A Toast To Lubricity

I recently was added as a family member to my daughter;s HULU and Disney + accounts and I’ve been gorging myself on movies or series that I have longed to watch for quite some time. Now I’m caught up on Nomadland, Killing Eve, Handmaid’s Tale, and a few assorted entertainments.

I’ve noticed a few things.

Yes, I know that there is a unwritten rule that stories, be they novels, plays, or television series, generally must include one extremely attractive person, one dashing adventurer, one comic buffoon, one naughty evil villian, etc. In today’s cable fare this inevitably adds some homosexuality, direct or indirect, and a significant number of people of color. These are all good but two things seem unecessarily gratuitous.

First, is the casual and incessant use of the expletive “Fuck'” As a child of the ’50s I realize that, although my mother would have ripped my tongue out if I ever said “Fuck” in front of her, times have changed. When I was being drafted in St. Louis I was astonished at how the OCS candidates who were well educated and normally polite would degenerate into “Fuck This” and “Fuck That” when lounging around the Induction Center. Now, the average cable television character has a quota to meet: I calculate it at twelve “Fucks” an hour. We used to consider reliance on an oft repeated expletive as evidence of low imagination and a weak vocabulary. What happened?

The other observation I make is the prevalence of wine drinking in these shows. Oh, I see the occasional beer and a scotch rocks now and again but wine is everywhere. Also, it’s inevitably in a large long-stemmed balloon glass and subject to regular, even if unnecessary, refills to keep the action going. Is this overt drinking of wine a new aspect of society I’ve missed? Or, not including Mad Men, is it a substitute for the once ubiquitous cigarette that was a prop in so many early stories?

Yet, despite all the cable movies and shows, I’m still reading a few books and looking forward to many more. Here are the ones I expect to read this month:

  1. Second Foundation: Foundation 3 — Isaac Asimov
  2. Three Trapped Tigers — G. Cabrera Infante
  3. Armadale — Wilkie Collins
  4. Huck Out West — Robert Coover
  5. The Captain and the Glory — David Eggers
  6. Warlock — Oakley Hall
  7. The Accident — Ismail Kadare
  8. The Old Capital — Yasunari Kawabata
  9. The Flaming Corsage — William Kennedy
  10. The End: My Struggle Book 6 — Karl Ove Knausgârd
  11. The African — J. M. G. Le Clézio
  12. Babycakes: A Novel — Armistead Maupin
  13. A Children’s Bible — Lydia Millet
  14. The Green Knight — Iris Murdoch
  15. Savage Theories — Pola Oloixarac
  16. Calypso — David Sedaris
  17. Absurdistan — Gary Shteyngart
  18. Sweet Bean Paste — Durian Sukegawa
  19. Komodo — Jeff VanderMeer
  20. Le Docteur Pascal — Émile Zola

With these two possible BFBs to round out the month:

  • The Adolescent — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Shadow Country — Peter Matthiessen

What are your thoughts on this?

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