Jackie and Ove

I finished the first draft of a 4400-word short story yesterday, sitting at the bar in the local Mexican restaurant while drinking a margarita. I wonder if that makes the margarita tax deductible? Then I dictated it into the computer and spent the morning cleaning up the transcription mishaps. I’ll let it sit for a while and then make some more editing passes at it. It doesn’t have a market in mind, although it originated from something a couple of friends of mine discussed on Twitter a while back.

I generally watch something on the television during my morning workout session. Today I started a Netflix series called Four Seasons in Havana, which is billed as Caribbean Noir. It’s made up of four 90-minute episodes that adapt crime novels by Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura. They’re set in the 1990s, and though noir, the series has the luscious color of the tropics. The main character, the police officer, is an aspiring writer who adores Salinger and is more interested in the literary and artistic side of his country than in crime, although he’s very good at that, too. He’s divorced, drinks a lot, doesn’t have a car or a dog, but he does have a fighting fish and, after the opening to the first episode, a new love interest. I picked up the first novel in the series, too, called Havana Blue, although it wasn’t the first to be translated.

We watched Jackie, starring Natalie Portman as the former first lady. The wrapping device is an interview she conducted (Billy Crudup plays the reporter) shortly after the assassination in which she does her best to seal her husband’s place in history, and succeeds in imprinting the term Camelot in the national memory. The events of the movie focus on the assassination and its aftermath, although there are some flashbacks to the time when the Kennedys allowed cameras into the White House and Jackie conducted a long tour of the place, showing it to America for the first time. Portman is quite convincing as Jackie, but the former first lady comes off as mercurial and indecisive, although one has to consider what she had just been through and continued to go through.

The we watched A Man Called Ove, based on the novel by Swedish novelist Fredrik Backman. It’s about a 59-year-old man, newly widowed, who is something of a grouch. He lives in a gated neighborhood—he’s responsible for the gate—and he rules it like a tyrant, making note of any offenses against the list of rules he and a former friend (now nemesis) came up with. To him, everyone is an idiot. A new family moves in: a husband, his Persian wife and their two daughters, and they become determined to thaw him out and be good neighbors. Over the course of the movie, we learn about Ove’s tragic life. It’s a good-hearted film with comic elements and dramatic elements.

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