Big Times in Big-D

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When you are driving to Dallas in July, the last thing you think will happen is that the temperatures will be below the high nineties. But when I pulled into the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, the Dallas suburb near the airport, it was only 82. In Texas, in July, this constitutes a minor miracle. It was the first of many pleasant surprises, and you might even be a little shocked to hear that I, Miss Lit on Lit-Er-Ah-Ture, was there for a conference to hear all about science writing.

Strange, but true.

I brought my son Christopher with me because he wasn’t named after the Patron Saint of Travel for nothing, and when we drove the long way from Houston, he read to me from a book called Ambush about Bonnie and Clyde. He had visited the Bonnie and Clyde museum in Louisiana, saw where they were shot dead, and wanted to disabuse me of any romantic notions I might have about them. He told me that Bonnie was really a waitress, (although he used the more politically correct “server,”) and that “she was just a tag-along, although they were in love.” When we walked into the hotel, the first thing we saw was the restaurant called “Bonnie and Clyde’s.” We looked at each other and laughed. Well, you can’t reach everyone.
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The Magnificence of “Maleficent”

Angelina Jolie may be the most beautiful woman on the planet, the face that launches not thousands, but countless ticket sales for the pleasure of seeing her unforgettable image on the wide screens of movie theaters across the globe.  Like Edgar Allan Poe’s “Helen,” she has a “classic” beauty that seems to defy time.  She does not seem of this century, but of any century, take your pick.

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No wonder she was chosen to play the gorgeous and gloriously malcontented Maleficent in Disney’s “retelling” of the animated “Sleeping Beauty” that I saw as a child.  And why not?  Figuring out whether or not “true love’s kiss” cures anything, including the need for a wake-up call, is a puzzle that is never going to go away.

Now let me tell you right up front that this is not a movie review, and I am going to give it all away, so just ex-out right now if you are afraid of “spoilers.”  This is just some writing–you don’t need movie reviewers to help you with Disney movies now, do you? Of course not. And to tell you the truth, I am sick to death of “critics,” with their murderous dissections, their insufferable arrogance.  They don’t “help” me as much as they protest. It’s my movie and I will like it if I want to.  Or, not.  Usually, I change sides. I like to think about it, revel in ambivalence or just be fickle about it.  Hey, the stakes are low.

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A Million Rose Petals: A D-Day Remembrance

On 6 June 1944 Americans stormed French beaches in the Battle of Normandy under commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.  It was the turning point for World War II, and was decisive for defeating Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

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Americans wounded after storming Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944

Yet on my neighborhood street, only one flag other than mine flies in memory of these brave Americans, some of whom gave their lives so that Western Europe, and the West in general, could remain free.

On television, commemorative profiles of the few veterans remaining alive are overwhelmed by the distressing reports that we have just traded five of the most dangerous terrorists in our own war, the war on terror, in exchange for a soldier who might have deserted, might have collaborated with the enemy.  The White House and journalists in general are okay with “not being sure.”  Yet the soldiers who actually served with Bowe Bergdahl seem 100% sure that he left his station without permission.  We know for sure six soldiers died looking for him.  Bergdahl’s parents get a big ceremony in the White House rose garden.  The soldiers who died looking for him get nothing.

This is unjust. Continue reading

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