Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something/Someone Old
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I just watched this for the first time. My mom couldn't believe I'd never seen it. Holy shit, was it good!

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I seem to be encountering a plethora of stories lately where the protagonist (or some other major character) is seriously flawed, but it emerges slowly that most of the people around him are far worse. The Dude is a slacker; he has achieved little since being a sixties activist and has no interest in achieving more; he doesn't pay his bills on time, sometimes not at all; he is, as The Stranger says, probably the laziest man in Los Angeles County. He's even a bit foolish from time to time (he nails a board into his floor to prevent the door from opening not realizing that the door opens the other way. Later, he trips over it.) Yet those around him are almost all of them crazy or mean or mercenary or mendacious or all four. As the film goes on, Dude's basic kindness and lack of aggression begin to look better and better until, in the final scene, he is almost vindicated:

This film is also one of the best takedowns of right-wing propaganda I've ever seen: a critique done with extreme cleverness. If any of you have not seen it, rent or download it immediately. John Goodman's performance alone is worth any money. Man should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor for that.

Something New
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I am almost finished with a 2005 mystery novel called The Minotaur, by Barbara Vine, apparently a nom de plume for Ruth Rendell, who also publishes under her own name. On a side note, I find the use of pseudonyms puzzling in the modern day, given that most of the time one is told pretty quickly, by Google or something else, what the author's real name is--and often, the author publishes under her own real name too! What then is the point of having a nom de plume?

On another side note, Ursula Le Guin's nom de plume was "Mom de Plume." Awesome, eh?

Back to the novel.

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It is written very well and with great care. Vine (or Rendell) is especially good at drawing characters, and quite good at historical specificity, which she delivers through her interesting narrator, Kerstin Kvist. The high quality of the writing has kept me going even though I fret at Vine/Rendell's ponderous pace. As someone who likes Thomas Hardy novels, you wouldn't think that I could be impatient, but I approach murder mysteries differently. About halfway in, I started complaining to my family about the lack of murder in the murder mystery. (Yes, I was irritated at the low body count!) My mom having told me that she has now received two notices from the library for this book on tape, I resolved to finish it today, and spent all morning and into the afternoon listening to it. I still hadn't finished it when my mom called. I told her "If she (Rendell) describes one more landscape I'm going to kill her."

How the mighty have fallen. There was a time when I would have been embarrassed to admit that I wanted a story to get a move on (literary critics are supposed to be above such things).

For those lovers of mysteries who are more patient than I, this is well worth a read. I won't say that mystery and detective fiction is a vast wasteland these days, because it's too populous. But it can be very difficult to find good ones. This is a good one, apart from being glacially slow. I know that doesn't sound like much of a recommendation, but truly, if you like mysteries and are more patient than I am, you would probably enjoy The Minotaur mightily.

The novel is also a salute to late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gothic novels, complete with the young working class woman being hired at a great house that contains sinister secrets.

And yes, to me 2005 is still "something new," as is everything after 9/11, fifteen years ago though it may be. Pretty soon that will no longer be true, and 2010 and Citizens United will be the cutoff point.

Something Borrowed
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This is courtesy of Eagles92, to whom a hearty hat tip. I've always liked the original--still do--but this one really rocks. Brass Against borrowed it from Rage Against the Machine:

The singer is Sophia Urista.

Something Blue
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Been saving this one for a while...

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Meet the Turquoise Coast, otherwise known as the Turkish Riviera. If I'm not mistaken, this stretch of coast is near Antalya.

Looks like I'm not mistaken, except that Antalya is far from all of the Turquoise Coast...

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The Turkish Riviera (Turkish: Türk Rivierası), also known popularly as the Turquoise Coast, is an area of southwest Turkey encompassing the provinces of Antalya and Muğla, and to a lesser extent Aydın, southern İzmir and western Mersin.

Sigh. I know I've mentioned on here before that I very much wanted to visit Turkey. Should have gotten there before it got assaulted by the twin demons of tyranny and war.

How are you all today?

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Just finished Le Guin's Lavinia. A novel set in pre-Roman times (something old), published rather recently (something new) during her long career of fictional creation.

Thanks for the Big Lebowski tip. Never watched that either. Sounds fun.

Attended a signature gathering event yesterday. Signed one for Bernie. Passed on the one for Warren. Bummed there wasn't one for Tulsi, but not surprised. Her network of volunteers is too thin this round. Criminal how CNN won't have her on stage at the NH town hall.

The election masters (and their mouthpieces) can't allow dangerous ideas to be exposed to the masses. Hope she holds her own town hall as an alternative.

Enjoy your Sunday.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@QMS

have had long ago! Remember how Amy Goodman held an alternative debate in 2012 which included the third-party candidates?

There's plenty of social media folks who would cover such an event. What a good idea! Of course, none of the establishment candidates would attend. I wonder if Bernie would?

There's a punishment, isn't there, for attending an unapproved debate, as in, you then can never appear in a CNN debate again? Hmmm. That might make this exactly the right time to create an alternative debate--right at the end, after you've already gotten whatever dubious advantage you get from visibility delivered by CNN.

As for Ursula Le Guin, I'm glad she existed. She made my world better by existing. I liked Lavinia, although I remember finding it a bit sad.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@QMS , just a strange, unadorned little tale, burned a hole in my mind a long time ago which periodically surfaces when contemplating Manning and Assange (and others), though even their solitary unfair fates do not match that of the child in Omelas.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@laurel

Or, I mean, um, I agree.

(sigh) I hate how language is affected by stupid political gestures.

Anyway, that story resides in my brain in the same way.

I'm always amazed when others respond to stories the way I do (unless it's my mom, who apparently bequeathed her literary taste and reactions to me unconsciously). The other day I found that my massage therapist stopped watching Dr. Who after watching the same episode that turned me off to it. I was amazed. (I still haven't gone back. And it wasn't the female Doctor that was the problem. It was just a massive annoying downer of an episode from the massive downer of a Doctor that preceded the female one. Not that I blame the actor--Steven Moffat, the writer, clearly had decided to take the Doctor in the least fun direction he could, apparently because it's not ethical for the Doctor to be fun, or something.)

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@QMS (and anyone who might be interested) -- the Omelas story drifted through my drifty consciousness (aka ADD) this morning, so I did a search & the first thing that popped up is a copy of the story itself! Very short, something meaningful and interesting to tuck in your back pocket for future pondering -- https://www.utilitarianism.com/nu/omelas.pdf

Oh, and at first I recoiled at the idea of Lavinia due to an ancient bigotry stemming from a youthful dislike of the Aeneid based on comparisons with the earlier Greeks (e.g. Homer and the tragedians) which, given decades of intervening life, may be a bit long to hold on to such bigotries, and since Le Guin so beautifully takes us so far afield from immediate fears of looming worldly cataclysms she might be just the type of escape that's needed at this time. So, thanks!

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@laurel

the way she focuses on the humanitarian aspects of space and time travel
and future social configurations.

A very collective writer. Re-interpreting norms. Projecting change.

My haphazard approach to reading her works still weaves a good web.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

lotlizard's picture

So, if I understand this correctly, the “Woke” Left are succeeding across the board, although riding the wave of a slow-motion collapse of civilization, and “conservatives” of the traditional Right have utterly failed to conserve anything, except plutocracy and war.

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Lookout's picture

It is a fun movie.

We like to watch Ruth Rendell mysteries on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxvqyFVkOsDekah7Hny-Tcw

Went through a spell of Le Guin's work, mainly sci fi, several years ago and enjoyed her insights.

Well have a good day everyone!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Lookout

Thank you so much for the tip! I really need a new mystery series. I just can't bring myself to get into Father Brown.

Le Guin grew with me from when I first encountered her Earthsea trilogy as an adolescent. She has grown with me from 13 to 30, and beyond. You can't say that about many authors.

"He talked a great deal about Truth also, for he was, he said, “cutting down beneath the veneer of civilization.” It is a durable, ubiquitous, specious metaphor, that one about veneer (or paint, or pliofilm, or whatever) hiding the nobler reality beneath. It can conceal a dozen fallacies at once. One of the most dangerous is the implication that civilization, being artificial, is unnatural: that it is the opposite of primitiveness… Of course there is no veneer, the process is one of growth, and primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing. If civilization has an opposite, it is war.”

--Ursula Le Guin

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Changing Planes
a short story by Ursula

So, in my universe, as in this one, now here is then there and vice versa, which is a good way to keep history from being either clear or useful

Another one from the symposium...

First to create difference--
To establish strangeness--
Then to let the fiery arc of human emotion leap and close the gap:
This acrobatics of the imagination fascinates and
Satisfies me as almost no other.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@QMS

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Wally's picture

There are almost 500,000 of us.

See: https://dudeism.com/

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Wally

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

CB's picture

@Wally

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

lotlizard's picture

@Wally  
which features the Dudeism logo as part of its own header graphic.

https://cyberhobo.com/

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

lotlizard's picture

https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/does-microsoft-have-a-boeing-737

Intangible and invisible, where circumstances can be changed into their opposites with a mere click, by anonymous actors with no liability or accountability.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lotlizard

He's one of those thinkers who keeps popping up, sometimes in person, usually in print, in my life. I have always been impressed by his honesty and clarity.

I spoke to him once at the screening of The Internet's Own Boy, the rather badly named movie about Aaron Swartz. It was a better movie than its title. He and some others who knew Aaron when he worked on the Hill spoke, along with the director and some others.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lotlizard

to their deaths. We can't have defiant, ethical IT experts.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@lotlizard voting machines should be outlawed forever.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@laurel

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

enhydra lutris's picture

Vine-Rendell's Minotaur. In my youth, and off and on later on I read tons of whodunnits and some more akin to how'd-they-do-its. For me is was all about the puzzle(s). Characterization mattered, as did settings, they had to be believable as in not fantastic or believable, but that was about it. Your:

" I told her "If she (Rendell) describes one more landscape I'm going to kill her."

makes me think of Stendahl. I forced myself to wade through some, but it was such a chore wallowing through all of the near endless descriptive detail of damn near everything that I really got nothing from it except "Don't read Stendahl".

I read all of the Father Brown stories as a kid, and revisited them as an adult out of curiosity and something I could download and read on a long journey. A bit preachy and not too much stuck. Some insights as to behavior, some cleverness, but some trickery too. I really dislike the "insider knowledge" type of solutions that hinge on the investigator picking up on some clue that the reader cannot possibly have any awareness of because it is either fictitious or inscrutiably arcane.

Thanks for "wake up" too.

have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@enhydra lutris

For me is was all about the puzzle(s).

But I'm not very consistent, because I love Rex Stout with a passion, and, although he can cook up a good puzzle, very often he doesn't and relies instead on what he's best at: characterization. He can convey a memorable character in a few lines.

Most of the time, however, it IS about the puzzles. So the fourth or fifth time Kersten described the ivy covering Lydstep Old Hall I wanted to jump into the book and tear it off the walls.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

The music and the way they film that scene is amazing . . .

"Nobody f*%ks with the Jesus!"

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@apenultimate

It's actually a remarkably star-studded cast for an indie film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is in it, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges and John Goodman of course, Steve Buscemi...and a lot of these people don't have a lot of screen time or if they do, don't have a lot of lines. When a movie has a lot of amazing people in small roles, it usually means it's going to be good. It also usually means that the actors in question respect the hell out of somebody involved in the project. Gosford Park was similar. How often do you see Derek Jacobi in a tiny role as somebody's devoted valet?

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

edg's picture

Two main reasons, I think: Stephen King used his alias to avoid saturating the market with a surfeit of his novels all at the same time. J.K. Rowling wrote as Robert Galbraith in order to be taken seriously as a non-Harry Potter novelist.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@edg

given how much genre snobbery there is in the world.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@edg

but none with her as an artist. It's pretty foolish to be prejudiced against her because she became famous writing children's books, but it's par for the course in this silly cultural conglomerate we occupy.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

lotlizard's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal  
was observed to have been quite unhappy with becoming famous for his contributions to children’s literature, while what he considered his “serious” (i.e. grown-up scholarly) work made little lasting impression.

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@lotlizard . I hope he knew or sensed that his delight in language imprinted itself on countless young minds, forging paths that led to literature and poetry. My family of origin had little patience with aesthetics of any sort, so for me reading out loud the ditties in Now We are Six was pure guilty pleasure. Pretty sure i can still quote "Pinkle Purr" by heart. Smile

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lotlizard's picture

@laurel  
https://allpoetry.com/Pinkle-Purr

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
A little black nothing of feet and fur;
And by-and-by, when his eyes came through,
He saw his mother, the big Tattoo.
And all that he learned he learned from her.
“I’ll ask my mother,” says Pinkle Purr. …

https://allpoetry.com/Disobedience

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James
Said to his Mother,
“Mother,” he said, said he;
“You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don’t go down with me.” …

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@lotlizard . In my Pinkle Purr years I wasn't ready for anything like that, though there are thematic similarities and the rhythms of Milne's poetry are captivating in much the same way that Coleridge's had been. Thanks so much for sharing this, it's mesmerizing.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lotlizard

Dorothy Sayers who felt the same--but in his case, he was being foolish. The successful writer of children's literature has far and away more influence and impact than any other writer of fiction. Stories imprint themselves on children's minds and can easily influence them for their whole lives.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

My travel pals pick a night and a good bar to drink a White Russian in The Dude's honor.
So far, our best one was in Lisboa.

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CB's picture

@on the cusp

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@on the cusp

I should start one of my own. It's a great idea.

White Russians were my mom's drink in the 70s. Smile

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal It always starts a good chat with the bartenders. When you are in a wine country or beer country, it is a novelty drink, and usually the staff has to order cream from the restaurant, and it brings out the top bartender to put on the show, since he or she would be the only one who knows how to mix them.
You have to adopt the rite to properly honor The Dude!

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@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal . And a good mother, too.

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Not Henry Kissinger's picture

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Bernie 2020: Hey, you didn't think this would be easy, did you?