Friday, December 31, 2010

"Practically Shameless" now in its 3rd printing

Books were delivered from the printer on Wednesday, and Practically Shameless is now in its third printing!

More than 2300 copies of Practically Shameless, which is also for sale at the Shadow Work website, have been sold since its publication in February 2008.  

Practically Shameless is also available on audio CD.


If you've read Practically Shameless, please take a minute to visit the book's Amazon.com page and click "Like" (a small button to the right of the 5 stars).  Thank you in advance!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A holiday reminder

A reminder, that my audio CD, "Home for the Holidays: Tips for a Practically Shameless Holiday Season " is available on CD and download for as low as $9.95.

I've received some wonderful testimonials to the CD since its debut two years ago, most of them of an informal or confidential nature that I couldn't easily share.

The economic downturn was already in full swing when I released the CD, so I kept the price as low as possible so that as many people as possible could afford it.

I hope you'll decide to find out what other customers have discovered, that "Home for the Holidays" can help at a difficult time of year!

Best wishes for a lovely, and a practically shameless, holiday season!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

If we amplify everything, we hear nothing

At yesterday's "Rally To Restore Sanity" in Washington, D.C., Jon Stewart gave what the UK Guardian's Richard Adams described as "a curiously moving and effective speech."

A quote:

"We live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies. But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country's 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems. But its existence makes solving them that much harder.

"The press could hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire. And then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected, dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

"We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is ... and why don't we just work together to get things done. The truth is we do, we work together to get things done every single day. The only place we don't is here [Congress] or on cable TV. But America doesn't live here or on cable TV."


Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the mosque controversy

A quote passed along by my friend David Summerhays, I don't know the source:

"In fairness, we've been building 'ground zeros' near Iraqi mosques since March 2003."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Issue 34, Shadow Work email newsletter

The latest issue of the Shadow Work email newsletter went out yesterday. Here it is, minus a few items of interest only to subscribers. To subscribe, go here.



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SHADOW WORK NEWS AND VIEWS
Issue No. 34
August 2010
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IN THIS ISSUE:
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Section 1. Butterfly at Rest, A Commentary by Alyce Barry
Section 2. Trainings and Workshops
Section 3. A Few Thoughts on Becoming a Quaker,
A Commentary by Alyce Barry
Section 4. News Bits
Section 5. Final Thoughts


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SECTION 1. BUTTERFLY AT REST, A COMMENTARY, by Alyce Barry
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When I think about my totems, it seems to me that some
of them are so symbolic of the work I have to do in this
lifetime that they will be with me my entire lifetime.

My lifetime totems include spider -- a powerful totem
for a writer who wants to weave a web for the reader
to fall into with pleasure -- and squirrel, who helps
me be prepared by storing nuts of wisdom for later.
(Squirrel must be the one who's helping me keep money
for emergencies in a savings account!)

I've come to believe that other totems appear when I
need to learn what they teach.

During the six years I lived in Colorado, I saw a lot
of eagles, particularly when I lived in a little town
called Lyons in the foothills of the Rockies. I learned
a lot from eagles about soaring and reaching my most
spiritual places, nearest the sun. An eagle means to
me I will be put to the test, and if I succeed, how I
will love to coast down from the heights I'm capable
of reaching.

Then I lived in Longmont for three years, where I
rarely saw eagles but saw dozens of turkey vultures
on an almost daily basis. I learned a lot from turkey
vultures about making do with what I had. I received
several very helpful messages on the way to the store
to buy things I discovered I didn't need.

Since returning to Illinois last year, I've seen
a lot of butterflies. . . .

rest of article


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SECTION 2. TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS
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Training details and contact information are on the
Calendar of Events.

===============================
Basic Facilitator Trainings
===============================
Cotswolds, England, September 27 - October 2
Cotswolds, England, October 16-22
Boulder, CO, December 4-12

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Advanced Facilitator Trainings
===============================
Rockford, IL, November 13-21

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Leader Trainings
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Boulder, CO, October 3-10
Cotswolds, England, October 16-21

=====================================
Weekend Workshops for Men and Women
=====================================
Oxfordshire, England, October 29-31
Royal Oak, MI, October 29-31
Summit Point, WV, November 5-7
Belgium, November 5-7
Northern New Jersey, November 12-14
Louisville, KY, November 19-21
Houston, TX, December 3-5
Massachusetts, December 3-5
Moscow, Russia, December 10-13
Oxfordshire, England, February 25-27, 2011
Oxfordshire, England, June 10-12, 2011
Oxfordshire, England, October 28-30, 2011


===============================
Weekend Workshops for Women Only
===============================
Houston, TX, September 17-19
Munich, Germany, November 12-14
Osterstedt, Germany, March 4-6, 2011
Munich, Germany, April 8-10, 2011

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Weekend Workshops for Men Only
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Moscow, Russia, September 9-12

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Introduction to Shadow Work
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Summit Point, WV, August 28


All workshops and trainings are on the calendar.



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SECTION 3. A FEW THOUGHTS ON BECOMING A QUAKER,
A COMMENTARY by Alyce Barry
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I recent became officially a member of a Quaker
meeting I've been attending off and on for nearly
25 years.

This is the first time I've been a member of an
organized religion since my twenties, and I felt
a good deal of trepidation about it.

I became a member both to express my commitment
to this wonderful community of people and in order
to serve on a committee which cares for the
spiritual life of the Meeting and requires
membership in order to serve.

Quakerism and the ideas of Carl Jung meet quite
happily, and a good deal has been written on
that subject. Quakers don't have a written creed,
but they nevertheless have core beliefs. Perhaps
the most central is the belief in "the Light,"
referring to the presence of the Divine within
every person. During silent worship, most Quakers
seek the Light inside themselves in order to
experience the Divine.

I have visualized this "seeking the Light" in
different ways over the years. Originally I think
I pictured the Light as a candle flame, and myself
as an eager observer. While there was a certain
awe as I watched the flame, this image never
stirred my heart very much.

A few months ago, during silent worship, I
visualized myself standing in a very bright shower
of light coming down from above ...

rest of article


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SECTION 4. NEWS BITS
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Edie Campbell and Paul McNicholls have joined the
ranks of certified Shadow Work facilitators.
Congratulations and welcome! They both live in
the UK, Edie in Guildford, Surrey, and Paul in Bristol.


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SECTION 5. FINAL THOUGHTS
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"I am a hole in the flute
through which the Divine Spirit breathes
to create beautiful music."

-- Hafiz


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THE END
^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^=^

Shadow Work is a registered trademark of Shadow Work
Seminars, Inc., Boulder, Colorado.

PUBLISHER: Shadow Work Seminars, Inc.
EDITOR: Alyce Barry

Please visit our Online Store

Please pass this newsletter on to any of your family,
colleagues and friends whom you think might find it
of interest.

Thanks very much for reading!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Voting for the mosque near Ground Zero

I think the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan is an excellent idea. It will highlight the cherished American belief in freedom of faith.

More important, to me, I think it will point to the difference between Islam and the ideas of those who committed the atrocities of September 11.

Islam is a religion of peace, piety and beauty. Islam has, and never had, anything to do with the extreme views of those who commit murder, though they may have used it as an excuse.

Most of the Nazis who murdered Jews in concentration camps called themselves Christians, yet acted in ways that most Christians find completely abhorrent. Of those who feel upset about the mosque near Ground Zero, let me ask: How would you feel about a Christian church built near Auschwitz? The camp stands for murder committed under the hijacked banner of a religion, and the church stands for the love and peace of genuine Christianity.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Elevator as metaphor

I get a kick out of metaphors when I see them in daily life.

In this MSNBC article about a black woman who was refused admission to Missouri State University because of her race, I noticed that Mary Jean Price Walls wanted to become a teacher, and after her refusal 60 years ago by Missouri State (then Southwestern Missouri State College), worked as an elevator operator.

An elevator operator, whose job it is to "ascend" and, better, to help other people "ascend" (as a teacher does).

Now importing posts at Amazon.com from my personal blog

Amazon has decided to stop allowing authors to write posts specifically for their Author Central blog. As an alternative, they allow an author to import posts from another blog. So I'll be importing posts from this blog at my Amazon Author Central page.

I don't blog as much these days as I used to, primarily for lack of time and energy while I take care of my elderly mother.

I had been using the Amazon Author Central blog to comment on conspicuous shadows in the news. But I hadn't been blogging very frequently there, so perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time for the war in Afghanistan to end

According to this article in The Guardian in the UK, troops in Afghanistan have killed many more civilians than has previously been reported.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Obama's interrupted vacations

At MSNBC.com, an AP article about the history of Obama's vacations getting interrupted by news stories.

"According to a tally kept by Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter long recognized by the White House as authoritative on such matters, Obama has spent all or part of 65 days on vacation, including days at Camp David. At this point in his tenure, George W. Bush had spent 120 days. That included 13 trips to his Texas ranch."

The polls are saying that Obama and the Democrats aren't doing well and won't do well in this fall's elections. But at this time in 1864, it looked a certainty that President Lincoln wouldn't be reelected, and events turned around by November to give him a second term.

Looking at where our oil comes from

Just as many of us have begun looking more closely at where our food comes from, the Gulf oil spill demands that we look at where our oil comes from.

Everyone who drives a car, uses oil to heat their home or business, or purchases plastic products, has a responsibility to know where that product came from.

If that many of us had been looking, would government regulators at MMS have been able to get away with such laxity in enforcing regulations?

And my Quaker friend David Summerhays points out that food and oil are actually closely interlinked, by transportation, fertilizers, packaging, and more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Here's the best reason so far for no more off-shore oil drilling

Associated Press is reporting that hundreds, perhaps thousands of underwater drill sites could be leaking.

According to this report, there are 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico alone, including 600 wells abandoned by BP.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Britain, France, Germany use intelligence gained thru torture

Human Rights Watch says Britain, France and Germany use anti-terrorism intelligence gained through torture. How appalling.

Cool photos from space

I like the slide shows that MSNBC posts on its website. Here's one of cool photos from space.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tracing the oil spill to Dick Cheney

Remember way back when, with Cheney and Bush in the White House, Cheney had an energy task force that met secretly, and he wouldn't allow their discussions to be publicized?

There are indications that that task force made the decision not to require oil companies to install something called an "acoustic switch" which would have made it possible to turn off the oil flow in the Gulf remotely following the explosion.

See this article by Michael Tomasky in the UK's Guardian.

Top 50 worst inventions

This is a fun listing at TIME.com of the top 50 worst inventions.

I saw this listing first in the Facebook update of a friend, who loved that the Segway was on the list, and there I commented,

"I remember the buzz so well. Was working in a software company, and fellow geeks were totally jazzed by stories about Dean Kamen's coming revolution, which was code-named "Ginger." There was so much speculation as to what he had invented, and few substantive rumors. Then the Segway was announced, and what a thud. Considering how brilliant Kamen is, however, I have to wonder if in 20 years we'll see Segways everywhere -- radio didn't catch on immediately either, as I understand."

Sarah Palin's duplicity

Wow, look at this. This is the woman who just recently was chanting "Drill, baby, drill!" to her audiences. She wrote this on her Facebook page:

"Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it."

She's pretending that she wants drilling in ANWR specifically for this reason, that it's safer than drilling off-shore!

And I've often bought gas there

BP apparently has a terrible record with environmental safety.

Maybe this explains why gas is often cheapest at BP stations around here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Underwater film of oil spill

From ABC News, a video shot underwater by Philippe Cousteau and another diver, swimming through the water near the oil spill. Unbelievable.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uncle Tom's Cabin

I finished reading Uncle Tom's Cabin last night, after finding once tax season was past that I once again had energy for reading (yay!). Yesterday I had overdone physical exercise and needed to lie down much of the day, and the book was an excellent companion.

There are some critical comments and notes in the back of the book still to read.

I think I was expecting the book to be not very well written, and to be cloying in its sentimentality, and it is neither. I was surprised also to find it so much easier to understand than Charles Dickens (I recently read Our Mutual Friend, one of his latest works, and found it almost incomprehensible.)

One other surprise was finding that Simon Legree didn't chase Eliza across the river, an impression formed from watching The King and I years ago.

I came away a little mystified by the negative connotation of the expression "an Uncle Tom," but it seems from an entry on Wikipedia that the negative connotation comes not so much from the book itself as from later stage adaptations that changed Tom's character to be ingratiating. Tom's willingness to be sold down river in order to save the plantation seems entirely plausible to me, in a strong man willing to protect the more vulnerable around him, and it's hard for me to see much difference between Tom's refusal to obey orders and what we now call nonviolent resistance. I found the description of his martyrdom touching and believable without being saccharine or tear-jerking.

Also on the Wikipedia page, I see that James Baldwin objected to the characters of Eliza and George being white enough to pass, and I tend to agree that the story would have had more power if they hadn't been that white, but it might also have strained credibility that they were able to make it to Canada. As a writer, I can certainly understand Stowe wanting to have some of her characters make it to freedom rather than leave them all in slavery.

At the beginning of the book, one or two of the characters reminded me of characters in Roots (Sam on the Shelby plantation reminded me a little of Chicken George, and there may have been one other) and I wondered if there were going to be further signs of Haley's lack of originality, but that didn't come to be. It is certainly true that many of Stowe's characters are "types," and I haven't read enough novels from the same period to know if that was common for authors at the time. I was glad to see that some of her characters had more subtlety than stereotypes. She also had the regrettable tendency to draw inferences from one individual to the entire group to which the individual belonged, though I'm sometimes guilty of the same thing when I talk about Enneagram types!

In all, I very much enjoyed the book.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Capital One

I am paying down balances on two Capital One credit cards (one business, one personal).

For the past year, on one of those cards, I've been paying a fixed amount each month representing more than the minimum required, and I've been paying early each month, sometimes as much as two weeks in advance.

Regardless, Capital One just raised the interest rate on that card by 5%, from 12.9% to 17.9%.

I suspect this is an outcome of the new credit card law, which went into effect at exactly the same time as my notification of the change from Capital One. They saw they would be making less money overall, so they upped interest rates even on accounts like mine that are getting paid down responsibly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dance at Columbia College Chicago

I went down to the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago twice recently, because a Quaker friend, Madelyn George, is a student there.

On April 29th I saw her choreography project "Rediscovering Ceremony" performed by a troupe of11 dancers, and it was marvelous. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes at one point, when some of the dancers were lying down in columns, each dancer holding the feet of the dancer above her, and then rolling, like a rolling DNA strand, while the remaining standers stepped over them. There were other moments when the dancers walked to the edge of the stage and looked intently at the audience, and the image of one dancer in particular doing this has remained a vivid image for me.

The following Thursday I saw her dance in another student's choreography project, and I unfortunately lost the name of the piece (I gave back my program), which contained the word Pearl, but it was marvelous as well. It was dedicated to the young people of an African country (Rwanda?) who had been abused as children, and some of the movements were very evocative.

There were other pieces each night that were just marvelous. The first night I liked "Lux" by Kaitlin Fox very much, and "Participatory Apparatus; Cooperative Bodies" by Carly Czach. The second night I liked best a piece about violence in Chicago and another that I'm having more trouble remembering.

I very much enjoy watching dance and can't often afford it. These evenings asked only for a donation of $5, which I could manage. The skill of the dancers was very impressive and the choreography very evocative. I find that what I like best about a dance is the passion shown by the dancers; some pieces required the dancers to show their passion and others seemed not to, though perhaps it was a choice on the part of the dancers at times not to really put themselves into the work.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A scene right out of -- was it "Airplane"?

So according to this article at msnbc.com, the person arrested on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver yesterday was *joking* about lighting his shoe!

Is it Airplane that contains the scene about a passenger in an airport calling out to a friend, "Hi, Jack!" and getting dragged away by security officials?

If flight marshalls can't tell the difference between somebody joking and somebody who's a threat, we're in trouble, it seems to me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joe Klein on the Republican roots of the new health care law and of opposition to it

Since my life became very full of caregiving, I've found it next to impossible to keep up with the news the way I used to. So I didn't absorb much of the debate about the new health care law.

This morning I read Joe Klein's article "Promise Delivered" in the April 5 issue of TIME Magazine (online it has a different title) and was very struck by the passages below. If Klein is right (and he has seemed pretty reliable), the new law is actually based on Republican-generated ideas, and one reason for opposition to universal health care was exposed as purely political by a major Republican strategist some time ago.

These passages could be useful talking points when speaking with people who opposed the law.

"Substantial numbers of Republicans had always favored reform, even archconservatives: 20 years ago, the Heritage Foundation's Stuart Butler came up with a plan to provide universal coverage,paying for it by replacing the tax-exempt status of employer-provided health benefits with a system of progressive tax credits. In 1993 the Republicans, led by Senators John Chafee and Bob Dole, who never forgot that that his life was saved by government health care, offered an alternative that many, including me, thought was better than the Clinton Administration's proposal. It became the basis for the universal health plan passed in Massachusetts by Governor Mitt Romney. Massachusetts, in turn, became the basis for the federal plans offered in the 2008 campaign by Hillary Clinton and later adopted by President Obama. The plan passed by Congress and signed by the President on March 23 was, then, a mongrel; its roots were in the Republican plan of 1993 and in Massachusetts."

"The Republican stonewall [of the new law] had its roots in a memo that William Kristol wrote in 1993,urging Republicans not to cooperate in any way with Bill Clinton on health care because, among other things, the plan represented 'a serious political threat to the Republican Party.' In other words, it would make Clinton and the Democrats more popular."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Following Tom Bodett on Twitter

I'm not a big Twitter person, by which I mean I don't tweet very often, and most the people I follow are political commentators, which tells me a little about the controversies that are raging.

But I also follow several funny people, because I love starting my day with laughter. And this morning there were 2 laugh-prompting tweets from Tom Bodett:

"Am going to put away the sleds and snow shovels today. Keep your eyes peeled for news of Historic New England Spring Blizzard."

"I will leave one muddy mitten in the perennial beds as a sacrifice to the snow gods. Also because it's disgusting."

You'll find him on Twitter as TomBodett.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Conservative Christians love to say the the word "truth" . . .

. . . but when it comes to being truthful they often aren't.

The Florida Family Policy Council, a conservative Christian group, switched photos when they wanted to send out an alert about a lesbian couple wanting to adopt a child.

Look at the difference between these photos!!

So much for truth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Andrew Sullivan on the Pope's complicity

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog on the Pope's complicity in priest sexual abuse in Germany.

How is the Pope Different from Cardinal Law?

Excerpt: "If this person headed a secular organization, or if he were a politician, he would be forced to resign. Why are the standards for the Catholic church so much lower on tolerance of child abuse than the rest of society? On what grounds can this Pope reprimand bishops and priests in Ireland or the US when he seems deeply entangled in the same kind of cover-ups himself?

"When, in other words, will the real victims come first? And moral responsibility meaningfully taken?"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friends win an Oscar

While living in Boulder, I got to know (a little) a fun and graceful woman named Viki Psihoyos and attended an evening of dance in the studio behind her home.

Viki's husband Louie is the director of the The Cove, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary last night. The film has also stirred controversy in Japan.

I haven't seen the film yet, was pleased to find it easily available on Netflix.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An amazing blog posting by Andrew Sullivan

Read this.

Excerpt: "I am incensed by the way in which this country adopted torture and much of the MSM and the Congress let it slide; by how conservatism has been abused by the GOP; by how alleged conservatives bankrupted this country and now blame it on others; by how most neoconservatives have preferred power to honesty in grappling with their failures; by how religion has been cynically used as a tool by Rove; by the way in which gay people and their dignity has been cruelly maligned. And I remain very firmly of the belief that in due course many of my points will be vindicated, even as they have often been written off as the rants of a crank. I think that my view of Palin in all its particulars - mocked by many - will also stand the test of time."

I'm officially in love with Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart on the big snowstorm in Washington, D.C., and climate change

Sarah Palin continues her no-scrutiny approach

Sarah Palin is appearing at 2 big-ticket events and wants no media present. (I heard about it from Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish)

Here's a wonderful article in TIME Magazine by 2 authors of a new book on Palin that looks at her lies and the press' unwillingness to challenge her on them.

I have sometimes found Sarah Palin laughable. Right now, I find her dangerous. She appears to be the complete demogogue -- willing to say anything for political gain, no matter how untrue -- and finds crowds eager to hear more. In that respect (and probably no other) she reminds me of Adolf Hitler in his rise to power in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Catching up on movies, part 2

Saw Up in the Air with my brother Tim, who was visiting from Wisconsin. Wow. Excellent acting, brilliant script. I'm really impressed.

Rented A Simple Twist of Fate from Netflix. I don't know why the description doesn't say it's the Silas Marner story. The star, Steve Martin, wrote it, and credits say, "suggested by Silas Marner" -- suggested by? There were very few differences in the plot, none of them significant enough not to say "based on." The Masterpiece Theatre production of Silas Marner starring Ben Kingsley is much better. Steve Martin does an okay job, but the script makes the mistake of being funny in places where it should be touching, which I think was the same mistake he made in Roxanne.

I'm still thinking about and mulling over Roots. I loved this conversation between Tom Harvey's son Bud and the family's white friend Martha, after a mob of sheet-covered white men whip Tom:

Bud: I'm 'a kill those white men someday.

Martha: Bud, you oughtn't to talk like that.

Bud: I'm gonna kill 'em.

Martha: Bible says it ain't right to kill people, Bud.

Bud: Do the Bible say it's right o' 'em to whip my daddy?

Martha: No, it don't say that neither.

Bud: Then I'm bound to git 'em.

Martha: Which ones, Bud? Couldn't see their faces.

Bud: I'll find a way to get the ones who done it.

Martha: Suppose you make a mistake? Suppose you hurt some white folks that ain't done your daddy no harm?

Bud: I'll do what I gotta do.

Martha: Then I guess you might as well start with me, Bud.

Bud: I didn't mean you!

Martha: Well, I sure am white. I'm white as a cotton ball. And if you starts hurtin' whites for bein' white, then sooner or later you'll get 'round to me and Ol' George.

Bud: I don't wanna kill you.

Martha: Well, that's what happens when you starts hurtin' folks for the color of their skin. You won't be any better than those men who hurt your daddy.

Bud: I hate 'em. Hate 'em!

Martha: Hate 'em for what they done, not because they's white. Me and mine is white. But we love you just like our own. If you'll let us love you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Catching up on a few movies, part 1

I'm catching up on some movies I missed.

Last night I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and found it sad, long, and disappointing. I've never read the story on which it is based, so I don't know if Fitzgerald fleshed out the character more than Brad Pitt did, but in this telling, Benjamin is mostly an onlooker, someone who observes what's going on around him without displaying much emotion, and I found that frustrating. When his lover, played by Tilda Swinton, says goodbye in a very offhand way, Benjamin barely reacts. I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that the story was by Fitzgerald, so I spent part of the movie wondering if it had been written by the author of Forrest Gump, another story about a man who observes some of the great moments in history.

Last week I watched Up, mostly because my daughter told me her friends were telling her that the bird's character reminded them of her (it reminded me of her as well). The movie was cute at times but the story didn't seem to hang together, it seemed to have been written by a committee.

And I'm halfway through watching Roots for the first time, and enjoying it very much. I don't remember what I was doing in 1977 when it was first broadcast, and I'm not sure I had a TV at the time (I can't picture one in the apartment I was living in, but I probably had one). That year I went to England for the first time to study the early years of Thomas Paine, about whom I was attempted to write a book, and maybe I was just too caught up in my research to watch the miniseries. But it's ironic because that year I was living in an entirely African-American neighborhood (4000 block of Sansom Street in Philadelphia) for the first and only time in my life.

I've got a lot of questions about Roots, so I'm planning to borrow the book from the Library. I'm so glad the mini-series began with a pretty good look at Kunta Kinte's culture, to know where he came from. I wanted more detail on the passage, though it would have been grim, and I suspect that's why there wasn't more detail.

In watching films about injustice and tragedy, I find I hold myself back from feeling all of my anger and grief, I think because I fear the resulting sense of powerlessness and feeling of shame -- shame that I'm not willing to drop everything else I'm doing and devote my life entirely to fighting the injustice. I've found it almost impossible to watch films about the plight of Native Americans, even the ending of Dances with Wolves.

Watching LeVar Burton play Kunta Kinte is really interesting, since I was a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation and knew him pretty well as Giordi LaForge. His performance as Kunta Kinte is so fresh and innocent, it's really lovely, and I wish they'd found a way to age him rather than have John Amos play the older man. I enjoy John Amos (most notably as an Admiral on West Wing) but he's less expressive.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Confidence

I forgot to add that my self-confidence is quite high right now, mostly from looking back at what I've accomplished over the last 7 months, with prompting from my brother Cliff: I've moved across country, taken on a very different and demanding job, found a new place for Mom to live, moved her there, and tackled and conquered her skin cancer. I'm feeling close to invincible!

And that will come in handy as I work to get in shape and lose weight, both goals I've had for a long time. I have to work to remind myself that I've spent the last 10+ years doing some things I really wanted to do -- write and publish a book, become certified in Shadow Work facilitation and coaching -- so it's not as if I've been idle (not hardly!).

2-1/4 pounds already via the savings account method

The last week of December I decided to work on getting in shape and losing weight. I had discovered how much I gained since moving to Illinois -- between 10 and 15 pounds, and I don't know for sure how many because I'd already lost a few before weighing myself -- and it really pushed me over an edge where it's unacceptable. I'm also convinced that the sciatica symptoms are in part due to being so overweight and out of shape.

I weighed myself again this morning and discovered I've lost 2-1/4 pounds already, which is encouraging, since it's less than 2 weeks.

One thing that's helping me is a mental picture I've got of a kind of savings account, into which I deposit the calories I've burned by exercising and the calories I've reduced by eating less. I calculated how many calories I'd have to burn/reduce in order to lose 40 pounds within 6 months -- my incredibly ambitious goal -- and it comes to about 800 calories per day. That's a very high number. But thinking of it as 800 calories a day is doing a better job of motivating me than trying to achieve the 40 pounds, or trying to achieve what I'll weigh if I lose the 40 pounds. It's a day-by-day goal that I can try to meet, or at least contribute to. Some days I'll be able to "deposit" only 200 calories into the account, and that's better than nothing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Maybe the undie-bomber didn't actually want to blow up the plane

A persuasive argument offered by a reader, kindness of Andrew Sullivan's blog Daily Dish, that Abdulmutallab didn't actually want to blow up the plane, only to create terror in the US.

Read it here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Star Trek, the original series

(As I understand it, Trekkers use the abbreviation TOS for this series, which for some reason really impresses me - that they've got a special abbreviation for it!)

I've been watching the original Star Trek series from Netflix, and also reading Star Trek Memories by William Shatner. I don't have much of an excuse for either :D except curiosity. I picked up the book after watching the TOS episodes in broadcast order and noticing that Spock was really different in the first few episodes, and that McCoy had much lower billing in the credits. How did the show morph into its eventual tug-of-war between the two characters, I wondered.

This isn't my first time watching the series, I first came across it in reruns in college in Connecticut, and I've seen episodes from time to time on late-night TV. Some early episodes are so bad they're laugh-out-loud funny. But others are still thought-provoking or interesting in some other way.

As I said, I can't offer much of an excuse, but I'm enjoying myself. Shatner's book is also very funny in spots, which may be him or his co/ghost writer.