TENET on a Wide Screen

If any movie was going to lure self back to the cine-plex, it was Tenet. The buzz about it was ridiculous. She went to first screening today.

Tenet is a gorgeous-looking movie. That opening sequence was pretty audacious. Think anarchy at a classical music concert. People stomping on violins etc. GULP. Trills of recognition: similar scenes on the TV news every night. Not as dramatic as stomping on violins, but the same feeling of dread.

Our first sight of John David Washington is after a character says “Wake the Americans” (LOL) John David Washington cracks open his eyes. Is there anyone in the world at this moment who gives more intense side-eye than John David Washington? Don’t think so. All thanks to Denzel, not only for his amazing ouevre, but for his amazing genes. As for who smolders better, Denzel or his son, after Tenet self has to say, definitely JDW. Denzel can do other things better (like Shakespeare), but his son has super-sexy smouldering eyes!

Do not ask self about the plot. Do not even go there. A Christopher Nolan movie has to be experienced, not analyzed. Also, how great do these men look in suits? Self likes the fey affect of Pattinson: great foil to JDW. She wonders how he will do Batman. He has a good jaw, which means he’ll look great in the Bat-mask. But, self digresses.

MILD SPOILERS

Self did object to the tired damsel-in-distress-as-a-way-of-cracking-villain-inside-circle thing (and btw, if you’re going to use that trope, why not commit, why not have the woman fall madly in love with JDW, why the reticence?) Second, Kenneth Branagh doing the older husband/villain: he seriously has to do that role again?

But the action sequences — especially the opening scene, and a pincer move in the end: one set of soldiers moving forward, the other moving backwards — don’t ask self to explain, seeing it on wide-screen was WILD!

There were empty rows ahead and behind her, maybe 10 people tops in the audience. No one talking, much less coughing or sneezing. She felt safe. More social distancing than at her local grocery, for sure.

Just to feel normal for one afternoon: so worth it.

She enjoyed the previews (there were about 10, which might seem a tad excessive, but just to show you how long it’s been, self did not mind one bit. In fact, they could have showed 15 previews, all self would have said was: Thank you). The trailer for Dune was whew! Scorching! It had Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Voice of America, 1953

from Larry Tye’s Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, Chapter 6:

  • Kaplan was an engineer at the Voice of America and the liaison with MIT on the radio transmitter project that Senator McCarthy was slamming as an instance of deliberate sabotage of America’s propaganda war with the Russians. In the heat of those hearings, early in 1953, Kaplan traveled to Cambridge to talk to the Voice’s MIT advisers. Co-workers say it was a fraught mission for the anxious Kaplan, who, despite the fact that he was merely a middleman, had long worried that he might be dragged into the controversy over the siting of the towers. When he got to MIT, the researchers who could clear things up weren’t available to meet with him. Kaplan came unglued. As he was leaving campus, Henry Burke was driving down the street in his ten-ton trailer truck. “I saw him standing on the sidewalk as if he was ready to cross, Burke told the police later. “I slowed the truck. When (I) got near him, he jumped in front of it.”

Kaplan was, Tye writes, “a fragile target,” under pressure in many areas, not the least of which was a sick wife.

Sen. Joe McCarthy blamed Kaplan’s death on “sinister forces.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Field of Rocks

Yesterday, self dropped by Lyngso in San Carlos. It’s THE place for everything “natural” for your landscaping needs: pebbles, stones, rocks, flagstones — you name it.

She’s been hearing about Lyngso forever, since son was in primary school at St. Raymond’s in Menlo Park. Every single one of his classmates lived in the area, all of them had beautiful homes, and all of them got their stone from Lyngso.

It just so happened that when self dropped by yesterday, there was an abundance of boulders. She was so happy, it reminded her of the time her friend Helene took her to a field of rocks near Yorkshire (very Wuthering Heights).

She asked an employee about the different-colored rocks, and he told her that a customer had put in an order for 18 boulders, and hadn’t picked them up yet. “So this is a pretty special assortment,” he told self.

Wowowowowowow

Just lookit. Self wanted to use these rocks for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 115.2 (Inspiration) but she ended up using a different set of pictures. Still, she went bananas and took 20 pictures of rocks yesterday. Here are a few:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sen. Joe McCarthy 2.0

Replace McCarthy’s name below with Trump, replace ‘the Red Menace’ with Chy-nuh and you have McCarthy 2.0. History repeats itself.

After a bruising battle in the Senate, Joe McCarthy’s primary Democratic opponent, Millard Tydings, was left “exhausted and deflated.” Instead of “muzzling McCarthy, the Tydings Committee had given him a wider stage and a louder bullhorn to name his names.” Somehow, McCarthy “made himself look more like the aggrieved than the aggressor. His murky cause had become an article of canon for Senate Republicans. His audience never was fellow senators, or even the reporters in the gallery, but … chicken farmers and grocers … Ask God-fearing people anywhere who their white knight was in the crusade against the Red Menace and there were no longer ifs and buts, it was the battle-ready Leatherneck, Jousting Joe McCarthy.” (Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, p. 187)

p. 188: “Joe couldn’t forget a slight … Joe was the one framing the narrative.”

Lens-Artists Challenge # 115: INSPIRATION

There’s a beautiful gallery of inspiring photos on Travels and Trifles.

What gives self inspiration? Flowers. And books.

These blue flowers are so pretty. Every year, they come back, and this year the blooms have been especially profuse. They wind through the branches of the cherry trees and drape the sidewalk. No one seems to mind.

Front yard, September 2020

Self is a writer. As a writer, she finds inspiration in books. These are a few books she recently checked out from her local library:

Finally, a very special place, one that self would spend every moment of every day in, if she could: the London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury. When she sees the orange couch, she knows she’s home.

London Review Bookshop, November 2019

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Quote of the Day: Beast Inside, The Daily Beast Friday Digest

Hello,

At some point in the next few days, the U.S. will pass that horrific milestone: 200,000 dead from COVID-19. Michael Tomasky has a terrific column on this terrible moment in which he recalls how he gasped last weekend when he saw that Taiwan had just reported its seventh death—that’s seven total since the start of the pandemic. He got out his calculator and figured out how many Americans would have died if the U.S. death rate was as low as Taiwan’s, or as low as a bunch of other countries that President Trump would probably describe as shitholes. The numbers, Tomasky notes, give lie to what may be Trump’s biggest whopper: “Nothing more could have been done.” He writes: “In a democracy worthy of the name, Trump would be impeached simply for speaking those words.”

— Tracy Connor, Executive Editor, The Daily Beast

The Politics of Accusation

“I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” It wasn’t the first occasion where this senator had whipped up the specter of an enemy within, nor was he the first to try. But this time he grasped something earlier treason-shouters hadn’t: that counting and naming the actual traitors had a frontier justice allure. No matter that the paper he was clutching didn’t justify his numbers or fill in his list . . . When fellow lawmakers denounced his anti-Communist crusade as a hoax, and him as a charlatan, he brazenly doubled down in the broadsides. Abe Lincoln was surely turning somersaults in his tomb . . .

(btw, Abe Lincoln is surely turning somersaults AGAIN, poor man)

” . . . but Joe McCarthy had the issue he needed to snatch the limelight he craved.”

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, p. 115

Regarding Juan Sebastian Elcano, Basque

Rick Barot’s collection The Galleons is on the National Book Award’s longlist for poetry! Kudos, sir!

Self finds it interesting: she is writing about the galleons, too! Her book invents a character and puts him in the Philippines at the close of the 16th century.

Today, in her leisurely read of The Economist of 12 September 2020 (She’s fairly sure they skipped an issue; the 19 September issue should have arrived last week. What gives, USPS?), there is a letter about Magellan. Truly, self has entered a zone! A zone where everyone else is also thinking about Magellan! Galleons! The 16th century!

Letter to The Economist from Marques de Tamaron, Madrid:

Ferdinand Magellan was not “the first known circumnavigator (Obituary for Marvin Creamer, August 29th). He commanded the flotilla of five ships and 239 sailors that sailed in 1519 from Spain but he died in combat in the Philippines in 1521 before completing the round-the-world voyage. Juan Sebastian Elcano was then elected leader for the rest of it, reaching Spain in the only remaining ship, Victoria, in 1522. He and the emaciated survivors who dragged themselves ashore were indeed the first true circumnavigators.

Prompted by curiosity (mebbe she should have written about Elcano instead of making up a fictional character for her novel! Oh well, too late now!), self does some google research. Elcano died only four years after his return from that epic voyage. And there is a Spanish thinktank named after him that addresses such topics as climate change, cybersecurity, and international migration. Here is a link to their very interesting blog.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Introducing the Completely “Unhinged” Senator Joe McCarthy

  • … McCarthy came unhinged in a way unimaginable to most Americans. He ceased even pretending to care about the rights of the accused, whom he summarily declared guilty. He held one-man hearings, in violation of long-standing Senate tradition. When he was absent, his poorly trained, sophomoric staffers leapt in to badger witnesses on his behalf. — from the Preface to Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye

When self was reading the above, she had to keep reminding herself that this book was not about Trump (All McCarthy’s papers were donated to his alma mater, Marquette University, by McCarthy’s widow, “sixty years ago.” Anyone can read them.) What legacy of documents will Trump leave, self wonders, and to which university? Years from now, someone will access them and write a book, just like Tye is doing now.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More from the Preface to DEMAGOGUE: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

It’s not often that a man’s name becomes an ism, in this case a synonym for reckless accusation, guilt by association, fear-mongering, and political double-dealing. In the early 1950s, the senator from Wisconsin promised America a holy war against a Communist “conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dward any previous such venture in the history of man.” While the conspiracy and infamy claims were a stretch, the body count was measurable: a TV broadcaster, a government engineer, current and former US senators, and incalculable others who committed suicide to escape McCarthy and his warriors; hundreds more whose careers he crushed; and the hundreds of thousands he browbeat into a tongue-tied silence.

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