Archive for May, 2010

31
May
10

Smart!

I want this car. In red, or maybe silver.

Of course that means my children would have to run along behind, but that isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.

Wonder how it would do in Michigan winters?

30
May
10

The Freeloaders

This article in the Atlantic describes today’s reality: the tendency of this generation to get as much of their media — music, movies, games, books — for free.

I ask my students, and my children, to pay for that which they use. They scoff, and consider me old-fashioned. But what will become of all of us when the people making the music, and the movies, and the games, and writing the books, can no longer make a living at it?

“Sharing” should not equal stealing. Buy your own stuff.

Hmmm. . .I just downloaded a picture, as I always do, from Google images to headline my blog post. It is my understanding that if I post the link to the source, it’s okay. Any input?

30
May
10

Speedy Post

I’ve been in Cleveland for a couple of days visiting 1st son; I have many things going through my mind that I’d like to write about, but it’s been a long day, and 2nd son is lurking on the next bed over in the hotel room waiting to watch a video on my laptop, so this will have to be short and sweet.

1. Why does Walmart insist on consistently inconsistent stocking practices? There are 7 packages of XLG black T shirts, 6 packages of LG black T shirts, and no packages of Med or SM black T shirts. Every single time I’ve been in a Walmart I’ve had to go somewhere else to get one basic item on my list. And I think I may have seen someone wearing one of those pairs of shoes I wrote about a month or so ago (the first pair in the blog, but in silver lamé. I’m not kidding).

2. There was more salt in the biscuits that came with my breakfast at Bob Evans this morning than I usually eat in a week. Is this necessary?

3. Who can be blamed credited for the bizarre unique street design of the Cleveland area? I have never seen so many intersections that consist of 5, 6 or even 7 corners. Then there is the tendency of whatever road you’re on to veer off in one direction or another as a new road springs to life, all in the absence of anything resembling a painted center or shoulder line. And apparently the city of Cleveland does not maintain a completely simpatico working relationship with the GPS satellite systems we have all come to rely on — “Emily” could tell me what road I was on, and what road I wanted next, but was frequently off in her estimation of its relative distance by anywhere from 100 to 400 feet.

4. Does anyone know of a humane way to restrain secure a 9-year-old’s legs in such a way that one can share a regular size hotel bed with her and not be beaten to a pulp by morning?

Secondo is getting (ha!) squirmy. Guess I’ll have to continue in the morning.

24
May
10

Conflict of Interest? or Business as Usual?

Perhaps you’d like to sit down before you read this:  It has recently come to the attention of journalists at the NY Times that there may be conflicts of interest inherent in our political system.

I know this may come as a shock to anyone who has spent the past 100 years at the bottom of a mineshaft. But to the rest of us, well, Duh?

As long as our system of campaigning persists, where a massive amount of money is spent for political advertising over extended periods, what hope do we have? Politicians need to make money, lobbyists and powerful corporations want to have their voices heard, and nothing speaks louder than a check for a large sum. Rather than merely paying lip service to the idea of, and assuming we really want a government of, equal representation, (not just on a state level but on an individual one), this part of the process needs to change.

I propose we adopt a Canadian system, which limits the amount of money that can be spent, and which therefore encourages substance, frugality, and efficiency throughout.

24
May
10

Get Lost!

I can’t believe I gave up 6 years of my life watching this show, victim of its convoluted story lines and deliberately misleading plot twists, only to have the whole thing reduced to a simple triumph of good-over-evil culminating in a secular version of heaven.

Really? That’s the best they could come up with?

I feel cheated, robbed, and/or manipulated.

I had this whole ending worked out, where each character was given the opportunity to pick which of their two current manifestations they preferred, and allowed to live their lives out in that path.

But no. . .go towards the light! go towards the light!

Sheesh.

21
May
10

American History X

I’m haunted today by this movie, which I watched for the first time last night.

Derek Vinyard, played with brilliance and subtlety by Ed Norton, is a skinhead, first encouraged in his racism by his father, who is killed by a minority in the line of duty as a fireman; and nurtured in his hatred by a leader of the local skinhead group, creepily portrayed by Stacey Keach. Derek’s intelligence and physical power (Norton supposedly spent a year in the gym bulking up for this role) make him a natural leader, and his younger brother, Danny (also played with beauty and subtlety, in this case by Edward Furlong, John Connor from Terminator II) idolizes, and idealizes him.

Derek brutally murders two black men with whom he has had altercations in the past, principally over the rights to a basketball court in Venice Beach, and who have come to his house at night to terrorize him and his family and/or steal his car (this part of it isn’t very clear, he seems to be being deliberately targeted, but this isn’t carried out in the action necessarily). Danny has witnessed the whole thing, including Derek’s proud defiance as he is taken away by the police.

Because the two men he murdered had come to his house armed, Derek is convicted of a lesser charge, and is imprisoned for 3 years and change. While in prison, Derek undergoes a gradual but dramatic conversion. He begins allying himself with fellow skinheads, but gradually realizes that the leader of this group is doing “business” with everyone, including blacks and hispanics, and Derek feels betrayed by this lack of ideological conviction. At the same time he has built a reluctant friendship with his partner in the laundry room, a gregarious black man who has been imprisoned for 6 years because he, in the process of stealing a TV from a store, accidentally dropped the TV on a policeman’s foot, and has been convicted of assault. When Derek acts on his disillusionment, and “cuts” the skinhead leader in “the yard,” he is targeted for a brutal attack and rape in the showers, and realizes that there is evil, and good, in all races.

When Derek is released, he sees that his younger brother, now 17, has continued on Derek’s path, and he realizes that he has some work to do; not only to help his family recover from their difficult financial and living circumstances, but to help save Danny from a life of prejudice and hate. Meanwhile, Danny is dealing with some race issues of his own at his high school.

I don’t want to spoil anything by giving away the end; I’ll just say that it is a movie that is well-written, well-acted, and simultaneously haunting and uplifting. Many beautiful moments (i.e. when Derek and Danny silently take down the posters and flags of hate from their bedroom walls, and then sit and look at the bare paneling), some really powerful narrative parallels and symbolism, no clichés.

Beverly D’Angelo and Avery Brooks do a great job in their supporting roles.

Put it on your list of must-sees, along with Crash, The Lives of Others, American Beauty and Amelie.

20
May
10

Matter

I’m sure it’s not just me; well, I guess I HOPE it’s not just me, but I have a really hard time sometimes keeping track of what matters.

Does it matter that I scoured my kitchen sink out twice and scrubbed the shower this morning? Probably not as much as it matters that I missed my husband so much tonight that I was impatient with my daughter. It probably matters that I worked really hard this past year and have been frugal enough to have set enough money aside that I can afford not to work again until mid-July, but probably not as much as it matters that there are probably people on my street tonight who don’t know how they’re going to pay their mortgage.

My daughter’s Korean, and has faced discrimination from her classmates who tell her she’s “fat” (she’s 4 feet tall and weighs 45 lbs soaking wet) or that she can’t play their sister game because her skin isn’t the right color. That matters. But no one’s telling her she can’t come to their school, or sit in those seats on their bus; no one’s telling her that she has to have clitoral circumcision or be sold into marriage, or that girls aren’t smart enough to be veterinarians. That would definitely matter.

My sons don’t always want to talk to me, or listen to me, but as far as I know they aren’t using illegal drugs and haven’t gotten anyone pregnant. That matters. Does it matter that my oldest isn’t working as hard as I wish he would so he wouldn’t have to borrow so much money for college, or that my 16-year-old gets straight As while barely cracking a book and refusing to take a single AP course because he doesn’t want to work that hard? This is the same boy who would rather eat cereal for dinner than boil tortellini and heat up jarred sauce for dinner because the latter constitutes “too much work.”

I have a mole on the back of my hand that I swear wasn’t there yesterday. Does that matter? Or is it maybe just a burn or a blood blister or a bug bite that I don’t remember “earning”?

I left my house twice today with doors wide open. Does that matter?

In my former marriage life, I was a completely self-sufficient, independent, capable person. Now when my husband’s away for more than 24 hours, especially if he’s doing something more interesting than I am, I continue to function as a productive member of my family and of society, but I feel like a child.

I guess it matters to me. Does that mean it Matters?




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