Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’.

Ugh, I know I said I was reading “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough… and I definitely started reading it, when I realized I had to take another book back to the library within just a few days!

Just to note, I have had my Austin library card for exactly 1 year now, and I haven’t ever had an overdue book or a late fee, and I plan to keep it that way. So, I had to switch things up and read my library book, “HillBilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, first.

I heard about this book on Instagram (I am always keeping my eyes open for books to add to my reading list), and I added to my library reserve list immediately. After months of waiting, I got it – and then of course had to read it within just a few days – which was actually not an issue because it was so good. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

While this book was published before the 2016 election, there are many, many clues within this book as to why Trump eventually won (despite what we now know about Russian involvement). Right after I finished reading this book, I started looking up reviews for it online and saw a mix – many people loved it, while lots of people said it didn’t represent the people it claims to.

But the author, Vance, says he’s not trying to make assumptions about large groups of people – merely stating what he knows about his family, and those he grew up with.

And if what he’s saying is true, I can 100% understand why Trump is our president now. It doesn’t make it any less sad, or difficult to deal with, but at least now I know. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the culture of various people, and/or politics.

Now, for real, the next book I’ll be reading is “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough. I swear!

Watch: ‘All the President’s Men’.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are cracking the case!

On Sunday, I vowed to myself to spend lots of time in bed and/or on the couch, just relaxing, and doing a little bit of cleaning out my DVR. This included watching one of the best journalistic thrillers ever: “All the President’s Men”!

“All the President’s Men” is based on the true story of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and their investigation into the Watergate scandal in the early 70’s.

I saw this movie for the first time at Columbus North High School (Go Bulldogs!) during my very first journalism class. Oh, the memories! While I enjoyed watching the movie then, I didn’t cherish the details of what I saw when I watched it on Sunday: the typewriters, the newsroom with landlines and rotary phones, reporters in ties and jackets, and the mere fact that to reach a deadline, you physically had to be present in the room to drop the typed draft into the editor’s basket. That is some classy shit.

The Watergate scandal started with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in DC, and it was later discovered that the Nixon administration was involved – after lots and lots of attempts to cover it up, naturally.

Part of this coverup meant the Nixon administration went to great lengths to figure out who was on to them, including bugging offices of their opponents, and anyone who seemed suspicious. The administration also used the FBI and the CIA to investigate activists and political figures. Hmm… sound familiar?

All of this drama from Nixon was actually a violation of the constitution, which lead to impeachment, and eventually, his resignation. And Bernstein and Woodward had a lot to do with uncovering all of the coverups, basically following the money that was given to the “robbers” back to the Nixon campaign.

We’ve been hearing a lot of references to Watergate lately, especially with President Trump’s blind accusation of former President Obama of wire tapping Trump Tower. Why? How? Really? Nothing has come out yet, and if I had to guess, it won’t.

But what I do know is that there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in the Trump administration – a lot of tricks to get the opposition to look one way, while there’s a shit storm in the other direction, and frankly, it’s creepy.

The thing is, Woodward and Bernstein used two very old-school journalism tactics to get the information they needed: charm and trust. They were able to get solid sources, and their sources handed over valuable information without fear of being named and getting caught.

This is one reason why Trump’s “Fake News” is the most terrifying thing out of his mouth, perhaps ever. Because he’s already insinuating that when (not if) the news reports something dangerously true (RUSSIA), then, well, it’s simply “fake”.

We’re what, two months into the Trump presidency, and shit is already super questionable, so I’m certain these comparisons to Watergate won’t stop anytime soon. The cool thing is, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are still around to comment on it, like the bad asses in chinos they once were.

“Trump’s attacks on the American press as ‘enemies of the American people’ are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press,” former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. You can read the full story here, and you should probably go ahead and watch “All the President’s Men”, at least for the indoor cigarettes and parking lot shots of Deep Throat.

“Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of this country.” -All the President’s Men

If Trump Wins: How to move to London.

Okay, GOP, I'M OUT.

Okay, GOP, I’M OUT.

I’m not really sure what the Republicans are thinking, but then again, when do I EVER know, or understand, or really care what’s going on there? Meh.

But in general, y’all have lost it. We put up with Bush. But Trump? No ma’am. That shit is no joke. Like I am moving overseas if this happens. So, if you’re on the same page as me, I’ve done the dirty work and figured out how to actually move to London, should the crazies take over.

Get a Visa

Not the credit card kind. If you’re a student, lucky you – visas are easier to get if that’s the case. You can also try and get one through your current employer, which is also fairly easy. For most of us though, we’ll have to prove we’ve got enough work experience and education to make the move without a job (unless, of course) you can land a job overseas first, and get a visa that way.

Visit here for more information about how to get a visa and exactly what kind you need.

Get a Flat

How chic does that sound? Start looking for a place; and yes, it’s going to be expensive. This means two things: 1. Don’t fall for any places that sound cheap, because they probably don’t exist, and 2. Don’t wire money over. You’ll get scammed. It’s also probably important to note here that places in London are going to be smaller, and will also have about zero storage. So, time to get rid of everything you own. Bad news for Blanche, London landlords are not keen on cats and dogs. Looks like Blanche will have to fend for herself when it comes to Trump.

Just kidding; we’ll find a place to house my arugula-eating kitty (though she may have to be quarantined for six months).

One important part of figuring out a place to live is exactly WHERE; there’s lots of boroughs in London and you’ve got to find the right one for you – here’s a map of them.

Transportation

You can have your car shipped overseas, or you can get a new one once you arrive. But, keep in mind, that if you have a car either way, you’re going to have to find a place to park it. I saw screw the car, London has a great public transportation system.

And while all of this sounds fine and dandy, my research proved to me one thing: moving out of the country is not easy – and why would it be? Moving ANYWHERE is a pain in the ass and there’s all sorts of things that need to change. That whole visa thing – it’s expensive, difficult, and takes a very long time and a lot of hard work. So, step one may very well never get accomplished.

But I will admit, the idea of moving to a completely, completely new place does sound appealing. This does not mean I hope Trump wins. No, no.

In the meantime, I found some blogs from people who moved from the United States to England:

Maybe I’ll make this “If Trump Wins…” a regular thing; you know, we can relearn how to survive; how to make rope-ladders and wash clothes near the rivers. The media surely won’t be around so I’ll sneak underground and report the news from a blocked IP address.

OK, I’ll stop.

Register to vote, y’all. Right here.

Meanwhile, Beyonce stole my brand:

Have a fantastic weekend! I am hoping to get some gardening in tomorrow, and I’ve got tickets for the Calder Cup playoff game with the Texas Stars…and I’m also going to the Drafthouse to the “Bridesmaids” quote-along! Gonna be a fun one, and I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

Pic of the Week.

Let the obsession begin.

Let the obsession begin.

When my mom was in town a few weeks ago, she treated me to one of my favorite things: TV on DVD. We went to FYE and I ended up with another season of the Mary Tyler Moore show (love it), another season of The Hills (obsessed), and the first season of House of Cards.

I had yet to dabble into the cult series.

I started watching the first couple of episodes right away, but I did what I usually do when I “watch” TV — I didn’t actually watch it. Instead, I blogged, started a craft project, and cleaned my kitchen. Rarely do I ever actually sit and watch something on TV.

But, lately I’ve had a few free hours on my hands, so I asked my house guest (see last week’s post) if he wanted to watch — actually watch — it with me. He did, so we’ve started season one and after two episodes, we’re HOOKED.

I hope FYE has season two in the next day, ’cause I’ll be there.

I don’t want to spoil the season for myself, so don’t worry about any giveaways, but House of Cards is a Netflix series that debuted in February 2013. It follows Frank Underwood (played by the awesome Kevin Spacey), a democrat from South Carolina, who is the House Majority Whip.

From the start, he gets looked over for the Secretary of State position he was eyeing, and he’s determined to do everything in his power to seek revenge on those who crossed him.

Uh, sounds like the recipe for a PERFECT TV show!

I even heard President Obama watches it, so score another one for the big guys. What shows are you binge watching?