Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Evanston: O.J.; CHI-RAQ; DEAD WAKE; paperless

        A TV mini-series, a movie, and a book.  All good.  I expected the book to be, but the other two come as surprises.
        The People Versus O. J. Simpson mini-series is currently running on FX.  
        I had more than enough O. J. when all this took place more than twenty years ago, even though I was out of the country then, but the good reviews the series received caused us to start watching, and once started it would be difficult to stop.  The sensational story is related without sensationalism.  There are details I did not know, and the media and public circus is well depicted.
        The final episode will air, as will the final Downton Abbey, after I am in New Zealand.  I hope to watch via Slingbox.


        CHI-RAQ is Spike Lee’s migration of Aristophanes’ LYSISTRATA to South Chicago in which women agree to withhold sex until men refrain from violence.  The violence in ancient Greece was the Peloponnesian War; in Chicago it is between black street gangs.
        The movie has of course received a lot of attention here, mostly negative.  I have seen it criticized essentially for not being a documentary, which it never claimed to be, and for not putting a halt to gun deaths, which in Chicago over the past decade or so have exceeded those of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If you google this you will get varying statistics, depending on the time frame; but since 2001, about 6,000 military have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 7,000 people have been killed by guns in Chicago.
        This last criticism is valid.  CHI-RAQ has not put an end to gun violence in South Chicago.  I don’t think it has even slowed it.  But then neither has anything else.
        The movie has energy, some good acting, some over acting, some dialogue spoken in rhyme, an equivalent to the chorus in Greek plays, and rap music, which is not my kind of music, but appropriate. Altogether, an entertaining and clever film.
        We watched streamed from Amazon.  Free with Amazon Prime.


        DEAD WAKE, written by Erik Larsen, the author of among others, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, is about the sinking of the British passenger liner, the LUSITANIA, by a German submarine in 1915, with a loss of life of more than a thousand, some of them Americans.
        Even though you know what is going to happen, Erik Larsen manages to build suspense, following passengers, officials ashore, and the German submarine U-20, as they move toward the moment of tragedy.
        That the submarine got a shot at all came after a highly improbable combination of chance events. The U-boat sank the LUSITANIA, the biggest passenger ship in the world, with one torpedo.  60% of German torpedoes in 1915 malfunctioned.  And the ship went down in only eighteen minutes.
        The book sheds some light on the theory that the British Admiralty deliberately did not provide an escort for the LUSITANIA because some in power thought that her sinking would cause the U.S. to enter the war—it did, but not for another two years; and some light on the character of Winston Churchill.  I leave it to others to form their own opinions.
        A very readable account.


        For decades I have had a notebook at my side.  I keep my boat to do and buy list in it, circle on a calendar I print out and tape in each January the days I workout, make notes for writing and other things, and in the past jotted titles of books and music I wanted to buy. 
        My present red covered notebook is made by Levenger and sat on an end table beside my place on the sofa in the living room.  I just realized a few days ago that I no longer use it.
        I keep my boat list on my iPhone in an app, Wunderlist.  When I come across something I want to buy, I do so within a minute or two online.  I make some notes in my online journal document and others in the Notes app.  I can keep track of workouts in my laptop calendar.  And, except for times of departure and arrival and noon positions, I have long keep the ship’s log in my laptop.
        The notebook isn’t very big, but it is one less thing to carry around the world with me; so this morning it was moved from end table to honorable desk drawer retirement.


        The photo was taken yesterday, but is misleading.
        There is a dusting of snow on the ground and the temperature is just below freezing, but as Chicago winters go, this has not been a severe one, and this weekend should see highs above 50F/10C.