Welcome Back to the Good ‘ole Days

Good News from the Resistance: Last week I participated in a 9-person Zoom call. Our faces appeared on the screen in a 3 x 3 matrix, three heads across, three down. The set-up seemed vaguely familiar – where had I seen that image before?  Suddenly it came rushing back: We looked like the set of the 1960’s TV game show Hollywood Squares. In the show, nine mostly B-list celebrities sat behind desks arranged in a 3 x 3 matrix — just like Zoom! —  and answered questions posed by host Peter Marshall. I loved that show, particularly the actor featured in the all-important middle square, the famously snarky Paul Lynde. Don’t ask me what happened during my Zoom call – I spent most of it burrowing down the Hollywood Squares Wiki rabbit hole.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about “the good ‘ole days” — as I left my empty milk bottles on the porch for the delivery guy to pick up, mail-ordered Charles Chips to my mother, baked cookies for the first time in 30+ years (with my hand-held Hamilton Beach mixer, circa 1979), and searched (unsuccessfully) for yeast to bake bread.

With the country on lockdown, many of my fellow Baby Boomers have been catapulted back in time: Family meals have made a comeback; old-fashioned hobbies like puzzles, board games, gardening and sewing are seeing a significant uptick; we’re playing (socially-distanced) Bingo with our neighbors; we’re turning to our screens for exercise classes, like we once did with Jack LaLannesidewalk chalk art is flourishing; we’re checking in with our distant parents and grandparents more often, teaching them new skills like FaceTime (Note: I love this woman. She’s not my mother, who’s been in isolation for a month, but she’s damn close!) and Zoom; neighborhoods are organizing scavenger hunts for kids. Icing on the cake? The Beatles released a new single.

The Greatest Generation  also may be experiencing a bit of déjá vu; Mutual Aid societies — created to provide safety nets for our most vulnerable citizens when the government shirks its responsibility — have been resurrected; modern day Rosie the Riveters are answering the call to make face masks for front-line healthcare workers.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not longing to return to the idealized days of WWII or June and Ward Cleaver. Just sayin’ …  when this nightmare is over, let’s hope we have the wisdom to hang onto what’s good.

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Ode to Social Media

Good News from the Resistance: You’d think that someone who writes a blog called Good News would have a helluva time coming up with content the week she panic-bought frozen spinach, honey peanut butter, and green curry paste, and went to three stores in search of out-of-stock toilet paper. Yes, I wake up most mornings with a feeling of dread. Yes, before I get out of bed I check the New York Times to see if the world has come to an end, or if Mitch is feeling feverish. But then something happens: I read my Facebook feed, and I’m reminded how friggin’ clever my “Friends” are. My will to face another day of lockdown returns.

What did you do Week 1 of the Acknowledged Apocalypse?

My highlights: 1) Whispered in my dog’s ear that mummy and daddy have been vegetarian for 30 years, therefore it is highly unlikely that we’ll eat her if the food system completely crumbles and we run out of tofu and beans, 2) bought an iRobot Roomba and followed it around the house for an hour, giving it helpful feedback like, “bitch, you missed that corner!,” 3) got all judgey with my husband when, after teaching his first on-line class he opened a bottle of wine at 4 p.m. — then soon after I read a stranger’s Facebook post confessing she’d been starting at 3:15, which prompted a generous pour and apologetic bottoms up!, 4) practiced making dinner using only frozen food and canned items (I had a refrigerator full of fresh produce), just to see if I could do it, then spiraled into a self-loathing depression when I cheated and added fresh parsley. I’m fine. Really.

We’ve been training for this for decades. Remember all the moaning we did about the evils of the Internet and social media? Take it all back! Thanks to a burst of rapid-fire creativity and technical know-how, we can now live our best lives without leaving the house.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, there is a panoply of on-line activities for kids like story time, drawing lessons, home-schooling, and joke books; there are DIY pantry recipes, live-streamed cooking lessons, meditation and yoga classesopera, too many concerts to keep up withmuseum tours, Broadway musicals, and stunning dance performances.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, if you’re locked-down in Italy you can watch Pornhub for free, if you’re sheltering-in-place in the U.S. you can get fresh food delivered more ways than you ever imagined, and if you act quickly, you can get  Passover in a Box (Seders will be cancelled because of a plague. Isn’t it ironic?). With more time to cook, we can be inspired any time of the day by Julia Child. Sunflower Farm has shown us the calming power of goats, and it’s reassuring to know how to make a DIY face mask.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, we know that the Field Museum in Chicago let a dinosaur run free, and the aquarium let the penguins out. Already there’s an excellent resource on How to Plague. We know that drive-in movies will be making a comeback, Major League Baseball has a heart, neighborhoods are creating Kindness Committees, Care-Mongering and Mutual Aid Networks, that good samaritans with 3-D printers are making respirator parts and so are glassblowers. People are replacing books with food in their Little Free Libraries, and San Franciscans are signing up to send meals to overworked medical clinicians.

Here’s what I also know: What we’re living through is horrible. And in the 3+ years I’ve been writing Good News, there has never been too much Good News to fit into an issue — until now. The seemingly boundless creativity and kindness of our fellow humans is awe-inspiring. Yes, we can do this.

Now, about Mitch: If he does get sick, I plan to start a campaign urging everyone to mail Get Well (Not!) cards, offering our Thoughts and Prayers. You in?

Yes, there’s lot of FUNNY Good News from the Resistance:

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Yes, We Found Good News

Good News from the Resistance: Just when we thought the Orange Grifter could no longer surprise us with his mendacious ineptitude, he was presented with a problem he could not Tweet away.  (Though he tried). The Grifter’s cheerleaders were out in full-force, running with his head-in-the-sand message. Matt Full-of-Hot Air Gaetz (R-FL) made light of the pandemic by wearing a gas mask on the House floor as he voted for a virus-fighting appropriation bill. Kellyanne “Truthy” Conway said the virus was “being contained.” And Fox continues to do a bang-up job convincing its viewers that COVID-19 is a liberal hoax. Which led a friend of mine to muse, “Maybe this will become a Republican disease.”

Maybe.

Gas-Mask Gaetz is now in self-quarantine after shaking the hand of a virus-positive man at the Conservative Political Action Conference; Ivanka, Kellyanne and William Barr met recently with a newly virus-positive Australian official (I wonder if they shook hands or bumped elbows?), and a Brazilian official who partied with the Grifter and Praise Jesus! Pence at Mar-a-Lago last weekend has it, too. Could that have anything to do with the sudden about-face, state-of-emergency declaration?

The Good News? State and local governments, the private sector, and those of us who do not rely on Sean Hannity or Kellyanne for our news got to work well before the Grifter came to his senses, filling the gaping lacuna created by the federal government’s “it’s only a cold” attitude.

The Icing-on-the-Cake Good News? Humor and creativity keep breaking through. As in:

Tired of singing Happy Birthday to You (twice) while washing your hands? Here are 10 more awesome songs that will do the trick. Or better yet, use this easy tool to learn how to wash along to your favorite tune (I used “All Along the Watchtower.” It’s fun!).

Play “Working from Home During a Pandemic Bingo!”

Learn new ways to say hello! that don’t involve cooties.

Read a TrumPoem.

And before you go off to wash your hands after reading this on your germ-laden laptop or phone, consider all of the happy dog news that continues in the midst of our national nightmare:

Canadian service dogs watched a live musical as part of their training; monks made a stray an “honorary friar” (he looks so cute in his little friar outfit!); a vet is providing free care to the pets of homeless people; a kid is making bow ties for shelter dogs to help them get adopted; Bailey, a very good dog, ate the whole burrito.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and continue to seek Good News.

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On the Bright Side of Hellbent

Good News from the Resistance: Lately I’ve been thinking about my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live character, Father Guido Sarducci, the chain-smoking priest. Father Guido created a Five-Minute University, an education concept I bet Cruella DeVos could get behind. The idea was simple: In 5 minutes, students learned everything they would remember five years after graduating from a 4-year university. Economics: Supply and demand. Spanish: ¿Como está usted? Business: Buy low, sell for more. Spring Break: 20 seconds under a sun lamp, and a Dixie cup full of orange juice. Tuition: $20.

In 1976 — about when I was watching Father Guido on SNL — I was taking an Organizational Behavior class. Here’s all I remember:

Performance = Motivation x Ability

Translation: Performing well at anything is a function of how motivated you are to get the job done, and how capable you are at the task. Lazy (motivation = 0) geniuses are not productive. No matter how motivated you are to finish a work project one night, if you splash tea on your computer keyboard, the screen goes black and you can’t fix it (ability = 0), your project will remain unfinished.

The Good News? The sky’s the limit when you are 100% committed to achieving your goal, and you’ve got the smarts and ability to stick with it. Which is where we are right now.

Never has our motivation been higher to oust an Occupant of the White House. And never have we been so well organized to get the job done.

Highly Motivated Voters x Well-Organized Voters = Ousting the Grifter-in-Chief

Highly Motivated Voters x Well-Organized Voters = Flipping the Senate

Yes, Iowa was an embarrassment. Yes, there is (at this point) a void in party leadership. N.H. did little to calm our fears.  And yet. On-the-ground grassroots organizers aren’t being hamstrung by the mess at the top. They’re running full-speed ahead, fueled by three years of the Grifter-in-Chief’s antics.

So get off that sofa, stop reading all of the Chicken Little, click-maximizing news, and heed the motivating words of Shinedown’s hit song, “Get Up“:

I’m on the bright side of being hellbent
So take  it from me, you’re not the only one
Who can’t see straight

If you were ever in doubt
Don’t sell yourself short … 
Hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed.

Get up, get up
Get a move on!

There are dozens of organizations, represented by thousands of organized groups in every Congressional District and state, that are educating and registering voters, getting out the vote, and building infrastructure that will ensure we have the ability to win the White House, flip the Senate, and keep the House. Fear-mongering sells clicks, not reports of organized citizens knocking on doors and registering new voters.

One thing is certain: You-Know-Who will continue to provide our motivation. It’s up to us to use our tenacity and smarts to get him out of our lives. ¡Sí, se puede, people! Get up!

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How to Apologize

Good News from the Resistance: Lately we’ve been bombarded with a rash of public apologies. So many opportunities for hanging-close-to-the-surface attitudes to be laid bare, so many ways to backtrack. Thankfully, American Greetings has created a useful, step-by-step roadmap, Apology Messages. The card company’s guide provides custom mea culpas. Did you offend a friend, lover, co-worker, or boss? No matter who you’ve insulted or pissed off, they’ve got you covered. American Greetings, listen up! Given our political milieu, I’m quite certain there’s money to be made in a new line of cards, Political Apology Messages. Here are just a few, lifted from recent events. Effective, or not? You be the judge.

How to apologize to Blacks and Latinos for stopping, frisking, and locking them up. “I was wrong. And I am sorry.”

How to apologize to the American People if you are the National Archives, and you have airbrushed photos from the 2017 Women’s March, to remove images of “offensive posters.” “We made a mistake.”

How to apologize to a Black Congresswoman whose anti-white supremacy MLK Day speech you called “a rant,” if you are a white Republican governor. “The governor agreed with Congresswoman Pressley’s remarks today and believes her speech was moving.”

How to apologize to wheelchair users for charging them $25,000 for a $16 train ticket. “We apologize for their inconvenience as we have been working through how to serve their travel needs.” 

How to apologize to your political rival if you are running for president, and one of your surrogates writes an Op-Ed accusing him of having “a big corruption problem.” “It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.”

How to apologize to a newly elected Latina city councilor after getting outed for leaving a message on her voicemail that started, “Let me tell you something you bigot, you fascist, you criminal….” “I’m a hothead sometimes. I am not a hateful person… You’re going to make a difference. Whether I agree with you or disagree with you.” 

How to not apologize to your husband if he’s the Treasury Secretary who’s just insulted Greta, whom you adore. “I stand by Greta.”

The Good News? Hateful comments and bad behaviors are being called out – and the perpetrators feel the need (for whatever reason) to apologize. Yes, there’s more Good News from the Resistance:

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Rx to Battle Trumpschmerz

Good News from the Resistance: How to sum up 2019 — in a Good News blog, nonetheless — a year marked by relentless, soul-crushing anxiety? New Yorker writer Susan Glasser approached the task by inventing a term that captures our collective state-of-mind: Trumpschmerz. Schmerz is German, referring to the “continuous pain or ache of the soul that results from excessive contemplation of it all.” No need to explain the Trump part.

Chances are we’ll be feeling Trumpschmerzy well into 2020. Which is why, I suspect, that over the last few weeks we’ve been bombarded with more “Best of” lists than ever in the history of the printed word. Of course we’ve always been able to count on year-end “10 Best Movies” or “Best Books of the Year,” but this year the lists multiplied like fruit flies on a bowl of decaying peaches. Yet, unlike fruit flies, my attitude towards the lists gradually morphed from annoyance to gratitude, when I came to realize that each was a tiny antidote to my deepening Trumpschmerz.

10 Best Rom-Coms of the Decade9 Most Overlooked Movies of 2019; 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2020; 10 Best TV Shows of 2019; 25 Top New Yorker articles; 15 Best TV Moments; 50 Best Podcasts; Best Social Media Moments remind us there is an abundance of brilliance and creativity in our world — and provide a roadmap on those days when Trumpschmerz prevents us from getting out of bed.

The next time our Tweeter-in-Chief lets loose another ignorant zinger, don’t despair.  50 Moments That Actually Made Us Happy; 10 Saturday Night Live Sketches That Made Us Scream; and 20 Funniest Performances of 2019 are your anti-Trumpschmerz Rx.

Still longing for the 44th? Obama’s Best Of Playlist and Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019 remind us this, too, shall pass.

Need to know that all your Resistance efforts were not for naught? 10 Stories to Renew Your Faith in Politics will remind you that despite The Grifter-in-Chief’s best efforts, 2019 was filled with plenty of big, beautiful wins. Here’s one more Good News-filled, final year-end list:

10 Most-Clicked Marla’s Good News from the Resistance Stories in 2019

10. “P#ssy Grabber Plays”: Trump’s Accusers take the Stage

9.  Most ridiculous Inauguration expenses  

8. Hero-child who slept through Orange Clown’s State of the Union 

7. Obama’s letter to prisoner he freed

6. Ben & Jerry’s new flavor for these times

5. Trader Joe’s makes a move against plastic

4. Impeachment movies with happy endings

3. Randy Rainbow’s hysterical Cheeto Christ Stupid Czar song

2. What happens if Melania divorces the Clown

  1. GOP racist who dissed Michelle Obama goes to jail

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Yes, We are Bending Towards Justice

Good News from the Resistance: It’s become de rigueur for political writers, talking heads, and members of the clergy (with the exception of Evangelicals) to conjure MLK’s, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” to soothe us each time the Swamp Thing-in-Chief concocts a new way to impose hate. Increasingly, the quote is making me feel sick. Unwilling for the Swamp Thing to ruin even MLK for me, I decided to take a look at recent news through an arc-of-justice lens. Good News! As it turns out, the arc is bending towards justice in many places, and it isn’t all that long. (Except in the VA and PA suburbs, where it took quite a while, but last month it finally moved).

Exactly how long is the arc ? Within the last few weeks …

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What a Piece of Work is Man!

Good News from the Resistance: Let’s consider for a moment all we’ve learned about the nuances of the U.S. Constitution since the Grifter-in-Chief moved into the White House. We’ve had one big fat lesson in How to Lie, Cheat, Abuse and Steal Your Way Into and Throughout the Presidency. It’s clear sailing with Moscow Mitch at the helm! Now, as  Pelosi, Schiff et. al. turn up the heat, we have much to learn from the latest chapter of the GOP playbook: Grace Under Pressure: What to do When the Vise Tightens. My favorite lessons learned (so far):

  • If you are a GOP Congressman asked an uncomfortable question about our Russian-Asset-in-Chief, avoid answering it by head-butting the reporter’s camera,
  • If you are a pre-verbal MAGA-hat-wearing goon who finds himself outnumbered at an anti-Trump protest (go figure!), whip out the bear repellent spray,
  • If you are a GOP lackey nominated for a judgeship, and during confirmation hearings you are confronted with your own homophobic statements, cry, baby, cry (warning: this is the most cringeworthy video I’ve seen in a long while),
  • If you are the president’s personal lawyer and his former cybersecurity expert, and you can’t remember the password on your iPhone, head to the closest Apple Genius Bar for help, and
  •  When losing your job becomes a real possibility, get a note from your podiatrist.

There will be no mention of the “I” word in this post. Instead, there will be stories that make me smile. Because no matter how dark the news, the daily reminders of our fellow humans’ creativity and ingenuity never cease to brighten my day.

Here we go …

In Massachusetts, local politicians are fighting for the right to see their neighbors’ nightgowns and underpants hanging on clotheslines; if you cut off someone in traffic and suddenly hear the sound of a loud fart or bleating goat, it’s the Tesla driver behind you;  grandmas are the new flower girls; when a middle school principal announced he would not stock bathrooms with free sanitary products, 7th grade girls said, “chew on this“; a black lab was sworn in at Chicago’s state’s attorney’s office (she has a real job); Rudy G. keeps butt-dialing an NBC reporter, and the messages captured are the stuff of political reporters’ dreams; there’s been a resurgence of witches!

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In Praise of Incompetence!

Good News from the Resistance:  Last week we learned about a new piece of Trump’s immigration policy — he dreamed of building a border moat, and filling it with alligators and snakes. His aides got cost estimates. The Good News? After three years, our Clown-in-Chief still has the ability to make me laugh so hard I fell off the couch. The Really Good News? This was just one of a litany of reminders of the childish ineptness of the current Administration. To quote my friend Billy Shore, who leads a national anti-hunger organization, “(their) incompetence has worked in our favor.” To which I say, Praise Ye Incompetence!

Our Reality TV star-in-Chief made a lot of campaign promises, yet after close to 1,000 days in the White House, he’s failed to deliver. Thanks to his stunning incompetence, and a bit of help from his loyal and corrupt henchmen and dangerously clueless family, he’s been unable to: ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.; remove Syrian refugees; create a Commission on radical Islam; build a wall (or a moat) and make Mexico pay for it; end birthright citizenship; cancel federal aid to sanctuary cities; expand fast-track deportation; add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census; change the vaccination schedule for children; or bring back waterboarding. Obamacare still stands, Mt. Denali has not be renamed Mt. McKinely, Medicaid is not funded through block grants to states, and $20 billion has not been invested in “school choice.” Praise Ye Incompetence!

But that’s legislation; our Grifter-in-Chief ran on a “this country needs a businessman who knows how to run things!” platform. How’s he doing with that?

Our  Bankrupter-in-Chief already — with a year to go —  holds the record for both Cabinet and White House turnover; he’s lost more Cabinet heads to ethics violations and corruption than any president in U.S. history, and underlings who don’t buy what he’s selling (Comey, Scaramucci, McCabe, Shulkin, Sessions, Omarosa, Bolton) are dismissed by the boss with his signature phrase, “You’re fired!” Which is why White House morale is so low (former WH chief-of-staff John Kelly said, “working for Donald Trump was the worst fucking job I’ve ever had”), that we, the taxpayers, are footing an $18,000 bill for a White House executive coach. (Good luck with that). Let’s hope the coach continues to be unable to control the gut-bustingly funny mistakes and retributive leaksPraise Ye Incompetence!

And yet. While our Baffoon-in-Chief continues to outdo his own mendacity, unlikely fixers are stepping up.  Auto manufacturers are fighting Trump’s relaxed air pollution and emissions rules. Walmart is filling a void on gun policy. Greta has mobilized young people across the world, and she will not stop. Cities like L.A. are out in front on electric vehicle adoption. Amazon just ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans; FedEx ordered 1,000 more.

Note to our National Clown: This is how you run a thriving business. Praise Ye Competence!

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Let’s Move the Statue of Liberty to Portland?

Good News from the Resistance: Maine has the oldest and second whitest (Go Vermont!) population in America. So when 400+ asylum-seekers landed in the state this past summer, mostly from the Congo and Angola, many — including Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling — recognized an opportunity. “If we have discovered the magic wand that will bring young families to Portland to help us build the next generation, why would we want to stop that, especially when it costs us so little money?” the mayor said.

Why Maine? No one knows exactly. Some recent arrivals said they’d heard through the grapevine that Portland was a safe, aging city that needed more workers. Others had heard there was a strong safety net.

After making their way by air to Brazil, then by foot and bus through Mexico to the Texas border, what the migrants found in Portland was a welcoming community. When the city set up hundreds of cots in the Portland Expo and school gyms, 1,200 residents volunteered to help. In Cape Elizabeth, there was a Welcome! 4th of July picnic. The Portland City Council voted to allocate $900,000+ of private donations for the new arrivals’ housing and basic needs. Non-profits like the New Mainers Resource Center helped find the migrants more permanent housing in Portland and nearby townsProsperity Maine – whose executive director Claude Rwaganje was born in the Congo — provides financial education, “the first step to achieving your American dream.”

Last week, Luc Mpangaje flew from his home in Texas to Portland, to thank members of the First Parish Church for helping him in 2010 when he’d been an asylum seeker fleeing Burundi, where he’d been jailed and beaten by police for his political views. He’d arrived in Portland with $80, speaking no English, without his family. Now a U.S. citizen living in Dallas, and reunited with his wife and 10-year old son Malcolm and 13-year old daughter Yasmine, Mpangaje works as an airport shuttle driver. He’s saving to move his family back to Portland.

“If you do something good for me, you’ll always stay in my heart,” Mpangaje said. “That’s why I keep coming back here – because I feel like I owe something.”

Mainers, listen up! Ditch Susan Collins, and you’ll soon be topping another list: Best State in the U.S. 

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