Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Minimalism vs. Possession Obsession

I have too much stuff. And not just books (which there's a shitload) but trinkets, notebooks, files, etc. Items that I rarely look at but feel the need to possess. Stacked up everywhere, spreading like a contagion. Reminds me that d and I occasionally talk about the time we lived in Virginia in a one-bedroom apartment with absolutely no furniture save two lawn chairs that we dragged inside from the third-floor balcony when company arrived. Bedroom had a mattress, lamp, and zero other furnishings. Now our happiest time will always be when our daughter entered the frame but occasionally we recall the earlier era when we had next to no possessions. Life seemed a lot more, say, manageable.

So I was drawn to Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things directed by Matt D'Avell and featuring minimalists who believe in more happiness through less clutter. Here's the trailer for you. Now, I'm not sure I could ever scale it back as far as the minimalists do because I like a lot of books surrounding me and couldn't imagine Joyce's Ulysses orphaned on the shelf. (Though if I could only have one novel, what would it be?) But after viewing Minimalism on Netflix, I scoured through a few containers inspired by not just the film but my previous lifestyle and tossed away old newspapers, magazines, and papers guilt free. It felt damn good... and hardly made a dent. Still, like my hero Sisyphus, never give up. I'm going to try again today.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Voices of the Dead: In Memories and Literary Prose

When the family reserve has been let down by the indie publishing, I go back to the daily security grind which takes me here and there, until the coffers are no longer on life support. So, there I was, at 4:30 a.m., shuffling into the Holiday Inn dining nook in Warrenton, Virginia—preparing my bolstering dose of English breakfast tea—when I noticed the woman I had exchanged pleasantries with the previous morning was unhinged. "Be careful out there," she warned. "There's been a murder at the CVS and the police told us to lock the doors. So, if you go out, you’ll have to knock or call to get back in." That deposited an image of me...

*For more, and I certainly hope I've stoked your interest, please click here for the rest of my article.

Never-Before-Seen Event: 'Kilonova'

The Verge: "For the first time, astronomers detect gravitational waves from two neutron stars colliding." Wow! Incredible news and this comes a mere two years after gravitational waves were first detected confirming a prediction by Einstein. In addition:
In the wake of the collision, the churning residue forged gold, silver, platinum and a smattering of other heavy elements such as uranium. 
What a time to be involved in science, or, like me, a dedicated aficionado. Fantasy: to have witnessed this mind-blowing neutron 'duel' from a protective distance, maybe aboard the TARDIS. A cosmic spectacle for which the words stellar and awesome were invented.

The Naked Time (1967)

On a dying planet, the Enterprise crew discovers a research team frozen dead in bizarre positions: one member was fully clothed taking a shower and another sits at a control panel like nothing was amiss. Mr Spock and Lt. Tormolen split up to investigate when Tormolen is unknowingly contaminated by a red liquid and then by domino effect inflicts the rest of the crew. Soon, because no one is at the helm, the ship's orbit is compromised and the Enterprise begins to plunge toward the planet. McCoy eventually saves the day with a vaccine and Spock proposes an untested theory of time and antimatter. With options depleted, they time travel for the first time going back before the events that nearly crippled them.

Easily one of the ten best episodes of the original series because of the crew 'drunk' and behaving widely erratic with Mr Sulu imagining himself a swashbuckler, Riley locking himself in engineering and promoting himself to captain, and Nurse Chapel professing her love for Spock. As a kid, this episode along with "Shore Leave" were my favorites because of the out of their element detours. And I had such a kick watching The Naked Time" again, I'm going to add more time tripping adventures to the Cranmer queue. Slingshotting next with "Tomorrow is Yesterday" when the crew finds themselves in that strange era known as the 1960's.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

How Sci-Fi Writers Imagine Iraq’s Future

The Atlantic: In a new speculative-fiction anthology series, Iraqi authors consider their country’s tumultuous present as they envision how it could look in the year 2103.

The Paradoxical Politics of Literary Criticism

New Republic: How did literary scholarship take a leftward turn during the 1970s, when neoliberalism and austerity were ascendant?

Who Was Mata Hari?

Exotic dancing and espionage are the twin peaks that come to mind when the name Mata Hari is mentioned. But what is her full, true story? Lost to time and blurred in key passages, for sure. Fact and fiction began cross-pollinating quite early, furthered in great part by her own exaggerations in efforts to hype her lascivious career. Journalists lapped it up for purple prose lines like, “so feline, extremely feminine, majestically tragic, the thousand curves and movements of her body trembling in a thousand rhythms.” Today's Hollywood publicists have nothing on Ms. Hari when it comes to self-promotion and aggrandizement. She discovered early in her stage career that the more outlandish a rumor reported by the press, the more people paid to see her dance.
My full article can be found at Macmillan's Criminal Element.