Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Words of Wisdom

An ocean breeze puts the mind at ease. --Unknown

Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. --Ernest Hemingway

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. --Jane Austen

If you accomplish something good with hard work, the labor passes quickly, but the good endures. If you do something shameful in pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure passes quickly but the shame endures. --Gaius Musonius Rufus

Social media made y'all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it. --Mike Tyson

America is a deeply moral nation and it has a set of founding principles upon which that morality is based. --Mike Pompeo

Tears come from the heart, not from the brain. --Leonardo da Vinci

Now more than ever, your home should be a sanctuary. --Debbie Jones-Permenter

No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth. --Plato

Happiness is the greatest middle finger of all time. --Unknown

People who have achieved success are often referred to as "privileged", especially by the intelligentsia. Achievements used to be a source of inspiration for others but have been turned into a source of grievance for those without comparable achievements. --Thomas Sowell

An evil enemy will burn his own nation to the rule over the ashes. 
--Sun Tzu

People think I'm anti-social because I don't join their conversations. The truth is, I don't give a damn what they're talking about most of the time. --Heath Ledger

Big media companies, no one believes you any more. You lost your credibility a long time ago. --Elon Musk

When I was at home I was in a better place. --William Shakespeare

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. --Deepak Chopra

The strength of a nation drives from the integrity of the home. --Confucius

Infecting the minds of our youth with what passes today for education but what clearly has morphed, over the years, into simple indoctrination, may have a worse effect than illness. --Sam Sorbo

If socialists understood economics, they wouldn't be socialists. --Fredrich von Hayek

I need a break from all the noise. I want to breathe clean air, swim in clear blue water and listen to the stillness. I want to be out where things are simple and every breath is a reminder that there is still beauty and magic left in this world. --Brooke Hampton

We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are. --Max Depree

All conditioned things are impermanent. Work on your own salvation with diligence. --Buddha

Friday, October 30, 2020

Who just won the jury duty lottery? THIS. GIRL.

So this drama has been going on for a few months.

In July I received a notice for jury duty in mid-August. I don't usually mind doing this, but I was assigned to a courthouse in downtown L.A. and this was after the rioting had started. I was seeing footage of things like The Grove being looted, streets and freeways being blocked, motorists being accosted and their vehicles being damaged, people being attacked on trains, and no one responding to the attacks. I wasn't about to drive into DTLA and didn't feel safe being on the Metro, especially since I couldn't carry my usual arsenal of pepper spray and a small but extremely sharp knife if I was going into a courthouse. 

So of course I got on social media and bitched about it, as we do in this day and age. And I was informed that I could request a change of venue. Again, I don't mind doing jury duty, but I do have an aversion to placing myself in a potentially dangerous situation and/or location, especially for the benefit of some law-breaking dirtbag. I lived in Hollywood for fifteen years with a minimum of issues, so I trust my gut on these things. And with all the crazyness going on, my gut told me to avoid downtown Los Angeles like the plague. 

It turned out that I could request a change of venue via the L.A. Courts online portal. So I did. I explained as tactfully as I could that I didn't mind doing it, but I didn't want to go downtown or on the Metro these days due to the "unrest" (I purposefully avoided calling them riots - which is exactly what they were - because, you know, Los Angeles and political correctness and all that bullshit). I asked that I be assigned to a court closer to home. I also figured that if the change was rejected, at least I'd be done with it all by the time my week in the middle of August was done.

I requested a change of venue. What I got was the same courthouse, but with my jury duty week changed to late October, in fact, the week right before the election. My tax dollars at work.

Which means that I could have been done with this crap a couple months ago. Instead I had to wait until the very end of October. And that week was this week. I braced myself for it.

The system has changed since I was last called for jury duty. In the past, you could call in starting at 4:45pm the day before to find out if you had to report. Now you have to wait until 7pm. You can also check in online. 

So this is what happened:

Saturday, I logged on to watch the orientation and it turned out they already had my Monday non-assignment. So I was off the hook for Monday.

For the rest of the week, each night I watched the clock inch toward 7pm. Tuesday: "You do not need to report." I emailed The Brother each day: "Three down, two to go." Wednesday night I learned I didn't need to report on Thursday, which was the good news. The bad news, I felt, was that if I was called in Friday, my jury duty might bleed into the following week and possibly longer if I was chosen to be on a jury, and for reasons that I think are sad but obvious, I didn't want to be anywhere near DTLA on or after election day.

So last night I watched the clock lurch slowly towards 7pm. I couldn't believe I would get lucky enough to get through the whole week without being summoned. It has actually happened once before, years ago, when I worked for a post-production house and got called for jury duty during pilot season. I didn't know at the time I could request a delay, so every day at quarter to five I called in to see if I was going to be at work or at court the next day and surprisingly made it through the whole week without being called in, much to the relief of my boss. 

And lo and behold, last night I log on to the L.A. Courts portal and find a message that I have completed my jury duty service, and thank you very much.

I called The Brother and told him I just won the jury duty lottery. I think a lot of it has to do with the COVID-19 crap; they can't call several hundred people in to sit in a room all day waiting to see if their services will be needed. But whatever. 

This kind of made up for them not moving me to a closer courthouse. By the way, the reason given for not moving me was that the courthouses are supposed to be assigned at random. Yeah, right. This is the first time I was assigned to this particular courthouse, one other time I was sent to San Fernando, other than that I had done multiple jury duty services at the same exact courthouse every time. Not terribly random. And it also didn't explain why they changed my dates, which I didn't request. But whatever. I've done my civic duty and I'm done with it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

There's a 40 million dollar house for sale in Pasadena

Get your checkbooks out:

"Get Pre-Qualified..."

You can check it out here on Trulia.

To be fair, it was once on the market for $52 million. In fact, the whole price history is kinda wonky.

A bit out of my price range. Seriously, what do you do for a living that you buy a $40 mil house and it isn't even on the beach?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Recent reading: "Dodsworth"


Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis

I'd seen the excellent film version of Dodsworth in the past, but I didn't really get hooked on it until TCM ran it recently and I rewatched it a couple of times and got really caught up in the story and characters.

Lewis's Elmer Gantry is one of my two all-time favorite novels (Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth is the other) and I'd also read his Babbitt years ago, but I'd never read Dodsworth. And I have to admit I'm glad I saw the film first because as much as I love the story, parts of the book can be exhausting, with a lot of long-winded conversations. The film version also tightens up the amount of traveling, getting more quickly into the increasing issues between the uncomplicated, down-to-earth Sam and his increasingly frivolous and wayward wife Fran.

The 1929 novel was adapted for the stage in 1934, and the film version was released in 1936. According to the TCM introduction, Walter Huston, who played Sam on stage, had it written into his contract that he would also get the role in the film. Good call, because he's excellent (as are the rest of the cast, which includes Mary Astor and Ruth Chatterton).

The story revolves around Sam Dodsworth, who has sold his successful automobile manufacturing company and retired at the relatively young age of fifty. This decision has been heavily influenced by his wife, Fran (Chatterton). With their children (child in the movie) grown and having put in her time as a wife and member of a society she has become to feel is dull and beneath her, Fran is eager to head to Europe to begin a new life as a cultured expatriate, while Sam is under the impression that it's an extended vacation that will end up with their return home. 

Fran, however, sees herself as having more in common with the European life she considers far superior to what she left behind and her snobbery begins to drive a wedge between them. The devoted Sam wavers between wanting to indulge Fran and wearying of her pretension. Another issue is her flirtations; Fran is a few years younger than Sam and can pass for even younger, and we learn of her fear of getting old. She enjoys the attention she receives from the European men they meet, while Sam vacillates between knowing she needs to feel desirable and being offended by her making a spectacle of herself, and making him feel unsophisticated and inadequate. In both the novel and film there's a stunning scene where Fran learns that she and Sam have just become grandparents thanks to their daughter Emily. Fran is at first ecstatic at the news, then horrified by the idea of her latest young admirer finding out she's a grandmother. The additional awkward scene from the film where she claims to be celebrating her thirty-fifth birthday (not fooling anyone) does not appear in the book.

Eventually one of Fran's admiring young men, Count Kurt von Obersdorf, becomes so smitten that he proposes marriage. Fran has come to view Sam as boring and a barrier to her living the sophisticated European lifestyle she imagines as her true self and her right, and after yet another argument she finally drops the axe on their marriage.

Among the many people Sam and Fran meet during their travels is the American widow Edith Cortwright (Astor). As the Dodsworth marriage is shattered by Fran's increasing pretension and flirtations, Edith is a stark contrast - down-to-earth, without Fran's petulant shallowness or need for attention. While waiting for his divorce to go through, Sam wanders Europe and ends up running into Edith again in Italy. They click and it seems as though Sam has found someone who can appreciate and encourage him, the opposite of what he had been receiving from Fran.

Then Sam gets a frantic call from Fran. Before asking for her hand, Obersdorf failed to run the idea past his elderly, imperious mother. Recognizing that Fran is much older than Kurt, the countess brutally torpedoes the idea of marriage, pointing out that Kurt deserves to have a wife who can give him children and describing Fran as "the older wife of a younger man." Unfortunately for Fran, Kurt is devoted to his mother and won't marry without her blessing, suggesting they wait to see if mom comes around. Fran is livid and humiliated that he won't stand up for her and when Kurt departs with his mother, Fran calls Sam in a panic, begging him to come get her and take her home. Sam reluctantly tells Edith he has to take care of his wife and he departs, leaving Edith shattered.

On the ship back to America it becomes clear that Fran has learned nothing from her experiences. She seems oblivious to what she has put Sam through, much less imagining that he may have sacrificed something for her. When her unrepentant snobbery rears its ugly head yet again, Sam realizes nothing is going to change. He leaves Fran and returns to Edith.

In addition to tightening up the long florid speeches, the film (and I'm assuming the play, as they were both adapted by Sidney Howard) did a better job of making Sam more of a man who knows who he is and isn't going to put on airs. In the novel he caved to Fran so frequently and seemed so beset by self-doubts despite his accomplishments that I sometimes found it frustrating that he wouldn't stand up to her. Granted, as a drama queen Fran was a formidable opponent, but it got old after a while. I much prefer the film version. I'd also love to see it on stage, although I'm not sure how much of a candidate it is for a revival.

The film version of Dodsworth received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay for Howard, Best Director for William Wyler (the first of many), Best Actor for Huston, and Best Supporting Actress for Maria Ouspenskaya, who appeared in all of one scene as Kurt's mother. It won for Best Art Direction. 

"I'm delighted. Of course. Dear Emily! She'll be so happy. But Sam, don't you realize that Kurt - oh, I don't mean Kurt individually of course, I mean all our friends in Europe - They think of me as young. Young! And I am, oh, I am. And if they know I'm a grandmother - God! A grandmother! Oh Sam, can't you see? It's horrible! It's the end, for me! Oh, please, please, please try to understand! Think! I was so young when I married. It isn't fair for me to be a grandmother now, at under forty." With swiftness he calculated that Fran was now forty-three. "A grandmother! Lace caps and knitting and rheumatism! Oh, please try to understand! It isn't that I'm not utterly happy for Emily's sake, but - I have my own life, too! You mustn't tell Kurt!! Ever!"

Monday, October 19, 2020

Yes Yes Yes


I can keep adding to this all day.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

From the Department of It's Funny Cuz It's True


Well, they are!

Friday, October 16, 2020

"I hope like 300 kids egg your house..."

 OK, I thought this was funny:

Some states are wide open, California is still dealing with this shit.

Seriously, world-class places like California and Los Angeles deserve better. 

Since I'm in an apartment I don't get trick-or-treaters, but I wouldn't mind seeing a 4th of July type of reaction from fed-up Angelenos. Remember when our political betters told us not to celebrate that holiday, and everyone did just the opposite and lit up the sky, because fuck corrupt career politicians? Yeah, something like that. 

Updated 10/17/20: More California "leadership" humor. Yeah, we the people are fed up:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

We're getting a new season of "Dexter"!!! Best news ever, or best news EVER???

 Now THIS is how you get my attention!

Showtime has ordered a new, 10-episode season of one of my favorite shows ever. Apparently showrunner Clyde Phillips and star Michael C. Hall came up with the concept, which makes me feel even better about it. The new Dexter episodes are scheduled to air in fall of 2021.

Oh, thank you TV Gods!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Technology humor


Tip 'o the hat to Tropical Life, Food and Fun on FB.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dear media:

Thanks, me.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

OMG this is the greatest cat song ever!

Cleveland comedian Mike Polk, Jr. penned this ode to his cat, and it's hilarious:

What's also crazy is how much this kitteh looks like a baby Sophie.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

When I was at home...

"When I was at home I was in a better place." (William Shakespeare)

This is the first picture I took in Marina del Rey when I first moved there. Just looking at that water makes me desperate to be there. I miss it so much. I miss my old apartment. I felt so at home there, like I'd finally landed where I was meant to be. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The "Mank" trailers are out and they are amazeballs

David Fincher's upcoming film Mank tells the story of Herman J. Mankiewicz's struggle to write the classic Citizen Kane. The trailers were released yesterday and this just became my next must-see movie. It will have a theatrical release in November before Netflix starts streaming it December 4.

A couple cool factoids about Mank from the IndieWire article linked above:

Netflix's synopsis for "Mank" reads: "1930's Hollywood is re-evaluated though the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles."

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the director's longtime composers and Oscar winners for "The Social Network", are providing the film's original score. To keep with the film's period setting, Reznor and Ross relied only on instruments that would be available at the time, which means fans shouldn't expect a synth-oriented score.

Gary Oldman, who just won an Oscar last year for playing Winston Churchill, plays Mankiewicz. I wouldn't be surprised if he's looking at another Oscar nomination.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Birthday Boy

My Dad would have turned 80 years old today. Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

You know they've got a hell of a band

I'd been hearing for years that he's had health problems, but it was still a shock to see this pop up on my Facebook feed a few minutes ago: guitar legend Eddie Van Halen has died. You know, just in case 2020 wasn't sucking enough for you.

We now live in a world in which David Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty, Ric Ocasek, and now Eddie Van Halen no longer exist. And that just sucks.

RIP Eddie and thanks for all the great music.

Updated 5:28pm: The death of Johnny Nash, singer-songwriter of the classic "I Can See Clearly Now" was just announced. He was 80 and had been in declining health in recent months. Rough day for music fans.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Success story

Got great news this weekend - I'm being published again! My short story "Christine Thirteen" was accepted for the next anthology from Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. I got the notification Saturday morning and the official announcement was made at SinC/LA's monthly online meeting this afternoon. The anthology, titled Avenging Angelenos, will be published in March 2021.

This gives me two milestones - for the first time, I will be published in consecutive years, and also for the first time I will be published more than once in a year. Progress!!!

And how's this for irony - I actually wrote this story for SinC/LA's 2019 anthology Fatally Haunted and it wasn't chosen. I think it actually fits the Avenging Angelenos theme much better. All's well that ends well!