Saturday, May 31, 2014

odds and ends

Aside from the playful breeze tousling the leaves in the Tree of the Hanging Squirrels across the street, there doesn't seem to be much fresh mental meat on my plate this morning.

Vyacheslav Molotov
-- When I was a kid, my mother had a Siamese cat named Vyacheslav Molotov Toffee. The name rolls lyrically off the savoring tongue, though of course everyone simply called the cat Toffee. I don't know, but
I suspect the cat got its name at a time when my mother, like a lot of other intellectuals of that time, were drawn to the Communist Party. Vyacheslav Molotov was, among other things, the foreign affairs minister under Joseph Jugashvili, the man who became the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin. Communism, like Christianity, has wonderful principles which lose their luster in practice and my mother soon enough distanced herself from her earlier interest. The cat, however, retained its name.

-- The Rat Wars of Valley Street took a turn yesterday when a huge Dumpster was deposited in the driveway of the house accused of fostering a rat population in the neighborhood. One neighbor has an air rifle (legal in Mass. without a permit) and is allegedly popping them off. It is not legal to shoot air rifles across streets, alleys or, I suspect, property lines.) I have some sympathy for anyone who is forced to face and perhaps clean up accumulations made over the years -- accumulations, in this case, where rats can live in comfort. Each accumulated item has a meaning and importance that relates to another time and place and yet here it is, at last, reduced to rubbish, an albatros around the neck... and there's no escaping the responsibility.

-- Meaning and meaninglessness amount to the same thing -- a desire to put sprinkles on an already-delicious cupcake. It is probably not wise to mention this since meaning is frequently, if not always, so meaningful in anyone's life. Me too. I wouldn't waste a lot of time setting up meaning/meaninglessness as a straw man worthy of a good drubbing, but I do think it is something worth keeping an eye on: Meanings are limited and there is something that knows from the get-go that what is limited is far from being the whole story. So, OK, a rock may be a "rock" for communication purposes or meaningful purposes, but also, what is a rock?

-- Skimming through the newspaper idly, I came to a section devoted to television -- a pull-out tab with
Jay Ryan
a largish picture of a young man in a T-shirt staring seriously at the camera lens... an ad for some show. His hair was perfectly mussed; he had about three-days-worth of facial hair; he was handsome in the way that so many TV actors are; and, on first glance, he gently jingled my gay-dar bells. Somebody named Jay Ryan. But what really got my attention was the fact that, in my eye, he looked so much like other young, handsome TV heroes. Literally -- I can't tell them apart and there is nothing in any of their faces that makes me want to know them better, that makes me curious, that makes me love or hate them. Nor are the American actresses much different: beautiful, boobilicious, shoulder-length hair, sincere and flavorless. True, all this may be an old-fart's affliction, but I doubt if that is the whole story. It seems that in a world where everyone wants to stand out and be known and be a star ... well how sensible is it to try to stand out by wearing clothes and striking poses that are cookie-cutter versions of the competition? If everybody is handsome, grows three days worth of whiskers and wears a T-shirt who stands out? When everyone gets their boobs done, how remarkable are well-done boobs? All I can say is that, based on what is visually intriguing alone, I prefer European movies/TV. And Chinese or Japanese movies, even when mediocre, at least have cultural or environmental quirks that can carry me along.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the Rat Wars: What's needed is a Pied Piper of Northampton. Imagine the sight of a stream of rodents flowing into the Connecticut. Might go viral.