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December 2nd, 2016

11:35 pm: Friday
I really needed something fun, and I'd found out from a friend a couple of days ago that the retro dresses and accessories shop where she works (Doll Factory by Damzels) was having a holiday party, so we went up Roncesvalles. Got off the streetcar just as things got weird: a middle-age didn't man was yelling "stop following me, you pedophile!" at a man some twenty years younger than himself, who took a swing at him. I grabbed the hood of the younger man's jacket, and some other people attempted to restrain him as well. I don't think his fist connected, but the older man yelled "that's assault, I'm going to call the police!" Then he began saying he couldn't find his glasses. The younger man, who seemed to have lost all interest in fighting him, asked if he'd dropped them. A woman found them, and he got out his phone, presumably to call the police, as his erstwhile assailant drifted off. By this point the driver appeared to be radioing as well, so I figured the best thing was to get Andrew away from the scene.

Fortunately the store party was right across the street. My friend wasn't there yet, but somebody handed me two drink tokens. I bought a pair of socks with CATS! CAAATS! written on them. They were fourteen dollars, but I figured it would be rude not to buy something, and they were offset by the two free gin and tonics. There was a drag queen Mrs. Claus who very kindly let Andrew take her chair when he got tired and there were no other seats. Somebody brought a hairless cat, a Sphinx Scottish Fold hybrid, who was an odd little goblin creature, but very calm and patient with all the humans fussing over her. Her name was Dolores and she wore a Santa costume. Eventually our friend turned up and we had a good talk. There was no sign of the altercation when we left the store. We got pizza and went home.

I'm still puzzled by the fight. My suspicion is that the older man was either delusional or just in the habit of yelling random insults at people he thought were following him, whether they made literal sense or not, and that the younger man was quick tempered enough to lose control, but thought better of it as soon as others interceded. In a way I was glad to discover that my instinctive reaction to a fight was to grab at whomever seemed to be the agressor. Now I just need to learn how to be effective.


November 29th, 2016

09:13 am: Duae tabulae rasae in quibus nihil scriptum est
We've been watching Some Laurel & Hardy shorts recently, in between other movies. Some I'd seen before, some I can't recall if I'd seen them or only seen stills. Towed in a Hole is my favourite of the latter. I suspect the title is one of Stan's in-jokes for the British viewers.

The boys are fishmongers -- in the opening scene Ollie tunefully hollers FRESH FI-IIIISH, his Georgia accent more noticeable than usual -- who decide to get their own fishing boat and cut out the middle man: Stan's idea, which as usual Ollie can't quite grasp until Stan tries to repeat it and it comes out in broken phrases; to this end they buy an old boat, and the rest of the movie is just them trying to fix up the boat. They never do make it to the water (although they do get quite wet, several times.)

Afterwards, I found a pretty in-depth (just over an hour long) radio interview with Stan from 1957. Much of it focuses on his early days in panto and music hall. Babe had died the week before, so perhaps Stan was avoiding the more recent past. His voice is recognizable, but slightly deeper and slower than his character voice. Towards the end, when the interviewer asks which of their movies he most loves, he cites The Rogue Song, The Bohemian Girl, and Babes in Toyland-- all the operettas. Which makes sense, given his early love of English pantomimes; before his partner died, he'd been hoping they could do a series of tv specials based on well-known fairy tales.

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November 27th, 2016

09:56 pm: Can't tell I forgot I'm sick sick or if it's just the weather. Read more...Collapse )Spent much of the past night and day with an intense headache and a stomach that hurt if I took painkillers for the headache. Had unpleasant dreams - not actually nightmares, because I seldom feel fear in dreams, but they were gruesome and I felt sorry for the people involved. Someone's kid was dead, and we could revive him but we needed another dead person for the ritual, and we'd be able to revive that one if someone else died, and it was like a game of undead musical chairs. Then a woman jumped or fell into the path of a subway train, and I just had time to look down and meet her eyes for a moment before the train hit and sent body parts flying. Afterwards, there was blood and offal spattered on my clothing, and I couldn't take the time to clean it off because I had to look after the other person who'd witnessed the incident and who'd been shocked into amnesia as a result.

Anyway, I eventually got up and managed to watch some movies, and I sewed a beret from an old sweater that had shrunk in the wash. Hoping tomorrow I'm improved enough to enjoy my daily (more or less) grocery shopping trip.


November 24th, 2016

10:33 am: They Also Serve That Make the Coffee and Stuff the Envelopes
Andrew's watching The Incredibles, still one of the best adaptations of Watchmen. It's been a few years since I saw it, and I find myself worrying about who's going to help people navigate insurance-company bureaucracies once Mr. Incredible goes back to being a superhero.

There've been a lot of posts recently along the lines of "you always identified with the Rebel Alliance/Dumbledore's Army/etc, or fantasizes about going back in time to help fight Nazis -- now's the time to put your money where your mouth is."

I may be overly optimistic, but I don't think it's necessarily cowardice that stops people -- it's not knowing where to start. The Rebellion is already well up and running in Episode IV; Harry and his allies are already wizards in training; in WWII movies somebody always has a contact in the Resistance they can go to. There are fewer stories that show an underground being set up from scratch, or someone doing the paperwork so the people being ferried to a free country can apply to stay there and not get deported back. Chiune Sugihara and Nicholas Winton -- and the less-famous people who worked with them -- their stories are more complicated and have fewer action scenes, I get it. But I'm trying to help some others set up a Canadian equivalent to www.holyfucktheelection.com, and We could do with some nuts-and-bolts inspiration right now.

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November 19th, 2016

09:07 pm: Ordered In Chinese food and watched Lang's Die Nibelungen, which is what I imagine Iris Whitcomb's movies in Experimental Film would have looked like, except with a bigger budget:

Plotwise, I mostly just feel sorry for Atilla the Hun (Rudolph Klein-Rogge).


November 18th, 2016

09:05 pm: The Pretty Good Day
Took Andrew downtown to meet up briefly with leave_harmony, who was in town for a meet-and-greet with pro wrestler Shinsuke Nakamura.

Also she gave me a doll she made of Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett in Hallowe'en. He's made it safely back to our place and is now hanging out with John Lennon and Cthuhlu:

Here we are at BMV, where Andrew got a book on dinosaurian and I got The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg, four hundred-odd pages of Swedish murder mystery and domestic drama, which I proceeded to read straight through. Looking up the author on Wikipedia, I see she is my age, except her career has involved becoming the Queen of Swedish Crime Thrillers (and cookbooks and children's books), while being married three times and raising four kids. Way to make me feel inadequate, Camilla!

However I can't begrudge her, as it really was a very engrossing book. Apparently the characters have also spawned movies, graphic novels, and a tv series which was briefly interrupted when the director vanished. He has never been found and is believed dead. WTF Sweden?


November 13th, 2016

07:52 pm: In a spate of trying to cheer myself up while I'm unemployed, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I can't think of anything actually useful to do, I've been somewhat domestic the past week: I managed to get five meals, including soup, out of a rotisserie chicken; I attempted to make cookies (they're not that good, but Andrew seems to like them, and he's bluntly honest in matters of taste); and I knit a sweater. I didn't like the colour, so once it was knitted I dyed it with vinegar and food colouring; and I couldn't find any buttons I liked, so I made shrinky-dink buttons based on Charles Rennie Mackintosh roses:

Also, I see The Correspondents are continuing to make videos that look like a sequel to Victory Over the Sun.

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November 12th, 2016

11:43 am: I would give so much if I could only lighten that sorrow for you a little
Yesterday, the father of a friend of mine woke up to a Remembrance Day program on CBC Radio. They were reading letters written by soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.

One letter had been written in January 1945 by an unnamed officer to the fiancee of one Norlin Crawford, who had been killed in Italy some four months earlier.
The officer himself had been gravely wounded in the same incident and described the frustration he had felt, lying on the ground, unable to help the wounded men around him. He wrote, "I had been struck in the abdomen and had fallen on my face. I could see my right hand on the ground with finger and thumb missing."
And at those words, I sat bolt upright, for I knew who had written the letter... my father, who served in Italy as chaplain of the 8th Princess Louise's Hussars.
The name of the writer was not mentioned, but I knew the story and grew up holding that hand with the missing thumb and finger. Just to be sure, though, I traced the letter to the website of the Canadian Letters and Images Project, and there it was, signed by W. W. Burnett, my dad.

I never met W. W. Burnett myself, but for those of you who knew Angus, this was his grandfather.

November 11th, 2016

08:50 am: Everybody Knows
Last night I posted on Facebook that I was not bothered by Leonard Cohen's death so much as by his living just long enough to see the election results.

Today I reconsidered -- I have long thought that the most tragic death is a confused one. According to his family, Cohen was coherent and writing notes up until the end, and I suspect he preferred to know the worst, even if he was no longer in a position to help fight.

ETA -- and I've been informed he did die before the election, on Monday night, his family just didn't announce it for a couple of days.


November 9th, 2016

10:57 am: This is what I posted on Facebook last night
Apart from being terrifying for all kinds of practical reasons, a Trump win would be a macro version of something I used to see at a former workplace, where a number of regular customers would just scream and throw tantrums over the phone until we passed them to management, who'd give them whatever they wanted. And I'd think about how these customers were not only getting away with displaying the self-control of a toddler, they were being actively rewarded for it.

Trump reminds me of the worst of the lot, the one who lied to his clients about being our "agent" rather than one of our customers, and who hit on the customer service operators (I was lucky -- I have a fairly deep voice, and that wasn't one of his turn-one). I don't know if he's still operating his business. I know the company I worked for, one of the ones that supplied him, ended up going under.

All I really have to add this morning is that I feel hopelessly naive for having had any hope.

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