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Musings from the Bunker 4/23/20



Good morning!

I don’t need to tell you that the world feels different now than it did just a few months ago. Eventually we will return to an approximation of what was “normal” before this crisis. I’m wondering that, after some semblance of normalcy is reached, how this pause from the ordinary may change our mindset. I suspect we have all revised our opinions regarding the role of government, our connectedness to others, the randomness of life, and our responsibility for the environment.

 

WHAT’S GOOD IN ALL THIS?

We have all read of the reduction in air pollution around the world, the reduction in effluent entering the water, the wildlife that have been seen roaming freely in national forests and parks, and increased fish populations in estuaries. One of the iconic pictures is, of course, the dolphins seen in the Venice canals. These images offer us a peek at what the world might be like if we reduced our collective carbon footprint. Having temporarily moved into this period of reduced activity, who among us wouldn’t want some of this to continue—to see cleaner air and water, less traffic, and better stewardship of the land and its inhabitants? Once we go back to our everyday lives, will we remember these images and will we work toward a world that can retain some of the wonder of this newly “clean” Earth? I hope so.

I’d like to discuss in a week or so the lessons learned and perspectives altered as a result of this reduction in activity since the “pause” button was pressed. For anyone willing to participate, please consider answering one of the following question:

  • How has the isolation improved the world?

  • What lessons can we take from this?

  • How have you personally changed?

  • How would you like to think people generally have changed?

  • What should society take away from this going forward?”

 

FAVORITE (AND NOT SO FAVORITE) MOVIES

I asked a little over a week ago for people to share examples of their least favorite movie that other people apparently liked. Mark Schwartz says this is hardly the time to focus on the negative, and suggested we also share favorites. So let’s cover both:

Here are some of the movies on people’s “best” lists:

  • A Few Good Men – powerful courtroom drama and how the little guy can triumph

  • Coal Miner’s Daughter – how a poor child grew to become a music legend, an example of the triumph of the human spirit

  • The Godfather – every scene is a work of art. [commentary on these three provided by Mark Schwartz]

  • The Guns of Navarone

  • The Producers

  • The Manchurian Candidate

  • The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (these four were courtesy Brad Mindlin)

  • Run Silent, Run Deep (Steve Meadow)

  • Dirty Harry (Steve Meadow)

  • The Last Picture Show

  • The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (and while we’re talking John LeCarre, the TV miniseries of The Night Manager is outstanding)

  • A Man for All Seasons

  • How to Steal a Million. An unheralded rom-com with Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn. (the last four recommended by an anonymous reviewer…)

  • Glengarry Glen Ross. This is the classic story of salesmen, written by Mamet. Some people (like Ed Weiss) know every word by heart. Phenomenal dialog. Jesse Sharf also recommends the Mamet classic, House of Games.

A number of people agreed with me that the Disaster Artist was a great movie about the making of a bad movie. But here’s another:

  • Ed Wood, recommended by Peter Bain. Johnny Depp in an excellent study of a passionately horrible filmmaker.

  • Titanic; although on the list of bad movies before, Jesse Sharf nominated for it again. I think we’re both convinced it was one very long joke—“Can we make a movie so bad, so internally flawed, so saccharine, and so poorly directed and acted, while convincing the American public it’s a ‘must see’”?

More hideously bad movies:

  • Star Trek V, The Final Frontier (courtesy Chris Cook). As a Star Trek fan myself, I can say this is the most ridiculous of all Trek movies. The crew actually believed they might be face-to-face with God. How absurd is that? Plus, we all know the supreme being would look nothing like Laurence Luckenbill.

  • All three John Wick movies. They essentially are violent video games with live characters (comments courtesy Harvey Englander)

  • The Star Wars prequels, which introduced us to the unforgettable “Jar Jar Binks.”

  • Little Fockers. This was the third in a series. Can you say, “one too many…”?

 

PASSING THE TIME IN THE BUNKER WITH STYLE

As you may know, I love games and I love design. This is a great article with 16 aesthetically pleasing puzzles and games. It is a curious mix of design and play. Great jigsaws of different places, shapes and designs, beautiful backgammon, jenga, chess and domino sets and great playing cards: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/t-magazine/puzzles-games-coronavirus.html?referringSource=articleShare

Leave it to Glenn Raines to point out that some are using this time to travel to faraway places without ever leaving the comfort of their couches: https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/markets/pot-use-reached-all-time-high-in-march-amid-lockdown-measures/ar-BB12kLPW

 

BOOKS ON WWII HEROISM AND SPIES

Bruce Ramer presents little known but fascinating stories of heroism in World War II. “Anything written by my friend Lynn Olsen. Start with Last Hope Island (the story of expats from the Continent who found safety in the U.K. during World War II), but don't miss A Question of Honor (the story of Polish airmen who joined the RAF to defend Britain in WW II, only to be abandoned to the Soviets after the war) or her most recent Madame Fourcade (about the young, beautiful Parisienne mother who led the largest underground group in France during WW II). Researches and writes beautifully.”

Jerry Coben recommends anything by Alan Furst, all set in World War II, including: Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, and Dark Voyage.

Jerry also recommends these by David Ignatius (yes, the Washington Post reporter): “Beautifully written spy novels; no continuing characters. I stumbled on these in the middle of the publication order, so haven’t read them in order, but I’ll get over it.” Those who know Jerry can appreciate how reading these out of order upset his quest for order in the world: Agents of Innocence, Siro, The Bank of Fear, A Firing Offence, The Sun King, Body of Lies, The Increment, Blood Money, The Director and The Quantum Spy.

 

FINAL LINK—A BORED SPORTSCASTER CALLING PLAY BY PLAY WITH HIS PET DOGS (PART II)

This is good for a chuckle (and it’s short):

https://mobile.twitter.com/MrAndrewCotter/status/1248313303270596610?s=20

And while we’re talking about sportscasters, there is one phenomenal classic. Here’s the “Funny or Die” short that started the Jim Brockmeyer series. Hank Azaria in one of his finest work, supported by great sportscasters Joe Buck, Rich Eisen, and Dan Patrick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M95P3DTYxqg TRIGGER WARNING: A little profanity and scatological humor.

Have a great day,

Glenn

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