Well, no wonder…

No spoiler alerts: Yes, I’ll be discussing Avengers: Endgame. No, I won’t tell you anything that happens. Someone once told me that in all disaster movies, the child gets saved. Reference Jurassic Park(s), Earthquake, Volcano, and The Day After Tomorrow. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s obviously not always the plot, but I think it gets a bit old. Hence, in Schindler’s List, the optical tragedy of the little girl in the red coat—the only color in the black-and-white film—changes the man forever. Non-spoiler: no children die in Endgame. My feeling, however, is that a bit of wonder does.

I can hear the anguished cries now: “Are you kidding me?! You didn’t see any wonder in all that splendor?” Not so much. I’ve seen all the movies but the Hulk origin story. I’ve seen some more than once. It’s a lot of universe. I love them, can’t deny it. Some more than others. Adore Ant-Man. I have serious quibbles with Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but that’s another story.

My thinking is that for all its glories, Endgame relies almost exclusively on the tropes of love and family, sacrifice and commitment, hope and faith. Those are all good things, right? Of course. I can’t help but feel manipulated, however. Are there no other themes available? I’m glad the Marvel movies exist. I heard that one premise for them was the question, “What if gods really did exist?” Their primary purpose, however, is and will always be entertainment. And that’s great. I’ll see the thing again. Even at 182 minutes. There is an app for the bathroom breaks needed; I didn’t have it so missed two scenes of who-knows-what. The app is called RunPee. And this is the world we live in.

This reviewer is smarter than I am but says some of the same things in a smarty-pants way: and in The New Yorker, no less. Where I secretly want to write. But I digress.

Second digression: Time travel inherently makes no sense, but no one seems to care. The best of the movies in the genre is Primer, set in Austin, made for $7000, and won the 2004 Sundance Festival Grand Prize.

There’s a difference between making someone cry and letting them cry. (If you haven’t heard that people cry in the movie, then you haven’t heard anything.) In effect, this movie made me cry in places. It let me cry, too, over some other choices made. Some other reviewer whose piece is behind a pay wall called it junk food. Maybe so. I detoxed with some good poetry via The Daily Poem podcast. They’re short, interesting, available to read on the internet as you hear them.

Love. That’s the real wonder. Share some.

Joy to the World

What follows is a hymn sing program adapted for the residents at my husband’s care facility. The songs are from various sources, not just The Choir at Temple Square (formerly called MoTab, colloquially). The title of this blog, Joy to the World, comes from the song sung at Christmas; it is not a Christmas carol at all, which I learned several years ago. But you can read the lyrics again yourself.

Happy Easter. Have joy!

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Before that great day when Mary found the open tomb, much had to happen. From His miraculous birth to His resurrection, Jesus had to prepare His followers for many things. They knew a Messiah would come, an anointed one who would save His people.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

He Sent His Son

The text for the famous and popular hymn “How Great Thou Art” was written first in Swedish in 1885. The third verse, however, was added in 1949 by a British missionary: “When I think that God, His Son not sparing,/ Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;”

How Great Thou Art

After His baptism, the Savior departed into the wilderness. His journey was beginning, and there were temptations to be faced first. We, too, are often in the wilderness, either one of our making or through the fault of others. This new song by Melanie and Roger Hoffman reminds us that we are not alone.

Matthew 4: 1 The Jesus was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness, to be with God.


As His ministry was drawing to its end, the Savior entered Jerusalem. He had done so many things—from changing water into wine to raising Lazarus from the dead. He had taught through parables. He had preached the Sermon on the Mount. The entry into Jerusalem into Jerusalem was indeed triumphant and full of praise.

John 12: 12  The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this miracle, went out to meet him.

All Creatures of Our God and King

He had only a short time left, however. He looked out over Jerusalem and wept. He went into the temple and cleansed it. He cursed the unfruitful fig tree. He said to His disciples simply, “Have faith in God.” His doctrine angered the chief priests and scribes, so that they sought his life. It was to be his last Passover, the feast remembering the sacrificial lamb who had once saved Israel. The Savior, the Lamb of God, would be betrayed. But not before he offered His great atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Luke 22: 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.


He was arrested, false testimonies were given of Him at sham trials, He was mocked and beaten. Yet He did not speak against his accusers or revilers. He was to suffer a terrible and painful death.

John 22: 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

19 ¶ And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Oh Lord, My Redeemer

The work He had been sent forth to do was completed: He had overcome the world.

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.


We have seen many pictures of the Savior. Perhaps you have one of Him in your heart as well. Perhaps you will sing along with our last hymn, “He Is Risen.”

He Is Risen


One hates to agree with the opposition, of course, but in our good world, sometimes it’s necessary. On the other hand, one loves things that sound funny, even when one shouldn’t. It is possible to be of two minds, or brains, as in The Man with Two Brains starring Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner. It’s a sci-fi comedy (see what I mean), directed by Carl Reiner with a voice over by Sissy Spacek, whom I met as you know. Back to politics. Nancy Pelosi has a hard time these days, what with trying to lead a group of people who apparently don’t want to be led. Still, she’s right about a proposal the administration discussed and which the Right is laughing/serious about.

There is a crisis at the border. It’s not—as the Left will say—a fear tactic to incite those afraid of a bunch of brown people coming for jobs. That’s offensive. Tens of thousands of people ask for asylum or walk in. Yearly. I couldn’t even board a plane with a valid passport because France wouldn’t let me in because said passport didn’t have enough time remaining. Last week a Canadian was charged with abetting illegal entry via his bed-and-breakfast, Smuggler’s Inn. Also funny. Canada has quite strict immigration laws, which I wrote about for the Dallas Morning News. Bottom line: Most countries have strict laws regarding immigration.

Therefore, when the Trump Administration floated the idea of taking people from the border to sanctuary cities, many snickered. One hopes they weren’t serious, of course. The sheer logistics would be impossible. Still, one has to laugh at the in-your-face-what-do-you-say-to-that-? proposal. And, of course, the WH had to spin: “It’s not political retribution,” Hogan Gidley, the White House Deputy Press Secretary, told NPR. “If anything, you should consider it on the Democrat side to be an olive branch.” Ah. Perspective. The article quotes a source castigating Trump for cruelty, another source notes it’s illegal, and the DS says olive branch. I’m sorry. It’s just funny.

Back to Speaker Pelosi. Somewhat obviously, she couldn’t take the humor route. She said that the plan was “disrespectful.” Elsewhere she used the word “despicable.” According to sources familiar with the proposal (now doesn’t that sound professional?), lawyers inside the Homeland Security Department immediately quashed the idea as illegal. However it was posed, the idea was a non-starter. I can agree with Pelosi that it lacks respect for the problem, though I’m sorry she doesn’t see the head-shaking-funny factor.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the parties could work together on such an obviously essential idea? Yes, we could feed the world if we had to, though fitting them all into Texas is a stretch. Let’s ask our leaders to quit posturing and start working on proposals to fix the immigration system. Nothing funny about that…

The Duckling Report

A male duck is a drake; the female, a hen, or simply a duck. Let’s discuss other fowls first. If you remember your children’s tales, Chicken Little is a certain worry-wart who extrapolates from an acorn falling on her head that, and I quote, “The sky is falling!” Mass panic ensues. Another story involves one of my personal heroes, The Little Red Hen; you can read the 1918 version here. She gets things done, without help, and eats fresh bread at the end. Both involve—or can, since versions vary—ducks in an unflattering way.  I imagine a little tale of my own going like this:

You-Who: So, how are you?

MamaDuck: Oh, I’m fine. Usual complaints. But have I told you about Duckling Blue?

You-Who: Why no, but…

MamaDuck: My oh my! What a tale. His job has been (lost, delayed, found, transferred) so he and Hen Blue are (worried, concerned, ecstatic, moving). I don’t know what will happen!

You-Who: Oh dear!

MamaDuck: I know! And that’s not the worst of it. Duckling Gray has just been diagnosed with (lice, ADHD, kidney stones, a genius IQ) so he and Hen Gray are (buying RID, stopping red drinks, drinking water, joining MENSA). I don’t know what will happen!

You-Who: But…

MamaDuck: Even that’s not the half of it! Duckling Yellow ran out of (…) and doesn’t have enough (…) to get (…). I don’t know what will happen!

You-Who: Yes, I…

MamaDuck: Not now…since Duckling Drab said that I’d never (….) again, I haven’t thought what I’d do if (…) anyway. Oh my! Oh dear! What were you going to…?

You-Who: STOP!!!!

MamaDuck: quack?

You-Who: I asked how YOU were. I don’t need to know about all the ducklings. HOW are YOU?

MamaDuck: Oh, I’m…I’m…I don’t know…how I…am…without saying how the ducklings are.

You-Who: Of course you do. You just be still a second and see how it feels to be you.

MamaDuck: I’m a little worried about…

You-Who: NO! Bad start. Try again.

MamaDuck: It’s… warmer outside. I really like the warm sun on my feathers, when I sit by the pond.

You-Who: Better, better. Keep going.

MamaDuck: I…I thought I might go…might go…

You-Who: Really? Where might you go?

MamaDuck: Since the ducklings don’t need me—being grown and all—I thought I might go to…Paris?

You-Who: Is that a question?

MamaDuck: No. Quack. NO. I think I might go to Paris. Do you think I should?

You-Who: Not for me to say. Sounds like fun.

MamaDuck: Will the ducklings be fine?

You-Who: Not for me to say. Have you trained them well?

MamaDuck: Yes. I have. I wish they would still follow me around and listen carefully to everything I say and…

You-Who: Really?

MamaDuck: Ah, well, maybe not. Those days are gone. I am…may I say it?

You-Who: Can you? You don’t need my permission.

MamaDuck: I. Am. Happy.

You-Who: Hurray! Hurray for MamaDuck!

MamaDuck: Thank you, You-Who. I don’t think I could have done it without you.

You-Who: Sure you could. Look at all the good things you’ve already done! Have fun in Paris!

MamaDuck: Hurray for me! Paris, here I come! Love to all ducklings! I’ll send postcards!

Boundaries, People

Dander up, I must say some things that can’t wait until Monday next week. Plus the news cycle will have moved on to who-knows-what. My position today takes three parts: education, education, education.

First, our topic is Joe Biden and his hands-on approach to women. Learning moment: This is not about #MeToo. All touching is not about sexual harassment. Yesterday, all the chattering classes on networks and radio were wondering if the complaint (I hesitate to say allegation) against him should rule out a presidential bid. The Bernie people denied the bad news was coming from their side. The most notorious picture—Biden lingering on Stephanie Carter’s shoulder’s—was dismissed by Carter as a non-starter. They are good friends; it was nothing unusual; she resents the picture being abused. Etc. My personal favorite of the bad shots is this one, a video of Biden nuzzling the young daughter of a senator. She’s not having it, her mother pushes him away, and he is clueless. Word: inappropriate.

Second, touching women at all. Surely you’ve noticed that shaking hands is a manly operation. They almost always do it as a greeting. What you may not know is that a man should only shake a woman’s hand if she offers it. Learning moment: Wait for it. I don’t remember how I learned this. It wasn’t part of my upbringing. Yes, I learned to curtsy in case I ever met the Queen. Men weren’t shaking hands with women that long ago, so maybe it just went unsaid because it was obvious. You can see confirmation here if you don’t believe me. This Muslim woman talks about her culture more in detail, but actually, what she says applies to all women. These days, being proper doesn’t seem to matter as much, but now that you know, you can’t unknow, so perhaps your perspective will change. Word: respect.

Third, while my intended audience seems to be men, you’re also my main concern. I’m not saying that all men are as clueless as Joe Biden (calling yourself “affectionate” doesn’t get you off the hook) or that all women feel the same (Stephanie Carter allowing the touching aside). What I am saying is that this is for your protection, not ours. Learn about the sisterhood among women that I’m trying to give you a glimpse into. We put up with a lot without saying anything. Biden is being inappropriate and disrespectful when he sniffs hair or rubs noses. I’ll add conversation: You never have permission to comment about our bodies other than in the most general terms. “You look nice” is acceptable. Anything else can get creepy fast. Word: boundaries.

The rant has ended. Go out and have a nice day. And be nice.

Three Parables

The Grass Is Not Always

The winter came, and the freeze. Yet the grass stayed green, never yellowing, never dying. The spring came, and the rains. The grass grew greener still. Yet this was not the natural order. For in the winter the grass ought to die, and the spring should be a renewal, not a resurgence. Through the warmer days the cause became more apparent: the grass was not grass indeed but weeds. Beautiful and green when growing, though insidious, nay weak even, when the heat came upon them. No amount of water could save them when the rays of summer sun came upon them. So while there was green in the winter and into the spring, the yellow dryness did come when there was no shade. The harshness of the heat seared all.

The Stone Eye

The Elder, keeper of the Stone Eye, took it out of its velvet black case only to polish it (regularly) or to see with it (rarely). No one had ever seen the stone, for its use was necessary for vision. The people were all blind, you see. Thus, the Eye had been kept and cleaned and placed for seeing for millennia, held only in the Elders’ hands, never viewed. Times were changing, with demands for the Stone Eye to be brought out more and more often: “Come, Elder, come and tell us what the sky looks like at midnight!” Or, “Dear Elder, this mother is dying and longs to see the face of her newborn daughter!” The Elder, full of heart, tired of his own excuses, agreed more and more often. He knew the dangers of change when his successor began, “There is a way, Elder, for all to see. We shall make them Stone Eyes of their own.” It was a dagger to his heart, though he had foreseen it without seeing. The young one explained, “We shall use the Stone Eye as a model, for I can see it reflected in this instrument called Mirror; we can duplicate it many times, a thousand times a thousand times. And the people shall see.” It had to be, though the Elder knew without seeing that sadness would follow. The people would know their differences, not the timbre in their voices but the colors of their skins, not the sweetness of their smiles but the beauty—or its lack—of their lips. Life must change, and tears would flow. “Yes, you must make them,” he said. “Here…” And he handed the Stone Eye in its velvet cradle, letting it slip from his fingers at the last moment. But his successor stood ready, even unseeing.

March of the Tarantulas

First, tell her that spiders live in the closet, that she must not go there to play, for they will get her, when she is three.

Second, take her to see a movie called Tarantula when she is four, with a spider towering over a house. Eat popcorn beside her.

Third, tell her of every black spider in the house and warn her of black widows with a scarlet hourglass on their bellies, which live in the country house, and show her five living in the pocket of the pool table, being still.

Fourth, when her friend learns of her fear, have that friend recall a time when tarantulas were running so thick on the highway that they crunched beneath the wheels of the car trying to make its way through the horde, so that she sees it in her mind.

Fifth, tell her that they come in twos, which is true when perceived as one, then two, then another, then the second.

Sixth, let her move to a forest near a wilderness with tarantula nests throughout, with tarantulas old and young coming into her yard—causing her to scream and alarm the neighbors—into her home, an emergency.

Conclusion: After the broom, after the wasp poison, after too many gasps to count, she wishes for a stronger blow and (against all other powerful aversions) wishes for a shotgun.