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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Arthur and Kevin's Nellorat's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
    11:55 am
    Fat & Doctors II
    So, discussing my gyno appointment with womzilla, he told me that his hematologist simply refused to treat him further unless W. lost weight. In one way, this is inexcusable, in that the inherited clotting problem W. was seeing the doctor for has almost nothing to do with weight. W. has a cardiologist, who is still treating him, and anyone would think it would be the concern of that specialty.

    Well, I said, that's not so bad, I guess. The hematologist did the diagnosis; now that W. knows he has to take blood thinners if, say, he takes a transcontinental flight, the GP can prescribe that.

    Then I found out that he hasn't been to a GP in several years!

    I don't know how that slipped under my radar. supergee was surprised, also. I think that because W. is so regular about going to the dentist, his ENT, and the cardio, we didn't notice the lack of GP visits.

    I asked W. to promise to, within a week or two, make a GP appointment; he considered and then agreed. He may go back to his old GP, who nagged him about weight but was personable and nice in other ways, or he may ask the cardiologist for a recommendation.

    So I'm temporarily satisfied and hope to be fully relieved soon.

    BUT SHIT!!! W. is not stupid, is good with medical self-care in other ways--but here is a fat person whose blood pressure has not been measured in some years! And if the hematological problem were an ongoing serious issue, that doctor could have fat-phobia'd W. to death. Last night, I became almost more indignant on W.'s behalf than on my own.

    But, as nigelpuggle could certainly attest, the assholery of physicians may be a universal substance of even greater heft than general stupidity and dark matter, and we all just have to do what we can to get the best care we can. I know that now that W. has promised, he'll follow through.

    For my own part, I decided that exercising two days per week is a small, incremental change I can manage. Also, a long flirtation with milk products showed that they aren't good for my blood sugar, my weight, or--almost certainly--my arteries, so for now I'm back to pisco-vegan. (Eggs seem OK health-wise, and free-range eggs are less cruel than almost all milk products; right now I'm not eating them, but I'm not sure about the future.) I have a truly dysfunctional relationship with cheese, which makes me happy and which I feel I love, but which is cruel to me; but once again I've kicked cheese to the curb.

    Status: time for lunch!
    11:31 am
    Fat & Doctors I
    Once again, I seem to have successfully negotiated fatphobia with a new physician, but I'm not sure it's over, and the whole experience was very stressful.

    As you know, Bob</a>, yesterday morning I finally went to a gyno after a number of years just not doing so. On an amusing side-note, from the reaction of the physician's assistance who did the new-patient intake and of the doctor, it's apparently very unusual for someone without a specific complaint to go to a new doctor after not going anywhere for years. (And yes, I usually get in to the dentist because of a specific problem.) My main reason for the appointment was to be checked for various cancers; he took a pap smear & I have appointments later this month for a mammogram and a pelvic sonogram. The sonogram is not for any symptoms or issues but because it's hard to do a good physical pelvic exam on someone of my weight. I've had them before & am happy for the referral. I also asked about menopausal narrowing of the vagina and the estrogen cream I'd heard of that might help.

    When we talked, though, he just had to tell me all about the real threat to my health: my BMI. It was the first major thing out of his mouth: the menopausal changes are an issue to you, but they're nothing compared to this threat to your life. Yes, he did! He started out carefully explaining what BMI is, with a little calculating wheel and everything. He may even have used the word "ridiculous" for my BMI number.

    When I was seeking help for my extreme menstrual pain, I had a set speech, but now I found myself almost caught flat-footed. And the whole thing--talking to a doctor like this about weight has to be done so carefully, and because he was very terse and businesslike in his exam, I had almost no sense of him as a person. Some doctors are impressed by medical terms, while others are actually offended. (One doctor said accusingly to a friend, "Where did you learn those words?") You have to be firm, but if you come off as adversarial, that can spoil the whole relationship. And unless you feel like sitting through the opening talk, you have to interrupt, maybe repeatedly, which is not polite with anyone and which doctors are often totally unused to.

    This time I think it went about as well as can be expected, although I cried afterwards to supergee in the car & still felt significantly upset as late as last night.

    Because of the lack of practice, I even almost forgot to mention that I have lost between fifty and seventy-five pounds three times in my life. When I did,

    Dr.: That's very difficult.
    Me: No, it's very easy--for me it was very easy. It's keeping it off that's hard, and I won't do anything that isn't sustainable.

    In another exchange, I could identify with and appreciate his verbal pickiness:

    Me: The only way to lose that much weight is surgery--
    Dr.: No, it isn't.
    Me: For me. For me it is. (Dr. nods.) And I've really considered it very thoroughly and decided against it.

    At least, unlike the neurologist I saw a long time ago, he didn't push me to WLS.

    One thing I think helped was that I did admit that I am aware of risks to my health because of the weight. This is only realistic, and I think if I had tried a doctrinaire fat-acceptance approach, he would have just argued with me. As it is, I said I had read extensively, even in bariatric journals, and I feel I am doing almost all I can--although I should exercise more than once per week & I do always keep working on my eating for diabetic control and other aspects of health.

    He ended up saying that I was pleasant to talk to (whew, relief) and had an interesting, "academic" way of talking (also relief). At least he listened to me.

    Well, so he's not horrible. Unless something awful happens, I'll only have to see him once per year for a check-up and referrals, and if something awful does happen, I'd be seeing a different specialist in the same medical complex anyway: they have a huge, state-of-the-art gynecological oncology department, which I hope to never use but am glad to have access to.

    But--shit! And I was so happy that the paper gowns were nice and roomy even on me!

    Btw, apparently the vaginal cream is less like Viagra and more like Cialis, in that you take it regularly, and so it does raise systemic estrogen, though not nearly as much as HRT. I'm waiting to make sure my boobies are totally healthy: if not, of course I just use KY Jelly, and if so, I'll then research & consider the risks vs. benefits.

    Mood: still cranky about this
    Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
    1:40 pm
    Hobby Question
    Do any of y'all know of a spray (preferably) or painted coat that I could put over acrylic paint on plastic miniatures to keep the paint from chipping off?

    One major part-time obsession current hobby of mine is a miniature zoo. When I was young, my family brought youngersib and me plastic animals made by Britains Ltd, very detailed and to-scale animals and people. The company began with military miniatures in lead; a friend of mine has a whole collection of those. The scale is called 54mm, because that's how tall a person is; it's also 1:32, or 1/32 the size of the real creatures. As a child, I mainly owned zoo animals and horses with riders. Some years ago, I saw a bunch of new zoo animals (but clearly the same molds) for sale in a toy store, and started collecting them again.

    Eventually I was building my own miniature zoo. As presents, I got some of the more obscure (hence expensive) ones, such as the platypus off, eBay. Then I started buying animals from other companies that worked in plastic at the same scale (or nearly so), such as Elastolin, Starlux (from France, a little on the large size, but OK and really cool), Veb Plaho (German, ditto), Linde (Austria, needs painting but a great size), as well as select porcelain animals. While vintage lead Britains animals can go for over $150, these are generally $3 to $15 apiece. It's still possible to rack up big bills--in fact, checking those company names on the site of my favorite eBay seller, junglejim, I was tempted and did buy, and I'll probably ask womzilla to block eBay from my computer again when he gets home. However, it's practical for an ongoing hobby.

    The final step, and in many ways the most enjoyable, has been customizing animals, even using different scale animals. For instance, a lead wolverine miniature on a smaller scale, painted correctly, makes a great honey badger. (That honey badger is some of my best work to date,although, ironically, the honey badger hirself don't care!) Beyond that, I started using an Exacto knife to reconfigure animals before painting (for instance, an ostrich into an emu) and finally using green putty to reshape or add to the basic shape (an oversized stoat into an otter).

    This hobby work has brought me back to my earlier interest in zoology, as instead of a general category (deer, antelope) my miniatures are now of specific species (Sika deer, mule deer; greater kudu, impala). It was fun to find out the exact species Britains followed. Now, I love to investigate new species, including where each animal goes geographically, sexual dimorphism, color variations (including albino/melanistic variants), and other issues relevant to a miniature zoo. The activity provides a great combo of low-level nerdish zoology research, crafting skills at just about my right level of dexterity (my painting most isn't good enough to sell, but it's fine by me), and the joy Little Nellorat has always had playing with these animals. And I like the creative problem solving, too: for instance, I just figured out that for some antelopes, I should start with oversize goats, rather than the deer that work for so many. Tellingly, when I worked on customizing my miniature zoo animals for several days, my blood sugar was astonishingly good--it's calming, pleasing, and consumes my attention in the right way. Hard to ask more from a hobby.

    Anyway, I've been meaning to write about this for a while. I'm sure I'll post pics eventually, but don't hold your breath. But can you help with the question?

    Status: hungry, but, thanks to supergee, brekkie awaits
    Monday, March 10th, 2014
    12:42 pm
    A Literal F*ckwad
    I'm sure that, like so many of my interests, it show what a perverse, debased person I am, but I really enjoy the comic book, originally written by Garth Ennis, called The Crossed. It's like a zombie end-of-the-world story if the zombies had a bit more intelligence and were motivated by sex, ultraviolence, and sex as well as just cannibalism.
    The title is because the infected develop a cross-shaped rash across their faces. Highlights include one of the crossed sodomizing a dolphin's blowhole and the crossed wearing decorations made of various body parts. womzilla won't read it on a crowded train; I figure anyone looking at what I'm reading on the subway is doing so at hir own risk.

    Recently, I found out that W. had been holding back comics--that is, not telling me they had arrived & he'd picked them up at the store in Manhattan--because we'd missed an issue & so I'd be reading those without the proper background. He kept them all and gave them to me when he had downloaded the missing issues onto my computer. Yes, kind, but yes, W. can be just a wee bit paternalistic in making such decisions for me, and he now knows not to ever, ever do that again.

    Anyway, the stack included, I am not exaggerating, six to eight issues of The Crossed.

    When I had read them and handed them back to him, I said, "That was a f*ckwad of comics. A literal f*ckwad."

    Mood: semi-cheerful
    Friday, March 7th, 2014
    11:50 am
    New Filter: Writing
    I've started a filter for my entries about writing, the biggest "reshape my life" issue on my mind now. Based on past comments and close relationships, I included about a dozen of you, but if I wasn't 100% sure, I erred on the side of not bothering you! So if you didn't get my long post about writing joys & woes but would like to, just comment here.

    Status: time for breakfast
    Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
    11:26 am
    Despite womzilla's perfectly reasonable point that cleaning out one's e-mail box is typical cat-vaccuming behavior, I just really felt uneasy about not doing so. I usually trust my intuitions, so I went with it.

    Last night and today I found out why. Now, some time last year, my e-mail switched from putting new e-mail at the head of the queue to putting it under older e-mail it is a follow-up to. I thought I'd accounted for that, but as I cleaned up old e-mail, I found out two vital, upsetting things:

    1) The turn-down for my proposal for a collection of essays on alternative sexualities and fantasy may not have been absolute, but suggestions for issues to address! It's hard to tell; and even if that was possible then, it might not be now. But I sent out a response asking.

    2) I may not be presenting at the ICFA! There was e-mail about some added info on my paper that was needed, saying the proposal for the session needed to be handed in soon. I've sent e-mail asking if it can still be added, even though the conference is only two weeks away, just because sometimes two papers are put in a three-paper session.

    But--shij! Loss of potential AND I look like a flake. Great.

    I've cleared out e-mail back to December 2012 and feel somewhat better, but this is all very upsetting. And unless we three can figure out how to change my e-mail queue system, I have to continue cleaning out old e-mail.

    Final irony: Instead of finding it a calming way to procrastinate, I find the process interesting but so emotionally taxing that I'd actually rather be doing much more productive work, such as writing.

    Mood: optimistic yet grumpy
    Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
    4:01 pm
    TV Shows I Like
    I probably watch too much TV, but I can't understand people who take pride in watching none at all: to me, some of those statements (not all) seem to be saying, "I don't sort the babies out from the bathwater, and you should praise how intellectual that makes me." With the ubiquity of DVR technology & recommendations/reviews on social media, it's easier than ever to enjoy the grain without the chaff.

    I have my semi-guilty pleasures (*Shark Tank*, *Dr. Phil*, *Hoarding: Buried Alive*) and shows I only watch while I'm eating, cleaning up my nests, or doing other chores (judge shows, *Everybody Loves Raymond*, *Seinfeld*), but I also tivo and deliberately watch shows that are well crafted and do much more than just entertain for a while. Here are a few, in no particular order:

    1) *Two Broke Girls*: This season isn't as good as the past two seasons, but it's still one of the three comedies I can think of in which the scripting is at least as clever as conversations among us three and with our friends. The anti-short jokes (at the expense of the diner's owner) are annoying, but I like almost all of the sex jokes, which is really rare. Also, a horse.

    2) *The Big Bang Theory*: One of the other two comedies I can think of in which the scripting is at least as clever as conversations with the two guys and our friends. I like that the characters have changed and matured over time & new relationship issues have come about naturally. Also, despite taking a distressing number of seasons to get there, like *Two Broke Girls* a winner in regard to the Bechdel test.

    3) "Community*: The earlier seasons are even better, but it has snappier nerd humor than *The Big Bang Theory* while having a wider appeal as well. The show often has the courage to slip right past a joke instead of waving it in your face. Also bizarre original myths, such as the puissance of the Greendale Air Conditioning Repair School. Also, Inspector Spacetime.

    1) *Bob's Burgers*: The ads didn't do much for me; we checked it out because Womzilla heard that it got better as it went on, and I'm very glad. At its best, it's at least as funny as *The Simpsons* (which does deserve kudos for keeping its quality and appeal up so very, very long) with more enjoyable characters, quirky but real. The three kids are very different and have key characteristics but aren't just, well, cartoons. Favorite moments: A musical performance at his school in which the son has turned the real event in which Edison electrocuted an elephant named Topsy into a love story; a fantasia based on Disney in which the wife hallucinates animal anuses, based on her sister's paintings.

    2) *Archer*: Satire of spy/espionage cinema with real action and amusing twists; quite a range of characters, including a scientist with a hologram anime girlfriend & the title character, the son of the spy agency and handsome, arrogant, socially clueless idiot savant of spycraft. Also one of my fave fat female characters, Pam Poovey

    1) *Hannibal*: Go back to the first show for this to make any sense, but it's well worth it, a kind of alternate world version of the Harris novels and their movies, but with Will Graham more like he is in the novels than any movie except the original *Red Dragon*. I loved that the recent episode replayed *Silence of the Lambs*, down to dialogue, with the roles reversed. The show's pacing and characterization gives it an eerie, dissociated feeling much of the time, more disturbing than the bloody crimes, which says a lot.

    2) *True Detective*: What is it with noir detective shows and antlers, huh? Here we have noir detectives in Louisiana without many of the usual cliches, and with mentions of the King in Yellow and Carcosa (from R. W. Chambers, Ambrose Bierce, and H. P. Lovecraft). The show teases the viewer, with equal likelihood that it will turn out supernatural or not. (I'm currently betting not, but I wouldn't bet much.) I was wowed that in the early shows, Woody Harrelson played the normal, non-crazy cop, although that is much, much less true now. Visually striking, and interesting intercutting of events in at least three time frames (1990s, 2002, now).

    3) *The Walking Dead*: Doesn't need my praise but still deserves it. Like Romero, Kirkman knows that the living dead are indispensable, but it's really all about the people.

    *King of the Nerds*: When I saw the first ads for this, I thought it would be fake and repugnant. Actually, it is done with both love and deep understanding of nerd culture from online gaming to space engineering. Last episode, the two teams navigated a laser-light maze and solved a math problem about tribbles to free George Takei and win the round. Also, it's so cute when nerds try to go all Machiavellian! This season, it's now down to five people and just about to start individual, not team, competition. Watch an episode if only to see Zach, the kind of emotionally fragile yet megalomaniacal nerd we all cringe at. Also, the Throne of Games.

    I did this because I realized I love these shows and enjoy talking about them, but I hardly ever talk TV on LJ.

    Did any of y'all find this interesting and/or helpful?

    Mood: meh
    Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
    8:53 pm
    Spooky, Spooky
    Some things that seem to be inherently scary:

    *Sped-up footage of basically anything except a flower opening

    *A child's swing moving without anyone sitting in it or pushing it

    *Clowns anywhere except in a circus ring

    *An empty fair or amusement park at night

    *Any scene empty of people with the soundtrack of one person whistling

    Why is that?

    Mood: tired, grumpy
    Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
    12:12 pm
    Heaven and Hell
    My beloved spouse supergee in his LJ entry links to a psychological study showing that belief in Hell causes unhappiness.

    As I say in a comment there, "Right in your own home, there's a Christian (however wonky) who believes that Hell likely is not purely metaphorical and is eternal (not infinite) but who isn't any unhappier for it." In that comment I discuss a little what I think makes the emotional difference.

    Here I thought I'd talk about what I do believe about the afterlife.

    First, by "purely metaphorical" I actually mean purely fictional, or a metaphor for some kind of psychological, social, and/or dharmic* punishment of evil behavior in this lifetime. One foundation of all my religious belief is that almost by definition, it's beyond human corporeal understanding and so pretty much everything we say about religion, God, and the afterlife is inherently metaphorical to some extent.

    Also, while I accept Christianity as probably the best template for what I have experienced and learned about the afterlife, my views are open in that I think (in part because any description is metaphorical) that (1) no one really knows what's after death until, well, after death, and (2) our own consciousness will be so changed that even if we did experience that condition now, it wouldn't be the same experience.

    With that in mind, though, I do think that the afterlife will be eternal: not an infinite extension of space and time as we know them, but an existence/perception without any limitations of space and time. This idea makes sense to me because time & space seem to me conditions of the body that need not apply to the incorporeal soul. I can barely imagine what this would be like, but Christian theology does address it; and fictional representations of eternity are one of the things that astound me some of the fiction of Charles Williams.

    The way in which this afterlife could possibly be a Heaven or Hell is that I think that (1) choice is only possible in the face of time, and thus (2) whatever we are when we die, that's what we are in eternity. Now, I'm even less sure here than about the rest: I can theoretically accept the idea of some kind of change without choice, but I can't even conceive of it abstractly or metaphorically.

    Of all the writings on Hell that I've read, I like best "We are punished not for our sins but by them." But that still implies some outside agent that could be merciful but instead decides to hurt us, even if it is us.

    Laying this out in an orderly fashion now, I just realized that I have always assumed that an eternity of being an immoral person would be inherently unpleasant compared to an eternity of being a moral person. I do think this is true in two ways:

    1) Union with God is always described as good and pleasant, so that being cut off from that is relative pain in itself. I do think that accords with what I know of union with God while I am still alive.

    2) A lot of psychology shows that immoral people genuinely are less happy in some specific ways, including effects of the natural assumption that others are like you (a dishonest person generally distrusts others), lack of respect for those around you makes you less happy (the main ways for a dishonest person not to fear the marks is to think of them as beneath contempt), helping others decreases depression, and so on.

    The version of God that I believe in definitely includes not only forgiveness for what we do, but also aid in doing better in the future. In fact, I think that a true prayer for forgiveness pretty much has to include a desire to do better & I believe that such desire is always encouraged and answered.

    So at death, whatever we have done, I think we probably just have to live with that. As sturgeonslawyer pointed out (in a keen insight that was new to me), we live with the awful things we did and how we did better in the future, even made up for the awful things. Nothing goes away, good or bad. Hmm...I can also see how being a more forgiving person leads one to be able to accept eternity better, because of all the forgiving one must constantly do of others and oneself.

    This belief system, although tentative, is not New Age fuzzy at all, and it does mean that some people will have a better afterlife & some much, much worse.

    Sometimes I think that in eternity we can know everything, because of the lack of time & space, and this will be an added source of delight or torture. A murderer will not be told "you go to Hell for being a murderer," but will experience the pain and fear of hir victims, the grief of the victims' loved ones, the grief of hir own loved ones, and so on. And living one's entire life at once would probably mean being in the moment of making wrong choices while knowing they lead to such woe for oneself and others.

    At the least, I do believe that if there is an afterlife, living in certain ways makes one more able to have a good or bad afterlife, and I do try to live in ways that prepare me well for death (inevitable) and the afterlife (which I find likely). I think my basic guidelines are more Christian than anything else, though I also find vital some aspects of Buddhist and gnostic thoughts that tell me to enjoy life but not become too attached to it.

    Let me add, since turning 57 has suddenly made me feel much older, that I hope not to fully know for decades yet.

    * Just helped a student with a college paper on the Ramayana and Mahabarata, and isn't that a better word than "karmic" for how most Westerners use "karmic"?

    Mood: hungry, annoyed for reasons totally unrelated to this post or my bg
    Thursday, February 20th, 2014
    11:52 am
    Monkey See, Monkey Take Warning
    While watching Hoarding: Buried Alive, I decided--in keeping with my resolve to cook more--to make some Jell-O, much cheaper than the store-bought Jell-O cups I've been eating & made with naturally low-sugar, tasty frozen cranberries.

    As I got out the Jell-O mix, I ended up organizing my canned goods, of course finding I had more soup and veggie chili than I thought; throwing out the two significantly outdated cans; and putting the just-outdated cans & other older cans towards the front.

    And sometimes I wonder why I watch the show.

    Mood: restless
    Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
    6:44 pm
    Blood Tests: Good Medical News
    My hbA1c is 6.2, my cholesterol is 180, and my liver and kidneys are fine.

    My GP has a great system for getting me in for regular check-ups: If I'm due but haven't come in, he just refuses to renew my prescriptions.

    Status: laundry
    6:41 pm
    Gender roles: Unequal Nagging
    I recall one study that showed that men tended to have better health if they were married while women tended to have better health if they were not.

    Recently I realized one possible reason for this: I nag the guys about medical care, but they only sometimes do the same for me.

    Now, while some might see this kind of duty as co-dependent, I file it under good cooperative aspects of marriage. It's more reminding than nagging, actually. And, given how much memory can be affected by emotions, it makes sense to me to have person A responsible for remembering to do something that is charged with anxiety for person B but not person A.

    If only it were always equal! But I don't think I'm the only one who does more of it than she gets in return. However, this personal anecdote ends well.

    One dangerous lapse in my health care is that I have been years without a gyno and even longer without a mammogram. Part of the problem is that I would get a referral, but the extra step of phoning for another appointment increased the chances I'd let it slide. So I wanted on-site mammograms or part of the same appointment-making system. This was enough to be daunting.

    However, yesterday I told both womzilla and supergee that since I have a lot of free time today, they had to keep reminding me to find a gyno, and make an appointment, until I did.

    Long story short, I have a gyno appointment for April 14 with someone at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, where I can literally walk across the street with the referral to make the radiology appointment. And it only took three grueling hours on the phone and Womzilla's help with our insurance company's ill-made and ill-informed web site!
    Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
    1:05 am
    Recent cool things about teaching at the academy:

    1) Being able to teach any work I am currently interested in, as long as some high-school student I'm seeing for enrichment in literature will like it, such as Crowley's Little, Big, Salinger's "For Esme, with Love and Squalor," and Helprin's Winter's Tale.

    2) Helping explain Walker Percy's essay "The Loss of the Creature" to a college student by drawing a diagram with one part labeled "woman tripping balls on LSD."

    3) Inspiring a student, assigned "Romeo & Juliet" in school, to really give Shakespeare's work a chance to reveal its wonderfulness.

    4) Helping students recall words through mnemonic associations instead of just brute memorization.

    5) Explaining the four humors as part of a vocabulary lesson.

    Always cool thing I am once again grateful for: Almost never having to give grades per se.

    Mood: cheerful
    Monday, February 17th, 2014
    12:49 pm
    Movie *A Winter's Tale* (Book & Movie spoiler free)
    Having finished re-reading Mark Helprin's novel in preparation, for the first time since I read it when it came out, I saw the movie with womzilla last night.

    To some extent it is, in supergee's indispensible word, a homofilm, best approached as a separate work that happens to share the title with a very different novel. Like Kubrick's The Shining, which I started out disliking but have come to appreciate as a homofilm, it paradoxically includes unchanged (or majorly intact) characters, a selected subset of events that are the same, and even exact bits of dialogue but still manages to change much of the focus, major aspects of the the underlying message/philosophy, and even in some ways genre.

    The novel Winter's Tale is indeed a love story (actually, at least two major ones), but it's a lot more. The movie doesn't even introduce the entire basis of the ending of the novel, the building of a supernatural bridge from the Battery in NYC to Heaven or something like it. (That isn't a spoiler, though who builds it, how, and whether it works would be.) In the novel, Peter Lake's love for Beverly Penn is about 1/3, but all of it is a paean to New York city (& the upstate refuge of a wealthy Manhattanite); in the movie, the love determines the entire narration, and only about half of the movie is as NYC-centric as I'd hoped.

    Other parts of the novel are alluded to but not developed, which some viewers who haven't read the book find confusing. For instance, in the novel the Baymen of Bayonne Marsh, who raise Peter Lake to age 12, have their own fascinating and bizarre society; they are represented in the movie only by brief conference between Peter Lake and a single enigmatic man, who seemed to me coded as Wise and Exotic Non-White (I thought Native America, W. thought Asian).

    Above all, the philosophy is changed. The novel does present some kind of cosmic game or battle underlying worldly events, but it's nowhere near as clear and simple as the battle between good and evil in the movie. To me, this is the change that most makes the film feel so different. In the novel, the effects of the supernatural and earthly realms on each other, and parallels between the two, are subtle and complex--even confusing to a lot of readers, but the exact opposite of simplistic. Simplifying this for the movie was probably inevitable, and I felt the movie does a good job with what it (at variance with the book) set out to do. Changes in Pearly Soames' nature and associates, for instance, often seem like something Helprin might have worked into his approach or have the same kind of magical feel as some elements in the novel.

    As I expected, what the movie does choose to do the same as the book is done very well; and as I expected, this is mostly presenting visuals. The horse is wonderful! (I thought he had his own "cast" entry on the movie website, but I can't find it now.) The indoor and outdoor scenes are rich in light--which is a central motif in both the novel and the book--and seemed to me to have just enough lens flare and other romanticization. The use of color and monochrome is excellent. Fans of the novel will find some of the key images, such as the trapdoor in the sky of Grand Central Station, the baby in the boat, Beverly's rooftop tents, Central Park as a winter fantasia, or Peter Lake and Beverly dancing--even if the plot around such scenes has sometimes changed. Brooklyn Bridge is used well visually.

    I liked the acting, too. In the few reviews I've seen, Russel Crowe as Pearly Soames has been faulted for growling and a lack of facial range, but I felt he captured the character fairly well. Most of all, I felt the acting of Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay made the core love believable, without which the whole movie would have been ridiculous. In fact, the ease and speed with which appropriate partners fall in love seems to me a problem in the novel--I think we're supposed to accept it just as we are supposed to just accept the (other?) supernatural elements, but I just don't apply the same standards--but the looks and tones of voice carried it for me in the movie.

    Of course, I can't say if the movie would totally make sense to someone who hadn't read the book. W. (who has not) weighed in positively about one scene being clear, but I want to discuss that more with him. (Comments, please?) At least I can say that the movie does make sense as well as being--and it is--very beautiful.

    Status: Off to work; should have been preparing to teach the first part of the novel to a student today!
    Saturday, February 15th, 2014
    10:26 am
    fjm makes some cogent and encouraging thoughts about satisfaction with one's appearance.

    And yet--like most related at all to social stigma, this issue is a ghost or other revenant, able to come back again and again and again. As I commented to fjm:

    I should LJ about this myself: I'm still fine with being fat, but I'm having some issues with looking old. One problem is that age and dourness do many of the same things to one's face, such as smaller, tighter lips. My "no particular expression" face used to look much more happy, and now, unless I'm smiling (which fortunately is a lot of the time) I look kind-of tight-ass and critical, when I'm really not. Another is that I've gone from an hourglass shape to more straight up and down, as age (& I think diabetic metabolism) has caused gains around my waist compared to elsewhere.

    Both age and the weight I've settled at do seem to detract from my attractiveness to strangers from, say, 20 years ago, when most of my self-presentation is the same or (due to yoga) better.

    It's been a lesson confirming my beliefs about what doesn't determine physical attractiveness nearly as much as people think (weighing what the insurance charts say we should weigh) but challenging some beliefs about how much physical attractiveness matters to strangers (much more than I thought) and making me look at some aspects of physical attractiveness that I used to fit much more than I do now (youth, hourglass shape).

    However, even with the changes, it's still obvious to me that (1) self-presentation does still count for a great deal, though not as much as I had thought,and (2) all of this is with people who don't know you as a person, and such knowledge does, as you say, surpass superficial judgments.

    I'm now 57, unable to ignore the fact that I'm closer to 60 than to 50, and I'm coming to terms with that. (My unproductive 2014 so far makes this much worse.) But I also am having to come to terms with looking different. It's no revelation that I'm very vain about my appearance, in my own way. Just as age had led me to have to question some dogma about fat and health, it seems to be showing me the limitations to how much attitude and self-esteem can make a person beautiful. Fortunately, just as there is a lot a person can do to improve health besides lose weight, there are many factors of appearance to strangers that do seem still under my control or at least influence.

    Mood: contemplative
    Friday, February 14th, 2014
    9:46 pm
    So Far, Year Is Not So Great
    I know I should have eaten the herring on New Years' Eve and/or New Years' Day!

    I know most families have a "good luck food" tradition, and mine is herring. That's odd, since I think of that as Scandinavian, which we are not; I think it came from my godparents, who used to spend every New Years Eve with us. This year, I thought I could eat it on the 2nd and still get good luck. But no.

    womzilla and supergee are skeptical, but I know something has to explain the sukky year so far.

    Actually, stretches of January were enjoyable, but I didn't get much done other than teaching. First I was recovering from the intense work over Christmas/New Years'. Then I got obsessed with a crafts project, which was enjoyable but not productive in most senses. (Though it was great for my blood sugar, I guess because I was busy but very relaxed.) I was snowed in on my birthday--a long tradition in my Chicago-area childhood--but that was pleasant if low-key.

    Then I lost a couple-three weeks to sciatica.

    It's OK now, and my GP knows all about it but sees no sense in going to MRIs when I've only had two attacks, months apart, and each has gone away with rest in the right positions and gentle stretching. If I didn't push it, I didn't get pain, really, but a low ache. If I did keep moving, though, it did ratchet up pretty quickly. Not too bad, but again, not a recipe for getting much accomplished.

    BTW, if you ever have pain from walking--arthritis, sciatica, etc.--I highly recommend using a cane sooner rather than later. It just helps distribute weight and pressure as you walk in very subtle and useful ways. Also great for getting seats on the subway. (Not to mention other uses I resisted but contemplated occasionally as pain disimproved my mood. How useful, to have a weapon right at hand.)

    Then the Cold from Heck for two to three weeks. Apparently, it's been going around the country, and maybe you even got it. After a few days doing nothing, I got enough energy to teach; as a result, I almost lost my voice, so I had to call in sick the next weekend. Only in the past couple-three days have I started feeling at all up to my usual.

    Bitch bitch bitch. But I had just started writing before the major Thanksgiving work, in fact writing without a deadline **for the first time in my adult life**. My first goal is to get old ICFA presentations out in print, but I got only one done so far. The huge interruption to my positive inertia is just like a gut kick.

    OTOH, the ICFA is late-ish in March, and Christmas Observed with my sibs isn't until early April. So I think maybe I can get a lot of writing done with the ICFA as a deadline, not just for that paper, but for other work I have planned.

    Also, I want to start cooking again, which I haven't done much of for a long time.

    Please, cheer me on in both endeavors!

    Status: now 57 years old, with a body that feels over 60 and a mind that feels 27 or at most 37
    Friday, January 17th, 2014
    1:14 pm
    Dream Cinema
    Another long, narrative horror/adventure nightmare.

    It began as another common dream, being at an sf con with supergee. That included odd but essentially realistic events, such as being read a short horror story by the author, a shy man with a bad toupee, and trying not to fall asleep.

    Suddenly, up from a lower, underground hallway, came a huge rush of water. People went to investigate, but I saw body parts, including a child's hand, in the water, so I grabbed S. and fled to the glass doors out of the building. As we exited, the entire lobby filled with water behind us. Outside, we and some others climbed up the building walls to the top of a porch and other roof-like structures. (It was fortunately old-fashioned, with lots of gingerbread for footholds and handholds.)

    As we caught out breath and looked at the watery landscape around us, we realized the water, as deep as several floors, was full of its own alien, huge and predatory ecosystem, much as in Stephen King's "The Mist," but with aquatic creatures of all sizes. They were more like ordinary animals than in the movie of The Mist, but more often gelatinous. A long sequence ensued of trying to stay out of the reach of the larger animals, precarious footing, and the grisly fate beneath the waves of those who fell. Some small creatures climbed up the walls or pillars, and we kept watch to pluck them off & throw them back in the water. However, just in time we realized that throwing in the smaller creatures was attracting larger creatures right to our area!

    Then some of the people who fell in started coming back, climbing up to us, but changed in some unknown but sinister way by the water. We weren't sure what they wanted, but they were determined to do it, and it was nothing good--most likely drag us in so we changed as they had. At first, the main problem was fighting them off. Then, a few times it was hard to tell if someone had changed or not: We didn't want to risk allowing one of the water-changed to get to us, but once we made the other mistake--shooting a regular person who then fell into the water--& that was tragic.

    I leave out several plot developments in which my small group of stragglers from the sf con made it to a tower left by construction, and then to an enclosed farm-like area just above the water level. each included conflicts with the people already there, as well as with the hostile ecosystem in the water. We left when the military came into the area by the hotel from the sf con: they might win, but maybe not, and in the meantime the bullets were flying and the creatures were even more aggressive than usual.

    At one point, a huge ship went past, larger than a cruise ship, and we knew that the beings aboard were intelligent and were behind the ecosystem, trying to change Earth to wipe us out and remake it into their home: reverse terraforming. There was no confrontation, though, any more than mice would plan a coup against people. We hunkered down and stared in wonder as it passed us, ignoring us.

    I'm not sure what the ending was. There probably wasn't any good resolution.

    Either before this narrative or interwoven with it were scenes back at the sf con, including a debate/argument by two groups of writers/critics about apocalyptic-crisis fiction and how realistic any upbeat ending was. At the time, that didn't strike me as being as meta as I now realize it is!

    Status: well rested for the first time in a while, off to work
    Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
    11:04 am
    Synchronicity and Polyamory
    I'm totally used to synchronicity in my life, so much that noticing it no longer carries the emotional/biochemical thrill that it used to. I do still notice times of high-synchronicity in my life, which tend to be times when I am very active or just as important events are about to happen. The former is totally explicable in terms of my receiving much more input ant noticing it more because my concentration is more intense; the latter could be subconscious attention. But I stick to "synchronicity" instead of "coincidence" because of the great extent of meaningfulness.

    Anyway, lately my world is inundated by instances and mentions of polyamory, including the "Rick & Morty" (adult swim) that womzilla and I watched last night, in which the normal grandparents (as opposed to the mad genius scientist grandfather) come to Christmas with the grandmother's lover.

    Maybe it's just time in the culture. The whole experience is heartening for my scholarship to come but making me feel pressured to get other writing published before my direction changes.

    Status: waking up
    Thursday, December 12th, 2013
    2:43 pm
    Fit & Fat--well, somewhat fit, anyway
    The idea for this topic comes from the fact that today my e-mail contained the Fit Fatties Forum's end-of-the-year newsletter. So why not sum up my own year?

    Mainly, I do yoga every week. (The icon there now, riding an exercycle, will be replaced by a yoga icon when I add others.) The yoga I do with Ilia, my current teacher, has turned out to be different from what I did with YogaJane. It's not as good in terms of relaxation. From my work with Jane, I could relax the muscles in a part of my body just by thinking of it, and I'm losing that.

    Possible resolution: Download relaxation videos from Jane's web site and re-teach myself that skill.

    On the positive side, the work I do with Ilia is both more strenuous and better for my back (which fits with more core strength). Jane is a physical therapist, and I needed someone that cautious to start with, but I was ready for Ilia by the time Jane left for a job in Hawaii. Ilia comes to my home (bonus, have to tidy the living room once a week to fit two yoga mats); I know I need this, minimizing the opportunity to fish out. I did notice that when I visited The Cleve (Cleveland Hospital, for youngersib's appointment with a hematologist) I could push the wheelchair longer than eldersib could. So yoga once per week does some good.

    Still, I can't make myself do yoga on my own. From time to time I have walked after work to a different subway stop, and that's been good. But it's been very hard for me to get into a habit and maintain it. I'm really not fond of walking. I admire and envy people who are, such as fjm.

    Possible resolution: to go back to using the treadmill to downloaded music DVDs I assembled.

    My life is somewhat more organized now, so maybe there's a chance. And anyway, anything is better than nothing, right? I stopped last time due to pain, before I was diagnosed with arthritis; now that's medicated into submission, and yoga helps, so maybe.

    Status: must eat & tidy up before yoga!
    Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
    10:54 am
    Habitat Renewal Continues
    After one spat about it on Saturday, supergee has been magnificent about continued serious habitat renewal in his study.

    Given the rodent aspects of my nature, of course I understand the importance of building a nest around yourself & the almost existential dread of having to dismantle, let alone having others mess with, your nest. However, as you know, Bob, I also watch Hoarding: Buried Alive every week, so I know where that can lead. Also, the dust in Supergee's study was getting bad enough to take on sentience. As we began to work yesterday, we all took an antihistamine and a decongestant as though it were communion.

    (I like to keep my study in fighting/writing shape, but I tend to build nests in the livingroom, nests I then dismantle every week-to-three-weeks while Dr. Phil or judge shows play on TV. Having yoga lessons in my house certainly helps motivate me, because the floor must be clear for two yoga mats.)

    We're going bookcase by bookcase, culling the books & setting out the knick-knacks for Delia to clean, then putting those back. Not sure what to do with the filthy stuffed animals--half thinking about trying the washing machine, at least for the sturdy ones. Supergee is tidying up the papers and so on that inevitably drift into corners and around furniture.

    All this is eventually leading to redecorating, with new carpeting or the floor underneath sanded and finished & new wallpaper and paint. Then we can sit back and not have to do anything that drastic for another 25 years.

    Mood: chipper; Yay Supergee!
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