17 June 2013

Screaming at the Bus Stop A Morality Tale That Includes Web Surfing Chaplin Gershwin and...More!

This is the very worst wickedness, that we refuse to acknowledge the passionate evil that is in us. This makes us secret and rotten. - D.H. Lawrence

I saw a man yesterday screaming and flailing away at bus stop. His beard was wild. Clothes tattered. I do believe he was on to something but I cannot say what. He had come to some basic understanding of life and was expressing his feelings in a correspondingly appropriate manner. Its a wonder we all aren't screaming at intimate objects that we all aren't hairy unbathed messes that we bow so deeply to convention.....

I saw something interesting on the internet. I am always seeing something interesting on the internet. The internet is overflowing with interesting articles tweets blogs videos photos cartoons and historical documents. We can spend all day sending one another links of the cute the obscene the fascinating the beautiful the thought provoking and the stimulating. There is no end to it. So much of human thought and invention and innovation and art a mouse click away. We dash through so much so fast because there is so much more and we don't want to get bogged down on this one thing. The beauty of the 140 character tweet with links and photos. We can browse a universe of ideas in minutes.

Provided we don't stop and think.

The internet s not conducive to stopping and thinking. It is for grazing. It is a party where we mingle never stopping to get into an depth conversation. We throw all manner of trivia up about ourselves. Likes and dislikes. And breeze through other people's trivia. She liked that? Hey I like that too!

Quick and easy. Fast food for the mind full of empty calories. Gorging on tidbits. Never sated. There may have been something we missed. There may be an update. There may be a new comment. A response to our comment. A new tally in that online poll. More more more. Sometimes in some ways the internet can make watching TV seem like a deep intellectual exercise.

But its here and like TV its not going away. Its going to get a lot better and a lot worse and a lot more. I saw a statistic -- on the internet where else? -- that 42% of college graduates never read another book after graduating. Imagine what the book reading figures are for non college grads. Also saw a statistic that over 50% of Americans read at an eighth grade level or lower. Oh well.

Time to scream at a bus stop.

Watched my Criterion Edition of Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) Friday night. Had only ever seen the 1942 version so I thought it wise to watch the original. Heard it was better. It was. Is. in '42 Chaplin added his own narration in lieu of title cards and removed a few scenes including a lengthy kiss at the end. On the one hand this version is excellent on the other hand the original is far superior. The narration adds virtually nothing to what we can see and infer. The edits slight Georgia (Georgia Hale) who is the Little Tramp's love interest.

In any case The Gold Rush is great Chaplin and there is very little in entertainment better than a good Chaplin let alone great. Our hero is up to his usually hijinks this time while searching for gold in Alaska in the dead of winter. He battles the elements a hardened unrepentant criminal and his own insatiable desire for the lovely Georgia.

There are laughs a plenty and a strong love story along with a modicum of action and adventure.  Criterion has prettied it all up and it my it looks gorgeous. This is peak silent era Chaplin in a feature length film.

Saturday went to a play with the missus and oldest daughter -- Gershwin Alone at the Berkeley Rep. Hershey Felder plays Gershwin -- alone -- and does so superbly. There is much more singing and piano playing than story telling but when the crooning and ivory tickling are this good who's to complain? Gershwin died before he was 40 but still managed to leave behind two lifetimes worth of great songs. Summertime. Rhapsody in Blue. Fascinating Rhythm. Someone to Watch Over Me. Embraceable You. They Can't Take That Away From Me. I've Got Rhythm....I could go on.

Mr. Felder has been performing Gershwin Alone for years and has created a polished and entertaining show that caps off with an audience sing along. I left wanting more which is one of the higher compliments I can think of.

Also watched The Gladiator (2000) for the first time since its original release. On IMDb's 1-10 scale I give it a five. Right smack in the middle. That makes it just about right as an Best Picture Oscar winner. There is nothing so much wrong with the film but there is nothing particularly compelling or new or interesting or intellectually stimulating about it either. Like a lot of recent Oscar winners its just there. Nice to look at with solid performances from its cast and a story that moves along nicely but altogether ordinary and unoriginal. Right around Argo and Slumdog Millionaire territory just above King's Speech and the odious Crash.

Better to watch Family Tree on HBO the latest from Christopher Guest. Now that's entertainment. Even better than watching a homeless man scream at a pole.

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