Thursday, June 28, 2007

Emerging techonology

I am in New York for a couple days and, silly me, I left my cell phone charger in Boston. I am therefore using my phone less frequently than I normally might and turning it off at night. Just now, I emailed a friend and responded via email to something she asked me in a text message a couple days ago. I told her that because I am without my charger down here I am going without texting for a few days, except in case of emergency.

Then I laughed to myself and noted how silly that sounds--an "emergency" text message. And yet, I thought, isn't that how technology evolves? What starts out as a luxury -- car, telephone, television, airplane -- can become something absolutely essential (so we say anyway) in case of emergency -- ambulance, 911, we interrupt this broadcast, scrambling the fighter jets.

Luxuries emerge into essentials. The words "emerge" and "emergency" come from the Latin "emergere," which means to rise up out of. An emergency was an unforeseen occurrence that rose up. And someday there will surely be an occurrence that I do not now foresee in which I absolutely positively must send a text message.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Revision, Apocalypse, and Other Updates

While I will never really settle on a perfect top 10 list, some oversights are graver than others. For example, today I've decided that Apocalypse Now definitely gets a place on my films list, and to leave it off would be unacceptable. Maybe my list could be like this:

Linda's Top 10 Movies
1. Casablanca
2. The Hours
3. After Life
4. Dead Poets Society
5. Apocalypse Now
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Born Into Brothels
8. Life is Beautiful
9. Dolores Claiborne
10. The Wizard of Oz

It's so hard to say. Also, having revised this list as I have, I let Clue drop off. It occurs to me that was my only comedy on there, really. It also occurs to me that Dead Poets Society and Life is Beautiful are similar in a sense, that they feature a brilliant performance by someone capable of eliciting great laughs but are in no way a "comedy." I happen to love Robin Williams, and I think his genius as a dramatic actor is occasionally forgotten. As for Life is Beautiful, there is absolutely nothing like that film. Something written about that film has stayed with me to this day, the beginning of the synopsis in the film listings in The New Yorker. I read it every week during the months that film played in theaters: "Life is Beautiful: Would that it were..."

Around the time that I couldn't stand to think about law school for one more second, I decided that maybe I would try to see a movie a day in June (much like a sequel to my "21 Days, 21 Movies" winter break quest). Well, I haven't done exactly that, but I might be on track to watching 30 movies in my first month back here in Boston, although a few are repeats of things I've seen before. Here are the movies I've been watching since Memorial Day:

In theaters: Once, Away From Her, 28 Weeks Later, The Treatment, Pirates of the Caribbean (x 2), Gracie, Cuba: A Lifetime of Passion(film festival screening).

By other means: Death of a President, 28 Days Later, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Shaun of the Dead, Raiders of the Lost Ark( x 3), Wings, The Broadway Melody, Taxi Driver, Fat Girl(A ma soeur), Diggers, Nowhere in Africa, In Old Arizona, Apocalypse Now, Sicko

I think that's all. Wow, I'd probably already be at 30 if I hadn't repeated viewings and hadn't also been watching M*A*S*H episodes on DVD. (For those too lazy to count above, I've reached 21. Just like the Olsen twins.)

Oh, wait. I forgot about The Wind That Shakes the Barley. It's really 22. (Guess I've surpassed the Olsen twins.) (Lord let that be true on many levels.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Revision and History

First and foremost, I must say I can't believe I left Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry off of my Top 10 Books list. It absolutely gets a place. You see, I told you my lists were subject to much revision.

Second, I am pondering old movies. Today I watched a classic, In Old Arizona, which I of course procured from my good friend Netflix. This film is from 1928, and it received several Oscar nominations that year (although it lost Best Pic to The Broadway Melody). Well, I love it. It is so sassy! All the innuendo, no-small-parts characters, and self-satisfied cheesy jokes are a ton of fun. Also, it is possibly the first talkie western, and the first with so much sound recorded outside, according to somewhat reliable sources.

So after watching it I find myself thinking about humanity. How similar we all are underneath it it all, across the miles, across the centuries. Allow me to explain.

The other day I listened to a conversation between two people I know as they discussed old movies. It started out about westerns but veered into reflection on classics in general. I wasn't really participating in this conversation as I was just kind of doing my own thing. But I listened. The person with whom I agreed was talking about how westerns are genius, and old movies have so much to offer, etc. The person with whom I disagreed was apparently put off by a lot of stylistic things like the overwrought manner in which people talk and a kind of similarity from film to film in expression. The person with whom I agreed continued to press the point that the person with whom I disagreed would find quite a bit to like in old movies, such as the no-bones-about it manner in which they get things done (that last bit may have been chiefly about the westerns).

As I watched In Old Arizona today I was struck not by how archaic and different everything seemes but by how similar so many things are to "our" day. For example, I loved that besides the bandits and the sheriffs and whatnot there was the random Mexican barber who was devastated when the bandit villain robs the stagecoach in which he had sent $87 he had saved up to his sister back home. It made me think about the ridiculous things people today say about immigrants, "guest workers," and nonsense like "now they're all taking 'our' jobs."

Also I thought about how saucy the characters in this flick are. Beautiful Tonia Maria gets her flirt on with the two male stars (I won't spoil the ending for you) and they don't hold back. Garters are snapped, lascivious thoughts are implied, and there is a particularly satisfying suggestive fade-out after the camera cuts to sizzling bacon and eggs and a phonograph.

What I've learned is that the films from the 1920s are actually a lot less "innocent" than the next couple of decades, because the Hays Code had not yet come about. That was the production code of 1930 in which the studios agreed to a bit of self-censorship in order that the government might not engage in a lot of censorship. That is fodder for a whole other blog post, or two, or ten. But it's yet another reason it's interesting to watch 1920s films.

Besides the saucy flirting, I also enjoyed the fact that a few characters spoke Spanish and they didn't even bother to subtitle it, and I REALLY enjoyed the girl from Boston drowning her sorrows in an Arizona saloon with no plans to return to her East Coast home. Yee haw!

Honestly, I think right now we are the luckiest people that ever lived. Film, I daresay, may be the most incredible art form. There is so much that is right there before your eyes. And we have an entire century of film to watch, now. In 1928, one might eagerly await a new movie because one didn't have a hundred years of movies to order up on Netflix. We, right in this moment, have a wealth of movies from which to choose. And great new films are being made every day. If you really stop to think about it, it's beyond mind-boggling.

Today I am watching people act fully eighty years ago--incredibly well-preserved--and drawing the not-so-remarkable conclusion that they would be a damn lot of fun to hang out with.

I often think about this when reading classic books, too. The old adage "there's nothing new under the sun"--well, we all need reminding of that sometimes. We didn't just invent sex, or immigration, or betrayal, or highway robbery, despite any and all notions of the good ol' days. But today I find myself particularly pleased by humanity's common ground.

I talk even more about how much we are like early 20th century people in today's literary supplement.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It was cinematic...

Hi. Look at me, two posts in one day, although not really because I actually kind of wrote that other one yesterday but just finished it and posted it today...anyway, none of this is the point.

The point is: movies! Specifically, the AFI Top 100 Movies version 2.0. If you like I were inspired to watch tonight, while checking in with the Braves-Red Sox to find that nothing had changed there, you would find that things HAD changed since the original 100 Years 100 Movies list came out in 1998.

I remember the hubbub when that list was released. I think I immediately set out for Blockbuster (these, of course, were the pre-Netflix days) to rent some of the films I had not seen. Well, after printing out the list and highlighting of course. I think I had seen only 18 or 28 or something. It was a pretty low number. I think my mom had seen 87. So, I was off with a new project, side by side with working my way through the Modern Library's Top 100 books in English from the 20th Century. Wow, those were good times for top 100 lists. I miss the late 90s. I miss the Clinton administration.

I'm pretty sure I started with Citizen Kane which was number one, and which held on to its number one spot in tonight's revised and revisited top 100 movies of all time. Many things did not in fact hold onto their former spots. Casablanca, formerly #2, and The Godfather, formerly #3, switched places. I personally find Casablanca to be the most triumphant film of all time, and wish it had gone the other direction. As it happens, much of the Top 10 remained Top 10, but with some scooting around. Like, Singin' in the Rain moved from 10 or 11 to 5. What?! I mean, come on, it's great but top five? Hello?

So, as I sit here waiting for the revised list to be posted at 11 p.m. Pacific time when the AFI prime time special ends out west, short of rearranging my Netflix queue I can think of no more fitting response than to post my Top 10 films of all time. Only I'm not really sitting here totally thinking it out, as I've actually been doing other stuff. And I'm going to post my Top 10 books and albums, too. So these will be my desert island lists. Off the top of my head. Subject to much revision.

Linda's Top 10 Movies
1. Casablanca
2. The Hours
3. Dead Poets Society
4. After Life
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
6. Born Into Brothels
7. Dolores Claiborne
8. The Wizard of Oz
9. Clue
10. Lost in Translation
(a prize to anyone who can guess my #11 that just missed's a classic)

Linda's Top 10 Books
1. Candide by Voltaire
2. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
4. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
7. Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
8. Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
9. Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg
10. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Linda's Top 10 Albums
1. Never Loved Elvis - The Wonder Stuff
2. Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens
3. Rites of Passage - Indigo Girls
4. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got - Sinead O'Connor
5. Earth Sun Moon - Love and Rockets
6. Life's Rich Pagaent - R.E.M.
7. Sounds of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
8. Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan
9. Time*Sex*Love - Mary Chapin Carpenter
10. In My Tribe - 10,000 Maniacs

I love lists. And movies. And books. And music. And I just loved watching that AFI special tonight; I positively reveled in it.

"Empty lots, secrets well kept
Nothing standing but the frame of a set
Some things built to withstand regret
It was cinematic how we loved
Long shot
Jump cut
Close up..."
--erin mckeown, 'cinematic'

Where am I at!

OK, my adoring fans are starting to e-harass me for being in absentia. I'm sorry, adoring fans! I have been distracted and busy and sometimes I just didn't have a wireless connection. However, there have also been some nice little moments along the way. For example, on the Greyhound bus a man said the following to me, after seeing me typing away on my laptop until the battery died and then whip out my journal and a pen...he said, "You're a writer." Pause. "A real writer!" He seemed sort of fascinated. "Yes," I said. Isn't that last part great, too? I think so.

Those of you who were around in my life last summer, which is most of you but with a few notable exceptions, will remember that I was ALL ABOUT The Artist's Way, which is of course the bestselling book by Julia Cameron that plucks us artists from our block and sends us down the path of creative recovery. Well, this summer I am all about the sequel, called Walking in This World. It, too, is a 12-week program of creative recovery, complete with morning pages, artist's dates, and various other tasks and exercises.

Today I read a bunch of Chapter 3 of Walking in This World, in which she writes about how misguided dependence on psychotherapy may do way more harm than good in "healing" artists. I LOVE IT. I love it so much that I don't even want to try to paraphrase it, but I will anyway. She chides therapy for being too cerebral, for trying to construct a self, when your self is already there and just needs to come out through your art. I also love that she says, "I am not interested in debating with people over the reality of mental illness. What I want to focus on is the reality of our considerable mental health." - p. 59 I love it. I already said that I love it. But I still love it. And I blame so-called "modern" psychiatry for a lot of things, not the least of which is the "presidency" of George W. Bush, so I like seeing anyone else point out a better path, in whatever context.

Julia Cameron's core belief is that we humans are essentially creative. Even without a lot of new age-y, spiritual, or god-in-embryo belief, you can appreciate the universe as a constant process of creation (cells, DNA, reproduction, etc. not to mention cities, societies, civilization, Netflix) and us in the creative flow (which is why I love these books). She writes, "We are intended to make things and, in the old phrase, to 'make something of ourselves.'" -p. 57 I have never considered that phrase in that light before. I used to be intimidated by that phrase; I've certainly had enough people in my life question whether I'm doing that, the whole "making something" of myself thing. I do so like the way she looks at it! We are to make something, to create something--of our lives, our selves.

I actually am working on my writing a lot right now. But I also have serious amounts of email to catch up on. I know a lot of you feel slighted because you've gone unanswered. Can I just tell you I have 1000+ e-mails in each of two inboxes? This is filed under Not Spectacular. I know that number makes people shake their head and ask "How is that possible? What could those emails possibly be?" So in the interest of enlightening you and marking my progress each day (while, granted, another couple dozen appear each and every day, but I furiously archive and delete, I swear!) I will share the last ten emails in my inbox. Let's see what we've got lurking around that I haven't dealt with in a timely fashion...

Emails 1001-1010, going back to November 2005 (I was in Korea):
Aunt Barbara about Thanksgiving, Aunt Joyce about mail to Korea, Grandpa about Korea etc., Kim in L.A. about Thanksgiving, an amazing story from Tom, an MSN article "5 Signs You've Met Your Perfect Match," Jill about Thanksgiving, Mom about pictures, the random internet questionnaire I answered entirely in Indigo Girls lyrics, and a woman with whom I canvassed for John Kerry in New Hampshire.

Hmm, that's not terrible. At least by packrat standards. All those Thanksgiving emails while I was in Korea led to my Great Thanksgiving Epiphany. With the exception of the pictures email from Mom, which is short and replied to and I don't know why it's there, it makes sense to me that they're all hanging around. I just need to label and archive them, not keep them in the inbox. I was pretty impressed by myself when I answered that survey entirely in Indigo Girls lyrics. Perhaps I'll post it here for your edification.

Speaking of edification, in my current literary supplement I ponder monkeys, misheard lyrics, working abroad, and 1980s music. Not necessarily in that order.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bacon & eggs

I would just like to announce to the collective interwebs that my favorite smell is a breakfasty cooking kitchen, specifically the bacon a-fryin' and if there is coffee a-roastin' then that is just like a bonus. On all those silly little surveys that cross my path on e-mail, MySpace, what have you, the question "What's your favorite smell?" often appears. And I never ever have an answer. I can never think of a favorite smell. I sit there and rack my brain for far too long considering it's just some useless web site questionnaire probably written by a middle schooler and I could be doing other things with my time--like reading other MySpace bulletins, hello. And it always bugs me that everyone (or, rather, the friends I have also willing to fill them out who make me very happy indeed) all seem to know what their favorite smell is: fresh laundry, floral scents, bread baking, the woods, jasmine, whatever. But now I know mine. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I first realized it last week while we were making omelettes. Not that I was cooking bacon. I am a lapsed vegetarian but I haven't completely abandoned my meatless sensibilities. Brian was making bacon for his omelette. I was a little bit tempted to have some, but I really was quite happy just enjoying the smell of it cooking. Also, I was not worthy of the bacon. I didn't even know how to put it in the refrigerator. (I put it in the freezer. This of course led to me trying to remember the last time I put away groceries that included meat. It might be fifteen years or so.) I have no particular reason to announce this at the moment other than that I just happened to think of it while I was pouring my coffee earlier this morning. But now you know.

Friday, June 08, 2007

That ol' false dichotomy: science vs. religion

I've said it before and I'll say it again: most of the time these crazy things people concoct (for example evolution vs. "creationism")(so not worthy of an "ism") are a.)absurd b.)not mutually exclusive. Here's something the Dalai Lama said. I paste from an NPR story:

"If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false," he says, "then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."

Uh-huh. Ever hear your friendly neighborhood Christian say that? I didn't think so.

"My mission drive is to open up my eyes..."

I like anniversaries. Commemoration. Dates. Remembering. I also like contemplating the passage of time. So it is that I find myself noting this weekend: it has been one year since I returned from Korea.

So I often like to think about how much can happen in a year, and after such a learning growing experience as teaching English abroad one might think the ensuing months back in the U.S. could be anti-climactic or not filled with as much growth. Not so, my friends. Not so in the least. Strange is it indeed to remember the thoughts I thought in that plane that brought me back from across the Pacific. A year ago I was finishing War and Peace, and there was definitely some life symbolism going on there with regard to finishing an epic work. And yet there were unanswered questions. I was heading home hopeful, and now I see how all that hope was misplaced. No dredging up those nasty memories here, as they are so over and done and gone. But they certainly had their effect on me, and then there was the fall with all of its consequences, and all of its offering of renewal. Not to mention the challenges, the daunting challenges. Some of them I met ably, others maybe not so ably.

I like looking back on years. This is part of why I like birthdays, and New Year's Eve. I like looking back and I like looking ahead. And this year of law school, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Arizona, movies, connections from the past, new connections, old connections in new contexts, deaths in the family, new friends, dating, drinking, thinking, learning, and some really fun times and new interpersonal developments...there were some mistakes, sure. Questions? All the time. But even when things suck -- things like Long Island, and liars, and final exams -- I love seeing what the world will bring. Because it brings things such as the Long Island Rail Road, and finding your true self, and remembering what you're capable of.

Yeah, you could say I'm being vague. It's really just a little reflection. Anyway, most of you get the references, and if not, use your imagination. Or ask me! Meanwhile, I wonder what the next year will bring.

"I'm not losing my mind,
no I'm not changing my lines,
I'm just learning new things with the passing of time.
I'm looking on the bright side, I wear it like a bruise
I've never loved Elvis and I've never sung the blues.
I'm thinking of another, I remind myself of him
I wear him like a hairstyle or a stain upon my skin
but my flesh is getting cleaner and my hair is growing thin..."
--the wonder stuff, 'mission drive'

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Girls Play Here

Much like last Wednesday, I am here at the blog to share my thoughts about a movie I saw at my Harvard Square AMC theatre today. But this time, it's personal.

Today I watched Gracie. Now, I wasn't really expecting this to be a great film, and I'd have to say it was not in fact a great film. That's a shame, though, because I actually applaud the Shues for producing it, for putting on the screen this emotional reckoning of their lives. Also, the flaws about it really were so fixable. Example: you should have only one scene in which Gracie, the sole girl soccer player, dramatically arrives late to join the group of boys on the team already practicing who all turn to look at her as she takes her place among them. Showing this once is sufficient. Do not repeat this dramatic device three times. It loses something the third time. Really, though. It was all stuff like that, plus the inevitable slow-mo, that made the film weak. It's like the key change in the third verse when they can't figure out what to do in a pop song to maintain high energy.

But none of that is the point. The point is the message. The message is not just that "girls can play sports, too." That = duh. There is a finer point to put on it, one which I recall passionately explaining to Brian over a few beers several months ago, in one of our early conversations about sports (and we have had many conversations about sports), and which point I was delighted to see as the thrust of this movie. Allow me to enlighten you:

In junior high I made the girls' soccer team. Prior to that my sports of choice were mainly gymnastics and softball; I'd competed in those quite a bit over the years. But I liked soccer, and although I hadn't played on a team in elementary, I'm rather glad my friend Angie (where is she now?) persuaded me to try out for the junior high team.

Here's where I was at in soccer: I was good, but not great, so after the hard work of weeks of practice, I was thrilled to become one of the starters when it came time for our first game! I was improving, I was excelling at practice, I was among the best in that group of girls. But as we got into fierce competition, I wasn't one of the brightly shining stars on the field and I was kind of disappointed with myself, in fact, during those early games. I enjoyed playing, but I remember I was not aggressive. Not tough. I still remember when my teammate Dianna said to me -- yup, here it comes -- "Don't be afraid of the ball."

Then one day Coach Heleker for whatever reason had to miss practice, and the girls' team worked out with the boys' team for a day. To THIS DAY I remember that practice. It was probably the best workout I ever had under any team sports coach, ever. Now, remember, I was no slouch. I was still a gymnast at that point, even winning a first-place all around in a gymnastics meet that year, not to mention daily bike riding, and I swam pretty often, too. But what I learned in the workout that day was that the boys were pushed. The girls were not. And that made them tougher. It was that simple.

We could DO all those drills the boys did. We lasted. It felt great. It was hard, but it felt great. It was harder than it should have been, because our own coach did not push us as hard. Our ability to compete suffered because of that. Girls everywhere are not getting pushed as hard. Even a lot of people who pay lip service to the notion that of course girls can play wind up treating them differently. They are not pushed to compete and be tough. The boys are. THIS point is ably made in the movie. I'm afraid it is lost on many of us, though.

However, I will state that I am altogether glad I even HAD a girls' soccer team on which to play. A mere ten or fifteen years earlier -- like if I were Elisabeth Shue's age, maybe -- I may not have had that chance. I soon developed an interest in basketball, and tennis, and joined a volleyball team, too. I didn't, unfortunately stick with soccer. Nor did I continue with gymnastics past sophomore year of high school, a fact which I still find heartbreaking.

Sure, I started jogging during high school, and hiking. I still pursue those leisurely. I still swim, and I like to play softball when I can. But I definitely stopped competing early in my teens. I know we shouldn't have any regrets in life, and most of the time I find myself happy with the way just about everything turns out, because it always leads me to new people, opportunities, discoveries. Still, I think I have to say I actually do regret not sticking with those sports. At school, I was forced to choose between theater and sports; you couldn't really do both (the after-school practices were at the same times). Outside of school, things were busy and I was kind of forced to quit gymnastics because everything else had us running around too much, including marching band. The irony, of course, is that I didn't end up staying in marching band OR the thespian troupe through all four years of high school. Sure, I had five million other activities that filled the space: student government, mock trial, honor societies and academic bowls and clubs and community service. I was never less busy.

But I wish I had stayed in gymnastics. And played on my high school softball team. Not to mention basketball. We moved into a new house in December of my freshman year of high school. Suddenly we had a basketball hoop, and I found myself playing many an evening -- just myself if no one else wanted to. One of the other p.e. teachers -- not even my own teacher -- saw me playing in class and specifically came to me and asked me to try out for the girls' basketball team. Why the hell didn't I? Well, it was time for auditions for the spring musical of course.

In the movie, Gracie and her decidedly non-athletic but very fashionably dressed and made up best friend start discovering boys and dates and dancing and going out and sneaking out and making out and all sorts of other distractions from her getting up at 5:45 to run and do push-ups before school. I loved how the movie subtly made the point that the boys were able to seamlessly weave nights out in fast cars with their athletic lives, while girls were told it was time to think about watching the boys, stop playing sports, sit on the sidelines, and if they wanted to be active, then cheerlead.

Everyone who's had a beer with me any time in the last five years knows I'm not entirely sure why I want to be in law school, or why I can't/don't/won't just make my living as a writer, or what it is, really, that I "want to do with my life," as they say. I like to ruminate about how back in the day people never seemed to have to choose. Why did Da Vinci get to be an artist and a scientist and a philosopher? Why did Jefferson get to be a lawyer and an architect and a president? And so on. I want to do everything. I don't want to have to choose. But it was one night last year as I sat doing a self-discovering exercise in The Artist's Way, sat, in fact, in the very chair I'm sitting in now typing this, that I realized how much I was told in high school I had to choose. Between drama and sports. Between drama and academics. Between creative writing and physics, when there was no more room for electives senior year. It took that many years before I realized this issue has been under my surface the whole time.

And I don't know, but I somehow think that if I were a boy, athletic competition wouldn't have fallen by my life's wayside.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Winfrey, McCarthy, & Moore

I like Michael Moore. I like Oprah. And newly, today, I like Cormac McCarthy.

Here's a funny thing: Oprah is kinda one of my guilty pleasures. But I'm not even sure how guilty I feel about liking her. I always have tongue planted firmly in cheek when I use the term guilty pleasure, anyway, but Oprah really is something. And today I am actually watching her show. Her theme is the one book you should read and the one film you should see this summer. The film? Michael Moore's latest, Sicko. Of course, I have been jonesing for this film and will be first in line at my local theater on June 29th. But I love that Oprah loved it, that Oprah wants to get the nation talking about this issue (because when Oprah says it's important, it suddenly hits part of the national consciousness somehow...) And that Oprah had an epiphany about the fact that "socialized" does not equal bad. As she pointed out, after the film made her reconsider, we already have socialized things here, e.g. the fire department. The police department. And as Michael pointed out, nobody expects the fire department to make a profit, because that's a life and death situation. It's not set up that way. And the same should go for health care. Instead, insurance companies profit by providing as little care as possible: it's how the system is set up. And let's not forget to mention how my heart fluttered watching a clip of the scenes in Cuba. I, for one, already have quite a lot to say about all this. I'm all for opening up a national dialogue.

And then to top it off, the second half of the show is an interview with reclusive literary genius Cormac McCarthy, author of The Road, which just won the Pulitzer prize. I relate to him so much. He has NEVER done a television interview - but our girl Oprah got him to agree to an interview with her. I love it. I also really want to read this book. I will, eventually, of course, because it won the Pulitzer. But I think I'm moving it up in my what-to-read queue.

Powerful people out there in the world doing powerful things!