In My Skin: Diary, 11/14 to 11/18/21

Novel writing; Pickwick Papers quotes; lie/lay? Movies; drug companies; Lincoln; Durant book and others; phthisis.

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

{11/14/21}  Weight 210.8 at 8:00 am.

Be careful what you wish for:  I’m now in a critique group, but my current attempt at a novel has made me realize that I’m not the person to write this novel.  What I decided tonight is that I’ll type up what I’ve written and live with it for a while, maybe finding a way to continue on it this week, but in any case probably submit what I have for criticism.  Reviewing some of the 100+ Ideas notebook was somewhat encouraging, but I didn’t find anything that I like well enough to work on.

Well, I typed it and added a few words.  It prints at four pages; I’d like at least three or four more.

{11/15/21}  Weight 211.0 at 7:00 am.

I’m returning the Pickwick Papers to the library, having lost interest in it.  It never was very satisfying or even interesting, but “funny” novels generally don’t hold my interest because I don’t find them very funny.  I had thought it might provide inspiration for The Hemlock Club novel, but it didn’t.  I know I read at least 169 pages (of 817) and likely at least fifty more, but I leave it without regret.  Quotes (Charles Dickens:  The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, The Modern Library, New York, no date):

“That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen…”  p. 6.

“…he was only awakened by the morning sun darting his bright beams reproachfully into the apartment.”  p. 84.

I also noted that Dickens used the word “pour” thus:  “We have in vain poured over the leaves of Mr. Pickwick’s note-book, in the hope of meeting with a general summary of these beautiful compositions.”  p. 169.  I’d have said “pored.”

Lay [11/18/21: I had “laid,” then changed it, and BOTH feel wrong but lay is correct.] down for a nap but couldn’t sleep, got this idea in my head which I liked a lot:

She wore no socks.  Her bare feet in her tennis shoes looked delicate and vulnerable, but when she took her shoes off, I saw that her feet were terribly dirty.

Watched three movies on DVD.  The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008) was a thoroughly forgettable thing with few scares and not much building tension.  Some interesting camera work and beautiful scenery early on, later thoroughly conventional.  A well-deserved 2% from critics, 18% from audiences, at Rotten Tomatoes.  Sadly, I watched the whole thing.

In Shallow Grave (1995), a trio of roommates end up rather quickly with a dead body and a large suitcase full of cash.  It was all snappy dialogue from irritating characters and thus of no interest to me, so I cut out after maybe 25 minutes.  70% critics, 83% audiences, from RT.

In My Skin (2002) was definitely the interesting one.  It’s in the “body horror” category, which I had not previously heard of.  It’s uncompromisingly unpleasant, with some relentless scenes that were excruciating to watch—the Saw franchise is almost child’s play in comparison.  No explanation of the protagonist’s bizarre behavior is attempted, which some critics consider a defect; I think this makes it more realistic.  The ending is unsatisfying, however.  A labor of love for star/writer/director Marina De Van, this rates 64% and 65% for critics and audiences, respectively, at RT.  In French with subtitles.

{11/16/21}  Weight 211.4 at 5:35 am.

I write down the names of many books and authors, but rarely go ahead and buy.  Until I get my back rent paid off, that’s how it will be.  Despite this, I still buy more than I have time to read.  But at least these days I’m making some use of the library.

Of course, when I think about the books I’ve gotten through the library, I’ve actually read only a small percentage.  But I’ve got plenty on my shelves that I want to read; alas, long books and short time for reading.

{11/17/21}  Weight 210.4 at 8:15 am.

I was up until 1:00 last night working on Pablo’s chapter, then when I went to bed I couldn’t get to sleep until 2:00.  After that I was up every two hours to P.  And here it is, 8:15.

Watched a movie written, shot, and directed by thirteen-year-old Emily M. Hagins, Pathogen (2006).  Weighing in at 67 minutes, it’s a budding professional’s try at a zombie movie.  The two largest defects are acting and sound, but it would be churlish to suggest that I didn’t enjoy it—I did, as a child’s painting can be enjoyed.  It’s obvious that everyone involved (including most of a middle school’s population) is having a great time, and I can only wish that someone had done such a thing at my junior high sixty years ago.  Not on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is listed on IMDB where it scores 5.6/10.  I clicked through to the review on eFilmCritic and learned that Ms. Hagins has released another film.  The production company, Cheesy Nuggets, is on Twitter, where six films are listed in Emily’s profile.  Brava!

Now I’d like to get some work done this morning, if you don’t mind.

I am faced with an intolerable life-and-death choice:  to trust the drug companies, or not to trust the drug companies (and so, go to alternatives).  I was watching America’s Lawyer, the Mike Papantonio show on RT (Russian television in the U.S.), which, every week, is telling another story of a drug company killing Americans for profit.  The final straw is Biden appointing some guy to head the FDA, a guy in the back pocket of the drug companies—according to this TV show.  Can I rely on my VA doctor to look out for my interests?  If I try to go alternative, that would mean changing my lifestyle (which of course is typical American-bad-health), that is, improve my diet again and start exercising every day, and that’s hard.  What will I choose?  The answer is obvious:  I’ll live or die by doing what I’ve been doing, which is, take the easy way.

Of course, I have this concern because I’m relying on Papantonio.  It’s not possible to refuse to trust everyone.

I’m really disgusted right now.  America in the fifties was a paradise (for white men).  Since Reagan—may he burn in hell—it’s been downhill for everyone in the 99%, and the Democrats will not turn that around.  Indeed, we’ll be lucky to escape a Nazi-type fascism in the next few years.  The South has risen again, and we’re short one Abraham Lincoln.

The above paragraph posted (edited) to Twitter, with a portrait of Lincoln, got 29 views and one like in an hour.  Why do I try?  I have 3500 “followers.”

When lasers and holograms came on the scene, I pretty much stopped trying to keep up with technology.

Reading Will Durant:  The Age of Greece [12/18/21: Correction, The Life of Greece], volume two in his (and his wife’s) The Story of Civilization.  Published in 1939, when he was 54, and heavily promoted by the Book of the Month club, this book is a winner.  Excellently written and looking very much like a labor of love; Durant spent the last half of his long life on this 11-volume project.  I’ve read this [book] at least twice before, but I’ve never been more impressed by him, and rarely been more impressed by a book.  If he can make Greek religion fascinating to this atheist, that’s a pretty good indication of his skill and knowledge.

Read a little of Descartes:  Meditations last night.  Not as stunningly dull as I’d thought.  But I want to read George Lakoff:  Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things:  What Categories Reveal About the Mind, from 1987, so I’ll put Descartes back on the shelf. [12/18/21: Also put the Lakoff on the shelf.]

I finished Jill Bolte Taylor’s Whole Brain Living:  The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters that Drive Your Life, Hay House, Inc., California, 2021, previously mentioned here.  I wrote the following on the title page:

“Often sappy, mystical, and vague, not much science and virtually no data beyond anecdotes, but the basic idea of the “four characters” seems like it might be useful in a way that Transactional Analysis wasn’t. Skipped Chapter 11 and pages 244-258, and skimmed a lot.  Chapter 13 is the most important, maybe.”  Since finishing it a couple of days ago, I’ve hardly thought of it since.  I need to review my highlighting and decide whether it’s worth further study.

I’m thinking that rather than try to extend my Philosophy Club novel further, I should focus on making it more fiction-like; right now it’s a bare bones dialogue, which has its attractions, but for the general reader not so much, I think.  No description of characters, no tone of voice, etc.  Thinking I’ll post it to the blog essentially as-is.

{11/18/21}  Weight 211.0 at 5:30 am.

Watched DeadTectives (2018), a high-energy (i.e., loud, frenetic) horror-comedy that combines elements of Ghostbusters (1984) and The Frighteners (1996).  For me it achieved few laughs and fewer scares, but it’s all in good fun, like Casper.  63% at Rotten Tomatoes.

More impressive is Warning:  Do Not Play (2019), a horror-thriller from Korea.  A student director with “issues,” Park Mijeong (played by the beautiful Seo Yea-Ji), has two weeks to come up with a screenplay, when she learns of a horror movie that piques her interest.  It was made ten years earlier “by a ghost.”  Desperate to see this “scariest movie ever made,” Park tracks down the former student who was involved.  In this case, life imitates art and art imitates life, and the lines between are blurry as Park seems at times to be living the movie she’s investigating.  If that’s confusing, so is Warning.  The “scares” are standard for the genre, and more gross than scary, but I found the plot and protagonist irresistible, and overall I liked it fairly well.  Not fully rated at RT; the two critics marked it “fresh” and the audience score is 45%.  A full review by another hand is available here.

Watching these two movies (and staying up until midnight to do it), I came up with several ideas for my own future projects, duly added to my 100+ Ideas notebook.

“Phthisis” is pronounced TYE-sis.  I blame the Greeks.

Rodent flambé.  Just sayin.

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

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