Lots of rain. Rain predicted for the next five days. Saturday a storm rolled in; the clouds bore down low, the wind came up, and Darkness: what was on the screen was not. Two screens to black. Everything whirs down, and in a second you know: power’s out. The wind had come up hard and strong a while before, the edge of a strenuous front; no lightning strikes to fry a box on a pole. But when wind takes out the power you know a tree limb - or a tree itself - had fallen as they have fallen for millenia, for hundreds of thousands of years, for millions of years, caring no more where they fall than a gut-shot man cares about the ants on the pavement when he drops. Downed wires are different than a sparking box. That takes time.
Eventually I left, having to drag the garage door up manually - O gross indignity of modern times - and went to shop for groceries, which presumes that the power would be on and the fridge would be ready to grasp the new inhabitants in its frosty embrace. At Traders Joe, there’s an end-cap that has new items, and I say “end-cap” because that’s industry lingo, and you think sometimes that if you use it around the people at the store their eyebrows will raise or a certain spark of recognition will flare, because you’re Using Jargon! But it never happens. In fact they usually seem a bit peeved that you know the term. Whaddya think you are, a TEAM MEMBER? I’m humping pineapples out to produce and you’re swanning in here la-de-da on a fine summer day and using the terms of the useful class; I should applaud like a seal?
Anyway: there was MICROWAVE POPCORN!
No small thing. It was like seeing an old friend after ten years. The microwave popcorn disappeared a year ago. They gave vague reasons about the supplier having a shortage of Organic Corn. Then they said it wasn’t in the system. Then clerks would be baffled if you brought it up. 1984, man. There was never any microwave popcorn.
But here it was, in NEW PRODUCTS.
I went over to the fellow who was handing out samples of pulled pork - not teased, or yanked, but pulled - and said “This. It’s not new.”
“I know,” he said. “The guy who did the signs and stocked the shelf just came here six months ago, I think. He never knew it. He thought it was new.”
“There’s no institutional memory of these things?”
The clerk in the checkout line scanned the popcorn, and said “That’s new.”
“Actually no. It’s been away for a while.”
“It’s in the New Products end-cap but it’s really not new at all.”
He nodded, wondering perhaps if I was going to make an issue of this, so I hastened to say I was happy it was back.
The number of times I’ve had TJ clerks say something about my column, I have to wonder if the guy just doesn’t care to banter, or really thought the last one was horrible. Possible; morning paper had two letters complaining about it. Eh. What are you going to do. Still, it’s an odd way to start the day. YOU ARE APPALLING is not the sentiment you usually associate with morning eggs. And they’re not even eggs! They’re those ersatz things you dump in a pan and poke and add some habanero cheese and add salsa so your mouth sends the appropriate pain signals to the brain to indicate the day has begun. A Saturday day, that is. Saturday morn is fake-egg day.
How I love it.
The rest of Saturday, well, it depends on many things, the letters to the editor the least among them. But still.
Wife and daughter went to the pet store to get the dog’s nails clipped. Complimentary. I said to wife: so this is your dream. A fur son you can take for mani-pedis. She laughs, because NO she’s not one of those people who treats the dog like a child or offloads maternal emotion on the beast, but gosh. Gosh. He’s just a baby. To daughter, he’s a little pal. To me, he’s a buck private. I suppose that’s a good distribution of attitudes. Everyone oohed and ahhhed at Scout, because he is unique; the brindle color isn’t seen much around these parts, and no one knows what he is. Tennessee Treeing Cur, that’s what he is.
“Does the breed drool?” wife asked. “Scout drools.”
Not a lot, but after he’s been down for a while, there’ll be a pool. I google. Not known for drooling. Daughter is happy, because she has expressed a hope he is not a Jowly Drooly Dog. To which I say he’s our dog, and whatever he is, we will love him, and she says of course! Not an issue for her generation. Accepting of all the manifestations of the rainbow.
Which reminds me: we had an interesting conversation the other night about group identity and racism and the necessity of seeing people as individuals, and the particulars don’t matter here. It’s the fact that we had the conversation and she argues with me. I’m not concerned with making her agree with me, but teaching her how to argue. Stay on target. Logic, not emotion. Evidence, not dogma. A father’s job is teaching them what to think, yes, but how to think might be more important.
There was Father’s Day to recount, but that’s tomorrow, for reasons that will be obvious.
I watched the penultimate “Fargo,” which is just marvelous. Bleak and funny and shocking; it’s been my favorite show for weeks. Saturday night I sat down for the weekly stupid action movie, and the scenes used on the main DVD menu just looked jokey and silly, and I wasn’t in the mood. I went back to something on Netflix I’d been watching a few days before: oh, right, it was 1:37 AM and I started “Running Man.” Economic and societal collapse leads to tyranny and bread-and-circus TV! But for all that “no more oil” stuff the credits described, LA looks as bright as ever, and people seem well-fed and employed. But that’s just the overclass, of course. Except that the middle class looks to be doing fine. In fact they look like normal folk from 1987, just like the computer graphics.
But at the time it looked like it was The Future - because it was familiar, but enhanced, usually by context. When you see it from the distance of 25 years the context is gone, and all the familiar things stand out, as well as the things they got wrong. (Note: just about everything.)
Everyone loves this guy! Swashbuckling, dashing, devil-may-care!
Unfortunately, by 1959 he was a sodden flack for romantic Communism. And so:
Exploit films, indeed. Who was exploiting whom? Well:
It was written and narrated by Flynn, who was sympathetic at that time to the Communist revolution being led by Fidel Castro in Cuba. The film consists of a drama about a group of young American volunteers helping in the fight against the Government of Fulgencio Batista, with Flynn appearing in a few scenes as a commentator & reporter. It is filmed in black and white with a screen time of 68 minutes. It co-starred Beverly Aadland, then Flynn's girlfriend.
She was about 16 at the time. Flynn was 50. They met when she was 15.
The first ten minutes consist of voice-overs with no dialogue, as Errol Flynn, playing Errol Flyyn, arranges a meeting with Fidel. It comes off. Of course we don’t see Fidel. Or the interview. The real story is the Rebel Girls. Here’s a sample of these spitfires:
But at least there’s the obligatory exploitation film nudity!
Whoo-hooo! Wolf-whistles! Hubba! It’s also horribly written:
I am a Rebel, and So Can You! It ends with the triumphant entry of Castro into Havana. Troops, guns, tanks. A final word from our host:
They’d need it.
I'll give it this much: the first three minutes are the best thing of the movie. Momentum, suspense, a actual plot - and a great score.
Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!