Category Archives: television

The edges, the sustenance

The windowsill lined with beloved rocks. I take comfort in their solidity as I listen to recorded news. At the moment, more references to the oft-repeated lie about voting fraud and a call for an investigation by DJT. This trips (yet another) sickening thought: will we actually fund the study of delusions — with my tax dollars, your tax dollars? We are so far past the NPR story that I woke to earlier about their journalistic choice (fortunately not shared universally) to avoid the word “lie” (I could write about that for days). “This is where we are,” is a thing I say to myself now — like how to name falsehoods uttered by our president. The speed of destruction in the last four days ALONE makes my head spin. Can it be the same day? Did we pass through some portal and no one thought to tell me?

Carnage, indeed.

It’s darkening out the windows and past time to rouse myself to make dinner, but let me first share some gifts and stories. Not because I am succumbing to the thrumming call to “get on with it” or “be positive”. Oh no, you know me better than that! Just to keep track and who knows, perhaps turn you onto one of them. Kevin Young is a poet whom I heard read this past summer at Sam Durant’s “Meetinghouse” at The Old Manse in Concord.

Young’s poems in this volume are structured on musical forms. Interesting. Uplifting. And it was a gift within a gift because I mentioned it in passing, but K took note and ordered it!

Also for Christmas, I gave myself one of Grace’s quilts (at last!). It may not stay on this wall, but for now I love the hand reaching for the face of time. There’s something at once mysterious and aspirational about it. Plus, we all know the pleasure of having handiwork on our walls, especially when made by someone whose life means something to you. I love it!


This movie about the Nat Turner uprising played in Boston for about ten minutes. I felt funny buying a DVD (and by ‘funny’, I mean ‘old’), but the more I thought about it, the more sane the purchase seemed. For one thing, it would have cost more to park in Cambridge and buy two tickets. For another, by not streaming the film my dollars support the director, Nate Parker, who also starred in the movie and received some harsh criticism (I could write about that for days, too). It was important to see for my research and also I very much wanted to be able to measure the criticisms for myself (I ended up thinking that the personal criticisms were raised at a shitty and suspect time having more to do with challenging a strong black man (director and slave rebel, both) than with the decades old charges. The plot/character criticisms were just off.)

This documentary by Ava DuVernay is heartbreaking and for that reason I haven’t finished watching it yet. When a friend and I recently debated what educational intervention we believed would most correct our miserable course, she said, “studying the Constitution.” I said, “studying slavery.” Later, I realized that we were in agreement, for you cannot study the Constitution without studying slavery. And it’s not just the 13th Amendment. It’s the 14th and the 15th and the Preamble and the debates and case law associated with them.

What K and I did watch in its entirety was DuVernay’s acclaimed film “Selma”. We watched it on MLK Day. It was very fine to see the outstanding moral courage of John Lewis come to life at the very moment that DJT was tweeting his outrageous criticisms.

Carnage, indeed.

Now it’s REALLY time to throw some dinner together.

But first, anyone else watching “This is Us”? It’s on Tuesdays nights on NBC, I think. I’m kinda loving it. Definitely hooked.

Also? Don’t bother with “Victoria” if you enjoyed “The Crown”. I don’t know how I would have tolerated the weak script writing and acting in the former had I not just watched the latter (a very good mini-series about Queen Elizabeth), but I do know that to watch “Victoria” after “The Crown” is a thing I cannot do.

Screen and page catch up

Image result for rachel mcadams and colin farrellTrue Detective, Season Two, received mixed reviews, but I found it pretty compelling. The plot gets dense, meaning I had to refer to the internet now and then, but I didn’t mind (thank god for the “Pause” button!). The characters are really great, with good back stories, and there’s plenty of corruption and suspense to go around, which I like.

And, I cannot stop raving about the show’s spectacular opener.

[Leonard Coen sings “Never mind” to a haunting array of double/triple images featuring the faces of the main characters and aerials of California].
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I’ve never seen Vince Vaughn in a role that I liked until now. Even though by the last couple of episodes the lack of inflection in his voice made me a little nuts, he was amazing. He plays a complicated and sympathetic Mafioso-type who is clever but not quite clever enough. There’s an erotic scene between Farrell and McAdams that starts when they are in hiding in a cheap hotel room. The way they DON’T look at each other is every bit as charged as how they DO look at each other. It was miles from that up-against-the-wall-standing-fuck so often dished up on film when two characters have held off acting on their mutual attraction.
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I can’t talk about Taylor Kitsch without totally embarrassing myself. Suffice it to say, I ate up “Friday Night Lights” a couple of summers ago. Image result

Finished the novel by Ben H. Winters called “Underground Airlines”. It was the kind of dystopian novel that describes a landscape that could be fifteen minutes from now (my favorite kind — think: Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower”).  The central conceit is that four states have maintained the institution of human bondage. The main character is a PB (‘person bonded’) who is ‘freed’ in order to capture runaways.

The scenes in Indiana of a black man negotiating white neighborhoods or encountering policemen read like today’s newspaper. The tracking chip inserted in the base of the protagonist’s skull could be tomorrow. It was a real page turner, with plenty of corruption and twists of plot, so I wasn’t surprised to see that the author has won both mystery and sci-fi writing prizes.

Like the evening news, the book forces a look at how the effects of slavery linger.

I heard the author, who is white, interviewed and could relate to the doubts engendered by inventing African American characters. The book was well-received, but nothing like the the more recently published “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. I heard Teri Gross interview Whitehead last week and look forward to reading the book soon. I felt a smidge of pain on Winters’ behalf when his novel was not mentioned in Teri’s list of recent books dealing with slavery.

Now, I’m reading J.D.Vance’s, Hillbilly Elegy. I’ll post some notes about it later.

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