Thursday, December 31, 2009

Before Secret Aaaaygent Man..

...there was Danger Man starring the same Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, an agent for NATO.  (Secret Aaaaygent Man worked for MI9.)  I remember the Secret Aaaaygent Man song, but no details of the show.  Now, I'm filling in some of my childhood blanks by watching the original Danger Man.  The show had a mere half hour to present, complicate, then solve some problem of international import.  The first John Drake had few secret-agent type devices to help him; perhaps NATO had no Q-type person.  I can imagine early John Drake telling later John Drake how in the old days he had to depend on his fists, his gun, his charm, and his brain.  Nowadays, super secret agents are spoiled!  (Later John Drake rolls his eyes.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It Was Christmas Day in the City

And everybody went to the movies...

So I knew that Sherlock Holmes had the now seemingly compulsory action hero stuff:  slow motion fights with acrobatics, bodies flying everywhere, and ridiculously loud punch-thwacks, but even so, I was surprised by its overuse.  They also had a fair amount of building destruction and explosions.  I did like Robert Downey Jr. a lot.  And the filming and computer animation was beautifully done.  Too bad there wasn't a wee bit more character development.

My apologies to Sue, Julie, and Dave.  I was going to save SH to see with youse guys.  But Mary wanted to see a movie, and she's already seen Up in the Air.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Sun

Was December 25 really celebrated as the birthday of Mithras Sol Invictus?  Wikipedia says there are doubts.  But since we must celebrate it sometime, it might as well be today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don't Eat Yellow Snow

The street in front of my building today after a few Photoshop adjustments.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a New Woman!

So I got my abscessed tooth removed, and my transformation is comparable to that of the protagonist of Shirley Jackson's story The Tooth.*

Now, if you haven't read that story, I wish you would.

The dental surgeon tried to sell me on an implant, though it will probably cost $4K and not be covered by insurance.  Rosemary, my neighbor, has had several molars removed and still has no trouble eating.

* Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 1949 pp. 265-286.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Health Update

In my last exciting post, I was waiting to get a CT scan that would confirm or deny rumors of an aneurysm.  Since then, a big chunk fell off one of my back teeth.  The dentist said it was abscessed down to the nerve, so that probably was the cause of my face pain.  (I'd had my teeth checked a year ago when the pain was only mild discomfort, but she couldn't find anything wrong then.)  Then today I found out that my CT scan was normal.  This was a medical mystery worthy of House!

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Look Inside my Head

As previously reported, I was suspected of having trigeminal neuralgia.  The Harvard Health Service's main neurology guy had recently left, so it took a couple of months to see a neurologist.  He didn't think it was TN, and I got an MRI.  The MRI confirmed that I didn't have TN, but I may have an aneurysm.  The aneurysm could be pressing on a nerve and causing my facial pain.  However, the suspected aneurysm could be merely me moving in the MRI machine.  So tomorrow I get a CT scan, which is fast enough to avoid wiggle misreads.
 Since trigeminal neuralgia is rare and difficult to treat, and aneurysms are common and simple to treat, this is good news.  In the meantime, enjoy my brain.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Unitarian Offerings Declined

Last weekend Mary and I checked out the annual crafts fair at the First Parish Church in Cambridge.  The usual windchimes provide a reassuring continuity from year to year.

There are always a lot of knitted things, especially for children.  Recycled materials were another popular theme.

There are always a lot of pretty things, but not outstanding things.  The things didn't grab me and say, "Take me home.  You can't live without me!"  I know when I go to the Cambridge Artists Coop (for instance), I'll see lots of things, too many things, that I'd like to take home.  But this fair was only fair.  So we went sadly away clutching our unspent money.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Science Fiction Past

I recently watched Colossus:  The Forbin Project, made in 1970, for the first time.  This computer-overthrows-its-masters flick impressed me more than I thought it would. The acting, music and camera work were all pretty good, at least according to my untutored taste.  At the time this movie came out, I was satisfying my science fiction needs with grade B Tokyo Monster Mashes and radiation-enlarged bug invasions.  (John Taine's The Iron Star, 1930, started the rage for mutations in sci-fi, which became very popular after the atom bomb.*)

I was a science fiction fan from early youth to High School.  I remember the Space Cat series of books from my youth: Space Cat Goes to Mars; Space Cat and the Kittens.  Robert Heinlein then Isaac Asimov were the favorites of my mature years. I got very picky about the kind of sci-fi I'd read.  No spells or wizards allowed; I wanted hard science.  Hard, but not too hard.  I hated stories wherein interstellar travel took years and years, and the crew was either in suspended animation or was spending their whole lives in space so their grandchildren could get to a new planet.  Screw that!  There had to be warp drives.

Another rebellious-computer movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, came out a couple of years before Colossus.  The technology in 2001 thoroughly awed my 13-year-old self.. The stuff that should have awed me didn't.   The black monolith, the space baby, the philosophical implications of HAL's rebellion passed through me like water in a sieve.  Here was a serious sci-fi movie showing me, as accurately as it could, what space travel would be like in my lifetime.  Sure, they didn't have warp drives, but at least a person could get to the moon in relative comfort.  My future in space looked bright.
My sci-fi bug died off in college.  I no longer want to go to the moon.  An interesting article from the Guardian of London talks about the psychological problems the moon astronauts had after returning to Earth.**  After, all going into outer space is heaps different from going to sea.  Living in a space station would be like living in a very small shopping mall with no stores and really bad food.  And taking a walk on the deck requires a spacesuit.

*Brian Stableford Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Literature, The Scarecrow Pr.: Lanham,MD, 2004. p.243.
**The Guide: Lost in Space: Space it's big and scary and does funny things to your brain. Andrew Mueller blasts off in search of the astronauts who left their marbles somewhere in the upper atmosphere. The Guardian (London) - Final Edition, March 31, 2007 Saturday, page 10.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Forecasting Interior Decorating Trends

The other day I watched The Illustrated Man, adapted from the Ray Bradbury collection of the same name.  A crazy bum, who is covered with tatoos, tells a young man he meets that a woman from the future did the "skin illustrations," which "come alive" if you look at them long enough.  This coming alive involves diversions to 3 short sci-fi stories.  It's the first story that concerns me here;  in it, the tatooed man and future woman live in the future in a futuristic house.  The scenery people for IM made the then-common assumption that future interior decorators would work entirely in white.  White walls. White floors.  White ceilings.  White furniture.  Why this whiteness?  One theory:  people in the future will like to show off the fact that they needn't opt for the darker colors that don't show dirt, since they have robots to keep everything spick and span.

The bum/future-man, played by Rod Steiger, complains about the economic necessity (in the future)of allowing people to work only six months out of the year.  What is he to do with that other six months?!  Why couldn't he brighten up his existence with some color?  Hook a red rug.  Buy a blue couch.  If he had invited his young son to help him paper the walls and paint the furniture, maybe they would have bonded.  And his wife and daughter could also have bonded while looking through decorating samples and buying fancy pillows. Interior decorating could have brought this family closer and perhaps the kids wouldn't have set the parents up to get killed.  Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Give the Devil his Due

Some Christians believe that today is Satan's birthday.  Actually, nobody knows when Old Scratch was born, but there is a 1 in 365 chance that it was on October 31.  So I am willing to celebrate it today.

Satan is a complicated character: adversary, light-bringer, composite of older repressed gods.

What actor would turn down a chance to play the Devil?  Have you seen the original Bedazzled with Peter Cook playing George Spiggot, Prince of Darkness?  (I didn't see the remake, so I don't know if it was any good.  Anyway, I don't think you should remake good movies.  Remake bad movies and do a better job.)  He buys Dudley Moore's soul, then puts him through a series of hilarious mishaps.  So if you haven't seen it, get it now and spend this evening watching it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Swell Sunday Breakfast at the Friendly Toast

Sue and a full-size Barbie waiting for a table.  Sue has brought a gift for Dave.  What could it be?

It's a spider made of pumpernickel bread!


We get a table in a back corner.


Ready to eat.
After the meal.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Invincible Vincent

Here is the invincible Vincent.  He was invincible for 2 reasons: first, nobody could call him Vince, just Vincent; second, his name means conquering.   Why Vincent Price?  Because for a long time I've been wondering:  if there is an invincible, why isn't there a vincible?  Well, finally I looked in my dictionary, and guess what?  There is a vincible. People just don't seem to use it.
So the Invincible Vincent is here to remind you to use vincible whenever you are speaking of somebody or something that is conquerable.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Night Photos Not so Great

The Circus was in town, but I had problems getting pictures to come out.

I think things that don't move are easier, like this spooky doorman.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, Canada.

Since today is Thanksgiving in Canada, I'd like to honor George Johnston, a Canadian poet I love. If he's still alive, he's about 96. Following are a couple of my favorites:

Mr. Murple's got a dog that's long
And underslung and sort of pointed wrong;
When daylight fades and evening lights come out
He takes him round the neighbor lawns about
To ease himself and leak against the trees,
The which he does in drops and by degrees
Leaving his hoarded fluid only where
Three-legged ceremonious hairy care
Has been before and made a solemn sign.
Mythology, inscrutable, canine,
Makes his noctambulation eloquent
And gives a power of meaning to his scent
That all who come and sniff and add thereto
And scratch the turf, may know they have to do
With Mr. Murple's underslung long dog,
His mark, his manifesto and his log.

Here is how I eat a fish
--Boiled, baked or fried--
Separate him in the dish,
Put his bones aside.

Lemon juice and chive enough
Just to give him grace,
Make of his peculiar stuff
My peculiar race.

Through the Travelers' Hotel
From the sizzling pan
Comes the ancient fishy smell
Permeating man.

May he be a cannier chap
Altered into me,
Eye the squirming hook, and trap,
Choose the squirming sea.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I Went to Quebec City

...and now I'm back. Still pictures forthcoming.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Julie & Dave & Cliff & Stan

I framed these photos with a Photoshop add-on I got for Christmas.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Good Time Was Had by All

Saturday night Sue and I headed for chez Julie and Dave. Dave grilled up some marinated swordfish and corn.

But before dinner we had some lovely appetizers. Dave and I had
mojitos .