31 March 2021

A Variety of Topics are Here Explored Including Sales, a Bad Principal, A Golf Ball, Injustice for Woody and Vertigo

Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo

I got an email this morning from The New Yorker informing me that today is my last chance to save 50% on a subscription during their flash sale. Within a few days they'll be sending me an email about yet another opportunity to subscribe at a reduced rate followed by notifications that this sale is soon expiring. Then there'll be another sale, and eventually another. The New Yorker is not alone in this practice. I'd love to be able to subscribe to The New Yorker but that would require a move toward the twenty-eight hour day or the nine day week (28/9 would replace 24/7). There's not enough time to read all the books I have waiting for me or to re-read all the ones I want to revisit and I'm barely scratching the surface of the New York Times that I receive daily.

Speaking of 24/7, when I was teaching middle school we had, for a time, a very bad principal of whom it was said, "she works twenty-four seven, twenty four hours a week, seven days a month." Given her incompetence -- and propensity for fibbing -- it was a blessing that she was lazy. The more she worked, the more damage she did. This woman, who's name was Michele Patterson, was finally sacked, then went on to another unsuspecting school where she also lasted four years before being shown the door. She'd have been excused for being so woefully inept if she hadn't made matters worse by being malicious.

Here's a fun and true fact about me: I completed a two-year master's program in history in one year and graduated with distinction. (This is not a case of humble bragging because I'm not being humble about it at all.) I was the third person in the memory of the department chair to attempt to complete the program in one year, the other two had barely scrapped by. Me, I was the fifth person in the same amount of time among all master' candidates to graduate with distinction. But there's more. At the time I was a practicing alcoholic. My coursework was so intensive and I had to do so much reading that I had a daily planner in which I would write the number of pages I had to read each day to stay abreast. I almost literally did the same with my drinking, planning my binges carefully and merely getting a buzz at other times.

When I was nineteen I was playing baseball on a front lawn with a group of friends. We had -- as was often the case in those days -- been imbibing. I was pitching and we were using a golf ball in lieu of a a regular baseball or softball, can't recall why. The game ended when a batter drilled a line drive right back at me that hit me square in the chin. An inch higher and I would have lost several front teeth. Higher than that and I would have lost an eye, higher than that would have hit me in the forehead and at the least I would have been knocked cold. As it was I was knocked on my back and needed to go to the emergency room for stitches. I was lucky and I still occasional wince at the thought of what that golf ball could have done.

As people tend to do when they don't die young, I am getting older. So far it's going rather well. I exercise six days a week and walk most days. When restrictions ease I'll be back in the gym. I do the Times crossword puzzle and play Sporcle games, read a lot and perform other activities that will help fend off senility. However my stomach is not taking to aging very well, rebelling more and more against certain foods, usually in the form of acid reflux. One week ago I finally gave up my daily cup of English Breakfast tea replacing it with Lemon Ginger herbal tea. Sigh. I never thought the day would come. When first told I should give up black tea I was defiant. I'd already given up drugs and alcohol, cigarettes, meat, gum and coffee, surely I could hold onto my beloved English Breakfast tea. I am here compelled to report the my stomach has felt much better these past seven days. That being said I'm beginning to imagine a future without pizza, tacos and god knows what other treats. Yikes!

On Twitter I have reluctantly unfollowed virtually all of the accounts who were my allies in supporting Woody Allen against the scurrilous attacks directed at him. I still fervently believe in the great director's innocence against the false charges of child molestation brought by his step daughter who I believe was brainwashed by the odious Mia Farrow. However since the terrible and terribly one-sided documentary on HBO ( a hatchet job) called Allen vs. Farrow, my friends on Twitter have been continually re-tweeting the words of Woody's many detractors (then reputing them) or sharing links to articles defending Mr. Allen. Thus I am constantly reminded of the unwarranted hate being spewed towards this innocent man -- one who I've held in high esteem for over fifty years. I do not need reminders of this pain, of this injustice. I no longer want to think of Woody Allen in terms of the false accusations and lies directed at him. I want to think of him in terms of the many great films he's directed or starred in or both. I want to think of him in terms of his writings, his stand-up career and the fact that he's had a long, successful marriage and raised two adopted daughters who both love him unconditionally. Here is an excellent article that exposes the sham that the recent documentary is and here is an excellent piece by documentarian and long-time Woody supporter, Robert Weide.

As I write this the trial of Derek Chauvin -- who is accused of killing George Floyd  -- is underway. The words open and shut case come to mind. Woe betide the country if the killer cop gets off. There will be riots in dozens of major cities and likely some smaller ones. I'll certainly be tempted to join. At the same time it's important that this not be a show trial. Chauvin, murderous bastard that he is, deserves a fair trial just like any other citizen accused of a crime. But it is impossible -- given what we have seen and know of the case -- to imagine anything but a guilty verdict. Let justice be done though the heavens fall. Actually if justice is NOT done the heavens will fall.

I recently watched a film you may have heard of called Vertigo (1958) Hitchcock. It is generally considered one of the great films of all time and is listed among my top 100. HOWEVER, something really bothered me in this my latest viewing. As he was in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Bell, Book and Candle, Stewart is too old for the part of John 'Scotty' Ferguson. He was fifty at the time Vertigo was filmed and looked every bit of it. Kim Novak's character, who falls in love with him, is clearly in her mid twenties as Novak was at the time (twenty-five to be exact). I do not mind May-December romances in films, but I don't buy the fact that she falls in love with Scotty. (I don't for a second doubt that Scotty would fall for the girl, I mean she's played by Kim Novak, as great a beauty as ever graced the screen). Her love for him simply doesn't work for me. Still a great film.

Thank you for joining me for this edition of odds and ends. In the future I may experiment with an edition of ends and odds. (Actually as I look back I've never done  anything called "odds and ends" but I have done "news and notes" so I suppose I should be thanking you for joining me this edition of news and notes and saying that I may experiment with notes and news. Now I'm confused. )

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