Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Amour Review

I was shaken (and stirred) by the French film, "Amour," starring
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Georges and Anne are a
well-to-do elderly Parisian couple who are prominent in the classical
music world. Then Anne suffers a stroke, and the idyllic life they've
known comes to an end.

I've seen all of this before in real life. My grandmother suffered a
series of strokes and spent her last few years in my aunt's nursing
home, wasting away while her heart kept beating. My husband's father
spent his final years unhappily away from his wife of 50 years in a
nursing home. Other friends and family members have suffered
depression and debilitating illness. The thought that a movie needs to
show people what it's like to have a sick person in the family at
first seems disingenuous.

Yet, it's true that our society tends to gloss over the heartbreak,
fear, and pain of the end of life. It's all right to briefly mention
an illness, but everyone really would rather not hear about it right
now. It's too heavy, man. But the emotions are real, and you can't
really rationalize them, even though you can accept them intellectually.

Anne and George try to hide their plight as much as possible, from
their illustrious students, their neighbors, and even their
daughter. Anne is terrified of hospitals and of losing her
independence. If you're middle-aged, you might have heard your parents
blithely announce they were in the hospital last month, but they're
fine now. They keep it a secret as long as possible, since they feel
it's a weakness to admit to weakness. Or at the very least sad, and we
wouldn't want anyone to be sad, would we?

Although rich enough to afford in-home nursing care, Georges is
frustrated by what he thinks is the insensitive care the nurses are
giving his beloved wife (she keeps murmuring "mal"--it hurts). Yet he
himself succumbs to anger and slaps his wife when she refuses to
eat. Then he gets to live with the guilt. Love hurts.

Even though "Amour" measures itself at a seeming snail's pace, the
stress buildup is incredible. My blood pressure and pulse were
surely elevated for days after viewing it. As with all horror movies,
"Amour" is not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Universe Horribilis Lineup

Need something new for your e-Reader?

Yup, Third Flatiron Anthologies (please bookmark or like us!) is working on its fourth e-anthology of SF short stories. On March 1, we'll be putting out "Universe Horribilis" on Smashwords and Amazon (with other distributors to follow). Congrats to the following authors, who have concocted a tasty stew of stories about how the universe is out to kill us. We appreciate the help in reading submissions by Andrew Cairns and the great cover by Keely Rew!

Quarantine, Edward H. Parks
Concerning That Whole God Thing, Curtis James McConnell
Master Donne, Robin Wyatt Dunn
The Reading, James S. Dorr
Kernels of Hope, Sarina Dorie
Freedom As Commodity, Marilyn K. Martin
Not Enough Hairspray, Siobhan Gallagher
Whimper, Jennifer R. Povey
...If You Were the Last Man on Earth, Sheryl Normandeau
Sannakji, Jack M. Horne
The Labyrinth of Space, James H. Zorn
The Eleanor Effect, Rich Larson
Princess Thirty-Nine, Clare L. Deming
The Prison Rose, David Luntz

Friday, February 1, 2013

Whither Journalism?

Well, it's time to reminisce about my J-School days in the 70s. We all smoked, drank, and typed on clunky old Remingtons. We were fast, accurate typists, because backspace wasn't the same as erase. The profs told us the school was on the ragged edge of being disaccredited, because it often failed to meet the university's academic standards. So, they were going to flog us until the School of Journalism was back in its good graces. It worked.

We learned to cover the courts, review music and movies, and write features. We learned about the great journalists and freedom of the press. My favorite journalist was E.B. White, the "Sage of Emporia." Never cared much for "Charlotte's Web," though. Too scary, like "Alice in Wonderland." We learned about history. I knew why Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves before Spielberg made the movie. Did you? We learned we could get out of jury duty simply by saying we were journalists. We learned to copy-edit, and committed Strunk and White and Fowler to memory. They told us not to get cocky about being writers--journalism was a trade, not a profession. A low-paying one, at that. We got jobs with the local newspapers and drove around collecting ads for the supermarkets and buying beer for the typesetters as they put the paper to bed. I still cherish a Linotype slug that Marlon tossed me. I caught it without thinking. Aiyee--hot lead.

This year, CU closed its Journalism school. Now Journalism's just a major in the Arts and Sciences School. Apparently accreditation was in danger again, and the school wasn't keeping up with rapid changes in the industry. One of the major Denver dailies had just closed. Whatever. Enrollment in the major is higher than ever.

This is not to say that journalism isn't experiencing hard times. Even if the Journalism School wasn't highly respected back in my school days, it was everyone's duty to stay well-informed. My Sociology Prof Howard Higman (founder of the Conference on World Affairs) required us to read Time Magazine cover to cover every week (Newsweek was kind of right wing for our tastes). Although I later moved to Newsweek, I kept the habit.

Now Newsweek has gone all-digital. I've read a couple of issues on my laptop, but it's not as convenient as having it delivered to my mailbox every week. The New Yorker ran an article, "NEWSWEEKLY," by Mark Singer, about a reunion of Newsweek staffers from the 70s and 80s, which they described as "more of an Irish wake than shivah." Things were better in the old days, all agreed, and they had expense accounts. In the same New Yorker spread, the Dept. of Cute featured a piece called "PUPPIES!" by Andrew Marantz, about how anchorman Brian Williams and his pretty daughter Allison (a star of HBO's "Girls") were taping a show on Animal Planet to be shown against the Super Bowl, called "Puppy Bowl IX." (Nine?!) A more blatant blurring of the line between news and infotainment I've ne'er seen.

NPR interviewed humorist Dave Barry last week, who's got a new book out, Insane Miami. He no longer writes a column for Miami's great daily, the Miami Herald, and observed that journalists were tweeting 53 one-liners rather than writing 800-word columns. Writing articles takes time, and who's got that? True, but I have to say I see Neil Gaiman chirping his head off, and he still manages to write books.

I face a dilemma. Which of my remaining hardcopy subscriptions am I going to read cover to cover now? The Atlantic? The New Yorker? Science News? Scientific American? Discover? Consumer Reports?  It probably won't be Newsweek.