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Old 03-19-2020, 06:54 PM   #1776
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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It’s time to global/ignition/ACR/WSOP.com it up
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Probably a good idea. People are at home, bored, can't bet on sports; so they're gambling it up at the Pokerz like there is no tomorrow!

Spoiler:
Yeah, I've just been incredibly lazy the last few days. I fired up my old PS3 for a nostalgia run with Fallout New Vegas and that's been about the sum total of my activity.

"I'll start tomorrow," has been my catchphrase. And I seriously need to fix my sleep cycle in order to catch the right tournament times. My day has become bifurcated: Up from 7AM-2PM, then asleep from 2PM-7PM, then back up from 7PM-2AM, then back asleep from 2AM-7AM. I have no idea how it got this way but it needs to stop. I'm fighting sleep this afternoon in the hopes that I can get it back to normal.
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:11 PM   #1777
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Day 10 or so of me having the sniffles; they've been mild this whole time, only really acting up whenever I step out into the cold clean air for my newly-standard late night convenience store dinner run.

The air in Las Vegas is sweeter than it's ever been in my memory, and I'm sure that as a city we're not alone in enjoying that one good consequence of the current global economic meltdown. The air reminds me of summer vacation nights spent in the mountains of northern Vermont when I was a kid, except that here it smells faintly of spiky desert plants instead of Vermont's pine sap.

l take few deep breaths as soon as I get out the door, and then I hit the pipe. One of my cousins made an overenthusiastic dispensary buy last week and left his remaining eighth of weed with me just before he flew home.

As I grow older, I get more and more anxious and paranoid while I'm under the influence, but that does nothing to stop me from smoking free weed. I'm starting to think that I enjoy all the resultant bad and terrifying thoughts on a similar level as other anxious people enjoy bungee jumping and haunted houses.

Puff

You totally have the virus. There's no question. Nobody has the sniffles for 10 straight days. It's not natural...

It's going to get worse, and soon you won't even be able to go out for food. You haven't stockpiled anything. If your sickness somehow doesn't get worse, it only means that you're asymptomatic--same as Typhoid Mary. In any case, you're going to infect your landlord and his wife. They never go out, so they'll know it was you who did it...


Puff

Don't cough. Don't...damn it. Everyone in their houses can hear you. They can hear you sniffling too. You're basically the grim reaper in The Masque of the Red Death stalking by just outside their homes every night. Someone's going to snap and shotgun your ass...

What the **** is up with that car? That's the second time he's driving by at 2:30 AM doing 10 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road. Is he casing you for a robbery? So many people living paycheck to paycheck, now they're all being sent home...


Puff

Do not sniff when you get inside the store. Don't do it. Can you remember that?...

Holy ****! There's that car again! He's drunk. He has to be. What's that? He's throwing **** out of his window! He's...oh, he's just delivering newspapers.

Huh...


On late night runs, I like to leave my debit and credit card at home and take just a little cash with me. Last night I only had a hundo and a few singles on me. No problem; I'll just cash the hundo out in one of the store's video poker machines, as you do in Las Vegas.

I walk into the store and grab a pre-made sandwich along with a bowl of instant ramen noodles, then I add two 25 ounce cans of Hurricane malt liquor and a fruit pie. I drop them on the counter and tell the clerk that I'm changing a hundo in the machine.

"Can't." He tells me. I look at the row of machines. Every one of them is dark. I don't know if it's just from company policy or if every video poker machine everywhere in Nevada has been shut down, but I suspect that it's the latter.

I have a few singles on me. I can either forgo the beer or I can put back the sandwich.

Last edited by suitedjustice; 03-19-2020 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:26 PM   #1778
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Narrator: He put back the sandwich.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:57 AM   #1779
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Puff

You totally have the virus. There's no question. Nobody has the sniffles for 10 straight days. It's not natural...

It's going to get worse, and soon you won't even be able to go out for food. You haven't stockpiled anything. If your sickness somehow doesn't get worse, it only means that you're asymptomatic--same as Typhoid Mary. In any case, you're going to infect your landlord and his wife. They never go out, so they'll know it was you who did it...


Puff

Don't cough. Don't...damn it. Everyone in their houses can hear you. They can hear you sniffling too. You're basically the grim reaper in The Masque of the Red Death stalking by just outside their homes every night. Someone's going to snap and shotgun your ass...

What the **** is up with that car? That's the second time he's driving by at 2:30 AM doing 10 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road. Is he casing you for a robbery? So many people living paycheck to paycheck, now they're all being sent home...


Puff

Do not sniff when you get inside the store. Don't do it. Can you remember that?...

Holy ****! There's that car again! He's drunk. He has to be. What's that? He's throwing **** out of his window! He's...oh, he's just delivering newspapers.

Huh...
Gold.

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Narrator: He put back the sandwich.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:02 PM   #1780
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Wow solid update here SJ.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:02 PM   #1781
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

wtf is a newspaper?
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:45 AM   #1782
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Narrator: He put back the sandwich.
We can always rely on good old Ron Howard to tell it like it is. The beers helped dull the pain caused by the absent sandwich. I can't say that the sandwich would do the same for the beers.

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Gold.



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Wow solid update here SJ.
Thanks brothers!

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wtf is a newspaper?
It's an offline daily news aggregator--convenient, but it only has about 12k of ROM.
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:19 AM   #1783
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

sounds inefficient.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:34 PM   #1784
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Narrator: He put back the sandwich.
This made me lol. You BBV guys are funny. I wish I had that natural funny instinct too
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:57 AM   #1785
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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This made me lol. You BBV guys are funny. I wish I had that natural funny instinct too
Yeah they're all right. If I hadn't run into them, I'd probably still be an office drone, working towards a heart attack and a rehab stint.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:30 AM   #1786
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

I blame Morph.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:07 PM   #1787
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Update on working from home?
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:42 AM   #1788
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Update on working from home?
Spoiler:


Tomorrow will be my first day playing online. I've been reading and writing a fair amount lately, so it hasn't been a complete washout. I'll post the 1/2-read Invisible Man review later today.
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Old 03-24-2020, 11:25 AM   #1789
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Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Spoiler:


Tomorrow will be my first day playing online. I've been reading and writing a fair amount lately, so it hasn't been a complete washout. I'll post the 1/2-read Invisible Man review later today.

Invisible man isn’t just Hollow Man without Kevin Bacon?
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Old 03-24-2020, 12:48 PM   #1790
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Nothing is better without Kevin Bacon.
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:12 AM   #1791
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Invisible man isn’t just Hollow Man without Kevin Bacon?


I grew up thinking it was a movie about an invisible dude who wrapped himself in bandages and spoke in an old-timey British accent, but that's not what I'm reviewing.

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Nothing is better without Kevin Bacon.
Even the pandemic panic could use a little Bacon.

Spoiler:
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:09 AM   #1792
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

1/2-read Review

Having read half of the book so far, I'm having some trouble coming to grips with Ralph Ellison's classic Invisible Man, the winner of the National Book Award in 1953. It's not because I expected it to tell me this year's origin story of an invisible character from yet another movie remake. My review is from the 1952 book, and the Author's character is a black man living in pre-World War II Harlem, and the character is not literally invisible.

The first half of the book is a long flashback detailing this young man's life leading up to becoming the Invisible Man--I'll call him I.M. going forward.

Before he became I.M., he was a naive product of the Jim Crow-era South, and that's likely one of the reasons why I can't get a handle on him yet, as I spent my late-20th Century childhood in a Connecticut suburb that was 99.5% white, thanks to racist real estate covenants that persisted all the way into the 1970's, and given that I am the son and grandson of New England passive-aggressive white racists. I.M. and I might as well have been born on different planets.

Race relations are front and center in Invisible Man, but they are not addressed in the resolute manner of a standard social protest novel. For the most part, I.M. finds the motives of the white people he encounters to be baffling and inscrutable. Conversely, as a reader I don't know where I.M.'s head is at half the time, and I'm supposed to be privy to his inner thoughts and feelings.

So it's people like me he's talking about in the prologue where he explains just how he is invisible.

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I've been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me.

I'm guessing that I.M.'s invisible aspect comes more into play in the second half of the book, because in the first half I find him to be both very much observed and the main mover in the plot, which I can only describe as a running absurdist nightmare of violence, paranoia and betrayal. A lot of things happen in a short amount of time, and very few of them are good for I.M., who at one point has to literally wade through bodies in order to earn a respite from his Jim Crow upbringing.

The wading through bodies takes place during the book's infamous battle royal scene, which is cooked up as entertainment for a stag party thrown by the influential white men in I.M.'s hometown.

Their party begins with a stripper, who ends up having to beat a hasty retreat to avoid multiple sexual assaults from the "good old boys". Next on their agenda is the battle royal, wherein a group of young black men from town are made to don blindfolds and beat the crap out of each other until only one of them is left standing.

For the conclusion of the party, I.M., the best and most ambitious student in town, is slated to read a Booker T. Washington style accommodationist speech to the white guys, but first they make him participate in the battle royal with the rest of the men, and after the battle the young men are further humiliated by being made to scavenge for coins and bills scattered across an electrified mat.

I.M.'s subsequent speech meets with mostly jeers and disinterest. It's not clear if the white men are having I.M. speak in order to pat themselves on the back for being progressive, or it they're sending a message to I.M. that no amount of educational attainment and erudition from him will ever earn their respect--likely it's a mixture of the two. In any case, the white men award I.M. with a scholarship to an unnamed Historically Black College.

We catch up with I.M. a few years later as he's driving Mr. Norton, a rich white trustee of the college, around campus. I.M. takes a turn and drives out to the poorer part of town and Norton, who has told I.M. that his destiny is somehow tied in with the fate of the black people, insists on stopping and talking with one of the families living in a shack that used to be part of an old plantation's slave quarters.

The shack that Norton picks happens to house the most violent and incestuous family in the whole area, and old white man quickly learns more than he bargained for, which causes him to grow faint and demand that I.M. find him some whiskey for his condition.

The only place in the surrounding area with whiskey is a makeshift roadhouse that is currently hosting a large group of visiting patients from a local black insane asylum. I.M. tries to just buy some whiskey to go, but the proprietor insists that it must be drunk inside on the premises, so I.M. is made to coax the semi-conscious Norton into this booze-fueled temporary madhouse.

Norton's aberrant presence in the roadhouse stirs up the patients to the point where they enact an extremely violent revolt over Supercargo, their giant orderly, who's been assigned to supervise them on their day out. Norton faints again during all the commotion and I.M. has to recruit helpers to carry him upstairs to one of the brothel beds.

One of the visiting mental patients, a former physician, brings Norton back around, and the old white man--with his undampened inquisitiveness surrounding his fate vis-à-vis the black people--begins to interview the physician, who at first gives out a few civil answers before precipitously turning on Norton and subjecting him to a long and blistering rebuke of his patronizing racism.

I.M. has to rescue the once-again faltering Norton from the incensed doctor, and he takes him downstairs, then navigates him through the ongoing riot, getting him out of there in one piece, more or less, and then he drives Norton back to campus.

For committing the grievous error in judgement of subjecting a rich white benefactor to a visit to the poor old slave quarter part of town, the black president of the college, Dr. Bledsoe, revokes I.M.'s scholarship and hands him seven sealed letters of recommendation, and he tells I.M. that he must find work up north in Harlem for the summer before he can come back to campus.

Dr. Bledsoe is I.M.'s idol, and he wants only to be Dr. Bledsoe's assistant at the college after he graduates, so I.M. meekly does what he's told and he pulls up stakes from his beloved campus to move up to Harlem.

New York City is a culture shock for I.M. White Northerners treat him differently; possibly a little better, but they are just as baffling and inscrutable as the Southern whites. He dutifully submits all of his letters of recommendation across New York City, but he finds himself getting zero responses.

On his seventh and last letter, his final prospective employer tips I.M. off to the fact that Dr. Bledsoe has betrayed him, the former having told I.M. not to open the sealed letters, all of which carried the same statement that I.M. had been expelled from the college for cause, and that it was Dr. Bledsoe's hope that the recipient of the letter could find I.M. some sort of permanent position in order to keep him from trying to return to campus: not exactly a ringing endorsement of a prospective employee.

I.M. is devastated by his hero's betrayal of him, but he soldiers on and picks up a job at the Liberty Paint company, makers of the whitest paint in the USA. As a pithy metaphor, I.M.'s first assignment is to mix in a few drops of black base into every can of white paint, with the dark base somehow turning the paint even whiter. Due to poor training from his foreman, I.M. screws up this assignment and is subsequently sent down to the boiler room to assist the paranoid and highly volatile Lucius Brockway.

He and Brockway soon get into a fight after Brockway accuses I.M. of being a union stooge, and while they fight, one of the unattended boilers blows up, injuring I.M.

I.M. wakes up in the company hospital, and it's never clear how badly he was injured or for how long he was unconscious, because it appears that the company doctors are giving him electroshock treatments instead of treating any physical injuries that he may have sustained.

Electroshock was used for behavioral "therapy" back in the day. I.M. hears one of the doctors mention that he felt electroshock to be more efficacious "in these cases" then a lobotomy, suggesting that they were trying to address I.M.'s supposed violent tendencies, and also suggesting that Lucius Brockway, who escaped injury from the boiler explosion at the last second, may have been crafting a false narrative around I.M., resulting in the latter being strapped to an electroshock gurney and slated for behavioral modification.

I.M. is released from the hospital, and from his job as well. When he makes it back to his men's boarding house, he sees someone who looks like Dr. Bledsoe giving a speech to the other boarders, and he dumps a bucket of mop water over the speaker's head, only to find out that it's not Dr. Bledsoe, just a lookalike.

I.M. is kicked out of the boarding house, but finds a new room in the house of Mary Rimbo, a kind older lady. While out looking for a new job, I.M. runs into a Harlem crowd angrily watching an elderly black couple being evicted from their apartment by a white marshal and two deputized repo men, the latter of whom are dragging the old couple's possessions out of the apartment and dropping them onto the sidewalk and into the snow. This riles up the crowd to the point where the marshal pulls a gun on them.

Now here's where I.M.'s actions become ambiguous and difficult (at least for me) to fathom. Basically he gives a speech out both sides of his mouth, at times advocating for the crowd to calm down and choose a lawful course of action, and at other times seeming to incite them to violence. Here are a few snippets of I.M.'s address to the angry crowd.

"No, no," I heard myself yelling. "Black men! Brothers! Black Brothers! That's not the way. We're law-abiding. We're a law-abiding people and a slow-to-anger people."

...

"And look at their possessions all strewn there on the sidewalk. Just look at their possessions in the snow. How old are you, sir?" I yelled.

"I'm eighty-seven," the old man said, his voice low and bewildered.

"How's that? Yell so our slow-to-anger brethren can hear you."


"I'm eighty-seven years old!"

Did you hear him? He's eighty-seven. Eighty-seven and look at all he's accumulated in eighty-seven years, strewn in the snow like chicken guts, and we're a law-abiding, slow-to-anger bunch of folks turning the other cheek every day in the week. What are we going to do? What would you, what would I, what would he have done? What is to be done?

...

"We're going after that paddie," the heavyweight called, rushing up the steps.

Someone pushed me. "No, wait," I called.

"Get out of the way now."


My guess out of this exchange is that I.M. decides to make a speech, seemingly in order to show off his rhetorical skills, and he strikes a conciliatory tone early on, similar to his Booker T. Washingtonesque speech to the Southern whites at the beginning of the book, a speech which won him his scholarship, but as he speaks to the crowd he works himself up and his speech changes over to an angry call to arms.

The crowd overpowers the marshal and his cronies and the people take back the apartment. I.M. suggests that the crowd return the furniture to it, and they are doing this when the cops show up. Realizing that he'll be pointed out as the inciter and ringleader of this operation, I.M. flees across the rooftops, only to find that he's being pursued by a white man in plain clothes.

The white man turns out not to be a cop, but is instead a recruiter for an unspecified--at least for now--social cause, likely of a Marxist/Leninist bent from what I can guess. The white man was impressed with I.M.'s speech back at the apartment and he wants I.M. to give speeches for their cause.

This concludes the first half of the book.

At this point, I'm not sure if the wall-to-wall violence and chaos and ambiguity are going to continue for the rest of the book, or if the story will eventually coalesce into a more manifest character arc for I.M., but either way I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Up Next:

I don't know. Bookstores are closed. I'll have to pick something from my Evangelically depleted shelves. I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now, but I'm not going to subject anyone to a third Dostoevsky review in as many months.

Last edited by suitedjustice; 03-25-2020 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:57 AM   #1793
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Go ahead and post a review. Everybody's got their own crazy take on the BK, and they are almost always interesting, or at the very least pretty funny.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:48 PM   #1794
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Watch out for the monkeys!
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:15 PM   #1795
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

Kindle is your friend
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:28 AM   #1796
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Go ahead and post a review. Everybody's got their own crazy take on the BK, and they are almost always interesting, or at the very least pretty funny.
There's too much going on in that book for me to want to tackle reviewing it, or even half of it, which still adds up to 350 pages. Right now I'm just reading the book and enjoying the ride.

I'm thinking of doing Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, a book that has some Karamazovian themes to it. I read that one many years ago and remember wondering why it wasn't considered to be a modern classic. I'm curious to find out if I still feel the same about it.

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Watch out for the monkeys!


And here I was looking out for virally immune, intellectually enhanced apes.

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Kindle is your friend
I have Kindle. I just never warmed to it, pun intended.
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:53 PM   #1797
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

I have about $1500 online on ACR, so that's a start. I played a few tourneys last night and bricked. I'll play a few more tonight to get back in the swing of things.

ACR: 4 hours:
(-$60.60)
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:48 AM   #1798
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

1/2-read Review

Having read half of the book so far, I'm having some trouble coming to grips with Ralph Ellison's classic Invisible Man, the winner of the National Book Award in 1953. It's not because I expected it to tell me this year's origin story of an invisible character from yet another movie remake. My review is from the 1952 book, and the Author's character is a black man living in pre-World War II Harlem, and the character is not literally invisible.

The first half of the book is a long flashback detailing this young man's life leading up to becoming the Invisible Man--I'll call him I.M. going forward.

Before he became I.M., he was a naive product of the Jim Crow-era South, and that's likely one of the reasons why I can't get a handle on him yet, as I spent my late-20th Century childhood in a Connecticut suburb that was 99.5% white, thanks to racist real estate covenants that persisted all the way into the 1970's, and given that I am the son and grandson of New England passive-aggressive white racists. I.M. and I might as well have been born on different planets.

Race relations are front and center in Invisible Man, but they are not addressed in the resolute manner of a standard social protest novel. For the most part, I.M. finds the motives of the white people he encounters to be baffling and inscrutable. Conversely, as a reader I don't know where I.M.'s head is at half the time, and I'm supposed to be privy to his inner thoughts and feelings.

So it's people like me he's talking about in the prologue where he explains just how he is invisible.

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I've been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me.

I'm guessing that I.M.'s invisible aspect comes more into play in the second half of the book, because in the first half I find him to be both very much observed and the main mover in the plot, which I can only describe as a running absurdist nightmare of violence, paranoia and betrayal. A lot of things happen in a short amount of time, and very few of them are good for I.M., who at one point has to literally wade through bodies in order to earn a respite from his Jim Crow upbringing.

The wading through bodies takes place during the book's infamous battle royal scene, which is cooked up as entertainment for a stag party thrown by the influential white men in I.M.'s hometown.

Their party begins with a stripper, who ends up having to beat a hasty retreat to avoid multiple sexual assaults from the "good old boys". Next on their agenda is the battle royal, wherein a group of young black men from town are made to don blindfolds and beat the crap out of each other until only one of them is left standing.

For the conclusion of the party, I.M., the best and most ambitious student in town, is slated to read a Booker T. Washington style accommodationist speech to the white guys, but first they make him participate in the battle royal with the rest of the men, and after the battle the young men are further humiliated by being made to scavenge for coins and bills scattered across an electrified mat.

I.M.'s subsequent speech meets with mostly jeers and disinterest. It's not clear if the white men are having I.M. speak in order to pat themselves on the back for being progressive, or it they're sending a message to I.M. that no amount of educational attainment and erudition from him will ever earn their respect--likely it's a mixture of the two. In any case, the white men award I.M. with a scholarship to an unnamed Historically Black College.

We catch up with I.M. a few years later as he's driving Mr. Norton, a rich white trustee of the college, around campus. I.M. takes a turn and drives out to the poorer part of town and Norton, who has told I.M. that his destiny is somehow tied in with the fate of the black people, insists on stopping and talking with one of the families living in a shack that used to be part of an old plantation's slave quarters.

The shack that Norton picks happens to house the most violent and incestuous family in the whole area, and old white man quickly learns more than he bargained for, which causes him to grow faint and demand that I.M. find him some whiskey for his condition.

The only place in the surrounding area with whiskey is a makeshift roadhouse that is currently hosting a large group of visiting patients from a local black insane asylum. I.M. tries to just buy some whiskey to go, but the proprietor insists that it must be drunk inside on the premises, so I.M. is made to coax the semi-conscious Norton into this booze-fueled temporary madhouse.

Norton's aberrant presence in the roadhouse stirs up the patients to the point where they enact an extremely violent revolt over Supercargo, their giant orderly, who's been assigned to supervise them on their day out. Norton faints again during all the commotion and I.M. has to recruit helpers to carry him upstairs to one of the brothel beds.

One of the visiting mental patients, a former physician, brings Norton back around, and the old white man--with his undampened inquisitiveness surrounding his fate vis-à-vis the black people--begins to interview the physician, who at first gives out a few civil answers before precipitously turning on Norton and subjecting him to a long and blistering rebuke of his patronizing racism.

I.M. has to rescue the once-again faltering Norton from the incensed doctor, and he takes him downstairs, then navigates him through the ongoing riot, getting him out of there in one piece, more or less, and then he drives Norton back to campus.

For committing the grievous error in judgement of subjecting a rich white benefactor to a visit to the poor old slave quarter part of town, the black president of the college, Dr. Bledsoe, revokes I.M.'s scholarship and hands him seven sealed letters of recommendation, and he tells I.M. that he must find work up north in Harlem for the summer before he can come back to campus.

Dr. Bledsoe is I.M.'s idol, and he wants only to be Dr. Bledsoe's assistant at the college after he graduates, so I.M. meekly does what he's told and he pulls up stakes from his beloved campus to move up to Harlem.

New York City is a culture shock for I.M. White Northerners treat him differently; possibly a little better, but they are just as baffling and inscrutable as the Southern whites. He dutifully submits all of his letters of recommendation across New York City, but he finds himself getting zero responses.

On his seventh and last letter, his final prospective employer tips I.M. off to the fact that Dr. Bledsoe has betrayed him, the former having told I.M. not to open the sealed letters, all of which carried the same statement that I.M. had been expelled from the college for cause, and that it was Dr. Bledsoe's hope that the recipient of the letter could find I.M. some sort of permanent position in order to keep him from trying to return to campus: not exactly a ringing endorsement of a prospective employee.

I.M. is devastated by his hero's betrayal of him, but he soldiers on and picks up a job at the Liberty Paint company, makers of the whitest paint in the USA. As a pithy metaphor, I.M.'s first assignment is to mix in a few drops of black base into every can of white paint, with the dark base somehow turning the paint even whiter. Due to poor training from his foreman, I.M. screws up this assignment and is subsequently sent down to the boiler room to assist the paranoid and highly volatile Lucius Brockway.

He and Brockway soon get into a fight after Brockway accuses I.M. of being a union stooge, and while they fight, one of the unattended boilers blows up, injuring I.M.

I.M. wakes up in the company hospital, and it's never clear how badly he was injured or for how long he was unconscious, because it appears that the company doctors are giving him electroshock treatments instead of treating any physical injuries that he may have sustained.

Electroshock was used for behavioral "therapy" back in the day. I.M. hears one of the doctors mention that he felt electroshock to be more efficacious "in these cases" then a lobotomy, suggesting that they were trying to address I.M.'s supposed violent tendencies, and also suggesting that Lucius Brockway, who escaped injury from the boiler explosion at the last second, may have been crafting a false narrative around I.M., resulting in the latter being strapped to an electroshock gurney and slated for behavioral modification.

I.M. is released from the hospital, and from his job as well. When he makes it back to his men's boarding house, he sees someone who looks like Dr. Bledsoe giving a speech to the other boarders, and he dumps a bucket of mop water over the speaker's head, only to find out that it's not Dr. Bledsoe, just a lookalike.

I.M. is kicked out of the boarding house, but finds a new room in the house of Mary Rimbo, a kind older lady. While out looking for a new job, I.M. runs into a Harlem crowd angrily watching an elderly black couple being evicted from their apartment by a white marshal and two deputized repo men, the latter of whom are dragging the old couple's possessions out of the apartment and dropping them onto the sidewalk and into the snow. This riles up the crowd to the point where the marshal pulls a gun on them.

Now here's where I.M.'s actions become ambiguous and difficult (at least for me) to fathom. Basically he gives a speech out both sides of his mouth, at times advocating for the crowd to calm down and choose a lawful course of action, and at other times seeming to incite them to violence. Here are a few snippets of I.M.'s address to the angry crowd.

"No, no," I heard myself yelling. "Black men! Brothers! Black Brothers! That's not the way. We're law-abiding. We're a law-abiding people and a slow-to-anger people."

...

"And look at their possessions all strewn there on the sidewalk. Just look at their possessions in the snow. How old are you, sir?" I yelled.

"I'm eighty-seven," the old man said, his voice low and bewildered.

"How's that? Yell so our slow-to-anger brethren can hear you."


"I'm eighty-seven years old!"

Did you hear him? He's eighty-seven. Eighty-seven and look at all he's accumulated in eighty-seven years, strewn in the snow like chicken guts, and we're a law-abiding, slow-to-anger bunch of folks turning the other cheek every day in the week. What are we going to do? What would you, what would I, what would he have done? What is to be done?

...

"We're going after that paddie," the heavyweight called, rushing up the steps.

Someone pushed me. "No, wait," I called.

"Get out of the way now."


My guess out of this exchange is that I.M. decides to make a speech, seemingly in order to show off his rhetorical skills, and he strikes a conciliatory tone early on, similar to his Booker T. Washingtonesque speech to the Southern whites at the beginning of the book, a speech which won him his scholarship, but as he speaks to the crowd he works himself up and his speech changes over to an angry call to arms.

The crowd overpowers the marshal and his cronies and the people take back the apartment. I.M. suggests that the crowd return the furniture to it, and they are doing this when the cops show up. Realizing that he'll be pointed out as the inciter and ringleader of this operation, I.M. flees across the rooftops, only to find that he's being pursued by a white man in plain clothes.

The white man turns out not to be a cop, but is instead a recruiter for an unspecified--at least for now--social cause, likely of a Marxist/Leninist bent from what I can guess. The white man was impressed with I.M.'s speech back at the apartment and he wants I.M. to give speeches for their cause.

This concludes the first half of the book.

At this point, I'm not sure if the wall-to-wall violence and chaos and ambiguity are going to continue for the rest of the book, or if the story will eventually coalesce into a more manifest character arc for I.M., but either way I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Up Next:

I don't know. Bookstores are closed. I'll have to pick something from my Evangelically depleted shelves. I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now, but I'm not going to subject anyone to a third Dostoevsky review in as many months.


I really enjoyed this, when I get laid off and assuming I can still get books I want to read this.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:02 AM   #1799
gt_ie
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Originally Posted by suitedjustice View Post

I don't know. Bookstores are closed. I'll have to pick something from my Evangelically depleted shelves.
Check out https://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php if you haven’t already.

You post books you own and are willing to give away. If someone wants it, they ask and buy it from you with a “credit”. You pay postage to send it to them. That earns you a credit you can use to buy a book from someone else. Basically an online swap meet. My wife has used it for years.
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Old 03-27-2020, 03:10 PM   #1800
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Re: Suitedjustice's Ongoing Mid-life Crisis

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Originally Posted by Da_Nit View Post
I really enjoyed this, when I get laid off and assuming I can still get books I want to read this.
It's an interesting book, and I have no idea where it will go next, but I don't know yet if I actually like it. I'll chime in again when I finish it. Hopefully you don't get laid off, in any case.

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Originally Posted by gt_ie View Post
Check out https://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php if you haven’t already.

You post books you own and are willing to give away. If someone wants it, they ask and buy it from you with a “credit”. You pay postage to send it to them. That earns you a credit you can use to buy a book from someone else. Basically an online swap meet. My wife has used it for years.
I love that. My problem, though, is that I'd already culled all the books that I could stand to part with just before I moved out here. Once the stores are up and running again, I'm sure that I'll start accumulating books that I can send out.
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