Entries on Wednesdays

Note · · Tucson

Groundhog Day

The owner of the market was cashiering and couldn't remember how to ring things up. He said, "This is my store, but every time I have to work the register it's like groundhog day."

People have really warmed up to this analogy. I hear it a lot anymore.

Cineclub · · Tucson

Il Boom

Il Boom. Dir. Vittorio De Sica. 1963


Giovanni is a contractor looking for a way out of the debt he's amassed maintaining appearances. At first, things are frenetic: Giovanni buying his wife a car and furs, Giovanni writing lots of checks, Giovanni at the racquet club. Ciao, Giovanni. Ciao! Then things get frantic: Giovanni at the loan company asking for an extension, Giovanni asking a friend for a very large loan, Giovanni trying to scheme his brother-in-law. No, Giovanni. No!

Everyone is zipping around Rome in tiny cars, drinking and dancing the Twist in smart suits and cocktail dresses until dawn, talking Italian. Everything is happening so fast and I start to wonder if the words for frantic and frenetic are as easily confused in Italian as they are in English. Any time you can make out a few words here and there of a language you can't speak, things are bound to feel like they're going too fast, I suppose.

Things slow down eventually and everyone goes to bed. The next day, the wife of a wealthy manufacturer offers Giovanni a way out. It will costare un occhio della testa. I know that idiomatic expression because Spanish has a similar one: costar un ojo de la cara, which means (translated literally) to cost an eye from your face. Or, as an English speaker would say, "It'll cost you an arm and a leg."

This adds an existential dimension to the film's premise. If Giovanni were living beyond his means in Manahattan, he would have to sell two limbs.   

If you don't think about the dark socio-economic implications — and there isn't a lot of time to, so you probably won't — it's a light and fun film. There's even an intermission. You can use it to get snacks or look up words you're wondering about.

Note · · Tucson

Joe Frank

Joe Frank created radio that didn't sound like radio. His programs are dark and funny and sad waking dreams that I looked forward to finding on the dial.

Radio great Joe Frank has died. He had a long radio career, including decades at KCRW. Frank’s storytelling influenced many young radio journalists, who had never heard anything quite like him before. This includes ‘This American Life’ host, Ira Glass, who shares what it was like to be a young production assistant for Frank. — Remembering radio legend Joe Frank

Music · · Tucson

Sufjan Stevens - Tonya Harding

In Kingman, Arizona there is a man who looks much older than he is. His skin smells like beer and his clothes smell like the tar they treat railroad ties with. He picks a tiny music box up off a yellowed doily on a dresser and opens it. Sad music comes out and he smiles like he is happy.