robertsgriffin.com

THOUGHTS

In this section are thoughts on whatever comes to mind, no limit on topics, written for this web site.  When I get the impulse, I’ll write thoughts and add them to what’s already here (I don’t plan on ever deleting any thoughts).  For each thought, there will be a title, length, the month and year I wrote it, a blurb on what it’s about, and a PDF of the  thought. 

To get a sense of who I am and how I see things and what's going on with me, you could read these thoughts in order beginning with "On Foucault,"  the June, 2007 thought. The thoughts are self-contained, however, and you can read them in any order.  

If the PDFs are oversize, adjust them to accommodate your reading preference.

Beginning in 2018, I'm going go put the latest thought at the top rather than at the bottom.

             

          • On the Death of James Whale Revisited, 10 pp., June, 2019.

 

         Out of nowhere it seemed, this week I felt a strong desire to see the 1998 film “Gods and Monsters,” which I had seen
         before, eleven years ago.  Read the complete thought here.

 

         •  On Arthur Godfrey and Haleloke, 6 pp., May, 2019.

 

         When I was twelve or so, I watched Arthur Godfrey and Haleloke on television.  Read the complete thought here.


       •  On Growing Up Well, 3 pp., April, 2019.

 

         Dear Dee— A big part of growing up is finding out what you are good at and like to do.     Read the email portion here.

 

     •  On Getting Our Needs Met, 6 pp., April, 2019.

                                     

    This week, I’ve been perusing a book about the French-born intellectual René Girard (1923-2015).   Reading the book has
    prompted me to recall a book I read a year ago, What Day is Today?  The Story of My Life in the Minor Leagues, and to reflect
    on how we go about satisfying our needs.  Read the thought here.


     On Mindfulness. 2pp., March, 2019.

        

      I don’t know if it’s the biggest choice we make in our lives, but a crucially important choice is to be happy.  Read the complete thought here.

      

      • On a Role Model for Dee, 5 pp., March, 2019.

       My daughter Dee is fourteen now, a freshman in high school.   Like every parent, I think about who in Dee’s world she can look up
       to and emulate.  It was reassuring this past week to find just such a person:  the singer Miley Cyrus.   Read the thought here.

      
        • On Kurt Vonnegut, 4pp,,  March, 2019.

        About a week ago, I looked through the biography and autobiography section of my local library’s e-book collection, and a book of letters
        by the writer Kurt Vonnegut caught my eye.  Read the complete thought here,

 

       • On Jean Arthur, 4pp., February, 2019.

       This week, I read a biography of the old-time movie actress (she did some stage work after her movie career ended) Jean Arthur (1900-1990)
        that has stuck with me.   Read the thought here.

 

     • On “Lyle Mitchell,” 6pp., February, 2019

 

     I was taken with “Escape at Dannemora,” a seven-part series on SHOWTIME which aired in November and December of 2018 and I binge
     watched in January, 2019.  “Escape at Dannemora” is based on the breakout from a prison in up-state New York by two life-sentence murderers.    

    They were abetted in their escape, as well as sexually serviced, by a prison employee, Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell.  The focus here is on the
     relationship between Tilly and her husband Lyle.   Read the thought here.

 

    • On Getting Better at Golf (and Other Things Too), 4 pp., January, 2019.

                                      

     My fourteen-year-old daughter Dee, as I call her in public expressions, lives in another state with her mother.  Dee is very involved with golf
    and shoots in the mid-70s and hopes to play on her high school team and in college.  During the 2018 Christmas break from school, she and
    her mother traveled to Arizona to compete in a junior golf tournament.   Dee wrote me a long email just after she returned from the Arizona
    trip.   She reported that she didn’t do well in the tournament.  A visit to the Grand Canyon (including the rental Mercedes to get there)
    was a great time.  With a bit of editing, this was my emailed reply to Dee’s message.  Read the email here.


     
• On the Interminable Ending of Basketball Games, 4 pp., December, 2018.

       

       I’m a regular reader of Phil Mushnick’s sports columns in The New York Post online.  I find him a breath of fresh air amid all the cheerleading and inanity
        that passes for sports commentary in our time.  Read the thought here.


       • On “First Reformed,” 5 pp., December, 2018.

 

         I’ve written favorably about screenwriter and director Paul Schrader on this site (see the thought “On Paul Schrader,” October, 2014).  
        
I’ve changed my mind.   Read the complete thought here.

                   

         • On “Just a Sigh,” 3pp., November, 2018.


                              

         I suppose to the world, the 2014 French-and-English language film “Just a Sigh” is three-and-a-half, perhaps four, stars out of five. 
        
But to me personally, its five stars.   I can’t get enough of it.  Read the review here.

 

 
            On Dreams as Life Lessons, 4 pp., October, 2018.

 

          I keep a notebook and pen on the bed stand and record my dreams.  If I don’t write them down, very often I don’t recall their particulars.   I seek   
         to remember dreams because I find them personally educative, informative, directive.   Read the complete thought here.



• On Dealing with Reviews, 3 pp., September, 2018.

                                    

After viewing a film, I often check the internet to see what professional critics have to say about it, as well as
look over viewers’ comments.   Read the complete thought here.

        

           • On Jack Jarpe, 4 pp., August, 2018.

                                     

           It’s a little after  5:00 a.m., and the image of Jack Jarpe from  

           my high school teaching years just popped in my   

           consciousness, however that happens--this was fifty years    

           ago, a half century, my gosh.  Read the complete

           thought here.

 

            • On “It’s Only Make Believe,” 7 pp., July, 2018.

 

            The past year, every couple of months it seems, I give over a couple      

  days to an “It’s Only Make Believe” pre-occupation.  Read the  complete thought here.

 

            • On Dee’s AirPods, 3 pp., July, 2018.

 

             My 13-year-old daughter Dee lives with her mother in another state.   Dee emailed me asking me to get her some AirPods, wireless earplugs
             that serve as earphones.   This is my emailed reply to her.  Read the reply here.

 

•On Guilt, 5 pp., June, 2018.

 

A week or so ago, I read a novel by William Maxwell (1908-2000), So Long, See You Tomorrow.  It is a very good book; I’d put it in the
bottom half of the top rank.   That’s all I’ll say about the worth of the book.  This isn’t a book review.  Rather, it is about what an episode
in the book brought up for me about my own life.   Read the complete thought here.

         

          • On Anna May Wong, 4 pp., May, 2018.

                                         

          For the past week, I’ve been caught up with Anna May Wong.   Who’s Anna May Wong?   A week ago, I didn’t know either.   Read the  

          complete thought here.


         • On William Stoner, 6 pp., April, 2018.

 

         William Stoner is the protagonist of the eponymous novel Stoner, published in 1965, the author John Williams (NYRB Classics, 2010).   The 

         book has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years--decades after its publication,and long after the death of its author. 
         Read my commentary here,

 

         • On Memory, 2 pp., April, 2018.

          Song from the musical “Cats.”  The lyrics here.        

          • On the Baritone Horn, 3pp., March, 2018.

                                        

             I played the baritone horn in the Monroe High School band.   A baritone horn looks like a small tuba and sits on your lap. 
           Read the full thought here.
 

         On Dr. Toni Grant, 6pp., March, 2018.

                                     

       A couple of weeks ago, I guess it was, the memory of a radio show I listened to just about daily many years ago popped into my mind,
       seemingly out of the blue.   Read the thought here.

 

        • On Dad’s Stories, 15 pp., January, 2018.

 

        I read a book on the magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (1874-1926). The Houdini book reminded me of an anecdote involving him
        my dad recounted to me frequently as a kid.  Read the complete thought here.


  • On Foucault.  19 pp.  June, 2007.

Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a philosopher who taught at the College de France and other universities, including in the United States. He authored critical studies of social institutions, including psychiatry, medicine, and the prison system.  He also wrote about the history of sexuality and the relationship between power, knowledge, and human discourse. I first read a biography of Foucault by James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, in, I believe, 1995, and have revisited it regularly since, once or twice year, reading a chapter or two or three and browsing sections here and there before setting it back on my library shelf.  This last time I pulled the book off the shelf—in June of 2007--I noted the phrases and sentences, sometimes a paragraph, I had underlined, I suppose, ten or twelve years ago.  For this thought, I reproduce the underlines and offer my comments.  This thought provides a sense of the impact this book has had on me, including my writing, this past decade, and gets across something of what I am like in 2007.  Also, I hope this thought will prompt readers to reflect on their own lives, as well as look into Foucault and the other philosophers mentioned in these pages.    Read the full thought here.

  • On Mishima.  8 pp.  July, 2007.

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was a Japanese author and playwright, who gained international recognition and acclaim, including being on a short list for the Nobel Prize in Literature.  He is most remembered, however, for his ritual suicide at 45 by seppuku (disemboweling oneself with a knife and then being beheaded by a colleague).  I’ve read a good bit of Mishima’s fiction, but I have been most drawn to his outlook as an artist and as a man and to his personal story.  Every couple of years for the last fifteen, I’ve checked out from the library two biographies on him and his philosophical essay and memoir Sun & Steel.  In this thought I comment on excerpts from Sun & Steel.  I hope I explain Mishima some here and encourage readers to look into his writings and personal example, but most of all I use Mishima’s writings to explain myself.   Read the full thought here.

  • On the New McCarthyism.  18 pp.  July, 2007.

The topic here is the current attacks on racially conscious and active white people by those who would marginalize, silence, and punish them for their beliefs, expressions, and actions.  I use a memoir on the McCarthy era, as it was called, in the 1940s and ‘50s, written by Walter Bernstein, Inside Out: A Memoir of the Black List, and an encounter I had in late 2006 with the Southern Poverty Law Center to frame an analysis of this phenomenon, drawing parallels between what went on in the McCarthy years, and at other points in history, and what’s go