‘Hamilton’ Review: You Say You Want a Revolution – By A.O. Scott – The New York Times

Hamilton
NYT Critic’s Pick, Directed by Thomas Kail. Biography, Drama, History, Musical. PG-13,   2h 40m

“The opening scenes of the filmed version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which starts streaming on Disney+ on Independence Day weekend, pull you back in time to two distinct periods. The people onstage, in their breeches and brass-buttoned coats, belong to the New York of 1776. That’s when a 19-year-old freshly arrived from the Caribbean — the “bastard, immigrant, son of a whore” who shares his name with the show — makes his move and takes his shot, joining up with a squad of anti-British revolutionaries and eventually finding his way to George Washington’s right hand and the front of the $10 bill.

But this Hamilton, played with relentless energy and sly charm by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, book and lyrics, also belongs to the New York of 2016. Filmed (by the show’s director, Thomas Kail, and the cinematographer Declan Quinn) in front of a live audience at the Richard Rodgers Theater in June of that year, the movie, while not strictly speaking a documentary, is nonetheless a document of its moment. It evokes a swirl of ideas, debates, dreams and assumptions that can feel, in the present moment, as elusive as the intrigue and ideological sparring of the late 1700s.”

Dear Reader – The Bulwark – In 1993, I wrote a book called The Giver – by Lois Lowry

“I haven’t checked in my OED (it’s just too hard for someone my age, even with the magnifying glass) but I think the word “prequel” is a fairly recent invention. Sequel: that’s a word we all know. Sequels have been around a long time; I’ve even written several, over the years.

But suddenly I’m hearing the word “prequel” from readers.

In 1993, I wrote a book called The Giver which was intended for a young audience, for readers maybe 10-14 years old. Its almost immediate success (it was awarded the 1994 Newbery Medal, and has sold millions of copies now, in thirty-some languages) took me by surprise. Set in the somewhat distant future, it depicted a world that had gone awry and become devoid of empathy or compassion, a world in which individual human lives had little value. I had thought of it as a fairly straightforward adventure story.

But young people didn’t read it quickly and move on to the next thing, the way they often do. They found something in the book that resonated at the same time that it puzzled them. How had that happened? they asked me—first in letters, now in emails. What went wrong? How can we keep this from happening?

I’ve given them simplistic answers. Verbal shrugs. It would have been gradual, I told them. It would have involved small compromises.

In order to be safe . . . we’ll give up this small freedom.
In order to be comfortable . . . we’ll sacrifice this.”

Source: Dear Reader – The Bulwark

DL: She wrote

Harriet movie historical accuracy: What’s fact and what’s fiction in the Harriet Tubman biopic.

What caused Harriet Tubman’s “spells”? Were there really black slave-catchers? We break down the new biopic.

Diptych of Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, in a still from the movie, and Harriet Tubman in a historical photo.
Cynthia Erivo and Harriet Tubman.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Focus Features and Horatio Seymour Squyer/Wikipedia.

“The fact that Harriet is the first feature-length film to tell the story of one of the most famous women in American history may sound improbable, but it’s no less improbable than many of the facts of her life. The new biopic is mostly true to what we know of the real Harriet Tubman, though writer-director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) and co-writer Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the TitansAli) take some considerable liberties with both the timeline of events and the creation of several characters. We consulted biographies, articles, primary sources, and a few contemporary historians so we could break down what’s historical record and what’s artistic license.

Tubman’s Early Life as Araminta “Minty” Ross

Just as in the movie, Tubman (played here by Cynthia Erivo) grew up on a farm in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she was born Araminta “Minty” Ross. Though the movie may leave the impression that she only took on the name Harriet Tubman when she reached freedom, she seems to have taken it when she was married, taking Harriet from her mother, Harriet Ross, and Tubman from her husband, a free black man named John Tubman. Despite that, her owners still called her by the name they gave her, as evidenced by the Oct. 3, 1849, advertisement for the return of “Minty” taken out by Tubman’s mistress Eliza Brodess when she eventually escaped.”

Source: Harriet movie historical accuracy: What’s fact and what’s fiction in the Harriet Tubman biopic.

Harriet (2019) – Rotten Tomatoes

HARRIET  Critics Consensus   Harriet serves as a sincere tribute to a pivotal figure in American history — albeit one undermined by its frustratingly formulaic approach. 74%TOMATOMETERTotal Count: 190 97% AUDIENCE SCORE    Verified Ratings: 11,593  MORE INFO

Source: Harriet (2019) – Rotten Tomatoes

Harriet | by Richard Brody – The New Yorker

We saw Harriet the other night, and we loved it. It was criticized on Rotten Tomatoes for not being very violent, and being somewhat a traditional adventure story. That’s our kind of film. The score at Rotten Tomatoes was a 74, but the audience reviews were at 97!  Metacritic is similar, with a score of 66, but the New Yorker was assigned a 90.

Here is the New Yorker review:

 

“The intensity and the lyrical fervor of Kasi Lemmons’s direction lend this historical drama, about Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her work with the Underground Railroad, the exalted energy of secular scripture. The action begins in Maryland, in 1849, where the enslaved Araminta Ross (Cynthia Erivo) is granted permission to marry the freeman John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). When she is denied the freedom that she’d been promised, she risks her life to flee to Philadelphia. Taking her mother’s name, Harriet, she returns covertly—and armed—to guide her relatives to freedom, and is pursued by her former master and his posse. Then, after the Fugitive Slave Act is passed, in 1850, Northern cities no longer insure safety. The movie, written by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard, presents a gripping and wide-ranging view of her activity—including her work with a daring black clergyman (Vondie Curtis-Hall) and the black abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who devotedly records the stories of the formerly enslaved—and her inner life, featuring depictions of the virtually prophetic visions that guide her in her mission.— Richard Brody”

Source: Harriet | The New Yorker

Opinion | Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

Margaret Renkl

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

CreditCreditDaniel Becerril/Reuters

“NASHVILLE — When the Rev. Dan Reehil, a Catholic priest, ordered the removal of all Harry Potter books from the parish school’s library, the St. Edward community demanded an explanation. Father Reehil responded by email, noting that he had “consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome,” and had been assured that the “curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

I read all seven Harry Potter books aloud to all three of my children, one at a time, as they became old enough to understand the books’ complicated plots, so I understand why Father Reehil’s explanation assuaged no parental concerns. Exorcists? Real spells? No wonder the story became international news almost as soon as The Tennessean broke it. Articles about the incident have appeared in outlets as diverse as The Washington PostCBS NewsEntertainment WeeklyThe Independent in Britain, and Forbes, among many others.

Before I heard this story, I would not have thought it necessary to point out that Harry Potter is a fictional character and that these books are not spellbooks. They are novels, tales J.K. Rowling made up out of her prodigious imagination.

Harry Potter and his friends don’t exist in real life, but they wrestle with real-life challenges: bullies, rejection, loneliness, fear, grief — and, yes, with clueless adults whose behavior is patently ludicrous. Nashville’s St. Edward School might as well be Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, for the story of Father Rehill sounds very much like the story of Delores Umbridge, a Ministry of Magic bureaucrat-turned-school-inquisitor.”

Opinion | Bad Times in Trumpville – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“Gee, you wake up one morning and the entire political world is transformed.

I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy! The Republicans have no health care plan or even a plan about how to get one. Trying to get rid of Obamacare had been their most humiliating failure in the two years they controlled the White House and Congress. Last thing in the world they want to bring up.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT comments
Thank you Gail, magnificent. Very annoying, that reference to cruel April, what are you talking about. With out Google, I’d just be a frustrated illiterate. But I did find something about Thomas Stearns Elliot, who wrote The Wasteland, at PoetryFoundation.org: The Waste Land BY T. S. ELIOT FOR EZRA POUND IL MIGLIOR FABBRO I. The Burial of the Dead April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s, My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free.”
The rest can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land but it’s not my cup of tea.
Written in 1922, Elliot was depressed, getting divorced, and shook up by WW 1. Maybe it will be easier to read after lunch. Maybe I have a tin uneducated ear, or in my focus on mitigating climate change, its seems like depressing rubbish. I’d rather read the NYT.

Isabel Wilkerson on Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and the Great Migration – The New York Times

By Isabel Wilkerson
Dec. 6, 2018, 262

BECOMING
By Michelle Obama
Illustrated. 426 pp. Crown. $32.50.

“Back in the ancestral homeland of Michelle Obama, the architects of Jim Crow took great pains to set down the boundaries and define the roles of anyone living in the pre-modern South. Signs directed people to where they could sit, stand, get a sip of water. They reinforced the social order of an American hierarchy — how people were seen, what they were called, what they had been before the Republic was founded and what was presumed they could never be.

The signs reminded every inhabitant of the very different place of black women and white women in the hierarchy. There were restrooms for “white ladies” and often, conversely, restrooms for “colored women.” Black women were rarely granted the honorific Miss or Mrs., but were addressed by their first name, or simply as “gal” or “auntie” or worse. This so openly demeaned them that many black women, long after they had left the South, refused to answer if called by their first name.

A mother and father in 1970s Texas named their newborn “Miss” so that white people would have no choice but to address their daughter by that title. To the founding fathers and the enforcers of Jim Crow, and to their silent partners in the North, black women were meant for the field or the kitchen, or for use as they saw fit. They were, by definition, not ladies. The very idea of a black woman as first lady of the land, well, that would have been unthinkable.”

Opinion | The Myth of the Border Wall – By Greg Grandin – The New York Times

By Greg Grandin
Mr. Grandin is a professor of history.

Feb. 20, 2019, 383
Credit Rose Wong

“All nations have borders, but only the United States has had a frontier — or at least a frontier that served as a symbol for freedom, synonymous with the possibilities and promises of modern life and held out as a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

For over a century, the American frontier represented the universalism of the nation’s ideals. It suggested not only that the country was moving forward, but also that the brutality involved in moving forward would be transformed into something noble. Extend the sphere of America’s influence, as James Madison believed, and you would ensure peace, protect individual liberty and dilute factionalism. As our boundaries widened, all of humanity would become our country. There was no problem caused by expansion that couldn’t be solved by more expansion.

But today the frontier is closed. The country has lived past the end of that myth. After centuries of pushing forward across the frontier — first, the landed frontier, then the frontiers of expanding economic markets and sweeping military dominance — all the things that expansion was supposed to preserve have been destroyed, and all the things it was meant to destroy have been preserved. Instead of peace, there is endless war. Instead of prosperity we have intractable inequality. Instead of a critical, resilient and open-minded citizenry, a conspiratorial nihilism, rejecting reason and dreading change, has taken hold.

Where the frontier once symbolized perennial rebirth, Donald Trump’s border wall — even if it remains mostly phantasmagorical, a perpetual negotiating chip between Congress and the White House — now looms like a tombstone.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

Here are the top comments which I endorsed:

cherrylog754
Atlanta, GA

“the choice between barbarism and socialism” I’m almost 76, so it’s unlikely that I’ll see which choice was made. But…. Do not despair, nothing ever was like the 60’s in America. A brutal war, riots, dogs let loose on fellow citizens, college students gunned down by the National Guard. more riots, marches and demonstrations every week it seemed. And it culminated in the early 70’s with the resignation of the President. 58,000 young soldiers died for nothing. What is happening today is bad, but it will end in 2020. And this old man has enough faith in our citizenry that we’ll start the healing process just as we’ve done before.

mancuroc commented February 20

mancuroc
rochester

I don’t know how successful trump would be in keeping others out with his beautiful wall. I do know that he has managed to imprison his followers behind a wall of their own ignorance, which will do lasting damage to this country.

ChristineMcM commented February 20

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“Mr. Trump figured out that to talk about the border, and to promise a wall, was a way of acknowledging capitalism’s limits, its costs, without having to challenge the status quo.” What an article, so much to digest! And how manipulative the man who figured out a way to make racism seem like patriotism. It makes me shudder how much venom resides inside a man who has everything. Problem is, he doesn’t want any “others” to have anything, let alone something, Just imagine what this country could accomplish if Trump’s fixation on the wall and and fake urgency to keep “undesirables” out could have been aimed his energy at into fixing our nation’s real problems: climate change, wealth inequality, infrastructure, the opioid crisis! But no, instead of thinking big like every other president before him, Donald Trump wants to change the balance of power in this country by thinking small. I believe on some level that wall has come to represent Donald Trump’s soul. Let that sink in for a few minutes, and see how you feel.

The Obama Presidential Library That Isn’t – By Jennifer Schuessler – The New York Times

By Jennifer Schuessler
Feb. 20, 2019, 4

“The Obama Presidential Center promises to be a presidential library like no other.

The four-building, 19-acre “working center for citizenship,” set to be built in a public park on the South Side of Chicago, will include a 235-foot-high “museum tower,” a two-story event space, an athletic center, a recording studio, a winter garden, even a sledding hill.

But the center, which will cost an estimated $500 million, will also differ from the complexes built by Barack Obama’s predecessors in another way: It won’t actually be a presidential library.

In a break with precedent, there will be no research library on site, and none of Mr. Obama’s official presidential records. Instead, the Obama Foundation will pay to digitize the roughly 30 million pages of unclassified paper records from the administration so they can be made available online.

And the entire complex, including the museum chronicling Mr. Obama’s presidency, will be run by the foundation, a private nonprofit entity, rather than by the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency that administers the libraries and museums for all presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval