Ulysses by James Joyce

So yeah.  Managed to get through this one.  With the help of a little friend that I like to call LibriVox, since that's what it's name is.

Maybe just a bit out of my depth.

Since I love him so much, I have to juxtapose Ulysses' Jewish character, Bloom, with Malamud's Morris Bober in The Assistant.  And well, let's just say Malamud is much more concerned with getting the ethos or soul of Judiasm.  Joyce, I sensed, not so much.  He made superficial references to  Bloom's memories of reading the Haggadah at Passover and to experiences of anti-semitimsim; but well, honestly it seemed as though Bloom could just as easily have been a Protestant or a Catholic; nothing about him really seemed characteristically Jewish.


Good Friday

Just listened to the Passion according to John at the Good Friday Service and felt like Pontius Pilate really got all of the best lines.  Kind of like in Jesus Christ Superstar, when Judas had the best songs (and, when Murray Head is singing, the best voice)--Jesus seems a little upstaged.

What is Truth? John 18:30
What I have written I have written. John 19:22
Do you not know that I have the power to release you, and I have the power to crucify you? John 19:10

See what I mean?  Some pretty pithy statements there.  Why did John do this, did he feel like Pilate had something important to say?  He seems to represent a jaded and disillusioned perspective; he really represents so many adults.  Isn't idealism and certainty really a sign of youth and naïveté; and a more experienced person would say something like, "What is truth?"
I also felt so bad for Pilate, he really got thrown in the middle of a fight he had no interest in; he keeps saying over and over that he finds no guilt in Jesus, his wife has told him to have nothing to do with Him.

The Jews answered, "We have a law, and according to that law, he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."  Now when Pilate heard this, he became more afraid than ever.   John 19:7-8


Charlie Rose: How much of good criticism is simply good writing?

"I think a lot of it....maybe all of it."  A. O. Scott, author Better Living Through Criticism


ok, so it's a twitter storm today!  thought this one was pretty good, too.  Loved that Ron Paul tweeted it.

Thought this was such an unusual quote.  Would love to hear the philosophy behind it.  Who are the women she references, specifically, and which of the views they espouse does she find idiotic?


deep thoughts by Rebecca Traister

Just saw Rebecca Traister, live!

And yeah.  Um.

Succinctly, I'd say that she's an articulate but fairly predictable and banal woman who's reporting on a rather interesting phenomenon.  k, so yeah, clearly she grated on me.  She has that that ultra-progressive-it's-implicit-that-we-all-think-like-this-because-we're-sensible-people tone to her talk.  She at one point says outright "conservatives are wrong."  Arrogant and boring; I've met this woman thousands of times.

Um, yeah, she started her talk in the same way she started her interview with Terri Gross; reading from her book All The Single Ladies her reaction to an oh-so-generic list of little girl books that she grew up with (her reaction was a repulsion to these girls' marriages), including Jane Eyre, The Little House Books, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women--see, you get the idea--she's an upper middle class well educated white American Jewish girl.  And as for her Jane Eyre criticism, you can see that Traister's a real literalist, claiming that "Rochester locked his first wife in the attic".  To this I say, Traister, please employ the use of imagination when reading fiction, and try to envision the woman in the attic as symbolic, as perhaps symbolic for Eyre's stifled emotions.

So this is who's coming at us.  Hard to stomach, yes.  However, her book discusses a significant and undeniable trend.

As I mentioned in a previous post, her book discusses the increase in single women, and late married women (in the US).  Two significant statistics; single women now outnumber married women in the US--Traister makes the point that the number of single women is so high that they could sway an election.  Additionally, the median age for first-married women, after hovering between 20 and 23 for over a hundred years, has risen to 27.


Marissa Mayer getting the axe?

Marissa Mayer was interviewed on Charlie Rose last week.

As nice and polite as he tried to be, Rose didn't exactly hold back with his questions, pointing out that she assumed the position of CEO at Yahoo with great fanfare and high expectations due to her performance at Google, and many feel that her performance has fallen well short of the mark.

In response to the question "What did you do wrong" Marissa says that "the story hasn't played out".
She makes the point that she had only 50 engineers working on mobile when she started 3-4 years ago, a number that she's now increased to 500.  She's very happy to heap the blame for where Yahoo is today on the state of the company when she started.  And perhaps it's due.

She seemed really pushed into the corner with a lot of her questions and answered on the defensive; Rose: "Was there a big bet that you did not make that you wished you'd made?"
Mayer (pursing her lips): "We did make a lot big bets."

"I'm very proud of......" is a phrase Mayer repeated several times throughout the interview, and in response to his statement that Yahoo doesn't rank in the top five tech companies (including apple, google, Amazon, FaceBook, Microsoft), she says that Yahoo IS big.  "Over 1/2 of your viewers will use a Yahoo product today."  Yahoo has 600 million mobile users which puts them in the top five businesses (for that criteria).  Additionally, she points out that only three US based companies have more than a billion users--Yahoo, Google and FB.  (And it's hard to generate growth, if they're already so huge).  The three reasons that people come to Yahoo are for search, mail and digital content.


Getting it Right

Liked this quote from actor Leslie Odum Jr., interviewed in this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

I come from a conservatory training and it takes about a decade to let that stuff go...I graduated with honors, I was a good boy, and I got As...and that is not what you want to see as an audience member.  You do not want to see someone who is up there doing it right, trying to do it it perfectly."


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Just finished reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  Cannot tell you how hard this book hit me, and I really wasn't expecting that.  What  I mean to say is that it was very very good.  And I can't even explain how.  I suppose that the main character is very sensitive.  And the stream of consciousness writing makes for an intimate connection with him, the way that he will stream into thoughts about a playmate amidst a dinner with his family, or something like that.


Why All The Single Ladies?

Terri Gross had two interesting back to back interviews earlier this month.

In this interview with Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales, Sales discusses the effect of teen men's exposure to porn on his sexual practises with women he dates/sleeps with, as being well basically, misogynistic.  She cites specific examples where men threaten girls he's just met to send him nude photos of herself, as well as treating her exceptionally 'rough' when being intimate.

In this interview with Rebecca Traister, Traister discusses the huge, enormous influx of single women, citing the statistic that the median age for first married women has increased from early 20s to the late 20s over the past 25 years, as well as that for the first time ever single adult women outnumber married women in the U.S.

I couldn't help but speculate as to a correlation between these two interviews; perhaps women are marrying later, or deciding they're best not marrying at all due mistreatment they've received from men?


The End of Christian America?

I thought that this article made a lot of good points.  It seemed to me a dispassionate assessment of this election process juxtaposed with some of the tenants of Christianity and concluding that the two no longer mesh.  He concludes that "Christian America" is really just rhetoric, and that the voters are not longer voting for leaders with the criteria of whether or not he/she is a faithful Christian.


Oscar Nominees Receive trip to Israel as part of 'Awards Gift Bag'

So bizarre.  Why are Oscar Nominees receiving a tree trip to Israel?  Further evidence of the strong link between Israel and Hollywood.

(Oh, and guess what, Son of Saul won the Oscar for best foreign film.)


Goldwater Attack Ad

Wow.  Hadn't seen this one before.  Don't know if you could get away with making an ad this hyperbolic today.  Honestly, it seems a little ridiculous.  Where's the practical justification in this ad for saying that electing Goldwater will result in nuclear war?  It's a baseless claim and purely designed to scare the viewer into voting for Johnson.  


GOP Fox Debate

Maybe the most surprising thing to me anyway, upon reflection, is that it didn't strike me as odd or incredibly inappropriate that Trump referenced the size of his penis at the debate.

My response was kind of a weak smile--'oh, yeah. heard that joke before.'

What  I mean to say........perhaps vulgarity and, er, some sort of crass vacuousness has so much become a part of the political fracas that it's sort of implicit.

And this is scary, considering the gravity of the issues we're facing--one issue discussed at the debate was North Korea's nuclear threat.



Just finished watching Joy the David O. Russell movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Liked it.  A bit jagged with the introduction of characters, and some of the characters, such as the mother, are so ridiculously flat it's unclear why they're in the movie at all.  She basically just sits in front of her television watching soaps, and falls in love with the plumber.  Hm, a lot of the development of relationships are told pretty superficially, such as Joy's meeting and marrying her ex, and her father's new relationship with who would become the prime investor in Joy's mops.

The sister as well; an advisory, but we never got any idea really of who she was.

From the clothing and decor, it felt like the movie took place several decades ago, but I guess that it was the 90s.  Was that really so long ago, people sure dressed strange back then.  Or maybe that's just the fault of the costume designers.  The Bradley Cooper character walked around in some mustard suit that, well, didn't really look like it belonged to any decade, really.

In a nutshell, Joy tells the story of a divorced single mother who decides to pursue her dream of inventing and working with her hands.  She designs a self-wringing mop, and through much trial and error sells thousands on the Home Shopping Network.  She then goes onto to build an invention empire of sorts.


The Cloud of Unknowing

Have been enjoying this rather ancient (14th Century) book on Contemplative Prayer.  Here's an interesting passage at the beginning.

But this one thing I must tell you.  He is a jealous lover and He will not be part of a fellowship.  Unless He is alone with you, He will not bother to work in your will.  He asks none to help Him, but only you.  He wishes only that you turn your attention to Him, and then let Him alone.  You must only guard the windows and doors for flies and enemies who may intrude.  And if you willingly do only this, then you will need only to speak quietly and humbly in prayer and soon He will help you.  Go forward then, and let us see how you carry yourself.  He is ready and He is waiting for you.  But what will you do?  And how will you go forward?