Week of July 25, 2004

July 25, 2004 16:14 – 16:14

Saturday, July 31, 2004

11:00 PM

Years ago, when I was VP of a litigation analysis firm, one of my co-workers was having an affair with the president of the company (perhaps the biggest SOB I’ve ever known). My co-worker, also a close friend at that time, was famous for exclaiming, when exasperated by the nature of our work, “Give me a fucking break!”

This would often happen during long meetings wherein we were poring over data or analysis provided through discovery. (“Discovery” is part of the legal process wherein the two sides to a court case would produce reams of materials that needed to be examined in preparing for trial/hearings/analysis/etc.)

The only other person in the company aware of her affair, each time she uttered that phrase, I would lift my head, glance in the direction of the president’s office, then at my watch, then back at her, and innocently reply “Okay. How much time do you need?”

At that point, she would glare at me, then smile, and say “I wish…” and then get back to work.

10:29 AM

Last night we watched Lost in Translation. If you haven’t seen the movie, and plan to watch it, don’t read my review until after you’ve watched it. I give away far too much of the plot and tone, I think. It’s better to watch first and formulate your own translation of what the movie means, before reading mine.

The movie is set in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan’s anagramatic and polar opposite cities. Karen, who’s visited both, affirmed that the movie captures the reality and character of both cities.

The movie features Bob Harris, an aging actor who is in Tokyo to consummate an endorsement contract through pictures, sound bites, and commercials, and Charlotte. Charlotte is an early 20s Yale philosophy graduate, married for two years, in Tokyo with her too-busy-to-notice-he’s-married-to-the-most-beautiful-woman-in-the-world husband. Hubby is in Tokyo to do a photo shoot for a perfectly awful rock band.

Each suffering from insomnia and different flavors of loneliness, Charlotte and Bob exchange smile in an elevator, then in a bar, and finally meet, and engage in a 4-letter word ending in k… talk.

I really liked the fact that Charlotte & Bob never succumbed to movie cliché-ness by falling into the sack together. Theirs was a warm and tender relationship. They found comfort and renewal in each other. Both working through their respective crises, they needed each other simply to be there. The time they did spend in bed was spent fully dressed, watching the same curious blend of Japanese and American television they’d each puzzled over alone. Somehow, as they puzzle over it together, it suddenly seems to make sense.

Some people criticized Chris Cappola’s direction on a variety of levels. But, I think they’re off-base. For me, her direction was perfect and on target. Having done both the “along for the ride” bit when a spouse takes a business trip, and the alone away from home in a strange motel/hotel bit,” I think she fully captures the reality from both points of view. I can also personally affirm the reality of older/younger wholly platonic relationships, several of which I’ve enjoyed over the years.

For Bob, Lydia’s voice from home reminds him that heist anchored elsewhere. While on the surface, she sounds whiny and caught up in trivia, she is not. In her voice we hear a desperate implied plea: “Come home, Bob. You belong with us. Whatever you’re searching for, you found it 25 years ago with me, and you found it as your children were born.” Bob crystallizes fatherhood when he describes that terrifying and joyful moment when ones first child is born. When you buy a car, take a job or do practically anything else, there is a fallback position. There is no fallback from parenthood. Once that line has been crossed, you’re in it forever.

But, the screenwriter takes us to the next step, beyond obligation. Bob tells us that the children grow up, and you discover that they’re wonderful and amazing human beings with whom you want to spend time. Only, for most of us, the latter part takes root early on, and the journey from fascination to maturity is a joyous ride a parent never wants to end.

For Charlotte, clearly, she thought this was going to be a second honeymoon, a chance to repair a new marriage already showing signs of stress. She seeks her mother’s comfort over the phone, but her mother is oblivious to her distress. How could she not hear her daughter’s suffering? But, she didn’t. So, Charlotte seeks comfort, and finds it in what See was a surrogate father, in Bob.

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s idiot husband photographer is caught up in his work, clearly enamored of this blonde thing whose brain obviously couldn’t fit into the luggage, and so was left back in the U.S. I loved his tone of voice when, as he was getting ready to meet “Blondie” in the bar, Charlotte said she wanted to go, and he said “Oh. You mean you want to come with me?” Translation: “Oh, shit. You’re going to screw up my chance to get laid.”

The only part that truly troubled me was when Bob somehow ended up in the sack with the lounge singer. I suppose it was necessary so we’d know that his lack of sexuality with Charlotte was not because of impotence or gaiety (so to speak). But, I didn’t find it necessary. They could have done the same thing by saying that his wife was pregnant with their xth child.

And, it certainly wasn’t necessary to have to listen to snippets of the Send your camels to bed song (a.k.a. Midnight at the Oasis), a song I’ve never liked or understood.

The movie ended exactly as I would have had it end. In essence, they helped each other endure what likely was the longest week for each of them. And, in the end, a hug and a brief kiss were the only physical mementos of their time together. Yet, the viewer knows that each is forever enriched and changed by their time together. They will always love each other. And yet, they likely will never see each other again. And if they did, they wouldn’t cheapen or destroy the richness of their experience by slipping between the sheets for that vast emptiness called guilt.

Friday, July 30, 2004

9:33 AM

There’s a political discussion about Kerry’s war record in a private newsgroup I read.

I just spent 15 minutes writing a scathing response to the unspeakably absurd assertion that Bush would make better president for the next 4 years than Kerry. Then, rather than clicking Send, I pressed Escape, having decided that I don’t want to be drawn into that discussion with all of its red herrings.

I have no doubt that the Bush supporters will be able to do for Kerry what the Reagan folks did for Dukakis. Four months from now, the Dems will be wondering “Why the hell did we pick that guy?” just as they wondered after the defeats of McGovern, Mondale and Gore.

And, even if Kerry does manage to squeak out a victory. I trust that there are dozens of Katherine Harris clones out there, and legions of elections “officials”, standing at the ready, poised to turn black voters away from the polls, and to remove Kerry votes from the tally.

Even after last night’s speech, I’m not optimistic about Kerry’s chances in November. Here’s an example of why:

http://www.swiftvets.com/index.php

However, in rebuttal, see:

http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Swift_Boat_Veterans_for_Truth

which Katie found. Nonetheless, I suspect that only the doubt-casting SBVT side will be widely aired. I guess we’ll see.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

2:43 PM

Ran/walked two hours. Unfortunately, my hip (actually, not the hip, more like where the top leg bone meets whatever’s above it, which seems a little lower than the hip), ached afterwards.

I’m greatly yearning for cooler/colder weather. I have NO use whatsoever for summer. Summer sucks. Temperatures above 50F suck. Go away, summer! Don’t come back!

Monday, July 26, 2004

1:52 PM

Good news… bad news…

The good news is that we now have until the 3rd week of August to get HUD a draft of the affordability project.

The bad news is that we now have until the 3rd week of August to get HUD a draft of the affordability project.

The latter is bad news because the tables are worthless at present. At least the PM now understands just how bad they are, and might actually start trying to whip them into shape somehow, so I can focus on writing.

The ptb have decided to allow MPU’s olds to reside in DU’s dormroom. This shall be an interesting experiment.

Rule #1: All the rules that applied to upstairs computing still apply. 60 minutes of chatting allowed on non-school nights, 30 minutes on school nights.

Rule #2: On school nights, no chatting after 9:30 pm.

Rule #3: On non-school nights during the school year, no chatting after 10:30 pm.

Rule #4: During the summer, no chatting or computing after 11 pm.

Rule #5: When PUs say “Get off the computer,” DU must comply within five minutes. This is likely to happen if DU is playing Isketch or some other game that isn’t particularly mind-improving, such as solitaire (or any variation thereof), the myriad card games installed on her computer, and so on. If DU is playing Jeopardy or some other PU-approved mind-improving game, she can appeal the 5 minute order. Violation of Rule #5 will result in threats, lectures, and other unpleasantness too horrible to contemplate, let along put into words. Needless to say, the CPU in DU’s room is a privilege, not a right, and privileges can be revoked.

Consequence #1: Violation of Rule #1 – Rule #4 results in a loss of chatting privileges for the next computing day.

Consequence #2: A CWG (chatting while grounded) violation will result in removal of CPU’s connectivity from DU’s CPU.

There shall be more rules and consequences.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

10:09 PM

Well… I have the essentials installed on the new computer. Now, to try to get some sleep tonight… then some work done tomorrow.

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