Friday, November 16, 2018


Lee Israel was a real person. She was a freelance writer who landed an interview with Katherine Hepburn in 1967 and spun from that into a career as a biographer. Sic transit gloria, though. Her books stopped selling, and in 1992 she embarked on another career as a forger of literary letters. Whether bold enough or desperate enough, she also stole letters from archives, hoping to substitute her own copies while selling the originals. A cunning and original plan, but not one she could carry off very long, as she was arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property in 1993.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a film based on Israel's autobiography. It's a kind of caper movie, where the tools of the heist are typewriters and Israel's oven, which she uses to artificially age her forged documents. A caper with no physical violence and very little action. Really, though, it's a depiction of loneliness, desperation, self-destructiveness. As portrayed by Melissa McCarthy, Israel is a solitary alcoholic with a secondary addiction of burning bridges. Her forgery scheme is a necessary confidence booster as well as a moneymaker, but she can't completely suppress the suspicion she might be doing something wrong.

It's far from unrelieved misery, though. McCarthy is best known for comedy, and she's frequently funny here. So is Richard E. Grant as her petty criminal best friend, although his story turns tragic as well. Also among the movie's pleasures are a jazz-inflected score and a lived-in New York atmosphere, pre-gentrification.

If you're a cat lover, prepare for some sadness, though.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

chop chop

Anil Ananthaswamy's The Man Who Wasn't There has nothing to do with the Coen brothers movie. It's a book on neuroscience, a topic that interests me. And the second chapter is interesting. It's just kind of hard to get through. The subject is body identity integrity disorder (BIID), and if you're curious about what that is, here, that should tie you over.

So there are descriptions of self-harm and some borderline surgical procedures. Nothing too graphic, but it still made me woozy.

Now I know transgender people. There's a Starbucks around here where at one time you might walk in and most of the staff on duty seemed to be trans. So is thinking you're an amputee wrongly placed in a body with all its limbs comparable? I would think it's different, but who knows? Maybe in a few years I'll be desperately denying ever having written this blog post.

Monday, November 12, 2018


Regret to inform you that I am very sleepy now, as the hypnotist would say. Ergo, my blogging capabilities are limited right now.

But thinking about sleep leads to thinking about dreams. Literal dreams. But a lot of the time they seem to be assembled by the waking mind, which is more comfortable with narrative. A few disconnected images come, maybe accompanied by a feeling. Then we interpret, either to diminish its effect or to enhance it.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

In the aisles

Observations from a recent trip to the supermarket:

* The annual marketing of eggnog started, I think, a little before Halloween. There are now several brands gracing the shelves. This includes Southern Comfort. Now it's not an insane market move for them. Eggnog is best served cool but not ice cold (I've tried eggnog flavored ice cream and it leaves something to be desired) and many like to put a little nip of something in it. Brandy might be best but whiskey-flavored liqueur is workable. Still, that means there are SoCo dairy farms out there, which just seems weird.

* One of the potato companies—McCain, I think—is marketing fries shaped like emoji. Ah well, you knew it was inevitable. From the packaging it's mostly just happy faces and surprised faces. No vomiting face. And the ever popular "swirl of shit with a manic grin" has been left out, for some reason.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Tomorrow I'll be otherwise occupied during the morning and early afternoon. After that, though, I have at least one thing to return to the library and a couple to pick up. This I have to do tomorrow because Monday is Veteran's Day (which I remember Howard Campbell, Jr. in Mother Night lamenting was no longer Armistice Day.) I usually pick things up on Saturday but with a lot of Monday holidays, this one included, they close Saturday to make it a three day weekend.

This is one of those things that used to confound me but now I just shrug off. As long as I can remind myself and not get caught up short, well, enjoy your day off.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


One thing I like about this time of year is that Standard Time comes back. I hear a lot of people say that they look forward to Daylight Savings Time, even that they want it to be DST year-round, so I'm probably weird on this one. So be it. We got an extra hour of sleep this past weekend, and now when I get up in the morning the sun's out even though it's still early. It's refreshing.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

New friend

Craven from Brianna McArthur on Vimeo.

Brief but sweet. This one may or may not be inspired by the recently passed Halloween season. Very definitely autumnal in its palette.

Yes, this is an unlikely seeming friendship, but one I can get behind.