Club Notes: Diary, 9/2 to 9/5/21

Bad movies reviewed; Nietzsche’s Gay Science; John Cleese book; Hemlock Club discussion of Gandhi, Napoleon, Tolstoy, and Meaning of Life; Pablo’s sadness; bedbugs slaughtered.

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{9/2/21}  Weight 213.4 at 5:40 am.

I might have read a little, but also watched the last two movies in the “Horror 8 Film Collection.”  Spliced (2002), the summary from Rotten Tomatoes:  “A teenager (Liane Balaban) watches a scary movie, then realizes the deformed killer from the film is stalking her.”  It was very silly, I might even say preposterous.  Oh…  No critic’s reviews, 37% from the audience.

“Very silly” is a lot better than Blood Gnome (2004).  David Nusair provides the one critic’s review from RT; he splatted it “an interminable experience” but gave it more respect than I would.  Perhaps he actually watched the whole thing.  Lots of fake blood and nudity combined, plus BDSM.  The eponymous gnomes are almost interesting. 18% from the audience.

The “Collection” is, alas, not interesting at all.  I bought in haste but am not repenting at leisure because… well, I don’t know why.

I blame Friedrich Nietzsche for my time wasting, because his Gay Science had me dozing within ten minutes; John Cleese’s So Anyway… was amusing enough to keep me reading for a while longer.  But movies, even terrible ones like these, do at least keep me awake.

If more autobiographies were as amusing as Cleese’s, and Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up, I’d read more of them.

{9/3/21}  Weight 213.6 at 6:20 am.

Watched a couple of movies from another eight-movie collection, “Ultimate Action Collection,” both produced by Golan and Globus, names I remember from decades ago as producers of cheap, generally crappy movies.  Watched and fast-forwarded at times through Death Wish II and Missing in Action, starring the obviously-bored Charles Bronson and the obviously-wooden Chuck Norris.  I saw DWII when it came out; I’ve never previously seen a Chuck Norris and will not be watching the episodes 2 and 3 of MIA which are included in the collection.

Why did I buy such a DVD set?  I have an answer:  I spent so much time picking out the nine DVDs and two books that I “wanted” from Hamilton Booksellers that I finally got impatient and just bought them without further consideration.  If I had checked out the titles included in this collection, I would certainly have passed—Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme?  Really?  Having seen previews or short clips of Norris over the years, and knowing his reputation for terrible acting, I would have known.

Indeed, I already knew that these big collections are generally worthless, but, “A fool and his money…”

I need to find some way of filling the hours between dinner and bedtime other than with cheap DVDs.

{9/4/21}  Weight 213.4 at 6:20 am.

Hemlock Club today.  Neil and I and perhaps nobody else.

Haven’t heard from Chris; I called him on 9/2 but he didn’t answer and hasn’t called back, though he’s been active on Twitter.  I’ll text him today.

{9/5/21}  Weight 214.2 at 7:25 am.

Watched Cyborg (1989) and Exterminator 2 (1984), respectively passable and terrible.  Watched Thor:  The Dark World for at least the third time, and was dazzled and charmed and thoroughly entertained.

The Hemlock Club was me and Neil, and I’d have to call it better than average.  Barista Madelyn, a CSUB student, told Neil, continuing their conversation at the register, that she was reading Power vs Force by Dan Millman; she raved about it and promised to lend it to Neil.  When asked what she likes to read, she said “Self-help books” and a couple of other things.  Neil was reading Gandhi’s autobiography and I’m reading Nietzsche’s Gay Science, and these were brought up repeatedly throughout the five hours.  I read aloud a couple of selections.  He said that Gandhi’s wife had a hysterectomy without anesthesia and G. an appendectomy similarly.  He mentioned the no-see-um insects and I briefly described my short story of that name.  We got onto Napoleon and Neil said that he introduced the practice of saving wounded soldiers and the concept of field hospitals or MASH units, and I described the scene with Pierre and Anatole in a Russian surgery in War and Peace, and how Pierre forgave him despite Anatole’s having eloped with Natasha.  Neil talked of Reinhold Niebuhr’s distinction between the meaning of life and the purpose of life and how people want to be “part of something bigger,” such as a community; I mentioned that my expressed meaning of life is more about the self and one’s accomplishments.  We talked of diet and he told me about “Just Eggs,” a concoction of chia seeds and garbanzo beans.  Tim arrived and provided “naan,” a kind of flat bread, which I noted was basically standard white-bread ingredients.  I invented a card game on the spot:  you put out a flashcard for Chinese characters, character-side up, and the players have to say aloud what the Chinese name is, as well as the English translation, whoever is first gets the card and at the end the one with the most cards wins.  Finally, I came up with a riff on Chris’s “God-shaped hole,” my “Dad-shaped hole,” and added, “How about a self-shaped hole” which Neil enjoyed.  He said we shape our own self-shaped hole.  There were many other, lesser items that I didn’t write down, but I remember one:  I said that I often say that I grew up in the world of Ozzie and Harriet, but Ozzie and Harriet didn’t know about “the bomb,” meaning the roles they played.

My M.O.L. statement, short version, goes, “If you can’t write a novel, carve a statue, or find true love, still you can plant a tree or a seed.”

The ride home, courtesy of Tim, was weird.  I’ve ridden in cars all my life, but on this ride I was unusually anxious.  I told him that I felt naked, exposed to danger.  It was, on some level, as though I had never ridden in a car before.  Of course I knew that this feeling was unjustified and unreasonable, but talking about it didn’t help and I still don’t understand it.

I sent a text to Chris, “’Sup.”  Later he called and we talked for a while.  He said he read my blog and what I said about him and it made him sad, and he was afraid that I was through with him.  I reassured him.  He also rehashed our disagreement over the feeding of his cat.  He said he would be returning to Bakersfield soon because he had four library books to return and he wants to find a home for his cat because he will return to San Jose and can’t take her with him.  He also plans to collect his most valuable possessions, “mostly saxophones,” to take back with him; he’s concerned about lack of security given that Roxane has been feeding the cat.  I suggested that I could return his library books, and he said he’d think about it.  His disabilities from the stroke remain, though seem to be improving slowly.  I told him what was going on with me, and we talked about the books we were reading, and I told him about my bedbugs.

The bedbug thing is this:  for the previous few nights I had been “eaten alive” by the damned things, so I took the bedding off my bed, set off two bug bombs, and would sleep on the queen-sized blanket I had which had been in storage.  In clearing the bed I found ten bugs and killed the ones that were alive.  I went to bed early, around 9 o’clock, and was not bitten once.

Reading The Gay Science and enjoying Nietzsche more than ever before.  Yet, he’s hard to understand and I often don’t know what to make of him.  One of the parts I read to Neil was quoted here on 9/1/21.  Another was this:  “I have often asked myself whether I am not more heavily obligated to the hardest years of my life than to any others.”  Op. cit., p. 243 n28.  I mentioned in this context my years in prison.

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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