WIVES AND PICTURES

Don Trump is upset that his wife’s photos have been reshopped on the Internet. He is threatening to spill the goods on Heidi Cruz, who will be praying in any photographs. If it comes down to casting aspersions by Don or Heidi, ADVANTAGE to Heidi. She likely knows where all the bodies are buried in the foundations of his buildings.

It does not upset Don Trump that his wife’s photos are rereleased: She’s living proof that 40 is the new 20, and that she, indeed, is a female of the human species.

It bothers Don Trump that he looks like he does. He appears like an orange, fat, old Buddha. Comparing photos, everyone will recognize him for who he is, a dirty old man. (He did say he wanted to date his daughter.) Now everyone has to hear Don Trump grieve, and they will wonder where is the substitute hubby. Can anyone who is beautiful, graceful and calm ever go for an offensive, loud mouthed, abrasive oaf? Does part of Don Trump’s deal making abilities include robbing the cradle, or is there a Pygmalion effect here?

One point must be made for the American people and decency. In the photographs Mrs. Trump wears few clothes. No where should similar photos of Don Trump be published. Instead, he should abide Mark Twain, Clothes make the man. And Twain explained why, Naked people have little or no influence in society.

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YOUTH, END OF THE TETHER

Joseph Conrad

Not enough kind, superlative and complimentary words can be accumulated to praise and recommend these two short stories. Each takes one side of a sailor’s life, Youth(20 years old) and End of the Tether (Sea captain in his mid-sixties).

The Youth has his whole life before him. His ship becomes wrecked. The master is unlikeable. It is a struggle to get off the wreck and find a life boat. No one knows where they are. They don’t know where land is. They are hungry and thirsty. But he navigates the boat to land and to safety. With the hardship and having no money, does the Youth want to return home [in Europe]? And miss Eastern Asia!

The story is told in narration. The teller is either or knows the Youth. Conversation is a very effective way to tell this story.

End of the Tether is about a Captain who saved, owned his own ship, has a daughter in Australia who needs his financial help and remains well-regarded. The corporation in which his retirement is invested slides into bankruptcy. There is no recovery. He sells his ship.

Although he is frail and his faculties are fading fast, the Captain returns to the sea to earn money to help his daughter, He knows he can be the Captain of a ship if anyone will hire him, and he has a trusted crew. The ship’s owner and chief engineer is a man disliked by all that meet and know him. He does not like the arrangement forced upon him by the Captain. That sea dog seems immune from the many harsh criticisms, empty threats and bad words coming from the shipowner.

The Captain simply does his job. Late in the story the reader learns the Captain is blind. Unaware, the owner plots to send the ship off course; it will be wrecked at sea and sunk. The insurance will be paid. As it happens, if the Captain had his sight, he would have uncovered the plot. But the ship sinks. Everyone including the owner but not the Captain abandons ship. If the Captain is saved he loses his reputation; he was responsible for losing the ship – he was blind!

The jumble of influences, events and circumstances coming at the Captain play out well. For both stories the vim and vigor of youth carrying through to middle age’s vinegar – knowledge, thinking and reflection – drop off in later age to consideration, judgment and wisdom. As an elder the Captain knows what to do, but he has neither the mental nor physical abilities to undertake the effort. He is alone; no one can help.

It has been a while since I’ve read Joseph Conrad. I’ve gone through many of the novels. But this reading – I know I have to find more Conrad to continue reading excellent literature.

HOCHSCHILD’S MISREADING

On March 18, 2016, Second D, page 5, Adam Hochschild ventured into an area where he lacks expertise, knowledge and imagination. He described why Mark Twain’s Life On the Mississippi need not be read in its entirety. Being familiar with Twain’s work, I am surprised. I’ve read works from historians competing with Hochschild for readers, and I now wonder if I ought to read his books. The world is more multilayered than Mr. Hochschild appreciates. Regarding Life On the Mississippi he has two grand oversights.

Hochschild stumbled upon the fact that Life On is a companion book to Huckleberry Finn. That novel is firmly set in the 1830s. Life On presents contemporary observations which were added to Twain’s previous publication of Old Times on the Mississippi (@1875).

In 1882 books and basic knowledge of the Mississippi River Valley were scare. Twain had written about 25 chapters of the novel but needed a refresher course about locations and the sense and feel of the South, and the river. In 1882 he traveled up the river, noting events and occurrences, present time to 45 years before. Not much had changed.

Life On came from Clemen’s notebooks and scrapbooks. Prior to William Faulkner’s observation about the past in the South, Clemens realized in the South that nothing was ever the past. In 1884 he told the world that in Life On.

The second point is what the South did with its history, this time and subject is described by a prominent American historian who quotes Life On the Mississippi from a late passage. SPOILER ALERT! Hochschild’s fans should stop reading NOW!

…Colonel Marshall graphically described the scene demonstrating Lee’s
posture and his forward wave of the hand as Jackson rode away.The
movement became the subject of a painting completed in 1869…Mark
Twain studied the original in New Orleans and reflected on the importance
of explicitly telling people the retrospectively defined meaning of what they
they see when one offers them a historical representation…Unless the
painting were properly labeled Twain said, it might readily be taken to
portray “Last Interview between Lee and Jackson” or “First Interview
between Lee and Jackson” or “Jackson Reporting a Great Victory” or
“Jackson Apologizing for a Heavy Defeat” or “Jackson Asking Lee for a
Match.” “It tells one story and a sufficient one; for it says quite plainly and
satisfactorily, ‘Here are Lee and Jackson together.’ The artist would have
made it tell that this is Lee and Jackson’s last interview if he could have
done it. But he couldn’t, for there wasn’t any way to do it. A good legible
label is usually worth, for information, a ton of significant attitude and
expression in a historical picture.”
Royster, Charles, The Destructive War, Knopf, NY, 1991, p. 203-204.

 

REPUBLICAN DEBATE – MIAMI

Everyone was supposed to be nice to everyone else, and mostly they were. This debate was about substance, not scorn or ridicule.

The candidate demonstrating no ability was Don Trump. When asked about Obama’s policies toward Cuba, Don Trump, the deal maker, said he would continue them: “Fifty (50) years of sanctions have not worked.”

Marco Rubio was asked the same question and he did not need a panel of consults as Trump said he would use. Out came the facts and arguments that destroyed Obama and Trump’s positions. [Whether anyone agrees with Rubio or not, he gave reasons.] If was such an orderly presentation of destruction that it seemed like Rubio was numbering them. The first four are 1. free and fair elections in Cuba, 2. promote and support free speech and a free press, 3. eliminate the Cuban security-secret police who are oppressing the Cuban people, 4. free all political prisoners.

While Rubio was marching through his points, Don Trump looked at him; the audience could see no poker face: I wish I could insult Little Marco because he’s making feel like a shrimp right now. But I promised not to. If Rubio insults me, I may have to explain the folds of blubber on my belly, in my brain any why I can’t find anything. I didn’t know Little Marco could count so high. When’s he going to stop?

After Rubio finished, Don Trump got to respond. He said he would negotiate tougher deals: Make sure when the land for the eighteenth hole of the golf course is situated, it is not sloped toward the sea.

Don Trump should agree to no more debates of substance. All debates hold allow a full panoply of insults, schoolyard accusations, unsubstantiated gossip about girlfriends, wives and former wives, and journalists along with ne’er-do-well offspring.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ENDORSEMENTS

Today Ben Carson, MD, fabulous neurosurgeon, endorsed Don Trump, with a mixed blessing and an unclear evaluation.

Doctor Ben remembered his psychiatric classes from med school (necessary for any neurosurgeon to remember and know) and said Don Trump was a man of two minds. Based upon that statement at this time, the public can come to their own diagnosis of this multi-minded candidate.

There is the public (the first) Don, who is like a soda-jerk who is also the chief yell leader for the football team. The second Don is pensive, reflective and thoughtful.

What to make of the second Don? When he can, the second Don has revealed himself to the American public convincingly. He has difficulty stating full positions, although he states well and strings together topic sentences. Seldom does he utter a paragraph where the sentences are connected with one another any logical fashion. The second Don’s pensiveness, reflection and thoughtfulness arise because he is bewildered, befuddled and gaping. The British would call the second Don, potty.

Of course the American public does not know because it is a secret: Doctor Ben has obtained a grant to observe and to study Don Trump and write a report of this findings. In the end Doctor Ben may find that this enforcement of the second Don means he has actually endorsed Harold Stassen.

During the Miami debate Don Trump said Doctor Ben knew and had lots of good ideas about education. It also sounded like Don Trump would appoint Doctor Ben as Secretary of Education. There is a problem with these supporting words from Don Trump who has promised to eliminate the Department of Education. All the education ideas of Doctor Ben will disappear into the closest paper shredder.

Doctor Ben’s enforcement is full of ambiguity. A mixed enforcement of Don One or the Next Don brings to mind a situation that happened to Benjamin Franklin, while he was the American Diplomatic Corp in Paris during the American Revolutionary War. Franklin found hundreds of young men, second-third sons of nobility and clergymen on his doorstep. Each was looking for rank and privilege in the American Army and war service. Thereafter, each hoped to receive lands, wealth and position. Each man had at least one letter of recommendation (endorsement) from a patron, a nobleman, a churchman, a military superior, or a prince of a place revealed only later in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

One Paris afternoon two men arrived on Franklin’s door step, and neither of them had letters of recommendation (endorsements). To Franklin’s further surprise, each man orally recommended there other.

Doctor Ben (like Ben Franklin 230 years ago in Paris) plus the American people must know and understand more before any endorsement carries weight.

THE JUDGE

Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duval

Again, Robert Downey Jr. has shown that he is the premiere actor of this time and of his generation.

The movie works. Downey is a successful defense attorney whose mother dies. He has been estranged from his family and his home town since high school. His father, Robert Duval (The Judge), does not want and does not like to speak to him.

The movie is about their reconciliation. Downey learns Duval is dying, sooner than the judge admits. Downey’s presence lets Duval accept the end is near; Duval’s world is collapsing (health, death of wife, being able to take care of himself and move, and professionally). Until his son comes to town Duval has refused to submit to a reduced life.

Complicating the funeral/family situation is an accident: Duval drove his car and got into a hit- and-run accident with an enemy, without realizing it. Duval is arrested. [In California it would be a felonious hit and run which is akin to a manslaughter rap not first degree murder.] As the prosecutor Billy Bob Thornton delivers the proper doses of spite, scorn and abuse to convict Duval, as well as compassion. This movie becomes a first-rate film about the practice of law: representing family and friends, representing the elderly, trying the case and confronting and handling surprise at trial. The law and trial and Duval’s physical condition combine.

Downey’s family life in the big city is likely coming to an end. In the hometown Downey has a potential situation from his teenage years making a family life. Patricia Arquette’s scenes are brief but round out a whole family dynamic.

It is not a happy, glorious Hollywood end. Duval is convicted on a lesser included offense; he goes to prison. After a compassionate release he dies. How many actors can realize and shock of a parent’s death in his presence? Downey does by pantomime.