Brief Thoughts on Intelligence

I have a Masters degree while my husband has no college degree. But, his ability to figure out mechanical stuff like how to operate the DVD player with our three remotes or how to fix a household appliance never ceases to impress me. I have no patience or focus for such things, but, over and over again, he sure does. Also, his visual-spatial capacity/abilities surpass mine. He envisions how to set up and/or remodel a room with ease.

Intelligence reveals itself in so many ways. I honor and respect my husband’s expressions of brainpower which show up time and again. Any comparing between us of who’s “smarter” is pointless and ridiculous.

My Response to the SCOTUS Striking Down Roe v. Wade And Further Loosening Gun Ownership Restrictions

I’m for term limits across the board for every federal office holder, including those who are appointed. I’ve also long been for electoral reform, such as getting private money out of politics and neutralizing the Electoral College. We’re not living in a true representative democracy any longer. Some would say we haven’t for a while. I think the Citizens United SCOTUS decision basically killed the vestiges of that. Call it what it now is, an oligarchy. And there is no “united” like our country’s name suggests. (I’m not sure how “united” America ever really was.) There are alliances among states, a patchwork of sorts. Not so great, but rather realistic in such a large country with a steadily increasing plurality of peoples.

The desire by a sizable, active and vocal minority to “unite” the country by authoritarianism (with a uniquely so-called “Christian” brand here) is historically predictable. The oligarchs at the top like this occurring among the comparatively poorer masses, as it enables them to further consolidate their stranglehold on resources and power. Again, we have arrived at an oligarchy. Yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions on abortion access and gun ownership reflect this. One is extremely, nonsensically restrictive while the other will add to even more dangerous chaos (though both outcomes will do this, sadly). The oligarchs are surely smugly smiling over these further diversions away from their societally damaging means of functioning. Let’s all be honest with ourselves and each other about the reality we now live in.

Mini Movie Review (DORIAN GRAY)

The 2009 movie adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY was very good. Simply titled DORIAN GRAY, the production diverges from the book in places but the overall essence of Wilde’s story is retained. Ben Barnes superbly portrays the hedonistic Dorian Gray. Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton seems to believably savor the role of Dorian’s cynical, bad influence mentor. The entire British cast is, not surprisingly, excellent.

The beautiful cinematography, period piece costumes, haunting lighting and camera filtering made me feel like I was entering a different world and time. Well-thought-out and crafted films, such as this, have such an intended effect.

I appreciated the overt homoeroticism in places. This probably at least somewhat reflects the more recently published, unexpurgated version of Wilde’s 1890 masterpiece. I have yet to read this more complete one the author had originally written and now very much want to. Despite the somewhat needlessly heavy-handed, clunky climax, overall, I was emotionally moved at times and effectively low-grade creeped out by this generally enthralling work of cinema. 


I just finished reading Scarlett St. Clair’s erotic fantasy romance KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD, which was a lot of fun and even— surprisingly— emotionally moving in a few places. I liked the author’s creative way of having vampire and human societies existing side by side and even mingling together. I only care to read about vampires on occasion. But, this written rendering of them was interesting, particularly of the leading male character. The heroine, who is human/mortal and narrates the story, is a kick ass warrior princess who becomes a gutsy queen. This book is very lesbian and gay affirming, and witch affirming as well.

Hardcore conservative Christians will want to stay away from this deliciously naughty page turner.

Movie Review (THE BATMAN)

Earlier this past week, I watched THE BATMAN, released a few months ago, for free at home. This was a pleasant surprise. HBO Max made it available this way for a brief promotional period, or so it seemed. Now, the movie appears to be permanently available to stream for free. I don’t know what factors into certain blockbusters becoming free to view far sooner than others. I thought I’d be having to wait for a good while longer before maybe paying $5.99 to view this impressive, engrossing production, a price I would have gladly paid.

I did not at all care for Ben Affleck’s anemic, tired-looking corporate executive portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne in a recent handful of DC Films, so the more elegant and mysterious Pattinson stepping into this superhero role was welcomed by me. THE BATMAN takes place relatively early in the Caped-crusader’s masked vigilante career. Pattinson plays dark and brooding extremely well, so he is excellent as the title character, a billionaire traumatized as a child from losing his parents during a violent robbery. I appreciated how this seminal event is not shown in flashback on screen, but simply referenced in dialogue and print. Batman’s origin story has already been well covered in earlier movies.

Zoe Kravitz plays Selina Kyle, who does not yet go by Catwoman in this screenplay. She is effectively written as sympathetic yet morally vague/gray, which I found believable. And she is svelte and beautiful. However, Kravitz is no match to Pattinson’s gritty gravitas, coming across as rather girlish in tone of voice and lacking in rough depth next to him. Perhaps that is intended. I grew up with watching the witty and mature-sounding Julie Newmar portraying Catwoman for two seasons of the 1960s campy show BATMAN, followed then by Eartha Kitt in that iconic role for the show’s third and final season. And while I think Julie Newmar reigns as the best on-screen portrayal of Catwoman ever, Eartha Kitt comes in as a close second, with her own unique feline moves and sultry woman’s voice. Alas, dear Ms. Kravitz had big shoes to fill, at least for myself and probably many other viewers who are, say, at least over forty. And while, perhaps, Kravitz plays a younger, less seasoned/roughed up by life Catwoman (to be) than her lovely predecessors, I have a hard time imagining Kravitz evolving to someone with a deeper, more nuanced voice, even more slinky and seductive moves, and a jaded yet humorous perspective on life. It is hard to believe that Kravitz and Newmar were pretty close in age while portraying Catwoman in their respective eras. Kravitz comes across as, well, an annoyed adolescent rather than smoldering, dangerous, and seductive like Catwoman should naturally be and Newmar and Kitt conveyed so well. But, enough with these comparisons. I’ll wait and see if Kravitz can bring more edgy maturity to the archetypal part, even though she likely will still not quite measure up to Newmar or Kitt.

Paul Dano plays the Riddler, a long-time arch villain of Batman’s. He is completely unlike Jim Carrey’s sexy and hilariously campy portrayal of this previously seen character in 1995’s very fun BATMAN FOREVER. In THE BATMAN, Dano and screenwriters Matt Reeves and Peter Craig make Riddler a comparatively more realistic obsessed and hyper sociopath. He posts on the Internet, garnering a devoted following, as he kills off Gotham City’s corrupt government leaders. Dano brings much thought and passion into the role. He effectively matches Pattinson’s quiet, often seething intensity.

The rest of the cast is generally stellar, with the exception of Andy Serkis as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s devoted butler and assistant. He is solidly competent in the role but lacking a seasoned British elegance that others, namely Alan Napier, Michael Gough, and Jeremy Irons all brought to the part in previous incarnations. I think the creators were going for a younger Michael Caine kind of portrayal, with Caine and Serkis having a more working class English accent and style, which is fine, of course, but not the Alfred I grew up watching. To me, Alfred’s calm, measured, dignified demeanor adds a beautiful juxtaposition and complementarity to Batman’s more physical, hard-edged presence. This dynamic is lost between Serkis’ more earthy version of Alfred and Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne. Ah, well, ’tis a relatively minor area of lack in an otherwise solidly good work of cinema.

Batman is in ruthless, tough detective mode against a backdrop of a dark and dreary, crime-ridden metropolis, very much clearly inspired by 1930s through 1950s film noir genre productions. The sets, often enhanced by LED backgrounds, are largely made up of impressively high, foreboding buildings from a bygone era, influenced by the Art Deco style, still in fashion when the BATMAN comic debuted in 1939. Like Batman and Selina Kyle themselves, many of the sets are darkly beautiful, intermittently placed against expansive skylines, high rooflines, and claustrophobic interiors and exteriors (such as an outdoor train station). Much of the movie takes place at night, though daytime scenes are dimly lit or filtered. One cannot help but to feel a mix of overwhelm, constraint, and isolation that the characters experience in this grim world of THE BATMAN. Rain is initially used to set up the movie’s dreary mood while Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne/Batman dourly narrates an introduction. Kurt Cobain’s haunting recording of “Something in the Way” is effectively used twice in the movie, which boasts an incredible original musical score that I can only describe as powerfully suspenseful and beautifully intense.

The story of long-time political corruption and massive citizen neglect, which the Riddler destructively works at uncovering in Gotham and Batman comes to discover there, fits America’s and much of the world’s current political situation. Things are falling apart and new vision and leadership are desperately needed. As depressed as Pattison’s Batman/Bruce Wayne is, he holds onto hope and steadily begins to heal from his past, a human work in progress like, hopefully, we all should strive to be.