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Archive for the ‘culture watch’ Category

Pilgrims - An illustration for an old children's book

I love Thanksgiving. I love stuffing the turkey, making the pies, deciding how to prepare the sweet potatoes…I have a couple of recipes one old, one new. My daughter was born the night before Thanksgiving and her birthday falls every so often on this best of family holidays, in fact her birthday is today! I have so much to be thankful for… My husband, my darling, beautiful daughter, the life of my mother, my sisters, my gorgeous nieces, nephews, beloved first cousins a surviving uncle and his dear wife, the wonderful men I work for… I know there are more who should be on the list… like… my friends, near and far. What an amazing country we live in…

I hate to read stories about school districts and municipalities which are suppressing the traditional story of Thanksgiving such as this one. Making construction paper pilgrim hats, or drawing turkey feathers by tracing my little girl hands provide an especially strong memory of my little girl grade school years. The religiosity of Thanksgiving is part of our heritage, the relationship with the Indians, the Native Americans the Pilgrims encountered and were assisted by, can and should be told romantically. I am weary of political correctness. Let’s retain SOME of our traditions.

One of my favorite books from my girlhood was “Constance, A story of Early Plymouth by Patricia Clapp. I think I read it in fourth grade, but it gave me a firm foundation in understanding the Pilgrim story and the challenges they faced their first hard winter here in the New World. Naturally, it was written to appeal to a young, romantic reader such as myself. There was a a wonderful mix of romance and the hard realities of life experienced by those early Pilgrim souls. For years after reading the book, I wanted to name my child Damaris – the name of Constance’s younger sister. I checked “Constance” out of my public library in Naperville, Illinois in 1969 or so. Later, when Amazon came around, I ordered a used copy, so I would always have it, to share with my grandchildren someday.  I think it is out of print, which is a shame…

Apparently, the author is a descendant of the real Constance, who left the Pilgrim colony with her family to farm independently. The book is written as a diary and it is compelling reading, even if you are all grown up.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving….

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Curios_22-01-09_027

 

I have been glued to Twitterfall all week reading the words of the Iranian opposition. When I stare at the dark screen of Twitterfall, and the rolling scroll of plaintive instructions, defiant calls for change and cries for help, I picture thousands of moths drawn to a bright light. They are beating their wings against the windows of the world and it is breathtaking.

 

Blogs like this one by Sheema Kalbasi are fascinating. I purchased her anthology of poetry, “The Poetry of Iranian Women” this week and it is incredibly powerful.

 

The Poetry of Iranian Women - Sheema Kalbasi

The Poetry of Iranian Women - Sheema Kalbasi

 

The Persian people have a rich history. All I can think is what a shame it is the world is so full of conflict. The Persian people have a history of tolerance and compassion. Cyrus the Great freed the Jewish people and gave the world its first Charter of Human Rights. 

 

“When he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, who welcomed him as a liberator – he allowed the Jews to return to the promised Land. He showed great forbearance and respect towards the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of other races. These qualities earned him the respect and homage of all the people over whom he ruled.”

 

The Middle East needs Cyrus today.

 

Click the links and read about him. 

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Susan Boyle singing the song heard round the world

Susan Boyle singing the song heard round the world.

This video of Susan Boyle singing the song I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables is incredibly moving. I would embed it, but I just can’t figure out how so PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK.  What a perfect song to choose if you want to make the point Ms. Boyle made. She is my new hero.

Yet, it is also profoundly troubling as well in an achey breaky heart kind of way. Somehow, it was assumed by the three judges and the ENTIRE audience Ms. Boyle was some sort of a joke.The implication was complete disdain. The cameras panned the audience and the facial expressions of those present can only be summed up as cruel. If indeed she had turned out to be awful, what could possibly justify subjecting her to a public humiliation of such magnitude? I know, I know, American Idol routinely spotlights the most hideous contestants imaginable. Yet, they seem to want the distinction of being the worst talent in order to make onto the initial episodes. I really hate American Idol.

But this clip is amazing. After watching it a couple of times I thought, Susan Boyle is really fetching. And, not only that, she kind of reminded me of THIS FASHION PLATE.

Find your inner fashion plate - Susan Boyle did

Find your inner fashion plate - Susan Boyle did

 

There’s a fashion plate inside of everyone. Especially hidden talent like Susan Boyle. 

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Pandora's Box - Arthur Rackham

Pandora's Box - Arthur Rackham

We watched “Tropic Thunder” last night. We watched it to the end with our jaws hanging down to our navels. This was a conscious decision, because we wanted to make sure we knew with certainty how far we have come as a society from any limits of good taste. My advice: do not watch this movie. Just as Knocked Uprocked me as an example of the decline on our collective morality, this movie confirms my belief that Hollywood should be ashamed of itself. While the great movie moguls of the early 20th century decided to produce pro-America films which helped create our sense of national pride during WWII, Hollywood is now devoted to ripping down any shred of dignity or right and wrong the old boys created.

 

While “Knocked Up” made a joke out of casual sex and out of wedlock birth, this film denigrates human dignity further under the guise of making fun of Hollywood. I suppose that makes it ‘okay’. Certainly, this notion of the open mindedness of Hollywood; letting a filmmaker create ‘satire’ which denigrates the very industry he ‘works’ in, seems to be the very epitome of open minded liberality. But that just magnifies the problem. When will too much be too much, no matter how tongue in cheek?

Consider me a former fan of Ben Stiller. I will never watch “Meet the Parents” again on HBO or DVD in protest. The Robert Altman movie, The Player”, did a much more subtle job of showing what all of us on the outside with our noses pressed to glass already suspect: Hollywood is a big hunk of rotting meat stinking up our sense of self worth and dignity. They have turned everything topsy turvy.

But Tropic Thunder is a bridge too far, to use a war metaphor for this movie about a war movie. Gratuitous violence and gore is something to be not only tolerated, but embraced, hee hee. With “Knocked Up” it was casual, hook up sex and okie dokie, cutesie wootsie, out of wedlock birth that was in your face, ‘I dare you to even as much as blink your disdain’. As a result, single women having eights babies paid for with disability payments with no means of visible support is taken matter of factly.Quick! Get Ann Curry in there to interview the Angelina Jolie look alike! In “Knocked Up,” pornography is a right. Heck, the future deputy Attorney general of the US defended pornographers. No biggy.

I write this as one baying at the moon. The train has left the station, the genie is out of the bottle just to mention a few cliches. Pandora’s box is well and truly open…

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Loveliness. There needs to be more of it. This past week we embarked on a movie watching spree of some of the supposedly best movies from 2007. All I can say is, oh my. I am going to sum these movies up in a blink. Here goes: 

No Country for Old Men – Shoot, kill, monster guy, shoot kill some more, dreadful, horrible, greed, blood, shoot, shoot, hopeless awfulness, good guy loses, bad guy ends up with a broken arm, older generation is irrelevant and talks gibberish. The End. Okay, the writing was quite good. A watch -able (like a train wreck) film with a sick premise. Big Sigh.

There Will be Blood – They should have used this title for No Country for Old Men, because there wasn’t much blood, just a lot of dirty fingernails, grimy, sweaty, dirty, mean, horrid, awful, people and grunge. There was blood at the end when the despicable, selfish, most likely stinky due to lack of baths old guy whacks the stereotypical Jimmy Swaggert-like sniveling, ridiculously big crucifix wearing bible banger guy with a bowling pin. Oops. I should have said spoiler alert. Sorry. Plot ends midway through movie and it meanders to a short story ending of drunken, sweaty nothingness.

An aside about the short story ending…I have to say a few words on this topic. If you read a lot of short stories, you will find many just … end… boom. No rhyme. No reason. I myself use this technique occasionally because for some reason, it is seems to be the preferred way to wind up a short story, or not wind it up as the case may be. I personally think it is laziness. Some trendy, popular author (in the case of There Will be Blood, Upton Sinclair) ran out of things to say and said to himself “I think I will submit this to see what happens and like The Emperor’s New Clothes, the hapless, sycophant publisher thinking he must be missing something, but doesn’t want to give away his lack of sophistication publishes it and Voila! A literary technique is born. Oh well.

Back to movies…

Bella – Cliché, stupid, did I say cliché? Oh, and it is also cliché. Plot moves forward cliche-ly as follows- another aborted abortion, angst, angst. Cliché angst. Stupid use of scarf. No one wears scarves like this anymore. Movie is a combo plot: Like Water for Chocolate meets Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a twist of Juno. And this won awards at Sundance? My regard for Sundance plummets. (What is it with Hollywood, and abortion? They are doing mea culpa’s for Roe vs. Wade at an alarming, head spinning rate. Their message is so confusing, no wonder so many young girls are getting pregnant and having the baby and romanticizing the whole thing, I think it is irresponsible.)

Into the Wild – This is actually a good movie. Read the book by Jon Krakauer first, it is really good. He is a wonderful writer then, watch the movie. However, I don’t think Chris McCandless is a hero. I think he must have been troubled and he was foolish. Google Into the Wild and read the many articles, like this one and this one. But so far – it was the best movie.

Live Free Die Hard – Why did I watch this? To make my husband happy. He fell asleep, Emma and I watched it to the bitter end. Why? Why? Oh Why?

And so I write again, loveliness. I am dedicating my blog to the pursuit of loveliness, hence, the picture. Isn’t it lovely?

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