Well, it snowed, a little. A dusting, as we say. I didn’t bother to shovel, since it’s snow you just push around, and I didn’t feel like getting out a broom and walking up and down the sidewalk. Cold, too.

Snow and cold: in December. How about that.

I’m casting around for an online bank. As I’ve mentioned before, I regard them all as utter madness. So I just . . . transfer you money? Where is it then? Can you show me a picture of the vault with all the pallets of cash and gold? Are there two grim men who sit behind a wall with Tommy guns pointed out of gun ports ready to irrigate lead-wise any yegg what tries to make off with the goods?

Of course, that’s not how money works anymore. Money is a consensual illusion that can be made whole and real at any point, if you want, but you won’t, because what are you going to do with cash? You want to keep a gold bar in your house and shave off slices to pay someone after the whole fiat currency thing goes up in smoke?

A few notes: online banks come up with friendly names, internet-ready names, good brands that give you good feelings. Ally! That’s one. They’re your ally! Unless of course you’re in arrears, then way-ho, and up your premium.

I did some research, wondering if someone had just set this up last year or so, you know? Best Online Bank of 2020! Five star reviews! Millennials are all over this one smart trick! Then they vanish. At least when the old Roman-temple Main Street banks collapsed, they left a building, a door you could pound in frustration and despair.

Turns out Ally is GMAC, which is comforting, except I’ve always had an instinctive dislike for that name. It smacks of 60s/70s conglomerate branding. No matter how you imagine the logo, it’s ugly.

I already have a bank; why do I need an online bank? After all my bank is online! It has a big website and everything. Why? Because they don’t pay interest on anything. The old days of passbook savings accounts are gone, and pfft, we’re doing you a favor by storing your stinking, lousy money. The real gelt is in financial management, and your piddly pence and paltry pennies are more of a bother than anything else.

But why not have an online bank option that matches the more attractive interest rates of the online banks? Don’t tell me it’s because they can’t afford to, what with all those physical locations they have to maintain. They don’t have to provide better rates. That’s all.

The psychology of money is fraught, and I know I’m one of the worst. But I know I can go to a branch and get my money. In a sense, my money is in all of the branches. The online banks have ATM arrangements, and there are more ATMs than branches; isn’t that better? No: because there is no human there. There could be a problem with the card. If there is a problem with the card it means ALL YOUR MONEY IS GONE.

At the same time, I’m the guy who pays for everything these days by waving my wrist at a terminal.

I had a meeting with a financial planner on Thursday in a nice skyscraper office. He doesn’t go there anymore because, you know, DISEASE. It was a good chat. We were discussing strategies and outlooks and he said “I’m going to write down a word here to describe you,” and he wrote:




I'm revisiting this one, because it's the Season, and this ought to apply:

It's one of the most depressing movies you'll ever see, and one of the strangest. Takes forever - or should I say fir-ever? (sorry) - to get around to what it's doing. We meet a soldier on leave; we learn his fiancee has dumped him; we see him find a hotel, meet a guy at a bar, follow the guy to a whorehouse - no, it's the 40s, it's a "nightclub" drink some more, then meet a girl, then take her to church, where she breaks down and cries. Then they go to a diner to talk. Then she spills her story. Turns out she's the wife of a guy who was sent up for murder in a famous trial.

Then it embark on a big, big flashback - it takes up most of the movie - where we see our hard-bitten bar-girl as she was before Tragedy and Heartbreak overtook her.

Her problem? First of all, she's Dianna Durban, cast against type. Second, She loves a fella who makes her worry. He's charming, but he's also something of a pampered wastrel with a bad temper and mommy issues that scream INCEST as much as they could back then, which is to say it blows a few seamy notes through a tiny trumpet. But even after he comes home after killing another guy, he can still melt her heart by flopping in bed and flashing the impish I'm-a-naughty-boy grin.

Yes, it's a young Kevin Costner:

No, it's not. It's one of cinema's greatest hoofers, a man better known for effortless charm and grace, a guy you could watch dance wit'out worryin' if you'd gone all fruity or sumptin'. Gene Kelly. It's not his only bad-guy role; he played a malevolent psycho in the most popular radio mystery series of the time, "Suspense" - so this wasn't completely against type, but still. His co-star, Dianna Durbin, had been a perky ingenue before, so her turn as a hard-case nightclub singer was a bit of a surprise as well.

It's been called early proto-noir, because hey look, slanted blinds:

But it's not. It lacks that damnation? You're soaking in it! that characterizes good noir. It's grim business, though. When we're done telling the backstory, with just a few minutes of movie left, we learn that Gene Kelly has escaped prison, and is coming after his wife. The soldier tags along, and gats bark. I give away no surprises to say that the bad guy ends up shot. The soldier tells her as bluntly as he can - he's dead. Give him up.

Which leads to a remarkable ending. Picture this:

Now think how you'd score the scene, and imagine how you'd end the movie after the girl's seen her bad-guy husband shot on Christmas. Are those two stars supposed to be them? When the clouds part, does it suggest they are part of a larger universe that does not whirl around them in an agonized duet?

This is what we call "pulling out all the stops." It helps if you know that the couple met in a concert of this very piece of music. The scene would almost be nothing without the music, really - seen repeatedly, its artifice is more and more noticeable, although you'll probably catch the interesting lighting the first time. So how do you end a hopeless story that has the worst possible conclusion on Christmas? Like this. Here's an experiment. Watch this without the music. Then watch it again.


I don't know I'm suppose to feel.

Oh, one thing, relevant to tomorrow's Bleat.


That'll do; see you around.



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