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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
"One of these days you're going to have to shop for yourself. . ."
Since I didn't get any takers for my offer of an evening of convivial discourse, I ended up running errands while Skylar was at Kids' Night Out. I bought bulk paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap and Clorox 2. I bought milk, mushrooms, frozen pizzas, two Fuller's ESB beers, and diet ginger ale for Kim. I checked out various digital cameras -- ours is nearing the end of its lifespan -- and computer gear. I found half-price Peet's Christmas blend and a Weizen glass at Cost Plus. I got four needles for inflating basketballs and such. I bought Skylar a metal baseball bat that's easier for her to manage than the grown-up wood one she's been using so far. I also got picked up two new softballs.

And I finally made it over to Borders to use the excellent gift cards that Kim's parents and her brother and his wife gave me for Christmas. I was able to pick up Antonioni's Blow-Up and the televison adaptation of John Le Carré's Smiley's People, starring Alec Guiness. The former is on my Top-10 list of all-time favorite films and also reminds me of when Skylar was a newborn and I would watch it over and over while she and Kim slept next to me. The latter is the sequel to my favorite television series ever, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I saw some of Smiley's People as a teenager, but was going through a growth spurt and couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to make sense of the narrative. Since I just rewatched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in its entirety for the fifth time -- I picked up the DVD with last year's gift card a while back -- and confirmed that it's every bit as good as I remember and maybe even better, I'm looking forward to Smiley's People, though I'm pretty certain that it doesn't measure up. But the sight of Alec Guiness looking brilliant in his fastidious befuddlement will be enough to make me happy. And I'm certain that the series will deliver plenty of that drug. Anyway, while it was not my idea of a great night out, I got a lot accomplished and don't feel that poorly despite my consumer exertions. It's not exactly spiritual or physical Congress, but what can you do?

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From: bobo_amargo Date: January 23rd, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Not Red Desert, Redgrave

Good choices at Borders. I'm prepared to argue, whenever anyone will lend an ear, that _Blow-Up_ is Antonioni's finest movie. The slow walk the protagonist takes into the slightly inclined "grassy knoll"ed park is at once eery and sexy, especially the second time.

I also strongly agree about _Tinker, Tailor . . . _ and _Smiley's People_. Have you seen _The Spy Who Came in from the Cold_ with none other than Richard Burton as the main character, a colleague of Smiley's? Also, _The Constant Gardener_ turned out to be quite a bit better than I had thought it would be.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 23rd, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Not Red Desert, Redgrave

I just watched Red Desert for the first time and loved it too. I think they're companion films, in a way.

Started Smiley's People last night. I'd slept through much of the first episode at 14, apparently, so it was a treat to have something new. I didn't want to watch it until I'd read the book between Tinker, Tailor and Smiley's People, which I did last winter while suffering from my various maladies. The Honourable Schoolboy is a great book and does a wonderful job of showing how Smiley is too calculating and detached to really sustain warm feelings for anyone. Of course, he's that way in The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, too. I love the movie version with Burton. But the book is hard to top. I almost never read for plot, but that one kept me up for a whole night turning pages.

Oh, and Constant Gardener was surprisingly good. Kim loved the book, which I have yet to tackle.
From: bobo_amargo Date: January 23rd, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Smiley's Peephole

To be honest, I haven't seen _Red Desert_ in almost twenty years, so I trust your sense of the continuity (like a cheat, I chose _Red Desert_ for the pun). _Blow-Up_, on the other hand, I saw yet again recently at the Castro. I remain astounded. I really do think it's a master work of art.

I have interpreted my fascination with Le Carre as a function of an odd convergence: the arc of my maturation from adolescence to ethically competent adulthood more or less maps onto the Cold War's detumescing and the Wall's tumbling down. Though "Democracy"'s victory brought a certain measure of psychic disenchantment, the titillations of the boy also gave way, on good days at any rate, to the muted joys of the man (I sound like Wordsworth).

The analogy breaks down, however, at the point at which one might imagine me to be tacitly endorsing the original Axis of Evil, the Gipper & the Iron Lady.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 23rd, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Smiley's Peephole

I think that Le Carré is great for his treatment of a masculinity that doesn't even believe in itself, yet has to press on pretending that it believes and thereby sometimes achieves a simulacral belief that spackles the cracks in identities, both individual and collective, that would otherwise break sunder.

And, yes, you do sound like Wordsworth!
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