Diary, 7/31 to 8/4/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Brie Larson
Beautiful Brie Larson

{7/31/19}  Weight 222.2.

Watched The Glass Castle, a very good movie based on a very good book.  There is much that is unpleasant due to the story, and I’d rather that the focus had been more on the children and less on the parents, because that’s where all the inspiration lies, and in part because the three other children remain pretty vague compared to Jeanette.  The “all is forgiven” ending is a bit hard to swallow.  Brie Larson impresses again—she has tons of charisma and beauty and can act.  The performance by Ella Anderson as “the younger Jeanette” is astonishingly good.  This is a movie I’d watch again.  I’m looking forward to seeing Room, which stars Larson (“Best Actress” Oscar) and is previewed on this disc.  I’m beginning to think that her presence in a movie is sufficient cause for me to see it.

Went to the VA Clinic to get my ear wax problem seen to.  It was inconclusive.  Unfortunately, I left my hat at the bus stop, which started me on an “adventure” to buy a new hat.  I don’t like “adventures,” they’re hard on the ankles, and this was no exception.  I had to walk the entire length of Valley Plaza, visiting about seven stores until I found something suitable at J. C. Penney’s.  Their cheapest hat, which I bought, was priced $26.00.  Fortunately, it was on closeout and cost about seven bucks.  While in Target (looking for a hat) I bought a Rubik’s Cube, for no good reason except that I’ve been wanting one since I bought one for Zena O’Brien, my Ohio Twitter pal.

{8/1/19}  Weight 223.2.

The Cube I bought for a measly six bucks is very well made and turns easily.  Unfortunately, in attempting to relearn the tricks that I discovered forty-five years ago, I mixed it up, which made the easy rediscovery impossible.  So now the puzzle is sitting in the closet, because I don’t have the tenacity (or motivation) that I had in 1974.  What I’ll do is look up the “solution” online.

Typed in quotes from the two introductions to Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.  My enthusiasm for rereading the rest of the book is not great, since my conclusion on reading that much was “Great!  Now I can quit reading philosophy.”  I’m more inclined now to finish the Nietzsche I started a few weeks ago (Human, All Too Human) and perhaps go on to The Gay Science, which I’ve never read.  Or resume the biography of Kaufmann.  I was also thinking of taking a month to focus on strengthening my knowledge of German.  Between my news restriction, my completing a milestone in my revision of Kick Me, and this thought that philosophy is less important than I used to think, I find myself rather at loose ends, with oodles of free time and, essentially, room for new major priorities.  The other thought is to follow Rorty’s suggestion and become “a man of letters,” “writing novels, poems, and political treatises” and criticizing those of other “men of letters.”

So, aside from the German, other possibilities I’ve considered include reading some of the Turgenev I just bought, doing a painting or two (actually, ink-brush drawing), and working on writing (finishing) a novel.  My mood now is to do that bathroom cabinet kit that’s been sitting in my living room, out of its box, for a year.  I’ll likely wait until the mood passes, as the old joke goes.

Somehow, I feel no urgency about getting (back) into the three volumes on the foundations of mathematics…

Or trying again with the calculus and Penrose’s huge book.

So many irons, so little fire.

What I’m likely to do is to watch trashy movies, eat, masturbate, and sleep.

Speaking of trashy movies, last night I watched Lovely Molly, which is pretentious, often slow and tedious, confused, derivative, but with excellent acting, especially from the gutsy and scary Gretchen Lodge, who, like Videohound says about Alison Lohman in Drag Me to Hell, is really “a good sport” about all the muck she wallows in.  It’s a hog slaughter of a psycho-horror-thriller, occasionally somewhat inventive and impressive, but on the whole I wouldn’t recommend it.  I got very tired of people walking around the dark house going, “Molly?  Molly?” and the “found footage” bullshit.  This is part of the “6 Pack of Horror” that I got from Hamilton Booksellers for about five bucks, one week after ordering it and several other items.

My enthusiasm for Brie Larson has fallen a bit since I saw her list of movies—many of them doubtful—in the Videohound’s book.  The Hound gives Room only two bones, which is half a bone below “meh”; still wanna see it, though.  Given that I’ve already spent over $200 on “entertainment” this paycheck, I’ll be looking for it at the library.  She is very appealing as Captain Marvel.

Not trashy is Frances Ha, a thoroughly delightful aimless romp with Greta Gerwig in black and white, mostly in New York.  There’s a lot here that could be depressing—loneliness, poverty, lost dreams reconstituted imperfectly—but it ends up just real.  A very lovable movie, a very lovable actress-writer, avoids clichés and cheap tricks.  Good extras on the Criterion DVD.  It inspires me to try to resurrect my Bakersfield novel.

Well, after a trying day, I spent about half an hour working on the first page of Erich Maria Remarque’s Zeit zu leben und Zeit zu sterben (Time to Live and Time to Die), a novel in German.  I’ve tried the page before, so it was a bit easier than it might otherwise have been, but still I had to look up many words, and wrote down definitions for about a dozen.  This approach is less tiresome than vocabulary lists or flashcards, which would have me giving up on German PDQ.  The page is about dead bodies rotting on the battlefield, comparing dry and wet climates.  An approach I tried in prison, writing comic scenes, is more fun but more doubtful—I don’t want to be practicing mistakes and my grammar is weak.

Listening to a CD of Walter Piston pieces, and being mostly bored.  Okay, it was fifty cents.  Didn’t he write The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River?  I liked those well enough.  Tonight I didn’t feel like watching another trashy horror flic, even though the last wasn’t that bad.  The History of Mr. Polly, an oldie that I bought for $3.95, looks less interesting than it sounded, but I’ll try it some time when horror doesn’t appeal more.  For once, I haven’t read the novel (H. G. Wells).  John Mills is good, though…I listened to him many times as Cassius in Julius Caesar, opposite Anthony Quayle’s Brutus.

Oh, I tried starting The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud and stopped on page 10.  It wasn’t that bad, but it just didn’t grab me.  I’ve had the copy for about a year, maybe more—it’s something I was eager to read, yet it suffered the fate of most fiction these days, total neglect.  I have half a dozen Wodehouse books (mostly not his novels) collecting dust.  Whatever possessed me?  I think I read What Ho, Jeeves? and enjoyed it, wanted to read W. on his writing methods, but couldn’t get the right book…it’s a story not worth the telling.

The Piston is going on the donate pile, though track 11 (“Mountains” movement of Three New England Sketches) ended well.  I have CDs piled “everywhere.”

WTF, anyway.

{8/2/19}  Weight 223.6.

{8/3/19}  Weight 222.8.

Watched the two-hour season-ending episode(s) of Agents of SHIELD last night.  I was disappointed by the endless talk-talk-talk of two characters (the “bad guys”), the incredibly slow arrival of the coming doom, and some other weaknesses in the script, but it was mostly fun because the characters and actors are great fun.  Another “last season” was promised—apparently with a lot of death scenes, because that’s what these episodes had.  Unlike Avengers:  Endgame, nobody ever dies for real here, if not because of unrealistic recoveries, time travel, or multiple time lines/parallel worlds, then because of magic presented as advanced science.

Colin McGinn:  The Making of a Philosopher:  My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy is regrettably tedious because it labors over some pragmatically useless, thus very dull, points of analytic philosophy (via Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and Kripke’s interpretation thereof).  There’s only ninety pages to go, but I’m thinking that I’ll skim the rest, to see if it gets into anything I’ll find useful to my own thoughts.  I was thinking early on that this would be a great introduction to philosophy for beginners (I was thinking Sebastian); alas, not so.

Snowpiercer:  a pantload-and-a-half of pretentious horseshit.  Tilda Swinton has another remarkable role, though—I couldn’t even recognize her.  She doesn’t make the movie worthwhile, alas.  I thought Ed Harris would never shut up.  ‘Nuff said.

Room, on the other hand, is thoroughly excellent.  My latest in the Brie Larson hit parade.  I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately.  Her Short Term 12 is next up, but not tonight.

{8/4/19}  Weight 221.8.

Hemlock Club today.  What wonders are in store?  Stay tuned.

I actually read the rest of McGinn’s book.  A total meh.

I think this morning is the time to assemble the bathroom cabinet.  Let’s do it!

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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