Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, October 13, 2017

A movie and a book

The latest book I've been reading from the public library is House of Spies: a Novel by former journalist Daniel Silva. It's the 17th book in the spy series about art restorer and Israeli agent Gabriel Allon. I've read all the books in the series and enjoyed them all. This one is very good so far. Here's an interview with Silva about the book on the Today show ...

My latest movie rental was The Mummy ...

a 2017 American action-adventure film directed by Alex Kurtzman .... It is a reboot of The Mummy franchise and the first installment in the Universal's Dark Universe. The film stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe.

As you will recall, the earlier Mummy films starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, and told of a treasure-hunting soldier who collaborates with a librarian to unearth Egyptian relics, one of which is a sarcophagus containing a still living and supernaturally dangerous mummy. This new film modernizes the story but basically follows the same path.

Sadly, the film got pretty bad reviews - I think part of the reason some critics didn't like it is that they didn't realize that many of the script choices were based on the earlier Mummy film. Here's a review from The Guardian: The Mummy review – Tom Cruise returns in poorly bandaged corpse reviver. Anyway, I enjoyed it. Here's a trailer ...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Harvey Weinstein: the Trump era

Rachel Maddow discusses Harvey Weinstein (and Trump) and interviews journalist Ronan Farrow about his New Yorker article: From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories ...

I first heard of Ronan Farrow when he wrote an essay in The Hollywood Reporter about his sister's allegations against their father, Woody Allen .... My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked (Guest Column)

More: How NBC ‘Killed’ Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein Exposé

Monday, October 09, 2017


In my area of the country ... fire.

From CNN ...

Wildfires in Northern California Kill at Least 10 and Destroy 1,500 Buildings

Though it's very smoky here, the closest the fire has come to where I live is about 90 miles. I've been to Santa Rosa and Napa/Sonoma many times - scary and sad to think of them in flames.

The kitty couch

Used a gift certificate my sis gave me to send for this outdoor couch from Amazon for the cats. It's supposed to be practically indestructible (all plastic) so hopefully it can survive out on the front porch, saying it doesn't get stolen. Fig seems to like it :) ...

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Coming to a Theater Near You

I love movies and often visit the Apple Movie Trailer place to see the future attractions. Here are a few of the movies I'm looking forward to seeing ...

- Earth - One Amazing Day ...

- Bill Nye: Science Guy ...

- Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House ...

- Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton ...

- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle :) ...

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Drift: Rachel Maddow

My latest book from the library is Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow.

Here's the beginning of the review of the book at NPR ...

In past wars, the U.S. practically dismantled its military after the troops came home. But today, says MSNBC News anchor and writer Rachel Maddow, we find ourselves in a state of almost permanent war.

In her new book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Maddow invokes Thomas Jefferson, pointing out that one of Jefferson's main concerns was the danger of having a large military.

"That was a really animating thing going on for the Founding Fathers. I mean, they were very upset about what was going on with the British Empire and the British king, and there's a reason that the 'quartering soldiers' thing, which seems so random, is foundational in our founding documents," she says.

Her book argues that the U.S. military has grown bloated partially because the nation is insulated from the wars its soldiers fight ....

I'm up to the part in the book about when Ronald Reagan was president and launching the invasion of Grenada in 1983. For some reason I don't remember anything about the politics of the time, so it's really interesting to read all this stuff ... I had no idea that Reagan was such a proto-Trump, with his love of the military (and his lying). If you're interested in contemporary history, you'll probably find the book worth a read.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This week's movie rental was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ...

a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy .... It is the sequel to 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Guardians travel throughout the cosmos as they help Peter Quill learn more about his mysterious parentage.

I devoured The Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers comics as a kid, but never read Guardians of the Galaxy, so I'm not as much of a fan of this Marvel film series, but it's still pretty fun to watch. The characters are likeable, especially Rocket Raccoon ...

And there's lot's of music too, with Peter getting a whole new set of tunes, like Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman ...

One of the nicest CGI/music scenes was when the characters arrived on the planet created by Peter's father, while George Harrison plays in the background ...

I'm looking forward to the coming Avenger's movie in which most of the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, will meet in what might be the final film.

The movie received good reviews. Here's one from Richard Roeper - ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ brings the funny and the feels

And here's a trailer ...

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Polanski: another past victim

Roman Polanski is annoyed that sexual assault cases hurt appreciation of his films

As Roman Polanski has returned to the film festival circuit, debuting his latest film, sexual assault allegations against him continue to mount.

On Tuesday, a fourth woman came forward to say that she was a victim of the acclaimed 84-year-old director. Former German actress Renate Langer filed a report with Swiss police claiming that Polanski raped her in February 1972, when she was just 15 years old, according to the The New York Times.

The day before, the Academy Award-winning director was at a press conference in Zurich, promoting his latest film, a psychological thriller about the relationship between two women and with the strangely apt title “Based on a True Story.”

The Polish-born director took a few moments away from talking up the film to tell reporters that it was “unfortunate” that his new work and his other acclaimed films — “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist” — are now viewed through the filter of the sexual assault scandals that surround him, the Hollywood Reporter said.

In offering a rare comment on this allegations, Polanski also argued the scandal should be behind him .....

I had written a blog post about him last August when a judge in the US decided not to dismiss the case against him here for having drugged and raped and sodomized and forced oral sex on a 13 year old girl against her wishes in 1977.

Poor rapist - so hard to enjoy your wealth and fame and the praise of suck-ups when these peaky victims from your past keep popping up. He has never shown a shred of remorse for any of these assaults.

Monday, October 02, 2017

RIP: Tom Petty

This from PBS NewsHour ...

Sad to hear this. I saw him in concert once with the ex. I especially liked this song of his ...

And here he is later in the Traveling Wilburys (he's the one standing by the window) ....

I'll miss him.

Can't sleep

Tonight, as I was outside sweeping the porch, the new neighbor across the street suddenly yelled at the top of his lungs, "keep your stinking cats on your own property". He's never spoken a word to me before, and this time he still didn't come over and talk, just left that bellow hanging in the air as a couple of the kittens ran across the road from his yard. If I could keep them in the yard, I would do that, but I don't see any practical way to make that happen. Now I feel sick and worried that he may harm the cats.

I know the cat situation is bad here. It has been like a snowball rolling down hill, getting worse every year. This neighborhood has always had a lot of stray cats around. I had my four cats who lived always only inside but even without there being any cat food outside, cats would tend to gravitate to my yard, probably because it's big and unkempt, with lots of places for small animals to hide. I would try to find homes for them when I could. After my four cats became elderly and sick and passed away, I decided not to have any more pets - my health isn't great and there's just no money for anything extra.

But a few years after my cats had died, another stray cat appeared during the winter. I felt sorry for him and left out some food. And I guess I was lonely here by myself, and I thought, "one cat - how bad could it be?" I called him Scruffy..

- Scruffy napping

There were two other cats who had been hanging around and now they joined Scruffy on the porch - Vicky and Olive. When spring rolled around, Scruffy the cat's family appeared - a mama cat and three babies (Thor, Dina, and Lucy). They were all semi-feral but I tried to figure something out. Every place I called or wrote to ... the SPCA, PETA, Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary, Alley Cat Allies, and a number of other organizations ... were no help. None of them would take the kittens to socialize and find homes for them. PETA and the SPCA actually recommended that I just euthanize them because they were un-adoptable and there were already so many homeless pet cats.

- Olive

- Vicky

- Thor, Dina, and Mouse

- Lucy

So I kept them and managed to catch them and get them spayed and neutered. They lived in the big yard and I fixed the garage up with some old cat furniture and pillows and rugs so they would have an indoor place. I wasn't lonely anymore, but I could feel a rising panic. Then spring happened again. A mama cat and a kitten showed up in the yard. I tried again to find some place that would take them, but couldn't. So Misty and her baby, Mouse, moved in too. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Scruffy disappeared, so there were seven cats now.

- Misty

And then spring happened yet again. Another mother cat and kittens appeared in the yard. The mama cat disappeared but the kittens remained - this time I was able to talk the vet into taking a few of the kittens to adopt out, but there were still two I couldn't catch no matter how hard I tried - Hansel and Gretel. Now there were nine cats and I felt pretty overwhelmed, but I eventually got Misty and Mouse and Hansel and Gretel spayed and neutered and thought to myself that maybe the neighborhood's stray cat cornucopia was finally empty.

- Hansel and Gretel

But then spring came and Marie and her five kittens appeared. This time the vet would not take any of the kittens and I turned to the County Animal Shelter for help. They couldn't promise the kittens would find homes, especially in kitten season when they had so many tamed kittens to give away. That meant they would be euthanized. Didn't matter because I couldn't catch them and the older they got, the less adoptable they became and I didn't want to send them off to die. So now there are fifteen, yes, fifteen, cats here in the yard, six of them not spayed and neutered.

- one of Marie's kittens, Snowy

I'm way beyond overwhelmed at this point. The neighbors hate me. The cost of the cat food is hard to come up with. I don't know what to do, and I just know that there are more cats out there. I hate the organizations and agencies that are supposed to help with this problem but which really don't. I hate the neighbors for always only making things harder instead of helping ... all these stray cats that keep appearing are not being spontaneously generated from nothing. And I hate myself for being so unable to be "normal" and do whatever it is normal people do in these situations.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Going crazy

When I read about stuff like this ... Trump attacks San Juan mayor over hurricane response .... it makes me crazy. As one commentator put it on today's Meet the Press, there's let-them-eat;cake Trump at his luxury golf club berating a woman mayor wading through sewage to save lives because she dared to question his response to the natural disaster in which she now lives. The crazy-making thing isn't just that Trump is blaming the victims, it's that his troglodyte followers and their Republican representatives support him on this and everything else.

Speaking of crazy, maybes some music will help. Here's The Decemberists covering Heart's Crazy on You, which was inspired by social unrest ....

But I still think the original is the vest version ...