Monday, July 27, 2009


I have really been enjoying this new song from Maxwell, Pretty Wings. I particularly like the use of the chimes. I attach here a link to the Youtube video. I will keep my music notifications to a minimum, but I really like this one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A couple of days after I assured my son that his lonely sunflower, which had reached about three feet and was starting to flower, was safe and sound in his Dad's hands, it suddenly took a startling turn, grew limp, and perished, as if a miniature heatwave had gripped it by the stalk and melted it. In just two days it withered. I knew I had been keeping it watered. Only thing I can think is that perhaps I didn't dilute the Miracle Gro enough. Now, I have to figure out a way to get a replacement. He is going to be so upset if there is no flower here when he gets back. I am mortified! Bad Daddy! Bad Daddy!

Monday, July 13, 2009


I have always been somewhat interested in the Mormon Church, particularly after being introduced by a former professor (shout out to Nancy Hewitt) to the religious upheavals that swept through the "burned over district," which helped spawn much enthusiasm and not a few splinter churches. It was further fueled by a history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I never bought the Moroni & the golden tablet story, and to some extent think that Joseph Smith was little more than a successful con man (not unlike so many other charismatic preachers with devoted followings) who liked the ladies. But I respect the notion that churches are about people finding community, even if others do not agree with the details of faith or their foundings; the few Mormons I have known always impressed me with their faith and actions (although they tended to be a bit too conservative for me, and in some cases distant). Although these friends frowned upon many behaviors, I never once felt pushed to join their faith, possibly beyond a polite inquiry, and never felt pressured to not have that drink, or whatever. And as a (not-very-good) Catholic, I understand religious rigidity in accepting change and abhor my own leaders’s refusals to accept gays, or to provide better opportunities for women in the church (I believe women should be priests---I was influenced greatly in this belief by Sister Adrienne). And, though possibly not for religious reasons, I have never accepted polygamy as anything other than men finding an excuse to cheat, but being able to do it "legally." (I do understand that some women defend the practice as reducing the demands upon any one individual, but I just don't buy it.)
So reading A Gathering of Saints, by Robert Lindsey, opened a giant window into many of the beliefs and fears (paranoia) of members of the Latter-Day Saints, both those who wish to protect the church (from outside criticism as well as internal dissent) and honest searchers for truth and faith. This interesting foray into a secretive world, as well as the dealings of sketchy (and greedy) historical-document dealers---sparked by the bombing murder of two Salt Lake City residents, as well as another bombing that opened the doors to a determined police investigation---was worthy of a thrilling mystery novel. The killer, Mark Hoffman, was outwardly a devout Mormon channeling possibly damaging documents (at a nice profit) to church leaders eager to cover up potentially embarrassing information, who turns out to be a master forger and cold-blooded murderer who apparently had little faith at all, other than getting rich. So many people were duped, largely by the skillful maneuvering of Hoffman, or the failure to do proper legwork, or simple gullibility. I found some of the information on forgery quite good. The story lagged a bit, but it was compelling enough that I wanted to know "why" Hoffman killed and just how extensive his forgeries went, and indeed he fooled a lot more people than just the Mormons, all the way up to the specialists at the Library of Congress. I was especially interested in attempts by the Mormon hierarchy to silence academic inquiry (particulalry by critics), which I hate no matter who is putting up the roadblocks, be it church or government. There will be some who see "Mormon bashing," but I think Lindsey tried to take the middle road, letting others critique and he report. The second half of the book is a great detective story of a group of determined investigators (of mixed backgrounds and beliefs) who doggedly tracked down the truth, all over the country, and forced Hoffman to come clean about his crimes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Here is another picture of Joey, standing under the poster for OZ, waiting for his turn of instruction from Pavlovich.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Just caught the recent Johnny Depp vehicle, Public Enemies. It was an enjoyable movie, though often historically inaccurate and way too bloody than what really occurred, but it did I think capture some of the feeling of criminality and the role of Hoover's FBI during the Great Depression (though things seemed a bit too clean to me). They did a great job with wardrobe and settings. I don't like the glorification of criminals (although certainly there were those who admired bank robbers during this era). Depp did a good job in the role of John Dillinger, and his supporting cast was good. I wasn't swept away by Christian Bale or Billy Crudup. Marion Cottilard was cute, as Billie. The shooting sequences were pretty impressive.

I caught the dvd of Frost Nixon, and was very impressed with Frank Langella. There is no way I thought that Nixon was anyone but Nixon, a feat considering how well-known Langella's face is. Also watched on dvd Doubt, which was excellent too. The acting of Hoffman and Streep is wonderful. Definitely not an action movie, but it leaves you thinking and in awe of the characters.

A big thumbs-up for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I thought Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were absolutely wonderful, as was Julia Ormond and the rest of the cast. Whoever was responsible for the makeup deserves a lifetime achievement award. The story was melancholy though.

I enjoyed Tommy Lee Jones in the film In the Electric Mist, based on a novel by James Lee Burke. It didn't reach the level of anticipation and excitement I would have liked, but I thought it portrayed Robicheaux fairly well.