it's pine borers, all right

I went to sign my lease today! And I looked at the dead tree's trunk while I waited. There are these teeny tiny holes all over it, and from what I understand, the makers of those holes will destroy all the other trees if they're not stopped. I do not know how they are stopped; the previous sentence contains the sum total of my pine borer knowledge. But it is sad because look, actually there are two dead ones at this point. 
Sadpines

Anyway. The manager asked for a paper check for the deposit and pro-rated amount, and I do not remember the last time I wrote a check! But last time I needed one I had to order 100, so there are, you know, nearly 100 left, and I am sending one by mail later today since of course I didn't think I'd need to bring one with me? It's kind of weird to realize I'll be mailing one every month, however, I was thinking earlier about how my grandma probably did that and I have been amusing myself by imagining a Grandma Kelly sort of space but with way more books and no lavender pant sets. Also, I can have the Chinese food delivered (instead of how she made her short little jaunt to Lotus Garden for the appetizer plate)

Lotus

and hopefully the Indian food, as well, because I prefer that actually, though it costs more and I will have to budget for it carefully. 

And there's steak tartare! When I spent the weekend with her, sometimes Grandma would cook me a little meatloaf and make steak tartare for herself. Other times we'd have a small roast that she baked with grape jelly and mustard on top. You guys think back to the 70s and remember the ferns and macramé and wicker and terrible fabrics and shoe designs, at least I am imagining you do, but I want to bake things in Corning Ware (but not with clashing textures that should never have been allowed to occur) and eat fondue and also steak tartare with a wedge salad. Not really a wedge salad, though. Who wants to eat salad with a knife?

Well, I'm hungry and I need to eat something before going to work so it's entirely possible my idea of living a Grandma Kelly apartment aesthetic comes down to thinking about making steak tartare, but I have other ideas, as well. The second bedroom/painting room will be filled with little collectible toys, children's and YA books, etc., and I'll probably put my bits of African art (mostly from Ghana) in my bedroom, and I want the living room to be as gardeny as possible. Stay tuned. If you want to, that is. 


The Lights in the Sky Are

Hey, I chose an apartment, the one I looked at the other day. It has two flaws for me; on the second floor and is farther from things rather than closer. But the second point is probably the reason it's not too expensive for the size and relative "niceness." I mean, also it has no pool, clubhouse, all that stuff which costs more but which I don't actually need. I will miss having a pool a whole lot, though, other than having to maintain it. 

I get to keep my books, I'll have space to paint and sew, and I expect I'll grow used to being somewhat isolated from commerce and so forth, ten minutes east of the eastern edge of things. I'll have a fine living room in which to watch the Cincinnati Symphony stream their concerts to a remote audience this season. 

The address is in the town I have tended to refer to as Meth Addicts for Trump, and I won't wholly repent of that, but I also won't bother with embarrassment over no longer having a "better" zip code. That would be very silly of me. There are nice people everywhere, and we all know Trumpism is a disease. 

The manager asked me if I wanted the one garage still available for $70 a month and I said, "No, not this year while I'm working out this New Way of Life," but I don't know if that will raise my car insurance? That's on the list of things to learn next week. It certainly won't raise it by that much, though. 

Oh! The other thing I wanted to mention is that the view from my new balcony features a pine tree which died this year; the maintenance man told me it was still mostly green at the beginning of summer, and now it's all brown, and they're cutting it down soon, and I felt romantic toward it, but I guess you can't have a big dead tree just standing out there in front of things, sigh...but why did it have to die?

(Here is a representation of the dead pine tree but not the actual specimen itself. I will try to check for pine borers on Monday when I sign the lease, to fully establish myself as the eccentric they'll all be getting to know soon enough.)
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what a year this has been

amiright?

Today I was looking for some sort of guide like my (charming, well-meaning, outdated but enjoyable) volumes in the Woman Alive! book series, for managing some elements of single apartment life. Well, Google searches are just not helpful anymore, from my point of view. You just have to know any question you want answered can be answered on the internet, if only you can reach it, but you can't reach it without luck most of the time. I felt like an expert at search strings some years ago, but now they are mostly useless. To be fair, it's a complicated question, but it isn't impossible. I want to read, in plain language, another volume of that book which just never got written. They had a volume for the single woman; single by choice or widowed, that is, and they did one for a bit of household management, 

but I'm thinking maybe I need to write my own. 

To back up, the main reason I haven't written any blog posts on any of my web pages isn't because my feet and brain still hurt from being newly employed in a grocery store. It's because my computer keyboard and trackpad are dead, and also the thing has to be plugged in at all times to work. So I am typing on a Bluetooth keyboard, I have a trackball plugged in, this whole thing, and I'm a bit petulant about it. 

Since I got my job 14 months ago, I had a bit of a promotion, so I do more work in one sense, but it's less physically taxing overall. Fortunately, it wasn't enough of a promotion that I sit down for hours or anything like that, though on the other hand, employed in an office setting I'd have probably gotten to have shelter in place time like lots of other people instead of being launched into CrazyLand for many weeks while those same people panic-bought everything they could lay their hands on. 

The promotion is just enough that I'll be able to rent an apartment and get bills paid and not starve, though having had to buy a car in March because a deer killed my beloved old one put a tiresome dent in the operation. 

I know how to pack up a big house, I have spent months thinking over what I need to keep, want to keep, will probably need to let go of, etc. to fit into a much smaller space. I've been working on cutting recipes to two servings; leftovers for lunch or late nights in mind. And I've been attempting to visualize myself alone in a place with things that I love and no pet hair or discarded cereal bowls, as a healthy person who will live a long time, rather than with too much paranoia about cancer or Covid. It's not super easy, though. 

What I want is a sort of early 70s throwback atmosphere only with cleaner air and better appliances and a lot of YouTube videos. I was even thinking maybe I'd make my own videos about it, as a supplement to this blog, which is now a hopeful journal of how this all transpires.

I'm going to look at an apartment today. The area was recommended to me a few months ago, and I didn't like the notion of living three whole miles farther east instead of west, but now that I think about it sensibly in a more focused time frame, more and better space for the money seems worth an extra ten minutes' drive into the city. And if I can contrive some scheme to make up for the car payment line added to my budget, I can be comfortable.

But everything feels so uncertain, doesn't it? 

The cherished friend most likely to comment on these posts in the past has died. I'm not saying that to bum anyone out, but if you feel like weighing in briefly on the concrete ratio, I'd enjoy reading your thoughts. 


"She didn't get manifestations, she got a moustache"

A. As of about a week ago, I have reached what a former close friend referred to as "the crone stage" in life. Ready to relegate fertility and such to the more youthful members of the stronger half of our humanity, and wisely tend to my herb garden and needlecraft and occasional sign-waving. 

It has been eight years and, well, about a week, since I knew perimenopause was beginning—it had a strong and distinct beginning. And at some point I think I clung to it hoping it would never end, because my pattern-driven brain tied the knowledge that a girl usually grows in height for up to two more years after her first menses to my mother's death two years after reaching her own menopause. I thought maybe I was counting down, had my forty or so years of usefulness, and that was that. And finally here I am now, though over two years older than Mom was at menopause, and it's been awhile since I had a checkup, because those cost money I don’t have, and always lead to further expense, yet I'm not too worried about repeating the rest of her pattern, at least not so far. E36feeffd4f6f160ada8fac8dd701bd6
This isn’t the post I intended to write to celebrate this auspicious moment in what will hopefully be a longer and healthier life than mostly baseless fear projects. That was all about the Bee Gees and Gary Numan, and, as this is the season for proclaiming our generation the way people were proclaiming their particular social disorder seven or eight years ago, let me just say that it was the most Gen X idea ever (which I will probably still do.) We are our music, after all, far more than we are anything else that’s ignored about us by the ones who came before and after. But I have something else on my mind, tied to that, though you can see it only if you squint. Bestcorner
B. I learned only a couple months ago that the hot flashes will hang around for several more years. This shocked me; there’s so much I was never told! TV taught me to expect angry moods and wanting a baby. For me, the former didn't last too long, the latter was utterly non-existent. Medical people warned me of weight gain, though I loftily and incorrectly assumed that was for other people who already struggled with it to begin with. No one told me about years more of hot flashes and no one discusses the real problem with no longer being fertile. At least, it’s no longer looking or feeling fertile that bothers me most. Mainstreet
I don’t mean needing to feel sexually desirable to whoever out there thinks his best shot is with youthful women who fit a math formula. Who needs that guy around? I mean, well, I never felt dainty or pretty most times anyway, but I liked putting a bit of effort toward enhancing whatever of that I did possess. And the idea that it was all driven purely by a very specific combination of hormones kind of upsets me. I loved that energy and used it for painting pictures and writing stories and sewing crazy things together once it was no longer in service for other kinds of physical intimacy. I mourn the loss of that additional burst of creative energy, like a food I can no longer ever have, though that isn’t truthful. Creativity is still there, just not like a B12 shot in the arm. Truth, well, "truth" is a sort of screwed up thing just at present anyway.

C. There are three women older than me at my job. They all have short grey hair and slightly androgynous faces and pretty good teeth. I have terrible teeth, so I feel I’m starting at a deficit anyway, and I don’t want to look androgynous because I’m not. I’m all for it for people who are; I feel like we’re making real progress on that front. But I love being a girl. AND I AM NOT cutting off my hair. Soho
No one but me, I think, thought I was a very “girly” girl, and it’s way out of fashion to be one, at least among my online peers who are mostly around ten years younger than me. To me, that was not about whatever people define concretely with a pink bow on top. It was about walking on bare tip toes through mud, and light and sunshine, and noticing, but never being able to adequately draw, the negative space between the rain-brightened fronds of the plant I was just staring at through my window, and, yes, being irresistibly drawn to the color pink in winter time, which is when, honestly, it is needed most. 

Of course those things aren’t inherently girly at all. They are me things, just as they might be you things whether or not you are also a woman. But right now they’re a bit cataracted by so much money worry and money tension and health concerns and exhaustion, tired feet, and all these hot flashes that will not cease. And I don’t want them to disappear the way other aspects of my once innate youthfulness have. We’re constantly redefining ourselves, but our core doesn’t really change. Mine’s girly, and I like it that way; so I want a bit of the illusion of it to remain, as well. Lilies

D. I read East Asian women have the fewest hot flashes, so there might be something in that whole soy-estrogen thing I should explore, but it is also a fact that we are bombarded with processed soy extracts that might create imbalances, instead. They eat a lot of sweet potatoes, too, though, and those are easy to come by in their natural state.

As a side note: estrogen is a good leveler; the next time some illogical male who blames your estrogen for whatever traits in you he finds not to his liking asks you if you’re cranky because it’s “that time,” you can draw him a little chart on a whiteboard and explain that the decrease in estrogen at this time is what brings you down a little, and then you can hit him with it. 

Another side note: biological evolution being what it is, we all end up looking more alike as we age, since men have less testosterone and women have less estrogen, altering the balance we share with each other. I expect it has to do with having or needing less energy to fuss with and make up with each other in order to make more of each other. (The increase in stds in retirement communities is tied to various emerging factors: their generation grew up in a culture which worshipped youth, plus they have access to medication previous olds didn’t have, and, of course, there is no longer the taboo against sex outside of marriage that their parents were expected to adhere to. There's something to mull over another time.)
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E. I’ll probably just become more hermit-like (and finally pet-free.) Let me make it perfectly clear that I find this a desirable state of being and do not appreciate being told I could do otherwise. Of course I could. But anyway, I want to be a semi-hermit while retaining some softness of features and not too much softness around the middle. Poised barefoot, contrapposto, observing the world as it perpetually changes costumes without ever changing the play it is putting on.

PS: here’s a good essay at the New Yorker on this subject which reminded me I hadn’t yet written my own, which this is not, but it will do for now. The New Yorker essay somewhat focuses on the rage I’ve maybe been too tired to have much of except right at the beginning (or else it is the extreme introvert situation; far more internal existential grappling than external lashing out,) and mentions a new book on the subject as well as others. I think I might read the newest one; the others don’t sound like my kind of thing. But I can be the plant far better than I can draw it. Firstfruits


Google Plus demise, part two, with pictures of kittens, of course

I’ve put off the “what I’ll miss about Google Plus” post for a few reasons. One is, of course, that we like to pretend good things aren’t actually ending. Another is that it’s just difficult to pin down exactly what was so great about it. At least it is for me; over the past few weeks, friends have been talking about it and reposting fun memories from the previous eight years, while I’ve still just been thinking it all over. 

And life for me has taken what you might call a downward turn over those years, which is not enjoyable to reflect on.

Logickitten
However, I want to honor the experience in some small way if I can. 

At some point, it looked as thought 15,000 people were following me on Google Plus. How many of them were real? A startling number to me, though probably not to people who have large “audiences” on Instagram or YouTube or whatever, and certainly there were people there who had a much much higher number. But definitely there were thousands at some point. I felt a little beholden to that, but the way things were always changing, you could never be sure of any kind of consistency. So I just tried mostly to be good and friendly but also there was a lot of odd flirtation, some of which I enjoyed, and it taught me better than anything that some people are very good at that and some people do not know how to read a room.

Incredulouskitten
And I did make friends, far too many to name here, and if I named many of them it would look even worse to leave some out, wouldn’t it? But there’s Terry, who’s like a brother, really like one of my own brothers I never see, with whom I enjoy talk of old music and old movies and old things in general. And Joyce, who is very like-minded in most ways, not in a couple of important ways, but that doesn’t matter, you know, with friendships. At least, if you don’t know it, you definitely should. Friendships are not calculated on balance sheets.

Politicskitten
There’s Karen, such a dear and fascinating person. We have only a few things in common, but we share a mode of thinking. We get each other. I love that. Similarly with Jenn, and sweet darling Bruce Shark. He’s everybody’s darling friend, but as he is a great admirer of my widow’s peak, he’s more than just that fun friend to me, as is John. ❤️

It was great to talk with people who were in my own age group; I really need my closer friends to remember at least some of the 1970s. I made a new best friend there, too, someone I know I could be BFFs with if we lived in the same neighborhood. The “we’re just like this” kind of friend. 🤞

Pleasurekitten
So that’s one good aspect of Google Plus. 

There were so many communities and so many people who counted for special to someone else. You weren’t there; you have no idea how huge it was, and every negative article you read was superficial drivel. (Consider how many major news outlets acted as though we knew what the entire Mueller report said moments after seeing Barr’s pre-written 4 page summary.) And yet we were all able to become intertwined at different times, like with the Secret Santa project, which allowed people to send gifts to others around the world; people in need and people they just wanted to do something nice for.

Some people shared selfies all the damned time, others never did at all. I wanted to see everyone so I could say, ooh, look, it’s you! But not everyone is comfortable sharing themselves that way. It was neat when people did often, though, because you could tell they were trying to see themselves, and to have you see them as well. Most of the time, that’s not vanity; it’s humanity. It’s a gift.

Lonelykitten

We found things we had in common! How great is it to just randomly mention some seriously odd bit of pop culture and have sixteen or sixty or six hundred people say OMG I KNOW?

Well, that’s why we love the internet, isn’t it? And that’s what Google Plus was; a huge yet intimate aggregate of the internet and of humanity at-large.

Shallowkitten

I could say why I truly think it never completely cemented itself and why they stopped marketing it and I bet I’m right, but I don’t want to appear negative toward anyone right now.

Anyway, “Social Media” has changed incredibly since 2011. It’s sort of amazing to realize how different everything is in such a short span of time. Mostly I do not think it’s better. It is certainly bigger. And without Google Plus, for some of us, it will be a little or a lot worse. I just hope we can take from it and apply it to other areas. What else can we do, after all?

Nomnomnom


Fallout shelters and this and that and a few old photos of me

I thought that scanned well.

I was doing a little research for a story I'm working on and came across this interesting article about a bomb shelter beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. I just knew there had to be something like this, and I'm so gratified to find it. Also, I've wandered over the Brooklyn Bridge and have spent some time hanging around those arches, always feeling like there was more to be seen. And there is! 

There's some interesting underneath bit at the Manhattan Bridge, too, but I can't remember it very well. I wish I still lived close enough to just go see.
Moreme

Anyway. Fallout shelters are on my mind for this story I'm working on. I read also that New York began removing the signs for them in 2017 finally, which seems right, but also oddly disappointing. They were around my whole life even though no one paid any attention to them. I enjoyed discovering a new one now and then when I was a kid and we were in Kansas City for something. (I lived a half hour south of the city, which seemed a huge distance to me then.)

Where I've set my stories, the town is not built on limestone the way New York is, and I'm not so sure something this expansive could be built there, but I'm either going to find out just what would work, or pretend it's all just fine that way. It is an interesting area to consider because part of it was built up defensively in case New York was attacked by Germans during World War II. You can still see the remains of some of that if you head up to the tip of Sandy Hook, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area; alone worth a national park pass. Some of that area was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, but it's still a good place to visit. Sandy Hook, 2013
Oh, I miss it all right now, talking about it. The Highlands, the Twin Lights, Huber Woods, and the other woods I forget the name of right now, not looking it up, gotta alter my focus.
Meoncannon
I guess my stories have become a personal love letter to the place I lived for only a few years that felt more like home than everywhere else I've been. 

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let us have tea and speak of absurdities

It's been two weeks since I launched myself into "being a writer." 

This has included many hours of reading over most of the fiction I've written in the past thirteen years, trying to figure out a piece of software I downloaded five years ago and never quite got the hang of, scribblings on notepaper and a large whiteboard, a few pages printed out, a few segments lightly edited, two different outlines partly finished...

And very little new writing. Yet I feel I've made tremendous progress, and so that is just fine. 

Because it feels different now; much more purposeful and much more possible. I can't say quite why that is, but I don't think it really matters. I wish I had more energy to apply to it; I'd work far more hours of the day if I could. For now, I'm doing all I can to get moving forward and keep going, and when I can do even more, I will. I don't want to burn out, of course, but that's not too likely.

Today I'm ready to tackle the first of three segments of writing that will make the story I'm working on feel like a real book. There's an online forum to revisit in which one character is secretly wooing another with haiku, a rehearsal of a children's Thanksgiving pageant, and probably something to do with the dog Chucho, because he'll want his say in things. 

Then I will refresh my outline and prepare for fill-in segment two. I've got this. 

Right? And so.

Pigshoes

 

 


dual vision

Two people I respect and care about and whose taste I appreciate, only partly because it is similar to my own, have again simultaneously expressed their belief that I should work at making the writing thing pay. And so I will honor their encouragement by making a full and earnest effort at that. 

Now I'm rereading things I've saved over the past 15 years or so, and I ran across this brief essay from 2008—no idea why I wrote it, but it seemed apt for these our times. 

There is nothing new under the sun. Solomon wrote that several thousand years ago, according to Bible traditionalists. Actually, the passage reads, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” And it might have been written only about 2300 years ago, well after Solomon’s lifetime, but the point is that people have been saying this throughout mankind’s journey. In one sense it has always been true, but not in every sense. 

Reality may always remain more or less the same, but our perceptions of it have always been in a state of change. And what we do with those perceptions does sometimes create newness. Monet was the first artist to become famous for painting just exactly what he saw, rather than filling in details with what he knew to be there. His paintings are best viewed from a distance of at least several feet, as closing in on them enhances the lack of detail and makes the subject unclear. His large landscapes allow us to see exactly what he saw, if we look at them from a proportional distance to his own distance from the actual view. As Monet aged, his eyesight deteriorated, yet he still painted only what he could see, which gives us a wonderful opportunity to appreciate his changing perspective. 

He’d have made a great eyewitness to a crime in that he would neither have added or subtracted information based on something other than sensory cues. Most people aren’t capable, it seems, of describing only what they saw and heard; no more and no less. Police investigators work hard to distill all the viewpoints they are offered into factual, objective evidence. 

Our ideas about how the world works changes as we become more scientifically advanced and adept. But what we do with those ideas is pretty much the same as what we’ve always done: we argue over them, start fights and even wars over them, or ignore them all together and continue on blithely in a state of general ambivalence. 

Computer technology has created rapid changes in the art and media industries, but the subjects most important to those industries are the same as always; what people desire, what they believe they need, what they believe is right or wrong with the world surrounding them and inside their own heads. Artists, marketing firms, and advertising agencies still attempt to influence these desires and beliefs in much the same way they always have; through our physical senses and our emotions. An artist’s motivation is said to be more pure because his or her work is not created in order to take advantage of those who view it, however, the line separating artistic integrity from marketing strategy has been the subject of concern since, well, probably since the days of Solomon. 

So sometimes our changing perceptions lead to newness in thought and idea. Sometimes the new ideas create chaos, other times they founder, still other times they lead to positive action. Sometimes they are received in a spirit of enlightenment, and at other times we view them with a jaded eye. This has always been true for mankind, and so, in that respect, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Our patterns remain in place, rotating through cycles the way the earth rotates through seasons. It’s all in how you look at the thing.


Bread Pudding and Circuses and the Demise of Google Plus (pt 1)

This one is a bit critical. You have been warned. The next one will have sugar added. But it is punctuated with frivolity to make things more bearable for the Reader with some of my favorite songs from the G+ era, and images from the Bussard Collector.

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Today while perusing international headlines I was reminded of the time I shared a photo and description of some bread pudding I made and was harangued by an English person because it wasn’t an example of early 1950s British post-war food rationing. BREAD PUDDING CANNOT HAVE ANYTHING FUN OR INTERESTING IN IT. I think there was an implication that if I was being “fancy” with it, I was insulting people who knew it only as desperation pudding. THERE IS A RIGHT AND WRONG WAY TO MAKE EVERY FOOD YOU GUYS. 

DOUBLEPLUSGOOD-HEADER

Whereas I was taught to take bread, milk, eggs, sugar, and build on that however I wished to do, not just as a last ditch effort at dessert, but maybe sometimes just that.

I’ve been even poorer than I am now, which is hard to reconcile, since things can’t be a whole lot worse and still hang together, but I do know about making a treat for the kids from Grape-Nuts and an old apple. Never, though, had I imagined being confronted with an admonition regarding The One True Bread Pudding. I mean, Google it? There are as many ways to make bread pudding as there are people willing to eat it.


Why am I sharing this? Well. Something important continually reinforced at Google Plus is that linear insular thought is by no means a “white American” phenomenon. My own insular view had been that there weren’t as many narrow thinkers as there really, really are. In every aspect of daily life, apparently. It grew exhausting, because it was one thing to realize people are politically naive or ignorant or lacking in context, but fully another to realize that no matter the topic, there were always going to be arguments about the One True Way of it all. Even by otherwise intelligent people.

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Some of the things people humorlessly and tediously argue over include: ketchup, daylight saving time, Marvel vs DC, and something I enjoy that you’d never try again because of that one time 20 years ago that you had a bad version of it so that’s all it could ever be, ew, the worst. 

Peepssushi
And the lack of awareness about how other people live astounded me. The You Lot contingent drove me mad. What do you know about 325 million people hailing from every part of the world living across a vast geographically complex continent that you can blithely drill it all down to “You Lot Think XYZ?” 

Here on this vast expanse, we don’t even agree about what goes on a hamburger. And why should we? But this taught me that smaller countries that were previously very homogenous had a certain long time order to their lives that has really never existed here. And the remnants of that life still inform many of their views. 


Which is how some of you got the Brexit fiasco, and how we got to the point where 1/3 of people in our own space think their “way of life” is built on a zero sum mode of reality; if anyone else’s life improves, it is at the expense of their own, because they live according to a fairly narrow archaic train of thought; much like in some parts of India where people still live according to the caste their grandparents were born into. And so we have a president the rest of the world laughs at and despises, and no matter how awful he is on a daily basis, it never matters to his contingent, because they know that they know that they know how things ought to be.

Grampa
But it isn’t only the people we think are on “the other side” who are like this. 

As much as the rest of us acknowledge the mutability of humanity, there’s a sizeable number of people who, liberal-minded or not, see things only according to their own light, through their own filters, and by their own train track logic. You might be one of them, though you are a busy bee online sharing the best activist memes and Thinking Well of People Who Are Different From You.

Applause
I realize this sounds mean, but I’ll distill it down to two things: 

1. Never assume the experience you’ve had or read about is the One. I bet, for example, if I visited Britain, I would not find that people eat only curry and chips and puddings made from cheap white sandwich loaf. Don’t be like Trump with his goddamn “Many People Have Told Me,” because it’s an invention of a narrow mind that needs to be The Correct Person At All Times. Yes, you. You were shown that the thing you posted about the other side was entirely fabricated, but because you can’t bear to be wrong, you made it about your “philosophies” instead of just admitting for once that you’d been had. I think you think you are in a competition 100% of the time, which, honestly, sounds completely exhausting, and not at all self-aware.

And if you, a person from Somewhere Else, visited Portland or Orlando or LA or New York, you have seen one city in the U.S during one season. That’s all. You are not an expert on any aspect of America because of that and a few exciting TV shows any more than I am an expert about The Correct Way to Make Pasties because I lived in Michigan for six years and also have watched Midsomer Murders. 


2. This matters so so so much right now, as the political atmosphere in many parts of the world is burgeoning with dangerous ideals, and most of us don’t realize at any time how much it matters because our daily lives have changed very little so far. Here we are on the internet talking about Umbrella Academy, right? “That’s how they get you.” It’s, nearly literally, bread and circuses. It is also, to mix metaphors, that we are frogs in water which is being heated to boiling point—nearly literally. 

 analogies
So yes, I will miss Google Plus greatly. It was a good nearly eight years, and what doomed it was not the endless experimentation we were quietly put through, but the general attitudes people have about it and everything else: false perceptions, hasty judgments, impatience, and a sudden bandwagon rush to embrace Facebook that I bet a whole lot of those same people are now regretting. Hahahahahhhhaaaaaa.

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We could have had it all, and nearly did. 

But I won’t miss all of what we had; it was as riddled with the truth about humanity as anything could be: We have a whole lot of potential, but down here at the root level, we’re just well-dressed ants living beneath a decaying log. We don’t need to compete with each other to be the best at being poor or at being “open-minded” or anything else. We just need to keep from setting ourselves on fire.

PS: pretty soon, I promise, I'm going to write another one of these about how terrific G+ actually was, because it was, even though some of you who weren’t there having a good time with us enjoyed acting smugly like it was a random episode of Shields and Yarnell for you to make ignorant fun of, because: see everything I just wrote. 

Flash


The watching things kind of malaise, day one

Sometimes when I get the late winter malaise, reading doesn’t feel very good and so I watch things; either endless rewatches of Midsomer Murders or Inspector Morse or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, or things I have overlooked that want some attention. Not usually foreign language things; at least not on day one, because I might shut my eyes for a bit and miss something.

Yesterday I started to catch up on Murdoch Mysteries, had two episodes of that, but it didn’t fit my mood. So I watched some movies. Clicking on the images takes you to a trailer.

First I watched Crooked House, from 2017, with an intriguing role played by Glenn Close. I have read the book several times; it was one of the first Agatha Christies I read, because I was a kid and liked the title. I wasn’t sure if they kept the original ending, but was willing to be either pleasantly surprised or mildly annoyed. Either way, the reviews and ratings for it were all over the place, and after watching it, I can see why. (Here's a review that liked it more than I did.) It was super stylish, and had a groovy atmosphere with some fun performances. But the P.I. office conceit was more air than there; a little more could easily have been made of it. And the rest was oddly edited. I felt like I was watching something that could have been really great. Instead it was…unbalanced. Well, the story is meant to set you off balance. Just probably not in the way that it did. I'm glad I watched it, though. 75/100

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Next, I watched An Inspector Calls, from 2015. This is based on an old play I had not read or seen before. I had a rough idea of the story, but was not prepared for it at all, which is a good thing. I looked up a few reviews first; The Spectator haaated it, so I thought perhaps that was a promising sign. They didn’t even bother trying to understand the context J. B. Priestley was concerned with, at all, but that’s par for their course. And it was nicely eerie, well-paced, and David Thewlis was terrific in his role.

The movie is not perfect; the nature of styling a film like a play sometimes makes a viewer feel sort of remote, but stlll it was stylish, gripping and thought-provoking, and I’d recommend it to people who can enjoy a fairly static setting and mostly dialogue. 85/100

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Finally, I turned my attention to exploring some Tom Hiddleston roles. Lately I’ve been fascinated by him. I didn’t really get the Loki love, though I do enjoy that character, but after I saw him in The Night Manager, I was intrigued. And he’s a very interesting person to explore on YouTube. (This is a smart 17 minute conversation about adapting that book.) I maybe have thoughts now, about someone far too young (video) to be having thoughts about (images.) But I realized I hadn’t seen him in anything (maybe?) besides that and Crimson Peak, so I chose three movies I knew little about, read up on them, and then began with Only Lovers Left Alive, from 2013.

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I liked it a lot. I don’t know who else I know who would; if you ever describe things as “too arch,” definitely not you. I think three, possibly four of my six offspring would dig it. Tilda Swinton was terrific, but of course she was. The Detroit setting is perfect, and though I haven’t been there in 20 years, I recognized it, which is something I appreciate. There are some wide streets there with empty houses on them that are simultaneously tragic and beautiful, and make you feel like you are in the middle of absolutely nowhere instead of on the edge of a large city. I hear they’re working on that, guess I hope so. 

Only Lovers Left Alive is a slow-paced stylish dialogue about day to day existence, what matters in it: love, mostly what doesn’t: everything else. And that’s about all. But I found it rich viewing, and might watch it again after a two cocktail evening to reexperience the mood/trance music in an extra relaxed frame of mind. 90/100