“Red Shoes” Diary, 9/13 to 9/19/21

Spoiler alert: Free car? Cindy Crabb, Nietzsche, and Cioran quotes; movies; Red Shoes on PBS; the missing pen mystery; final edit of my book!

The Red Shoes–a great scene from the PBS Great Performances ballet

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

{9/13/21}  Weight 213.6 at 6:50 am.

Created a document of notes for the HC novel, then discovered that one already existed, four pages long.

Promised a wedding gift to Salomé; I’m thinking, “Indoor-outdoor thermometer.”  I use mine every day.

{9/14/21}  Weight 214.0 at 6:45 am.

Went to the Beale Library yesterday to pick up the Pickwick Papers and bought $15 worth of DVDs and books.  Met Pablo there, as expected.  We talked a bit, then went to McDonald’s for lunch.  He’s returning to San Jose this morning.

Dreamt this morning of a mother and baby on a train, and woke with the word “pilipaw” or “pillipaw” in mind, which happened once before some months ago.  A Google search turned it up as an uncommon family name (both versions).  Meh.

I also dreamt last night about how I might respond to an early morning phone call from Pablo, where he had been incapacitated by a second stroke; I pondered whether I would be able to pick the lock on his front door and whether I could call 911 from home.  Silly.

{9/15/21}  Weight 214.0 at 4:00 am.

I didn’t review any movies yesterday because on the 13th I had watched five hours of documentaries on the National Geographic channel, Lost Treasures of ancient Egypt.  Yesterday I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time, and George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead.  I liked both of them, but I think I’m done with the movie reviews for a while.  Nightmare was a pleasant surprise because the protagonist fights back.  Sorry if that’s a spoiler.

“I wanted to break the barriers of what you could talk about.”  Cindy Crabb, from the Wikipedia page.  I wanted to subscribe to her zine, Doris, but her web site isn’t helping me.  Her blog apparently has been inactive since 2017.  Why the interest?  Because she’s a beautiful writer, as exemplified by her Things That Help (formerly The Encyclopedia of Doris).

I edited about fifteen pages of KM yesterday.  I’m in a race with death, and the antagonist in this tale is my lazier self.

{9/16/21}  Weight 214.0 at 6:20 am.

Salomé just offered me a free car, all I have to do is pay for the shipping from Florida.  A quick check online came up $1,400.

{9/17/21}  Weight 213.0 at 6:00 am.

I know I said I wasn’t going to do movie reviews, but here I am, at it again.  These are many, but mostly quite short.

Watched Memory (2006), starring Billy Zane, an okay horror film that wastes the talents of Ann-Margret and Dennis Hopper; so silly, finally, that it provoked one reviewer to speak of “forgettable plotty detritus.”  Some far-fetched ideas about memories stored in DNA and the neuroscience I saw displayed looked incorrect… “tumors” in “memory centers” randomly scattered throughout the brain (but not the hippocampus).

Salvage (2007) is a riff on Groundhog Day, as pointless and unpleasant as about 90% of cheap horror movies.

Bloody Mary (2006) is frankly preposterous, almost redeemed by a totally unhinged “Nurse Ratched” character played by Danni Ravden.

Left in Darkness (2006) was relentlessly stupid, talky, and annoying, with afterlife ridiculousness and a whiny, clinging, crybaby of a heroine setting feminism back by a decade.  I fast-forwarded through much of it, trying to find a reason to slow down and not succeeding.

Finally there’s a twelve-movie collection of action films titled “Under Fire”; I watched the first two.  Straight Into Darkness (2003) seemed unpromising, so I turned it off after maybe fifteen minutes; on checking Rotten Tomatoes, I’m inclined to take another look.

The second was the pleasantly surprising Under Heavy Fire (2001), about a group of Marines who survived the Vietnam War and returned years later to aid in the making of a documentary about a “friendly fire” incident.  Casper Van Dien is effective, even impressive at times, as tough guy “Captain Ramsey.”  Lots of F-bombs and manly tears, with a lurch into melodrama at the end.  I thought it one of the best antiwar films I’ve seen, with flashbacks introduced “seamlessly,” but with a pointless obligatory love interest thrust in.  Some moving scenes as Vietnamese survivors meet the Marines.  The RT critics have ignored this one; the Videohound Golden Movie Retriever gives it a dismissive 1½ “bones” and says that Van Dien “chews the scenery.”  Scores a terrible 5.2/10 at IMDB.  Adequate special effects, good panoramas of the country (apparently made on location), and a useful soundtrack.  Recommended if the subject matter or Van Dien appeals.  Since I was in ’Nam, it likely meant more to me than it would to those who haven’t been there.

Over California (2008) apparently was made by a TV station and released on PBS; it’s shots of the California landscape from an airplane, set to insipid music, an hour long.  About the most boring such thing imaginable.

{9/18/21}  Weight 213.4 at 6:20 am.

Watched The Red Shoes on PBS, a “Great Performances” segment.  Laughter, tears, enchantment, heartbreak, it was magical and memorable—I’ve exhausted my stock of superlatives.  What made it so special for me was—surprise!—the music was by Bernard Herrmann, who has been my favorite composer for my whole life.  He did not do the movie version.  In addition, the dancing was excellent and inventive and the stagecraft was often astonishing.  It is regrettable that I was often confused about the dancers, there were many young blond men and many redheaded women, so I eventually gave up trying to sort them out.  PBS marred the experience and disrespected the art and artists by repeatedly putting overlays on the screen to advertise their other shows.  The full episode is available here for (probably) a limited time.

Watched Otis (2008), in part, finding it too creepy to stomach.  Giant pizza delivery guy kidnaps girls (we see two) to force them to “go to the prom” with him.  A rarely amusing, more often sadistic, “dark comedy,” in the parts I saw.

Reading Charles Dickens:  Bleak House, which has the funniest couple of pages I’ve read lately.  The leading characters are insipid goody-goodies, as usual for Dickens with, so far (p. 144), virtually nothing in the shape of conflict.  See 9/10/21 for some quotes and comments.

Now, more interesting last night was Nietzsche’s The Will to Power, which gave me a vision of a large, overarching philosophical concept of language and reality.  It may take me a while to figure out how to express it, and I know that there are already quotes from others that capture at least some of what I’m groping towards, like this from E. M. Cioran:  “The indigence of language renders the universe intelligible.”  (Quoted by Denis Donoghue, see Collected Quotations).  So last night I read this from Nietzsche [The Will to Power, tr. Kaufmann]:  “Presupposition of this hypothesis: that there is no truth, that there is no absolute nature of things nor a ‘thing in itself.’ This, too, is merely nihilism—even the most extreme nihilism. It places the value of things precisely in the lack of any reality corresponding to these values and in their being merely a symptom of strength on the part of the value-positers, a simplification for the sake of life.” (#13)  I added in the margin, “Man the measure,” a reference to something from the Greeks about man being “the measure of all things,” and a basic tenet of secular humanism.

Then I wrote myself a note which I seem to have lost already.  My post-its are multiplying incessantly.  I remember noting that “I need to read Quine,” a reference to his Word & Object; on checking my copy, I found another note to self, dated 8/10/21:  “Looks like something I’ll never read.”  This kind of note-trail could be used in a novel—not quite like the movie Memento.

A bit more of the Cioran quote:  “No frissons are identical, none may be repeated ad libitum:  the identity of a word conceals, as a matter of fact, a number of divergent experiences.  There are a thousand perceptions of Nothing, and only one word to translate them:  the indigence of language renders the universe intelligible…”  E. M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist (found in Google Books, link).  Not quite the same as, “Words are the blunt instruments of thought,” which I often tell myself.

{9/19/21}  Weight 213.2 at 6:40 am.

Yesterday I was getting dressed but I mislaid a sock.  I looked everywhere for it but couldn’t find it, so I got another from the drawer.  Subsequently I found the missing sock in the waistband of my shorts—it had gotten trapped there when I put the shorts on before putting on my socks.

This was reminiscent of a missing pen that occurred while I was in prison in a two-man cell, which means that I had almost no space in which a pen could be lost.  Later, when I was on the yard playing Pathfinder with the guys, somehow I found that the pen was in my underpants!  A good laugh was had by all.

Have done a good day’s work on my book, having finished the editing on paper, and nearly done with the editing in the computer file, at 3:45 pm.  The latter task I left off at p. 131of 145, with a couple of places marked but not handled yet because they require looking up and selecting some quotes.  Will this be my final edit?  That is my intention.  It’s time to talk to Ben.

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

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