As a writer and a leftist, I have always found All In The Family to be an intriguing sitcom. The show crammed together very different generational perspectives under one roof, together in one family. From a storytelling perspective, the show didn’t seek to make a point so much as to lay out the different perspectives, as in this episode where Mike’s hippie friends come to visit and Archie won’t let them sleep together in his house because they aren’t married.
I’m not saying that All In The Family didn’t have a particular angle or perspective, but rather that each side could identify with one or the other of the characters, while simultaneously laughing at the ones they didn’t agree with. Many artists (myself included) tend to feel compelled to take a side and make the point clear, but there’s something intriguing when a writer is able to bring together very different perspectives and put them in tension with each other.
I’m a David Sedaris fan, and I’m looking forward to purchasing his newest book Theft by Finding. I will do so this Saturday, this Saturday and no sooner. No sooner but no later.
I have to wait until this Saturday, because I want to listen to the audiobook (Sedaris himself is also a lover of audiobooks), because the pleasure of a David Sedaris book is increased exponentially when you listen to the author read it. Unfortunately I am all out of Audible.com credits, which is important because one book usually costs one credit. I’m an Audible.com Gold Member, but my allotted credits have all run out — I burned through the 12 yearly allotted credits last spring, plus the extra three I purchased after the first 12 ran out — and I don’t want to buy the book at full price, not when I can wait until Saturday, because this Saturday is the big day, the day when my Gold Member membership renews, and I get loaded, loaded up with another 12 credits (which I hope last me at least 9 months, if I exercise great self-control).
In the meantime, while cruising through some of my writing notes, I happened upon this random bit of David Sedaris hilarity. It sort of sums up the off beat sense of humor I most appreciate about his writing:
If anything should be bracketed by matching bookends, I suppose it’s an author tour. The ones I’d undertaken in the past had begun in one independent or chain store, and ended, a month or so later, in another. The landscape, though, has changed since then, and it’s telling that on my ’08 tour I started and finished at a Costco….
Shoppers passed with their enormous carts, most loaded with children who gaped through the bars at this ridiculous nobody, sitting by himself at a folding table. Making it just that much more pathetic was the sign next to me, the big one reading “No Photos, Please.”
I’ve been posting a lot, like, on the daily, which is possibly more than I’ve posted ever in my life, even at the peak of my blogging days way back when I had my Theos Project blog. It’s becoming something of a blogging blitzkrieg, which is kind of surprising, frankly, since I’d thought I’d kind of given up on blogging.
So, why this blizzard of blog posts?
Over the last year, my approach and attitude toward politics has evolved. That’s probably true for most of us. A year ago, I was engaged and optimistic about the possibility that Bernie might beat the liberal establishment and make a serious run at the White House. I was in McCarthy, Alaska a year ago, and I went to a Democratic caucus where something like fifteen people showed up, which may not sound like much to you, but McCarthy is a remote community that is literally at the end of the road, way out in bush Alaska, so fifteen people represents roughly half of the winter population. The caucus turned into a party.
But then the establishment struck back and Bernie got booted out, and since then, our political situation has only devolved in a downward spiral of outrage and cultural dysfunction. The worse it gets, the more I find myself single-pointedly posting politically. I can’t help myself.
I don’t apologize for filling my social media with political shit, but it’s odd because I’m not sure that I like it that way. I’d like to broaden my horizons a bit. For example, I’m a new author, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, trying to build a writing career and publish a novel. So from a marketing perspective I know that I should be posting stuff that’s more neutral, less politically charged, in an effort to broaden my influence among potential readers. I know this, intellectually, but it doesn’t stop me. I’m undeterred, day after day posting on politics and power and socialism and, of course, Trump. Is it possible to break out?
I often experience a flush of satisfaction in the middle of a good book, and because I have a mild case of eye-strain, most of the books I read these days are audio books.
I enoy reading and writing at the public library in Brunswick, and I don’t get there enough, I reckon. They have study rooms, nice work areas, and a helpful and cheerful staff (cheerful, at least, by librarian standards). They even have a fire room. That’s right, they even have couches in a great room with rugs and wood working and a high ceiling all centered around a roaring, crackling fire. Outside of Maine, I’ve never seen such a thing.
It was in this room that I felt that warm satisfaction that comes from my lifelong craving for story and appreciation for information. I walked swiftly to the restroom and at the door took out my earbuds and tossed them over my shoulder. This was a mistake.
While standing before the open mouth of the toilet, the earbuds worked themselves down my shoulder, slowly and unnoticed, until they eventually slid off entirely. I have pretty good reflexes, so I caught them, but not before the earbuds passed through my stream of urine.
It took some time to clean things up, but it’s a lesson learned, and after all, I had more of my book to look forward to.
Interview, Amos Oz in The New York Times Book Review, Nov 27, 2016
An article, Loaded Words, from a writer and activist who has been very influential to me, Derrick Jensen. One of Derrick’s most quoted and most controversial lines: “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write, or blow up a dam.” (see Actions Speak Lounder than Words, 1998, and/or Derrick’s book, A Language Older than Words, a book very influential to me, personally) Read more
I’m not typically the guy with the Facebook updates sharing what I ate for breakfast. I don’t mind seeing what you or others eat for breakfast, and I certainly don’t have anything against breakfast, per se. Breakfast is a wonderful time of the day, so rich with potential, our bodies are on the verge of great creativity and productivity, if only it were given the fuel necessary to energize it. For my part, I had a bagel with cream cheese. That was my breakfast. And I sprinkled some sugar on it and added cinnamon. That’s not my typical breakfast. Usually it’s just fruit. Fruit and perhaps a handful of almonds. Why is this my normal breakfast? Well, if I told you, then this would start to seem like a story. Read more
We all live with fairly intense blindspots. It is, perhaps, one of those facts about human nature that can be funny, frustrating, and even infuriating. And as our stories tend to go, no one quite seems to know our blindspots like friends, families, and most especially partners, spouses, and boy/girl friends. In a perfect world, our blinspots would be pointed out to us, we would say, “Ah, thanks!” then make a few adjustments to our personality, tweak our persectives, and give ourselves a spiritual tune-up, so to speak. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Read more
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all…for thy merchants were the great men of the earth…And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. ~ Revelation 18:21 (KJV)
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a novel that never ceases to rattle me, even at the mere mention of the title. Forgive me, as I must use a word wrought with overuse, but there’s no other word I can think of right now, seeing as it’s my writing warm up time and I’ve only had my second sip of coffee, but the novel is haunting, haunting in the sense that a presence hangs over the narrative. There is the most obvious presence, which is the wife of “the man” (these characters have no name, only “the man” or “the boy”). She visits him in dreams and flashbacks and in the questions from “the boy,” who is the man’s son. She is ghostly, a figure loved but whose abandonment of the family makes the misery of their existence seem even more futile than it ordinarily would. The man and the boy go from one desperate situation to another, facing everything from starvation to armed bands of cannibalists. In the hands of a great writer like Cormac McCarthy, we go deeper and deeper into the conflict between despair and love that constantly keeps the characters (and reader) in a state of limbo and uncertainty, torn between instincts to survive and protect loved ones and the reality of a world that has become burned and lifeless.