By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Thu, October 01 2015 - 6:10 pm
October 31, 2015
I guess I have arrived at the final way to celebrate Halloween. Here we are on the second floor of an apartment building where few trick or treaters come. It is our fourth year here and we've averaged maybe one per year. Last year - zero.
We did prepare. We bought one bag of deluxe almond toffee Hershey minis.
By 5:32 they were all gone. Eaten by us. No tricks, only treats.
When we were food shopping this week, we joyfully rationalized buying a bottle of gin and a bottle of Irish Creme (both on sale) because we no longer had to buy Halloween candy. We discovered the fun of hiding from potential trick-or-treaters (no porch light, no ornaments.)
Hmmm... maybe there is another stage to celebrating Halloween - travel to a foreign land that doesn't celebrate Halloween at all.
Honestly, though? If we lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, I would love to trade candy for strange little visitors!
Serious Moonlight Silly romantic comedy in spite of the title. Next day P.S: Or is it?
October 30, 2015 Madison, IN
*Suspicion Ambivalent morals, here, make for some pretty good suspense.
*August: Osage County This is a magnificent film. Fantastic performances all around; not a weak member in this dark ensemble.
October 29, 2015 Madison, IN
Aye, yi, yi, yi the political elections are co-opting our four years between elections the way Christmas and Thanksgiving have taken over the calendar year!
The phenomenon makes me realize what a sports-loving nation we are - it's not just about the outcome of the game, it's a love of the play-by-play analysis of the game-
a love which, alas, I do not share.
*The Wolfpack Documentary about a family of six quite loveable boys kept indoors cut off from society in a housing project by their father on the lower east side of Manhattan.
*Stage Fright A very fun Hitchcock but well, no buts. I won't ruin it for you! Isn't (aren't?) Marlena Dietrich and Jane Wyman an intriguing combo?
October 28, 2015 Madison, IN
*Bridge of Spies Great acting in a great movie about a great story on the great screen. This character drawn from real life was smart and strong. Do make it to this film.
*Dream Wife First time I've failed to enjoy a performance by Cary Grant. It seemed forced - maybe he was bored. You can afford to miss this one.
October 27, 2015 Madison, IN
I'm really surprised at how much happier I am now that I've started making bread again. Progressing from plain whole wheat to dark rye to dark pumpernickel to jalapeno cheese to oatmeal to light Swedish rye to, this last loaf flavored (and favored) with a blend of herbs of Provence which just cried out for brie cheese, I have improved more than I improved in several years when I was younger and baking three or four loaves at a time.
What held me back from making needed changes? I used to bake a loaf or two in pans and shape some rolls. It was usually a hassle getting the loaves out of those pans undamaged. In fact trying in later years to get bread out of a bread machine pan was so hard that I gave it up. The struggle wasn't worth it. My partner made the bread in those days.
This time around, the first loaf I made had to be turned out of a pan and broke. So finally, finally! I took out a pizza pan which I have had for forty years and started baking a round loaf on it. These loaves are beautiful! What concept of the perfect sandwich ruled my brain so that I couldn't free myself for so long? Commercial factory-made loaves? The shape of plastic sandwich bags? The way my mother always made it?
And egg wash. Was my life so full of onerous hard work that I just couldn't be bothered to take a step that adds so much appeal and class to a loaf? Did it seem too luxurious for a life which I tried to keep simple?
I can't figure it out. The only thing that makes sense to me is that some of us are so busy and our minds are so full and distracted that we might as well be on a chained prison gang for all the freedom we feel to look around us and grab some azure space.
...or maybe it was because I was obsessed with something else: love addiction, or maybe quilting.
Yeah, maybe it was that.
*The Crossing Guard Intense drama about loss, blame and grieving. Powerful.
*Unexpected Very domestic and very worthwhile film about a couple of unexpected pregnancies.
October 25, 2015 Madison, IN
I just put down another book unfinished. This time I got to page 64, and I must admit that it took some discipline to do so. That is, both to get to page 64 and, having invested so much in it, to then let it go.
It had, I must admit, its clevernesses. It had energy, which used to carry me far into fictional egotistical fantasies - but no more.
And, since it was published three years ago, I guess I should at least give it the present tense, even though I bought it for a dollar at the local Friends of the Library September book sale. But it's dead to me.
I admit I am not the most erudite of consumers of fiction. I should probably have known that the title, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, referred not to some abstract sweet like Big Rock Candy Mountain (although of course now I am wondering what was on the mind of the person who invented that name) but testicles.
Silly me. I thought it was wicked merely for its suggestion of self-indulgence.
Even that should have warned me, though. It is a show-offy (even of dirty and neurotic laundry) piece of narcissism that I do not choose to subject myself to. (Yeah, I know I'm breaking a grammar rule, linguistic snobs.)
The author, Mark Leyner, needn't feel bad, though (as if he could at harsh words coming from a soft worm). He probably is just joining a pantheon of self-obsessed white male writer whose tales, both imaginary and real, I am soooo over.
Ha, ha. Last week I saw an article about Hillary's white male problem.
It's not Hillary's white male problem. It's white males' white male problem.
You are no longer the majority, and unless you are real grownup participants in a real world populated by genuine others, well,
we are all soooo over you.
October 24, 2015 Madison, IN
No deaths reported yet in Mexico from Hurricane Patricia - pretty amazing for the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Pacific coast of the Western hemisphere. Now Texas is being hard-bit with rain.
*Home for the Holiday Fast-moving, brilliant, zany, full of life. Only trouble is it made me want to eat turkey. And stuffing. Sweet potatoes. Warning! Do not watch without a turkey drumstick firmly clenched in your fist.
October 23, 2015 Madison, IN
One misty morning last week we finally saw another heron along the river. Today, later in the morning on a sunny day we saw another. Finally they seem to be returning. I guess this means the rains have flushed away the pollution from upstream - assuming I was right about the cause of their absence, of course.
Meanwhile a threat of magnitude is threatening Mexico's west coast - a fierce hurricane! We fear for Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco and San Blas and other towns I was able to visit way back in The nineteen seventies.
*Dorfman In Love This romantic comedy is definitely better than the average offering in the genre in recent years, in spite of the extreme - but no, I don't want to ruin it for you!
*Mother's Boys We tried to watch this one, but it just seemed like a waste of time.
*Nine Months If it's going to be a farce, why make it merely deceptively just a little silly from the first? Just go ahead and make it boldly ridiculously slapstickical from the outset.
*Dancing at Lughnasa Not thoroughly tragic tale of the breakup of a boy's home life after an (upon looking back) idyllic summer.
October 21, 2015 Madison, IN
Made a quick stop yesterday at Big Bone Lick State Park near Union, Kentucky. We didn't stay to hike because I was hobbling after a leaf-slide fall here in Madison on Monday, but it has an interesting little museum with Native American artifacts and big mammal fossils.
It looks like a great place for the family to visit, with games and playgrounds. I'd like to camp there, myself, if the hiking trails are long enough.
We had an errand in Florence, KY and stopped for Thai food at Mai Thai Restaurant. The place was hopping, the food was great, the service swift, the servers attractive, and the prices very affordable. We will be back!
*Alibi 1929 black and white movie just too hokey.
*Northless A young man tries again and again to get across the border to the U.S. from Tijuana.
October 20, 2015 Madison, IN
I don't get it. A man spends tens of thousands of dollars on a weekend of self-indulgent profligate luxury and puts himself into a coma and we are supposed to care?
Sure, I'm sorry for anyone who is addicted and in denial about it, but why do I have to hear about it on the news over and over and over ad nauseam?
People wonder why our medical expenses are so high in this country.
I wonder what proportion of these are due to the consequences of addiction?
October 18, 2015 Madison, IN
A football player makes an unexpected play and turns around the game.
One of his teammates credits th e victory to a "Higher Power".
Don't people realize how offensive that is?
My partner snorts. He says, " A Higher Power brought us where we are today.
It's called Low Rent."
Ha, ha, ha, ha ha!
*Cool Hand Luke Finally saw this famous film that should have won Paul Newman the Oscar. It's famous for good reason.
*Love at First Fight Weird but interesting tale of young love in France.
October 16, 2015 Madison, IN
I literally had a dream last night that there were all kinds of people doing all kinds of bizarre things to raise money for worthy causes, including their own survival. I woke up and thought, well, it helps to have some charisma also, so you can get others caught up in whatever the offbeat idea is.
Think about it, though. What could be longer than the ice challenge?
That was no dream I had. That was just what people all over the world are already doing.
*Wild Horses Impressive modern-day Western.
October 15, 2015 Madison, IN
Ha, ha it occurred to me we don't have to worry about having the Trumpeter as President.
His history when it comes to the married state shows that he is more enthralled with wooing than administration.
Don't be seduced, folks! He wants the conquest, not the State itself!
It has been observed that the Democrats are like the adults, the Republicans the children of this contest for the Presidency. What would that make, in reality, their ratings leader? A "young adult"?
Beware any political party the shining star of which is, emotionally, a teenager.
For any potential leader in the conquest stage of maturation, the motto is, "First the Nation, then the World!"
*Nothing but a Man. 1964 movie about a black man trying to make a living without sacrificing his dignity. Seeing this film would have educated me about the insults and discrimination blacks still endured in the year of the Civil Rights Act, but this film was not about to be shown in Valparaiso, Indiana.
October 14, 2015 Madison, IN
Ha! It would be funny if the Presidential race turns out to be Trump v. Sanders - the characters the media said can't get elected.
Who would win if it came down to those two? Well, Trump himself said Bernie can't get elected, so following my rule that U.S. citizens will not be told what they can not do I would have to go with Sanders to be the next President.
Ha, ha Trump also said that there was no star of the Democratic debates. There also was no rudeness, name-calling or bigotry.
What the hell kind of reality show was that, anyway? Ha, ha, ha!
*The Bank Job What a story! I wish it were messier than life, but I guess not. Should people really die because - well, no - I don't want to ruin it for you!
October 13, 2015 Madison, IN
Ha, ha - I'm not intellectual enough for sports!
* Virginia. Movie made in 2010, just in case there is another made with the same title. We were really caught up in it until the end when it became very clear that we had been tricked! Disillusionment complete. Still "liked" it, but honestly!
October 12, 2015 Madison, IN
Just now I was reading Emile Zola's novel Money and the love a heartless financial vulture holds for his brother (a sickly, idealistic jobless Marxist) makes me realize how ill-advised we are to have so many only children.
Sure, I still think submitting children to too much nursery-school childcare without enough counterbalance family time throws a child into too much emotional dependence on his peers. An only child, though, really has no real peers - in the sense of having others about his age and circumstances and family values.
As every parent knows, most young children and teenagers avidly seek out playmates. If the playmates are in the same home they are more likely to have similar values. If the ethical and social values of the parents are strong, the children reinforce these values with each other.
An only child is more vulnerable to outside influences - and with reason. Who else is there?
Of course, ha ha, the Mafia, and the Catholic Church and the Mormons and some other "be fruitful and multiply" religious societies have known this forever.
Perhaps secularists should have more babies. Sure, singleton children often love that situation when they are young.
How do they feel about it when they are in their fifties and sixties? How likely are they even to survive into their seventies?
I wonder if statistics as answering these questions even exist.
Z to A
Western Sahara is a proposed state which is claimed both by Morocco and the Polisario Front (calling the country the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic) which has an in absentia government recognized by 55 countries. The UN is supposed to resolve the conflict but has not, and has spent $600 million on peacekeeping efforts there. The independent state would have about half a million people.
October 11, 2015 Madison, IN
I admit that when I was young I wasn't paying much attention, but it seemed as if winning anything, especially the Presidency, was seen as a "May the best man win" contest. Somehow now it has evolved into more of a "May the worse person lose" smear campaign.
Why not a "May the best person win"? Have you heard people say that about the Presidential race?
Ha, ha no way can a woman be considered the best man by definition.
I'm inclined to suspect some sort of subtle sexism here. Or am I just playing with words?
Z to A
Wales is a mostly hilly country southern and southwest of England, part of the U.K. In 1999 they started their own assembly, but I guess their involvement in their own government is mostly administrative, since they cannot legislate or levy taxes.
All the excitement in Wales today seems to be about sports. The football team has qualified for the 2016 tournament (in spite of the loss of their most recent game) for the first time since 1958.
The hosting of the rugby match between Ireland and France, which is taking place in Cardiff, and some of the resulting road closures are also capturing national attention.
Ah, the joys of being a country at peace! Some of my family has hailed from Wales (sorry about that gratuitous rhyme) so I feel kinship and probably still have some distant relatives there.
* In Bruges This movie has more twists and turns than an italics ramen noodle. Fantastic acting too. And DARK.
October 10, 2015 Madison, IN
Z to A
Yemen is a largely Islam country in the Southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula - the second largest (next to Saudi Arabia, which lies to its north.) Its western border is the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Arabia is to the south.8
The country is populated by twenty-five million people and has suffered great civil unrest since its president, Abdullah Saleh, was deposed in 2011. Aden is acting as the capitol city since the largest city has been occupied by insurgents.
Recently four men identified as sorcerers were executed in a town, Mayfaa under the control of Al-Qaida.
A wedding party in Sanban of possibly forty-seven people were also killed, this time probably at the hands of a Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Iran-backed Houthi. It is speculated that 4500 civilians have been killed since March as a result of this conflict.
If there was any good news coming out of Yemen, I didn't see it. I sincerely hope my Yemeni neighbors in Corvallis, OR, in 2004 are still in the States! I have no idea how likely that is. They had three cute, active and very sweet little boys.
October 9, 2015 Madison, IN
Ha, ha it occurred to me that word processing with one of these gadgets is a lot like being old: you have to be constantly checking what you've just done to make sure you actually did it, or at least make sure you did it correctly.
There's a major difference, though. With this word processor, eternally offering interfering help, reality changes under your very fingertips.
With a typewriter, I would just bang out the text. Errors mattered a good deal because they were so laborious to correct with an ink eraser. Even white-out tape (which you placed over your mistake and made it again to correct it) and white-out paint (called Wite-Out, ha ha) were were not good enough for important copy. The whole page would have to be redone. And carbon copies were a nightmare.
If there was a mistake, there was no doubt who made it!
Nowadays I have to constantly check the text. Contrary to the very firm rap needed to inspire a typewriter key to action, a hovering thumb can induce word-fracture impossible for a mere word processing program to rectify. I would swear I have accurately typed out hell and it turns into
H Es 'll (that is, Hell) - why, I don't even believe in the place! Why would I give it the honor of making it a proper noun? And what about heaven? My word-processor doesn't make me capitalize heaven. Does that mean my word-processor is some kind of Satanist? It respects Hell but not heard ve n heaven oh Hell you know what I mean.
No, I am constantly having to check up on and educate my own editor and that makes me feel very old indeed.
Don't ask me why that paragraph got highlighted - my thumbs, as far as I know, never got near the highlighting symbol. Maybe Hell is trying to warm me up - show me that it exists.
Hell, no. It is high time I educated my editor about the reality of hell.
What??? It wouldn't offer to enter lower case hell into my dictionary?
What do you know, a true believer. Can't be taught, won't listen to reason.
Think I'm going on a nightmarish rant? Well, what do you want? It's four a.m.
*Love & Mercy biopic about Brian Wilson's unnecessarily (thanks to both his father and Eugene Landy) tormented life. A hard thing to watch, but well done. Too bad the youthful Brian and the more mature Brian look impossibly dissimilar.
October 8, 2015 Madison, IN
Z to A
The next country that's on my list to write about is Zaire, which is weird because it is no longer a country. This ex-country was called Zaire, which is the Portuguese name for the Congo River. Maybe you can guess what the name of the country is presently, but I'm not going to talk about it out of order.
Zaire was so named between 1971 and 1997. It was ruled by Mobutu, who seized power through a military coup, and he retained power through a new Republic formed in 1990 until it collapsed in 1996.
One thing of interest about Zaire: it had a left arm which extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, as does its preceding and current state. Curiouser and curiouser!
October 7, 2015 Madison, IN
Well, no research today on foreign lands. Feeling a good deal of empathy for those closer to home in South Carolina, experiencing heavy rains, dams breaking, flooding sometimes with no warning. 19 dead.
Much later - just saw our first-ever drone flying, lights on in the dusk, over the river and up- and downstream, landing in the park - and back up again!
*The Legend of Lylah somebodyorother I make no apologies for not remembering because it was so boring we couldn't even finish it.
Yesterday we started Sin City, a cartoon of a movie which had some pizza, but we didn't think it worth finishing, either.
October 6, 2015 Madison, IN
Z to A
Today I looked up Zambia, one of the northern neighbors of Zimbabwe with a population of about sixteen and one-half million. Zambia has relied mostly on copper for its income, but the recent fall in copper prices has the country looking to other sources of prosperity.
The commercialization of Cassava growing is seen by the State House as being something that should be promoted in Zambia. Cassava, the plant from which tapioca is produced, is a major inexpensive source of dietary carbohydrates.
The Indeni Oil Refinery has been damaged by contaminated feedstock supplied by Gunivor. Minister Christopher Yahuma summoned representatives of the company to account for this, but senior governmental officials prevented this meeting from taking place.
Cartels are seemingly a big problem in Zambia, causing undue pressure (via threats of blackmail?) on government personnel.
Even a superficial mini-study of another country, I'm finding, is requiring me to reorient my vocabulary and thinking. Feedstock? with relation to oil? Cassava? (Here a Cassava is a kind of melon, not a root.)
I have begun to realize that I probably should have started another article for this feature, but for now it's staying here. If I actually feel like writing any of my normal stuff, it will be above. Stuff about movies will be below.
*A Price above Rubies At first I was thinking, Oh no! but I had no clue as to where this film was heading. Quite liberating..
*Tiger: Spy in the Jungle Yesterday we finished watching a three-part program about a tiger family in India, shot by spy-cams borne by elephants. For some reason the men on the backs of these elephants are not emphasized or even featured at all. This is amazing footage. Wonderful!
***The Martian 3D! Big screen! We saw this movie in a real theater and it was spectacular. Now that's the kind of behavior I want to see. Definitely worth the astronomical price.
October 5, 2015 Madison, IN
Z to A
Recently I wrote that I would rather see short news items from every country from around the globe than so much trumpeting about presidential candidates.
It occurred to me today that if I want to see this kind of news from everywhere, I am going to have to look it up myself. So here goes - one country a day for the next two hundred plus days - minus sick days and lazy days, of course!
Since the bias of such lists is to start at the beginning of the alphabet (and since we have all heard altogether too much about Afghanistan lately) I am starting at the far end of the alphabet and moving in reverse order.
Zimbabwe - gee, what do you know. I have actually written about Zimbabwe before.
The "republic" of 16 million people is in way southern Africa, which I never got through my thick skull before, and still has Mugabe as (since 1987) head of both government and State. This is seen as unfortunate by many as Zimbabwe is not doing well economically. His allies in government fear trying to take power from him even though he is 91 and seemingly incompetent because in that event he may try to install a family member in his place.
On a lighter note, though still not good news for Zimbabwe, their cricket team was defeated by Pakistan's within the last day or so in Zimbabwe's capitol, Harare.
*The Story of Luke Coming-of-age story about a not "NT" (neurologically typical) young man.
October 4, 2015 Madison, IN
Nothing make as me so gleeful these days as my bread-making. Today I made an herb and cheese bread. I wish I had used more herbs - it's pretty subtle. I didn't want to deplete my partner's Provence herb mixture.
I don't know if baking makes me so excited because of pride of creation or because it smells so good or because I am hungry all the time.
Er, don't get me wrong. I don't love it so much that I want to bake every day!
October 3, 2015 Madison, IN
It seems as if the weather here consulted the calendar and said, as of October first, "Oh, my God it's October! How the Hell did that happen?"
Well, my feet are telling me they are cold, my neck is thanking me for not getting a shorter haircut last week, and I'm layering like crazy.
All of a sudden I have energy!
*The Sunshine Boys To tell the truth, I didn't really enjoy this much, even though it was funny. It was good to see these famous old-time comedians. Too hard to watch, but I did laugh.
*Everyone's Fine I had to restrain myself from sobbing out loud during portions of this "comedy." Loved it.
October 2, 2015 Madison, IN
Since convicted pit bull fighter Michael Vick is now performing as quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers while Roethlisberger recovers from his injury I started musing about him.
"We'll see how much Vick likes being a Pittbull."
A little spiteful, I confess, but after all, I was mostly interested in the wordplay (also a confession.)
It occurred to me this morning, though, that perhaps I (and the animal activists) had the whole thing backwards.
Why should Vick feel so bad about putting dogs into the fray when that is essentially how he and his "owners" treat him?
Okay, okay I'm exaggerating a little but think about it. These guys get knocked around and injured and put at risk of serious brain injury all the time.
Sure, he has a choice and the dog doesn't, you say.
Oh, really? A real choice?
I'm not so sure. I suspect quitting football for these guys would be comparable to a pit bull lying down in the ring and allowing another dog to tear him apart.
Neither species, canine or human, is bred for it.
October 1, 2015 Madison, IN
Strange, this year I kept thinking we would still have a September hot spell and then - we didn't. Here it is October and I haven't made my seasonal switchover. The leaves are turning and my mind just isn't.
Instead the minds of my partner and I are turning toward our projected trip next year. Did you know that you can see campgrounds on YouTube with your smart T.V.? We're getting minivacations in Montana and Wyoming just watching.
Yeah, I guess we'll make it through the winter wither via whither weather!
*My Sister's Sister Wonderful setting, sympathetic characters - all except, maybe Alcohol. I don't much care for alcohol as a character.
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