Jan. 8th, 2006

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I had a rather pleasant evening over a light supper with [livejournal.com profile] of_evangeline and assorted others at the Living Well (692 Yonge Street). I rather enjoyed seeing her before her imminent departure from the city, and meeting two new people including at least one LJer, and (for that matter) my Living Well Burger even though I neglected to order the sweet potato fries.
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[livejournal.com profile] frumiousb discovers that brilliant 1990s science fiction author Patricia Anthony seems to have dropped out of her active writing career. I mourned that news when I read it, but then I can't claim surprise myself, since after reading and enjoying 1993's Cold Allies and 1996's Cradle of Splendour I failed to pay attention to her or her subsequent books. I wish that I could have done something different, if only for the sake of my conscience as a fan of good writing.
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[livejournal.com profile] imomus examines 'Eurabia'. All I have to say on this topic is what I said last January, that the same sort of people who complain about and predict the arrival of Eurabia now would have complained about Jew York City this time last century. I leave it to others to point out why these futures aren't likely and what stakes these future's predictors have in their predictions being taken as verity.
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I was pleased to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] schizmatic and [livejournal.com profile] pauldrye at the Starbucks at Yonge and Wellesley for the first meeting this year of the Counterfactual Threats Analysis Group. Over coffees and after the exchange of gifts a variety of interesting topics were discusses, including the plausibilities and implausibilities of the Babylon 5 and Stargate franchises, the problems of crime and mass transport in the early 21st century North American city, and the accessibility of genre fiction.
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[livejournal.com profile] pompe starts a study of this question, with his typical cool command in depth of the subject.
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Again at the Toronto Reference Library today, after CFTAG to check out Break, Blow, Burn and to catch up on blogging, I took a look at my hair in the mirror. I took a second look, to make syure that I'd seen what I thought I'd seen, that is to say, that the reflections of light that I'd noticed with a corner of my mind weren't stray glances of light or perhaps globs of hair gel. No, they weren't increasingly numerous strands of white hair scattered light but broadly on my head, the translucent keratin catching the right.

I'm only turning 26 on the 14th. I'm not that old. And yet, something's making my hair think that it's time to turn. Yes, I know it's better (from my perspective, at least) than losing it, but even so.
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After dinner this evening, I happened to see [livejournal.com profile] djjo's loom, a table loom to be precise, something that could weave--as [livejournal.com profile] djjo told me--a piece of fabric up to 45 inches long. The sheer density of the fabric that could be weave brought to mind the card-programmable Jacquard loom, the machine that in turn was the direct ancestor of Charles Babbage's analytical engine, the prototypical computer. In textiles were prefigured the information age.
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After I watched Brokeback Mountain on New Year's Eve, I was reminded strongly of the Welsh-language S4C movie Solomon and Gaenor. More capably than in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, these two movies carries stories taken from somewhat but not very exotic niches which nonetheless remained relevant, telling tales of doomed love affairs by people trapped in unforgiving environments.

As a writer, Annie Proulx is interested in examining the lives of people trapped in dying cultures and subcultures. In Accordion Crimes, for instance, Proulx traced the passages of the musical instrument of the title among people affiliated with various of the United States ethnic and regional subcultures, people whose only recourse to poverty and alienation could be found in music. The original story of "Brokeback Mountain" traced this sense of disconnection and despair thoroughly, with the two ranch hands' romantic desire for the independent life of the cowboy of the Old West, the incapacity of Ennis to fit into a family life on the plains of Wyoming, Jack's quiet unhappiness in Texas, and the two never managing to articulate the sort of relationship that they would have been interested in.

The story ends badly, of course. That's typical of gay-focused fiction, though I'm tempted to say that there couldn't have been any happy resolution to that summer spent herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain by Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. I tend to prefer fiction that corresponds more-or-less to real life, and I really don't think that Jack Twist's dreams of taking Ennis and leading a life as rancher on the high Wyoming frontiers could have been realized given the correlation of forces opeating against them (region, class, social background). For them and for theirs, pain was the only dependable result. This whole scenario is typical of the standard doomed-romance story, of course; that's likely why both Christianity Today and National Review were able to recognize this as a love story. It's still a good film for all this thematic conventionality, though, with the acting of the leads and Michelle Williams and Ang Lee's cinematography and Proulx's dialogue all resonating with the viewer. Brokeback Mountain isn't adventurous, but it is quietly powerful in a very good way indeed.
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