Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Monday, June 21, 2004

Windmills, Presidents, and TV 

like a circle in a spiral

like a wheel within a wheel

never ending or beginning

on an ever spinning reel

like a snowball down a mountain

or a carnival balloon

like a carousel that’s turning

running rings around the moon

So I'm flying back to Oregon on American Airlines, and we've used our baby clout to secure a bulkhead seat. It's strange though, our aisle seat pokes out farther than the First Class seats ahead of us and the Coach seats behind. So I can't help but imagine I'm a President on Air Force One, and all those first-classers are lackeys working for me, trying to cover up something I've botched most likely. The coach class people behind me must be the press corp, freeloading a ride on my airplane. Which reminds me of dream that a guy I know named Gary had a few years ago. I don't usually remember other people's dreams, but this one rang so true... he saw himself walking out of his apartment into the parking lot, which gradually morphed into a tarmac where Air Force One was waiting, and aides were waving him over to hurry up and board the jet. Once inside, Gary made his way down the aisle to the ominous seat in the rear, a large black swivel chair, very posh. At first he could only see the hand of the seated man aiming a remote control at a television screen, flipping through various channels. Gary the Dreamer assumed this was a search for important news, possibly private information only the President gets. The chair spins around partially and Bill Clinton looks over his shoulder at Gary, uttering in his raspy Southern drawl:

"There's always something good on the Disney Channel."

I swear this all ties together, just be patient. The subjects of President and Television especially, because we had been visiting my Dad for a week. Like many retirees of the modern era, he foregoes writing memoirs or exploring the country, opting instead for watching tv every waking hour, especially channels that show World War II from every possible angle. The Presidential connection is obvious, as most channels showed the casket of Ronald Reagan without interruption. This on news networks that are so typically sensationalistic, that you couldn't look at the coffin and not wonder is something going to happen? The coverage seemed a bit excessive, and sure I never voted for him, but even I'll admit there were admirable qualities in RR. I heard that one of the stipulations in his will was that his slaves be freed upon his passing, so there's that.

I normally wouldn't have known how much air time was devoted to the funeral, because we practically never use our TV except for movie rentals. I'm not being a tv snob like Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction; I'm well aware that there's an invention called television and on this invention they show shows, as Jules explains. In fact I used to watch way too much of it, hence that reference I just made. But now I've got this family I like to hang with and all this work that needs doing, and I can't figure out how anyone has time to watch the thing. Unless they're visiting their father who won't turn the invention off, and thereby end up catching up on a whole year's worth of small screen antics. Boy what I've been missing! Years from now alien races will catch our random transmissions and assume that the peoples of our planet were obsessed with changing each other's living spaces. Or they'll see a few movies that I did, such as...

Stalag 17-- What a great movie. I'd seen most of it before, but I always missed parts. Finally I've seen all of it, no mean feat with American Movie Classics going to commercial every five minutes. SPOILER... it seems really obvious after the fact that Peter Graves is the Nazi stoolie, but I can't remember if that surprised me years ago when I didn't know it. Anyway, a far, far better war movie than

Desperate Journey-- It's interesting that Reagan once called himself "the Errol Flynn of B-Movies", because here was a movie where he got to play Flynn's buddy. Along with other Allied flyers who crash behind enemy lines, our heroes make their way through Germany and occupied Holland, practically winning the war themselves along the way. Most people being chased by Nazis would focus on the task of escaping, but our boys take side breaks to blow up ammo plants and snag secret aircraft plans. Despite their famed organizational regimen and ability to manage thousands of POWS with small numbers of men, Nazis are seemingly helpless against the tactic of sneaking up and knocking them over the head. Considering one of the heroes was Alan Hale Sr., I had to wonder if his then-young son watched the movie and thought "Dad should have hit that guy with his hat-- that's the way I'd do it." One interesting aspect is that the Nazis actually speak German when talking amongst themselves, and their lines are chosen carefully so that an English speaking audience can still tell what they're talking about. Considering that most of the movie is loose-with-reality propaganda, that was a mature storytelling choice that I don't see much better movies do. Just like he would do years later, Ronnie made war look like a lot of fun, and you can imagine the reactions of young GI's arriving in the European Theater after having watching movies like this in the American Theater. That was a strained wordplay, I apologize. It's late as I write this. And speaking of Steve McQueen, the other movie I saw was

The Thomas Crown Affair-- the original. This was one of McQueen's favorites of his movies, and it's not hard to see why-- it's full of Steve McQueen doing things Steve McQueen likes to do, riding horses, drinking, flying a glider, driving dune buggies all over the beach, smoking cigars, and sleeping with different women. He's essentially a criminal mastermind who organizes big heists and even laughs maniacally to himself at his brilliance. The best stuff in the movie is the jazzy intro which shows Yaphet Kotto and others with split screens pulling off the caper. But then later you have to sit through McQueen living life to the fullest while we're treated to "Windmills of Your Mind" no less than TWICE and not sung by Dusty Springfield. Faye Dunaway is an insurance investigator who pegs him as the villain instantly-- the whole bank jobs had such panache that she's fallen for him before she's even seen him. The two become romantic as they have a battle of wits, and literally even play chess at one point (sexy chess, at that!). The movie ends with Dunaway in tears and McQueen laughing, just like in real life. Originally the movie was to star Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot, but it's funnier this way.

My next post will be about the Charlotte show, if I can remember anything. Thanks for your indulgence.


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