What would this nation do without Jon Stewart?!? The Daily Show has taken the recent controversy over South Park and its (attempted) depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and turned it into a profound commentary on religious and artistic expression. This segment is smart, hilarious, and delightfully reckless. Plus, the gospel choir at the end of the segment is not to be missed.
Links, media, and random ideas that we recommend from the past week.
- WATCH THIS: The film, “Sins of the Mother,” based on Carleen Brice’s novel, Orange Mint and Honey, will air this Sunday, February 21, at 8 p.m. ET on the Lifetime Network. We are so proud of Carleen and can’t wait to see the movie, starring Jill Scott. Carleen also posted this moving personal account on the experience of seeing her characters come to life on screen.
- READ THIS: Zetta Elliott’s book, A Wish After Midnight, is now available! Congratulations to Zetta on her beautiful book’s relaunch. After seeing this impressive review, I am more excited than ever to read about young Gemma Colon (via the Kindle edition on my iPhone, which is awesome).
- FOLLOW THIS: We’ve got a Facebook Page now. It’s a nice way to stay updated if you are on Facebook or if you don’t regularly use other blog subscription features.
And finally, last Friday we were treated to a remarkable snowfall in The Bottom. My family and I had snowball fights and the little one (pictured above) built her first snowman as we re-enacted scenes from Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. Here’s hoping that the rest of you who experienced the snow also took the time to find a stick just right for smacking a snow-covered tree.
Links, media, and random ideas that we recommend from the past week.
- I woke up on the morning of my 35th birthday to see President Barack Obama receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. I’ve offered my thoughts about the award already, so this time I thought I’d let the awesome folks at SuperNews! remind us of the extraordinary difficult circumstances under which Obama receives the award (and that he is not, in fact, the Messiah).
- The new animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox is brilliant. Go see it. It’s not in 3-D, not produced by Pixar Studios, and probably won’t come with Happy Meal toys, but Wes Anderson’s adaptation has remarkable creative depth, humor, and ingenuity. I can’t recommend it highly enough. (The little one and I are off to see The Princess and the Frog today and I know I’ll probably have something to say about it too.)
- Check out Ommwriter, a wonderfully simple word processing program that I stumbled across at The Buddha is My DJ. The program is designed to give you a fresh, blank screen free of distractions, while its atmospherics help settle and focus your mind. Scott’s right, this thing is pretty freakin’ cool (and for Macs only).
- It’s a few weeks old now, but I’ve been mulling over Alan Brinkley’s column in Newsweek, “Half a Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” about why both the science and the humanities should be valued. I shared the following paragraph with the my students on the last day of class this semester:
Science and technology teach us what we can do. Humanistic thinking can help us understand what we should do. The humanities are not simply vehicles of aesthetic reward and intellectual inspiration, as valuable as those purposes are. Science and technology aspire to clean, clear answers to problems (as elusive as those answers might be). The humanities address ambiguity, doubt, and skepticism—essential underpinnings in a complex and diverse society and a turbulent world.
- And finally, SADE is back. Thanks to my dad, Frieda and I were raised on a constant playlist of “Diamond Life” and “Promise” growing up, so we couldn’t be more excited! The first single “Soldier of Love” is in heavy rotation in my house and the calendar is marked for the full album release: February 8, 2010.
"Lester Freamon" by E. Blake Hicks
So how was your summer? I finished a few research projects, put my toes in the Atlantic Ocean, and learned the Cupid Shuffle at the family reunion. My family and I delighted in a backyard garden full of tomatoes. But of all the special moments this summer, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the afternoon that my little one finally figured out how to wink. It was hilarious. And it reminded me of the small things I take for granted.
Here’s a look back at a few other links, images, and media I enjoyed this summer.
By now we can all agree that there is only so much wisdom that can be gleaned from a sound bite, a blurry photo, or a 911 phone call. Teachable Moment. Stupidly. Beer Summit. I’ll see your mama outside!
My own emotional response to the controversy surrounding the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has run the gamut from shock and snarky suspicion to self-righteousness and aggressive indifference. Along the way, though, I have marveled at the surprisingly nuanced social and political commentary that has emerged – not from cable news pundits – but through essays that cite useful anecdotes, acknowledge the unspoken forces at work, and compel us to ask hard questions. In linking these articles here, I take to heart the challenge posed by Lani Guinier: “What might we learn instead about contemporary race matters if we could move beyond the stock stories?”
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. – Khalil Gibran
This quote from Khalil Gibran has been in my thoughts lately. I have always been struck by the visual image in this passage from Gibran’s The Prophet, where joy and sorrow are personified as intimate companions that accompany us in our daily lives, inevitably, and without judgment.
The idea that joy and sorrow are “inseparable” — not just a part of life, but its very substance — is strangely comforting to me now. Despite a number of professional achievements recently, I’ve encountered some unexpected sadness that has made it more difficult to appreciate the bigger picture. I’ve been trying to channel my inner-Oprah and “focus on the positive,” but again and again I come back to this passage.
"Be Giving" by Kadir Nelson
A few links, images, and other online ephemera from our favorite sites this past week:
- Have you seen Kadir Nelson’s remarkable illustrations for Coke’s Black History Month promotion? The image above highlights the theme, “Be Giving,” and I love the expression on the woman’s face, the detail in her cupped hands, and the nod to Aaron Douglas in the picture on her clothes.
- Have you read Danielle Belton’s powerful essay, “On Little Black Girls, Beauty, and Barbie Dolls” at The Black Snob? Inspired by Malia and Sasha Obama, it is heartfelt and ends with a call to action. Read it along with Rebecca Walker’s thought-provoking piece on “The Making of Man” for Newsweek about President Obama’s “enlightened masculinity.”
And, an off-topic plea for help: My darling two-year-old daughter is afraid of monsters and has not slept through the night in weeks. Any suggestions?!?! We’ve tried night lights, talismans, and every ritual dance you can imagine. We’ve ignored the monsters, gotten angry with them, and playfully coaxed them out the front door. As to where she learned about monsters as “scary” (as opposed to the friendly Sesame Street variety), I’m at a loss. When does this phase pass? These days the only monster in our house is me.
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