Of Jonathon Franzen, Loneliness, and The Still Point of Attention …

It requires skill to craft tantalizing titles, bylines, etc. that coaxes readers, even those who receive your blogs as I do those written by The Mommy Psychologist
to actually stop what we are doing and take in the blogger’s words.

That what we read leaves us thinking, and pondering the subject of their website and blogs, which for The Mommy Psychologist is the whole gambit of parenting in the 21st century, evidences grasp of an art.

Readers can be grateful when the very topic of a blogger’s discussion plunges


Of American Children, The Matsikenga, and Self-Absorption …

Elizabeth Kolbert asks in her New Yorker article, Spoiled Rotten, “Why do kids rule the roost?”

More specifically she poses the question, “Why are American kids so spoiled?”

On spending several months living with and observing the Matsigenka tribe of the Peruvian Amazon, Carolina Izquierdo, a medical anthropologist at UCLA, grew impressed with the helpfulness and responsibility of Yanira, a six-year-old girl and member of a family within the Matsigenka tribe of 12,000.

Dr. Izquierdo witnesses Yanira’s self-less behavior, what some might call daily altruism, when she and Yanira accompanied a third family of the Matsigenka on an expedition down the Urubamba River for gathering leaves from the kapashi palm tree used to build roofs for the Matsigenka’s houses.

During the trip, Yanira, not a member of the family she and Dr. Izquierdo had accompanied, assisted others in performing daily chores and tasks without having to be asked.
Yanira made herself useful and all the while, Kolbert writes, “ … asked for nothing …”

This ability to give assistance without request, and in so doing,


Of Alice Miller, Amy Chua, and Parenting as a Way of Growth and Transformation…

A beneficiary of the Civil Rights Era, I entered integration in third grade carrying with me the missive delivered to many middle-class African-American children around the country: “Integration [of schools] offers an opportunity to work even harder. You may sit next to white students, but you will need to prove yourself. You will need to work hard and be better at all that you do.”

While my mother and father loathed slothfulness and laziness, this missive added pressure to an already weighty responsibility.

The result has been that I, like many African-Americans of my age and social class are and continue to be over achievers.

The concept of always giving your


Of Colombiana, Contagion, and Miracles…

“If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it.
Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I saw two movies this weekend. Contagion, for the first time, and Colombiana for the 2nd.

Viewing a movie for the second time, much like reading a book, allows the opportunity to evaluate and inspect what either makes the story work, or remain vibrant in your mind, or the memories of its plot and characters, if you can recall them, slink into the recesses of the forgotten.

I was not excited at the thought of seeing Colombiana a second time.

Yet now as I write, I realize my hesitation came not from the quality of the movie itself, but quite the opposite.

The story of a young woman, who in losing her parents to a villainous killing at the age of 9, then seeking revenge, Colombiana is clearly a character driven story.

Contagion on the other hand, involves many characters whose roles work to tell the story of not a person, but rather display the effect of


Of Pacing, Tension and the All-Important Artistry of Holding the Reader’s Attention…a

Author, Ken Follett, writes, “There is a rule which says that the story should turn about every four to six pages. A story turn is anything that changes the basic dramatic situation. It can change it in a little way or change it in a big way. …You can’t go longer than about six pages without a story turn, otherwise the reader will get bored. … Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, follows the same rule. In Dickens it’s the same; something happens about every four to six pages.”

The author of at least 20 novels, many of which are thrillers that have achieved international success, this list includes Follett’s well-received historical works, The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, the latter of which made the New York Times Best Seller List.

Adapted for film, The Pillars of the Earth debuted July 23, 2010 on Starz as a mini-series.

When it comes to pacing, Follett’s admonishments are well taken. But what is he really talking about?

Pacing. Read the rest of this entry…


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