The Small Bachelor

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While P.G. Wodehouse’s The Small Bachelor doesn’t feature Jeeves or Bertie Wooster, it contains the main features readers enjoy in his writing — charming wit and wordplay, a supercilious butler, a bumbling young man, a bit of romance and a bothersome aunt-like character.

The story starts:

On the roof of the Sheridan Apartment House, near Washington Square, New York, is a “small bachelor apartment, penthouse style”, and the small bachelor who owns it is amateur artist George Finch, who is rich due to an inheritance. He falls in love with Molly Waddington at first sight, but is too shy to approach her until he retrieves her dog. George’s authoritative friend J. Hamilton Beamish, author of self-help books, is helping mild-mannered policeman Garroway become a poet. Garroway recognizes George’s valet, Frederick Mullett, an ex-convict who served time for burglary, though Mullett is now reformed. Mullett is engaged to former pickpocket Fanny Welch, who is somewhat less reformed.

George is invited into Molly’s home by her father, Sigsbee H. Waddington; Mr. Waddington, who has been influenced by Western films and novels, longs to go out West and takes a liking to George, since George is from East Gilead, Idaho. Though once wealthy, Mr. Waddington cannot afford to go out West because he is now financially dependent on his rich wife, Molly’s step-mother, socially ambitious Mrs. Waddington. She dislikes George, believing his morals are suspect because he lives in an unconventional artist neighborhood, and wants Molly to marry the tall and handsome Lord Hunstanton. However, Molly finds Lord Hunstanton stiff and loves George. Hamilton Beamish gets help for George from Madame Eulalie, Mrs. Waddington’s palmist and fortune teller, who tells Mrs. Waddington that disaster will strike if Molly marries Hunstanton. Beamish also falls in love with Madame Eulalie. Molly gets engaged to George, though Mrs. Waddington still dislikes him.

The Small Bachelor Plot. Wikipedia.org Retrieved on February 23, 2020.

Of course, more hijinks ensue in this fast-paced story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version narrated by my favorite Jonathon Cecil, who crafts the best characters with his voices.

The story was a joy to listen to and made me laugh out loud. Wodehouse delivers everything I’ve come to expect in terms of a fun story.

A Marvelous Experiment on Honesty

Mark Rober made a fun video on how often people in different towns or cities return lost wallets. You’re sure to be surprised by the results like I was.

Glitter to the Rescue

When the police refused to do anything to track down Mark Roper’s porch thieves, this engineer took action, and a lot of time to combat crime. He put on his thinking cap and the results are grand.

Since he lives a few miles from me, I’m astounded that the police in his village couldn’t be bothered to do their jobs. It’s a low crime suburb. It’s not like there’s a crime. From Dec. 6 to Dec. 20, two criminal incidents, both theft were reported in this village. Why can’t these sort of things be investigated?

Check out Roper’s other videos. He wows with the fun of engineering.

Small Change

François Truffaut’s Small Change (1976) was the first foreign language film I can recall seeing. I distinctly remember some neighbors raving about it and I was astonished by the idea of seeing a film in another language. A think our parents thought Small Change would be edifying so we were piled into a car and a group from the neighborhood all went. I remember being delighted by the scene when a toddler’s left alone and falls out of his apartment window, but remains unscathed. “Gregory go boom!” the boy exclaims to the petrified crowd.

The film still delighted though I did wish for more plot. Truffaut is wonderful with children and understands their lot better than most. The mischief of kids making a mess whenever the adults get caught up in their own lives, the innocence of looking for love, and the loneliness of hiding your family’s poverty or abuse are all present in this brightly colored panorama. Childhood’s changed in many ways with helicopter parents and high tech developments, but some of comedy and even the tragedies still remain.

The teachers monologue at the end struck me to the core in 1976 and again in 2018.

How to Steal a Million

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Starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, How to Steal a Million is another fun, witty movie. Hepburn plays the daughter of an art forger. When her home is broken into by O’Toole, her father and she fear that his forgeries will be revealed. Later they fear that a sculpture lent to a museum will be proven to be a fraud when it’s examined for insurance. Throughout the caper delights.

It’s a lighthearted romp with a clever final heist and a surprisingly moral end. It’s lots of fun and Hepburn and O’Toole are quite entertaining.

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.

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