On television today I saw a young Ukrainian write a message on the screen of a news camera with the permission of a reporter. The message is at once brief, sad, and eloquent: No war…please.

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Coincidence?…I Don’t Think So!

Since the dawn of western theater in ancient Greece there has been the venerable practice of remaking films with exceptional themes, characters or events.  Hollywood is no exception, as demonstrated by the perennial multicolored spotlight on King Kong or Godzilla or Body Snatchers , or A Star is Born (remade within four different decades), and so on.

Most filmremakes retain the theme, characters, and events of their original source. Others, have slightly different titles or characters which are added to or are not included in the original book or film. Other remakes, not necessarily openly announced as such, are radically different than the events and/or famous persons previously chronicled in a film or its original book. Within the span of a miniscule lifetime, we see radically new versions of a previous work, just as the ancient Greek audiences did at those majestic open-air theaters. 

Very Fast Forward

Last night, I watched a film titled, Twice Around the Block, which features Edward G. Robinson. Following, is my ‘take’ on an event that must have occurred during the film’s production phase. It is an event that I’ve never witnessed in any other film I’ve ever seen before.

Twice Around the Bloc

When I’m about to write an article, I check facts as necessary.  In this case, I’ve checked the titles of Mr. Robinson’s film credits which number about a hundred. None of the titles I checked provides me with a clue that might lead me to one of his early films which I saw decades ago.  The film’s title is Twice Around the Bloc. I don’t remember who the actors are in that film; I don’t remember its overall narrative; and of course I don’t remember the dialogue in the original screenplay—EXCEPT for two lines of dialogue, one of which was delivered by Mr. Robinson’s character and the other by another actor.   

What I have remembered through the decades are two lines, spoken while Mr. Robinson’s character is having a heart attack.  It’s important to know that the two characters are fishermen. Hence the reference to a harpoon.

       The Other Character:            What is a heart attack like?

        Mr. Robinson’s Character:   Like a harpoon!

In real time, there are no significant similarities whatever between Twice Around the Block and the much earlier film, whose title I’ve forgotten.  But as the scene progressed, the heart attack scene in the much older film vividly came to mind.  And then, right on cue, the flashback suddenly became a revelation: I was jolted by a kind of time warp when the words spoken on TV precisely merged with those in my head, syllable by syllable, in a sort of anticipated time warp.

Footnote

Last night, I must have been the only viewer of thousands — if not millions  — who was aware that an ‘inside’ bit of dialogue had occurred. 

Given the decades-long timeframe between those two films and my lifespan memory, that dialogue cannot be coincidental.  

And fortunately, when I had a huge heart attack in real life many years after the earlier film, it was not nearly as painful as Mr. Robinson’s metaphor described it. 

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Hyperbole is not an Argument

While surfing the Internet on January 6th, I stumbled upon a group which stood on the steps in front of the classic architecture of the people’s house…with beautiful yellow lanterns in hand. Being a hopeless opera lover, I immediately likened the scene to that of a tragic opera, my favorite art form. 

Somehow, tragedy is beautiful on stage, but not in real life. Painful experiences about that day last January were recounted by members of that group who were directly involved with the violence of that day. Prayers were invoked. And dire warnings about the fragility of democracy were a common theme at that event and, of course, continue to be expressed on both sides of the aisle, the press, and just about everyone else. (But, Ms. Kamala Harris, your over-the-top claim that the White House insurrection is comparable to Pearl Harbor and 9/11?: I don’t think so.)

In a sense which is acquired by those of us who have been around for a very long time, there has been something of a reversal in the overall political image of the Republican and Democratic parties: the former Republican image is becoming ‘gentler,’ the Democratic image, ‘harsher.’ 

Two symbolic examples of those changes come to mind. One of them is the ritual march to the Senate by democrat senators delivering two impeachment articles to the Senate. I happened to watch that march. It smacked of Vatican Excommunication, just short of anathema. The other example is the operatic scene I describe above. 

Hyperbole directed against political adversaries is par for the political course. But lately it has become a not-so-fine art. The over-the-top warnings about another Trump presidency and efforts to make it impossible for him to become a candidate for the presidency a second time are disingenuous at best. 

The invective of political officials and celebrity commentators against Trump to preempt any possibility of his ever running again are the real ‘danger,’ not Mr. Trump himself.  Alleging ‘reasons’ for barring him from becoming a candidate for the next general election is far more ‘dangerous’ than somehow legally deny him the right to run a second time. The voters should make that decision in the pre-election polls, let alone the voting box. Hyperbole should not be the basis for overriding law. 


Quick Quip

Colon Kaepernick:  “Football is like slavery.”

Me:                            “Tell that to Sparticus!”

Mr. Colin Kaepernick,

From a literal as well as figurative great distance, I got a glimpse of your home shown on the Internet. Very impressive…and at $39 million dollars, a bargain! But I don’t think slavery defines your life in any meaningful way.   

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At the Twilight of My Life…

I find myself silently reflecting incidents, thoughts, facts–large and small–that weaved the tapestry of my life.  Here, almost randomly and in no particular order, are a few of them.

I find it impossible to believe that there are Americans who don’t realize that it is irrational to demand defunding the police and clamoring for more protection against violence at the same time. In ‘my time’ that notion would be considered a blatant joke.

And…

I don’t accept ‘legal’ larceny expressed by the flagrant phrase, “Tax the Ritch.” And, what is it that justifies the expression, “Pay their fair share of taxes?” Exactly on what basis and who is it that should determine what taxes are ‘fair’?…certainly not the person who must pay the taxes.  And, what about paying thieves for not swiping/pilfering/snatching/filching items off the shelves?  Should payments be made to the thieves according to the amounts of goods they don’t steal?  Should they receive discounts according to what they don’t grab? 

I see both thieves and politicians in a sort of macabre embrace. 

I avoid comparisons between ‘my’ time and now, but in the past, whatever side of the aisle we were on, we would never even think about laws as absurd as those which are recklessly flung about now.

Virtually all of the ‘break and take’ mob are not poor, they are greedy: It’s not bread they are stealing. Being poor without pride is as repulsive as being rich without dignity.

And…

A long time ago, when I ventured into keeping a web site, I brought attention to a severe grammatical anomaly initiated by a weather reporter, Sam Champion. I posted an article on the Internet with the details of that anomaly. His bizarre anomaly marked the beginning of the end of communications responsibility. Many weathermen and weatherladies followed suit. Sam’s ‘creative ‘ anomaly was to stress the wrong words, never the operative ones, e.g., “The police went to the scene of the crime,” or always using the present tense, e.g., “Tomorrow, it rains,” and “The snow falls tomorrow.” It was incongruous to have forecasting with virtually no use of the future tense!

And… 

Not quite as long ago, the distaff side of society unfortunately believed that lowering the pitch of its vocal cords to simulate those of the average male would help the ladies break the glass ceiling. I highlighted that absolutely bizarre distortion. That distortion still prevails, especially with virtually all professional women commentators and other professional women. To exacerbate matters, the tone of the ladies’ voices is harshly imperative with an undertone that suggests anger. What a great loss of the naturally pleasant vocal contrast between most males and females!  

And, on the bright side…

Milk chocolate, citrus fruit slices (except for grapefruit), and fried eggplant, whether plain, breaded, or smothered with tomato sauce, are the big three taste delights on the planet.  

And, also on the bright side…

In the not too distant future, Cannoli, pasticiotti, and Sfogliatelli pastry will be highly recommended as primary health foods, as will ice cream (any flavor but coffee), a beverage which must be taken hot, as God meant it to be.  

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Ordinary People

Today, while I was still booting my computer, I oscillated between writing one article or the other which I had in mind. I clicked for the next booting phase and got my answer by chance. A large photo of Don Lemon flashed on the screen along with a headline announcing his income, “2 Million per year.” I immediately thought: “What a coincidence!  That Internet item is perfect for the opening sentence of one of those two articles.

On that same page, there was a tab: NEXT. I clicked for the next page. On the next page was a large photo of Anderson Cooper… “$12 million per year!”  I thought, “The article is writing itself!” I thought, “Wow, two lead photos and text in a row on a multi-page article that is writing itself! Could there be a similar photo next ?”  I again clicked, NEXT. Yes, there was another page  similar in both content and form, page after page. ‘My’ article was continuing to write itself although for a purpose other than mine.  

“George Stephanopoulos , 15 million per year…Kelly Ripa, net worth, 120 million, annual salary, 22 million…John King, 2 million per year, (editor’s comments: “expected to rise exponentially. He should be getting more!”) … Dr. Phil, “79 million per year…Gordon Ramsay, 60 million per year…Kamala Harris, 5.4 million-dollar home, Chris Wallace, net worth, $25 million” …and so on.

At that point, I stopped taking notes. True to its widely desultory form, the internet made no point, page after page, other than the self-evident display of celebrity wealth. 

I planned to proof the text to check my accuracy in terms of details, but decided that (1) accuracy in this instance is relatively unimportant and (2) I don’t see much substantive difference between one million dollars and tens of millions.  In addition to that, the article in general speaks for itself. 

Being worlds apart from celebrities and barely hanging on financially, I’m not even sure of the purpose of the article apart from gossip, except for a phenomenon I’ve noticed since I was in my early twenties. The life-blood of celebrity depends on its exclusivity. Celebrity requires that celebrities talk about each other, are seen together, and especially in the world of entertainment, that they do their ‘thing’ with other celebrities. At interviews they don’t talk about other celebrities because other celebrities are the only people with whom they mingle, but rather to underscore that they belong where they are.

Whatever their common denominators may be, famous people are not necessarily notably intelligent, no offence intended. The reason for their extraordinary incomes cited above is primarily economics. If someone draws the attention of millions of people, even if it is just because of extraordinarily good looks or — in sports — extra motor skills and muscle power, there is huge competition amongst corporations to employ that individual as a spokesperson for their services or products.  There is no evidence that exceptional intelligence is a critical characteristic of the famous (again, no offence intended). But Tevya, a lovable character in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, says it better than I in his song, If I Were a Rich Man. Even Einstein, an icon of fame, was not very intelligent in his private life even though his Space and Time theories are unparalleled in brilliance.

In the political world, the need to appear in charge manifests itself in very sophisticated ways. For example, if two heads of state are about to exit through a door together after a public televised press conference, both of them juggle their exits as they walk toward the door, so as to be in a position to pat the other on the back and gesture ‘you first,’ thereby not merely to appear gracious but, more importantly, to appear as the senior statesman of the two. 

And, in the world of celebrities, it is fame itself that perpetuates the fame of celebrities, many of whom are basically ordinary people. (Again, no offence intended.)

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