March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
“What do they always say about child abuse: the hardest part is getting adults to believe that it actually happened. People don’t want to believe something that barbarous, so they find ways to deny it.”
But did it really happen to Pete, that thing he calls The Blackening Factory? Or is he just too lonely, he’d get love and attention anywhere he can get them? Did Pete even happen? And Gabriel is just as lonely too, he’ll get love and attention anywhere he can get them.
Armistead Maupin wants us to believe either in Pete or Gabriel, or both of them. “The Night Listener” leaves it all up to us.
March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
Let’s hear it for the mothers. “Motherhood is an art. And it is naïve to send a mother into an arena for twenty years with a child and expect her to come out on top. Everything is in the child’s favor. He’s little. He’s cute and he can turn tears on and off like a faucet.”
And so there are mothers who go an entire day without shaving. Mothers who tip the tooth fairy. Mothers who wash a measuring cup with soap after it only held water. Mothers who die and not take their children with them. Mothers who get a sitter and go bowling on Mother’s Day. Mothers who have bad PR. Mothers who go in search of her daughter’s “real” mother. Mothers who would rather be rich and thin than pregnant. Mothers who tell their children if they don’t come home for Christmas they’d (mothers) be dead.
To know and understand these mothers, you have to read “Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession”. Erma Bombeck is hysterically funny and deeply poignant. She makes you laugh out loud only to break your heart in a nanosecond. She is the loveliest clash of tough and tender.
Her Rose, the mother who gives up sighing for Lent when she’s Jewish, just demolished me:
“Ever since the death of her husband Seymour, four years ago, Rose changed bedrooms every four months. She fantasized about a rest home and allowed herself the luxury of contemplating a room of her own—a place where she could talk when she felt like it and be surrounded by other people with irregularity problems.”
Instead, her daughter makes her sleep next to a ping-pong table and an ironing board.
February 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
From “Past Imperfect”, we learn that the lords and ladies of the old world speak in a fascinating strange funny way. They say things like, “high-risk strategy in social mountaineering”. Or “social interchange called Pumping Mud”.
Author Julian Fellowes also tells us that these ancient aristocrats have a peculiar sense of seeing things. They believe, for example, that: “To have achieved security but to have enjoyed jokes and larks along the way was little short of irresponsible and deserved to be punished.”
But they can be sensible and thoughtful too. They suppose: “As a weapon, titles had to be used circumspectly and that all public display was self-defeating. Just as anyone who shouts ‘Do you know who I am?’ at a hotel or airline employee immediately forfeits what little advantage they might possibly have gained from their position. ”
Now here’s how these dicksmoking royals throw insult to non-royals: “This greaser, with his oily hair and his dodgy vowels and his ‘pleased to meet you?’ and his clothes from Marks and Spencer?”
And here’s how non-royals should trade barbs with them: “You look here, you pompous, ridiculous, boring, idiotic, unfunny, pretentious, ludicrous joke.” But if you don’t have seven adjectives in your arsenal, four will do: “You pathetic, old harridan, you scarecrow, you freak.” Apparently, our dukes and duchesses have fear of adjectives.
For all their sophistication and haughtiness, our stuffy lords and ladies have their moments of tackiness too. Take Lady Serena Claremont/Belton, for instance, who had the unfortunate sense of naming her son Peniston.
February 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.”
Between Victor and the Wretch, I’d say the former is the real monster. He’s one monster of the most dangerous kind: a smart devious wooly nancy.
Consider: who creates a problem then abandons it for others to deal with? Who claims to be distraught by the murder of his loved ones but allow them to be murdered just the same instead of just offering his own life to the Fiend? Who creates a Fiend to begin with?
As for the Wretch, how to hate him with this deposition: “But I am blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul; and I felt then that I should survive to exhibit what I shall soon cease to be—a miserable spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others and intolerable to myself.”
I am, quite evidently, blabbing about Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.
February 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Dear Mariane Pearl,
I read your “A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Daniel Pearl” just now. More than a decade after Mr. Pearl’s abduction. But I did hear about it at the time it was happening. It was the time terror groups in my homeland were also on a kidnapping spree, snatching just about everybody—priests, businessmen, teachers, peace volunteers, tourists, and like your Daniel, journalists. Like you, I too was conflicted: Who kills in the name of religion, especially Islam the Gentle Faith? Who resorts to torture in pursuit of Equality? Who uses redemption money to assert an Ideology? I thought you were lucky somehow. You had Asra, the Captain, and many world leaders on your side. What happened to your Daniel was heartrending, but how you coped was inspiring. How you took control of the situation, how you accepted the outcome with firm grace—truly admirable. I thought Daniel’s death would at least make a difference and put an end to terrorism. I should have known better of course. Only last October, terror groups were back in the southern region of my country. Putting in captivity not mere individuals but an entire city. I forget, or maybe I just don’t care to know anymore, what it was they were fighting for. I don’t believe them anyway. Like most, I chose to turn my attention to the victims of the storm surge that turned their homes into wreckage. You are so right: terrorists do what they do to get our attention. So we don’t pay them any mind. We keep no terms with these brutes.
Kind regards, P.
PS. Your Adam seems to be growing into a nice young man. A testament to how well you have carried on since Karachi.
February 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
Susan Sontag the Wise. She posits: “Past may not be directly converted into future, but the problem admits of a more roundabout solution. Treat time as space. Once time is converted into space, then one space may be exchanged for another. “
Inquisitive Susan Sontag also ponders: “And what accounts for the instant unprovoked antipathy that sometimes arises between people? Does a person always know when—by his sheer existence or quality or smell or look, and not by anything particular he’s done—he has unwittingly created that sort of feeling in someone? If one’s instincts are in order, one should know.
There’s also Susan Sontag the Perceptive. She muses: “The independent life of faces depends on sight. If sight goes, the face largely dies. Or becomes tentative, provisional. A representation—maybe skillful—of a face; not a real face. An object-face.”
Finally, Flippant Susan Sontag, proposes: “Love is beautiful and strong. So are the trees. And so is food.”
Apart from her clear-cut and thoughtful insights, Sontag makes her “Death Kit” quite memorable with clean stylish staccato sentences.
January 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
It is now known to science that there are many more dimensions than the classical four. Scientists say that these don’t normally impinge on the world because the extra dimensions are very small and curve in on themselves, and that since reality is fractal most of it is tucked inside itself. This means either that the universe is more full of wonders than we can hope to understand or, more probably, that scientists make things up as they go along.
But the multiverse is full of little dimensionettes, playstreets of creation where creatures of the imagination can romp without being knocked down by serious actuality. Sometimes, as they drift through the holes in reality, they impinge back on this universe, when they give rise to myths, legends and charges of being Drunk and Disorderly.
Reconcile the proposition above with the fate of a little desert kingdom called Djelibeybi, which was inherited by a trained assassin Teppic from mummified royals. Consider too the greatest mathematician of all time, a perpetually bewildered camel called You Bastard.
Then you just might figure out Terry Pratchett. And actually enjoy “Pyramids”.