Literary Imagination

The matter of a certain literary style and practice came up a couple of months ago – and I was reminded again of the discussion in a weird way, when my daughter and I watched the Night at the Museum movie series. This was in the interests of not freaking out Wee Jamie terribly, who is soaking up information and stimuli like a small, child-shaped sponge. I vaguely recall watching the first of the series, but my daughter did not, so I must have seen it in a theater, possibly when the Gentleman With Whom I (Once) Kept Company was on one of his yearly visits to Texas. Cute movie, and one which loaded in a lot of established actors in supporting roles (Ricky Gervais? Seriously?) …but anyway. (It is kind of cool, though – imagining an animated dinosaur skeleton playing ‘fetch’ the bone, and behaving like a playful puppy…)

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Cursive and Other Archaic Skills

My daughter recently reviewed the various academic programs available at the Hill Country elementary school which Wee Jamie will eventually attend, when she makes her pile in real estate and moves up to that community. Among the skills on offer is training in writing cursive – which we were both pretty thrilled to hear about. (Although I do hold out for home-schooling Wee Jamie.) Apparently, teaching cursive handwriting has been pretty much phased out in elementary school curriculums of late – in favor of either printing or keyboarding… apparently, very few people now hand-write documents. Scrawling a signature is about as far as most people go, these days of computers, cellphones, email and being able to fill out forms on-line.
For myself, I have perfectly awful handwriting; not all the cursive practice in third and fourth grade could remedy this quality a single iota. Frankly, I envy anyone who has excellent flowing Palmer-style handwriting, or the gentleman I met at an art show who could do perfect gothic script lettering – freehand. I have usually resorted to printing, if legibility to another person was a requirement, and there wasn’t a typewriter or computer handy. But I fully support Wee Jamie being taught to write cursive, for the very excellent reason that even if you can’t handwrite legibly – you can still read handwritten documents. Otherwise, whole libraries and archives are closed to someone who simply can’t read such documents.

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Yon Tanpèt Pafè

In the wall mural of global incompetence that is our Crisis Era, Haiti has become the most lurid corner, a hallucinatory labyrinth worthy of Hieronymus Bosch; not so much the canary in the mine as a collapsed side tunnel whose maimed and trapped victims are within earshot and line-of-sight of First World institutional leaders already fumbling with a dozen groundwater leaks and toxic gas buildups in the main shafts.

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DIE, Quiet Quitting, And the Exit of Competence

About the only comfort that I could take away from the initial election of B. Whose-Middle Name-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned Obama was a small one – a hope that the election of a man of partial color and relatively cosmopolitan upbringing would at last bury the last lingering shreds of AmeriKKKa-Is-The-Most-Raaaaacist-Evah! Alas – it soon became very clear this was a sad, and forlorn hope. The new intellectually powered Diversity-Inclusion-Equity racism came roaring back like a movie serial killer in a twentieth remake of a Hollywood horror flick franchise. A decent regard for civil rights of black citizens has somehow metastasized into ‘DIE, whitey, DIE’ or at the very least, ‘no well-paying prestigious job for you, pale-male-and-stale.’ Never mind if the beneficiaries of these policies appear far less able to perform to the standards which the job requires … it seems to be the intentions that count. It’s no biggie if the bridge collapses, the aircraft collide on approach, the expensive movie bombs at the box office, or the press secretary babbles nonsense when asked a difficult question. The good intentions of DIE conquer all, even reality.

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Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Last week, in a discussion thread on a story about plans to revamp Hollywood Boulevard and make it attractive to tourists, against an apparently overwhelming tide of homelessness, addiction and petty crime, someone posted a link to this Billy Joel song. For some curious reason it struck me, since I have been saying goodbye to Hollywood – the physical place, and the entertainment concept – over the last couple of decades.

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