Weekend Coffee Share

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

If we were having coffee, we’d be on our patio so we can enjoy the warm weather, the blue sky and the quiet as the roof is completely finished.

I’d tell you that I finished reading Swann’s Way, the first book in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. It’s a challenging, beautiful book. I savored it and didn’t want to finish reading it. I had read it in 2008 and a friend suggested be both read and discuss it. I enjoy reading and discussing this sort of book with my wise, well read friend. Proust jams so much observation in every page so I didn’t want to finish the story (even though I can read the next one anytime).

On Friday I went with a group of women to bring lunch to the police at a station in Chicago. It was great to show them some support and to let them know that people are grateful and know that not all cops are rotten. Most are brave and professional.

We had more protests cum riots in Chicago yesterday. When will this stop? This weekend (and Sunday isn’t even over) 50 people have been shot and 4 of those were killed. The riots yesterday resulted in 17 police injured and 24 people arrested for aggravated assault.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

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

If we were having coffee, I’d invite you for tea or coffee on my patio. There’s a lot of greenery and we could watch the chipmunks and the occasional rabbit hop by. We might be lucky enough to see a crane that visits every so often.

I’d tell you that I just finished Getting the Best Care: Rescue your loved one from the healthcare conveyor belt. I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s got aging relatives or who is thinking of their own wishes for healthcare in case they get dementia or other debilitating conditions. It’s full of know-how about the hospital and the medical system and how you won’t be run over dominated or confused.

I’d tell you that I attended an absorbing Zoom meeting about the opening of high schools here. An ER doctor began by presenting the situation in her hospital. She teaches on the South Side of Chicago. She told us that the big spike in CCP Virus was in March and April. Now the virus is like “background noise.” Most of her patients have the same sort of maladies as they had this time last year. She updated us on how doctors in other specialities (i.e. not ER) were afraid to return to the hospital, but after two weeks acclimated.

I saw the 1964 version of The Killers with Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Ronald Reagan. Boy, is that a compelling film!

I finished two graphic novels in the Hereville series, How Mirka Caught a Fish and How Mirka Met a Meteorite. Both were fun, clever storie of a girl with lots of spirit.

The other speaker was a statistician who noted that in the local high school 67% of teachers were under age 50. The data showed that in this area 8 people have died of Corona and that no children have. In essence these experts advocate for school in the classroom in the fall with reasonable accommodations. He had a lot of data on the effects of the virus on kids and how it’s rare for a child to transmit it to a teacher.

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It’s summer!

(Note: a friend told me that in Israel there was a case of a child infecting a student, and I found this article about an Israeli kindergarten teacher who believes she was infected by a student. It hasn’t been conclusively confirmed. Perhaps there’s another incident.)

In a nutshell, the thinking is that other professions have come to grips with working in new ways during the CCP Virus Pandemic and schools can to. It was a mistake to have closed them in the spring, but no one knew that. We thought millions would die.

This work week had some ups and downs. The high point was attending a summer concert in a park in Evanston to get people to do the Census. There was a good crowd, but everyone was distanced and wore masks when moving around. The band played hits from Motown, Prince and Koko Taylor. The weather was nice and we got 2 people to do the Census, which wasn’t great, but was something.

On Friday we had a lot of challenge. We were assigned to a train station in the city at the end of the Brown line. Three of us set up our table, and had our devices ready. Soon a homeless man told us we were in his living room, i.e. outside the station. Clearly, the man needed help. He had no shoes. His ranting and later constant heckling showed that he wasn’t of sound mind, but at the same time, we did have work to do. I contemplated moving our table but then thought no one would see us.

There were other homeless people there, but only one who misunderstood something a coworker said, left us alone. That guy who thought he’d been insulted turned back and threatened to harm my colleague. As the day wore on, first guy drank more and more vodka (no doubt to self-medicate) so he got more belligerent and told us off. He did not like us there. Then a young man, probably in his 20s, came by to protect us. He got a bit loud and told the first man he was going to kick his ass if he didn’t leave us alone. It looked like things were going to get worse.

I saw a police car across the street and went to talk about our options. We didn’t want the man arrested, but we did want to be left alone. They knew all the people at the station and we discussed if having them walk over would make matters worse. There was no way to know. In the end, we wound up leaving early. We certainly earned our money on Friday.

The Killers (1964)

I had to watch the 1964 version of Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers. After all, it was in the same DVD set. I didn’t have great expectations, but this powerful film captivated me.

Starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, with Ronald Reagan in a smaller role, The Killers begins at a school for the blind. Two hit men enter looking for Johnny North (John Cassavetes). The rough up the blind secretary and plow their way into North’s class for mechanics. They shoot North dead and make their escape. The contrast between a school for the blind and ruthless criminals is powerful.

After killing North, Charlie Storm (Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) are on a training Charlie can’t help ruminating over why Johnny didn’t try to evade his murder. He completely accepted it. Johnny was so unlike every other victim. Why?

Another question is Who? Who paid Charlie and Lee $25K when they’d never been paid more than $10K for a hit. Again, why? Why so much?

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So Charlie and Lee switch trains in Chicago and go down to Miami and begin to find out all they can about Johnny North. They soon learn that Johnny was a race car driver, that he fell head over heels for Sheila (Dickinson), a beauty who loves racing and Johnny. She keeps her sugar daddy Micky Farmer. Wining and dining Sheila leaves Johnny ill prepared for the big race. Not only that Micky is in the stands and is not pleased with what he sees with his binoculars. Disaster strikes when Johnny loses control of his car and winds up losing.

It’s clear that Johnny should avoid Sheila at all costs, but he just can’t and she winds up entangling him in Micky’s plan to rob a mail truck that’s carrying a million bucks.

Though the story’s been told before and it’s all done in flashback, The Killer’s kept my attention. The characters are cold blooded, yet passionate. Not one is able to walk away from danger. They have to play the game out to the bloody end. This film has 1960’s cool and a gripping plot. I do recommend seeing both the 1946 and 1964 versions. While you’re at it check on the Tarkovsky short.

Fun Facts

  • The Killers (1964) was supposed to be a TV film, but it had too much violence and sex so it was released in theaters.
  • It was the only film with Ronald Reagan as a bad guy and he hated the film.
  • The director Don Siegel was supposed to direct the 1946 one.
  • Siegel wanted to call the film Johnny North, but the bean counters at Universal said no film with a direction like “North” ever made much money.
  • They shot the last scene first as was usual for a Universal film. Lee Marvin was dead drunk and came 5 hours late. Despite his state, he nailed the scene.
  • This version doesn’t contain a single line of dialog from the short story.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

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

If we were having coffee, would go out. It’s sunny and lots of places are open for outdoor dining. We won’t have warm weather forever so we’d be outside.

I tell you that I went out to lunch with a friend from high school. We went to Pinstripes, a restaurant with a beautiful area for outside dining. It looks out to a hill and fields of wild flowers. The service was attentive and, yes, safe.

My friend teaches high school and she’ll be returning to school in a few weeks. They’re dividing students by alphabetic order. The first half of the alphabet goes on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday everyone is remote and Thursday and Friday are in class for the second half of the alphabet.

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I watched Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers with Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. It’s a compelling film noir, that I highly recommend. I also saw a Russian version made by Andrei Tarkovsky as a student.

Friday I went to my public library for the first time since the lock down. It was nice, but weird. First at the entrance a policeman in a mask was there. He asked me what I wanted to do and I explained I wanted to drop off and pick up books. He let me in. I went to the main desk and asked for my books and learned that even though the holds are kept right behind the circulation associates. I had to make an appointment for curbside pick up and the associate did that for me. (The appointment had to be at least two days out.)

I wanted some quick reads so I went upstairs. There was easy access to the new books but everything else was behind yellow tape that said CAUTION. The youth section and DVDs were the same. A lot was off limits. Staff all had masks and worked at least 6 feet apart from each other. All the tables and chairs were moved into the corners and chairs were put upside down on top of other chairs. Some tables were covered with tarps. It all looked very off-putting.

I chatted with a librarian I knew, which was probably the highlight before I got a book and some DVDs. As much as I love my library, I won’t hurry back. It’s a rather unfriendly, odd experience.

 

The Killers – Tarkovsky (1956)

As a student, Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky collaborated on a short film based on Hemingway’s The Killers, which I found on YouTube. At 19 minutes long it packs a punch just as the 1946 version does.

Tarkovsky directed the first and third scenes. He also plays a customer who whistles a tune while he’s in the diner. According to a Criterion Collection essay that tune was common on Voice of America and in Russia came to represent freedom.The Killers is a good introduction to Tarkovsky whose masterpiece Andrei Rublev is over 3 hours long.