So picture this. Target parking lot. There’s a road in front of the store, of course. Cars use it to enter the parking lot. I’m sure it has a specific name among urban planners; let’s call it the auto-pedestrian coexistence / parking facilitation roadway, or APCPFR (“app-cuh-piffer.”) I’m waiting to turn left into the parking lot, because there’s a car pulling out, and it’s right at the border of the APCPFR. I have my turn-signal blinking When it’s 2 above it’s nice to have a short jaunt to the store. He pulls out. Car approaches from the other direction. Shoots right into the spot. Into MY spot.
You can honk, but that won’t work. I turned left anyway, paused behind his car for a few seconds and gave him a look: really? Really? He couldn’t see it, but he could see the car paused and the head turned his way. If he cared. I parked down the lot and saw him get out and walk to the store, yammering on a phone. Middle-aged, blocky, stomping along, talking on the phone about important things.
He went in the north entrance and I went in the south.
I thought: this isn’t over. I got my cart and went towards the north entrance. Saw him walking down the aisle heading the other direction; swung around and followed. He went to Greeting Cards.
Okay: any man who’s hitting Greeting Cards at Target at 5:55 PM on Friday is not having a good Friday. Hallelujah. No man does this of his own volition. He’s on an errand; he is coordinating with someone on the phone; he fears he will get the wrong car, hell, he knows he’ll probably get the wrong card, doesn’t matter what he chooses she’ll hate it. She hates everything these days.
I swing around the other end of Greeting Cards and see him staring at the selection, and for a moment consider hanging around until I see him leave the aisle, at which point I would push the cart where he intended to be and say “I’m sorry, did I cut you off, like you cut me off in the parking lot? Although it was more of an ursurpation, really. Hold on, let me redo this. You head for the check-out line and I'll shoot in front of you. Okay? ” But he would have no idea what I was talking about. Also, this would be petty. Utter an oath and move along.
And there’s another reason, which I mention because it shows how life is peculiar. When I checked out I had a cheerful enormous checker who was almost on tip-toe with delight because her shift was done in 30 minutes. “How’s your day going,” she said. BEEP. BEEP.
“It’s going horribly. I got cut off in the parking lot and lost a prime space.”
“I’m sorry to hear it.” BEEP
“That’s good.” BEEP
In the adjacent aisle the omnipresent Dale was talking to a couple. Dale, as I have noted over the years, is the heart and soul of this Target. He has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair and has more love of life and enthusiasm and amusement than anyone I know, and I don’t say that to conform to the cliche of the Plucky Handicapped Person From Whom We Could All Learn Something. Except, well, yeah. That. I love the guy. He looks up and says “Mister Lileks,” and the guy to whom he’s talking stops and looks at me and there’s this moment, this little crackle, and it doesn’t mean the guy reads the column or likes the column but the name pings! for some reason. This is why you don’t cut off the guy when he leaves the Greeting Card aisle and make a stink about the parking space he took. Really, he has no idea. He wasn’t paying attention. He was on the phone to his wife. She was on his case hard and hot. Makes you glad you let it drop. What if he read the column? What if he liked it?
Plus, you keyed his trunk when you passed on the way into the store, so there’s that.
That was Friday after the column was filed and Daughter came home and I had a bad nap that was sundered when I dreamed I said “that is a ridiculous microphone” and woke 20 minutes early. The congestion from the cold made me hear my heartbeat in my ears like a fan in a ventilation shaft. I ordered the pizza online, then headed off to Target so I could skip it on Saturday because it was going to be THREE above. Sunday was predicted to be warmer; FOUR. In the evening I did an interview and set to work on the last thorny chunk of the MPLS site, listening to a BBC series about the memoirs of Lestrade, Sherlock’s hapless counterpart. Always wondered why his name seemed French; was this intended as a slight? No one ever wants to Lestrade to be comic relief, and no one wants him to be an adversary. We want him to be Felix Leiter at best, and maybe get in the way when the law demands it. He’s one character subsequent authors could shape with great freedom.
He’s not brilliant in these radio plays, but he’s happier, because he’s not being upstaged or berated or derided by . . . that fellow.
While listening, phone rings: it’s dad. He said he’d read the last column and thought it was really good. My brother-in-law liked it too. Another guy at the McDonald’s where they had coffee after walking a mile around the mall loved it too.
“Only old people like your columns,” said Daughter the other day, adding, “just kidding.”
“My work in its totality has broad appeal.”
Well, everyone hated the Sunday column, so we’re all even.
Also this weekend: pretty much finished the overhaul of the great shame of lileks.com, the Minneapolis section. Last year I endeavored to overhaul it and the result was wretched. I wince to think of it. For the last few weeks I’ve been picking away at the current buildings; this weekend I dived in and overhauled Long Gone, a project I’d had on the burner for a few years.
Also fondue. Wife had The Girls over for fondue, of all things. It’s really the 70s all over again. As I noted in a tweet, those who forget the past are doomed to experience it again, but the rest of us have to live with their idiocy. Not to say my wife is an idiot: anything but. This really has nothing to do with fondue. But the clammy remnant echoes of the seventies have been pinging around the culture for a while; sometimes you hear them louder than other days.
I left them to their fondue, because it was a Girls Night, so I went shopping for groceries. But because I AM A MAN I also bought a hard drive. A little portable one for the things too big to go into the cloud for transport. It was six o'clock at the computer store; they had eight cash registers going and a line that took ten minutes to get through. It's like this at 9 AM. It would be like this at 2 AM. The place is geek heaven - the three guys in front of me were buying PC enclosures, and nothing else. Because sometimes on Saturday at 6 PM a fellow needs to start building his own PC.
When I got back the kitchen was a mess, because they'd all gone to a play and there was no time to clean up. Well, I'm not cleaning this up, I said, and I put away the groceries. And then cleaned up.
I made two attempts this weekend to watch “Elysium,” but was hampered by the fact that it was stupid. Interesting looking thing, for the effects, but they don’t matter if you’ve no investment in the story or the world behind it. As it begins we are informed that the earth is Ruined, for some reason, and sure enough LA is nothing but rubble, although it has a power grid and hospitals and people have cigarettes, and there’s a factory where our hero makes Police Robots. All the rich people live up on a satellite because that makes much more sense than going to Montana. There’s lots of high-tech stuff, which suggests the Earth isn’t Ruined at all, but maintains an industrial base somewhere, but - oh. Who. Cares. I turned off the sound and did some work and looked up at the TV periodically; grimy people were making ugly faces every time I looked up.
All in all a fine weekend, but oh the cold. On Friday night I kicked some of the grot that accumulated in the Element's wheel well, and a clot flew up and hit me in the face and some dirty ice went up my nose.
At which point I thought: Winter? I'm done.
This is peculiar. Obviously we're in WW2 territory here, but this was released during the war - and the audience knew full well this wasn't the case.
Or would it be a thrilling and satisfying account of the future, when justice was finally meted out? In case you were on the fence about whether justice should be meted out, the graphics provide a helpful reminder.
It’s not a big movie, or a deep one, or a stirring call to arms. It’s not a clever satire or a chilling account of Nazi Germany - nothing it suggests about life in Hitler’s realm would have come as a surprise to anyone. Informers, suspicion, bootlicking toadies, officious mid-level bureaucrats, effete upper-level Nazis with a flaming streak of cruelty, robot children. It’s all there.
We begin in an office, where a fellow is regaling another worker with an account of Hitler’s latest speech. (Seems to be about ’43, when things were starting to darken.) It’s a pretty good imitation. The friend laughs. Guffaws! There’ s a moment of cold fright when another office worker enters, and he’s the chilly sort who might not approve, but the moment passes and the Decent German Man goes home to his family for a rare meal of weinerschnitzel. Unfortunately, he is arrested before the first course. His genial laughing friend informed on him.
Meet the fellow who could do a pretty good Hitler:
A little barbering, a nip and tuck here, and hello:
He has a new job. He's Hitler's stand-in.
Meanwhile, his family thinks he's dead, and the sons turn into Totally Pre-Teen Nazibots, lead by the Youth Leader:
It's a smeary print but I know I've seen him in a variety of movies, as a Nazi, and probably always named Willi.
Well, our hero adopts the role of Stand-in Adolph well, but he always plots for the moment when he can do what he wants, which is put a bullet in that son of a bitch. Seems to be a substantial defect in a stand-in, but they have confidence he's on board.
Yet he plots.
You can tell the budget isn't that big; here's a huge rally:
But it doesn't really matter, because this is about this guy, and whether or not he'll ever get to see his wife again. Now: here be SPOILERS. When he returns to Vienna he sneaks out and visits his neighborhood; discovers his kids are monsteres and his wife has remarried. Seeks out the new husband - it's really a marriage of convenience for legal purposes, i.e., no sex - and takes the new hubby into confidence: I need a gun because I'm going to kill Hitler. New Hubby says okey dokey.
Alas: the next day his wife gets the gun and heads off to the rally to shoot Hitler, not knowing that Hitler is actually her husband.
It isn't the thing one might consider.
His look upon seeing her gets you right . . . here, and you have to consider the filmmaker's challenge: we have to make the Hitler character sympathetic at this moment. So he almost smiles.
She plugs him and the Gestapo gun her down and that's it. More or less. At the end two not-entirely-bad Nazis lament that the real Adolph didn't get plugged, but one says "no, then the generals would run the war better, and we might win, and more bad things would happen. No, my friend:
We all have got to go.
I doubt they were saying that with such certainty in '43, but it's nice to think a few were.