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!