The Crown

>> Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally finished this last night. It took me almost a month to finish this because I've been so damn busy. There were two weeks in between the last two episodes I watched last night, and when I watched episode 8. It was almost as if I couldn't really remember where the story was when I started watching again. I guess that's the power of midterms...

Anyway, I think the episodes in the first half are the best. That and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. His episode focused on his portrait was quite excellent. Had no idea that had even happened. Too bad the painting didn't survive. And I didn't recognize Stephen Dillane (aka Stannis Baratheon) as the painter until I saw his name on cast list.

It's really kind of hard to understand or perhaps empathize with some of the drama back in the 1950s though. I mean, Princess Margaret's situation regarding wanting to marry Peter Townsend wouldn't happen today. And it's even harder to understand why the government wouldn't allow it when so many cabinet members and MPs were divorced and remarried. Hypocrites & politics always go together though.

I actually am looking forward to more of the future seasons, particularly when they get to Margaret's scandal & divorce in the 70s and Diana. Can't wait to see how they handle Diana.

I also can't wait until 2060 when the British Parliament can reveal that Prince Philip isn't Prince Andrew's biological father. I always thought it was weird how different Andrew looked compared to Charles & Edward. Now I understand why. Lord Porchester is his biological father. Only four more decades to go before it's officially revealed!


Not sure I agree with this

>> Sunday, December 25, 2016

but she has a valid point.

Q: So much contemporary female writing is accused of narcissism. Have you escaped the charge of narcissism, or have you received it? I’d like to bind this question to your comments about women who “practice a conscious surveillance on themselves” who before were “watched over by parents, by brothers, by husbands, by the community.” You have written that women who practise surveillance on themselves are the “heroines of our time,” but it’s precisely these women—real and fictional—who are accused of the sin of narcissism, as if a woman looking at herself (rather than being looked at by a man) was insulting to everyone. How do you understand this charge?

A: I’ve never felt narcissism to be a sin. It seems, rather, a cognitive tool that, like all cognitive tools, can be used in a distorted way. No, I think it’s necessary to be absolutely in love with ourselves. It’s only by reflecting on myself with attention and care that I can reflect on the world. It’s only by turning my gaze on myself that I can understand others, feel them as my kin. On the other hand it’s only by assiduously watching myself that I can take control and train myself to give the best of myself. The woman who practises surveillance on herself without letting herself be the object of surveillance is the great innovation of our times.
~Elena Ferrante, interviewed by Sheila Heti


I like what he's saying...

>> Monday, December 5, 2016

But Tom Ford is still in there, so he can’t stop himself. So he says this next thing, and it doesn’t come off as lascivious, the way it might have years ago, but thoughtful and aware: Yes, he says, all men should be penetrated at some point. And not as in emotions. He means: All men should be fucked. “I think it would help them understand women,” he argues. “It’s such a vulnerable position to be in, and it’s such a passive position to be in. And there’s such an invasion, in a way, that even if it’s consensual, it’s just very personal. And I think there’s a psyche that happens because of it that makes you understand and appreciate what women go through their whole life, because it’s not just sexual, it’s a complete setup of the way the world works, that one sex has the ability to literally—and is expected to and is wanted to—but also there’s an invasion. And I think that that’s something most men do not understand at all.”
~Tom Ford, "Tom Ford's Wild Kingdom," GQ Magazine, December 2016.


The Lobster

>> Thursday, November 24, 2016

I guess this is a sci-fi movie. Doesn't really feel like it though. It's not super obvious. Seems more like an avant-garde romantic drama, which it certainly is. But people have mentioned it as a sci-fi film. I'm not sure if it's also supposed to be a dark comedy or not too.

It seems like such an abnormal society, but when I was watching it I actually just thought that it was mostly an exaggeration of how society reinforces certain notions of relationships. For instance, it's expected that after you get out of a relationship that you start another one soon after. Like, I remember--a long time ago--when people used to annoy me by asking why I wasn't in a relationship, and I remember answering that it's not like I was breaking the law by not being in one. Except in this society, I would be breaking the law. (It's almost like growing up in Utah.)

It demonstrates all the stupid shit people will do just to still be in a relationship, such as lying about weird personality traits or getting involved with a complete asshole/psychopath just so you won't be alone. And knowingly getting involved in relationships just for the social pretenses, 'cause society says you have to. When David went and joined the loners, I was like, hey, those are my people. Until they mentioned the "red kiss" and you notice that they're fanatics on the different end of the spectrum.

I'm not sure I found the last scene in the restaurant to be romantic. There's something about it that doesn't sit well with me. It makes total sense in the scope of the movie. I just would have thought that by the end David would have realized that being together is the most important thing, not trying to make another artificially forced reason for them to be permanently paired. Maybe it's because I have a clone, but wanting to be like someone else just to be with them seems like a waste.


The Bling Ring

>> Monday, November 21, 2016

This was a bit of a let down. I thought I would like this movie more, but I guess it's just the trailer that's great.

This is a story about completely vapid teenagers, who are almost interchangeable. There's nothing very significant about any of them except that one of them is a boy.

All they do is party, steal, party some more, do some drugs, and then get arrested. Not much story there the way it's told.

I think the mother of Emma Watson's character is completely ridiculous, and she unintentionally makes a good case for home schooling being a complete waste of time. I had no idea there was actually a religion based on The Secret book. Considering that all of her daughters seem to be completely shallow and vapid, I got the impression that anyone who actually follows that book as a religion must also be shallow and vapid. Are actual established religions not worthy of consideration? Would Daoism be an option for them? Oh wait, actual existing religions would probably tell these kids that they're full of shit, and they don't want to hear truthful things like that.

Maybe I'm just an old fogey, but these kids were failed by their parents. I wasn't allowed to be out all night when I was in high school. I would have had to call my parents and tell them what I was doing. Being an old person, I just get the sense that these kids were lacking in social and emotional development, which then later led to their criminal behavior. That and they seemed to have no hobbies. They're not interested in doing anything but being associated with the rich and famous, which makes them kind of lame. When one of the girls was putting on Paris Hilton's lipstick, all I could think of was "EW! Who knows where Paris' mouth has been! I wouldn't be putting that on my mouth!" But I actually have these pesky things called standards.


Christian Supremacy in the White House...yuck.

>> Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today, Pence and his allies have warded off the return of another secular Clinton regime that their ideological and theological prophets once contemplated overthrowing. They will now have the opportunity to build the temple they have long desired. “Secular viewers forget that King David wasn’t always such a nice guy in the Bible, but he was God’s chosen man,” said Jeff Sharlet. “So there’s a coalescing idea that somehow, obviously, God is doing something with Trump.”

Donald Trump’s grasp of the bible is certainly not up to the standards of Pence and the religious zealots behind him. “Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame,” Trump declared — in the same way he spits out “Make America Great Again” — in front of an audience at an evangelical college on the campaign trail. People laughed. At him. It is Second Corinthians.

Perhaps that episode is telling. The radical religious right doesn’t need to save Trump’s soul. As they saw in the campaign, Trump has staked out a hateful agenda — one that tracks quite well with the crusades of Pence and his fellow apostles. Even if elements of Trump’s vile rhetoric and his various threats were a psychotic form of performance art, or mere opportunistic political strategy, as some suggest, they have set the stage for the pursuit of a civilizational war that poses a dire threat to vulnerable populations throughout the world. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a slew of prominent Democrats have publicly said that Americans should give Trump a chance. With Mike Pence seated at the right hand of the father, running foreign and domestic policy, they will do so at their peril.
~Jeremy Scahill, "Mike Pence Will Be The Most Powerful Christian Supremacist In U.S. History"

This shit scares me, particularly in the sense that they basically have all three branches of government for two years, at least....

I've actually read Blackwater, which Scahill draws upon in this article. Back when Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, I stopped thinking about these righteous assholes. Now they're going to have their moment in the sun, and we're all going to suffer for it.


The Big Short

What I love about this movie is its attention to detail. Even in that first scene set in the late 1970s, they used an overhead projector with transparencies. It's so easy to forget how the low-tech ways things used to operate. I saw that thing, and it instantly brought me back to my college A&P classes where different professors both semesters used that to go over the notes.

It's a semi-weird experience watching this. You totally know that they are completely correct in that the housing market is going to collapse because it was built on fraud, that they truly are following real logic, but weird in that they knew the timing of when the receipts were going to be shown. Like, I often connect some of the housing crash timeline to where I worked at the time since the company I worked for had a real estate division and also manufactured building products. I can still remember in late August 2006 when I guy I barely knew was talking about declines in the housing market. I specifically remember him saying he wasn't that worried about it because he stated that when the housing market drops, people tend to do more remodeling. So he wasn't worried about losing his job or a huge market downturn. I'm sure that's true in a certain sense, but it didn't turn out to be the case in 2006-2008.

Ryan Gosling's character seems like a total cynical asshole. The first time I watched it, it was hard to like him. But the second time I watched it--mostly listened to it while washing dishes this morning--I'll admit that I had a lot more respect for him the second time around. He didn't have any faith in the system anymore, and he was right to feel that way. Probably even more correct now considering that the problems that caused the crash are still happening.

I can understand and relate to Steve Carell's character's absolute disgust after talking to the CDO manager. That manger totally believes his net worth should equal his self and societal worth. Asshole. That guy doesn't contribute more to society than elementary school teachers; all he does is take people's money. And it shouldn't really happen. There should be regulators and government entities preventing these things from happening. That brief SEC conversation by the pool was spot on: "Our budget was cut; we're not investigating anything." Yup. Not surprised. It's what people who don't want to pay taxes because the government is "too big" just never understand. If there is no third party arbitrator making sure things run fair, honest, transparent, and legal, then it really is a free-for-all where the banks are just going to take your money because they can.

And then there's that part with Brad Pitt's character Ben is in Boulder, Colorado. When I saw the mountains I was like, hey, I live there now. Kind of weird to see it in film like that. But that part where he was talking about colonics...that is SO Boulder. I shit you not.

The breaking the fourth wall didn't bother me at all. It was a little weird at first, but I totally see it as part of the movie's charm. (This is not easy material to get people to understand, and they made it engaging and understandable.) Those moments where Gosling's character points out things that Carrell's character actually did, I actually appreciate him pointing it out that he actually did those things. Because in some ways, when you consider how ludicrous this situation was (and still is really), it is nice knowing that someone really did speak up and point things out. Because the people in charge of everything would like everyone else to believe that none of this could have been predicted or prevented. Except that's not true.


The Armstrong Lie

>> Sunday, November 13, 2016

This is another one I checked out of the library. It sat on my shelf for at least a week. I only watched it last night because I wanted something in the background while I was studying herbs. That and I wanted to at least "watch" something before returning a bunch back to the library. I'm behind on all my studying because I thought I was going to get a good study day in on Wednesday, but I was still recovering from the news that the vulgar talking yam was elected POTUS.

Anyway...this is a good documentary, but I don't find it compelling all that much. The main reason for that is that I remember hearing the allegations and people saying back in 2005 that Armstrong was doping. And the people who were saying it seemed like legit people. I remember someone admitting to seeing Armstrong dope when he won the Tour de France, and that was back when I was listening to NPR regularly. People didn't want to believe it then because...CANCER. He survived cancer. And he got a lot of whitewash public relations because of it. But I began believing back then that he was a fraud. I know basically everyone else at the front of the pack was doing it too, but it's the shameless fronting like he was a hero that has always annoyed me.

I remember when some of this came out in 2005, and there were people who just did not want to believe. They wanted to argue that you can reach your dreams and goals no matter what you had to overcome in life. I don't disagree with that, but Lance's main problem is that he's a fucking asshole. Would we really know about all this if he hadn't been such a fucking asshole? If he had been a nicer person to some of those people who testified and didn't try to blacklist them, then how much of this would have made it to the clear light of day?

I do agree with Betsey Andreu, who I think mentioned in the Q&A on the dvd, that Lance probably got his testicular cancer because of performance-enhancing drugs. It would make sense. I also agree with her in that Armstrong's success via doping subtly encourages other athletes to do it, which is sad. Racing and competitive sports might be something that you do when you're young, but your health is forever. Ask old people and they'll tell you: don't get old because losing your health sucks.



>> Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Are you American? You’d better go and vote! Cast your ballot! Too many Americans do not go to cast their ballots. It should be much higher and then we would have probably much less worries as a nation.
~Werner Herzog

I voted. I have a friend here in Colorado who I know didn't though. She's 31. She's never voted in her entire life, and she's not going to start now. Not even to vote for the down ballot measures such as single-payer healthcare or mandated minimum wage increases in Colorado. Nope, she's not going to even vote for that even though her boyfriend works a minimum wage job. She just wants to go live her happy life until she dies and will voting even affect that? She says no. I say yes, but I'm not going to waste more time trying to convince her. She blabbed that she would vote if Elizabeth Warren had run. So I asked her if she was living in Massachusetts, would she have voted for Elizabeth Warren when she was running for the Senate? No answer. Not surprising because I know she wouldn't have voted then either. How did Elizabeth Warren become so renown in the last few years? Oh yeah, that's right...because she won political office and has used that to publicize positions that she had previously talked about for years. Would anyone really consider Elizabeth Warren for president if she hadn't made it into the Senate? Nope. But that's not something my friend considers. Ever, really. She doesn't want to be involved or try to take simple actions. I could understand not voting if she was living in a state where vote manipulation by voting machines could be happening. But she's living in Colorado, where everyone can vote by mail. That is called a paper ballot, which can always easily be recounted and verified by anyone.

And I can understand not voting because you don't like the choices for president. I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton, and I sure as hell didn't vote for Trump. I know there are people who believe that not voting for Hillary equals a vote for Trump. I am not one of those people. I've known since January that Trump was not going to become president after reading Edith Hathaway's article. Unfortunately Bernie Sanders didn't end up being the one to take the Trumpster down; however, I've never doubted that Trump would lose. I may not be a professional Vedic astrologer, but I know enough to understand what Edith was talking about in Trump's chart. Plus, she's recently done an update for the election based on the inauguration chart. It's not a chart that represents Trump & Pence winning either, so I know Hillary Clinton was going to win anyway.

So I wrote in Bernie Sanders as a write-in. I wasn't interested in voting for Jill Stein since I think she needs a little more practicality in creating a platform. I'm not completely anti-Green Party since I did vote for the Green Party candidate for Senate. But for me, it came down to a few different things:

  1. I believe Bernie Sanders was the rightful winner of the Democratic primary
  2. I think Edith Hathaway is right that this century will be dominated by corporate power rather than that of nation-states. I kind of view voting for Hillary as voting for the corporate interests, which many people may think is ridiculous but I don't care. She is going to be more interested in what Goldman Sachs has to say than the people who called and volunteered for her campaign.
  3. I believe that the Democrats will win back the Senate tonight, which means that Bernie Sanders will become the Senate Budget chairman. And you would say, why would that matter when voting for President? Because it would show that he still has lots of public support for the ideas he campaigned on. Ideas that he is going to push hard to get implemented while HRC is President. Bernie will have a book coming out soon. He's going to go do press for it. And he's going to become the Senate Budget chairman at the same time. He'll need every ounce of support he can get while trying to get actual change that will matter to me done. 
  4. I want a vote that means something to me in 100 years. Yeah, I know I'm missing my chance to vote for the first female president, and I'm okay with that. Hillary is going to make some terrible decisions that affect people. She's going to approve the TPP. She's not going to end fracking since she's truly for it. And, if I had to bet money, she's probably going to let the DAPL go through if Obama punts it to her. And she's totally fine with corporations owning our healthcare system and gouging us through the eyeballs for it. Plus, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of war or military conflict that she'll probably get us involved in circa spring or summer of 2018. She's more warhawk-ish than Obama and maybe even Bill.
  5. I don't like the thought of the first female president basically getting there only after her husband was there first. I think it sets a bad precedent. Margaret Thatcher didn't become prime minister after her husband. Angela Merkel didn't become the chancellor of Germany after her husband. Gro Harlem Brundtland didn't become the first prime minister of Norway in following her husband. But HRC will become the first female president of the U.S. of A after her husband was once president first. I think it totally creates the perception--within some groups--that a woman can only achieve an office like that with the help of her husband. (And I'm not talking about just general support.)
And now, since the election season is almost over. We now only have to wait for the inauguration to happen. And probably a shitload more stuff from Wikileaks, and Republicans freaking out and threatening shit because Trump didn't win. C'mon, you know it's not going to be over that easy.


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