My dad drove up to the house in this year’s tank. It’s painted white, like all the others have been. This led to a conversation about the color of the family cars - the turquoise Mercury, the blue Caprice, the brown LTD, and then the series of white cars that culminated in the enormous vehicle he commands today. Of course I had to drive it, so we went to the hardware store.

Features: if you drive over the left side of the lane, the seat vibrates on the left. Same on the right. If you have it on cruise control and fall asleep, it will detect a car ahead and back you off. It has no key. It senses your remote and lets you turn it on by pushing a button. It has a voice activation system that lets you control the radio or the phone by speaking; the onboard systems can display tire pressure, if you so desire. There are separate climate zones, and I asked my dad where the vents were in Zone 3.

“I don’t know,” he said, looking towards the back of the cabin. “I’ve never been back there.”

We all drove to dinner at a local cafe that has good burgers, and I recommended he have the Fiery Burger, which has hot cheese, jalapenos, chipotle sauce, and so on. I tried it once and walked out of the restaurant looking as if I’d stuck my head under a shower nozzle. He has a rather diminished sense of taste, though; six decades of inhaling gasoline does not exactly enhance the senses. He liked it.

Dinner was finished and we got back in the tank and I prepared to back out; the video system displayed a high-def panorama of the area behind, and laid out a suggested course.

“There’s a homeless man by the dumpster,” my wife advised. I looked at the screen. He was going through the trash for cans. He had a sign on his back that said:


Here we sat in the most technologically advanced vehicle the mass market can produce, and there was no way to alert the deaf man. Short of getting out and waving my arms. So I plotted another way out, backing up the length of the small parking lot, then turning this behemoth around in a cramped circle to get out. Turned the wheel; the suggested course on the screen changed, and I moved back slowwwwwly - whereupon he went to another dumpster, and the screen lit up with a hazard-warning sign.

At this point I suspected he might be aware of our propinquity, and unconcerned about it. Trusting us not to hit him.

We just sat there for a minute letting the class juxtaposition hang in the air until he moved along.



I think I mentioned the other day that it was cool! to be able to record TV shows on the DVR by tapping the iPad, but annoying that an update was required. Well.

I decided to play SimCity again, for some reason. No, I know the reason: need to play more games. Need to engage in more diversions. Need to stop doing something besides resizing postcards or managing the updates for the week to come or tagging photos. Have fun, for heaven’s sake. Right?

The program had to update, of course, because so many wonderful things had been added. Sit and wait. Restart. And:

No. Not okay. Restart; try again: bombs, because of an error in the UI AX > Murgatroid > Assets > Whumplemurger.exe file, more or less. Something has been corrupted, software being prone to the same sins as those of us with fleshly raiments, I guess. So, fire up the browser and learn that “1007” another version of SimCity is running. I should shut down my computer and try again.

This is like trying to play Monopoly but the board won’t open. Seems glued together. Solution: everyone leave the house, take a brief nap on the lawn, then go inside and try again. Says the Maxis homepage”

We are looking into an issue where SimCity doesn't close gracefully and can remain active in the background so when you try to play again it causes the error. We have a potential fix in development now for that issue.

That was dated August of last year.

Well, never mind. Let’s play Bioshock Infinite, which i downloaded a long time ago and have been waiting for the right moment. This is that moment. Click:

Bioshock cannot run while it is being updated.

It’s being updated? Check the network activity; nothing. Launch the app store, and a firehouse of data starts blasting as the entire 32 GB game is downloaded all over again. Why? Because of patches.

Ah.Patches, I’m dependin’ on you son / to help the app unscrew as the old tear-jerk song went. I got a patch the other day for an app that hides your data. Puts it into encrypted sparse bundle disk images, more or less, which I can easily do myself, but it provides a one-stop interface for all your Sensitive Data. It’s called “Hider 2.” Hider 1, which I had, simply hid things by making them invisible and hashing the file name. This looked to be much more . . . robust! That’s the magic word. Robustness is what we all want.

Sooooo. Did some tests on some duplicate folders. Encrypted and hid. Started the program again. It said it needed to repair something, and gave me a dialogue box asking if this was what I wanted to do. No, of course not. Leave it broken, shattered, sundered beyond hope. YES DO IT. Whereupon the program froze. I restarted it, whereupon it bombed upon entering the password. I restarted the computer and tried again, successfully entering my password, only to discover it had lost the file it encrypted.

Good. Lord. So: fire up Terminal, disable invisible files, poke around looking for the hidden archive. Nowhere to be found. Not only that, but it took the original with it. Of course I was working with a duplicate; not stupid. But consider:

Promise: Hider 2 will encrypt your sensitive data and keep it safe!

Reality: Hider 2 will take your sensitive data and wipe all traces from the Earth!

I wrote a Stern Letter to the company about this; my note on the MacPaw support forum did not get answered. Within two days I got an apologetic note with a link to a dropbox download to get the fixed version.

Where else but the world of software can you sell something that does not work and hope to make it up to your customers with a “fix” a few days later? It’s like ordering a pizza, and you get a manhole cover. When you call to complain that you have a manhole cover, they apologize and give the number of a taxi company that will send over a can of tomato sauce.

I wrote back and said no, I am snakebit. There’s no way I would ever trust this again. Why would I?

At least the DVR recorded the show I inputted on the iPad.

I didn’t like it.


Yes, it had flashes of profanity - incandescent bursts, actually - and mild fleeing naughtiness, but daughter wanted to see Grand Budapest Hotel, and so we went. It was something of a test: I expected she would be absolutely enchanted, but you never know. She was. We sat through the credits until the lights went up. When we got home she wanted the soundtrack. Seeing it the second time in the theater - which I don’t think I’ve done with a movie for 10, 20 years - I did not have the same experience, of course, but I was no less in love with the movie.

It did, however, make me realize that no filmmaker can ever experience his or her work the same way as an audience does. They must see it again and again, construct it, trim, flatten, enhance, then watch with the scratch score, then the FX, then the finished score, then the final version, never ever really knowing what it’s like to experience it for the first time with no knowledge of what comes next. Novels aren’t the same; so much of writing a novel consists of making it up as you go along that you have the same process of discovery as the reader. Paintings aren’t the same; it’s a thing beheld all at once. A filmmaker must view the work on a different level, as a collection of moments and recollections and private amusements and sorrows, most of which the viewer never sees.

Which reminds me: back to the novel. Home stretch.




One suspects it's meant ironically.

And so it is. Our world-weary hero, down on his luck:

He's walking down the street at night, lamenting his few options. He’s just got out of jail. He can’t blame anyone for not wanting to hire a two-time lower. He’d like to go straight, but what’s a guy like him going to do? Still, if he goes back in the joint, it’ll be for good. What he doesn’t know is that this is a flashback, told as he’s in a prison hospital bed, dying from a gunshot that will keep him alive long enough to tell 87 minutes’ worth of story.

Lucky for him, though, he’s this guy when he cleans up and has better lighting.

Also lucky for him: this dame’s stuck on him.


The plot? Well, he wants to go straight, but gets lured into an armored-car heist.

It’s an interesting little film. By the numbers, but it has Bogart in his last hoodlum role for a while. He’s even named Duke, to make you think of the “Petrified Forest,” perhaps. Because he’s Bogart, he has a moral code, and he’s a straight-shooter. Compared the rest of the rats and bosses, he’s practically a knight. But even by his own lights, he’s admirable. Not the easiest role to pull off, but the audience invested all that and more in Bogart, and it works.

Anyway: noir? Yes: Armored car man with a gatling gun, face lit up with each round he fires.


The obligatory Noir Phone Booth Shot. There's always one of these.

Even though he doesn’t participate in the holdup, he’s fingered by a witness, and this means . . . back to jail. For LIFE.





It's an odd prison, because it has a theater where the inmates can perform blackface routines with a Golliwog.

Aforementioned Golliwog:

It's Al Jolson as you've never seen him before!

The blackface con is part of a hold-up, and the prison section of the movie concerns an elaborate break-out. So it's been a heist movie, a prison movie, and then . . .

A heartwarming domestic movie. Bogart in the snowy woods with his best gal! You hope he gets away with it, but of course he can't; the moral code of the day, as well as the opening shot of the movie, requires that he pay with his life, even though he's innocent of the specific charges. He's guilty in general, and we get that, but he's also unjustly pursued. Once the cops find out where he is, there's a chase down a snowy highway, conducted at absurd speeds, and sped up to enhance audience suspense.




It has to end horribly, of course. I'm rushing over the many things that make it intereting. Enough to say that it feels like a Forties version of a Thirties movie, and when the end comes, it's the end for that character for Bogart.





He didn't play the bad guy in his next movie. A little number called "Casablanca."





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