Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Coming Up for Air

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Okay, a couple of notes, on things I noticed and couldn’t pay attention to as I was writing.

First–has Rush Limbaugh lost his mind?  I mean, okay, he hasn’t seemed really well wrapped for a while now…but don’t contribute to the White House Haiti relief fund because they’re just going to collect your e-mail information and…and do what with it?  I never did figure that story out.  At all.

Second–at what point do we get past the assumption that people who does things have a way they should look?  I’m putting this badly.  But look at it this way, there’s nothing about writing poetry that says you have to look good to do it.  In fact, many poets over the years have been ugly as sin, or just not very charismatic in person.  But during the Romantic period, when poets were their eras version of rock stars, all the biggest poets looked like…rock stars.   When did that change?  And when will it change for rock stars? 

Third–when did the whole world start to be about school?  Or is that just me, where I’ve got kids in school and I’m teaching?  But sometimes it seems that if it isn’t school itself, then it’s a school mentality–all that constant talk about ‘assessments,’ for instance–everywhere, in everything. 

Fourth–I was right in the middle of frothing at the mouth over the biased essays contained in a new textbook we’re using when I started looking through Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail.  This may sound unrelated, except that the last essay I read in the textbook was all about how class is destiny in America and there’s no real social mobility here (and boy, did that require a lot of tendentious reasoning), and To Big To Fail is full of portraits of the main players in American finance, almost all of whom seem to have grown up working or lower middle class. 

Fifth–I actually thought the nude model thing in the Scott Brown/Martha Coakley race was sort of interesting.  If it had been a Democrat running with that in his background, Sean Hannity would have gone into paroxysms of outrage.  And to be fair, Glenn Beck did go into paroxysms of outrage.  But still.  We’ve reached an interesting stage–and not necessarily a bad one–when somebody can have that in his background and still get elected.

Sixth–I finally realized that I no longer have a list of books I would take to me to be stranded on a deserted island.  Or rather, I’d either get to take ALL the books, plus regular infusions from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, or I’d go crazy.  I don’t seem to have books that I just love to pieces and that could satisfy me even if Ihad nothing else, at least not any more. 

Seventh–there is simply not enough news actually happening in the world to justify even one twenty-four seven cable news network.  News on the cable networks is beginning to resemble network sports reporting.  People sit around and blither endlessly about nothing having happened in the latest “important” story.   They repeat the obvious.  Over and over and over again.  They “speculate” in sepulchral tones over.  whatever.  Poodle hairstyles.  The look President Obama had on his face when he was playing golf.  What It All Really Means.  If they actually knew the answer to that one, it might be interesting.

Eighth–okay, the upset in Massachusetts was interesting, but it was just one race.  And, on top of that, the national news outlets all completely ignroed any possible local considerations in the election.  I’m not the only one who is repulsed by Coakley for her position and her actions on the Amirault case.  Howver that may be, however, I will absolutely guarantee you, the ascension of Scott Brown to the United States Senate has not ended the world as we know it.

Ninth–why is it that my only choice of movies lately is either some superhero action picture of Everybody Sitting Around Feeling Depressed and Morally Compromised?  Didn’t there used to be…you know… movies?  Okay, if you want one, there’s a thing called Shortcut to Happiness, with Alec Baldwin and Dan Ackroyd, that’s really very good.  But it’s from years ago and didn’t do all that well in theaters.

Tenth–the choice of genre is the choice of audience.   When you decide to write a mystery instead of a mainstream novel, or a western instead of a romance, you’re making a decision about who you’re talking to as much as about what you’re talking about.  And a lot of people who would not read a book about, say, the problems in a dying rustbelt post-industrial city will read one if it has a murder in it.  If you see what I mean.

I’ll get  more coherent as the days go on.  I promise.

Written by janeh

January 25th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Coming Up for Air'

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  1. “when did the whole world start to be about school?”

    I can’t speak for the US but I just looked up the New South Wales (my state) budget. The top 3 items are
    Health 28%, Education 27%, Roads and Public Transport, 21%. Those seem to be the ones getting most of the space in the newspapers.

    One quarter of the state budget for education and we have high unemployment among high school and university graduates and employers complaining about lack of basic skills.

    To be crass, we do not seem to be getting our money’s worth from the schools.


    25 Jan 10 at 3:35 pm

  2. 1. No opinion – I have managed to avoid hearing very much about Limbaugh.
    2. I never thought rock stars were particularly good-looking. Charismatic and sexy when they were singing, yes. I don’t think I could name a single current rock star anyway, and I’m not much better on the old ones. But people like patterns, naturally they try to group people by characteristics. It saves on thinking, and a lot of the time it works.
    3. People have noticed that using personal intuition to decide how well something works isn’t always a good idea, so they’re trying to be all scientific and/or businesslike about everything. Hence the need for assessments. My workplace demands an insane number of them.
    4. Class is always a fascinating topic, especially in countries that aren’t supposed to have any according to the founding mythology.
    5. Didn’t even hear about it.
    6. I’ve never liked the idea of being stranded somewhere with only one book.
    7. This has been blatantly obvious all along to anyone who watches cable news. I don’t have cable, but I see it sometimes.
    8. Probably partly a result of 7. If you have all that time to fill up, you might start making news.
    9. What other kind are there? I generally go for the superhero type, myself, as long as there isn’t any animation. I don’t like animated movies much.


    25 Jan 10 at 3:54 pm

  3. 1. I owe Rush an apology. The White House has–or is–its own charity? Like we don’t have enough real charitable organizations. I’d assume you’d be spammed forever, and there are people in the WH I wouldn’t trust with my credit card info. (That’s true of most White Houses, by the way.)
    2. We’re not getting past the appearance business, and we’re not going to. Welcome to the world of TV and video–and cosmetic surgery.
    3. It all got to be about school when it all got to be about academic credentials. Make it all about training and education, and there will be quite a shift in emphasis.
    6) Ah, if only! Time was I’d go through FORTHCOMING BOOKS and check on a dozen or more authors. Now I hit about three web sites. The sad thing is, some of those once-looked for authors are still alive and writing. Or publishing, anyway.
    7. There’s plenty of news. Watch what’s going on in Sri Lanka or Nepal, for instance. But it would require explanations, and often doesn’t come with good video.
    8. We knew before the vote was taken in Massachusetts that the winner would say “national trend” and the loser would blame the candidate and local conditions. In fairness to the conservatives, the Obamites seem to have had quite a run of local conditions and bad candidates lately.
    9. Good movies require people called “writers.” They were all laid off to provide more money for special effects and superstar salaries. From my last trip through Borders, I don’t know where Hollywood would look to get more. Fortunately, there is a wonderful invention called the DVD.
    10. Yes, but it only works if the main story is any good. If I solve the mystery 150 pages out, urban blight will not keep me reading. Characters (remember them?) and dialogue might.


    25 Jan 10 at 4:29 pm

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