Jill Bolte Taylor: Diary, 11/1 to 11/4/21

Self-mastery; play and writing; Black Widow, Office Killer (with Carol Kane), Strange Girls, and other DVDs; Hallmark nonsense; four brains in our heads.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroscientist & writer

{11/1/21}  Weight 210.2 at 7:00 am.

Had four dates at 2:00 am.  No nausea.  So I’ll be having dates and apple juice for breakfast.

{11/2/21}  Weight 210.6 at 7:20 am.

Still recovering from Halloween’s unpleasantness, and so feeling self-indulgent, I watched four movies on DVD yesterday.

I watched Office Killer (1997) and the others from the package “Midnight Horror.”  OK starred Carol Kane, one of my favorite actresses (of which there are dozens).  It’s a black comedy about a downtrodden office worker who learns to take revenge.  Not exactly hilarious and likely for CK fans only, though it also has (or wastes) an unsympathetic Molly Ringwald.  Rates 12% (the critics) and 51% (the audience) at Rotten Tomatoes.  I liked it well enough to keep the DVDs for another viewing.

The other three movies were varying degrees of terrible; I suppose Reflecting Skin was the least bad in some respects, since I watched it all without fast-forwarding until the very end.  It’s from 1990 and has a very young Viggo Mortensen supplying the inaudibility to let me call this “mumblecore.”  It has a promisingly original start—1950s Kansas with three young boys killing an enormous frog in spectacular fashion, drenching a neighbor in blood.  Subsequent events range from tiresome through gross to unbelievable as we follow the starring boy through various dismal scenes.  It seems that everyone in ’50s Kansas is quite unhinged, if not psychopathic.  What really ruined the movie for me was the conclusion of ridiculously over-the-top emoting from the child actor, Jeremy Cooper—“the final straw.”  Rates 88% at RT for its “art house” pretentions.

The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) is shown as The Inquisitor on-screen.  This exercise in bad-tasting melodrama, set in 1492, boasts some anachronistic machinery, full-frontal eye candy in the person of Rona De Ricci, relentless, endless scenery-chewing from Lance Henriksen as “Torquemada,” and ridiculously heroic baker Jonathan Fuller who single-handedly brings down the Spanish Inquisition.  Aside from the titular pendulum and pit, the movie also visits “The Cask of Amontillado” and I thought one other Poe story.  Oliver Reed, looking tired and very old, shows up as an emissary from the Pope and is gone in about two minutes.  RT mixes in at least one review of the better Roger Corman/Vincent Price version, which I happened to see on 10/31, helping to inflate the rating to 56%, with 40% from the audience.

The last was Frozen in Fear (2000), shown on RT as The Flying Dutchman.  Promising in spots, finally disappointing and stupid.  Wastes the talents of Rod Steiger, Catherine Oxenberg, and excessively pretty Eric Roberts, who looks like he wandered in from the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie.  The best thing I can say about it is that the setting in some mountains is nice; sound track by Richard Wagner, in part.

{11/3/21}  Weight 211.6 at 7:30 am.

The last four movies of “Midnight Horror” are a complete waste, with the exception of Strange Girls (2007), which is about twin sisters, as they say, “two minds with one body.”  They move entirely in tandem and suffer (if that’s the word) from “elective mutism.”  That is, they don’t say a word to anyone except to each other, and when speaking to each other they use a made-up language which others cannot understand.  When the story opens, they are in a mental hospital.  When they are threatened with separation, bad things happen.  But they escape to live under rather loose supervision.  IMDB, with a poor score of 5.8 (out of 10), calls it “a dark tale of horror, manipulation, violence, and obsession,” missing the dark comedy touches.  The stars, Jordana and Angela Berliner, won Best Actress awards at the Hoboken International Film Festival, though I found their acting occasionally a bit off.  Rotten Tomatoes shows an audience rating of 50%, with no reviews from critics.  I found the sisters quite engaging and wanted them to do well, and overall I liked it—a fairly well-done depiction of an entertaining original story.

{11/4/21}  Weight 210.6 at 7:20 am.

Watched on Blue-Ray Marvel’s Black Widow (2021), which was a lot of fun even though I’d seen it in the theater previously.  79% and 91% from RT. [Reviewed here 7/14/21]

Thinking again of Strange Girls, reviewed here yesterday, I realized that the first character is a new psychologist encountering the girls, then (spoiler alert) being murdered by them and we’re off and running.  This Psycho-like turn might have made a better movie if it had occurred after an hour rather than after about fifteen minutes.

My last blog post I titled “Getting Serious.”  Well I haven’t done that, but I’m still thinking about it.  Yesterday I wrote a clumsy note:  “I need to find a commitment (or daily schedule) to writing.  Commitment is the refusal to let moods (trump goals) rule your life.  Low mood is what one risks when deciding to aim high.  Self-mastery is to consistently make choices consistent with your goals and needs and ethics, regardless of your moods.”

I have bad habits when it comes to fiction writing, and so I have done almost nothing in the 5½ years since I got out of prison—the crucial factor being loss of the weekly meetings with other writers.  Writers of Kern can provide me with another critique group, which might be enough.  If Pablo can’t afford the $65 first-year’s dues, I do not intend to pay it for him.  I am anxious to get started; why I say “anxious” and not “eager” is a puzzle I don’t care to solve.

Of course, I did write a book.

{11/5/21}  Weight 210.4 at 5:45 am.

Finished reading Pollyanna Grows Up.  The first half is essentially a continuation of Pollyanna, in which our heroine changes the life of a relative that she stays with while [Aunt] Polly and her husband visit Germany.  In the second half, Pollyanna goes to Europe with her adoptive parents, returning home six years later, when she has indeed become “a young lady.”  The rest is about her romantic relationships, but also about poverty and crutches.  Recommended only for fans of the original novel.

Watched some movies on cable, including The Possession (2012), which I had seen previously and enjoyed.  I enjoyed it this time, too, though much of it was familiar.  In fact, I had it on DVD and got rid of it, so I guess I didn’t enjoy it all that much.  39% from the critics, 48% from audiences at RT.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom I praised here for The Unholy on 10/8/21, again does good work as the distraught father of his possessed daughter.  It’s been called “The Jewish Exorcist” which pretty much sums it up, though this isn’t breaking any new ground.

Caught a few tens of minutes of Star Trek—The Motion Picture, in particular the Enterprise’s exploration of the invading alien “living machine.”  It’s trippy and I love the music, but the payoff is very disappointing, so I didn’t stick around.  I was jumping from old movie to old movie, with a couple of minutes on the Hallmark channel to tsk-tsk over the ridiculous and disgusting Christmas decorations they always have in their Christmas romance movies.  This always makes me feel superior.

Saw Jill Bolte Taylor on The Aware Show, which I rarely watch because it’s usually New Age crap; but I knew of Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight. She’s a neuroscientist who had a stroke when she was 37 and wrote about it. I was pretty much riveted for the hour (commercial free on LinkTV) and plan to get her new book, Whole Brain Living tomorrow. She talked in a very animated fashion about her stroke and how she reacted to it, as well as explaining the basis for her new book. She says that each of us have four basic personalities (or something) that we switch between mostly unconsciously; awareness of these possibilities can allow us to choose which one we want to inhabit at any particular time. I found this very interesting and possibly very useful, indeed, it already led me to add something to my 100+ Ideas notebook: “128. Self-mastery can be and should be more than discipline. It can also be tricks, techniques, and hacks, like #127.” 127 says: “Learn to play with your writing. Get playful to get ideas.”–I think I wrote that as well while listening to Taylor. So, we’ll see what the book has to offer. I’m getting her earlier book from the library.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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