Monthly Archives August 2022

Melanie, the BuddhaChristLamaDoormat of “Gone With the Wind”

“Gone With the Wind” is an alternately enchanting, preposterous, compulsively readable/watchable turbo-charged romance of seduction, goodness and cynicism. Along the way, it is also top-heavy on the myth of a doomed Southern nobility fighting to preserve its way of life against the “invading hordes” of abolitionist heathens.

Watching the movie version the other night for probably the fifth or sixth time thanks to the cultural treasure of “Turner Classic Movies,  I was struck more than once with cynical guffaws and groans as scenes of wildly extravagant balls and untold riches played out under a patina of honor and chivalry that was in truth built upon the backs of slaves.

That said, I was also struck as never before by the character of Melanie Wilkes, the noble Ashley’s golden-hearted, ever-faithful wife.

Melanie contends with main character Scarlett O’Hara’s long-running obsession with stealing Ashley a...

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Brilliant Songs #31: John Hartford’s “Miss Ferris”

Sometimes it happens this way: You’re 9 years old in the fourth grade and your stern-but-fair teacher Miss Ruth Ferris has had the remains of an old paddle steamboat hauled onto your school grounds a little ways off the Mississippi River in St. Louis. She does so partly for fun, and partly for the sake of instruction and storytelling on the ways and boats and people of the river, which she reveres.

You stare at the boat in awe, climb up into its pilot house, run your fingers over its paddlewheels—and you feel something taking root in you. You don’t know it yet, but you will never forget these moments.

Then, barely a teen, your jaw drops the first time you hear Earl Scruggs play the banjo, so now music joins the river in a grand and passionate fusion...

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Two Kenneth Koch Poems About Time

When you’re young and of a certain un-Eeyore sensibility, each day dawns pregnant with possibility, and once you’ve stretched out and shaken off whatever thickness might linger from the previous night’s indulgences, you can easily enough conjure the “Work hard, Play hard” mantra displayed on t-shirts and billboards, assuring you that all of life is there for the taking if you’re just bold and desirous enough to grab its lapels.

Then you get older, and while you may still feel some or most of that pulse-quickening sense of open-endedness regarding the course of your dawning day, what is even more quickening is the pace of the sun as it arcs across the sky without you having all that much to show for it.

…Koch assumes an intimate stance akin to a favorite wise uncle who has our very best interests at heart regarding something important that he knows so well at this point in his life that he can impart it wit...

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Why We the People of the United States Must Prosecute Donald Trump

There’s an old half curse/half blessing of unknown origin that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” I was reminded of it the other day while doing some mental wool gathering of my own “times” spanning the second half of the 20th century through nearly a quarter of the 21st. And I was of course thinking, well, they certainly have not been short of interest.

Then I started mentally ticking off some of the notable, dramatic events most readily presenting themselves for consideration. (I should note that this list— stricktly my own, yours might be different—is limited to the crises that most stood out and challenged the very foundation and identity of our nation; many momentous events occurred of a far more positive hue, but that’s another blog post…)

First: the stamping upon the world’s consciousness of the true reach of the atomic age as schoolchildren (I was one of them) dove under desks in regula...

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