Mary Beth Writes

Today is October 12th - Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Not Columbus Day, okay?

I was in the process of giving birth to one of our kids and it was getting on towards midnight. The midwife wondered whether our baby would be born on the day we were in or whether it would be a few more minutes and then the child would have the next day as their birthday.

She casually told this story. She’d been assisting at the birth of a child to a Native American woman. It was October 11th. Without thinking about what she was saying, the midwife wondered aloud if the baby would arrive on Oct 11th or the 12th.

The mom opened her eyes, swore feistily, and said, “No kid of mine is being born on Columbus Day.” Whereupon she pushed the child out into its October 11th birthday.

I think that is a funny and very strong story about this day that we are in today and what it symbolizes.

(And yeah, my kid was born in the day the midwife told the story, not the next day. I am a suggestible person.)

Last night we watched a DVD Len borrowed from the library. You can watch it on YouTube if you want.

The movie is “The General” and it’s a silent movie directed/acted by Buster Keaton - in 1926. I thought it was going to be boring and weird but within minutes I was hooked. We watched the whole thing and I’m still thinking about it today.

1. Buster Keaton was a GOOD actor! I always knew what he was trying to communicate. Because it’s a silent film, there are those frames where they give you the text of what one character is saying to another, but in most cases I didn’t need that. The story is told so well without conversation.

Keaton did his own stunts, they looked incredibly dangerous. More than once I had to close my eyes and hope he survived (Keaton died in 1966). There is a scene towards the end where a steam locomotive falls through a burning bridge over a river. It was the most expensive movie scene made up until that point in film history.

The movie weirdly seesaws between pathos and slapstick humor. Maybe we would call that uneven now, but it was interesting to watch harrowing scenes, then watch Keaton turn himself into a Charlie Chaplin type comic.

2.THIS MOVIE WAS PART OF THE SOUTH REINVENTING ITSELF IN THE 1920’S. Five years ago I would not have understood what was going on in this story. It’s based on a true incident where a southern train engineer chases and then is chased by a Union Army soldiers who are attempting to blow up bridges and cut off supplies. A brave and canny southerner engineer figures out what’s happening and stops them.

In 1926 this tale is retold via this movie. In it - 50 years after the Civil War is ended – the South is portrayed as good and valorous and smart; the union army is foolish and incompetent.

The 1920’s is when Jim Crow was coming into power. It’s when many-to-most of the statues of southern “heroes” were erected. It’s an era in which Southern women and men found ways to congratulate themselves for the way they fought “the war between the states.” It’s the time of lynching of Black men, at least 300 Black men were murdered by lynching in the 1920’s.

Len chose the movie because he’d read about the antique steam trains that were used; the plot played out in and on two locomotives hauling various cars.

We didn’t expect to fall into the dark history we’ve been learning in this past year; the elevation of the Confederates that would enable another hundred years of racism. That is among us now.

 

“The General” with Buster Keaton

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWm587wKKVw

 

Comments

This conflict is often referred to as the War of northern Aggression” below the Mason Dixon. Yep, folks down there still fight that waaar...
Mary Beth's picture

It's so crazy that the Civil War is not over yet. Kind of makes one think that wars don't solve problems .

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Three Things 9/11/2021

The photo is from a trip to Arizona that Len and I took several years ago. His employer had said he had to take vacation time.  We sat here in our office not knowing where to go or what to do; it came up that fast. We looked up cheap flights from Milwaukee,; Phoenix popped up for $150 round trip. That was how we decided.

Of course, we rented a car and stayed in motels and ate in restaurants so no, it wasn’t a $300 vacation.

Three Things 9/3/2021

1. This morning I was texting with Franc about our heritages. He was born and raised in the Midwest although his ancestors are from Puerto Rico. Being the child of children of a Caribbean Island means he probably has Taino DNA as well as African and European. Heck, he probably has Phoenician and Viking and Pacific Islander because island people and sailors have always thought each other cute.

Three Things 9/2/2021

Regarding Texas: I’m so angry today.

From The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler

Hessler is making a case that a significant reason for the failure of Egyptian governments is because citizens are not looking for competent political leaders. They vote for men who lambast the “corruption and immorality” of present leaders. They vote for those who promise a “return to our traditional Islamist values.”

Three Things 8/25/2021

One:

Where did these damn fruit flies come from? I borrowed a 400-page book from the library yesterday and just finished it an hour ago. ONE fruit fly bumped me every twenty minutes through the whole damn tome. I hit at it every time it zipped past but I never zapped it.

I’ll get him (or her?). I put an inch of apple cider vinegar into a glass, covered it with plastic wrap, punched some tiny holes, set it next to our fruit.

Bugs bug me.

Two:

Is it really August already?

I woke up this morning feeling wistful. It’s the third week of August. Where did this summer go?

I have not ridden my bike even once (there are giant construction trucks all over my favorite route). We’ve hardly entertained friends at our Bistro (the apron of the garage that I painted last year). We’ve not traveled other than to see our kids. My six tomato plants are producing an unenergetic number of tomatoes. Didn’t see the Perseids. Didn’t serve umbrella drinks by our pool. Oh wait, we don’t have a pool.

Len is Raising $ for the MAAC Fund Again

About this photo: these are the four guys who first started riding together, years ago. Jack heard about the MACC fund, so they all did it together. Last year, out riding one fine day for the fun and exercise of it, Tom, the tall guy, suffered a terrible accident and passed away. Sometimes when they ride together now, Tom's humorous and kind spirit accompanies them. 

...

This is the MACC Fund  https://maccfund.org/

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