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Things That Make Me Go Mmmruh!

March 7, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Everyday Hero

by Geralyn Ruane

Far and away, my favorite Oscar moment this year (only because Viggo didn’t win) was this: after a commercial break, Jon Stewart invites Marketa Irglova back on stage to say the thank you she didn’t get to voice because the orchestra cut her off after she and Glen Hansard won for best song for Once, the little movie that could. My goodness, the woman helped make internationally beloved film music with little more than a magnifying glass and a kazoo. She deserved her moment at the mike. So good for you, Jon Stewart, for making sure she got it! Mmmruh!

I love it when that happens – when someone decides they do not like what is happening, so they do something about it. Mmmruh!

After Wilma Melville retired from teaching gym, she decided that 15 FEMA-certified Search and Rescue dogs in the U.S. were not enough. She has since trained 85 more FEMA-certified Search and Rescue dogs and teamed them with trained fire fighters. Canadian high school students David Shepherd, Chris Spencer, Travis Price, Nick Sullivan and John Kennealy got sick of bullies terrorizing kids at their school, so they started wearing pink shirts to encourage solidarity against bullies. Pink Power is now spreading across the land. Judie Mancuso and her husband decided to live on half their income so Judie could quit her job and fight 24/7 for animal rights and righteous animal legislation in California. Mmmruh, mmmruh, mmmruh!

I know, I know. We all don’t have an Oscar stage and an audience of millions at our disposal. And some of us have no affinity for dogs, no Gatsby-like posse, no passionate crusade. That’s okay, though. We get to be everyday heroes, and those are the very best kind. The kind that change lives for a moment, make a day better, make an hour sweeter. And what is life, if not a double helix of tangled moments, days and hours?

I met Zam freshman year in college: I had an abysmal wardrobe and a perpetual wallflower complex, while he had the aplomb of Cary Grant and the biting sass of Bea Arthur. But do you know what I remember most about Zam? One day we were standing in the Student Union at the top of a steep staircase when a woman started bumping her way down with a baby carriage. Zam dropped everything to help the pair get safely to the first floor. I stood at the top of the staircase looking down at Steve (Zam’s real name is Steve Zambriski), wishing I were in love with him – he was just so magnificently compassionate. Mmmruh! Good thing I wasn’t in love with him, though, since he turned out to be gayer than a box of birds. You’d think the nickname “Zam,” and the Cher karaoke would have tipped me off, but at least I didn’t fall for him and get my heart pulverized by the naked truth. But as naïve as I was, I could recognize the heroic – even through the buzz and bustle of the Student Union.

So hang up the cell phone and listen to your kid talk about how stupid his math teacher is. Give up your seat to the guy who looks really tired. Put your shopping cart back and make someone work a little less hard for minimum wage. Be an everyday hero.

Try it.

Every day.

Geralyn Ruane’s new favorite numbers are 18 and 1. She co-hosts the radio show Better Times After 50 on AdviceRadio.com when she’s not drinking chocolate milk straight from the spoon or writing humorous women’s fiction. Her short story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” is published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.

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Things That Make Me Go Mmmruh . . .

February 7, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

The Perfect Climax

by Geralyn Ruane

Every few years or so I dust off Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart and reread it, just so I can get to page 227, when Bryony runs out into the moonlit orchard and – well, I won’t tell you – but it’s the best part of the story.

And I’ll bet that everyone knows the feeling I’m talking about – reading a dog-eared book or watching a favorite movie just to get to that scene that makes you go mmmruh! We don’t skip ahead to the incandescent chapter, or fast forward to the culminating scene, because without the build up, the climax is a let down. Captain Wentworth’s striding in and asking for Anne in front of everyone wouldn’t grab you by the guts and never let go without that preceding heartbreak, betrayal, belittling and loneliness.

Build-up, climax, bliss – it’s the pulse of romance . . . and sports.

I watch sports to feel the thrill when that 3-point shot at the buzzer wins the game, when that amazing catch in the end zone defies physics, when that guy nobody ever heard of knocks out an invincible champion, when that bunch of college kids ices a communist powerhouse.

A romance writing friend once commented, “Geralyn, that’s why there are highlights.”

But come on! Who wants to read a romance that catalogs scene after scene of the heroine and her man having great sex because they are just so in love and their lives couldn’t be more perfect? Highlight reels provide no more than superficial thrills. But when you know what’s at stake in the contest, and when you sweat as you watch the fight, the pay-off is visceral. Mmmruh . . .

Romance, like sports, is an aching quest for the moment of perfect climax.

Why else was this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII the most watched thing ever on TV, second only to the final episode of M*A*S*H? Are there so many Patriots and Giants fans out there? Maybe, but I suspect the game’s popularity was due to not just the foreplay, but more significantly, the guarantee of an explosive climax.

As Sports Illustrated so succinctly says, “The Super Bowl would be either a CORONATION or a COLOSSAL UPSET.” In one corner is a smug, undefeated, championship team who wants to make history by becoming the only NFL franchise to go 19-0 in a season. In the other corner is a scrappy wild card team who had unexpectedly beaten redoubtable play-offs rivals to become the second-worse franchise ever to make it to the Super Bowl. New York’s Plaxico Burress predicts a 23-17 Giants win. Tom Brady laughs at a press conference at the notion of his Patriots scoring a mere 17 points. Can the New York defense stop the locomotion of the New England offense? Tom Brady looms infallible – can Eli Manning, league leader in interceptions thrown during the regular season, step up?

As it turns out, Plaxico is wrong. The Giants hold the Patriots to 14 points, not 17, thanks to a defense that sacks Tom Brady 5 times and breaks up the Hail Mary. And in the last 2 minutes of the game, Patriots on top by 4, young Eli steps up. Courtesy of an offensive line that wouldn’t quit, he breaks out of a near-sack to throw to third-string receiver David Tyree who makes one of the most amazing catches in NFL history. Seriously, who catches a football with his head? A final pass to Plaxico in the end zone, and those scrappy Giants win the Super Bowl.

It was the perfect climax.

Geralyn Ruane’s new favorite numbers are 18 and 1. She co-hosts the radio show Better Times After 50 on AdviceRadio.com when she’s not drinking chocolate milk straight from the spoon or writing humorous women’s fiction. Her short story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” is published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.

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January 10, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Everyone Says So – But So What?

by Geralyn Ruane

Just because everyone says so doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

That’s right. You don’t have to believe it. Do your own research, make your own decisions and stick to your guns, even if it seems that everyone else in the room, the state, the world disagrees with you.

These days everyone is a spin doctor. And those who aren’t hire them. Information gets so manipulated that distillation of the truth becomes a Byzantine challenge. Listening to the hype is so much easier. But don’t let yourself be swayed or suckered.

I believe that The New England Patriots are cheaters undeserving of accolades, regardless of what sportswriters have decided. No matter how many people love rodeo, I still think paying and making money to watch terrified animals defend themselves is sick and should be illegalized. To hell with the FDA, I’m convinced that cold medicines are a bad idea, and so are any medicines that prevent the body from getting rid of the stuff it needs to get rid of. I’ve examined the facts and made my decisions.

Don’t agree with me? That’s okay. I don’t need mass approval in order to feel comfortable with the decisions I make. You shouldn’t either. Nobody should.

As America surges into Primary Season, my greatest hope is that voters make their own decisions. Don’t pay attention to labels and tag lines; instead, find out what the candidates are actually saying and doing. Don’t get swayed by the polls and predictions of political pundits; in the end, only the votes matter. Yesterday, the day after the surprising New Hampshire results, even NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson advised, “Throw out the polls and just pay attention to the candidates.”

Who will run for president in 2008 is still up in the air, and we get to decide. I do, you do. We’ve got the power and that makes me go Mmmruh! So don’t let your decision get swept away by all the hype and hullabaloo. Instead, keep your decision safe, make it count and make sure it’s yours.

Geralyn Ruane co-hosts the radio show Better Times After 50 on AdviceRadio.com. She also drinks chocolate milk straight from the spoon and writes humorous women’s fiction. Last year her short story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” was published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.

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December 10, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Strike Two!


Geralyn Ruane

The revolution will not be televised.
It will be downloaded.

-caption on a sign on the picket line
outside the NBC studios in Burbank
Every form of communication on this planet and beyond is careening toward the internet, unable to resist the magnetic pull of instantaneous speed and digital capability. More and more, viewers are downloading TV shows and movies instead of watching them on TV or renting them from Blockbuster or buying them on DVD.

Writers want to get paid when viewers access their work via the internet.

This is the key issue at stake in the Writer’s Guild of America strike. Movie and television writers do not get royalties for the work they create: screenwriters gave up the rights to royalties back in the 1920’s. Instead, TV and screenwriters get residuals – payment every time their work airs or sells. But they only get those residuals if the WGA fights for them.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling hadn’t made a dime for her Harry Potter books beyond a standard fee publishers paid her for penning each one. What if she got no money for the millions of books she sold? No money for the merchandising of all that stuff based on the characters she created. No money from those insanely successful movies that have launched careers and made billions and billions of dollars. Try to picture J.K. Rowling earning NOTHING from all that. Sure, she would be the author who changed the face of childhood mythology as we know it, but she would be struggling to make rent. Would that seem right?

Yeah, you might think, but that would never happen.

But that is EXACTLY what happened to screenwriters Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts. They wrote The Lion King, Disney’s first animated feature that was not adapted from a fairy tale, book, or existing g piece of work. Mecchi and Roberts created an original story that went on the earn billions of dollars, yet they have never received any percentage of the revenue from the movie, its sequels, its merchandising, or its Broadway show. They have received nothing beyond the money Disney paid them to write the script.

Why? How could this happen? The answer is simple: The Lion King is an animated movie, and most animated work is not covered by the WGA.

This is what the Writer’s Guild of America does: it wrestles The Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers to make sure writers get a piece of the revenue they generate. Without the WGA, Hollywood writers are utterly vulnerable financially. Currently, writers of most animation shows and all reality shows are not protected by the WGA and as a result get both low salaries and no residuals. When the folks who worked on America’s Top Model tried to organize in 2006, they were all fired. When animation writers at Nickelodeon tried to organize in 2001, Nickolodean fired all the writers, blacklisted the “ringleaders,” stopped production on all animated shows and put 250 artists out of work. That’s right. The partners who wrote Sponge Bob Square Pants, which has earned Nickolodean $12 billion, wanted a $5 residual for every episode aired – that’s about 16/1000 of 1% of total revenue that they wanted, but the AMPTP refused to pay it to them. Seriously, it makes watching Sponge Bob or The Lion King feel like wearing the fashions kids make in the sweatshops of third world countries.

In 1988, when the writers went on strike to get residuals for sales of VHS tapes, the WGA accepted a dramatically low rate on residuals for VHS because the studios argued that VHS would not be profitable. Though this turned out to be egregiously false, later the same rate was applied to residuals for DVDs, which are even more profitable than VHS tapes ever were. Now the AMPTP wants to apply that same miscalculated, lowball rate to the residuals for material downloaded off the internet. This time, the WGA is determined to get a fair deal.

In this 2007 strike, the WGA writers want reasonable residuals for their work that is downloaded via the internet. They also want all animation writers and reality writers in the allowed into the WGA. The total cost of what the WGA demands is significantly less than the combined salaries of the CEOs of the six AMPTP studios.

But the studios want to screw the writers and keep all the money for themselves. And believe me, The Teamsters put it much more colorfully than that.

If writing is allowed to be devalued to the extent the rich, corporate AMPTP would love to see, all writers will suffer the consequences, as the idea of not paying writers for their work becomes more and more indoctrinated in American culture.

So find the picket lines closest to you and fight the good fight. The solidarity of artists fighting corporate domination is empowering to behold, and even stronger once you join the battle for all writers everywhere.


Geralyn Ruane’s favorite Hardy Boy is whichever one Parker Stevenson played, and these days she writes romance, chick lit and women’s fiction. Last year her short story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” was published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.

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November 10, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Stealing Back the Thunder


Geralyn Ruane

Recent conversation that took place in a supermarket parking lot between me and a homeless man:

Homeless Man: Do you have any spare change?

Me: (Giving him seven bucks) Here ya go. Hey, I have some old blankets in my car. Do you need a blanket?

Homeless Man: I could use a blanket.

Me: Okay. I’ll be right back. I just have to run to my car to get it. You’ll stay here?

Homeless Man: I’ll be here.

I run to my car, grab a blanket, then grab an unopened bottle of water off the back seat. I hurry back to the man.

Me: Here. (I hand him the blanket.) And here’s some water. (I hand him the bottle.)

Homeless Man: Thank you! (Takes the stuff then looks me in the eye.) You’re a Christian, aren’t you.

Me: Actually, no.

Homeless Man: But you believe in the Lord.

Me: I believe in being nice to people.

Homeless Man: I can see in your eyes that you have the Lord in you.

Me: (Waving as I turn away) Take care.

Homeless Man: (Calling to my retreating back) The Lord is in you! I know it!

God is stealing my thunder and I don’t like it. Or rather, people are stealing my thunder and giving it to God. Why does everyone insist on giving a Higher Power credit for the things I do right here on earth – or for the good things people do in general? What about my friend Kristin? Does God get her thunder, too? She gave me those blankets in the first place because she knows I dole out blankets and socks to the homeless once the whether starts turning cold.

I don’t think the human race gets enough credit for its goodness. Sure, I actually know some people who help others because they are getting older and want to build up points for Heaven. But I know far more people who help others because, for them, there is simply no other way to live.

My ire on the subject of misappropriated thunder rumbles deep and strong, but not out of brewing jealousy or rankled pride. The big picture is far more disturbing, especially when you flip it over. Do you see it? Giving God credit for the good people do is the mirror image of making God the scapegoat for all the evil people do.

Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, pickets the funerals of fallen servicemen, shouting at the mourners that God is killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq to punish Americans for their tolerance of homosexuality. Does God deserve to take this bullet? Or does such inflammatory rhetoric instead serve to distract from the reality of what certain people are doing to other people, and why? If we give God the blame, or the credit, we miss out on what our fellow humans are doing.

Like the woman who chased me into Trader Joe’s the other day.

Woman: Excuse me! Excuse me! Do you drive the red Volkswagen?

Me: (Turning around) Yes.

Woman: You need to put change in the meter. I know it’s Sunday, but they’ll ticket you. The car in front of you has a ticket.

Me: (I follow her back to my car and see both the other car’s ticket and the sign I’d ignored posting the parking rules.) Thanks!

Woman: I just know that I hate to get a ticket.

Me: (Putting change into the meter) No, really, thanks!

Was God looking out for me by sending that woman to prevent my possible ticket? I prefer to let that woman keep her own richly deserved thunder. She helped me out. Mmmruh!

I steal back the credit or blame given to God whenever I can. No matter what Higher Power we believe in or how we pray, we should acknowledge the thunder of humanity. We need to recognize the good done by people, or we’ll miss the sublime moments of mmmruh! that give life its pulse and light and hope. And we need to recognize the evil done by people, so that we can do something about it.

Mmmruh! It’s all about people. John Lennon could imagine it. Can you?

Geralyn Ruane’s favorite Hardy Boy is whichever one Parker Stevenson played, and these days she writes romance, chick lit and women’s fiction. Last year her short story “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants” was published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.

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