Thursday, December 21, 2017


R2D2 found derelict and burned out in the park.
Rehab was successful.

In 1952/3 about this time of year my nuclear family took a trip from Portland to LA and got trapped by the “Yule storm” in Dunsmuir Pass.  We were one of the few private cars in a long procession of semi-trucks, too many of them jack-knifed, in the ditch, or turned over.  To pass the time, one of my brothers copied Pogo cartoons and I read my library book out loud to my other brother.  It was “Red Planet Mars” by Robert Heinlein.

Our Portland branch library was only a few blocks away.  I had read every book — in shelf order — in the section for children marked “Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends."  Then the librarian led me around the corner to adult books and started me on science fiction.  “Red Planet Mars” was the first I’d read.  It was the kernel of “Star Wars.”

In this 1952 book the predecessor of R2D2 was a living creature, a sort of soccer ball with fur named Willis.  It had the familiar ability to extend a pseudopod with a can opener or a cigarette lighter built into it.  (In those days, people smoked.)  I named my cat Willis.

Last night I watched "The Force Awakens" on disc.  I won't be able to see the new episode until months from now when Netflix gets it.  The reviews sound intriguing: I like the idea of turning the expected inside-out.


Yesterday a major snow storm came for Christmas.  When I first came back here, I would be exhilarated and relish a lot of digging out.  By now I’m pleased when the contract for clearing the post office parking lot has been fulfilled, but I tend to agree with the city crew that sometimes it’s best to just leave the snow where it is, instead of plowing a berm across the entrance to my driveway.  It’s four inches deep.  In Essex they have four feet.  Essex is in Marias Pass that crosses the Rockies and made it possible to build the HiLine of the Great Northern Railroad.

So I roll up back into bed, dreaming and figuring, and sometimes having a flash of insight.  There is so much to digest in a world where all the rules and norms have been dumped.  

This big tax bill does nothing to me or for me — as far as I know, since not even the people who wrote it know what’s in it.  Susan Collins sold her vote for nothing.  Trump didn’t know it would prevent him from signing it until after New Year’s Day.

The best explanation for ramming this deformity through that I’ve heard so far is that it is “donor payoff.”  That is, the Dems have continued to be funded by smaller amounts of money from many sources, but for some reason the Repubs have become dependent on huge subsidies from fewer than a half-dozen millionaire families, which amounted to buying advantages — the same thing that Putin is trying to do for Russia.  It is their normal — an old one from the 19th century, known on many continents.

Putin’s real danger is internal.  He has been stealing from his own country and must hide the money (laundering), often in the US, to keep his own oligarchs from realizing what he’s doing and either demanding a cut or turning against him.  Evidently this works better than islands who provide secrecy.

Trump’s real danger is from Putin.  If he is no longer able to deliver things like sanction relief and if his normal erratic behavior gets so outrageous that he makes Putin look stupid or weak, there are dozen ways for an old apoplectic man to mysteriously explode/deflate.  

Like the US worriers about the president, the best protection for Trump is that Pence is even more problematic, now that his cover is blown by investigation.  (Indiana has been notoriously corrupt for a long time.)  In all probability — the rumor goes — the succession, once begun, is not likely to stop short of Hatch, who is quite a different kettle of fish, not likely to be as easily played by Putin.  After all, Putin has put in decades of work on Trump to make him the asset he has become.

Jared and Ivanka Kushner are facing a lawsuit.  It is in terms of state law, which means Trump cannot pardon them.  Things one didn't know can be a serious problem.

The movie “Blackway” is being panned by the millennial-generation reviewers, particularly the female ones.  It’s gloomy, in the Oregon rain way; it’s full of rust and despair in the post-timber boom/huge old machinery way; and no one in it is glamorous.  An actual cat with its head cut off is shown.  (Probably the producers found one that was being tested for rabies, which can only be detected in the brain so the lab only needs the head.)

The chief morality of all of the people is stubbornness.  Many of the “beats” in scenes are Pyrrhic, meaning they seem to come to nothing.  A woman abused and handcuffed to a bed is simply put on a bus out of town.  No more about her.  We never saw her before anyway.  It’s nice that the whorehouse explodes just as the protagonists leave but they don’t even look back.  We don’t know whether anyone is killed.

This is a movie about old men and what they have seen, what it has done to them, and the still remaining possibility of effectiveness if only through dumb luck and that abiding stubbornness.  I liked it, but then, I’m originally from Oregon.  And I’m old.  And stubborn.

Beyond that, it seems to me that there are more “Blackway” types than there used to be and that they are more public, more shameless, seeing themselves as dominant and therefore admirable.  It is reinforced by our media, both the fantasies of movies and the reporting of international events.  Even that big zoo bear with the orange head who shambles across the White House lawn in a bulky dark overcoat insists we admit he’s more than a bully, that this characteristic makes him admirable.  "I fight back," he boasts.

An unexpected characteristic of our times appears to be that the traditional dressing-up of wealth with charity seems to have been dropped.  Soon revealed will be more people dying in the streets, children tortured, oldsters frail and skeletized . . .  And here am I saving feral cats, for the sake of my own feeling of protectiveness.  Or SOMETHING. 

Tuxie, the black patent-leather near-kitten with the soul patch, keeps coming into heat.  She doesn’t seem to catch kittens.  I looked up feline heat and it turns out being “in season” can recur and recur until conception happens.  The insistent donor is her litter mate, much bigger but the same age.  He only has one testicle.  She squawks at every attempt but the website said no one knows whether the objection is because it’s painful.  They both ought to have been surgically altered by now.  How many squirts can a sub-adult one-ball tomcat deploy in one night?  I would throw him out but there’s the snow and it’s below zero.  On the other hand, maybe he would freeze his mono-ball off.

Some things you just live through.

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