Thinking in Tens

The Top Ten Dumb Things Internet lists have made me do (one is a lie):

10. “Like” things that merely interest me
9. Assess the duplicity of others
8. Avoid work, especially writing
7. Scroll while driving
6. Scroll while biking
5. Groan aloud in public
4. Puzzle over others’ music interests
3. Read lists
2. Make lists

And… The number one dumb thing Internet lists have made me do is:

Think in tens

Love and Protest

Amy’s Story by Anna Lawton sets a tempestuous romance against the turbulent half-century of global change that erupted in the 1960s and flowed across the land like a modern Great Flood. The novel plants the seeds of these decades in the post-World War One migration from Europe to the United States and reveals the newest fruits—poison to some, nectar to others—in the closing pages. The private romance and the public turmoil work together to create a story as much about love as it is about progress, about aspiration and success as about longing and loss.

A third conflict, the subtle struggle between the adventurous Amy and childhood friend Stella (with whom she shares a surprising connection) can be summed up in a line: ‘She tried to pull me back and make me think before jumping into action, although my instinct often prevailed.’

At every level the book addresses the question, ‘Where are you from?’ And the structure suggests there is no true answer without first understanding the history that brings you there.

The protagonist arrives in L.A. from Turin as the lover of a charming, if arrogant, Fulbright scholar. Jim is writing an industry-shattering book about Italian film’s influence on Hollywood, an anti-establishment work that will keep him struggling for years to win his place at the table. The pair struggle together; they’re a team; and their struggle occurs at a time when baby boomers around the world are struggling to upend the status quo.

We know the reasons: the war in Vietnam; political assassinations; craven and unstable American leadership; beats and hippies and drugs and music; the push for racial and gender equality. A trip to Mexico during these years reveals the nightmare women endured in the years before Roe v. Wade, a stunning description of the harrowing limits being pushed in the struggle to maintain control over a woman’s own body.

But as her mentor makes plain, not all protestors understand exactly what or why they protest. ‘These kids fill up their mouths with words such as Marxism, Communism, class struggle, revolution, but they don’t even know their true meaning. They lack historical knowledge, never went to the roots.’

The roots he refers to are the ideas from Europe that stitched themselves into the fabric of the American Constitution. And his lesson carries an eerie foretaste of the conformity and demagoguery that duped 46.1% of voting Americans last fall: ‘The ‘mass’… this is one of the favorite words in Marxist parlance because the mass can be easily manipulated. All you need is a charismatic leader, a simplistic doctrine, smart images on posters and banners, and…. A new dogma is born, an absolute truth, and all genuflect to it.’

Continue reading Love and Protest

Oh My God, Look at Her Butt

Will Sing win a Golden Globe or other award this season? I hope so.

The soundtrack brought out memories of David Bowie (Under Pressure), Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah), and George Michael. That, and its an inspiring story about overcoming obstacles to realize artistic passions.

So even if on the surface the only thing your kids get out of it is Nicki Minaj as a cartoon rabbit singing Oh my god, look at her butt, its entirely possible they also leave the theatre with some greater appreciation for life’s possibilities.

Keep at it, writers. Follow your goals. Write for yourself if for nobody else. Bring the house down and build it back up again.

Write on.