I should be editing Fair videos; I have to do two, and then there’s columns galore this week. Behind, behind, behind.

The lawn sprinklers are going full force, because it hasn’t rained since the monsoons stopped in June, for the most part. A humid night, the thing I dream about in the deepest trough of winter. A wind making the trees sound nervous and unsettled. A man in the gazebo typing any banal thing that comes to mind.

Art absolves everything. From a WSJ review of a biography of Gabe Announcer:

In 1910, at age 47, Gabriele d'Annunzio fled Florence for Paris to escape his creditors. Short, balding, with small black and yellow teeth and bulging eyes that to one observer made him look like a "tragic gargoyle," d'Annunzio had an uncanny charm, which he used to seduce hundreds of women. He was also a powerful speaker who could captivate entire crowds.

He retreated into a hedonistic dotage at Lake Garda, and his licentiousness seemed to increase with age. While he had for years required his housekeeper to have sex with him up to three times a day, now an endless stream of girls from surrounding villages flowed through his house. When he died at his desk in 1938, at age 74, Mussolini led the nation in mourning.

But he was a great poet, which is supposed to change things. The review of the biography is called “Fascism’s Prophet.” He sounds like an utterly revolting man. From another review:

Exactly what happened at around 11 o’clock on the evening of August 13, 1922 in the Vittoriale, the retreat on the shores of Lake Garda of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Italy’s most celebrated war hero and writer, is unclear. He was sitting in pyjamas and slippers, his back to an open window, in the raised ground floor of the music room, listening to Luisa Baccara, the latest of his long-suffering mistresses, play the piano. Suddenly he toppled headfirst ten feet on to the gravel below and fractured his skull. According to one witness he had been fondling Luisa’s sister: perhaps he had lunged forward and lost his balance; or perhaps she had pushed him away a little too brusquely. Or it could be that he had simply been overcome by momentary dizziness: he was consuming quite large quantities of drugs at this time, including cocaine.

I’ve never read a review of a biography of a well-mannered man who lived a quiet, decent life, but was a rather ordinary poet. If you’re really good, you’re not only absolved - your sins are pertinent, telling, and fascinating parts of your complex tale.

THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. I watched “Phantom,” a sub movie. It was okay. It had all the requisite tropes; rivets popped, needles went into the red, commands were barked, silence was enforced, people stood around and looked up a lot. It’s set on a Russian sub that was lost and later recovered by Howard Hughes’ Glomar Explorer, which was apparently taking a break from exploring Glomars. Most of it is fanciful. The strangest part was the absence of Russian accents.

Do we require actors to speak in accents when they’re playing the Other Guys? It helps. Never mind that we usually don’t know about specific accents inside the language, the regional dialects, the idioms. Doesn’t matter. If it’s set on a Russian sub then everyone should sound like Pavel Chekov. Otherwise you start to hear American accents, and you wonder why a Russian sub is full of guys from Kansas.

There was also the matter of the Keptin - sorry, the Captain - attending a marriage in a church before he set to sea, and wearing a cross. Not an orthodox cross, either. Huh. So that was normal for sub captains in 1972? I don’t think so. Ed Harris was the captain, and was Ed Harris, which is all you need. David Duchovny proved that he wasn’t dialing it back when he played Mulder. Ah, but I’m reviewing it, aren’t I.

Anyway. Saturday. Yea, I shopped, and that’s about all there was to the day, reall, bt it was an epic act of provisioning. it began at the local hardware store, which you want to patronize because it’s the local hardware store. I needed a gallon of paint to do the shed. I had a chip. They could match the color using Modern Technology, and a gallon would be must $52. Blerk. Well. While he matched the color I looked for wood putty, because - well, there’s a cabinet door upstairs that has a small metal pimple to keep it closed. When you shut the door, the pimple depresses, then pops up in a dimple. A pimple dimple, I suppose. The other day a century of opening and closing the door finally wore away the wood to the point where it doesn’t stay shut, and I considered filling the dimple with some putty. But then I realized this was just the sort of job I would screw up, and considered a latch that held the door shut by other means.

They had just the thing. Well, they had an example; they had no actual latches. So I told them to hold off on the paint, and went to Home Depot. They had the paint for $26 a gallon. Great! They had the same latch! Great! Except that they didn’t have the latch, just an empty drawer, like the other store. So there’s been a run on the latches, then. I went to Menard’s, the Frustrating Enormo-Mart, and found the latch for a dollar.

Because I like my neighborhood grocery store I will buy the primer and brush from them. Does that sound idiotic? They spent time on me, helped me with the latches and the paint, and I bought elsewhere. I should mention I saw the beautiful old Edison-style lightbulbs with the elaborate filaments at the neighborhood store, and almost bought them - but they were ten bucks. They were eight at the Enormo-Mart. So yes, primer and brushes and the local store.

Then Target and Trader Joes and Cub, fighting the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. Don’t know if it’s Fair and construction; probably construction and Fair, but everything was immobile, the cars baking in the murderous heat. Traffic spilled on to surface streets (as distinct from the aerial pathways the jetcars take, I suppose) and this meant juking down side streets just to move. Don’t care if it takes twice as long. Movement is what matters.

At the same time my wife was at the mall with daughter, getting shoes for school, and was behind a big family wandering through the parking ramp to the entrance. Twelve people walking abreast. Slowly. Ambling along. Unconcerned. They made it impossible for anyone to proceed, and eventually my wife, thinking they might not know there was a conga line of cars behind them sincerely desirous of getting home for dinner, tooted her horn.

Which, of course, led to an obscene gesture and a halving of their speed. Great lesson to hand down to the kids.




I’ve seen this before. It took a while, but it was too familiar.

The set-up: a guy stops while his dog does his business, and witnesses a murder. A reminder of old signage:

The dogged detective: you might know his son.

That’s Robert Keith, the father of Brian Keith. He’s trying to help the Woman on the Run:

Ann Sheridan, tough as a rebar, wisecracking, heart-of-gold you suspect, but worn to an adamantine nubbin by her fractious relationship with her artist husband, who can’t be arsed to get a job or even sell his work.

Anyway. She’s looking for him while trying to evade the cops, who want him because he witnessed a murder. That’s it. Let’s look first at the inadvertent documentary:

There's not enough there to google. Or here. Marvelous city, isn't it? Don't you wish you could go there for a day, before the glass took over?

Ah: now this will help. A Foreman & Clark on the corner.

This site says it's Stockton and Ellis. Foreman & Clark now, more or less:

This is easy. The St. Francis.

It looks inert and depopulated today.

Same goes for this street.

The current locations today. Cleaner and safer and neater and much more civilized. And so much more boring.

In the last half hour, the movie shifts from straight-on ordinary shots, and heightens the mood of unreality and dislocation by shooting everything askew.

This is why I love these films: every frame can stand alone as a photograph, a snapshot of a moment fraught with doubt and menace and investigation.



It ends at an old amusement park, where the robots issue mocking laughter:

Towards the end, there’s a short scene in the police office, and just to establish its noir credentials there are the requisite Venetian Blinds. Oddly placed.

When I took that screen shot I wondered: did I do this movie before on the Bleat, years ago? Did I take the same shots, including the Venetian Blinds?

Here's the poster:

One more thing.

That's it; back to the Fair. Tumblr up late and Strib blog dicey today, but watch that Instagram feed. See you around!





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