For years I’ve meant to get a picture of a used-car dealership on Penn Avenue. The entire street is a graveyard of 60s restaurants, and this dealership has its office in an unusual fast-food joint from a chain no one remembers. Today I was sent to get Thai take-out; it's right by the dealership, so I decided to drive south a few blocks and snap the picture. I was sitting in the left-hand turn lane, wondering if I should do a U-turn or FIST IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD

Crunch - lurch - stop; assess:

When you’ve been rear-ended by another car, your poor brain has two immediate concerns: 1. figuring out what the hell happened, and 2. coming up with the right curse. May I interest you in something blasphemous? No, that’s not quite your style. Perhaps an effinheimer?

Yes, I believe I'll go with the effinheimer.

Very good then.

I felt as if I'd been casually swatted with a big flat hand. Nothing personal. I looked in the rearview mirror, then motioned the driver to follow. We did a U-turn into a submarine sandwich store, which, I thought distractedly, used to be a gas station; too bad. Could have had the damage fixed right away.

I got out. She got out. Young woman in her twenties. I JUST BOUGHT THIS CAR, she said, and you know, I wasn’t as affected by that pronouncement as you’d think. The hood of her car was bent and rippled and twisted all to hell. I was afraid to look at the back of my car, but huzzah: not bad. The spare tire cover was ripped. The tire had been bent back on its bracket. No cosmetic damage to the vehicle. The tire took the brunt. Honda: like a rock.

We exchanged information, and I think it’s a sign of my disorientation that I got her zip code, but not the license plate number. (Got the VIN, though.)

“What happened back there,” I said.

“I was reading the paper,” she said.

I should have been pleased, given that we’re losing ground in this demographic, but I wasn’t.

“I’m looking for an apartment,” she added, as if this explains why one would approach a major intersection without braking or looking out the large, clear expanse of glass that auto designers have helpfully provided.

I got back in the car, and drove to the Thai restaurant. My car made a low throaty rattle at certain engine speeds - something loose in the door, or perhaps in the muffler assembly. Got the food, went home.

Without the picture.

Called the insurance company; when the nice young lady on the other end asked what happened I said “I was struck from behind by an idiot. That’s I - D - I - O - T.” Muffled laughter.

“I’m writing this all down,” she said. Good.

It takes a while to shake that I’ve just been in a car accident feeling, and even thought it happened almost three hours ago I’m still a little twitchy. No aches, no pains, no double vision, odd bleeding, or anything of the sort. She didn’t even hit me hard enough to blow her airbag, but what an interesting sensation that was. So unexpected; so stern.

Saw “Live Another Day” this weekend, and no I will not bore you with a review. But knowing that North Korean leader Stumpy Kim is a big fan of Bond movies made the opening sequences rather amusing. The North Korean army, you see, had a fleet of armored hovercraft for floating over minefields, as well as rifles that shot DU rounds, and various other nifty shiny toys. What must have gone through Kim Il Jong’s runty-drunk forebrain as he watched that? Perhaps shame that he had none of these fine toys; perhaps fear as he wondered whether the West thought he did, and had developed countermeasures.

The film also had a brief appearance by Madonna; to say she was wooden is to insult trees, which after all do move in the wind and grow over
the years. Man, does she look used up. She looks like she’s made entirely of jerky.

I finished the Animatrix DVD, and I will now bore you only slightly. I recommend it to anyone who loved the first movie, but the long backstory about the fall of man and the rise of Mr. Clanky & his Super Friends has some flaws. It all comes down to this: the machines are mad at us because we didn’t let them into the UN. And they dressed up for the induction ceremony and everything. But you know humans! Once one robot goes rogue, we set our minds to killin’ the lot of them, regardless of the cost to the global economy.

One shot made me stop, hit pause, because there was something about the image that rang bells. This is a scene from an anti-robot pogrom. Maybe I’m just too . . . sensitive about these things; maybe I’ve been visiting LGF too much. Maybe it’s because I just read that Atlantic Monthly article a few days ago. But:

I probably wouldn't have noticed it, had it not been for the barrel. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, be glad; this way lies madness. Make of it what you will.

And then, having exhausted the rented stuff, I went down to the library for something I’d been saving. Let me set this up:

Imagine you’re 20 or so, and it’s 2064. One night the EnterNet shows a movie called “The Empire Strikes Back.” You love it - dated and clunky as it seems, it has something indefinable that connects with you. (Most of your friends are indifferent or antipathetic to it, so you don’t bring it up much when talking about movies.) Then one day you see the Restored Version. It’s pristine. Scenes that previously looked dark and cloudy are bright and clear, and old lost footage has been added. You discover:

1. The original score was not a five-piece jazz combo, but a full orchestra, and the score matches the action.

2. After escaping from the ice planet Hoth, Luke goes to a planet called Dagobah and studies with someone called Yoda

3. The fellow who takes away Han Solo at the end is called Boba Fett, and he’s a bounty hunter

4. The final battle scene in that strange place is part of a much larger sequence in a place called the Cloud City, and right before Luke drops down into the void, Darth Vader says “No, Luke. I am your father.”

You’d spend most of the time with your jaw on your sternum. And that was how I reacted to the restored version of Metropolis. Simply put: this is not the movie I knew.

The first thing you notice is the score. I think every other version, aside from the one that had Queen and other rock groups providing a soundtrack, had some sort of piano / string quartet score that bore little relation to the movie; it was like the comments of someone watching a parade pass by. The original 1927 soundtrack was scored for full orchestra, and has dozens and dozens of cues that matched the music precisely to the action. (In fact, they reconstructed the film by matching the handwritten notations in the score to the rediscovered footage.) And the score is incredible. Instead of some asymmetric plinking, or some violins as languorous and tortured as an Egon Schiele painting, we have a full-throated symphonic score of old-style German Romanticism.

The quality of the restoration is uniformly impressive; the movie shines and glows. And for the first time it seems to be populated by people, not jerky mimes in pancake makeup.

Lots of extras, as you might expect; there is a “making of” featurette that has some priceless interviews with director Fritz Lang. In the first few interviews he is the archetypical Continental, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, wearing a monocle. Then he goes all the way:

My man!

Anyway. I could go on, but you’d best just hit the Buy the Book button below, type “Metropolis” into the Amazon search box and buy the thing yourself. It’s worth it just to learn what this movie is actually about - there are subplots you never imagined. It’s worth it for the tutorial on special effects c. 1927, or the production stills, which include a shot of a prop man using a blowdrier on the robot. And you learn so many details - the woman who played Maria, for example, died in 1996 at the age of 90. And she never spoke about the film.

Why would she - when the face says it all?