Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Watchables

We watched, via Netflix, two movies one after t'other one evening during the week, and they unexpectedly turned out to have similar themes. Both movies had female leads - gals who, uncharacteristically, decided to take the law into their own hands:
Miss Meadows, and
I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore.

Miss Meadows has Katie Holmes as a young teacher with perfect manners, old world style, but packs a punch and a dinky firearm in her little handbag. She carries said bag a la Queen Elizabeth II, it's on her arm at all times. The story unfolds in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

In the film with the unwieldy title I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore Melanie Lynskey is Ruth, who is sickened by the human indecency around her. Her home is burglarized, the police are disinterested, so she teams up with her neighbor (Elijah Wood) to find the burglar and deal with him. It's complicated though. Things rapidly become far more dangerous than the pair ever expected.

Both movies belong to the genre 'black comedy'. Black comedy is a strange genre - I suppose a tag line for it could be "if we don't laugh we'll cry". There are a few wry chuckles available in these two films, about the characters themselves, rather than their actions, which is testament to the excellent direction and performances by all involved.

AND... for something completely different:

New on Netflix this month is Queer Eye, It's a re-boot of a 2003/4 show, back then titled Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I remember seeing episodes of the old 2003/4 show on TV, in England before I left. We've now watched the first few episodes of the re-booted version. The show now has a new cast, five different guys, but the mix of personalities is similar. One of the five is very camp - fun, lovable; the others are less overtly gay, all are charming. In the 2018 version we have diversity, this was missing in 2004. One of the new five is black, another is British and of (I think) Pakistani background.

As well as making over their subjects' personal styles of dress and grooming, and their homes being given an attractive uplift of new decor, there's an added psychological element. This, for me, is especially interesting. Lack of self-confidence is tackled in the first episode, and in the second episode the subject is a police officer. He has a touchingly candid conversation with the black member of the five guys, about....well you can guess. It's affecting, especially so at the end of the show as they all bid farewell.

Critics might judge Queer Eye as just another tacky reality makeover show, but it has more potential than that - and so far, for me anyway, it is living up to that potential.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Allegory of Bad Government

Around this time last year I wrote an Arty Farty Friday post on Carrie Ann Baade an associate professor in the Department of Art at Florida State University. Now, a year later I'm going to feature her again, but focus on one of her paintings, for reasons which will not be especially difficult for any stray readers in the USA to appreciate. The painting is titled "Allegory of Bad Government."

Before posting the image, a word to explain that it was inspired by Italian painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s 14th century moralistic civic mural cycle titled The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. This consists of a series of three fresco panels, six different scenes, painted between February 1338 and May 1339 in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico—specifically in the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine), council hall of Siena's nine executive magistrates, elected officials who performed executive, and some judicial, functions. The paintings have been construed as being "designed to remind the Nine [magistrates] of just how much was at stake as they made their decisions". The 14th century was a turbulent time for politics in Italian cities, due to constant violent party struggles; governments were overthrown, and governments were reinstated.
See Wikipedia HERE.

Carrie Ann Baade's painting "Allegory of Bad Government" inspired by Lorenzetti, and also by The Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland, depicts figures as guests who embody traits such as Cruelty, Greed, War, Hate, with echoes of the seven deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, and Sloth. Tyranny’s cape is the tablecloth. The painting is both political critique as well as commentary on our internal states of mind.

Click on image for a clearer, larger view.

I shall point out all the gnashing greedy teeth, the waste lying around below, and...look to centre back of the painting: a pair of eyes with tentacles of yellow hair above...remind you of anyone? I shall now leave it to any passing stray readers to relate further allegorical inferences to....well, ya know!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Woman & Man

Yesterday's hike in the red rose and heart-filled card market has receded for another year. With Valentine's core idea still in mind, here's something I came across the other day:

"A woman without her man is nothing."

Huh? Not exactly!

This example of what a little colon and comma can do has made the rounds on the internet for a while now. Never mind, it hasn't seen the light of day here, so -

As the story goes, a professor told his class to correctly punctuate the sentence.

The males in the classroom wrote:
“A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

The women in the class wrote:
“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
With just a simple change in punctuation, the entire meaning of the sentence was changed in an instant.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


The Day of St Valentine is here once again. Daft, commercialised and a tad trite as it has become, it's basically all about love and good feelings...that could never be all bad.

No sloppy luv and kisses here, just a poem I especially like, dedicated to any and all whose words help in keeping me sane in this mad, mad world.

William Stafford's
A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Zaria Gorvett's article "You are surprisingly likely to have a living doppelganger" is a good read. It begins:
It’s on your passport. It’s how criminals are identified in a line-up. It’s how you’re recognised by old friends on the street, even after years apart. Your face: it’s so tangled up with your identity, soon it may be all you need to unlock your smartphone, access your office or buy a house.

Underpinning it all is the assurance that your looks are unique. And then, one day your illusions are smashed.

The piece had me recalling something from an old post of mine:
Facial features can be arranged on a human being in a limited number of ways, so it's surprising that we don't notice more look-alikes. Outside of family resemblances, which are to be expected, there aren't too many people with facial likenesses strong enough to confuse us. There are a few though, I came across an instance recently. In an episode of Boston Legal, we couldn't decide whether one of the characters was being played by an actor we knew from Eureka. "He's broader", I kept trying to convince myself..."the Eureka guy is slimmer built, but...erm - he could have put on weight for the part".

Colin Ferguson who plays the sheriff in Eureka, and Mark Valley of Boston Legal, Human Target - and Fringe were the two who originally had me confused. There's a third guy who could be added to this particular look-alike list: Joel Gretsch of The 4400.

From the top: Colin, Mark, Colin, Mark, and Joel.


Astrologically, appearance is said to relate mainly to the rising sign - though I would guess that Sun and Moon signs, or any sign heavily emphasised or strongly placed on an angle, could also influence looks. I've personally come to recognise a limited number of astrology-related facial/physical features in people I've met. Gemini:wiry or skinny, bony face; Capricorn/Aquarius/Saturn: a definite look with regular features (hard to describe in words); Cancer: round face, tending towards chubbiness; and of course the famous magnetic Scorpio eyes, and the lustrous Leo hair.

Without times of birth, without knowing rising signs and Moon placement for the three guys mentioned, it's not possible conduct a proper investigation into whether astrology has any bearing on their facial likeness.

Colin Ferguson - born 22 July 1972, Montreal, Canada.
Mark Valley - born 24 December 1964 Ogdensburg, NY.
Joel Gretsch - born 20 December 1963, St. Cloud MN.

I've compared 12 noon charts for the three and can find only one point of (almost) convergence between 28 Sag and 2 Capricorn: Colin Ferguson has Jupiter at 00 Capricorn, Mark Valley has Sun at 2 Capricorn and Joel Gretsch has Sun at 28 Sagittarius. If their rising signs were somewhere around that area it'd be amazing!

There's a non-astrological possibility for the likeness too, though I've no evidence to support it: Scottish ancestry. The look they share has a definite Scottish flavour.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday ~ This Week's Highway Earworm

Watching a movie deposited this earworm into the shell-like of your friendly neighbourhood blogger. Movie in question: Our Souls at Night, available via Netflix currently. The movie stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda both in their (ahem) twilight years, and both, amazingly enough, even older than me! The Roger Ebert website has a decent review HERE.

The film is set in Colorado, it appears that the characters actually live on the flatter eastern side of the state, but in part of the story they take a camping trip to the wonderfully scenic Rocky Mountains area further west. As they drive along scenic highways in a truck this number is played - I hadn't heard it for years, used to love it. Now it's in my head - and I don't mind one little bit.
Willie and Kris are still with us, sadly Waylon and Johnny are not - and yet, as the song reminds us, they really are!