Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yes. All Creatures Great and Small is Back! And I am Delighted!

I did not think that I would take to “All Creatures Great and Small” when I saw one of the episodes from the first series. It looked as if it would be too sappy. I loved it. And I loved it because of the various imperfections of the characters. Eccentric? That would be putting it mildly. And the acting was brilliant.

Now the series is back. And my first reaction, like before, is that I would not take to it. How could they do it better? Well, it seems that they have done it at least as good, and perhaps better. Here is the trailer. Check it out!

BTw, you can compare the above with the first episode of the original – shown below. Enjoy!

Donald Trump and The Most Stupid Aspect of the 20th Century

As a historical matter, we tend to think of the last century as a period of amazing progress. And one cannot deny that the last hundred years saw amazing advances in technology and prosperity.

But amidst the above advances, I would argue that the story of the 20th century revolves around one incredible stupidity. This stupidity gave us huge disasters and unnecessary suffering. It is the stupidity of arrogance.

It is not possible to deny that arrogance plagued 20th century history. From the  arrogance of the colonial powers that having a little war in Europe would be no big deal. To the arrogance of the ideologists, dictators, generals, and economists. To the arrogance of the superpowers locked in Cold War. To the arrogance of the CEO’s at the helm of the enormous corporate entities that control the world’s commerce. To the arrogance of Hollywood. The arrogance of the times is encapsulated in the belief that “we have the answers” to solving life’s challenges. We have figured it out. “Others” (the third world) may not understand this, but WE do. We are special for that reason.  We have the “secret sauce”.

And the answers have been materialistic. Sir Kenneth Clark called it “heroic materialism” . In the 20th century, materialism became a sort of religion. And btw, it is a religion that explains a lot of the thinking of the incredibly arrogant soul who goes by the name of Donald Trump. Not just Trump, but certainly Trump. A man whose whole life has been spent pursuing material self-gratification. Metaphorically speaking, one might call it one enormous masturbation.

And so we are no longer even surprised that yet another woman, Amy Dorris, has claimed that Donald Trump sexually abused her. This alleged incident occurred at the US Open Tennis Tournament in 1997. Trump can deny it all he wants, but who believes him? Not I. Of course he did it.

And believing that Donald Trump  sexually assaulted a young model outside the VIP bathroom at a tennis tournament does nothing to change our view of who the man is. He is a man steeped in the arrogant delusion that life is no more than a  vehicle for maxing out his personal pleasure. Acting on this delusion is his definition of being “smart”. And of course, he repeatedly says that he is very smart indeed. The alarming fact is that a certain percentage of the voting electorate in the United states are not revolted by this. They accept it and will vote for him anyway. Put another way, they accept the arrogance as normal for one who has the power to exercise it. Not unlike the kings and dukes of old.

BTW,  Trump’s stupid arrogance came out the other day in another context. When the Trumpster was asked if he was concerned that his rallies were dangerous because people were packed together in interior spaces, he said he was not concerned. He was not concerned because he is on the stage, far away from the crowd. In other words, he thought the question was whether he personally felt in danger from covid when the question was about whether he was concerned about his audience.

Ooops! “You mean the question was not about ME?” Arrogance is the exaggerated sense of one’s self-importance.  It leads to a lack of empathy. And it is corrosive. The more we accept arrogance as normal, the more we must also accept the stupid consequences of arrogance. And the more we get locked into story lines that we would be embarrassed to share without children. One wonders, for example, how Michael Cohen explains to his children what his job at Trump Tower was all about.

But let’s move beyond Donald Trump. The larger question is whether in this new century, we will transcend the arrogance that we have been gifted by prior generations. Will our cultures outgrow this adolescent attitude – the intoxication with the  sense that we are “amazing”.

What do you think?

What to do if You Suffer from haptodysphoria!

Ok. The trick here is to know what haptodysphoria is!

From Wikipedia

Noun. haptodysphoria (uncountable) An odd, disagreeable sensation felt by certain people when handling peaches, velvet or other fuzzy surfaces.

The answer, of course, is to make peach skin powder  instead of consuming the skin along with the rest of the … err …. object.

Who knew there was such a thing?

BTW, you might check out the article for ideas on what to do with the pits as well.

How Should One Play Hamlet’s Ghost?

Hamlet is a complex play at least in part because it is not possible to grasp with clarity who the good guys are. And this starts with Hamlet’s murdered father, who appears to Hamlet as a ghost . The ghost clarifies to Hamlet the evil that lurks all around him and demands that Hamlet revenge his murder by his brother, who is now king and married to Hamlet’s mother. Yikes!

I have read that in Shakespeare’s time, it was accepted that ghosts came from hell, and therefore Shakespeare intended the ghost to infuse the play with evil. In other words, the ghost does not just talk about the evil done to him, he is commanding Hamlet to do evil. Hamlet is aware of the evil the ghost brings, and he says that the ghost may have come from hell, but he cannot either act on or reject the command. After all, if what the ghost has said is true (and it is), then revenge is not a crazed response. And yet, how to be sure that revenge would be just? Not just that, how to be stay safe from the man who may have murdered his father?

So how does one play the ghost? Orson Welles thought this was the most important role in the play —. and one that Shakespeare played himself. That observation and much more can be found in this fascinating video of a TV conversation that took place in 1963,  I find the setting of the conversation to be most fascinating — there is no attempt to convert the conversation into something more or less than it is — a discussion of how to act by people who understood acting (rather than just being celebrities) who acted too).

Sitting around the table are Peter O’Toole (who was playing Hamlet just then at the National Theater in and directed by Laurence Olivier), Orson Welles,   veteran actor Ernest Milton and host Huw Wheldon.

One of the comments to the YouTube  plage offers this useful insight

Some temporal context for this intellectual and cultural feast: At the time of this airing, Johnny Carson had helmed the “Tonight” show, over here in the States, for almost exactly a year; O’Toole had become an international superstar in “Lawrence of Arabia,” one year earlier; Welles had done the same thing with “Citizen Kane,” 22 years earlier; and the Beatles were due to take America (and, by extension, the world) by storm in four short months.

Enjoy!

If this conversation draws you into the play, you must check out John Gielguld discussing the character of Hamlet and the play overall. It offers many fascinating insights. BTW, Harold Bloom. who was no slouch when it came to talking about Shakespeare and Hamlet, thought that Gielguld’s Hamlet was the most arresting he had seen.

After these, you might enjoy the clarity that Hold Bloom brings to the discussion Hamlet and Shakespeare in general.

If you want still more, here are a few books to check out

Harold Bloom’s Hamlet

Hamlet: Poem Unlimited by Harold Bloom

Anthnoy Burgess “Nothing Like the Sun” (a fictional biography of Shakespeare)

Nothing Like the Sun: A Story of Shakespeare's Love Life - Wikipedia

Yes, the great bard lives on!

BTW, I just listened to Prof Sir Stanley Wells talk about what manner of man Shakespeare was. It is the first of 4 presentations that the great scholar gave, and I found it to be of great interest. Most interesting is that Shakespeare led a double life – the prosperous property owner of Stratford on Avon, and the poet and playwright of  London. By all outward appearances, he was proper and well liked. And he did not reveal the inner turmoils that make his writing so engaging.

Who I am Listening to Right Now: Stuart Stevens

One of the more interesting historical questions of our political era is whether Trump’s takeover of the GOP is an aberration that will be corrected or the logical conclusion of GOP electoral politics that have evolved over a period of time.

Assuming for a moment that Trump will lose the November election, how one answers this question  will impact what comes next. Can the GOP throw the blame for what happened on Trump and pretend it has no inherent problem? Or will the GOP have to reinvent itself? We are likely to find out next year.

BTW, I have a rather strong view on this, that Trump is not an aberration, but a reflection of the GOP’s “win at all costs” political strategy that turned into an abdication of its values. One can argue when “win at all costs” began, but it was  evident in how Nixon played politics back in the 1970’s. IIt also played a role in the GOP’s embrace of “far right” politics of Ronald Reagan. And I think it played a role in the decision to invade Iraq under George W. Bush (to find those nasty but imaginary WMD’s).

But I digress.

Stuart Stevens is a writer, film maker and GOP political consultant who just wrote a book on the topic entitled “It Was All a Lie“.

Amazon.com: It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became ...

Here is good old Stuart looking rather chipper

Former Romney strategist Stuart Stevens joins Lincoln Project ...

In the book, Stevens tries to unpack how the party got to Trump  — and as you can tell from the title of his book, he thinks Trump is the logical conclusion of GOP politics.

In his podcast Chris Hayes interviews Stevens and gets into the various questions that the book explores.

Why I am listening — It’s all about what comes next.  Understanding the dynamics of so called conservative politics in the US is critical to understanding whether the US political system can regain its “two party” balance in the post-Trump era. BTW, Stevens thinks it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. He says “It is a lot easier to see what will happen than how long it will take”. He is talking about getting the hate out of GOP politics and embracing a more constructive agenda.

Check it out!

Trumpster Dumpster – You’re Paying to Kill US Solders? Who Cares!

One more tick on the clock, one more gut wrenching tidbit from the Trump White House

Trump said yesterday that when he spoke to President Vladimir Putin of Russia last week, he didn’t think it was worth the time to mention the Russian government’s reported bounty payments to Taliban fighters.

Here is Trump’s explanation

“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Trump told Axios.

Many people? The only person I have heard saying that is Donald Trump himself.

Trumpster Dumpster: Screw the Election … I can do that, right?

The Trumpster has an amazing ability to keep going lower even after you think he has hit rock bottom.

I mean, WTF, after he has failed utterly to provide a pandemic policy response. Isn’t that low enough?

No.

Now the Trumpster has signaled that he may not accept the results of the November election. Why not? Mail in ballots! Shock! Horror!. Yes, this is the latest boogey man that Donald Trump is pulling out of the closet to stay in power.

Will this work? It may if people do not send a signal back that we all know this is bullshit. That even bringing this up in the way that he did is reason enough to vote for Biden and a straight dem ticket.

We shall see, however, if this trial balloon gets shot down, or … who know?