more movies

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

So when I read lately, it’s been non-fiction, about fiber or Bohemia in the 1350’s. Speaking of the middle ages, Netflix has a lovely short series called Pillars of the Earth.  It’s based on the Ken Burns book, Pillars of the Earth, but most likely much shorter.  No ‘name’ actors that I was aware of, but the acting was good and the story smooth, in spite of covering decades. And yes, I know many cathedrals took well over 100 years to complete, but it made the story better having the same people complete the work.  Power, politics, royalty, duplicity, battles; everything you could want in a drama, and it was short enough that you weren’t overwhelmed, even if you got all 8 episodes at once.


Mea culpa and movies

Posted: November 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

So, I haven’t been reading a lot lately, at least fiction. I have been watching movies, however.  Caveat: this is not the YA edition, more the empty-nest station.

The Way, with Martin Sheen really hit home with me.  It’s not action packed drama, so if that’s your thing, this likely won’t be.  His character moves, certainly, because he’s walking on a pilgrimage, but it’s a journey his son chose, a journey he tried to convince his son not to take – and which tragically killed his son.  It’s not a religious movie, in spite of the fact that he’s following the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago), a pilgrimage route dating back at least 900 years. It’s not really a travel movie, though he leaves his practice in the South to take this trip to Spain to walk the Camino. It’s about finding yourself, and taking time, which so few of us do in this hyper-connected, twitter-ific world.  Is it a supreme compliment that the movie made me want to walk the Camino?

Shirley Valentine.  This is an oldie, but sometimes they’re more fun than blowing things up (which I do actually enjoy sometimes).  We meet Shirley as a young girl at school, and discover when she decided to become a rebel. But as she says, she can’t point to where that changed, and when she became ‘merely’ a wife, ‘merely’ a mother, merely another middle-aged woman bored and unhappy with her life. A windfall gives her the opportunity for a vacation to Greece and she takes it, though not without thought, doubts and a few waffles. Again, not a flashy movie, she isn’t 20 and isn’t trying to be.  She has fun but keeps her head. The cover, like many things in life, seems to promise one thing, but what happens … is even better.  

R.E.D.  Sticking to a theme here, I Loved RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous).  I love that action heroes no longer have to be under 30, I thought Helen Mirren was fantastic, Morgan Freeman wonderful, as always, John Malkovich was .. John Malkovich, and the cameo by Ernest Borgnine great fun. Bruce Willis does his usual big action hero thing which works (and I say this as one who’s not a huge fan).  There’s not a lot of thinking required – or encouraged – for this film.  They blow stuff up. It’s spies, retired, sort of. There’s even a couple romances in there so that (stereotype warning) girls will watch it when their boyfriends drag them to see it. But its older people blowing stuff up, really.  The ‘gang’ gets back together and the lives they’ve been leading will never (thank heavens) will never be the same.  RED2, largely more of the same, less the wonderful Morgan Freeman.

The scene reflects where I am at this point; misty, unclear, moving from fall into winter.  I am no longer ‘young’ as I approach yet another decade marker, but I don’t ‘feel’ as if my chronological age matches my psyche at all.  I am not ready to recede as the indicators might seem to indicate.  I am just starting (again). I just need to get through this fall/winter and it will get better.  I will graduate, get the job and get on with my life.  I can’t live my kids lives for them, and really need to cut the apron strings with #2.  I need a clean break. 

To me, for a new start, for more self-confidence, for a winning battle over depression. Tomorrow…

Aside  —  Posted: November 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Epic fail!

Digitization of orality

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, I like storytelling, I like the concept of oral tales – but it’s not what I have grown up with, and (unfortunately) not what a lot of people are familiar with today. What is a growing phenomenon is the internet and digitization of .. everything.

During the Depression, the WPA was authorized to go out and collect stories which might be lost as their tellers died off, via the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). This, I believe would have been the first digitization, as they recorded the tales on tape. They have been digitized further and are now available online through the Library of Congress website ( as part of the American Memory Collection  American Memory contains far (!) more than the FWP, but it is a wealth of resources that were originally oral.  What becomes of a civilization which is primarily oral, when the tellers die out and the tales are available only online?  Presumably if the storyteller dies without passing on the tales orally then the language or culture to which the tale belongs is in crisis or defunct.  I am a firm believer in retaining all that can be retained, by any means, rather than losing tales, but … How do we make sure that the tales are honored and not co-opted, not taken over by the very people who have contributed to the demise of the language/culture/story?  What tales are given are likely to give an incomplete picture of the culture as many oral cultures have restrictions on what may be told, to whom and by whom.  Every telling is slightly different, and each audience will receive the story in a slightly different manner, especially if there is a gap in cultural knowledge between the storyteller and the audience.  We lose part of the wealth that is the world when we lose the voice of a cultural group. We are all poorer for the loss, if we recognize it or not.

YouTube is a current online tool used by many to record .. everything, including much which should have been censored before it was performed.  It is very much a slice of life experience, detailing in a very proletarian way who the digerati are at this point in time.  The Internet Archive is also an audio repository, but it contains materials which could be scholarly, ancient texts, obsolete software links, and collections of political materials, among other things.  Both are free, though YouTube is clearly ad-supported.  What happens if the knowledge contained in these sites and others like them if they go the way of the dodo, or decide that to survive it is imperative they switch to a fee-based model?  One part of the Internet Archive is a regular webcrawl. Thie webcrawl is the basis of The Wayback Machine, which allows a person who gets a ‘404’ error to copy the url into the Wayback Machine and see what the page looked like.  They are making back-up copies of huge amounts of public data online.  [Please note Public Only – no Deep Web / firewall or password-only sites].  This is a relatively unique position, trying to archive bits and pieces of the Internet.  There are regulatory bodies in every industry which detail how documents (by any definition) must be archive and for how long, but the vast array of data that is the Internet is just going to an electronic black hole.  Cowbird. WordPress.  Flickr.  Scopes. These are the fairy tales for today, and they are more ephemeral than any oral tale ever was since the 80/20 rule is in effect; 80% of the web will only ever be seen by 20% of the people while 20% of the web will be seen by 80%.

Tell a story.  Post it online.  Share it.  But print it out, or (shocking!) write it out longhand.  You can amaze your kids with it someday.  [Wow!  You can write by Hand?!]

Storytelling, by authors

Funding cuts for libraries have become an ugly reality here in the US, but as much as this is an unhappy situation, the US is still better off than large segments of the world population.  The US can be seen as the ‘gold standard’ of library service; we have multiple library schools, public libraries are prevalent, most schools have libraries and academic libraries are still vast fonts of and for information.  What happens when literacy is present, as in the US, but there is a conflict between the spoken language and the language of education?  Are smaller languages able to support significant publishing to create a body of work in the target language?  Academic libraries seem to be present and functioning in many if not most countries although language can be an issue with a global trend towards English language works.  Academic libraries can expect, realistically or not, that as students have risen through the ranks of education that they will have acquired sufficient English to follow reference and textbooks in English.  The same cannot be said of young children, who are beginning to read, especially if they are the first generation to be text literate.  How do public libraries in countries with more than one language handle this?

La Luna

Posted: July 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

(‘borrowed’ from , composite picture)

Ah La Luna La Luna
The night that we fell under the spell of the moon
Ah La Luna La Luna
The light that will being me back to you
The light of La Luna

La Luna, Belinda Carlisle


Moonstruck, lunatic, loony and even menstrual all stem from moon.  ‘Blame it on the moon’ is a time-honored tradition.  But still … we fashion mysteries around the moon, sing songs in the moonlight, dream of moonlight.  We live by day, in the golden light of the sun, but dream in the silvery light of the moon, a light which is not … quite … true.  Unlike the sun, however, the moon does no harm to us – aside, of course, from the occasional ‘lunacy’ around the full moon, when our mostly water bodies may react to the pull of the moon.

In the past we have gazed at the moon, cursed the moon and set up mysteries surrounding it. Recently (historically) we have landed on the moon, we have brought back samples and studied them.  We have mapped the far side of the moon and determined that there is residual water on the moon. We can quantify and categorize it, but we can’t take the mystery out.

Maybe that is what it is all about; we all need some mystery.  The moon ‘magically’ waxes and wanes, it changes position depending on the season, suffers from eclipses and occasionally even causes eclipses.  It is ever-present, if not ever-visible, confounding that part of us which is still struggling with the metaphorical if not metaphysical concept of object permanence.