Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Vacations

I still need to post some photos from our summer vacation to Seattle in June (although it felt a lot more like fall with all the rain and wind), but we had several visitors to our neck of the woods over the last few weeks. First up, cousin Denise and her friend Angie from St. Louis stopped in on their way back from a Caribbean cruise, and we caught up with them for lunch on South Beach (first picture).

The second photo is of Lucas with his sister, Tayler, when she came for a week-long visit from Seattle. We loved having Tayler and Lucas is very fond of her (if you can't tell!). We're hoping she can make it back at Christmas time.

Lastly, our dear friend, Rhonda, and her brother passed through from Seattle and Hawaii (respectively) on their way to a Caribbean cruise. Being around all these cruising people has given us the bug to go ourselves...we'll see when we can swing it. It was so great to have them all visit...when are you coming?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

In what has to be one of the most unexciting birthdays in recent history, Tom turned 37 on August 18th as Tropical Storm Fay made landfall along the western South Florida coast. But not even a storm could keep my boys away from chocolate cake!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just Call Me an Activist!

I was interviewed for a piece today on the debate about whether "Tropic Thunder" is highly offensive -- you can only imagine on what side I stood...I stood proud with my fellow parents of kids with developmental disabilities all over the country who are speaking out on the disregard for our community and the overuse of the negative, offensive word "retard" which was used 17 times in what I'm sure will be a summer blockbuster. Don't miss Ben Stiller defending himself on the issue -- he still doesn't believe an apology is warranted, and even if I wanted to forgive him for making the movie, I can't pardon him for not admitting he made a mistake by not consulting with disability groups, and ultimately, not caring he offended an entire community. If you ask me, Beanie steals the show! Here we are on Miami's CBS 4.

Tropic "Blunder" Update

This just in: I have an interview with our local CBS affiliate this morning...I'll post on that later.

Unfortunately, this horrible movie is hitting screens today, but not without a ton of negative publicity -- as a former publicist, I usually say, "any press is good press", but in this context, I'd like to think that although Ben Stiller's movie will pull in millions at the box office, it we will start a dialog with Paramount/Dreamworks and other studios. Studios now know that disability groups are watching and active and will take them to task for any future movies that don't consult our community before using derogatory, slanderous material poking fun at one group in the name of comedy. Johnny Knoxville's "The Ringer" about a guy who poses as a Special Olympics athlete to make quick cash, not only consulted with Special Olympics, but had the organization's endorsement -- it was done in good taste and actually depicted the athletes as witty and nothing to be "afraid" of. The bottom line is if one group laughs at the expense of another, it's not funny, it's humiliation.

Here's the thing...the critics who are calling it "the funniest movie of the summer" are probably right - and all this talk about the jokes making fun of actors who play the mentally challenged in an attempt at Oscar, NOT at the disabled themselves need to get that the millions who will see this "satire" 1) don't know what "satire" IS, and 2) won't "get" that it's not poking fun at people with disabilities.

I'm proud to say many moms and dads on my chat board,, have landed interviews on their local stations, written letters to the editor, and blogged about it so their friends and family are aware of this movie and help support the boycott. My dear friend, Mike, wrote a letter to the editor to the Seattle PI (thanks, Mike!).

Here is some of my favorite coverage of the topic: a clip from the protest at the movie's premiere from CNN, a byline by Tim Shriver, Executive Director of Special Olympics in the Washington Post, and an opinion piece from a disabilities professor at the University of Illinois on NPR.

Sadly, we now wait to see how long it takes for some bully to coin the phrase "full retard" at the local playground. I hope it's not done within ear shot of me or my husband...

For the latest, check out Patricia Bauer's blog.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shame On You "Tropic Thunder"

It is with a sad, heavy, and down-right pissed-off heart that I write this post. There is a new movie, Tropic Thunder, premiering August 13th which was written, directed, and stars one of my favorite comic actors, Ben Stiller. It also stars the very funny Jack Black and the supremely talented Robert Downey Jr. I, for one, will not be going to see it and ask that you pledge not to do so either. Why? Well, Ben Stiller's character plays a has-been actor whose one Oscar bid failed for a movie titled "Simple Jack" with the tagline"Once upon a time...there was a retard." HOW IS THAT OKAY!?!?! The movie within a movie, even has its own website One of my heroes, Patricia Bauer -- formerly of The Washington Post who has an adult child with DS and writes about disability issues -- addresses the issues on her blog.

Needless to say, the disabilities community is up in arms because although DreamWorks/Paramount and those associated with the movie are saying the movie is an equal opportunity offender, not a single disabilities organization was consulted in the making of this movie. Several organizations including the National Down Syndrome Congress and Special Olympics are calling an emergency meeting with the studio to discuss the community's concerns about the way people with intellectual disabilities are portrayed and ridiculed in the movie. If you think I'm exaggerating, read this part of the script where Downey's character tells Stillers "never go full retard." Can you believe THAT?!

I have tons of concerns, not the least of which is that these men who are idolized and followed by so many, don't care who they squash on their way to collect a quick buck -- and I'm sure they sleep at night because they view their work as "art" and don't take any responsibility for reinforcing and furthering these negative stereotypes. More so, they are giving jackasses of the world license to use that derogatory, insulting, ugly word! Can you even imagine what would happen if instead of using "retard" they used the "n" word? When will we as a society not tolerate this type of behavior? Sadly, Ben Stiller is dead in the Rhyneer household. Please tell others not to bite on this movie...if we can each spread the word and put a dent -- even if it's a small one -- in their box-office take, it'll hurt and maybe they'll start paying attention. I'll keep you posted on what develops.