Sunday, January 27, 2013

Between Panic and Desire


Between Panic and Desire, Dinty W. (an initial he explains in this book) Moore's cultural memoir of linked essays in experimental form complete with quizzes and his own autopsy report demanded that I read it in one sitting. The book weaves John F. Kennedy, Nixon, the cold war,the Cuban missile crisis, 9/11, both Bush presidents, the Beatles, Charles Manson, Squeaky Fromme, missing fathers, father figures, drug addiction, Irish heritage, automobiles, and Leonard Cohen into a witty and inventive narrative about life in the television-watching U.S.A. of the 1960s and the journey of a young man wandering through it. I really enjoyed the ride.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Conversations with Jackie


Released 50 years early in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Presidency on permission of daughter Caroline, Conversations on Life With John F. Kenney interviews by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. provide only a bit of insight into the life of Jacqueline and J.F.K. I listened on CD and, aside from the New England accent, Jacqueline Kennedy could have been Marilyn Monroe with her breathy voice and her adoration of J.F.K. I wish I knew my history better, but I couldn't place most of the people that were asked about and who she discussed and so the subtleties were lost on me. I did, however, take note of the fact that, as Caroline mentioned in the introduction, Jacqueline felt her job was to make her husband happy, to bear and raise his children, and to stay out of politics. She would later change these views and embrace feminism whole-heartedly, but this was 1963 and she was a young woman still so fresh in the shadow of losing the man she loved.

For the conspiracy theorists, there was no mention of Lyndon Johnson master-minding the assassination although it was clear that they did not care for him. In fact, Jacqueline stated quite clearly that Johnson was not selected as V.P. candidate to enhance the ticket, but rather because J.F.K. thought he would be much less dangerous there than as Senate Majority Leader, the position he held prior to the campaign.

For the gossip columnists, there was no mention of Marilyn or any of J.F.K.'s other alleged lovers and also no mention of Jacqueline's supposed retaliatory affair with William Holden.

Overall Jackie was elegant if sometimes snobbish, and very convinced in her judgments of people and of the positions she stated that J.F.K. held. There were several brief appearances by John, Jr. and Caroline, but as always, they were protected.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

How'd Those Resolutions Work For You?


"Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since." ~Dave Beard

Last January, departing from my usual custom to not make New Year's resolutions, I resolved to read 50 books and watch 50 movies in 2012 as part of the fiftyfifty.me challenge. I also promised to wear earrings every day. I missed all of those goals. Instead, I ran a marathon, revised more than half of the memoir about my last year with my father, and started writing a book about running. Setting goals isn't a bad thing, just sometimes we wind up achieving different goals from the ones we set. At least that's how it worked for me.

Although I didn't achieve my publicly stated goals, I'm still pleased with my progress. I watched 41 movies including many titles I wouldn't have watched if I hadn't taken the challenge. I watched thrillers and documentaries, romances and comedies, and a few sad movies which made me cry. I kept track of the movies on Pinterest by posting an image and writing a one or two sentence comment about each. You can see them here.

As for the books, I finished 25. I read several memoirs, a few books about dogs, several running books, and four novels. I started many how-to books about running and didn't finish them out of sheer boredom. Again, I'm pleased with the result. Twenty-five is nearly a book every two weeks which is still more than the 17 books the average person reads in a year.

The truth is that I couldn't make myself begin many books because I was afraid. Ever since my last major depressive episode (the politically correct term for a nervous breakdown) which began after my niece died in February 2007, I have been self-preservationally selective about reading. I hate to say I'm sensitive, but it appears to be true. I fear reading anything too sad, too violent or too dark. I go to those emotional places so easily without the aid of art that I am loathe to read, see, hear, or visit any book, show, lecture, or exhibit that might send me tunneling into the depths. Although I am much more resilient now, I'm still afraid. And that fear kept me from reading more in 2012.

I picked up Marley and Me and although I have heard it is good, I'd also heard how it ends and couldn't bring myself to read it. The same is true of The Reader which Ed adored and which has gotten high marks, but I couldn't put myself through it. I thought about reading nothing but romance novels, but I couldn't bear that either. While some romance novels are well-written, a little bit of that goes a long way with me. And so, twenty-five is my total. I tracked my progress on GoodReads if you care to look it up.

As for the earrings, it was lofty to think that I was going to dress up enough or even remember to wear earrings every day. It got old really quickly. I don't think I made it through April. I'm not sure.

I thought about tackling the 50 book goal again in 2013, but decided against it. Rather, I will just read as many books as I can. I would love to hear suggestions of books with happy endings that are well written. Let me know what you adore. I will also watch as many movies as I can and will wear earrings when the spirit moves me! That is much more my style.

Did you make New Year's Resolutions in 2012? If not, why not? If so, how did that work out for you? I'd love to hear your experiences.