In the guest room closet is a shelving unit. Not a shelf; that would be a simple thing with a rod and perhaps a shelf above it. This is a unit. Two rods, three shelves at varying elevations. It was like that when we bought the house, and for a decade served us well until a simple plastic sleeve, heretofore described, snapped, and brought everything down. I replaced this. I rebuild the unit. I said: let’s not overload it, because it has a limited capacity, and the last time it went down it took out a screw that held it in the drywall.
One of the boxes on the shelves held the family’s strategic reserve of Bows. Apparently we must be prepared at any moment to wrap 459 presents and bestow them with a matching bow. They were in an ugly plastic box, so I went to the store and bought three nice fabric bins and put the bows in the bins and put the bins on the top shelf, because they are seldom used. (I could have thrown out half the bows, but She Would Know). Likewise, there was a box of ribbon remnants that struck me as a rather overgenerous supply of ribbon, so I separated all of them into small piles and put them on the bed and asked my wife if she might perform some triage. Some ribbon fragments were marked for disposal. I would have thrown them all out, but men - granted, #notallmen - do not consider how a six-inch scrap might be used to adorn a box the size of a toddler’s molar.
These went in another fabric bin on top of the shelf.
Around 11 PM Saturday night I saw my wife moving clothes from the Main Closet to the Backup Closet. I feared the worst but I had mentioned that the rods could not be overtasked. Twice.
Sitting downstairs at the kitchen table, at 11:32, which was moments ago, I heard a calamitous sundering directly above my head. I walked up the stairs and looked down the hall and went back down the stairs again. Nothing more needed to be said.
But that wasn’t very helpful, so I went back up and put the shelves back together, again, as best as possible.
I think it goes without saying that all the ribbons and bows tumbled out of the new fabric bins. Annnnd I think it goes without saying that I had probably stop writing this and go upstairs and help put all ninety billion bows back in the fargin’ bins.
After I finish this drink.
It’s a tall one. Tall. With a stern composition.
Friday I went to the Back to the Fifties car show to shoot a video with Shari. We had an hour. Find some cars, find some guys who wanted to talk about their cars, shoot the sheet metal, improvise and open and a close and WRAP. Went home; crunched what I’d shot while she was shooting something else; get the column out; write the work blog, and then spike the ball when it was done and head off to daughter’s art show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The class had many tasks, but one group project involved splitting up a large artwork into 16 squares, and then the students drew their square and reassembled the entire work from their individual compositions. I was quite impressed with daughter’s contribution, and I’m curious: can you tell what the work is? It’s a famous piece held by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I thought she really captured her 1/16th.
We drove to piano lesson afterwards, and cut through Uptown; she’s fascinated by Uptown. The shops and cafes and citizens. (“Oh, hipsters,” she sighed at one point. “Could you be more of a cliche.” But the boho spirit has its charms for her, I can tell.) I drove past where I lived, described what used to be where that was now, and juked down some side streets to shave a minute or two off our time. Hit the lakes. The sun was shining, there were rowboats in the estuary, and I could see the wheels spinning: I want to live here. I could.
You hold your breath and say nothing. Just enjoy the perfect Friday afternoon, the music and the breeze and the drive to the empty school at the end of the week. Almost ten years we’ve done this. It’s the best part of life. Friday afternoon. Everything is possible and most of it seems likely.
And by most of it, I mean “pizza for supper.” I’m a simple man. That will suffice.
Anyway, cars. So much gorgeous metal.
This means something, or it doesn’t:
2? There was a 1? Yes: the Quatermass Xperiment, two years before, in 1955. Quatermass who? you might ask, wondering wheat the peculiar name meant. Well, it meant Science! and moral rectitude and a very British attitude towards defeating alien threats; the BBC TV series, it was regarded as a founding document in English sci-fi, and the name was intended to contain certain native virtues that resonated deeply with an audience living in changing times.
Which makes you wonder why they screwed the pooch so hard on the casting, but we’ll get to that. Behold, the Lab of the Eggheads:
All that equipment and machines that go ping! are picking up strange signals from space. This is relevant to their interests, because they’re working here:
The archetypal rocket. People must have been slightly disappointed when the real thing turned out to be a bit less stylish. I was happy with the movie at this point, because it had serious scientists and silvery rockets, which fixes it at a particular pre-groovyness period.
Well, as the boys in the control room are puzzling over the signals, the boss comes in from a trip to London, and he’s irritated. He’s a bit of a jerk, actually. He’s quite a jerk, actually. He has reason; the short-sighted fools have nixed his moon-base project. Something about “too much money.” He’s our hero:
Brian Donleavy. Quatermass. A few actors had played the role before. But he was . . . American.
Imagine if you’re a Englishman or a Scots, and you go to see the second Bond movie, hopes high, and he’s played by Tony Curtis.
Basic plot: Quatermass stumbles across a facility run by the government, heavily guarded by silent soldiers with peculiar facial scars. He suspects a connection to the signals from space, of course. When he goes to Whitehall or wherever to investigate, he’s handed off to Not Mister Suspicious Alien-Influenced Guy Whatsoever:
They go on a fact-finding tour to assure them nothing is wrong, it’s actually a synthetic food factory, and you know what happens to the fellow who was skeptical at the start:
Well, nothing dispenses with suspicion like turning someone into a mascot for Imperial Tar, I guess.
It turns out the meteors contain cylinders that shoot something into humans and makes them zombie-slaves of the Peril from Space. And that’s all the more reason to stop everything for a dance sequence at a local pub, because there hasn’t been enough pretty-girl quotient here so far.
Frug it, luv! It’s all rather rote, and Donleavy barks and blusters his way through it to no great effect, but the last half hour is a corker. It’s Men of Science vs. the alien mind-wiped minions, and I do love to see Men of Science break out the guns and fire away, especially since half appear to be middle-aged. But they would have handled a gun in their time against other stern foes. One brave scientist makes a break for the panel to launch the Moon Ship against the asteroid that controls the facility, and . . .
Interesting bullets. They only make you bleed on the way out.
The asteroid is manufacturing destructive creatures for some reason, and when we see them -
Well, I don’t know why these guys don’t get more cred in the Monster Movie pantheon. They are absolutely horrible. Just wet jiggly masses of disgusting stuff.
Of course, it ends well. Look! The things!
Like I said, the last half hour is action-packed, Pee-Wee, and the monster is far more horrifying than any of your Godzillas or Rodans or the like. It’s still a missed opportunity. Quatermass would return a few more times, including the exceptionally fine “Quatermass and the Pit” in 1967, which had my favorite version of the character, and one of the most unusual end-credit sequences of any such monster / sci-fi movie. I recommend it highly. This? Meh. But a qualified Meh, because it makes you want to know more about Quatermass. You almost hate to search for him on Youtube, because you know there’s hours there, but don’t worry. I’ll save you the trouble.
Next week: down into the pit.
Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!