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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

George Clooney

Some weeks ago I posted a review of the movie Up In The Air. The review was somewhat less than highly favorable. Apparently his appearance in a film automatically makes it Academy Award material. I don't get it?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Korean War Memorial

After I had (in the previous post) misidentified the Washington monument as a high rise hotel, we saw the new Holocaust Museum, and then headed down the mall to pay our respects at the Vietnam Memorial and to President Lincoln. On the way back up the from the Lincoln Memorial we noticed a large crowd was gathered around some statues. They represented some soldiers walking carefully across a rice paddy.

It was the memorial to the veterans of one of America’s forgotten wars. Korea. Unfortunately, I must admit I was unfamiliar with the memorials very existence. Of course, I had read many books about the war itself. I had also talked with my retired Marine Corps brother-in- law about his experiences there as an 18 year old. He had gone straight into the thick of the battle from high school in Mississippi.

As we approached the crowd it was apparent some sort of ceremony was taking place. TV and movie cameras were everywhere. Reporters gathered around a distinguished looking elderly gentleman. I asked a member of the crowd who the gentlemen was.
"You mean the man wearing the Congressional Medal of Honor," he replied. This is America's highest decoration for valor in defense of our country.

"His name is General Ray Davis." Raymond Gilbert "Ray" Davis (January 13, 1915 – September 3, 2003) was a highly decorated Marine Corps officer, serving in World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His single most notable endeavor was the salvation of hundreds of trapped Marines during the 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir while commanding the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
History. It's all around us. You just have to keep you eyes open.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Year Of The Flood

I needed a fix. Having exhausted my cache and spring gardening seeming very far away, I visited my local small town supplier. She said "we’re short as well." "Limited funds," she added. Where have I heard that tune before? I was standing in front of the new books section of the public library.

History and biography are my favorite books. On that day, I’d already read most of those choices on the shelf. A change of pace came to mind, so I began perusing the book jackets in the new novels section.

A "dystopian novel" one of the jackets said. This genre is not exactly the science fiction of monster robots and alien invaders. It’s more like bad dreams, projecting the ugliness of the present, into the nightmare of the future. Plausible speculation, as it were. 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange and similar classics came to mind. I took the book home.
Settled in my easy chair, I noted the title for the first time: The Year Of The Flood. The author was Margaret Atwood. That name finally rang a bell. She wrote the The Handmaid’s Tale.

That book was a classic. One of my all-time favorites. Sometimes, in blindly picking out a novel, you just have to get lucky. I was.
The social and environmental fabric of life on earth is falling apart. It’s a very different world yet entirely recognizable. The seeds of that future world are with us now. God’s Gardeners, who combine religion and science, and try to preserve all life, are predicting a human made disaster that will alter earth forever.

In rich and earthy prose and poetry, Atwood take us to a place that is dark and violent. Yet kind and thoughtful people are trying to hold back the march to human extinction. Can God’s Gardeners save humanity from the final precipice? A really good novel of this type melds a realistic present into an intolerable future. Atwood does that. There are no strawmen here. The very best ones also draw you in by reminding you that the present has some redeeming qualities. The author falls a little short there. Still if your brave and open minded enough to read about this not too distant world, I’d highly recommend it.

In the meantime, I think I’ll start going thru my seed catalogues to get ready for my gardening.