Letters

Letters 11-24-2014

Dangerous Votes You voted for Dr. Dan. Thanks!Rep. Benishek failed to cosponsor H.R. 601. It stops subsidies for big oil companies. He failed to cosponsor H.R. 1084. There is an exemption for hydraulic fracturing written into the Safe Drinking Water Act. H.R. 1084. It would require the contents of fracking fluids to be publicly disclosed to protect the public health.

Solar Is The Answer There have been many excellent letters about the need for our region, state and nation to take action on climate change. Now there is a viable solution to this ever-growing problem: Solar energy is the future.

Real Minimum Wage In 1966, a first class stamp cost 5 cents and minimum wage was $1.25. Today, a first class stamp is 49 cents, so federal minimum wage should be $11.25.

Doesn’t Seem Warmer I enjoy the “environmentalists” twisting themselves into pretzels trying to convince us that it is getting warmer. Sure it is... 

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Thursday, August 1, 2002

Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley Tops a List of Folk Lore

Books Nancy Sundstrom “My grandfather had a beautiful voice. Irish tenor. Beautiful. Too much of a military hardass to deal with his own and his son‘s talents. I wish it were otherwise. I love you, you poor b-------.... With a father like this man, it is no wonder that Tim Buckley was afraid to come back to me. So afraid to be my father. Because his only paradigm for fatherhood was a deranged lunatic with a steel plate in his head.... I know that he must have been scared s------- to think he might possibly become like his father. Scared s------- of treating me the way his father treated him and his family. Can you imagine the heartbreak? The useless, s----- torture day in, day out?“

-- Jeff Buckley, Journal Entry, August 9, 1995

A recent rediscovery of Tim Buckley’s blisteringly erotic 1972 album, “Greetings From L.A.“ reminded me that I was long overdue to read David Browne’s acclaimed biography from earlier this year of Buckley and his son, Jeff, whose 1997 death by drowning eerily mirrored Tim’s own demise of a drug overdose in 1975.
 
Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Emperor of Ocean Park Probes Affluent Black America

Books Nancy Sundstrom Stephen Carter’s “The Emperor of Ocean Park“ is one book you won’t want to miss this summer. Smart, engrossing, tense, and loaded with provocative ideas on a range of subjects from justice to father-son relationships, it’s the sort of work that’s both satisfying and challenging.
“Emperor“ is the fictional debut of Carter, a Yale law professor and distinguished conservative African-American intellectual who has authored seven acclaimed nonfiction books, including “The Culture of Disbelief“ and “Civility.“
 
Thursday, July 11, 2002

A Cherry Home Companion

Books Nancy Sundstrom Patty LaNoue Stearns loves food and writing about it, and after tackling her latest creative project, it’s safe to say that she also loves cherries.
Longtime food critic and writer Stearns has a hot-off-the-presses book out in time for the 76th Annual National Cherry Festival entitled “Cherry Home Companion.“ With 130 tested cherry recipes - many from renowned chefs like Pete Peterson of Tapawingo fame and Keith Famie, a celebrity chef who has his own show on the Food Network who was also a “Survivor“ contestant - along with vintage cherry festival posters and postcards, cherry poems, songs and trivia, it is a unique, and even high-end guide to the wonderful world of cherries.
 
Thursday, July 4, 2002

The Scar Offers a Pirate Kingdom and State-of-the-art Sci-fi

Books Nancy Sundstrom Though I’m open to books of (nearly) any genre out there, truth be told, I’m a reluctant reader of science fiction.
It’s not that I haven’t appreciated the works of Clarke, Dick, Azimov, and even early predecessors like Wells, Verne, and Orwell, I tend to be a bit overwhelmed by the hyper-real worlds they present. I dote on reality-based fiction, and perhaps that’s my problem - when what’s outside your front door is already terrifically beautiful, going one step into the altered states of beyond can feel like - and I quote songwriter Greg Brown - one cool remove.
But I was intrigued when someone insisted I read “The Scar,“ the third book in a well-respected trilogy by an English author with the unlikely moniker of China Miééééville. I was sufficiently challenged when told that “this isn’t your father’s science fiction,“ even as I winced, thinking that the parental unit’s and my version of that genre probably weren’t so far apart anymore.
 
Thursday, June 27, 2002

The Nanny Diaries Offers an Underdog‘s Glimpse of Park Avenue

Books Nancy Sundstrom “Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless-bordering on masochistic Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived pre-schooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employer‘s Hermes bag. Those who take it personally need not apply.“

Who wouldn‘t want that job, you might ask, the above being from the jacket of “The Nanny Diaries,“ a glitzy train wreck of a novel that defies you constantly to put it down.
It holds many points of fascination, with its detailed, insider’s look into the Park Avenue apartments where women wouldn’t be seen without being draped in Prada, children attend Mommy and Me groups with their sitters and peers named Brandford and Darwin, and fathers, when they deign to make their presences known at all, are stunningly oblivious to the needs of their families.
 
Thursday, June 13, 2002

Great Beach Reads -- Part I

Books Nancy Sundstrom This avid reader loves to plan summer “beach reads“ the way oddsmakers handicap sports events, and as I plan ahead for this year’s picks, it looks like a clear case of so many books, so little time.
Beaches, a venue of escape themselves, provide a singularly unique backdrop for escapist reading, which is no doubt why many opt for that locale to enjoy thrillers, steamy romances, and other fare that transport us to other worlds, the way the best books do. In the hotter months, when we do take the time to soak up sun and bask a bit, be it in the hammock in the back yard, or with a cold one near the water somewhere, it’s perfectly acceptable - and even encouraged - to indulge yourself in a “beach read.“
How you define that is your choice, but here’s a few new releases that I plan to lose myself in over the next few months.
 
Thursday, June 6, 2002

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Books Nancy Sundstrom If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. --‘‘Book the First: The Bad Beginning‘‘


Move over, Harry Potter, and get ready for Lemony Snicket to kick some serious booty.
The first and most logical question is, of course, who is Lemony Snicket? Some say that he’s the alter ego of writer Daniel Handler, but he says otherwise, leading millions of readers of the best-selling “A Series of Unfortunate Events“ to become even more intrigued about the identity of its humorous, cynical, and seriously elusive author.
What’s even more compelling, if not frightening, is the notion that together, the collective “we“ make up Lemony Snicket, but who cares? Parents and kids are fighting over who will get their hands on the next installment first, and anytime that happens is cause for celebration, says I.
 
Thursday, May 30, 2002

Great Book Stores in the Big Easy

Books Nancy Sundstrom New Orleans is my favorite city in the world, partially because like others (the list including London, Paris, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco), it has a remarkable literary heritage - one rich as a dessert of Grand Marnier bread pudding at Commander’s Palace, as spicy as the great gumbo found everywhere, and as varied as the human drama that plays itself out every five feet on the endlessly fascinating streets of the French Quarter.
Somewhat to the consternation of my family, I really indulged myself by spending more time than usual in the bookstores of the Quarter on a recent vacation to the Big Easy. The stores themselves truly reflect the marvelous tapestry of life in one of America’s oldest and most unique cities. It just doesn’t cut it to wander in to a national chain store (you know the names), when you can browse in the likes of the Garden District Book Shop where Anne Rice does all of her book signings, or lose yourself dreaming about taking home one of the rare collectibles at Faulkner House Books, a store that is, hands down, and like the city, my favorite in the world.
 
Thursday, May 16, 2002

Goth & Doom Revealed

Books Nancy Sundstrom New twists on the gothic horror novel and the biography result in some startling fresh takes on these genres in two works out in paperback from Vintage Books, a New York-based publishing company who never seem at a loss for discovering or printing provocative works and authors.
In this case, the tomes are “Observatory Mansions,“ the first novel from English playwright and illustrator Edward Carey, and “The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives,“ by Sebastian Faulks, the bestselling author of “Birdsong“ and “Charlotte Gray,“ which was recently made into a film with Cate Blanchett.
Both are compelling works that breathe new air into their respective genres. There‘s never a shortage of powerful, moving, eloquent, or stylishly crafted books in the literary world, but if one subscribes to the idea that there really are no new ideas, you can go along with the reasoning that it becomes more difficult to introduce a sense of wonder or discovery into a particular category of storytelling. Happily, these two books provide a strong argument to that thinking.
 
Thursday, May 9, 2002

The Clan Carries on with Shelters of Stone

Books Nancy Sundstrom Gimme Shelter!
That’s what fans of Jean Auel have been screaming for awhile now, as they have waited patiently over the past 12 years for “The Shelters of Stone,“ the fifth installment in her phenomenal Earth’s Children’s series, to come out.
At long last, it has, and faster than you can say “Cro-Magnon“ three times really fast, it has shot to the top of best seller lists, though it has been out for just a week now.
Fans, especially those who have followed the series since it burst onto the literary world in 1980 with “Clan of the Cave Bear“ and possessing all the crackle of the first-ever sparks of flame being lit, won’t be disappointed at all. The length of time that has passed may actually have been a savvy move in ushering in a new generation of readers to heroine Ayla, a cavewoman raised by Neanderthals whose intelligence, beauty, and uncanny ability to light fires, heal, tame wild animals, and endure the harshest fates nature and humankind can dish at her renders her an outsider in her own tribe and a soulmate to hunky Jondalar.
 
Thursday, May 2, 2002

He was Blinded by the Right

Books Nancy Sundstrom Remember the brouhaha that took place a few years back when Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that a “vast right wing conspiracy“ existed in America? What do you know - it turns out she was right, at least according to David Brock, the original right-wing scandal reporter whose brand new book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative,“ has created just as much controversy.
If you don’t recognize Brock’s name or from his contributions to Esquire, Rolling Stone, Talk, New York Times, Washington Post op-ed pages, or National Public Radio, to name a few, you very likely might know him as the author of “The Real Anita Hill“ and “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham.“
 
Thursday, April 25, 2002

The Lessons of Terror: Why Wars Against Civilians are Doomed to Fail

Books Nancy Sundstrom “If a man is slain unjustly, his heir shall be entitled to satisfaction. But let him not carry his vengeance to excess, for his victim is sure to be assisted and avenged.“ –The Koran, 17:33

Hmmmm.
Caleb Carr has a point. He begins his latest tome, a slim, yet fascinating volume entitled “The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians: Why It Has Always Failed and Why It Will Fail Again,“ with this declaration: “To be emblematic of our age is to bear an evil burden.“ The 20th Century, he believes will be remembered largely for its non-stop succession of wars, genocides, and massacres, and we barely set foot in the new millennium before the event that will most likely define its first decade took place on September 11, 2001.
How did we come to this? How have we gotten to a point where men and women, in the name of a myriad of different causes, are capable not only of committing unthinkable atrocities, but doing so as a self-righteous act of war? What can possibly be done to reverse a centuries-old practice of targeting civilians in order to affect the political operation of nations? Why do our leaders continue to ignore history, thus repeating past mistakes when it comes to combating terrorism?
 
Thursday, April 18, 2002

Addled by Love, a Woman Seeks Atonement

Books Nancy Sundstrom It didn’t seem likely that lightening would strike so quickly again, but it has - in two different regards.
For one, Ian McEwan’s Booker Prize-nominated “Atonement” is his first novel since his marvelous “Amsterdam” took home the prize in 1998. For another, this is the second book of the new millennium, following “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen to truly deserve the label “masterpiece.”
One can only speculate as to why this elegant and engrossing novel, which will no doubt be referred to in years to come as one that played a key role in carrying on the rich tradition of British literature, was snubbed for the Booker Prize this year, but suffice it to say, that was a serious oversight.
 
Thursday, April 11, 2002

Between the Lines & Behind the Scenes in the World of Books

Books Nancy Sundstrom Writing recently about the literary broohahas that developed in response to two quite wonderful books, “Stupid White Men“ by Michael Moore and “The Corrections“ by Jonathan Franzen, reminded me that any successful book usually has some downright juicy scoop attached to it.
In that spirit, this column, usually dedicated to book reviews, is going between the lines, if you will, on some of the more interesting doings in the wonderful world of print.

Loudmouths
A few weeks back, I gave a thumbs-down to the obnoxious and boring saga spun by Gene Simmons in “Kiss and Make Up,“ and was eagerly beginning the latest tome from Caleb Carr, “The Lessons of Terror.“ Simultaneously, both authors got into some verbal slugfests with interviewers, with neither one gracefully acquitting themselves. In Simmons‘ case, comments like “If you want to welcome me with open arms, I‘m afraid you‘re also going to have to welcome me with open legs“ did little to curry the favor of the usually unflappable Terry Gross, host of NPR‘s “Fresh Air.“ Gross all but gave Simmons the hook, and since, the two have been giving each other a public dissing, though sentiment has clearly been with Gross.
 
Thursday, April 4, 2002

The Corrections Examines a Family on a Tightrope

Books Nancy Sundstrom Dazzling. Spellbinding. Exhilarating. Brilliant. Masterpiece.
These adjectives were typical of the sort used last year to describe
Jonathan Franzen‘s “The Corrections,“ a book that has long been on my
reading list and proved to be more than well worth the wait. This is the
type of novel one can actually let age a bit past the initial furor of
its release, and then completely savor because it deserves, if not
surpasses, all of its hype.
In this case, it wasn‘t just that Franzen, the New Yorker and Harper‘s
columnist whose previous two novels were “The Twenty-Seventh City“ and
“Strong Motion,“ had acquitted himself as a Dickens for the new
millennium, he was also at the eye of the storm of the biggest literary
broohaha of 2001.
 
 
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