In assuming sleep, I dreamed about a tour of Hollywood's ranked restaurants, overhearing a gal coming back for a second crack at the andouille, whose best morsels she lost to great regret in a bout with colitis before.
Woke with a hand that wouldn't move, folded at the wrist like a limp glove. If it's asleep, it tingles; now there's none. The thought went: stroke? And with clinician's distance, I lifted the right with the left. Gravity flopped it down. Twice that failed, but -- miracle! -- with the third, it rose.
Two left turn lanes, my car in the more widely-arched one, second car back.
To my left, other cars, one at the crosswalk, another just pulled up, a pick-up with a large plastic children's slide set tied down in the truck bed.
The pick-up driver gets out. He walks up to the car in front, the one at the crosswalk.
Heavy traffic is flowing through the intersection.
These guys are traveling in a caravan, I casually think.
The pick-up driver, now right at the other car, starts shouting clearly Get off the fucking phone.
It's clear that they're not traveling in caravan, and that he's angry,
Get off the fucking phone.
He slams the flat of his hand against the window of the driver whose face is not visible from this lane.
The pick-up driver, a man in his 30s, closely-cropped hair, wearing work shirt, goes back to his truck.
The pick-up truck is idling next to my Toyota.
When both our lanes turn left on the green arrow, I make sure to leave space, since the pick-up may very well want to scoot alongside the driver accused -- I've concluded -- of driving while using a cellphone.
The pick-up veers in front of me and ducks into a supermarket village.
The cellphone guy, more precipitously, lunges ahead of me, as well, and cuts into the next supermarket entry.
Testosterone hangs in the air like the smell of burnt fireworks in the early a.m. following Independence Day.
The characters are not simply 'types' or 'archetypes' which we may subliminally take note of (i.e. innocent daughter, villainous official, fugitive) as we engage with the plot, slotting this story into expectations formed from earlier, similar films.
Nor is the story itself a re-setting of a prior, famous tale, 'updating' or 'refreshing' deep themes (i.e. King Lear re-done as Kurosawa's Ran).
IB isn't a simple story of revenge based on cruel treatment -- that would require a realism not attempted or claimed. We don't have characters real enough to feel human toward. The audience response is expected somehow else, commonly-stocked and easily-bought.
The movie is meant to be comically violent. This is burlesque -- vulgarizing for laughs (or 'laffs') something otherwise possibly having worthy edges. This handling lowers values, bringing the significant -- including monstrous enemies -- down to a low level.
Yes, there is satisfaction to be gotten out of watching Hitler's face machine-gunned into a goo-that-was. We still reverberate from the 20th Century, continue to ask for psychological remedy. But this is lowest-common-denominator yuks. Sardonic: as bestial or more than the beast being overcome.
Perhaps I do a disservice to 12-year-old boys, but the film aims at an audience level of their (quarter-)sophistication.
Nota bene: This is not to validate self-righteous snobbery. We all have 'guilty pleasures', and someone liking IB might do so simply for the presence of Brad Pitt, or for the fact that the scenes are called 'chapters', or for the reason that one saw it the night of getting a better job.
But that's not aesthetic judgment, whether an effort makes or fails its artistic attempt, and has attempted enough.
Artistry is more than conforming to professional production standards, and has no direct relation to profit.
And artists, however self-expressive, have a responsibility -- to themselves, at least -- beyond just spewing-up their stomach and liking what they heave because it smells like them.
Art's an activity worthy of being done, serious even in its play. If the motivation lies elsewhere, if it's held up short of that, stop. Don't go further.
In his Cultural Amnesia, Clive James paints Jean-Paul Sartre as a coward and a fraud.
Not just name-calling, but an examination of Sartre's philosophy and its avoidance of facing the true 'existential' matter of its own time: Nazi atrocity, racism, and -- locally for Sartre's daily world -- the Occupation and French collaboration.
Sartre isn't accused of collaboration, nor does James believe he should be. But the moral jostling in Huis Clos, a seminal literary play dealing with the anxiety of working through unresolvable situational dilemmas, stays miles distant from the Third Reich officials in charge of Paris and some sitting in the theater audience.
If the real dilemma is in foreign uniform outside the local boulangerie, outlining the boundaries of mauvaise foi in human personal interactions is myopic.
To add insult to injury, Sartre, per James, came near posturing his resistance heroism once France was back in French hands. No claim to it, his. Others 'walked the walk'.
Anne Baxter as Sophie, The Razor's Edge, the Zanuck film based on the Maugham novel.
Newly re-met group of Americans first night together in Paris, go slumming.
In a very low-life cabaret, l'Apache and cheap champagne in abundance, Sophie appears, having lost her husband and child in an auto accident some years before and trying still to get as lost as she can, as deadened as a living person can become.
Of her 'protector' yanking her away from a shamed conversation with her past Chicago acquaintances, she proclaims with an ironic lust: He's a sulky brute, but he's quite a man.
Watching the entire scene conveys the pity of ruin. Even Larry's saintliness isn't quite enough to retrieve her.
Religious men who, no doubt, hundreds of millions of the credulous would consider heretics.
Luke Timothy Johnson's lectures -- and there are several on CD -- deal with early Christian material. He's about backgrounding and inspecting the documents we have that are foundational for faith and that have formed the structure of faith.
Clearly, he's a Christian guy, but not a salesman. I think his intent is in removing misinformation and dogma. In a straight way, he's teaching literary approaches. Historical surround. Sociological perspective. Theological shifting. Defining a position in a reasoned way.
If you've tasted a bit of Bart Ehrman, you see the skepticism that must automatically go with any Bible study. A skepticism that literalists think the work of 'Satan'. Ehrman is also on CD. He's quite readable, very authoritative, a man whose 'born-again' studies right in the womb of fundamentalism led him, simply, to doubt.
If the world could always be faced with the honesty of these men, we might be able to feel brave in our apprehensive, dangerous place.