I remembered that second (of three) thing I was going to post yesterday! I was going to say that I finally took a COVID test.

Not because I thought I might have COVID, mind you. I took it because our last government-provided COVID tests were expiring, and we were going to throw them away. As a shut in who aggressively shuns human contact, I had never had cause to take one yet, and I figured I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see what all the hubbub had been about.

For the record, yeah, that stick up my nose tickled... until it drew blood, so I might have been a little too enthusiastic. But it was all good news:

1526 days and counting (knock on wood)

My memory may not be doing so great, but still no COVID. Yet.

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Three things:

Thing One: Coca-Cola's summer promotion involves decorating their cans and bottles with pictures of Marvel Comics super heroes. I bought a 24 pack expecting an assortment of heroes, but no, all 24 cans were the same picture of Electra. Very disappointing. I've now drunk more cans of Coca-Cola with Electra's picture on them than I have bought comic books with Electra pictured in them. Meanwhile, my aunt bought me a 20-oz bottle of Coke Classic because she saw a picture on it of some guy in tights on it and thought I would like it even though she had no idea who it was or which characters I liked. It was Wolverine. To be fair to my aunt, even though I haven't bought a single Wolverine comic in decades, I have definitely bought more Wolverine comics in my lifetime than I have bought Elektra comics.

Thing Two: When I composed this post in my head while walking the dogs, I knew there were three things. However, I don't currently remember what thing two is. Give me a minute. I'll come back to this one.

Thing Three: I wore a kilt for the first time yesterday. I'd been saying for years that I was going to shop for one at the annual Georgia Renaissance Fair, but haven't, in part because it seems a little like cultural appropriation to me, even though Mom can trace her (and therefore mine) very WASPy ancestry well back to Scottish Clan Napier in the 18th century. I ended up buying one online, a modern cotton twill utility kilt instead of the traditional wool tartan because the whole point of wearing one was to stay cooler in the long Georgia summer. To my surprise, I liked it. I liked it a lot, especially while walking the dogs. I might buy another.

Thing Two Again: Hmm. I recently broke a part on our washing machine, but I don't think that was it. And my car was in the shop again, but that's not it either. Shit. What was I going to say here?

You know what? Never mind. It couldn't have been that important. So just two things, then.

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As I type this, the South Park episode in which Cartman inherits a million dollars and uses it to buy an amusement park (which causes Kyle to lose his faith in God) is on the 33-inch 16:9 ratio flatscreen LCD television beside my computer. According to Wikipedia, that episode, "Cartmanland," first aired on July 25, 2001. That's almost twenty-three years ago!

I distinctly remember watching the broadcast of the debut episode of South Park ("Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") on Comedy Central on basic cable via our communal 24-inch 4:3 ratio CRT TV in the apartment I shared with friends and former classmates Matt and Randy in unincorporated North Druid Hills. Matt had invited our old high school classmate, Tabitha, over for the evening, and she was absolutely appalled by the course humor, which, of course, only made it funnier. That was August 1997, and I was already in my second college.

To put those dates into perspective, I also distinctly remember watching the 20ish-inch wood-paneled TV in our family's basement as channel 46 (on the UHF dial) weatherman Denny Moore, wearing what we would now call Trekker cosplay, hosted a New Year's Eve 1980-something marathon of original Star Trek episodes. Although I'm not entirely sure of the year, I am sure that whatever year it was was definitely prior to The Next Generation being a thing.

The point of that being that in hindsight, there was less time between the date of that rerun marathon and the original broadcast dates of those Star Trek episodes than there has been between between now and 9/11.

Honestly, I'm starting to think that the real difference between the past and the present is that there were barely 3 seasons of Star Trek and South Park has a contract to keep making episodes into its 30th season. The Good Old Days were a very brief time indeed.

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37/2348. Parasite (2019)
If I had realized that this was written/directed by the same guy (Bong Joon-ho) in charge of Snowpiercer, I wouldn't have bothered ever watching it. I disliked this so much, I had to bail after about an hour, deciding that I had already spent too much time with a bunch of characters whose life decisions constantly turned my stomach. I don't know understand how this won the 2020 Best Picture Oscar over the vastly superior Jojo Rabbit or Little Women or 1917 or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It's dull and petty and just fucking awful.

38/2349. Wonka (2023)
A necessary palate cleaner. It's true that the songs aren't greatly memorable after you turn off the TV, but they're fun and colorful in the moment, and you certainly can't fault Timothee Chalamet's enthusiastic effort.

39/2350. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
Fred Astaire is mistaken by Ginger Rogers for a professional marriage-wrecker, but that's not as important as the singing and dancing. Yeah, Astaire and Rogers were both in Flying Down to Rio, but this is the first movie to really couple them for the full runtime. It's easy to see why audiences clamored for more.

40/2351. Inherent Vice (2014)
I'd call this a psychedelic neo-noir, and in the vein of The Big Sleep, I'm not sure it makes any sense. To be fair, it's not as strictly concerned with the big mystery as it is with how Joachim Phoenix's hippy detective fits into a corrupt, over-commercialized 1960s American society. Director Paul Thomas Anderson bakes in a lot of satirical humor (see also: Licorice Pizza and Boogie Nights). I was surprised that liked it as much as I did. (Is it time I finally watched Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood?)

41/2352. Mauvaise Graine (1934)
The English release of this French film retitles it Bad Seed, but Prodigal Son might be more fitting for this story of a spoiled child who runs away from home to steal cars. For the record, it's the first film directed by Billy Wilder, and while it's hard to draw a direct line from this to Some Like It Hot, his natural comedic touch still peeks through occasionally.

More to come.

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Rocketman wouldn't lie to me, would he?

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Baby, don't hurt me

"Love is the most important thing on Earth. Especially to a man and a woman."

—Captain James T. Kirk, "Gamesters of Triskelion"

My Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged has eight different definitions for the noun form of love, chief among them "a strong affection or attachment or devotion to a person or persons." That pretty much matches the good captain's use of the word. (I'm sure Kirk also loves the fifth definition: "sexual passion or its gratification," which, you may note, does not require any "person or persons" on this earth or any other).

Maybe I'm devoid of strong passion, but my personal definition of love has always been a little more concrete. So far as I can tell, anything you love is something that you value more than yourself. For most people, that's not a lot of things, if any. (It's no wonder I'm still single after all these years.)

The word gets thrown around a lot (especially by starship captains on the make), but how often is it accurately employed? It's a common trope of art and literature that one lover would be willing to die for another, and I accept that most parents (usually) place their children's interests before their own. But how often do you meet anyone willing to lay down their lives for property? Or strangers? Or a whole society? Or chocolate? Maybe we don't encounter those people often because they don't have long lives.

Conversely, my definition of hate is disliking something enough that you're willing to destroy yourself to destroy it (also a common trope in literature, usually for villains and anti-heroes). I've used that word a lot in my life, but like my use of the word love, it has usually been an exaggeration when all I really want is a word stronger than dislike or disapprove. (Despise? Detest? Disdain?) Rationally I recognize that anything I might hate is rarely actually worth my being sacrificed for it.

Obviously, human beings are not governed by the Three Laws of Robotics, which place the priority of self-preservation dead last, meaning that by my definition, Asimovian robots have a greater capacity for love (and hate) than human beings. I don't know what Mr. Spock would have to say about that, but I'm reasonably certain that Kirk wouldn't hesitate to love a machine, assuming it had enough I/O interfaces.

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To be continued...


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