My Vampire, My Flapper

It has been one of those years. Time moving in fast intense spurts followed by a slow circling. It is the slow days that have gone by the fastest because when the days resemble each other they are stored as one Blursday.

The threads come together in a tapestry. Movies are dominating this cycle.

Watching Nashville, I decide Altman likes tall skinny brunettes. The bartender is called Trout, his real name is Kilgore.

Heelots, the Colonel called them. It ain’t that different from Helots.

Great cinematography. Dustin Hoffman is irritating. The awkwardness is what would be felt, not acted. Or so my experience has been.

The Graduate leads to Girl Shy. Don Quixote becomes dreams of Don Juan. A Cracker Jack puzzle. The surprise should have been a whistle. I keep renaming the movie Shy Guy.

95 years to make it to the public domain. There was a time when these movies where contemporary. I even saw Nashville at the cinema. It was confusing to the thirteen year-old brain.

Caricature?

I am enjoying finding the questions more than finding the answers. In other words, I am enjoying reinventing the wheel. Or, in other other words, using a cliché, it’s about the journey.

Street of Shame starts with a pan of Tokyo. It looks nothing like the Tokyo in today’s films. It reminds me of the shots of 30’s Los Angeles.

The solicitation scenes get me questioning. Was (is?) this aggressive attack of prospects the norm in Japan? It is possible; Almost any male in the neighbourhood is there on purpose.

I think back to the European red-light districts I have walked through. It’s all relatively passive: a change in position, a come hither hand sign. Then again, the ones I have seen are famous, tourist attractions.

I recall a walk on San Francisco’s Broadway in the 70’s. Anytime we slowed down near one of their doorways we would be greeted by touchy-feely women attempting to entice us to get a “massage.”

A door to the movie is unlocked. The actions of the Yoshiwara women are not that different from those in San Francisco. The aggressive desperation is the prostitute’s point of view; The scenes are shot looking out from inside the brothel.

I feel quite the cinephile. I see appeals to a noble history: a straw of dignity for the sex workers, a justification for the brothel owners. The archetypes exploring, without answering, the policeman’s question about the impending ban on prostitution. The movie is in black & white and, for those directly concerned, none of the answers are.

I do not know much about Japanese culture other than the general interest stories and occasional film. I know even less about the culture of post-war Japan. I am still wondering about the degree of exaggeration used in the caricatures.

On Contempt

Contempt is hard to hide.

Shawn is blithely butchering the quote and putting it into Churchill’s mouth to justify the justness of his argument turning the saying into an ideology.

There is a study that shows contempt is a good indication of a doomed relationship.

Pedantry is rarely the cause and often the straw.

I get angry at denied errors in logic. It is a rejection of the rules of debate. So is anger. I have learned to keep my mouth shut, to disqualify myself.

I can remember my lesson as long as the pedant in me is not triggered. I recall the facts to soothe the craving to correct them.

The quote is from Anselme Batbie, a nineteenth century French politician who had seen the end of monarchy, the short-lived Second Republic, and the longer lasting Second Empire. He spoke not of socialists growing up to be capitalists, nor of liberals growing up to be conservatives, nor of revolutionaries growing up to be supporters of the status quo. He used republicans and royalists as the signposts of evolving from a generosity of heart to a soundness of mind.

It was an observation, made in the early days of the Third Republic, meant to explain the evolution of Edmund Burke‘s political views. I can easily imagine it mirroring the changes in Batbie‘s views about each of the changes in the governance of France he lived through.

I have my own apolitical interpretation of the quote, the nugget that makes it so popular; Idealism versus rational beliefs. At twenty the heart rules, at thirty wisdom should be driving.

Shawn is now mindlessly droning about bleeding heart liberals caring more for the criminal’s difficult childhood instead of the victims. He wants to throw away the key. Says it would solve the crime problem.

Another camel, another straw.

Studies show that incarceration doesn’t work as a deterrent; Which makes sense; The punishment is not immediate. Humans are optimistic, quick to believe they will find a way to avoid pain.

My mental digressions have additional qualities: I appear thoughtful, facts are unemotional, and relationships are maintained.

The easiest way to hide contempt is to avoid experiencing it.

A Perfect Match

What does it say about me when the first thing I think of is a phosphorous tipped small wooden stick?

The answer lies in how I would answer that question about someone else: a person who lives in a place where matchbooks aren’t a common thing.

I live in clues; resolving them, giving them.

The ultimate in cool was lighting a strike-anywhere match on the zipper of your jeans. It took skill to strike it without leaving the head in the zipper’s teeth. Then button-fly jeans became cool.

For paper matches it was the one-handed fold-the-match-back light. The difficulty was the short strike, which meant more pressure was needed. And, because even in a single matchbook there is a lot of variance in the match heads, regularly showing off meant walking around with a black specked callus in the middle of your right thumb.

The strike-anywheres were more expensive and harder to find. If you wanted real ones you had to look for the boy scout approved waterproof ones. Otherwise, despite what the sales clerk was affirming, you were probably just getting a wooden safety match.

Nobody could figure out how to light one cowboy-style. The consensus opinion was that they were using their chaps. Nobody knew that modern denim was softened.

Elliot Gould’s Philip Marlowe used strike-anywheres. The walls of his bedroom were missing the expected scars.

Are You Currently Still With Your High School Sweetheart?

The question destabilizes him.

It’s been forty years and three countries since he last saw Linda. They connected on social media but her English is rusty and his Spanish more so. She had moved back to Mexico City and finished her high school there. From what he could tell, she had stayed there and had children who now have children. The other pictures are of her with girlfriends.

Sweetheart is not the right word. Girlfriend. There was nothing romantic about their getting together. He had decided he needed a girlfriend and she was the hottest available. The sentiments were sincere; he had learned a lot of Spanish, visited her twice (it was during his second visit that she had said that the long distance thing wasn’t working) but it is his ego that has the fondest memories.

He had been one of the cool kids with a bad boy side that came from transferring into the school after being asked not to return to his previous one.

He used cockiness to maintain his image. He had told his friend that you don’t get anything if you don’t try and the results are often better than you thought. One thing led to another and within a month he had started his first serious relationship.

They were sitting in an ice-cream parlour. Mark had told him he was interested in Miranda. He’d replied that he should just call her and, after spouting his two-bit wisdom, decided he needed to do a demonstration. He added that even tacky shit can work and called over the waiter.

He requested that the waiter deliver a wolf whistle to the girl he had spotted a few tables over and received a phone number in return.

“It’s probably a fake.”

The next day he was proven right and Mark was still hesitating over Miranda. That’s when he decided he would call Linda to show Mark how it was done. Not that he had any experience but the big talking required a confident follow-up.

The phone call led to a pool party. The three dunkings led to Linda putting on her swim suit. Fifteen months later it was finished.

He sometimes meets up with Mark when he goes home for a visit. Once, he remembers Mark asking “Do you remember the girl you had those two dates with when you were in college?” He is married to Debbie.

Averages, a Book and a Series

In a crowd of 100,000 people with Bill Gates in it, everyone is, on average, a millionaire.

I remember reading, in the late 70’s, that there were no billionaires. Hundreds of millions was all that was necessary to get on the list of 500 richest.

I reread Slaughterhouse-Five. I remembered nothing from my teenage reading of it, not even the catch phrase.

I am listening to an interview. “So it goes” he says. I had heard good things about the series he plays in. I learn that there is method to his acting.

I am reminded of the interview when the phrase appears in the series opener. His relationship to it is confirmed in the second episode with a shot that shows it tattooed on his shoulder. He’d said that the tattoos shown in the show were his own.

A few more episodes, a few more signs of his influence on the series. Two of his children guest star.

I question the limits of method acting; then I question my stereotypes. His physique, his movements, don’t match the character’s back story. I stop questioning my biases when the scene calls for the use of old skills.

And I smile when his gift of an album to a love interest reminds me Travis Bickle’s gift to Betsy. His insomnia makes me question whether the reference is deliberate but his relationship to the music lacks the intimacy of the true fan he is supposed to be.

Regardless, I am enjoying the series.

For my memory of the rankings to be accurate, it would have to be post Howard Hughes.

Meet Me in Baltimore

It was a random line that wasn’t random. The movie takes place in 1903 St. Louis. Why the Orioles?

The scene starts with the father coming home from work. He’s a lawyer who’s just lost a case. He’s in a bad mood.

The eternally optimistic daughter suggests that happiness could be found with a switch to a dream career.

He’s not suffering silliness. He wants sympathy (and a bath). “Beginning tomorrow, I intend to play first base for the Baltimore Orioles.”

I’m intrigued but first I have to make sure I’m not imagining a puzzle from a single piece. I go duck ducking for facts.

In 1903, St. Louis had two major league baseball teams: The Cardinals and the Browns.

The Baltimore Orioles (1901–1903): The team moved to New York where they were renamed the Highlanders and later, in 1913, became the New York Yankees.

Who’s the fan? It’s time for a quick background check of the principals.

Producer: Arthur Freed. Born: Charleston, South Carolina.

Director: Vincente Minnelli. Born: Chicago, Illinois.

Writer: Fred F. Finklehoffe. Born: Springfield, Massachusetts.

Writer: Irving Brecher. Born: New York City, New York.

I have found the fan that knows his team trivia, but, even for a Yankees fan, fandom alone is a weak motive.

The movie was released in 1944. With the time it takes to make a movie, the answer is probably in 1943.

The 1943 World Series was a rematch of the 1942 series with the New York Yankees defeating the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a home run.”

Now to wrap up ironically with a few random pieces found during my quest.

The 1944 World Series featured the St. Louis Cardinals beating the St. Louis Browns in six games. After the 1953 season, the Browns moved to Baltimore where they were renamed the Orioles.

The original Baltimore Orioles moved to New York before the start of the 1903 season.

Great? Well…

I keep hearing it referred to as a great movie but I have not watched Some Like It Hot since the days when you could only choose which channel to watch. These days you can see almost any film at any time and it is time to see it again.

I have to double check that I am watching the right movie. It is in black and white. I also double check that I remember the year, 1959, correctly. I then check to see where Marilyn was in her career. I later learn that it was fairly big budget film and that Tony Curtis‘ and Jack Lemmon‘s makeup looked grotesque in colour.

The opening scene makes me think of the Keystone Cops. I am still distracted from my research. I am more forgiving when the context, Chicago 1929, is given.

Jack Lemmon’s lecherous jokes put me back into a critical mode. I don’t think they need the era as an excuse (I’m too old to be sure) but, regardless, I find them cheap.

I congratulate myself for catching the blues term jelly roll, knowing that I didn’t know what it meant the first time I saw the movie and knowing that most people today would not know its meaning. I groan at the salami while recognizing it would have been extremely racy for the times. I am not enjoying the innuendo—it feels adolescent.

It is when the movie moves away from the slapstick that the movie shines. Usually it is the opposite, I like Woody Allen‘s early slapstick a lot more than his critically acclaimed movies.

There is the genius of Marilyn calling herself dumb for repeating the same mistakes. The questioning of the standards when, after unwanted contact in an elevator, Jack Lemmon slips back into male-hood to say he now understands what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

More than the innuendo or Marilyn’s outfits, it is the handling of the cross-dressing that was the most daring for the times and it leads to the best scenes of the movie.  Instead of taking the easy way out and camping it up, it is played straight, with scenes like the one where Jack Lemmon is overjoyed at getting engaged. I cannot help but think that there must have been an alternate ending just in case the finale did not make it past the morality police.

Great? Well…, there are few moments when it is only good.

The Panel

I: Our panel for today is Me, Myself and I. Me will be presenting the premises, Myself the counter-points and, I, as well as moderating, will also present background and commentary.

Me: Here is my first premise: This is ridiculous. Do you take yourself for Plato and Socrates all rolled up into one.

Myself: Plato isn’t the only person to have used the dialogue. Things aren’t black or white. More voices gives room to explore the shades of grey. It is handy tool for presenting a nuanced view.

Me: Lazy!

Myself: One voice is lazy!

I: I am not happy with my attempts at essays. I really dislike simplified generalizations, and the application of heuristics to the particular. This is the problem we are trying to tackle.

Me: For example?

Myself: It is tempting to turn this into comedy, a pale imitation of Who’s on First?: “I am the one who is supposed to ask the questions.”“Don’t speak for me!”“I think he is speaking to you.”“No, for myself.”

Me: You forgot: “Let me explain myself.”

Myself: Ha!

I: An example? Free will. I am fairly certain I have said it before. I don’t think it exists but you still have to act as if your choices are choices. You can’t abdicate. To requote, because I have used it before, Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” You don’t have a choice but to choose.

Me: Now Zeno too. That’s one big ego.

Myself: We are a trinity.

I: And that’s our discussion for today. More questions without answers, answers that are right until they’re wrong, additions to the infinite set of paradoxes. Until next time, this was Me, Myself and I.

Mix and Match

At first, it was about the routine, getting one setup, establishing a sense of normalcy. Now I am searching for a way to add variety, change it up, make it interesting.

I came to this conclusion during my walk.

I am in good mood, the sun is shining and there is energy to my walk. I tackle the imitation hill.

There is nobody to avoid. Life feels a little normal.

I saw that the local family gardens are opening. You are allowed one hour every other day. There is a formula for odds and evens. The evens will complain if the restriction last into June.

I head towards the mini-strip mall at the foot of an apartment building. It has a grocery store and a butcher. I am scouting for additional shopping options.

I have never cooked this regularly for so long. I am pleased with the variety of meals I have managed. Very few repetitions.

It doesn’t take much effort. I have three types of pasta, brown rice, black rice, wheat, and spelt. Potatoes in various forms and varieties. Fries, mashed, boiled, baked, turned into gnocchi. White, sweet and purple. I also have a selection of breads.

And that’s just for the carbs. I haven’t even had to dig up recipes. Just mixing up the combinations of carbs, proteins and vegetables.

I am so happy with my cleverness that I come up with a new theory of my world.