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Tag Archives: Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride

Soundbites From My Father

17 Nov

November 17, 2018

With the Holiday Season™ upon us, I’d like to share a pair of quick tales of my father, whose wisdom never fails to guide me. It may occasionally guide me into a snowbank like a bad GPS, but it guides me nonetheless.

CHARITY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

During this time of year, with Thanksgiving upon us and Christmas around the corner, many of us are in a giving mood and want to help the less fortunate. My Dad felt no less charitable himself, and he often enlisted my brother and I to deliver food to needy families as part of his lodge’s outreach. We carried many, many boxes and bags of canned goods, meat and vegetables, and all kinds of staples to up and down stairs to needy families who truly appreciated our efforts. It was touching.

One day, after one of these deliveries, my father and I were approached by a homeless man asking for change. My father refused. You’d think that after doing a day of charity work and seeing the needy up close, Dad would have been a little more forthcoming. I asked him why not and he said to me “Son, never give money to someone who is wearing better sneakers than you are.”

FAMILY GATHERINGS

Holidays are a time for sharing the love of friends and family. One year my father took my brother and I out to dinner. My brother, bless his heart, asked who was paying. Dad said the meal was on him. We went out and enjoyed dinner and at the end of the night, I turned to my brother and said that we should leave the tip. “No,” my brother replied. This is a free meal. I’m not leaving the tip. “Free is free.” While my brother was the one who coined the phrase, It was Dad who turned it into a family mantra.

There you have it. Holiday wisdom, from Mr. Blog’s family to yours.

 

 

 

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My Review of Shaft, by Ernest Tidyman

10 Nov

November 10, 2018

Shaft is a deep book. Oh, not in the sense that it touches on deep issues and ponders difficult sociopolitical questions, but in the sense that it puts you in Shaft’s head and he thinks deep thoughts about everything.

Every freakin’ thing.

Reading this book I wonder if Shaft has ever had a happy day in his life. The book can be a ponderous read at times because Shaft ponders everything. Nothing is just surface, everything is fodder for Shaft’s dark and dolorous musings. There’s a dark cloud behind every beam of sunlight in Shaft’s world. There are bad intents behind every person Shaft sees in the street, and in every glance Shaft sees the bad behind the good. To be fair, Shaft comes by that worldview honestly, and it serves him well in his job, but even when the case is wrapped and Shaft is playing a board game with a child, he’s deep in brooding. And what is he brooding about? How the child beat him in the game, and Shaft will get better and beat him next time, then have to let the kid win after that because, after all, he’s an adult playing a kid in a kid’s game. Even downtime with a young child brings out the rain clouds.

Does Shaft ever smile?

Despite all that, I liked the book. It feels like a slice of the seventies and this is a book that could only have been written in that era. On the other hand, it deals extensively in stereotypes. Every black person is a militant or a drug dealer. Every Italian is connected to the Mafia. Every white girl wants to sleep with a black man and every white man is afraid of the black man. I would stop short of saying there is anything truly racist about this book, but I can see the arguments. However, Shaft does have some clearly anti-Semitic thoughts about the Jews, making the title of the next book, Shaft Among The Jews, more intriguing.

I read the book because I always like reading the source material behind classic films, and the movie Shaft is an undisputed classic. The big question is, of course, is the book better than the movie? I have to say no. I enjoyed the movie much more. Even if I was listening to Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack as I read the book I couldn’t help but feel like Shaft is not a character I’m in a hurry to revisit, at least in literary form.

 

 

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