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Word of the Week

gambler king
I’m currently reading Gambler King of Clark Street about the infamous Mike McDonald who was instrumental in forming the 19th century Democratic Party.

Again and again the word sachem pops up.

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“Sachem.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2017.

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Dragnet Girl by Ozu

tokiko

Dragnet Girl: Joji (l) and Tokiko (r)

Director Ozu’s Dragnet Girl is an absorbing silent film about Tokiko,a gangster moll, who becomes jealous when Joji, her boyfriend, gets a case of the wandering eye. Tokiko looks as sweet as can be, but actually she’s quite a coquette. She works at a company by day and the boss’s son is smitten with her plying her with expensive gifts that she’s happy to take.

Her night’s are spent with Joji, the head of a small crime outfit that seems to fix boxing matches. Tokiko is Joji’s main squeeze. Selfish and extravagant, she’s quite brazen and disloyal as she’ll wear her boss’s gifts in front of Joji.

dragnet girl

Kazuko

When a high school boy, impressed with Joji’s flash and power, tries to join his gang, the boy’s sister, Kazuko, who’s simple and innocent, begs Joji to get her brother back on the straight and narrow. Joji’s instantly smitten with Kazuko. He starts hanging around her music shop and starts appreciating classical music and all that Kazuko, who pays him no mind, appreciates.

At first Tokiko dismisses her rival, but when she sees that Joji is changing for real she gets nervous. She goes as far as plotting to shoot Kazuko, but then she comes to appreciate Kazuko’s magnetic innocence. Tokiko is not to be trusted after telling Joji she wants to change and become more like her rival. She’s been branded as a delinquent and that label’s impossible to remove.

The film has the style of a noir classic and takes some interesting turns as Tokiko refuses to marry her boss and plots to rob him with Joji. It’s a beautiful simple film that didn’t need talking.

Bicycle Thieves

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I’ve heard that Bicycle Thief is a classic film but never saw it — till now. I got the DVD, and see that the title’s been correctly translated to Bicycle Thieves, which makes more sense. (Bravo, Criterion Collection!)

I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect the emotional power this simple movie packed.

In a nutshell, Bicycle Thieves shows the poverty of post-WWII Italy. Many men stand in line for job opportunities. Only a couple will get anything. Since he has a bicycle, Antonio Ricci is lucky enough to get a job putting up posters. He must have a bike. The first problem is that his bike has been pawned. It recoup it his wife Maria pawns the family’s sheets, sheets they got as wedding presents. Since this job will pay well and steadily and since there’s nothing else of value, pawning the sheets seems sensible. Though I did have a feeling of apprehension as soon as they got their money.

Antonio uses most of the money to recover his bike and starts work. As the title suggests it isn’t long before some ne’er-do-well, someone just as needy as Antonio steals the bike. The rest of the movie is the search for the thief and the bike. While it seems like little can be done with such a simple problem, director DeSica presents a journey through impoverished Rome that breaks your heart and shows you the self-absorbed rich, the dangers of pedophiles, the ties between a father and a son and the longing for better by people who’re more than willing to work for what they get.

The ending is particularly moving and well earned. The emotional journey we’re taken on is real. As a neo-realistic film Bicycle Thieves portrays life as it probably really was for many. I could definitely watch this again and again.

Sherlock: Season 3, Episode 1

Sherlock Series 3

Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have returned after a too long Sherlock hiatus. Like all Sherlock fans I was eager to learn how on earth Sherlock survived. My book club read “The Empty House” this month in honor of Sherlock’s return and I’ve got some thoughts on that here.

PBS has a thorough synopsis here so I won’t offer one. I will have spoilers so watch the episode first online if you can.

I did like the parallels I noticed in the modern “The Empty Hearse” episode. While in the original, Sherlock doesn’t fall all the way down the falls and his death is faked, there’s a modern equivalent solution. This modern fall was also faked for the same reason: Moriarty and his cronies had to see Sherlock was dead. The screenwriters Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss accomplish this with a plot wherein Molly Hooper gets Sherlock a body to use to replace his corpse and a set up of 13 eventualities that have Watson’s view obstructed and manipulated. It’s clever and does work.

In the original story in which Roger Adair is murdered in a room that seems to not have been entered by an murderer. In the television show the screenwriter replaces the unentered room with a subway car that is entered but mysteriously exited. The last train leaves one station with a sole passenger, but that man has disappeared by the next stop. Quite clever.

I was delighted to see Sherlock, Watson, Molly, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson again. I welcome Mary, whom Watson is going to marry, as he was in the originals. However, there was one odd point in the story when she’s teasing John about shaving his mustache, which is just awful. The actress seems to take on Moriarty’s tics as she teases. It’s a bit odd and I blame the director – and I suppose the writer too.  I’d like to see Mary have her own career rather than just being Dr. Watson‘s assistant. It is 2013 after all. If John had the wherewithal to set up a practice and is bored with his work, he would have had the energy to date, maybe not the first year after Sherlock died, but later. So give him a girlfriend with her own profession.

I didn’t buy how Anderson, the forensic specialist who dislikes Sherlock, now has become a scraggly fan who leads a Sherlock groupies in conspiracy theory meetings. Also, I miss Moriarty. There will be a new villain, but Jim Moriarty was perfectly despicable and two seasons wasn’t enough.

I wish there was more time given to solving the crime and developing the character of this turncoat terrorist. He didn’t get so much as a line of dialog. A lot of time that was spent on jokes that winked at the fans could have been sacrificed to flesh out the criminal.

The scene on the subway when Sherlock and John must defuse the bomb was tense, but it whimpered at the end when Sherlock saved the day by simply flipping the off switch. Too far fetched for me.

John Green on Flags and Helpers

I feel we should focus on the helpers. I trust that we’ll find the terrorists and I trust that justice will be done.

A few weeks ago I saw on Anderson Cooper 360°  a woman whose husband, a prison chief, was murdered. She has a policy of not mentioning the murderer’s name. She doesn’t want to bring him fame. I think that’s an excellent policy. Whoever’s behind this should not get famous or infamous. They should simply be punished.

Second City Cop on Chicago Crime Wave

Last weekend, the weekend of the Blues Festival, there were several murders and violent muggings in Chicago. I’ve read 11 murders and 9. The mayor has slashed police coverage to save money as part of his plan to get finances back in line.

An unintended result is a wave of crime, which has erupted the past two summers. Second City Cop is a blog written from the perspective of a beat cop. This blog is a good addition to reading the news, which hasn’t handled this story with much depth.

I do question the Second City Cop’s claim that this surge in violence can be traced back to the 60s. He just doesn’t substantiate that claim. Yes, there is more violence, but it seems the date of the 60s is somewhat random. True the 60s were a revolutionary time, but some of the changes that began then aren’t anything the younger generation, the culprits in these crimes would be aware of at all.

I do see that with the use of cell phones, it’s easier to summon a gang of thugs. We also have a culture that is enthralled with violence. So many games and dramas center on violence. There’s a much weaker message of peace. Peace isn’t cool to many.

I Saw Sunday

Here’s a new meme: I Saw Sunday

So, what did you see this week?

One thing or a whole list! – Words or photos or both!

Share it here with us.

The Rules

1. Write your post on your blog and include a link back to I Saw Sunday.
2. Leave the link to your post in the Mr Linky widget so we can find you.
3. Leave a comment after linking so that I know you have been here.
4. Please be sure to visit the other participants and share what they saw.

I didn’t get to this last week, when I did see an interesting discussion on a French news show about women from the Ukraine who protest the inequity they see in French culture particularly with respect to the DSK affair. The women are scantily clad and what little they’re wearing is very sexy, the standard French maid get up. The discussion revolved around the ethics and effectiveness of using sex to get attention about women’s rights. The whole issue is intriguing and complex.

I hope I’m wrong, but I think I’ve seen the after effects of theft. My phone went missing on Wednesday and Friday my Nikon camera “walked off.” Neither item is at home or school. I hate to think anyone at school took it, but students have reported items stolen, I now found out. If I had known this was a problem, I’d have been more careful. I think they don’t want to admit such problems to the Americans as the Chinese lose face. I don’t care so much about the phone, but the camera. Quelle horreur! I love that camera and really am not in the mood to buy a new one. Then there’s that deep sinking feeling one gets when you’re the victim of a crime.

Another new thing I saw this week was my friend’s church. They have a service with lots of songs and PowerPoints. I was surprised that the former leader was from the U.K. and the new presiding elder seems to be from Scotland. I sort of assume that most Europeans have left Christianity. That’s the picture one gets from the BBC dramas. (I know TV shouldn’t be my main source.) It was an interesting experience, but just didn’t seem spiritual enough for me. The sermon with the PowerPoints reminded me too much of business and school. Still it was good to see another slice of Guangzhou.

“Slow down and take the time to really see. Take a moment to see what is going on around you right now, right where you are. You may be missing something wonderful.”
– J. Michael Thomas

On Computer Forensics

Since becoming the victim of a cybercrime, I’ve gained an interest in computer forensics. I learning a lot. I suppose that’ll come in handy when I write my novel on KNUE.

Chapter 4
View and share presentations on PowerShow.com

It does seem like this would be a fascinating field to get into.

Disclaimer

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