Initial: Rewatch. The Matrix Resurrections is coming out in a few weeks and it got me wanting to watch the original.
Notes: The first scene of this movie does so much world-building heavy-lifting. Not only is this person, Trinity, more than human, but she is afraid of Agents. The suits are definitely our villains. She also disappears via landline—there is obviously some computer-based cyber-punk something going on here. Okay, obvious in 1999. In 1999, a land-line-based modem was how you connected to the internet. I’m not sure how that translates for young people who have probably never encountered a landline and have only connected to the internet via cable modem or the like.
There is so much exposition in this movie. Why does it work? (I mentioned this back when I watched Dark City (1999).) Is it because it’s balanced with some of the most inventive actions sequences put to film? Is it because the audience can easily wear confused Neo’s shoes while he’s being explained to? Is it because the explanations themselves are delivered by a very charismatic Laurence Fishburne while we’re being given yet more eye-candy? I remember the info-dumps not being handled as well in The Matrix Reloaded (2003). I’m tempted to rewatch it, but I remember seeing in the theater and actually being bored. I don’t don’t think I’ve even seen The Matrix Revolutions (2003).
That said, I’m kind of intrigued by The Matrix Resurrections. Maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of “But they’re old now.” (Go ahead, ask me what my favorite part of the recent Star Wars sequels was . . .) I hope it can be watched without too much of the mythology from the other films. Maybe they’ll account for casual audiences who need to slip on the confused Neo shoes again.
Haven’t gotten my big tree up yet, but I impulse-bought a small one for the backroom/office last week. This is it all decked out on top of Eric’s old micro-fridge.
Had an amicable Thanksgiving dinner at my brother-in-law’s. All told, at dinner were Eric’s parents, all four of the Nabity siblings and their spouses, two of our nieces, and our two nephews. Way more people than my immune system had spent time with in a small area since, uh, Thanksgiving of 2019? (Which was six people fewer.) My body said, “Remember con crud? Let’s do that! It’ll be fun!”
Still working on The Letters of Shirley Jackson. On one hand, I’m enjoying pressure-free reading. On the other hand, I love making TBR lists for challenges. But I rarely finish challenges or make it through my lists so . . .
. . . if i could only stop with the first two chapters and publish those it would be fine but no they want another two hundred pages.
Shirley Jackson in a letter to Jeanne Beatty, Jan. 3, 1962, while working on We Have Always Lived in the Castle. from The Letters of Shirley Jackson. ed. Laurence Jackson Hyman. Random House. 2021.
Not to say that I am near Shirley Jackson level, but I certainly feel this quote. That’s all I’ll say in regards to NaNoWriMo.
In other news, I wrote a short story earlier in the year and have been sending it around. It’s currently made it to the editor-in-chief’s desk at a pro-rate magazine. Fingers crossed.
The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America by Lauri Lebo
This was an impulse read. I suppose it might be odd that I chose to read about a evolution/intelligent design court case on impulse, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The book was mentioned in passing during an interview I watched with actor John de Lancie (“Q” on Star Trek: The Next Generation). De Lancie is a secular activist and has been working on a play based on the trial.
The trial is Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Basically, in the early 2000s, some members of the Dover Area School Board sought to add creationism (later, intelligent design) to the local public school’s science curriculum while downplaying the validity of evolution. Some parents of students had a problem with this, seeing it as a violation of division of church and state. The teaching of creationism in public schools had already been ruled against: creationism is seen to be a religion-based concept that furthers only a specific religion. The crux of Kitzmiller v. Dover came down to whether intelligent design is an actual scientific theory not based in any religious (Christian) faith and whether the proposed addition constituted as “teaching.” The judge ruled for the parents in a 139 page decision.
Lauri Lebo is a Pennsylvania native and was a local reporter during trial. The Devil in Dover is about the trial and the events leading up to it, but also focuses on relationships between people on both sides of the issue, her own relationship with her fundamentalist Christian father, and her shift away from religion. Many of the people involved in the case were neighbors and most were Christians, though not necessarily of the same denomination. There was also libel and potential perjury on the part of the defendants, which is not a good look for people who claim to be interested in the souls of others.
The Devil in Dover was published in 2009, but there are aspects of it that still seem very relevant. Lebo states near the beginning of the book that she believes 9/11 changed the US in a bad way. That it made it easy to embrace an “us against them” attitude where “they” are evil even when they are your literal or figurative neighbors. I’m not sure I entirely buy the notion that the change occurred particularly after 9/11, but it’s baffling to me how much division there has been when we really needed to be united.
Up until Monday, I was pretty much on track with my NaNoWriMo writing, at least word-count wise. Plot-wise I’m fumbling around some, which is fine. I’ve just written the first couple of chapters twice at this point. But I’m more or less happy with how things are going, aside from being a bit behind.
Getting Back to It
I’ve noticed something: I’ve been really wiped out by playing ultimate frisbee league. I’m in decent shape and have been playing some pickup since back in May. We only had one game where we were short on woman-matching players, and we really weren’t *that* short. I haven’t been very physically taxed. Yesterday I realized, it’s the social stuff that’s been getting me. So many people! So many talkative people! So much strategizing and playing systems that I need to think about rather than just running around catching and throwing! The pandemic has not been good for my ability to deal with social stuff. I don’t know how I’m going to manage league finals (a whole day of playing—ALL THE PEOPLE!). For that matter, I don’t know how I’m going to survive Thanksgiving.
Impulse library check out: The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma V. Darwin in Small-town America by Lauri Lebo. No, I haven’t finished The Letters of Shirley Jackson, though I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot.
Post #31HorrorFilms31Days (and now into NaNoWriMo), I haven’t been watching much. I binged the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series, am savoring the Harley Quinn animated series, and am working my way through some under-the-radar films recommended by Eric. One of those is the above: Killerman (2019). It’s a decent thriller with a Nolan-esque twist.
Lots of Queen again. Queen hits that sweet spot of being catchy enough to jam-out to, but also symphonic enough to fade into the background.
I’m not going to participate officially in Nonfiction November because I don’t think I have time to put together posts each week, but I do want to give a shout-out to the event. Reading nonfiction often gets overlooked as being dry or not being as important as “literature.” False dichotomy! Nonfiction is a wide genre, knowing how the world works is always a good ting, and some nonfiction is just as narratively driven as the best fiction. So, anyway, if you like nonfiction and want to celebrate it or you’re new to nonfiction and want some recommendations, check out the event all through November. It kicked off Monday with Rennie atWhat’s Nonfiction:
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I generally try to read about a 30% nonfiction during the year. Right now I’m hanging out at 37% with my two in-progess books also being nonfiction. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve read and what’s going on in 2021.
Books about writing: Or at least tangentially about writing. It seems I’m trying to come back from what I’ve recently described as my mid-life hiatus.
Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese – recommended! It’s short and rather comforting book about, well, creativity.
Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg (re-read)
The Call of Stories by Robert Coles (re-read)
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (re-read)
Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
The Letters of Shirley Jackson, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman (in-progress, but so far, recommended)
Magic books: Not as many magic books as in years past, probably because I’ve maybe been paying too much attention to what I’m “supposed” to be reading.
Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky – recommended! The least magical of the bunch, this is Rob Zabrecky’s autobiography of living in drug-soaked California as a member of Possum Dixon and later as a magician.
The Coney Island Fakir by Gary R. Brown
Jay’s Journal of Anomales by Ricky Jay
David Copperfield’s History of Magic by David Copperfield, Richard Wiseman, and David Britland (in-progress)
Horror in media: Why? Don’t know, but I have watched a lot of horror movies since April of 2020. A lot.
The Science of Women in Horror by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence
Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman
Danse Macabre by Stephen King – recommended! Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen King or even horror, this is a pretty good primer on horror tropes and what they say about American society (at least from 1950 to 1980).
Science history related: One of my favorite sub-genres of science nonfiction is the history of science. Or maybe one of my favorite sub-genres of history is where it intersects with science. (See also, magic books.)
The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale – recommended! Also “magic books” related, but much more about the psychology that is behind the want/need to perpetuate a certain type of con, in this case mediumship.
The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch – recommended! A great Poe biography, but also about the advancement of science in the US during Poe’s lifetime; how each influenced the other.
Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson
So, that’s a microcosm of my reading this year. I’m sure my TBR will be freshly filled up with great nonfiction titles by the end of the month!