Archive for November 2006

Richard Thompson

November 29th, 2006 — 8:36am

My husband Scott and I shlepped last night down to the Peninsula (as in San Jose area) to hear Richard Thompson perform. I might have kvetched about how long the drive was, how tired I was, yet from the opening chord of his first song, I was riveted. It’s remarkable to watch a master at the peak of his craft. Thompson doesn’t play music — he is music, not to mention a one man band. I have never heard a guitarist make at least five instruments out of one.

I got the feeling that even though Thompson is a great showman, he is really playing for himself, for his inner muse. Which might explain why I’ve never heard him play a song the same way twice. He mixes things up so he remains engaged.
The man is funny, soulful, and wildly talented. And, like the greatest of artists, embodies what it means to be fully alive.

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The Fog of War

November 26th, 2006 — 10:14am

I just watched Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War” for the first time — (when it came out, I was too busy watching my toddler twins). In the film, Morris interviews Robert McNamara, who was the Secretary of Defense during the Viet Nam war. Morris started filming prior to 9/11, but I was amazed at some of the parallels between the U.S. engagement in Viet Nam and now in Iraq. The Vietnamese were then as little an understood culture as Iraq is for us today. And the first lesson of war, says McNamara, is that you must understand and empathize with the enemy, because the nature of war is such that escalation can and does occur through error, misunderstanding and miscalculation. The Domino Theory of communism, which was erroneous then, is analogous to the war on terror. One country falls, the theory goes, they all do.
McNamara’s career goes back to the WWII, and so the movie follows him through his role during two of the 20th centuries’ most brutal conflicts. He was Secretary of Defense for President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
What struck me as I watched Kennedy’s cabinet debate what to do is that they at least debated what to do. There was an engagement of ideas. This doesn’t seem to be the case today, where we have a President who is not in the least interested in what others think, except those who agree with his personal vision of the world. I can’t imagine a worse or more dangerous way to run a country.

For an excellent interview with Morris read

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The Thanksgiving Girdle

November 24th, 2006 — 6:02pm

Everyone has Thanksgiving war stories to tell and this one’s mine. An old friend of mine joined my extended family at my house for dinner. I had tried to find something presentable to wear, which is hard these days because so little of my clothes fit me. I managed to settle on a pair of black pants with a black shirt. My entire wardrobe, in fact, is black. Perhaps a sign of mourning for the loss of my fetching body of yore.

“Dayna,” she says, leaning in towards me. “You should try Spanx.”

Spanx, I learned, is the modern version of a girdle.

“We burned our bras in 1968, remember?” I said to her. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I wasn’t wearing a bra in 1968 because I was only 8).

No doubt about it, I would look slimmer in Spanx. But the thought of wearing a girdle is as appealing to me as dying my hair blond. It might look swell on others but I’m having no part of it.

Had she told me that my rear might look better if I started climbing up the steep streets of the Berkeley Hills where I live, I might have listened.

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He Did It

November 17th, 2006 — 3:05pm

Let me see if I have this straight: O.J. Simpson writes a booked called “If I Did It”. He is interviewed by his publisher Judith Regan, who says she thinks the interview mounts to his confession. When the families of Nicole and Ron Goldman express outrage, Regan says she’s doing this because she was the victim of domestic violence, the profits would go to O.J.’s children, and she wants to teach her own children that all actions have consequences.

Huh? Did he say he did it or not?

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Cronenberg’s “The Fly”

November 16th, 2006 — 2:50pm

I turned in to the last 15 minutes of KQED Forum today, and heard the film critic Kenneth Turan from the LA Times talk about his new book “Now in Theaters Everywhere.”

One caller asked him what he thought about David Cronenberg’s “The Fly,” and Turan dismissed it.
This might be the first time I actually wanted to call into Forum (but I was driving and didn’t have the 800 number). What I would have said to him was that The Fly is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking films ever made on what it means to be human, and to love, knowing that you and everything around you will inevitably decay.

It’s been a decade since I last watched the movie, but I remember how deeply affected I was. I was so moved by it, but I wouldn’t have been able then to explain to you why. Until one day, my friend, the movie critic David Edelstein told me that Cronenberg’s father was dying (or had died — my memory isn’t entirely clear on this ) of a degenerative illness, as he filmed Jeff Goldblum turn into an insect. My own father, died of a degenerative illness when I was in my early twenties. And somehow, because of Cronenberg’s talent, I felt this viscerally.

I know Cronenberg has his detractors, but I think he’s remarkable.

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A Grateful Thanksgiving

November 16th, 2006 — 8:34am

Hendrik Hertzberg had this to say about George Bush in the November 20th issue of The New Yorker:

“It has been obvious for some time that, as President of the United States, George W. Bush is in very far over his head. He does not know how to use power wisely. He will now have a Democratic Congress to restrain him, and, perhaps, to protect him—and us—from his unfettered impulses. This may not be the Thanksgiving he was looking forward to, but the rest of us have reason to be grateful.”

I’m very grateful. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Be Kind to Your Sleeping Heart

November 13th, 2006 — 9:01am

“Be kind to your sleeping heart.

Take it out into the vast fields of light

And let it breathe.”

–Hafiz, 14th century Persian poet

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