Well, I tried. A documentary called Rembrandt's J'accuse (2008) was available via Netflix streaming video; it looked very promising. The plot: In his celebrated painting "The Night Watch," Rembrandt accuses a man of murder. The 34 visual clues are in the painting, but we - in a text-based society - are so visually illiterate, director Peter Greenaway has to describe how. Generally, I like European art house stuff like this, but I got about 30 minutes into it and gave up. It was boring, and the narrative wasn't up to the task of helping the viewer figure out what was going on and how the clues were related to one another. So I moved on to another work in my streaming queue.
Objectified (2009) is a documentary about our relationship with manufactured objects (potato peelers, chairs, an iPhone, etc.). I gave this one about 25 minutes and quit. The problem here was the highfalutin', pompous, excessively wonky quotes by designers. "An object has an intrinsic value and utility that is an innate objectified whole. Designers must appreciate the utility of objects they design, and seek to harmonize their worldview with the worldview of the user," etc. You catch my drift. Cari, who was sitting in another part of the room listening and knitting, fired up the B.S. alarm, and I agreed. So it was on to the next film in my queue.
(Before proceeding, I should mention that in the film one Germanic designer looked sternly at the camera and cited Apple Computer as being a place where good design flourishes. I'd agree, more or less, but three months into iPhone ownership I have a bone to pick. The featureless, slablike design of the phone leads to a recurring problem I'm having: I constantly have to look at it and feel around on it to turn it 180 degrees to get the button on the bottom where it belongs. There is no obvious and immediate tactile clue as to what end is up on that thing. Maybe make it a bit more shaped, so it fits into the hand naturally only one way? Or maybe it's just my colossal hands.)
Giving up on documentaries for the evening I lighted upon Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30 aka Meet Me Tonight (1952), a comedy trilogy. Can't go wrong there, right? Well, I liked the first two short comedies, the second, Fumed Oak, being one of the most wickedly mean-spirited (but funny) things I've ever seen. The adenoidal daughter was so horse-facedly homely and miserable she was actually hard to look at. Sadly, I cannot find an image of her in this role on the Internet. But let's just say she provides competition for Aki Kaurismaki favorite actress Kati Outinen in the "Ouch-She's-Hard-To-Look-At" category.
The last, alas, I dozed off during. It was the least successful of the three stories, I think. And it had the wry, funny, fetchingly pretty Valerie Hobson (shown above) in it - one of my favorite British actresses! So what have we learned? If you're doing a comedy, maybe it's safer to use homely women, not beautiful ones.
My pard Don Tracey found a hilarious write-up concerning the 37th Iowa "Graybeards" regiment and their wretched commander. Go here, scroll down. He instituted waterboarding 140 + years before the Global War on Terror! I think the tale of this unit is so funny and unique... I can well imagine the attitudes of these guys. I've see it in my reenacting career. At the start, patriotic and well-intentioned. Later on, peevish and resentful, culminating with an, "Oh, the hell with this" demeanor. War was simply not meant to be waged by men over about 35 or so. Not only are the bodies not up to it, neither are the minds. An older man, far more so than a twentysomething, is strongly disinclined to do things they think is a waste of time.
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to lose some weight. So I loaded the MyFitnessPal app onto my iPhone and started tracking my daily calorie intake. I also resumed walking at least three times a week for a half hour. (I clocked my pace on a marked trail yesterday: 3.6 mph. At my weight this results in burning about 250 calories.) Anyway, I have lost 7.2 pounds in three weeks, for an average of 2.4 pounds per week. Nice. I shall continue. My clothes are starting to fit a little better.
I attend the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby tomorrow morning, the annual contest of father versus father. Okay, nominally, cub versus cub. But we know better. Some of these Dads are relentlessly competitive. So much so, in fact, that once, at the end of an especially long run as a Cubmaster I had become so disgusted I was ready to cancel the whole thing. Not having a horse in the race, so to speak, I may be at the finish line again, calling out the results. I do a schtick where the guy at the starting line calls out, "Are you ready?" and I bellow back, "Yes, O Great Leader" (with variations). At the last race I reply, in a world-weary tone of voice, "Yeah, let's get this over with and get out of here," which always elicits a laugh.
Have a great weekend!
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