Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The definition of irony!


"I want the American people to understand what has been, what is and what will be, to solve this problem," Tamaki told the Associated Press


Every writer should read this about Elena Ferrante.

Elena Ferrante Stays Out of the Picture
For two years, the pseudonymous literary sensation corresponded regularly with the director adapting “My Brilliant Friend” for HBO. But the resulting show is a testament to her elusiveness.

By Merve Emre
Oct. 31, 2018

Saverio Costanzo, the 43-year-old director of the HBO limited series “My Brilliant Friend,” is a haunted man. For over a decade, he has corresponded with a woman whose face he cannot see, whose voice he cannot hear, whose existence is confirmed only by the many thousands of words she has written dissecting his artistic choices. When he speaks of her, his black eyes turn upward, as if seeking a trace of her in the cracks of the ceiling or in some metaphysical plane high above the penthouse suite of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Costanzo and the cast of “My Brilliant Friend” have arrived for HBO’s summer press tour. “Sometimes she was so strong,” he said, gruffly. “I don’t know. I’m still trying to put everything together. It’s very hard. It was like working with a ghost.”

Costanzo’s ghost has a name: Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous author of the four beloved Neapolitan novels, of which “My Brilliant Friend” is the first to be adapted for television. (It will air on HBO on Nov. 18.) She initially appeared to Costanzo in 2007, when he wrote to her Italian publisher, Edizioni E/O, to purchase the film rights to Ferrante’s 2006 novella “The Lost Daughter.” He was drawn to Ferrante’s “very small, very accurate, very dangerous” novellas, this one about Leda, a middle-aged English professor seized by guilt and a sense of inadequacy over the onetime abandonment of her husband and children. While summering on the Ionian coast, Leda steals a little girl’s doll at the beach and watches as her mother tries, and fails, to contain the child’s rippling misery. Costanzo wanted to see if he could create a visual idiom to match Ferrante’s ability to make readers “uncomfortable.”

It seemed unlikely that Ferrante would agree. Costanzo thinks she might have been disappointed by the adaptations of her two previous novellas and that she wanted nothing more to do with what she has called “the world of show business, with its many moving parts and conspicuous cash flow.” He had already abandoned the idea when he received, through her publisher, an admiring message from Ferrante, issuing him a challenge. She was willing to cede him the rights to “The Lost Daughter” for six months, enough time for him to devise an adaptation that would please them both. For six months, Costanzo labored; for six months, “The Lost Daughter” resisted his intrusions, until finally he told her publisher he would renounce the rights. “I was just a kid,” he recalls.

For nine years, Costanzo heard nothing from Ferrante. He grew up and became one of Italian cinema’s youngest and most challenging auteurs. He directed a series of claustrophobic dramas not unlike Ferrante’s novellas, featuring characters whose lonely and inscrutable acts of destruction — a teenager’s self-mutilation in “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” (2010), a mother’s slow starvation of her child in “Hungry Hearts” (2014) — poison the people around them. His female leads, especially, inspire pity, fear and revulsion before they inspire sympathy, and then only sparingly. Then one day in 2016, he received a surprising phone call from Edizioni E/O informing him that he was one of a few directors Ferrante suggested for a television adaptation of “My Brilliant Friend”; some weeks later, the producers called to tell him that he had been chosen to direct.


Costanzo was reluctant. The last thing he wanted to do with his career was adapt a novel — and not just any novel, but a novel that had surpassed ordinary best-seller status to emerge, instead, as an event, a sensation, a literary pathology: “Ferrante fever,” as readers had taken to calling the frenzy that greeted the publication of each Neapolitan novel — the midnight-release parties; the grave discussions about the books’ covers; the jostling reviews, with each critic claiming to know her art more intimately than the critic who came before. He did not want to deal with the expectations of Ferrante’s readers, who were inclined to project onto her punishing tale of female friendship the faces of women they had once loved and hated in equal measure. But “My Brilliant Friend” was the rarest of opportunities: a second chance for him to create his own story with Elena Ferrante. “She was giving me her hands and saying: ‘I did it — why don’t you do it?’ ” he told me, reaching his hands into the empty space before him, as if she might appear to fold them into hers.

Now when Costanzo talks about Ferrante, it is with a deference you rarely see directors exercise toward writers whose work they adapt. She has commented by email on drafts of all eight of his scripts. She has flagged moments when his dialogue verges on the melodramatic. (“She was just saying, ‘This dialogue is ridiculous, the way she talks here is ridiculous.’ ”) She has protected him from serious missteps, like when he thought to cut the loud, quarrelsome wedding banquet that ends “My Brilliant Friend” from the series because he was overbudget and running behind schedule. (“She said: ‘Listen, the first moment I thought about “My Brilliant Friend,” the first image I had was a banquet, a very vulgar banquet of Neapolitan life. Please put the banquet back in.’ ”) “She is very strong,” Costanzo repeated, permitting himself a sheepish little laugh. “I like that.” When he recalled all the times he had risked disappointing her, he pouted, like a child who has failed, yet again, to live up to his mother’s expectations.

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The Neapolitan novels tell the story of a writer, also named Elena (“Lenù,” for short), whose subject is the filth of the neighborhood in Naples where she grew up and her long acquaintance with Lila, the brilliant, disagreeable classmate she leaves behind and returns to intermittently over the next 50 years. When Lila disappears without warning at age 66, leaving no clothes, shoes, letters or photographs to testify to her existence, Lenù decides to write about their long and troublesome relationship: their shared love of reading, the education they defied their parents to pursue, the writing they collaborated on, the men they both loved, the children they raised together, all set against the backdrop of postwar Italy’s social and political turbulence. Spurred by anger and a desire for vengeance, Lenù sets out to counter Lila’s self-erasure by preserving her life in the form of a novel, making their history irrevocably present in the reader’s imagination.

Though the novels are billed as tales of female friendship, “friendship” always skates on the edge of absurdity — intimacy is inseparable from violation. Lenù is the one making art out of Lila’s life, but she suspects that Lila has driven her to do it, that the pleasure she derives from writing and reading is spiked by the pain of submitting to another’s will. It is a fitting model for the relationship Ferrante’s readers have with her novels, which are universally celebrated for their addictiveness. You are pulled, sometimes dragged, along by Ferrante’s prose with an intensity that seems at once utterly singular and reassuringly dispersed. To read her novels is to feel that you are drawing on a reservoir of shared emotion — rage, disgust, pity, indignation, tenderness — to which you have somehow, secretly, contributed.

Ferrante’s women are inscrutable, their minds deep and disordered and disinclined to sentimentality, to easy morals. As a narrator, Lenù recalls her younger self tentatively, piecing together hypotheses that tend to obscure rather than clarify her motivations. Her choice words in examining her actions are “maybe,” “or” and “who knows.” “Maybe, I thought, I’ve given too much weight to the cultivated use of reason, to good reading, to well-controlled language, to political affiliation,” she reflects on her education, the reason she has escaped the neighborhood while Lila has stayed behind. “Maybe, in the face of abandonment, we are all the same.” There is consciousness here — the quickening of a mind eager to reflect on its past — but no interiority: no private, orderly, honest “I” that maps the depths and boundaries of the self.


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Yet it is precisely because Ferrante’s characters are so undefined that they seem readily inhabited by others, both inside and outside the novel. “I realized then that she wasn’t capable of thinking that she was her self and I was my self,” Lenù observes of Lila. It is a will to identification she reciprocates. “My model remained Lila,” she writes. “I wanted to say and do what I imagined she would say and do if she had my tools, if she had not confined herself within the space of the neighborhood.” The “I” that Ferrante conjures is restless, unbounded, permeable to the monstrous desires that many women feel but few dare express. It is easy to slip on and to mistake for your own.

Though her characters’ minds are indefinite and abstract, their bodies are always present. The women in Ferrante’s novels bleed and break. They know the monotonous injuries inflicted on them by men seeking only their own satisfaction, as well as the frank, intense sexual pleasure that arrives when you least expect it. In an extraordinary scene toward the end of “My Brilliant Friend,” when Lenù bathes Lila before her wedding and, many years later, remembers “the violent emotion that overwhelms you, so that it forces you to stay, to rest your gaze on the childish shoulders, on the breasts and stiffly cold nipples, on the narrow hips and the tense buttocks, on the black sex, on the long legs, on the tender knees, on the curved ankles, on the elegant feet; and to act as if it’s nothing when instead everything is there.” Here, there is no doubting “I.” There is only “you” — you, the reader — seduced into sharing the exquisite, confounding pleasure of desiring an imagined woman’s body.

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From left, Gaia Girace and Ludovica Nasti play Lila as a teenager and a child; Elisa Del Genio and Margherita Mazzucco are Lenù.CreditRyan Pfluger for The New York Times
Lenù’s agitated gaze mirrors the desires of readers who have sought, behind the name Elena Ferrante, the flesh-and-blood person who has inflamed their imaginations. Since the publication of “Troubling Love” in 1992, Ferrante has abstained from interviews, festivals, prize ceremonies. It is not clear when her abstention turned into anonymity, or when that anonymity acquired its peculiar aura, but it might have been in the mid-1990s, when she began to correspond with journalists, answering their questions about her life, sometimes with the caveat that her answers might be lies. By the early 2000s, there was an impressive shortlist of people rumored to be Elena Ferrante — men, women, couples, collectives. In 2006, the physicists Vittorio Loreto and Andrea Baronchelli, collaborating with the journalist Luigi Galella, used stylometric analysis to compare her novels against a corpus of Italian literature and concluded that she was most likely the Italian novelist Domenico Starnone. Ten years later, the reporter Claudio Gatti used Edizioni E/O’s leaked financial statements to name someone else, a woman. This disclosure (neither confirmed nor denied by her publisher) was met with a public outcry that he “spoils the fun.”

What fun, exactly? The theorist Michel Foucault once observed that literary anonymity was nothing more than a puzzle to be solved. But literary anonymity, as Ferrante practices it, is not a puzzle — it is an expressive strategy. It has a style and goals, one of which is to multiply and muddle the distinct egos of the author: Elena as the writer of the Neapolitan novels; Elena as their first-person narrator; Elena as a commentator on the novels she has written. Sometimes the tension that holds these egos in check is precisely calibrated, thrilling to behold. “Elena Ferrante is the author of several novels,” she wrote in an interview with The Guardian, weaving between the first and third person. “There is nothing mysterious about her, given how she manifests herself — perhaps even too much — in her own writing, the place where her creative life transpires in absolute fullness.” The final Neapolitan novel, “The Story of the Lost Child,” ends with Lenù writing a “remarkably successful story” about her and Lila called “A Friendship,” a double of the Neapolitan novels, which are full of ur-texts written by Elena Greco. Shielded by her anonymity, Ferrante has subsumed all traces of her life into an elaborate fiction, and asked us, her readers, to help sustain the enchantment — to dissolve the boundaries between the Elenas until we can no longer disentangle fiction from reality, or identify who among us is responsible for creating this enthralling state of affairs. We are all her collaborators.

Ferrante often describes her novels as mysterious, inviolable creatures that have escaped her grasp and journeyed freely into the world. Their immortal life offers a supplement to her mortal one — and suggests that we can revive the historical moment before authorship, before writers owned the words they wrote, before the spines of books came bearing names. Yet, paradoxically, Ferrante’s self-erasure has had the opposite effect from what she claims. It has resurrected a powerful, almost transcendent, myth of the author as removed from the realities of time and space, a creator whose novels spring from her head armored and fully formed, a theorist of her own conditions of existence. What other writer enjoys such power?

It is dangerous to draw too close to that power; it convinces you that you can share in it. When I first asked Ferrante’s English-language editor if I could put some questions to her for this article, he explained that she was not doing any interviews. Then for reasons unknown to me, she made an exception. It was impossible not to speculate about why. I was vain, imagining that the questions I proposed to her editor about literary form and the politics of collaboration were smarter, more respectful, than the questions she was used to fielding about friendship or identity. I wanted to please, and I imagined that if I did, our exchange would vibrate with intellectual camaraderie.

Yet over the course of a two-month correspondence, which was mediated by her editor, my editor and her translator, Ann Goldstein, the distance between us seemed only to expand. She answered questions I had not asked and ignored the ones I had. She got irritated, apologized, misinterpreted my phrasing — willfully, I suspected. When I asked her what living authors she enjoyed reading, she wrote: “I would have to give a very complex answer, talking about various stages of my life. I’ll answer you some other time.” When, I wondered, imagining that one day I might open my door and find a children’s wagon full of moldy novels, with no address, no note, no glimpse of a telltale figure hurrying away.

An interview is a collaboration, too, though like all collaborations with Ferrante, an imbalanced one. Often she answered my questions in the same oblique style as her narrator. “Maybe in more than a few cases I was overly frank,” she wrote when I asked her what instructions she gave Costanzo. “Maybe I intervened, with some presumptuousness, in irrelevant details.” She told me she thinks collaborations between women are more difficult than collaborations between a woman and a man, whose authority a woman can either submit to or pretend to recognize while pursuing her own agenda. “Certainly it’s more complicated to recognize the authority of another woman; tradition in that case is more fragile,” she wrote. “It works if, in a relationship between the person in charge and the subordinate, the first wants the other to grow and free herself from her subordinate status, and the second gains her autonomy without feeling obliged to diminish the other.”

As the subordinate, I could only strategize how to ask questions that would compel her to write useful answers for me. My initial plan was to present myself as a new mother who found in Ferrante’s fiction the emotional tumult of motherhood as I am living it. In the note that preceded my questions, I told her that I have found myself returning to the third book in the Neapolitan series, “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay,” many times since having my two children. No other novel I have read captures the vicissitudes of motherhood with such precision: the power and vulnerability of caring for others, the intimacy and distance between mother and child. When I became a mother, it was painful to realize that my mother had a separate life, a different self, before she became my mother; painful too to think that my children might not realize this about me until it was too late.

She did not acknowledge my note.

I tried again with a question, only this time my tone was less sentimental, more acerbic. I observed that contemporary writing on motherhood has an irritating tendency to treat children as psychological impediments to creativity — as if a child must steal not only time and energy from his mother but also language and thought. But her novels are different: They entertain the possibility that motherhood might be an experience conducive to creativity, even when it is tiring or onerous. For a short time, Lila transforms motherhood into an act of grace, and though she finds her children burdensome, Lenù’s greatest professional success comes after she becomes a mother. What did she take to be the relationship between time spent taking care of words and time spent taking care of children?

She was more receptive, if a little scolding. “I very much like the way you’ve formulated the question,” she wrote. “But I want to say that it’s not right to speak of motherhood in general. The troubles of the poor mother are different from those of the well-off mother, who can pay another woman to help her. But whether the mother is rich or poor, if there is a real, powerful creative urge, the care of children, however much it absorbs and at times even consumes us, doesn’t win out over the care of words: One finds the time for both. Or at least that was my experience: I found the time when I was a terrified mother, without any support, and also when I was a well-off mother. So I will take the liberty of asserting that women should in no case give up the power of reproduction in the name of production.”

There was something different about the style of this answer. The “I” she wielded seemed more present, the defenseless voice of the writer behind the author. I asked her to say more about being a terrified mother. What, I asked, was the nature of that terror for her?

She retreated, adopting the impersonal tone of the commentator once again. “I’m afraid of mothers who sacrifice their lives to their children,” she wrote. “I’m afraid of mothers who surrender themselves completely and live for their children, who hide the difficulties of motherhood and pretend even to themselves to be perfect mothers.” It is tempting to rewrite these statements to reclaim the immediacy of her “I”: “I was afraid of sacrificing my life to my children; I was afraid of surrendering myself completely.” But nothing authorizes it. It may not even be the right interpretation; she may really be talking about her fear of other mothers. Why do I want to make it about her? To do so would be to traffic in fiction. But the traffic in fiction is pleasurable. It prompts me to study her language carefully, to appreciate anew the words she has chosen, the phrases she repeats, how easily she moves between sentences. It prompts me to rewrite her words to project fears I may or may not have onto the figure of the author — the character she and I are sustaining. It lets me speak without speaking for myself.

Last try. For the past two months, I told her, my 2-year-old son has developed an obsession with her children’s book “The Beach at Night.” The book involves a self-pitying doll a little girl abandons on the beach at sunset, preferring to play with her new pet cat. At night, the doll is discovered by the Mean Beach Attendant, a man who pulls a thin golden hook from his lips and forces it into the doll’s mouth, ripping from her a secret that she has guarded with great care: her name. It struck me as an unsubtle allegory for Ferrante’s anonymity, and it was hard to shake the sense that children were not its target audience. But my son has two copies of the book: one he keeps in his school bag, one for his bedside table, and sometimes before he goes to bed, he stares for a very long time at the strange, sad pictures of the doll.

“I wrote ‘The Beach at Night’ for a 4-year-old friend of mine who, to her great disappointment, had just had a little sister,” she wrote. “I was very surprised that my little book was considered unsuitable for young children — my friend had liked it. I’ve always believed that stories for children should have the same energy, the same authenticity, as good books for adults. It’s a mistake to think that childhood needs syrupy fables. The traditional fairy tales weren’t made with cotton candy.”

My son has just had a little brother, I told her. He is also disappointed, and I use “disappointment” to mirror how I think she is using it: to minimize a child’s sense of abandonment, making his despair more palatable to the mother responsible for upending his world. Maybe my son is more discerning than I have realized. Maybe he has taken the book as it is, innocent of authors and allegories, and found in it a trace of his experience: a story that begins with the injury of replacement and ends with partial restitution — the reunion of the little girl, her doll and, begrudgingly, the new cat. In his innocence, my son may be a better reader than I am.

She did not respond.

Having failed to see more than a glimpse of Ferrante in our correspondence, I sought traces of her influence in the early episodes of “My Brilliant Friend.” Over the course of two years, she and Costanzo have exchanged regular emails; screenwriter Francesco Piccolo described her as “a kind of supervisor” of his work. “There is nothing wrong with a man wanting to make a film from my books,” she wrote in The Guardian last month. But “even if he had a strongly defined vision of his own, I would ask him to respect my view, to adhere to my world, to enter the cage of my story without trying to drag it into his.” How had Ferrante coaxed Costanzo into the cage of her story? What were her instructions for transforming the uncertain stuff of Lenù’s consciousness into a definite series of images?

Ferrante pronounced the child Lila “perfect” and the child Lenù “effective” at setting up the narrator’s “indecipherable” quality. They and their teenage counterparts are amateur actresses chosen from an open casting call for the show that drew more than 9,000 people; Costanzo and his casting director were looking for girls with “sad eyes” and “something a little bit broken.” But their excellent performances do not stop the episodes from feeling constrained. Costanzo outsources the narrator’s emotional utterances to a voice-over, which he worried Ferrante would find “cheesy.” Unlike the voice-over, which addresses the audience in formal Italian, the actresses speak stiffly in a 1950s Neapolitan dialect tailored for the series. The sets are realistic, but strenuously so, resembling the backdrops you often see in heritage dramas. The neighborhood is sufficiently dusty and poor but curiously underpopulated compared with the human riot of Ferrante’s novels, whose atmosphere of violence Costanzo literalizes in overdrawn, almost comical, fights among angry women.

But none of this bothered Ferrante, who, Costanzo tells me, mainly insisted on one thing: that he and the girls convey the unknowability of her characters’ minds through a technique she called acquiring “density.” He illustrates the concept with a metaphor he has borrowed from Ferrante. Imagine that the lines an actress reads are a river that runs calmly along the surface of the earth. Then imagine that the actresses are the earth, and that under the earth is another river, a wilder one whose current leaps in the opposite direction, whose roar is muted. Every time the actress speaks her lines, she must offer a glimpse of the river that runs beneath: the mysterious churn of her consciousness, the lawlessness of a person’s doubts or desires. “What decides the success of a character,” Ferrante wrote to me when I asked about density, “is often half a sentence, a noun, an adjective that jams the psychological machine like a wrench thrown into the works and produces an effect that is no longer that of a well-regulated device but of flesh and blood, of genuine life, and therefore incoherent and unpredictable.”

The show is not always successful in capturing the senselessness of inner life. Sometimes the glances or grimaces intended to convey disorder simply make the actresses look confused or vacant. But when they — Ferrante, Costanzo, the actresses — get it right, it is electrifying. There is a magnificent scene in the second episode of “My Brilliant Friend,” just after Lenù has been beaten for skipping school, when she and Lila gaze at each other from opposite ends of the courtyard where they live. It is a shot familiar from Costanzo’s recent films but intensified by Ferrante’s feminist sensibilities: The space between the girls hangs heavy with pain, injustice, loneliness, but also the dawning of a collective consciousness. You can sense the confused stirrings of opposition, which over the course of the four novels will swell into defiance, a desire for retribution, the mutual yearning to fight alongside each other — a desire we, as viewers, can share. It’s an opening of Ferrante’s cage, an invitation to join her in the shadows.

Women of the world unite!

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O.K. Dutch people, cough up the statue!

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The stupider ones see the media as the enemy!

Women of the world unite!

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Witches of the world unite!

A Weekend at Witch Camp
It took 500 years, but witchcraft has gone from crime to commodity.
By Valeriya Safronova (NYT Times)
  • Oct. 31, 2018
Today, witches are big business: Boutiques and chains alike are stocked with sage, crystals, spell books and other witchy accouterments, and high-end brands like Gucci have pounced. (The design house dressed models up as tarot cards for an ad campaign last year, and this year, cast Tippi Hedren of “The Birds” fame as a soothsaying crystal ball gazer in a short video.) Sephora, too, recently planned to stock a Starter Witch Kit from Pinrose in stores, but it was pulled after some protested that it was culturally inappropriative.
And now there’s witch-themed adult sleep-away camp. And it wouldn’t be witchy if it didn’t start with some ritual sage burning, right?
The smoky scent permeated OlioHouse, a Victorian-style home in Wassaic, N.Y., where a group of 20- and 30-somethings arrived last Saturday after a three-hour pilgrimage from Brooklyn. They had been lured north by a spellbinding weekend of witches, art and spookiness hosted by Think Olio, a pop-up lecture series founded by Chris Zumtobel and David Kurfirst.
On Saturday afternoon, the group formed a circle on the floor of OlioHouse’s backyard barn for a two-part lecture on the economic and societal impact of the witch trials of the 16th and 17th centuries.
“It’s one of those where the environment will make the class,” said Mr. Zumtobel, looking out the barn window as the wind swept colorful leaves across the ground and fog spilled ominously across the mountains.
Inside the barn, Lauren Hudson, a doctoral candidate at CUNY’s Graduate Center, who researches anticapitalist organizing, explained how the witch trials in Europe and in the United States were an expression of state oppression by communities bent on growing an obedient, wage-earning labor force. Hundreds of thousands of women accused of being witches were burned to death in Europe and the United States, in cities like Salem, Mass., because they didn’t exactly fit the strictures of society.
Oh, how times have changed.
Of course, the witches of Ms. Hudson’s lecture knew nothing of kitschy kits or Italian luxury. These were women who were persecuted and murdered because they were poor, old, strong-willed and rebellious. Neighbors summoned them to help when they were sick or in love; when they needed contraception or an abortion; when they lost objects; and when they wanted to know the future. Women were seen as leaders in revolts against taxation, rising food prices and land privatization, Ms. Hudson said, making them a threat to people in positions of power.
During a break between lectures, a stack of essays on the history of the witch hunts was mostly forgotten as the students trooped over to the open studios at the Wassaic Project, an artist residency program nearby. Inside the damp barn-cum-studios, one of the artists, Hunter Creel, described his plans to rebury a coffin shaped to his dimensions (he has buried and excavated it once before, in Iowa). The rain pattered ominously on the roof. Another artist, Goldie Poblador, handed out milky pink- and blue-hued sake in shot glasses shaped like vaginas. Her work, she said, references folk tales about seductive women being turned into flowers.
“Witchcraft is definitely having a major resurgence,” said Tara Kenny, one of the Olio students and a court advocate for incarcerated youth, during a lull before dinner back at OlioHouse. She cited Netflix’s new spin on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” the CW’s reboot of “Charmed,” and a profusion of articles in publications like ViceBuzzfeed and Teen Vogue as evidence. 
“Fear of women organizing and the power of women is kind of connected to things happening in politics today,” Ms. Kenny said, referencing the Women’s March and the record-breaking female wins in this year’s House and Senate primary elections.
Later in the evening, the group changed into costumes — devil ears, sparkly wigs, a flower power jumpsuit, and clothes in maroon hues that once indicated cult membership — and headed out to a haunted house in a seven-story mill.
Left behind, on a wall in the dining room, was a poster with blue and yellow scribbles that the students had filled out during dinner. The heading offered a prompt: “Things That Make Me a Witch.” The answers said as much about the authors as they did about our times: “I study astrology,” “acid,” “speak to plants,” “steal data from Google,” “spellbinding,” “my birth control” and “queer.” 
Valeriya Safronova is a reporter for the Style section. She is based in New York. @vsaffron

311018 BLOK

311018 BLOK
Sports fans live vicariously, identifying with winning or losing. And I was one of them once when younger, producing TV coverage of sporting events, from the Demo. Derby to the Olympic Games!
I was a half-assed athlete growing up, golf and racket sports pursued, but never excelled at any of them.  I liked vollyball and ran track, but never as fast as Achilles.
Participating in sports beneficial, but not sitting and watching them.  I was never a fan.
I´m still cycling the world at 79-years of age, spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety, the thrill of discovering new cultures, and the pain of old age!

Women of the world unite!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Should have been; LEAVE THE U.S.!

'Leave Pittsburgh': Protesters greet Trump after synagogue attack

Trump visits city where a gunman killed 11 in one of the worst acts of anti-Semitic violence in the US in recent memory.

Women of the world unite!

Pakistan acquits Christian woman Bibi in iconic blasphemy case

Supreme Court frees Aasia Bibi after she spent nine years on death row for allegedly blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad.

Sports more important than education in the U.S.

Religion helps to reduce over population. This is good!

Can artificial intelligence help stop religious violence?

The 100 Greatest Foreign Language films:

My top three:
SEVEN BEAUTIES, Lina Wertmueller.
O LUCKY MAN, Lindsay Anderson (English language)

What´s the last thought you want to have on your mind, before you give up the ghost. Better think of that now, as any of us could die in the next mment!

Remember you will die’ – and 11 other tips for a better death

Hundreds of thousands of people have already discussed the last great taboo at one of Michael Hebb’s ‘death dinners’. Here he offers some advice for the rest of us

American Pathology!

GBI: 2 women, teen found dead in South Georgia believed to be homicide-suicide

Hitler in the U.S.

The governing principle of the Trump administration is total irresponsibility, a claim of innocence from a position of power, something which happens to be an old fascist trick. As we see in the president’s reactions to American rightwing terrorism, he will always claim victimhood for himself and shift blame to the actual victims. As we see in the motivations of the terrorists themselves, and in the long history of fascism, this maneuver can lead to murder.

American Pathology

New York City:
Two sisters, ages 16 and 22, were found dead in the Hudson River, bound together by duct tape. The police have few answers.

Because it´s American Pathology, homegrown!

Why aren't we calling the Pittsburgh shooting 'terrorism'?

Perhaps the path to end terrorism begins with abandoning it as a term we selectively deploy and actively distort.

Monday, October 29, 2018

My answer, no! We´re entered a new cycle, caused by over population in the world!


Make voting easier, and more would! H.

It´s always been KILL THE MESSENGER!

Another suspicious package addressed to CNN intercepted

President Jeff Zucker says package was intercepted at post office in Atlanta but ‘there is no imminent danger to the CNN Center’

Trump wants such to get controll!

Rightwing terror stalks America. Will Trump do anything to stop it?

come together as one / Show them how it’s done / At the end of the day, we’ll be able to say: ‘Love won’”.

Carole King on songwriting in the age of Trump: 'I am the honest opposition'

The songwriter has been drawn out of semi-retirement, rewriting her song One to try to persuade voters to ‘take us away from the terrible direction America is going in’

The unseen driver behind the migrant caravan: climate change

While violence and poverty have been cited as the reasons for the exodus, experts say the big picture is that changing climate is forcing farmers off their land – and it’s likely to get worse

It´s not the guns, but the people! If not guns, it will be sxplosives or knives.

Guns send over 8,000 US kids to ER each year, analysis says

Keep using those motor vehicles and no more birds! Who cares, right? It´s convenience and money that´s important! H.

Climate change is 'escalator to extinction' for mountain birds

Wow, a Dumbo Octiopussy in the very deep. For you sea people, a video.

American Pathology, THE NEW NORMAL!

North Carolina student dies in shooting, fellow student held

Civil War coming in the U.S.

Donald Trump and violenceA massacre in Pittsburgh illustrates America’s disunity

A leader without morals cannot provide moral leadership

Pay up, Germany!

Greece reiterates claim of €288bn for damages under Nazi occupation

Athens says destruction played major part in delaying Greece’s development as modern state

Seems like the shit never ends!

Sri Lankan political crisis could lead to bloodbath, says speaker

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Greece just celebrated 28 October, 1940, when the Greek military repelled Italian troops led by Mussilini (allied with Germany).  Later they fought on the side of the Allies, to defeat Germany!  This is why relations between the U.S. and Greece so cordial, even with Trump as president.
I found out about this history living here, and why I travel, living in other countries.  Days before 2810, I had noticed Greek flags being unfurled and knew something was up.
Then, yesterday morning I got a message from Alex., new cycling friend ( host) in Athens.  He said he would be in Trikala, and would I like to join him on a ride up to Pili, a village at the base of the Pindus mountain range (west of Trikala).  Talk about coincidences… I had planned to cycle there myself.
Alex., said he´d come to my AIRBNB place at 14.00.  It turned out to be 15.00 on my watch, but I´d forgotten to fall back one hour (as Greece does the same as the U.S.- DST).  He arrived with Antonia, not his girlfriend, but she part of the group he´d been cycling with during the 2810,  3-day vacation.  Interesting… Seems a Greek friend, had started a ride beginning in Budapest, Hungary, the idea behind to see if he could make it all the way to Athens, without spending any money. This, part of a social experiment to test people´s generosity!  So, Alex., girlfriend and several others including Antonia, all from Athens took the train up to Thessaloniki a six-hour trip.  Then they spent two days cycling 200KM down to Trikala.  I might have done this with them, had I known.  Muy complicado…
After Alex and Antonia, had lunch at a local restaurant we took off for Pili. Interesting the way there to Pili, as I had cycled there once before.  You end up going on a wide looping expressway with little traffic, that ends, making you take a local road back to the direct highway to and fro Trikala.  You go one way, only to return another more direct way.
Going it´s up hill of course, and I had to slow down.  I´m certainly not 100% healthy, since arriving in Greece some five weeks ago. But, they, Alex. and Antonia, both under 30-years of age, were kind enough to wait for the old man.
In Pili, Alex., explained about THE ARCHED BRIDGE OF PILI!  Of course, I knew about this ancient tourist attraction, but hadn´t made it the first time. It´s 2KM beyond the village of Pili, and up.  With Alex. and Antonia leading ahead, I asked James B and Mr. Fetes for help, as feeling none to strong. 
THE ARCHED BRIDGE, and I took photos. of course, is quite impressive! It was built in 1514 by St. Vissarion (?), and still stands today some 500 years later. It was worth the grunt, seeing the bridge, the river canyon, and discovering restaurant seating outside.   There were hundreds of tourists having arrived in motor vehicles, but we were the only ones that had cycled up from Trikala. Up and down…
But, the down easier, although getting cool, with sunlight fading.
On the way back, Alex., mentioned their bus back to Athens, not until 12.00 midnight, and could they shower and hangout at my place.  Of course!
Back at Irinis, 4 (where I´m ensconced) Antonia, went off to meet a friend in Central Trik., Alex., showered, we got online.
Antonia called, and we rode in the dark the 2KM to Central to meet her, as I had invited them out for a restaurant meal.  I mention IN THE DARK, because I´m not much for riding at night anymore. I have the proper lights, but… Additionally, this was party night for Greeks, the roads, the restaurants, were singing!
We finally found a restaurant in Old Town, where I lavished them with food, knowing about young people after having exerted.  Alex and I each had one FIX beer, Alex. ate, Antonia talked, and I observed the crowd, occassionally giving pieces of my chicken to a dog. Note, I had ordered Risotto with veggies and chicken.
About 21.00, we split, all of us riding back to my place, as they still had time to kill.  The got online, I watched, THE LAST KINGDOM via NF. and went to bed afterwards.
They in the next room, departed at some point, slipping out without a sound.
Interesting day, celebrating the Greek millitary ousting the Italians at the beginning of WWII… cycling to a 500-year old bridge! 
My life in Trikala, Greece.

What else would he do...? Of course, how ´bout the hundreds of indians burned alive by the Catholic church?

Sex after marriage won´t make you happy, either!


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Not exercising!

Which Kinds of Foods Make Us Fat?

Something good from policepeople, for a change!

Drowning kangaroo rescued by Australian police officers

Are fairy tales sexist? A child's eye view


The woman who draws other people's Tinder dates

What fools people are!

'He's the saviour of the nation': Bolsonarianos celebrate Brazil's new order

Women of the world unite!

“All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome!” Kate Sheppard, Liverpool suffragette.

Money is God!

‘Halloween’ is Still No. 1 at the Box Office 

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28c1018 BLOK
Great people of Greece!  It might offend you to claim I am similar Homer´s Odysseus.  Yet, I have been seeking my home for many years, cycling the world, an adventure similar to The Odyssey.  
Such is a quest, a test, having to endure many travails, all of which is the story in my own book entitled, FOLLOWING THE LIGHT. My adventures turned out to be much more than just cycling around the world.  
In Anglo-Saxon/Christian lore, it is the search for the Holy Grail, symbolized in material  form as the cup, which the Christ Jesus supposedly drank from at the Last Supper. 
To me the Holy Grail is an immaterial thing called consciousness, the German word, bevouszine (a state of knowing).  This represents enlightenment, the knowing that we human beings are immortal. We only have to realize such! 
Let us go forth, revitalizing Greece, the world, by repackaging your own ancient mythology, so it is palatable to young minds;  and not just young Greek minds, but all young minds!
This, to make the world sustainable! 
F.A. Hutchison

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Wine-dark the See.
This is me,
The Wee of Three!
Object or Subject,
You and I am,
The ego to bee!
That is the question,
Whether or knot
To untie 
The Gordian Not! 

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The greatest of all questions…
Is reality objective or subjective?  Depending on how you answer dictates what you believe and how you live!  Most never even think about such.
Of course, our conscious reality, dual-in material forms. 
If you believe in an objective reality, then God created and you are mortal.
If you believe in a subjective reality, then you created it, and are immortal!   You might even suspect that you are a god in material form. 
I believe the latter, in a subjective reality! 

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Everyday around the world, as various clock times, people arise from a night´s rest, and basically do the same thing:
Wake up
Bathe, shave, etc.
Get dressed
Take care of spouse and/or children, maybe a pet.
Drink coffee or tea, fix and eat breakfast.
Prepare for the day, most going to work.
Travel to work via some conveyance.
Spend the day at making money in some form.
Return to where they live.
Maybe some recreation, play with the children, walk the dog, etc.
Fix and eat some dinner.
Watch TV, or out at some function.
Go to bed
The next day a similar drill, depending…
On and on, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade until we die!
Why?  For what purpose, only to beget more of the species?
People don´t know, they just strut and fret their hour upon the stage, then gone!  They do one thing now, then another thing latter, living a robotic consuming life.
Don´t waste your time in body without understanding some things!  Know the reason you have a body, a mind, possible consciousness!  Most don´t, gone never knowing why they were given life!

Women of the world unite!

Who is Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia's first female president?

Election of first woman to presidency has raised hopes among women's rights groups for more gender equality in Ethiopia.

American Pathology gets worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and worse,and worse, 11X.

Suspect in custody after deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

A man armed with an assault rifle and three handguns kills 11 and injures six in the Squirrel Hill area of the city.