Last year I started tracking diversity in the books I read. It wasn’t exactly good news.
It became apparent that race and gender diversity only happen when you’re intentional about it.
I tracked both the gender and race this year. I base gender simply on the author, counting a book if any contributor is a woman. For race I count a book if a contributor or main character is a person of color.
Here are the results for 2015:
54% POC books
56% female authors.
Here’s how diverse my reading has been since 2001:
Lots of good reading this year. Another year of ridiculous numbers—149 this year.
One of the benefits of reading is an increased sense of empathy. You can understand someone different from you a lot better if you can see from their perspective. If there was one theme this year, it was understanding different perspectives.
Some of the various perspectives that could use some understanding this year cropped up again and again in my books this year. Themes such as racism, disability, transgender and Islam.
I’ve now seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens twice and I so want to talk about it!
I’ll start out spoiler-free, but then we’ll dive heavy into the spoilers. I’ll warn you when it’s coming in case you want to jump ship.
I don’t even know where to start. Being a writer, I want to craft the perfect essay about this experience. But I also need to process and just get my thoughts down. So this is probably going to be a mess. It’s a blog, not a polished essay.
Wow. What a great movie.
I’ve seen it twice and I want to go back for more. It was just a super fun thrill ride.
Now I’ve been caught up in Star Wars nostalgia before. I said this in my expectations—it’s Star Wars, and I’ll love the adventure. And I totally did. I’m so wrapped up in the excitement of the moment that I have absolutely no objective judgment.
That’s how I walked out of The Phantom Menace excited. But when the childhood wonder and excitement wore off, objectivity came back and I realized how ridiculous that movie was.
That could maybe happen here, but I doubt it. I need to give it some time for the wonder of the moment to pass. But at this point I’m pretty confident it’s going to be one of my favorite Star Wars movies.
So a few fun (non-spoiler) thoughts about the experience of watching the movie:
The first thing I did after seeing the movie ? Stop at Target at 9:50 p.m. to buy Star Wars toys. The merchandising is strong with this one. And I love it!
After my dad saw it we spent an hour and a half on the phone talking nothing but Star Wars (OK, we maybe gave five minutes on the Captain America trailer).
My screening plan of seeing it before I took my kids worked out really well. The movie is intense and I had to prepare my kids. My almost 10-year-old still hid her face, and my 7-year-old buried his face in my chest a couple times and outright sobbed at one point. We didn’t have to leave the theater, but it was pretty distracting. I was glad I knew what to expect when and didn’t miss anything because I’d already seen it.
Unfortunately, I think preparing my kid with a half spoiler made him think that half spoiler wasn’t a real spoiler. So while getting supper at Panera after the movie he’s jumping around with his light saber and tells some stranger that half spoiler. The guy slapped his hands to his ears and says, “No spoilers! No spoilers!” Sorry man. We had another talk about spoilers. 10 minutes later another guy asked us if we’d just seen the movie (OK, we’ve got a light saber in the restaurant and we’re all wearing Star Wars shirts… nerd central), asked if it was another Phantom Menace (“Absolutely not!”) and then quickly said, “OK, don’t tell me anything else” and covered his ears.
While preparing the children for the movie, I showed them a picture of the bad guy, Kylo Ren. They had seen the trailers, but these masked men in black can be frightening in a big, loud, dark theater, so I wanted them to see what Kylo Ren looked like before he was big and scary. They took one look at his mask and dubbed him “Kylo Duckface.”
At the beginning of the movie I leaned over to my son and read the opening crawl to him. I’ve done that for both kids as we’ve watched all the earlier movies. But doing it in the theater? That was pretty cool. I didn’t expect that to be a moment.
One of the first things my daughter asked me this morning was, “Can we go see the Star Wars movie again?” That’s my girl.
Such a great movie-going experience.
Now let’s talk about the actual movie. Which means spoilers.
The hype has been building up forever, and tonight I’m going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes!
I’m also going tomorrow.
But I’m not a crazy nerd or anything, I’m doing it for my kids. Yeah, that’s it. I’m screening it tonight to make sure there’s nothing too intense for my 7-year-old. Also if the kids do need to step out or ask ten thousand questions, I’ll have seen it once already and (hopefully) won’t be as annoyed by the distractions.
It’s a happy accident that I’ll get to see it twice in 24 hours.
Plus, unlike my dad and brother, I think the best part of seeing a movie like this is seeing it early with the die-hard fans who clap and cheer. Part of the fun of going to the movies is the atmosphere, and you couldn’t ask for better energy than a theater crammed full of excited fans.
My wife and I saw the Hunger Games on opening night, not because we loved the series but because we happened to have a babysitter. The theater was full of teen girls with Catniss braids who were super excited. Made the whole experience more fun. Also saw one of the Potter movies that way, with a crowd full of teens who had grown up on Potter. Way fun.
Update: Thank you. By the time Mark crossed the finish line, we raised $2,170 for homeless veterans. And that money will be tripled. Thank you!
My friend Mark Horvath is doing a 5K walk to help end veteran homelessness and he needs our help. He’s got a $5,000 match—so every dollar you donate gets doubled, up to $5,000 [plus another foundation match triples your donation]—yet he’s only raised $100 $645 so far. And the 5K is on Saturday.
So help me help Mark help veterans who are homeless. Donate now.
Who Is Mark?
Mark Horvath is the founder of InvisiblePeople.tv, an nonprofit that gives people who are homeless a voice by telling their stories. Mark has worked tirelessly to end homelessness because he was once homeless himself.
Yeah. Like Dawn. She served in the Navy for seven years, came home to a difficult situation and found herself homeless. She lived out of her car for two years.
Our veterans deserve better. And thanks to the United Way, she now has a place to call home. Watch Dawn’s story.
Please donate to support Dawn and other veterans just like her.
Refugees vs. Veterans?
I don’t want to get too political on you, but lately all the garbage going back and forth on Facebook is making me twitchy. Seriously, I want to stab myself with a spork.
The one that makes me feel the most stabby is the meme pitting Syrian refugees against homeless veterans. It argues that we’re not taking care of our U.S. veterans, so how can we take care of Syrian refugees.
Let’s forget that the meme assumes we can’t do both. Let’s forget all the politics that so deeply divides us. I think we’re supposed to help people in need. It’s that simple.
Well, here’s an opportunity to help homeless veterans. So let’s help them.
Yes. Every dollar donated is matched. You donate $10, it becomes $20. You donate $50, it becomes $100. It’s magic!
Up to $5,000 will be matched. So if we can raise $5,000, that’ll be $10,000 to help homeless veterans. That’s a win.
Please donate to support magic doubling money for a good cause.
UPDATE: So Mark has a donor personally matching the $5,000 he raises, as I mentioned above. But also, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is offering the Hilton Challenge. For every team that raises $5,000, they’ll match it. So your contribution will not just be doubled, it will be tripled. Like money, money, money. It’s like exponential giving!
Now! The United Way HomeWalk is Saturday, Nov. 21. That’s like 36 hours from now. Time’s a wastin’! We need to raise that money today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.
I’ve been re-watching Star Wars with the kids in anticipation of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. We finished tonight with Return of the Jedi.
Ah, so good. I loved that movie as a kid. I don’t think I’ve loved it recently, but today I really enjoyed it again. I think the kids enjoyed it too, though they had more fun playing with the box of my 30-year-old Star Wars toys.
So the big question was what order to watch the movies in. Prequels first? (Pshhh, nope.) Originals first?
I went with Machete Order—4, 5, 2, 3 and 6 (and you completely skip 1). Good choice. You skip all the useless stuff in number one (Jar Jar, midichlorians, boy Anakin and major characters that never show up again—Qui-Gon and Darth Maul). The only downside is that watching Episode I makes Episode II seem good by comparison. Continue reading Returning to Star Wars→
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.