25 October 2015

A Few Observations About People and Films From the Past Three Days

Friday while sitting outside the library I saw an old man today wearing a shirt with two breast pockets. In each one he had four pens. In one pocket there was a notebook and clipped to it was a pen. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s nine pens. I always carry a pen with me but should it ever run out of ink I’d be without a writing implement. This chap has no such worries, not by a long shot. For that matter he could lend someone in need a pen and still be knee deep in ball points.

He was met by a young African American man who was on a bike. They decided on a direction to go in and were off. I then heard an older woman on a cell phone. She was complaining to someone about a friend being unable to go to the theater with her because the friend’s husband didn’t want her to be in San Francisco after dark. The woman on the phone expressed her incredulity pointing out that the theater was only a block from the subway station and she had made the trip to the theater at night numerous times without a hint of trouble. I couldn’t help but feel for the poor lady, even though she was having a loud cell phone conversation in a public place.

Then a woman walked by wearing these ridiculous spiked heels platform shoes or maybe platform shoes with spiked heels. In any case she was a woman of average height whose footwear made her appear seven feet tall. The shoes had to be terribly uncomfortable, hard to walk on and bad for her feet. What some people do to themselves….Now bicycle helmets are a good idea, I suppose, but jesus they look ridiculous. Marilyn Monroe would look like a dweeb wearing one. It is the least flattering headgear known to man or woman. When I was a kid riding bikes none of us wore the damn things — largely because they hadn’t been invited, I reckon — but we had the good sense not to fall on our heads. Knees we would scrape but we pretty much limited physical injury to that. If there’s anything less flattering than a bike helmet I don’t want to see it.

These sightings took place while eating a sandwich before going to a movie. Unlike many people I do not bring a full course meal with me into the cinema nor do I spend a month’s wages on artery clogging movie food. There are few things worse than sitting near someone loudly smacking on pop corn or being in the vicinity of a person who has brought a grocery bag full of vittles that they have to tear through and into. Why people find it impossible to go two hours without eating is beyond me or why they can’t schedule a meal before or after a film.

The film I saw was The Experimenter and like most movies I’ve seen in theaters lately it was good. I’m careful about what I see and it is rare indeed for me to select a movie I end up not liking. That said it is also rare for me to see a movie anywhere near as good as what I have in my DVD collection. It’s hard to find a great new film but I keep trying. The Experimenter is indeed about a chap (Peter Sarsgaard) who conducts experiments. His are on human behavior and some, are famous, one in particular. My long time crush Winona Ryder played his wife. The film is based on the life of Stanley Milgram. It was a noble effort and had a nice style and gave me something to think about and as I said I liked it but that's is far as it goes and as much as I feel like writing about it.

Went to a grandnephew’s second birthday party yesterday. Lot of family there and I love each and everyone of them. I had the usual good time with them. But of course there were a lot of people there who I didn’t know or only know from seeing them at such occasions. I am disinclined to make small take with strangers. I’m happy to talk to friends, family, co-workers and former students and even acquaintances but I’m painfully shy around unfamiliar people. I realize that a lasting friendship might be formed or that I may learn something or impart some wisdom or share a laugh but it all feels such a struggle. I admire the ability that many people — like my lovely wife — have of sitting down and chatting with a stranger and quite enjoying it. I’m always afraid I’ll seem stupid or the person will prattle on and bore me to death. Nice meeting you indeed.

After the gathering the missus and I went grocery shopping then came home and watched a movie. This was another recent release just out on DVD that Netflix was kind enough to send. It's called Ex Machina. It was fine. I like the idea that a movie can explore artificial intelligence in a reasonable manner without wars between man and machine. But my goodness it tried way too hard. It was a film that was totally self conscious with references to the Bible, Greek Mythology, Robert Oppenheimer, Wittgenstein, Greek theater, Stanley Kubrick, Plato and Bluebeard. Talk about trying too hard. Filmmakers should not try to seem clever they should just be clever. Don't try to make the audience think, allow them to think. Trust us.

Today I went to the gym and ran eight miles on the treadmill. Some people get on the treadmills and watch TV. There were a pair of gents walking very very slowly while watching and discussing an NFL game. I don’t get it. Afterwards I went to the sauna but someone was hanging wet clothes in it. As a person of Finnish heritage I find this insulting. I went to the steam room and someone was doing push ups. I thought that’s what the rest of the gym was for. I guess there’s a lot I don’t know.

Despite what you may have read in the preceding paragraphs I am fan of many many members of the human race. I suppose it can be said that I’m a bit of curmudgeon. A lot of things that people do baffle and annoy and irritate me. But not very much. I just like to point it out. Not sure why. Just do.

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