April 14th, 2010

krazy koati

Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise

An update on Turner Classic Movies watched during WiiFit Step Aerobics: The Gorgeous Hussy, a 1930s drama about the Eaton Affair that I had the Tivo record because, sheesh, a movie --- starring Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, and Jimmy Stewart, among other real actors --- about the Peggy Eaton scandal? In case you don't remember the Eaton Affair it's because even experts on the United States of the 1830s only dimly remember it. (It was one of those freak moments when the government of a democracy comes to a screeching halt over the existence of female-type women of non-male genderness. Andrew Jackson's whole cabinet, other than the Postmaster, resigned over it. Unfortunately it was all conducted in the 1830s, so while people were apparently sniping at each other in ways very funny at the time, today all the gossip reads like spill-off from a Dictionary Of Unused Words and the descriptions are too opaque to be exciting.)

Where it got really weird: Peggy Eaton (Crawford) playfully taunts the sour Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) as he arrives in Washington. As Jackson grumbles, Eaton stuff a stalk of celery in his lapel, which Jackson doesn't respond to for pretty much the rest of the scene. He just sits there sulking with celery brushing his shoulder. Andrew Jackson is not on the short list of Presidents that I want to be Time Lords, I'm sorry. That's just weird.

Also watched recently was Dr Ehrlich's Magic Bullet, a bio-pic (with Edward G Robinson as Paul Ehrlich) about his triumphant march through the world of infectious diseases. Ehrlich's big triumph, of course, was formula 606 to combat syphilis, and I was amused waiting to see how long the movie would go without actually naming the dread disease. They managed over an hour and ten minutes, and even then, didn't name what the disease was in the presence of any characters who might be taken to be suffering from it, and there was much more talk of how it might be contracted through wholly innocent means than of the way anyone actually gets it. It's not that they couldn't make a bio-pic about the same subject today, just that it would be worse in many ways. I'm not sure if the careful phrasing around the big disease would be one of the noteworthy losses.

Trivia: Carried as payload on the first several Space Shuttle flights (including the Approach and Landing Tests) was the Developmental Flight Instrumentation package of sensors comparing Shuttle performance to its models, which weighed about 10,000 pounds. Source: Space Shuttle: The History Of The National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: The Space Station: An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Editor Theodore R Simpson.