I like it but why?

The A.V. Club, The Onion’s pop culture website, posts humorous “inventories” of film (like films with creepy babies, films with horrible aging makeup, etc.). In the videos I see that the writers are all about my age. I wonder if there’s something about being thirty-something that makes one want to make inventories.

The A.V. Club’s writers can be a little artsy-fartsy sometimes but here’s what I admire about them: they can articulate why they like a movie, television show, album, or book. Something I would like to be better at.

A few years ago I updated my “Top Films of the Past Seven Centuries” list and as I did so I wondered, why do I like these films? And what’s a top film? Are these my favorite films or are they the best films I’ve seen? I think they are neither or perhaps a little of both.

For example, I’ve seen “Independence Day” a gazillion times. It’s a fun movie to watch, but I don’t think it’s great. You might say I could have lived my life without ever seeing it and be better off for it. My favorite film (“Seven Samurai”), on the other hand, I’ve seen only a few times. “The Godfather”, for which a friend once gave me grief for leaving off my list, is both excellent and enjoyable but I can’t quite bring myself to put it there.

I guess my top films have to say something about me. So… I’m going to watch all my top films again plus a few others and see just what that something is. This might take a while.

The King’s Peach

“The King’s Peach” was a wonderful movie about a king and his peach. The king’s peach wasn’t quite right and gave him diarrhea, but with help from a kindly Australian he was cured and led the resistance against National Socialism. The end.

In other news, “The King’s Speech” was also a very good movie. It told a lot of different stories: the king’s stuggle with his speech impediment, his personal isolation, and his reluctance to assume the throne. The actors turned in fine performances, but I thought the guy playing Churchill camped it up a little too much.

Gold

I never would have guessed how much fat I was storing in my fingers, but I’ve dropped an entire ring size. I’ve been wearing our wedding ring on my middle finger for a while now, so it’s time to get it (the ring) resized.

I asked the lady at the jeweler if they would have to remove metal from the ring. She said yes because it was being downsized quite a bit and then measured off a segment of the ring with her fingers about the size of, oh I don’t know, a whole peppercorn.

This tiny segment being gold and not an actual peppercorn I naturally asked, “Can I keep the piece that’s removed?”

“Well, no,” she said and explained that the sawed off bit falls into a tray and if they had to keep track of every little piece they would have to raise the price of resizing for everyone.

Either she hadn’t quite convinced herself of that rationale or I had a very incredulous look on my face, because without either of us saying another word she wrote on the envelope with my ring: he wants to keep the piece.

I’m glad she did that because I would have raised hell otherwise. Jewelers must keep track of similar or much smaller flecks of precious stones and metals all the time; measuring and weighing them, buying and selling them. I can’t imagine a jeweler shrugging off a little crumb of gold like it was an extra scrap of cloth on a altered pants leg. If I was out prospecting and I found a peppercorn-sized nugget of gold I would probably dance a celebratory jig in my squalid little claim.

Privacy

An odd thought came to me totally out of the blue while using a toilet in a restaurant: what if there was a hidden video camera recording me? It seemed unlikely though not totally irrational to worry about it. I could literally spend my life watching bits of others’ on YouTube. Much of our lives is recorded, often unwittingly. A sixth-grader was even recording me lead his class on a tour last week.

The consequences of such an intrusion, beyond the embarrassment, intrigued me. If, say, a secret video of me peeing in a restaurant toilet were to be immortalized on the World Wide Web, what incentive would I have to ever pee in private again? What would be point of ever closing a bathroom door or even going into a bathroom? Could it be that at some point so much of our lives is recorded by cameras that walls would exist not for the privacy of the people within them but to protect the proprietary rights of the person doing the recording?

Thinking about stuff like that sure made it hard to pee.

IKEA: a living space odyssey

Strips of blue tape outline future furniture on a white wall.
The blue masking tape we used to visualize our furniture had a charm all its own.

We’ve been busy assembling furniture. A couple of weekends ago (yet it seems like months) we went to an IKEA in the Chicago suburbs to replace the relics of my bachelorhood that were our living room furniture. We actually rented a small moving truck and spent the night in a hotel so we could complete our errand.

The modular, do-it-yourself nature of IKEA furniture requires a lot of decision making; compounded by the problem-solving needed to furnish our smallish living space and that Lore and I are very careful people, we were inside IKEA for much longer than is healthy. Perhaps not seeing the sun for 24 hours is part of what IKEA is exporting from Scandinavia. I certainly ate and drank my quota of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice for the year.