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Rumilluminations Now
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Fri, May 01 2015 - 6:29 pm

May 30, 2015                                        Madison, IN

Engineers have figured out how to make glass break into relatively harmless little cubes when submitted to pressures it cannot withstand.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have building materials designed and assembled like Leggos?

An earthquake might reduce such a building to an almost harmless pile of air-accessible rubble.

The only difficulty in extracting oneself would be gaining the traction to get yourself the hell out of there!

*Inherent Vice  Funky, silly, made me laugh out loud. The narrator's little girl voice irritated me mightily. Assistant DA my eye. I just have to assume that is just what the director wanted, since it was Reese Witherspoon.

May 29, 2015                                          Madison, IN

Now that my partner is off work for the summer we are going on longer walks. Today we saw a handsome box turtle, good sightings of flickers, bluejays, red-headed woodpeckers and turkeys in addition to the ubiquitous black vultures. I used to kind of dislike jays for their aggressive natures but robins do seem to be rivaling them these days.

Or are the robins succeeding by sheer nonviolent power of numbers?

*The Prince A movie with more bullets than words.

*Buck  Documentary about one gentle man who helped Redford with The Horse Whispered. Real treat for horse lovers and lovers of humanity, too.

*Girlhood  but in French it sure looked like Girl Gang to me. Not a nice life to visit, even. Power-hunger with no point and no resolution that I could perceive.

May 28, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Here's another superstition with a practical reason for existing: 

Whoever eats the last item remaining on a serving plate will be an old maid.

I know this hardly qualifies as a superstition. Some of its rationale is just too obvious. 

Since it obviously doesn't apply to males, the observance of it by young women would leave any bachelors around assured that they wouldn't have to compete with any of these potential mates for food.

The morning news brought us another reason for the rule, though, that never crossed my mind: if you go for that last barbecued pork rib on the grill you might get stabbed in the eye by a rival rib-eater.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Last night two women got into a physical fight over the last portion that ended with one woman stabbing the other in the eye with a fork.

Let's hope those two never focus their desires on the same man!

*Mr. Pip  Imaginative teenager interprets Dickens character against a tragic time in the copper-producing island of Bougainvilla. Colorful and emotionally affecting.

May 27, 2015                                        Madison, IN

Every morning I make coffee from whole beans and every morning at least one bean spills out onto the floor no matter how careful I try to be.

No big deal, right? It's only one bean.

But it occurred to me this morning, that equals three hundred and sixty-five a year not even counting the occasional disaster when I spill even more!

That amounts to a potful of coffee per year, at least.

My partner says, well at least you haven't lost your marbles.

Oh, really? I'm standing here ruing the loss of a coffee bean.

Sounds like I've lost at least one marble, and if I lose one every day for a year that equals-

You know what?

Just forget it.

*Iron Lady  Meryl Streep in an Oscar-winning performance and a review of British history in the seventies and eighties, too - what's not to like? Besides the lady herself, that is.

*Yves Saint Laurent  Biopic about the great designer that leaves you wondering if the industry isn't really just as superficial as you always thought it was in your idealistic youth. Laurent's a wild one and if he didn't die wild the film kept it a secret. Both interesting and entertaining, though.

*Yesterday we saw Turner which was static and beautiful like a landscape. The musical score was contemporary - unusual for a period piece - and really effective. The opening portions, though, were earsplitting and if I were attending this film in the theater I would sit in the far back.

May 26, 2015                                        Madison, IN

Of course normal soldiers cannot match the frenzy of religious fanatics in battle. Nor can they match the coolness of psychopaths or the enthusiasm of violence addicts.

All the rest of us have fighting for us is reason, compassion and, hopefully, numbers. Oh, and we'd better have some wile.

Definitely a big helping of wile.

In the last few days we've watched several films:

*Still Mine Mind-boggling Canadian bureaucracy meets persistence and character in this modern tale taken from life. A wonderful film but marred for me by the portrayal of the wife of sixty-one years and the mother of seven. Maybe the character is scripted this way but I flatly disbelieve her softness - and I'm not talking about soft-in-the-head forgetfulness.

*Remembrance There are horrors here but this is an amazing and exciting love story. We both loved it.

*We Were Soldiers Ugh. I hate war films, especially canting ones. I have promised, though, to see at least one a year - on Memorial Day weekend. That humans have to endure it is almost beyond comprehension. My partner thinks it a good film.

May 24, 2015                                         Madison, IN

I want to celebrate Memorial Day not by mourning the deaths of millions of souls in wars but by rejoicing in the laying to rest of war itself.

I'm looking forward to that day in my mind. I'm aware that's the only place I'll ever see it.

The Greek in the movie Truce (and perhaps also in Primo Levi's book about escaping Auschwitz?) says, War is always.

Great numbers of people have come to give at least lip service to the principle that peace is a good thing and that there will be no peace without justice.

It is a pity that so many people still espouse war not only as a "necessary evil" but as an instrument of personal advancement or religious warfare.

Stanley Baldwin said, "War would end if the dead could return."

Imagining the return of the departed comforts those who have lost their loved ones in battle.

Imagining the death of War is what comforts me.

I would dance on the grave of War!

May 23, 2015                                        Madison, IN

This weekend is a lively one in Madison. There are booths on Second Street south of the county courthouse with people selling arts and crafts - this sale is called Old Court Days.

That is a couple of blocks east of us. A block to the west of us is a car show with all kinds of makes and eras of automobiles. We haven't strolled through yet this year but last year some of the cars were for sale. At both venues there were food booths selling mostly, it seemed, deep-fried foods like blooming onions and (also deep fried!) PopTarts and Oreos. Oh, the horror!

Last weekend was even livelier. River Roots, a folk and music festival, kept us aware of what they were playing even while we were in our living and bed rooms. I haven't been to that celebration because it is pricey. 

The Friends of the Library had a big sale last weekend also. I volunteered for a couple of hours Saturday morning and they were already pleased with the proceeds from the day before.

*The Truce  A narration from the viewpoint of an Italian chemist (Yes! the same Primo Levi who wrote The Periodic Table) about liberation from Auschwitz and subsequent travels back to Turin. Not a simple or easy journey.

May 22, 2015                                          Madison, IN

While on our walk the other day we saw the kingbirds again, just beating on a crow. If it's possible they were even more aggressive than the mockingbirds are and there were two of them. Eventually the crow got away but not before suffering a good, hard peck on the crown of its head.

The next day I saw a large bird (probably a vulture) flying overhead with very ragged wings and missing tailfeathers - the most visibly damaged bird I've ever seen actually on the wing.

Heh. I wonder who he had a run-in with.

*Sirens  Lush, sensual and the only conflict between individuals is verbal. What's not to like? Oh, don't be so puritanical!

*With a Friend Like Harry  Not a physically ugly film, it is surprisingly, one of the creepiest I have ever seen.

May 20, 2015                                         Madison, IN

If I had any shame I would be mighty embarrassed by the sloppiness of my entries lately. I certainly did not keyboard Morden instead of Mirren when writing my commentaries. The devil made me do it - in this case, yes, the word-processing program.

I know, I know, I am supposed to take responsibility for everything that goes wrong before I hit the save button, but how can I when the mistakes show a cultural bias and presumably generational knowledge that I simply do not possess.

Am I really to be blamed because my text says Morden when I accurately typed Mirren and my processor without a "by your leave" or any kind of auditory signal (such as, say, a raspberry) arbitrarily changes it to a name that I have never even heard?

Of course the answer is yes, so herewith I tender my humble apielogies but oh, it is tough!

*Leviathon  Grim in the extreme but oh, the beauty of the landscape and the visual fascination of the local relics!

*Silver Linings Playbook  Who says they're not making any good romantic comedies any more? This refutes them - or is five years ago not recent enough?

May 19, 2015
                                      Madison, IN     

I wrote yesterday about some adult geese and young goslings but somehow it got lost. Dang.

I saw them swimming in the river yesterday at dawn, a feral goose in the lead, two wild geese on the sides and one bringing up the rear of the single line of ten or so offspring.    

They came ashore to feed, and two of the little guys chased and scared off a starling that was a little too close. In competition for the same grub, maybe, but the goslings acted like little kids chasing pigeons in the park.

Yesterday and today I saw kingbirds, an easily identifiable flycatcher which is not an everyday sight here.

Unfortunately herons, which used to be a part of our daily walk along the river, are nowhere to be seen.

Cliff swallows have built nests on the sides of the new bridge. The nests aren't visible from the pedestrian walkway, but the adults come very close while they are feeding their young'uns. Go on a walk from the Milton side toward the water and you'll see their mud
nests with their tiny round entrances.

*Heavenly Pursuits Simply silly, though it was kind of fun seeing Helen Mirren.

*Ed's Next Move  Some aspects of the portrayal of a young Wisconsin native in NYC didn't ring true to this Midwesterner but the dialogue was for the most part lively and entertaining.

May 17, 2015                                     Madison, IN

I've been rethinking how we treat the old. We want to control their behavior mostly, I think for our own convenience and comfort - especially for the comfort of our consciences.

When my mom couldn't navigate the basement stairs safely the visiting nurses who came for a while every week or two after her surgery for cancer said she couldn't go down there, we complied. She sure wouldn't, though so we locked it up high where she couldn't reach it.

We have seen movies in which the elderly literally escaped from care so they could do something they wanted to do or go where they wanted to go. The beach, say.

Now don't get me wrong. If my mother wanted to do something I tried to make it happen for her. Usually. I did not spare her, however, the occasional accusation of irresponsibility for being careless of her own well-being.

Now that I myself am a little closer (only two years!) to the time when I will be subject to the kind of oversight my mom endured what do you know?

I'm rethinking the issue.

*Living is Easy with Eyes Closed  Slender sweet slice of Spanish serendipity.

May 16, 2015                                     Madison, IN

I think that "contemplating one's navel" has gotten a bad rap. When you think about it, your navel leads everywhere. Most obviously, to curiosity: "What is this strange thing on my body that doesn't seem to do anything?" Obviously also to all kinds of introspection from physical bodily concerns to emotional considerations. "This no longer connects me to Mom. What does?"

The navel, though, also leads to the outside world. It is a scar that represents our first setting out into the world. And the big wide world encompasses everything from the study of inanimate nature and other animals with and without belly buttons to all the creations of those like and unlike us.

Contemplating one's navel can lead anywhere because it is a gateway to everywhere including, of course, Rome.

*In the past week

*Love Serenade Quirky, almost surrealistic. Not for everyone, including me since for me it was the second time around - probably about twenty years later.

*The Dancer Upstairs Investigation in Lima, Peru which makes the political climate very different from a comparable situation in the states. We enjoyed it, especially (me) the impossibly good-looking Javier Bardem. John Malkovitch's directorial debut - a strong one!

*Still Alice Oscar-winning performance about a woman with early onset Alzheimer's, but still probably a good deal prettier than the reality, because the film doesn't follow the character to the bitter end. Definitely worthwhile.

May 8, 2015                                                Madison, IN

Before I went on a good walk up Hatcher Hill Road this morning I was feeling my years a little. (Well, truth to tell, there were staggering moments when I wouldn't have blamed someone for thinking I was drunk!)

I started wondering about my dad's aging timetable. When did he have cataract surgery? When did he really start losing it mentally?

I know he tried to stay healthy. When I was growing up he took great care of his teeth and after he retired he rode his bike and swam.

My parents were not much interested in communicating with us kids, though. When it came to keeping us up with their health issues or expressing their innermost desires and feelings my parents were a still pond.

*The Departed  I'm sick of gangster films, but this might be the gangster film to end all games gangster films. If we had seen this in a movie theater I probably would have died of a heart attack. Intricate. Practically the whole cast - but no, I don't want to ruin it for you!

*Yesterday The Homesman  A wild west film unlike any you have ever seen. Guaranteed. 

May 7, 2015                                               Madison, IN

Hmm... Sat down to write, got contemplative... and just woke up! Brisk spring turned into sleepy summer in very short order.

What happened?

No waxing philosophical or humorous for me these days, I fear, except to comment that contrary to my belief that I am a nonbeliever, I sure find myself engaging in internal prayer in an effort to - what? Control my environment? Center myself?

Years ago I was not consciously interested in having children but I surprised myself. Could it be that my unconscious is determined to buck my conscious intentions or am I just weak?

No wonder I seem sleep-prone!

*Love Documentary about looking abroad for love that doesn't seem much about love to us. An adventure, yes, but you are just as likely to find love abroad going to look at gardens, architecture or bridges. I'm just sayin'....

*Yesterday Dead Zone This one is an oldie but goodie. Title sounds like zombie film which it is not.

May 6, 2015                                               Madison, IN

*In the Electric Mist  Good old-fashioned detective films seem harder to find these days. This is a small-town Louisiana one. We do enjoy Tommy Lee Jones' laconic style.

*Island of Lemurs: Madagascar  Wow! Almost every indigenous species in Madagascar isn't found anywhere else. I had read that the ancestors of humans that lived during the dinosaur times were small mammals, but I didn't know they were lemurs! A little intro to our long-lost relatives.

May 4, 2015                                                 Madison, IN

The noise level in our neighborhood has risen impressively since the onset of genuinely warm weather. Early this afternoon a van was stopped by the park regaling not only its folks sitting at a picnic but also everyone else in the block.

A person can hardly blame people hanging out in the park for wanting music. They are used to it here. Every year there are at least three or four festivals held within a block or two of our apartment complex which feature involuntary musical entertainment for the inhabitants.

Loud squawking conversations segue from avian in the morning to human in the afternoon. Today it sounded like a (blessedly brief) dumpster diving competition was being held in the parking lot. Makes me wonder whether I should practice a little more verbal restraint while passing in front of other folks' apartments or hanging out on the balcony.

Just now car engines are competing with caroling church bells for auditory attention. In the USA we tend to ignore the importance of sound. I'm wondering what the consequences of our neglect will be.

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan H. Topper and Brian David Burrell  This book fascinates while it educates. I'm tempted to call it required reading. It's hard to believe there is a human alive who wouldn't find it interesting to learn more about the brain/body complex. Haha no pun intended. The authors deal with an assortment of issues and serious medical conditions.

Of especial interest to me was a paragraph on nomenclature old/new which raises more questions. Inspiration for further research.

May 3, 2015                                                 Madison, IN

Yesterday I chose Gary Stevens on Firing Range to win the Kentucky Derby partly to support the senior rider (and because I know experience counts and he probably wouldn't ride an inadequate mount.) He came in second - not bad at all. Of course I wasn't there nor did I bet.

I also got lucky on my walk. The Pioneer Garden a few blocks from home have stunning peony trees in full glorious bloom. As it turned out, Madison in Bloom, the annual garden tour, was happening yesterday also.

Best possible weather for horse racing and garden strolling.

*Two Girls and a Guy We loved it and the brilliant Robert Downey Jr. of course. This has all the earmarks of a stage play (although I haven't researched it) but I didn't develop the claustrophobia I usually feel when I see stage plays on the screen.

*The Man from Snow River a horse pick for Kentucky Derby day. Watchable family film

May 1, 2015                                                 Madison, IN

Happy May Day!  I wonder if nations south of the equator have comparable holidays. Will have to look it up.

I'm reading a fascinating new book called Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Dr. Allan H. Hopper and Brian David Burrell.

I just realized how often these days authors have three names on their books. There are so many of us now, presumably, that we need all our names to distinguish us from others.

Anyway, from this book about brain disease I found out a word for what I've been doing occasionally for years - amphigory. It means nonsense speech. Why haven't I run across it before now?

Today since we don't have a garden I bought my love a May Day bouquet: delphinium, alstromeria, and two stunning yellow roses.
I was sorely tempted to add some irises from gardens on the way home but I resisted. Irises don't last long cut anyway.

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby. Yay, May! The cruelest month was yesterday.

*Artificial Intelligence  Posed some interesting questions but my didn't it go on and on! In spite of this it did dredge up some emotions.

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