Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about going to a dinner Saturday and then a party Sunday for my niece who just graduated high school and nephew who will soon graduate 8th grade. Her older brothers and sister-in-law were able to come in to town for the festivities and it was great to catch up with them. The dinner was at Ruth Chris so it was extra special. The party was a barbecue despite a slight chill in the air. The dinner was just family so it gave me a chance to talk more, while the barbecue had a larger guest list including lots of friends and neighbors.

I’d tell you that Wednesday, when I had to go get my fingerprints done for the Census job was exasperating. The office was way off the beaten track and took me twice as long to get to. I’d missed the appointment time, but hoped I could get squeezed in. No such luck. The small office had a sign saying they were “off site” and I should call Priscilla. I dialed the number and Priscilla told me she wouldn’t be back for 4 hours. So I had to reschedule for tomorrow. I could not believe the location for this service. It’s inconveniently located far west. Near downtown makes so much more sense for just about everyone who’d apply.

I discovered the upcoming deadline (May 31st) for a writing contest from NBC called Writers on the Verge. I’m scrambling to enter. The first writing sample they want is a current TV show from a list they’ll consider. I am trying to find a spec script I wrote in 2018 and it’s vexing because I didn’t dream writing a script but it’s not easily found. It’s somewhere and I’ll have to search my Time Machine and box.com accounts.

I went to my playwrights’ group and was glad a member, who’s working on her play about Maria Montessori showed up. I really like this play and was happy to see it’s progress. I read my work last time so I didn’t bring pages this. We’re off for the summer so I hope by the time we meet again in spring, I’ll have something new.

I’m continuing to watch Flambards episodes. Now I’m on the last few episodes and I’d forgotten what happened after Christina got married. It’s such a good series. I have to say I like it more than Downton Abbey, though it isn’t as polished. Flambards has the right amount of conflict and there’s a lot of interesting points about the early days of aviation, which I’m enjoying.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about going to a party for my niece’s birthday and nephew’s confirmation at my sister-in-law’s brother’s home where I got to see his newest additions to his menagerie/home. Marty now has a cavy named Bucky and a hyacinth macaw named Baby Blue. For years Marty has had an aviary in his basement. I never even heard of these species till yesterday.

Saturday I had lunch with my old friend Luzanne. It’s tough for us to find time that’s good to meet so I’m delighted that we succeeded. After lunch we took a free walking tour of Chicago’s Riverwalk given by the Chicago Architecture Center. Though rain cut the tour short, it was a fun experience. Afterwards I took Luzanne to Uniqlo, which she’d never been to before. She loved it. I’m cheered as I’m a big Uniqlo fan as they have quality basics for good prices. They have lots of sales, so if you see something great there, wait a week or two because it’s sure to be marked down.

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Another bird in Marty’s basement aviary

I was delighted by Doris Day’s Lucky Me and disappointed with the film Like Someone in Love. There’s no love in the film and if you watch I just bet 12 minutes from the end you’ll be urging the silly girl to go see a doctor and for the girl or old man to “Call the police!” which any sensible person would do. Ugh!!

I’ll watch more Flambards episodes to counteract the disappointing effect of Like Someone in Love. 

I’m reading a biography, geared for children, on E.B. White. I’m learning a lot from this charming book on the author of Charlotte’s Web. 

As I can’t go on forever with just a part time library job, I applied to the Census office for work a few months back. Now they’re hiring and I just had a phone interview and job offer for full time work. If it makes sense for you or someone you know, people can apply at 2020Census.gov/jobs. Pay is above average and varies according to locale.

My To Be Watched List

TBR, i.e. To Be Read lists of books is a hashtag and a meme. They’re also real lists. Since there’s been a publishing industry, readers have had lists of books they want to read. Getting those all read is another matter. Ah, Time, why do you speed by so?

I haven’t seen this yet, but there should be TBW (i.e. To Be Watched or TBS, To Be Seen) Lists. Here’s mine. I’m posting this so I can throw away the miscellaneous scraps of paper I’ve collected in the last few weeks.

1. Like Someone in Love

2. A Kid with a Bike

3. The Petrified Forest

4. Public Enemy

5. The Silence of Lorna

6. The Son, a.k.a. Le Fils

7. Half the Picture

What films are on your list To Be Watched?

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you what’s new with you and then, I’d tell you about the wonderful exhibit of Gilded Age portraits I saw at the Drieshaus Museum (and about which I’ll soon blog). I went there with a friend who’d never been to the Drieshaus. She loved it as I expected and we’ll soon go back.

I’d tell you about the rather weird and captivating documentary I saw called, The Wolfpack. I came to really care about these boys and their mother who were imprisoned more or less by their irrational father. I won’t soon forget the film and how it illustrates the curative powers of creativity. 

I’d urge you to get and read C.S. Lewis’ The Silent Planet, which I’m reading for my online bookclub. His writing is wonderful and inspires (or kicks me) to improve my own work.

I’d lament that last week I didn’t get to write much. I went downtown twice to meet with friends and on Friday did some research into 19th century Christmas stories for children. Wednesday I went downtown to meet friends, i.e. network. I learned about how a student committed suicide at the Hefei program Clark U runs and how differently the Chinese responded. They silenced any talk of the matter. They didn’t have any memorial service. The boy had jumped from the 10th story where the teachers worked. We’re trained to be open, talk and share to heal the living. Through back channels my friend learned of the suicide. When he mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he had the student, his Chinese colleague sent him a photo of the boy. He expected the attachment would be a snapshot of him alive, not a picture of him splattered on the pavement, which is what he received. Yes, cultures do differ dramatically.

Oh, I’d say that I thought my interview went fine, though as usual, when I reviewed my performance I thought of ways it could go better. I won’t hear for another week at least and so am continuing to job hunt. I am getting job hunting fatigue, but what can you do.

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The Wolfpack

Thanks to Sharon for bringing this unique documentary to my attention. Directed by Crystal Moselle, The Wolfpack (2015)shows a family consisting of six brothers, their parents and their sister who live in New York. The parents met when the mother went backpacking in South America. She shared his dislike for materialism and were married.

The sad and curious thing about this family is that the father became a control freak and would lock the wife and children in the apartment. He believed it was for security, but actually I saw it as a form of control. They could only go outside when the father permitted it and he apparently went with them so no one could escape. One year they were allowed out 9 years and another they weren’t taken outside at all.

The film focuses on the older brothers. The mother was certified by the state to homeschool the kids and they all spoke articulately and politely. The father had wanted 10 children as his dream of heading a tribe, but seven was the limit (biologically) for the mother. The father didn’t work; the father explained that he didn’t believe in work. I wondered what he did when he was out of the house for hours and hours. They family lived on welfare. The father dreamt of moving to Scandinavia, where the welfare was even better, but that never materialized.

The compelling thing about the documentary is how creative the boys were. To stave off boredom and keep sane, they watched the 5000+ DVDs that their dad had collected and then they’d copy the scripts and act out the films. They made clever props. It’s a good thing there were so many kids or they wouldn’t have enough actors.

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Red Beard

 

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Red Beard performs surgery as Yasumot o looks on

I had imagined the premise of Kurosawa’s Red Beard (1965) incorrectly for years. I assumed it was some samurai film with lots of sword fights so I never bothered with it. Then when I listened to the commentary on The Lower Depths, I realized that it was a drama. I had to right this wrong so I picked up the DVD at the library.

Set in 19th century Japan, Red Beard isn’t just about the curmudgeon older doctor so nicknamed, it’s equally about young Dr. Yasumoto, who has just finished medical school and arrives Red Beard’s clinic. Yasumoto is not happy about working in a clinic that serves the poorest of the poor. He had his heart set on treating high status samurai. Surely, this is a mistake the arrogant, obstinate  young doctor believes.

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Yasumoto (Kayama) and Red Beard (Mifune) with director A. Kurosawa

Yasumoto refuses to put on the clinic uniform or to abide by any of the clinic rules. He’s horrified by the outward appearance of the poor. He almost gets killed when he flouts a rule about avoiding the hut in the back where a deranged, wealthy woman is housed. All the while Red Beard is gruff, wise and patient. He sees so much more than Yasumoto can.

I loved Red Beard’s gruff ways. He was gentle with the patients who needed it, but tough with those who were foolish. He was wise in dealing with Yasumoto, allowing the young doctor to figure life out on his own and smiling when he finally donned his uniform and took on treating the poor of his own accord.

The plot twists and turns. Sometimes Red Beard is the focus, often Yasumoto, or a poor girl who’s rescued from a brothel. So many characters are given the spotlight and they all deserve it. The film has an emotional depth on par with The Human Condition, and one that few films bother to attempt. Kurosawa doesn’t beat you over the head with a message, but he does make you muse on how you should be kinder or more compassionate, how you should stretch beyond your comfort zone. It’s a film I could watch again and again. I’m so glad my misconception was dispelled. Red Beard is a treasure.

 

The Kennel Murder

With William Powell of The Thin Man movies, I was looking for a suave, witty detective story. If The Thin Man is an A movie, The Kennel Murder is a C+.

The film opens with detective Philo Vance, played by Powell, at a dog show where his dog loses. At the show there’s a rich man, Archer Coe, with plenty of enemies. His niece resents his control over her, his cook, who’s Chinese, resents his Coe for selling his collection of ancient Chinese porcelain, his secretary resents Coe for forbidding him to marry his niece, his lover’s been cut off after a jealous Coe finds her with an Italian lover, who was supposed to buy the Chinese porcelain collection . . . . No one seems to like Coe.

When Coe is found dead in his bedroom with the door locked, the inept, comical police sergeant assumes it’s a suicide. But Vance doesn’t buy it. When Coe’s hapless brother’s found murdered, murder is suspected, but who did it?

Powell is clever and stands head and shoulders above the police force who all provide comic relief. It’s an entertaining movie but not as witty as The Thin Man films and better 1930s films. With Myrna Loy, Powell had an equal to engage with; here he was the lonely brain. The other characters were stereotypes; and there are some flaws in the murder.

So I’ve seen better films and wouldn’t recommend this strongly, but The Kennel Murder did entertain.