Hello Online World

An interesting thing happens when you unplug from the world-wide web–time expands. Yes it does indeed. Time expands in the sense of all the things you can explore OFFline. Consider what happens when you forget your cellphone and you don’t feel the need to answer every ringtone like Pavlov’s puppies. Oh the freedom from the ring, from the keyboard connected to social media, and everything in the info universe. It can be very liberating–and you realize just how much energy, effort and time you’ve been putting into communication technology. Having been almost constantly online since BEFORE Facebook and twitter were even imagined I discovered a real big break from it all was in order. It’s been the kind of break where I’m on the verge of needing to upgrade my cellphone so that it will ‘work’. Aside from personal connections I have not missed the world-wide web much. I don’t enjoy reading books online–but I adore reading. Writing online has its pros and cons. I’ve discovered that the best way to deal with writer’s block is to actually write with a pen/pencil on paper. Yeah, it works. According the research I suspect it’s because more of your brain is stimulated by using your fine motor skills when using a pen than with using a keyboard. Oh and there’s never a problem with power outages or viruses or hitting the wrong key and sending everything into nowhere-land. Yes, being offline has been very good for my writing. It’s also been good for reading, exploring music, and cooking. Virtual cooking leads to virtual food and that’s inedible no matter what it does to your salivary glands.

When you’re exploring books offline in a library setting interesting things tend to happen–to me anyway. For example, an oversize book cover featuring Virginia Woolf’s profile draws your attention to Stefan Bollman’s Women Who Write, a book of profiles of women writers. Reading Francine Prose’s introduction raises the question of what other women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature since the book’s publication. The answer to this query leads to 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. I currently do not know where else you can read anything like this in English. Which leads in turn to the translator, Keith Gessen who is the co-editor of City By City, Dispatches from the American Metropolis. The essays therein present diverse perspectives on the American urban landscape–and they’re anything but boring.

I heartily recommend all these books for your reading table or tablet. Warning: Voices from Chernobyl may break your heart with its love stories. What happens to people who know nothing about the downside of nuclear energy when things go terribly wrong? This is an intensely personal record of what happens. Considering the world in which we live we owe to these people to at least make ourselves aware and informed. Because Blue Skies do not mean all is hunky dory in the radioactive universe. Note: this is also a National Book Critics Circle Award winner for General Nonfiction.

Dots:
~Virginia Woolf’s profile
~Women Who Write by Stefan Bollman, Francine Prose
~Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich
~Translator Keith Gessen
~City By City, Dispatches from the American Metropolis edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb

Please do feel free to share wherever these dots lead you.

Thanks for engaging here. Your time, energy and virtual presence is very much appreciated–more than ever before.

About Svetlana Alexievich:

http://alexievich.info/indexEN.html

Women Who Read Are Dangerous~~(select translation):

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/buecher/rezensionen/sachbuch/ein-buch-ersetzt-den-mann-im-haus-kuenstlerblicke-auf-lesende-frauen-1214751.html

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Just when you thought fairytales were all out of face-lifts along comes Cinder.

ūüôā¬† Yeah, the television tubes have been flooded with retakes and remakes of fairytale galore in recent seasons. It’s been virtual Grimm’s gag-fest galore. Some results have been gleefully giddy good Grimm fun galore and others have been romantic soap operas deluxe.¬† Have you been suitably chastised about the perils of talking to strangers, wandering off in the woods, and greedy beanstalks? Some of us are awaiting the return of the modern Grimm Reapers complete with popcorn couch parties in the works.

Just when the market seems saturated with all kinds of re-workings of cautionary and sleeping beauty tales along comes the ultimate Cinder-rella—a glorious human-cyborg teenage girl with attitude, smarts and guts like none other. She lives in New Beijing with her wicked stepmother and sisters. With a few twists of her screwdrivers she can replace an outgrown metal foot or carve her name into the heart of the¬†sort of charming pin-up poster Prince Kai. But before there will be any hot kissy faces there’s a plague to fight, an evil auntie to dethrone, a mystery or two to unravel¬†and friends to make along the way.

Oh the glories of teen fiction. ūüôā

Marissa Meyer’s¬†young adult spin¬†gives the Cinderella story an overhaul like none other and I love it. The thing about writing for young adults is that you can’t miss a beat and expect your audience to stick along waiting for you to get back on board with the fun and games. Meyer’s never missteps in Cinder or in the other tomes that continue the story. Scarlet–Little Red Riding Hood has never been so full of piss and vinegar –and partial to the Big Bad-ass Wolf.¬† Going where Grandma has gone is a tad more risky than a walk in the woods, but that doesn’t stop single-minded Scarlet from going hunting with Wolf watching her back-side. And then there’s Cress—ha, this Rapunzel is a computer genius with her fingertips on the pulse of the universe. Big Brother move over cause little sis has things to do and secrets to secret for her own escape agenda.¬† Disney never will top this¬†rendition of the long tressed girl in a tower. No way. Ever see a blind man rescue his lady in waiting? The brash, vain¬†Captain¬†¬†Carswell Thorne doesn’t let anything keep¬†him down –ever. So he’s been blinded by crash landing into the Sahara–who cares?¬†Crsss is MIA and he’s going after her¬†–cane and overly ethical escort droid in hand.

Ahhhh three books are ready for reading NOW–and Winter is coming in 2015.¬† Snow White is¬†clearly some kind of¬†head case¬†with teen angst to spare. ¬†I don’t suggest leaving out any bread crumbs or candy–this crew is¬† too hungry for love and life to go backwards –ever.

Marissa Meyer ~ > http://www.marissameyer.com/books/

Go on, visit the cool author site.

It’s tricks and treats for everyone who craves some reading FUN.

Conclusion: There is NO pleasant history of humankind. So just get on with it and read Claudio Saunt’s West of the Revolution, An Uncommon History of 1776.

One minute book review:

Why is it that people on one side of the globe think they have a right to the land of the people living on the other side of the earth?

Oh right–they’re all a bunch of greedy egocentric egomaniacs who are only interested in how to turn a profit. Yeah, I knew that.

Of course there’s genocide, racism and missionaries spreading misery in spades–but, there’s also the beaver trade and the Cuban connection too in West of the Revolution wherein Claudio Saunt fills history buffers in on what was going on elsewhere in North America during that war for some colonies’ economic independence from merry old England. This is an darkly entertaining and easy read with odd maps, chapter notes notes and a very strange illustration depicting beavers in action on page 129. ¬†Saunt offers some very disturbing stories about human behavior on the part of everyone and a decided lack of brotherly love. Yeah, forget all the first Thanksgiving propaganda, it’s a no go in Alaska with the Russians and Aleuts. And Jesus Christ, what is it with the damn priests and their bad habits on west coast and the southwest? Some things just never change no matter what century you’re digging around in. I suppose that’s because human behavior doesn’t seem to be evolving for the better anywhere. I could, and might do, an in-depth review of this recent new book–but right now I’m settling for two thumbs up review mind mode. Why? Because I learned a few things, like why the Creeks tried so hard to get some real trade going with Cuba. They understood their dire economic situation quite well. ¬†As for the Indians doing business with the Hudson Bay Company and others ~~ well, they could teach Wall Street a thing or two about insider trading of a certain sort.

And then there are those beavers and their dams . . . .  

Hats Off to GQ’s “Son, Men Don’t Get Raped” by Nathaniel Penn

I love my local public library’s book and magazine holdings–even if I don’t always love what I learn via all information sources. While browsing the magazine racks this weekend I came across GQ‘s red tagged Special Report on sexual assault in the U.S. military–“Son, Men Don’t Get Raped” by Nathaniel Penn.¬† There’s a certain irony in this September 2014 issue of GQ as this is its style edition and there are lots of photos of great looking guys wearing wonderful clothing throughout the magazine. So many in fact that I had some trouble navigating my way to the article that had caught my attention. To clarify, not because I was distracted by the images,¬†but because of the sheer¬†amount of¬†fashion¬†pictures.¬† It’s all about¬†a man’s image. And this article¬†offers a¬†haunting and compelling counterpoint to all those slick photographs of handsome, healthy masculinity.¬† What happens when¬†a basically¬†healthy man¬†is destroyed by his fellow man via sexual assault?

Penn’s piece offers a shattering look at the ongoing, and increasing, issue of male sexual assault in the military. The number of victims¬†are in the thousands, these men¬† have no recourse for medical¬†aid of any kind from the VA, they are discharged from all branches of the service if/when they report being sexually assaulted by their comrades and superiors, and the consequences damage them for life.¬† Penn eschews a straightforward narrative prose approach by letting dozens of quotes from victims speak for themselves to tell their stories, which taken as a whole present a damning portrait of how the American Armed Forces across the board is NOT dealing effectively with sexual assault by men against other men.¬† The issues of power and control are in full throttle swing here on multiple levels and the picture is appalling. Indeed the military has succeeded in de-humanizing itself from the very top ranking officers down to the lowest ranking private.¬† There is no compassion, there is no legal redress, there is no medical treatment offered, there is no accountability. There is only abuse and destruction of men by other men on the psychological, physical and emotional levels.¬†¬†There’s not much to recognize of the noble ideal of officers and gentlemen in this scenario which is destroying the lives of men who joined the military to serve their country.

The bottom line is that–the men who swear to defend the United States of America by doing military service do not defend each other—they enter a system in which rape, a crime of power and control, is rampant–and clearly no one within the system¬†gives enough of a damn to do what needs to be done to address the problem. Other countries have–but not the United States.¬† Here the victim still pays the price for the behavior of the criminal.

Yes, son, men do get raped all the time in the military — and it’s not by enemy forces, but by their so-called brothers in arms.

Kudos to GQ for publishing¬†this devastatingly candid article about an issue apparently no one in the U.S. government really wants to do anything about. Why is that? Refusal to face reality that the military system is dysfunctional and destructive and therefore counterproductive? Because it’s run by damaged people with power and control issues of their own? Because the public lives in denial of reality? Because it’s hard to accept that the ideal is not real?¬†Or ____ ?

Link to GQ — “Son, Men Don’t Get Raped”

http://www.gq.com/long-form/male-military-rape

 

 

 

 

Living and Sustaining a Creative Life ~ Essays by 40 Working Artists, ~~ Thanks for sharing, Sharon Louden

In the box or out of the box?

To gallery or not to gallery — to quest or not to quest?

Shut up and pass paper and pencils. Art wants making.

For the¬†book price of¬†less than a dollar a piece, editor Sharon Louden, working artist herself, ¬†invites artists, and any other interested parties, to engage with 40 working artists¬†n what has been an ongoing discussion for as long as creative people have striven to live and thrive in a world at large that far too often is less than supportive of their¬†existence. No,¬†Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, Essays by 40 Working Artists¬†isn’t¬†a book about artists who rock the status quo of mainstream¬†society. Though there are artists¬†within these pages¬†who do so in one¬†medium¬†or another.¬† What this very engaging tome offers is¬†a very wide and diverse range of¬†perspectives based on experiences had by artists who’ve found their own ways to survive, thrive and continue to create¬†over time. There are discussions of quests for studio time,¬†¬†for money to provide food, shelter and art supplies,¬†for solitude¬†and¬†for companionship,¬†gallery representation and new ways of making a go of things with and without galleries. There’s a lot of insight, hindsight, information, ideas and inspiration in these essays written by a very¬†wide range of artists including those raising children and engaged in mutually supportive relationships. Plus,¬†there is an excellent photograph of each artist’s work¬†prefacing¬†their essay. Yeah, that’s a very sweet bonus track in this book–you get some views of art you might or might not have seen yet. So this libro also serves as a¬†visual catalog of artists as essayists.¬†Hence, you get a small¬†visual sense of what these artists invest so much vital energy and time creating.

A few of my visual treat picks:

Michael Waugh’s The American Jobs Act, part 1 (detail)

Peter Drake’s Day for Night

Thomas Kilpper’s State of Control

Maggie Michael’s Swans of Other Worlds ~¬† (photography by Dan Steinhilber)

Julie Hefferman’s Self Portrait as Big World

Jay Davis’ Please, no more birds

&

Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Panel ~ Book tour video.  Yes, this is an interesting and engaging serious discussion among artists, about artists, art and the art world. Enjoy.

 

Here’s a link to Amazon’s Look Inside page for the book – http://www.amazon.com/Living-Sustaining-Creative-Life-Working/dp/178320012X#reader_B00F4AT02K

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Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the essays:

Annette Lawrence ~ “I am generally led by¬†curiosity, and nothing is off-limits.”

George Stoll ~ “I LIke to work but don’t always like to start, so I make it as easy to begin as possible. At a restaurant¬†near my house that has good coffee, friendly waiters and an owner who tolerates my long visits, I start most days. . . .¬† I’ve learned that I am especially productive when feeling a bit delinquent.”

Tony Ingrisano ~¬†“I sleep and eat and breathe drawing, so it’s only logical that I’d do anything necessary to keep drawing.”

Sean Mellyn ~ “Rauschenberg’s Bed made an early and lasting impression on me – that art can not only be made from anything, but material extrapolated from a life lived is a powerful statement.”

Brian Tolle ~ “There are no bad opportunities if you have only one.”

Austin Thomas ~ “There are as many ways to be an artist as there are artists; Lucas Reiner told me that one and it is true.”

Amy Pleasant ~ “And it wakes me up each day. And I follow it. And at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it is the greatest thing I know.”

Maggie Michael ~ “Falling n love was easy. What became labored was managing our bank account after college (when our student loans came due). Artists often pair with someone who has a reliable career and income, but we could not change partners now or in hindsight.”

Dan Steinhilber (Maggie Michael’s partner) ~ “Many people seem to give us extra credit because we involve our child in our life as artists. Clay has excellent conversational skills, yet he does not make a great deal of artworks. Nevertheless, he is imaginative and creative and amazing to us.”

Dan Steinhilber¬†~ “Over time we learned how to help, support, and appreciate each other rather than be competitive. For example, on days when Maggie is teaching, I often go to her studio and do practical¬†things for her – build stretchers, prime canvases, and keep her supplies organized so that her time in the studio can be focused on painting.”

And

Link for Intellect, Publishers of Original Thinking¬†page –>>¬† ¬†http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/books/view-Book,id=5042/

How do you measure success?

What did you create today?

Okay, now that I’ve done my good book¬†information sharing deed for the day, it’s time to take advantage of the lull in the rain to¬†get the box of sheet music out of the back seat and see what¬†suits my agenda.

 

Pulling The Rug Out From Under Big Brother– The Burglary, The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger

The New York Times

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“There are certain points in history where a society goes so wrong, and there are certain people who will say, ‘I won’t stand for that . . . I will risk career, life, limb, family¬† freedom . . . And I will take this risk, and I will go and do it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          David Kairys

Betty Medsger’s book about the 1971 burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania isn’t about a¬†cheap thrill ride of robbery for adrenaline kicks and profit,¬†though it was a crime with a huge payout–the truth.¬† The burglary committed by a crew of non-violent¬†peace activists assembled by a physics professor, William Davidon, confirmed the suspicions of anti-war activists that they were being unlawfully¬†spied upon by their own government because they were exercising their right to dissent — and that thousands of other people were being¬†illegally¬†spied upon because they were considered subversives according to one man, J. Edgar Hoover.¬† People didn’t have to commit any crime or even speak about committing treason to get their names put on a list of folks to be rounded up and jailed in the event of some national emergency. If they were liberal, if they were black, if they espoused anti-war sentiments, if they were writers, artists,¬†then they were candidates for warrantless, indefinite detention¬†without due process under the law–as far as¬†Hoover was concerned. The Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI’s theft of FBI records brought¬†into the light of day¬†the¬†term COINTELPRO–and a lot of very very illegal¬†activity by the FBI as it committed crimes against the American people with impunity.¬†Such crimes included¬†destroying the lives of innocent¬†people by deliberately framing them for crimes they didn’t commit, celebrating¬†such wrongdoing and refusing to¬†turn over evidence that proved their¬†innocence in any wrongdoing. Hoover’s secret FBI didn’t give a damn about truth,¬†integrity,¬†civil liberties,¬†or the law. It¬†existed to create paranoia and fear in the population at large in order¬† to control everyone. It refused to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the law. It was a criminal entity from the top on down with¬†a few¬†exceptions.

If this is striking a contemporary current events cord with you, that’s¬†not an accident.

If you’re expecting an anti-war¬†tale¬†rife with hippies, drugs,¬†sex and rock and roll music, look elsewhere. The¬†people who broke into the¬†FBI office in Media were not a bunch of hooligans. They weren’t looking for¬†money. They were searching for evidence. ¬†These were people who raided draft offices in order to¬†destroy the effort to conscript¬†young men for the war machine then stayed to be arrested by the police in order to take responsibility for their actions. These were people deeply¬†invested in¬†ethical behavior and education who wanted the death and destruction in Vietnam to stop. They were people committed to the civil rights movement.¬†¬†Betty Medsger’s book¬†provides¬†varied¬†personal portraits of the burglars, each dependent upon how much personal information they were willing to share, of the Media burglars.¬† There’s a range of backgrounds and experience among them which provides some sense of the breadth of the range of people involved in the anti-war movement and what inspired them to become activists.

If you have no clue about the¬†short and long-term¬†importance of this burglary and the context in which it occurred, don’t fret, Medsger will fill you¬†in. She provides notes and a very useful bibliography for further reading. While this is a very serious book about very serious issues which are very relevant to the here and now, it’s also very very accessible and readable. It gives life and breath to events by creating connections with real humans thinking hard about the world we live in–and how we live in it. What are the responsibilities of those who are free? What does it mean to have the right to dissent without fear of retaliation in a society that claims to be free? What are you willing to do to protect your civil liberties?¬†Who wants to live their lives in fear of being arrested because of their ideas?

Betty Medsger’s book raises all sorts of interesting issues for serious conversation while stressing the important role ‘ordinary’ people play in creating the world in which we live our daily lives. If you think one person doesn’t have a lot of influence in the power plays then consider J. Edgar Hoover the Head of the FBI¬†versus William Davidon, a physics professor with an idea.

Who is reading everyone’s mail? Who is collecting phone conversations? Who is creating files on everyone? Why?

Who has the Hoover virus? What is to be done about it?

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The Burglary site –>> http://www.theburglary.com/

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Betty Medsger ~ The Burglary (note, her part does not run the full hour of the video)

Published on Mar 21, 2014

http://www.politics-prose.com/book/97… Betty Medsger talks about her book about the previously unsolved burglary of an FBI building in Media, Pennsylvania. Recorded on March 16, 2014.
Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics & Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online. Visit them on the web at http://www.politics-prose.com/

BookTV

 

The Promise of Amazing~ Robin Constantine’s Glimpse Into the Young Adult World of Today

Ah spring is pushing up jonquils and young love is in the air. If images of fresh face youths courting fair-haired maids with handfuls of flowers comes to mind when you think of young love, well, Constantine’s young adult novel, The Promise of Amazing, will disabuse you of such daydreams. Contemporary teenage romance has little to do with June and Ward Cleaver scenarios despite some sharing of milk and Oreo cookies. Welcome to the world of boy and girl prep schools for the children of lawyers, catering business owners and real estate agents. These people don’t worry about having enough food or clothing for their families. Their concerns are with social status and money-making in the realm of suits and ties. Their teenage children are highly aware of clothing labels, drinking, drugs, and sex. This is the world of who might become who — or not. Enter quiet good girl Wren Caswell whose relationship self-confidence quotient has had a hard ¬†knock from what she refers to as a “hump and dump” with a young lad with no interest in anything more than sex before he heads off to college campus and the rest of his life–without looking backwards. It doesn’t help her college dreams any when the guidance counselor unwittingly makes callous remarks about who is and isn’t Harvard material. ¬†From stage left-wing comes talented bad boy Grayson Barrett who has been forced to face the music of academic misconduct for selling papers to other students–oddly enough none of the buyers seem to have suffered any consequences for creating a demand for Grayson’s product. These boys are working out their future manners of behavior for being successful in a corrupt mainstream world which rewards doing whatever you do to be successful as long as you don’t get caught. The lads of St. Gabe’s have more than plagiarism on their questionable efforts plates. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart’s lasses are mistresses of manipulation and serious verbal aggression. Some of their hearts and minds are very short on sugar and very high on arsenic. ¬†Wren and Grayson are not exactly Juliet and Romeo material—or are they? There is serious potential for tragedy if some life lines don’t get straightened out with some positive choices. In today’s American mainstream culture they’re the kids with all kinds of opportunities — yet, they’ve got some very steep learning curves regarding relationships, peer pressure, family issues, values and sexuality which all children, and adults, encounter.

Robin Constantine delivers a touching young love story set in what is now the normal context, with variations on degrees depending on location, that teenagers move through today. It’s a landscape rift with absent parents, underage drinking, rebellion, drug use, and sexual explorations often without any emotional attachments. Emotions are problematic for teenagers and the young people in The Promise of Amazing have emotional issues in spades. ¬†There are a lot dysfunctional families across the spectrum of social economic class lines. Yes, there is a very serious class structure in America based on economics–the idea of a society where everyone is equal is an ideal, not a reality. This isn’t a¬†The Catcher in the Rye world–this is post Salinger–the phoniness of the deluded game playing adult world is almost a clich√© today. ¬†The children mimic it to no small end. ¬†With friends like his, it’s a wonder Grayson and his social peers are all not headed straight to jail before graduating from high school. ¬†Yet, Constantine manages to avoid falling into a cynical narrative of all things troubling teens. ¬†Wren’s practical step right up and deal with the problem nature sets things in motion when she meets Grayson by saving him from choking to death while everyone else stands around watching the show at her family’s catering hall– called Camelot. Of course, one thing leads to another as Constantine develops the plot via chapters alternating Wren’s and Grayson’s perspective. This is one of the things I enjoyed most about this young adult novel–the effort to present the perspectives of both sexes to tell their story. What goes through the minds of teenage boys and girls isn’t exactly the same–but they’ve got a lot more common ground regarding issues than they often realize when they’re struggling to communicate with each other even though texting seems to make it all so simple.

¬† ¬† I watched her disappear up the block, her plaid skirt swaying. When she was out of sight, I landed with a thud and walked back to the reality of the ER. I pulled Wren’s scarf up to my nose, inhaling her scent and getting dizzy all over again. I was happy to have my face covered–no one walks into the hospital with a grin that wide unless he’s heading to the psych ward. But I couldn’t help it.

She kissed me.

The Promise of Amazing is a an easy read writing-wise, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s about easy things. It’s not. ¬†It offers a certain very dark slant on contemporary teenage world. This novel portrays a young couple’s efforts at dealing with family, friends and love relationships without any magic or supernatural elements to distract from real life issues. Constantine manages to make us care what happens to Grayson and Wren as individuals and as a couple with some definite potential for being a lot more than a “hump and dump” round. They both need and want more than that even though their hormones are certainly giving them a workout–complete with condoms. It’s the promise of sharing a genuinely caring relationship that gets these two together. What’s unsettling is just how hard that is to find despite all the musical hype about it. In a world of broken homes, second and third families, amoral role models and shallow values, experiencing and sharing some real love is no easy deal.

What’s the teen in your world reading?

~

Robin Constantine’s site –>> ¬†http://robinconstantine.com/ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†http://robinconstantine.com/books.html

The Queen of Katwe ~ The Most Powerful Piece On The Board

Update: This is now a film. Yes!!!!!

 

 

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers was a reading find on a recent¬†expedition to my public library.¬† It’s one of those books that I’ve opened¬†for some down time reading pleasure then spent the rest of the day reading¬†until reaching the back cover.¬†Tim Crothers traces the roots of several¬†dots that come together to create¬†Phiona Mutesi’s Ugandan¬†world in Katwe. One very important¬†“dot” is the life¬†story of¬†Robert Katende who brought chess to Katwe as part of a sports outreach program. Katende noticed that not every child wants¬†to play soccer and decided to offer an alternative game, chess, for them. It is through Katende’s¬†outreach efforts that Phiona discovers the inner mental and outter¬†physical world of chess.¬† Tim Crothers presents Katende’s personal history of survival, endurance and talent in a manner that show the incredible impact of one person on the lives of others. One young man’s life decisions reverberate throughout his world in remarkable and unexpected ways. Without Robert Katende there would be no chess for Phiona Mutesi and the other children of Katwe.¬† In turn Phiona herself is having a positive impact on her personal world and the world of women in Uganda. Her story breaks out of the cycle of poverty and desperate struggle to survive for women and their children in places where living is far from easy. What’s at stake is creating a life based on choices rather than the¬†need to eat and literally keep from drowning when it rains.¬† When a slum is built on/in a swamp things get dicey for everyone when water falls from the sky.

Crothers’ writing style is quick and engaging as¬†he works with words to¬†bring to life¬†the physical landscape of the Katwe slum and Uganda. He creates a context that the people who can afford to buy¬†his book–and read it¬†with ease–may have some trouble relating to.¬†This is a world of¬†harsh poverty where women¬†do what they must to stay alive and education is a luxury requiring payment.¬†¬†Via Robert Katende’s¬†story¬†it’s¬†clear that it’s not an easy world for boys and men either.¬† At first one wonders where Crothers is going –how far back in time–and how¬†will we ever¬†get to¬†the story of the girl who dreams of being a Chess Grandmaster. Well, I assure you that by the time¬†you¬†are learning more about¬†Phiona¬†it will be very clear why¬†Crothers¬†pulls the¬†narrative strings he does. In order to¬†fully appreciate Phiona’s¬†ongoing¬†life story¬†the¬†daily context of her world is required.

Another dot Crothers connects is that of the importance of education–like the¬†Sport’s Outreach program–Tim Crothers’ takes a holistic approach to presenting Phiona’s¬†and Robert Katende’s¬†stories.¬†Education plays¬†a vital role in¬†dealing with people in poverty. Hence, Crothers pulls in the story line dot of Andrew Popp¬†all the way from Santa Barbara, California. How does the¬†suicide of a talented young man¬†have anything¬†to¬†with the life of¬†girl¬†living in the slums of Uganda? The scholarship¬†memorial fund¬†created by¬†Andrew’s parents is what¬†enables Phiona to attend school.¬†¬†Personally I think that’s¬†a wonderful thing and an¬†incredible part of Phiona’s¬†story¬†because education¬†is essential to¬†breaking the poverty cycle and the people in the slums know this fact.

Andrew Popp Scholarship Fund    http://sportsoutreach.net/projects/teaching/andrew-popp-scholarship-fund/

So if you’re looking for a great human interest story, one which is far from finished, then get a hold of The Queen of Katwe. Consider the power of one piece on a chess board and the powerful impact one person can have on the life of another. Get some inspirartion. some ideas about teaching from Robert Katende, ¬†and perhaps some motivation. Perhaps most importantly get some HOPE.

~

Author Tim Crothers’ site >> ¬†http://www.timcrothers.net/

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Phiona Mutesi–so far–¬†>>¬† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phiona_Mutesi

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theKeithFurr

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Uploaded on Nov 9, 2011

This is a brief documentary on Fiona, a 15 year old¬†Chess Prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda who discovered Chess as a homeless child in search of food. I traveled to Uganda to cover this story through a non-profit organization called Silent Images. We were serving another non-profit called Sports Outreach, in which the chess coach discovered a special gift in Phiona for the game of Chess. I was accompanied by Tim Crothers of ESPN and David Johnson of Silent Images on the trip. Tim has now written a book on Phiona called “The Queen of Katwe” and Phiona has had recent top news stories on ESPN as well as CNN. Disney is currently planning to produce a movie on Phiona as well and I can’t wait to see Phiona’s dreams come true. She is a true underdog in every sense of the word and no person is more worthy of success in life than this special young woman.

Silent Images – http://www.silentimages.org
Sports Outreach Institute – http://www.sportsoutreach.net
Buy the Book – http://www.sportsoutreach.net/secure/…

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Indie film site >> http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/disney-developing-feature-based-on-ugandan-chess-prodigy-phiona-mutesi-w-mira-nair-directing

A Quick and Dirty Review of Deborah Meyler’s ~The Bookstore~

*Public Domain Photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Seldom have I ever been so on the fence regarding a book I’ve selected for a spot of easy reading than I was, and still am, as I’ve been with The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler.¬† After reading several pages at a random opening, I checked this novel out of my wonderful public library~ (side note:¬†Everything under human control in the library¬†is wonderful, though the departments ruled by computer intelligence are quite questionable of late. Artificial Intelligence is driving the staff a tad mad due to its distinct lack of common sense regarding book culling. For example, who would remove the second book in a young adult fantasy thriller series thus leaving a gap between volume one and three? What sense does that make? All it does is discourage the would be reader because the story is now incomplete. Okay enough of this developing issue.) Yeah, I promised a quick review for everyone on the cyber-space run.¬† Let’s get to the good stuff first: This is an easy-going read writing wise–you will not have to work through any deviously poetic complex sentence structures. The supporting cast of characters connected to the bookstore are very¬†engaging creations–and mainly male. You get a¬†decent sense of New York City’s never sleeping city atmosphere. There are interesting references and allusions to great art and great books. There’s a slightly developed commentary on the demise of independent bookstores being put out of business by corporate run big box book retailers. This is a nice big plus because it supports the assertion that Esme, our thoroughly modern young woman on the academic art history¬†move, has a decently educated mind in good working order–except when it comes to the entire concept of pregnancy. She’s clueless like so many¬†young people these days when it comes to her biological nature beyond sex for fun.¬† But¬†I won’t hold that against her.¬† She does have many good qualities¬†along the tune of ->¬†Yes, ladies it can be very cool to be well read, intelligent and interested in much more than the moron box taking center stage in many living rooms. For the most part I like Esme very much. Hang on to “for the most part” –the not most part when I don’t care for–or comprehend–Esme is part of what still has me on the fence regarding this book.

What’s got me on the fence? Esme’s love interest, Mitchell. For the life of me I can’t figure out what this young woman finds to love in this cold-hearted bastard.¬† Being handsome is not enough–statues, male models, actors and non-famous dudes on the street can be very good-looking–but women don’t fall for them just because of the outer packaging–or do they?¬† I guess some do. Maybe Esme is supposed to be one of those ladies? Perhaps it’s because she’s twenty-three and has a¬†libido in good working order? I’m serious here, folks. if¬† Meyler had given Mitchell a character profile beyond handsome economics professor from a wealthy family –I’m sure some of you are arguing that’s plenty, but it’s not in this context. Esme has too much going for her to be picked up by a handsome sexual predator running amok in NYC. Or does she?¬† Maybe there’s something amiss with the young Miss? I’m still not sure after finishing the book–which I nearly gave up on several times because I had such serious trouble buying this particular woman and man connection.¬† All the good things, bookstore, homeless people,¬†Stella, George, Luke etc.¬†kept me reading though–and the hope that Esme might get a clue or two regarding the man using her for nothing more than satisfying his own very manipulative dysfunctional¬†ego. It’s not like she doesn’t have plenty of other men to compare this asshole to in order to see the light.

Mitchell’s character is a clich√© in the extreme. Hence, I dislike him immensely. Disliking him is probably what Meyler had in mind. Problem is, he’s so dislikeable¬†that it’s hard comprehending why Esme loves him. There’s nothing even remotely loveable about this guy as he is portrayed. If there’s some unwritten or edited out part of this novel that is loitering with intent to explain Esme’s feelings for this man, then it needs to get edited into the novel. Yes, women–and men–fall for the wrong sort of people all the time. True enough. But stating this guy has charm and giving him none at any point in time¬†makes Esme come off as a complete dunce.¬† It would help matters considerably if the reader got some glimpse of what lures Esme into loving this man. Yeah, the slam dunk sex foreplay in the women’s restroom fails to do that for me.¬† It works for sexual attraction, but not for emotional attachment and involvement.¬†Hmm. Maybe that’s Meyler’s point–that people confuse physical sexual attraction with emotional love attraction? Maybe.¬† I’m not sure.

Oh–yes, Esme does have alternative love interest choices which appear to operate on a more positive level–or could. There are hints which I won’t spoil here for any interested might be readers.¬†¬†In many ways this is story about dealing with¬†such relationship¬†scenario. Perhaps it’s a modernized version of a very old cautionary tale for young women.¬†¬†It certainly works¬†in that regard.¬†Hmm, maybe this review is getting me off the fence as I air my concerns here. Maybe.

If anyone has run through The Bookstore’s very accessible pages and cares to comment on my fencing–please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about any chapter or verse in the novel. So, was this quick and dirty enough? Oh a little short on the dirty–hmm–consider a toothbrush standing in for a vibrator. How’s that for a little dirty?

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Meyler’s author¬†page at http://authors.simonandschuster.com/deborah-meyler/408315626

What’s in Betty Medsger’s ‘ The Burglary’? Crow-bars, COINTERLPRO and Naughty FBI Spy Games.

what lives in a book

inked leaves unfurling words

secrets detecting

&

¬†Hmm, how’s that poem working for you? May not make the publishing book grade, but it does the introduction rites job today. Sort of.¬†Books are strange things. Never know just what you’ll find between their covers–hard copy or electronic, it¬†makes no difference when the words are what¬†make the mental meat of the matter. I have¬†no clue how good or bad Medsger’s brand spanking new book reads. Yet. It’s literally a NEW release by Random House-as in publication¬†dated yesterday.¬† Ironically the historical story it features is decades old. New book for an old untold story about American citizens taking things into their own hands in order to get to the truth of what matters.¬† According to the interview on Democracy Now! this morning,¬†the newspaper media nearly failed them. The truth was very HOT to handle. Some political¬†folks so feared the FBI that they turned their backs on the right to information regarding illegal activities by the FBI.¬†One¬†mailing of copied documents¬†never reached¬†its destination. Can we say “intercepted”? Or maybe just an honest mistake on the part of the postal service. I¬†wouldn’t bet a penny¬†on that.

Clearly history is repeating itself in current events. The stakes are just as high regarding freedom and civil liberties. A portion of the public is very paranoid. J. Edgar Hoover would be proud of the media spin on all things of politics regarding the military industrial complex and corporate personhood for inducing much paranoia–according the old documents stolen and “released.” Some times it’s¬†just no fun having a theory proven.¬†My next observation¬†might seem like a side issue, but it’s not. How many ‘cop’ shows are on television? How many feature all sorts of fancy surveillance techno toys? How many feature terrorist threats week after week? How many evoke sympathy for the hardworking agents no matter what their flaws? Have you gotten used to the sound of gunfire from watching crime shows on television? Ever notice the lack of emotion from the people doing the shooting and the characters giving and recieving the news that someone has been killed?

Side note: At the opposite end are the medical heroes who do everything they can to save lives and then seem to suffer a sense of loss when their patients die. Hmm. I’ve yet to encounter any such doctor in my life experience. I’ve managed to send a couple running in a panic. I guess that proved those well educated individuals¬†were human after all.

“Excuse me, doctor, but that’s not¬†his sense of humor.¬† At the moment, he really thinks you’re all aliens out to kill him. He’s a lot stronger than he looks. I advise exercising caution when handling.” Watch doctor run back to ER room.

Back to the regular word flow:

I wonder if there’s a television program in the works about TSA folks in order to show us just how good all their intentions are as they intimidate,¬†strip search, x-ray, hassle and belittle people everywhere with impunity in order to keep people safe.¬† The irony of TSA is a steak so thick an axe is needed to cut the meat.

What’s your paranoia meter reading? I know people who freak out every time there’s a plane crash and others who fear the sight of police people wearing gun holsters. I also know a fair number of folks who don’t give a flying f&*^ about anything except their daily routine and money-making. As long at those boats are not rocked,¬†all is well in their universe.

Is there a safety lock somewhere?

Is this piece fully loaded?

Careful with the drones~

Make sure they fly right~

Status quo depends on¬†the system flowing, flowing, flowing…..

*

The Context:

Stealing J. Edgar Hoover’s Secrets

The New York Times

The Book:

The Burglary by Betty Medsger

click cover for Random House

*

The Motive:

“It Was Time To Do More Than Protest”

democracynow·

Published on Jan  8, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – One of the great mysteries of the Vietnam War era has been solved. On March 8, 1971, a group of activists — including a cabdriver, a day care director and two professors — broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counter-intelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social, political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. Calling themselves, the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, no one was ever caught for the break-in. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until this week when they finally came forward to take credit for the caper that changed history. Today we are joined by three of them — John Raines, Bonnie Raines and Keith Forsyth; their attorney, David Kairys; and Betty Medsger, the former Washington Post reporter who first broke the story of the stolen FBI documents in 1971 and has now revealed the burglars’ identities in her new book, “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.”
Watch part 1 of this interview: http://youtu.be/GMWuJipChs0

For more of the interview and links to related items –> http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/8/it_was_time_to_do_more

&

Radio:

NPR¬† coverage –> http://www.npr.org/2014/01/07/260302289/the-secret-burglary-that-exposed-j-edgar-hoovers-fbi

How’s your day? What’s in your mailbox? Have you fumigated lately?

Yes, I am looking forward to reading Medsger’s book.

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