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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Quarantine Diary #507 YES #507!

Didn’t I announce back in March that my Quarantine Diary was done?

Argh. Never say never.

I assumed after two vaccines it was okay to meander the world as long as we are mindful of kids and people with fragile immune systems. So put on the mask in public places and don’t be overtly stupid.

Making Memories?

This morning the Washington Post has an article about how we make memories. Interestingly, just because we say we are “making memories” doesn’t mean we are. Most little kids will not start making many memories until they are around age 8. Memories get stuck in our mind if they involve several senses and we are going slow enough to pay attention. If one WANTS to remember something, stop paying attention to everything else that is going on, focus in on the thing you care about using more than one sense. Recall it again later. Deep sleep on it overnight and good luck with that.

Three Things & One Announcement 7/16/2021

Thinking Outside the Box: 

Len once told me this WWII story. The first generation of bomber raids from England to Germany resulted in a terrifying number of bomber planes being shot down. Experts carefully examined the returning planes to create detailed reports of the bullet holes as they tried to understand how to reinforce the planes to make them safer.

Three Things 7/7/2021

Israel’s Health Ministry this week announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the world’s most effective shots — was offering only 64 percent protection against infection and symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant.

The vaccine was still highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, the ministry said.

(I read this in the Washington Post, though it’s other places also.)

7/5/2021 Three Things (Don’t miss Highland Mitzi)

Last year was the Covid quarantine so most of us didn’t do very much over the 4th of July holiday.

This year, with half Americans now vaccinated there’s more freedom to do things and be with people.

Three Things (Well, Four) 7/1/2021

Bill Cosby is out of prison on a technicality. The judge said 40-year-old Britney Spear still can’t run her own life. Yesterday 88-year-old war criminal* Donald Rumsfeld died comfortably in his bed.

My gut is twisting. How are you? Power, injustice, and money still row the boat that we’re all on. This nation is playing whack-a-mole with justice, hope, and human rights. It feels ominous. I thought I would just mention this in case you thought it was just you that felt assaulted this morning.

Nope.

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