Rewriting Lessons: Diary, 9/6 to 9/10/21

Dreams; books and movies; “hopefully”; Dickens and Camus quotes; Matrix: Resurrections; twitter quote; rewriting lessons.

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

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

{9/6/21}  Weight 214.8 at 5:35 am.

A long dream.  I am riding with my stepfather driving.  I don’t know if I knew where we were going, but the roads were uncooperative—we kept getting blocked by divided roads.  We take a bit of a detour that ends up being like a long alley, which takes us far out of our way but eventually gets us there.  It’s a shopping center.  We get out and start walking in a very large, mostly empty parking lot.  There is a bowling alley with sounds of bowling audible, which is unlikely in real life.  Somehow, my stepfather acquires a little treat wrapped in cellophane which he hands me to read to him.  I can read the faint printing, but the text doesn’t make any sense.  I didn’t try to read it aloud.  That’s the end.

Watched the very silly Ninja III:  The Domination (2013).  Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “A woman with ESP and an interest in ancient Japanese culture becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil warrior.”  Lucinda Dickey is attractive, old character actor James Hong has a small part and is the only recognizable face.  My fast-forward button got a workout.  40% and 53% from RT, ridiculously high.  David Nusair (again) calls it “…a perfectly mediocre capper to a consistently underwhelming series…”

I spent “most of the day” watching The Simpsons, that is, about three hours.  Much of the rest went to reading Melissa Rossi:  What Every American Should Know About the Middle East.  She spent four months (four!) in the Middle East enjoying the sights before embarking on this 500-page tome which is overloaded with sidebars, text boxes, etc., which makes it sound pretty silly but in fact the author is surprisingly hostile to American policy in the area.  Rightfully so, IMO.  Indeed, if she were not, I likely wouldn’t had continued reading.  Many small black-and-white photos.  Does not include Afghanistan or Turkey.  Looks okay so far (p. 32).  One in a series by this author.

Binged a bit on Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, though I managed to leave about a quarter of the pint in the freezer.  Hence almost a pound gain since yesterday.  Given how my weight has been dropping this week, I suppose I have to expect this kind of thing.  Hopefully I can get back on track today.

The dictionary says it’s okay to use “hopefully” that way, which I do often.

Read for the umpteenth time the Edward Fitzgerald version of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam because I want to give it to Nog to read.  It’s a hardcover with the Edmund J. Sullivan drawings, like the edition I had in paperback early as a kid.  The reproductions seemed murky and the book smelled like wood and dust.

I also started reading for the first time Charles Dickens:  Bleak House.  It’s 900 pages.  Wish me luck.  The edition I have has nineteen notes for the first two pages of text; I ignored all but the first because I wanted to know about the “Court of Chancery.”  I’d rather be trying again with the Pickwick Papers, but I don’t own a copy.

So now I’m “actively reading” three books.

Worked this morning on Kick Me.  I think I’m done, but I’ve thought this before.  I’ll print it out and see what I think…

{9/7/21}  Weight 214.0 at 6:05 am.

Dreamt of a fox.  He chased a white rabbit but it got away.  Then he chased a brown rabbit, but that got away.  He chased a chicken which escaped.  Then he was chasing a white dog; the dog was running straight at me, so I took a step towards it and barked.  The dog stopped, the fox met it nose-to-nose, and they ended up mating.  Weird.

Laundry and library today, if I have enough energy.

{9/8/21}  Weight 212.8 at 5:40 am.

Watched Sunshine (2007), almost a great SF move, with an excellent original premise, ruined by a desperate effort to make it both thoughtful and exciting.  Gorgeous to look at despite frequently murky cinematography, with usually effective acting which is sometimes excessive, with all the required heroics and then some from an intelligent and varied spaceship crew; the bottom line is that I don’t love it because of its one bad choice that I can’t explain without a major spoiler.  The physics of trying to crank up the sun is well beyond my pay grade, so I can’t whine about that, darn it.  Rotten Tomatoes rates it 77% and 73%.

Surprising fun was Hellraiser:  Hellworld (2005), exploring new ground in the series (meaning that fans looking for the magic of the first film will be disappointed again), with an effective, if repetitive, big role for Lance Henriksen, but, alas, Doug Bradley’s iconic Pinhead is reduced mostly to the role of minor thug.  LH provides most of the interest here, unless you’re really into cinematic sex and nudity.  I also enjoyed seeing Henry Cavill (Man of Steel series) in a different role.  The mayhem often just goes through the splattery motions, and the victims are rarely more than slasher-film dupes.  RT wasn’t having it, with ratings of 17% and 23%.  If you like the series, WTF is wrong with you?hH

So I went to the library but didn’t do laundry—hopefully today.  The library trip was productive in that I brought home twenty-four new items ($12) including the above DVDs.  Almost all the 18 DVDs are horror or cheap Sci-Fi.

{9/9/21}  Weight 213.4 at 6:50 am.

A singular, cheekily overstuffed review (in a tweet) of the trailer for The Matrix: Resurrections from @Great_Katzby: “So #TheMatrixResurrections looks singular, and weird, and balletic, and overstuffed with ideas, and beautiful, and dripping with nostalgia yet focused on contemporary cultural details, and cheekily self-aware and I can’t wait.”

The three-minute clip had me choked up and goosebumpy.

A quote from Harold Bloom:  “…an unfortunate comment by Camus himself:  ‘A man who does not cry at the funeral of his mother is likely to be sentenced to death.’”  I will add this to Kick Me because I did not cry at the funeral of my mother.  Harold Bloom (ed):  Albert Camus:  Modern Critical Reviews, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1989, p. 1.

{9/10/21}  Weight 215.0 at 5:45 am.

Watched The Arrival (1996) and The Second Arrival (1998).  Rotten Tomatoes says, “Stylish and inventive, The Arrival offers a surprisingly smart spin on the alien invasion genre” and rates it at 65% from the critics and 44% from audiences.  I’ve seen it three or four times now, and I enjoy it every time.  The Second Arrival is a seriously disappointing sequel which has been reviewed by only four RT critics, resulting in four splats; the audience score is 16%.  According to critic Scott Weinberg, “Manages to lack ALL the surprising creativity of the original. It’s actually very, very terrible.”  It’s less a science fiction film than a chase film, and not a very good one.

Wes Craven Presents:  They (2002) has a fragile but appealing Laura Regan effective in the lead role of this horror-thriller.  There are some surprisingly creepy moments, but a movie in this genre with a PG-13 rating usually means it’s not going to rise above the run-of-the-mill, and this one doesn’t.  Too many endings, but the last one is cool.  39% and 24% from RT.

The other three movies on the disk, half of the “Masters of Terror” package, couldn’t even keep me watching:  Mortuary, which I had seen and loathed before, Ritual, a silly Jamaican voodoo bore, and Children of the Corn III:  Urban Harvest, too preposterously corny (intentional).  It took me a while to recognize Denise Crosby in Mortuary; I have not forgotten that she left a good supporting role in Star Trek:  The Next Generation to pursue her movie career, and she ended up looking old and defeated in this dog that gets an 18% RT audience score and only three critic reviews, all splats.  Ever-reliable David Nusair says, “There’s little doubt that Mortuary strikes all the wrong notes right from the get-go….”  Ritual, which has a “Tales from the Crypt” tedious lead-in, gets five splats and 29% from the audience; Tim Curry has a role.  Children of the Corn III (1995) gets one rating of fresh from the only critic, Stefan Birgir Stefans; it’s worth quoting what RT provides because it suggests the lack of competence:  “Not a great film, but its serious tone, with is [sic] “The Omen” type operatic choir-of-the-devil soundtrack, combined with lackluster acting from everybody and its ludicrous plot points make it an entertaining straight-to-video horror.”

I guess I could say, “I check Rotten Tomatoes so you don’t have to.”

Bleak House, a Charles Dickens which I’m reading, is entertaining enough so far, 79 pages in, though I don’t know why.  The poor heroine and her charge are thoroughly bland “perfect” young women.  The supporting characters are, indeed, straight out of Dickens, meaning, eccentric and mildly amusing.  The very distant ending is all too predictable, given how much Dickens I’ve read; could I be wrong?  I’ve noted a couple of descriptions to copy and study—at such things he is indeed a master.  Here’s a snippet:  “… a bookcase full of the most inexpressive-looking books that ever had anything to say for themselves.”  Charles Dickens:  Bleak House, Penguin Classics, The Penguin Group, London and New York, 1996, p.43.

Another:  “…a lame invalid of a sofa.”  p. 52.  Just straight personification.

Sometimes it’s what he says, rather than how he says it:  “…the curtain to my window was fastened up with a fork.”  p. 55.  It “speaks volumes” about the establishment where the heroine finds herself, though it’s only one detail among the dozen Dickens piles up.

And here’s an interesting bit of prose, a sort of metafiction:

“What the destitute subject of such an offer tried to say, I need not repeat. What she did say, I could more easily tell, if it were worth the telling. What she felt, and will feel to her dying hour, I could never relate.”  p. 35.

The Nietzsche (The Gay Science) has become dull, but I’m plodding toward the end.

I haven’t read any of the Cleese autobio (So Anyway…)for a while, but it’s good.

Enjoying a good laugh from Twitter (link): Fuzzy Wuzzy said about something he found in a dump, that it would be great if “refinished and given some brass trim.”  I responded, “Under those conditions, I’d be great too.”  These days, in the few tweets I offer, I generally try to be funny.  This one got 325 looks, about ten times what my tweets average.

I seem to have learned a lesson about rewriting, that there are two ways:  Graves and Hodge in The Reader Over Your Shoulder used as a method, reading until you find your pace hindered, then see what’s wrong; another book I had had was titled Line by Line, implying an extended consideration of each line or sentence.  I tend to use the first method.

Perhaps more importantly, I find that trying to read with close attention, so I miss nothing, is quickly fatiguing; after half an hour, my eye glazes over.  However, if I go do something else and return later, I can sometimes get in another half hour or more.

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

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