Movie Report: Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)

Book coverI saw this film in the theatre with my beautiful wife probably on a date night–I mean, 2009 was a busy year for us, what with my sainted mother passing away, my brother returning to the St. Louis area, and our decamping Old Trees for Nogglestead. Still, a year is full of individual days that fit around the big events or the not-events of less consequential years. So we undoubtedly deployed our then-teenaged and by now nearly thirty babysitter and went to see this movie.

You know, I said about Jet Li’s Fearless:

But it’s an interesting film once you peel away the layer of Chinese propaganda film that hovers over all.

* * * *

So, well, yeah, a good story wrapped in Chinese anti-Western propoganda.

You could make a similar statement about a bunch of George Clooney films: A good story if you ignore the anti-American, anti-military, and especially anti-Iraq War message wrapped around it (see also Three Kings et al.).

A journalist, portrayed by Ewan MacGregor, loses his wife to an editor and makes his way to the Middle East to report on the war there and re-establish his manhood. He hooks up with a former (?) military man who participated in a paranormal research program who has a mission in the Iraq War, although he is not sure what it is. Through a series of flashbacks, the military operator, played by George Clooney, tells of the origins of the unit when Jeff Bridges, playing the Dude character, becomes a flower child and soaks up New Age stuff like a sponge and runs the military research unit like a commune, but it comes crashing down when a more military-minded and potentially inferior “gifted” officer, played by Kevin Spacey, fouls it up.

So it’s got some wryly amusing moments in it. It doesn’t really acknowledge the paranormal, leaving it a little ambiguous but certainly nobody here is a superhero at best.

But, yeah, a mocking tone that questions the military and its involvement in the Iraq War. While the Iraq War was still sort of going on. But more intelligent than anything that would come later with The Message.

And I have it on DVD in case I want to watch it again in another fifteen years.

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Accumulations, Saturday, July 3, 2023

Not exactly a Good Book Hunting or Good Album Hunting post per se, although that’s ultimately what it comes down to.

I have started hitting garage sales and estate sales again here and there, gentle reader. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for–well, a table/entertainment center to replace a printer stand and maybe a horizontal piece of art to put above our headboard now that kitten adventuring has led us to remove the canopy bed rails that we rarely put fabric on and that wall space is now obviously bare. Some craft supplies? It would follow since I’ve started doing a little project work here and there that I would once again begin acquiring things to use in projects right before I stop doing projects again, leaving the supplies to lie fallow in my garage for decades (although I am getting to an age where it’s awful presumptuous to think in terms of future decades).

At any rate, I visited a garage sale at the Methodist church on the corner of Elm and FF in Battlefield and a handful of other sales just inside Battlefield. The town was rife with them, and I had thought I would roll down Elm/Farm Road 182/Plainview Road to Golden/Farm Road 135 and back, but I didn’t make it that far.

As I might have mentioned, around the turn of the century, I was very heavy into Ebay, and I would spend all Saturday morning and part of the afternoon hitting estate sales and garage sales in the St. Louis area to buy things to list. Most days, I went with my friend Pixie (actually, Jimmy’s mom from my youth, not a manic Pixie girl–and I am not entirely sure why she was called Pixie at the time, although sometime everyone else started calling her by her first name again) and occasionally with my Aunt Dee. So it was a social outing, and actually slightly profitable.

Now, though, if I go alone, I make it just so far before I get a little lonely doing it, and as I don’t really have a compelling reason to attend a lot of garage sales, I call it a day after a couple of sales.

At any rate, I picked up some Marvel–well, mostly X-Men movies at the church garage sale and a book for $20 ($12.50 rounded up to the nearest sawbuck since it was a fundraiser).

I got:

  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Ant-Man
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • X-Men: Days of Future Passed
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • My Life at the Zoo by Betty White

I’m seeing a lot of $1 and $2 DVDs at the garage sales I visit, and it’s people unloading their stock as they become used to streaming. So it’s the time to get them in the wild cheaply. In a couple of years, they’ll dry up, and you’ll be paying retail prices for used films.

The sales I attended were rather bifurcated. Some had really low prices as people wanted to unload things, and others had fairly expensive items that people hoped they’d get their worth. But I tend to run on the cheapskate side of the street. One had very nice pieces of décor for a buck or three, and I was suspicious of their origins for that little. I did pass on a little side table that would have served as a living room television stand because it would have needed refinishing, and although it is generally my wont to accumulate more than I’ll actually do–let’s maybe not buy more furniture to refinish until I actually refinish the last such piece.

* * * *

In the afternoon, I dragged my youngest to Relics so I could do the other half of the store from what I did on Monday. The young man does not enjoy garage sales, estate sales, antique malls, or generally anything in the real world these days, but it was less lonely dealing with his stream of complaints than browsing alone.

I did end up with a couple of records and a DVD which is the opposite of Monday’s haul.

I got:

  • Makin’ Magic by Pat Travers because I will confuse him with Pat Metheny every time.
  • Al Jarreau in London, a fine live album. I don’t generally do live albums, but it’s Al Jarreau. He, too, is from Milwaukee, you know.
  • Warm and Sensuous by Les and Larry Elgart. Pretty Woman on Cover (PWoC), but I happen to like the Elgarts as well. The record has a fine rendition of “Harlem Nocturne”.
  • Natalie by Natalie Cole. Pretty sure I already have it, but this copy was $2, so I spent it to make sure.
  • Superbad on DVD. After watching Knocked Up, I thought I’d revisit the Apatowverse.

This set was ten bucks–I don’t really browse the record bins as most of them have records for $10 or more these days–but if I find one with records for $2 or $3, I will give them a look. Also, some booths still have DVDs for a buck. But probably not for long.

Between the two trips to Relics, though, I spent less than the face value of one $25 gift certificate. Given I’ve seen the whole store now, I will probably put the gift certificates away and revisit the store just before Thanksgiving to do some Christmas shopping.

At any rate, thanks for sticking with my consumerist/materialist/junk on the bunk posts. Even though I am watching several films a week, I am still outpacing my capacity with these excursions. But someday, these things won’t be available. Mostly because I will have bought them all.

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Quibble’s Raiders

In a post on the likelihood of a hot civil war, Animal says:

A second civil war would be catastrophic. It would be fought not on distant fields, not by massive armies maneuvering against each other in open country. It will be fought in the streets, in the towns, amongst us in ways no other war has touched us since the Revolution, and if similar conflicts are any indication – see not only Bosnia but also the Spanish Civil War – it will result in hatreds that will last generations.

As I have mentioned before, here in the Ozarks, it was house-to-house and family-to-family raiding during the Late Unpleasantness. And some of the locals still have a kind of respect for Quintrill’s Raiders.

So I have imagination enough to know how that might go.

(Yes, I do read the rule 5 posts for the articles.)

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Mommyblogger, Where Do Aryans Come From?

Unsurprisingly, the answer the journalist presents is a mixture of racism and modern loneliness of immigrants.

However, gentle reader, one with historical perspective might point out that Aryans where proto-Persian/Indians from way, way back in history who conquered India and placed themselves, with their lighter skin tones, at the top of the heap and established what would become the caste system in India. As the young man in question has a lighter complexion and immigrated to the United States with his family, he might have been of those upper classes in India who might have looked down on other Indians. I’m not going to actually ascribe motives to him (or posit that he might be a fed like all the cool kids are).

But I am bogged down in the India book in The Story of Civilization (the Our Oriental Heritage volume), and this history is fresh in my mind.

Never is the question “How do other nations/ethnographies treat those of other nations/races/ethnographies?” Because that answer would be worse than the West and especially Americans do.

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“I Have This Gift Certificate”–The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My beautiful wife gave me two $25 gift certificates to Relics, so I popped by on Memorial Day to see if I could spend them. After a long weekend that I’d looked forward to that ultimately underwhelmed–I blame the banana bread fiasco–I hoped the trip would cheer me a bit.

Relics gift certificates are problematic. First, they are paper certificates and not gift cards of any sort. They expire six months after issue, and they do not provide change if you do not spend the face amount of it. So you have to spend over the amount or lose it. The combination of these factors has led to certificates expiring in the past as I’ve lost track of the dates or I’ve not wanted to expend a gift certificate of $25 for $11 in value.

Which was the case on Memorial Day.

I hoped to find something over $50 that triggered my fancy. An old computer reasonably priced. Perhaps something for a new or future hobby, like the bass guitar I bought with one set of certificates or the fencing equipment that I did not.

I really only had an hour to wander before I had to leave to make it home for dinner time, and as a result I only got a record and a couple DVDs.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler remake of the Burt Reynolds film.
  • Step Brothers with Will Ferrell and that guy who’s always in Will Ferrell movies (I know, I know, John C. Reilly, and he’s been in movies without Will Ferrell).
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with Angelina Jolie and an eye patch. Also, some other actors and CGI that has probably not aged well.
  • The Watch with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. I’d never heard of this film, and I’ve considered myself a bit of a Ben Stiller fan.
  • Lost in Translation which I am pretty sure that my wife and I saw in the theater because I consider myself a bit of a Bill Murray fan.
  • Bedazzled, the Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser remake of the Dudley Moore film which I also saw in the theater but without Mike.
  • Laine Kazan‘s self-titled album. I’d never heard of her before, but Dean Martin had a blurb on the back, so I gave it a go (and it was a rare one dollar record). Turns out she’s more known as an actress than a singer, that she posed nude in Playboy before I was born, and that she’s still alive. Amazing.

When the hour was up and the total was calculated, it was $11.78.

So I did not spend either of the gift certificates. Which means that I’ll have to go back. Maybe this weekend. And I will turn right at the entrance and work my way westward in the shop as I tend to go left and work eastward, so I see those booths twice for every time I see the eastern half of the store. Perhaps there’s a $52 hobby for me to pick up, or at least $52 worth of clutter for my office or garage.

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Working From Home Can Do That To You, Too

COVID-19 lockdowns had same effect on memory as serving jail time: study

Last month, the local software developer’s group had a panel discussion on the pros and cons of working from home. One of the very last questions was about how working from home affects your sense of time. I don’t know whether the questioner had seen similar studies, but I have often given this thought over the years and certainly since the developer meetup–I came right home and started drafting a post for the group’s Discord server, but I showed a draft of it to my beautiful wife, but she was not impressed, so I discarded instead of discording.

However, here’s a bit of a related musing:

1. In the short term, your time is integrated.
I found that once I started working from home, my days were no longer bifurcated into the work day spent away at work and the home life, spent at home and everywhere else. I mean, when I would think back on this or that, work time was separate from the rest of my life, and I didn’t correlate last Tuesday at the office with last Tuesday night having dinner with my wife and watching hockey. If I wanted to remember when something happened for work or in real life, I would have to count back using the events at work to remember something from work or using life at home to remember things from home. It was weird.

Once I started working from home, though, all time and experience flowed into a single bucket. My whole timeline was integrated in a way it had not been before. So that was really nice.

2. Over the long term, though, time melts together.

I’ve worked from home for 18 of the last 19 years, and 14 of those have been from my office at Nogglestead. As I have mentioned, we don’t change things up very much at Nogglestead, and my office has not really changed since we moved in–after all, the bookshelves, arcade game, and giant desk with enormous hutch really can only fit together one way (although it should be noted that in our little under 3 years in Old Trees, I did move my office from one place to another as we made room for another baby). I have had numerous clients and a couple of full time jobs, and the look and experience of going to work has been almost exactly the same, day in and day out, for fourteen years. My office with F—-, my office with G—–, and now my office with C—- have all looked the same. A big monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard.

So events of the years have blended together in memory. I rely an awful lot on this blog to help me remember where I was or what I was doing or reading or watching at any given point in time–and if you read my book reports or movie reports, you’ll often find me saying, “I read/watched this related thing …. how many years ago?”

It’s probably exacerbated by the fact that I’m quite a homebody, and my choice of leisure is often sitting at my computer or in the recliner which is very much the same year after year, too.

So, basically, the old saw that “The days are long, but the years are short” becomes “The days are longer, but the years are shorter.”

And now if anyone asks me what it’s like working from home, I’m going to answer that it’s a lot like prison. And the more introverted you are, the worst it is.

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