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Wednesday, 30 August 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

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“Crash”

Sometimes a movie or a book can rock us like a hook to the jaw. This movie, which tells the stories of a dozen or more people as they crash in and out of one another’s lives in a 36-hour period, whaps us upside the head with a flurry of these hooks.

The pace of this movie is break-neck and rugged. In addition to giving us a film described as an “urban thriller,“ director Paul Haggis holds a mirror to our diverse society, forcing us to see how all of us engage in racial profiling and how, when we are fortunate enough to break through those stereotypes, we can suddenly appear so beautiful to one another as human beings.

This movie has some amazing moments. My own favorite is when the cop who has sexually harassed and verbally abused an elegant black woman finds himself rescuing the same woman from a car accident the next day. Though neither character speaks to the other after their encounter, Haggis shows us by their faces that they have been changed forever. This movie does contain strong language and some sexual content. Even if it didn’t, however, “Crash” is not a movie for children or for many teen-agers. It’s a movie for grownups with the ability to contemplate this devastating film and to bring its message to their own experiences.

The Confederacy

When I was a boy, America celebrated the Centennial of the Civil War. The Winston-Salem Journal ran a cartoon about the War, and there were across the country many different ceremonies, re-enactments, and conferences. My parents bought for me and my brother two records — The Confederacy and The Union. Both contained songs popular among the soldiers and civilians of the North and South. After recently purchasing The Confederacy as a boxed set at a bargain store, I put it in the machine and found myself carried back into my childhood. Though the songs won’t please everyone — they are stylized and highly orchestrated — I can’t imagine anyone listening to this record and remaining unmoved by Rev. Edmund Jennings Lee’s recitation of his ancestor’s “Farewell Order to the Army of Northern Virginia.”

Labor Day

Although many Americans may regard their fellow countrymen as lazy or unwilling to work hard, the plain truth is that Americans are some of the hardest working people in the world (compare, for example, the number of hours worked by the typical American to those worked by the French, the English, the Italians or the Germans). Labor Day commemorates the American worker. So take the day and celebrate yourself and your fellow countrymen. Relax and enjoy that cookout with family or friends. If you’re like millions of your fellow Americans, you’ve earned the break.

— By Jeff Minick

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