Monday, February 28, 2022

Recently updated

Who is Saul Chandler? With new (at least new to me) info.

Seven movies, five seasons

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers. Sources: Criterion Channel, Hulu, a theater, TCM, YouTube.]

Big House, U.S.A. (dir. Howard W. Koch, 1955). Wide open spaces (Royal Gorge, Colorado) and a claustrophobic cell are the settings for a tale of two crimes: a kidnapping and a jailbreak. Ralph Meeker plays the Iceman, whose ransom plot gone wrong lands him in a cell with a pimp (Lon Chaney Jr.), a “pervert” (Charles Bronson, reading muscle magazines), a psychokiller (William Talman), and a criminal mastermind (Broderick Crawford). Reed Hadley is the FBI man determined to bring the Iceman and company to justice. Several scenes of brutal violence and a unexpected plot twist add grimness and suspense to the proceedings. ★★★ (TCM)

*

The Turning Point (dir. William Dieterle, 1952). A prosecutor (Edmond O’Brien) enlists a newspaper reporter (William Holden) in an effort to bring a businessman/crime boss (Ed Begley) to justice. Personal relationships complicate things: the reporter is attracted to the prosecutor’s significant other (Alexis Smith), and the prosecutor’s cop father (Tom Tully) might not be on the right side of the law. Many Los Angeles locations, including Angels Flight, and a long, harrowing scene with a hit man at the Olympic Auditorium. Any similarities between the businessman/crime boss and any other businessman/crime boss are purely coincidental. ★★★★ (YT)

*

[Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit in Parallel Mothers. From the film’s website. The shirt says “We Should All Be Feminists.”]

Parallel Mothers (dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2021). It’s an extraordinary movie, and to my mind the best Almodóvar ever, about motherhood, friendship, trust, betrayal, secrets, lies, memory, truth, and documentation. Almodóvar joins the emotional intensity of Douglas Sirk’s “women’s pictures” to an exploration of Spain’s brutal fascist past. It’s a women’s picture indeed, with just one significant male character (Israel Elejalde), and Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Rossy de Palma, and Julieta Serrano front and center. The final scene moved me to tears, and I can only imagine the effect on a Spanish audience. ★★★★ (T)

*

Cornered (dir. Edward Dmytryk, 1945). As confusing a movie as I think I’ve ever seen — it makes The Big Sleep seem coherent. Dick Powell plays a Canadian pilot and former POW trying to track down the killer of his wife, a member of the French Resistance. A lead takes him to Buenos Aires, where all kinds of deception and double-crossing take place. Walter Slezak does good work as a man in a white suit and Panama hat (Sidney Greenstreet-esque). At some point I gave up on trying to follow the plot and settled for the Harry J. Wild’s cinematography: shadows and more shadows. ★★★ (TCM)

*

The Woman on Pier 13 (dir. Robert Stevenson, 1949). It might be called an anti-Communist film noir (first titled I Married a Communist ). Robert Ryan plays Brad Collins, a just-married executive whose youthful dalliance with Commie Christine Norman (Janis Carter) and the Party comes back to haunt him. The plot is preposterous, with Thomas Gomez and William Talman adding some gangster flavor. What really adds some value: Nicholas Musuraca’s cinematography. ★★ (TCM)

*

Dark Days (dir. Marc Singer, 2000). A black-and-white documentary about a loose community of people living underground in a stretch of a Manhattan railroad tunnel. They go to extraordinary lengths to construct and maintain their houses, built with salvaged plywood, salvaged sheet metal, salvaged doors, and salvaged everything else. They light their living spaces with borrowed electricity, cook on hot plates and over open fires, scavenge the city’s garbage cans and dumpsters, and devote considerable attention to personal cleanliness, sweeping out spaces, showering under a broken water pipe, shaving with an electric hair trimmer and a piece from a broken mirror. Drug abuse (crack) and horrific backstories abound, and it would all be unbearable save for the film’s last minutes. ★★★★ (CC)

*

Stations of the Elevated (dir. Manfred Kircheimer, 1981). Forty-four minutes of (mostly) graffiti on trains, shot outdoors, in brilliant sunlight, with many great glimpses of whole cars painted by LEE, SLAVE, and other artists. Didactic juxtapositions of trains and billboards pose a question about urban blight: is it exuberant youthful self-expression, or hyper-realist images selling alcohol, cigarettes, and suntan lotion? There’s too much randomness in the movie: shots of kids, neighborhoods, green areas, and Attica State (I think), with no clear sequencing. Music by Aretha Franklin (“Amazing Grace,” briefly) and Charles Mingus, with no identification or pieces or musicians. ★★★ (CC)

*

Five seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, 1970–1975)

One: Escape to a pandemic-free world of manual typewriters, tiny television sets, shag carpeting, and Scotch in the boss’s desk drawer. The writing is sharp, with almost every line still landing, in Mary’s apartment and in the third-tier newsroom. And such vividly drawn personalities: Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), Lou Grant (Ed Asner), Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), and Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod). And Mary Richards, who is such a goody-goody: when she does something that’s plain wrong, like telling Rhoda that an open position at WJM-TV is already filled, it’s utterly shocking — and that doesn’t happen until season two. ★★★★ (H)

Two: Something that surprised both Elaine and me: Lars and Phyllis Lindstrom don’t own the house they and Mary and Rhoda live in. The Lindstroms are building managers. Who knew? Another surprise in season two: an episode that turns out to be about anti-Semitism. Its title: “Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda.” ★★★★ (H)

Three: Sex finally enters the picture, with a date asking Mary if he can spend the night (no), Mary’s parents Dottie and Walter (Nanette Fabrey and Bill Quinn), who have relocated and live just around the corner, sussing out that Mary got home from a date at 8:27 in the morning, and both Mary and Dottie responding to Walter’s reminder: “Don’t forget to take your pill.” Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel) enters the story, with Mary steering her to a more equal relationship with Ted. Rhoda wins a beauty contest at her department store, a brief respite before she returns to faux-frump. A gay character appears, briefly (Rhoda even uses the word gay ), and there are Nixon and Agnew jokes: the times were changing. ★★★★ (H)

Four: Mary has a new shorter hairstyle; her parents are never mentioned; and her apartment now has a bookcase, plant shelves, a larger writing desk, and a cute little table for two by the window. Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) enters the story line and bags her first partner (Phyllis’s husband Lars) in the season’s first episode. Lou and Edie separate; Ted plagiarizes Mary’s creative-writing assignment; Henry Winkler shows up briefly as Rhoda’s fired co-worker; Rhoda disappears from the series; and Pete, a frequent figurant (J. Benjamin Chulay) gets a chance to speak a line. ★★★★ (H)

Five: With Rhoda gone (and we hear nothing about her until an episode in which Mary heads off to the wedding in New York), the series focuses almost entirely on the people of the workplace. Lou begins a relationship with an “experienced” lounge singer; Murray toys with the possibility of an affair; Sue Ann fends off an incursion by an All About Eve-style stand-in; and Mary becomes more assertive at work and at home: “Phyllis, you’re making me nauseous.” But the series weakens, with stunt episodes (Lou moving into Rhoda’s empty apartment) and endless recyclings of the same scenarios: Mary walking into Lou’s office; Lou talking to Mary and Murray while Ted begs to be included; people knocking on Mary’s door at all hours to talk about their problems. Best episodes: “Not a Christmas Story,” in which a grumpy newsroom has Christmas dinner in November on Sue Ann’s set, and “Ted Baxter’s Famous Broadcasters School,” which approaches the surrealism of Seinfeld. ★★★ (H)

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard) : The last words of Parallel Mothers

One Wordle

Wordle 254 3/6

⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

I find it tiresome when people post their Wordle result day after day after day. That’s why I’m posting mine just once.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Outtakes (4)

[Outtakes from the WPA’s New York City tax photographs, c. 1939–1941, available from 1940s NYC. Click either image for a larger view.]

*

Working from the film-roll number for the outtake, an incredibly assiduous reader tracked down the location for the first photograph: Abraham Zacharoff Plumbing & Heating, 103 Varet Street, Brooklyn. Thanks, Brian.

[Click for a larger view.]

The City Record (June 9, 1933) lists Mr. Zacharoff as a registered master plumber at this address. His home address: 101 E. 53rd Street, Brooklyn.


More outtakes to come.

Related posts
Outtakes (1) : Outtakes (2) : Outtakes (3): More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Zuckerberg and Beckett

Just when I thought I was done thinking about the Metaverse: there’s now a video of Mark Zuckerberg creating a world with his voice. Talk about playing God.

In this new video, Zuckerberg creates a scene at a beach, complete with drinks and “tropical music.” And talk about whiteness: there shall be clouds. As I wrote in my one and only post about the Metaverse, “Poverty of imagination, with everything at its disposal” — including clouds.

[The scene before the creating begins.]

The partial on-screen bodies in this video began to remind me of Winnie and Willie, partly buried in a mound in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. I regret that the Zuckerberg video doesn’t depict bodies partly buried in the sand itself. No matter — they’re already trapped.

Alas, I cannot find an appropriate free-to-share photograph of a production of Happy Days. But the link above and an image search should suffice. There’s also this (imaginary) Beckett–Bushmiller collaboration:


[“Oh this is a happy day!”]

I assume that if any Metamates have recognized the Beckettian overtones in the Zuckerbeach scenario, they were smart enough (or dumb enough?) to keep their mouths shut.

Thanks, Ben.

Mary Miller stands alone

The Chicago Tribune reports that Mary Miller (our household’s representative in Congress) is the only member of the Illinois congressional delegation not to denounce Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:

Freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, a Republican who has embraced the far-right elements of the national GOP and is backed for reelection by former President Donald Trump, issued a statement that neither condemned Putin’s actions nor backed U.S.-led sanctions to his regime.

Instead, she praised Trump for using a “peace through strength” strategy and achieving energy independence during his tenure in the White House as she delivered a litany of what she considered national security failures of Democratic President Joe Biden “and radical leftists in Congress.” She also warned that “gas prices are about to skyrocket even higher.”

“None of this would be happening if President Trump was still in the White House,” Miller’s statement concluded. “I will continue to pray that God watches over the people of Ukraine.”
Mary Miller is a disgrace, locally, nationally, internationally — cosmically, even. Mary is also in a spot of trouble with the Federal Election Commission.

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is an easier puzzle by “Lester Ruff,” or Stan Newman, but I found it challenging in unexpected ways — three-letter-word ways, like 36-D, “Tank filler” and 39-A, “End of Bill Gates’ full name.” What? Oh! Or in three-letter words, HUH and AHA.

Some other clue-and-answer pairs of interest:

7-D, fifteen letters, “As luck would have it.” As luck would have it, I saw this answer straight off.

10-D, five letters, “‘I could’ve got more out’ speaker in a ’93 film.” Strange to see this clue in light of current events.

24-A, five letters, “Turned, in a phrase.” Oddly appealing to see this word standing alone.

25-A, seven letters, “Reference note for a certain sitter.” I was thinking of info for childcare — bedtime, phone numbers, prohibited treats, &c.

28-D, four letters, “Apt rhyme for ‘praise.’” Is the answer as un-obvious as I think it is?

30-D, nine letters, “Pleasantly reminiscent.” And let’s keep it that way.

35-A, fifteen letters, “‘You’re welcome’ alternative.” YOUBETNOWORRIES?

51-D, four letters, “Word from the Dutch for ‘eye.’” The clue improves an often-seen answer.

60-A, five letters, “Parisian pen.” I like this word, which I can’t recall ever noticing in a puzzle.

My favorite: 55-A, ten letters, “‘Magnificent __________’ (what Aldrin called the moon).” It’s new to me, and it’s memorable.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Another Lumbly

Very strange: PBS is re-airing a documentary tonight, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool. The narrator is the actor Carl Lumbly. “Lum-blee” was my toddler pronunciation of Columbia, Miles’s record label.

[I’ve been listening to Miles Davis, or “Meel Day-da,” since toddler days. Thanks, Dad.]

At a kitchen table

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Supreme Court nominee, in her remarks this afternoon:

“My father made the fateful decision to transition from his job as a public high-school history teacher and go to law school. Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table reading his law books. I watched him study, and he became my first professional role model.”
I like seeing the kitchen table in her story. Kitchen tables can make good desks.

You can watch and listen at C-SPAN. Judge Jackson’s remarks begin at 12:49.

A wine–whine merger

I had a hearing test yesterday (aftermath of an ear infection). I did good on the test. Yes, I felt like a schoolkid.

Part of the test had a recorded voice asking the testee to repeat a word: “Say the word ______.” I was amused to hear the voice say “Say the word wheat,” pronouncing wheat /hwēt/. I said /wēt/. The doctor was amused when I pointed out, post-test, the difference. I trust I received full credit for my answer.

The shift from /hwēt/ to /wēt/ is an instance of what’s called the wine-whine merger, aka glide cluster reduction. An undated map from UPenn shows the /hw~w/ distinction as “completely absent from New York State.” It was certainly absent from Brooklyn, /wich/ is /wer/ I learned to /tawk/.

No cookies

“Are those fresh candy-cane cookies I smell?”

No, because that’s a line from a Hallmark movie that I wrote down on a scrap of paper in December, and the time for candy-cane cookies is long gone — if ever there was such a time. At any rate, there’s no time for them now.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

“A great piece of land”

The defeated former president, marveling at Vladimir Putin’s invasion:

“He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.”
Imagine FDR marveling at Hitler.

But what really strikes me here is the idea that a country is nothing more than a property, something to take as one’s own. Not a culture, not a history, just “a great piece of land,” with a lot of people on it, and a good price — just “two dollars” in sanctions. It’s the same mentality that let the defeated former president see Greenland as something to buy (or trade Puerto Rico for), and the same mentality that lets him see women as parts to be grabbed at will.

The History Channel

Admiral James G. Stavridis (ret.), on MSNBC a few minutes ago: “Sometimes you’re watching the History Channel in real time. This is one of those times.”

*

And he just invoked 1914, 1939, and 1962 (the Cuban Missile Crisis).

Recently updated

Who owns Henry Darger? Questions, and a delay.

A cartoon from Ukraine

From the official Twitter account of Ukraine:


A subsequent tweet added: “This is not a ‘meme’, but our and your reality right now.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

DuckDuckGo

I don’t know what to make of this story: “Fed Up With Google, Conspiracy Theorists Turn to DuckDuckGo” (The New York Times).

Ticonderoga headwear

[Click for a larger view.]

Now everyone can be Mr. T. But I wonder if they have anything in a Mongol, 7⅛.

I have no information about this odd photograph. All I can do is thank the reader who sent it.

See also today’s Yellow Petals.

Related reading
All OCA Dixon Ticonderoga posts

A missing niche

I was at a town meeting, where local retailers were being encouraged to 1. find a niche and 2. provide great customer service. I posed a couple of questions:

If almost anything can be found at Amazon, at a lower price than a local retailer can charge, how can that retailer find a niche? And if they can’t find a niche, how can they provide great customer service? To whom?

No one had an answer.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Miller vs. Davis

In Illinois’s redrawn 15th Congressional District, Mary (“Hitler was right on one thing”) Miller, endorsed by a defeated former president, is struggling in her primary race against fellow Republican incumbent Rodney Davis:

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Miller raised less than $165,000, bringing her election cycle haul through December 31 to $788,000. Davis, on the other hand, raised more than $1.8 million for his reelection campaign so far this cycle, including about $421,000 in the last three months of 2021.
Rodney Davis is no bargain, but he’s at least a better choice than Mary Miller — which, admittedly, is not saying much. Whatever happens in their primary, our household, in a redrawn 12th district (redder, whiter, and less educated), will almost certainly end up represented by the unappealing Mike Bost, who, like Miller and unlike Davis, voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. No, we’ll still be in IL-15.

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts

“He’s a dictator”

From Finger Man (dir. Harold D. Schuster, 1955). T-man Burns (Hugh Sanders) speaks about a criminal boss:

“Look — you know the mobs, how they operate. One strong, ruthless man can tie a syndicate together. He pushes the buttons and pulls the strings, and all over the nation his vicious rackets are set in motion. He’s a dictator. We’re after one of those dictators. We want him bad.”

“Peacekeeping operations”

I was disheartened this morning to hear the announcer at a nearby NPR affiliate say that Vladimir Putin “has begun peacekeeping operations in Ukraine.” So I called the station and left a message, suggesting that the phrasing be changed to “what he calls peacekeeping operations.” An hour later the announcer said that Putin “has sent troops to Ukraine.” The change might be coincidental.

As many people have already pointed out, every journalist who refers to “peacekeeping operations in Ukraine,” without attributing that language to the Russian state, is doing Vladimir Putin’s work. Totalitarian euphemism should never get a pass.

*

Wow: two return calls, and an assurance that they’re going to be more careful about the phrasing.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Words from Eduardo Galeano

Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers (2021) ends with words from the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano on a black background, translated in the subtitles below:

No hay historia muda. Por mucho que la quemen, por mucho que la rompan, por mucho que la mientan, la historia humana se niega a callarse la boca.

No history is mute. No matter how much they burn it, break it, and lie about it, human history refuses to shut its mouth.
Elaine and I saw Parallel Mothers not long ago, and I finally tracked down the source of these sentences: Galeano’s Patas arriba: Escuela del mundo al revés (1998), translated by Mark Fried as Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World (2000).

What’s really strange: an English version of the Parallel Mothers screenplay is available as a PDF from Sony Classics. The English translation of Galeano’s sentences therein follows Fried. (I’ve added a comma before and, missing from the PDF, to match Fried.)

If you have the opportunity to see Parallel Mothers safely, go. It’s a strange, heartbreaking movie, mixing melodrama and history. It’s the best Almodóvar movie yet, I’d say. Elaine and I went to a weekday matinee with friends who assured us that we would be the only people in the theater. And we were.

In search of Tylenol

I was walking with my mom in upper Manhattan. We had to get back to the Port Authority, and then to New Jersey, but first we had to do some shopping. So we split up.

I found my mom in a drugstore. She had a headache and wanted to buy Tylenol. I started looking.

The drugstore was a maze of small rooms, some with short aisles of consumer goods, others with wall shelves holding what appeared to be prescription drugs. Still other rooms had hospital beds, with patients in them. I couldn’t understand why I was allowed to walk through these rooms.

I found someone to ask about Tylenol. She was young, smartly dressed, carrying a clipboard, looking like someone from cable news. I followed her as she walked through several rooms. “I found a bed where my mom can rest,” I said. “But I need to buy some Tylenol.”

She walked to another room, sat down on a sofa, and looked at her clipboard. “I thought you were showing me where the Tylenol is!” I said. She looked at me angrily. A timer in my pocket beeped.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Whither the gatekeepers?

No wonder I couldn’t figure out last week’s Weekend Edition Sunday puzzle: the solution, revealed this morning, required that you hear the names Aaron and Erin as soundalikes. For some people they are, just as marry, Mary, and merry are soundalikes. But not for everyone.

Will Shortz apologized this morning (with a slight laugh) to anyone for whom the names are not soundalikes. Does he test the Sunday puzzles on human subjects before using? Does anyone approve the puzzles for use? O whither respect for regional differences in pronunciation? O whither the gatekeepers?

A further complication that Elaine would like me to point out: solving the puzzle also required that you accept Aaron in reverse as yielding Nora. Uh, no.

And, I’ll add, solving the puzzle also required you to think — as Shortz does — that Aaron and Nora share a short e as a vowel sound. (That’s what he said.) Again, no — Nora ends in a schwa: ə.

[Can names be considered homophones? I have dodged that question while writing this post. I‘ve e-mailed NPR about this puzzle and am wondering if I’ll hear back.]

Outtakes (3)

[Outtakes from the WPA’s New York City tax photographs, c. 1939–1941, available from 1940s NYC. Click any image for a larger view.]

More outtakes to come.

Related posts
Outtakes (1) : Outtakes (2) : More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by Stella Zawistowski, a constructor known for difficult puzzles. (Her website: Tough As Nails.) This puzzle was easier fun, with a number of surprising answers. I missed by one letter, for what I think is a good reason. An explanation will follow in the comments.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-D, four letters, “Like in a trattoria.” I like.

12-A, ten letters, “‘Fruity’ earth tone.” One of my favorite colors.

18-A, fifteen letters, “Cold-weather wear from the Shetlands.” Cozy and unusual.

28-D, five letters, “Ones’ places.” My first thought was of columns in arithmetic.

30-D, five letters, “Pseudonym that its owner pronounced to rhyme with ‘choice.’” No idea — I got it from crosses.

31-A, eleven letters, “Modern words of anticipation.” Well, contemporary words, though I’m not sure they’re words of anticipation. Maybe the kids today can verify.

32-D, six letters, “Go at it casually.” Clever.

47-A, fifteen letters, “Source of the Suwannee.” So this fifteen-letter source is real.

55-D, three letters, “Literally, ‘stir-fried mixture.’” Yes, please.

58-A, four letters, “One attending a ball.” My favorite clue in this puzzle.

The cross that messed me up: 1-A, three letters, “Letters seen on medicine cabinet tubes” and 2-D, four letters, “East Timor's capital.” I don’t think Zawistowski assumes that capital to be common knowlege. It’s supposed to be gettable from 1-A. My problem was with the medicine cabinet. No, not medicine cabinet tubes.

No spoilers; answers and further explanation of 1-A may be found in the comments.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Pfft

Melania Trump’s NFTs (non-fungible tokens) of photographs from a defeated former president’s mad reign seem to be not exactly NFTs. The lady with the hat is selling 10,000 NFTs of photographs at $50 a pop. But wait: those 10,000 photographs aren’t 10,000 unique photographs (taken by taxpayer-paid White House photographers?). They’re copies of ten photographs, 250 to 1500 copies of each.

Forbes says that NFTs are “generally one of a kind, or at least one of a very limited run.” I think I know enough to know that 1000 copies is a rather large number for an NFT. The number of suckers in the world is larger still.

And multiple purchases are possible for anyone who wants to own the set of ten. A thought: would it be beyond this grifting helpmeet’s helpers to purchase all 250 copies of the “rarest” of these faux-NFTs to resell (greyly, greyly) at higher prices? 250 × $50 = $12,500. A mere bag of shells. Think of the possible return on investment.

She’s already bought back her hat.

[Pfft : “used to signify sarcasm or disagreement.”]

“A dustbin of scraps”

Organist and choirmaster Humphrey Cobbler has figured out something about Hector Mackilwraith, teacher of mathematics.

Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost (1951).

Tempest-Tost is the first novel of Davies’s Salterton Trilogy.

Related reading
All OCA Robertson Davies posts (Pinboard)

Counting on Brooklyn

I was walking down an avenue in Manhattan, past a Woolworth’s. And old woman (kerchief, gloves) sidled up to me and said, “They rely on Brooklyn for everything, don’t they? They count on Brooklyn to buy all the candy.”

I agreed. And I added, “I love Brooklyn.”

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[Inspired, no doubt, by thinking about the candy stores of my youth. For instance.]

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Two books by Jerry Craft

  [Jordan and Drew. Click either image for a larger view.]

Jerry Craft, New Kid (New York: Harper, 2019) and Class Act (New York: HarperAlley, 2020).

               “Oh, Jordan, graphic novels aren’t real books!”

                           Miss Brickner, librarian,                            Riverdale Academy Day School

Jordan is Jordan Banks, from Washington Heights, an artist/cartoonist and new kid starting “first form” (seventh grade) at Riverdale. He has his heart set on the High School of Art, Music, and Mime, but, well, parents. Jordan’s mom Ellice, who works in publishing, dotes on her twelve-year-old son (her “little sweet potato”) and wants him to attend an academically elite school. Jordan’s dad Chuck, who runs a community center, is willing to give Riverdale a try. The family is Black, and Jordan will be one of a handful of students of color at Riverdale, a school, he tells us, that’s “in a section of the city that’s so fancy, its residents refuse to admit that it’s actually a part of the Bronx.” And yes, there’s an Archie Comics joke along the way, in one of the two-page sketchbook comics in Jordan’s hand that punctuate the narrative.

New Kid and Class Act are stories of school, friendship, misunderstandings, adjustments, and learning, graphic novels sharply and wittily drawn and written. Jordan’s first tentative friendship at his new school is with his guide, Liam Landers, a white kid from Riverdale whose family has a long history with the school, family-name-on-a-building long. And there’s Drew Ellis, another Black kid (from Co-op City, living with his grandmother). As Jordan and Drew discover, teachers often call them by the names of other Black students. There’s even a math teacher, Black, at the school for fourteen years, who other teachers still assume is a coach. And here’s an example of Jerry Craft’s sharp sense of humor and his characters’ resilience: Jordan and Drew turn their teachers’ mistakes into a private game, saying hello and goodbye to each other with an endless array of names: Jerome and Demetrius, Joakim and DeMarcus, Jaylen and D’Aren.

Things between Jordan and Drew and Liam are more fraught. The Landers family’s wealth is conspicuous: “Is this just one house?” Chuck wonders when he drops his son off for a visit. “Is his [Liam’s] dad a rapper?” Drew asks. No, he’s in business, and he’s always away on it. Liam is self-conscious about his family’s wealth: “Try not to, you know, judge, okay?” The family’s driver, Mr. Pierre, is in the States earning money for his family back in Haiti. There’s also a maid, which puzzles Jordan and Drew, as Liam’s mom (“You can call me Zoe”) doesn’t work. When Zoe Mrs. Landers serves takeout pizza, Drew dreams of a cheesy, dripping mess and finds instead a choice between two sauceless pies, one of which Mrs. Landers calls “the white pizza,” made with mozzarella and ricotta: “Thus its name. And that’s the only reason . . . I swear!” Visiting Jordan in Washington Heights, Liam gets to enjoy the unfraught pleasures of mac and cheese, cornbread, collard greens, and, post-basketball and lacrosse, a chopped cheese sandwich. And in the Heights, Liam gets his own joke name: Liam Neeson.

There are many kinds of comic cluelessness in these stories. Ashley, a white girl who likes Drew, touches his hair without permission and makes him one sweet potato pie after another. There’s a running joke about The Mean Streets of South Uptown, an awful YA novel (with, of course, a white author) and movie — about gritty (yes, gritty) urban life. (I flashed on the satire of Robert Townsend’s movie Hollywood Shuffle.) An ill-conceived effort to bridge an academic and economic divide has kids visit Riverdale from a South Bronx school, Cardinal De Bard, aka Cardi De Academy. (I flashed on the This American Life episode “Three Miles.”) At Riverdale and beyond, the hapless name of the National Organization of Cultural Liaisons Understanding Equality speaks for itself.

School is always school, with jerks (Andy), eccentrics (Alexandra, who speaks through a hand puppet), athletes, gossips, theater kids, and a cafeteria hierarchy. And it’s always difficult to manage friendships from the block when going to a school farther from home. Another complication: puberty is in the air, literally, with Jordan wondering, as Class Act ends, about when he will get the “big-boy stink” that Drew and Liam and everyone else has already acquired. In a third volume? I loved these books, and I hope Jordan’s story continues, maybe even at the High School of Art, Music, and Mime.

*

I learned about New Kid from the This American Life episode “Talking While Black.” Act Two, “The Farce Awakens,” by Chana Joffe-Walt, is about efforts to ban New Kid and disinvite Jerry Craft from a Zoom appearance for students at a school in Texas. What a country we live in.

You can learn more about Jerry Craft’s work at his website.

Fourth panel, fourth wall

[Nancy, May 7, 1949. Click for a larger view.]

It’s hot and stuffy in the first two panels, and Aunt Fritzi won’t let Nancy open a window: “I said NO.”

Yesterday’s Nancy is today’s Nancy. Today’s Nancy is also today’s Nancy — with robots!

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A delirium of shadows

The premise is bizarre: Suspense (dir. Frank Tuttle, 1946) is a film noir set in the world an ice-skating revue. The story bears some resemblance to that of Nightmare Alley : an itinerant man, Joe (Barry Sullivan), steps into a job, quickly rises to success, and makes a play for a woman — here, the lead skater and boss’s wife Roberta (British skating star Belita). I have decided to call the final forty-five minutes of the movie a delirium of shadows. The cinematography is by Karl Struss. I had to look up his name to realize that he was the (Academy Award-winning) cinematographer for F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise.

In these images: Barry Sullivan, Eugene Pallette as right-hand man, Belita, Albert Dekker as the boss (backlit, hatted), and an unidentified actor as a timpanist (!) in the revue’s orchestra. The final image reminds me this image of The Man (George O’Brien) in Sunrise. Click any image for a larger view.

Sardines on PBS tonight

Tonight on Nature, “The Ocean’s Greatest Feast,” about sardine migration on the South African coast.

Thanks, Chris.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

How to Automat

Let Richard Conte and Coleen Gray demonstrate:

[From The Sleeping City (dir. George Sherman, 1950). Click any image for a larger view.]

Much of The Sleeping City was filmed at Bellevue Hospital, so I think it’s safe to assume that the setting here is a genuine Automat. Note the array of extras: salt and pepper, sugar, ketchup, mustard (I think), and honey or syrup.

Here’s a spectacular compilation of the Automat on film. It’s missing the scene from That Girl in which Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas) makes ketchup soup in an Automat. But was that a real Automat?

In its heyday, the Automat was all over New York. Advertisements in the 1940 Manhattan telephone directory announce forty-five cafeterias and thirty-two retail shops: “Take home Pies, Cakes, Breads, Rolls, Cooked Foods same as served at Automats. ‘Less Work for Mother.’”

*

Here, thanks to a thoughtful reader, is a menu of sorts in photos. The roll Ann Marie eats indeed resembles the top-right rolls in the first photo.

Related reading
All OCA Automat posts

The Trojan Horse Affair

A podcast series by Brian Reed and Hamza Syed: The Trojan Horse Affair. It’s an investigation of an anonymous letter describing a plot by Islamic extremists to take charge of schools in Birmingham, England. I’m four episodes in, and the story grows ever more bewildering.

*

After listening to all eight episodes, I can say bewildering indeed. This commentary from Sonia Sodha, a Guardian columnist, raises important questions: The Trojan Horse Affair : How Serial podcast got it so wrong.”

Monday, February 14, 2022

Back at 4:15

Rick Veach, our plumbing and heating and cooling guy, came by early in the morning to check out a minor problem. He promised to be back at 4:15 to take care of it.

At 4:15 he was back. And before doing the work he had come to do, he went to our hall closet to replace a lightbulb. He had somehow noticed when he was here in the morning that the bulb was out.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard) : Rick Veach (1959–2017)

Valentine’s Day

[Hematite heart amulet. From Egypt, 26th-30th Dynasty, c. 664–332 BCE. 7/8” × 5/8”. Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910. Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the online collection.]

Sunday, February 13, 2022

hello wordl

It’s Wordle-inspired and free: hello wordl. Unlimited play and your choice of word length, from four to eleven letters.

One problem with playing for an eleven-letter word is that you have to think of eleven-letter words:


I’ve chosen to end my streak at 1.

Recently updated

Le Steak de Paris For anyone who would like to read a remarkable story set in this (long-gone) restaurant, there’s now such a story in the comments.

Outtakes (2)

[Outtakes from the WPA’s New York City tax photographs, c. 1939–1941, available from 1940s NYC. Click any image for a larger view.]

An archive-minded reader pointed me to Michael Lorenzini’s “Outtakes: Behind the Scenes with the Tax Photo Photographers” (NYC Department of Records and Information Services). In 2019 Lorenzini hit most of the photographs that have caught my eye in 2022. (But not all!)

And George Bodmer pointed me to “The Kept and the Killed,” about Farm Security Administration photographs with holes punched through (Public Domain Review). Thanks, guys.

More outtakes to come.

Related posts
Outtakes (1) : More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, is a deeply satisfying puzzle, one that often had me torn between “Huh?” and “Wha?” I was happy to get everything right (though it took half an hour).

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

5-D, three letters, “GE cofounder.” Read the clue carefully.

9-D, five letters, “Viva voces, at Oxford.” The answer seems be turning up often in recent crosswords, but I haven’t seen it with this clue.

15-A, ten letters, “Pages in a pit.” Young workers at the Chicago Board of Trade, right?

17-A, ten letters, “One for two.” This was a “Huh?”

27-D, four letters, “Nonplus.” Used correctly!

29-A, six letters, “One of ‘The Almighty’s marines.’” I’ve never heard this expression.

29-D, six letters, “Handled like some art shows.” This was a “Wha?”

30-A, eight letters, “Didn’t sound off.” Nice misdirection.

31-D, three letters, “Circled Rs.” The clue adds value to the answer.

47-A, eight letters, “Outdoes in history.” Tricky.

60-A, ten letters, “Better.” Adjective? Adverb? Noun? Verb?

My favorite clue in today's puzzle: 28-A, five letters, “College course.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, February 11, 2022

WJM Mongols

It’s always a treat to see an Eberhard Faber Mongol on camera. These screenshots are from the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The first two: from “Second Story Story” (January 23, 1971). The last two: from “Smokey the Bear Wants You” (February 27, 1971). Pretty strong evidence that the WJM newsroom was a Mongol newsroom, at least for one season.

[Mary Richards (Moore) has a Mongol. Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) doesn’t. “I never write anything,” he brags in season two..]

[Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) has a Mongol.]

[Lou Grant (Ed Asner) has a Mongol.]

Elaine and I began to wonder whether the newsroom had more than one pencil. Was WJM an a Mongol newsroom? The next screenshot answers that question.

[Click any image for a larger view.]

So they had at least two pencils.

Elaine: “They probably had a whole box.”

I’m not sure if the Mongol appears beyond the first season. Four episodes into season two, it’s nothing but Ticonderogas and no-names.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard) : I envy Mary Richards

Pencil books for children

The Musgrave Pencil Company recommends four children’s books about pencils (and their friends the erasers).

If it’s possible to judge a book by its cover, I lean toward Scott Magoon’s Linus: The Little Yellow Pencil. Looking at sample pages, I lean toward Max Amato’s Perfect. Must. Investigate. Further.

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Not telling, telling

In early February 2020 Donald Trump** told Bob Woodward that the COVID-19 virus was airborne. And in mid-March Trump** told Woodward that he “wanted to always play it down.” As did Woodward, I suppose: it wasn’t until early September 2020 that he made these things known when his book Rage was published. How many lives might have been saved had Woodward revealed months earlier what he had been told?

Today Maggie Haberman tweeted the news about her forthcoming book Confidence Man : “I'm thrilled to share the cover and title of my upcoming book about former President Trump!” Oh so cheerful. Haberman teased pre-orders with the news that Trump** was flushing documents down White House toilets. When did she learn about that? And why did she sit on the news, so to speak, for so long? How many documents might have been saved from a watery end if this presidential practice had been made public? And might someone, somewhere, have lost faith in the autocrat had Haberman revealed this grotesque detail earlier on? It’s at least possible.

The best comment on the matter I’ve seen is from academic, lawyer, and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa:

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if you become aware that someone may have committed a federal felony, it’s important to call the FBI and not save it for your next book.
[Now we can better understand why the defeated former president was always complaining about having to flush toilets ten or fifteen times. And, of course, it was the toilet, not the document flusher, that was to blame.]

Garner on Black and white

“We applaud the new policy of the AP Stylebook and the hundreds of publications that have followed suit”: Bryan Garner explains why it makes sense to capitalize Black but not white.

How to improve writing (no. 100)

A sentence from a New York Times article:

It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department.
The phrase in particular (which at first seems to follow from since then) and the repeated inspector general make for an ungainly sentence. My revision:
It is unclear whether whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department or taken any other action.
Even better:
The inspector general has referred to matter to the Justice Department, which has opened an investigation.
Related reading
All OCA How to improve writing posts (Pinboard)

[This post is no. 100 in a series dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

With apologies to Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes from the White House,
Little boxes gone to Florida,
Little boxes from the White House,
Little boxes all the same.

There’s a pink one, and a green one,
And one marked “Love from Kim Jong-un,”
And they’ve all gone down to Florida,
And they all look just the same.

SCAT happens

From today’s New Yorker crossword, by Natan Last: 44-A, four letters, “Emulate Jelly Roll Morton, in a way.” The answer: SCAT. No. This, I suspect, is what happens when someone goes to Wikipedia to create a clue.

Yes, the Wikipedia article about scat singing references Morton’s discussion of the origins of scat singing. And Morton gave a demonstration of scat singing in his 1938 Library of Congress sessions. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many jazz listeners who would ever think of Morton — pianist, composer, and bandleader — as a scat singer.

And no, Mel Tormé is still not a “cool jazz pioneer.”

I will now cheer myself by listening to the “Avocado Seed Soup Symphony.” Scat surrealism at its finest.

[If Last had done a little more browsing, he might have chosen a better clue, because while Wikipedia’s article about scat singing mentions Morton, Wikipedia’s article about Morton doesn’t mention scat singing.]

Rhythmical snorting

Walter Vambrace is instructing his daughter Pearl (eighteen) in walking:

Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost (1951).

Tempest-Tost is the first novel of Davies’s Salterton Trilogy.

Related reading
All OCA Robertson Davies posts (Pinboard)

[The wheezing background noise in this video might suggest a phantom roaster.]

Sen-Sen again

From Christmas Eve (dir. Edward L. Marin, 1947). Aunt Matlilda (Ann Harding) gives instructions:

“Remember, Robert, when William brings Mr. Jonathan to the car, you must conduct yourself as though he had never gone away.”

“Yes, ma’am. I even have the package of Sen-Sen to give to him before he kisses you.”
Mr. Jonathan, you see, drinks.

No one will ever have this conversation again, for Sen-Sen is no more.

Related posts
Cachou Lajaunie : Dingburg’s Main Street : Violet candy and Mad Men

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

EXchange names on screen

[From Kiss of Death (dir. Henry Hathaway, 1947). ]

Maybe I’m a rank sentimentalist, but I love when a column of exchange names fills the screen.

More EXchange names on screen
Act of Violence : The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Armored Car Robbery : Baby Face : Black Widow : Blast of Silence : The Blue Dahlia : Blue Gardenia : Boardwalk Empire : Born Yesterday : The Brasher Doubloon : The Brothers Rico : The Case Against Brooklyn : Chinatown : Craig’s Wife : Danger Zone : The Dark Corner : Dark Passage : Deception : Deux hommes dans Manhattan : Dick Tracy’s Deception : Down Three Dark Streets : Dream House : East Side, West Side : Escape in the Fog : Fallen Angel : Framed : Hollywood Story: The Little Giant : Loophole : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Modern Marvels : Murder by Contract : Murder, My Sweet : My Week with Marilyn : Naked City (1) : Naked City (2) : Naked City (3) : Naked City (4) : Naked City (5) : Naked City (6) : Naked City (7) : Naked City (8) : Naked City (9) : Nightfall : Nightmare Alley : Nocturne : Old Acquaintance : Out of the Past : Perry Mason : Pitfall : The Public Enemy : Railroaded! : Red Light : Side Street : The Slender Thread : Stage Fright : Sweet Smell of Success (1) : Sweet Smell of Success (2) : Tension : Till the End of Time : This Gun for Hire : The Unfaithful : Vice Squad : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Arthur ! Arthur !

From 1A: “‘Believe in yourself’: Remembering 25 years of Arthur.”

A related post
An Arthur-related misreading

Misreading

Every time I cycle through the cable menu, I misread Henry Danger as Henry Darger. Every time.

Now that Darger’s name is in the news, nothing will change.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Who owns Henry Darger?

In a 2014 post about a battle over the rights to Vivian Maier’s photographs, I wrote that I’d “always been puzzled that the discovery of Henry Darger’s work didn’t prompt similar legal action.” But no, not the discovery — the commercial success.

The New York Times today reports on a legal battle between Henry Darger’s landlords and some distant Darger relatives, who never knew him and now claim the rights to his work. Given the commercial value of that work, the relatives’ claim that “For us, it’s always been about family” may prompt skepticism.

In 2002 I wrote something about John Ashbery and Henry Darger. I’m still happy with it.

*

February 23: From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Circuit Judge Kent Delgado told lawyers representing a Clarendon Hills woman claiming to be a distant relative of the reclusive artist — and who wants a portion of his assets — that her legal filing is full of “holes.”

Delgado gave Christen Sadowski’s attorneys until late May to refile their paperwork. Among his concerns, Delgado said, is that Sadowski has no “personal knowledge” that she is a Darger relative and is relying on the research of an “heir finder” service.
Related posts
A Darger exhibit and an Ashbery story : Darger and Maier

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers. Sources: Criterion Channel, DVDs, Hulu, TCM, YouTube.]

The Breaking Point (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1950). Another reimagining of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, truer to the novel than the Bogart–Bacall picture. A fishing-boat captain goes in with criminals hoping to get money for his family: it’s a grim story, with brilliant acting. John Garfield and Phyllis Thaxter are the captain and his wife; Juano Hernandez is the captain’s partner; Patricia Neal is a promiscuous married woman who pursues the captain; Wallace Ford is a crooked lawyer who weaves in and out of events. I think Key Largo must have had something, or almost everything, to do with the ending. ★★★★ (YT)

*

Christmas Eve (dir. Edward L. Marin, 1947). Weird and strangely enjoyable: wealthy old Aunt Matilda (Ann Harding), determined to resist her no-good nephew’s effort to take control of her estate, issues a public call for her long-lost three wards to come to her aid. And they do: a debt-shedding playboy (George Brent), a broken-down rodeo rider (Randolph Scott!), and a criminal who’s fled to South America (George Raft). Many obstacles, and several good deeds along the way. I think that Aunt Matilda, paying city kids for dead rats and running model trains (holding cream and sugar) around her dining-room table, must have had something to do with the creation of the eccentric oldster played by Donald O’Connor in an episode of Frasier . ★★★ (CC)

*

Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2019). A second viewing of a film I first watched in early 2020 — which now seems a lifetime ago. It remains one of best films I’ve seen. It’s undoubtedly the most Proustian. Here is a master filmmaker showing what it might be like to make sense of one’s life in time and figure out how to go on. ★★★★ (DVD)

*

Smilla’s Sense of Snow (dir. Bille August, 1997). Smilla (Julia Ormond) is a Greenlander in Copenhagen, a solitary, beautiful student of ice and snow who grows increasingly curious about the death of a six-year-old neighbor. But she cannot get good answers to her questions. Her curiosity leads to an ever-stranger mystery and ever-greater danger. When the boat sails (literally), the movie jumps a shark (figuratively), loses its dark, menacing atmosphere, and turns into a semi-ridiculous thriller. ★★★ (DVD)

*

Kiss of Death (dir. Henry Hathaway, 1947). Our household’s favorite year comes through once again. Victor Mature plays a Nick Bianco, a convict who becomes an informant, wins parole, makes a new life with his daughters and second wife Nettie (Coleen Gray), but is required to continue informing. And — uh-oh — he has to get the goods on gangster, giggler, and psychokiller Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark, in his first film). Great NYC location shots, and unnerving scenes in a house, an apartment, a restaurant, and on a staircase. ★★★★ (YT)

*

The Sleeping City (dir. George Sherman, 1950). An improbable premise: when a Bellevue intern is murdered, a detective with some medical experience (Richard Conte) goes undercover as an intern to investigate. Coleen Gray is here as a nurse and love interest, and Richard Taber is a decrepit elevator operator who takes bets on the side. Filmed on location, with considerable inspiration from Naked City. A prologue spoken by Conte makes clear that nothing like what happens here ever happened at Bellevue or any other New York City hospital — that’s reassuring. ★★★★ (YT)

*

The Story of Three Loves (dir. Vincente Minnelli and Gottfried Reinhardt, 1953). Three stories, told in flashbacks as a ship’s passengers reminisce. “The Jealous Lover” is a predictable story of a ballerina and impresario (Moira Shearer and James Mason). “Mademoiselle” moves to fantasy, with a boy (Ricky Nelson) turning into a man (Farley Granger) and seeing his tutor (Leslie Caron) in a new light. Best of all is “Equilibrium” with Kirk Douglas and Pier Angeli as haunted trapeze artists. ★★★★ (TCM)

*

Suspense (dir. Frank Tuttle, 1946). Believe it: a film noir with ice skating. An itinerant ne’er-do-well (Barry Sullivan) joins an ice show as a peanut vendor, becomes the boss’s (Albert Dekker) right-hand man, and makes a play for the boss’s wife, skating star Roberta (Belita). The over-the-top ice sequences put Sonja Henje to shame, and Karl Struss’s cinematography in the delirious final forty-five minutes gives any film noir a run for its shadows. Eugene Pallette’s last film. ★★★★ (YT)

*

Shadow of a Doubt (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1943). Watching for the umpteenth time, I listened for what might be Our Town touches in Thornton Wilder’s screenplay. The brief conversation about coffee — Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) can’t face the morning without it — made me think of Our Town. The corny, gentle humor about Joe (Henry Travers) and Herb (Hume Cronyn) — “They’re literary critics” — made me think of Our Town. Uncle Charlie’s venom — “You’re just an ordinary little girl living in an ordinary little town” — made me think of some dark spirit coming to visit Grover’s Corners. ★★★★ (CC)

*

Finger Man (dir. Harold D. Schuster, 1955). As in Kiss of Death, a criminal, Casey Martin (the everymannish Frank Lovejoy), is given the chance to go undercover. Casey is to inform on the doings of narcotics and prostitution boss Dutch Becker (Forrest Tucker!), who turned Casey’s sister into an addict. Swank surroundings and the sinister Timothy Carey add value. The voiceover narration by the protagonist makes this movie feel more like a radio drama than a semi-documentary — and gives it away that Casey lived to tell the tale. ★★★ (YT)

*

Nightmare Alley (dir. Guillermo del Toro, 2021). Not nearly as good as the 1947 movie (dir. Edmund Goulding), whose fleet pace suited the cautionary tale of Stanton Carlisle (Tyrone Power), a grinning conman who doesn’t know when he’s being had. This adaptation meanders (two and a half hours), with an invented backstory not in William Lindsay Greshman’s novel (and perhaps inspired by Double Indemnity). This Stan (Bradley Cooper) is merely mean, without that 1947 Dunning-Kruger confidence; his relationship with Molly (Rooney Mara) is nearly non-existent; and Cate Blanchett’s Lilith Ritter is almost a parody of a noir spiderwoman (such cringe-making dialogue). And there’s an awful lot of computer-generated reality here: just stick around for the credits. ★★★ (H)

*

Lili (dir. Charles Walters, 1953). Consider it a chaser for Nightmare Alley — one circus following another. Or consider it just plain weird: Lili (Leslie Caron), a sixteen-year-old orphan, talks to puppets; Paul (Mel Ferrer), a former dancer, now puppeteer (he has a war injury), talks to Lili through puppets. And there’s a magician (Jean-Pierre Aumont) on the make. Best scene: the dance on the road. ★★★ (TCM)

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard)

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois, February 7, 2022.]

As another comic strip would say, Good grief!

Lois, here’s a recipe for Coppola/“Godfather” sauce. Even Chip will enjoy it. You’re welcome.

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)