Being an Intellectual in Radical Times

Adolf Hitler and Che Gueverra were both socialists with different views of what was right. Both hated art (unless it was about them) and destroyed art and artists. They both killed people for different reasons. The same occurred within the communist movement and amongst religious zealots in history who wanted to take control over people. They have killed people too for different reasons. All thought they were fair, right and just for doing so. Now we have the feminist radicals who have gone to the extremes in many ways. We are no longer just seeing “Women are better than men,” thought processes but witch hunts from the “MeToo” movement and destruction of art, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” to fit their purposes. They are destroying men and art and even women who don’t agree with them for the sake of beliefs that they believe is right and just. This radical approach to turning the world around to their perspective, and this causes them to be incapable of looking at another side of things or listen to their instincts (not their ego). The “I am Right and You are Wrong,” is like with any radical thought process mentioned above, it is always “wrong,” as it is based on the ego, not a mature mindset and destroys society.

To be an intellectual, you have to be a mature person who is capable of criticizing art from an intelligent standpoint vs. a radical opinion. I personally hate most modern art but I still recognize the value of the contribution. I don’t hate all of it because I find that some modern art actually peaks my interest. I think most everyone can stare at a red dot on a white background and say, “Oh, I could do that,” and then the cliché’d phrase will be, “Yes, but you didn’t.” The point is that I wouldn’t say “It is stupid or ridiculous,” just because it doesn’t suit my tastes. Instead, I would comment on the piece and talk about what about it doesn’t suit me. The fact that the piece of art has captured someone’s attention, that they can make some decisions about it and agree that it is their perception and not a given, is being an intellectual.

An intellectual is capable of having a broad perspective because they have knowledge of history, art, theater, politics, or a well-rounded education on the world around them. You might not agree with them but you don’t have to. There is democracy in a conversation where people are “arguing” that the film had artistic merit but did not really engage you as a storyline. It ceases to be an intellectual discussion when you are just there to get people on your side. Politics have become like a gang where it is all about whether you are on the red team or the blue team. There is no longer an intellectual discussion about politics, amongst the political; there is only death to the other side who is “stupid” and “wrong.” We have missed out on so much with the lack of verbal intercourse.

I was on a group recently on Facebook which was a fan club for classic films. A woman was destroying “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” because it didn’t fit within the politically correct realms of today’s society. She and another woman were making non-intellectual judgements about the film and got a few others to join in. I questioned this because I wondered “Why are you in a ‘fan’ club if you are here to bash the films?” The moderator at this point doesn’t seem to be paying attention. It is a movie, so worrying about whether or not a cat is thrown out of a taxi is not relevant. This is not an animal rights documentary. It is relevant that people have to make tough decisions at times in their life. City life is not conducive to having pets. At that time, there weren’t “animal rescue groups,” so it was feasible that an action like this may have happened. It was about the story and the passionate place the character was in. Audrey Hepburn’s character hated having to do this act, which was more than obvious in her facial expressions, but felt forced to. In the end “cat” (the name of the cat character) came back into her lap “and they lived happily ever after.” Even then, the director knew it would not make American’s happy to see a cat being thrown away. We, as a whole, like happy endings.

The woman leading the bash of the movie also suggested that she just couldn’t get into the film. I told her she should try and put herself in that time period, rather than coming from the perspective of 2018. This is the problem with radical people. They bash history on film, paintings, songs, statues, books, all because they are incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of those that came before then. History is not about 2018. To try and judge others in 1815 or 1938 or 1960 by 2018 standards is missing the lessons of that time. It is disrespectful to our ancestors.

Paintings are all we have, until the creation of the camera, to show us what life was like in those different centuries. Yes, bad things did happen then but you don’t destroy art because you are uncomfortable with history. Women who posed nude for paintings were distraught peasant women who were desperate for a penny. They took their clothes off because it was easier than washing clothes all day long for the same amount of money. I am quite sure they were sexually abused by some artists or the men who watched the artists paint. We don’t destroy the masterpiece because of this; we discuss it and have an opinion on this. We certainly don’t take the piece of art out of the gallery because we found out the woman in the painting was sexually abused or paid only a penny.

“Baby it’s Cold Outside,” is a song. It was written by a husband and wife team in a time period when there was no social media. People actually gathered together in people’s homes to have conversations and enjoyed each other’s company. They “liked” each other in real life. They became “friends” with people they met, through others, at these gatherings which boasted lots of food, song, games and plenty of booze.  I was a kid then but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching people laugh and dance. Later, as an adult, I went to a few parties in the 20 years before the Internet became a “thing.”

The song “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” was created to get people to go home (hint, hint). The couple who created and sang this song became quite the item at parties and were actually invited to come and sing this song at the end. Later on, the husband sold the rights to the song, (which upset his wife), to the studios and the rest became history; as it floated up the charts. Cleveland women recently became enraged by this and forced radio stations to stop playing it because the song made them uncomfortable. I have no idea whether it was the action of a feminist organization in Cleveland or just a bunch of radicals who took the initiative. Once there were a local group of women in Salem, Massachusetts, who determined to get back at older intelligent women and thus many people (I believe 19 was the number) were hung for witchcraft. They were not witches, just people that they wanted to destroy.

Rap music on the other hand, also art, but mostly written and “spoken” to a racist audience (not much different than if the Neo-Nazi group began a type of spoken word), and as in most cases; written to destroy people. The Neo-Nazi movement is not much different than inner city folks who feel their rights are being impinged upon. Different history but the same philosophical anger. Rap music once had to be given ratings to protect children from listening to Rated R words, but now parents do not seem to care at all. At least, I haven’t heard of any measures to protect from these newer lyrics which continue to degrade. This music is now allowed by the White slaves of the Politically Correct movement. People who have been shut down by social media for having an opinion so they acquiesce to save face. You can’t say anything wrong about Black people in today’s society because you are considered a racist, even if they are making racist or sexually degrading comments about your person. You can say something wrong about Neo-Nazi groups because it is taboo in today’s society; even though we are in a democracy, where they do have freedom of speech. (Now I must make a disclaimer to ignorant people who may catch this article and state that I am not a Neo-Nazi, I am making an intellectual statement). Therefore, as we see White slaves to the PC movement in today’s society, it is okay to play rap music on the radio but not a cute, flirtatious, song like “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” that was written by a man for his wife.

Personally, I find the play “Hamilton,” extremely offensive as it panders to White slaves of the Politically Correct movement as well. It is racist against White people because it is destroying our culture by putting Black people in the role of White people, showing that figures in history are just meaningless insignificant people and it is not relevant what their race was. It is dishonest because it is lying about history and making a mockery of it at the same time. Playing rap music for the ignorant who aren’t capable of coming to a historical play with some merit; if it were to use music, costumes, hairstyles, from that time period. It is art of course but it is dishonest. Just like the art work that depicted witches as devil worshippers or ugly old hags with pointy black hats, torn black dresses and striped stockings in pointy toed shoes. Most intelligent people today know that this is dishonest and ridiculous but we don’t throw it in the trash. It is a testament to how far the religious zealots went to force pagans, witches and druids, into Christianity or other religions. It is part of history because it reminds us of how ignorant people were (or still are). One day the play “Hamilton” will, hopefully, at some point in the future, be a testament to the ignorance of our society today. Especially when children become confused about historical characters and forget about the history of African’s who were forced into slavery around that same time period.

Films today, in America and abroad, have sought to expand upon themes by placing politically correct but historical inaccurate characters in period pieces. Thanks to the radical celebrities – many who had no artistic merit in the first place, to be considered for an Academy Award, complained that there weren’t enough awards given to the Black people; so the Oscars were therefore racist. It didn’t matter that the awards were voted on by a very diverse group of people, from around the world. The Oscars are voted on by members of the Academy – which equals people who are past recipients. It also didn’t matter that the films, that were selected for awards, along with those who worked on the production; were of superb quality. The fact that enough actors weren’t of color – not the fact that they weren’t grade “A” professionals, but not enough, was more significant. This caused White slavery of the Politically Correct world to become more international. Now you see period pieces where black people are thrown in, even though they would not have been there (in that time period). You will also see the proverbial gay character storyline; attached to all these films – even though this was very rare then, as it is now, and has nothing really to do with the time period or storyline. Having the gay storyline in the film is not much different than having a sex scene that just isn’t relevant and is only there for the sake of having a sex scene (e.g. Death Comes to Pemberley). This is not how art is congratulated.

Films should be awarded a prize because an actor has gone to a place that is exceptional and on a level that far exceeds. My feeling about the Oscars being “racist” is that if the Black community wants Oscars, they should make better quality films. This comment is not based on “Let them eat cake,” a cliché from history; that was taken out of context in that time period. It is a comment based on Black films I have ventured to watch that were uninteresting, typical or copycat. Copycat by taking storylines from “White” movies to begin with and turned them into Black, which lacks originality (of course this is typical for Americans – who steal from foreign films all the time).

Meanwhile there are many men and women in Black history; that exceptional movies could be made about. By only creating movies about the inner city or slavery, it is saying that there were no intelligent Black people in history, that accomplished something worthy of value or merit; which could be turned into a movie. And yet, notable Black people in history, has the potential to be a storyline worthy of merit. It would show society exactly what this culture wants us to know. With good trained actors and exceptional focus on detail (clothes, plot, cinematography, direction, history) there are so many untold stories – why the need to steal movies that have been done? Why are ignorant White people trying to take care of them by inserting them into films where they wouldn’t have been? This is even worse because White directors are saying that they feel sorry for the Black culture so they will give them a job to make them feel better. It is insulting to their culture that they have to be placed in historically inaccurate roles because they weren’t capable of doing anything on their own.

It is not art, however,  when people flock to the streets and demand that statues of General Robert E. Lee be destroyed. It is ignorant people who aren’t capable of opening a history book so that they understand this human being had nothing to do with slavery. Perhaps they need to make a rap musical about him and have General Robert E. Lee played by a Black actor so that our uneducated audience can understand. This is art being destroyed because our society wants to pick and choose what is acceptable art and what is not acceptable, not much different than what Adolf Hitler did in his rise to power.

All art is acceptable as it makes a statement, whether we like it or not. Whether it is offensive or not is a personal viewpoint and the point of art. We shouldn’t shut down or destroy this as it is a reminder of the times. We should see a statue of Adolf Hitler or Che Gueverra or a Communist Leader or a religious zealot and it should make us angry. The job of art is to get a rise out of people, whether negative or positive. This is no different than selling “Mein Kampf,” at the book store, which was written by Hitler and explains his way of thinking. This is education, it builds a stronger intellect to learn and understand. General Robert E. Lee was a soldier who was chosen to lead the south; after he turned down leading the north. It was based on family and his upbringing not on his personal views about slavery. The Civil War wasn’t created to put an end to slavery; it was a war about gaining power because the southerners were in disagreement with the northerners and wanted to split the country. It is not much different from the Republicans and Democrats fighting for attention and power today. The difference is we are no longer in different sections of the country; political sides are mixed together in each state.

Then there is fashion; another form of art. It is not art to wear holey blue jeans 24/7 and have no respect for ones’ self. This is not style, it is laziness. Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga, Poiret, Schiaperelli, and others; this is art and significant to call fashion. They are masterpieces whereas jeans, they are merely graffiti on the wall, by the train station of a freeway underpass. Anna Wintour has decided to focus on having a penchant for politics rather than keeping her perspective strictly on clothing and style. Fashion is based on politics and the current events of the day but those in this field don’t ignore art or style simply because they don’t like their husband. Therefore, talking down about Melania Trump who has brought back elegance, style, intelligence, in a way that is reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy, a true connoisseur of fashion would applaud this not destroy it. An intelligent person would not make fun of a woman who speaks multiple languages and is said to have a high I.Q. and appears to be a dedicated mother and wife. She is “in vogue,” for all these reasons which should be enough for the magazine. Anna Wintour would not have gotten away with her behavior in a more dignified society of our past. She continues to bring down the magazine in agreement with the radical opinions of women in our society today. She ignores the point of the magazine, which was to accede to high fashion. The magazine was made for elite women not radical feminists. We have MS. Magazine that was created for feminists and many others that have followed since then.

How far will we go in the destruction of art in our radical society today before we have completely annihilated authentic history and a fondness for nostalgia? The women’s movement, originally, was not created to destroy history but to improve upon the conditions for women and children in the future. The feminist movement sought to continue this once we had the right to vote and gave rise to new expectations for women and children in the workplace and society. This has nothing to do with replacing art with more comfortable lyrics, paintings, or theater productions. Abolitionists sought to give freedom to all people and the NAACP movement and other Black organizations were created to protect their rights, not destroy art and re-create history to massage their egos.

We are in a place in society where we have no sense of values, only extremist mindsets, which have created group think. Social media has caused fear and unrest from bullying, lies, conspiracy theories, and turned all news into sensationalist rags. We can no longer handle the truth and this is not an intelligent society but a very ignorant, intellectually depleted group of people who are destroying our Earth. Will we ever start rising up again or are we destined toward a future that is ruled by violence rather than intellect?

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Politically Correct Debate for Modern Thinkers

This is quite a fascinating debate series founded by Hungarian born Paul Munk in 2008 out of Toronto, Canada. Interestingly, I learned about this through a client recently. I find that I get many good resources from the people I serve almost as if it were providence. They did make me aware of who won the debate before I saw it, though it wasn’t that hard to figure out as it was quite obvious which side were more gifted in speech and somatic comfort. What is troubling, as always, are Americans abroad. They are just incapable of realizing it isn’t all about them.

This debate is about Political Correctness, or at least that is what it was supposed to be about. The argument isn’t really about what is fair or which words should be used, it is more about whether it has gone too far and what might be a better way to go about this. I recall being a student at Antioch University in Santa Barbara, back in the 90’s and my fellow alumni (now) and I were having discussions about this ourselves. At that point, we could already see the ridiculousness of this new language and so I can imagine how they would feel watching this video today. Unfortunately, we parted and went in various directions, most of us onto graduate schools and with that, a much more difficult level of study that didn’t allow for keeping in touch with old friends quite so easily. It was before FB and Twitter and LinkedIn and by the time those things came about, I couldn’t even recall their names.

Watching this debate, I was already prepared for an interesting discussion by Stephen Fry as he is most likely a genius and typical with most Brits and Europeans, very humble. I have never heard of Jordan Peterson before today and will definitely pick up one of his books and learn more about what he has to say. While the Americans on the panel had no appreciation for his highly intellectual banter, I certainly am eager to see what the controversy is all about. Remember that most philosophers, scientists, inventors; they were all controversial in their time. Whenever someone challenges your thought process, it is debatable and can be fun to see the direction they take it in.

On the other side we had a woman who sat with her legs spread apart, most of the time, eager like the “feminist” thinkers of today to say “look at my vagina but don’t touch it.” Such a contradiction, a mixed message, from a foolish person who would probably do a better job as a dominatrix.  Then you have a minister who appears to be bi-racial but has so much anger for one part of himself. These two wanted to make the program about them and their issues with being a woman and being black. A debate is not meant to be a memoir, it is about giving an argument for the side you are on. All four of the people on the panel were liberal and so much of the time they were agreeing with each other in different ways. I suppose this was a safer way to have this discussion, even though the pros didn’t seem to understand that they were all liberal. They behaved as if they were up against Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump. But as I said, they felt it was all about them.

This is the issue with Political Correctness and the extreme thinking of today. It is the reason Donald Trump is in office. The people who voted for him needed some balance because the liberals had swung so far left they couldn’t even remember which side they were on. With Clinton taking all the jobs away from Americans and giving them to communists, turning our country effectively into one big ghetto with a huge opioid crisis. One only needs to visit a previous factory town that gave some dignity to the people there and notice the dealers, the depression, the hopelessness, the poverty. After this we went to Obamacare, which took precedence over the recession and the only ones who approved of this and will sing its praises are people who get their insurance paid for by the companies they work for. I can certainly say that I am no fan when my medication went from $30 to $700. There was no concern for human beings in the country that they served when these two major changes took over our lives. I am not arguing that Republicans haven’t made mistakes here, I am arguing that Democrats forgot what it meant to be liberal in their need to enforce their self-righteous viewpoint.

On a world stage such as the Munk Debates, it is such a dichotomy when you have socialists vs. capitalists. Nonetheless, I am captivated by this series that I have now signed up for. It is refreshing to know such an exchange of words exists, is allowed (naturally we wouldn’t be able to handle this in the U.S.) and to feel related to people who haven’t disappeared or crawled under a carpet.

Frida Kahlo – Legendary Artist

Art should be regarded as a spiritual experience for when you find a piece that you like, it is speaking to your soul. When I first met a Frida Kahlo, I was in a university class that had to do with Women in Art (I don’t recall the specific title).  Our professor showed us a piece of her work and I asked the teacher if she had been in some type of an accident and explained what I saw in the photo of the painting. She told us a little about the history of Frida Kahlo and I felt stung. Until that moment, my experience was usually to look at paintings in a museum and admire them. While I had been to many art museums and had my favorites, I had never been this moved by art.

Since then, I have begun to look at art differently. I have begun to focus on the picture and think about the symbols, the way they are arranged, and what the artist might have felt. I have also seen the movie of Frida by Selma Hayek, read the biography by Hayden Herrera, had a friend copy a painting by Frida so that I could have my own genuine recreation and I have had friends give me books and old magazine articles that are about the artist and her paintings. When you research someone to this depth, you become one with the artist.

Frida Kahlo painted portraits and recreated interpretations of her life on canvas the way we journal in a diary now. The intensity of her work began after she was in a “bus” accident in Mexico at the age of 18. To explain, a bus in the 1920’s in Mexico was similar to a hay wagon with benches nailed along the sides.  This old fashioned mechanism collided with a streetcar which threw her and others from the bus and caused her to have many almost fatal injuries. She spent much of her life in body casts, laid out on a bed. She also underwent many surgeries for this over the years before she died at 47. Frida was a survivor and from her bed she began to paint, not for the first time but in a new way.

The first opportunity she was able to get out of her bed, it was the same time that Diego Rivera, a well-known Mexican painter, was working on a mural nearby her home. They met and eventually married. Señor Rivera  was known for his philandering but she knew this and asked, not for his fidelity but for his loyalty. He accepted. Their marriage was full of liaisons; hers with both men and women. They lived in two homes joined by a bridge so that each had their own space. Unfortunately, it was here where Señor Rivera went a bit too far with his affairs and slept with her sister Cristina. Between this and her on-going setbacks to give birth to their child, which her doctors had explained would be impossible; their marriage began to go downhill. They continued to remain together though, until her end.

Both Señora Kahlo and Señor Rivera, were very passionate about communism as well. This was incorporated in their art work depicting laborers in Mexico. Their beliefs were controversial, even then but they fought continuously to try and bring this philosophy to their country.

It is quite doubtful that Señora Kahlo and I would have been friends had we met during that time. When you are captivated by a piece of work, it is not about likes or dislikes of personal opinions.  Art stands alone, though it captures that person’s beliefs and feelings, what you gain from this is not always going to be the same. I was intrigued by her work as a woman, as a survivor, her bravery, her determination and will. All of these qualities I saw on the canvas and all of these adjectives she would probably have brushed aside indignantly. People like this do not want accolades for anything except their work, not their essence of being.

What I became fascinated with, when I learned about Señora Kahlo’s history, was her homage to ancestry through her clothing. While she was both Hungarian and Mexican, she only knew of her Spanish cultural ways. Her father’s Hungarian parents immigrated to Germany before sending their son to Mexico as a young man. While in Mexico, he married her mother and never returned to his homeland. She only had an idea of what her grandparents looked like. The way Señora Kahlo dressed herself was not indicative of the times in Mexico and so when she travelled with her husband, it was often seen as odd or eccentric. Now it is how one would recognize her through photos, though her work is quite obvious once you have had the opportunity to view a few pieces. As a woman she made a statement. Quite literally she was a work to behold. A piece of art always in progress.

While travelling in Mexico, I noticed that far too many shopkeepers hold vigil to her in their windows; along with homage to their religious symbols as well. Even in America, many Mexican restaurateurs will display her reproductions around their diners. Frida Kahlo is a legend. If you have not had the chance to explore her work, I invite you to research the name and see where it leads you.

A Guide to Watching Foreign Films

Of course it doesn’t hurt to grow up in a European-American family. Where the world that revolves around you speaks another language, has different values, talks about the old country and you begin to look at America as a second home. Watching foreign films for me has always felt as if I were welcomed; as one of theirs who got away. That I was getting a sneak peek into a home that existed but that I had never lived in; yet it felt like it belonged to me. There was a sense of familiarity about it.  Déjà vu.

Foreign film observation began at home, not with my family but with Kukla, Fran and Ollie. This was a children’s program that featured the puppets Kukla and Ollie and their friend Fran who would host a film from around the world each week. There is a website to learn more about this but unfortunately very difficult to get the actual films. Hello Netflix?!? This would certainly be a great program for you to buy.  Since Kukla, Fran and Ollie was an American program, all the characters were dubbed with British English from what I recall. I didn’t realize it was dubbing as a child, I just though everyone spoke English with a cute accent. There may have been a couple of programs with subtitles but I can’t recall.  I do remember circus bears on the loose, a Cinderella story with a bird that would say “Koo-koo-ri-koo, Who is the one for you?” and other wonderful adventures that kids would get themselves into.

As an adult, I had quite forgotten about foreign films for a few years and then, while managing a records and tapes (i.e., VHS and cassettes) store in Los Angeles (this was the onset of Compact Discs too), I suddenly re-acquainted myself with the genre once more. You’ve probably heard this phrase said for other reasons but I will use it here for this “Once you go foreign, you will never turn to American ever again.” Settle down and grab your Cadbury, Lindt or Toblerone (a reason to never eat American chocolate again) and enjoy the show!

1. Subtitles are not that difficult. If you are literate you will get used to it. If you like tennis, you already know how to bob; only now it is vertical instead of horizontal.

2. Foreign films are intellectual and a realistic view of life. It helps to look within as you view the characters that resonate with your own feelings, strengths and weaknesses. If you are pissed off at the character there is something within you that is just like them and this bothers you. If you are so passionate about the lovers that you feel ill inside when they are kept apart, even at the end of the movie, and are depressed for several days after, that’s not entertainment folks, that is the mark of a great film.

3. There are no happy endings because the world is not a happy place. No one lives happily ever after and no one says that tireless bs that you see in cookie cutter films, here in the U.S. Yet at the end of a foreign film, you will be thinking about the ending for days and weeks on end, still wondering “What if?” just like the one film the U.S. got right in “Gone With the Wind.” If a film isn’t bugging you for some time after, it wasn’t worth it.

4. When they are funny, it is sarcastic humor. Life is never funny when you have had your village annihilated by Hitler or your country was taken over by communists or the British or someone who had power during those years in question. So you laugh because you can’t cry anymore or because you know that this is a memory that will be replaced in the future, or you nod your head in some form of cultural agreement.

5. When it is really dark, the writer has pulled out some psychological button that you have thought about but never dared to speak in public. These are the best moments because you almost feel a sense of guilt that someone else was thinking it too. You can almost feel a kinship but it is too perverse to even smile. If someone sees this on your face, they will know your deepest secrets.

6. The French could be called perverse but the Chinese have upped it to a degree you won’t even see in a pornographic film. I’ve had to turn it off because it was hitting the “ick” zone in a way that, well, wasn’t in my bureau for psychological buttons but it could be in yours. The French tried even harder with Nymphomania 2 but since I only read the abstract on Wikipedia and decided Part I was enough for me, I couldn’t be too sure.

7. India has it all, film, musical, romance and absolutely NO SEX. Yet you get so caught up in the story, you actually forget that the lovers never once touched anything except their hands – if that. That is good storytelling. It is quite rich in family values and I think they are a must to watch for all virgins as the female leads are all very good role models. Yes, it is all about weddings but the brides all deserve to wear white, even if that isn’t their custom. They all gain a deep amount of respect which is really the point.

8. Hungary has mostly been poor depressing people up until this past decade. They have begun to bring in some modern storylines, some good, some depressing because you can see how much the country has been ruined by capitalism and the other word one dares not say. The older films however, really teach you a lot about all those years of history, how people survived. So don’t get squeamish when you see a horse being butchered in the street and morsels handed out to kids to take home to their parents (in their bare hands). You really get a sense that this is what it is like to live so desperately in tough times.

9. The Spanish have Pedro Almodóvar who has directed some hilariously dark comedies or as the French say Film Noir. Penelope Cruz appears to be his muse and while she could be said to be the most beautiful woman in the world, (now topped by Fahriye Evcen from Turkey or shall I say Feride in Lovebird), I’ve seen Ms. Cruz get really really ugly and that is acting! I am not talking about looking dirty but having bleached teeth when she smiles either. I am talking unrecognizable as in “Don’t Move.” If you watch the extras in a take home film, they have her act out different moods while sitting on a stool and it is here that you are able to see how a real actress performs, without costume and script. “Don’t Move,” is probably the most beautiful I have ever seen Ms. Cruz in a movie, even though she is portrayed as a really ugly woman. The character’s personality, especially at the end, it is quite moving.

10. The Turks really love to mess with your mind by making you feel such love for the couple that you feel they have stabbed your own heart at the end because they never end up together. I think it must be a sin to show true love on film and they have to get around it this way.  I’ve recently found myself turned on to their films since Netflix is my new foreign film delivery service. At first I thought everyone in the family had the last name of Bey. It took me awhile to realize the women weren’t called this and then to see that the neighbors who were called this were not their brothers. I assume it means Mr. as in Monsieur or Herr or Señor.   This is the great thing about foreign films; you learn a new language – at least a few words that would give you some understanding when you travel abroad.

11. The Italians have Sophia and Gina and well, now they have Luca Zingaretti, for the ladies. As a young girl I looked up to these beautiful women, now I am the older woman and I am more focused on the handsome older men. Inspector Montalbano is like Bruno Cremer in Maigret (with a better body, though Bruno was sexy) or John Thaw in Inspector Morse (still anal but not a heavy drinker). These are the kind of men who you hope inhabit your local police force but are pretty sure they don’t. The Italians remind you that the mafia is still alive and Italian-Americans aren’t faking Italian (except that ridiculous reality show). They probably talk more with their hands in NYC then Rome and more on the streets than in the professional world.

12. The Brits are hands down the easiest to understand because we speak their language – or do we? Nope, you have to learn the slang and the accent. “If truth be told,” a fag is a cigarette, getting pissed means you are drunk, serviettes are napkins, napkins are diapers, a boot is the trunk of your car, and so on. Try the British “Mars” bars too, much more richer and delightful. Stay away from the “All Sorts” though if you can’t stand licorice like me. By far they have the best TV shows that capture forensic episodes with real people not cute models. You have to add any film with Bill Nighy to your list; sexy and hilarious for a too skinny guy. There are lots of other old blokes over there that play character actors better than our big stars here. When you see them appear on a film (and once you get to know them you can get excited with only the opening credits), you know you are in for a treat. Great actors like this know how to carry a film and how to pick one too.

13. The women in foreign films are real people. I mean you feel like they are your neighbors and this is what gives you the sense that you are welcomed into the story. You know these women and men, it seems you have met them before. Sure there are the outstanding looking beauties but generally they aren’t playing the outstanding looking beauty in the film. Often, they will take a less gorgeous lady and dress her up and suddenly she is the most beautiful woman in the world. It is the character that makes her or him very lovely, not the costume though. When I think of Bruno Cremer in Maigret, we are looking at a slightly obese man with a huge mole on his face, yet the character he is playing respects women, dresses sharp, smokes a pipe – which is quite debonair, is loyal to his wife and the most intelligent man on the show (that is the funny part which you have to see it to get it). We are so stuck on size 3 waists here and no one really has this except models and actresses, people you will never meet. The majority of the women in foreign films are an average sized woman of a size 8-12.

14. If you find that the movie is going along very slowly and seems almost boring, just trust the director. This is building a scene for a particular purpose or a character or a culture. If you are patient, it will all make sense and by the end of the film you are going to really appreciate those opening scenes because it will all begin to come together. Sometimes the beginning can be really weird too with a lot of confusing scenes, trying to introduce so much in a short space. Again, stay still, trust the director, it is going somewhere good. I often find this is a clue that something better will come.

15. You will be so moved by foreign films that your tears will fall for the first time for a reason that you know will change your life forever.

Women of Exceptional Taste

Women of exceptional taste in todays society are multi-faceted. They are sophisticated, successful in a career, have good taste in clothing, don’t use plastic surgery (if over 40), are involved in various philanthropic efforts and are admired by women around the world. Some of these women speak more than one language a commendable trait.  Many of them have children or grandchildren as well and this is an aside. What is remarkable about our generation is that these type of women can now choose not to have children or wait until they are ready to have children.

Judi DenchJudi Dench began her profession in 1957 and has been on stage, TV and movies in the United Kingdom, as well as a crossover or two in the U.S.

 

 

 

Catherine Deneuve has delighted French audiences since 1957 as well. She was once considered the most beautiful woman of the world and yet all the women here are in this category.

 

 

Amal Clooney is an International Forensic Attorney that has been in practice since 2000.

 

 

 

 

The Duchess of Cambridge came to our attention around 2007 though it was in 2011 when she began to hold her title. She is involved in a great many philanthropic adventures but of particular interest is mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Mirren began her career on stage, TV and film in 1966, in the United Kingdom. Like Ms. Dench, has crossed over into U.S. films as well.

 

 

 

Penelope Cruz began a career in Spain in 1989. She has been a model, as well as acting on television and film. Her work has also crossed over into the United States. She is thought to be the muse for the Director, Pedro Almodóvar

 

Meryl Streep has been an American actress since 1971 and has crossed over into films around the world, not speaking the language but being known for an ability to take on various accents.

 

 

Salma Hayek is from Mexico and has been involved as an actress, producer, and model. She produced the “Ugly Betty” TV series in the United States and starred as well as produced the film “Frida.” You can find her in both Spanish and English roles.

 

 

Queen Noor Of Jordan. An American woman who once reigned until her husband, Hussein of Jordan died (1978-1999).

 

 

 

 

Isabel Allende is an Author from Chile who has brought us a couple of dozen novels. One of these novels, “The House of Spirits,” was brought to the screen in the United States in 1982.

 

 

These are merely a sample of women of exceptional taste from around the world. Certainly a great many more that are not well known but who forge careers and are worthy of great merit here yet may not be seen in the public eye. A couple of the women noted here would not even be known had they not married a “celebrity,” and yet their careers are what brought them into view of that person of interest.

 

For Women Over 40

This is the age of the Crone. The older, wiser woman begins to emerge around the age of forty. Own up to this and enjoy the best part of your life! This is what I want to say here but it is going to sound a bit confusing when I now turn the conversation over to talking about your body. The aging process brings a whole new set of obstacles to face. This is the time in your life when you no longer look the same as your body begins to let loose and an end to the cycle as a tight and firm young woman is over.  It is a time when all those crazy symptoms of menopause start showing up as you are transitioning through this final stage of womanhood. Some women have stated that their mood swings can go from being a saint to a demon in the span of a day. This does end eventually though and it shouldn’t define you. Instead, this time period should force you to realize how important it is to set boundaries, if you don’t already.  At the same time, women report feeling much more confident at this stage in their life.  There is less of concern about how others think of you. Think of this as a time to have fun, despite the new health problems that are beginning to emerge and the changes in your body.

Allow this stage of your life to emerge and blossom. Go with the flow rather than resist it. As they say, “The more you resist, the more it persists.” Women don’t put up with as much in this stage of their life because they are experienced and understand life better. Divorces can occur at this time.  Even if you are okay with your spouse or partner, you might still feel you are on the verge of discovery. This is a time of self-awareness that pales in comparison to that of a twenty-something wondering about God for the first time. If it is time to leave your partner, know that it is okay to be alone for a while and just enjoy finding yourself. If it is not time to leave the partner, go on a women’s retreat for a few weeks. Many of you have been craving some time to yourself for quite a number of years now. Give yourself a break! In this final stage of your awakening process it is important to cherish this time in your life, embrace your inner self, allow exploration and creativity, and don’t say, “I can’t do that because I don’t know how.” You are a wiser woman now and you will be surprised at what you can do when you allow yourself.

If you take time to love yourself, you will embrace the aging process, as it is nothing more than another phase in life. It astonishes me the number of women who continue to get plastic surgery when it is quite obvious that it looks ridiculous. How many cartoonish women is it going to take before these women get the message? Unless it is for medical reasons and your insurance is paying, leave your body alone. If you work on your body through exercise and eating right, you are going to look like a normal woman who is getting old. Older women do look beautiful when they flow with the aging process rather than resist it. American women are afraid of this change and often times you see women who have given up and look old or we see celebrities going under the knife and/or using Botox. Being old is not a curse. I watch a lot of foreign TV and films and I can tell you that Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, and Juliette Binoche look as lovely and as spirited as ever. Some allow themselves to gain a little weight and enjoy eating the fine foods they couldn’t afford in their twenties. All of these women enjoy successful film careers, though I believe Ms. Loren is now writing and focusing more on being a grandmother. I find it is much more important to find role models who embrace the aging process rather than those who don’t. It helps getting through this stage when you aren’t fighting it every step of the way. Embrace your femininity.

If you are like me and it took you a while to realize you need to reclaim your power and make some different choices in life with men, it isn’t too late. As I mentioned, foreign films have lots of movies about women over forty. None of them have to do with plastic surgery but instead are about adventures and starting over and realizing their power. There are some wonderful films that depict older women as they are and in stories that only we can relate to. Films can help give you ideas, give you something to think about. There are magazines for women over forty as well. Of course there is AARP, but I also took advantage of More magazine for some time. Foreign magazines are wonderful guides to consider when it comes to travel and opportunities you haven’t thought of. Magazines on specific countries, such as France, are available at Barnes and Noble.

When I went to the universities I attended, there were plenty of women and men there older than me. Don’t be afraid to go back to college and get a degree. Getting my master’s degree at the age of thirty-eight was the most rewarding moment in my life second only to holding my son in my arms for the first time. I can’t tell you how happy I felt and how proud I was at that time in my life. Every time I look up at the degree on my office wall, I still have a feeling of excitement. Need money? One place to consider looking for scholarships for women is AAUW (American Association of University Women) which is the largest organization to offer scholarships to women and favors women choosing non-traditional careers.

There are also other things you can be doing. Learn a new language and travel to that country to speak it or continue your fluency. Travel with a volunteer program where you do work in another country. I work with lots of women over forty who seek advice from me on how to start over. It is so much fun seeing the delight in their eyes when they begin talking about what they are passionate about. As they do, I offer hints and suddenly, they are off like a race horse. They already know deep in their hearts what they want; it just helps to get a little validation, even permission from another, that it is okay to do these things.

Explore religion and/or a religious calling. Many women and men, after their partners die, consider this as a profession. It is also a place to go for a retreat and soul searching. Many religions offer inexpensive ways to go away for a while and contemplate your future, spiritually and otherwise. This can be a beautiful moment in your life.

Whatever you choose to do, naturally you will see your body changing more and more each year. You will be forced to set boundaries with people that you never imagined before, such as making bathroom breaks more of a necessity wherever you travel. Keep some tissues in your purse, if you have never carried them before, as they come in handy for many things other than sneezing. Traveling with anti-diarrhea medicine or antacids is a must. Make people aware that you are going through menopause so they don’t become alarmed when you pull out a mini-fan or go into a rage about something unexpected. Of course you may not have these particular symptoms at all and if you do, it might be minimal; it is not the same for every woman.

You are becoming your grandmother but you will look much differently than she did. While you still share her standards and grace, your style is much more modern. Instead of wearing an apron, you are wearing a backpack or “fanny pack” and hiking with your grandkids or taking them off to the zoo. There is so much to teach them and so many stories to share. Don’t allow them to use technology when they are with you. Make the most of your time together, just as you did or wanted to do with your own grandma. Don’t focus on them teaching you how to use the computer. Focus on teaching them about life by getting out of the house and exploring the world with them.

Become an artist. Were you held back from this world because it didn’t bring in money or you had no time for it? Get a camera or an easel or sit down with pen and paper and allow the creativity to come out. How about joining the theater and being on stage rather than in the audience? Create a fantasy garden in your backyard that is the envy of the neighborhood. There isn’t anything you can’t do if you want to. Take classes in your chosen art field or join a club. You will meet new people of like minds and you won’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself or hiding out in the corner of your safe new world.

When it comes to fashion, you want to develop your own style as an older woman. This is hard to do when we are in a bleak fashion period where quality is shunned and it is hard to find pieces that we feel comfortable with. Trying to look like you are still twenty is out because it makes you look foolish. Finding clothes meant for older women isn’t easy when stores cater to young women. Abandon the idea of trying to wear pants that sit on your hips because your hips probably aren’t there anymore. The good news is there are many comfortable shoe styles available so that you won’t have to wear the orthopedic shoes of the 50s. The Beehive hair style your mother had is out so you don’t need to go to the hairdresser every week to put goop in your hair. Now you can wear your hair long if you like and let it go gray. Cut down on the makeup because the more you use, the older it makes you look. Eventually, the oils will find the wrinkles and the lip colors will climb away from the lips. Experiment with less and wear none when you are at home doing yard work or when you are out in nature.

Sunscreen, moisturizer, and lip balm are essential ingredients in taking care of yourself. Look for the natural or organic formulas, which love any face. Wear dresses and skirts instead of pants because they are much more comfortable and so much more feminine. With the changes that your body is going through, skirts and dresses hide so many things when you choose a style that is relaxed rather than fit. Pants can be so restricting, especially when your thighs are getting a little too close together. Be free and comfortable and show the world how wonderful it is to be an older woman.

Thought for the Older Woman: You are never alone in this world when you are in the company of others of like minds.