19 July 2024

A Partial Transcript from a Recent Gathering; Grizzly Man, Say Goodbye, Joe; and a Health Update

A grizzly bear.

Hi nice to see you. Everyone gather around, there are plenty of seats. If you haven’t already done so, fill out a name tag. There are refreshments in the back including vegan donuts and gluten free cookies. I thought we’d start by going around and introducing ourselves. Say your name, where you’re from and a little about what you hope to get from today’s gathering.

You in the Tyrolean hat and lederhosen, why don’t you go first?


My name is Fritz. I am from Kennebunkport, Maine. I hope to embark on a journey of self-discovery that will lead to a fuller understanding of the universe.


Very good. How about you, young lady in the pretty pink chiffon dress?


I’m Myrtle Hossenfeather and I’m from Minot, South Dakota. I’m mainly here for the cookies — they’re delicious. But I’d also like to unlock life’s mysteries.


Great, I’m sure you will.


You, sir, on the stilts. 


You can call me Hoagy. I’m a soothsayer from Hay-on-Wye in Wales. I’m mostly here to meet people but I also hope to explore the inner depths of my psyche — if that makes sense.


It sure does.


How about you, the naked woman. No, the one sitting next to the potted plant.


You can call me Pippa. I’m from the Danish royal family. I came here to see how commoners think and speak and also to maybe meet a man for purposes of dating and romance.


See me after the first session, Pippa. We’re going to need to get started soon so let’s meet one more person for now and then proceed to the first activity.


How about you, Luther. We’ve met before but why don’t you introduce yourself to the group?


Yeah, hi, so as you heard my name is Luther. I’m an alien originally from Uranus — no jokes please, I’m kind of sensitive about it. But I’m here as part of my ongoing efforts to seize total and complete power over all living beings on this planet.


Good luck with that Luther. Okay let’s everyone pair off, if we don’t have an even number it’s okay to have one group of three. I see a problem already, all you men can’t partner with Pippa, that’s it, whoever was sitting next to her….


**********************************************************


I re-watched the documentary Grizzly Man (2005) Herzog the other day. It’s the story of Timothy Treadwell who spent his summers among the bears of the Alaskan wilderness until one finally killed and ate him and his girlfriend in October 2003.


It was an inevitable, if tragic ending to someone who crossed the invisible line separating man from wild beast. To his credit Treadwell’s regular presence among the bears did much to protect them from poachers and raise awareness of the bears. He filmed his encounters with bears who for the most steered clear this strange human. And strange he was. This is best understood by watching the film or at least excerpts of it. There’s plenty of him on you tube. This is a very good example. 


I love bears. They’re my favorite wild animal. I enjoy watching videos of bears. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. Some have long snouts, some short ones. Some are aggressive, some are timid. Some are scary as hell, some look cuddly. I saw one in the wild once, but that was from the safety of a moving train in Finland. I’d love to see a bear again, but only from a safe distance. I do not want to see one in a zoo. I don’t like zoos. In Grizzly Man there is an Alaskan native who decries the late Mr. Treadwell and suggests that he had what was coming. This is one of those idiots who disdains conversationist, tree-huggers and liberals in general. Fuck that guy. While Treadwell went too far and perhaps even suffered from some sort of psychosis, his heart was most certainly in the right place and while his story was ultimately a tragic one, it was also that of a person who lived up to certain principles and did much to help some of our fellow creatures. (He also befriended some foxes who seemed most amiable to being treated like pets especially enjoying the being petted aspect.)


Grizzly Man is a study of a particular man as much as it is about bears. Werner Herzog was the perfect director to make the documentary having the proper sensibilities.


Treadwill and his girlfriend's horrific deaths were recording by his ubiquitous camera but only the audio as the lens cap was on. Herzog listens to the tape of their dying moments and relates to an old friend of Treadwell who owns the tape, that this is something no one should ever listen to. We are told that the woman is attacked first and we hear her screams and Treadwell's entreaties to the Bear to go away. They landed on deaf ears.


**********************************************************


As I write this President Joe Biden might be contemplating stepping aside and discontinuing his re-election campaign. Let’s hope this happens. Bless Joe, he did a fine job and the country owes him a debt — if for nothing else, because he beat Trumpy in the 2020 election. But he looks and sounds old and his debate performance made clear that he’s not up to the rigors of a campaign and it’s very doubtful that he could successfully serve even half of a second term. Unbelievably Trumpy is ahead in the polls (Americans do love a felon and habitual liar and cheat who is raging incompetent and doesn’t even began to understand the constitution.) If Biden drops out soon momentum can build around another candidate, likely Kamala Harris. Joey B is not inspiring anyone these days. Another Democratic candidate likely would, if for no other reason because she or he was not an old, old white man who was destined to lose. We want some hope because another Trumpy turn would be apocalyptic. What a strange country this is that has so many millions of people who revere a narcissist like Trumpy term. Is the U.S. just full of incredibly stupid, gullible people? Now that I pose that question I see that the obvious answer is: yes. 


**********************************************************


Checking in time. I’ve been fine. Had several days of back pain. The day that ended I was hit with a couple of days of knee pain. I’ve since had a couple of days of no pain. Don’t know what caused either the back or knee aches other than perhaps the fact that I’m aging (aren’t we all?). I remember that in his eighties and nineties whenever I asked my father how he was doing he often complained of having various aches and pains. Something for me to look forward to, I suppose. But despite it all my overall health seems excellent. I’m about to head to the gym. I walked nearly five miles in “running” errands yesterday. So I’m doing all right. 

13 July 2024

Thumbing Through Memories, Tales of Hitchhiking Including a Close Call


In my late teens and early twenties I used to hitchhike a lot. This was the early and mid seventies (1970s, not 1870s) when people were still thumbing their way distances both short and long. In those days when you got to the end of University Avenue in Berkeley where it connects to freeways via an on-ramp, you would invariably see hitchhikers, up to a dozen or so, many with signs indicating their destinations. 

Most people who hitched were young. Teens through maybe mid-thirties but most in the early twenties, I’d guess. Everyone knew there were risks involved but those risks were greatly exaggerated by adults who acted like hitchhiking was a virtual guarantee of an early death. For my part I never mentioned hitching to my father who would have had a conniption fit if he knew. (Of course if he’d have flipped out if he’d had any inkling of my drug use — the sex he would have been fine with.)


I had some, shall we say misadventures hitching one of which, that I’ll save for last, was a real doozy. Here are some of my experiences.


Conspicuously white. Once a friend of mine and I hitched most of the way to L.A. for wedding. We  departed from Chico in the far reaches of the Sacramento Valley. We started with a ride from friends then were on the lonely rode. The last ride dropped us off in the middle of Compton, not the safest place in the world for a couple of white boys. From there we called our friends in LA who, realizing where we were, made haste to retrieve us. Sitting and waiting at a bus stop we got all manner of looks and a couple of cars stopped and asked if we’d like to join them. For what was not specified. Thankfully our saviors arrived before any trouble could beset us. We’ve been told in intervening years how lucky we are. Some of that I put down to white people paranoia but it surely was not the safest place for us to be hanging out.


Another ride was the subject of a much beloved post on this here blog.  It concerns my curious decision to drop acid before thumbing the 180 miles or so from Chico to Berkeley.  I turned  the blog post it into a composite of several trips. Here they are:


The acid trip trip. In my defense my brain wasn’t fully developed yet (not sure it ever has been) and I didn’t always make rational decisions, indeed I rarely did. This was the only time I dropped alone which was weird in itself, the fact that I did his BEFORE hitching is positively bizarre. Fortunately I took a small dose that didn’t last long. It did make for an interesting journey though in truth I remember little about it other than not being bored for a second and developing a totally different perspective on automobiles driving fast. They appeared variously to be gigantic and frightening killing machines and wonders of science fiction existing in a pungent haze of real life. I was mesmerized.


The cop stop. I only told part of this story in that post. Yes a cop pulled over and frisked me because I was hitching illegally (right there on the highway)  but there was more to the story. He technically arrested me for it bringing me in to see the judge (very small town). Besides hitching illegally I held no ID. A call was made to a friend in Chico who verified my identity. I was issued a warning and happy holidays and the same cop dropped me off at a spot where it was legal to hitch. (I was lucky the judge was in; the cop had told me that he often left early on Fridays to go fishing. If he had I would have spent the weekend in the hoosegow.)


The boys in the van. A big van pulled over, the side door slid open. "Hi" came from a chorus of shrill girlish voices. There were four or five young men. "We're going to San Diego!" they trilled. "Come on in.” I was very protective of masculinity as most young straight men are so offered a thanks but no thanks. A few faces frowned for I was a cute young thing. The door quickly slammed shut and the van sped off. Weird.


The storytellers. Two older guys picked me up. By older I mean they were probably in their late twenties. The gents ignored me as they shared reflections on the woman they had shared the night before, “she made my dick throb” I remember one of them saying. Was she a hooker? Was she drunk? What was the full story here? I’ve since wondered if they weren’t making the whole thing up for my benefit. In any case I while I was no virgin I was still a neophyte at sex and had never considered intercourse with a third party present. I was impressed with their cool detachment but they really won my over when they gave me a beer.


The attempted pick ups. Twice I was picked up by what were called chickenhawks, that is older gay men looking for a young partner for a sexual encounter. Both used the same introductory line, one I found most curious: ‘how’s your sex life?” I immediately recognized it as a weird pick up line and in both cases told them how much great sex I’d been having with my girlfriend. In both cases the men got the hint and the remainder of the ride passed in silence.


Not included in the post was what was perhaps my most noteworthy hitching experience. Which I shall recount here for the first time.


The big scare. I was 20-years-old hitchhiking in Marin County. I started to get into a car. The driver looked and sounded a little sketchy. I was about to close the passenger door when I noted that there were no door handles on the inside of the car. Talk about red flags.... I got out and said I had to make a phone call. The driver practically pleaded for me to stay and then offered to wait for me. I ran into a nearby store and didn't emerge until I saw that he'd driven off. Was he a serial killer? Perhaps the Zodiac himself? Did I come close to being raped and murdered? I may have been dumb but I wasn’t stupid. Thank goodness I noted the absence of the door handle literally a second before the door closed perhaps sealing my fate. I’ve hardly given that experience a single thought in the fifty years since. I suppose my brain didn’t want to contemplate my close call. It’s now so far in the past that thinking about it today doesn’t bother me. Actually it makes for a pretty good story. 



08 July 2024

The Writer Rambles on About Writing and Visits a Few Other Topics

Margot Robbie Who is Not Mentioned in this Post

Writing a novel is not easy. Writing a good novel is especially difficult. Finding someone to publish your novel is gargantuan task. But I persist. I’m writing number four now. Actually it’s five if you count the one I wrote a few years ago that I don’t know what to do with. Actually it’s number six because there was one I wrote about thirty years that is now lost and wasn’t all that good to begin with. I’ve started one another that I may or not get back to someday but that surely doesn't count.

I love writing novels and only wish I’d started earlier in life. I always meant to but things kept getting in the way. Working for instance. Much of it as a teacher. There was also the matter of raising children. When your offspring are young they can be time-consuming. No complaints from me. I enjoyed every minute of it. Now they’re grown and because of the type of people they are I have further evidence that it was time well spent. That I didn’t make a mess of being a father and indeed was rather good at it (I think so, anyway, I’ve never been told anything to the contrary) is a singular accomplishment. Combine that with being a good husband and what else do you need? How about a published novel? That would be the proverbial icing on the cake. It’s been a life well spent — so far — but a published (and I don’t mean self) would be a crowing achievement. When autumn comes I’ll resume trying to peddle number three.


I had a friend once who said he didn’t like the word “autumn.” An odd word not to like if you ask me. Especially since it’s so highly thought of. I prefer it to fall which has, as well all know, another meaning. Autumn has no other meaning, Just the season. I believe many people actually find it a particularly nice word. Not like plenary. That’s an ugly word. It makes you want to avoid a plenary session. Don’t care for template either or a similar word, boilerplate.


The friend previously mentioned was a devout Christian. We managed to get along just the same. He spewed a lot of bollocks about the rapture coming fairly soon. That was nearly fifty years ago and I’ve seen nary a sign of it. He also speculated that Henry Kissinger was the antichrist. Kissinger was indeed a no good son of a bitch and a war criminal but he was no anti christ. Then again, who is? Best as I can tell there isn’t one. Silly nonsense most of this religious stuff. I’m always amazed when I hear tell of sane, otherwise intelligent people speak of the power of prayer. Muttering under your breath or trying to send messages to a supreme being via some sort of nonexistent telepathy has never moved the needle on anything. Oh sure it might provide comfort to the person offering the prayers, might give them a sense that they’re doing SOMETHING but to act is if they have an outside impact is — here is use that word again, silly. 


Christian or no, he was a decent bloke. When I first met him he was married with a three-year-old son. They went to an Assembly of God church. Speaking in tongues was one of the features of their services. He was a regular on Sundays. Not so much his wife. She talked the talk but when it came to it didn’t go to church on the regular. Hypocrite. She ended up leaving him for a man who had something he couldn’t provide — a lot of money. Poor guy slaved away at a job to send her on trip — alone — to Europe. (That’s either love or stupidity.) She came back with a tan and notice that she was filing for divorce. He kept custody of the boy. So it went.


Anyway I have fond memories of him. Except for him not liking the word autumn. Come on.


Speaking of words I believed I recently mentioned that no one uses “sharp” anymore when referring to a time as in: "be there at six o’clock sharp.” Times are never “sharp” anymore. But sharp also used to be used like this: you look sharp. Where’d that go? Maybe it’s because no one bothers to look “sharp” anymore. Most people, particularly men, don’t give a flying fuck what they look like. Shorts and a tee shirt and sandals with no socks are so often the uniform of the day. I’ve seen people go out to eat wearing track pants. Hardly anyone wears a tie anymore. Sports coats are virtually non-existent. If it’s cold men put on a hoodie.


No one has any style anymore. Clothes are functional. I don’t get it. I’m especially appalled by how many men decide we need to see their feet. Men used to only wear sandals at the beach. Beatniks wore them. You see people wearing sandals when it’s raining. That’s less a matter of being lazy and more a matter of being fucking stupid. Cover those feet up. Nobody wants to see them.


Look at this I’ve gone on another tangent. Talk about being someone you don’t want to get started. That’s me. I do go on.


Soze like I was saying. Novel writing. Number four in progress. Halfway through the first draft. Little more than that actually because I’ve written the ending. Now I just need to figure out how to get there. Should be a snap.

01 July 2024

A Kind Act at a Bookstore Proves a Cure For My Depression

Pegasus in Downton Berkeley

As regular readers of this blog (I’m looking at you Norbury Doppelganger of Putney, Vermont) know, I am prone to bouts of melancholia. One such period of gloom visited me yesterday during which I found myself making a careful study of the floor while emitting deep sighs and awaiting death’s sweet release. The missus suggested that I get out of the house, perhaps for a walk. This seemed a gargantuan task for someone immobilized by the blues. However when I recalled that it was the last of the month and that I had a twenty per cent off coupon for a beloved local bookstore — Pegasus by name — I had a raison d'etre to leave the premises. I even took a bit of cheer at the notion of finding a book I might like (as if I can walk into a bookstore WITHOUT finding a book I might like). Furthermore I hated the idea of a discount coupon going to waste.

I put on my tuxedo and headed for the door (that’s a lie, I merely changed from track pants to slacks and put on shoes). Into my back pocket I stuck the aforementioned coupon, plus my frequent buyer card and a ten dollar credit I’d earned by frequently buying. 


The weather was a bit warmer than I like but given that Berkeley is not on full boil like so much of the rest of the world, I couldn’t complain. The morbidity of my previous thinking was gone and I enjoyed the ensuing stroll, my mind flitting from one mostly unimportant topic to the next.


When I got to Shattuck Avenue, which is what I guess passes for Berkeley’s main drag, I noted three women standing outside of a car. Their backs were to me as they brushed one another’s hair. I also could not help but observe that their skirts were very and I do mean very short and that a surprising amount of their buttock’s were on display. Certainly more than one is used to seeing in public. When the trio turned around it was evident that whatever their exact sexual identities they’d all likely been born with male genitalia. Somehow this made their risqué outfits seem less surprising though I don’t know why and don’t care to explore the topic at this time. I will say that I grew up with and have always  maintained a very liberal attitude towards how people want to dress, how they identify themselves and who they sleep with or more to the point, fuck. I wear three rubber wristbands (Suomi, Finland for my people, Black Lives Matter for my African-American brothers and sisters and the rainbow for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters). 


I carried on.


In the bookstore — Pegasus is an excellent bookstore, independent and staffed by knowledgable, charming people (as will become clearer anon) — I proceeded to browse. I am nothing if not a world class bookstore browser. I could give a seminar on the topic. There’s something special about browsing when you have nothing in mind to buy. You are open to discovery. I tingle to think of it even now. What book will I take home and what world will it open up to me?


Eventually I settled upon two books by the same author, Russell Banks. They were The Sweet Hereafter and The Darling (I have previously read three other books by Banks). Happy day, I’d found two books. Take that depression. I was in fine mettle now. As I strode to the counter with my selections I reached into my back pocket for the discount coupon, the frequent buyer card and the card with my $10 credit.


Gone.


I immediately searched the store in hopes that they had fallen out while I was in mid-browse. No such luck. I was gutted but determined to not give up the search.


I explained my dilemma to the gentleman behind the counter and asked if he’d hold the books while I re-traced my steps in hopes of finding the missing papers. I then walked all the way back home searching the ground the whole way like a latter day Lewis or Clark or for that matter Sacagawea. I did not find the Northwest Passage and I did not find the lost papers.


When I got home my lovely wife said that she remembered seeing me put the papers in my pocket. I took a much-needed sip of water and re-traced my steps back to Pegasus. I’m a persistent son of a bitch and not prone to giving up easily, if at all. I saw neither hide nor hair of any of the lost papers. Melancholia descended and wrapped its tentacles around me. It wasn’t the loss of the discount, or the loss of the $10 in store credit, it was the idea that I couldn’t manage to hold on to three lousy pieces of paper and this sad fact had ruined my outing, my day, my life. To quote the Bard: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions." I was again besieged by an army of woes.


Back at the bookstore I resigned myself to paying full price. I told the gent behind the counter my sad tale. In retrospect I’m not sure why, although one can often  take comfort in sharing a misfortune with another human being. He listened. 


Yes the clouds had descended around my brain but moments later the sun broke through them.


The kindly bookstore clerk (actually he looked more the proprietor or manager, surely a person of great influence) said he’d give me the twenty per cent off just the same and the ten dollars off to boot. I was dumbstruck. It was to me at the time an act of great kindness. Never mind the money saved, that was never the point, it was his trust in me that my story was genuine and that my pain was real. He could have listened sympathetically, offered a platitude and charged me the regular prices for the two books and I’d have no complaints and thought nothing of it. He was not saving me money, he was saving my spirits. I walked home feeling like the world was not such an awful place, people could be kind and understanding to strangers and this was no time for me to be wracked with depression. I also contemplated the wonders of independent business that are not ruled by corporate dictates but by the hearts of the people who work there. 


The rest of my day was perfectly fine and the good feeling has carried over into today.


Ya know what? People can be pretty damn cool.

26 June 2024

Don't Quite Quit, A Word or Two About Typos


Because I have a private account, every so often I get follow requests on Instagram account. Other than wanting a follow back I have no idea why most of these people ask to follow. I’m sure a lot of them are bots. Several have been (supposedly) young women with Only Fans or porn site links in their profile. It is rare that I give one the o.k. (the okay?).

Today I got one from someone named Daniela. Another private acount. She had a pleasant enough profile pic.  In addition to it she had a quote, as some people do. Here’s hers: “People will quit on you. you gotta get up every day and make sure you never quite on yourself.”


Daniela, I guarantee that I’ll never quite on myself. In fact, I never quite at anything. I’m not a quiter. But let’s not make fun of Daniela who appears to be a real person and based on her smile, polo shirt and flashing the peace sign is likely a heckuva nice person. But Daniela, if somehow you stumble upon this post (imagine the odds) let me suggest to you the art of proofreading. It’s rather simple. Read over what you’ve posted and make sure that there are no typos in it. Especially if this is essentially your public face. Lord knows my blog has been littered with typos over the years, many of which I still haven’t caught. But to have one in your profile, a short one at that, well, come on.


By the way her quote was followed by a series of emojis most of them of the heart, kissy face variety. I am not a snob about emojis as I used to be. I occasionally employ them in text messages as I find them a fun way to emphasize certain points but I would never insert one in an email or on a message board post. I have stuck a few on tweets but never on Instagram. I do feel that many, many, many people overuse them — a lot of these folks can be excused on account of being 14 years old. With one notable exception I do not like to see a long row of them in any context from anyone out of their mid teens. The exception is Ringo Starr. He was a Beatle so can do whatever the fuck he wants. Ringo always peppers his tweets with emojis with a special emphasize on peace and love two words he uses extensively. Let me here further add if someone is going to overuse any two words in the English language peace and love seem like really good choices. Better than using xylophone and haberdashery or incontinent and bestiality. 


Okay I’ve made a meal out of one lousy typo. Hopefully someone will point it out to Daniela and after an initial flush of embarrassment at her faux pas, she 'll fix the damn thing. 


(Here’s an interesting typo from history that I learned about on that Internet thing everyone is always talking about: In 1870, a German chemist named Erich von Wolf was measuring the iron content of various foods. A misplaced decimal recorded spinach as having 35 grams of iron rather than 3.5 grams. It took 67 years for this mistake to be discovered. In that time, spinach’s reputation for being an iron-rich superfood firmly took hold, helped significantly by the cartoon character of Popeye the Sailorman, who owed his bulging muscles to the vegetable. Even after the error was unearthed by a team in 1937 and more accurate figures began to appear,  people still wholeheartedly believed in the immense strengthening power of spinach. To this day, its exaggerated reputation as a superfood has survived.)


My final advice to one and all is that if you find you’ve made a typo merely correct it. Don’t quite. That would be quit stupid. Or words to that effect (not affect).

24 June 2024

Bikers and Murder for Hire: Two New Films Suggest Another Good Year in Movies

Adria Arjona and Glen Powell in Hit Man

Is this going to be another stellar year in films? I saw two new pictures over the weekend and enjoyed them both which means that I've seen five excellent movies this year and we''re not even in July. (The other three are Evil Does Not Exist, La Chimera and Totem.)

What particularly impressed me about The Bikeriders was the performances of Tom Hardy and Jodie Comer. (Austin Butler was solid but I'd like to see him in something very different next.) Hardy and Comer are both British and in Bikeriders played American Midwesterners with the thickest of accents. However mostly I noticed the truth of what Norma Desmond said in Sunset Blvd: “We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!” The best actors say so much more with their eyes and expressions than do mediocre ones. Think of Al Pacino in the first two Godfather films. Yes, he had monologues, yes, he had outbursts but so much of what he told us was unsaid. Note in particular the scene in which he’s about to assassinate Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey. He’s not saying a word but his eyes are telling us all about the emotions roiling within him. The eyes have it. This is the art of acting. A twinkle of the eyes, a crinkle of the mouth, the raising of an eyebrow. Acting is more than knowing your lines and hitting your marks, it's what you say without speaking. 


Other actors are expressive with their body language. The languid movements of Henry Fonda, the muscularity of Marlon Brando, the nimbleness of James Cagney, the gestures of Cate Blanchett. The sensuousness of Sophia Loren. The intensity of Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington. And yet they are all natural, unaffected, real, while telling their characters’ stories with so much more than words. 


I’ve not had a lot of exposure to Hardy but he’s been brilliant anytime I’ve seen him. In Bikeriders he absolutely stole scenes as the head of the biker gang. I don’t recall seeing Comer before. But I look forward to more of her work.


The Bikeriders was written and directed by Jeff Nichols who is not exactly a household name. But I've seen three previous efforts of his, Mud, Loving and Take Shelter. Take Shelter was a superb film which started Michael Shannon. Shannon had a supporting role in Bikeriders, he’s a wonderful actor who clearly had a great time as an over the top character called Zipco who equates everyone he doesn’t like with Pinkos. Shannon is always a delight bringing a rawness and power to his performances. Never subtle but always memorable.


Bikeriders is wonderfully evocative of a time and place (1965-1973, Chicago) creating a world that our imaginations couldn't have done justice. Not surprisingly it centers around a biker gang (that's still a going concern), particularly one member (Butler) and his wife (Comer). The wife provides much of the narration.


Hit Man is a surprising film and surprisingly good. Though one expects quality from director Richard Linklater. No, this is not a movie about a Mafia hit man. It is the story of someone who works for the police pretending to be a Hitman to entrap people planning murders. It is also a romantic comedy (really? Yes!). Gary Johnson (Glen Powell), is a philosophy professor who drives a Honda Civic, is divorced has two cats and frankly seems a bit of a milquetoast. But like so many other interesting characters in interesting films he goes through changes. In meeting people looking for hitman he takes on different personas, costumes, accents and mannerisms. When he plays a cool, tough guy in meeting a beautiful woman looking to have her abusive husband offed, he gradually morphs into that character. After all, said beautiful woman (the absolutely gorgeous Adria Arjona) is smitten with him. Why go back to being a regular schmendrick when you can woo beauties while being someone cool? Thus begins the romance of this most beguiling tale. Adding to Hit Man's wonders is that it's all based on a true story.


The best adjective for Hit Man is clever. Although unexpected, surprising, fun and delightful would also do. I was unfamiliar with the co-stars but was suitably impressed by both. Admittedly the voluptuous Arjona particularly impressed me (don’t tell my wife).


Without planning it Saturday was Linklater day for me. Earlier I’d watched Dazed and Confused which he directed 31 years ago. D and C is set on the last day of high school in 1976. We follow a dozen or so different characters. There is no plot to speak of. It has been compared to a similar and much better known film, American Graffiti. I think D and C makes Graffiti (which I watched two weeks ago for the first time in ages) look like a student film. Linklater’s film is rawer, more real, more intense, more interesting and funnier.


Linklater is a consistently good director having also helmed such films as Bernie, Boyhood, Slacker, Me and Orson Welles and the Before trilogy.


D and C remains my favorite of his pictures but I just might slot Hit Man into the second slot. 


I can't wait for what else 2024 has in store in the world of movies.