We're all over the map today. Sorry about that. No consistent theme, no anecdotes of note. It's a melange. A goulash! A casserole. Perhaps more like a layer cake.

Here’s a fantastic idea for your lawn! Santa, emptying his bowels.



I think the door opens and closes every so often, revealing Santa. It has to. so let’s say you’re walking the dog, and you see the door open, and there’s Santa. Is he happy because he’s finally found a crapper, and can thus void his bowels, or because he’s already done it? If so, why would he go back in? If he goes back in and and leans out and shuts the door and opens it again and retreats over and over, you might think he had dysentery.


The other day I looked at the App Store's game of the day. It was called "Wheels of Aurelia," described as a 'Thelma and Louise' for the modern age" - a fact that may dismay that movie’s stars and writer, and a curious way of describing a game set in - well, let’s pick up the rest.

This interactive story is set in 1970s Italy, a tumultuous time of sexual revolution, political turmoil, terrorism, and kidnapping. As two friends, Lella and Olga, drive along the Italian coastline, small talk quickly turns to heated exchanges over feminism, fascism, death, football, and God.

The founder of the game company said we wanted to create a bit of a shock, to push the limits.”



It seems rather tedious. Note the archetypes: the Edgy, Unhappy One who is no doubt concerned about many serious things, and the traditionally feminine-appearing one, who I’ll just bet, sticks up for the old ways.


At least the conversation seems realistic!Ah, the Seventies in Italy, when economic upheavals led to an entire class of men selling their apes and moving back to the country.

It depressed the price of apes something horrible.



Free for the day was this game: The Frostrune.



It's a point-and-click game. Myst, in other words. Nice atmosphere, the usual puzzles. The door is locked! I need a key. Well, I will go over to this building - oh I can't get in. But let's try this door. Hello, there's a key on the floor. It fits the door! But now I have to turn these other things with faces on them. Oh there were faces back in that other room. Let's go look at the faces and match them to the lock.

And so on. My patience for these things, I think, is over. But what I think made it less than an optimal funtime was playing it on a phone. It's not particularly immersive. I don't know how anyone can expect to be lost in a story on such a small platform; it's like watching a movie through a keyhole.

It's Christmastime at my favorite antique store / pop-culture museum, and I have to say: it's a bit . . . odd this year.


He would probably look less creepy if he wasn't half-lit like some ancient god on a mountain where they cut out people's hearts when Mars appeared bright in the sky.

On the street level, they've brough out the enormous old plastic Christmas lanterns and bells, and festooned the tree with 60s festoonery.


Let's take a look at that painting.

Hip, With-it Jesus understands how you feel about cracking up dad's car. In fact Jesus thinks it's actually kinda funny, when you think about it.


Tomorrow we'll go inside. Prepare yourself.




Four words that will always get my attention:


Fritz Lang is a hero, even if his Hollywood work lacked the original visionary power of “Metropolis,” and even the verve of “Spies.” I should research his work more to see if there was some fat producer shouting “that Fritz Lang feeling? I got a dozen directors on this lot who can give me that Fritz Lang feeling!” Maybe he just got comfy.

The work is good, but the words FRITZ LANG build up your expectations, and they're not always met. See also Woo, John.

Basic plot: Gary Cooper is a nuclear scientist, because of course he is, and while he has expressed reservations in an obligatory OSS recruitment scene about man’s priorities (“we could beat cancer in a year if we had a billion dollars”) he agrees to go to Switzerland to thwart the German nuclear effort. That’s all you need to know. Black & White World is not a review section; I’m interested in the look of the movies, and the people in them.

Okay, slight review: For the first half of this film, it plays without a great deal of suspense, which betrays the FRITZ LANG nameplate. The composition is great -



But that could be from any number of movies with a good director. Some other shots that work nicely:



Mussolini in the background, the despairing figure in the foreground. GOT IT.

There’s an edge-of-the-seat fight scene that rivals the horrible intimacy of the Bond vs. Robert Shaw train-car fight in “From Russia with Love” -


And it’s shot with an Italian folk song playing underneath, perfectly timed to the action - this makes it a bit too neat to modern eyes, but at the time I expect it was startlingly realistic. At this point we believe that Gary Cooper, Scientist can take on an Axis agent in a knife fight, because well hell he’s Gary Cooper.

We also expect he might woo a lass, which requires a lass. In this case, a Fraulien playing an Italian partisan. It’s one of those movies that has “Introducing” in its credits, which tells you they think they have something special.

They do.



Lilli Palmer. Lang shoots her with reverence and respect - she’s like a fiery version of Ilsa in “Casablanca,” and makes Bergman’s weariness and cynicism in that movie seem unearned.


Husband: Rex Harrison.

In 1942, he divorced his first wife, Colette Thomas, and married actress Lilli Palmer the next year; they later appeared together in numerous plays and films, including The Four Poster.

In 1947, while married to Palmer, Harrison began an affair with actress Carole Landis. Landis committed suicide in 1948 after spending the evening with Harrison. Harrison's involvement in the scandal by waiting several hours before calling a doctor and police briefly damaged his career and his contract with Fox was ended by mutual consent. Harrison and Palmer divorced in 1957.


It’s an interesting period piece - when released, the outcome of the German nuclear program wasn’t really in doubt. Wartime tropes about noble partisans and cruel intellectual Churmans were still in play. It was a movie for a wartime audience but it wasn’t wartime anymore. But perhaps it captured that last fading moment when people wanted good hopeful stories about the war, and liked to be reminded of the days when such movies were comforts.

How long the comfort lasted after you left the theater, I’ve no idea. I suspect this one stirred no deep emotions, because we’d won.

Of course we would win. We had Gary Cooper on the job.

There's the look of a college physics professor who just had to kill a man.

That'll do; see you around!


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