Involved in a Typical Daydream

One version of my story has inflation as the cause of my moving to Europe.

Yesterday I listened to nine podcast episodes in five hours and eight minutes. The host of one of the shows tells of the stories his father told about the inflation fighting high interest rates of his youth.

To contextualize their relation to music from the late 90’s they had ranked themselves by years of experienced history. They were all younger than my two eldest. I managed to stop myself from adding that they were also all older than my youngest who has just started her first fulltime job. None of them had ever experienced inflation.

I absolutely do not want to be one of those older folks who relate every thing back to their time.

I grew up with inflation. I even did two years of economics while it was raging.

Some of the contemporary articles said the 1973 oil crisis was to blame for it all.

Others said it was a new normal: modern economies, globalization and all that.

Yet others said it was all an illusion.

Of course, if you wanted to, you could probably have found an obscure economist claiming it was all a long sequence of events starting with the tax policies of an unknown Sumerian king.

Economics was making history. High interest rates were bringing down the economy and proving the solution to inflation.

I used to have this routine. “Canada’s unemployment was at 13% and at almost 35% for people my age. In fact, the only one of my friends that had a regular job was selling shoes in his father’s store. In Switzerland, they were complaining about the unemployment rate increasing tenfold from 0.2% to 2.1% (not counting unemployed foreigners helps the statistics). I have a Swiss passport!”

Their is a version of my story where my not getting into the right school is the cause of my moving to Europe. The numbers are the same. The context changes. It is less interesting.

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.

Thinking a Lot About Less and Less

I am running away from the chatter on the internet. Seeking refuge in music. The line catches my attention. In the moment, it captures my feelings about the headlines, about how whatever insignificant subject dominating the news is analysed beyond reason.

I know the song well, probably sing along to parts of it, but I have never really paid attention to the lyrics. (This is not unusual for me but is it unusual?) I start replaying the song and look up the lyrics.

A quick read through stops at Saturday’s child, the one that works hard for a living. These are lyrics with depth. I go back to the top.

The lyrics are a treasure trove full of references — pleasant distractions.

Althea, a mythological Greek queen. A tragedy with all the trappings. A prince’s unrequited love, treachery and revenge. Avunculicide, infanticide and suicide.

My research leads me to one fact, explaining why there is so much to the lyrics, and trivia. The lyricist is a poet, Robert Hunter, born Robert Burns, a great-great grandson of The Robert Burns and officially a non-performing band member of The Grateful Dead.

I head back to the conversation between Althea and the singer. Ophelia‘s fate. Hamlet! More dead uncles, dead princes and dead queens.

I am think about more and more.

I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
That my back might need protection
I told Althea that treachery
Was tearing me limb from limb
Althea told me, now cool down boy
Settle back easy, Jim

You may be Saturday’s child all grown
Moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
Or just another pretty face
You may be the fate of Ophelia
Sleeping and perchance to dream
Honest to the point of recklessness
Self-centered to the extreme
Ain’t nobody messin’ with you but you
Your friends are getting most concerned
Loose with the truth, maybe its your fire
Baby I hope you don’t get burned
When the smoke has cleared, she said
That’s what she said to me
You’re gonna want a bed to lay your head
And a little sympathy
There are things you can replace
And others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
This space is gettin’ hot
You know this space is gettin’ hot

I told Althea, I’m a roving sign
That I was born to be a bachelor
Althea told me, OK that’s fine
So now I’m trying to catch her

Can’t talk to you without talking to me
We’re guilty of the same old things
Thinking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring