Beginning My Deep Dive Into Tolkien

“The road goes ever on.”

Misty Midwest Mossiness

A dear friend of mine sent me off on a wonderful Tolkien tangent last week when she replied to my Podcast Pickup post and directed me to the Prancing Pony Podcast.  I quickly scanned the last half dozen posted episodes and settled on #038, also entitled “I Will Choose Free Will” – which immediately gave me a Rush earworm.  Not one to be daunted by a nearly two hour podcast (we are dealing with ‘epic’ fantasy here), I gave a listen to the ongoing discussion of The Silmarillion, specifically Chapter 21 and Túrin Turambar.  I pulled out my ebook edition and quickly skimmed Chapter 21 to remind myself of the story.  I really enjoyed the insights and the banter of the hosts.  It took me several days to completely listen to the episode, but by the end I was hooked and a plan began to form in…

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You Bet Your Life

Probably a faster read than Pensees itself.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

Cover Image of Making Sense of it all: Pascal and the Meaning of LifeGoodreads SynopsisAn instructive and entertaining book that addresses basic life questions. Relating numerous personal anecdotes, incorporating, intriguing material from the films of Woody Allen and the journals of Leo Tolstoy, and using the writings of the seventeenth-century genius Blaise Pascal as a central guide, Morris explores the nature of faith, reason, and the meaning of life. His lucid reflections provide fresh, fertile insights and perspectives for any thoughtful person journeying through life.

Read the week of May 7, 2017 by the grace of one of the wonders of the modern world: Interlibrary Loan

My Thoughts

Morris did an excellent job of pulling together Pascal’s Thoughts and presenting powerful arguments in support of his famous Wager.  For me, it ended up being a reaffirmation of my personal faith, a honing of my reasoning and renewed focus on my life’s purpose and direction.  This is the first of many tangential…

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Movie Review: Collateral Beauty, directed by David Frankel (Four Stars)

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theatrical release poster

Movie Review: Collateral Beauty, directed by David Frankel

Four Stars

“This doesn’t feel right.” “I know. But when something starts with a six-year-old dying, nothing is gonna feel right.”

A complex, yet satisfying contemplation of love, death and time. Not all morose and weepy, it has its motions of emotion. Clever script by Allan Loeb. Filmed in New York City in winter, it feels both intimate and connected.

“Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty.”

Will Smith can act: who knew? Though this movie drew the lowest opening weekend box office of Smith’s career, it’s a better movie and not all about him. If anything, it’s more like an essemble theater piece, with some players in multiple roles.

“But you never know, nothing’s ever really dead if you look at it right.”

Virtual Family Bake Off

My niece is a great bread artist.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

I received a call from my son Thursday evening.  This is a somewhat unusual occurrence as the last time I spoke to him was on the occasion of his 31st birthday back in early February.  In our defense, we are both busy professionals working much more than your typical 40-hour work week, so we don’t have a lot of spare time for idle chit-chat.

Derek and Ton Ton Derek and Ton Ton

We exchanged pleasantries and got caught up on the latest antics of their new pet Rottweiler, Ton Ton, when he popped the question.  You know, the one you always expect when your offspring call you because they never call you unless they … wait for it … want something.  But this time, my son surprised me.  He wanted my Italian Herb bread recipe.

Seriously?  This was too easy and too good to be true.

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Book Review: The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas J. Fleming (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas J. Fleming

Four Stars

“In their loves and losses, their hopes and fears, they are more like us than we have dared to imagine.”

A worthwhile addition to the histories of our founding. Superficially what seems trivial reveals deep of relevance for understanding both the founders and the product of their labors.

“Newspaper ethics in the nineteenth century did not put a high value on accuracy. ‘Faking’ a story … was accepted journalistic practice.”

The universal themes seem to be of men driven almost to monomania, often to the neglect of wives and family. In several cases, it is impossible to know the man without knowing the wife. Most were dedicated to their spouses. Sadly, those who had sons or grandsons almost universally begat individuals who embarrassed them, improvised them, and broke their hearts. Their daughters seem to be woven of finer stuff.

“Nothing is ours which another can deprive us of.” Thomas Jefferson

Well-conceived, well-researched, well-written.

“Dolly [Madison] concluded that a woman who waded into the contentious side of politics aroused the always lurking hostility between the sexes and won no friends for her side of the argument.”

America Made Great Again

image from suggest-keywords.com

image from suggest-keywords.com

America is not great because of it large, talented population. Nor of its huge gross domestic product. Nor its arsenal of nuclear warheads. Nor its vast natural resources. Many other countries enjoy some of those benefits and burdens.

America is great–and proves its greatness every day–because it respects its own limitations, most recently by a ruling by the government’s courts against the government.

The leader of the government may not like the ruling. He may appeal the ruling. He may berate and ridicule the judges, but … but he will abide by the ruling.

America is great because the most powerful man in America is not above the law.

And the least powerful is not beneath the law.

The Times May Be Changing, But Not the Divisions

The Times May Be Changing, But Not the Divisions

Not only do we live in an increasingly black and white world, but the polarization of American politics flips our values with every change of administration. Yesterday’s truth becomes today’s lie. What was formerly good is now condemned. Just because the party of the person sitting in the Oval Office has changed.

Folks now aghast at Trump’s coziness with Putin denied revelations that the Clintons fronted for Russian oligarchs buying American uranium mining companies. The people who used to complain about the size and cost of Michelle Obama’s entourages are mum about the expense of maintaining multiple Trump households. The test of “false news” is not truth, but consonance with my preconceptions. Who checks the fact checkers?

The filter of faction is highly polarized. We aren’t aware of our own bias because our sources of news and opinion pre-filter information before it reaches us. We think we’re reasonable. We’re not biased, only those other folks.

The filter we look through is the first thing we don’t see.

Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Four Stars

“Sometimes even bad advice can point a man in the right direction.”

Eight stories bound to stretch your imagination if not your horizons.

“Maturity means seeing the differences, but realizing they don’t matter.”

Original, thought-provoking fiction in a range of times and contexts.

“When you love someone, you don’t really see what they look like.”