Coloring: Jagged Edges

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Book Recommendation: Snow Falling on Cedars

Quote from Snow Falling on Cedars by Ishmael Chambers
“Everything else is ambiguous.  Everything else is emotions and hunches.  At least the facts you cling to; the emotions just float away.”
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Publication Date: October 1995

Publisher: Vintage; Contemporary Edition

Page Number: 460

I don’t even remember when I started reading this.  It was probably in 2018.  I bought this book because I wanted to see how a romance story would play outI also read it because I had spoken about the movie adaptation, maybe a little too harshly almost 20 years ago.  My biggest complaint was not using Japanese actors and actresses strictly for the Asian cast.  Knowing what I now know, I was probably aiming too high.  Despite my changed beliefs, the movie did not get as many good reviews as the book.  The two things people usually like to read about is love and war.  This book is no different, but the thing that made me want to read page after page was David Guterson’s writing style.  He is rich in his description, emotions and feelings or lack thereof, and while there may be some repetition of descriptions and mannerisms, it’s there for a reason.  There is one   particular passage that sticks out to me.  It is where Kabuo Miyamoto plays chess with his court appointed lawyer, Nels Gudmundsson, shortly after they meet.  This is the hallmark of great writing.  So what is this book about?  It’s about a newspaper reporter, Ishmael Chambers, never leaving far from his hometown except to fight in the war.  He struggles with himself as he did as a child and tries to live his lonely life as best he can when he returns home.  He immerses himself in a trial that includes the wife of the accused, a woman from his past, that he can’t seem to get over.  As the trial continues through snowstorms and power outages, it comes to an end where half the town seemed eager to convict Kabuo and the other knew he was innocent.  It didn’t matter because the jury is the decider.  Some readers might get confused on the characters in the first chapter because I think I started it when I was really tired and couldn’t keep them straight.  Despite me taking as long as I did to finish it, it reads fairly quickly.  One more book done, fifty plus to go.

2020pc

Movie Review: Creation (2009)

Quote by Charles Darwin

“As a child, I often wrote deliberate nonsense to surprise others.”

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There are not major spoilers in this review!

The Facts about Creation

Creation is a biographical drama about Charles Darwin’s middle years.  During this time he was experiencing mental distress in the form of hallucinations due to his daughter dying, but still having enough mental acuity to work on a theory that would become “On the Origin of Species.”  In addition to his guilt of marrying his first cousin (think back to the Habsburg royal line that ended due to interbreeding), while not as catastrophic, he wrestled with the fact it might have caused the death of his daughter, Annie.  His relationship with his wife, Emma, became somewhat strained due to this.  She found comfort playing the piano while he immersed himself further into his work.  This movie is about the dichotomy of science and religion, life and death, and separation and connection.  The main actors are Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin, Martha West as Annie Darwin, Jennifer Connelly as Emma Darwin, Toby Jones as Thomas Huxley, Benedict Cumberbatch as Joseph Hooker, Ian Kelly as Captain FitzRoy, and Jeremy Northam as Reverend Innes.  It is written by John Collee and Jon Amiel and based on the book by Randal Keynes.  It is directed by Jon Amiel, rated PG-13 for some intense thematic material, and has a running time of one hour and 48 minutes.

From Ship to Land

The movies starts with the strong relationship of father and daughter, Charles and his oldest daughter, Annie.  He continues his strong bond with her through bedtime stories and spending time with her outdoors, teaching her about nature and evolution.  Annie is much like her father, challenging what she is told and Charles protects her fiercely.  It is only Emma that can instill reason within him, but that too wanes over time.  As his illness brings more hallucinations, he struggles to write his theory of evolution on paper.  It doesn’t help that his religious wife also opposes his beliefs and their friend Thomas Huxley disagrees as well.  He visits a hospital to help with this hallucinations and returns with a newfound energy to push forward with his evolutionary theory.  When he is finally done, he allows Emma to read it and will accept what she decides.  The fate of his work is in her hands.  If she feels it is worthy,  it has a chance of being published.  If she feels it is too controversial, no one else will ever read it.  Despite his health at this time, he lives until 1882 and dies at the age of 73 (the movie doesn’t show this).  If you want a read the complete list of Darwin’s works, it is below from Wikipedia.
  • 1829–1832. [Records of captured insects, in] Stephens, J. F., Illustrations of British entomology
  • 1835: Extracts from Letters to Henslow (Read at a meeting of the Cambridge Philosophical Society on 16 November 1835, with comments by John Stevens Henslow and Adam Sedgwick, and printed for private distribution dated 1 December 1835.  Selected remarks had been read by Sedgwick to the Geological Society of London on 18 November 1835, and these were summarised in Proceedings of the Geological Society published in 1836.  Further extracts were published in the Entomological Magazine and, with a review, in the Magazine of Natural History.  A reprint was issued in 1960, again for private distribution.)
  • 1836: A LETTER, Containing Remarks on the Moral State of TAHITI, NEW ZEALAND, &c. – BY CAPT. R. FITZROY AND C. DARWIN, ESQ. OF H.M.S. ‘Beagle.
  • 1838–1843: Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle: published between 1839 and 1843 in five Parts (and nineteen numbers) by various authors, edited and superintended by Charles Darwin, who contributed sections to two of the Parts:
    • 1838: Part 1 No. 1 Fossil Mammalia, by Richard Owen (Preface and Geological introduction by Darwin)
    • 1838: Part 2 No. 1 Mammalia, by George R. Waterhouse (Geographical introduction and A notice of their habits and ranges by Darwin)
  • 1839: Journal and Remarks (The Voyage of the Beagle)
  • 1842: The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs
  • 1844: Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle
  • 1846: Geological Observations on South America
  • 1849: Geology from A Manual of scientific enquiry; prepared for the use of Her Majesty’s Navy: and adapted for travellers in general., John F.W. Herschel ed.
  • 1851: A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia, with Figures of all the Species. The Lepadidae; or, Pedunculated Cirripedes.
  • 1851: A Monograph on the Fossil Lepadidae, or, Pedunculated Cirripedes of Great Britain
  • 1854: A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia, with Figures of all the Species. The Balanidae (or Sessile Cirripedes); the Verrucidae, etc.
  • 1854: A Monograph on the Fossil Balanidæ and Verrucidæ of Great Britain
  • 1858: On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection (Extract from an unpublished Work on Species)
  • 1859: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
  • 1862: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects
  • 1865: The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants (Linnean Society paper, published in book form in 1875)
  • 1868: The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication
  • 1871: The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
  • 1872: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
  • 1875: Insectivorous Plants
  • 1876: The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom
  • 1877: The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species
  • 1879: “Preface and ‘a preliminary notice'” in Ernst Krause’s Erasmus Darwin
  • 1880: The Power of Movement in Plants
  • 1881: The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms
Watch the Trailer

Overall View of Creation

I’d say the thing missing from Creation is the focus on natural selection and evolution.  Of course, we all know the basics of it, but it would’ve been nice to see Paul Bettany as Darwin formulate these thoughts in a few scenes.  It wouldn’t need to be extensive.  The thing overly used were the scenes with Darwin waking up from nightmares.  Yes, he missed his daughter, but it’s pretty clear the first time he felt this way.  The movie did well to show the differences between Charles and Emma, but the nuance wasn’t there.  He was still a religious person although not as devoted as his wife.  There’s a good scene with him and Emma after Annie gets in trouble at school.  It shows he is a protective father more than anything else.  This nods to the powerful performance of Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin.  The audience is invited into the life of the Darwins, but I wanted to see more fluid transition among Charles Darwin’s time onboard the H.M.S. Beagle and time conceiving natural selection.  It maybe could’ve been done through usage of voice over.  There was a time-lapse shot and while I wasn’t bothered it, it might remind some of a video shown on a projector in a classroom.  By the end, I took away Darwin was a complex family man and scientist who was equally affected by responsibilities and achievements.

I rate Creation THREE FINGERS of GOOD at 80%.

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2020pc

Journal Entry Type #44: How Different Are We? Very, I Hope!

I’ve been watching more shows than I probably should since getting Amazon and the first streaming service I watched, Netflix.  I’ve watched a documentary about Darrell Hammond, powerfully explosive and recommend it to anyone who wants to see the effects of child abuse.  You can watch it on Netflix.  I’ve watched a documentary about Lorena Gallo and John Wayne Bobbitt as a four part docuseries.  If you can get away from all the stupidity of John, it is a very good documentary.  I’m not going to say his ex-wife wasn’t guilt free because she wasn’t, but she comes across as more sane by the end of it.  Lorena and John, as a detective noted, were made for each other.  Luckily, they are no longer together.  I watched a short documentary about Ivan IV Vasilyevich and more popularly known as Ivan the Terrible.  Whether he truly was mad at the end of his reign, it doesn’t surprise me he killed his own son.  I watched another short documentary about Nadia Comăneci (Romanian gymnast) and Nicolae Ceaușescu (Romanian dictator).  You can watch these on Amazon.  I also was reminded about the case of Theresa Knorr, a mother who severely beat her children and killed two of her daughters, and for this she will spend the rest of her life in prison.  You can watch this on TV.

So, why am I bringing this up?  Because as much as I like to think child abuse is a rare phenomenon, it is not.  No matter where you live, knock on any given door in any given city or town, and you will find it.  Because as much as I like to think world leaders don’t want to be dictators, some do and crave the violence and power.  Because it is good information to keep in the back of my mind for my future stories.  Because I sometimes wonder why I’m so fearful of coming right out with the facts of my own child abuse when others before me have been so strong and courageous with their own stories.  They view themselves not as victims but survivors.  It isn’t that I don’t see myself as strong, but my own mental weaknesses sometimes get in my way.  Yet, I completely understand and sympathize/empathize with others who have dealt with similar issues as myself.  I don’t see them as faulty, but at times, I see myself as just that.  I think this is the biggest, negative, long lasting effect of any kind of abuse.  It is that you compartmentalize to not see yourself as a weak human being or at least, that is what I did. 

It took me forever to not want to be a like a robot.  You might find this funny, but seriously growing up, I did not want to have any kind of feelings, thoughts, or emotions.  I wanted to be a damn robot.  I thought life would be much simpler that way.  Looking back, it was a combination of denial for what happened to me and connection with my biological father on some dysfunctional level.  I hated and loved him at the same time.  He was the person who set strict rules for his family.  You ate when he gave you permission.  You defecated when he said it was okay.   You did everything he told you to do, more or less.  If you didn’t, there were consequences.  How can you love someone back who clearly hated you?  Watch the Darrell Hammond documentary.  He explains this perfectly. 

When I was in grade school, I made a little fort under the desk in the living room.  It was where I stored food and when my mom found out, she told me I didn’t have to hide food there.   There was no reason for me to do this because the refrigerator was always full as well as the cupboards.  It was something ingrained in me when I was very young.  I can relate to Darrell Hammond cutting himself because it is a form of self medication.  No one in their right mind likes to hear about violence against children, but let’s just say having suicidal tendencies is par for the course.  It’s about as common as a smoker usually needing assistance to quit smoking, either a patch or ultra light cigarettes.  I did that once, the ultra light cigarettes.  Seriously, can you even call them cigarettes?  It felt like I was inhaling air through the filter.  The things I remember doing in my early twenties.  It didn’t work either which means the mind is a very powerful thing and of course, nicotine.  I suppose I’m looking for even more closure when I continue writing and finish my second story even though I’d love to dive head first into my trilogy that might become just one book and I haven’t even finished my rewrite.  I find myself being lazy these days and only wanting to color although I did read this weekend.  The main thing I need to do this week is get a doctor referral so I can resume seeing my massage therapist.  I’ll put my non-existent money where my actual mouth is very soon.  I suppose this is what life is about, the ebb and flow, and sometimes just the ebb.  This is all I can offer on this Monday: a little bit of indifference, nostalgia, reality, and optimism.

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Poem: Wishful Thinking

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Oh, how I wish, for things to come my way.

I do wish for things in far away places.

Things that bring me joy again, keeping close to me.

No one remembers the good things anymore.

I want to hear your deep laugh.

It was from far within, that spot you only knew.

The spot that brought me happiness.

It was the kind of sign for better days ahead.

Hope is what kept my heart beating.

Allowed the ugliness to fall away in the light.

Oh, how I wish, for you to come my way again.

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End of May Quotes

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
–Farrah Gray
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
–Abraham Lincoln
“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
–John Updike
“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.” 
–Marcus Aurelius
“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”
–Victor Kiam
“Life doesn’t run away from nobody. Life runs at people”
–Joe Frazier
“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.” 
–Hunter S. Thompson
“If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”
–Latin Proverb
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
–Vincent van Gogh
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
–Louis L’Amour

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Poem: Resistance

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Hunger

Eating for two

When there’s not

Stuffing it in

Wishing it away

But it won’t.

Apprehensive

It will reveal

These are the things

One cannot escape

They grow out of proportion

Waiting for the right time.

Turning

Into something else

Too brutal

And chill inducing

The lids want to close

To this sight.

2020pc

 

 

Lake Mead in Nevada

I got out of the apartment today.  Went to Lake Mead.  I already forgot it’s Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. even though I work this coming Monday.  Therefore, I forgot it would be busier than usual and plus people have been cooped inside due to the C virus.  There were A LOT of tents, families grilling, music playing, and children swimming.  Someone set a large trash receptacle on fire by accident when I left.  Whoops.  I kept my social distancing and I was ill prepared for the rocks. They severely hurt my already messed up feet and said “ouch” one too many times.  Next time, I will bring flip flops and a towel.  I did see a lizard, heron take flight, and ducks searching for food.  I need to get out more in nature and I’m hoping by buying a yearly pass will get me to do this.  I also hope to find new hiking places in 2021.  Work lately has been kicking my ass and then some due to how busy it’s getting, but I guess busy is better than not busy.  Enjoy the pictures and at least I got to be around water even though it isn’t the Pacific Ocean.  That will come next year, I hope, along with a better year overall.

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Documentary Recommendation: Finding Oscar (2016)

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Producers: Scott Greathead, Nick Loud, Frank Marshall, Martin Singer, Stephen D. Smith, Steven Spielberg, and Ryan Suffern

Director: Ryan Suffern

Writers: Mark Monroe and Ryan Suffern

I found out about this documentary by searching worthwhile documentaries to watch because let’s face it, I can only watch so many CSI episodes in any given time period. The title Finding Oscar is only part of the massacre that occurred in a small Guatemalan village of Dos Erres in December of 1982. This particular massacre was in retaliation of guerrillas killing 21 soldiers near Dos Erres and the Guatemalan Army’s response was to send in the Kaibiles, disguised as guerrillas, with the order to kill everyone. There’s knee and tearjerking footage and interviews of key members of the Kaibiles army and the few remaining survivors. The two children that survived was Ramiro Osorio Cristales and Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda. Despite the horrific devastation by the hands of the Guatemalan government, General Efraín Ríos Montt eventually lost his power and several presidents admitted the government’s responsibility for the massacre. Despite the formal apology, asking for forgiveness, and monetary retribution, the best part comes at the end where it becomes evident the circle has less of a gap and a little bit of justice has been achieved. I won’t spoil the ending except to say it ends on a high note.

I rate Finding Oscar: Four Fingers and One Thumb at 97%

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Weekly Facts #21

The longest a human has held his or her breath under water is Aleix Segura Vendrell.  As a professional free diver, he held his breath for 24:03 in February 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest planetary mountain in the solar system since 1971 when it was discovered.  It is around 22 kilometers or 13.6 miles or 72,000 feet) tall and 600 kilometers or 370 miles wide.  It is still considered the tallest mountain despite Rhesilvia’s discovering on Vesta in 2011.

Black pepper, cocoa beans, animal pelts, arrowheads, and laundry detergent are a few forms of past or present currency.

Jennifer Sharpe from Michigan holds the record for most girl scout cookies sold in during a single year with 17,328 boxes totaling $14,000 in 2008.

Out of all the regions in the U.S., the Midwest spends the lowest average cost for an engagement ring at around $5,300 where the Mid Atlantic spends the highest average cost around $7,500.

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