The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Fighting something

I wasn't quite 100% today and neither was a fried of mine, so we're taking the opportunity to re-watch (or watch for the first time in the friend's case) HBO's Westworld. I've seen the first 9 episodes—tomorrow night is the 10th and final episode of the season—so the nuances and clues are making a lot more sense on second viewing.

This show is almost as good as Game of Thrones. Seriously.

Home sick

Here are some things that are occupying me while I figure out who delivers matzoh ball soup:

I also have a book or 50 somewhere. And I need a nap.

The Sociopath

Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal, has broken his silence about the experience:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. ... It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

It's worth reading this article, since it discusses in detail the man who one of our two main political parties is about to nominate for President of the United States.

 

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

A feature film based on a wicked creepy Neil Gaiman story from his anthology "Fragile Things" will be released later this year:

Director John Cameron Mitchell brings Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman to a seedy east London location for his latest feature, a punk-alien love story.

[He] looks to be in his element. It is December 2015 and he is on an industrial site in Wapping, east London, surrounded by aliens, punks and Nicole Kidman in a spiky white wig. The US actor-writer-director is instructing teenagers on how to dance, asking for the music to be turned up loud. He looks thrilled to be in the middle of it all.

The set-up is for Mitchell’s fourth feature as a director, How To Talk To Girls At Parties, which he adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story alongside Little Ashes screenwriter Philippa Goslett.

Set in 1970s suburban England, the story is about Enn, played by Tony award-winner Alex Sharp, a shy young guy who sneaks into an underground party with his punk-loving friends, where they meet a group of mysterious young women. Even after they discover the girls are part of an alien colony with sinister intentions, Enn cannot stop himself falling in love with Zan (Fanning). Kidman plays a fashion and music impresario who is worried she is losing her influence and sees Fanning’s character as a potential protégé.

It's one of my favorite Gaiman stories as well. I'm looking forward to seeing it in theaters.

A-Z Blogging Challenge

I didn't participate in the challenge this year, but one of my favorite bloggers, Deeply Trivial, did:

I think the biggest indicator of success, for me, is that I didn't miss a scheduled blog post. There were days when the post came really late, and on those days, I seriously considered just waiting until tomorrow and writing two posts, or just moving a post to a Sunday. But I made myself do it, and it worked. I guess I should apply that same perseverance to other things in my life.

Some lessons learned that I'll applying for the next blog challenge:

  1. Having a theme was a huge help! I can't imagine having to come up with 26 topics on the fly.
  2. Relatedly, writing up a schedule with each topic already identified before April was an even bigger help. I think the problem I encounter with blogging regularly is coming up with a good topic, and I tend to depend too heavily on momentary inspiration to put together a blog post. It might be a good idea to identify certain topics I'd like to cover, and perhaps tie them to certain days or times of year.
  3. I should have written more of my posts ahead of time. Though I did a little of this, most days, I wrote the blog post the day it was supposed to be up, or at most one day in advance. This created a bit of a time crunch. Once I finally did start writing, it was easy to keep the momentum going - I just usually didn't have the time because I had to squeeze writing in between other tasks. Having an evening I devote to writing a few posts wouldn't be too hard if I just make a writing schedule and stick to it.

All good habits in blogging.

Obituary: William Shakespeare

The New York Times notes the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death:

Poet, playwright, actor and theatrical-company shareholder, William Shakespeare (sometimes spelled Shakspeare, or Shagspere, or Shaxpere, or Shaxberd, or any number of blessed ways) died today, April 23, 1616, at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was, more or less, 52. His passing was confirmed by his daughter Judith.

Over the course of three decades, Mr. Shakespeare rose from working-class obscurity in Warwickshire to become — acclaimed for his penetrating insights into the human character, his eloquent, flexible and infinitely expressive verse; and his readiness to burst the bounds of the English language (drawing on a vocabulary of more than 25,000 words).

The obituary includes pop-out notes and links, making it worth a few minutes of time to read.

Mary Norris on grammar

My first real Euchre tournament is coming up in a little more than two hours, so I'm preparing by doing exactly what I would do anyway: listening to Weekend Edition. The last guest was Mary Norris, copy editor at The New Yorker, who has written Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen:

On the best way to become a good user of English

Well, a person should read. And read, and read. Preferably good things. I might suggest The New Yorker, for instance ... [Henry James] is a wizard, the master! Yes, they don't call him the master for nothing.

I might have to read the book. I'll put it right next to Lynne Truss' Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

Rhythms of the week

Apparently my last four weekends have been pretty busy. Once again I have almost no time to post anything, not least because it's sunny and 13°C, so Parker and I are getting ready to go hiking.

So here's a listicle. Generally I hate them, but this one from Inc. listing frequently-misused cliché phrases made me point to my screen and shout "yes, that!"

11. Baited breath
The term "bated" is an adjective meaning suspense. It originated from the verb "abate," meaning to stop or lessen. Therefore, "to wait with bated breath" essentially means to hold your breath with anticipation. The verb "bait," on the other hand, means to taunt, often to taunt a predator with its prey. A fisherman baits his line in hopes of a big catch. Considering the meaning of the two words, it's clear which is correct, but the word "bated" is mostly obsolete today, leading to the ever-increasing mistake in this expression.

I'm waiting with bated breath for the next bit of list bait to cross my Facebook feed...

Sir Terry Pratchett,1948-2015

The author of 70 books, including the Discworld series, died this morning at his home in the UK:

Pratchett, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease, leaves his wife, Lyn, and their daughter, Rhianna.

He continued to write and completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014 before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.

He was the UK’s bestselling author of the 1990s and sold more than 85m books worldwide.

After his diagnosis, he urged people to “keep things cheerful”, adding: “We are taking it fairly philosophically down here” and predicting he had time for “at least a few more books yet”.

"God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."—Good Omens

You can't "believe" in climate change

Rebecca Leber at New Republic states the obvious:

The phrase, “believe in climate change” returns almost a quarter-million Google results. As McCarthy said, science is neither a faith nor a religion, yet the term belief pervades media and politics. Why do advocates so consistently play along with the climate-change-denier narrative?

Conservatives have long drawn comparisons between climate change science and a fervent religion. A 2013 National Review column articulated the parallels thus: “Religion has ritual. Global-warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations. Some religions persecute heretics. Some global-warming alarmists identify ‘denialists’ and liken them to Holocaust deniers.”

Leber makes good points, but it's not a great article. I'm posting it because I agree with her main point, and also because it's an example of the slide in quality at TNR since they destroyed their editorial board.