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Showing posts from February, 2014

One of Cinema's Greatest Moments

The local library had a DVD copy of the movie "A Room With a View." Since it had been awhile since last seeing it... In order to fully appreciate a movie like this, you must look at the overall context of movie-making: the money problems, the tastes of the general public, and the 'Media is the Message' syndrome. There is every reason to expect successes to be rare. But they do happen. There are hundreds of comments on IMDB or Amazon on this movie. I sighed and then quit, after reading one comment that the Puccini musical score "enhanced the movie." Enhanced, indeed. It stole the show! Now, long-suffering readers are just going to discount this opinion as that of a Puccini fanboy. But in fact I have seen movies exploit the use of operatic scores to little avail. What I am praising here is not Puccini per se , but rather, the re-combination of his music with the right visual and situational context. To me, the movie's plot was OK, but I don't

Building a Better Winter Lifestyle

Earlier in the winter I was wondering how to improve my winter snowbird lifestyle. The term 'snowbird' only implies a change in geography. That isn't good enough. The intent was to build a lifestyle in the winter that is -- not deliberately the opposite of -- but complementary and independent of the summer lifestyle. I'm happy to report that I think this worked: more social, no moving from place to place, and built around road bicycling with a club, rather than the summer lifestyle of nomadic and solitary public-lands-camping and mountain biking with my dog. Even my dog has adjusted to short daily walks in the desert, because she gets to romp with her fan club. In the past I might have resented the relaxed contentment of a lifestyle with more routines, would have wanted to keep things shaking, and even looked down on plugging into a "system."  But now I happily snuggle in to the security of routines built around cycling with other people, afternoon siest

Progress Report on New Year's Resolutions

More than once I have warned the reader against the under-rated scourge of the Early Bedtime Syndrome. I took the Fabian approach to vanquishing it, and now have the proud and happy task of telling you that I have officially beaten it. (Note the present perfect tense of the verb.) Postponing bedtime by a minute or two per day worked at the beginning. Then I plateau-ed at one minute every two days. I actually recorded it on a calendar. Bedtime is now beyond 2200 hours. At 2230 I'll probably back off and leave well enough alone. It was not easy, and at times, I attacked the problem with a desperate heroism. Even if that is a silly and pretentious way to put it, it is still true that I had to imagine it so, in order to succeed. I was willing to use any technique that worked -- even going so far as doing housework when I started fading! When you wake up in the morning and see Dawn, you can't help but feel that all is right with the world, and that your day has great potenti

A Brilliantly Successful Group Hike

Rumors are floating around that several RV bloggers were recently involved in an outdoorsy comedy-of-errors: a hike full of mistakes and misadventures. Oh sure it seemed like that at the time. But without any undue contrarianism or facetiousness, I'm here to tell you that it was a great success, and is worthy of emulation. There is one bit of facetiousness that I would like to play with: instead of ridiculing the "Naturalistic Fallacy" , I would like to pretend that I agree with it, that is, that everything "natural" is "good", and unnatural is bad.  I am going to argue that misadventure during an outing, whatever be the cause, brings on a more natural -- and better -- experience.  Consider first how unnatural hiking is. What natural purpose does it serve? None that I can see.  Is this not ironic, considering the demographic and self-image of hikers? They see themselves as environmentally-correct nature lovers. They think that their sport is the

Eavesdropping on a Silent Conversation

It seems like many of the experiences, that I want to post about, occur during the food-stop in the middle of a bicycle ride. Why is that? Is it the mood that cycling puts me in? It certainly seems to be true that one's appreciation of a Thing depends more on the Context of the thing, than on the thing itself. At any rate, it happened again today. A couple of deaf people were having an animated conversation at a table in front of the window of a food stop. I could pretend to watch my unlocked bicycle just outside that window, without it being obvious that I was "eavesdropping" on their conversation in sign language. (I do not "sign.") Through my sunglasses I could watch them out of the corner of my eye. They had each other's undivided attention. No distractions. Compare the quality of the conversation of these two "handicapped" people to the usual 'barely listening' conversation of non-handicapped people! We struggle with the crappy bac

Why Read Fiction?

Now that I'm rereading a series of novels, adding up to many thousands of pages, it would certainly be nice if I actually accomplished something. The good news is that I am starting to realize that fiction has something to offer: but strangely enough, it really isn't the "story." I admit to being a die-hard non-fiction reader. Mostly history. Many years ago, it was philosophy, until I decided that it was mere wordplay. Fiction always seemed like a waste of time. What did the plots of novels really consist of but rags-to-riches, revenge, whodunnit, mistaken identity, improbable reversals of fortune, and -- above all else -- adulterous love triangles? Yawn, especially the latter. It was a good choice to reread Patrick O'Brian's "Aubrey/Maturin" ("Master and Commander") novels because they are written more to please men than "lady novel readers," who have an insatiable appetite for romantic drivel. (It was they who bought most