May 15th, 2007

krazy koati

Where bowers and flowers bloom in the sun

Although my parents have been gone all weekend, I can't say my vacation really started until Monday. This is for what's going to sound like a pretty selfish reason: one of my little brothers (of two) came to visit, and spent good parts of the day, through into the evenings. I don't mean to complain about that. For one, I do love him, and we didn't see one another much while I was in Singapore. Plus he was going well above the call of duty between brothers to find some temporary computer-oriented work that I could do to get out of the house, earn some money, and by triggering the ``employed'' pheromones thereby make me irresistible to the people I want to offer me a job. It's just that I like solitude, and the thing about solitude is you really can't do it in groups.

But we had a fine time, and enjoyed the company, particularly when I got to show him W C Fields's It's A Gift, which may be the only movie largely set in Wappingers Falls, and half of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (unfortunately we didn't get to the part where he dangles off the clock high above the streets of Los Angeles, which is in context done for a reasonably good cause). We also spent a lot of time watching and laughing at Mildred Pierce, the gripping 1945 movie of a career woman with a daughter well ready to accuse her parents if they could stop drinking and smoking, and a weird History Channel sort-of-documentary, The Spanish-American War. I think this particular war is not mentioned enough, but they did something really weird with it and included not just historical re-enactors of key players and scenes, but had these ``historical figures'' filmed so that their movement would be jerky and have missing frames, and sometimes removed the color so it would look sort of like contemporary footage if not for smelling of videotape throughout.

And then at random intervals the performers would break the scene they're in and turn to the camera, sharing their views. It's the Spanish-American war as a dumb Reality Series. ``Well, you're sad that Garret Hobart went and died and stuff, but the thing is this totally opens the way for us to shut up that Roosevelt noodge by putting him in the Vice-President slot where he'll never be heard from again.'' (My brother, who was part of an archiving project for old audio, points out their Roosevelt sounds nothing like the recordings of the actual.) And we burst out laughing at the outros to commercial, where they told us, ``The Spanish-American War is brought to you by Visa.'' If the History Channel had any self-awareness they'd have gotten the San Francisco Examiner to buy an ad or two.

Trivia: On 1 April 1898 the United States Army had 2,143 officers and 26,040 enlisted men. Three weeks later it was directed to organize 125,000 new men. Source: The Spanish War, GJA O'Toole.

Currently Reading: 13 Above The Night, Edited by Groff Conklin. The introduction to this 1965 anthology has Conklin mention an obsolete genre of science fiction, that of ``mad molecules (the actual title of a story!) taking over civilization'', which readers are too sophisticated to tolerate anymore. Somebody tell the nanites. Also features Cyril Kornbluth's ``The Education of Tigress McCardle,'' in case anyone thought his ``Two Dooms'' didn't go into enough detail on the Yellow Peril. In another story, Eric Frank Russell deploys the Towers of Hanoi against aliens, and some reptilian aliens take over human minds in JF Bone's ``Founding Father'', but they only do it because they need our tin. In Mack Reynold's ``Prone'' Nicoll Events are harnessed as weapons of war.