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Entering my second retirement
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31st-Aug-2016 12:07 pm - a thought on "Binti"
whole earth moon
I don't know where "competence porn" came from, but we all know the stuff. The protagonist is some kind of nerd, and the intensity and focus of that very nerdness is what pulls him through and saves the day. It's not "identity" as in "identity politics", it's just a cornerstone characteristic.
(I don't know if there's a really good European word for Binti's relationship to tribal identity [more European words]. With that stipulation, I'll use "ethnicity", since it seems close and is as clear as anything.) In "Binti", it's living within her ethnicity that guides her thoughts and choices and priorities -- just like the nerd is living within his nerdness. And it's what allows her to cut the Gordian knot of the Big Problem.
So one way to look at "Binti" seems to be the old pattern with the central quality coming from a very different direction.

Filally: (standard disclaimer: I avoid "all" and "only". When I say I see X, I am not excluding [A-W] or [Y,Z], I am just not talking about them at the moment.)
22nd-Jul-2016 03:49 pm - Neil's political litmus test
whole earth moon
When you're scared enough, you can't think straight.
When you're mad enough, you can't think straight.
So when someone is trying to scare me or make me mad, I ask, "Why don't they want me thinking straight?"
27th-Jun-2016 11:51 pm - Jean Renoir commedia dell'arte
Barnaby
The Film Center has been doing an Anna Magniani retrospective, which I've unfortunately missed most of. But tonight was a Jean Renoir, The Golden Coach, and I had to catch it.
If I'd had expectations, they would have been wrong. It's commedia dell'arte about a commedia dell'arte troupe (!), who come to Lima around 1700. On the same ship they traveled on was the titular magnificent, unaffordable carriage built for the viceroy, which is the maguffin for half the action.
Everyone is a commedia dell'arte Type. The direction and cinematography are very proscenium. The color is lush, though a couple of the reels in this worn print were a little out of register. The final resolution of the plot knots smelled to me of Molière. And the score is all Vivaldi!

Once in a while I read or see or hear something that makes me wish I knew more of the subject so I would get more of it. This was delightful, but if I knew more theater, I suspect it would be even more.
27th-Jun-2016 12:22 am - binge
Chicago (from Adler)
One of those things where getting old and tired can look like getting old and somewhat wise is learning to manipulate yourself to accommodate the weaknesses/bad habits which just aren't going to change.
One of the things I Don't-Get-To the most is laundry. I don't mind doing laundry much, I Just Don't Get To It. So my workaround is to be careful how much socks and underpants I own. After decades of thrifting, I recently culled several Large garbage bags of shirts to the resale shop and freecycled a score of pairs of pants so I'm down to hardly more than a hundred shirts. I haven't counted the pants . . . So when I literally can't get dressed because there are no clean socks, I Have To Do Laundry.
Well, the last generation of socks is starting to seriously wear out. Last week I was going a few other places which put me in between places with the time to do some shopping. I bought a dozen pair of socks AND a package of underpants.

There's been no point in thrifting, and not much money, but the day took me by one of my favorites (The Village on Milwaukee just north of Armitage & Western, for Chicagoans). I got 5 shirts and a pair of pants. And when I got home I steeled myself and went through my shirts and pulled six to recycle.
27th-Jun-2016 12:11 am - Lifetime Peak
whole earth moon
There's a sort of meta-experience I know precisely but have no common name for. Once in a while, you're in an extreme situation and right there in the middle of it, as it's happening, you know that this is your lifetime peak of this exact kind of thing.
(I used to hitchhike a lot. When I was in Australia, I hitched a total of about 6,000 miles, half the circumference. When I was about a third of the way from Melbourne to Adelaide, a guy picked me up who was starting a two week vacation, and had some of the interests I did, so he took me along. A two week ride. That will never happen again. There's also the story of the magnificent $2 thrift store Clearance wedding dress that Alice Insley Bentley ended up wearing to be married in . . . )
So there's this excellent bulletin board for giving things away called freecycle. I got a solid sleeper sofa a couple inches shorter than the distance between the wall outlets in my new living room, just before I moved here. I asked the guy if I could wait a couple weeks before picking it up; loaded the moving van; and swung by to get it. I have a microwave, a Cuisinart crock pot, and an Oster bread maker from freecycle.
A week or so ago, someone listed an 11th edition Britannica. Yes, the Britannica. I got it. I have a complete (large volumes, not well-bound) 11th Britannica.  free  Because someone was giving it away and I happened to be online when the come-and-get-it appeared.
17th-Jun-2016 09:24 am - "No, that's my front."
Marvin_Observing
(stock snappy comeback to "You're back.")
In this year's campaign to do a little less nothing, I finally got the warranty repairs on my computer which fixed the internet connection, so I'm back to a real keyboard and screen instead of doing everything on my phone. So I'm likely to be back to the livejournal pages I used to haunt, and we'll see if my faceb ooking declines. [ooh, I like that typo. I'll leave it in.]
30th-Jul-2015 08:20 pm - A Transposed Critical Opinion
Marvin_Observing
I enjoy and strongly support con art shows. A place where anyone can exhibit is vital. Even at the worst, I think of the classic lament about the death of vaudeville: "There's no place to be bad any more." [attributed to George Burns]
But there's a phenomenon, or pattern, which is numerous and predictable enough to be, for me at least, its own category. Pieces which are executed with serious technical skill, but say nothing. "It's done very well, but why do it in the first place?"

That was the feeling I had through most of The Goblin Emperor. I couldn't find a single plot element that didn't seem painfully cliched, all the way through to the dashes and pinches of steampunk and feminism.
The craft with which the book is written is excellent. But why write the story yet again with nothing new added at all?
26th-Jul-2015 02:41 pm - a missing word
Marvin_Observing
I need a word that I can't find. There are tremendous lists of specific arcane phobias, but there doesn't seem to be an official name for paralyzing fear of finishing, completing things. What is it?

It isn't (thank you, Google translate)
peratophobia
teleophobia

peragophobia
finiophobia
perficiophobia
compleophobia
ultimophobia
perpetrophobia
perficiophobia
perfungophobia

What is it?
26th-Jul-2015 02:35 pm - remedial Shakespeare
Marvin_Observing
I haven't seen a lot of actual productions of Shakespeare. That's the main reason it took until Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing for me to learn that even more than a peak challenge to an actor (Hamlet, Lear, yadda yadda), Shakespeare is a peak challenge for a director.
Well, I just got out of a showing of Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight. Holy mother-humpin' cow! Or your choice of ejaculation.
Yeah, Margaret Rutherford and Jeanne Moreau. Even a proper credit to Raphael Holinshed for Ralph Richardson's narrative voice-overs. But John Gielgud's Henry IV is secondary?!?! Supposedly, this was Welles' favorite of his movies. You could probably do a graduate curriculum in film direction with no other text.
9th-Apr-2015 08:48 pm - Rahm two terms
Chicago (from Adler)
We'll see how prescient, impatient, or foolish this post ends up.
A coupla years ago, looking at post-industrial Chicago, I said to myself, “This would be a good time for Mayor Junior to get out. The city is destitute, he's been selling off the furniture to pay the rent, and there's not much left to steal.”  But I didn't date-stamp the idea.
A few days later he announced he was retiring. There followed a dozen or score of little trial balloons from wannabees, and I said to myself, “It takes substantial resources of several kinds (cash, donors, clout, troops) to run a credible campaign. Anyone who can do that has to already know the score, so they'll have to have an agenda.”  But I didn't date-stamp the idea.
So we have the rat weasel. The real question continues to be What is this a stepping stone toward? Senator? President? Rentier? Well, I still have no idea, but he just was forced into a runoff for re-election, and after spending another $25 or $30 million, only won the runoff by 5 to 4.
So: If he doesn't go for Mark Kirk's Senate seat next year, I will be very unsurprised if he announces in about three and a half years that he's heading off in some other direction. He can probably juggle the books well enough not to need Chapter 11 that long.
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