The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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A Time of Reckoning

When my wife visited Germany with her friend and her mother in the early 60’s, she met the family patriarch, whom everyone called Opa. He was and had been the local banker before the War. Like most everyone else, he lost everything, lived in poverty, and was as surprised as the next person when the economic miracle put the country back on its feet. His advice, even to an American high school girl, was to spend what you had now. Enjoy the moment. Savings were no bulwark against economic disaster. He was a German Omar Khayyám who had learned the truth in the harshest way possible. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow may never come. Or, if it does, it will come as a cloud of locusts.

The United States is in a sharp economic and military decline. Everyone senses this, but no one knows what to do. Invariably, the politicians do the wrong thing—hastening the decline rather than forestalling it. We have five, maybe ten years, before the tsunami of radically higher oil prices decimates our economy. Things will only get worse after that. Our balance of payments will go out of whack, inflation will go through the roof, unemployment will be between 20 and 30 percent, economic depression will take hold, and most Americans will be living like third world peasants. This should be no surprise. We brought it on ourselves.

My recommendation? Read the The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám and follow his advice. Or listen to Opa. The time of reckoning draws nigh.

December 6, 2010   Comments Off on A Time of Reckoning


Inception is a cool film, but not at first. You have to stay with it until it begins to affect you. I almost didn’t. The premise is one used by shamans—that we can travel in our dreams, explore another person’s mind, and implant thoughts (though this is more difficult). Part of the reason we begin to believe the premise is that the protagonist (DiCaprio) has been so shaken by his experiences that he no longer knows whether he’s waking or dreaming. His only clue is a talisman he carries (a small top) that only topples when he’s awake. Because the visual cues are imaginatively manipulated in the film, we, as viewers, also begin to question the line between the two realities. It’s a neat movie, but not an important one, because it spends too much time in the world of Hollywood cliches. But now and again, I must admit, it’s thought-provoking and approaches a true work of art. What’s a true work of art? Why, one that changes your perception of reality, of course.

December 6, 2010   Comments Off on Inception