Movies

I DON’T KNOW if it’s because I haven’t spent much time watching movies in the last six months (having been otherwise engaged in reading old books or gorging on empty-calorie news), but I was particularly impressed by Enola Holmes, a movie based on more recent fiction stories about a much younger sister of the great sleuth Sherlock of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fame. I was intrigued by the cast as it featured some heavies like Helena Bonham-Carter and Henry Cavil, but the lead actress, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola, was captivating. I expect she will do much more on the big screen. The theme follows  a burgeoning trend I began posting about many years ago, namely stories that focus on female protagonists in roles that

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  [This is a seasonal piece from Unit Three Writings] MY SEASON APPROACHES and with it arrive my best prospects for redemption. I refer to September, both as the ninth month and as a stage of Life–the ripeness of being that precedes the bitter cold. I refer to the September I was born in and those sweet, sad days that invite surrender to Melancholy’s caress. This belief takes shape in me only now, at fifty. It formed in increments by way of three separate and eclectic experiences. The first came while I was away at college, that blissful period when my future was indiminishable by doubt or skepticism, and a writing pad stuck out of my back pocket that I might recognize and record rare

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      I WAS A FAN of Matthew Rhys from having watched The Americans series and then had no choice but to rave about him in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. His typically somber and introspective character is perfect for the tone of this series. The measure, for me, of the strength of a series is how deeply I pine for the next episode and I pined (silently) like a hound for the chase. This Perry Mason genesis story has all the things I like: it’s a period piece, it’s noir,  has good casting with several plot points converging. At a time in our country when Justice and Truth are struggling to take a form we can all recognize, what better way to put them into

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    [This piece, taken from the writing collection of the same title, is re-posted as an anniversary tribute. Dad died on August 12, 2013. ]       The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder is my favorite book. It is probably also the most underrated novel of the last century. I never merely re-read it; every few years it summons me, and like a somnambulist I turn to the bookshelf and reach for my copy. A novel such as that is a conjurer’s orb: your hands surround and caress it, your eyes peer into its depths and… a voice sounds. The voice wields the kind of authority that dismisses fiction. The images, the characters—the story chronicles a series of events so rife with Truth

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STOCK MARKET CHARTS  tell a story. Of course on the surface, most chart styles show a continuous map of prices over a period of time. But what a chart actually depicts is a series of collective (investor) responses to the flow of new information about the earnings potential for the companies involved (e.g. DOW or S&P 500). OK, so what? Well during the evolution of a mania or bubble, there comes a point when prices are driven not by the potential for earnings but by the price action itself. In other words, more emphasis is placed on the rising prices than on the reasoning behind them. Perhaps my favorite definition of a bubble is purely psychological – as it should be: a bubble happens when

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In my mother’s kitchen, and taped to the door of a cabinet where cups and plates are kept, is a laminated Catholic Diocese card. The card is divided into two distinct sections. The top part is titled The Corporal Works of Mercy. The “works” are ministrations to be made and observations to be kept in caring for –to name some of them–the poor, the sick, and the dead. The lower part describes The Spiritual Works of Mercy. This section addresses, among other items, forgiveness toward the wretched and prayers for the dead.  The Diocese card made it clear that Mercy took the form of both Thought and Deed. Earlier this week, after a spate of cool, damp weather had broken and given way to a

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Movies

Movies are more than entertainment. While film is one of the most powerful mediums for storytelling, movies can inform and inspire. First of all, Movies—the good ones—are part of our culture. Once a movie is established as “good,” it conveys some valid message about the human experience. What people watch is important—just as it is important what they read and listen to.

Movies inspire, too. When I see  an impassioned performance or notice an exceptional display of cinematography, it makes me want to try and create art.  Great stories are there to ask us if we, like the hero and heroine, could rise to become our best selves when a lot was at stake, or when no one else would do the right thing.

So do I watch movies at home?  Yes, but the movie theatre, as Joseph Campbell noted, was like a temple. Moviegoing is a ritual. We go there to receive the potent “myths” of our time, and we hope to walk away slightly charged with purpose or reminded of what it means to be human—which is why we should be seeing movies at the theater, with strangers, humans.

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Markets

The markets are probably more interesting than the movies. After all, every day billions are pilfered in elaborate schemes, the equivalent of warfare takes place in the currency and equity markets, and heroes and villains make the headlines.

Aside from the drama involved, the spectacle of crowds in action is something to behold. The average person sees little more than the change in the value of their stocks or funds at the end of the day. But imagine watching a few bankers at the Federal Reserve change a couple words in their statement, only to add or erase half a trillion dollars in global values of bonds and stock.

Macroeconomics is essential. And the history of markets is priceless—people repeat the same patterns for centuries.

Does it matter that we use computers or smartphones to buy stocks? No.

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…and More

I have taught for about fifteen years now. But I got lucky. I was offered the chance to teach classes in world religions, diversity, economics, finance and Africa—to name a few.  The value for me was to see how those subjects interrelate.

I do not see political parties, or terrorists, or despots or ideologies any more: I see power structures and patterns. History did not have much value for me in high school or college—oh, it was interesting, but I did not see the usefulness. I see it today.

People have not changed in ten thousand years. They were just as smart then as we are today. And when they get together in groups, they do the same things. Over. And over.  Africa, for example, is a study in power structures. First tribes, then empires, then colonial powers, then religious influences, then Cold-War rivalries.

The world is anarchy. In anarchy, power is king. Watch the power. It’s a little like “follow the money.”

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