Monday, November 22, 2010

Shocking Discovery

Somewhere, I don't remember exactly where, I catch a glimpse of the phrase shocking discovery followed by a snippet( from the Dutch, snippen) of description. The description is not shocking. It's only a Home Alone gesture of shock with both hands placed on either side of the face mouthing a droll, "oh my." I'm supposed to be shocked that wrinkle creams don't work or that I'm paying too much for toilet paper. Exaggeration, ad nauseum.

Most of the time I find it hard to match my descriptions with reality. Reality is way, way farther out.

Dawn and I watch movies. Because we don't subscribe to satellite or cable TV, we read a lot of books and for entertainment-rent movies. Last night's movie, for example, shows a hooded stranger dumping gas around a building and setting it on fire. The building erupts in flames and the man sleeping inside gasps and coughs from smoke. He tries the door which has been locked by the hooded stranger. The next scene is of the man in flames falling backward from a second story window. He's dead before the viewer hears the thud.

Every year we accumulate a burn pile. The town dump is not a land fill. It consists of a dumpster for garbage and recycling bins. Tree branches, garden detritus, rotten lumber-whatever can't be composted or used to start a fire in the wood stove goes on a pile out in the front field. I wait for a calm day. If it's a dry year, I'll wait until there's snow covering the brittle dry grass in the fields nearby. When all the corn shocks that I piled into a cone are dry enough after weeks of rain to burn, I'll add paper feed sacks as tinder. I'll add a few squirts of charcoal lighter. Slowly the flames will advance up the pile. There are big gaps between the tree limbs I tossed on the pile. I rearrange the pile frequently to keep it going. It's a hot, dirty job that last all day. After several hours, I'll go back and rake the unburned trash from the edges into the middle of the glowing embers.

It's just a movie, I'll say to Dawn when she says,"Why doesn't the dummy open a window?" I'm thinking that I'd take one of the pieces of furniture and bash the door down. I certainly wouldn't wait until my clothes were on fire, back up to a window and fall backwards outside. Our windows wouldn't disintegrate even with my 225 pounds pushing against the frame.

My favorite is the 2 gallon tin gas can the hooded figure sloshes over the floor. The flames leap up the curtains and walls as if they are trying to escape the fire. The one time I threw gasoline on a fire, the whole ten foot (in diameter) pile of branches lifted 18 inches off the ground with an amazing whomp. After the explosion, the flames were an afterthought. I never added gasoline after that experience.

OK. I know it's all for the sake of entertainment. But does the viewer have to leave their brains behind? The second of last night's double feature was a subtitled movie called the Owl and the Sparrow. It is a delightful movie in which nary a person is killed, maimed, beaten or tortured. Set in Saigon, I'm surprised to see people wearing face masks riding motorbikes. The subtitles explain through one of the main characters that in the city of 8 million people, 20,000 die from the effects of air pollution. The brutal reality of the film is the 10 year old girl who plays Thuy. Forced to work in her Uncle's bamboo mat factory, she runs away. To support herself she buys postcards to sell to people. The postcards don't sell. She turns to selling cellophane wrapped roses to men on the streets. I won't divulge the rest in case you want to rent it, but it has a happy ending.

The Girl Who Played With Fire, an adaptation of Steig Larson's second book of the trilogy had enough brutality to last us awhile. I read the book. Like nine thousand other people, I compared the book to the movie. This morning I read a review of the third movie of the same book. The reviewer reiterates much of what I felt reading the second book. Inundated by endless tedious descriptions of police investigation, I skip to the end. "Get on with it." I mutter. The reviewer considers The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest long and drawn out like a Scandinavian winter.

1 comment:

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