Sorry that things have been so spotty around here. The wife and I are going to Las Vegas next weekend (first weekend in August) to see some friends. When I get back, I plan to resume regular posting. I think I'm going to aim to do my "30 Days of Posts" again, only this time space them out so that they fall every OTHER day. Hopefully this will allow me to have to more to say, as well as giving my loyal and scrappy readership a regular schedule of posts to look forward to. Or, alternately, to fear and despise. Whichever you all prefer.
Anyway, I'll be back with regular posts starting on August 8th.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
It's more or less common knowledge that The New York Times has been experiencing a steady decline in quality over the last decade. In the last year or so, I'd come to believe that they'd hit bottom; I didn't think they couldn't realistically get worse and still be a functioning newspaper. This Sunday's edition of The Book Review, however, pretty conclusively proves I was wrong.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This will be a brief odd entry but I just was standing at my kitchen counter eating lunch and I had a thought: at this moment, right now, in time, I am truly happy. And I wanted to record it. Why was I happy? I walked this morning, did my pushups (140) and then grilled some chicken I had marinating overnight. I ate it with brown rice and reheated mustard greens from a few days ago, in front of the TV, watching part of a rerun of The Sopranos (where Johnny Sac changes his mind about killing Ralphie when he finds out his wife is cheating on her diet). Then as I was at the counter cleaning up everything I had a forkful of the mustard greens-not reheated this time-just out of the Tupperware, so that they were lukewarm. And then I had one more bite of chicken. The chicken was delicious. I've started grilling meat with the lid open, so that it takes longer but allows more heat to go on each side, resulting in a crispier harder 'bark.' I put maybe a smidge 'too much' pepper on it this time (white and black) but it turned out well despite that (perhaps because I had no garlic powder and had to use garlic salt, instead of pure salt and pure garlic powder as I do normally, thus making sure the ratio was 1:1?) Anyway. That's all. Because yesterday I for some reason read my old journal from when I was in [Midwestern town] with [old girlfriend] (who I've been thinking about recently, and recently tracked down her PhD thesis online and read that) and I don't know. I don't know what I thought reading that journal. It stirred some bewildering welter of emotions, but of what specifically that welter consists, I don't know.
So that's all. Just that I'm happy. The play seems to finally have a shape. The wife is in Rome, so I'm alone but not in a bad way. Knowing the current isolation will end makes it seem not like isolation, in a way. More like we're both away at work.
But that's all. The moment at the sink is the point. Because happiness is just a piercing moment now and again, and it passes so quickly it's usually not worth setting down. So I'm setting this down. (And also, I should say that I've felt more and more of those moments over the past few months. More than I have in a while).
That would be an interesting idea for a story, or some kind of devotional journal exercise at the minimum: "Moments of Happiness." Where everyday you set down something in your life that made you happy, for an instant, and that was it. "To Say Yes" What you were saying yes to that day.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Watched Jacques Becker's Casque D'Or last night. French gangsters fight over a woman ('a tart' as she's called by a respectable matron in the film) with predictably deleterious consequences. Well, maybe deleterious is too strong a word. There are a few slappings and one death, but as is typical with the 'hard men' one encounters in French movies, their toughness is foregrounded much less than their...well, Frenchness. They play backgammon and talk about cheese and engage in various other cultural cliches that make French movies of the era (it was shot in the 50s, but takes place around the turn of the century) so recognizable.
Listening to The Mating Season (another Jeeves and Wooster) on my daily walks right now. Just encountered one of the funniest Wodehouse scenes I can remember coming across, a village hall entertainment dominated by a family known as the Kegley-Bassingtons. Can't possibly do justice to it here. Enough to say that my estimation of Wodehouse's powers continues to balloon.
I haven't bought any new books in quite a while. Instead I've been reading the ones I've already got. I finished Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana last week; now I'm working on On Growth And Form. I've almost done with The Myth of Sisyphus (it's a hard slog) and am about halfway through Tomas Transtormer's Collected Poems. Wanting to read some plays yesterday, I got down an old anthology of Restoration drama. Then, ten minutes in, I remembered: I loathe Restoration Drama. So, instead, I'm reading some of the critical essays contained at the back of the volume (it's a Norton Edidtion, thankfully). The Transtormer poems have their moments but a lot of them seem to consists of a speaker describing a snow-covered road (or maybe a forest) in a muted and unadorned language. They're very Swedish, in other words (in the Ingmar Bergman sense. Not the ABBA sense) and thus do not accord with summer in the Valley in California. Where there are a relative paucity of snow-covered roads.
Friday, July 1, 2011
My current interest in samurai movies lead me last night to watch Sword of Doom, another classic of the genre. Directed by Kihachi Okamoto and released in 1966, Sword of Doom is the story of a cold, soulless semi-evil samurai named Ryunosuke. The first scene in the film shows him killing an old man on a pilgrimage to a shrine for no apparent reason and the rest of the movie continues in the same vein, with Ryunosuke's murders soon getting him expelled from his village. Forced to work as a hired gun in Edo, Ryunosuke becomes an assassin, spending his days gazing morosely into the distance and arguing with his wife (whom he's married after forcing her to have sex with him earlier in the film) and his nights killing other people for money. His 'empty style' of fighting makes him essentially impossible to defeat in battle, effectively draining the fight scenes of any suspense. There's a subplot about a brother of a man he's killed and his romance with a would-be courtesan, but mostly the movie is Ryunosuke, brooding. People who praise the film make much of the final ten minutes, an action sequence in which after going more or less insane, Ryunosuke attacks a houseful of armed men. For me, the ending didn't make up for the tedium of the first two hours. Lots of gorgeous and dramatic camera work, but not much of a story. (Apparently it was intended to be the first movie in a trilogy that was never made. Maybe that explains it).
For some reason I also watched half of the new episode of True Blood. Its incredible silliness intrigued me enough to want to know the backstory and that lead me to spend an hour reading episode summaries of the first three seasons. They were also silly. So, that's an hour I'll never get back.
Unsatisfying day of work yesterday. Feel down. Also, my blueberry muffin mix hasn't arrived in the mail. Isn't life hard enough already without having a tupperware of low fat blueberry muffins on hand to make it better?