Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: When Myth and History Merge

Tweets from August, 2021:
  • 2021-08-02: The Green Knight (2021): Adaptation of middle English Arthurian epic about Sir Gawain's quest. True to spirit of poem if not the details. A fantasy whose sets, lighting, pacing, and feel make the legends seem real and not just a CGI recreation. When myth and history merge. B+
  • 2021-08-04: Katla (TV 2021): Iceland. Volcanic eruption leads to strange things on a glacier. Dead people and clones come to life. What's going on? A sci-fi mystery and a study of loss and grief. It's bleak, gritty, and slow. In the end, it all comes together in a satisfactory resolution. B-
  • 2021-08-04: Review: Paved A Way: Freedman's Cemetery, Deep Ellum, Little Mexico, Tenth Street, Fair Park. The history of Dallas through highway development, urban renewal, and their destructive effects on communities of color. An essential read to know why the city is the way it is. B+
  • 2021-08-05: Palm Springs (2021): A bit of a nihilist (Andy Samberg) is trapped in a time loop. Then another guest at the wedding (Cristin Milioti) gets trapped. To surprise of both, romance blooms. Not original but it's fresh and fun. A worthy successor to Groundhog Day and Russian Doll. B+
  • 2021-08-05: Governor Andrew Cuomo's big political mistake was not being a Republican. If he were, he'd be a hero partying at Mar-a-Lago right now.

After the jump, more random thoughts.

  • 2021-08-06: The Young Pope (TV 2017): Jude Law as a young American elected Pope, the compromise candidate who proves to be his own man, authoritarian and just maybe an atheist. Expected show about bureaucratic infighting in Rome, instead saw the thin line between dictator and saint. B-
  • 2021-08-06: Headline: "GOP Representative Suing Nancy Pelosi Over House Mask Mandate Gets COVID." Alternative headline: "I'm going to own the libs if it kills me."
  • 2021-08-08: On Aug 3, I received this pitch from former guy Donald Trump: "Please contribute ANY AMOUNT in the NEXT HOUR to increase your impact by 400%." Today I received this pitch: "I've decided to do something I NEVER DO—FOR THE NEXT HOUR: ALL GIFTS WILL BE INCREASED BY 200%!" Never???
  • 2021-08-10: The Suicide Squad (2021): Gratuitous, video-game violence with jokes. It never takes itself seriously. One anti-hero is Polka-Dot Man, who throws polka-dots at people. Think Dirty Dozen with super powers and the best monster since Ghostbusters. Teen boys might love it. C+
  • 2021-08-11: Made for Love (TV 2021): Reclusive tech billionaire implants a chip in wife's brain to know everything she sees, hears, thinks. No surprise, she's not OK with that. She's on the run. Part satire, part comedy, part tragedy, with not much new to say about tech or relationships. B-
  • 2021-08-11: Virtual schooling is substandard. For most, home-schooling is worse, and private tutoring is unaffordable. For a few, forcing parents to put their kids in disease-spreading classrooms could be deadly. When faced with bad options all around, I choose the least bad.
  • 2021-08-11: Moving public comment to the end of RISD board meetings was the wrong decision. Trustees should be willing to sit there for hours if necessary to give the public their chance to be heard.
  • 2021-08-11: There's a special place in Hell for whoever designed Microsoft's OneDrive. Ever try getting rid of it?
  • 2021-08-13: Review: How the Word is Passed: A look at how museums, landmarks, cemeteries, and cities present the history of slavery. Historically, poorly. Incrementally, better. Answers the question, why didn't I learn this in school? Essential reading for anyone interested in history. B+
  • 2021-08-13: COVID running rampant. Governors preventing local governments from taking action. Taliban overrunning Afghan cities. Floods in Turkey. Fires in Greece. Hurricane Fred aiming at Florida. Biggest wildfire in California history. What else can go wrong? Oh wait. It's Friday the 13th.
  • 2021-08-16: Gov. Abbott: "The ban doesn't prohibit using masks. Anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools." Maybe he'll use the same logic for prayer in schools. The Constitution doesn't prohibit prayer. Anyone who wants to pray can do so, including in schools.
  • 2021-08-16: Mulan (2020): Disney takes on Chinese history and culture. The girl is the hero and has to overcome not just fierce enemies in war but sexism among her own family and comrades. Movie plods along, with everything playing out as expected. 10 year-olds should like it. B-
  • 2021-08-16: There's enough blame to go around. 20 years of hubris. The only question is whether we are humbled this time. Trump, apparently not.
  • 2021-08-17: The White Lotus (TV 2021): Rich Americans in a Hawaiian resort for a week. Through a dozen subplots, a look at white privilege from A to B. Like someone thought reviving "The Love Boat" was a good idea. Saved by a great cast. Watchable. B-
  • 2021-08-19: Pose - Season 1 (TV 2018): Melodrama about New York's LGBTQ ball culture for POC in the 1980s, an environment I never knew about. Trans actors playing trans roles. Acting is stilted until they get to the balls where it's electric. It's the '80s so AIDS has to play a role, too. B-
  • 2021-08-20: Review: Tokyo Ueno Station: A ghost haunts Ueno Park. As invisible dead as he was alive. A homeless man with a long and tragic history. The novel is short and lean. In passages, more poetic than prose. It's haunting. Kazu is a modern everyman. B+
  • 2021-08-23: Reminiscence (2021): Sci-fi film noir. Blade Runner set in a future Miami that's under water. Hugh Jackman is a private investigator who can replay subjects' memories. Makes solving crime easy, unless you fall for the beautiful woman involved. Premise is better than movie. C-
  • 2021-08-23: There's now a VISA credit card that pays 1.5% bitcoin back on every purchase. I thought bitcoin was going to replace our current financial exchange system, not become the prize in the Cracker Jack box.
  • 2021-08-23: Anyone surprised with what's happening in Afghanistan hasn't been paying attention the last twenty years. In fact, the last two centuries. Heck, anyone who read Rudyard Kipling knew this was coming. Maybe that's it. Americans don't read.
  • 2021-08-24: Overheard at school board meeting: "This is a difficult situation because I understand the advantages of keeping guns out of classrooms. But people might have personal reasons why they want a gun, and if they want to run that risk, that's their choice." But I may have misheard.
  • 2021-08-24: Maybe they were talking about not going unvaccinated. Same logic in either case. They aren't entitled to choices that put others at risk.
  • 2021-08-25: Prime Suspect (TV 1991): UK. Helen Mirren stars as first female DCI in charge of a murder case. She faces blatant institutional sexism. A show centered on it was groundbreaking in 1991. I hope this shit isn't possible anymore. Otherwise, show is standard fare. Bad lighting. B+
  • 2021-08-25: Anti-mandates. Anti-mask. Anti-vaccine. Who knew that pro-life was just a marketing slogan and wasn't meant to be taken literally?
  • 2021-08-27: Annette (2021): Unlike any movie you'll see this year. A pop opera? A modern tragedy? Standup comedian falls in love with an opera star. One's career soars. The other's crashes. Love does too. Then there's their baby Annette. A modern Pinocchio? Adam Driver takes risky roles. B+
  • 2021-08-27: Earlier today, @KenPaxtonTX tweeted this. Two problems with it. One, he's politicizing a tragedy. Two, he's got the wrong tragedy. The photos he uses are from a military plane crash in 2017. Paxton later deleted his tweet but made no apology.
  • 2021-08-28: The dewormer ivermectin is for livestock. The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are for humans. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
  • 2021-08-30: The Chair (TV 2021): Sandra Oh as new head of English dept of a struggling college. Season arc has promise, as it shows how small problems can escalate into crises no matter what you do. The last episode neatly resolves all the subplots. It should have let the arc play out. B-
  • 2021-08-31: The homophonic nature of the word offal surely can't be a coincidence.

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