The Most Destructive Person in the World Today

is, of course, Trump. He threatens to lead everybody toward world war while destroying his country from within to slake his ego and ire while distracting from his total corruption and reprehensible illegalities.

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Macavity’s, uh Trudeau’s, Not There

Nothing new. Whenever things get crisis-level hot at home, T2 leaves the country, this time for South America. He just can’t bring himself to piss off the greeners in B.C. and follow thru on his pipeline promise. Instead, war continues between B.C. and Canada and Alberta, heading toward a constitutional crisis while T2 fiddles in far-off lands like India. Make no mistake, this is the most cowardly, irresponsible, feckless prime minister our country’s ever had.

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“North by Northwest” Revisited

North by Northwest was one of Hitchcock’s best (which I used to teach in grade 10 English); it had that much in it and was that entertaining then, as it still is now. In 1963, a similar serio-comic thriller-romance came along in its wake and was another winner with audiences of the time looking for similar fare. The Prize is about an American Nobel Prize winner for literature (Paul Newman) in Stockholm for the awards who uncovers a Soviet plot to kidnap and substitute a nefarious look-a-like and smuggle the real doctor back to Russia for their own ends. (Edward G. Robinson plays both doctor roles and manages to convincingly portray distinct character differences.)

The Prize has all the ingredients that made its predecessor a hit including: non-stop funny one-liners, duplicitous characters, kidnapping, evil plotting, romance, and suspenseful action scenes. The screenplay was also written by Ernest Lehman with its prerequisite of one-liners, sexy women. and caddish male chauvinsists. (MeTooers will not get too far with Newman’s drunken epigrams, puns, and propositions, but this kind of cheeky humor was quite acceptable back in 1963. In any case, he also has a moral comeuppance and character revision by the finale, which was also typical back then in Hollywood films.)

The music by Jerry Goldsmith is of a similar wide-ranging type to that done by Bernard Herrmann in Hitchcock’s film. It often, effectively, influences how the audience responds to scenes and characters. The movie was also filmed on location and I can only recall maybe two phony backdrops added for ‘coverage’ by the director. You get to see the auditorium where the awards are given and the hotel in which the winners stay along with typical press conferences. Mark Robson’s direction is relatively flawless, no doubt because of the comparisons that would have inevitably been made back then to North by Northwest.

He always manages to make each scene entertaining and gets good performances from Newman, Elke Sommer (the writer’s sexy hostess), Diane Baker (another more shady temptress), Micheline Presle (as an unexpected older woman who wants to use the writer to evoke jealousy in her wandering husband), and Kevin McCarthy (another ‘ugly American’). Everyone is well-cast. But it is Edward G. Robinson who creates the most interest in his two roles every second he is on screen. Hard to believe he was still very active and good in films some 40+ years after his Hollywoods start playing gangsters.

This movie is delightfully entertaining despite its throwback elements and morality. It is suspenseful, intriguing, and very funny in places. On its own terms, The Prize is still a big winner for mainstream entertainment. No, they don’t make ’em like they used to, sad to say.

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If you think life isn’t tough,

look out your Edmonton window and watch a magpie struggling to dig in the fresh-fallen snow to get something to eat as you do your morning Tai Chi exercises to music from a Chopin for Lovers CD.

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In response to a friend’s concern about diminishing reality everywhere:

Definitely a free-fall era thanks to a long history of deceptive and persuasive ads plus leaders’ (Trump, Trudeau, Putin) routine lying. MeToo has likewise grown from lies, deception, betrayal, and a lack of trust. A number of forces and trends converging.
It strikes me, too, that schools have also surrendered to a major self-delusional technological dream built on non-real, unstructured, purposeless, and trivial expectations. Certainly individuals need to focus and maintain grounded personal lives. Within family too.

So, very much like Winston Smith finally. Reality is personal and between the ears; only one generally can know and decide what is bosh and hang on to hopes of a decent life quite apart from the swirling mess on planet of the clowns. There will be those who rebut or add that individuals may be deluding themselves, but they are, nonetheless, making their own minds up about what is real, useful and relevant to them personally.

In other words, cut out the societal noise and madness and take direction from self, following one’s bliss anyway. In this view, reality is largely a personal experience, decision, and perspective. Don’t count on your leaders, what’s left of institutions, media, spin, advertisements, social media, et al. You’ll potentially be a lot more focused, happier, and freer if you don’t.

So don’t expect a wider, societal consensus on what used to be called objective reality and truth anymore. Hang on to your own perceptions, opinions, and beliefs about these two. Personal reality is the last surviving reality as long as one chooses it and ignores the chaos, the herd mentality, and the mad, mass, agenda-ed deconstructions.

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”–Stanley Kubrick

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Trump Loses Control Bigtime

Of several situations actually. So far his life and his presidency has been about control over others and getting his way sans any personal responsibility or accountability. And we sure know he does not like being crossed or exposed by any kind of facts or truth.

Yesterday was a blindsiding and a loss of control which led to his own loss of control at the Syrian press conference. Suddenly it was all about him, not the meeting or the tragic child victims. An attack on him became the lie and fake news that an attack on the country had occurred and that was apparently disgraceful, not him or his unhinged response.

Trump no longer has control of his presidency thanks to his hubris and power and control obsession. He’s now damned whether he does or doesn’t fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller. Mueller and now others in law enforcement and other positions control him and his fate. The dictator and powermonger-egotist has lost control and the upper hand in a big way. Things are going to start to happen to him; he’s lost control over the narrative and his steady stream of fake news.

In terms of relevance beyond his remaining fall, I think we can all potentially identify with Trump’s situation at a basic level. We all of us seek control of our lives and try not to let others (including government) to control us. We none of us seek to kowtow to others if we can help it. We all desire to be absolutely free and autonomous. And sometimes (whether as parents or workers, for instance) we battle to maintain control of our situations. And too often we use or manipulate others to serve our own ends, truth be told.

But others and truth tend to be autonomous and persistent over time. The courts are full of these kinds of battles to assert independence, control, and what’s right as seen from other perspectives.

No, it was just a matter of time in Trump’s case. The dictator was bound to be exposed and outmanouevered sooner or later. Face it, he’s not a bright guy and oozes with hubris. As we all of us know, control is a tough nut, and absolute control even more so. Facts are facts and the Truth will out no matter how insidiously micromanaged by billionaires and presidents. And we all know what it’s like to have control elude us that even we can identify momentarily with a crazed megalomaniac in Washington yesterday when things go spiralling beyond our control.

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Coming Soon: The Edmonton Poetry Festival

A headliner:

http://edmontonpoetryfestival.com/headliners/richard-davies-2018

 

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Chemical Warfare: A Century Later

What we’re seeing happening now in Syria and England is a throwback to the mustard gas and chlorine attacks of WWI or napalm use in Viet Nam in the ’60s.
Much like those diseases that were once brought under control and believed to be eradicated, chemical warfare has made a comeback and a nasty business it is. All you have to see of it to know it is to view a Syrian baby or infant damaged by it.
Human beings are specialists at all kinds of evil ways to make war on humankind without concern for the consequences. Ignorant, evil men and countries at work on the loose. Some things never change. Even a hundred years later. ‘The old ways’ still have their followers and adherents.

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Re. Humbolt

Most human tragedies on a large scale are the result of human error. In this case, it comes down to two drivers and the choices they made or didn’t make.

Technological malfunctions are bad enough (the misplaced human faith in the infallibility of technology), but completely unnecessary human errors resulting in large or small losses of life are perhaps worse. Humans pride themselves in their smartness and intelligence, but too often the results suggest not. The pity is in the innocent victims who pay the price for individual human stupidity.

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The secret to getting a needle,

whether it be at the dentist’s or doctor’s, is to distract oneself, to look away before the needle is inches away from the injection site. What you don’t see is much less likely to bother, frighten, or traumatize you.

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