Throngs at Target on Saturday, everyone stocking up for the Chill, the Snap, the Deathly Spell of cold weather due to hit the cities on Sunday and Monday. Temps predicted to hit 24 below. I don’t know what the difference is between -24 and -11, as we had last week; at that point, it’s just damned cold, and any elaboration seems baroque. Oh, it’s point of pride, I suppose; we all know that winter brings a week or two of marrow-cracking temps, and it’s the penance we pay for the green indulgence of June. Except it snowed in June last year, no? Or May. Miserable spring, I know that. We staggered through it shell-shocked, unable to muster much emotion for the tulips that popped up and died, trusting the trees would green quickly, hoping the vindictive grip of winter meant a hot summer and a long, gorgeous autumn.
In these parts the cruel spell comes in January, and that’s fine; we expect that. The month is allowed its miserable interval, and when it’s done we reach for Valentine’s Day as a handhold, one of those pitons on the calendar you use to haul yourself up to better times. But December spoke the lines we usually hear when January arrives; it’s as if this month seems intent on outdoing itself, surpassing expectations, putting all on notice. You thought I was cold before? Really. Well. Here. Try this.
So the stores were packed, because no one wanted to go grocery shopping on Monday, when it will be Farg-all Below. This I don’t get. Whether the temps are low or high I shop for the week. The spell can’t last long, and even if it does it’s not as though you will lose your life walking from the car to the store. Does no one plan to leave the house? Come Monday - the coldest day EVER since, well, the one we had before - will the highways be empty, the streets vacant, the office towers unpopulated?
Don’t ask me; I’m not going anywhere. What do I look like, an idiot?
It was warm, that’s the kicker. Had to be 23. I was merry and relaxed and made the grievous error of whistling a good deal as I shopped. Nothing tags you like a weirdo these days like whistling; people just don’t. Do. That. Oh, singing at the top of your lungs as you walk down the street with headphones on is fine, but a simple whistled tune is a mark of a cadiddlehopper, no matter how well you whistle. Ran into a fan while I was looking at the K-cup coffee options, i suppose nothing cements your “well-tempered humorist” rep better than whistling an old Rudy Vallee tune while you’re looking at the various DONUT SHOP offerings. This is the new standard in coffee, I gather; ever since someone said that Dunkin Donuts coffee was unexpectedly great, bestowing the donut-attribute to your brew is a sign of . . . .something, although I’ll be damned if I know what.
Computer, when did I have Dunkin Donuts coffee? WORKING
Okay, I’m coming up with two returns. One was the depressing mall in New Hampshire with the depressing food court - two Asian fast-food joints, facing each other across the court, a playground in the middle, each with a grim man with a tray loaded with grey toothpick-lanced chicken. The other . . . an airport, somewhere. A thin place off to the left.
Both cases were transitional places, and I love transitional places. Nothing matters. You float.
The thermometer just got depressed and said to hell with it:
Inside the house the thermometer said -6 with an internal temp of 66.6, which pretty much tells your where we're at. I don't mind it. Oh, you step outside to let the dog do what he needs; you consult with a small cigar for a minute or two, and it's not like you need a scarf or gloves, as long as you're not out for more than a few minutes. As I write it's 15 below, down from nine below a few hours ago. Oh, how we frolicked when it was nine below, how we laughed and cavorted, thinking these palmy days would last forever!
Checking: -17. That's more like it. Not satisfied until it's -20.
No school tomorow: they they canceled it three days in advance, knowing what was bearing down on the tender youth of our fair state. It’s not that the schools can’t handle cold - it’s just not safe to have them outside waiting for the bus, I guess. Daughter intended to have friends over to sit in the basement by the fireplace and watch movies and celebrate the end of the winter break, while I gather all the holiday items and put them in the bins.
I’m considering keeping out the Rolie Polie Olie snowglobe. It’s not specifically Christmas. If it was a Christmas thing it would have Klanky Klaus, who was more or less the same computer model for the Dad and Uncle Gizmo, stripped of color and given a Burly-Ivesy mustache. No, it’s Rolie and Zowie standing by the snowman who had to be saved from the sun, and his name, I believe, was Snowy.
Well, the target audience was pre-school.
There’s no reason all the Christmas - sorry, seasonal objects should disappear. Santa, yes: get outta here you lovable nut, g’wan. Bulbs on the palms and ferns, yes. All manner of metallic spherical festoonery is holiday-specific. But it’s odd to scour the house of all winter iconography when the season is just beginning. It’s odd to put away the candle that smells like pine. It’s odd to think there’s nothing to characterize the season at all except the absence of characterizations, when January is the very embodiment of winter, and would benefit from some good PR in the home department. But no: it's over, everything must go.
Okay, checking temp: holding at -17. Drat.
Ah. We meet again.
You will note that the Bleat design has changed. Everything has, if you wish to poke around the site and explore. Six months of work went into this. There are a few backwater sites that haven’t been updated, but for the most part the entirety of lileks.com has been rewritten. Ran the final check today on the Institute, and it took six hours just to fix the stuff that was missed in the original psss.
It is all a thing of beauty now, and I'm relieved: for the most part it looks like I want it to.
REMEMBER: Click on the picture to advance to the next page, that’s the rule.
I always say these aren't reviews, and this installment should prove that point nicely. The movie's almost irrelevant.
The end of the war didn't mean the end of Nazi movies. Now they were just hidden, plotting, scheming - waitiing for the GLORIOUS DAY when they would rise again. So:
A train-murder story that becomes one of those semi-documentary-style movies, complete with sonorous narrator who vanishes for long periods of time. It begins in Paris:
This seemed familiar. I swore I'd walked past it lo those many years ago. Took me about 90 seconds to find it on Google Street View:
The female lead is Merel Oberon, lovely as ever: A line from her Wikipedia bio: "Even so, there are still many people in Tasmania who claim to have known Oberon as a child. They insist she was the illegitimate daughter of a woman named Lottie Chintock."
The movie is set in Frankfurt after the war. It's a stark, ruined place, and the movie is more interesting as a post-war documentary than a thriller. Between Merle and the ruins, I'm not sure I paid much attention to the story.
The ruins outside the train station . . .
. . . appear to have been spruced up a bit.
The film abounds with pictures of destruction and ruination, and I don't know if this was meant to let people know we really gave them what for, or build public sympathy for the costs of reconstruction and aid. Pathetic locales like this look like they could never be as grand as they were before:
The action shifts to Allied HQ, which was located in this enormous complex - the I. G. Farbin complex.
This must have been startlingly modern at the time; in the US it would 50s-style modernism, but the building dates from the 20s and 30s.
Just a few shots of the interior - it has that 30s Things to Come look. The hallways curve, if I'm reading the descriptions correctly - a way to keep people from feeling distance fatugue, perhaps.