January 21st, 2007

krazy koati

Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair

There was yet another in the interesting phenomena surrounding my life last night: Turner Classic Movies showed The Odd Couple, as in the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau movie. I'd seen it in bits before, but never really gotten into it, probably because there was this air of strangeness around the proceedings since I had watched so much of the Tony Randall/Jack Klugman TV series. I live very close to both my Felix Unger and my Oscar Madison sides, as the specifically arranged piles of miscellaneous things that cover every flat surface anywhere I live, and I watched the show quite faithfully for a while.

And over the course of the TV show they used the original play-and-movie for plot points and for scenes many times over, sometimes in variations, sometimes straight up. (I don't know how many times Felix ``attempted suicide'' with the one otherwise-harmless pill, but it seemed like a lot.) So the movie was always competing with what I'd seen as the ``original version,'' the TV show adaptations, in great scenes like arguing about linguini, or Felix bringing the Pigeon Sisters to weeping in no time flat, or disinfecting the cards. About the only solid movie line that wasn't in the TV series, because in the series Felix was a photographer, was Felix telling the Pigeon sisters he writes for the TV news, which provokes an excellent question from one of them.

This time, though, was different. Either I haven't seen the series in so long that memories of it aren't competing with the current thing, or I've reached the point that I can handle alternate casting of favorite roles, but I think I finally enjoyed how the movie-and-play felt as an original thing, not competing with the adaptations and references from later on.

It's got me noticing the development of pop cultural obsessive-compulsive disorders, too. Compare Felix Unger to Adrian Monk. While Felix might get on your nerves, at least most of the things he's compulsive about are more or less reasonable, like getting ancient food out of the house, or not getting tracks on the just-cleaned floor. Monk whips up new compulsions on the spot, most of which can't be rationalized as excessive concern about anything worth modest concern. Granted Monk has dramatic need to be much worse off, but it's a curious escalation of mental disorders.

Trivia: Karl Friedrich Benz's first car, a three-wheeler, had a single, four-stroke-cycle engine, with electric ignition. Source: Engineering in History, Richard Shelton Kirby, Sidney Withington, Arthur Burr Darling, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

Currently Reading: World's Best Science Fiction: 1965, Edited Donald A Wollheim, Terry Carr. Because every now and then it's good to read a little science fiction from after when John W Campbell stopped editing the stories in Analog.