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

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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 cliché 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?

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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.

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

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espnW

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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 cliché 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

Flicking Five Films From Friday & Foraging for Future Film Feasting

I can film veg with the best of them when so inclined to be disinclined to venture forth into winter nights and days. With complete honesty I rationalize and justify what others call wasting time with the verified claim that film vegging is a tried and true form of relaxation, stress relief and internal down time for more than a few people. Marathon movie viewing can be a very effective detox tool after excessive interaction with the insanity of this wonky world.  Some people go out and hang themselves out to dry with hard-drinking and drugs after a long hard work haul.  Not everyone finds that appealing. Some of us prefer not to kill our brain cells in order to shed the world’s toxic waste.  Why waste  time dying when there is the artistry of films for getting through the messiness of living? With the right mix of movies and music you can clear out a great deal of negative energy. With the wrong mix the negative flow can create a drowning river of doom and gloom. Anyone who has engaged in movie marathon viewing knows exactly what I’m talking about. Oh and by marathon we don’t mean three or four films. I’m talking about that close as your body will allow full press twenty-four film flowing for one, two , three days with not much more done than engagement with the small or large screen. Well, this has not been a marathon, just a warming up. Yeah, I think a marathon is marching onto my horizon. Contemplating kicking it off with all of Firefly leading to Serenity and then . . . well, this menu has not been fully planned just yet. I’m open to suggestions. Bring your BEST film recommendations.  What are your “Go To” films?

The seeds for this marathon were sown by chance over the weekend by brand new and old films. The positive and negative elements have made for a disconcerting mix.

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Awaken is available for free viewing on Hulu. It’s a very interesting treatment of getting beyond time, space, and place in order to connect with what’s truly important. Alex and Rachel may be some of the most intuitive and spiritual personages in a film set in the main stream culture against the background of a coffee-shop.  This is one of those rare films during which it can be hard not to smile, smile, smile even through the story’s sad shadows.  It’s a love story that defies the usual boundaries and presents a certain hopeful version of what’s possible when we awaken to a world of possibilities.  Oh, and it’s full of hope and love.

Awaken

Awaken – Dreams Movie starring Corey Sevier and Jordan Ladd

IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1894616/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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The Young Savages

This 1961 film crossed my path by pure accident while I was channel surfing at night. Burt Lancaster popped up on the small screen in a scene I’d never seen before, so I stopped long enough to try to identify the film and got hooked. It didn’t hurt that there were fewer and shorter commercial breaks than Hulu inserts into films online.  The black and white film is a treat for those of us who are visual addicts. The acting is quite good. The topic and script are unsettling, disturbing and very relevant to contemporary issues. I’m not yet aware of where you can find this film in full online. The treatment of the gang mentality and racism provides a great deal of raw meat for discussion. What perhaps most disturbed me was the treatment of the Puerto Rican women, especially the slain boy’s sister. Though this film raises the topic of women turning to prostitution in order to support their family, the manner in which it is employed in the film’s courtroom context raises a host of other issues. As no trailer was on the tubes I selected this video, in part for its textual commentary.

The Young Savages

Joe Barry [Note: JB has provided some intriguing notes on YouTube regarding this film. the comments for this video may also be of some interest.]

For cast and more see IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055633/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

****

Tomorrow is Forever came on directly after The Young Savages. The 1946 treat of another black and white film reeled me in as much as Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert.  That’s a lot of good stuff right? This is story of love lost and other love found. But it’s also a film about dishonesty, lies and deception–all done with the best of intentions. Yeah, let’s skip and trip our way to hell directly. I could argue that the closing scene reflects that with notion with the partly burned letter resting on the hearth in front of the fireplace. I’m sure plenty of people would agree with John’s choices, but I refuse to buy that all for your own good bullshit. Usually that comes back to bite someone in the ass when they least expect it–and gangrene often sets in. Oh yeah, let’s all go to war and send our sons there too. Even after we pay some damn high prices. That gleefully willing idealistic  cannon fodder theme does NOT work for me, but it might for others. Still, it’s worth viewing if you can find it.

Tomorrow Is Forever

Craig Steves

IMDb link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039041/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

****

I found Sweet Land,  2005, thanks to Bear sharing clips of music and a delightful pie eating scene.  It’s a lovely love story about a German mail order bride, Elizabeth Reaser, coming to Norwegian community in America in 1920. It deals with the ethnic bigotry that has nothing to do with the color of a person’s skin but with politics, language, religion and culture. Oh my, if you don’t speak English–but German, Irish, Polish or Italian you can get in big trouble in the wrong places–even if you’re a beautiful young woman willing to work hard.  This is a quiet powder keg of a film which subtly takes on serious issues about human nature, greed, intolerance, values and  how “business and farming don’t mix.” Olaf, Tim Guinee, is a man with a certain depth, integrity, and strength seldom found in modern fellows. He doesn’t say much, buy when he does, it counts big time. The tenacity and determination of the couple, Olaf and Inge, as they bring in a harvest by hand and by themselves when they defy the dictates of the local priest and continue living and working the sweet land together offers lessons in transcendence and living in a state of grace. You can find the film in full on YouTube.

Sweet Land

green3333

IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428038/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

*

Okay, I saw this via a small group outing. Plenty of great scenery, lots of action and lots of leading up to the third part of the trilogy.  Smaug is a great dragon. It’s not a great film, but it delivers enough to satisfy fans awaiting the final part.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

~

Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire accompanies the closing credits of The Hobbit and crediting Sheeran is presented up front.  I don’t see  how this could hurt Sheeran’s musical ambitions. His own songs are solid. His covers of others’ songs, such as Dylan’s Masters of War reveal the strength of his ability to breath new life into the creative work of others and make it distinctly his own.  So hats off to Peter Jackson for giving this young fellow a global spotlight. I hope to hear more and more of Sheeran over the long haul. It’s easy to find Sheeran’s music live and via album’s on YouTube.

I See Fire ~ Ed Sheeran

Warner Bros. Pictures

****

So, what would your movie marathon menu line consist of if you were settling in for long weekend, or week, of round the clock films? Yeah, I really want to know because I’m gearing up and I’m hunting fresh film food for simmering in my brain-pan. Indie and foreign films are very welcome to this film feasting. Quirky is generally good. Fun is good. Thoughtful and insightful is very good.  Action is not snubbed as long as it’s not mindless.

 

 

Searching for a satisfying love story via dvd? Search no more. Serve some~ Chicken With Plums ~ What More Could Hopeless Romantics Wish For?

Answer to post subject title question— I have no idea regarding what more. Oh that’s a lie. Sure I do. But that’s beside the point here when it comes to Chicken With Plums. Let’s put it this way, I ate the entire film meal and loved it.

burp

Is it possible to write a review and give nothing away about the content? Why would I want to do that if I’m pitching a story to people who are all about ‘what’s going on here’? For my own churlish amusement, I guess. Honestly, I think the film trailer gives away far too much information as it is. That’s not really fair considering this isn’t a film about some devious plot to overthrow the world order. Nope. It’s certainly not a film about that sort of sordid messiness. It’s more of an adventure into a few human hearts., how things are connected, intense smoke and controlling parents. Now does that last qualify as a spoiler or not? Nawww, I don’t think it does. That’s not exactly a breaking news story–though there are a few broken things here.

What makes a great story? What keeps you reading a book? Why do you keep watching a movie? Is it intricate plotting and scheming? Cunning and creepy characters with caustic conversation? Thrill seeking vicarious stunt action? Fast cars and hot women–and men? How about a not so fast train, plane and a boat? Frankly I think we need to redefine the nature of ‘hot’ for both men and women on main streets. But that discussion doesn’t really fit here so I’m going to leave it alone–if I can.  Back to the swing of things:  Stunning images and exotic locations? What is that special bait that gets the hook in your brain box and keeps you reading and watching? What trips your entertainment traps? What feathers tickle you humor bones? By the way, do you enjoy random visits with Death?

What kind of story do you pick for a chilly night with the home-fires? Do your fingers dance to drama, comedy, tragedy or romance? Or some giddy brew of everything? Check out the examples suggested and get back to me asap. Please feel free to suggest other examples.  Hint, that’s what the blank lines are supposed to encourage you to do. If it’s not working, let me know and we’ll revise accordingly. Thanks for your input even though you’ve yet to offer any. Yet.

Tragedy     ______  as in Othello

Comedy    ______  as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Romance  ______  as in Moonrise Kingdom

Drama     _______ as in Elizabeth Taylor On A Hot Tin Roof

Action    _______ as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Me? What do I pick? I do it all as long as it’s got the goods to keep my imagination engaged. I like a full plate of a solid story, no-big-box characters, delicious visuals, and sensual sounds. Yesterday evening’s top film pick was Chicken With Plums.  Yes I indulged in several otheres, but, sigh, as amusing as they were, no other was qualifed for TOP billing except the film with the fruit. I would love to ramble on and on about this delight. But I won’t. It would pull the rug out from the act of discovery and exploration.  Taste it for yourself. Oh, and if you’ve never eaten plums except with your breakfast–you’ve been missing out on some damn fine sweet stuff. Consider yourself DEPRIVED. Hmm…maybe it’s not in my best interests to encourage others to eat plums as that will mean fewer plums for moi. How do I talk about this film without mentioning plums when they’re the last word in the title? Chicken With ____ is not the way to go. That fill in the blank with your favorite fruit just isn’t working for me.  How about you?

Chicken With Plums 

Chicken With Plums Movie Trailer (2012). The french movie, directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud is set in Teheran, in 1958. From the Writers and director of Persepolis anime movie.

Note: The trailer says “Coming Soon” but the film has already come. No, you don’t have to go to France to see it. Silly bunnies.

Dessert?

Why yes, thank you.  I don’t mind if I do.  I’d like Chocolat.

PS, Were you expecting depraved instead of deprived? If so, what’s that tell you about you? No need to share. It’s quite alright to keep some things to ourselves.

Oh and if this is the most unsatisfying review of a film that you’ve ever read, please don’t hold it against Chicken With PlumsDon’t deprive yourself any longer than necessary on my account.

Reading Beats the Book Ban in AZ. Read –> 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures. Yeah, seriously, get a copy and read the damned banned book. It’s got lots and lots of pictures. Yes, it does.

Let’s have some fun today. Shall we? Why not.

Guess what, Mexican American Studies is still outlawed in the state of Arizona. Yep. It’s illegal to teach Mexican American history to students.

Neither my public nor my private library had a copy of 500 Anos del Pueblo Chicano / 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures so I put in a request for the book for the public library. So far it has not appeared in their catalog. I got tired of waiting for it to come to their shelves so I bought a copy online via AbeBooks.com.

(((((Big Grin)))))

I like my new libro a lot.

Why?

The book has heart.

Incredible black and white photographs.

Poetry.

Bi-lingual text.

History.

Art.

It’s one of 84 books feared by the Tucson Unified School Board.

Makes me like it more.

Oh, I’m not Mexican.

I don’t live in Tucson, AZ.

I don’t like some people telling other people what they can and cannot read.

I don’t like mind control.

It’s your mind.

Feed it well.

Truth.

Links for all interested parties:

“The Battleground for America’s Narrative: An Annotated Bibliography of the 84 Banned Books In Arizona” complied by Elaine

Romero http://www.librotraficante.com/annotatedBibliography.pdf

*

Librotraficante http://www.librotraficante.com/    Bringing books to every state. You can get a Viral Banned Book Kit via this link. 🙂 Sharing books is such fun.

*

If you are a student in Arizona you can get a free copy of the book here  http://chicanohistory.org/letters-from-arizona-students/

An interesting video recently posted on the tubes of you. It’s not sleek and slick, but I think it does the trick.  I was looking for ‘now’ and this came up. “Independent in their way of thinking” prompted me to post it.

AbeBooks http://www.abebooks.com/

Stuck In Stress Spin Cycle? Forget the Straight-jacket get ‘Hijacked by Your Brain’ by Ford & Wortmann

Okay folks, usually ‘self-help’ books leave me cold for a number of reasons I’m not going to waste time typing about here. But this particular little tome has much to offer in these STRESS-full times where the pressure cooker of modern life keeps building up steam without a lot of positive outlets for release. This is not a preachy, ego-drive “DO THIS RIGHT NOW” book. The tone is conversational, direct and mindful of the fact that there is person reading it for a reason–probably because they’re dealing with STRESS of some kind. Wow, that’s something right there to commend this little blue book–awareness of a living, breathing person ingesting ideas via the printed text.

Dr. Julian Ford and Jon Wortmann are not out to dictate, impress, or intimidate with their skills and knowledge–they actually seem to have set out to HELP people deal with the stress of living in the modern world. The book contains references to real people and real experiences. The explanation of how our brains work with stress are easy to understand. If you know what’s happening to you when stress spikes, then you’re in a better position to deal with it. A lot of emphasis is placed on mindfulness and self-awareness. The discussion of stress as a positive and negative part of life is realistic and useful for how to take advantage of it. Yes, there are ways to use that energy to your benefit.The goal is to live what they all an “optimal life”–a good life, a life worth living, a life in a world where you have control of your thoughts, reactions, responses, if nothing else in your environment and in a stress inducing situation. The language is easy to read. The practice will require various degrees of effort depending on where you’re starting from–but, there’s a way offered here that can be of benefit to many people.
I picked this book up out of curiosity when browsing the new non-fiction books in my wonderful public library. I had no prior knowledge of its existence. After opening to a random page to read a sample I thought it might be worth checking out. If you’re looking for a means to deal with stress of any sort you might find it worth checking out too. No purple pills here, just information and a stress plan that’s been test driven extensively.

Book Site: http://www.hijackedbyyourbrain.com/

Sigh, WP is not allowing me to organize items as I wish–I’m not going to let it bother me though. All the parts are here so I’m going to just go with it. Yes, the video is WORTH watching. I didn’t dump it here to fill up space.

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