Diary, 5/30 to 6/3/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Dahr Jamail
Dahr Jamail and the end of the world on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35yts_iLz9M

{5/30/19}  Weight ?

I am inclined to try a commitment:  ride the trike every morning when it’s not raining.  And as a corollary, when it is raining or threatening to rain, work out with the dumbbells.  I need to do this because I am personally acting the way the U.S. government is acting regarding climate change:  I’m ignoring my fast-approaching doom.  I said a while back that my legs could kill me, or they can save me.  It’s time to act on that belief.

Watched the surprisingly delightful and horrifying The Cottage, one of six movies in the “Where Evil Lies” DVD package that I got cheap from Hamilton Booksellers.  Andy Serkis and Doug Bradley are the only names familiar to me among the actors (respectively “Gollum” and “Pinhead” in previous movies).  Of all the cheap horror films I’ve seen, and I’ve seen many in the past year, I’d rate Hellraiser number one, and The Cottage number two.  They’re both great.  The Cottage is like a horror flick by the Coen brothers, if not better.  Fans of the Coens will likely disagree, but this is my review.  Very gross and very funny.

Other movies in the package include Devour and Wind Chill, both of which I saw before buying this collection—which I hadn’t known, or I likely would have skipped it.  Given that I watched Devour all the way through but don’t remember a thing about it, it’s probably in the “barely adequate” category; and, while I remember Wind Chill well enough, it’s basically an extended Twilight Zone episode with a pretty lame payoff.  I also watched Candy Stripers from this collection, or, rather, I fast forwarded through it; think Species as done by Roger Corman, only worse.  The remaining movies are Incubus and Population 436; the former is a complete unknown, and the latter looks unpromising from the fifteen minutes that I watched.  But I’ll get around to them eventually.

Also watched June, which I bought separately, a laughable demon-possession effort with a cute and moderately effective nine-year-old as the eponym.  Definitely not recommended, gone into the “donate” stack.

 

{5/31/19}  Weight 222.0.

1:10 am.  I woke from a dream, used the bathroom, then went back to bed.  And as I lay there thinking about the dream, a curious, unpleasant feeling grew and grew upon me.  This feeling seemed to alternate between total disgust and complete, helpless terror at the political situation in the United States, a horror movie from which I could not escape.  Mixed with this was astonishment that I should have lived to see such things happening.  These feelings seemed also to be part of a dreamlike state.  Trump seemed to me then to be a terrorized, completely overwhelmed weakling caught in a situation beyond his control or understanding, while McConnell was the most vile, vicious human being imaginable, bent on inflicting the maximum suffering possible on the people of the nation.

Now that I am fully awake, the actual dream is slipping away, and the dread is weakening but I cannot fully shake it off yet.

And of course there’s a little dog outside, barking endlessly, shrilly, as little dogs do here from time to time.

What I can recall of the dream goes something like this:  I was in a classroom, working on a presentation to occur some time later, and I was trying to settle on the music I wanted to accompany some part of the presentation:  should it be piano chords, played as three notes with the left hand, then two notes with the right, alternating either quickly or very quickly?  As I considered this, I was playing those chords; not on a piano, but on small round pegs like those on the concertina I had a year or two ago.  Or, should it be the piano part of Saint-Saens’s “Aquarium” from his “Carnival of the Animals” suite?  Also muddled in there was the organ part, very deep chords, played in the final movement of Copland’s Symphony No. 3.  Then someone came over to me and talked to me about a sheet of paper I had—he spoke approvingly of it, and wanted a copy.  On the paper was a handwritten table of four columns of words, about fifteen rows long, and at the head of each column was written two words from separate sources:  one was a word from some writer’s thing, the creator of the table, and one was my alteration or “improvement” of that word.  The only word I can remember from these headings was “Power.”  The contents of the columns seemed to me to be selections from my “Tasty Words” lists, but I can’t remember even a single word, nor am I sure that I could read the words.  Also on the table where we stood were stacks of stapled, printed handouts similar to those I have sometimes prepared for the Hemlock Club.  All of this seems almost too vague to be worth trying to describe.

The dog has been quiet for some minutes now, thankfully.

Now, as it happens, last night around six o’clock I had given up on Rachel Maddow and was watching the last half of Incubus on DVD, an outrageously awful horror movie, the last of the group of six movies I described in yesterday’s entry.  The dialogue was so relentlessly stupid and boring that I had taken to fast forwarding through the scenes of talking heads, wanting to get to the lame conclusion.  This excrescence was about six “young” people (one was Tara Reid, who I looked up in Videohound because her name was familiar—she looked a good ten years or more older than her companions) who get stranded in the country and encounter a large, dismal building consisting mostly of empty hallways where they are beset by murderous maniacs.  I presume this unpleasant and unrewarding experience influenced somewhat my subsequent, shall I say, “night terrors.”

After the movie I tried reading Science and Sanity, but couldn’t focus on the difficult and seemingly worthless words of the “Order” chapter.  So I started reading the much lighter Burst Out Laughing, got sleepy, and went to bed to read a little more, then sleep, this around eight o’clock.

Now I need to get back to bed (it’s 1:50) because I have an early date with a tricycle.

6:00.  I had another dream, but this one is so dull that I’m not going to record it (I was buying socks).

It seems that my evenings are writing checks that my mornings can’t cash.  In other words, no trike this morning, bye-bye commitment.  Oddly—or perhaps predictably—I feel no particular shame or grief over this failure.

But:  I can and will do the dumbbell thing.

Well, no, I’m not likely to do the dumbbell thing.  Instead, I spent five hours getting to and from Bookhounds, where I spent $80.19, mostly on 21 CDs.  The five books include Lin Yutang’s The Wisdom of Laotse, The Leafcutter Ants (science), The Philosophy of Santayana, Vol. II (Library of Living Philosophers), Buber’s I and Thou in Kaufmann’s translation, and Attar’s The Conference of the Birds (“A Sufi Fable”).  Also got a few trashy DVDs.  I could’ve skipped the Santayana, or indeed, all the books other than Dr. Lin’s, though they’re all “worthy,” especially at the low-low prices.  I passed somehow on the Riverside Chaucer, which I sorta lusted after, because I already have a Canterbury Tales which I’ll likely never read at all.  Friend Pablo, who couldn’t make it, wanted a copy of The Bros. K., but BH didn’t have it, surprisingly.  I sort of tweaked his nose about never having read it.  The name always trips him up, as does Chuang Tze and one other I’ve forgotten.

Because Chris Hayes tonight is all about yet another mass shooting, I’m listening to a CD of selections from Liadov, Tcherepnin, and Rimsky-Korsakov (“Le Coq d’or” suite).  Liadov is quite low-key, which I knew going in, from an LP many decades ago, but I still had hopes….  I passed on a Delius disk because “Dull, duller, Delius.”  Actually, I like at least one of his, don’t recall which.

Nikolai Tcherepnin’s “La Princesse lointaine” starts rather well, i.e., sweetly.  I’ve not heard him before; he’s (1873-1945).  Coincidentally, Liadov died in 1914.

I’m beat.  The trip took much out of me, not least because it was quite warm.

{6/1/19}  Weight 222.6.

At Dagny’s on a Saturday, 9 am.

Now, five in the evening, after a long nap, I’m listening to a Brahms string quartet, fairly tepid stuff compared to my more favored CDs.  A second quartet follows, but I’ll turn it off and listen to something else, and probably read a bit.  Dinner is an open question because I’ve been snacking; I’ll likely work on my rotisserie chicken for the fourth dinner in a row.  Because my hot water is out until at least Monday, I “can’t” wash dishes, and so can’t cook.  Today was tedious, helping Pablo get a $250 check cashed, then hanging out in Starbuck’s.  Much useless waiting for buses, since they run less often on weekends.  I took Science and Sanity with me as my only reading, a mistake because it’s heavy to carry and because it’s dull and unengaging right now (pg. 200) and because it requires occasional note-taking.  So I spent a lot of time not reading while waiting.

I was unlucky enough to have L come by Dagny’s and regale me with more tales of welding.  I thought once about asking him whether he finds his work “rewarding,” but finally decided not to—it seemed almost an insulting question, though he is essentially building things.

Switching now to Turandot, the excellent old Sutherland/Pavarotti/Mehta recording which I got for $3.99, sans booklet.  Turns out that L is something of an opera buff, via recordings (he hadn’t heard of Jonas Kaufmann, my current fave), though he said that the stories always bore him.  It’s at least partly true, as he said, that it’s the singing that’s the thing, but I do like the orchestra and chorus at times (as in Act One of Turandot).  He asked me if I knew Jussi Bjorling, which is about as insulting as my question about Kaufmann, I guess.  He also “corrected” my pronunciation of Turandot (I had sounded the final “t”).  I said, “If you wish.”  What is all this, a “struggle for male dominance”?

I suppose L finds me about as dull as I find him, since he left after half an hour.

In my younger days I always followed along in the libretto once or twice when listening to an opera, but these days I’m more likely to be reading or, as now, writing.

In the Fanciulla del West DVD that I got recently was a booklet for other operas on DVD, and I lusted after the Ring des Nibelungen that lists Jonas Kaufmann (I’m guessing as Sigmund, not Siegfried) in a Met production, but I suppose that the package might be $200 and I just don’t want to do that right now, or maybe ever.  It’s an open question whether I’d (a) like it well enough (besotted as I am with Birgit Nilsson), and (b) listen to/watch it more than once, at least in full.  It would be fun to get together with Pablo and J to watch the whole thing (I presume over four days), but I’m doubtful that this can be brought off, or if both would even be interested.  On top of which, I have other places to put hundreds, like (a) a “portable” air conditioner, (b) the van Gogh Letters ($600, if you can even get it here), and (c) “a cushion for Salomé.”  When she asks for money, which I expect will happen eventually, I want to be able to help to the tune of $200-$300.

Why (c)?  Why not?  Think what you like, but don’t be silly enough to accuse me of expecting sexual favors that I would refuse if offered.

The van Gogh Letters?  Well, I tried [to buy it] once, two years ago or more, with nothing but frustration to show for the effort.  Given that I’ll never get to the van Gogh Museum, I suppose I can “justify” it, if justification is needed.  It would be a comfort to my declining years, until I got bored with it.  The thing is, his words are sometimes every bit as wonderful and amazing as his art:  “One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way.” (See my Collected Quotations for source.)

Just watched a large chunk of a 2018 documentary on Free Speech TV, called “Stare Into the Lights My Pretties,” about the effects of modern technology, more or less.  It made me think of many things, but the one I want to record now is this:  when asking, “What is it like to be me?” perhaps the most “telling” single question is, “What are your addictions?”  We have more [potential] addictions to choose from now than have ever been available before.

What are my addictions?  Currently, television (including DVDs), books (buying and reading), Twitter (without home Wi-Fi this is no longer a problem), masturbation (though limited to less than twice a week), political horror stories (mostly through TV, but also books), chocolate (mostly as chocolate chip cookies), sodas and caffeine…not working…meat…

How many of these are really addictions?  How can I tell?  Which ones do I care about?  Given that I don’t really care about any of them, “addictions” or not, with the exception of “not working,” I guess I’ve reached the end of this particular inquiry.

Checking that DVD catalog again, I find that the Ring cycle is on only five Blue-Ray discs (including one non-opera disc).  No reason for that to be over $100, but it probably is anyway.  It’s not going to be like Solti’s great old version, or indeed any of the usual CD versions—this has both cast and conductor changes, and maybe even different production designs, which would be the most upsetting.  If I go for this, I need to think of it as “four operas.”  But if Pablo or J aren’t interested, I’ll skip it anyway.  Maybe.  I don’t know how many times I’ll watch a whole Ring cycle before I croak, but maybe once would be good.  Or just get the Solti (Nilsson) CDs for myself.

Listening to Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder.  I’ve caught it (in part) on radio a couple of times over the decades and always liked it, and I’m liking the CD now, too.  But it’s over 2 hours, so I probably won’t finish it tonight.

 

{6/2/19}  Weight 222.2?

As I more or less expected, Pablo was interested in the Ring, and J was lukewarm at best.  So here I am again at 6:00, with nothing ahead for the evening except the rest of the Gurrelieder, which I’m listening to.  The Club today was nothing much, Pablo was absent and L showed up.  Subsequently I met Pablo at Barnes & Noble, where I didn’t buy anything but a soda and cookie, since I hadn’t brought my discount coupons.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten anything anyway, having already spent $200 this month on books and such.  I did, however, put half a dozen Hemlock Club cards in various books at B&N, which I’m sure would be disapproved of if they knew about it.  I’ll do the same thing at various libraries, where such cards can always pretend to be bookmarks.

Regarding “addictions,” of course I didn’t mention the obvious, i.e., what got me an eleven year prison sentence.  Such mentions are liable to attract unwanted attention due to the monitoring software on my laptop.  Such things are not to be trifled with.

I am very much afraid that the human experiment is a failure, that the future will be incomparably worse than what we have now, and indeed, what we had three hundred years ago.  I believe the species will survive, though it is certain that billions will die horribly.  The species might well not survive if, in our final desperation, we decide to nuke our “enemies.”  I cannot see any way forward to a good future for us.  We’re just too damn stupid.  Right now, when we’re right up against it, still the few who know are vastly outnumbered by those who refuse to listen.  And I think we’re out of time, we can’t wait for them any longer—they have doomed us all.

Of course, right now I’m listening to Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, which could make Julie Andrews gloomy (taking her as a paradigm of cheerfulness).  I’m loving it, too.

I had similar thoughts on 2/16/19, and I’m sure before that, too—this file only includes this year.

{6/3/19}  Weight 222.2.

A dream fragment from last night:  a duck pokes his head out of my stomach.  I force him out of my body.  It was a male mallard.

Lifetime channel is showing Dance Moms all day, with a new season starting tomorrow.  As if I didn’t have enough distractions.

A talk by Dahr Jamail on Pirate Television advises that we’re already way beyond the point of doom, climatewise.  We don’t have “twelve years.”  Even the Green New Deal is way too little, way too late.  All other issues, important as they are, are nothing in comparison.  And the media haven’t opened their eyes yet—theirs, and ours.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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