A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, December 10, 2007


You know that bit of techsnark: RTFM? (If you don't, you can find the definition here.) Well, I'm the guy who RsTFM. I've always been a friend to technology, as long as I don't have to look under the hood. I can string cables with the best of them. I can hook up the stereo to the TV and the printer to the tower and the modem to the router. So why am I lost in computer hell with my DSL problem? Gimme a break.

Moreover, I even know how to set the clock on a VCR. (Yes, I'm still using a VCR, mostly to tape shows for other people. I figure if I succumb to Tivo, I'll spend all my time watching stuff I shouldn't.) (Oh, and I've never had a VCR that blinks 12:00 when it hasn't been set. I've gone through a bunch of them since the mid-1980s, and every one of them has blinked --:-- instead.)

So, anyway, I reset the VCR in the living room after the last time the power went out. And I put it on automatic, so it checks for the time signal from the satellite box. But for some reason, it has reset itself so that it's four and a half hours off from Pacific Time. Right now, the clock on my computer tells me it's 11:50. The VCR is informing me that it's 7:20.

I know better than to ask a real techie for an explanation. ("The dilbert in the grommit has gone out of sync with the paxil. You should recycle the motown so it aligns with the dystrophy.") I can live with it. But I don't deserve it. I've been so nice to you machines.


Another puzzlement: Why do people say stupid things to reporters? They surely can't believe what they're saying, can they?

Case in point, a woman in Iowa who told a reporter that she opposed a program to provide breakfasts for poor schoolkids. "I work hard for what I have. Why should I buy somebody else's kid breakfast?"

Jeez, lady, because you live in a society where things work together. You buy the kid breakfast so he can get an education and get a job so he can pay taxes too -- the taxes that provide you with roads to drive on, people to put out the fire that threatens to burn down your house, the army that's supposed to protect the country, the pipes that bring water to your house, and the cops who arrest those guys who didn't get good breakfasts as kids so they didn't get an education and therefore didn't get good jobs and wound up robbing your house instead.

Some people forget that promoting the general welfare is established as an American duty in the preamble to the Constitution.