Showing posts from July, 2013

More On Reading Intensively

Harvard University Course on Reading Intensively

I am currently reading Anna Karenina and find myself reading to get through rather than reading to soak in, learn, interrogate.  We have developed bad habits from reading on the Internet.  Literature does not allow itself to be read this way.

British Royalty

Today I am supposed to be excited because Kate Middleton (what is her married name anyway?) is in labor.  I wish her well.  But it really matters little to me, extremely little.

Royalty is only interesting to me because it is a part of history, and I love history.  Last night on PBS a documentary on George V was shown.  It explained a lot to me.  The royalty of England for 200 years was German, spoke German, married German, used German titles.  But George V, who was cousin to Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas, changed all that.  He adapted the monarchy to the changing times so it could survive, and it's the only one people really know about today.  He eliminated all German accoutrements, changed the name to the house of Windsor (after the old castle), became the people's king, and encouraged his son Bertie to marry a "commoner" (whatever the heck that means--royalty usually acted very common).  He also took his role seriously as the emperor, as did his wife, and they …

Class and Race

I heard a liberal commentator say that the real division in this country is class, not race.  I agree.  He pointed out that the three women who were imprisoned in Cleveland for ten years were not looked for because they were working class, not wealthy or famous.  Two were white and one Latina. 

Of course, there is intersection of the two, class and race.  Whites are more likely to be of an upper class, but not all are.  Poor whites (often uneducated) can get poor treatment, too.  Rich blacks (a la OJ) can get better treatment.  

This was the lesson of Gatsby--wealth made him respectable even when he wasn't.  I was talking about this to my husband and he mentioned the Kennedys.  Joe Kennedy was a bootlegger, but he made a lot of money at it, got to be an ambassador, put his sons in politics, and had affairs with Hollywood stars (Gloria Swanson, for one).  And they were considered royalty, God help us. 

Middle Eastern Policy

I have to say I was happy to hear the Muhammed Morsi was deposed, although my emotions were mixed. 

The ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been a concern for those who follow the persecuted church in the world.  Christians have been targeted in Egypt, and I would imagine secular Egyptians had their own fears about sharia-type laws. So if the love of the MB was put out of power, I am not going to weep.

However, the alternative, a military dictatorship, hardly sounds good, and Morsi was elected democratically, at least in their system of democracy.  A lot of Americans don't get that there are different forms of democracy. 

Syria is another issue.  Assad is no saint; one can find little to defend.  But trusting the rebels, and arming them to boot, is a frightening prospect.  I have to part ways with Senator McCain on this; I am not sure where he is coming from. 

The deprivation in Syria and the massive numbers of refugees, however, is equally frightening.

The days of …

Worst Movies Ever

I do not go to movies unless I read the reviews on it.  It's two hours of my life; I want to know what I am getting into.  So I don't see a lot of movies I would consider really bad.

One I did see recently was Identity Thief.  I cannot begin to describe how awful it was, neither funny nor with characters I cared about.

I do not watch horror or slashers, so those don't get a nod here.

Many Adam Sandler movies are bad, but actually not all of them.  If you just want low-brow comedy, that's what you'll get.  You'll laugh but get absolutely nothing else from it.

I have heard The Lone Ranger is bad also. Which is the point--I'm only going to go see ones that are good.

Ebert, a critic I followed even though I didn't agree with his world view (he wrote soft-core pornography, for one thing) would criticize a movie based on what it intended to be.  I suppose that's all right, but if it tries to be bad and it is, is the movie there good? 

Recent good movie…

Future Glory

We use the word "glory" and "glorify" a great deal without really delving into its meaning.  Its root means "weight," or "weighty."  We talk about giving God glory (He already has it, but it's still our duty to do so).  Recently I heard a radio speaker talk about how we uphold God's reputation, which got under my skin.  God doesn't need puny us to uphold His reputation.  Our giving glory to God is right because we are commanded to, He deserves it, and it keeps us in the right place spiritually.  But how it will affect the world's view of Him is another matter.

In reading Isaiah I was struck by the contrast between our desire for that perfect world and yet our lack of understanding that it will mean the loss of what we so grasp for in this one.

"Shalom" we say we want.  But we define this shalom as a "leave me alone" peace, not a peace of community.

I heard this song today and was moved by it.  It's "G…


Today I was talking with a friend whom I have known about eight years.  She and I go to the same church and are now in the same Bible class.  She is from the Netherlands and recently returned from a four-year stay there; I am glad she is back.  She casually mentioned that she used to teach an aerobics class at a specific YMCA.  A light went off in my head.

One day in the late '90s I went to that Y for an exercise class and had an instructor with a (I thought) German accent.  She was thin and direct (blunt) and made a comment about how Americans call the bathrooms "restrooms" and that when she came to the US she thought there would be beds in the restrooms.  That stuck with me for years.

I realized that that instructor was my friend standing in front of me.  However, she was not a Christian at the time.  Interestingly, she is one of the warmest and most attractive (in the personality sense as well as looks ways) people I know; that instructor was not so much.  I can see h…

Facebook Browsing

One woman, a missionary wife, wrote of how she saw a person who needed hope, a friend, or encouragement and walked by him.  A friend wrote, " I wish more people would say..."I yelled at my kids today....or, I chose not to forgive my husband and gave into my flesh instead." Then facebook would resemble real life more and offer authentic connection instead of superficial cyber-reality."  

That's the good one for the day.

A friend who works in Hollywood wrote the Disney (which he adores) has stopped development of a remake of 20,000 Leagues under the sea "in light of The Lone Ranger" (I assume he means how bad it is).  One of his friends wrote, "No more Captain Rahab," to which my friend responded that he meant Captain Nemo, that Captain Ahab was looking for Moby Dick, and Rahab was the prostitute in Jericho.

Another friend wrote that she had a spiritual orgasm in church this morning.  Oh, my.

Another colleague posted a photo that I can't …

The Great Gatsby, 2013 style

I went to see The Great Gatsby last night at I guess what is called the "second run" theatre.  It now costs $3.75 to see a film there. It used to be one dollar.  Sigh.  But that's better than $8.00. 

This was a hip-hop, CGI-enhanced, visually stunning version of the story.  Except for a few additions, it was faithful to the book.  Let me say first that while I think Gatsby is a great American novel, it's not in my opinion (and I have an M.A. in English) THE great American novel.  I put it in the top ten, definitely, but not top one.  I give that honor to Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, which bears a lot of similarity to Gatsby--narrative structure, for one, with a self-loathing narrator who orbits around the main character who is very powerful and ruthless.  Maybe because I live in the South, and maybe because I think politics is the life-blood of this country, I put Men first.  Then Huckleberry Finn, then Mockingbird.  Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and…

Zimmerman-Martin Case Reflections, Part 2

I sometimes wish I didn't even watch the news or read it on the Internet.  We know we are being lied to and yet we keep sucking at the teet of CNN, Fox, MSNBC, AP, CBS, and ABC.  Or worse, we get our news from Facebook or Jon Stewart.  That is a really harsh comment but I see no other alternative to that opinion.

President Obama spent 17 minutes yesterday at a press briefing talking about the case.  I have mixed feelings about this.  First, I do not doubt, at all, what he said about his own experience.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that young black men get treated like that.  I even wrote a novel about it, actually three.  When I chose to have a young biracial man in my books, I knew I had to address him being "profiled" although I didn't use those words because in the time when I set the books, that word was not used.  I have him thinking about how he is watched and followed, and I have a scene where he is hassled and arrested by a white policeman (although h…

Thought for July 16, 2013

When did "protester" come to mean "hooligan"?

Updates on my life

I will be moving permanently into a new office tomorrow because the Communication Faculty are being culled out from the Humanities Faculty.  When the computer is moved, I'm officially moved.  Last week I just dumped all my crap into the new place; tomorrow I start to make sense of it.  I'm ambivalent about it.  What I am not ambivalent about is all my crap.  It's shameful.  I could get rid of half of everything I own and still have far too much.  Books, old files, art work, books, crafts, gifts to regift, gifts I store for future giving.  More books.  Lots of clothes that I still wear even thought they are well over ten, even fifteen years old.

I did something today that shocked a few people.  I got on the back of my husband's motorcyle and we went about ten miles around the area.  I will not get on the interstate (I did back in the '80s, but not now--too many trucks).  It was fun once I got past the initial panic attack. 

I do not like feeling that I exist in a ch…

Weather: Wet and wet

We have had heavy rainfall for the last two weeks.  Everything is a deep emerald green; grass is thick, gardens should be happy (but mine is soggy still), and the temperatures are really rather moderate.  So I'm sharing my houseplants.

The Immigrants and the Walking Lady

The Inevitability of History

The Women, 1939

The Zimmerman case--not that it's any of my business