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27
Oct

The Debt, Genre Films

Watching The Debt, a British movie that’s a few years old, starring Warren Clarke (you remember him playing Dim, one of Alex’s Droogs in A Clockwork Orange).  In that movie he ended up as a policeman, but he’s a crook in The Debt.  Clarke is 66 now, and I’ve seen him in movies from time to time; he’s always excellent, should be referred to as “the great Warren Clarke.”

The plot of the movie is, a safecracker decides to do one more job, in order to provide income for his family.  That’s not so much a plot as a genre — wonder how many movies have the plot, a crook does one last job, etc., etc.

Ben Affleck’s terrific The Town is a recent venture into that genre.  One last job.  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is almost a “one last job” movie.  I’ll have to put my thinking cap on, maybe do some kind of search, haunt the online pages of IMDB, see if there’s a list somewhere of movies in this genre.  Oh, it just popped into my head: a Michael Mann movie from the 70’s, Thief, starring James Caan, James Belushi, and Robert Prosky (music by Tangerine Dream, notably).  One last job, but it doesn’t work out that way.

Interests me because of the whiff of desperation and hopelessness in “one last job” movies.  As a viewer, you know that things are going to go badly wrong in such a movie, that doing one last job is not going to work out the way the jobber plans, that he\she is going to be hauled into a net of pain.

Per Aristotle; “Tragedy is an imitation of an action, real, complete, and of a certain magnitude; it excites pity and terror in the viewer and creates a catharsis of these emotions.”

BTW, The Debt, with the great Warren Clarke, is a gripping movie; excites pity and terror, in least in me.

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26
Oct

A.A. Vacay

Took a little vacation from A.A., this week, just a couple of days.  And despite the implicit prediction of disaster for anyone who takes a vacay (like skipping vital medication, some think), no relapse.

I just needed a break.  When I did reading suggested (suggested?) by my sponsor, to wit the first chapter of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, it just seemed a blur of meaningless words.  I’d read it many times, yeah powerless, yeah who wants to admit that, yeah yeah necessary to do so — but it was just blah blah.

Similarly, the 12:15 meeting I’ve been going to 3-4, sometimes 5 days a week, just seemed rote and superficial — few people said anything that caught fire with me, too much repetition, too much self-congratulation, too many expressions of gratitude to the A.A. program (which always seem rather pro forma to me).  And the rotating chairs of the meeting don’t seem able to tell time; if the meeting ends at 1:15, it’s not such a good idea at 1:07 to encourage one more share — we have chips, announcements, a reading, the Serenity Prayer.  All of that will always take 8-10 minutes.

I guess I wouldn’t mind the meeting go overtime if I weren’t regularly so bored.

This morning’s meeting was pretty OK– 2 out of the 8 people who shared said things that interested me, the meditation period was enjoyable.  (And we went 6 minutes overtime.)

Maybe I’ll try another meeting tomorrow.

25
Oct

Bicycle Commuting

Oh, everybody knows that a frequent reader of the Letters to the Editor in any newspaper is likely to encounter brilliance, eloquence, confusion, and world-class idiocy.

Take today, for instance.  The editorial page Editor here in little ole Gainesville, Fl, is one Ron Cunningham.  For years, Ron has been calling for the city to make bicycle commuting more attractive — more bike lanes is a big part of it.  And Ron has put his money (or his butt and feet) where his mouth is, not only advocating bike commuting but stubbornly riding to work, even in difficult conditions (no bike lanes, not enough good bike lanes).  And he’s reported on his bicycle commuting efforts.

Today a letter noted that Ron must be contradicting himself — since he’s been regularly commuting by bike, then the city obviously doesn’t need any more bike lanes, doesn’t need to modify roads to add bike lanes (we’ve started calling roads with bike lanes “complete roads”).  Yikes, even a cursory reader of Ron’s many columns on bicycle commuting should see that his main point is how difficult bike commuting is on the roads we have, that we need to change our transportation ideas to make Gainesville more bike-friendly.

But no, today’s letter writer seems to have entirely missed that.  My friend Sam commented that you might as well write that, since our ancestors crossed the continent in covered wagons, there’s clearly no need for highways or super-highways.

Sheesh.

23
Oct

Like A Beckett Play

Yeah, other than my life being lonely, empty, and meaningless, I’m having a good day.

Maybe I’m exaggerating.  After all, my friend Joe was visiting from Maine — came Sunday, left on an early flight this morning.  Good having him around to hang out with; we went for burgers at Copper Monkey on Monday night, went to Ichiban for dinner yesterday, and before that walked out on the La Chua trail in the afternoon and saw, as expected, a good number of gators.

Running went well this morning — it’s still humid from last night’s rain, but the temperature is cooling off again.  Good, as we’ve all had enough of these summery conditions into late October.

Went to my usual noon A.A. meeting today.  Must be insane, expecting something other than what I get there just about every day, and got today: endless, repetitive, bloviating nonsense.  Occasionally someone shares from his or her own life, but mostly it’s just Program cliches (everyone’s programmed, I guess — you are controlled, take possession of your own life!  Oops, too late).

Feel like I’ve dropped into a Beckett play: Nothing happens, no one comes, no one goes, it’s awful!  (This, of course, from Waiting For Godot, as is the following):

Vladimir & Estragon, waiting

Vladimir & Estragon, waiting

–Do you believe in the life to come?

–Mine always was.