September 2013

Elsewhere in the news, I came across a remarkable film on YouTube a while back: The Lives of Others (Das Leben Der Anderen), a 2006 German film about the East German (GDR) Stasi (security police) in the 1980s. It’s a fictional, but meticulously researched, story about a popular playwright under surveillance by the state, and it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Truly an amazing movie both as a cliffhanger drama and a tribute to the spirit of people living under a totalitarian regime. I’m not sure why the YouTube version, which is a full, decent copy with subtitles, is still up there (perhaps the studio considers it a loss-leader), but if you want a more convenient high-res copy Netflix must have it. Once you’ve seen it, check out the Wikipedia entry for the film; one of the actors (who plays a Stasi agent) had an experience very similar to the one portrayed in the film while a resident of the GDR.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the cultural spectrum, I had started watching Stephen King’s Under the Dome after Falling Skies (which I kinda like, although it could use some dinosaurs) ended its season earlier this summer. I had actually read the Dome book, mostly because it was there, and thought that King had taken a good idea, as usual, and beaten it to death, as usual, with bad writing and cardboard characters. However, this TV series, which I understand is a huge hit for CBS, makes the book look like Tolstoy. This show is so relentlessly moronic that I wasn’t surprised that for the recent season finale they threw in the towel on logic and just turned the stupid up to 11. I guess it’ll be back next year, unless someone gets behind a petition to stop it. I’ll sign.

On the other hand, that may not be a problem because we’re about to cancel our satellite TV service (which is all you can get out here; even broadcast channels don’t reach us with any reliability). We just don’t have the money for it any more. We tried to get one of those internet streaming gizmos to work so we could at least watch Netflix, etc., but our line speeds are way too slow.

When we moved out here from New York City, I was writing these columns, a book roughly every two years, and book reviews for several newspapers. I was never going to be rich, but living in the country is cheap, so it seemed to be working. Now, seven years after being diagnosed with primary-progressive MS, I struggle to continue these columns as the disease progresses (at the moment I walk with a very slow, very painful shuffle and can’t really use my left hand). I was a week late paying the hosting fee for this site last month.

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And now, on with the show….

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