Recommended (or not) on Prime

I thought I’d do you the favor of listing some more quick Amazon Prime Video recommendations so you don’t have to waste your time wading through mediocre productions. This is assuming our tastes align, but have I gone wrong before?

You’re welcome.

I sifted through the mountain of Dickens productions to find these gems:

Dickensian– 10-Episode Series- Highly Recommended. I kept scrolling past this one, and then decided to try it. Dickensian, for me, was one of those transporting, elevating pieces of entertainment. It brings together a number of Dickens’ characters for an original story arc, a murder mystery, but so much more than that formulaic genre. It’s really about people, about human nature and what individuals will do to get what they want, at others’ expense. Some pursuits are petty, some are avaricious, and unfortunately all feel true to life. It’s also about sacrifices and the remarkable lengths that some will go to ensure that right wins in the end. And there is another truth explored: that real honesty–difficult reality brought to the light–is loving and cleansing, even to those who do not want to be reached.

Although sometimes dizzying with its carousel of plots and characters, and at times lacking subtlety in final resolutions, this is a beautifully filmed, scripted, and acted series. It is also great fun to recognize Dickens’ characters, made to live again in new stories that are nonetheless respectful of their original source material. And the men and women I don’t know–Jaggers, for instance, and Honoria–have sparked my curiosity so that I will have to look them up. Bucket of the Detective, who might be an original Dickensiancreation, is odd, clever, and warm-hearted enough to be one good reason I revisit the series every few years.

Oliver Twist-(1985) 12-Episode Series-Recommended. Because this is more than three decades old, I was skeptical about the production value. But while it does somewhat have the feel of being filmed on a stage, and costumes and sets are not always convincing, the acting and script are solid, and I found myself getting absorbed in spite of myself. I realized that this Oliver is one of my favorite Dickens TV adaptations to date.

David Copperfield (1999) 4-Episode Miniseries- Recommended. This is colorful, well-acted, and well produced, with funny and kind, evil and tragic characters. The actors are appealing, and the film sets beautiful. I would watch it again just for the wallpaper at the great aunt’s house–just splendid.

Our Mutual Friend 6-Episode Series- Recommended. Yet another Dickens adaptation, this production is a little hard to follow at the beginning, and actually more than a little creepy. Yet the story is not without hope, and the engaging, compelling actors won me over.

Movies with some real historical context that I enjoyed for their unusual settings and production values: Thousand Pieces of Gold and The War Bride. Both have their coarse, gritty details, but made me appreciate the predicaments of the characters.

Next, here are some that are okay picks if nothing else is on:

The Indian Doctor– This series, featuring an Indian couple in the 1960’s who took the doctor’s post in a small Welsh town, is a great concept, with charismatic main actors and beautiful filming. I got mostly through the third season, but have not yet returned to finish it due to over-the-top humor and obnoxious, cliched story arcs.

The Special Needs Hotel: This reality show about a hotel set up to train young people with autism, Down syndrome, and other special needs impresses the viewer with the effectiveness of the program and the kindness of the staff. There are some segments that are gems, such as one resident supported as he plans his big birthday party while practicing phone communication. But it is a reality show, so some awkward love scenes are clearly staged, to the detriment of the actors, perhaps, and for sure the discomfort of the viewers. In another big puzzler, the residents are offered alcohol at their dance parties. However, should a second season be offered, I would watch it.

Home Fires: This series about families left at home in an English village while World War II raged abroad had me electrified. I was delighted to discover a second season, to live again with characters who loved their families and struggled through physical and emotional challenges. Later, however, it felt like the stories burned less brightly, their moral core dampened by BBC writers once again. The series was then consumed in an abrupt blaze, a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers that was never resolved due to cancellation of the show. Watch at your own risk.

Aristocrats: Six episodes cover the lives of four sisters, English nobility from the 1700’s who make disappointing choices and still have to live with themselves. The series attempts to capture the long sweep of their lives, and so makes a jarring turn at the end, when main actors are replaced by older ones in order to more convincingly show these men and women in their dotage.

BBC’s Emma (2009 miniseries, currently offered through Britbox): I thought I would love this production, featuring Romola Garai. Every time I started watching it, it seemed superfluous given all the current Emma movies out there. It does have its charming, aesthetically pleasing, engaging side, good for dark winter evenings. However, I thought Garai came across too pouty and spoiled, making her Emma not likable enough to carry the scenes with Knightley.

Here are some to not bother with, in my opinion:

The Darling Buds of May: Cute concept, beautiful setting, and engaging acting, but the series celebrates excessive drinking and nontraditional living arrangements with lots of winks and merriment.

Lorna Doone: This was just meh for me. Two young people from opposing sides–one a daughter of a violent clan of outlaws–meet and carry on a dangerous connection. I stopped watching it, so I can’t tell you much else. It didn’t offer much depth to keep me watching.

Wild at Heart: Although some reviewers loved the series, I never finished the first episode. It sounds interesting: a family in England goes to South Africa and ends up staying to run a game reserve. But I thought the story details a little shallow and more suited to younger viewers.

What’s your list? Help us out and save us time by recommending your favorites and steering us away from less worthy material.

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Be a Good Child Day

It is early Father’s Day here. Way before there was ever a Father’s Day there was a command to honor your father and mother. This is not a command to be a good parent but to be a good child. In fact in life, one has to live with the parents one is dealt. They can be incredibly good or bad. If you have won the “lottery of life”, realize you are lucky where others have not been. But back to the point of this post. You can’t pick your parents but you can decide if you will be a good child. You can treat people with respect and kindness for the good they have done. And you can treat people with respect and kindness when they have not been so good.

How are you going to be a good child today? If your father is living, do you make the call today? If your father is no longer with you, what do you do to honor the memory?

For me I will remember all the things that my father did to make me smile. Maybe I will have a tuna fish sandwich, for he loved eating those.

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Scaevola’s Cat Thought of the Week* (#8)


The Thought

Servus quaerit cur in siccatorio inesses?

Ut signo vestes, efficientius est.


The Meaning

My servant asks why were you in the dryer?

When I mark clothes, it is more efficient.


The Form

ˉ = Full beat
˘ = Half beat
° = Either a full or half beat may be used
ˉ ˘ ˘ = D = Dactyl (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˉ = S = Spondee (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˘ = T = Trochee (a metrical foot)
/ = Separator between metrical feet
|| = A hiatus – a pronounced pause
X = Either a dactyl or spondee may be used
Y = Either a spondee or a trochee may be used

Form = Elegiac Couplet
X / X / X / X / D / Y
X / X / ° || D / D / ˉ


The Scansion

Sērvūs / qu(āē)rīt / cūr īn / sīccā/tōrĭo*-ĭ/nēssēs?
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ )

Ūt sīg/nō vēs/tēs, || ēffĭcĭ/ēntĭŭs / ēst.
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ || ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ )

* A note on scansion: if a word ends in a vowel, am, em, or um, AND the next word begins with a vowel (or an h), then the ending vowel (or am, em, um) of the first word is dropped completely (beat value and all) and the two words are joined. This is known as elision.


The Recitation


The Vocabulary and Grammar

Servus = servus (servus -i), noun, 2nd declension, singular, masculine, nominative, meaning = male servant.

quaerit = quaero (quaero, quaerere, quaesivi or quaesii, quaesitum), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, active, indicative, meaning = he (servus) asks.

cur = interrogative, indeclinable, meaning = why.

in = preposition, indeclinable, modifies siccatorio, meaning = in.

siccatorio = siccatorium (siccatorium, -ii), noun, 2nd declension, singular, neuter, ablative, meaning = drying room (dryer).

inesses = insum (insum, inesse, infui, infuturum), verb, irregular, 2nd person, singular, imper, active only, subjubctive, meaning = you were in. (The construction “Servus quaerit cur…,” introduces and indirect question, “My servant asks why…” Verbs in indirect questions are subjunctive in mood.)

Ut = conjunction (temporal), indeclinable, meaning = when, as (just as, at the same time as).

signo = signo (signo, -are, -avi, -atum), verb, 1st conjugation, 1st person, singular, present, active, indicative, meaning = I mark, sign

vestes = vestis (vestis, -is), noun, 3rd declension, plural, feminine, accusative, meaning = clothes.

efficientius = efficientior (efficientior, -ius), adjective (comparative adjective derived from the present participle “efficiens” of the verb efficio, -ficere, -feci, -fectum), singular, neuter, nominative, modifies the impersonal “it” of the verb est, meaning = more efficient.

est = sum (sum, esse, fui, futurum), verb, irregular, 3rd person, singular, present, active only, indicative, meaning = it (impersonal) is.


*  “Week” is a used here as to specify an undefined length of time, possibly at times equal to an actual week.

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My Forever Favorite Flower

O Ratty, do you know what these are? I was told as a child that they’re called “Indian Paintbrush”, but when I look up that sobriquet, none of the (many) flowers pictured are these.

There are yellow ones and red ones.  They have a long, hairy stem, and several bud clusters grow from the stem.  But I love ‘em because of their  smell!  The yellow ones have no odor, but the red smell like  fresh-baked cookies!  When I smell them I’m back in my little 7 year old body again, my long hair tangled with twigs and leaves, my bare legs scratched  by brambles, lost in olfactory ecstasy…

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Draining the agricultural swamp

Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting Thursday to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country.

Perdue announced earlier Thursday morning that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, will be relocated to Kansas City from Washington, DC, the final announcement in a process that began last year.
Swamp dwellers are unhappy.   They are going to have to go to flyover country if they want to keep their jobs.   This will make it more difficult to work the system, and make it more difficult to collude with their pals in the activist community.
This is exactly the sort of remedy that I have been hoping for.
But outside observers, current employees and members of Congress have pushed back against the plan since it was first announced last year.
Kevin Hunt, acting vice president of the ERS Union, condemned the move as “cold-hearted” and that it “highlights his disregard for the rights and well-being of employees.”
The relocation plan has drawn opposition from House Democrats, who included language in their budget banning USDA from using funds allocated by Congress to relocate either agency outside the capital. A group of Democratic senators have also introduced legislation that would bar USDA from moving the research agencies.
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Book Review: Five Million Watts

“Five Million Watts” by Fenton WoodThis is the second short novel/novella (123 pages) in the author’s Yankee Republic series. I described the first, Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves, as “utterly charming”, and this sequel turns it all the way up to “enchanting”. As with the first book, you’re reading along thinking this is a somewhat nerdy young adult story, then something happens or is mentioned in passing and suddenly, “Whoa—I didn’t see that coming!”, and you realise the Yankee Republic is a strange and enchanted place, and that, as in the work of Philip K. Dick, there is a lot more going on than you suspected, and much more to be discovered in future adventures.

This tale begins several years after the events of the first book. Philo Hergenschmidt (the only character from Pirates to appear here) has grown up, graduated from Virginia Tech, and after a series of jobs keeping antiquated equipment at rural radio stations on the air, arrives in the Republic’s storied metropolis of Iburakon to seek opportunity, adventure, and who knows what else. (If you’re curious where the name of the city came from, here’s a hint, but be aware it may be a minor spoiler.) Things get weird from the very start when he stops at an information kiosk and encounters a disembodied mechanical head who says it has a message for him. The message is just an address, and when he goes there he meets a very curious character who goes by a variety of names ranging from Viridios to Mr Green, surrounded by a collection of keyboard instruments including electronic synthesisers with strange designs.

Viridios suggests Philo aim for the very top and seek employment at legendary AM station 2XG, a broadcasting pioneer that went on the air in 1921, before broadcasting was regulated, and which in 1936 increased its power to five million watts. When other stations’ maximum power was restricted to 50,000 watts, 2XG was grandfathered and allowed to continue to operate at 100 times more, enough to cover the continent far beyond the borders of the Yankee Republic into the mysterious lands of the West.

Not only does 2XG broadcast with enormous power, it was also permitted to retain its original 15 kHz bandwidth, allowing high-fidelity broadcasting and even, since the 1950s, stereo (for compatible receivers). However, in order to retain its rights to the frequency and power, the station was required to stay on the air continuously, with any outage longer than 24 hours forfeiting its rights to hungry competitors.

The engineers who maintained this unique equipment were a breed apart, the pinnacle of broadcast engineering. Philo manages to secure a job as a junior technician, which means he’ll never get near the high power RF gear or antenna (all of which are one-off custom), but sets to work on routine maintenance of studio gear and patching up ancient tube gear when it breaks down. Meanwhile, he continues to visit Viridios and imbibe his tales of 2XG and the legendary Zaros the Electromage who designed its transmitter, the operation of which nobody completely understands today.

As he hears tales of the Old Religion, the gods of the spring and grain, and the time of the last ice age, Philo concludes Viridios is either the most magnificent liar he has ever encountered or—something else again.

Climate change is inexorably closing in on Iburakon. Each year is colder than the last, the growing season is shrinking, and it seems inevitable that before long the glaciers will resume their march from the north. Viridios is convinced that the only hope lies in music, performing a work rooted in that (very) Old Time Religion which caused a riot in its only public performance decades before, broadcast with the power of 2XG and performed with breakthrough electronic music instruments of his own devising.

Viridios is very odd, but also persuasive, and he has a history with 2XG. The concert is scheduled, and Philo sets to work restoring long-forgotten equipment from the station’s basement and building new instruments to Viridios’ specifications. It is a race against time, as the worst winter storm in memory threatens 2XG and forces Philo to confront one of his deepest fears.

Working on a project on the side, Philo discovers what may be the salvation of 2XG, but also as he looks deeper, possibly the door to a new universe. Once again, we have a satisfying, heroic, and imaginative story, suitable for readers of all ages, that leaves you hungry for more.

At present, only a Kindle edition is available. The book is not available under the Kindle Unlimited free rental programme, but is inexpensive to buy. Those eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to visit the Yankee Republic will look forward to the publication of volume 3, The Tower of the Bear, in October, 2019.

Wood, Fenton. Five Million Watts. Seattle: Amazon Digital Services, 2019. ASIN B07R6X973N.

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Shiite Shenanigans

Oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. This is just over a month since the previous attacks in the Persian Gulf. Houthi rebels in Yemen, a client project of Iran, attacked oil wells and pipelines and an airport in Saudi Arabia.

The Mullahs of Iran are trying to raise the price of oil, to create a better market for their black market oil that they are trying to sell around President Trump’s sanctions.

Are they biting off more than they can chew? I saw that Prime Minister Abe of Japan happened to be in Tehran at the time of the attack, and tried to say some soothing but warning things about escalations.   One of the bombed ships is Japanese.

The Iranians are saying “it ain’t us,” but everyone knows it is them. They are saying that America bombed the ships in order to blame Iran for the provocation. Only the most virulent America-haters are going with the Iranian version, which means it is making the rounds on social media at three times the speed of truth.

 

The problem with Iran is that their theocracy puts the most ardent Mullahs in positions of power. Those guys believe their scriptures, and have internalized some prophecies that are specific to Shia Islam. They would like nothing better than to trigger the Final War that will bring about the sequence of events prophesied for the end of the world.

As a believer in sacred writings myself, I see their conviction as an admirable trait. Too bad they have determined to follow the wrong sacred writings. But I can understand them in a way that the pundits of Washington cannot. I relate to their conviction.

There is a limited number of ways to deal with Iran. Diplomacy is bound to fail unless it accompanies a strategy that addresses their religious ideas.

  1. First, convince them that now is not the time for that eagerly-sought Final War. That a war at this time would not be the eschatological end-times war, but a war that would bring the wrath of the West down on their heads and only set their cause back by a century or three. They would need to be convinced that the war that would come would be far more deadly and destructive than the wars they have observed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  2. Alternatively, bring down the regime of the Mullahs, and install some other government that does not give primary place to religious ideologues.
  3. Third, and best, would be a conversion; a wave of Iranian people coming to Christ and rejecting the religion of false peace, peacefully replacing their own government with something good.

Any approach that simply expects more of the same; applying economic sanctions and occasionally setting their nuclear weapon ambitions back a little bit, is a bad approach. Eventually they will succeed.

I do not expect that they will succeed in triggering the wars that will bring about the End of Time. I do expect that could succeed in triggering a major war, with millions of people displaced and killed.

Lord, have mercy.

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Sarah Sanders is Leaving at the End of the Month

Being Press Secretary is tough and probably tougher for a working mom. I am glad she is going to get some rest and away from Washington. She did a great job.

The left wants to destroy anyone even a nice mother like Sarah Sanders. The garbage she has had to put up with just shows how terrible the left has gotten. They truly have no shame anymore.

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Where have all the viewers gone?

I read this over at Breitbart.

Primetime Viewership Compared to Same Week Last Year

Fox News: -4 percent

MSNBC: -4 percent

CNNLOL: -33 percent

Total Day Viewership Compared to Same Week Last Year

Fox News: -7 percent

MSNBC: -5 percent

CNNLOL: -21 percent

It looks like CNN is Tapped out. The Cuomo News Network may need to remember not all the bad news is about Trump. It can be closer to home. I haven’t been watching but is Rachel still smirking. I know I am. Are you? (This is unkind but turnabout is fair play.)

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Our Fair Lady

It had been two months since I heard anything about Notre Dame de Paris.  Immediately after the fire I read about various proposals for ….well, not restoration ,but reconfiguring, Of the place.  An aviary. An apiary. A Pei dome à la Louvre.  If they’ve made any decision, it hasn’t been announced,  as far as I can discover.

But I did read that the first mass since the fire will be celebrated there tomorrow, in the Crown o’ Thorns chapel.  Only 20  worshippers and they all, and the celebrant, I assume, will be wearing construction helmets.  (Talk about yer “Gospel armor”…)

Who are the lucky 20, the Vingt Valoureux,  one might say?  We dont know.  I hope  there will be film!

And isn’t  it amazing how quickly we’ve forgotten about the fire, this event which seemed so apocalyptic, a civilization-killer, a creed-crusher,  just two short months  ago?

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Overreaching Moderation

This is at Pinterest.

https://www.projectveritas.com/2019/06/11/tech-insider-blows-whistle-on-how-pinterest-listed-top-pro-life-site-as-porn-bible-verses-censored/

The pro-life group, Live Action, was put on Pinterest’s porn list as well as PJMedia.com. Clearly the moderators are seeing things no one else is seeing. If you watch the video you will see also how a site can minimize content. The slant is in. The video at the link is about 20 minutes and you will see from a Pinterest insider how the “sausage is made”.

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