Archive for the ‘books’ Category
On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked about wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.
There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.
“Great lunch meeting with @POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)
President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”
“How good was the meeting with @POTUS?
I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”
Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”
And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.
Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.
Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.
This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know the cost of either.
Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.
Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel Forster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.
From Chapter 22
He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”
“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]
“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”
Helen quivered with indignation.
“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”
“I didn’t say–”
“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”
“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.
He stared at her.
“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”
It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.
“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”
“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”
Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.
WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.
And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.
What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been reading a lot about women’s history lately. And guess what’s the same as it ever was? Unequal pay for equal work.
Back in the antebellum period, prior to the Civil War, there was the concept of “separate spheres” for men and women. Men ruled over the public sphere (which meant political and work life), and women, the domestic sphere (which meant, home life). This didn’t really work as advertised, because the wimminz didn’t actually “rule” anything in the household. They married into the sphere (or didn’t), but then essentially became unpersons, completely wrapped in their husbands’ identity. They had no rights to their own property, had very few options for divorce, and could not even claim their own children should their husbands become violent or negligent. This was due to the existence of Blackstone’s law, which we “inherited” from our founding English fathers.
By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-French a feme-covert, foemina viro co-operta; is said to be covert-baron, or under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. Upon this principle, of a union of person in husband and wife, depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and disabilities, that either of them acquire by the marriage. I speak not at present of the rights of property, but of such as are merely personal. For this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself: and therefore it is also generally true, that all compacts made between husband and wife, when single, are voided by the intermarriage.
So much for that pre-nup, eh, ladies?
Our Fredster is under the weather, and needs some encouragement. Let’s spend this Sunday fostering his recovery in all sorts of media. Feel free to send him songs, movies, books, poetry – whatever moves you. Surround him with healing messages, and let’s get him up and going. The holidays are coming, which means that bowl games will soon follow, and this is not the time to be in the bed sick.
My five suggestions are all musical, but feel free to use the media of your choice in this otherwise open thread.
(1) Get Well Soon – Reggie and the Full Effect
(2) Feeling Stronger Everyday – Chicago
(3) What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
(4) Better Days – The Goo-Goo Dolls
(5) Jeremiah Peabody’s Pills– Ray Stevens
Seen any good movies lately, all? Now that I live in the semi-suburbs, I am actually able to go to movies on their opening weekend without standing in line overnight. 😆 Last weekend, I went to see “The Hunger Games.”
I did read all three books in the series by Suzanne Collins, and found them imaginative, wonderfully written, and rather feminist in orientation. The story of a young girl who holds on to her humanity in the face of a brutal, unfeeling dystopia that is trying to kill her (literally in this case)…well, what could be more evocative of the modern War On Women? The books could be interpreted in many ways, but I did think that at the core, it was about the idea of the traditionally “feminine” values of nesting, community and peace, combating with the traditionally “masculine” values of travel, self-promotion and conflict. (I also saw some hommages to Ray Bradbury in the series, which made me appreciate it even more.)
All this is to say that the movie more than did justice to the books. The female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is played by the young actress Jennifer Lawrence (best known for the well-beloved indie “Winter’s Bone,”) who truly seems to fathom the depth of the character she is playing. Memorable appearance are made by Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Smart and Wes Bentley (of “American Beauty”). The boys warring for Katniss’ heart are played by young hunks I am far too old to appreciate. 😉
In any case, in honor of the triumphant screen arrival of a new young feminist character, let’s serve some drinks and munch some popcorn and other movie snacks. Don’t be mad, Widdershins, but hubby and I are going on a date tonight, so I won’t be around much. You have my permission to play nicely without “Mommie,” as Fredster called me. Just don’t stain the carpets too much, especially if Uppity stops by with her famous chicken marsala! 😆
This is an open thread…and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Widdershins, it’s about eleventy thousand degrees outside and the air is not safe for children and old people. We need an early escape package, w
hat with so many of us “gone fishin’!” Couple that with a fun opinion piece I saw over at Uppity’s, and you have the inspiration for today’s post. So, without further ado, here are my current fictional favorites – from the modern canon only…
- Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series. I admit it – I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books, and will be seeing the final film this weekend. Not only does Hermione have a handbag that will hold my laptop, my evening shoes and my husband, but she is about the bad-assed-est witch in the entire magical canon. Some people even feel SHE, not Harry, should be the main character. Via Lorac at Uppity’s place:
In preparation for the final movie, I’m rewatching all of the films to date (thanks, ABC Family, for that well-timed marathon last weekend and sorry, my DVR, for taking up so much space). In the middle of Prisoner of Azkaban last night (I’ll admit that I had this thought before last night) I had a revelation.
The books should be named after Hermione Granger.
Yes, yes, sad times about that whole your parents thing dying, Harry. Please see the condolences card I sent you 12 YEARS AGO for my sympathy. In the meantime, look at how many people are COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK to be your new mentor. Even McGonagle is like, “hey kid, here is a free fancy broom. Just because that one time when your parents died and you’re good at catching shit.”
On the other side of the common room, we have Hermione. Who is muggle born, which means she simply doesn’t have that same built-in support as Harry. She can’t go home to her parents and talk about how people keep trying to kill her because her parents just wouldn’t understand. And while she’s at school, instead of having every single teacher fall over their magic wand to get on her good side, she’s held down. People won’t stop talking about her Muggle parents and it’s all she can do to keep up her studies. By which I mean, BEING BETTER THAN ALL OF THE SCHOOL.
And when Snape assigns homework, Harry is all “Wah-Wah, there is sport tomorrow, fulfilling my responsibly will be so hard.” MEANWHILE Hermione is MOVING FUCKING TIME so she can take more classes. Because girl knows SOMETHING is happening and she needs to STUDY THE EFF UP.
When the time comes around to fight, the boys are like, “oh wow, look at this thing that happened. Isn’t that crazy” while Hermione is like, “idiots, I figured that out like 5 books ago. CAN YOU PLEASE FOCUS.”And after she saves the day and just about everyone in the entire book/series/magical world tells her that she’s “the smartest witch for her age,” is it Hermione who finally gets the fancy broom? Of course not. SWOOP IN AN STEAL THE GLORY AGAIN, HORRIBLE HARRY.
Not sure I agree, but it is a thought-provoking opinion, no? Personally I feel J.K. Rowling knew what she was doing when she made Harry the main character. I’m guessing the person who wrote that never lost a parent, but it is a life-changing experience. There is before, and then there is after. It will make or break you.
- Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, of Rizzoli & Isles. If you haven’t caught this show yet, you really should. Author Tess Gerritsen originated these ladies (Rizzoli the intuitive, tomboyish cop, Isles the exceedingly brilliant medical examiner), but this series is lighter, funnier, and possesses an incredible chemistry between the two women. Here is a youtube compilation of some funny moments from the show. Enjoy!
- Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Closer. Okay, The Closer is pretty weak this season, at least so far. But Brenda Leigh is one of the most fully-realized women on TV, fake Southern accent (“thank yew”) and all, and that will never change, no matter what lame storylines the writers come up with.
- V.I. Warshawski, the V.I. Warshawski series. V.I. (short for Victoria Iphigenia), a private detective, is feisty, fun and rather fabulous in her sexy red heels. The movies haven’t done this lady justice yet, and I don’t know if they ever will. Perhaps TNT or USA will give it a shot – they seem to do very well with female-driven shows.
- Mary Shannon, In Plain Sight. Mary is a US Marshal with a family from hell and an attitude to match. Played by the incomparable Mary McCormack, Mary is about as complicated as a woman can be…and we enjoy watching her try to struggle through her difficult job and her even more difficult life.
What about you? Who are your favorites?
This is an open thread.
Honestly, I’m still too funky from losing little Stuart to wrap my head around writing any post that y’all would wish to read.. Also, we haven’t had a “lazy” musical/movie/whatever post in awhile, so let’s do that today. Let’s talk about the movies that got us through good times and bad, the “three hankie weepers” and the inspirational flicks that made us feel better. Let’s talk about break-up songs, and songs that were uplifting. Let’s talk about relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s talk about great jobs and the “worst job ever”. Let’s gossip about people, places, and things.
In other words, we’ve already given my noble little Scottie a Widdershins wake, so let’s give ourselves a day off from the just plain awfulness that seems to be all around. There’s lots of good stuff out there, and our assignment is to find it.
This is an open thread.
Good morning, Widdershins. It’s been another grinding week. As opposed to dissecting another musical or cinematic sub-genre, I’ve decided to take Beata up on her request to discuss guilty pleasures, which I loosely define as the things that can make life just a tiny wee bit better. Here are some of mine:
(1) Chocolate ice cream sodas with vanilla ice cream. Skip the whipped cream, please. When I was growing up, there were actual counters in drugstores where you could obtain these yummy things – not so much any more Some of the Baskin-Robbins still make them, so from time to time I take my inner teen-ager out for one.
In the interim, there are all sorts of ways to enjoy chocolate. Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and I have a friend who will be traveling to San Francisco – See’s Vanilla Butter Creams wrapped in dark chocolate, please! Yum.
Fredster forwarded me an article today that predicts worldwide shortages of chocolate and coffee. (Gulp!)
(2) Coffee. Yes, this is another guilty pleasure, folks. I like my coffee plain, unadorned black, except for the occasional mocha latte. Therefore, it needs to be really good coffee, as I still drink about 4 cups a day. I like several of Starbuck’s flavors, especially Breakfast Blend,as well as some of Barney’s. Fortunately, there are a lot of places to buy good coffee.
(3) Single Malt. Now this is a truly rare guilty pleasure, as it tends to be pretty expensive. The bottle on the left is one to which I aspire, I actually drink their 12-year-old Doublewood. No mixers with this stuff – I really don’t even use ice. Just a side of water is fine. If you try to drink soda, you can lose the “nose” of good whiskey and end up with a lesser taste.
(4) Bubble baths. God, I love bubble baths. I have enjoyed them since childhood. They relaxed my aching back muscles after a long night at work, and rested my nerves while my daughter was a teen-ager. In fact, there just isn’t much that a relaxing bubble bath can’t at least improve, and you can even take some of the other guilty pleasures in with you.
(5) Books. I love to read. Like so many only children, reading was what I did when it was too dark to go out and play.
I have the new James Patterson on my end table, and I will dip into it this weekend. I still read the book-books, and have thirty feet of eight foot bookshelves to prove it. I’m just not quite sold on the Kindles and Nook thingies yet, although I purchased one of the latter for my Granddaughter’s Christmas gift and she is sold on it.
I’ll just stick with my tried and true friends that perch on the shelf until I’m ready for them.
(6) Pets and grandchildren. I love my pets, when I don’t want to pen them. Fortunately, the law does not look askance on crating a miscreant dog or cat for a brief period of time. If the state of Georgia had felt that way about children, my daughter might have had some siblings – she was a playpen escape artist of the first order. I live with a bunch of Scottish fold kitties and two Scotties (Wallace and Stuart) who are known as “The Holy Terriers.” However, animals are amusing, relaxing, and full of unconditional love. I did not breed this kitty, but his grandparents came out of my house, and he looks like his Nana around the whiskers, I think.
As for grandchildren, they are your reward for surviving your children. You are not responsible for housing, feeding or providing orthodontia, so you are free to spend your money on fun stuff, and you can always them back home. The three of them give me many hours of pleasure.
(7) Shoes and purses. It’s not easy to find shoes in my size (4 1/2), so it’s an ongoing quest. Last year, I found a bonanza on eBay. Someone’s aunt had died and she had a closet full of Ferragamo flats, all new and in their little boxes. I was able to get the lot for about $25.oo a pair. (After all those years in nursing shoes, I lost my taste for heels.) Now my quest is to find nice purses to go with them at steeply discounted rates.
(8) Italian food. Another of the four basic food groups. Italian food has a variety of wonderful foods, and I have half-way convinced myself that the olive oil makes it good for you.
I’m privileged to live near a superior family owned restaurant that follows the old saw that the quality of the food varies inversely to the decor. It’s clean, the food is great, and it’s always packed full. If I am tied up with one of the other guilty pleasures, they deliver.
(9) Old movies. Especially back and white. Bet you never would have guessed.
Adding popcorn or ordering pizza and coca-cola (I almost said coke, but as I live in South Florida, I thought that I should clarify that). is a nice addition.
(10) Music. There isn’t much music that I don’t like, and I can spend a day listening to everything from bagpipes to Cape Breton fiddlers to Otis Redding, Music is another thing that can either enhance or ameliorate situations, and means a lot in my daily life.
So, these are my guilty pleasures, and this is an open thread.