Women March

We marched. It was fucking AMAZING and I feel better than I have since early November. The official counts are saying 10,000 people in Asheville and I suspect it was more than that. Incredible signs, incredible people, let’s say it again, LOUD: NOT OUR PRESIDENT. He did not win. And we will get him and his entire filthy crew of shit encrusted thieves and vultures out to the dungheap of history where they belong. NOT ONE STEP BACK.

Here are some phone pictures from a truly inspiring day. In a couple weeks there will be film pictures! Yay!

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Thunderball

ok I am going to try to live blog this. I have not been historically successful at the live blogging thing but, hey! Here we go!

James Bond and a guy in a black dress are smashing up zillions of priceless antiques…JETPACK!!

Dude. That was cool.

Ok, the song! It’s… better than goldfinger. But then so is dental surgery. Accompanied by swimming women and spear fishing.

Paris. Eyepatch dude with a karmann ghia. Oh hey it’s Spectre! Very minimalist boardroom for Evil. Nifty electrocution and body disposal unit though.

Damn, that’s sexual assault. Also sexual blackmail… ugh.  But naturally once she has been exposed to the magic dick of Bond it’s all ok.

This is all rather opaque – who are any of these people?

Ah ok – they’re highjacking a jet full of atomic bombs – did they always run training missions with live bombs in the 60s? Yikes.

Hmmm, can jets DO that?

Submarines. This is all very Jacques Cousteau.

The Bahamas. A casino. The clothes!

Ah the old tape recorder in a book trick.

A new Felix Leiter! Every movie there’s a new one.

Shark pool! Dead minion! Q! Q in a Hawaiian shirt!

Being into your brand is all well and good but maybe if you’re running a Top Secret Evil League you might consider being less free with the company logo jewelry, tattoos and luggage tags. Just a thought.

And – that was the point at which I got absorbed in the movie and gave up live blogging. That movie was good. Best yet, by kind of a wide margin. It hangs together, almost makes sense and the scenery and gadgets are alarmingly good. Like, that submarine wouldn’t look out of place in any given recent underwater documentary. Is it possible so little has changed in 50 years? The face masks are rounder and the air tanks are bigger, but otherwise, you’d never know. That is, I’d never know, since even though I grew up on the coast, my exposure to scuba and underwater hijinks is, well, nil. So maybe they are wildly different! The bathing suits surely are. Sean Connery looks adorable in his little powder blue short shorts.

What else? The parade scene is awesome and one of the two things I remembered from the movie – the other was the death by sauna chair towards the beginning, which scared me. Good lord I was a paranoid morbid kid. I wish I’d gotten jujitsu skills from all my exposure to 007 movies but no, I ended up with anxiety about unlikely death scenarios and a twisted fondness for bad pickup lines.  There’s a bad lady who does not fall for the magic dick of Bond and says so. She’s kind of impressive but, naturally, she dies. The death count is high in this movie. I would personally not really want to work for anyone who summarily executed my coworkers but hey, motivation is where you find it.

Anyway, a solid outing, definitely my favorite so far – I give it an A.

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goldFINGAAAAAH!

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She is quite old – I did make a sort of New Years resolution where I was going to stop lying about my age, or at least stop obfuscating it, but when it comes right down to the wire (and by wire I mean not only such things as admitting how old my oldest child is but also giving my age to the tired cashier at Ingles who really doesn’t care and knows perfectly well I am if anything too old to be buying such cheap wine) I find I just . . can’t quite. So we will go on saying gently that she is now 30something, which is to say considerably older than I was when she was small and I was watching that show in, I think, reruns. ANYHOW! We went shopping! We went to the mall which used to be moribund and depressing and eerily fascinating and is now booming because they yanked the roof off and added the magic word outlets to the name. Happy Birthday A! Yay mother daughter shopping and having the exact same conversations in the dressing room as every other mother daughter pair in there! It was nice.

And now, on to Bond. I watched Goldfinger, which is better than From Russia With Love and worse than Dr. No and definitely has the most horrible song, perhaps of all time. Really, no, the song is BAD. I want to link it here for you but I can’t bring myself to google it in case I have to hear a few bars and my head explodes. Just take my word for it.

Goldfinger seemed creepily familiar to me. I thought, oooh, I have so seen this and then I looked up when it first played on TV in the states and YES, I was 9 years old and I am pretty sure that my entire family watched it together. That is exactly the right age to be scarred for life. The sexual innuendo – immortal lines such as “Sorry, can’t talk right now – something big has come up.” (OH GOD CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THE AUGUST SEAN CONNERY UTTERED THAT WITH A SMIRK) went right by me but the idea that you could die if painted has remained as a point of anxiety in my psyche ever since. I don’t know if it’s true – if you are all painted gold, do you die? Who knows? Has it been tested? On poor naked guinea pigs? I can’t stand it – but whenever I see someone in body paint, I immediately want to make sure they have left a blank space at the base of their spine to prevent insta death. It worries me. It has always worried me. And I won’t even wear makeup, although that might not be connected.

So, besides the terrible dangers of body paint, what else do we learn from Goldfinger? Well, that Fort Knox is small, ugly, and surprisingly easy to break into with a crack team of young women pilots. You would think they would be a bit more serious about patrolling their air space but noooooooo.  You also learn that super villains go in for really overly complex lairs – a map would do, really, you don’t need a revolving pool table and three D model – but oh GOD the whole ranch house lair is so mid century perfect, fieldstone, fireplace, dungeon cells: the works. It looks like a spread out of a 1965 House and Garden with added minions. This is prescient, because the movie came out in 1964.

What else? It’s been a few days and it’s already fading blissfully from my memory. There is something to be said about advancing age: you don’t have to remember every minute of James Bond movies forever. Odd Job and his slice-y bowler hat makes his first appearance – I think he’s in other movies too, but we shall see. James Bond’s magic dick turns the otherwise quite in control Pussy Galore (if you have a strong (for a Bond film) female character, you have to give her a demeaning name, because otherwise people might get confused) into a weak and clinging vine who will do his bidding, surprise, surprise. There are cool cars; we get to venture into Q Branch and see things exploding and hmmmm, James plays golf. Felix Leiter is there, although he seems older than he did in Dr. No. And at the end GoldFINGAHH, who just wanted to make all the gold in Fort Knox radioactive so that . . . so that. . . I have no idea why, maybe just for shits and giggles, something something, evil Red Chinese, was duly vanquished, the gold was saved and James and Pussy G. flew off, or jumped off, or got off, together.

I am having fun with this. I’m three movies in and I still like James Bond. Next, Thunderball!

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Bond James Bond

django-and-perdita

It snowed! We got about 5 inches of snow and early this morning, despite my fearsome hangover, I took the dogs out for a run in it. It was fun! We took a shortcut home and fell down a lot! I saw a deer! The dogs ran everywhere! And then they slept all afternoon and that was nice too. I should have done the same.

However! This post has nothing to do with snow. This post is about JAMES BOND because I have decided to watch all the Bond movies in order. I was going to live blog them but that didn’t work out well: it’s hard to type on the tablet, it plays hell with my knitting (I can’t watch movies without knitting) and I end up just writing things like Wow and OMG and Fuck, male gaze much? So! Here is a post about the first two movies. It may be edited to add something about the third movie, which I’m probably going to watch tonight.

I grew up with James Bond. Didn’t we all? The movies were on TV and occasionally we even went to the theatre to see them. I am beginning to remember that we went to a lot of movies when I was a kid. My younger brother and I were talking about this and we think our parents dropped us off at the movie theater rather more frequently than might be considered kosher nowadays. But it was the 70s and they were pretty much the opposite of helicopter parents – submarine parents, perhaps? You rarely saw them unless they surfaced for a mission? Anyway, I got a lot of early exposure to James Bond and I’m fine with that. As we grew older, they were on TV and then, for a while in the early 00s, they always ran Bond marathons during the holidays, and we would all settle in and watch obsessive amounts of James Bond. So, as you can see, I like James Bond movies. I have philistine taste in movies anyway: Roger Moore is the James Bond of my childhood and I’m even okay with that. Explosions! Villains! It’s all good! But I wasn’t sure if I’d ever seen them all and now, now with your help, gentle reader, I’m going to remedy that.

Turns out, I hadn’t seen them all. I watched Dr. No and then From Russia With Love last week and I don’t think I had ever seen either of them all the way through or maybe even at all. From Russia With Love was completely unfamiliar, but parts of Dr. No rang a few distant bells. Dr. No, it turns out, is a really a pretty damn good movie. From Russia With Love, not so much. Anyway, there are possible spoilers from here on in if that sort of thing bothers you. If there can be spoilers for movies that are older than I am when I ain’t no spring chicken. I have a theory that all the Bond movies are going to follow the same plot, so we will see if I am right. This is off the top of my head, by the way, I didn’t get this from anywhere.

That plot is:
1. Off to an exotic locale|
2. Weird shit is afoot, people getting knocked off. There’s a car chase.
3. Bond doesn’t trust the local spies – they might be corrupt. But he has one (wisecracking, male) friend!
4. Sexy interlude with either the main girl or some subsidiary girl who might well be in the pay of the enemy.
5. Bond’s friend gets offed.
6. A different exotic locale.
7. Villain! Lair! Minions! Doomsday device! Captured! It looks bad!
8. Bond saves the day. Vengeance for the friend!
9. Off into the sunset by water with the main love interest.
10. Villain or possibly subsidiary villain resurfaces! Peril!
11. Villain vanquished, back to floating off with the girl while the credits roll.

Dr. No (1962) is set in the Caribbean. It serves up almost all the Bond tropes right off the bat, which was kind of cool. I guess I thought they evolved over time, but no,  it started off immediately with the cheesy intro with the bullet hole in the titles, looking much cooler done by hand than it does all fancified and digital today. Actually the clothes and the sets and the props and the cars, oh god the cars, are just all kinds of early 60s awesome. I kept pausing it to ogle. There is Bond, being irresistible (it seems that all the women in the early 60s were in a continual state of, basically, heat. Who knew? They can’t control themselves. Perhaps it was the girdles.) flirting with Moneypenny, being pert to M – actually, in this movie, Bond is very subservient to M and the whole relationship feels much more military than iI remember. Anyway, here is Bond, looking sexy (I have had a crush on Sean Connery since, um, I was 12? Or thereabouts?) and there, in due course, was the requisite love interest and the creepy crazy villain with the exotic lair and fully uniformed minions.  It was quite lean, though, and Bond did not have much tech. I was primed for it to be racist but I thought it was mercifully not too bad given its setting and time period. It was also not overwhelmingly brutal or violent -the varied assassinations were pretty straightforward: bam, shot, done. The first love interest is an Asian girl with a totally sweet record player and a funky bungalow who is predictably in the pay of Dr. No; the second is Ursula Andress in that famous bikini. Ursula Andress is the daughter of a marine biologist who was homeschooled all over the world and has no fear or ethical code. Why this has to be spelled out – she explains how she killed a man with a black widow spider just as a sort of aside –  I have no idea. She seems refreshingly independent but then she asks Bond if he has a woman of his own. Which is kinda stalkery and I was left wondering at the end of the movie how he ever got rid of her. Anyway, it’s a pretty good movie. I give it an A-. This is the standard by which we shall judge all 25 remaining movies.

From Russia With Love was much more, hmm, how shall I put this? Broader. Played for laughs. Less serious, less plausible (OK, Dr. No, a crazed Chinese gazillionaire trying to blackmail the USA by destroying moon rockets for, um, who knows, with, um, radioactive beams of radioactivity is not super plausible, but then Donald Trump is going to be president soon so what do I know about the nature of reality?)  and much fuller of dumb subplots. It’s more convoluted and it suffers as a result, but it does see the introduction of Q and some fancy gadgetry in the form of a killer briefcase. It’s also got a lot more gratuitous violence than Dr. No. There is a beautiful Russian spy. There is the evil Russian lady with the poison knives in her shoes! (I remember her! She must be in more movies! Yay! I love her. Her chosen weapon is just so completely feeble; it’s awesome and I laughed out loud at the end when she resurfaced and tried to kick Bond to death in the shins.)

After an intro featuring a Russian training camp where some blond psycho dude is killing people who look like Bond, the real Bond goes off to Istanbul. SPECTRE (the union of supervillains) is trying to play Russia and Britain against each other so someone can seize a Russian decoder, which looks one hell of a lot like a typewriter. OK, sure, whatever, why not keep this one vital thing in Istanbul rather than, oh,  Moscow? Never mind! As the plot progresses, Bond’s friend and sidekick, who is also completely irresistible to all women, although one cannot really see why, takes him through secret tunnels to the Russian embassy where they watch Russians with a periscope. A lot of the second Tomb Raider game was totally stolen from this movie, by the way. Then they go off to a gypsy camp so there can be bellydancing and a girlfight which is solved by Bond getting it on with two gypsy chicks at once. See above, re, state of heat of early 60s women. The gypsy thing is a bit unpleasant – hence my male gaze note. Fortunately it is over soon and makes no sense anyway! There is a cool part where a Russian guy is shot and falls through a movie billboard. Bob Hope! OMG! Then they all get on a train and before you know it blonde Russian spy Tanya (of course it’s Tanya. There are no other Russian girl names.) and James are acting married and all is well except it isn’t. Ugly lingerie! The sidekick is dead, moment of silence. Aha, here is Russian assassin who is clearly up to no good because he orders red wine with his fish. Why James didn’t just off him then I will never know but noooooo. More train travel, more scenery, a helicopter fight, some explosions, a boat chase into Venice and then the aforementioned shin kicking lady. Almost every point of my plot line is hit (there’s no supervillain lair and showdown. There’s a lair and a supervillain, but James never makes it out there) amid a lot of not particularly good jokes. Racial stereotypes, yes pretty much. Sexism, of course, but at least we have a lady villain. I’m going to call it a B-.

And now, I’m going to go get under some blankets and watch Goldfinger. I will let you know how it turns out!

 

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so this is christmas

I went up to a party in Ewok Village briefly – it was very nice – and this guy asked me, so, what do you think about President Trump? And I said I can’t talk because my throat already hurts from all the screaming, and you know I had managed to push the fear of nuclear obliteration to the back burner in my list of ongoing anxieties but hey presto it is now front and center again, whoo hoo. Then I said some other things and realized I probably should leave before I said more. But everybody agreed with me. However! Christmas was had! A small and practical Christmas befitting uncertain times.

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Well, We’re All Fucked Now

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Western North Carolina, in a very timely manner, is on fire. Literally on fire, in the way that before in my life I had only seen in news from the west coast. It hasn’t rained here in about six weeks, possibly more, I have lost count and I’m not looking it up. The mountains are as a result tinder dry and about two weeks ago, right when the FBI was putting its final nails in the coffin of the United States of America as we once knew it, the mountains caught fire. They are still burning. Last I looked there were 22 separate wildfires burning all around Asheville. They are mostly contained and so far as I know nobody has been killed and no houses have burned – if you think that the entire east coast is one giant city as I admit I am occasionally prone to do, keep in mind that 22,000 acres of it can burn here in these hills without catching a single man made structure – but there have been widespread evacuations. And of course, loss: habitat and all the small animals and trees and years and years of patient slow growth. This ecosystem is not designed to burn every so often. This is a rain forest. Was. Was a rain forest. Like what was once the USA, it’s different now. A whole new dark beast.

And the air is full of smoke. The sky is smoky and thick; the smell of burning permeates everything and you cannot see the ridge tops. It suits my mood. The world is ending and here at least, you can tell. Apocalypses (apocalypi?) are supposed to come in with smoke and burning and yes, a whimper rather than a bang. Turns out it’s a choked and coughing whimper, here at least, emphysemic, hacking, tortured.

If you think I’m overreacting and this is just another election, fuck you. No, seriously, fuck you. You honestly think that an “administration” that doesn’t believe in climate change is survivable? You honestly think that an openly racist, fascist demagogue is going to abide by the rule of law? You think that handing a blank check to a chronic bankrupt with delusions of grandeur is going to change this country for the better? You think he’s going to step aside in 4 or 8 years? You really think that? You think he is just another president and the unprecedented control of all branches of government held right now by the shattered and extremist Republicans is just another ho hum chapter in the American body politic? I have a bridge I’d like to sell you, for gold please, because I have a sneaking suspicion that US dollars aren’t going to be worth much soon.

I’m so depressed I can barely function. I survived Reagan and Thatcher and Bushes senior and junior and that was different. They were loathsome, all of them, but they had agreed to live at least nominally in what we used to call consensus reality. They governed the country; they more or less followed the rules; they at least paid lip service to respecting the constitution. Say goodbye to all that along with your healthcare and your parents healthcare and any kind of equal opportunity and any and all social programs and, oh right, clean water and edible food. Unless you are very, very rich indeed.

Well. I have nothing much more to say. I suppose I will stay alive and while I want desperately to leave, I don’t think that’s likely. Here, have a few links to keep the despair thriving.

Charlie Stross, one of the smartest people around

Autocracy: rules for survival

Fight Not Flight

What Donald Trump Can Do to Screw Up the Environment

The Smell of Fascism in America

 

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Loss and Love and Time

img_1184This is my dog Theo, who passed away today. He was 14. He came into my life as a tiny tribble like furball of about 9 weeks, probably too young to leave his mother and definitely too young to be in a cardboard box full of dying puppies outside the West Asheville Earthfare. “Those puppies are sick,” I said to the person holding the box, “Except for that one, and if you leave him in there, he will die too.”
“They’re fine,” she said, “They’re just tired.”
“I have had dogs my entire life,” I said, getting a little loud now, “And they are not just tired, they are sick.”

And so I went home with a puppy. I thought he might die, but at least he would die warm and dry and loved.

Well. 14 years later, he has died and I am so very, very sad. I took this picture yesterday. I have known for  a while now that this was coming, that despite the vet cheerily saying his bloodwork was great and he was totes fine but hey, have this infinitely renewable prescription for very heavy duty painkillers that we just won’t talk about (I am looking for a new vet) he was leaving us. He kept falling and he couldn’t get up and somehow I don’t think a pager would have helped much. This morning when he fell again and I lifted him he lost bowel control and didn’t even know it – Theo, a very dignified dog, would never have wanted that.

I called Four Paws Farewell, based on a business card I saw some years ago and some Googling and they were amazing. All I can hope for is that in 30 years when I plan to die there is some similar service for me, that will come to my house and be calm and lovely and help me out of this world in my own bed. That is what happened for Theo today.

I believe very strongly in quality of life. I do not want to live past my own sell by date – if I can’t care for myself, please OD me off this turn of the wheel. When you choose to share your life with an animal, you take on the burden of making that decision for them. It is a terrible and necessary and loving decision to make. Sure, Theo could maybe have gone on another 6 months or more, given sufficient drugs and me willing to carry him outside, ignore his dignity, clean up his involuntary messes, spoon feed him (he mostly stopped eating a while back.) I won’t do that, because it would not help him, only me. What was wrong with him was age and that cannot be healed. There are many, many loving and beautiful healthy young dogs and cats in shelters right now who need a home. If this story moves you at all and you have the means, please go and help one out.

Knowing that you’re making the right decision does not inure you to the sorrow of loss. I am fucking heartbroken. I miss my dog. So let us also rage against this fucking age thing, this death thing, this wrong ending world! Fuck the dying of the light! I do not approve of death! I do not want anyone to go away! I want us all to be immortal beautiful vampires except without the drinking blood thing! I cannot stand keeping on losing everyone and I am goddamned tired of crying.

I have pretty much been crying – ok, and drinking – ever since. I feel that now, after the last 8 years, I am an expert on grief. I am not the only one – I think that is what we all become, us middle aged people, unwilling experts on grief. I am here to tell you as one of way too many experts, that dying leaves a hole in your world that never quite heals. Time does not heal. Time just fuzzes over the edges a bit so that you can look back without as much raw pain. The pain is still going to be there, mind – it just will be fuzzier and edged with love. Loss is loss and it is hard.

It is a little less hard when you have the amazing friends and family that I do. My friend Jodi came over this morning and was here for the whole thing and so was my daughter Audrey. We all cried and ushered Theo out of this world and then we met our friend Jay at the DeSoto (where we go to grieve, probably not a great tagline for them but it works for us) and we all cried and laughed and shared stories all afternoon. We all have stories of loss and love and hearing them heals, I think, something. I guess. The Theo shaped hole in my life is very raw right now.

So go hug your dog.

 

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