Review, Reflect, Respond
You need to be fed by other people's creativity
I see that I got this at Border's on the Sale table for 5.99. What a steal that was considering I LOVE this book. As I am organizing my library, I came across it, like an old friend, I was glad to see again after a long time. This book is a "year in my life, profusely illustrated, abounding with anguish, confusion, bits of wisdom, musings, meanderings, buckets of joie de vivre and restful sojourns." (cover jacket description).
I don't even remember where and when I got this book, but the title really resonates with me, so I know it is something I would definitely choose. I had always thought that travel should be more than sightseeing. It is hard to do more than that unless you have an intention to.
Well, Birdman got Best Picture. I'm glad I saw this movie. But it's choice as Best Picture says more about the voting members of the Academy than anything else. It is about actors and those enmeshed in this whole world of making a living as an actor, whether in film or theatre. The character's compulsion to do this play comes from a note written on a napkin that Riggin (Keaton/Birdman) got when he was just starting out. This note gave his life meaning, and he seemed to want to milk that meaning at a time when meaning was so elusive. I can imagine that the members of the Academy were moved by it, because it hits close to home, about their notes on napkins, and what gives their lives meaning. Yes, this was a good movie. Michael Keaton was great in it. The percussion score - amazing. But Best Picture of the Year? It's not my note on a napkin. Selma or Boyhood would have been my choices over Birdman.
Talk about a feel good sports movie. This is it! So many good moments. My favorite was when the teacher (Migrant Ed or English) reads Coach White a poem that one of the runners wrote in class about running, comparing it to flying like a bird. I also love it as an example of choosing to be where you are needed, where you have a sense of community, rather than going with the material rewards. The "Where are they now?" piece at the end was icing on the cake.
The thing you walk away with after watching this movie is the incredible acting, for which the actor (Eddie Redmayne) won an Oscar. I have to admit, I still don't understand the "Theory of Everything". What I get from this movie, is admiration for Hawking's resilience and brilliance (which I already knew something about). But what I didn't know was the twists and turns of the love story. How interesting that it was he who left her for someone else, though she stayed with him even though she was in love with someone else. The love gods shone brightly on these two people, first with each other, and then with their second spouses.
I have tried to read Toni Morrison in the past, and I find it very difficult. In this novel, she has a way of weaving the story revealing an outcome first, and then explaining it later, like an unraveling. Many times I thought, what's that about, did I miss something? Come to find out, she hadn't told that story yet. It was so sad and sometimes disgusting to read this, and I kept wondering when will I meet a redeeming character, someone I can sympathize with? There is a kind of redemption in the end, but I still leave the book feeling disturbed, which is what I'm sure the author intended.
I was at the market and I ran into a teacher friend of mine, a high school social studies teacher who is an avid reader of history. When we catch up, she always describes these heady, intellectual, and interesting books that she is reading. She asked what I was reading and I had to confess it was Allegiant. She tried not to be shocked, but she said, "I haven't read it, but I see my students seem to really like them." Since then, I have been dealing with a sense of shame, that I read and and enjoy young adult novels, especially of the dystopian genre. To say, "I don't care," would be a lie, because obviously I do care otherwise it wouldn't have struck me. But it is what it is. The story is never boring, it is always moving, and I like when I am not bored by what I read. I do love this trilogy, starting with Divergent. The theme of choice is carried through in the series, especially the difficult choices that Tris makes as the story is woven.
I had heard about this book and about this author, Tom Peek, who conducts writing workshops at his home in Volcano. Kona Stories had him as a guest author one Saturday during the holidays, and I went to get his book, to support Small Business Saturday, and to meet him. He is a very tall, and nice man. But that is not the point of the review. I enjoyed this exploration of clashes between development and the spirit of Hawaii through his interesting characters. A Hawaiian activist and an Australian astronomer are central, but there are other "supporting" characters as well. Some of the dialogue bothered me, the way he had some locals talk didn't ring true. He explains in his notes at the end that he did that deliberately for readability sake. I don't know about that, but he tells a good story and makes solid points.
Few people know this about me, but I have a collection of graphic novels. I can write more about this obsession on a blog post, but I bought these two by the same artist last year in Seattle, Gene Luen Yang. The Eternal Smile also has work by Derek Kirk Kim. I'll focus on Yang, but I recommend both books. Yang has a way of combining "real life" with fantasy. It seems like he's hopping all over the place with different threads of stories. I guess that's normal these days, if you consider a lot of TV, documentaries, and even features. But in the end, the threads all tie together. He strings you along with great characters, art, and different compelling stories. You wonder, what's going on here? In the end, it all comes together.
I couldn't help but think that so much has NOT changed as I watched the story about African-American struggle for voting rights. One of the first criticisms I heard was that LBJ was not an obstructionist and so this film should be discredited because they portrayed him as such. When I watched it, I didn't see it that way. LBJ was a good man, who did sincerely believe in voting rights, but he was also a tactical politician. That came across, but it was not a big part of the story, in my opinion. The main lesson is that people DO need to be reminded of the struggle and that there was real hatred, real racism, which continues today. My hope is that people who are critical of the protests over Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others will be more compassionate by being reminded (or perhaps told for the first time) of the context, and the struggle, for full civil rights.