Archive for the ‘Roxana Robinson’ Category


November 17, 2008

November is the best month for us civil servants.  Being a civil servant is not glamorous.  We work for the government, so most of the time people hate us.  But, in the month of November, we have three days off. Three paid holidays – Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving Day.  Three days off in one month.  No other month is as generous with its holidays as November.  I love November.  So how am I spending my free time during this joyous month?  By watching the most depressing TV and movies and by reading the most depressing books ever.  Its not like I purposely decided to watch TV and read books about insanity and death, it just sort of happened by accident.  Maybe it the universe’s way of balancing the joy and elation I felt earlier this month with Obama’s victory.  So let’s review, shall we?

First up, I saw the movie Rachel Getting MarriedIt got the best reviews ever, but I’m sorry, I hated it.  It was so pretentious, unrealistic, and unbelievable.  It is about a dysfunctional family, with Anne Hathaway playing the troubled ex junkie/alcoholic who comes home from rehab for her perfect older sister’s wedding.  I’m usually all for good family dramas, but the problem was the movie was filled with, as one reviewer on IMDB said, “a bunch of boring, self-centered, too good to be true people” that annoyed the crap out of me.

Then I saw Synecdoche, New York with the always amazing Phillip Seymour Hoffman, which gets the prize for most depressing movie I’ve ever seen.  Hoffman is a theater director who is slowly loosing his sense of reality and increasingly blurring the lines between the autobiographical play he is directing and his own life.  Manny says its supposed to be existential, but I say that it made me want to curl up in bed with hot chocolate and watch cartoons. 

But instead, I went home and watched this terrifying Frontline episode on PBS called Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.  Lee Atwater was a Republican strategist, he was the Karl Rove of his time, actually, Karl Rove was Atwater’s protege.  Atwater spent his career planting the seed of fear and distrust into the public mind about his political opponents and then sat back and watched it grow.  What happened to him?  Dude was killed by brain cancer when he was only 40 years old.  Towards the end of his life, he freaked out because he was afraid he was going to hell for the things he did and spent his last days apologizing to everyone he knew and praying to every religion for forgiveness.  If you don’t believe in karma, watch this documentary, and it will make a believer out of you. 

On to books – I read the morbid and gross The Almost Moon  by Alice Sebold about a woman who kills her elderly mentally ill mother, and the tragic and depressing Cost by Roxana Robinson about a mother and her disconnected family who try and rally together to save her son who is addicted to heroin.  They were both good books that kept me awake on my morning train ride, they were suspenseful and well written, but l don’t have that much to say about them other than that. 

This weekend I stayed home, watched Kung Fu Panda, cooked this strangely delicious black bean chili with butternut squash, and started reading a book about the first breeding pair of red-tailed hawks in Central Park.  This pretty much makes up for all those sad movies and books.  Plus I have one other holiday to look forward to – Thanksgiving.

A few things

October 16, 2008

I’ve had so many thoughts swirling around in my head about this presidential race.  I need to get them out!  But first, I finished Sweetwater by Roxana Robinson, another author I heard on the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC.  I would find the link for the interview to post here if I wasn’t feeling so lazy.  This novel was delicious.  Need to track down her latest novel, Cost, at the library soon.   So here we go.

  • Politics.  I’ve always been a cynic when it comes to politicians.  I’m not impressed with any of them.  All talk and no action.  I’m not registered with a political party but I always vote Democrat on the “lesser of two evils” line of reasoning.  But I have to say that Obama has impressed me more than any other politician.  I’ve been following the election closely, reading and watching a lot of things from both sides and damn.  I’m impressed and surprised by Obama.  Never before has a politician spoken out so strongly on issues that I agree with.  Let’s hope, if elected, Obama is more than just all talk and no action.


  • I’m a person who understands the other side of an argument.  It makes sense to me that some people are conservative.  Sure I think they’re wrong and I don’t agree with them, but I can understand it.  I like to think people are more than their political views, and that their political views reflect a diversity of influences – where a person grew up, their family, their cultural background, religious background, their educational experiences.  A person’s political views are nuanced and complex.  I saw this intense documentary on McCain’s life on PBS the other day.  They showed videos of him as a POW, lying in a cot in Vietnam, all beat up and broken, tears streaming down his face, telling his wife that he loved her and he’d be home soon (didn’t they get divorced soon after he came home?)  Clearly, the man has been to hell and back and learned something from it.  Most of all, I am impressed with his efforts to reform immigration, something that went against the views of his own political party.  Sure his plan had some flaws, but at least he was trying to do something about it that didn’t involve rounding up 12 million human beings like cattle and kicking them out of the country.  But then he ran for president, changed his views on a lot of things, tried to woo christian conservatives and sucked up to Bush.  THEN!  picked Palin as his running mate.  What a giant step backwards.  I think everything that has to be said about Palin has already been said by others.  It’s just, well, the thought of Palin as president, or even VP makes me seriously, very afraid.  Another thing that makes me afraid is that Palin has done NOTHING to address the racist and xenophobic accusations people make about Obama at her rallies.  McCain has.  Palin hasn’t.  By ignoring it, she is giving people reasons to be afraid of Obama because he’s black and has an Arab-sounding name.  She’s stroking the fire and causing irrational fear and hatred. 


  • The Debate.  As much I respect McCain for his experiences and some of his political record, the man tried to make himself look like a victim when no crime had been done against him.  He was flustered and angry, he tried in vain to get people to pity him because some congressman Obama had nothing to do with made an association between McCain and a segregationist.  McCain’s feelings were hurt and he whined about how he never received an outright apology from Obama.  McCain was a POW.  Surely, this is not actually the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.  And I don’t think you can make the argument that this accusation against McCain is worse or as bad as McCain’s supporters calling Obama a terrorist, a traitor, and yelling “kill him” at his VP’S rally while Palin did nothing about it.  Obama could have milked that argument so much more.  Obama could have played victim so much better.  But he didn’t.  Again and again he rose above McCain’s exaggerated accusations and refused the bait to bicker back and forth. 


  • The debate was nothing more than an outline about the differences between the GOP and the Dems.  The GOP doesn’t want higher taxes because they don’t want big government programs UNLESS they are government programs like social security and medicare that help those upstanding middle-class Americans that pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and achieved the American dream by doing everything the right way.  Dems believe in taxes because they believe the government should have programs that help people and government should regulate certain aspect of life to make sure everyone is getting a piece of the American Dream pie.  And in order to have money to do this, there needs to be taxes on everyone.  Ideally, less taxes on the poor, more taxes for rich.  Do you want government programs to help you out even if that means paying into them?  Dem.  Do you not want any help from government programs, you want to keep the money you make even if that means others go without, and believe people get what they deserve?  GOP.  Yes, that’s a really simplistic way of looking at it, but that’s what I got from the debate last night.

OK that’s all I got.  Back to books for next time.