Monthly Archives: December 2010

Can Art Perform in the Face of Death?

Film Friday – 2010 in Review One of my favorite holiday films is the comic melodrama Family Stone (2008), the story of a family’s Christmas reunion. Despite their determination to put on a happy front, the family must face up to a number of underlying tensions. Foremost among these is the mother’s terminal cancer, which […]

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Lit and Shared Political Conversations

2010 in Review Politically speaking, 2010 was a loud year for the United States, with many partisan voices in full throttle for much of it. There was also some substance. Here’s a look back. The most cataclysmic event was the January 14 Haitian earthquake, which prompted me to reflect on how literature is always inadequate […]

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Moments of Perfect Being Lie All about Us

2010 in Review The 1981 film science fiction film Escape from New York shows an entire city transformed into a maximum security prison from which no one can leave. Kurt Russell, of course, tries. The 1990 Bill Murray film Quick Change has three bank robbers successfully pulling off a heist in New York and then […]

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Obama, Idealist or Realist?

2010 in Review There was an interesting dust-up last week amongst conservative intellectuals following the release of some more Richard Nixon tapes. Henry Kissinger can be heard making the following cold-blooded remark about Soviet Jews in 1973: “Let’s face it: The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign […]

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So You Screwed Up–No Big Deal

Ten members of the Scott Bates clan have gathered in my parents’ Tennessee house, and two more, along with two beagles (Kipling and Beckett), are on their way. While the Christmas festivities have for the most part been joyous, we have had one moment of friction. Luckily, literature came to our aid. I keep the […]

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Inside These Wrappings, a Brighter Life

Spiritual Sunday Yesterday we had a white Christmas in Sewanee, Tennessee, where I am visiting my parents.  The world was brown when we went to bed and white when we awoke.  The symbolism of Christmas snow lies in the promise of wiping everything clean and starting anew.  Grace appears to enter our fallen world. That’s […]

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A Roc for Christmas (Annual Bird Count)

Sports Saturday I don’t know whether bird watching is officially considered a sport but, what with Christmas falling on a “Sports Saturday,” let’s say it is.  That way I have an excuse for writing about the annual Christmas bird count. Every year, between the middle of December and the first week in January, bird watchers […]

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Our Greatest Christmas Movie

Film Friday It’s Christmas Eve, which gives me an excuse to write about what I consider cinema’s greatest Christmas movie: Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a Wonderful Life is a variation of the archetypal Christmas story, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Both feature extraterrestrial spirits. Scrooge is shown how the world will become […]

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War or Lucasta: Which Is Worthier?

“You are off to blog rather than snuggle with your wife?” asked my wife incredulously as I slipped out of bed trying not to wake her. Which of course brought to mind a poem that I could blog about: To Lucasta, Going to the War By Richard Lovelace Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind, […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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