Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

I’ve attended the Sundance Film Festival for 15 years, now, and every year brings me a favorite moment, or two. This year, I seemed to have a zillion: I got to hang out with Paul Rudd at the premiere party for his film, The Fundamentals of Caring. 

 

Chatting with Paul Rudd at his premiere party at the  Acura Sky Lodge. 

 

Eddie the Eagle stars Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton visited the Park City Nordic Ski Club jumping practice at Utah Olympic Park. I witnessed an awesome Q&A with the stars and filmmaker of Life, Animated. 

But one of the coolest moments was the least expected. I arrived at my reserved seat (thanks to the publicist for the film) at the premiere of The Fundamentals of Caring, only to be joined moments later by the author of the book on which the film was based, and then discovered that my nearest seatmates were given VIP tickets in the waitlist line. “This is the best day of my life!” one of them said. “These seats are the BOMB.” To me, that’s the essence of Sundance—folks who are fans of film who would have been thrilled with any seat, being treated like VIPs. (Later, during the Q&A, they realized the woman who had given them the tickets was a producer of the film. Class act.)

 

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But the reason I saw these films, in particular,  was because I had a very a cool assignment, writing a guest post for Love That Max, about the way films give us a window into the world of people with special needs. Watching these films offered me a reminder of the strength and resilience that lies within all of us—it’s just a question of how we choose to use it that determines our success. It’s one of my favorite pieces, to date, and I’d love for you to read it, and let me know what you think. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, please share it.

Source: Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

 

The Eagle Has Landed

So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.

Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.

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PCNSC Coach Lindsey Van helps Seth select his Nordic Gear. “You want it hard, easy, or fun?” She asks. “Easy and fun,” he responds. “Well, it won’t be both. But it will be fun.”

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Mission accomplished. Cool boots. Giant skis.

He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to  pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.

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He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”

Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.

Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)

As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.

Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:

And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.

However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.

Fly Boy and the 20

Last Friday was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Utah Olympic Park—the morning had offered cloud cover and sub-zero temperatures, but by afternoon, as happens in Utah, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With all  the sun reflecting off the snow,  the ambient temperature felt 25 degrees warmer than that. Kids and adults assembled in the training area for Get Out And Play were shedding warm layers as though they’d suddenly arrived poolside in the tropics.

With much of the Nordic team and all of the coaches in Steamboat for a competition, the substitute coaches introduced themselves: a current US Ski Team member and the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA—my new friend Julie. It’s not enough that the kids’ coaches are all highly accomplished ex-Olympians. Park City’s bench is deep, man. I laughed out loud at the irony of our overqualified “subs,” then joined the other mom chaperones, to watch the freestyle and nordic groups begin their warmups.`

 

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Happy Jumpers

 

My friend Liz was there, for the first time, chaperoning her school group, and seeing her kids learn tricks of the Freestyle trade. Our kids have done karate together for years. We are fond of each other’s kids. “Look,” I pointed. “There goes Seth, he’s jumping the 10 meter.” I could feel her tense up as I did—as though he were her own. I know the feeling—every time I see her kids huck themselves off a jump or over a rail, I gulp. He landed it, we both began to breathe normally, and then something amazing happened. He rode the rope tow lift up, but this time, he rode past the point where he usually exits to ski to the 10m start, not letting go until he could ski across to the 20m start.

“He’s not going to jump the 20—” I said, to everyone and no one in particular. “Is he?”

“He’s got to have his first time, some time, right?” One of my pals offered. I supposed so, but I’d been under the impression he wouldn’t be on the 20 until he made the switch, at some yet-to-be-determined-date, from his alpine gear to nordic boots and skis. Perhaps not.

We watched as he engaged in a few minutes of conversation with Julie. He took off his skis, climbed up to stand next to her on the coaching platform, and I inferred that she explained how he should position himself on the start bar. I tried to remember how to breathe. And then, he talked to her for another moment, grabbed his skis, walked down the steps, clicked in and skied down toward the 10-meter start. Oh, ok, maybe, just maybe, he was just curious. Maybe he wasn’t yet allowed. I had begun to formulate questions to ask him about what he learned up there, so I’d be ready when he landed the 10, again—and then he skied over to the rope tow, again, grabbed hold and rode up.

“Oh—oh! He’s going back to the 20…” I witnessed this moment with a bit of reverence. Here was my child, working out for himself, exactly how far he wanted to push, exactly which goals he wanted to accomplish, today. This, I thought, was the second of many decisions that solidified jumping as “his sport.” The first was that initial jump, three weeks earlier, from the 5m. Now, as then, he didn’t need his parents’ advice or input—just some good, supportive coaching and a boost of confidence. Here’s Meg’s video of our view from the bottom…

Here’s Julie’s video of our view from the top…

 

and here’s the trailer Seth and Lance made with some more footage, the next day.

Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Spending a family reunion on skis is one of the most fun excuses I can think of for getting the gang together. And while my cousins like to travel around to other canyons, while they’re here, our family ski days are centered at Deer Valley.

Well, as “centered” as our brand of multi-generational mayhem can be.
Click the link, below, to steal our sanity-saving, fun-making tips for an awesome family reunion on the slopes.

Source: Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Everything you need to know about having a great ski day, you can learn at the Deer Valley Resort Celebrity Skifest. Here’s what I found out when I chatted with some of the competitors in Deer Valley’s annual opening weekend event to benefit the Waterkeeper Alliance.

[Click below to learn how you can improve your ski day experience!]

Source: Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Endurance Test

Dudes, I’m getting after it, today. I went to my annual physical, and I remembered to fast and to abstain from coffee, beforehand. That was hard, man. Hard, like mining coal, you know? I mean, mining coal without the benefit of coffee. (My kids and husband were all, “Gee, we’re really sorry you can’t have coffee, today.” Because, they KNOW. I mean, once, after knee surgery, Jeff got me home, settled with my ice machine and brought me a double shot, freshly brewed, because I’d had to fast prior to the procedure. We don’t mess around.)

The doctor’s office is located across from Whole Foods, so after the exam and the nine vials of blood, and leaving with homework—mammogram— (WTF, Middle Age? You suck!),  I grabbed an oatmeal from their awesome oatmeal bar. No kidding: they serve peanut butter oatmeal alongside the regular oatmeal. And some sort of quinoa concoction. (I tried one of those for breakfast, once. I like my quinoa in the evening, thankyouverymuch.) I made mine with half peanut butter and half regular, and then piled on fruit and nuts like I was at a squirrel convention.

Anyway, while I was at Whole Foods, I stocked up on necessities. Ingredients for Jeff’s meat sauce-over-polenta dinner, for instance. A tray of sushi for my lunch (thinking ahead!) and this publication, so I can keep current on important events of our time. And, you know, other times.

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Of course, it’s for the kids, silly. In fact, I’m just going to slide it into place on the coffee table shelf and see how long it takes them to notice it. (Who wants to handicap this one? 22 seconds?)

Anyway, they have a coffee bar in Whole Foods, and I had every intention of purchasing a cup. Or a gallon. Instead, I purchased this Kombucha tea, because it promised me better brain function. Sorry, a “clear mind,” which made me laugh so hard I got really thirsty. By the way, it’s delicious, but I wish I’d been awake enough to read the ingredients and notice there is sugar within. (Coffee, stupid.)

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I’ve been home for 30 minutes, have consumed most of the tea, and I’m just as slow-witted as I was an hour ago. Whose fucking idea was it to skip the coffee???

 

 

 

Skate skiing mojo

I needed a mojo boost. The start of the year had me feeling sluggish and grumpy—for no reason that I can think of, except, perhaps, a lack of exercise during the two-week school break. So, today’s activity—skate skiing—was just what I needed. What is skate skiing? Well, it’s a version of Nordic Skiing that is a cross between hockey skating and falling on your ass. Oh, wait, that’s just me. If you want to see how it’s really done, watch this video:

I’m not naturally gifted or graceful in athletics. Therefore, I sign up for lessons a lot. For instance, I’m a lifetime alpine skier, but I’ve done Women’s Weekend and Women on Wednesday, twice each, at Deer Valley. I’ve skied the Mahre Camp at Deer Valley. I’m a good skier, now, but it took all those lessons (on top of the weekly ski schools and racing camps I did as a kid) to get me there. Actually, as a child, I took lessons in everything: skiing, figure skating, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and ballet. Oh, the ballet! So much of it, and I’m still the opposite of graceful. And, nearly every winter since we have lived in Park City, I have taken a lesson or two in skate skiing. I tried to get Jeff into it, calling in a favor to arrange a lesson on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games course at Soldier Hollow, with no less an inspiration than Luke Bodensteiner, a two-time Olympian. Jeff liked Luke a lot, but we didn’t win a convert that day. Jeff’s suggestion: I should find some friends who like to skate. It bummed me out a bit, because I had visions of going for skate dates, pondering life and nature together—or something.

Lucky for me some friends run a very cool women’s skate ski group: Park City Nordic Betties, which works like a team, with coaching, but has a decidedly no-pressure vibe, allowing members to self-select into ability levels. Plus, we get this cool hat!

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I am prepared to make good use of the awesome skate skis I bought last year (the week before I wrecked my knee), and to share a new sports adventure with my pal Kellie.

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The last two years, Kellie and I spent a day a week improving our alpine skiing at  Deer Valley’s Women on Wednesdays and the funny thing is, two of the first people we saw, today, were women we knew from WOW. I guess I’m not alone in my lesson-addiction.

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We went with the Beginner crew, led this week by my friend Inge—who announced that we’d be leaving our poles behind. Nothing—and I mean nothing—says “beginner” like skiing sans poles. Quickly, all those ballet lessons came into play—I had to balance. And I visualized the way I used to flex and point as I figured out how to better launch the skis. Ok, fine, it makes more sense in my mind—don’t judge. And I only fell once. Net net, the day was a success.

“It’s so much more fun to suck at something in a group of people doing the same thing,” I said, as the lesson ended. Everyone laughed, and then a couple of women chimed in. “It’s more fun when you’re with a group of women,” said one. “I hate to admit it, but when my husband says he wants to skate with me, I get a little bummed,” said another. When I told them about Jeff’s dislike of the sport, they simply said, “Lucky you!” I left in a great mood, knowing I could go home and proudly tell Jeff he was right, he really doesn’t want to skate. And, I haven’t taken off my hat, yet.

 

Dr. Zizmor and the Bethenny Effect

You guys. Dr. Zizmor is retiring. I don’t even know how to process this. I haven’t lived in New York City for 14 years, and yet, so inextricably linked is this man—or, rather, his image—to my life there, I am feeling a distinct loss, imagining New York City subways without his rainbow-themed ads, his smiling (smirking?) face.

For the uninitiated: Jonathan Zizmor, MD is a dermatologist whose ads, like this one, have appeared on NYC subways for, well, a very long time.

When I first moved to New York and saw Jonathan Zizmor, M.D. looking down at me as I clung to the grip pole, I was mystified. My thoughts ran the gamut:

“What kind of doctor advertises on the subway?”

“What kind of person chooses a doctor based on the ads on the subway?”

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“I feel wrong even reading these ads.” And, yet, I was a captive audience. I had to read them. Even as I was reading the newspaper or a book, my eyes drifted upward to this man’s smiling face, and his promise of an improved face, body, skin. Wondering, all the while, “Doesn’t he know this is cheesy? Does he really think people sitting in the subway are going to read these ads, and think: ‘Yes. TODAY is the day for all those dermatology procedures I’ve been putting off, and I’m calling Jonathan Zizmor, MD to help me.'”

My zealous wonder (I would bring up these ads at dinner, with alarming frequency) was informed by the fact that I worked for women’s magazines, where the editors cultivated relationships with the best and brightest medical experts. The very thought of calling a doctor from a subway ad was preposterous.

Only today, as the announcement of his retirement at age 70, appeared and reappeared all over social media, did I figure out the fact that creating familiarity was Dr. Z’s stock in trade. It reminded me of an experience years ago when Jeff and I were at a party during the Sundance Film Festival.  We saw a familiar face across the room, and commented to each other that we couldn’t place her—one thing was certain, we knew we’d had dinner with her at our house. It was mildly embarrassing, therefore, that we couldn’t remember her name. Still, we found it irksome that she hadn’t come over to greet us.  Finally, we saw her speaking with another friend of ours, and when their conversation wrapped up, we asked the friend to ID her. Oh, said our friend, it’s Bethenny Frankel. We laughed and went over to introduce ourselves. “Bethenny, we were over there at our table getting mad at you because we thought you’d been to our house for dinner, and now you didn’t have the decency to say hello!” Bethenny cracked up. “You know, we have had dinner—if you watched me on TV while you ate. Right?” Right.

This is the genius of Dr. Z. It’s the Bethenny Effect. If you’ve ever taken the subway, you know Dr. Z. I’m willing to bet that he improved the skin of millions of subway riders, for all the years he worked, just by dint of the fact that he was an omnipresent evangelist for good skin.

And, maybe this was the magic—riding with Dr. Z made you forget, for just a minute, that you were in a grimy subway car. Maybe you were thinking about making the world a better place—surely that was the idea behind the rainbow? Whatever the case, Dr. Z was there to take you away from the guy with leg sprawl, next to you, and from the other guy crushing up against your back. So, thank you Dr. Zizmor. I wish you all the best in your retirement.  Though it begs the question: What ad will replace Dr. Z, in the city’s zeitgeist?

 

I fedora this kid

“Wait, I need to get my fedora!” Seth called out as we started to head out the door to meet friends for dinner and a movie.

It was not an occasion that called for formality. But he can’t resist the bright pink color (he’s color blind, and it’s a shade he can see, and, therefore, a favorite). And one of the friends we were meeting is given to wearing fedoras, so he wanted to show off to a fellow aficionado.  “It’s not just pink,” he said while pushing a button on the band of the hat. “It lights up!” And while it’s super-cute on the kid, it’s even funnier when he places it atop the shaggy head of a sleeping dog. (Incidentally, it was acquired at a bar mitzvah party, the night before—as if it weren’t incongruously delightful enough that the party was held at a distillery on a dude ranch…)

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I fedora this photo.