. 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Dear Catholics. When we speak of abortion, gay rights...

...and all the other issues which elections tend to bring up, whether the elections be secular or papal, let us remember that there are actual people who are touched -- for good and for ill -- by our words and actions.

Let us remember that we must, first of all, LOVE.  Let us remember that without love, we are just clanging cymbals.  Let us remember that without love, we are just going to alienate and hurt people -- people Jesus loves.

Maybe we should start by standing in the shoes of The Other.  By trying to see things their way.

For example, pro-choice people do not hate babies and mothers and families.  I have personally had three friends who worked for Planned Parenthood -- two as volunteers and one as an employee.  One of the women who was a volunteer helped to stock and staff a center where poor, unwed mothers could come and get needed supplies for their babies.  This was an actual Planned Parenthood center.  The other volunteer worked a phone line where people could call for information about sexually transmitted diseases and contraception.  She was very excited to do this work, as she believed it helped people to stay healthy.  She did not view her job as encouraging people to engage in irresponsible sex.  She was very much in favor of people taking responsibility for their actions; and she viewed her position as assisting them in that endeavor.  The third woman I knew worked as a counselor in an abortion clinic.  She was a kind and unassuming young woman.  She knew I was Catholic.  She knew we did not agree about this issue.  But, she accepted me as a friend, anyway.  And I accepted her.  And this friendship allowed me to talk to her about her ideas.  She told me, basically, that she did not see abortion as an actual "good," but that the women who came to the clinic were in very difficult circumstances and felt that they had no alternative. 

I did have these experiences many years ago.  I know there are many more resources now for women with unplanned pregnancies.  But, the whole need has not been filled.  So, to me, instead of fretting about the law, I ponder how I can actually reach out to and help women in difficult circumstances.  Without judging them.  Loving them no matter what their final decision about their situation might be.

Pro-women's rights people are also (rightly) concerned about certain things they see in developing countries.  They see women and children who suffer disproportionately because of ill health and poverty.  And it cannot be denied that this ill health and poverty can, at least to some degree, be attributed to having many babies in impoverished circumstances in cultures where women are often viewed as property.  So, the progressives believe it is important to empower women in societies where they have no voice.  They see it as an issue of human dignity.  And part (and only part) of the formula for this empowerment, in their minds, includes contraception and abortion. 

So, even if we Catholics don't agree on this part of their solution, we should still admit that there is a problem.  We should express some understanding for the pro-choice view of things, for it is understandable.  And, with understanding, perhaps there can be some real dialogue.

Gay marriage is another hot-button issue of our day.  Many Catholic people speak vociferously of how gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage, children, society, religious freedom.  What concerns me most about this is that we tend to forget that there are actual people we are touching with our words -- words that can, at times, be legitimately construed as unkind.  We must remember that gay people do actually love each other and their children.  They have the same desires as the rest of us for companionship and love and family.  These are human desires.  So, as we discuss these issues, let us contemplate how difficult and lonely it would be to go through life without a spouse or children.  We need to have a real sensitivity to that.  We need to have compassion and kindness.  The gay people I know do not wish to "persecute" me for my religion.  They are just fine with me practicing my religion as I wish -- and even speaking about it with them.  They just don't want to be pushed around.  And they feel that we religious people want to push them around.  They feel that we want to "persecute" them. 

Finally, let us remember the failings of our Church and the horrific suffering these failings have caused.  Let us reflect on the priestly abuse crisis.  Let us fall to our knees in sorrow and humility.  And before we open our mouths, let us remember, "He who is without sin may cast the first stone."