Saturday, September 30, 2017

Words . . . the Best Words

If you're a fan of words, you probably already know about A Word A Day. If you don't know Anu Garg's delightful daily offering, go HERE to find out more and to grab a free subscription.

He usually chooses the words for a week with some sort of theme -- which the reader is invited to guess.

This week's words were: drama queen, illiterati, dastard,

He left out dotard but  . . .

Friday, September 29, 2017

Prescription for Troubled Times

Go down to the river and listen to its song . . .

Watch it swirl and ripple . . . see how the light dances on its surface . . .

Gather up fears, doubts, anger and put them into that leaf --that one there that just fell into the water . . . it can hold them all . . .

Watch it float away . . .

Watch it out of sight . . . there, they're gone.

Now . . . breathe deep and listen . . .
Listen to the river's song.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In the Midst of the Maelstrom

 . . .

 So the world didn't come to an end on the 23rd as some fella had predicted. In spite of dodging that bullet, there's plenty else to stress about.

Things like a potential nuclear pissing contest between two immature egotists; Texas and Florida still stunned by hurricane damage while Puerto Rico is in desperate trouble, lacking food and drinking water as well as . . . well, everything. Threats to our environment everywhere and a total disinclination on the part of this regime to address these threats.


What else? Rampant racism on our streets; men with swastikas and men with sheets. The muddle immigration is in and the threat to DACA; health care -- the Republicans have tried yet again to destroy the ACA and failed, for the moment -- though the current regime is doing everything possible to sabotage what remains. Next up is tax reform and if history is any guide it'll be big cuts for the 1% and pocket change for the rest of us. 

I could go on. There is so much to be angry/worried/sad about; so much division in our country . . . 

The fact that some Congresspersons are talking about a bi-partisan effort to improve the ACA gives me a tiny bit of hope. Perhaps at some point good sense and common humanity will prevail.

If not, there's this: the same crazy prophet who was wrong about the end of the world a few days ago has recalculated.

It's not till October. Still time to get our act together.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Puzzled . . . and Undecided. .

This was a re-read -- I first read it in 2011 and even blogged positively, if briefly, about it. But this time around, I found myself not so sure of how I felt.

The first part -- all about Brakebills, a school for magicians -- was enjoyable and compelling -- a grown up Harry Potter with a fair amount of teenage angst.

But the trip to Fillory  -- a very Narnia-like place -- bothered me. Grossman is a fan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia and, like Lewis,  is challenging the notion of fantasy as pure escape.  Indeed, in both Narnia and Fillory the protagonists learn that no matter where you go, you take yourself and all your baggage with you. If you're not happy in this world, there's no guarantee that another world will be better.

I agree with the premise . . . and if I hadn't grown up absorbed in Narnia and loving every minute I spent there, perhaps I could enjoy Grossman's novel more. But, for me, Fillory seemed like an obscene caricature or, at best, a heavy-handed spoof of Narnia, turning the sylphs and fauns, the talking animals and walking trees into silly, cynical things. 

Despite that reservation, I found myself engrossed in the characters and (since I didn't remember how things turned out) eager to keep reading. 

The NYT review HERE is pretty much spot on, in my opinion.

Now I have to decide if I want to keep going with the trilogy. I think I'll check my library -- I'm pretty sure I won't buy the next two for my Kindle.

What's strange is the difference in my reaction now and six years ago.  A good reminder to always give a book another chance because my attitudes may have changed.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Turning to Autumn

Though yesterday felt not at all autumnal, I honored today's equinox by banishing the summer blue and white d├ęcor in favor of fall colors.

Away with the summer tchotchkes -- the shells and the blue and white porcelain! Bring out the gourds and skulls and fossils and pictures of winter squash.

Switch the paintings of white lilies for something more fall-like.

And enjoy the open windows and mild air while we may!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Return to Middlemarch

 I've finished it and am glad I read it.  I admit to skimming over some especially lengthy bits of narrative but I was captured by the evolving stories of three more or less star-crossed couples and delighted by Eliot's sly depiction of various characters.

For example, two ladies talking of a third whose husband has been discovered to have some disgraceful secrets in his past:

"...Do you think any hint has reached her?"

"I should hardly think so," said Mrs. Tom Toller. "We hear that he is ill and has never stirred out of the house since the meeting on Thursday; but she was with her girls at church yesterday, and they had new Tuscan bonnets. Her own had a feather in it. I have never seen that her religion made any difference in her dress."

There are any number of little gems in the dialogue that I loved -- but I doubt that George Eliot, were she looking for publication today, would have an easy time of it. Tastes change and nowadays lengthy moralizing is generally frowned on.

And Dorothea's desire to subjugate herself to her elderly husband by becoming his amanuensis is fairly incomprehensible. (Now had there been chains, whips, and leather -- that might sell.)   

It seems to me that the reading public's attention span is growing ever shorter. (I'm generalizing -- I know some still love lengthy tomes.) Is it the influence of texting and tweeting and social media of all sorts?

I know I find myself writing shorter paragraphs -- or rather, writing as I always have and then going back and seeing if that paragraph might read easier if it were broken in two.

Still, I'm going to continue to challenge myself by giving Mill of the Floss a whirl. Not immediately though. I need to reread Lev Grossman's The Magicians first. And I see that John has just downloaded Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow. It's been a while since I read a Reacher story. That will make an interesting change.