Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Boy From "Death In Venice"

One of my first favourite films, was “Death in Venice.” As a closeted gay man in 1971, this film seared my soul. I loved Dirk Bogard and Venice, and to this day, Mahler’s music, used in the film, makes me cry. It is the most emotive music I can hear.

The boy who is at the centre of the film affected so, so many of us who saw the film about the onset of a Cholera epidemic and the sadness of aging. He barely spoke in the film. His job was to merely be beautiful and alluring and he did an amazing job of it, tutored as he was, by Luchino Visconti. His name is Björn Andrésen, and he is the subject of a new documentary that just premiered at Sundance.

I felt like a zombie on Saturday. It was a day to rest, read and eat—all on my own (with the precious pets). Friday was terribly busy, set in motion by Kevin and Shelly’s early morning proposal to have a games night here that night. I cleaned and tidied, assembled the bed in the van and did some cooking before they arrived, and then we talked through the night as we played games and talking exhausts me. 

So, yesterday was simple and very, very slow—a day of recovery. A highlight was watching The Dig on Netflix, with the extraordinarily talented Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Lilly James. And … a very long walk during a brief period with sunshine that invigorated both Sheba, who ran and ran in circles, and I. The day ended with Prime Suspect in the evening before going to bed.

Today will be exactly like yesterday but will end with All Creatures Great & Small.

With Pachinko done, my first venture into Asian literature is over. For my next experience, I’m reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, leaving Korea/Japan to delve into the culture of Vietnam and excited about the prospect. The Sympathizer, Mr. Nguyen’s inaugural novel, won the Pulitzer Prize and The Carnegie Medal for fiction.

This morning I was out chopping wood shortly after five am and it was already eight degrees outside. We’re back into warm Winter weather and I’m ecstatic for my plants that are looking like it’s late March or early April, their shoots so far advanced.

It’s raining, of course. That’s why it’s so warm. Thick clouds blanket us at night to keep all life warm. The Deer look so good this Winter because they are warm and there are luscious shoots to eat. The forecast suggests we’ll have a break on Wednesday and I pray it happens so that I can go to Parksville to eat sushi with Jane and Dana.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

My Party Tricks

Bruce is a great friend. He’s not afraid to ask questions, and recently he asked about my use of a couple of words. Consequently, I made this video. Trust me: A speech defect is constantly confounding. Since joining some chat groups of disfluent speakers, I’ve been learning “work arounds.”

Friday was a great day! 

For one thing, I awoke chuffed about the plan to visit Dana and Jane in Parksville next week. They are such great friends and we’re all excited about being together. And then, bright and early in the morning, Kevin, whom I adore, wrote to propose that he and Shelly come over for a “games night” together last night. I’d invited them for Saturday but they’re busy, so to be able to visit them last night was a delight.

And then, the sky cleared as I left the house, so the morning dog walk with my friends was sunny and bright; everyone was in a very cheery mood.

After the walk, I went to the post office to fetch my parcels and to get some supplies with which to make a delicious dip for Kevin and Shelly—a recipe that a fellow islander gave me after I tasted her wonderful pea pâté at a party. 

The parcels I picked up were not books. They were my bed and mattress so when I got home, I set up my bed. It’s absolutely perfect! It’s an ideal size for Sheba and I and for the van. I’m thrilled to be ready, at the drop of a gear, to go camping. 

After that, all I did was read and tidy up a little for my guests—and I returned to the village to fetch the pizzas we enjoyed whilst playing our games.

Kevin and Shelly arrived at five-thirty. They live two doors away and are the emergency responders called if I use the alarm I wear. They are also wonderful and warm people. I’d proposed getting together to celebrate the “all clear” Kevin recently got from his Oncologist. We had lots of fun together and I feel much better for it. Good company: The ideal antidote to Covid blues. I can hardly wait for my second dose with Jane and Dana.

Want a delicious dip for crostini? Gently pulse in a blender: ten ounces of uncooked frozen peas (or fresh peas from the pod), half a cup of Parmesan cheese, a large garlic clove (or two), a quarter cup chopped mint leaves (I grow my own I make this dish so often), a teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of pepper—just till evenly mixed. Then, whilst the blender is running on a low speed, add a third-cup olive oil, et voilà: Magic deliciousness.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Binging on Felicity Jones

My posts of late have betrayed my exasperation with the world and its leadership. Perhaps you noticed. My friend Nicola sent me the spectacular antidote above. Check it out! Seriously!

Thursday was like just about every other day of the pandemic. My only accomplishment was reading another couple of hundred pages of Pachinko. Thankfully more books have arrived, and I got two more delivery notices in my post box yesterday—more reading material that I’ll collect today. 

I also got an invitation!!  Could anything be better? Jane and Dana extended an invitation to visit them in Parksville. For all of us, to be face-to-face with a good friend would do wonders for our Covid damaged souls. I’ve been pining for sushi, so I proposed picking some up to share for lunch together. We’re aiming for Wednesday because it’s predicted to be sunny.

Late yesterday I went on a bit of a Felicity Jones binge. I saw her outstanding performance in Yerma on the National Theatre streaming service. She was breathtaking, so yesterday I watched her younger self in the PBS productions ofMansfield Park and Northanger Abbey on the free streaming service, Kanopy. And lucky me! Her co-star was Carey Mulligan in Northanger Abbey, whom I think is also an extraordinary actor.

I’m amazed I could watch so much TV yesterday. I’ve become bored with television, but I absolutely love well-done English period dramas. (English major, here.) I guess I can take movies/TV when I really like what I’m seeing. It’s just seems to me that much of what’s on offer is dreadfully predictable and trashy.

I’ll finish Pachinko today. It’s been a decent read, but not emotionally impacting as The Nightingale and Beneath a Scarlet Sky were. It’s my first venture into Asian literature, and going by this example, quite different. Pachinko focuses on a story with rich visual embellishments, and there’s lots of rationale to explain the action. But the emotions are up to the reader to imagine. It’s dangerous to generalize about a culture other than one’s own, but I’ve often heard of Asian reserve and this book is awash in it. 

But that’s why I wanted to read it: To experience respected writing from a culture that’s foreign to me. I’m really glad I read it.

Early this morning, moonlight flooded my front yard. I awoke in a great mood expecting a bright day, but the clouds have rolled back in and we’re back to the usual. But it’s warmer, and for that, my plants and I are grateful. 

I’ve decided to order several cubic yards of soil and do a major renovation of the front lawn come April/May. That job, plus ordering and stacking five or six cords of wood are going to bring my pudgy body, softened by endless sedentary days of reading, back into decent form.