The Color Purple

Our whole family saw the musical The Color Purple at the Red House in December. In short, it was the best play I have seen in Syracuse – better even than any play I’ve seen at Syracuse Stage. Joan Anderson, the woman who played Celie (the Whoopee Goldberg part from the movie) drew you into the story like no actor I’ve seen before. She was able to show fear, sorrow, dejection, rejection, guilt, and joy with her whole body and switch between emotions subtly and convincingly. Seeing her in a small setting like the Red House was incredible. The supporting cast, especially the women and the actor who played Mister were also terrific. (more…)

Who-I-Was, Who-I-Am, and Who-I’ll-Be

Who-I-Was, Who-I-Am, and Who-I’ll-Be

I hope that Who-I-Was will not be remembered for the mistakes he made
That Who-I’ll-Be will learn from and not make those same mistakes
That Who-I-Am will not give Who-I’ll-Be cause to feel guilty or ashamed
But mostly, I wish that Who-I-Am could take it a little easier on Who-I-Was
And try to remember that Who-I-Was
Did not have the experience that Who-I-Am does

Down with Big Brother

Imagine a great painting of your grandfather. Because you knew him well, you appreciate how the painting brings out his character. But it might do more than that. It might bring to life a characteristic that you had not previously recognized in your grandfather, but now that you see it in the painting, you realize that he indeed did have that characteristic.  The painting makes you appreciate and understand your grandfather more than you had before.  Of course, a person who didn’t know your grandfather wouldn’t be able to appreciate the painting in the way that you do.

Jared and I watched Nineteen Eighty-Four with John Hurt and Richard Burton a couple of nights ago. (more…)

The Grapes of Wrath

Adam, one of my best friends in college gave me The Grapes of Wrath right before we went home for winter break our junior year.  In addition to the inscription (“May your mind always be on fire.”) below, he included a note that said something to the effect of “I’ve really enjoyed all of our debates this semester and am looking forward to more when we get back.” It killed me to read it, because I had looked upon all those “debates” as arguments – arguments which, although I never confessed it, I never won. But I learned from him that a discussion didn’t have to be a competition.  And that, if you open your mind to the possibility that you’re wrong, you’re likely to learn more. (more…)

The Lord of the Rings

I had started reading The Lord of the Rings at least twice before, but this summer I was determined to get through it.  I felt that I SHOULD love these books and that once into the story, I wouldn’t be able to put it down.

As my middle son might say: Fail!  I couldn’t do it.  I found the writing verbose and contrived and, while some of the characters were likable enough, I didn’t fall in love with anybody.  When the big G kicks it, I didn’t feel any of the pain that the other characters said (but I didn’t believe) they felt. In other legendary pseudo-deaths (e.g, Dumbledore, Aslan, Obi-Wan Kenobi), even after you know the character returns to the story, you still feel the pain of the other characters. Not so with Gandalf; at least, not for me. “We must do without hope,” says Aragorn, which is the way I was beginning to feel myself. (more…)

Lord of the Flies

I remember being blown away by Lord of the Flies as a teenager.  The characters were so real to me.  On starting the book, I looked forward to meeting them again.  But I was disappointed. All the atrocities that happen on the island are so memorable that they fail to have any impact. And I found I didn’t fall in love with the characters the way I expected to. The Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Sam-n-Eric from my memory were far more appealing characters than the ones I found in the book. And I didn’t find Jack and Robert, who become awe-inspiringly evil, so awe-inspiring this time around. (more…)

The Catcher in the Rye

When I began reading The Catcher in the Rye this summer, I was ready for pure entertainment.  I remembered how Holden’s wit and cynicism had made me laugh.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The beginning of the book is filled with humor.  Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, but most of it is just smile-as-you-read witty.  What I wasn’t prepared for is how incredibly depressing the book gets.  Once Holden gets to New York City, there’s very little that’s funny and his cynicism has worn on you.  All that’s left is this very smart, very depressed teenager, who doesn’t want his kid sister Phoebe (or any other kid) to grow up.  There are some endearing moments, mostly with Phoebe, but it is altogether a far more depressing book than I had remembered. (more…)