Monday, September 29, 2008

On a night like this

I find myself thinking tonight of my parents. As the world apparently melts down and the future is awash somewhere in the liquefied remains, I'm reminded theirs was dubbed the Greatest Generation, and I'm reminded of why.

They lived through the Great Depression and then through World War II on its tails. My old man lost his father when he was 15 in the mid-'30s and made his own way and headed to the Pacific Theater when he was called. More or less called. He joined the Navy because he preferred sailing to marching.

My mom was the youngest child in a single-parent family. They had them then, too. My grandmother had been abandoned by one husband and was left a widow by a second.

Mom held the homefront. Her brothers went to Germany.

The Depression and the war were the realities of their teens and twenties.

I've never really sat back and thought about what the '50s must have looked like when they finally rolled around. I wonder if there's something like that in our future.

And what will they say of us, those people of the future, and our generation as we are looked at further down the road?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman is Gone

A couple of headlines just hit me on my Google home page, announcing the death of Paul Newman, and I'm having to wipe away a tear or two, not something you usually do with the word of a celebrity death.

Newman certainly was one of the finest film actors to achieve star status. He played characters on screen, not always himself, and I've always admired his altruism as well. I've had his fair trade coffee a lot of mornings, doused a lot of salads with his salad dressings and downed a lot of his chocolate cookies. I have also witnessed the handiwork of checks from Newman's Own benefiting charities in my community.

He's also, always kind of defined Lew Archer for me because I was introduced to the Ross MacDonald detective series because of the movie tie-in edition of The Drowning Pool in which Newman re-created his portrayal of Lew Harper. The name change came about when the first Archer novel, The Moving Target was being adapted and Newman wanted to follow the success of Hud and Hombre with another H title. The Moving Target became Harper, and the later Twilight was really kind of an Archer/Harper movie w/out the name.

It's a sad day on many fronts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

(Charles was right the other day when he noted people can have strong feelings and not understand how others can have different ones. This is generally a pop-culture and personal diary blog, not a political blog, but some days, whether it's good for me or not, I feel compelled to babel about the real world. )

The real world looks more and more like the world of The Dark Knight every day, not in a literal way with set pieces of dire chaos but in a symbolic way as we live through a whirlwind of financial and economic turmoil.

A line from the Batman movie's been playing through my head all week, but I wasn't sure where it applied until last night and this a.m. as reports about yesterday's meeting at the White House unfolded.

Sen. John McCain, after yet another bold, "maverick" move to "suspend" his campaign that was analyzed best, as usual, by The Daily Show:

made a few more public appearances then blew into Washington to fan flames of dissent in a meeting he had called to build agreement.

As the New York Times reported:

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.

Perhaps the "suspension" and the effort for consensus were inaccurate. Clearly Sen. McCain is more an agent of chaos with a goal articulated by Michael Cain in The Dark Knight.

some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Salon's Joe Consan assesses McCain's roll in the derailment. Blog: McCain's Economics

David S. Broder: McCain as Alpha Mail, "imbalance in the deference quotient"

Some on the right are joining a chorus of criticism over Sarah Palin

Newsweek: The Bailout Bill Failed, Should We Blame McCain?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Twittering Mad Men

Wayne and I have been engaged in a bit of interesting anachronism this week. Pretty much all of the characters from AMC's Mad Men are on Twitter where they post microblog updates on their activities.

It's possible to send them messages, and to receive messages, and there are little stories or characters touches that are playing out.

Most notable is the quiet desperation of Betty Draper (January Jones on the show). She's the wife of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) philandering creative director of Madison Avenue ad agency Sterling-Cooper. That's one of the best known TV ad firms since McMahon and Tate, I suppose.

I sent Don a message. Twitter posts note how the person conveyed his message, whether it's the web or mobile device.

Don's are being posted from the web, so I asked how he was managing that from 1961. He messaged back to note he was living in 1962. My bad. Should have remembered all the Jackie O references from the show.

Lots of companies are using Twitter to push out information to their employees, and I'm sure there are more TV shows at work but Mad Men makes for interesting interaction.

It's probably more added fun for current viewers than it is a conduit to attract new ones, but it's certainly an interesting use of Web 2.0 for enterprise, and it's certainly fun to join the Mad Ave boys for after dinner drinks, especially on a week like this. Their world was on the brink of drastic change just like ours is. We all live in interesting times.

Now, let me get back to check out what Joan Holloway is up to.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Meltdown One Liners

I know there's not much funny about what's going on, but a couple of one-liners hit me this a.m. Fortunately on the web, there are hyperlinks to Wikipedia that can replace rim shots, though I'll try for onomatopoeia.

"Looks like the financial bail out will arrive for the taxpayers CDO." Ba, dum - chussss.

"It appears Congress, the Fed and the Treasury spent the night in the tranches." Ba, dum - chussss.

Hope everyone is hanging in!

Addendum - 9-21-08
Conde Nast Portfolio is offering a slide show of editorial cartoons about the crisis under the heading "Laugh if You Can."

Addendum - 9-23-08
And more from Conde Nast: Financial One-Liner of the Day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An ARC Arrives: Any Given Doomsday

I received an ARC in the mail yesterday of Any Given Doomsday via Library Thing's early reader program. I will be fitting the reading of it in soon and hope to report back.

Looks like an interesting new series kickoff in the Urban Fantasy realm. It introduces Elizabeth Phoenix, a woman with a touch of psychic ability facing the end of the world and an assortment of demons and other dangers.

The ARC's letter from author, Lori Handeland, explains she had always wanted to write about a "character who rises and falls, moves forward, steps back and who lives and learns and loves like the rest of us--but in a world very different from our own."

Looks like it will include some laughs and chills. It's due for release in November.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Post Ike

We were very fortunate once again with Ike. Some of the alarm is always the weather services working not to understate the problem, but I continue to be amazed that storms are more and more an issue so far inland.

When we lived in Central Louisiana I can remember occasions where we taped the windows and brought in flower pots but never really felt any concern.

For a while yesterday it really seemed like wind might be cause for concern, but in the long run we rarely lost out Dish signal and went without power only a couple of hours.

At one point we were thinking it might be a while before the lights came back on because we were listening to Christine's disaster-proof radio and one utility company was explaining they were having to wait for gusts to die down before they could risk going up in bucket trucks.

A little while after that our lights came back on. We have a different utility company.

I read, worked on the laptop and spent a little while debating whether to waste battery power on a DVD of The Spiderwick Chronicles, so we were much more fortunate than others, though my indoor-outdoor cat, Oliver, suffered some mild depression having to spend Saturday indoors.

So it goes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My First Packet

My first packet of critical and creative writing for my MFA is back, and, happily, after a lot of anxiety, I received a positive response from my adviser who reviewed my materials.

It's almost time to do it again, so I'm feverishly working on my second packet which will include more of my creative piece, more annotations of books I've been reading and one longer examination of a book.

I've been re-introduced to the world of literary research, tapping into online databases, which is kind of exhilarating and exciting even though the task of writing critical analysis that can count on my permanent record is daunting.

Head rush
The research is even a bit addictive. While I've decided not to write my longer paper this time about We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I found a piece called "The Hero is Married and Ascends the Throne": The Economics of Narrative End in Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Honor McKitrick Wallace. That, I think, may require more blood flow to my brain than my organs can produce and pump.

Still it's fascinating to delve into the different ways a work can be dissected, and to follow trails of thought here and there.

It's also interesting to see how hard-core critics can disagree, with me at least, on other works I've been pondering including The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I'm exploring that in part because it's such a cornerstone of the mystery genre.

Oh well, onward and upward. It's kind of interesting to be staring down a new packet deadline and Hurricane Ike.

I'm far, far inland, but the weatherman is scary. I'm charging my laptop so I can keep working if we lose power and generally hoping for the best.

It's looking by the maps now, that the storm will be downgraded further than first expected before it reaches my neck of the woods. It should be a tropical storm and no longer a Category 1 force storm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin Supporters Speak Out

Wayne turned me on to this program. It's called Red State Update:

For those interested in a more serious review of just one of the issues on the national agenda--a matter with a little more gravity than lipstick--check out the discussion of renewable energy by Thomas Friedman on an episode of Fresh Air from earlier this week.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin Contradictions

I just thought this compilation of clips was hilarious. No contradictions here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Chrome at Home?

I haven't decided if I need Google Chrome, Google's new browser, at home. I'm test driving it at the day job because it's a good idea to see how a site looks in different browsers, and I think a lot of people will be using Chrome just because of Google's ubiquity. (Does the logo remind anyone else of the old Simon game?)

A site that looks lovely in Internet Explorer 7 may not degrade so nicely to Internet Explorer 6. I once spent a day trying to find a piece of template code that would change line from purple to orange in IE6 while it was as rich as Blogger's orange in 7.

Happily Chrome has no problems with any sites I have anything to do with. Any problems are mine. Gotta upgrade my personal home page to utilize CSS one of these days.

Google Chrome has some nice touches. It's succinct, no frils, gives you a full view of a web page without much wrap-around. It has a memory for site's you visited that's a bit like Opera's Speed Dial, and it seems fast and handles Flash content and the like readily.

It takes a bit of getting used to to access the tools on the upper right corner, but that will probably come with time.

It features some new "incognito" touches that are the current rage as well.

I guess I haven't found many points not covered in Infoworld's review. As they note, I use a few addons in Firefox that it won't accommodate but I don't stick to one browser anyway.

For quick easy surfing, I think chrome may not be a bad choice.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin's Speech to the Convention

Wouldn't it be cool if it were Michael Palin who was appearing in the Twin Cities?

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