Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Story with Staying Power

It's been many years since a television series has captured my attention so thoroughly as the remake of Poldark. Originally a popular Masterpiece Theatre offering in the 1970s, I had heard about the show from several friends who were avid fans. But I had a toddler at the time and not much interest in Sunday evening drama.

Flash forward four decades. While surfing Prime for a show to watch one January evening, I happened upon the icon for the 2015 Poldark series and decided to try the first episode, just to see how I liked it. I spent the next month pinwheel-eyed, binge watching one episode after another. I've chewed through all five seasons and am ready to read the Winston Graham Poldark novels from which the television series is adapted (there are twelve books).

It's true that I'm a sucker for historical fiction, but Poldark goes many extra miles beyond the late 18th century. There's an enduring love triangle, fierce rivalries, dastardly villains, suspense, action, and vivid characters in a captivating story. The setting is Cornwall, England, and many of the exterior shots are absolutely breathtaking; it's hard to believe that such pristine stretches of unspoiled land still exist in our time. Over the course of five seasons, the stunning scenery seems to become a character in its own right.

Now that I've finished watching the final episode, I'm feeling a bit bereft. It's time to cheer myself up with some book shopping. Along with the cliffs and beaches of Cornwall, the Poldarks, their friends, and their enemies await me on the printed page.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Questions for a Socialist

“You know, this idea and this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces? It’s physically impossible. The whole thing is a joke.”

Seriously, the statement above is from the former bartender who is now a famous member of Congress known nationally, if not worldwide, by her initials. The imaginative creativity of figures of speech apparently is a foreign concept to her. I don't know what's more frightening--the fact that such obtuse individuals are in prominent leadership positions or that their left-wing supporters don't seem to catch the ridiculous contradictions.

But wait, there's more! This anti-capitalist rant lit up Twitter recently:

AOC on why successful businessmen don’t deserve their wealth:
“You didn’t make those widgets! You sat on a couch while thousands of people were paid modern day slave wages, and in some cases real modern-day slavery; you made that money off the backs of undocumented people ..."

This bit of idiocy raises quite a a few questions. Did Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos "sit on a couch" while they were building their behemoth businesses that are generating so many jobs for so many people? Or did they work day and night, 24/7, until they started companies that were thriving enough to offer employment to people who wanted and needed jobs? If workers didn't like the wages, weren't they free to move to another job?

What are "undocumented people" doing working in the United States when they have no right to be here in the first place? If we're such a terrible, greedy capitalist country, why are so many people from all over the world kicking in our door to get here?

Did anyone ever get a job from a poor person?

Why is it that only in America does the former bartender stand on a national stage to trash the political and economic system that put her in a position of power and influence? One final question: how many Americans besides me think that "AOC" is stupid to the point of being dangerous?

Thursday, February 06, 2020

A Memorable Life

"Life can never be long enough." ~ Tim Green

Kirk Douglas, one of the last true movie stars of Hollywood's golden age, died this week at age 103. The iconic actor starred in over 70 films, many of them iconic classics .Perhaps most famous among his leading roles is that of the rebellious slave in the 1960 movie, Spartacus.

Truthfully, he was not one of my favorite actors, although I watched and enjoyed quite a few of his movies--some of them multiple times. I often found the fierce intensity of his character portrayals a bit distracting. But there is no denying that he was a talented, accomplished, and successful actor.

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
Spartacus is perhaps the most popular and well-known favorite among his films, but I think the best performance of Kirk Douglas's career was in 1957's Paths of Glory, directed by Stanley Kubrick. It's a grim tale of three World War I soldiers condemned to be executed for cowardice. Douglas plays their commanding officer who defends them, and his customary passion fits well with the part. I stumbled upon the movie one night many years ago on a PBS channel and decided to watch. It was one of those films that holds on and haunts you after the credits have rolled.

At 103 years old, Douglas had long outlived his Hollywood contemporaries. Some of his fellow stars that once shone in the Kirk Douglas galaxy have been gone for many decades. (There is perhaps only one star left from that golden age--Olivia de Haviland. She, too, is 103 years old.)

Kirk Douglas lived a very long and full life in which his legendary acting career was but one prominent part. He was a husband and a father of four sons. He was a World War II U.S. Navy veteran. With his wife Anne, he was a generous philanthropist to numerous charities and non-profit organizations. Douglas was also an author; he was even a blogger. But it's inevitable and also fitting that, to so many Americans, he will always be Spartacus.