The New Conservatism is an Oxymoron

I’m not sure that rants are a good way to sell novels, but I am sure that most political writers don’t come anywhere near as close to the truth as a good novelist.  Why is that a surprise?  Shouldn’t be.  After all, every novelist I know pledges to himself to write the truth.  Don’t personally know any political writers, but I wonder if that is their pledge.  Based on what I read, I doubt it.  Back to my original point.  The new conservatism is an oxymoron.  If it is respectful of conservative principles, it is not new.  If it is new, it is not conservative.  Yes, new 100 years ago may be conservative today, but that is just the point.  A new conservative is just as phony as a new antique.

Financial advice that advises cheating.

Over the weekend, 8/23-24/14, the WSJ published an article that tried to present a strategy for Grandparents providing 529 plans to their grandchildren and then hiding them from the colleges to which those children applied.

To take just two quotes: “Grandparents increasingly are opening such (529) accounts to help cover their grandchildren’s college costs. But their well-intentioned efforts could hurt students’ chances for getting financial aid…[and seven paragraphs later] The problem is most acute when students would otherwise qualify for financial aid based on their parents’ finances.”

Sheriff Simms is extremely concerned about how he passes on lessons to his grandson. I am extremely concerned about how we establish, support, and transmit solid values to our next generation. I am also a willing participant in supporting education costs for grandchildren.

Taken in total, the premise of the article offends me. In short, it is an article that encourages everybody to cheat. I know it’s tough and I know people scramble for every advantage they can cadge and I witness a daily assault on society’s belief in honest self-reliance, but sometimes I just cannot take it anymore. It is like recommending that I — of grandparent age — put all of my assets in a trust the beneficiary of which is my children so that I will qualify for Medicaid when they put me in the nursing home.

Parents often need help in financing the college education of their children (last I checked, the need amounted to 87% of all families). That they have received help is something to report honestly, not hide and obfuscate so that the money that is provided in help can be saved to spend on some purpose the WSJ writer did not explore.

Perhaps there is a more valuable place to spend your money than on helping your grandchildren get educated. Well, one such place is to provide for your old age. So, what you cannot give them, you cannot give them. But, let another few voices scream with me, what you can give them, do not lie about.

July in Maine, salvaged

anne1 My July is spent in Maine, well, commuting to Maine, because Anne spends July at Drakes Island.  After a few years, I started to look forward to July in Maine.  Now I do.  So, this year, truncated and chopped up, turned out to be a frustrating disappointment, ended already on Sunday the 20th, and without once going in the water.  So, you can imagine how happy I was to see Anne in the waves on Tuesday and now I share her with you

Much anticipation, great disappointment

I went with friends Wednesday night to the Bolshoi production of Swan Lake. I should have read more about the current state of the Bolshoi before I went or maybe just stayed home. The Playbill credits Yuri Grigorovich with Libretto and Choreographic version. Put bluntly he has re-written in drama and dance a classic.

I believe we need modern classics.  I applaud John Adams in opera and I like the new choreographers. In fact, even Balanchine can be viewed as a new classic.  But this Bolshoi production cannot honestly be labeled Swan Lake.  Perhaps it could be called Grigorovich’s Swan Lake if plagiarism and theft are legitimate in ballet.  More appropriately it should be titled Political Correctness and the Evil Genius.

Grigorovich has transformed a 19th Century classic into a politically correct, storyless, political statement, where females now dance male roles, and in the end — why didn’t I see it coming — evil triumphs over good.

Rothbart is no longer Rothbart, he is the evil genius.  He no longer seduces and enslaves the women, he exercises evil mind control. Siegfriend is no longer given a crossbow for his birthday, but a tankard of (?funny juice?) and he falls asleep to gain his transport into the kingdom of the swans.  No swan transforms into a woman to save lives and thus is destroyed one of the greatest balletic moments for all ballerinas — no transformation to create the breathtaking and awe inspiring ports de bras exit of the swan.  In the second act, women dance male roles; fair maidens are so sexually neutral that you don’t notice Odile merely walks on the stage.  No need for a dramatic entrance if you are the only act in town!  And Siegfried fell for her, even though she fell out of her feuilletes. (In a production so disrespectful, maybe that, too, was deliberate.)

When I wrote all of my complaints to my good friend, John Tessitore, to save him from the temptation ever to waste $150 a ticket on today’s version of the Bolshoi, he wrote back:  “It is of course a disappointment to hear that a production from the world’s once greatest ballet company could be anything less than spectacular.  …it seems obvious to me that this Grigorovich production is the latest in what I find a silly trend to rewrite and in effect completely reverse the plots of fairy tales, which … most recently continued with the Disney film Maleficent.  … I don’t find these re-workings to be particularly clever or interesting.  …The good news is that all fads fade away.”

There actually was an author, Musäus, who wrote the fairy tale, ca. 1784.  If someone changes the ending of Every Soul Is Free 230 years from now, I assure you I will come back, mount my own posse, and hunt him down.

A library

Edward Massey Books cannot be about books without being about a library.  Well, not so much about a library.  Sure, a library needs books, but books, at least my books, are about people, working people.  One of the most extraordinary working people I know is  Jimmy Cardon, my niece’s husband.  He’s a master woodworker who builds beautiful libraries.  But he’s more than that, as you will judge for yourself when you view the video made of him by his son.  In some ways, we’re in the same business.  He takes three to five years to build a library.  I take three to five years to build a book.  He also writes about his libraries.  I don’t compare myself to him, though.  Obscure as he is to the world I live in, the libraries he has created are monumental works of art.