Well, I suppose I have to watch “Mad Max” now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t type while I do it. I will probably drift back to the keyboard on the kitchen table now and then, unless the 94-minute chase scene is so compelling I cannot move, and soil myself. The main problem is the new sofa. I like it, but the ottoman has ruined TV watching because I can’t set a drink on it. We have a wicker-type tray thing, which sits under the ottoman; you take it out, and put it on top of the ottoman, and put your drink on that, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room if you want to put your feet up - and the ottoman is so nice I feel like a boor who visits Versailles and waits for the tour group to move on, then slips behind the rope and sits on the 18th century chair.
If ISIS took over France they would level Versaiiles, or just burn the pictures. Same with the Louvre. Any statuary embedded in the structures would get a good whacking, of course. Would they jackhammer all the details off Notre Dame? Well, that’s nonsense. Ridiculous to think that any revolutionary madness that upended every precept of the dominant culture would sweep through Paris like a virus.
A few people I know are keen to “burn it down” here as well, although they’re taking about established political orders they regard as irredeemable. People always assume something better would arise in its place. Something different, yes, but better? Yes! More pure! God save us from the pure of heart.
Heard a piece on the BBC today about the Iranian musicians of the Revolution. Outraged by the Shah’s use of force to shut down protests, they started recording songs in a basement insulated with rugs. (There’s a nice cliched Persian touch.) They played instruments different from the ones they were known to play; they sang in choirs, so no voice stood out. The cassettes were passed around and became the themes of The People.
As the narrator noted, after the revolution, things did not work out as anticipated. The Islamists took control of the state radio and locked up 60 years of recordings, deeming them “monarchal” and “anti-Islam.” Many were destroyed with axes; no idea what was lost. Music was banned except for a cappella exhortations to fight the war with Iraq. To this day women’s voices are not allowed on recordings; those who are caught recording songs in secret are given jail terms.
Anyway. The ottoman. An empire reduced to a name for a footstool. Odd how that works out. I did watch “Wallender” last night while sitting, and walking, and sitting at the table. Couldn’t rest for long, because the dog would start barking outside and I’d have to go shush. There was something in the small forest that plagued him, and I figured it was a raccoon. Rabbits run away. Coons hunker and taunt. Sure enough:
And what would you do if you caught him, dog? He almost caught a squirrel today, and it was amusing to watch wife and daughter’s sympathies go from have-fun-Scout! to horror when he was but an inch from getting the creature’s tail. There’s something about seeing your dog’s relaxed grin dripping with grue, I guess. Tongue out, happy dog! Got it! Killed it! Want some?
There’s a festival in a church parking lot the third weekend of September, and the weather always obliges. The kids are playing games on a field where the Christmas trees will be piled in a few months. There are cakewalks and prizes and games and a band, and large tents where beer and wine are sold, and a great many stout dads in their early 40s are getting blurry. A million tots darting around like minnows, two rides that go around and one rickety wheel that churns the sunset sky. America.
We used to go together, but it’s dropped off the radar since everyone’s kids are old enough to go by themselves, and would be mortified to be seen with parents. I went just to take a few pictures and took care not to be seen, lest daughter’s peers taunt her with the realization that she was not a product of parthogenesis and does not live by herself and gets from here to there via some dematerializing transportation mechanism. Although I was pretty damned necessary on Friday. Took her to work in the rain. Picked her up, because. Took her to rival school’s homerooming game. Made her take an umbrella.
“I’ll be fine.”
“It’s RAINING. This device will keep you from getting wet and cold. Trust me. I know it’s, like, old tech but trust me.”
We pull up to the ticket line - a hundred teens, in the queue, and maybe ten had umbrellas. Because umbrellas were so parental, maybe. So much at odds with their free-and-easy carefree approach to life. Daughter took the umbrella and got out, and on the way home the rain started coming down like . . . like a really good hotel shower. One of those showers where it comes out of something directly over you, and the pressure’s fantastic. If I had to build my own home, I’d have one of those, but not the entire shower area; the thing about a shower is that you want the option of stepping outside of the shower while you’re showering, of only partially. Right? I’ve seen showers with 14 nozzles that blast your from every direction, and I think “how do you manage to lather anything? The soap’s blown away the minute you apply it.” But perhaps you don’t need to do anything, lather-wise. You just step in and get scoured, and then there’s a wait, and then the undercoat is applied, and then the blowers come on for a power-dry. Then the shower door goes up with a beep and you step out. If you paid for the Gold Shower there’s a team of servants with dry clothes.
Well, would you look at that. The DVD went to screensaver. Better watch the depressing action movie. It’s due back tomorrow.
YES, of course it’s a rental. This is still done in parts of the world, you know. Red box from the grocery store. It’s not a Redbox. It’s a box, that’s Red. Different company. A sign warns us that it’s not a Redbox, which would seem obvious given the branding, but some people see only telltale trademark hues. I’m still surprised burglars don’t drive around in vans painted UPS brown.
Brilliant Friday. I mean, perfect. Work was good. The podcast was cracking. The nap was solid and deep. The pizza was delicious. The errands made me feel useful in the Dad Sense: took daughter to work, picked her up, took her to a football game, picked her up. It was raining - it had rained all day - and she was jazzed from the evening’s social outing, the win of the home team, the survival of her phone after it fell 100 feet down the bleachers (!!!!!!) and so she wanted to . . . GO SOMEWHERE!
But where? I proposed the grocery store, Kowalski’s. She said YEAH because she could buy some Aloe Water, whatever that is. (Got paid from the job, and got tips. SEVEN dollars) On the way “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the radio, so we duly rocked out - but I was talking back to Freddie, noting that it would be a different song if it was sung from the perspective of someone related to the person who was shot. When it came to the line “carry on, carry on, as if nothing really mattered” I said “easy for you to say, you’re not a parent whose son is running away from the law and faces certain execution.” Daughter objected: why would the son run? Because he killed a man.
No, she said, the mother did.
And I realized she’d mondahegrinned the lyrics: she thought it was “Mother just killed a man,” as in “bus driver just ran a red.” Telling her that the mother did not kill a man changed everything. He’s not singing to us. He’s singing to Mother.
“I have to tweet that,” I jested.
“But I own all your material. Until you’re 18. I’ve trademarked you.”
“No, really. When you go back and read everything I wrote in the paper, you’ll see a TM after your name.”
She thinks I'm kidding. I mean, Gnat was bad enough.
“Can I get a small cup of ice cream?”
Or course. Downpayment for what I'll probably have to pay some day.
An unbelievably tedious and cheap movie:
I’m sure it’s been MST3K’d, although I don’t recall it. The film begins with a voiceover telling us that the US and Great Britain have collaborated on building a rocket to go into space, if you can believe that. What a premise! Now scientists have found a 13th moon on Jupiter that’s earthlike, and so the joint venture will go there in a few weeks. At the observatory, the Scientists tell a secretary to send a message to HQ, telling them to get the rocket ready.
This will give you an idea of the pacing of the movie.
Jeebus. Well, we meet our crew in the spaceship’s control room:
The crew includes the Captain. And how do we know he’s the Captain?
Headgear. Then it’s a tense countdown at Launch Control, run by the teen down from the drive-in window:
They’re off, and encounter a meteor shower, because that’s what happens right out of the gate in all these movies for PURPOSES OF TENSION. The mission, as you might expect, is full of science stuff and crafty banter to give us a sense of the crew. Let’s start with the guy who’s calculating the approach with a Burroughs adding machine, then cut to some dramatic hygiene-type situation:
They’re informed upon approach by a voice in English that they should land at certain coordinates, which turn out to look like the woods in a Midwest state. There is no one to meet them but someone throws rocks at them. A distant beacon sends a message in Morse Code that tells them to go to a place where they see a statue. (“Why, it’s Bronze.” Because that would be the biggest surprise upon finding a human-shaped statue on another planet.) Then they hear a woman screaming, and decide to investigate because it could prove there is human life on the 13th planet. Aside from the voice speaking English and the statue.
The woman is being mauled by some sort of beast; he is run off with gunfire. The woman is silent but grateful and leads them away from the ship, and because she has great legs they all follow.
Where are they, really?
Oh, that explains why they speak English. Anyway, you know where this is going. Lots of women in short skirts casting coy eyes at the only men they’ve ever seen, a love affair, a monster who gets dispatched with a minimum of special effects, slow pacing, obvious camera angles. But FIRE MAIDENS!
I’ll give it this: the main theme could be latter-day John Barry, with its long, long lines.
But then it turned out I had the video player set on 3/4 speed.