I haven’t heard from you for a long time. This time, I send it using a fnal.gov address. Let see whether this makes a difference …
I went to Nashville for 3/4 days last week and when I came back, I had been sick with a cold (or a flu?) since. I’m still sneezing, having a running nose and an itching/sore throat. I typed my Nashville trip "report" in Chinese and sent it to my Mom/sister. I’d enclosed below.
I brought John Grisham’s recent best-seller "The Appeal" with me for the Nashville trip but thanks to delays etc., I’d finished it on the 1st day. It’s a depressing book. Though these days I’m really not feeling the need to give my money to save the world (I never voluntarily donate any money anyway), I really don’t enjoy seeing the billionnaire Carl in "The Appeal" is winning at all fronts. In Mississippi, somehow, the Supreme Court Judges are elected, not appointed. So, Carl paid millions (a bargain for him compared to the possible loss) behind the scene to find a stupid guy with no experience to run against a moderate (though they painted her as "liberal") Judge. That moderate/liberal Judge had to resort to the donations from trial lawyers. Grisham pointed out, either way, how can a Judge be really unbiased if s/he is elected because of the money from the big corporates or from the trial lawyers ?!
Grisham gave the reader a lot of false hope at the end … but sadly there is no miraculous twist at the end … Separation of Justice/Executive/Legislative branches is never 100% but it’s the worst in this book. You wouldn’t wonder why the stupid G. W. Bush had won twice. But I still think that it’s America’s people’s "choice" of some sorts. Just like in the book, they just need to point out that the female Judge is against abortion, sympathetic with the gay or gay marriage and other so-called "conservative" ideas, against guns etc., the people in the Mississippi would be persuaded easily to be against her. It’s with brilliant organization but still those ideas are in the people’s head. If they weren’t (ie. gay marriage is acceptable etc.), they wouldn’t be swayed so easily.
So, USA is what it’s … all the G. W. Bush or Iraq war are all no accidents. This morning, I heard from NPR while driving back to the Lab. (though sick), Spain’s newest cabinet has 9 female ministers (more than men) and the defense minister who has just sworn in is a 7 month pregnant woman ! Though the Spanish women probably still complain about their rights etc., I think I envy their country’s "liberalism" 🙂
When I came back home, I immediately went to pick up the DVD that I had reserved from the library called "The Jane Austen Book Club". This makes me feel better and certainly the happy ending helps 🙂 There is a good ensemble of actresses/actors (most of whom are familiar faces). I enjoy listening to the girls’ talk and each of the 6 leading roles is taking up sorts of a role in each of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s not very deep, not pretending to be French philosophically deep anyway, but it’s one which lets you feel that you have been entertained with a story about people’s feelings and thoughts towards love — which I’ve always enjoyed.
This makes me remember a review of 白先勇 in his book "台北人" which I’ve happened to read recently, too. It most highly complimented 白先勇 and said that his 14 short novel collections in "台北人" all have some brilliant historical insight. The critic said that famous writers like Jane Austen, though her wonderfully written novels were the most delicate and meticulous about people’s thoughts (etc.), her novels didn’t have a historical importance or insight, and therefore they cannot be regarded as novels with the highest importance ! But 白先勇’s "台北人" does and therefore it’s among the best and most important. I guess the critic probably has something like "War and Peace" in mind when he gave the above comparison.
Hmm … There is a point there. But Jane Austen’s love doctrines are probably "eternal" and transcends history ?! Though the specific courtship skill may not be applied directly today, how a man and a woman feeling towards each other hasn’t really been changed, has it ?!
Jane Austen didn’t get married for her entire life (…the closest being that she agreed on a proposal but turned it down the next morning). One reason was that avoiding being a mother and wife, she could have time to write her novels. I share a bit of this line of rational …
And by the way, the day when I came back home from Nashville, though a bit tired and sick, I’ve purchased air ticket/hotel thru’ Expedia.com to go to Lisbon, Portugal, May 2-6, 2008. The rush is due to the fact that my Mom is coming soon after that. And I had postponed this trip a for a few years already.
… 回答老媽子 較早 的問題:
去 Nashville, 只是為了旅行而旅行的。但它亦讓我再一次證明給自己看, 美國城市都沒甚麼大的差別的(起碼以我膚淺的認知來說)。
Nashville 要收費的 博物館/展覽館收費都很高, 所以我都盡量不去要收費的地方。唯一買票如場的地方是 "Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum". 因為那好像是去Nashville必要去的地方。最低收費是 $17.9x, 猶豫之際, 在100米外的 "Nashville Convention & Visitors Centre" 拿到 $2 的 coupon, 也就明知上當, 卻甘願自我犧牲。結果, 果然是不甚了了。我這幾年對鄉謠音樂還滿熱心、喜歡, 但我想, 對這"Hall of Fame" 付了 門券而感到滿意 一定要是那些非常非常狂熱的鄉謠樂粉絲 ! 而且可能還要是上一代的 …
印象最深刻是離 Nashville 一個多小時車程的 Lynchburg 裡的 Jack Daniel’s Distillery (生產 whiskey). 不收費, 但在那兒看到的比那Hall of Fame 着實有趣得多。Jack Daniel’s 自製 過濾用的charcoal 和 裝whiskey 的大木桶, 號稱是全世界唯一這樣做的唯一whiskey 生產商, 所以也是最好的。 大木桶只用一次, whiskey 裝在木桶約四五年後才能拿出去賣 …. 我還學到不少東西, 是此行最豐盛的一程。當天下午, 迂迴地駛往Franklin, 當年美國內戰在那兒曾經進行了最血腥之一的一場戰役。我不知不覺也竟在那呆了三個鐘頭, 觀賞了不少古老建築物。
在 Nashville 內, 比較有意思的要算 Tennessee State Capitol 和 Tennessee State Museum。State Museum 裡有不少東西可看,而在 State Capitol 可以看到和近距離地感受到民主在進行中。當天, Tennessee 的 House 和 Senate 都在開會, 兩個議會都同時有議員在演講, 好不熱鬧。我幾乎是現場觀看的…
我其實還去了 著名的 Vanderbilt University (Tenessee 最著名的就是了), 也去不怎麼著名的所謂黑人大學 Fisk University。我在 Vanderbilt University 呆了好一陣, 整體感覺不錯, 就是大學圖書館像倉庫, 令我有不想久留的感覺。Nashville 市立圖書館 就漂亮得多, 那圖書館的設計讓陽光可以充分透入, 明亮開朗; 中間還有一個優雅的花園, 景致一流 !