Unspookable: October 28, 2020 9:38 PM

Here’s a cartoon from the latest edition of The New Yorker. I saw it and immediately realized I wanted to write about it. It spoke volumes to me.

Cartoon from The New Yorker. Cartoonist’s last name is Warren..can’t make out the first name

It immediately brought me back four years when it never occurred to us that Trump would win. We were so complacent – and so foolish. Now, four years later, reflecting on that innocent time, I’d say we were spookable. Now we are unspookable. There’s a movement across the land that will send such a strong message to those that hate and divide: it’s time to quit that nonsense.

Now we got it goin’ on. I am so buoyed by the sight of people in lines that stretch around corners to vote..by the numbers of 18 to 29 year olds coming out likely for the first time to vote. We will retake the presidency. We will expand our hold in the house. We will retake the Senate. And according to George Will in The Washington Post, we’ll keep it for a decade.

Of course, I predicted this. I told my Texas cousins that a Trump presidency would destroy the Republican party for a generation. OK, so George agrees with half that, but we shall see – anything is possible now, as long as it’s a blowout landslide. Which it will be. We are unspookable.

Time to put up a gate at the front entrance..ours will have stucco’d columns on either end. A little class never hurts

But the remaining question is: how will his supporters react when he loses so “bigly”? To that end, Erik and John are building a gate at our front entrance. It’s likely a good idea to keep people out that might be armed and dangerous. We needed a gate anyway, but this provides some additional impetus to get it done as soon as possible. Once the family is safe, then I can be interested in all this from a writer’s perspective. Priorities, eh?

One Week to Go & I’m Back

It’s Tuesday, October27th at 8:13 PM. Erik’s in the other room flipping back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and I guess reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Seems like he’s a glutton for punishment, trying to handicap the results of the presidential race next week.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey departs after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Van Drew, a Democrat who plans to switch and become a Republican, represents a southern New Jersey district that Trump carried in 2016 and was expected to face a difficult reelection next year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

What I’m most interested in for next week’s elections are the down ballot results, specifically state legislatures, governorships and even some House races, like that guy Van Drew, representing south Jersey. He recently switched parties from Democrat to Republican. If things turn out the way I suspect, his will be a classic case of the wrong move at the wrong time. Oh well, sorry Charlie (Jeff).

I’m gonna go out on a limb here, because all my antennae are speaking to me, along with the FiveThirty Eight blog. I predict we’ll know that Biden won by 1 am Wednesday, November 4th. At the latest. By the time all the votes are counted, it’s entirely possible his electoral college haul will exceed 400.

See the Bump around 400?

I know what you’re saying – are you crazy? Maybe..but on the FiveThirtyEight graphic illustrating their 40,000 runs with each successive poll result, there’s a big bump right past 400. And who will have gotten him this incredible outcome? Young’uns: the 18 to 29 year old voters, who are coming out in droves, and I seriously doubt they’re voting for his Orangeness. I further predict a healthy win in the Senate – 52 or even 53 seats, in essence switching the majority with the same numbers.

This will provide the Dems with a mandate, that they full intend to exploit. All those Trump Executive Orders? Gone. Stimulus package? You betcha. Immigration reform? On the way and implemented by spring. We need immigrants to keep our economy going. That’s a fact, whether the Reps like it or not.

You Know Who This Is – a Canadian National Treasure

I believe we’re on the cusp of a sea change in politics in this country. The era of the stingy, hard core nationalist Republicans is over. We will be back. Hallelujah (cue Leonard Cohen)

The Convention and Belarus

The Democratic Virtual National Convention began last night, with much fanfare and very mixed reactions. Many questioned whether a virtual convention would work. The guy who worked hard to get the convention to Milwaukee was rueful about how little financial benefit will accrue to that city in these days of Covid isolation. But I have to say, what I saw those times I tuned in made me proud to be a lifelong Democrat. Whoever is putting this together is doing a damned fine job. The quantity and variety of speeches is just right. The videos showing anger, despair, love, hate and resignation are on point and well edited. Love will always triumph over hate, so the Dems will win the presidency in November. But how long will they stay in charge? Not long, if they forget their mandate and go back to their old ways of arguing over minutae. We shall see.

Lukashenko getting booed at a tractor factory – not a happy camper these days

In the meantime, there’s old Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko, 26 year President (translated dictator) of the country of Belarus. This is a country caught between Poland and Russia, which means it’s been occupied by everybody throughout its history. It broke away from the Soviet Union in ’91 and Lukashenko was elected in ’94 – and has stayed ever since. Twenty six years is a long time for one president .. amazing how he could keep winning all those elections – the lastest one allegedly with 80% of the vote. However, a charismatic oppo candidate called Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stood up to the bully, then left town. Now there are people marching in the streets, and Svety is offering to come back from Lithuania and serve as interim pres if Al is ditched. Putin doesn’t want to get involved – he’s still got his hands full in eastern Ukraine – so if things continue as they have been, Al will be out and Svety will be in. Or will she? Will there be a power grab, when somebody below Al decides it’s his turn? Should be interesting. Either it’ll turn out like Libya if Al is removed by force or it’ll turn out like Ukraine, with a series of corrupt successors feeding at the corruption trough – until the comedian turned politician took over. So that’s why we need more of – comedians. Jimmy Kimmel for president!

Watchin’ Seabiscuit

A movie I haven’t seen in years..a lovely little film about a lovely little horse who made everyone’s life a little better. It reminds me of the special bond some humans and horses had when they were in sync with one another. The story is really well told, the book having been written by Laura Hillebrand. She had what was diagnosed as Epstein Barr syndrome and spent a year in bed. With nothing else to occupy her time – other than sleeping – she wrote Seabiscuit. Maybe she related to the horse’s back story: thrown away as useless, despite a great pedigree and lots of heart.

Seabiscuit and Trainer Tom Smith

That describes pretty much all the characters in the movie, so clearly fate brought them together to achieve great things and meet their full potential. Isn’t that what we’re put on this earth to do? I believe so.

If this pandemic ever gets under control, I want to go visit friends and family and really spend some quality time with them. Covid has made our world so small..like Ms. Hillebrand’s. I’m sure there must be a reason for it. I’ll get some good writing out of it, maybe..like Laura. But at what price? We shall see.

Still Watchin’ Baseball

Nah, not continuously since yesterday..just since about 5 when I watched Oakland play the Angels. They won..8 to 4, so they’re 4 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers and 5 games ahead of Houston in the AL West. Now I’m watching the Marlins, ahead by 3 in the second inning. They lost last night, as usual with a quality pitcher shortage. Need those guys out sick with the Cvirus back to fill in.

Female/Male Images

Wrote another Chapter today in The Reconvening..I’m exploring some issues regarding gender, something I’ve not done before. It makes sense, given my own exploration of the male and female elements of my psyche through therapy..my character was and is biologically female, but after being attacked multiple times by the marauders as a teenager, she decided to take on the appearance of a male, primarily for protection. Now she/he is very masculine in her behavior, fulfilling expectations of her followers who consider him/her to be a God. Not a goddess. The followers are unaware of her true self, something she has committed murder to ensure. It’s quite interesting to be thinking about and writing on this topic.

Blogging while watching baseball is kinda fun..the iPad isn’t as easy to manipulate with pictures and formatting, so that’s the trade off. I’m having to add the pictures after the fact. But at least I’m back, talkin’ to ya..but not talkin’ about politics, economics or public health..mad, sad and crazy..must be avoided.

Both the Marlins and the Athletics won. Yay!

Watchin’ Marlins Baseball

just sitting in the Family Room watching the Marlins play on a little league field in Buffalo, New York. They’re playing the Toronto Blue Jays, who are banned from their home in Canada. Guess Justin doesn’t want any sickly Americans invading his country..can’t say I blame him. The Marlins are ahead 1/0 in the bottom of the 5th. Hope they keep up their winning ways.

Signoret & Mason in A Deadly Affair, aka Call for the Dead

I’m back to talkin’ about Smiley (not done with that topic yet..What? You got an issue with the topic? Oh..ok..gonna talk about it anyway..

The movie version of Call for the Dead, retitled A Deadly Affair, Starred James Mason as George Smiley, aka Charles Dobbs. There’s a character called Elsa Fennon who’s an essential part of the plot. Simone Signoret played Elsa. Simone was considered a French national treasure in her day. Her performance as the wife of an alleged spy and survivor of the Holocaust was worth watching for her subtlety. Her dialogue pretty much came straight out of the book, which made watching her say the words even more interesting. Le Carré writes wonderful dialogue, terse and evocative. Simone handles it really well, considering that English is her second language.

Creepy Picture, All Things Considered

I Googled Signoret, just to see if she was close to end of life when this movie was made. She had plenty of life left, almost another 20 years, working to the end. She remained married to Yves Montand, which seemed very odd for two reasons. First: Yves had an affair with Marilyn Monroe when they made a film together. Second: apparently, Yves sexually abused Simone’s daughter from her first marriage for decades. Who knows if she knew, but the first transgression with Marilyn should have been enough by itself. But maybe Simone and Yves were wed in name only..?

The Musical Director for Many Movies, Before and After Being Blacklisted

I started to watch The Spy Who Came in from the Cold last night prior to going to sleep. It came out in ‘65, filmed in black & white with a great sound track by a guy named Sol Kaplan. Sol had his career interrupted by the HUAC putting him on the Blacklist. The sound track for A Deadly Affair was done by Quincy Jones, and was wholly inappropriate for the film. Sidney Lumet was the director, and since it came out in ‘67, guess the suits thought a Shaft-like sound track was a good idea. It wasn’t. Also, Sidney was married to Lena Horne’s daughter, so maybe that figured into it..I’ll have to look. Yep..he was married to Lena’s daughter when he made the film.

Trying to Climb Over the Berlin Wall

Back to The Spy etc. Richard Burton was Alec Leamas, a man caught trying to have one last shot at redemption for an “operations man”. He participates in a setup that is supposed to sacrifice a few participants in the scheme in order to get a fellow named Mundt discredited and shot by the East Germans. Things go awry (of course) and Leamas achieves his redemption .. in a way. Burton was married to Liz Taylor at the time, so this was his atonement for her and Cleopatra. The plot of this story is far more opaque than Call for the Dead. It is also rather critical of MI5 for using and discarding people to achieve dubious ends. This notion is boldly explored in several of le Carré’s books, most notably The Little Drummer Girl and Tinker, Tailor. We can watch the author reveal more and more of his disillusion with the spy service as time progresses. He never did get over the woman in his life. Apparently still doesn’t really talk about it.

So that’s about it for that..I think I’m done with the topic..unless something else comes up.

A Smile is Just a Frown Turned..You Know the Rest

Let’s talk about the character called George Smiley. Who, you ask? John Le Carré, aka David Cornwell’s, alter ego in his spy stories. Why George? Because I say so, that’s why. I told you I’m not talking about anything that makes me mad or sad or crazy, so we’re talking let retch ur and sin eh mah…got it?

Book Cover from the Version I Read

Le Carré introduced Smiley in his debut novel, Call for the Dead. It certainly wasn’t his best effort, but then neither was it his worst. What he gave us in that first novel was a keen insight into both the character of Smiley, and about the writer himself. Let me ‘splain.

Le Carré was at Oxford for his late college years, putting forth just enough talent to get himself recruited for MI5, the Secret Service. He learned German as a teenager, and then studied Germany philosophy at Oxford. That’s how he described Smiley exactly in this first book. It was MI5 that made David adopt the pen name le Carré before he was allowed to publish A Call for the Dead.

Mason as Smiley, Doing his Best to Show his pain at Ann’s Infidelity.

Now, as to the actors, we’ll start with the first George Smiley, in the person of an actor called Rupert Davies. It was a small but critical role in the first movie made of any of the novels, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. Two years later, James Mason was Smiley, but not Smiley. Apparently another studio owned the rights to the name, so they changed Smiley to Charles Dobbs. That didn’t really work, but Mason does his best to make it so. This is when le Carré’s antipathy toward wives – or former wives – is explored in the person of Ann Smiley, neé Lady Sercumb, who’d been his boss’ secretary. Coincidentally (not really), David Cornwall was married to a woman who’s middle name was Ann for 17 years. Art imitating life? Wow – write what you know, but the former Mrs. Cornwall was probably pissed about how she was portrayed in these stories. The fictional Ann is chronically unfaithful, for reasons that are never explored from her perspective, only his. His pain. His anger. His lust for her. Too bad – her back story would have very likely included some form of sexual abuse at an early age. Betcha.

Alec Guinness as Smiley – definitely a better role than Obi Wan Kenobi?

Denholm Eliot, later Indiana Jones’ sidekick in that familiar series, played Smiley, but I don’t think anybody saw him. Everyone is familiar with the two most famous Georges: Alec Guinness on BBC television and Gary Oldman in the movies. That would be in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I think is le Carré’s best creation. Gary said he hadn’t watched Alec’s version of George, not wanting to be influenced by it. But both men managed to catch the essence of Smiley: fastidious, clever, honorable. Or honourable. We’re talkin’ Brits here, after all.

Poor George..Naughty George..Clever George – all Things to somebody

There’s a scene in the movie version of T,T,S,S where Oldman as Smiley sees Ann, the ever philandering wife, out ‘necking’ with one of George’s co-workers outside the building wherein there’s a party in full swing. Just the way Oldman looked for her in the building, then seeing her outside that said he really ‘got’ George. Ann was George’s only Achilles heel, and it was a bad case. Oldman didn’t say anything, it was just the looks of fear when she isn’t around, then a look that said he’s close to losing his lunch when he realizes what’s going on. Of course, she’s being manipulated by said Smiley co-worker (ref: my surmising about her above), but George is always the one that pays the price. Then he goes on to solve the problem at hand, rescue the day, and Ann returns to him. Wash..rinse..repeat.

So that’s it for George Smiley. Read the books, see the movies. David Cornwall, aka John le Carré, is well worth reading, and his movies are well worth watching. So sayeth I.

Who Knows What Day It is?

Or how long ’til the election, or any of the factoids I used to rely on to keep me on an even keel. The boat is upside down; but so what? Ride the wave! Ride the wave.

The Orient Queen in Beirut – victim of the big blast
that may portent the end of Lebanon

I will only talk about useless and inane things for the duration ’til 11/3, per guidance and direction from cousin in law Ray. That is a way to keep puttin’ one foot in front of t’other, I suppose. We shall see.

First up: last episode of Perry Mason tonight, wherein we shall find out about poor Baby Charlie, the pawn in this complex game set in the 30’s and essentially serves as the prequel for the old Raymond Burr series from the 50’s. It no doubt will also set the stage for Perry Mason II and PM III – etc, where our noble but flawed hero will save innocent victims from the hangman’s noose, firing squad and ole’ sparky. Matthew Rhys, the Welshman fresh off being a Russian/American or the other way around spy in The Americans, is sooo good in this role. The wardrobe is right; the hair, the cars – even down to the shoes. It hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves from Rotten Tomatoes, but I guess ya gotta be old to appreciate the story. Besides, HBO isn’t all that popular anymore. They occasionally try to make good television. What’s up with that?

Then I watched Hitmen with Mel and Sue. They were the adoreable introducers on The British Baking Show, who left after a dispute about something or other with the management. That killed BBS, of course – think Top Gear and getting rid of obnoxious but charming Jeremy.Clarkson. BBC thought they were doing the right thing. Viewers didn’t care and now the three cuties are doing an occasional gig via Amazon. C’est la vie.

Mel and Sue as Hired Killers. Right…and I’m a Nubian Princess

Oh, back to Hitmen. Terrible..awful..stinky…reaally bad. First of all, trying to imagine those two gals as killers for hire is tough. Second, it’s on the new NBC Peacock network, which is obscure at best. Third, like most Brits, they swallow their words, so you have to try to figure out how to turn on Closed Captioning to follow the plot. Good luck. Took me thirty minutes. Then I felt bad for doing it, because I really wasn’t missing anything. The show makes Mel (the blonde one) look like a dolt, and Sue doesn’t really react to her stupid ways very much. I think it must be what is referred to as “British” humor, which would be fine if it were in the vein of, say Monty Python. It isn’t. It’s in the vein of black humor that doesn’t in any way feel right. So don’t watch it – waste of time and, in fact, downright annoying.

Ernest Hard at Work in Africa?

Then there’s trolling for anything interesting on the net, and from Medium: advice from Ernest Hemingway on writing. Hmm..maybe interesting…here it is. Stop when what you write is good, and you know what happens next. Wow..how clever. That’s what gets shared these days as good essay writing..sharing that pithy tidbit.

Baseball is back, in spite of multiple teams’ having been afflicted with the Cvirus. My former boys in Oakland (ref: years ago posts – none lately) are doing extremely well, and the Miami Marlins are doing ok, given the fact that they had to miss four games because of the Cvirus. They lost last night, because of poor pitching. The Marlins have more than $10 million worth of talent out sick, with most of the victims from the bullpen. So the fact that they’ve done this well thus far is because a) the Orioles suck; and b) the team has developed some sense of esprit de’corps with this illness – underdog fever I guess you could call it. We shall see where they end up, what with having a low end payroll and all.

Sounds Like How I feel these days

OK, that’s it – I’m back. I’m tired of taking my temp, and the oxygen and stuff thing, so Bronx cheer to that. Be glad I’ve given ya this much, dammit!

102/130/8

Portland Moms – God Bless ‘EM

The Portland Moms are still there, withstanding tear gas and attacks from the federales. There was valdalism and damage at Portland, early on, in solidarity with that which was going on in Minneapolis. But once law enforcement arrived and started attacking, things went from bad to terrible. I’m sure The Idiot in Chief chose Portland because it’s Portland, for chrissake. Blue Country. Scaarry, right? Making political hay from a national tragedy is unspeakably obscene. Shame on you. You have single handedly diminished the office of the president. It will never be the same.

Dr. Fauci, A National Treasure. God Bless Him, Too

Baseball started tonight, and John has a subscription to what’s left of the season through the MLB app. It’s free if you have TMobile, which he does through work. We’ll be able to watch Marlins and Athletics games in this abbreviated season. Dr. Fauci threw out the first pitch at the game tonight between the Yankees and the Natties. It was called for rain halfway through, but the Yankees were winning, so no biggie. His pitch was wide and wild, but the announcer proclaimed that he didn’t have time to warm up because he’s been so busy. Anthony Fauci is a national treasure, and bless that announcer for saying that. There are occasional bright spots in an overwise dismal landscape.

I finished Chapter 3 of The Reconvening today, and I’m pretty happy with how the first book is coming along. I am barely using the outline, instead relying on my instincts of where the story should go. I feel free to do that because I’m really comfortable with the characters. We’ll see what happens and if that freedom continues. I hope so. It’s much more enjoyable than being a slave to a previous set of notions.

Kitty Genovese

I’ve sent Chapter 1 of Who Killed Kitty to the Lake Park Writers for their review and consideration. I re-read it through yesterday, and I was pretty happy with how it had turned out – geez, six years ago or so. The story is solid, and I just need to rework some of the dialogue and flow. But overall, it’s OK. John needs to show me how to FTP a file to my Word Press as I’m missing a couple of songs. Each Chapter title is a song, and the tune is embedded just below the heading. I listened to them while I read each chapter. There’s a couple that really got to me: Deja Vu All Over Again by John Fogarty was rather evocative, and the words to the 38 Special song Second Chance are particularly on point, bringing me to tears as I read the story I wrote all those years ago. Stories take on lives of their own, you know. Anyway, the songs that are missing are Most of the Time, which holds great significance for me, and the Last Cheater’s Waltz, a great Emmy Lou Harris tune. I’ll have to find them and with John’s help, embed them in their appropriate places in the story.

My temperature is 97.9° F. My blood oxygen is 95% and my heartbeat is 70 bpm. There are no apparent health issues at this time. Good.

103/129/7

Erik the younger had a birthday two days ago. I tried to call him and wish him a good one, but he’d gone fishing. Today I spoke with him, and he had great news. The government has deemed him 100% permanently disabled from his war wounds from Iraq and Afghanistan. This opens up a world of opportunity for him in terms of college scholarships for his children and avoidance of property taxes. I am really happy for him and Tiffany. He deserves everything the government can provide for him, given his contributions.

This is the best thing I’ve ever seen

Let’s talk about Portland Moms and their protests. I believe that is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen. Their signage is amazing. One of them has “Momma” written on the back of amotorcycle helmet she’s wearing to protect herself from the government’s goons. But when I take a step back, I say, is that what it’s come to – that the mothers of America have to wear head protection to stand between their children and representatives of the United States government? This is simply unacceptable. Years ago, I came to the conclusion that moms would be the salvation of this country. Now we’re beginning to see that prediction come true. It’s about time, eh?

Will we have an effective vaccine by December? I’m skeptical

The Cvirus continues unabated, and growing, but the death rate, measured as total deaths/total cases continues to decrease. The government has agreed to give Pfizer $2 billion for a vaccine that’s supposed to be ready by the end of the year. Color me skeptical. Anything good that gets promised between now and November 3rd is suspect. If the cases are far exceeding the numbers that should be produced by increased testing, as indicated in an article in today’s NY Times, then that means more deaths for the foreseeable future. Will the numbers increase when children go back to school? That is the question that has not been answered at all, much less to my satisfaction. Robin intends to home school Kiernan with another group of moms. Emily is going to get a GED and go after a certificate in a medical field from Palm Beach State College beginning in the spring. I support both those strategies. I suspect a whole lot of other parents and grandparents would too.

I participated in the Monday evening gathering of the Palm Beach Gardens Writers group two days ago. We read our stories and gathered feedback from the group. A member I hadn’t met before named Joan was there, and provided a great story based on the leader’s prompt. Toward the end of the meeting she talked about a YA project she was working on that was in the ‘beta reader’ process. I volunteered to be a beta reader, and she sent it to me. The story was nuanced, detailed and definitely would be of interest to a young adult. She intends for it to be the beginning of a series, and I like that. I hope we will become friends, since she seems very convivial and thoughtful.

What I have in Mind for the Tallahassee house stairs

We are still working on the improvements to the Tallahassee house, but self-distancing has made that difficult to say the least. We need to take beds, headboards, tables and chairs up with us. Once there, we need to paint the stair steps and put down a runner. I’m itching to get started, but until Cvirus issues abate, that really isn’t smart. All in good time.

My temperature is 98.1° F. My blood oxygen is 97% and my heartbeat is 73 bpm. No issues. That’s a relief.