Believable Fantasy, Surprise Gifts, and Good Movies

Diary, 5/17 to 5/20/22: Ghostbusters: Afterlife; better fantasies; fabulous Turandot; McAfee woes; Natalie Belikova artwork gift; praising Highsmith; turn inward; Hitchcock and Chomsky.

Natalie (R) at the Hemlock Club, 2018

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

{5/17/22} Continued.

Why does my blog have my face twice?  Because I can’t figure out how to get rid of the second one (in the circle).  I blame user incompetence.

Many people have wanted to get rid of my face.

I’ll see the rest of Ghostbusters: Afterlife this morning.  One thought I had about [Mckenna] Grace’s performance:  she’s doing the same thing here as she does on Young Sheldon, that is, play the über-nerd.  She also did this in Gifted.  Career advice:  play a developmentally disabled kid next time, preferably in a hit TV series.  Here she plays chess (with the board set up incorrectly), fixes a cyclotron, and picks a lock, all in the first twenty minutes.  The chess thing irritates me.  It’s just not that difficult, people!  Open a book, FFS!  (Clearly, this is a pet peeve.  Or else I’m just an old crank.  Um, yeah.)

Jesus, I’m full of sh!t this morning.

Watched the rest of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.  It is inferior as fantasy because it sacrifices character and believability for plot.  It might be argued that it’s fantasy because it’s not believable; but the better fantasies take their premises seriously, and important among those premises is that characters act like themselves.  In GA, intelligent characters take foolish chances.  But the movie is generally successful as a “second generation Ghostbusters,” the kids mostly taking over from the adults.  The bottom line is that the movie is likely to please fans looking for a Ghostbusters III.  “Phoebe,” played by Mckenna Grace, is the smartest and gutsiest of the cast, though she doesn’t do much emoting.  Paul Rudd is effective in a smallish role.  63% from critics, 94% from audiences at RT.  Grace does a song, “Haunted House,” over the closing credits; it’s available on YouTube.

All in all, I wish I’d done laundry today, as I had “planned.”  It’s only 10:57, so I still could; but I’d want to get an earlier start, especially since it’s been heating up, weatherwise.  But Thursday will be nine degrees hotter (comparing predicted highs), and other days aren’t looking significantly better, so I’d best go today.


Watched the Turandot DVD I mentioned yesterday.  It’s from 1988.  It was indeed a spectacular stage production, with Franco Zeffirelli doing the stage production and set design.  Eva Marton as Turandot was a revelation:  what a powerful voice!

Problems with my laptop, apparently due to McAfee antivirus software, has had me away from the computer pretty much all day.  In desperation I tried deleting the McAfee files and stopping the app through the Task Manager, finally decided to reinstall Windows from the hard disk.  That solved the problem, but the day is shot.

I wanted to take photos of the TV screen from the Turandot DVD, but don’t feel like it now.


“We live in a machine that is designed to make us neglect what is important about life.”  From Johann Hari in his TED Talk link

On Tuesday I received a surprise package, five artworks from Salomé.  I have hung two on my “picture wall”:

Artwork by Natalie Belikova, installation by me

The photos across the middle have been there for two or three years; the others are the new ones.  I think they complement the arrangement, making it feel more balanced.  I also have two of her paintings in my living room.  Unfortunately, this photo clearly reveals that the photo array is slightly off; the three individual pictures that are supposed to be level are all tilted to the left, maybe five degrees.  I have no immediate plans to correct this.


I was forced to uninstall McAfee.  Good riddance.  I wasn’t going to renew it anyway [price raised to $130/year], and now it’s gone.  It took forever to uninstall, meaning most of an hour.

While I was waiting I read Highsmith’s diaries, have reached page 600.  I’m not sure why I find it such compelling, interesting, and even comforting reading—certainly not for the “lesbian love stories,” though the latest, the love-hate with “Ellen,” seems rather unique in Highsmith’s experience.  The occasional notes of her struggles and triumphs with/over herself regarding her writing are probably what I find comforting and encouraging.  She makes me want to say, to hell with the internal critic, it doesn’t matter whether what I want to write is “publishable” or not, I should write to entertain myself in the only way that entertaining myself is worth a damn.

It’s easy to say “to hell with the world,” but ever-watchful probation wields a very heavy hammer.  I do not forget, despite all the blathering bravado.

Given the departure of much-hated McAfee (I blame myself for not taking the time to figure out how to configure it more to my preferences), I’ll want to stay off the Internet except for two things:  the blog, and the library [which I’ve already gone beyond].  Until I get a new package installed, which can’t happen until I get paid in five days.  This will radically cut down on my access to news and opinion, but that’s okay.  This morning I want to “turn inward,” meaning, trying again to get into a writing groove.

Scarlett Johansson in Hitchcock (2012)

Two excellent movies on DVD that I watched yesterday, the first being Hitchcock (2012).  The script is brilliant, with sharp, funny dialogue and fascinating peeks into Hitch’s methods, life, and dark side.  Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are brilliant without unnecessary scenery chewing, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh was very appealing (as always) and has never looked prettier, and James D’Arcy is an uncanny Anthony Perkins.  If there are some slack scenes between Mirren and Danny Huston, well, that’s okay, given that some scenes are simply great, inevitably involving Hopkins unhinged (so maybe there is some scenery chewing after all).  I often rather dislike Hopkins, finding his acting entirely too self-conscious, like he’s always, “Hey, look at me, Anthony Hopkins playing this character,” but here he’s really good—despite the fact that the director wanted Hopkins to be seen under the makeup, playing the dual role that generally grates on me.  Really, overall it’s quite delightful.  Scores stingy 60% and 60% from critics and audiences at Rotten Tomatoes.

Great book by Noam Chomsky

The second is Manufacturing Consent:  Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), a Canadian documentary that weighs in at almost three hours (2:48).  I would have preferred a more sober look at this intellectual icon (and one of my heroes)—there’s rather a lot of unnecessary “effects” and newsreel footage of seemingly little relevance, but given the riches here, in Chomsky’s own words, I suppose I am guilty of petty carping.  I suspect that this might be of interest primarily to “the choir” of already-convinced progressives, which probably makes it “required viewing” for those who ignore or dismiss this Very Important Person or who are addicted to MSM.  75% and 94% from critics and audiences at RT.

Sent an email to Salomé, as follows [omitted here, sorry]

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

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