“Ever Since Columbine…”

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A friend sent me the article linked to below.

Since many of you who ‘read’ MillersTime are (have been teacher) or worked in education and many more of you are involved with schools in one way or another, I thought I’d pass along this wonderful example of what one individual is doing in her classroom.

It should only take you a few minutes to read.

Feel free to pass it on to others.

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Bullying, by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Why Is President Obama Such a Polarizing Figure?

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My daughter asked me last weekend, “Don’t you think {President} Obama should go to Ferguson?”

I immediately said, “No. I don’t think he should.” And I talked briefly about the issue of local and state control. Although there was increasing tension and violence (on both sides), I didn’t believe it was the President’s role to go to the scene of the turmoil in that city.

But I also felt that Pres. Obama could not go, even if he wanted to.

For a variety of reasons, he has become a polarizing figure in our country. (See Why Obama Won’t Give the Ferguson Speech His Supporters Want).

A number of years ago, perhaps it was in early 2007, I was spending a good deal of time in Orlando, FL, visiting my aging parents. In the evenings, after they had gone to sleep, I turned on the radio and was stunned to hear what was being said about Hilliary Clinton, then the leading Democratic candidate for the Presidency (Sen. Obama was not yet an announced candidate).

Both the talk show hosts and the callers seemed to me to be salivating at the thought of having Hilliary Clinton as the Democratic opponent to a Republican candidate. It is not an exaggeration to say that what I heard was “vile.” After listening for a few evenings, I felt sick by what I was hearing and stopped tuning into those stations.

When Obama announced his candidacy and began to challenge Clinton, I was intrigued. Tho I knew he hadn’t had the experience that Clinton had, I felt he was a fresh face and could possibly be a less polarizing candidate.

When Candidate Obama gave his ‘race’ speech in Philadelphia in 2008, A More Perfect Union, I was convinced he was the best shot we had as a country to move beyond our racial divide. After all, he was very different than a Jesse Jackson and had spent much of his life walking that thin line between a white and a black world. (You can read the full text of his speech or you can watch a video of it, 37+ minutes.)

How naive I was.

Now, six over seven years later, even if it was determined that a President’s presence in Ferguson was called for, Pres. Obama could not go. He is simply too polarizing and likely would only add to the tension and to the crisis. Not calm nor help it.

And so the question I’ve been wondering about, not only since Ferguson but for quite a while now is this:

Why has President Obama become such a polarizing figure?

A number of possible answers come to mind for me, but I would be interested in what readers of this website would say about that question.

As always, if you weigh in, and I hope you will, please keep your responses civil, no matter how strongly you may feel about this President, this Presidency, or what is happening in our country.

My hope is that we can have a thoughtful conversation in the Comment section of this post.

NYC in August

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It was Ellen’s idea.

“Let’s plan a trip in August to NYC,” she said. “It’ll be similar to our one-week-a-year trips to a foreign city.”

I was skeptical: “NYC in August?”

But then I”m a married man, and so we headed to NYC last Friday, returning home today, five nights, six days later.

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Films vs Books…Documentaries vs Memoirs

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Thank you to friend and MillersTime reader Elliott Trommald for his Comment (which I only just saw this morning) on my post on the film Life Itself. He wrote:

I don’t know Diane or Janet, but I think I feel what they are feeling. Certainly “Life Itself” made me feel my sister’s life and my own as I was feeling Roger’s. And Ebert made me understand the power of a movie and the relationship I seem to have with movies. We do live our lives as a movie.

Richard, you write that almost always, you find the book better than the film version. I used to agree. Now I find this less true. Take “The Fault in our Stars” — I think the movie as good as the book, actually better. The reason for me is that both work on me in a different way.

When I read a book, I control the action and the color and the emotion. The intellect is engaged; I read; I stop and muse or reread a beautiful line; I consider whether I feel as the author feels or whether the author’s story is believable. I might even critique the book as I read. All of that is enjoyable.

In a film, I am sucked into the story for better or worse and feel it, I can’t go back and reconsider what I just saw; I am carried along sometimes against my will. I am bothered, angry, enlightened, exhilarated. (“Snowpiercer” as film was more troubling for me than the book. After feeling and living the film (in the caboose and the engine room) — then comes the intellectual, rational, critical considerations.

For me, its the difference between being in a film and reading a book. Watching a good movie: for a short while my life is taken emotionally where I have not been; its different with a book. One is not necessarily better, just delightfully different. I cry easier as I age, and far more often when involved with a film than with a book. Maybe I should see “On Golden Pond” again.

I wonder what other MillersTime readers think of what Elliot writes.

My own response can be read here.

Stepping Back from the Precipice…for the Moment.

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Twenty-four hours ago I asked my wife Ellen to lock up all the sharp knives and put a barrier across the stairs to the third floor.

It was clear to me that the Sox were about to explode, that GM Ben Cherington was about to cast off, minimally, our two top pitchers and one of our top relievers.

For what? A bunch of prospects?

My well being was threatened, and I needed protection from acting impulsively.

This morning I told Ellen she could unlock the knives and take down the barrier to the third floor.

For the moment at least, things didn’t seem so dire.

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Favorite Films from First Half of 2014

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Compiled below is the list of films I saw between Jan. 1, 2014 and July 31, 2014 that I rated from three and a half to five stars.

These categories are somewhat arbitrary, but generally the five and four and a half star films are pretty close, and I enjoyed those tremendously. The four star ones were all good, but I had some (minor) reservations. The three and half star ones were more problematical films but still worth checking out.

If a film did not make it into one of these categories, I did not write a review.

The ones listed below I recommend for your consideration.

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Looking for a Summer Read?

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Many of you know that each year readers of MillersTime succumb to my pleading and endless reminders to send in the titles of books they’ve most enjoyed reading in the past year, not necessarily new books, just ones that have been their favorite reads of the year.

If you are looking for something to read as the summer moves into August, click on the link below, and I’ll bet you can find some good reads.

The Books Most Enjoyed by “MillersTime” Readers in 2013

PS – I’m also taking this opportunity to remind you that I will again seek your favorites come December, 2014. So be warned.

Finally, if you have a particular book you have read recently that you would like to suggest now (and not wait until the end of the year), please put the title and perhaps a one or two sentence reason in the Comment section. You could also send me an email with the title, etc., and I can add it to the Comment section.

“Life Itself” – The Documentary and The Memoir

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Life Itself ****1/2

Often, a movie, particularly a documentary, sends me to the book upon which the film is based.

And usually, almost always, I find the written work better than the film version.

In fact, I don’t think I can name more than a handful of films that I found superior to the written ‘version.’

The current documentary, Life Itself, about the life and ultimately the death of Pulitzer Prize (1975) winning film critic (Chicago Sun-Times) Roger Ebert, is one of the instances in which I’d choose the film over the memoir.

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Summer Read(s)

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If you’re looking for a book or two to add to your summer book bag and travels, and if you enjoy thrillers/mysteries/crime/detective/whodunit stories, Robert Galbraith, who is actually J.K. Rowling, has a new one just out.

Yes. That J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter lady.

If you missed it, Rowling has turned her pen (computer?) to detective stories, and The Silkworm is the second in a series (reported to number seven). I reviewed her first one, Cuckoo’s Calling, earlier on MillersTime and wrote:

It’s good.

Maybe not as good as an Agatha Christy mystery, but if you’re looking for something along the line of a Steig Larsson book, you’ll probably like it, tho it’s not quite as good as Larsson’s first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

The Silkworm is perhaps a bit better than Cuckoo’s Nest, but then when one races through one of these page turners, I’m not sure it’s about good literature, but more about entertainment.

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Why Las Vegas?

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The most frequently asked question of Ellen and myself this wedding weekend: “Why was it happening in Vegas?”

Just as we’ve been clueless about a number of decisions in Beth’s (Elizabeth since ’98) life, we can only surmise.

So, I decided to ask MillersTime readers to use your knowledge of Beth and/or Brandt (as well as your imaginations) to list some possible reasons they chose Las Vegas as the site of their wedding.

To start you off, here are a few possibilities Ellen and I could think might have been in their minds:

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