Thursday, August 23, 2012

Criminally Gorgeous

While the controversy surrounding the band Pussy Riot threatens to bring the whole Putin regime crashing to the ground, this sage observer of world affairs ponders the timeless question, in the eyes of men, can a good-looking woman ever truly be guilty of anything really bad? Of course, Latin telenovelas have taught us the answer to that question must be yes, but come on guys, just look at them! 

Going from left to right, we have Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, clearly innocent of all charges. Next we have Amanda Knox, who doesn't look like she could do anything really wrong. And last we have Manson family member Leslie Van Houten, who seems the victim of a big misunderstanding.

If I were the defense attorney representing any of these women, I would simply instruct the handpicked all-male jury to just look at them.

Note: this defense will not work for good-looking men.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reestablishing Communication

My last post was January 9, 2010. Today is August 21, 2012. What the hell do you say after all that time? Should I write a 10,000 word post catching people up? Would you ever want to read such a thing? Of course you wouldn't. Not only that, if nothing much has changed after two and a half years, that could be pretty depressing. Although at my age (56), it might be nice to say, "Hair color: same. Weight: same. Vital signs: same. Employment status: same. Income: same. Car: same. Prospects: same. Marital status: same. Gender: same." Yes, "same" might actually be not all that bad now when I think of it.

One thing that isn't the same is my left foot. I sprained it two weeks ago and then injured it even more one week later because I must have felt it wasn't sprained enough. First I stepped on a tree root wrong during a hike in the woods and knew immediately it wasn't the kind of ouchy you can just walk off. A couple of days later I discovered I could satisfactorily pedal a bike, so capitalizing on this means of keeping myself fit, I got overly-aggressive on my stationary bike one night and, you might say, proceeded to ride the damn thing right into the hospital for X-rays. 

It turns out sprains take a long time to heal. They require patience and ice and pain relievers and you really have to baby the injured area. The last few days I've resumed commuting to work by bike by pedaling with just one leg. You should try it, it's almost fun. The trickiest part is stopping and starting, but I have that figured out, too. Anybody observing me would notice that whenever I have to accelerate on the bike, I do so with a "limp" by pressing down with my right foot while pulling up with my left. Not graceful, but it propels the bike right along.

I've been reading more nonfiction the past year or so, mainly biographies and civil engineering stories. The biographies are about FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, Leni Riefenstahl and W. Somerset Maugham. The civil engineering stories are David McCullough books about the Panama Canal (read twice) and the Brooklyn Bridge. There is something about large scale projects fraught with enormous problems executed by serious people using old-time technology that appeals to me. For our 25th wedding anniversary, and thanks to my interest in the project, my wife and I took a cruise that included the Panama Canal. It was like meeting a rock star.

For a little while I got into World War II mode. I reread The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, streamed a couple of WWII documentaries on Netflix, and discovered a book at a flea market published during WWII called Suez to Singapore by Cecil Brown, right when the war was still in some doubt. This last came with a real authentic basement smell. 

These days I'm in Somerset Maugham mode. For reasons I can't even explain to myself he interests me. Maybe it's because I like him as a person and that he stammered (as an American, I can only stutter). I startled some people at lunch a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that I must have read the short story Rain about a dozen times. They wanted to know why and all I could say was that I admired the story and liked witnessing repeatedly how he constructed it. It's really a model of how a story should be told, I think. I'm reading his biography now for a second time, this after finishing a 1,000-plus page volume entitled The Maugham Reader. Everything the critics say about him is true but his writing attracts me like no other. You put up with awkwardly written passages and his use of cliches make you wince, but despite all that I find Maugham's stories, plays and novels so enjoyable. I know after finishing his biography I'll reread Of Human Bondage.

I think that's enough. Watch this space for more . . . of this? 

Yes! Of this! Plenty of this!