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I'm in a better mindset than my last post. It's tough to resist the old patterns of my family, but one of my friends (I think it was millari but it might have been morlock) summed it up well: don't go back to Andover to care of your mom, go back to visit your mom. And it's true that we already have a great team helping mom, with the PCAs from Home Instead, house calls from Patricia and Margaret at Elder Care Coordinator, financial coverage from the folks at US Trust, and chats with the minister. I'm going to focus on making my time in Andover about what I can do that others can't. Also, when I'm away, I call every day.

Right now, though, I'm in Tarrytown. I came down on Saturday and stayed with friends in Mount Vernon (super pleasant home for a super nice couple) (saw the Last Witchhunter movie, which was just as predictable and ersatz as a Snickers bar). Sunday we had the 'make plans for 2016' board meeting, and in the evening Lefty and I played Pathfinder (the adventure card game not the RPG, because who has time for such a baroque rules system?)* I had planned to drive back home tomorrow early in the day, but Lefty called and asked me to come take him to urgent care. He's got some sort of bladder problem that I think has been greatly exacerbated by an infection? Anyhoo, it was horrible so he needed a ride and a friend while he got treatment. I stayed the night at his place, and this morning the pills are working and he's much improved. Huzzah! (I beguiled the hours after he crashed out by watching Burn After Reading, which was as great as M told me it would be and was like watching a Fiasco game adapted to film, and the The Seven Percent Solution, which I had seen thirty years ago but I hadn't noticed that it's kind of racist and that Robert Duvall's British accent sounds terrible.)

Now I'm heading off with Lefty on a store errand, and then it's home to vote!

{BTW, while driving down, I listened to a podcast recommended by a friend I'll call Vanderbilt, the Blacklist Table Reads, which turns unproduced screen plays into audio dramas. It's a Hollywood thing, but the episode I listened to was Chrome Noir, a 30s crime story with robots that was a lot of fun.}

*I do, actually, in a game that Stoic is running. Honestly, though, if it weren't a long-running and already ongoing campaign, I don't know that I would find it worth the trouble, and I kept my character simple.
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As of January 28, it's been 14 years since I started this journal. I'm older and fatter, yet both physically and emotionally healthier. I have gone from an apartment in Northampton to a house in Easthampton. When I started this journal, Modern Myths didn't even exist, and now I'm looking back at a career there. [ profile] millari And I were just starting to date, now we've had a whole marriage. Feisty has gone from vibrant young little tiger to sleepy old kitty who creaks with the years.

Some other moments worth noting:

This past weekend, I had a lovely supper at a tapas place near Union Square with Redacted. I haven't seen him/her since last spring, so it was good to catch up.

I tidied up in my bedroom and found a number of old cards from [ profile] usakeh. They follow a consistent pattern of apologizing for not staying in touch more, and then thanking me for sending a gift, calling when she was in the hospital, or otherwise reaching out. It's actually rather pleasant to read so many affirmations piled up together. I hope she keeps sending them.

I also found a program from when [ profile] mole_underfieldAnd I went to see Book Of Mormon last March 15th. We very much enjoyed the show. We stayed at my godmother's flat near Lincoln Center, and didn't go out that much. I had wanted to gad about the city more, but MU, as was his wont, preferred to stay in and chill. We tried to get into the Nightly Show, but couldn't. (We went to see American Sniper instead, which was OK.) I spent a fair amount of time reading a book which I quite enjoyed, but now I can't recall what it was.
[edit: China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. Just the kind of immersive fantasy I can't stop eating with a spoon.]

That was, in retrospect, about the peak of MU's respite from the cancer. He went off the chemo for a couple of months after that, and the cancer bore down on him until he smothered.

The weekend of October 4th, I flew to Cleveland to catch the final game of the season between the Red Sox and the Indians. I'd floated the idea to MU last winter, and he said he'd like to go if he felt up to it. I stayed with B, whom I hadn't seen much of for many years, as we'd had a falling out after my doomed romance with Grounded. I had a great visit. We reminisced, and carried on as we had done years ago when we in our 20s. I even dug up an old 2nd edition character, just in case it had worked out that I could join his D&D group for a session.

The weather was perfect, and Cleveland was lovely and friendly. The Red Sox capped a losing season by getting beaten 3-1.

good party

Nov. 17th, 2012 01:37 am
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I drove down to the grand opening of our new store in Mamaroneck NY this evening with Mad Dog and his charming kids. There was a good sized crowd there (30-50 people) of enthusiastic customers, which suggests to me that we have done a good job of creating buzz about the business over the past year. Also, there's a very tasty pizza place nearby, and one of Lefty or Fuschia's friends really knows how to bake a cake.I have been working with a personal organizer who calls her business Chaos Control. It's helping clean up my place, and brighten my mood. I'm back at work as normal on Monday, but I'll fill in tomorrow running the Magic draft. I'm really glad I accepted an invitation at the beginning of the year to join a gaming group playing Deadlands . I like the people, the system and the campaign (and my character) and I'm glad [ profile] millari has joined us. Looking forward to seeing my cousin from HI over Thanksgiving. Mom finally seems to be on the mend (knock wood). Today, she was able to stand on her own, and she's no longer feverish during the night. And, in trivial news, I came across an essay suggesting watching the Star Wars saga in a particular order(ep IV, V, II, III & VI, omitting Phantom Menace entirely) will drastically improve its narrative tension and impact. I haven't tried it yet, but if I learned anything in grad school, it's that narrative inclusion/exclusion and order make an enormous difference to a story.

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1) I'm pleased by the results of last week's election.  Four more years of Obama will be better than four years of Romney, and six years of Elizabeth Warren will, I think, be better than Scott Brown.  More generally, I'm pleased that the hateful and blinkered clique that controls the GOP was so soundly rejected across the land.  I hope the real Republicans retake their party from the zealots.  We need them to call us lefties on our many failings.

2) Millari went back to see my family with me this weekend, and that was big help. She's been a rock for me, and I hope I don't lean on her too much.

3) Talking with friends has helped me to recognize that I'm someone who forms intense romantic bonds.  In the case of Grounded, the ones I formed many years ago, once unearthed and confronted with the marvelous reality of who she is now, became very strong once again.  Yet, I just don't see that she feels the same way, and I don't think the lives we have separately chosen mesh well.  So, I'm going to break off contact with her for a while, until I can accept things as they are.  I hope this won't take 5 to 10 years this time. :(

4) M and I saw Cloud Atlas the other day, and it's fantastic.  I love the book, and the movie adapts it for the screen well, keeping enough of its nested narrative structure to evoke the parallels and contrasts it featured, while keeping the action moving and providing a gorgeous spectacle.  Several actors played multiple parts in different times and places, and I think the complaints about 'yellow face' or other race fail problems miss the forest for the trees: all the actors who play multiple parts are made up in a different race or gender.  This isn't done as mockery or appropriation (the main issues this sort of race fail raises), but as a commentary on the fluidity of gender and identity.  I will not dispute with anyone who considers the experiment a failure, but I don't think it offends in the way that the Jazz Singer or White Girls do.

5) I have a friend who works for FEMA, and who is deployed in Brooklyn.  Apparently, even two weeks after Sandy, things are still pretty rough out there, and many people are desperate.  Kudos to the relief workers who are struggling mightily to help people, and kudos to the activists of Occupy Wall Street, who have started organizing their own informal relief effort.

6) Louis CK did a great bit on Saturday Night Live last week in the style of his sitcom, except he was playing Abraham Lincoln as a sad sack comedian.
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1) This coming Saturday will be the second Paint & Pixel Festival.  I've managed to arrange programming this year, which is good, but I still feel like I did a slap-dash job, and kind of guilty about it.  Peggy continues to impress with her passion and capability. 

We're hosting comics workshops for kids at the store as part of the build up to the show.  Colin, the education guy, has done a great job setting these up and running them.  Peggy also sponsored a couple of movie nights at Popcorn Noir, the next of which is the Muppet Movie on Thursday..... which will conflict with my Deadlands game.  aargh!

Oh, and there's a filk band performing in the Mythos on Monday at 7, which could conflict with dinner plans!  double argh!

2) On columbus day, M and I went to NYC, met with the Ladies of Brattleboro for dinner at the Green Table, and then went to see Sleep No More, which is an extraordinary experience in immersive theater.  One is given a mask & enjoined not to speak, and for up to 3 hours one wonders around inside a warehouse of four or five stories where a troop of interpretive dancers performs something inspired by Macbeth.  One can explore the trappings of the set as much as one wishes, or follow performers around or hang out in the lounge.  It's a choose your own adventure style of show, though only as an observer.   I wound up following one stunning beautiful woman around for a while, and wound up getting whisked into a locked room for a short private performance that, while a scripted part of the show, was quite intimate and moving.  Which, if you are thinking of something sexual, is completely wrong--yet it felt like everything you would fantasize about.  A great experience which was well worth the cost.  I plan to go back at some point.

3) My mom is still in a rehab hospital, still in real pain, but I think getting better.  I hope.  Dad is still slipping away a bit at a time.

4) I drove back to Andover last night, couldn't sleep, and watched the Matrix Reloaded on demand.  It's better than I recalled.  The talky scenes make more sense when I can process the sometimes ornate and philosophical dialog, and some of the WTF plot twists actual do make some logical sense.  The biggest weakness that remains, for me, are the pointless action scenes.  The first Matrix was good in part because all the fight scenes served the story, developed character, and looked cool.  In Reloaded, there a couple of set pieces that just take up time. If the Wachowskis had done more with them, they'd have greatly improved the movie.  (Three examples: the introductory fight with Seraph--what does tussling with Neo for two minutes tell him, or us, that we don't know?; then. the  big fight scene with a crowd of Agent Smiths drags on; and the fight with the Merovingian's goons in his foyer is designed to waste Neo's time, but must it waste ours?  What's the point of another display of kung fu?  Are these guys really as challenging as the huge crowd of Agent Smiths?)  On the whole, I stick by some of my earlier criticisms, but I have to upgrade my rating of the film.

5) Sometimes I'm fine, and sometimes the depression gets to me.  I need to spend more time with friends.  I clearly need that.

6) Had an interesting talk with Morlock about making changes in my life. He pointed out that I'm still struggling with some of the same questions that bugged me years ago.  Maybe, he suggested, I need new questions.  hmmmmmmmmmmm.

7) 2013 must be the year I learn to budget.  Just because my desires have heretofore not exceeded my means, doesn't mean those means are inexhaustible. I must get the hang of identifying priorities, choosing amongst them, and then setting aside the others while resisting impulsive spending.  Good grief!
grinninfoole: (strangelove)

I worked late today, and after work I stopped by M's place to divvy up the farm share. Wound up having some dinner, and then joining her for a trip to Popcorn Noir for Zack Snyder's 300. I cannot recall having ever seen a worse movie.

The visual effects were OK in places (well composed, so stylized that they weren't interesting), some of the photography and cinematography were aesthetically striking, but otherwise it was just bad. I didn't hate the film, because that would have required it to evoke an emotional response beyond mild boredom and disdain, but it's an embarrassment that should never have been filmed (or, failing that, released).

Not to mention that it was obviously racist, sexist, and homophobic, filled with ridiculous decisions, a pretentious and unnecessary narrator, logical inconsistencies, question begging, and fundamental historical inaccuracies that completely subvert the crapulously earnest speeches all the Greeks make.

Mind you, the many slashy scenes were so incredibly over the top that it's the closest I've ever seen gay subtext come to being text without quite making it. It should have just been a gay porno.

Oh, and I couldn't but compare it Tarantino's Kill Bill, which I disliked intensely because it seemed to have little point beyond reveling in violence and bloodshed. Say whatever else you wish about Quentin Tarantino: he made a film I didn't like because it was basically an excuse to watch Uma Thurman flight and mutilate folks. 300 should have been the same, but mostly I just didn't care about anyone on screen. So, meh.

Oh, and tomorrow evening the store is celebrating it's tenth anniversary. I hope you'll all stop by and join us.

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Here's the latest Mythspoken podcast, with more 'me making too much noise while I think'.  Still, I sound good.  Mike and Ellie discuss things they've thought about carefully, and I spit ball about the blurred lines between the sub-culture of nerdy fandom, and broader mass-culture.
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Here's a special episode of my store's podcast, reviewing Dark Knight Rises, in which I fill the third slot.  We stay spoiler free for the first ten minutes or so, and apart from me saying 'you know' too much while I collect my thoughts, I think I did a great job.

Oh, and Mike and Ellie were OK, too. :)

Actually, i probably should have plugged the store's podcast here months ago, since I think the regular trio of Jim, Mike and Ellie are actually interesting if you have any interest in nerdy pop culture.  You can find all the episodes on iTunes and on our website.  Here's a link to the first episode.
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Still waiting for a chance go talk to Grounded. She texted me today:"crazy busy. Will try to call next week." Somehow this leads me to suspect that she may not feel as intensely about me as I feel about her. This makes me sad. I'm trying to give myself permission to feel sad without being prematurely negative or telling myself how dumb I am to feel so. (and I don't want to assume its going to to badly in advance. That hasn't served me well in the past. I'm starting to think that there may be some validity to the notion that happiness is a matter of habit, that it takes practice and an open to heart to accept good things in life. To that end, I called some friends to join me in activities that would make me happy, which is why I'm typing this at the Cinemark while M and I await the 10:05 showing Avengers.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Well, it's been 4 months since I made contact with Grounded again.  I saw her around my birthday, and then she went away on vacation.  I've been waiting for her to contact me since then, and she hasn't, which disappoints me.  I got in touch with her because I still had powerful feelings for her, left over from our time together 18 years ago.  Since then, I have seen her a few times, and I have taken pains to carefully examine my heart, and I feel confident that I love her.  I'm at a loss to explain just why, or how I know, but I feel it profoundly.  Being with her makes me happy, and I want to be with her through thick and thin, for the rest of my life.  I understand that that is a huge commitment, and I can only dimly imagine where that will take me (us!) if we take the journey together. 

What I do know is that I trust my subconscious. I could give it more time, I could hang back and wait some more, but the only reason to do so would be because I refuse to believe in myself.  I have always been a good judge of character, and I have worked hard over the past 25 years to understand my feelings, and it's paid off.  Moreover, while I constantly question myself because I don't want to be  obliviously privileged, the truth is I have many fine qualities that would make me a great life partner for her.  I'm smart, better educated than most, funny, generous, and compassionate.  I'm financially secure.  I'm more attuned to my feelings than most men.  And (at least in her judgment), I'm even good looking. 

So, I'm through hanging back.  I'm going to take the plunge, and tell just what I feel and what I want.  I don't know how she'll respond,  but she'll either reject me (and break my heart again, and then I'll get over it again) or she'll accept me, at least tentatively, and then the adventure will begin (and that's what really scares me, because it could be wonderful.)

In other news, I finally sent in the claim form for Dad's long term care policy, Filthy Assistant friended me on Facebook (yay!), I saw both Cabin In The Woods and Avengers (and loved them both, and I now acknowledge that Joss Whedon may actually merit the hype), and I got three tickets to see Dead Can Dance on August 29 in New York.  I'm going, and I don't know who shall accompany me.  Anyone who is interested, get in touch and let me know, and I'll figure out who to give them to.
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I meant to post a few days ago, but I got sick a few days ago, and I'm only recovering now. (Some sort of gastro-intestinal whatsis, which made it so I couldn't eat for almost 2 days straight. Now I'm feeling better, but I still feel a bit of discomfort just below my sternum.) M was so kind and helpful in taking care of me during this ordeal.

My dad has, as they say in biz, plateaued. He's not likely to get much better, so he's switching to custodial care, which means Medicare won't cover his bills any more. Which means it's time for me to step up and get serious about making claims on my Dad's insurance policies, because the bills come out to more than $10,000 a month. A lot more. I don't know how families without our resources cope.

I'm going to have to work some convention in New Jersey at the end of the month. Not looking forward to all the driving, and I've already missed one weekend visiting Dad because of my illness.

M is preparing to move out at the end of the month. I'm going to stay here in our house. We're figuring out what's going to stay, and what she's taking with her, and so forth. It's pretty low key, but I do find myself tripping over the mental change from team mode to solo mode.

M and I are awaiting the final season of DS9. Until then, we're watching other stuff, like the new Tinker Tailor (which we loved, though was there gay subtext added to the story, or did we just miss it in the Alec Guinness version?), the 1981 BBC TV Smiley's People (less gripping plot, more comprehensible characters than Tinker Tailor), some Jeeves & Wooster (glad it holds up so well), and now Rome. We're half-way through a rewatch of season 1, en route to the unplumbed wonders of season 2. It's such a good show, though I had forgotten just how shockingly, explicitly sexual and violent it is.

I caught the tail end of the Superbowl last week, and I was briefly sad that the Patriots lost. While my football loyalty remains a foot wide and an inch deep, however, I did form a powerful emotional attachment to a new fandom during the game, though I suppose it's really more of an anti-fandom: the New York Giants scored their winning touchdown in the last minute, and the guy who scored it actually turned and completed the play butt first. I really can't stand arrogance or a sense of entitlement, and, which is what's always bugged me about the Yankees, and this struck me as a blatant display of same. So, I still don't care all that much about the Patriots, but I really hate the New York Giants. Funny how these things work, isn't it?

P.S. I'm having lunch with [Grounded] on Wednesday, so cross your fingers, eh?
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Watched girl with dragon tattoo over the weekend, and was totally hooked by it. I'll hide the rest for those of you who don't care about my film criticism or navel gazing.

Why this film grabbed me: )

EDIT: After I posted this, I watched the sequel, Girl Who Played With Fire. And, wow, it's all about the pervasiveness of male violence, especially as channeled sexually against women. I feel twitchy, and hyped up. Jesus, that woman almost is indestructible.
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In one word: WOW.

In more words: I was moved by this movie.

I have read several critiques of the film which all pointed to a racist sub-text of one sort or another.
Tasha Robinson posted a good short review, and there are links to some of those more negative reviews of this sort in the comments. (For reviews attacking the film as 'liberal' and 'America hating', check out Big Hollywood.)

I do not contradict those opinions–even the ones at which I rolled my eyes. Avatar does share thematic (and plot, iIrc) elements with Dances With Wolves, and probably a number of other films. Seeing as the latest in what [ profile] rollick  calls America's Holocaust Narrative makes sense, and this is the story of a white man who becomes one of the colored people, etc.

As a (re)viewer, though, I tend to focus on the particulars of the film itself, on how the story works within its own little world. (Yes, I know, very New Criticism. I did go to Kenyon.:) I don't deny the applicability of larger perspectives, or of experiencing the movie through the emotional lens of 'ugh, this is White Guilt Fantasy–I hate those', but this film, I think, is not an allegory, and I believe that there is more to it, both emotionally and dramatically, than a sop to White Guilt.

Here's where the spoilers come in: )

Or, maybe this comic puts it more simply: Multiplex from last week.
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The sore throat a few days ago turned into two days of sick in bed. Happily, I was able to take them as sick days (more or less--a work crisis on Tuesday had me suiting up for an hour and going in to help), so I mostly got better. Mostly. [Also nice: I rented and finally got to see Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky. Man, I wish I'd seen it in 1986, when it came out. I think it would have brightened my life in a tough period for me.] Wednesday was the busiest new comics day of the year, and yesterday we had a nice run of last minute shoppers. Lefty was cool and let me skate early to go home for Xmas eve, because Mami y Papi were coming to dinner. (BIG thanks to Morlock for helping us out on hotel accommodations!)

M spent much of the 23rd & 24th cleaning and cooking, getting things ready. I wasn't nearly the help I wanted to be, but I did some of the cleaning, the grocery shopping on Wednesday, and I made a pecan pie (which I slightly burnt, as I'm out of practice, but Breyer's Vanilla covers a multitude of culinary sins.)

Our feast last night featured a butternut squash/chestnut soup, an elegantly simple tossed salad and roast chicken with a side dish of spinach sauteed with raisins & pignoli, with my pie batting clean up. Martha brought agua frescas (jamaica and another one made from pineapples), and I think she brought a dessert, too.

It was a lovely evening. I was really glad to have family to our home for Xmas, to show off our tree, and entertain in our living room. We gave and received thoughtful gifts. And, by the time we wrapped at about 1:30 AM, I was totally out of gas. I wasn't really sick anymore, but I had no energy reserves, and I couldn't properly regulate my body temperature.

I went to bed after I put all the left-overs in the fridge, and I slept for many hours.

I awoke this morning feeling... improved. No longer lingeringly ill. I don't need to take more Nyquil/Dayquil. But I am weary. So much so that I did something I wouldn't have done in years past (and perhaps, since I was younger, wouldn't have needed to do): I called my parents and told them that I'd be coming home for Xmas tomorrow. I'm sad to miss spending the day itself there with them, but I just don't need to do the driving today.

So, I'm going to nap now. Later, I'll browse on leftovers, enjoy some gifts, stare at the tree, and perhaps make a fire.

Merry Xmas, friends and random internet readers!

[Edit: M spent a good chunk of the day stuck doing school work, but we watched Waters Of Mars again, and it made me cry to see the Doctor, like a true hero, fall prey to his tragic flaw. Afterward, I went back and watched Voyage Of The Damned and Partners in Crime, and it's interesting to see how RTD was setting up these themes all along. As Mr. Copper remarks in the otherwise so-so Voyage (a previous Xmas special): "Not the one you would have chosen as the sole survivor, I suppose. But still, if you were the one who got to choose who lives and who dies, you'd be some kind of monster."

obla di

Aug. 8th, 2009 07:15 pm
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Millari is home!

Yesterday, we hosted another Church Of Otis Bad Movie Night.  The Pope, St. Watserface (& Concubine) and Syd joined us for two entertainingly poorly made films.  The first was Modesty Blaise, a mid-60s action flick with five different directors and a female lead who spoke no English and learned her lines phonetically.  It did, however, have both Terence Stamp as an appealingly roguish criminal and Dirk Bogarde as an evil mastermind with a horror of violence and a different color theme in each scene.  It had random costume changes, a musical number, and lots of bad accents. 

The second was King Of The Zombies, a 1941 flick, just over an hour long, about a Nazi scientist in the South Seas, a voodoo cult and zombies.  It was as dumb as one might imagine, and also featured tons of blatant racism, especially around the character of Jefferson Jackson, the black manservant to one of the white leading men, as played by Mantan Moreland.  I see that Moreland played a lot of cowardly black servants in the 30s and 40s, and was considered funny, but with the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the 50s, he was seen as emblematic of rejected stereotypes.  It was uncomfortable to watch, especially since he really was hilarious, thanks to excellent delivery and perfect comic timing.  Also, honestly, he seemed the smartest and most interesting character in the piece.  I'd love to see more of his work.

Today, _usakeh_ came out for the day, and we watched the first couple of episodes of Life On Mars (the original BBC version with John Simm).  I had heard it was fabulous, and it did not disappoint.  We'll watch more later, in tandem.

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Push with Suave and M and another friend.  We arrived late, so we missed the first five minutes or so, which apparently contain a lot of exposition explaining the movie.  We didn't need it, and I actually quite enjoyed the film, which is about people with psychic abilities operating in a criminal/espionage underworld.  It was a fairly clever caper/action film, with bits of intrigue and reversals and recognitions, and surpisingly well handled elements of precognition and the problems it causes.  Dakota Fanning and Djimon Honsou were particularly entertaining.
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So, I have been a bit mopy over the past few days, because of wrestling with accepting myself as I am, and not as idealized, good-bits only version of myself. A high point the other day, though, was seeing Miyazaki Hayao's film Spirited Away. It's simply amazingly good. Richly imagined, beautifully made, thoughtful, touching, loving, clear, detailed...beautiful. More than anything else that is staying with me about this movie, it is absolutely beautiful. The sights and sounds were absolutely ravishing. I want to see it again. I want to own this movie. And, I want to see more of Miyazaki's films. (I have seen Mononoke both in subtitled Japanese, and in the English language with script by Neil Gaiman.)

If I could create moments of such transcendant beauty, in any format (even gaming), and I were to then die, I would feel that my life had not been wholly in vain.
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M and I watched this last night, so I have at last seen it. I thought it was a pretty good film. I quite understand fuschia's little thing for Monica Bellucci, and for the other pretty young thing, too. I found the story itself an engaging mix of Enlightenment rationalism and Hollywood hokum. Since in a weird way the film is all about the revolution, and since that is still a very live topic in French society, I wonder how the French audiences understood the depiction of aristocrats in the film. I detected a lingering sympathy for them.

I also had no idea that the Mohawks knew kung fu, but I probably shouldn't make too much of that. Certainly, the fight scenes looked a lot cooler than many others I have seen. And the CGI beast was surprisingly good.


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