Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hand-Me-Ups

As attentive readers will note, Bloggerboy Junior left home to study.  This week, Frau Bloggerboy handed me three ribbed cotton zip-up sweaters to try on.  They fit well enough.  So, a significant portion of my wardrobe expense for 2012 has now been avoided.  Apparently, Bloggerboy Junior had a large enough wardrobe to cast off three perfectly good shirts before he left.  He is much taller than I, but somehow I still fit in his shirts, if not his pants and shoes.  Who wants used shoes anyway? 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Death of Cinema

On my lunch hour this week I checked out one of our cable movie channels and stumbled across the film Red-Headed Woman (1932) with braless Jean Harlow.  I've not spent much time watching early, Pre-Code talkies.  As fascinated and pleased as I was to stumble across this film, I gradually realized how sad and destructive the so-called Hays Code was to variety in US film after 1934.  Red-Headed Woman is the story of an amoral social climber who was born on the wrong side of the tracks, but who grabs for all the goodies she can, starting with a scion of a wealthy local family, using sex to get what she wants.  I didn't get to watch the entire film, but I know enough about it to say that it is a clear-eyed portrayal of a woman who refuses to settle for her station in life and who uses and enjoys her sexuality openly and without shame.  A loveable bad guy.  All of the clichés of prudish America dissolve when you watch a film like Red-Headed Woman.  These are the frank and open Americans that I know.  The film may judge Lil, but it does not condemn her, and there is no moralizing ending imposed in which the heroine is destroyed by her lust.  The war between Merry Mount and Salem rages on in 1932 Prohibition America, as it does today.  There really are two Americas.  Red-Headed Woman was a blast of fresh air -- eighty years old.


My post title, of course, is grossly exaggerated.  Even the Hays Code and other moral screening could not destroy cinema or Hollywood.  Sometimes, less is more, as in the subtle and humorous repartee filled with sexual innuendo in some of the better Hollywood films of the Fifties and early Sixties.

I also found Red-Headed Woman interesting because of its almost self-conscious attempt to live up to the prevailing impression of what "French morality" was at the time.  In New York, Lil takes a lover, the French chauffeur of her second, super-rich victim whom she wants to marry, and the film ends with her living in Paris, chasing after elderly men, her chauffeur at her side.  The cross-pollination between France and the United States has a long, rich history.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

German Efficiency

Earlier this week I had to call a German service hotline.  Not only was it a service hotline, it was a taxpayer-funded hotline.  From my experience with government hotlines in America, I know that a long wait may be required.  I frequently wait for twenty minutes when calling certain US federal agencies, assuming there is even a live person willing to talk to me.  Sure enough, after I had dialed the German hotline number, a computer voice notified me that my call might be recorded AND that a wait would be required.  The voice went on to state that the estimated waiting time was ( there followed a long pause during which the computer calculated and estimated the wait time) thirty-nine seconds.  Not one minute.  Not forty seconds.  Thirty-nine seconds.  Hardly had I recovered from the shock and amusement of this information, when a friendly public servant was on the phone to answer my questions.  She was competent and helpful and I was able to accomplish what I had set out to do.  You can moan and gripe about the high prices, the high taxes, and big government here in Germany, but things work here and, often, they work pretty well.  I know, I know, Mussolini made the trains run on time in Italy, too...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Departures

On Monday, Frau Bloggerboy, Fräulein Bloggerboy and I drove Bloggerboy Junior to his new room in another large German city where he will begin his studies.  We celebrated a bit the days before, including a nice French meal on Easter Sunday.  Junior had an extra side order of snails to precede his five-course prix fixe menu.  Certainly, Junior is excited about this new phase in his life.  Still, the parting was a bit sad.  No tears were shed, but I think each of us was painfully aware of the end of an era.  Bloggerboy Junior had a childhood that might be the envy of many children.  I think he is aware of the advantages that he has had.  But the images that stick with me have little or nothing to do with those advantages and everything to do with a bright, curious boy who has enriched my life beyond description simply by challenging me to be good (even when he was not).  His birth marked a re-birth for me, and for that I always will be grateful.