Old News and New News

I’ve often seen the phrase “old news”, but never seen the phrase “new news”, which is obviously considered as redundancy, pleonasm, tautology or whatever other pedantic words available. However in the age of frantic pace of various media, there should be a phrase “new news” to distinguish the news within two or three hours, from the news of older than three hours.

Whenever I heard anything related with Watergate–an event, a journalist, a reference, a passing remark–I would often think of Nora Ephron. Now Bob Woodward becomes news again and I’m reminded of nothing else but how much I like Nora Ephron’s essays and movies and of course her book “Heartburn”. I don’t trust my memory, especially when people’s names are concerned. So I checked online and confirmed that Bob Woodward is not Ephron’s ex-husband. So I’m safe to buy his book. If he is, I would have second thought, due to my loyalty to Ephron, whatever that means. I feel that I owe Ephron this loyalty. I don’t know why I feel this way, but I do. I have to say her ex-husband is quite forgivable even though I totally support Ephron’s decision to quit the relationship. An untrustworthy partner can mess up one’s mind and after a while one feels that one is entangled into a web of deceit that one is forced to do things–if one doesn’t do it, one feels weak; if one does it, one despises oneself. My parents live their life in a tug-of-war kind of relationship. Everything everybody says has implications in family politics and every action is considered an act of battle necessity–provocation, reprisal, counteract, spying, sabotage, stalling–rather than an act of love or care or just plain old routine. It has detrimental effect on everybody’s psyche.

I went back to YouTube to watch the highlights of Ephron’s movies. Not the famous restaurant scene in “Sally Meets Harry”, but rather the one in “Sleepless in Seattle”. The actress–I think she’s a popular one since I definitely see her in many movies–cried when describing “An Affair To Remember”. That scene is so good that when I watched it, I gasped for its authenticity. Women behave like that. I could relate so well to it even though I had never watched “An Affair To Remember” and didn’t know the plot at all. I think my grandma behaves like that; my friends behave like that; those of my relatively less crazy relatives behave like that. Even though we are Asians and have a completely different cultural backgrounds, we can relate without even knowing the context. I don’t know why there are not more scenes and more movies like that. Well, I guess it is a chick movie and a chick scene. Consequently less valued.

“Heartburn” is one of the best books, although the movie is not so good. It is better than most of the literary classics, although Ephron has never aspire to make it a very literary work. It’s a book almost without a plot but mostly everyday occurrences and mundane events; a book without anybody dying; a book without any serious moral questions; a book without a hero or a villain. The plain language is almost a deliberation. I love the book despite the fact that Ephron is completely different from me. Her tastes and her aspirations–cooking, decoration, social circle–are something I have no idea of. I am saying this not to be self deprecating but rather to be self assertive. I am glad that I don’t have all these baggage–to cook to a certain standard, to show yourself and your house to a certain standard, to associate with certain level of people, to be able to keep a “help”. I don’t since I am a poor immigrant. We do what we can to survive and we don’t even have the privilege to take on such baggage. I am glad of it. I know people among immigrants who try to live up to certain standards, and I am glad that I haven’t fallen into that trap. I have nothing against setting up a material goal to live up to, but I’m afraid that women have to sacrifice so much to achieve these standards. Women’s intellectual aspiration is usually the first to be given up since it is the easiest to be laughed at, most elusive to be adhered to, and most difficult to be transformed to visible material results.

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