Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I am a sucker for long black hair,
darker the better, know it’s not fair,
though like some reds, ebon's my fave,
occasional highlights can make me rave.

Prefer it so soft, not too much curl,
no length too long, windswept fine furl.
Bound in a braid, the stylist well paid
creation so lovely on shoulder laid.

Or behind flowing, like waterfall,
shiny and magic on woman tall,
it can be short, cut to the roots
but rather it touching her leather boots.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Tragically, several members of the Iranian band Yellow Dogs were allegedly murdered by one of their former bandmates last night. The group was one of many groups featured in the Iranian documentary about underground music in their homeland, No One Knows About Persian Cats. This is very sad news.

Update: The killer apparently was from another band, involved in some petty dispute. Two of the killed were from Yellow Dogs, while another musician/friend also perished. Tough to escape the restrictive social atmosphere of Tehran to come to America and suffer such a fate.


Joey marched for the first time with his JROTC unit in the Columbia Veteran's Day Parade. He looked really sharp and I know he was excited to be involved in it with his classmates.


So many Americans see the Middle East/Western conflict in black and white terms and often focus on what makes people different than what there is in common. But the reality is far more complex, especially on the personal level. Indian-born film director Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) follows the career of the ambitious, intelligent, Princeton-educated Pakistani Changez (played very ably by Riz Ahmed) as he storms the halls of Wall Street as an up-and-coming analyst for a hedge fund, whose world spirals out of control following 9-11 and the unraveling of a love affair with a New York photographer that forces him to return to Pakistan. Caught up in the political turmoil of his region and campus, a reporter (played by Liev Schreiber) seeks him out to find important information, but Changez is determined to tell his story. There are so many ways to view this movie, one as an instructive tale of American ignorance and arrogance and the driving away of potentially sympathetic allies. Of simple-minded racism and prejudice in a changing world at home and abroad. One might say that culture never really leaves an individual and that people will always return to their roots. One might see how injustice, mistreatment, and emotional pain can wreck an individual. I know that one scene where Changez's girlfriend (played by Kate Hudson) does something that cuts him to the core affected me deeply: I could imagine myself walking into a situation where my personal life is displayed to others and being mortified, angry, and even retaliatory. Kiefer Sutherland is also good as Riz's Ameican mentor and boss. I think the hedge fund chopping up failing companies and heartlessly puting workers on the street is a stand-in for how some feel about drone strikes or Western incursions and such in the Middle East. A sense of impotance. Still, this is ultimately about the fact that some people, despite homegrown pressures, refuse to simply follow paths chosen for them, though the price can be high. It is a human story, well told.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her (2011) is a remarkable documentary on the diverging and contentious reactions to female advancement in India, as seen through the lenses of the Miss India World beauty pageant and a couple of the contestants, and a strident believer whose work in support of Hindu nationalist extremism at the same time undercuts her desire for control of her life (and the irony as well of Hindu girls being harangued to follow the traditional paths while teaching them to fight). The strain of radical conservatism is not unlike that found in the Taliban or the Tea Party. I was shocked to hear that 750,000 female fetuses are aborted yearly, and unknown numbers of female newborns are killed. You cringe as a thirteen- or fourteen-year-old girl spouts religious hatred. You feel anger at the adults who actively warp their minds against others. You are appalled as a father describes the intentional branding with a hot poker of his daughter as punishment for lying, of his bragging of physical abuse meted out. I wish more women could physically stop their tormentors, that many male-dominated societies would shatter.


I have always wanted to go to New York City, especially to see some Broadway shows, but also to see some of the important historical and historically significant sites. Alas, it hasn't happened yet, but PBS produced a series of documentaries called Treasures of New York that focused on some of the iconic and interesting institutions this great city has to offer Americans and the World. A few I never would have considered visiting, until now---Pratt Institue, Roosevelt House, Park Avenue Armory. Others are too well known to have been ignored, and I have always pined to see the New-York Historical Society and American Museum of Natural History (as well as the Mystic in New England). These documentatires are more than just a dry history of the development and construction of these institutions, although there is that, but a good account of how they were often saved from death and with vision, financing, and skilled historical preservation (as well as implementation of modern spaces and missions) that make them honor the past while instructing the young and also pointing to the future. The Hearst Tower, with its eco-friendly confines and unique construction. The Armory now a huge center for art that features an enoromous space that can accomodate gigantic art presentations. They even built a replica of an English theater to present Shakespeare's lays. . .how cool is that? The New York Botanical Garden, particulalry the glass conservatory, is stunning. Of course there are many other places to visit in NYC, but this selection would not be a bad place to start. As long as someone saves me a seat in the theater.


I still wish he were dancing.


They may be 12 & 15, but when I look at them, this is what I see:

Monday, November 4, 2013


Beth and Bobbie, with Dad in tow, traveled through Columbia last night and today, and the boys and I had breakfast with them this morning. It was really nice to see them, even for a few hours.