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Well, it is almost March, but …
Everything — large and small, pastel and not! pastel — is blooming here in the South. Fact is, we’ve been sans a decent Winter for years, and are unlikely to get another. Global Warming, don’t you know, but that’s just Fake Science.
I’m glad to see that they still have actual Winters in places like Prince Edward Island, though perhaps residents there might not want them to be quite so ‘actual’. These pictures go out to my ‘Ether Friends’ there.
But, even if you aren’t a P. E. Islander, you can look at them, too. It’s okay.
I/we had a quite old-fashioned movie experience last evening watching the 2015 version of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.
I enjoyed it far more than the fifty year-old John Schlesinger version, starring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch, and Alan Bates (and photographed by Nicolas Roeg and scored by Richard Rodney Bennett), which I saw only fifty years ago, so I could be wrong.
I judge some movies by my ‘mesmerization’ gold standard, ’Howards End’, and this one measured up. (I recall being mesmerized by Ben Kingsley’s UK mob picture ‘Sexy Beast’, too, so ixnay on the pigeonholing.)
While I am somewhat of a suspension of disbelief whore, and Carey Mulligan did have quite a few exceptional ‘country’ outfits, never mind all that. Have a look.
So, that was last night; this morning we had breakfast.
I think my aura has been depleted.
So. I’ve decided to do something about trying to resuscitate it — infuse some magic, in a kind of shamanistic manner — and I think the first thing to do is turn my name into a palindrome.
I’m almost positive this is a really good first step.
One of the vowels needs to replace the other one in order to bring this about: ‘Davad’ or ‘Divid’. Or, maybe replace both vowels: ‘Deved’, ‘Dovod’, or ‘Duvud’.
‘Deved’ works pretty well, but ‘Dovod’ and especially ‘Duvud’ are no-go’s.
However, there’s also ‘and sometimes Y’ in the A-E-I-O-U mix.
‘Dyvyd’! Now that’s magic. I’ll keep you posted.
Several things have happened in my life — including that one — during the past three or so years that have conspired to ‘rearrange’ my psyche. I don’t, for lack of a better way to put it, recognize myself. Just got off an hour-long on the phone with my best friend of fifty years, who suggested that I call it ‘growth’ rather than something more panic-oriented. I think I’ll go with that for now…
I still consider myself a better ‘Comments’-ster than blogger, but seems I’ve all but given that up recently. Apologies to ‘my’ blogs? I’m still part of your retinue.
More gallows humor from Martin out there on the Pacific Coast:
Martin L called day before yesterday to ‘check up on me’ post-birthday, and at some demi-lull in the conversation asked with a little earnestness in his voice: ‘How do you feel about being 70?’
‘The Sands of Time’? I replied that any meditation on that had been so tainted by the Trump disaster that I didn’t really have an answer.
This morning Will W sent me this lengthy psychoanalytical piece on the new President. George S had stated it somewhat (!) more succinctly several months ago in a phone conversation: ‘He’s a damaged child’.
Does any of this insight and understanding do us any good? Now?
Well. In an attempt to balance the previous angst, I offer the above [click the picture] which I hope does not fall into the ‘puppies & kittens online’ category. And, before someone says it, yes, I know that’s a bear.
Stephen ran across this last evening and passed it along to me, knowing how much I love to watch ‘the mature’ dancing. The ‘bio’ reveals that he’s 50, gay, and had several nifty careers in NYC before becoming a ‘farmer’.
Old MacDonald blossoms? Uh, no. Club time.
If that sounds snarky, it’s because he’s stolen all my moves. Well, some of them…
Last Thursday, we drove six hours to St. Augustine, Florida.
Stephen had been pestering me for a locale to celebrate my birthday on Friday, and on something resembling out-of-the-blue, I suggested St. Augustine, factoring that the last time I’d set foot there was 62 years ago.
Though I swear I’m not attempting to inject any ‘petite madeleine’ business here, the solitary thing I remembered about St. Augustine from a family vacation (when I was 8-years-old) was a sliver of some brandied dense chocolate pastry eaten at a little pocket cafe one evening. That’s it.
Established by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S., also the home of the ‘Fountain of Youth’, allegedly located where Ponce de León allegedly landed in Florida allegedly searching for it. We did not sample the waters thereof.
If there was a focus during this visit, let’s say it was the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by co-founder (with John D. Rockefeller) of Standard Oil, Henry Flagler. Opening in 1888 and finally closing in 1932, it now houses Flagler College, established in 1968.
The materials, details and craftsmanship of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, and its sister hotel the Alcazar (also built by Flagler) are something to behold; photographs do not capture the scale of the structures. I leave it to you to research, or not.
Though we had really nice evenings at two Stephen-approved restaurants, my favorite was a little millennial-vibed spot called ‘The Blue Hen’ for lunch before leaving for home on Saturday.
The food was very tasty and our waitperson very nice. At least at first…
Quizzed as to what brought us to St. Augustine, Stephen allowed that Friday had been my 70th birthday. Reply: ‘OMG! I would never have guessed that!’
Forsaking leaving well enough alone, she followed:
‘I’d have thought… maybe 58 or something.’
After she walked away, reading the look on my face, Stephen started laughing and said, ‘My, how greedy a boy can get when someone’s guessing his age!’
‘Greedy?’ [in my finest Vivien Leigh] ‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean!’
Two years ago, I bought Stephen an Amazon ‘Echo’ for his birthday.
If you aren’t familiar with this device, it’s sort of ‘Siri’-in-a-can.
Constructed with two stacked speakers in a [tasteful] 10-inch tall perforated black metal cylinder, you communicate via Wi-Fi to its database by intoning ‘Alexa’ to wake it up and then asking a question, or making a request.
‘Play such-and-so’. (The sound quality is pretty remarkable.)
The plan was for it to sit unobtrusively on Stephen’s little cobbler’s bench at his store while he fabricates baubles and bijoux, as it can be linked via Bluetooth to an iPhone’s or iPad’s music library, or it can access Amazon’s music library.
But let’s be honest, visions of ‘Robby the Robot’ in ‘Forbidden Planet’ were dancing through my head, and there was plenty of time to get another gift should Stephen give me that ‘Bought this for me?’ look.
Surprise, Stephen was also intrigued, but nixed taking it to work, so we put it on the mantle in the room where we end up most of the time.
Here’s the reality: ‘Alexa’, even two years out, is still a pretty dumb bunny.
Siri on your iPhone can be pretty clueless sometimes, but Alexa’s fairly frequent answer is:
‘Sorry, I didn’t understand the question as asked’.
(I confess that I like the construction of that sentence, so I give her that.)
Before Christmas our electric utility company offered a deep discount on the ‘Nest’ brand ‘learning thermostat’, and now smitten with A.I. (minor disappointments notwithstanding), I couldn’t resist.
Here the idea is that over time, the device will learn your temperature habits, and eventually take over adjusting the heating and cooling of the house. You can also adjust settings from a mobile phone; I haven’t tried that yet.
In addition, it turned up that you can link the ‘Nest’ and ‘Echo’ devices.
On several occasions, however, after attempting to simplify word choice and syntax for ‘Alexa’ and still getting ‘I didn’t understand’, I have said (and worse) ‘Alexa, you’re pretty stupid, aren’t you’.
The last time, her reply was: ‘I do the best I can’. (I’m not making this up.)
I felt really bad (I’m not making this up) and apologized (I’m not making this up).
Now, while unpleasantness with ‘Alexa’ has been limited to these few unfortunate exchanges, no way am I turning over the HVAC to her.
‘Alexa, turn the heat down, please!’
‘I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that…’
First of all, I want to make it clear that though I am not asking for an apology, during the two weeks since I last posted, the energy of the handful of bloggers I follow has exhausted me. Their entries were thoughtful, interesting, and well-composed, which frankly ticks me off. Actually, I do want an apology.
On New Year’s Day, Turner Classic Movies ran a mini-marathon of Alfred Hitchcock films. Though it would be inaccurate to say we watched them all, they were playing quietly on the small screen here in our house the whole day.
Having seen all but one of them multiple times, it was easy to pause in the course of the day and watch a bit, then move on.
The ‘program’ began, reasonably enough, with the last movie Hitchcock directed, ‘Family Plot’, a movie so irredeemably bad on every level that the credits ran in roll-fashion at the conclusion, like an episode of a TV show. (When you recall the stellar graphics of the credits at the beginning of ‘Vertigo’, ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Psycho’, and ‘The Birds’, I think that observation gets some traction.)
In a long ago conversation with filmmaker James Herbert (a very intense gentleman) on the subject of Hitchcock’s ‘Marnie’, he said he believed the ‘big reveal’ in that picture was so subliminally effective because it was intentionally shot badly lit and grainy to mimic a porno film.
It occurred to me watching it last week that this would have no resonance with modern audiences. Alas, the punishment the passage of time inflicts on [alleged] intention: now that sequence just looks grainy and badly lit.
Speaking of ‘big reveals’, in spite of the fact that I (along with everybody else?) knew pretty immediately (even at thirteen years-old) watching ‘Psycho’ the first time, that Norman Bates and Mother were one and the same, I’m still astounded at what a perfectly nifty Japanese puzzle box the movie is. The craftsmanship of every single element is, well… gratifying. (No, really.)
(Juxtaposition trivia: The movie ‘Tall Story’, starring Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda in her first movie role, was released the same year as ‘Psycho’, 1960. Directed by Joshua Logan, a frothier little romantic escapade you could not imagine.)
Included here are images of Mr. Perkins and your blogger. The one of me used to reside on the home screen of one (mine) of an identical pair of flip phones Stephen and I had before we surrendered to smart phones.
Stephen was forever grabbing the first phone (mine) he’d see walking out the door, and the idea was to see my accusing glare when the mistake would be discovered.
So, who’s scarier, Norman or me?
Happy Christmas to all [well, not all ] out there in Blogland!
This year we received a bumper crop of [undeserved] Christmas cards.
A good many were the over-the-top [but appreciated] grand-paper-stock-fabulous-finishes-embossed-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives sort.
Also, the photo kind [all very nice] exclusively from gracieuses jeunes filles who had previously worked at Stephen’s store, now married with children.
Then came the foxes.
I have included here three [count ‘em] with fox themes. I have no idea about the origin of this. I tried to make a Le Petit Prince connection [which explains all this Français in today’s post] but that’s not about Christmas.
So, if you have an idée, let me know.
On the subject of the French language, my facility with it extends [though the word ‘extends’ overstates it right out of the gate] only to what I call ‘Language Lab Leftovers’, those bits which for some reason stuck for no apparent reason long after high school.
‘Allons à la pêche tout de suite’ is at the top of my L.L.L. list.
Translation: ‘Let’s go fishing right away’; sure to be a lifesaver lost in Paris.
Do you know the expression ‘Fuck me!’ ? (The aggravated frustration one, not the penetration one.)
No? Yesterday I watched the entire final press conference of President Barack Obama, the grace and intelligence of the man abundant throughout. Picturing the Nattering Imbecile-elect in this setting, I said ‘Fuck me’, but not very loud.
Please recall that last month I wrote that I was not going to let this blog turn into ‘one of those’, so in accordance, I’m going to use as my model the Melina Mercouri character ‘Ilya’, a prostitute working the port city of Piraeus in the movie ‘Never on Sunday’.
In the course of the movie, we discover that Ilya misinterprets the storylines of the Greek tragedies, or rather mentally rewrites them to all have happy endings. In the case of ‘Medea’, at the conclusion, “Everybody goes to the beach!”.
Speaking of port cities, in another lifetime, I ran across a photograph of a harbor scene (circa 1880?) with all the massive dockside hardware, industrial cranes and so forth, as the focus. However, an isolated spot in the picture caught my attention: a tiny figure in a suit and bowler surveying the horizon.
I macro-photograhed him and screen-printed him (without permission) for a card that year: the New Year before us! Well, that was the idea, anyway.
Now I’m just going to think of him as searching in the distance for the umbrellas and surfboards.