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Screwtape Letters

I read and reviewed The Screwtape Letters a while back and loved it. Here’s a lively discussion of C.S. Lewis’ classic. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in Book club, YouTube

 

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Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Dervla Murphy

After reading The Waiting Land I became a Dervla Murphy fan. I’ve followed that with Ukimwi Road and Eight Feet in the Andes.  Thus when it was my turn to pick a book club book, I decided on her first book Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle (1965). 

When she was 10, intrepid travel writer Dervla Murphy received an atlas and bicycle for her birthday. Talk about an inspirational gift. Dervla’s Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle chronicles her trip across Europe to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Murphy focuses on her travels through Western and Central Asia. Murphy doesn’t hold back. She shares the good and the bad. Whether sleeping on dirt floors or a palace in Pakistan, whether riding along a smooth road the Russians built in Afghanistan or trudging up a rocky mountain in Pakistan, whether enjoying a good meal at a missionaries home or eating dry crackers washed down with salted tea for the seventh straight day, Murphy shoots straight.

She includes her views on modernization, politics and aid. She definitely believes we’ve lost the art of leisurely, quiet conversation since we’ve opened our homes to TV sets. (I wonder what she things of the multiplication of screens of every size. I bet I can guess.) 

The more I see of unmechanized places and people the more convinced I become that machines have done incalculable damage by unbalancing the relationship between Man and Nature. The mere fact that we think and talk as we do about Nature is symptomatic. For us to refer to Nature as a separate entity–something we admire or avoid or study or paint–shows how far we’ve removed ourselves from it.

Dervla Murphy

I was surprised that she brought a pistol with her, but it did come in handy to ward off men with bad intentions in the middle of the night. So that was a wise move. 

She has her share of tough times from bureaucratic hassles, to horrible roadways, if you can call them roadways, to smelly roommates and bouts of dysentery. Her travel travails would have made me run to the nearest airport, but reading about them was fascinating. 

I found her commentary on Russian vs. US aid in Afghanistan insightful. In 1960 she opined that the Russians were smarter in how they gave aid. Their aid was mainly small local projects so Afghanis knew that’s the bridge or school, etc. the Russians gave us. In contrast the US’ aid was in the form of huge projects that didn’t register with the Afghanis. I’m not sure how things have or haven’t changed since the 60’s, but I’d like to know. 

The subtitle says “with” not “on” a bicycle because there are often times when she can’t ride. Once in Afghanistan the officials force her to ride on a truck because the route is has become violent. Another time she leaves Roz, her bike, in a town as she takes a horse up into the mountains where the terrain is iffy and the roads narrow with no shoulder to speak of.

If you like strong, opinionated women exploring places you’ve never heard of, give Full Tilt a try. 

N.B. I’ll warn you there are a couple phrases she used that aren’t PC. They bothered me, but I doubt she’d use the same language today. 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in fiction

 

Is Kindle’s New Zella Worth It?

I was curious about how Zella, a new digital platform for selling episodic writing, worked. I also wondered if it was worth jumping into.

The video above answered my questions and helped me decide not to use it. That saved me hours of fiddling with the system.

I didn’t like that you can’t publish elsewhere and that Amazon, Kindle’s owner, took 50% of the revenue and that you didn’t earn anything for the first few chapters. I can see giving readers one free chapter, but not three free ones.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2021 in writing

 

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Poem of the Week

I’ve discovered a new favorite poet.

No Fixed Plans

Money

By Dana Gioia

Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.

Chock it up, fork it over, 
shell it out. Watch it 
burn holes through pockets.

To be made of it! To have it 
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles, 
megabucks and Ginnie Maes. 

It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.

Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.

Money. You don’t know where it’s been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

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Posted by on May 31, 2021 in fiction

 

Vella anyone???

Hi gang. Craig with you today and there’s something new on the self publishing horizon. It’s officially called Kindle Vella. I’m kind of interested …

Vella anyone???
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2021 in fiction

 

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From Sea to Shining Sea

A fun children’s book about early America read by Jill of Prager Prep.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2021 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Andrew McLuhan Offers an Enhanced Version of Media Literacy That He Calls ‘Macro Media Literacy’

Macro Media Literacy By Andrew McLuhan Media Literacy, or Critical Media Literacy as it’s sometimes called, is a part of the media studies world …

Andrew McLuhan Offers an Enhanced Version of Media Literacy That He Calls ‘Macro Media Literacy’
 
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Posted by on May 3, 2021 in fiction

 

Bambi vs. Godzilla

recommended

I enjoy books that go behind the scenes of Hollywood and explain show business and David Mamet’s Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business. does that beautifully. Writer, director Mamet, as you’d expect, provides trenchant on a variety of movie making topics including auditions, producers, corruption, writing for women. 

Like William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, this book should be required for reading for anyone interested in working in Hollywood. Not only do you get information, and stories of experiences, but you get Mamet’s wisdom. 

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2021 in non-fiction

 

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The Sky over the Louvre

Graphic novel, The Sky over Louvre by Bernar Yslaire and Jean-Claude Carriere covers the Reign of Terror when Robespierre and the Jacobins maintained power through terrorism.  Revolutionary and artist Jacques-Louis David is looking for a model for his polemic painting. Jules Stern, a young man from Khazaria, comes to Paris in search of his mother and to meet with David. David is struck by Stern’s looks and believes he’ll be perfect for his painting of Bara.

David and Stern

The book’s illustrations include sumptuous images from the Louvre’s art collection and drawings of 18th century France in the midst of the Reign of Terror, which followed the French Revolution. While I know about Robespierre, the Jacobins and their purge and violence to achieve ideological purity, I wasn’t clear on all the players. At times I had to reread The Sky over Louvre to stay clear on the meaning or to make sure I understood what was going on. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and would read another in this series of books set in the Louvre. 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2021 in graphic novel

 

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The Warden

At first I didn’t think I’d ever get into The Warden’s story. Whether a clergyman in Victorian England kept his £800 stipend or not seemed insignificant, but Trollope did get to me and when Mr. Harding is attacked by the press thanks to John Bold, I was won over. I suppose I have a soft spot for anyone who’s bullied, though I also kept wondering about this money. 

Anthony Trollope’s novel The Warden centers on a dilemma over the money the Warden, a clergyman who’s in charge of the welfare of a dozen bedesmen (also spelled beadsmen), to whom a wealthy man bequeathed money to support in their old age, is accused of getting too much money himself. The mild mannered Mr. Harding isn’t prepared for a scandal. He wasn’t taking a farthing more than allotted but John Bold, who’s sweet on Harding’s daughter feels the whole agreement is a major injustice.

Should more go to the bedesmen? How much? I did find the story to be an effective tug-of-war because Harding’s Archdeacon son-in-law seemed to be a personification of what can go wrong with the clergy.

When I found out that £800 is over $100,000 in today’s economy, I did see John Bold’s side better. I will say Trollope succeeded in creating realistic tension between the characters and added to it by making Harding’s daughter Eleanor in love with Bold and his other daughter Susan the Archdeacon’s wife.

I was at a disadvantage not knowing all these titles: Warden, Archdeacon, bedesmen, but soon enough I got the gist. 

By the novel’s end, Mr. Harding did impress me with his willingness to abandon his stipend, his home and comfort, though it cost him the esteem of those in his circle who thought he was crazy. 

I mentioned earlier that like many English books, films or television programs, even members of the clergy don’t seem particularly religious. It’s like this society just sees religion as an organization that has a code for a good life. Mr. Harding could work for the Boy Scouts. I think C.S. Lewis, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Green’s books show more spirituality. These writers wonderfully approach spiritual topics using flawed characters. (I suppose a modern version of this could show Green Peace or another organization. Human nature doesn’t change much. Mr. Harding did know and befriend the bedesmen and they got what they are do.)

A young and brash, John Bold was a surgeon, who knew how to take things apart and not how to heal or put things together.  He had a valid point, but never thought through how to best handle it and ran off to the press, to a sensationalizing journalist who writes anonymously. I could see this updated by cutting out the middleman (journalist) and just typing away on the internet and things getting way out of hand. His passion reminds me of what Eric Hoeffer refers to in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, which I read at the same time as The Warden, coincidentally. Bold is dogmatic and rushes to a lawyer and the press, which I think we’ve learned can make things worse, while Harding, whom I preferred, questioned himself a lot, sometimes too much, and truly knew these bedesmen and shared friendship, though maybe not on equal social terms, while I don’t believe Bold visited them. (I may have forgotten if he did.) 

Trollope’s satire worked in how he crafted the Archdeacon, Bold and the rest of the characters. Because Mr. Harding describes his thoughts and understanding of his duty so well, I came to like him.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2021 in 19th Century, fiction

 

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