Sunday, July 29, 2012
In the novel, "What Happened to Sophie Wilder", writer Charlie Blakeman runs into his former college love after 10 years and finds out that she has converted to Catholicism. Charlie can't make sense of her conversion, but as he finds out more about Sophie's past, he sees her life is more complicated than he previously thought. When Sophie once again disappears, Charlie sets out to discover what has happened to her. I haven't read this book, just published. I listened to Terry Gross (my favorite interviewer. She is fabulous) interview the author. I might read it if I can get over my bias that these young novelists don't know shit about the real world and here they are writing novels as if they do. What always fascinates me is the interest that people have in religion. And, especially someone that seems almost preoccupied as does this author, at least from Terry's interview. I'm not talking about fanatics like jihadists, etc. who want to kill people but those who want to cogitate their navels. Those who are Catholics are the worst. They accept all this BS, i. e., Pope, pomp and ceremony--then they fret about it. The Protestants are as bad. The author used an example today that I thought was good. The Prosperity Gospel. A guy like Joel Osteen (he didn't mention him by name but Osteen is main proponent and has this gigantic non thinking bunch of Texans who listen to him) The author's quote, "the Prosperity Gospel is supposed to make you feel good about the things you naturally want already." Another good Protestant example are the right wing fundamentalists who have mostly got their head up their fourth point of contact (paratrooper term for, "got your head up your ass)." Fortunately my religion is very simple. I embrace Jesus in what He "said" and "did" and this is found in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Anything else that someone quotes is what was said about him, not what He said. And, where the f..k do the Catholics get all those ideas of costumes, pomp and ceremony: they invented them. Sure didn't come from Jesus. He hated that stuff, only about the second time he got pissed: one was at the money changers in the temple and the other one was at the Pharisees, forerunners of the Catholics who He said paraded around in long and flowing garments and were white sepulchres, about the worst thing you could say about someone in Jesus' day. When the Catholics/Protestants spew forth with all this bullshit, I say the Pope may have said it or whatever but you can count on this, Jesus didn't say it.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Just when you think you've read or heard it all about our debacle in Afghanistan, something else pops up. "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan by Rajiv Chandrasekaran." It is one of those books that you almost think is "tongue" in cheek." Sadly, it isn't. I haven't read it but have heard the author interviewed twice. Each time I simply shake my head. From the interviews, the book is mostly about squandered opportunities. And, he seems to pull no punches. I relate the book somewhat to a blog posting I made early on in the Iraq war. It had to do with our securing ice machines for the troops. I immediately thought, "oh no, Vietnam, here we go again." In our wars, we seem to have one "mantra," getting bogged down. The ice machines represented becoming entrenched. We are f..king stupid to the max. I always blame the generals which is somewhat unfair but I still do. In Iraq, Gerge W. relied on the neocons that proved they didn't know shit. One of the best comments that came out of that misadventure is General Tommy Frank saying something like, "the neocons are the dumbest MFers on the planet. Even if this is not accurate, it sounds good and is true from where I am. The generals know and you would think that there would be a few who would say, "hold it, this is insane. But, they don't, they slap on the '"can do" persona and march on. The immediate history of our debacle in Afghanistan is well documented. What we are experiencing is a phenomena. In the old days, say of Vietnam, the writing about the war years would be down the road, sometimes years, but because of e-books, history is written in the present. "Little America" is one of those books. The author can tell the story even as it is happening. I am reading it--not a pleasant read. The discouraging thing to me is that with all the books, credible views of our involvement in Afghanistan, it doesn't mean shit. Really, we march on in a sad, no, make that pitiful state of denial. Just recently we have signed some agreement calling Afghanistan a non NATO pact or some such bullshit. I like the SecState but the level of denial with these people is palpable. Any Army Sp4 can tell you that Afghanistan is a fast train to nowhere. I feel sorry for the people, especially the women. I hope we can figure out how any women who wants too can come to America. Karzai is corrupt and ineffective by any standards. He is at best the Mayor of Kabul and the rest of the country is up for grabs. Poppy growing with resulting drug money going to the Taliban is the worst kept secret in the galaxy. Afghan trainees shooting us. Should I go on? Giving Afghanistan some sort of Bullshit status is denial at its height. I don't know if this is some kind of politics. Worried that the Republicans searching for an issue will say we are weak on Afghanistan, we have to show support. Bullshit! There is no solution to Afghanistan. With overwhelming evidence, still we continue to deny. The Russians tried the hard core, rough, take no prisoner approach. Finally they "got it" and beat feet out of Afghanistan. Now, there is no evidence that anything works. Most Americans who care and pay any attention have already psychologically left the country? Does the Secretary of State/Prez think we won't notice that we have such a presense in Afghanistan once the "So call" combat troops leave. Come on give me a break.
Stone Angel. Heavy in a way. Opening scene is a son and his wife attempting to put his mother in a nursing home. The mother was one of these "Holy Terrors" as the son called her. Lots of flashbacks which showed how dysfunctional people's lives can be.
Repealing the Health Care law. I would say that the Republican Congress is stupid. We know that. But, really the f..king stupid ones are the voters that put them in. I can't believe that Americans who care could possibly be so f..king dumb. Give me a break. Do these people have nothing better to do. The Supreme Court has decreed the Affordable Health Initiative constitutional and yet the Republican Congress persist. They would not be doing this act of idiocy if they did not have support from back home. It is why they are worthless politicians, they play to the crowd. So, what other conclusion can we draw but how dimb ass their constituents are.
Margaret (weird title to me. Taken from a poem which somehow grapples with death and has great meaning to the director, Kenneth Lonergan but not to those of us seeing the movie) is one of those movies that could easily be as much about how the movie was made and all the machinations surrounding it than the actual movie itself: disputes, editing, lawsuits. I'd read about it and then heard a long interview with the director by Terry Gross on NPR. However, that is a sidebar, the movie is fantastic. The performances of Anna Paquin and J. Smith-Cameron who plays Paquin’s mother is Academy Award acting if I've ever seen it. Any parent who is involved with a narcissistic teenager will love this movie. In fact, if there were any way to insist that parents see this movie, relationships could possibly be repaired on a national basis. Parents would realize, "my selfish and disrespectful" teenager is par for the course. I can't say enough about the acting. In the movie, the mother and daughter team is realistic and movingly captured on-screen better than any movie I've seen. "Margaret" has everything: great story, good acting, funny while being sad. The sexual stuff with the teenagers was humorous and awkward, the way it is with kids--well done. With Matt Damon, the teacher, could as well have been omitted. There was a kid brother who got no attention and obviously a neat kid. He mainly gets yelled at. What is it with that? Rent this movie. A masterpiece as some have called it. Maybe?