If you live to the east of me, and the weather we had last night is headed your way, let me just say this: I hope you enjoy rain. It looks as though most of it is off to the south now, the dregs of the system. Maybe a little over central Pennsylvania and… what do they call that big westerly chunk of New York state? The Something Tier, as I recall. You folks there? Bring an umbrella.
It arrived last night after midnight, loud enough that I relocated far from the skylight I normally work under, as the sound effects were like being parked next to a jackhammer. Another tip: If you’re ever tempted to buy a house with a skylight in the bedroom? Don’t do that. There’s a place for skylights, and I love mine, but it’s not over your bed, and not because of leaks. Maybe if you’re an alcoholic, and every night’s rest is aided by bourbon, you can sleep through even an average rain shower pounding on glass five feet above your head. But everybody else should leave skylights for the rooms where you’re not trying to rest.
That said, how was everybody’s Tuesday? Once again, I’m impressed by how well you guys can carry the ball when I’m unable. I was unable yesterday because this is spring break, and I’m celebrating by catching an extra 45 minutes of sleep or so, which cuts into my blogging time on days when I have to get down to campus by 10 a.m. When I saw how late spring break was going to be this year — it’s always wrapped around Easter in our district — I dropped any thought of travel. A mid-April spring break would surely mean a string of days in the 70s here, while the Florida people would swelter in the already unbearable heat of a fast-approaching summer.
No such luck. I guess. That’s what feeding your envy will get you.
So, today, instead — let’s graze a bit. First, a tip for those of you browsing the video selections: “Night Catches Us,” a lovely little film I caught early last evening after finding it at the library. “Criminally overlooked,” says Slate, and I’d say that’s about right. I’m interested in low-budget films that tell urban stories for my own selfish reasons, and this one was such a pleasant surprise. Set in the summer of 1976, it’s the story of an ex-Black Panther home for his father’s funeral, and the way the events of the past won’t let go of the present. Those particular events — the brief flowering of the black power movement before it collapsed into lawlessness — are public record, although like so many of these things, certain people prefer very particular sets of facts about them. What’s wonderful about Tanya Hamilton’s script is that it doesn’t shrink from the pain, while still acknowledging the things about the Panthers that were good and hopeful, even if they didn’t last. And what’s wonderful about her direction is how she makes all this work tonally, how she plays everything restrained and sad while still maintaining the energy. For once, a movie where people talk and act approximately the same way they talk and act in the real world.
Which might be why it was criminally overlooked, but hey, I’m doing my part. Word of mouth, word of blog, whatever. Oh, and a tip of the hat to the great soundtrack, by maybe the only band that can evoke both ’60s soul and contemporary hip-hop with equal command — the Roots.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the prescription-drug problem, only now starting to be acknowledged by those outside the regions it has most damaged — Appalachia and Florida and points between. How’s this for a statistic?
Nearly 1 in 10 babies born last year in this Appalachian county tested positive for drugs. …In Ohio, fatal overdoses more than quadrupled in the last decade, and by 2007 had surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death, according to the Department of Health.
That’s from a NYT piece datelined Portsmouth, Ohio, and no, it’s not a pretty picture, but that’s life in Appalachia. It’s never been easy there, but it’s been better than it is now, when there were still jobs in mining and light industry. No more of that. Might as well get high.
The other night I surfed briefly past a Barbara Walters special on the royal wedding that was so stupid it made my brain hurt. It reminded me how careful you have to be about your royal-wedding news. I trust Christopher Hitchens won’t let me down.
Finally, I just registered with Byliner, the latest savior of long-form journalism, to read Jon Krakauer’s piece on the “Three Cups of Tea” guy. I’ll let you know how it turns out. For now, gotta run.