While Robin was away for a couple of days in Durango, doing grandma stuff with Claire, I stayed home in Paradise and took the opportunity to re-watch the movie Das Boot. It’s a movie made in Germany, with a German director, a German cast and highly inconveniently, everybody speaks German in the film. Fortunately the DVD manufacturer provided some little words in red across the bottom of the screen so we had some idea of what everyone was saying and could follow the action. They called these words “subtitles.” It occurred to me that there are quite a few American-made films that could use subtitles as well, especially those made in New Jersey (mumbling and jargon) and Alabama (accents and jargon).
But I digress.
Rotten Tomatoes gave it 98%, the audience gave it 98%, so it’s credentials are pretty solid. It’s a movie that takes place during wartime, but is really not about war. It is about men doing an extremely difficult job under what to me are some of the most stressful conditions imaginable. Take a person, put them and 40 other men inside a long narrow metal tube with only one exit, submerge the tube in the ocean, and then drop bombs on it repeatedly.
Well before the first depth charges went off, my claustrophobia would have kicked in and the rest of the crew would have had to duct-tape me to a torpedo to get me out of the way. It is also likely that I would need to be gagged so that my screaming wasn’t a distraction to other crew members as they went about their duties.
When it comes to warfare I don’t want to be up in the air or be underwater, and even when appropriately stationed on terra firma I would immediately request that the only weapon I be issued was a word processor. Other than those limitations, I’m your basic warrior material.
The movie is one of the greats, and it is 209 minutes long in the “director’s cut.” So … a very long and often claustrophobic movie that takes place in wartime, with 99.9% male actors … not eye candy for everyone.
Did I mention that it was entirely done in a foreign language? Oh wait, there was a recorded song played as background a couple of times : “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary.” English was used there.
A little local mountain story. Paradise abounds in what are called “jeep roads.” Translated, this means trails that are a little wider than needed for two elk to pass one another, carved out of solid rock, and which at one time carried supplies to and from the thousands of mines in western Colorado. These days they are for adult children to play on with their toys. They are typically narrow and have severe drop-offs on one side, as in the photo below.
Not all of these roads require that you own a Jeep vehicle. Some are navigable by SUV, some by passenger sedans. The Camp Bird road is an SUV road located a few miles outside of Ouray CO. At one point it narrowed to a single lane that had a picturesque overhang.
But a couple of years ago, one day when no one was (fortunately) near, a big chunk of that overhang fell off. In a relatively short time the road was cleared, but something had been lost.
Then earlier this summer, a woman and her grown daughter signed up for a Jeep tour with a seasoned operator. They took off up the road and for reasons as yet unexplained, the vehicle left the road and tumbled down a couple of hundred feet. No one survived the crash.
The point? That even knowing the ropes doesn’t guarantee a good outcome every time. I went up the Camp Bird Road in a Subaru Forester the year before the rockfall, and when I had brought the vehicle back down to civilization, Robin had to use up a whole can of WD-40 and a small prybar to get my fingers off the steering wheel.
All sorts of stories coming out of Hurricane Ian’s visit to the U.S. Destruction, heartbreak, loss. Heroism, unselfishness, kindness, sacrifice. The storm surges have hardly begun to recede before the accusation surge begins, where public figures berate one another for alleged incompetence, malfeasance, halitosis, and generally bad behavior.
Florida can’t get a break. Each tropical storm is a small respite from the daily assaults that humans make against a fragile ecosystem. There’s quite a bit of fuss in recent years about the state’s infestation with the invasion of Burmese pythons , which are eating up native wildlife at an alarming rate. Their depredations, of course, are small potatoes compared with what our own species has already done to the state with overdevelopment and ignorant land usage.
So far, the pythons haven’t started gobbling up Floridians, although some of the snakes have grown large enough to be worrisome. Here’s a photo of an 18 foot long, 215 pounder recently captured in that state.
My, my, my.
I don’t know about you, but if one of these wandered into my campsite of an evening, it would provoke quite a bit of excitement. It would also prompt a careful head count once the creature had left the area. Billy? Jimmy? Heather? Bob? Fluffy … Fluffy … Fluffy … ?
From The New Yorker
I would like to thank The New Yorker magazine for being an unwitting contributor to this blog over the years. Of course I am referring to the fact that I “borrow” cartoons from their archives on a regular basis and publish them here. It’s a contemptible practice, I know, and if I have an immortal soul I am certainly placing it in jeopardy with each episode of this petty pilfering.
I salve my conscience by adding the phrase “From The New Yorker” before each cartoon. And even though I was taught long ago that my repentance is meaningless if I fully intend to go forth and sin again, which I do, I offer up a lament every day. My confession goes something like this:
Lord, I am sorry to be here for the numpteenth time confessing that I swiped yet another cartoon from New Yorker magazine for my personal use, without giving anything back to them but a measly attribution. However, Lord, if you had given me any artistic abilities at all, I wouldn’t have to steal, so who’s really at fault here?
At such times I turn to my religious mentor, Father Guido Sarducci, for guidance. Here is a videotaped sermonette of his that seems to apply, at least a little, to my situation.
If Sarducci is right about these things, I believe that an episode of cartoon larceny should be worth about … maybe … 35 cents an image? But like he says … they count up.