Monday, November 3, 2008

Current Events, and What Is to Come

Writing in the November 1, 2008 issues of the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail, journalist Guy Dixon declares, “As the bestselling New York writer Sarah Vowell notes in her new book The Wordy Shipmates, there is a lot of carry-over rhetoric from the earliest English-American settlers to the present day. The original sermons uttered by Puritans washing ashore in the New World not only defined what was to become the American belief of a chosen land for a chosen people, their words still echo in today's stump speeches.” Guy Dixon discusses a time when education and eloquence mattered, were part of both promise and practice, something that inspired essayist and novelist Sarah Vowell, who was repelled by the narrow uses to which some people put those ideas and words in contemporary times, a feeling that led to her historical research and her book The Wordy Shipmates. Interestingly, some of the early Americans had ideals that might be considered lofty today. Guy Dixon goes on to note the observations of Vowell: “And words, along with education and general learnedness, continued to be held in high esteem once they settled in Massachusetts. ‘They just loved words and writing and reading … not just the volume of it, but the quality as well. I’m just continually amazed by how much writing they did considering they were in a lot of ways regular old pioneers,” Vowell says over the phone during her current book tour.”

“Two Paths for the Novel” is Zadie Smith’s consideration of the contemporary novel, as part of her review of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder (New York Review of Books, Vol 55 No 18, November 20, 2008).

Caleb Crain, in his review of a book on loneliness, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, by John T. Cacioppo & William Patrick, from Norton: “People do like to be alone sometimes. But no one likes to feel lonely – to feel that they are alone against their will, or that the social contacts they do have are without deeper meaning. According to Cacioppo and Patrick the feeling of loneliness is the least of it. They present scientific evidence suggesting that loneliness seriously burdens human health. By middle age, the lonely are less likely to exercise and more likely to eat a high-fat diet, and they report experiencing a greater number of stressful events. Loneliness correlates with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. During a four-year study, lonely senior citizens were more likely to end up in nursing homes; during a nine-year study, people with fewer social ties were two to three times more likely to die.” (Abu Dhabi's The National, October 30, 2008)

Jonathan Davis has a new recording, The Renaissance. Davis is better known as Q-Tip, of the innovative hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest.

The luminous Nicole Kidman and the dashing and fun Hugh Jackman are in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, an epic of the country down-under, opening later this year. The New York Times features a short slide show of Kidman and Jackman, wearing clothes from the film—she looks great!

An old Catherine Zeta Jones movie, Entrapment, was featured this past weekend on southern Louisiana television. Zeta-Jones, a uniquely beautiful woman, sophisticated and sensitive, is scheduled to appear in Bart Freundlich's film The Rebound, about the relationship between a single mother and a younger man.

In Louisiana, the Second Saturday ArtWalk is planned for downtown Lafayette, November 8, 2008. The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra is to present a tribute to film and film music that night too, November 8, also in Lafayette at the Heymann Center (and present Viennese classical work on January 25, 2009, at Angelle Hall in Lafayette). Days later, November 15, a wild game and seafood cook-off is planned for New Iberia at SugArena. The Lafayette Ballet Theatre will feature The Nutcracker on the 6th and 7th of December, at Heymann Center, Lafayette. A Crawfish Town celebration will occur in Henderson and Cecilia, December 13. February 14, 2009 is the Mardi Gras parade, beginning in downtown Lafayette. And, a little later in the month, there's a Blue Note Records tribute at Heymann Center, February 27. Many Louisiana festivals are in the fall but in the spring there are some too, including an Etouffee festival in Arnaudville, on the Little Flower school grounds, April 24 through 26, 2009; and a crawfish festival in Breaux Bridge, May 1st through the 3rd. A Cinema on the Bayou festival is scheduled in Lafayette for May 25th through 29th!

The British magazine The New Statesman has an article on its web site about Israeli harassment of Palestinian farmers.

The just-ended elections were credible, peaceful and transparent, said the electoral observer mission team leader John Kunene, of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), of the October 30 elections in Zaire, in an report ("Zambia: A Successful Democratic Election"), November 3, 2008.

Senators Obama and McCain are currently holding rallies in different parts of the United States, their last efforts to get people out to vote. There are concerns about vote suppression and voter fraud, but there are plans to monitor the election for such. The race is close, but many expect Senator Obama to prevail.