Category Archives: Books Music Movies and Podcasts I Love

Star Wars, Oh My Heart

You don’t have to be a fan of Star Wars to read this post. But if you do happen to intend to see the movie and haven’t, there WILL BE spoilers in here. One can’t really write about this movie without giving some things away.

I think I remember seeing the very first Star Wars in the theater. I definitely remember watching the first three at different times at movie nights at Wheaton. We would all gather in the chapel and watch a movie on a really big screen. Reminder: this was pre-I-can-watch-whatever-whenever-wherever days. Our options to watch a movie included going to the theater, and . . . oh, that was it. So, Wheaton offered regular movie nights for the student body, which were quite fun.

The hype surrounding movies these days is something to behold. Even I knew months ago that December 18 was the opening day for this latest installment in the Star Wars franchise. I figured I would see it, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

Here’s the thing I wasn’t expecting. I related to a character who was the mother of someone who had chosen the Dark Side. Although not intended, I’m sure, the son who had chosen the Dark Side was a perfect picture of an addict, culminating in this line of dialogue: “I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?”

I had already started boohooing earlier in the film. When Han and Leia saw each other for the first time in the movie, I had such a deep sense of awareness of time having passed, of having been my young naive self when the first movie came out in 1977, and seeing these same characters, who had grown older just like I have grown older, brought the tears.

I will definitely see this movie again in the theater, maybe even more than once. I haven’t seen a movie over 2 hours in I don’t know how long that kept my attention like this one did. So, yes, I recommend it highly, to anyone who has an appreciation for the first three Star Wars movies. Do you remember Luke, Leia, and Han from a time when you “wore a younger [wo]man’s clothes” (to quote Billy Joel)? I do and I loved it.

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS (You Must Listen to the Serial Dater Podcast)

Every so often, I will Google “best podcasts [of 2015]” and see what comes up. My latest foray into finding new podcasts took me to to an article about podcasts she recommends. I’ve learned that there are always gems in the comments as well, so I read through most of them. This one caught my eye:


My friend Charlie – recent creative writing MFA grad and soon-to-be fullbright scholar in the UK has a hilarious podcast called serial dater that he sort of started on a whim but is really cute and funny (and you can feel good about yourself by supporting an up-and-coming NY-based writer while listening!)

KM had me at “My friend Charlie.” Then he/she added hilarious, on a whim, cute, funny, feel good about yourself. Sounded great to me, so I downloaded all six episodes, departing from my normal policy of downloading a max of two episodes to figure out if I like it before I truly commit. I love listening to podcasts, and I have one on whenever I am in the car by myself. As I sped to and from Chicago over the past 36 hours, (U2 concert. Read about it here.) I took advantage of my 10 hours in the car to try out some new podcasts.

Charlie Beckerman is a talented writer who has an MFA from Florida State University. Serial Dater is about a series of 5 first dates Charlie had with quite a variety of guys in a single week shortly before he left New York to begin his MFA. Each episode is a humorous look at one of the dates. The final episode — well, I won’t say anything about that, because I didn’t see it coming, and I want you to be surprised.

One thing that bugs me about some podcasts is the poor sound quality, but this does NOT apply to Serial Dater. From the music to the voices to the transitions, this is one of the best produced podcasts I have listened to. Music is by Prom Date. You can hear one of their songs here! (genre: synthpop).

Charlie wrote these stories in a writer’s workshop he did during his MFA application process.  A couple years later, he took it a step further by creating the podcast and dramatizing parts of the story. Wait until you hear the voice(s) of his dates. I just loved it.

(A little caveat here:   I have no idea what percentage of LGBTQ folks would be accepting of my halting attempts to understand, to empathize, and to work through old beliefs and ideas in order to make room for a new understanding, but I am trying and I’ve come a long way, baby.)

Serial Dater is an excellent podcast to add to your listening, or to take the first step into listening to podcasts. The entire series is 6 episodes; the first five hover around the 30 minute mark, which is a good length for listening; and you will love it.

Besides the excellence of the writing in the podcast and the overall quality of the production, what I loved about this podcast is it gave me a glimpse into the heart and mind of a gay man, and I ended up much closer to what Bono said at the end of the concert. “There is no them; there is only us.” I felt a solidarity and connection with this man, Charlie Beckerman, and I am so grateful for that.