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w/e 2023-12-10

It’s now been raining for… three years? I don’t know, it might only be weeks or days, it’s all a blur. We’re now choosing our driving routes via which country roads will be least flooded. On the plus side, all our places that are supposed to remain dry, remain dry, and a man from Worcester Bosch came and put some new parts in our occasionally overheating boiler.

§ There was a time when I found working four days a week about right. Five days seemed just silly, if it could possibly be avoided.

Recently I’ve been doing client work for four afternoons a week and now that seems about right. How soft we become. Somehow it seems hard for me to get much else done (apart from exercise, learning German, some internet reading, admin, watching TV). I don’t know what’s happened to me, or time, but all of my hats are off to those with actual jobs, commutes, and, amazingly, other humans that require looking after. 🧢👒🎩🎓🪖⛑️

§ I finished reading Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road this week which was a good read. I saw the film 15-ish years ago but what very little I mis-remembered about it didn’t spoil my reading, other than being unable to imagine anyone but Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank. It’s good but definitely not jolly.

One moment that jumped out at me was when two characters, aged about 30, were in a bar, in 1955, with a band playing:

      “This is the kind of music that’s supposed to make everybody our age very nostalgic,” she said. “Does it you?”
      “I don’t know. Not really, I guess.”
      “It doesn’t me, either. I’d like it to, but it doesn’t. … That whole big-band swing period was a thing I missed out on. Jitterbugging. Trucking on down. Or no, that was earlier, wasn’t it? I think people talked about trucking on down when I was in about the sixth grade, at Rye Country Day.”

I don’t know, something about people being nostalgic, or not, about the different music of their youth, even when only 30, for the past half-century.

§ We went to see Saltburn (Emerald Fennell, 2023) and I’m not sure what I think. It took a while to get to the actual story and then it was a pretty silly, fun, fairly shallow romp for a while. But by the end I felt a bit … cheated? I’m not sure why. I think the film was, at the end, trying to suddenly say it was a different kind of film than it was. Some of its characters – like Richard E. Grant and Rosamund Pike’s entertainingly posh parents – seemed like they were from a different, more comedic, film than other parts of it wanted to be. It felt like it wanted to be more serious and deeper than it was, and yet it had little to say and no point of view. Just awful people being entertainingly awful.

Talking of awful people, there were only about twenty people in our local arts centre cinema to see it, many of whom arrived after the film started, finding their way by torchlight across the creaking and vibrating movable seating, one of whom spilled her gin and tonic over the floor the moment she sat down, several of whom – including two women right behind us – whispered and muttered to each other throughout the film, and, finally, a woman one seat away from me who placed her phone face-up on the floor between us, which illuminated every time it received a notification, some of which she bent down to read more closely. Until I dropped my coat on top of it.

On the plus side, the previous two times we’ve been to see a film there they’ve had to cancel it due to unknown-to-us-problems at the last minute, so maybe this was an improvement?

§ We finished Andor season one this week and it lived up to the impression I’d made about it: “Good, even though it’s Star Wars.”

The first three episodes were a bit dull while the series slowly approached the actual story. There were a couple of exciting episodes and the rest were fine. It was good to see some of the scattered, deeply undercover resistance to the Empire, and more of a sense as to why it had to be resisted than you usually get, other than, “ooh, aren’t they evil!”

Generally, it’s entertaining, and much more interesting than The Mandalorian, and not just because characters speak more like real people.

But there’s something slightly hobbling about the Star Wars universe and/or the aesthetic and restrictions of the whole thing. Even when trying to show more of a “real” experience of life and struggle there’s a limit to how deep it can get, how political. As if the bloodless nature of its violence extends across everything: show the exciting surface adventure, but don’t get too deep, too real, too tricky.

§ I also finished watching season one of Dark this week which, knowing nothing about it beforehand, was much better than I was expecting. Given I started watching it as some daily German listening, it was almost too good, because I was so absorbed that I kept having to remind myself to pay attention to the language.

It’s slightly creepy (made more so by the wide variety of extremely ominous musical effects), great looking, and rather complicated – it’s tricky to keep track of the large number of interrelated characters in one timeline, never mind at different ages played by different characters. Although that should be easier now I’ve been shown this handy website. I’m looking forward to watching more.

§ May you and everything you care about remain reassuringly dry.

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