Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
. . . Bridgerton (2020) Season 1, Netflix Original.
Shonda Rhimes adaptation of a print Regency Romance series, but with black characters as nobility and other aristocratic figures of agency for themselves and their world.
Julie Andrews is the unseen character, Lady Whistledown. Her character pens a gossip-scandal sheet distributed among the 'ton' -- a term never used by those people historically, invented out of French something or other by Georgette Heyer. This narrator inexorably has one reminded of Sex and The City. Most SATC episodes begin with the voice over of Carrie Bradshaw's character musing on white women's dilemmas -- she's also a columnist for readers of a rag read by the rich politically, financially, socially powerful Ladies Who Gossip, and their aspiring wannabes back in 1990's NYC.
After dinner last night, I watched three episodes out of eight, of the first season of Bridgerton. So far so good, though I remain on the critical wall regarding black Dukes, a black queen Charlotte with a set of black ladies in waiting, etc., being made nothing of by the white characters. Thus, definitely, Alternative History. Shoot, even the most wealthy Indian raja was still seen as not quite, by the Brits, both in India and at home during the Regency and certainly after. But these are purely white characters in black costume out of Romance Regency fiction, without any cultural signatures either, and that bothers me. Only in the third episode at some point the scored music of scene most faintly included congas – which only somebody steeped in Afro-latin music w/could notice -- if only because she was listening for any hint that certainly in music at least, there would be some black influence?
Supposedly somewhere in the middle of the season we wo;; learn why there’s diversity, not racism, in Bridgerton's world. If I have this correctly, this diversity wasn't in the books from which the series is adapted, though supposedly Alternative Universe (AU) is now a major aspect of Regency Romance.
The NY Times has informed me that Bridgerton makes the historical Queen Charlotte, rumored [Fox here: rumored by her enemies] to have been a descendant of a Black branch of the Portuguese royal house Britain's regent. Thus Bridgerton's inclusive society.
So, there's another reason I’m on the critical fence on this matter. Portugal and her monarchs were major players and suppliers in the Atlantic African slave trade. They were there first and they were last to stop, either on the continent or in the “New World.” Portuguese and Brasilians (and Usians, particularly New Yorkers) remained trading, bringing captured Africans to Cuba and Brasil, under the safety of US flag from the anti-slaving British navy, until the African slave trade was finally put an end to in 1862, by the US War of the Rebellion.
An excellent source, highly recommended that explains exactly how it all worked in every aspect, is John Price’s The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage (2020).
I do comprehend no Romance genre, Regency or otherwise, deals in historical reality, and thus AU, nor is it required to, but it’s another element that leaves me sitting on the critical wall, unsure, so far, whether this color neutral AU adaptation is a good thing or a wrong thing -- or even if it is a color neutral thing.
I haven’t stumbled (yet) upon any Regency Romance black critics' opinions -- British or USian -- whose point of view is essential here. But there are also more episodes for me to watch, so who knows how this will play out ultimately.
Nevertheless some poking of the innernetz informed me whether or not all the characters in the books were white or not, at least the first novel, The Duke and I, out of which most of this first season is adapted, is controversial in a very large way among the fandom due to a very particularly scene in the novel, which too, evidently is a plot driver. Will not speak of why, due to spoilers, but it is evidently -- of course it is! This is Shonda Rhimes! -- in the netflix version too. The Netflix version is controversial among fandom too.
This is soap opera, based as it is on a series of Regency Romance novels by a Julia Quinn, which have the sorts of covers that broadcast to my kind of historical fiction reader, "Nope." But such novels can make entertaining tv.
Nevertheless, my sort tires of soap operas at some point. Shonda Rhimes's Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, left me yawning as the seasons rolled on, so quit watching after 3 – 4 seasons. The point of soap opera is -- no point. There’s no momentum, no end point, just ... more … of everything. Downton Abbey was the same. I hope Bridgerton doesn't turn out to be like -- well that utterly vile production of Jane Austen's fragments of Sanditon from last year.
Poldark is the the sort of successive seasons’; screen dream that can carry my sort all the way through, and leave me sad when there is No More.
This is to say that the Poldark series, books and television, at least the first BBC version from the 1970’s, are accurate portrayals of their world, as much as the author was able to make them, not Romances, though love, sex and marriage play huge roles, as historically they do in every culture in every era. Winston Graham’s Poldark novels and television series was in the period/historical tradition of Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, not Georgette Heyer’s fabricated, imaginary Regency Romance. So, like Dumas’s historical fiction and much else, that has lots of sex, love and romance, Poldark works for my kind, whereas Heyer does not and never has.
Another question that immediately reared was, why / how did our primary marriage market figure, Daphne, go from in one scene as the season's 'perfect diamond' due to the Queen declaring her so, whom all suitors wish to suit, to having lost the favor of the Queen in the next big scene and nobody comes to call. There's a suggestion that her protective brother scared them all away, but that makes no sense either, since he tries to -- well spoiler, so will say no more. No matter how important her fall from Queen's grace is to making a plot, it shouldn't, you know, force me to wrinkle my already non-smooth forehead trying to figure it out. And then Daphne’s back in the Queen’s grace, or at least her mother is. Confused.
And --why did they make Polly Walker merely replay HBO Rome’s Atia of the Julii in a different period’s clothes as Lady Featherington? Walker could do so much more.
However, that Duke Simon Basset Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page, is the most dishalicious dish! And his velvet tail coats -- there is one in particular, a deep, but soft purple, with the perfect collar and lapels -- ooo la la! His wardrobe is by far and way the most scrumptious character in the series. Well ... maybe. He doesn't actually need clothes you know, to be scrumptious. As this is at least partially a genre of female gaze, there's lots of male to gaze upon.
Dayem, but it is cold out there. But at least after the Christmas storm, we were so fortunate as to keep power, lights, heat, innernezzes. So many around us have not been. So we see I'm also fortunate to have lots of watching on hand, as it's too cold to even go out. I know. I did it, and skeedaddled right back in, whimpering like little short-coated dog without her sweater.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
. . . .Good grief, el V returned, burdened with Stuff. Including the most beautiful pork roast for which there is no room in the freezer, while for days I've been planning and preparing for tonight's beef rib roast, with leftovers. The beef is fresh, not frozen, so .. O dear.
How much Christmas has entered this apartment since Monday or Tuesday, one way and another, when I have done my best to ignore it, feeling anything but holidayish. Our friends and family have remembered us in gracefully delightful ways. I’ve been composing and sending Christmas letters to friends.
This afternoon's sky is that brooding pewter density behind which the shapeless sun shines thinly, – just a bulbous light. The wind increased perceptibly while I was out. The wisteria and rhododendron vines that curtain the street side of the buildings on the West corner of Prince Street, sweep sideways across the walls in the gusts. The streets don’t have many vehicles. I’m guessing – making up a story again – that with the storm expected to begin by 6 PM, people who’d drive into the City from New Jersey and upstate wisely chose to stay home. Besides the 65 mph wind gusts predicted, here it's lashings of rain as well, while west and north lots of snow. Warmer temperatures had returned after the freezing ones. But today and tomorrow, exceptionally so -- tomorrow in the 60's. While it pours rain. Then within hours the temperatures are to drop to below freezing. So ... ice!!!!!
But people are out now, o yes, who are almost 100% masked whether inside or out. Even the very little children on the playground are masked. People have filled the streateries, finding Christmas companionship and cheer before the storm. The feel is so different from most times that I’d guess these are people who live here, not people coming from other states and cities looking for fun. When I say the feel is different, I mean it’s pleasant, calm, attentive, not brittle, angry, sharp, drunk and mean.
In spite of it all, the neighborhood’s festive, with varieties of music from rockabilly to traditional carols leaking out from the restaurants, the cars, and out of people’s apartment windows, plus the lights and decorations. It’s too bad the storm will screw the restaurants’ business for tonight and all day tomorrow. Plus, with the wind hitting 65 mph gusts, a lot of these places should be taken down by 6 PM. But instead I saw at least one place erecting a new one! People are trying so hard.
For the first time ever the crèche at St. Anthony’s isn’t displayed; and last year they were able to replace the most aged of the figures – but the church is draped with construction matting and so on, as repairs and renovations go on. But the Christmas tree under the Washington Arch at Washington Square is up. I stood there, so happy to see it again, in spite of everything, that I cried.
Wishing all, warm, well-lighted, healthy holidays.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
. . . . La Leyenda El Cid (2020) Season One, AmazonP Spanish Original Series
The set piece of the first episode is a joust celebrating the meeting of the King of Navarre with the King of Leon. I'm unsure as to whether jousts in royal lists of this nature were in play back in 1060, when Rodrigo 'Ruy" Díaz de Vivar, who will one day be known to all Spanish as el mío Cid, has only very recently been promoted from mere page to squire -- but I may be wrong. I am finding anachronisms though, which I do know are such, but there are also cultural and social bits that are historically just right, and are sheer joy -- which so far at least, this series is for my kind of watcher: pure joyeous (early) medieval period television. This is the most lavish and expensive Spanish tv ever, and it looks it. In Spanish, but dubbed into English -- or it can be watched in Spanish with English subtitles.
|Contemporary Friesian Stud; They Are Still BIG!|
A discussion about the New! Huge! Friesian (Dutch) Horse! introduced as a gift at the León court, also gave me great pleasure, as experienced warriors admire the stallion, agree he's magnificent, and also think falling off a horse this big is a long fall. Recall this is Spain, long before the Reconquista: the much lighter, but swift, strong and durable desert horse breeds are by now nearly indigenous to the Peninsula. As well Iberia was famous for horse breeding already by Caesar's time. As this is a Spanish production then, the horses are all A++ quality.
Nor are the mules forgotten. Riding, or driving, a high bred mule is not a sign of low status in Spain in those centuries. Mules were prefered by doctors, scholars, and even many high Churchmen, as well as by Muslim wise men and diplomats such as the series's character of Abu Bakr (though I don't know -- or don't yet -- whether this is one of the historical Abu Bakrs of 11th - 12th Century al-Andalus or not -- in Islamic history there are many Abu Bakrs).
Got a kick from the references to the Normans and their New! Innovative! Superior! way of carrying lances on horseback.
|Medieval Moorish Warrior Mounts|
Birds are significant others as well in 11th Century Iberia. Ruy attempts to read warnings, signs and portents when he encounters them. In my Turkish 14th C fave, Ertugrul, the hero talks to his horse; Ruy talks to birds -- more accurately, he asks the birds questions, whereas Ertugrul opines, and his horse, who knows him well, tends to laugh. But the Spanish of the days of Castile y León aren't known to laugh much at birds of good or bad omen . . . .
This is spectacular tv, particularly if one owns a big screen tv. All real world locations. Very colorful (and dusty). Nor is there CGI. Those wonderful long trains of armies or trade caravans that reach way back down the roads are all real people on real horses, just like in ye olden days of film. . The castles would not be that weathered and eternal looking though. Which is something I noticed way back when I was a kid way back when a kid sitting in the Film Forum for classics, independent and revival titles, adoring the castles in that Charleton Heston El Cid. Nevertheless I saw it three times.
anyway -- besides, Sophia Loren! whom we miss greatly in this series, as Lucía Guerrero, the actor playing Doña Ximena Díaz del Cid, doesn't (so far) provide the fire we know Ruy's wife possessed, and Ms. Loren possesses too).
It's only 5 episodes, alas. And I'm sensing he's not our legendary el mío Cid by the end of them, because 5 episodes don't seem to be enough time to get there, with all the Iberian Peninsular politics, royal intrigue and betrayal among all the Christian states' murderously dysfunctional families (not matter how the centuries roll, some things don't change).
The series begins when Ruy's a page and a squire. After the second episode he's still not even a knight,which is as far as I've gone so far, trying to not use it up all my delight all at once. The actor, Jaime Lorente, ... though young, looks too old to be either page or squire. Does this mean they thought ahead, of Lorente aging convincingly into el mío Cid? Will there be a season 2? I sure do hope so.
The day before the snow storm I as able to score a copy of War Lord (2020) the final novel (#13) in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series, a/k/a via the BBC - Netflix adaptation, The Last Kingdom. Thus I'm well fixed, between arid Spain and wintery mix, 10th century, Northumbria, though I will be sorry to take leave of Uhtred, son of Uhtred, who also was son of Uhtred. But even this Uhtred knows his story has run its course, he's held his final shield wall. There is no choice. Destiny, Fate -- are all.
Monday, December 14, 2020
. . . . It's Official!
Biden-Harris Won! Again! and Again and Again and Again and Again They Won!. Dayem! They must have over a thousand Electoral College votes by now they've won some states so many times!
They lost They Lost They Lost They Lost -- SHOGGOTH LOST HE'S A LOSER. A Cruel, sadistic, evil, horrible, ugly loser. But!!!! HE'S A LOSER!!!!! AGAIN!!!!! He's Lost! So many thousands of times! Because he's a loser!
HAHAHAHA! Sorry. I am being very silly, but gee, it feels so good to be silly for a change, for a while.
I'm also experiencing a very rare interlude of feeling Normal because They Say tomorrow a big winter storm with lots of snow is coming (maybe lots of snow or this being NYC maybe not).
We're laughing again because we've achieved the usual sense of comfy and cozy that we have always felt in the prospect of a snow storm over the years (when we were together anyway, and he wasn't off Somewhere Else). This afternoon feels Normal, just like the way we'd feel at the prospect of a snow storm, Before. Like I said -- Normal, because of course we can't go out because Storm. !!!! I grew up with this! And even though we're far from Normal and won't ever be able to go back to Before, for the moment I'm happy. I'm humbly grateful to to take good moments when they come.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
. . . .Response to a fool who thinks all fast food places should be closed even for pick-up, so that during this terrible economic catastrophe, everyone would be forced to buy groceries in a supermarket and cook from scratch, because, you know, cheaper and more healthy, and keep those unhealthy people at home and not infecting others:
The real New York City, in which I live, includes very many people simple have no access to kitchens (or even beds), internet and any storage at all. I cook most days, and a lot of days most of the day, and I do it from scratch from the various food suppliers that I am so fortunate to have within walking distance, and many of them of high quality. I have hardly any room to cook, but I do have a stove-oven, I have a sink and running water. I do really amazing, if I do say so myself. I have been doing this and nothing else since the beginning of March.
But I know a lot of people who do not have anywhere to cook at all, no stove, no oven, no sink. Many others have physical and emotional challenges that prevent them from cooking. Please, what can't you understand about that? Why do you think I'm cooking regularly for so many people, not just us?
That we should have organized all this a lot differently at the very start of the pandemic, nobody's going to argue with you about that. But we didn't, and shoggoth and all his monsters from the hell dimensions did not even care, much less want to alleviate or prevent suffering. They didn't want to do anything about control and confining it. Much less help the ever growing numbers of people who desperately need help of every kind. For the ilks of shoggoth, the suffering is always the point. Why are you, who say you help the disadvantaged, then aligning yourself with these?
This afternoon in this covid-laden restaurant city, across the street, I saw a very poor old black man, begging, shuffling his feet in rhythm to the rhythm he had going by shaking a paper cup that held a few coins. Actually that rhythm was pretty sharp. He was thin, thin, thin, He had a mask – over -- which which he was scatting and alternately making vocal beats, according to the rhythm of his feet and his cup with a few coins. I had on my medical gloves and mask. I got out a $10 bill and reached far over to give it to him. This should not be, but it is, everywhere. And not only in New York City, but in your own city.
That you characterize yourself as a caring, compassionate person who tries to help, yet insist such living conditions don't exist, or if they do, only in NYC, and not in your own, only proves how little you know about the people you say you helping. It also says that like shoggoth's wife, "I don't really care do u." If you really cared, you would have known for many decades already that people live like this.
|These fellow NYers should break our hearts.|
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
. . . . Governor announced vaccine arrival in our state by December 15th, so surely to all the other states too?
The sooner the better, but there's a really long time to go, a really long time. Also, recall, it seems no matter which Big Pharma created the vaccine one is to receive, two shots are necessary to be protected (nobody knows for how long the protection will be effective, but most likely we'll have to do this at least every 12 months).
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that New York's first Pfizer vaccine delivery is expected to come on December 15th, and will be enough doses for 170,000 New Yorkers. [Which means, since each vaccination to be effective must be administered twice, for about 85,000 NYers.]
A second round of 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will constitute the second dosage for those designated people, will arrive 21 days later. The state is expecting additional allocations of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as the Moderna vaccine, later in the month or in early January as well.
Cuomo added that by the end of December, the Trump administration suggests there will be enough to vaccinate another 20 million people with two dosages across the country, making up 6% of the population of the United States.
Per CDC recommendations, New York's vaccination program will prioritize healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in phase one. There are approximately 85,000 nursing home residents and 130,000 nursing home staff members in New York, so the first round of vaccines will not cover all of those people. Cuomo hopes that the second round of vaccines later in the month will at least cover that entire group of 210,000+ people....
Keep in mind, please, this date is for arrival of vaccine -- though since it seems necessary it needs to be kept super-cold, They should probably being going to work immediately.
But will they?
So it not only does distribution mean jabbing people, but paperwork so they can be jabbed three weeks? two weeks? later, again. Records must be kept! Recall, my state is still counting ballots from the election last month. Among the multiple, well, to be honest, uncounted, problems -- piles of ballots from who knows where because the yellow stickies fell off.
It's Reading Wednesday Somebody/ies Say! Here is a novel I would recommend for those who are interested in King Arthur and historical fiction set during the Dark Ages. (Which of course I am interested because so little has been known about these years, but, thanks to archeaology and relentless scholarship, we discover a little more history all the time.
The Lost Queen (2018) was the first installment in Signe Pike's projected trilogy. The Forgotten Kingdom (2020) is the trilogy's middle volume, and writer's second novel. Unlike many middle volumes, this one is more compelling in terms of both character and action, than the first one. The writer writes vivid descriptions of the natural world of the setting -- as much as possible she's visited her sites, and what remains of them. The result is that I felt I was seeing what the characters are described as seeing. It is composed around the Arthurian origin mythologies that are centered location-wise in what we now call Scotland -- north of The Wall. The chronology is the later 6th century; the Romans are gone, Angles are 'invading', and to my personal historic thinking, Europe and England already have had nearly a century of the Dark Ages.* The Christian persecutions of the Old Religions in the region has been well underway for decades already. Considering this isn't the Victorian re-imagining of the age, as in Idylls of the King, well, yes, this books does contain brutal, bloody, cruel and abusive scenes. It wouldn't be right if it did not. Some victims survive, some do not, and others survive but are forever affected. The writer has good instincts, to do justice, but not dwell or revel.
* Why do I persist in calling the eras from late in the 5th Century to maybe the 9th Century and Charlemagne, the Dark Ages? It'such an old-fashioned way to view history, mostly considered out of date for any up to date medieval historian -- rather like maintaining the War of the Rebellion of the USA's 19th century wasn't caused by the issue of slavery, or that Rome 'fell' in the 5th century. I keep calling these years the Dark Ages because it was in the 5th century that Christianity became definitively official state religion of Rome, East as well as West, the plagues and famines which came relentlessly, until quite some time later, by which time the 'classical' or 'pagan' worlds had been erased for practical purposes, i.e. official, state, political, legal, religious monopoly by the Church., and things started to get crazy due to Christians determing intolerance of anything not determined by authority -- which led to many slaughters of each other, as well as of 'pagans and all the other Others.
These two Romes did build out from all the classical Roman political and administrative structures -- thus to my mind Rome didn't fall either, buy that didn't stop the Dark Ages of plagues, wars, famines and many other catastrophes. What was left was a shell within which cruel intolerance festered -- kind of like the restaurants here that now rule the streets -- they have been built out of the far more stable structures of the indoor restaurants. Indeed, they have come to be called, "Streeteateries," (even a step down from 'eateries,' a designation NY food reviewers are fond of) -- and are hit by cars -- frequently. Still as that was still Rome, people still eat and drink in these flimsy pretenses of fine dining.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
. . . . The mayor's already taken away ALL the sidewalks from pedestrians for the sake of the goddamned bars and restaurants and churches. And I do mean all of the sidewalks, and all the sidewalk -- at most we're allowed about 8 inches to walk through blocks and blocks of maskless spewing assholes. As of this last weekend, additionally, Christmas tree markets stands have taken over the last sidewalk that wasn't now a restaurant. We can't even go out for exercise as it is! Or to stand or sit outside to make phone calls without driving mad the person who has to hear it. El V's got a medical appointment on Friday. To get there he has to walk through blocks and blocks and blocks of restaurants on the sidewalks filled with people not wearing masks, seated only inches from where he must walk -- for there is nowhere else to go, except the bumper to bumper street, where the cars rub right up against the so-called walls of these sheds. (The number of cars crashing into these places is rising steadily too, btw.)
Because the mayor will not close the bars and restaurants -- the rest of have suffer further. As if keeping us indoors while leaving the bars and restaurants and gyms and churches OPEN and filled with assholes without masks will change a goddamned thing about the relentless, increasing numbers and spread. The governor's already begging retired medical professionals to come back to work.
With COVID surging and ICUs filling up, the de Blasio administration is urging older New Yorkers and people with underlying health problems to stay home as much as possible.
A Tuesday advisory from city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi says they, their household members and caregivers should stay at home “except … to travel to work or school, or for essential purposes including medical care, grocery shopping or pharmacy necessities.”
There is only a sliver semi-positive news to extract for our sorts from these latest updates about the spread of NYC's infection. The only member of our pod now, B, lives alone. El V and I, we're pretty good, living only with each other -- as opposed to a family of parents and teenagers and middle schoolers.
NYC Health Department Study Identifies Household Contact And Gatherings Of 10 Or More As Major Factors In Virus Transmission -
The New York City Department of Health has conducted a large-scale study of New Yorkers that shows household contact and gatherings of 10 or more people as the two main drivers of coronavirus.
The data about household infections also underscores the risks and challenges of controlling the virus in a dense city where many residents live in tightly packed quarters either with family members or roommates.
"This is a large part of the spread that we're seeing," Chokshi said. "It also means there's something to be done about it, which is really emphasizing the importance of safe separation."
This means that we need to wear masks and keep a certain Distance, and keep meetings outside brief, again, when we and B do see each other. Sigh. I'd already moved to that protocol last week, if not sooner. Yet, reading these things, it breaks my heart, what it really means personally for so many of us. All because the mayor and the real estate mafia refuses to shut down the bars and restaurants. because people will not do it, not even for a few months, even though it means the chances of every single one of getting seriously ill or dead.
As Dr. Birx and Fauci have told us -- if a person traveled and met people over the Thanksgiving weekend that person encountered someone who is infect. Not -- may have met, may have encountered someone positive -- but has encountered someone who was infected. Period. But hey who cares when there is gorging on pie to be done! We're Amurricans and it's our right to put the entire world at risk of death so we can eat pie! With people we often don't even like particularly! The American way! We're #1! Yay!
This species is too stupid to survive.
And yet, I spent four hours making a pea soup from scratch (even longer if taken into account was being mindful last night of putting the dried peas to soak), and washing dishes, drying dishes, putting away dishes, over and over, and cleaning the kitchen floor several times as things spilled, got tracked in etc., and clearning all the appliances. I didn't get to the workout until after 3. By the time all the Things (computers) were returned and set-up again in their proper places, by the time I bathed, washed and dried hair, dressed and the rest -- good lordessa -- it was 7. But trust me, I was furious the entire 7 hours!
Sunday, November 29, 2020
. . . . El V walked out for three hours; I worked out at home. Fairly soon, the winter will shorten these walks. Not yet though; gonna be warmish again tomorrow, with a lot of rain and wind due the storm coming up out the South and the Gulf, which will bring a lot of snow and wind, They Say, west of us, all the way up into Maine. Thinking of making butternut squash soup for tomorrow as an antidote to the clammy feel of an all-day rain on the verge of December.
Schools Open! No Closed! No! Open -- Wait, Closed! Ooops, Open Again! the mayor keeps playing covid-19 ping pong with NYC's public schools.
In yet another NY Public School volte face, tomorrow, de Blasio again declared Back to Physical School. He couldn’t maintain keeping restaurants, churches, gyms etc. open when he closed the schools. But all the shoggoth real estate gangs are his masters, so keeping bars and restaurants and big luxury shops open is what matters.
Keeping people from spreading the damned virus doesn't matter -- even when all the people who work in these shops and restaurants are sick -- then make the beyond over-worked, over-stretched, underpaid medical people sick, dead or burned out and just quitting. We’re up to the rates we were in May for cases, positives and hospitalizations, which will make a double, triple, quadruple leap when everyone comes back from Thanksgiving, They Say, as They have been warning since September and what happened with Labor Day.
This Thanksgiving week felt endless, not because one wasn't doing anything -- on the contrary. There is so much to do every day, and it never is finished, it seems. Which contributes to a sense of being driven, but without ever an end point gained, from when one can move to something else. ... No finitum to be had?
Which is why people's dogs have become even more important to them? Dogs need to be walked several times a day, which does punctuate the day by getting out and moving, away from the endless procession of chores, work and other obligations.
Partly though this sense of never ending is due to the holiday $ea$on being ushered in -- the real e$tate emperor$ are determined the City is to $pend as it always has in re$taurant$ and $hopping and $ocialiazing.
Nevertheless, in the past, we have loved this annual interregnum in which we weren't so tightly tethered to deadlines and schedules, with instead a calendar marked with events social and relaxed – not professional. It was a bubble in the year, within which we sort of floated above the usual and mundane -- followed, since January 2015-2016, by Postmambo taking a group of Travelers to Cuba. But we are denied all of that this year by way of a gang of evil thugs who have for four years sent an army to beat wrecking balls into the nation at every point as hard and completely as possible before January 20th, 2021, while keeping us imprisoned within a virulent pandemic and cynical changing the rules yet again -- de Blasio even, has nothing on their sorts.
Yes, I've begun watching BBC1- PBS’s The Rise of the Nazis, the political history of Hitler and the nazi party take over Austria and Germany (there are serious criticisms as to both its talking heads and some of its claims). It happened very fast, which I hadn’t quite realized -- I thought it took about ten years. The very first lines of the first episode tell us "In 1930 Germany was democracy, had a free press and was recovering economically. Within four years all that was gone, and the first concentration camps had prisoners." We literally see blood and violence throwing up in the streets and people being herded at gunpoint out of their homes and jobs, taken away.
I kind of knew all this Before. But prior to these last four years, never had this knowledge felt urgent, threatening and filled with the understanding that this is our last chance to turn back our own version, emerged out of what used to be the democracy of the United States of America, from setting the entire world on fire as on September 1st, 1939.
Yet, here we are, thinking o yes, tomorrow I can dash to Mille-Feuille and get one of
their heavenly baguettes to go with the squash soup. Can there be greater cognitive dissonance than fear of white supremacist, anti-women, neo nazism in company with a pandemic determined upon the same evil, deliberately cruel, destruction of climate, economy, infrastructure and genocides of all kinds, with -- "O, I can get a genuine French baguette -- even croissants if I want -- made by genuine French people"?
Yes, our lives are generally surreal now, completed the day after Thanksgiving by an acre of evergreens set up as a Christmas Tree market on what had been the only uncolonized-by-restaurants sidewalk block within miles of us. All that's left of that now is a bare 8 inches for the pedestrian to squeeze through.
Friday, November 27, 2020
. . . .The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Pangs". from season 4, the Thanksgiving episode, of course. Watched it last night after our really successful dinner a deux. Moroccan Lamb Pilaf will have to become a permanent part of the meal repetoire.
“Pangs” has been one of my favorite Buffy episodes all along. It still remains very good – and, making it all the more pertinent watching this Thanksgiving, "Pangs" includes ‘plague.’ Or syphilis. Something microbial that kills released by the Native sorcerer who was executed by Spaniards of California's Mission era. Of course the character infected is perennial butt, Xander. But it does get in history, which is another reason this has always been one of my favorite episodes.
The episode gets in everything that people dream to be the Traditional Family Thanksgiving they want it to be, to how Thanksgiving generally works in reality, when it is family-centered: the insufferable instruction from the newly clued in kid home from college for the holiday, political arguments about history, while Mom, determined to save her perfect Thanksgiving with all the people at the table behaving just as she wants them to. Which means she manages to find a place for the unexpected guest but squeezes a place for that guest at the table anyway.
This is the Buffy family, so Things Untoward Happen. But what's always been most notable for me in this episode, which is ultimately about family, was who wasn’t present at this meal. Riley, who’d gone home to Iowa for his Saturday Evening Post cover traditional country Thanksgiving with great big family.
Thus it is equally notable as to who was there, for Buffy's Thanksgiving. Spike – who had nothing to eat on this day of gorging. But he was there, as he was even through the very end, and on into the Angel universe. Gads Marsters plays his character so very well throughout all his permutations. What's even more impressive is at this time no one involved with the series could know there was a season 6, much less what was going to happen in season 6 -- or season 7. To me this has been a turning point episode in the Buffy verse.
This is also, in spite of Big Matters, one of the funnier episodes, with Buffy as Mom who is going to have Thanksgiving as she pictures it or kill everyone trying, and Giles as reluctant Dad who has no choice but to go down before Bulldozer Thanksgiving Buffy. Marsters contributes a great deal to the comedy.
I haven't watched any Buffy in years, but I easily could get sucked back into the Buffy verse. I have the complete boxed set of seasons sitting right here, to hand, by the dvd player.~~~~~~~~~
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
. . . . Ordered a newly published book today, first in quite a while; I'd put a hold on it from the NYPL, but it is still on order and there are 18 holds ahead of mine, so I gave in to temptation: The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams by David S. Brown.
The Last American Aristocrat,” a new biography by David S. Brown, “reveals how dynastic burden shaped the personality and career of the brilliant, bitter and thoroughly unlikable man who brought the prominence of the Adams family, and expectations for the endurance of political legacies, to an ignominious end.
Plus, how strongly Henry Adams despised and resented President Grant! Gore Vidal went right along with that, lifting (almost) entire paragraphs from Adams's presentation of Grant, in his novel, 1876. (Yes, Henry and Gore shared unlimited reservoirs of vitriole, malice and envy of others' successes.)
This pairs nicely with the just finished, frustrating, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders At the Helm of American Foreign Policy (2016) by Marthew Karp. Karp quotes Adams frequently throughout.
Brown's Last Aristocrat will go equally well with my most recent biography of a 19th century New England aristocrat, The Civil Wars of Juliet Ward Howe (2016) by Elaine Showalter. Never mind that Julia Ward was from New York City, known both as "the Diva" and "the Belle" of her generation of wealthy heiresses. She foolishly married Samuel Gridley Howe, a Bostonian, and suffered for that until he died. In fact, Howe didn't even live in Boston per se, but South Boston, surrounded by rough, laboring sorts, that was two and half miles away from anyone in their own social circles. Despite his intimate relationship with Charles Sumner, one of the most famous of Abolitionists, he didn't even like Julia participating in that movement. Already, during their honeymoon, Julia concluded Howe should have married Sumner, as "she" was more suited to him than she was.
Howe, an intimate of the intimate circles around Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which included Sumner, kept the future author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" fairly locked up in his school school quarters for his Perkins Institution, the first school for the blind and deaf in the US. He believed with every fiber of his being that women were only wives and mothers, and had no desire for doing anything else except caring for her family -- and certainly no desire for sex or sexual feelings at all, much less a desire for personal fulfillment in work. In fact, this much older husband, was remarkably like Julia's vastly wealthy banker father, whose more than handsome legacy to his daughter Howe busied himself in losing as fast as possible. Hawthorne and Longfellow, and Sumner too -- and so did William Wordsworth -- thought Julia was 'forward' and heartily disapproved of her having opinions and speaking them.
Julia's husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, was as wrong a husband for her -- or just about any woman as could be. He even (unlike Longfellow) objected to women using ether to escape the dreadful, prolonged agony of child birth. He was as wrong for Julia as Henry Adams was the wrong husband for Clover (and would have been for just about any woman). But Julia was of sterner stuff than Marian 'Clover' Hooper Adams. Julia persisted. She did not kill herself. She did become famous in the public sphere. and she outlived the appalling, Samuel Gridley Howe, with a reputation in U.S. history at least as well-known as his.
It's interesting, while the Longfellow biography I read earlier this year, was filled with so many loving, happy marriages in the circles around the poet, both these books feature deeply miserable, failed marriages.
When it comes to watching, some nights, as briefly as it happens in my dreams too, I soar and fly! There are scenes in Nirvana In Fire episodes in which martial artists from the Pugilist World evoke what it must feel like for a human to fly -- that purposed weightlessness. This is as much a contrast with the scenes of Saraphina Pekkala flying in HBO's His Dark Materials, as we can get; Serafina straining to hold to her position, flying against the massive weight of air. This is the best stuff in Nirvana In Fire; most of the productions scenes are pedestrian talking heads, in the way the BBC's early foray into historic, period drama was with I, Claudius.
I'm only up to episode 18 of 54. But at this point, the Turkish Ertugrul: Resurrection, has much more sophisticated, active cameras and a large variety of locations, many of them landscapes. The plotting is at least as intricate, but a lot more specific. Nirvana In Fire can get claustrophobic at times.
Busy days at home, trying to keep going, while we ascend upon wafts of hope, and then crash painfully again, smashed against the impermeable boulders of the idiocy of nearly half the nation's population when it comes to shoggoth and his equally cruel, determined to-destroy-the-country-and-its people, minions -- and the even larger portion of the nation's population determined that they are exempt from following guidelines and regulations, about covid-19 -- particularly about traveling, mingling, wearing masks and keeping Distance. So many infected, hospitals and morgues overwhelmed, yet even otherwise smart people insist they will fly and drive across the country to, o, Minnesota, to spend the holiday weekend with their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents (including our own relatives).
The white supremacist conspiracists and the flouting of Covid-19 sorts, merge with our state and city politicians who decided to lose the city yet another bunch of money by shutting down the public schools, but obeying the real estate moguls by leaving that travesty of 'outdoor' dining and restaurants OPEN. A construction with roof and ceiling, closed windows and walls and doors with heat lamps on the floor pumping out dry hot air is neither outdoors nor ventilated. Nor is it Distanced, as groups of 10 and more, without masks, dance to their own party around their 'own' table. Depressing. Distressing. Frightening.
We too are fighting off being depressed because for the first time in our lives we will not be spending this day with others whom we love, respect and admire, all of whom enjoy the company of each other socially and professionally. But not possible this year.
Thus I spent a great deal of time fretting about dinner for tomorrow. We are eating so well all the time. What could I possibly come up with that we haven't done, if not frequently, still, not that long ago? Though it feels much longer, it hasn't even been a full year of Distance and constant anxiety and adjustment to this way of life, which starts with eating everything at home. The stuffed refrigerator and freezer hasn't space for a turkey; the ten lb ones are running well over $50 (also, organic, free-ranged and local, so actually that's a good price, considering). I like turkey but not $50 worth, not in These Times!
Ah ha! it came to me in the night: Moroccan CousCous Pilaf. Have all the necessary ingredients including the almonds and pine nuts, lamb in the freezer, el V brought home fresh mint and parsley from the GG the other day. I've never made this, though have enjoyed it in restaurants. It will go well with bread, olives, salad and a bottle of a particularly nice Spanish wine that was stored away a couple of years ago.
Monday, November 23, 2020
. . . . This morning, with tea, reading a London Review of Books's "Diverted Traffic" piece, was struck by this, as was the author:
|Warren Hastings's Calcutta 1789|
"... how little enduring fiction emanated from British India, despite its commanding hold on the imperial imagination. With the exception of Kipling, many novels about colonial India have fallen between the cracks: who reads Meadows Taylor or Flora Annie Steel now?"
-- Maya Jasanoff; "So Much for Staying Single" / LRB, Vol. 30 No. 6 · 20 / March 2008
However, that leaves out the most well known fiction* of all, out of the British Indian Empire, which, these days, I'd argue, is even better known than Kipling's, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Though, strictly speaking, this fiction isn't 'about' India, but India and the scent of the far-off, the exotic, including the exotic right at home to the middle-class reader in the twilight of the British Empire, permeates The Secret Garden. Without India and the very idea of 'magic' Mary Lenox brings with her from India to Dickon's Yorkshire, this novel couldn't have exerted the spell upon generations of readers, which it still does, even now.
The magic of the British Isles' North in fiction -- has endured, from Sir Walter Scott, right to Ann Cleeves and beyond.
* Or would that be Paul Scott's The Jewel In the Crown, thanks to the BBC (1984)? Though those books were about the end of the Empire -- which Mary Lenox and Colin Craven would witness, while probably having lost a son or two to WWI, while one of them, if not both, may have succumbed to the Great Influenza.
Friday, November 13, 2020
. . . . Friday 13th began appropriately. Woke into cold wind and rain. Then switched on the Big Computer to learn what the latest announcements regarding Covid-19 were for NYC, while waiting for the tea to steep. But instead ...
What happened, evidently, is MS started installing this massive update last night and I shut it off in the middle.
But when I shut down last night there was no notification that updates were either pending or happening. Not at all. I always see that message if there are pending updates because it is there on the shut-down menu. If updates are pending, there is a menu of options to upload now and restart? upload and shut-down? Or, updates installing, do not shut off your computer.
None of that there last night. So all was borked this morning when I booted up. Could not even log on.
And just then el Vaquero calls out to me to look at these computers and tell him if I like any of them, because he's ordering me a new one as we'd planned to do since last winter.
I booted up the small computer, which is still running just fine though I don't use it for for much, but to watch shows on Brit Box and read downloaded e-books in bed.
So there is the news and it's even darker than usual (except for Biden-Harris, etc. thank all the powers -- and what too those damned powers so goddamned long hmmmm?_ though entirely expected. Yesterday the Governor announced more travel quarantines and, starting tonight, the restaurants had to close their 25% indoor dining at 9 PM and their outdoor 'dining' then too, though they could continue to provide take-out service and delivery. Also gyms and other public venues such like are to close. No public gatherings -- meaning churches, etc. more than 10, or at home either. But how does one police homes? Which now is where the real transmission is going on? Especially when the rethug NY assembly idiot on Staten Island thumbs his nose at the governor and publicly announces his family is having a huge Thanksgiving dinner together and there a many of us and we WILL NOT WEAR MASKS. That's RED Staten Island for ya, full of cops and other anti-social sorts.
Today, the stupid mayor announces it's likely the city's public school system will close and go entirely Distance Learning, even as soon as Monday, so parents make plans. But he's NOT closing the stupid restaurants, which, far more than the schools, are places people, especially now, are getting infected. We're already considerably over the mark he'd declared for shutting them the restaurants but he hasn't, and has reopened hotspot zip codes throughout the city. What kind of management is that, I ask.
The rain stopped. Amigo K was in the nabe, so donned my mask and coat, cashmere scarf, cap, gloves and coat, and hung out with him for a while. It was so great to talk, mask-to-mask, instead over the phone for once. Good stuff happening with him and C, and I'm so glad!
In the meantime, el V got Big Computer up and running, uninstalling what had gotten installed ... and and and. (According to the googles, there are hordes of miserable MS users who have been highjacked by this update that never updated.) But ordering the new computer is still in process; I just have to decide which HP seems best for my needs.
But with shoggoth refusing to concede and desperate for his narcissist-sociopathic supply and the states running out of not only ICU beds, but all beds, medical supplies, medical personnel -- and by golly, even teachers ... this is looking ever more dire.
How in heck are we going to avoid catching it, no matter how careful we are, when this isn't even a wave like last winter and spring, but a national tsunami?
And yet, while hanging with much beloved friend, the sky turned blue and golden leaves fell into my hair.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
. . . Last week we got tipped to a Korean streaming site that allows free access to Nirvana in Fire (2015), the Chinese series with which so many viewers in the US and Asia have passionately fallen in love. There are many fan sites and fan writing so the title may be a familiar one. One does not need to sign-up for the paid service without commercial interruptions. As I haven't interest in the full service, I'll put up with the short commercials.
The English subtitles are good, the viewing quality is outstanding. Evidently the showrunners had an unlimited budget for production, locations and wardrobe, cameras and editing. The capital city is a huge, lavish set, which is shared with other productions. What we get on the screen is beautiful as well as graceful, so much so, it hovers at Too Much, at any moment about to fall into an overly styled realm of rococo preciosity -- at least to my USian eyes.
However, the actors save the screen every time. They are not mannered or styled, or precious. At least so far. Their screen presence is like to that of the most centered characters in Marco Polo, which Netflix lamentably canceled in 2016 after only two seasons.
Nirvana in Fire's first season has 54 episodes; The sequel season has 50 episodes, but I don't know if that's included on this service with the first.
Like the Turkish 13th-14th C epic series, Ertugrul: Resurrection (2014 >>>), with which I fell in love around the same time West Coasties were falling for Nirvana in Fire, two eps per day were broadcast. Like Ertugrul, extremely popular also outside of Turkey, Nirvana in Fire (extraordinarily poor title in English -- what it would be in Chinese?) this 6th Century Chinese epic, is extremely popular outside China too. Ertugrul also shares all the themes and concerns that Nirvana In Fire dramatizes, as did the real Turkish tv equivalent to Nirvana In Fire, set as it is primarily within the claustrophobic, toxic atmosphere of an imperial palace, The Magnificent Century (2011 >>>), also passionately popular outside of Turkey. What Nirvana in Fire doesn't share with Ertugrul, is the splendid horses and the relationships the riders, particularly the protagonist, Ertugrul, have with their steeds.
Back in 2018, Strange Horizons provided the best description of Nirvana in Fire that I, at least, know of in English, written by Erin Horáková.
Nirvana in Fire participates in several generic categories, aligning itself with historical fiction, fantasy, political fiction, family sagas, romance, the cop show, drama, and comedy. I get a strong sense that it’s positioning itself largely against Asian genres I’m not very familiar with: the umbrella categories of C-drama, most obviously, but as SF, Nirvana in Fire works something like a super-heroic wuxia. I saw a weakly translated fanfic reimagining the story as shenmo, which is both a fascinating idea and an illustration of how various international definitions of the fantastic may not neatly map onto one another.
I finally settled into watching two nights ago. (For some reasons it takes some energy to fulling commit to watching a new series.) Having now viewed 4 episodes, I think Nirvana in Fire may well be my always dependable Watching through the end of the year. Thank goodness for that, since we have dark days ahead.
O ya, Reading Wednesday: This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders At the Helm of American Foreign Policy (2016) by Matthew Karp.
Which they were, the slaveholders, running US foreign policy to protect slavery everywhere in view of protecting their own economy, for most our nation's history until the election of Abraham Lincoln. And then, they really cranked up the steam engines for protection of slavery and a slavery system. By then of course, despite Britain having freed the West Indian colonies' slaves, Britain was fully operational with other forms of slavery, in the West Indies and their other colonies in Asia. In many places such as the opium plantations and factories in India, it was plain, out-and-out slavery. Other European nations with colonies were doing the same. This is an informative account of how then how the US's southern slaveowners and their counterparts in Europe worked in other parts of the world to prohibit abolition in Cuba and Brazil. Protecting these two hemispheric slave systems meant protection for their own.
Sunday, November 8, 2020
. . . .NY's C-19 positivity/infection rate has risen from 1% to 2% in the last 3 weeks -- since indoor dining, etc. was opened. Deaths and hospitalizations have also steeply increased since that time. We are at the point that Cuomo said he'd reassess indoor dining, etc. Will he though? All along there have been locations where the rate was much much higher than this, and then he reversed himself and took away the quarantine and allowed the schools to reopen.
I sure wish he and the mayor would do for NYC what the mayor of Denver has done as of today: mandated a 10 PM curfew -- except I think here it needs to be 9 PM. Denver thinks having a curfew will enable Denver to avoid another shut-down. I haz doubts a 10 PM curfew will be that effective, shall we say.
He's already issued partial-assly 'quarantining' directives on those coming in by plane. Which you know is so enforceable. But he's put the National Guard on it. NYC police are useless for anything but beating up people.
The governor's also requesting ing all private colleges and universities to switch entirely to Distance Learning, no f2f classes, at Thanksgiving break.
Does he want to get those kids out of his state's stats, by them going home for T-Day and keeping them there? OTOH, it keeps them from returning with infection from partying on their home turf over the break.
For weeks already the experts have been informing us -- not just NY but the world -- that the next two, two and half months, are going to be the worst yet, worse than last winter.
Honestly? With the incredible numbers that grow larger every day of new infections in the nation and the world, it feels nearly impossible that we, meaning at this moment, just us, el V and me, to avoid contracting it. We were successful but we lived totally isolated, ordered everything by delivery, and the streets were empty too, so when we went out we could avoid each other. But now? With everything open? Just not possible. Which is why I think if we even got a curfew 10 PM is just too late. This part of NYC is where outsiders come to party. One can't avoid the virus that way, no matter how well masked, gloved, sanitized and disinfected. We are surrounded by the very demographics that spread widely while barely sick or asymptomatic themselves, and they are the ones who -- particularly the males -- just refuse to mask.*
* Ladies, take notice. If a guy isn't wearing a mask, and complains that masks are emasculating and inconvenient -- even a bit uncomfortable -- he won't wear a condom either, and he'll lie about it. While expecting you of course to wear 3 1/2 inch stilettos at all times.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
. . . . The title line is what they're singing in Brooklyn right now.
However, earlier --
11/07 Woke the same WaPo headline to which I shut down last night: “Biden inches closer to victory ….”
Dreamed last night of wildfires and voting. Though the wildfire was in the dreamscape rural landscape of the childhood North Dakota farm where I grew up. It was a more like an oil refinery black smoke fire coming from a neighboring farm.
The voting was more a dream C'ttown location than a dream downtown NYC location. The latter may have come out of the contemplation of what the Eastern Shore of MD is all about, where Kent County and Chestertown are located, that confederate MD, where Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, and their family members were casually but intentionally abused every single day and night, every time they were in the proximity of a white person, both physically and mentally. No wonder its taken all these decades for the Kent County Black communities to come enough out of their protective shells to start working, even a little, even now, with the local white activists such L-- and C-- . whom they’ve known all their lives too, since the Civil Rights era. Trust … that can’t grow completely not even in 6 decades of proven honesty and respect, not after 300 + years of constant, systematic abuse.
Then . . .
11:36 AM – PA called it for Biden Harris, so then did the A&P and the networks! Hearing screaming on the street through the sound of the Zoom Slavery and Cuban History Conference from the Gilda Lehrman Ctr. at Harvard. The presenter at the time, who lives in Washington Heights, interrupted herself to say, "I'm hearing screaming from outside in the streets. Do you think...?" Went to the NYT. I screamed – HARRIS, a woman VP, and Black!
|Washington Square Park Today|
It's so happy making to be outside and see these elderly ladies of the neighborhood, who clearly have known each other all their lives, who are widows, talking of standing in lines of 3 - 6 hours long to early vote here.
Everybody who isn't Them has had a stake in the Biden-Harris campaign, some far more than others, like Our Ladies of C'town, but still all of us, who have done what we can, which in our case mostly was donations, donations, donations to the candidates, not just Biden-Harris, but the local candidates around the country. Last night already we were getting pleas to donate to the Georgia Dem Senate run-off campaign.
Everybody has earned this great day of public celebration which is also a real repudiation of him and the last 4 years, that not even he can deny, as much as he may lie and lie, and lie some more about it.
When I returned from walkabout during a break in the conference, the local Bistro brought out a glass of champagne for myself and for el V, to go. And lordessa, is this Conference ever wonderful! The perfect thing to have going on for us this weekend, since They took Cuba away from us again. Maybe Biden-Harris will give it back, but then, that was the one strategy They followed that worked for Them. Florida for Them. Feh.
But for now? Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!
I loved what a fellow in Chicago said, when he came out of a grocery store and saw people celebrating wildly. "It's so good for us to celebrate. It's been so long since we could be happy together."