Read 'n Rant

Check out this story in the New York Times:


Now, it’s astonishing to the LitKit that Bush was elected strictly because he’s likable (which is questionable unless you like men who are proud that they don't read and who can fish) and that people dislike the influences of Hollywood and popular culture on morals. Yet, isn’t voting for a president based on his personality versus his policy buying directly into the Hollywood culture? That is, you apply entertainment and advertising standards – what’s easy, what’s on the surface, what makes you feel good – to sound governance and long-term thinking? (The natural extension, of course, is to elect another former actor; this time, however, to elect one we have to change the Constitution. But all signs show that Arnold S. can rake in the popularity and protector chips just on his persona--this one manufactured straight out of LA--and nothing else.)

The gist of the poll then is that while Bush supporters think he’s a good chap, they don’t particularly like his proposed policies. And, while they think he can be a good protector and leader and moral influence, they don’t want to radically change the laws. Doesn’t this sound suspiciously like a teenager who wants his father to provide a roof over his head and bail him out of trouble, yet doesn’t want to obey all the rules?

It’s just one more example of the adolescent mentality Americans seem to be mired in. If they want to talk on their cell phone or blast their stereos, they will and to hell with what others think. If they want to spend millions of dollars on violent or silly movies and games and sports instead of education, then they will—and if foreign citizens get our jobs and go to our colleges, well, that’s a bummer and somebody should do something, like bomb the hell out of a country. That also will work to get oil for our big gas-sucking cars. And if we want our kids to have the latest Beanie Baby or Barbie Doll or GI Joe or Nikes or Sketchers, then we have every right to it, and if we want to watch MTV and Monday Night Football and Sex and the City, well, dammit we can—and then we can elect a president who can make us feel like we’re doing something about morals instead of doing something ourselves.

And let’s just kick the ass of any country we even think has a terrorist or a bomb or anything that could interrupt my kid’s soccer game. Why do they hate us anyway? Because of Hollywood and violence and Taco Bells and all of the other crap we are foisting upon the world in the name of freedom and democracy? Consequences? We don't need no stinkin' consequences!

Wake up, America. If 9/11 wasn’t enough, what will be?


'Tis the season, unfortunately

Why does the holiday season strike terror in the hearts of millions of Americans? Why is it that our economy relies on Christmas purchases to survive and why do our own families insist on forgetting to pick us up at the airport? We are the most wealthy country in the world. We have the most stuff. And that’s not enough to make people treat their fellow man – even their own relatives – with consideration, kindness and love. Or at least to a decent cup of coffee.

The Literate Kitten would like to change all that, but there isn’t enough therapy in the world to make humans more humane, or to keep certain siblings from skipping out on the dishes another year. However, there is literature. By reading, we may share our griefs, vicariously live through another’s (perhaps happier) memories, or laugh at the absurdness of it all.

Since the holidays send us spinning back into the past at warp speed, why not re-enact a positive childhood memory and pick up an old classic that you loved as a child? Forget the humiliations of not having a New Year's date or the petty envy that your sister got the doll you asked Santa for. Just whip out a book and visit some old, old friends.

The LitKit wants to recommend a few titles that relate, some more and some less, to this time of year. We have memories of reading about a Christmas tree that wanted to be showy and grand and loved but was never bought and got tossed in the garbage until it was found by a mountain woman and used as a clothes-pole to hang laundry. We’d love to recommend it, but cannot find that title (there seems to be a new book called “The Littlest Christmas Tree,” and we don’t know if that’s the old classic or not). An absolute tearjerker we hope you’ll be able to find somewhere.

So, take a few moments this maddening season to cozy up by the fire or snuggle under the blankets with a nice fat book. And remember: The biggest thanks we can give this Turkey Day are to all writers courageous and hardworking enough to put their thoughts on paper. Here are some less-obvious (read: no “A Christmas Carol” or “Night Before Christmas”) LitKit picks for ringing in the holiday season with prose and prosody:

Louisa May Alcott: “Little Women” (an oldie but goodie)
Truman Capote: “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “One Christmas” (memoirs)
Adam Gopnik: “From Paris to the Moon” (essays, including a hilarious one about trying to buy Christmas tree lights in Paris)
Earl Hamner: “The Homecoming” (why don’t they ever show the original TV special, the one with Patricia Neal?)
Frances Hodgson Burnett: “A Little Princess” (the Shirley Temple movie is good, too)
Jay McInerney: “Model Behavior” (LitKit hasn’t read personally but hears there’s an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner scene included)
David Sedaris: “Holidays on Ice” (wicked funny essays/memoirs)
Johanna Spyri: “Heidi” (still works for adults—and the Shirley Temple movie is good here, too)
Dylan Thomas: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (a beautiful audio reading by Thomas himself is available on CD)