Mary J. Blige

Lady can do music!

I picked up a copy of Dance for Me by Mary J. Blige, and every song is making me happy.

Technically, they are all dance mixes of her songs. I am a sucker for dance mixes, so this is just about right for me.

The mixers took a lot of different samples, so the music, even though it stays true to the throbbing beat of dance floor favorites, doesn’t get boring.

It’s bootylicious, alright.

_The Children’s Hour_

This play by Lillian Hellman traces the consequences of one schoolgirl’s spreading rumors about her teachers. The two women who run a school for children have to bear the insinuations of this unpleasant child that they are in a lesbian relationship.

This story fits in very well with Lillian Hellman’s experiences with the House Unamerican activities. Unproved rumors can be very unpleasant.

This story is surprising and very dramatic. Hellman gives a diverse portrait of different kinds of people’s character. She also handles the subject of homosexuality with a frankness very uncommon in that time.

There was also a movie made with the script, starring Audrey Hepburn as one of the teachers. It was made in the 60s, so dealing with homosexuality was just a hair less scandalous. But the story was still pretty good.

There’s a lot to think about in The Children’s Hour

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth

It’s a familiar story: Boy grows up without dad, dad enters boy’s life once more, boy must figure out what he thinks about it.

This time, though, the story is told by comics. Chris Ware takes nearly 400 pages to tell the story with comics. I’ll be honest, this is really an exciting example of a new way to tell a story. Pictures can say things, repeat things, that words cannot do.

I mean, how many times can you write the word ‘pathetic’ in a story? Ware seems to write it all over every page, but without the redundancy. You can use the same image, when you can’t use the same word. And this gives a weight to the story, the sadness of the little boy and the depths of his loserishness, that made it almost repellent.

Except, I wanted to flip the pages and see what the next page had.

In the same way that Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury was initially impenetrable, Jimmy Corrigan is hard to figure out.

‘what?’ i felt like asking. “what just happened here? Who’s that?” It becomes more clear as the book progresses, but not so much that all my questions are answered.

I am really thinking, now, about how different mediums communicate different ways.

_Camping with Henry and Tom_

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the President of the United states are lost in the woods. No, that’s not the set for a joke. This is what happend in the play “Camping with Henry and Tom” by Mark St. Germain.

And it’s based on an event that actually occurred. President Harding, Edison and Ford were really on a camping trip. The imaginative recreation of that event is pretty funny, and really sharp. No matter what changes, things remain the same.

Businessmen often get the urge to go in and clean up politics. Anybody remember Ross Perot? but politics is not the same as business. People are much more complicated.

The three men in the story are gigantically successful. But St. Germain brings out their human side in the very human circumstance of being lost in the woods. The story shows how people really do have pretty much the same things to deal with, wherever they are.

_Broken Glass_ by Arthur Miller

A perfectly healthy housewife discovers that she can’t operate her legs anymore, drawing her husband and the doctor into a frightening examination of past and present feelings. Set in New York, right as the Nazi party is on the rise, these American Jewish people are forced by the paralysis to consider their relationship to the world and ultimately, themselves.

Miller is good at the kind of story that dredges up buried feelings. I like his way of taking a thing and turning it around to see the different sides of it.

In this story is good because, in a way, you pretty much know what’s coming, but at the same time, you are surprised by the way it comes through.

It makes me think, which I appreciate.

And the actors were very good. The tension and the drama were very satisfying.

Iranian Blogs

CNN.com – Prostitute diary tops Iran Web hit – Jun. 16, 2003

Looks like Iran is enjoying the same freedoms blogging brings:

“An Internet boom has caught officials by surprise and prompted them to draw up rules for the largely unregulated sector. The number of users has jumped by 90 percent in the past year. Still, only about three million of Iran’s population of 65 million — half of them under 25 — have access to the net. ”

But they have the same problem we americans do. It’s a small niche.

I’d like to find that prostitute’s website, actually.

John Hiatt- Bring the Family

Hiatt is what’s called “alternative country,” a category that pretty much means he sounds like country music but not quite. In my opinion, that means he doesn’t go by the pre-fab hooks and cliched patterns that country music is known and hated for. He actually creates his own sound.

And it’s a good sound. The first song on the album is “Memphis in the meantime,” a great catchy dancey tune that makes me wish I knew how to line dance. I’ll tell you, I’d never really felt that before.

The rest of the songs are intelligent and fun. One other song in particular I really love you may have heard from the love scene n Benny and Joon: “Have a little Faith in Me.”

It’s a great song, and it makes you think you’ve heard it before, as if it were written by one of the greats-BB King or somebody. It’s so heartbreaking. Of course, I’m a sucker for piano songs, I’ll admit.

My boyfriend loves “Lipstick Sunset.” Maybe it’s a guy thing, I’m not so fond of it because it’s about a girl getting left. But the song itself is a good kind of mournful.

Hiatt really loves what he does, and it shows.

_High Fidelity_

Yes, it’s John Cusack again! My only true movie star idol. But he’s got some other great folks in there too, like Jack Black.

I watched this movie in the theater alone the first time, because I couldn’t get anyone to commit to seeing it with me, and I really wanted to see it. I liked it a lot then.

But sometimes it makes a difference, to see a movie with someone and discuss it. This movie ended up being much better when I watched the DVD with a music nerd friend last night. It was AWESOME! we were poking one another to laugh at all the parts that were so true.

Who doesn’t go over their relationships like Rob Gordon(played by Cusack)? His Xes were just classic, too. He hit so many classic relationship dynamics.

In the movie, the judge of a good movie would be how discussable it was afterwards. You know, how many things sprung to mind after you saw it. Things that just made you chuckle to yourself spontaneously. or things that made you turn and ask the person you’re with a weird question.

I was going all that night and the next day with fuel on this movie.

Cusack didn’t let me down on this one.

_Catcher in the Rye_

Of course, Catcher in the Rye! Everyone has heard of Catcher in the Rye. A heckuva lot of people have read it. I decided i had to finally read it after Six Degrees of Separation. The con artist in that book does this whole discussion about how so many serial killers have this book.

Plus, it looked short. This was a nice diversion from the very long books I haven’t been finishing lately.

Well. Having finished the books mere moments ago, and having read absolutely no criticsm of it, I can give my opinion.

Holden Caulfield is an incredibly annoying kid. I don’t know why all the people in the story were so nice to him.

It’s hell to be an adolescent. All dressed up and nowhere to go, basically. Holden is stuck in a very stuffy period in history, growing up in the very late 40s.

But I guess his main problem is that he can’t find a way to get to where he wants to be. He is so caught up in all the details of his life, he doesn’t know what he wants. He gets vague and foggy ideas from the books he reads and some snatches of moments. But in the end, all he comes up with is empty.

He seems so involved in his dissaticfaction with his life that I’m not even sure he wants to be satisfied. Once in a while, he seems to want to find something that makes him happy. But he can never grab onto it.

Is that how every kid felt in the 50s? Like Rebel without a Cause?

My dad was in high school then. He tells me he felt that way a lot. What is up with that?

Is that the sort of vague dissatisfaction the was the 50s? Is that what led to the sort of vague protest of the foggy “establishment” that was the 60s?

Maybe serial killers like this book because it is so vague. It lets them bank the fire that fuels the logicless reasoning for their actions.

I don’t know. I’ve met some rather disasffected youth., and a lot of times I’ve felt like sitting them down and talking with them.

That’s what Holden makes me feel like doing.

But with the fictional Holden, and with the real kids I’ve known, it’s a little harder than a single convesation. The problems are not in their heads.

But the solution, at least the start of it is in the individual control. I do believe that.

But really. This book is also about more than just Holden’s problems.

what i DID like about it was the way Salinger wrote it. He wrote in a way that would drive English teachers nuts. Repeating, and inarticulate sometimes.

But the book is from Holden’s perspective, and the way Salinger writes takes the reader exactly into his head. He writes inarticulately because Holden is 16 and inarticulate.

I love the fact that this book is so “canon” while being so technically ‘bad’. I mean, If I were peer-reviewing this book, I would have to redpen the crap out of it.

And I hate doing that. Because i don’t like the arbitrary and inaccurate rules about what makes “good writing” in an English class.

So. I don’t think that Catcher in the Rye changed my life, but it was worth the time to read it.

Guns, Germs and Steel

Every once in a while, and all too seldom, I come across an book that takes me to a new vantage of understanding. Maybe it opens up a new field of knowledge I’d never discovered. Maybe it answers a question that I’d been unable to answer on my own. But these books are real gems, the sorts of things that I mull over and chew on because there are so many good and useful ideas inside.

Guns, Germs and Steel is one of those kind of books. In this case, it answered a question that I’d been wondering for a long time. I’d phrased it like this, “What is up with Africa?”

Africa seems to be perennially fucked. They seem to be cyclically starving to death, they seem to have massively corrupt and uncaring goverments. They always need water and medicine.

Other places don’t seem to be starving to death all the time. Why Africa? What’s the real roots of the problem?

GG&S deals with that. And they deal with an even bigger issue: why the peoples from some areas conquered other peoples in different areas.

THAT is another question I wonder about.

Why did some peoples colonize and others BE colonized?

GG&S breaks it down into some really practical and understandable elements. To generalize: some people were better fed. And they were better fed because they had better food around.

Some PLACES had better food available than others. As enticing as it is to consider the people group to which I belong as superior, there are actually circumstantial and incidental reasons having to do with LOCATION that makes one group successful over another.

That’s a real, practical and effective argument against racism as well. Another advantage to reading this book!

It won a Pulitzer, as well it deserved. I would hope that this book would go on to be read by students and others for years and years to come.

To me, it was not hard to read. As technical as some of the subject matter became, the author made it very relevant to the reader.

Also, it gave me some new trains of thought about how to manage the future. We are all in this together, all of us humans from all over the world. We inter-relate a lot, and it would be best to understand the past so that we can make wise decisions about the future.

I can hardly stop talking about this book to all the people I know. It was very exciting to read it.