Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jess Bhamra

When I saw Bend It Like Beckham for the first time ten years ago, I laughed so hard, I never thought I’d recover. Thankfully, I did and now I’m able to tell you about the star character for Women Who Wow Wednesday. Her name is Jesminder “Jess” Kaur Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) and she likes football—soccer here in North America. She likes watching it. Playing it. Breathing it. She’s a regular fan.

Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley
Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley

One day, Juliette “Jules” Paxton (Keira Knightley) watches her play against the boys and she decides to approach her about an offer that may very well change her life. Jules wants Jess to come along and have a trial with the Hounslow Harriers, an all-girls football team. Jess doesn’t know what to say. She asks Jules if she thinks she’s good enough. Of course Jess is good enough, otherwise Jules wouldn’t have asked her.

There’s one problem. Jess is Indian playing English football. Under normal circumstances, this would be acceptable, but Jess’ parents are very strict about what their daughter can and can’t do with her life. One thing she can’t do is play and horseplay with the boys in the park. This is off limits. They also do not like their daughter to wear shorts, which amounts to revealing too much of herself to the opposite sex. In other words, they do not like her “running around half naked in front of men”. Did I mention her parents are strict? Yeah.

Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra
Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra

Adding to Jess’ list of “things I hate my parents do to me when I want to do something else,” her mom wants her to learn how to make a full Punjabi dinner—meat and vegetarian. Her parents wouldn’t be able to show their face in the temple otherwise. Did I mention that her parents also forbid her to continue with her football career? They want her to start acting like a real woman, settle down, think about the future and kids, just like her unhappy sister who also follows their traditions in these modern times.

So what does Jess do? She sneaks around, going against her parents’ wishes in order to fulfill her dream of playing in an all-girls football team. Why? Jess feels that if she didn’t try her best with achieving her dream, despite her parents’ wanting her to keep their traditions, then she’d feel like a total failure for the rest of her life with nothing else to live for other than cook, clean, do the dishes, laundry and look after the kids.

Remember, all this is on top of her being the only Indian girl on her team.

If anything’s certain, Jess has a will to overcome. She doesn’t allow the negativity in her life to rule her sanity or her motivation to accomplish her goals.

Jess is a true achiever who is better than “good enough”.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you ever heard of the movie Bend It Like Beckham? If you have, what did you like about Jess?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Torrance Shipman

When I hear people say, “Oh, she’s only a cheerleader.” I say, “Yeah, can you perform a front handspring, step out, round off back handspring, step out, round off back handspring, full twisting layout?” That’s when the glazed look falls on their face. Torrance can. I wouldn’t have her performing full twisting layouts on Women Who Wow Wednesday otherwise.

Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman
Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman

Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is up for captain of the Rancho Carne High School cheerleading squad in San Diego, California. We’re talking about the premier five-time national champions. Big Red, the current leader, is retiring. After a quick vote, Torrance clinches control and her first order of business is to assert her ascent to the throne. The dreaded words Wolf Wall fly from her mouth and everyone groans. Up they go, building one of the most fearsome pyramids in cheerleading. A few failed attempts doesn’t deter Torrance. She wants it. One last time and they make it, but in the air, the squad swivels, tilts, and shakes until Carver, their lead cheerleader, slips to her demise.

Les: You know, everyone’s saying that your ambition broke Carver’s leg.
Torrance Shipman: When really it was the angle in which she slammed into the ground.

Nothing will hold Torrance back from achieving a sixth national win.

Bring It On's Torrance Shipman
Bring It On’s Torrance Shipman

Bring It On is one of those movies that doesn’t have much of a plot, but it sure has a lot of heart. Spawning four sequels, whenever I need a good jolt of can-do attitude, I pop this into my player, sit back and let the positive vibes fill my soul.

Without giving too much away, Torrance’s challenge is keeping the team together after Big Red’s departure. This means quashing the rebellious takeover plans of two of the Rancho Carne Toros’ wannabe bosses and keeping everyone happy after a major revelation nearly disintegrates their chances at the Nationals.

Did you know that cheerleading accounts for almost two-thirds of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school girls? Imagine the enormous pressure on Torrance’s shoulders after Carver’s accident. Any ordinary person would have said buh-bye. Not Torrance.

Among the best attributes in Torrance’s character is her unwillingness to quit. No matter what gets in her way, she seems to thrive on overcoming obstacles. Her determination of wanting to remain the best causes her team to rise to new challenges, explore new ideas, and work harder than ever in order to attain perfection. She’s not one to take it in the chin and lie down. She a fighter. And fighters tend to go the distance, even if they are cheerleaders.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Bring It On? What did you think of Torrance? Did you like how she led the team in spite of the failures?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Stream of Consciousness

When I write a post for my Freedom Friday series, I always envision it to be a placeholder for my life’s little adventures. I also think of how it will best reflect fun, whereby you the reader can determine with your very own eyes that I, who has chosen to write in the zombie genre, am normal folk with the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else.

For this reason, I’m going to try something different this week. I’m going to write this post in stream of consciousness. What that means is whatever comes to mind is what will remain on the page. No editing. This will be a snapshot of how I think.

Now, I have a number of topics I prepared ahead of time to get my juices flowing. I’ll pick one at random. Since I have them written down, I’ll close my eyes and point a finger at one of them.

Done.

I’ve chosen a quote from one of my favorite movie characters of all time, Rocky Balboa:

Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you!”

So many thoughts. Rushing. Here we go.

A football team can only take so many hits before they hit back. When they do, nothing can stand in their way. They will mow down their opponent until there is nothing left of them. Courage is not by honor but by strife. Winning happens when you go beyond yourself to achieve the unachievable. When someone asks, “Can it be done?” the answer should be, “My name is Affirmative Action. Nothing from heaven on high to the earth beneath my feet will prevent me from doing so.”

Taking the path of least resistance will only offer a temporary win. In the end it will cause you to fail. If everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to. Success does not come by sight but by mind.

But I’m too short. I’m too tall. I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. My father beats me. My mother is on drugs. My brothers and sisters hate me. I’m poor. My life is a mess. I can’t go on another day. Why me? Why, why, why me? What have I done to deserve this?

No one can defeat you. You can defeat yourself. Only you. No one can take away your right to be the best person you can be. Only you can do that.

Take flight on eagle’s wings. Soar above the multitude. Perch on the footstool of heaven overlooking the ordinary. Keep to the sky, never letting go of the dream to move others as you would have others move you.

Stir. Encourage. Inspire.

Give hope to where there is darkness. Raise those who are low. Make strong the weak. Give dignity to the mortified. Let there be such an explosion of joy from your heart that no one can deny the optimism that lives within you.

Should I attempt to write in stream of consciousness again in the future? Did any of what I’ve written make sense?