Archive for the ‘movie’ Category

On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog, The Garden.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)

 

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Mom’s Day

May 14, 2017

A less stressful (less expensive) brunch this year at Einstein Bagels, followed by a cold swim (kids and polar bears only), then a turkey-burger BBQ dinner.  Note: my 11-year-old granddaughter is taller than I am.

This card is especially funny ’cause my son-in-law bought it for my daughter to give me!

Seen This Week

A woman checking out books at the library with a triple baby stroller, and three moon-faced, innocent, almost identical babies staring at me.

A male pyrrhuloxia perched on the shelf next to my outdoor table, but I couldn’t take a photo (but you can see one in this blog post: the-vegetarian-coyote) because…  Tuesday afternoon it drizzled.  Not enough rain to wash off the windows, just enough to convert the covering of desert dust into spots that my camera wants to focus on.

I moved my finch feeder to just outside my bedroom window, and it’s been populated by a rotation of maybe a dozen goldfinches and one rosy finch, which is about twice their size, since I refilled it with Nyjer thistle seed.  I tried a few shots and just got a blur behind the spots on the window. I was sure there’s a setting to remedy that.  Yup – with Manual I got this shot of a goldfinch.

I have (at least) two cute geckos living here, one in my garage (I had to scoot it out of my way to back the car out), another in the storage shed.  Add that to all of the outdoor lizards, and I have quite a few reptiles eating my bugs.  But I am keeping the paper wasp nest in the ceiling corner of my patio.  Am fascinated with those insects.

Someone (mouse?) keeps trying to make a nest in my aforementioned storage shed.  One was composed of dried grasses, another of fallen blossoms from the desert willow.  I keep sweeping them out, but the shed smells of animal.  I even googled do geckos make nests to make sure I wasn’t jeopardizing its reproduction.  (They don’t.)

Took a photo of the clutch of baby quail, all just a bit bigger than acorns, but the camera focused on the welded wire, and they scampered down the slope too fast for me to count.  Somewhere around eight.  Have considered removing the wire from the fence to let in more critters, and just encircling my vegetable garden (harvested some spinach leaves today – leaving the plants to produce more), but it would be a bit of trouble.

Streaming

I have not had a working television since the cable line in the back of my TV was ripped out during my move to South Carolina, which was somewhere around a dozen years ago.  When my daughter moved back to town two years ago she loaned me one of her spare flat-screen TVs as their house came with two televisions bolted to the walls.  (Gave the old behemoth to my handyman, just to get someone to carry it out.)  It’s not smart, however, so I had to get a fire stick just to have it tune into my wifi.

So I do not get actual TV, but my son put me on his Netflix Streaming plan, and now I’m watching way too many series and a few movies, thus melting my mind every evening.

  • Sherlock (with Smaug and Bilbo, which is kind of mind-bending)
  • Untold History of the United States (co-written, directed, and produced by Oliver Stone, starting with WWI)
  • The West Wing (the presidency – way too cheery)
  • House of Cards (the presidency – way too dark)
  • Veep (politics – which is supposed to be funny, but I’m put off with every third word starting with an “f”; had a friend visiting from Australia who kept needling me about Trump, so I thought that this would give me a laugh)
  • The Crown ( a costume drama – the life of Queen Elizabeth II from 1940 to today)
  • Longmire (reminiscent of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, which I got tired of after book two; my son was put off by the cowboy sheriff being played by an Australian actor)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (magic in 19th century England – mostly silly)
  • Black Mirror (a BBC contemporary reworking of “The Twilight Zone” – each episode is stand-alone, and some are dreadful.  Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation” reminded me of Michael Crichton’s book Prey;  but my favorite episode is Season Three Episode 3, “Playtest” – I love the punchline at the end)
  • Cleverman (an American drama that takes place in Australia, with Iain Glen from Game of Thrones, and hints of District 9, where the internment camps were in South Africa – somewhat silly but with roots in Aboriginal mythology)
  • Stranger Things (see my ref in
    humor – silly)
  • Zootopia (I loved this Disney animated feature)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(silly – a Marvel’s series)
  • Daredevil (also silly – a Marvel character)
  • Captain America: Civil War (“)
  • Luke Cage (“)
  • Jessica Jones (“)
  • Game of Thrones (love this !!!  See this ref: humor)
  • Outlander (“)
  • Father Brown (a BBC series of a crime-solving Catholic Priest – silly)
  • Arrow (as in the Green Arrow – a DC character – silly)
  • Helen Mirrin’s old Prime Suspect (the British series – woman as hard-ass)

Frankly, by this time I’m sick of half a dozen killings a night…

  • Boardwalk Empire (but after five seasons I got tired of Nucky Thompson – how could women fall for Steve Buscemi?)
  • Juana Ines (liked this period drama in Spanish with subtitles but real story of a self-taught scholar, philosopher and poet of the Baroque school, and Hieronymite nun in Mexico City)
  • Grace & Frankie (with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, whose husbands, Martin Sheen – really?  he’s the West Wing President! – and Sam Waterston, divorce them to marry each other – pretty vacuous, with old-people jokes)
  • The Big Short (movie okay, but liked the book better)
  • The Last Kingdom (how England arose as a nation, with Anglo-Saxons and Danes – with great hairdos and tats – based on the historical fiction novels The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, which I haven’t read)

LOL

February 10, 2017

dogWhen I think something’s funny, I don’t say LOL, I actually laugh out loud!  Here are a commercial (especially the horse watching porn and this family scene)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kj-4F8pWfk
and an article from the New Yorker that had me laughing (especially the bathing suit):  Shouts & Murmurs, New Yorker February 6, 2017 Issue
Melania’s Diary 1/21/2017, by Paul Rudnick

…Then [Kellyanne] brought up the Tiffany gift box that I’d given Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day. “What was in that box?” Kellyanne demanded. I smiled in my alluringly mysterious way, which makes people wonder if I have wads of cash duct-taped to my body at all times, in case I need to flee the country.
“It was just a gracious parting gift,” I said. I will never reveal the box’s true contents, except in the pages of this secret diary: it was a framed photo of me modelling swimwear in a JCPenney catalogue, on which I’d written my cell-phone number and the words “Please come to visit. And never leave.”  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/06/melanias-diary-1-21-2017

Just a Grimace

Yesterday it was 86° here in Tucson.  Today 87°,  20° above normal.  Must be the overheated political climate.

trump-vacationTrump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million
The president regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine.
by Matthew Nussbaum 02/03/17

Trump’s multimillion-dollar trip, which comes just two weeks into his presidency, shows that Trump is not shy about engaging in the same type of jet-setting that he and other Republicans heavily criticized Obama for throughout his presidency…
“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment,” Trump wrote on Twitter in December 2011 (when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 percent).
“President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!” Trump opined again on Twitter a few days later.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

hidden_figuresFriends and I went to see a movie, Hidden Figures, the true story of the women who crunched the numbers for NASA. It was great!

Much better than La La Land, which we saw last weekend, and which has 14 Academy Award nominations.  A friend commented:  “…Why not get actors who can sing and dance?  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of them in LA…”  But hey, they have to keep the “Oscars so white”.

tom-bradyThis on Sunday, instead of watching the Super Bowl.  There were the controversies of Tom Brady having a Trump Make America Great Again baseball cap in his locker, and spending his four-month suspension sunbathing nude in Italy, but he was back, and the New England Patriots won, so who cares?  (Or as the Washington Post said, Tom Brady won this Super Bowl…)

Good News, Bad News

August 30, 2016

Well, this isn’t news, just two items that made me laugh.  First, the one paragraph in the book that I just finished (The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, which I discussed in my last blog) that made me laugh out loud:

Years ago, when my wife and I were just dating, she took me on a day trip to the seaside at Brighton. It was my first exposure to the British at play in a marine environment. It was a fairly warm day — I remember the sun came out for whole moments at a time — and large numbers of people were in the sea. They were shrieking with what I took to be pleasure, but now realize was agony. Naively, I pulled off my T-shirt and sprinted into the water. It was like running into liquid nitrogen. It was the only time in my life in which I have moved like someone does when a piece of film is reversed. I dived into the water and then straight back out again, backwards, and have never gone into an English sea again. 

Then this video, which was mentioned on NPR yesterday, Web Site Story:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtPb8g8Jl6I

Bad News

Last week got my Sierra Club magazine.  A lot of gloom and doom –

  • If Trump is elected he will bring back coal, its pollution and greenhouse gases.
  • Kids today spend four to seven minutes outdoors playing each day and up to seven hours staring at a screen.
  • IMG_6503[1]We should stop using plastic.  (There has been a plastic bag stuck high in a mesquite tree in the desert behind my house, too high for me to retrieve it, kinda a portent for the future.)
  • 44% of honeybee colonies were lost between April 2015 and April 2016, probably due to neonicotinoid pesticides.
  • A Maasai man in Kenya said that the young Maasi children grow up now without ever hearing a lion roar at night.  (Photo of me next to our Maasi guide in Tanzania at the bottom of a blog1.)
  • Coral reefs are bleaching in the equatorial Pacific, including as much as half of the Great Barrier Reef.  (Guess I should see it before it’s gone.)

And so on and so on.  Regarding the last four items, who can dispute that there are too many people in the world?  If each couple had only two children we could stop the insane overpopulation.  If I were a god, that is what I would dictate.  But none of our gods micromanage, so we must do it on our own.  How?  (I’ve already written about this in a blog2.)

Our growth is not healthy.  Governments want growth, but what we have is more like a cancer, enlarging itself and killing its host.

Everyone should read about the Tragedy of the Commons. (The concept and name originate in an essay written in 1833 by the Victorian economist William Forster Lloyd...  The concept became widely known over a century later due to an article written by the ecologist Garrett Hardin in 1968.3)  This from the Web, re Hardin4:

1. The world is biophysically finite.

  • The more people there are, the less each person’s share must be.
  • Technology (ie, agricultural) cannot fundamentally alter this.
  • We can’t both maximize the number of people and satisfy every desire or “good” of everyone.
  • Practically, biophysical limits dictate we must both stabilize population, and make hard choices about which “goods” are to be sought.
  • Both steps will generate opposition, since many people will have to relinquish something.

2. Over-population is an example of the tragedy of the commons (ToC).

  • Commons are un-owned or commonly-held “pool” resources that are “free,” or not allocated by markets.
  • Hardin’s ToC model assumes that individuals are short-term, self-interested “rational” actors, seeking to maximize their own gains.
  • Such actors will exploit commons (have more babies, add more cattle to pastures, pollute the air) as long as they believe the costs to them individually are less than the benefits.
  • The system of welfare insulates individuals from bearing the full costs of over-reproducing.
  • When every individual believes and behaves in this manner, commons are quickly filled, degraded, and ruined along with their erst-while exploiters.
  • A laissez-faire system (letting individuals choose as they like) will not “as if by an invisible hand” solve over-population.

3. The “commons” system for breeding must be abandoned (as it has been for other resources).

  • In other words, something must restrain individual reproduction. . .
  • but it must not be individual conscience; appealing to conscience will only result in fewer people with conscience in the population (assuming here that it is genetic, or perfectly transmitted by learning).
  • It should be accomplished by “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon.”
  • Sacrificing freedom to breed will obtain for us other more important freedoms which will otherwise be lost.
  • “Coercive” restrictions on breeding could take a number of forms.
  • The “right” to determine the size of one’s family must be rescinded.
  • This will protect the conscientious traits in the population.

4. The problem is then to gain peoples’ consent to a system of coercion.

  • People will consent if they understand the dire consequences of letting the population growth rate be set only by individuals’ choices.
  • Educating all people about the ToC, its consequences, and the alternatives to it, is necessary.
  • Then various restraints and incentives for low reproduction can and must be instituted.

This is one of my rants (in addition to ZPG).  I wrote about it in 2010, at the bottom of this blog:
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/the-state-of-the-union-address/

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/birds/
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/world-population-day/
3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons
4http://faculty.wwu.edu/gmyers/esssa/Hardin.html

Pause from Politics

June 30, 2015

OK, a few notes on Tucson’s weather and wildlife.

The monsoons started a few days ago.  No deluge at my house, but, being able to see the whole basin that is Tucson, surrounded by mountains, I could see rain in the northeast corner of town at one point, the northwest corner at another.  This morning a few sprinkles as I drove to work – not enough for the windshield wipers, but enough to bring the humidity up to 57%, such a nice contrast to the desert sun baking all of the moisture out of one’s body.   Even though I am now visibly sweating when outside, veggie garden 006the cloud cover keeps the temperature down, and the sun at bay.  (It still is supposed to reach 102° today.)  The humidity has encouraged the native whitethorn acacia to produce its little yellow balls, which pass for flowers.

This morning a large roadrunner dashed across the yard.  It must have been after a lizard; they often pose for me.  Yesterday a sole javelina peeked around the wall, peering longingly at my vegetable garden when I was in the shower.  The evening before, washing dishes, I enjoyed the site of a deer posing under the mesquite tree.

The cicadas were trilling like crazy when I left work yesterday, but only crickets chirped in my yard.  I noticed that cicadas get louder when you approach – since there are so many of them you can’t find an individual one by noise.  Crickets, by contrast, stop chirping as you move towards them.  I read the description of cicadas in Wikipedia1, and found out that they create their “song” differently than crickets.  (Read up on it if you’re interested.)

garden
Speaking of my vegetable garden, I had a couple of Japanese eggplants and miniature red bells from the garden for dinner last night (barbequed with Italian peppers and red LaSoda potatoes from the CSA).  The green bell pepper and full-sized tomato that are not covered by leaves have sunburn.  The cherry tomatoes are halfway to ripe.  Finished the spinach the other night.  It had bolted.

Because I had planted sage (the culinary herb, not the desert variety, bursage, which is not edible and has nasty burrs) in my vegetable garden this year instead of in my herbal pot on the deck by the kitchen, it is deliriously happy with all of the root room, so I guess I need to deep-fry a bunch of leaves, as I learned in my cooking class it Italy many years ago.

Salvia Fritta ~ Choose large, very fresh leaves for this recipe. Either offer them along with a nice glass of red wine, or use as a garnish for grilled meats or seafood.meats or seafood.meats or seafood.2

This just in (June 30, 5:45 pm): Just as I was pulling into my garage I heard crashes.  Then I saw the hailstones, 1″ in diameter, bouncing into my garage, pelting the front of my house at a 45° angle, and the assault started – I thought they’d break a window!  It was over in 10 minutes, and the hailstones melted fast on the hot driveway.  Luckily my potted plants are in the back of the house, so they didn’t get ripped to shreds.  But the fig vine climbing up veggie garden 010the front of the house, and the agapanthus took it badly.

In the vegetable garden the peppers, eggplant, and sage were close enough to the wall to be sheltered, but my volunteer sunflowers and tomatoes, which I had photographed just hours earlier, were partially shredded, and two sunflower heads and three cherry tomatoes on the ground.

Watching

Because my TV is broken (the cable connection), I watch a lot of DVD’s.

CumberbatchI was watching an old PBS, To the Ends of the Earth, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  I remembered him as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, but forgot the others, so googled.  He is so versatile!  He’s played a good guy, a bad guy, a dragon.  He played Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness3:

Khan in 2259
Gender:           Male
Species:          Human Augment
Affiliation:        Section 31
Rank:              Commander
Occupation:     Agent
Status:            In Stasis (2259)
Born:               mid-20th century
Marital Status:  Single

smaugand of course, Sherlock.  But Smaug!  How could he play Smaug, a dragon from Lord of the Rings.  Googled and found these two great video.  You must see!  (This first is one of many.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1  Then this one is just funny – watch it through to the end (and ignore the annoying commercial at the beginning).  http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/509747/smaug

The captain of the ship in To the Ends of the Earth looked familiar, so I googled Jared Harris.  Ah yes, has been Lane Pryce in Mad Men.

And To the Ends of the Earth was based on William Golding’s trilogy.  He was…

…best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada
2http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2008/11/fried-sage-leaves/
3http://en.memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/John_Harrison

Birds, Bees, and Bobcats

June 8, 2015

art & birds 002Another one bit the dust.  Am going to have to put decals on the bedroom doors too.  This small bird has a tiny splotch of yellow on its head, so I guess it qualifies as a verdin.

At my computer Saturday I hear a loud art & birds 006smash, as a large bird hitting a window.  Went out front to check, and saw no dead bird, but a few quail were looking distressed and squawking up a storm.  Later, when I went out to my garden, I saw the evidence.  A hawk had flown a large bird (no doubt a quail, whose relatives I heard grieving) into the window, then had plunked it feathers outside the fence (see the photo) and dined.

art & birds 004On a cheerier note, a cardinal in the wildflower garden.  And (an un-photographed) visit from the neighborhood roadrunner, stopping just briefly on my bedroom patio, as the cat was outside, but they have a tacit agreement not to bother each other as the roadrunner is too big for the cat, and the cat is too big for the roadrunner.

Our killer bees are not a problem around here unless you disturb their hive, or are around a pool.  poolAfter house-hunting with my daughter on Sunday (they found another house and have made an offer) we went swimming at the El Conquistador pool (showing family in pool), where they are staying.  A few bees around the edge drinking the splashed water.  Many years ago, in similar circumstances,  I stepped on one, which of course stung me.  Another time, raising myself out of a pool, I put my hand down on one and got stung.  Unfortunately, I believe that both died.

This morning I thought I ought to plug my camera battery in for a recharge and as I stood up the young bobcat was just stepping onto the bedroom patio.  It looked at my cat (whose back was turned), then at me, and backed away.  With no battery I missed the shot.  The other day, getting ready for work, I noticed the cat staring out the sliding door, very interested.  The young bobcat was chasing a small rabbit in circles around a barrel cactus.  They were going quite fast, so these are the best photos I could get, obliquely through the glass.

bobcat & barrel 004
Commentary

freedom

I know that some of you prefer my animals to my politics, but had to share these. First, a poster about American freedoms, then commentary on the Koch brothers, based on a Coke commercial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbykzqJ6ens

Next, a report on our world’s pollution.
earth1

…the Earth is surrounded by nearly 4 million pounds of space debris. The image you see above was actually generated by NASA to show which ones are presently being tracked.1

the loved oneThis brought to mind a farcical movie from the 60’s, The Loved One,2 which skewers the American Way of Death, and concludes with the deceased being shot into space; so you could add all those satellites filled with corpses, circling the earth, to the picture above.

1http://list25.com/the-25-most-polluted-places-on-earth/3/
2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loved_One_%28film%29

 

Attack of the Crane Flies

March 10, 2015

250px-CraneFlyThe crane flies have been all over the house and attacking the windows for about a week.  According to Wikipedi, Although crane flies look like mosquitoes, they do not bite humans. Adult crane flies do not eat at all; most adult crane flies only mate and then die.  The larva eat the roots of grass so they no doubt love the golf courses here.  Looked at old blogs — didn’t mention crane flies last year.   Maybe was too busy to notice.  But two years ago they showed up in April, not March.  This must be a warmer year, climate change and all.  (For all of you folks back east, buried in snow, notice that I didn’t say global warming.)

Spring

meadow 011
Imeadow 003t’s spring, and with the bit of rain we’ve had, the flowers (mostly alyssum) that I seeded in my “meadow ” are thick, as well as the volunteers in my vegetable garden, from snapdragons that I’d planted years ago to wildflowers, California bluebells (shown here), desert verbena with both thin and wide leaves.    Plus my Lady Banks rose, which I have tied up
to the back fence, is roses 007 starting to bloom more than it ever has before.  BTW, this website is good for identifying flowers and recommending ones to plant: http://www.cvwd.org/conservation/lush_book/lush3_8.html

But even nicer to look at than flowers are the bicyclists of spring, packs of svelte bodies clad in lycra, riding up or down Anklam, taking in Gates Pass.

Seen yesterday: six cars stopped on the main drag through Starr Pass (a road with very little traffic) as a small herd of javelina crossed the street.

Life In The Universe

This week’s lecture, Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Christopher D. Impey, University Distinguished Professor, Astronomy, was killed dinosaursthe best!  Chris has such a great sense of humor. (65 million years ago a comet killed off the dinosaurs; unfortunately it missed Barney.)  You must watch the podcasts.  All are on this site except for this one, which should be there in a week:
http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
Here is the introductory spiel:

One question rises above all others when it comes to our place in a vast and ancient Universe, ‘Are we alone?’ With a billion habitable locations in the Milky Way galaxy, and more than ten billion years for biological experiments to play out, a search for intelligent life beyond Earth is well-motivated. Unfortunately, the single example of life on Earth gives no clear indication of whether intelligence is an inevitable or an extremely rare consequence of biological evolution. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, is more appropriately called the search for extraterrestrial technology. So far, the search for intelligent aliens by their electromagnetic communication has met with half a century of stony silence. It’s challenging to define life, and even more difficult to make general definitions of intelligence and technology. We’ll look at the premises and assumptions involved in the search, the strategies used, and the profound consequences of making contact.

He also mentioned that, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” … He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.

Scandalous Women

This week we discussed the movie Mildred Pierce,  with Joan Crawford, 1945.  Here is some of the editing that was done:

Mildredmildred pierceApparently the book would not have passed The Code.  So, in addition to the language being cleaned up, the panoply of screen writers (including the uncredited William Faulkner and Catherine Turney), changed the plot to a murder mystery, simplified characters to make them either bad or good, and killed off one of the “bad guys”.  It was a box office hit, and won many Oscars.  You can get it from the library or Netflix.

CSA

This is what I picked up at the CSA today: Beets, Carrots, Collard Greens (which I traded for more beets, as I can cook them and freeze them), Hakurei Turnips, Navel Oranges, Salad Mix, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard.  Lots of veggies to finish before the weekend, when I leave to visit my brother during spring break.

Reading

You don’t have to see a picture of James Beard to know what he looks like, just read the descriptions of his breads in Beard on Bread, [They] should be eaten fresh, with plenty of good sweet butter.

The Cost of Beauty

March 2, 2015

rita hayworthThis week in my Scandalous Females in Film class at the U we’re studying Rita Hayworth.  She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, of an English mother and a father who was a Spanish classical dancer.

To anglicise her, her first name was abbreviated and she took her mother’s maiden name, but the electrolysis was the worst.  This is from a journal article we read: Being Rita Hayworth: labor, identity, and Hollywood stardom by Adrienne McLean:

hayworth
The half-moon eyebrows were all the rage then.  My mother plucked hers too (she lived in LA and wanted to look like the movie stars), and they never grew back.

In a previous week we read in an article that, In the United States more money is spent on beauty than on education or social services.  (Can’t remember which article; this quote from the NY Times1.)

We watched the movie Gilda, 1946, supposedly Hayworth’s best.  She had learned dancing as a kid and Fred Astaire, who co-starred with her in two movies, said in his autobiography that she was his favorite dancing partner.  Life magazine called her The Great American Love Goddess.  She was married five times and had a rainchild each by Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan.

Rain

It’s pouring outside, and there’s a science lecture at the U tonight.  Bet they’ll be a bunch of empty seats.  Think that instead of parking at my friends’ house six blocks away and walking, I’ll cough up the $4 to park in the Tyndall Avenue garage, only a block away.

Also a 1932 film, based on a short story by  W. Somerset Maugham that I had read years ago, with Joan Crawford, another scandalous woman.

Blooming

dried lizards 001
My feathery cassia hedge is in bloom, about two weeks behind the rest of the city.  The quail love my wildflowers out back.

Kehinde Wiley

kehinde wiley
Raphaël_-_Les_Trois_GrâcesAt the end of January the Sunday New York Times had an article on Kehinde Wiley and his giant portraits and I realized that the collectors we had visited in Phoenix2 had a huge Kehinde Wiley taking up an entire wall, similar to this one, and I tried to get my head around it.  Now I understand.  This one is based on Raphael’s The Three Graces.

He is known for vibrant, photo-based portraits of young black men (and occasionally women)… their images mashed up with rococo-style frills and empowering poses culled from art history.3

This is a show at the Smithsonian, and you can tell how large the paintings are by the size of the people.

smithsonian
Here, a portrait of Ice T based on Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne by Ingres.

napoleon Ice TNapoleon_on_his_Imperial_throne
1http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/e/etcoff-prettiest.html
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/phoenix-art-2015
3http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/arts/design/kehinde-wiley-puts-a-classical-spin-on-his-contemporary-subjects.html?_r=0

Community Supported Agriculture

February 20, 2015

I don’t remember life being so rushed before, even when I had two kids and worked full-time and did volunteer work, as well as entertaining friends.  Why?  It’s the CSA1.  I joined two weeks ago and I have never spent so much time in the kitchen, making salads and soups.

(According to the US Department of Agriculture, a woman my age should eat, in a week, 1½ cups of Dark green vegetables, 4 cups of Red and orange vegetables, 1 cup of Beans and peas, 4 cups of Starchy vegetables, and 3½ cups of Other vegetables2.  I’m going to be so healthy that I’ll outlive my savings!  But Michael Pollan, whose book I mentioned in a blog3, and who said Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. would be proud of me.)

This week I gave half of my daikon with greens to the Japanese woman I work with, but she brought me two of the rice balls she made with the greens the next day.  Give greens away, they bounce back.  Yesterday I gave her two bunches of my own mizuna, Japanese mustard greens.  (Doesn’t help that I am growing too much mizuna, arugula, and spinach in my garden.  Replete with greens!)

I’ve frozen five helpings of soup so far (and shall shortly run out of containers), but still have so many bags of luscious organic greens that the crisper drawer in the refrigerator has overflowed!

Borrowed an onion from my neighbor (no onions from the CSA) but she refused mickey-mouse-sorcerers-apprenticegreens in trade.  Have been giving my two carpoolers arugula for weeks, but feel like Micky Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  (Can you hear the music as the greens flow over me?)

Another comparison would be like having a subscription to the New Yorker magazine.  It’s a weekly that should be a monthly; only shut-ins could keep up!  But at least you can read the current news and save the fiction for another year; I don’t have a large enough freezer for six weeks, the minimum subscription, of soup.  Note: the soup I’m having tonight, Coconut Cilantro Potato, is delicious.  You can check out the CSA website below for the recipe.  (I had salad too, of course.)

Life in the Universe4

Last week’s lecture was Life on Earth: By Chance or By Law, by Brian J. Enquist, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Life on Earth is amazing and multifaceted. Ultimately all of life has descended from one common ancestor and has been guided by evolution by natural selection.

I took no notes, remembering only that it was good, and that climate change will create further evolution.  And that all animals have a bit fewer than a billion heartbeats in life (a hummingbird has a shorter life because its heart beats so fast – click on cartoon5 to read it better), except humans and chickens which have over two billion. Go figure.

heartbeats

Last Monday’s lecture by Anna R. Dornhaus, Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was Complexity and Evolvability: What Makes Life So Interesting?  She studies insects and is into complex behavior.

Humans are also involved in pretty complex behavior.  As a mathematician I especially like the Mandelbrot set (the set of values of c in the complex plane for which the orbit of 0 under iteration of the complex quadratic polynomial: z_{n+1}=z_n^2+c). Anna had some nice diagrams, this being one6:

Mandelbrot_set_image

Plus I was fascinated with the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which commissions advanced research for the DoD, Department of Defense) horse robot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40gECrmuCaU

Scandalous Females in Film

For those of you who are not interested in Mandelbrot or DARPA, I’ll note a few items from my Humanities Seminar.  I am large, I contain multitudes… (from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.)

First-wave feminism, which was active during the 19th and early 20th century, focused mainly on suffrage and gender equality.

Second-wave feminism, which started in the 60’s, was characterized by unruly women such as Roseanne, Maud, and Murphy Brown.  (Remember Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown, The Vice President takes on a TV character over family values?  Because Murphy, who wore masculine clothes, was an unwed mother.  She rejected abortion!)  Also Enjoli (remember its commercial song, I can bring home the bacon…6), Virginia Slims, and Mary Tyler Moore from the 70’s and 80’s.

Third-wave feminism started in the 90’s and was characterized by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Emma Watson speaking of her HeForShe Campaign at the UN7, as well as Katniss and SNL’s Kristen Wiig in the female Hangover, Bridesmaids.  There is discussion on whether Beyoncé could be considered a feminist with the way that she dresses.  Then there are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the 2015 Golden Globes8.  (If it seems like I’m focusing a bit much on women in the movies – the class is entitled Scandalous Females in Film.)
beyonceFeministHAHAHAHA

1http://www.tucsoncsa.org/
2http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/state-of-the-union-reading/
4http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
5http://abominable.cc/post/56335701669/average-life-expectancy
6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set#mediaviewer/File:Mandelbrot_set_image.png By Binette228 (Own work)
7https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q0P94wyBYk
8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk
9https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw-wODbjmZI

 

Old is the New Black

February 15, 2015

celineIn today’s T, the NY Times’ style magazine, as I zipped through the opening ads (about 20 full-page ads before even the index), I stopped at the Céline advertisement with an old woman.  Figured she must be famous, so I googled her.  Sure enough, she’s the American author Joan Didion.  I’ve read a few short articles by her, but felt guilty that I haven’t read any of her books, so I just reserved The Year of Magical Thinking from the library.  It’s a memoir she wrote it just after her husband died of a heart attack, after they had returned from the hospital where their only child was lying in a coma.

dolce&gabbanaFurther on in T, Dolce & Gabbana showed old women in its ad.

Picture it: Sicily. Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2015 campaign… [T]he ad features elderly Italian women posing in the collection’s black lace jackets, paired with ornate jeweled mini-bags and tiaras.1

old is the new blackSomething was going on, so I checked out Joan Didion and Céline2 and followed a link to a blog, Advanced Style, from February 12 of this year, and discovered that Old Is The New Black!

Aging never goes out of style, but the fashion world is definitely having a senior moment. This season’s It Girls are all over the age of 60! We are thrilled to see so may brilliant, powerful, and gorgeous older women in campaigns and on the runway. 3

Film Censorship

This from my Scandalous Females in Film class.

Today we have a rating system for movies  (G, PG PG-13, R, NC-17 – which replaced X in 1990), but back in 1934 there was the Hays Code.  You may get a kick out of reading the whole code.  It could never fly today.  This is just the preamble (my highlighting):

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code)

If motion pictures present stories that will affect lives for the better, they can become the most powerful force for the improvement of mankind…

Motion picture producers recognize the high trust and confidence which have been placed in them by the people of the world and which have made motion pictures a universal form of entertainment.

They recognize their responsibility to the public because of this trust and because entertainment and art are important influences in the life of a nation.

Hence, though regarding motion pictures primarily as entertainment without any explicit purpose of teaching or propaganda, they know that the motion picture within its own field of entertainment may be directly responsible for spiritual or moral progress, for higher types of social life, and for much correct thinking.

During the rapid transition from silent to talking pictures they have realized the necessity and the opportunity of subscribing to a Code to govern the production of talking pictures and of re-acknowledging this responsibility. On their part, they ask from the public and from public leaders a sympathetic understanding of their purposes and problems and a spirit of cooperation that will allow them the freedom and opportunity necessary to bring the motion picture to a still higher level of wholesome entertainment for all the people.3

10030265_1Our professor said that the Hays Code was a response to Jean Harlow.  I just watched her in The Red-Headed Woman.  This from Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

During the course of the film, Harlow breaks up a marriage, has multiple affairs and pre-marital sex, and attempts to kill a man…

The film proved difficult from its inception. Producer Irving Thalberg was concerned that the original story [novel by Katherine Brush] and the first draft of a script by F. Scott Fitzgerald were too serious, and offered the job of rewriting it to Anita Loos, instructing her to provide something that was more fun and playful and with a greater emphasis on comedy.

Prior to its release he worked with the Will Hays Office to ensure it would receive approval for general release. Under the Production Code, a criminal could not be seen to profit from the crime, or to go unpunished, and sin must be punished. Adding further to the problem was Harlow’s overtly sexual portrayal, with several scenes in which she was partially undressed, or making obvious sexual advances.

Although the Hays Office could not ban a film as such, a refusal to issue approval for a particular film could lead exhibitors to refuse to screen it. Thalberg agreed to seventeen cuts to enable it to screen in the United States; however upon release, it …was banned in the United Kingdom…

mae westOur assigned readings for next Monday included The Code, details about The Red-Headed Woman, and two essays on Mae West (shown here in her youth).

I also checked out names of “talkies” between 1929 and 1934 – Merrily We Go to Hell, New Morals for Old, Night After Night, Night Nurse, Of Human Bondage, Party Girl, and many more5.  My, but films were risqué back then.

1http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/12/dolce-gabbana-ads-feature-awesome-old-ladies.html
2http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2015/jan/07/joan-didion-and-celine-why-old-age-is-having-a-fashion-moment
3http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/
4http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html
5http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/precode.html