Category: Movies

Six months of movies

 

Chandler, Woodley, and Teller in The Spectacular Now

The Circle–Disappointing film from James Ponsoldt, whose previous films were so good. But a naturalistic, small-scale filmmaker like him is probably a poor fit for this adaptation of Dave Eggers’ attempt to satirize and warn about the encroaching social media dictatorship. Judging from the film, the problems start with the novel. Emma Watson and Tom Hanks star, to diminishing effect.

Game of Thrones: Season One, Episode 1–Got the first seven episodes out from Redbox. Made it 30 minutes into the first episode, found the whole thing tacky and average and not a promising use of 75 hours. I’m sure it gets better, but I bailed.

Mad Max: Fury Road–All right. Maybe it’s a little long, and I’m not sure I need to see the sequels that are supposedly on the way, but who cares? Bonus for me was seeing all the echoes of John Ford films, especially action sequences from Stagecoach and The Searchers. Here’s the former (it’s probably a good idea to pretend that Geronimo’s Apaches here are actually zombie goons sent by Immortan Joe).

The End of the Tour–James Ponsoldt again, with maybe the best movie to come out of a killed magazine story? Not a whole lot happens, and this wouldn’t be a movie but for the suicide of the real-life David Foster Wallace, but I appreciated it as a recreation of a mythologized author at the height of his success: living alone in an anonymous Illinois ranch house, eating junk food and watching junk TV, and doting on his dogs. And hoping his hot new book will help him with the ladies!

Amy–The rise and fall of a talented young woman, told through scraps of cell phone videos, tabloid TV clips, voiceover recollections by her oldest and truest friends, and more. Sad and relentless, but worthwhile.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia–Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s police procedural has some striking images and scenes, but much of the film is a near-real time nighttime excursion to the countryside in search of a corpse. Although our TV is 54 inches or so, the experience would have  been better in a theater. Still, I enjoyed the actor playing the good-natured but vain, and decadent prosecutor.

Antichrist–Lars von Trier’s provocation from 2009. What he has in common with purveyors of splatter films: He makes us physically react to what’s on screen. I appreciate someone so committed to jolting us out of our complacency and putting something visceral and real on screen. Still, hated this film.

The Big Short–Entertaining enough, but like the Michael Lewis book upon which its based, a bit too smooth, too glib, too narrative-friendly for the complex phenomenon of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Enjoyed the sequence where Steve Carell’s character travels to Florida to see firsthand the overbuilt McMansions, and a stripper who owns a half-dozen of them.

The Right Stuff–Coincidentally, I watched this a few days after Sam Shepherd died, and a couple weeks after I read the Tom Wolfe book. The film is a sweeping historical drama in the best sense, with aerial photography that still holds up against today’s CGI fakery, so it’s astounding that the film was a box office failure. Quibbles: Shepherd’s widely lauded turn as Chuck Yeager, playing him as a laconic, high-plains-Ralph Lauren cowboy didn’t do much for me, and he’s nothing like the real Yeager, either in appearance or personality. That said, it’s not a deal-breaker. Ed Harris was very fine as the upright, self-promoting John Glenn. Wish they’d given Pancho Barnes’ backstory though–Barnes was the proprietor of the bar at Edwards Air Force base, and Wolfe tells us she had a flying history herself.

Die Hard–I watched this film for the very first time, so I’ve checked off another 1980s classic that I missed while growing up (another one on the list that I ticked off a couple years ago was The Princess Bride, while Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains on the unseen list). There’s not much more to say about Die Hard, but I notice that this late-’80s film shares more with a 1970s classics like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three than with 21st-century films.

Showgirls–This movie isn’t so-bad-it’s-good. Nor is it, as such arbiters as Quentin Tarantino and J Hoberman maintain, some trenchant satire about showbiz and capitalism. It’s just stupid and bad. Sure, I could sit with a drunken midnight crowd and enjoy laughing at the movie, but really, it’s bad.

Inherent Vice–The only Thomas Pynchon adaptation we’re likely to see. It’s not a great movie, but I’m glad P.T. Anderson made it. He captured the druggy decadence of the period, and I watched it with gauzy recollections of Altman’s The Long Goodbye, Joan Didion’s essay about Haight-Ashbury, Norman Mailer’s writings on the period, and the Pynchon fiction I’ve read. Oh, and some Kurt Vonnegut is in there, too, I think. Jena Malone’s monologue in the first act had me in stitches, and I enjoyed Katherine Waterston as Shasta Fay, kind of a combination of the lost bad girls of Chandler’s The Big Sleep and the film Chinatown. Joaquin Phoenix’s fantastically shambling performance rid me of any desire I might have had to ever smoke pot again.

Passengers–What was this? Chris Pine, maybe? Jennifer Lawrence? Intriguing set-up, but once the dialogue started the mediocrity became apparent. Bailed.

Silence–This Scorsese film was weak. A film like this can’t have a bland pretty boy, a creature of the 21st-century celebrity machine, like Andrew Garfield. He may be a decent actor, but there’s nothing he can do to convince us he’s in the 17th century, and he certainly doesn’t put his body through the meat grinder in the way Christian Bale or Charlotte Gainsbourg would have.

Elle–Overrated crap, with Isabelle Huppert gamely playing an unintentional parody of an Isabelle Huppert role.

Julieta–Almodóvar tackles Alice Munro, with results that improve as the movie goes on. The heartbreaking rift between mother and daughter eventually makes the film succeed.

The Last of the Unjust–Claude Lanzmann’s four-hour footnote to Shoah is a fascinating eyewitness recounting of one Jewish man’s collaboration with Adolf Eichmann in the management of the sham “model” internment camp called Theresienstadt. The propaganda film that was produced at the time–parts of which have survived–is one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen. You have to assume that everyone seen in the film was dead within months or a year.

Toni Erdmann–I’d heard some hype for this German comedy. It had its shaggy charm, but it was too loosely and haphazardly edited and plotted for it to have any real power. The piece de resistance–the naked office party–felt surprisingly undercooked, as if they came up with the notion but didn’t have time to script or block it thoughtfully.

The Sorrow and the Pity–I first learned about this movie a quarter century ago, in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. At the time, I thought the film was a gag–how could there be something with such a title?

Blackboards–Rented this film, directed by the young Samira Makhmalbaf in 2000, but I wasn’t up to the challenge of appreciating what the film had to offer, other than its bleak vision of itinerant schoolteachers peddling their nearly worthless skills with portable blackboards on their backs.

Margaret–Kenneth Lonergan’s white whale of a film. Reviews were generally poor, and indeed, the film didn’t really go anywhere, or didn’t get anywhere fast enough to redeem its unpleasant, pampered protagonist (who is not named Margaret). But on a scene-by-scene basis, it was occasionally spellbinding. Bonus: I now know who Jeannie Berlin is.

Crazy, Stupid, Love–Come for Marisa Tomei, leave before the last act, which features multiple endings and a revolting resolution to a subplot involving a pubescent teen’s crush on his babysitter.

Maggie’s Plan–Perhaps a bit preciously situated on the Washington Square-Morningside Heights axis of academic self-importance, but in spite of its painfully self-conscious class trappings, this comedy of remarriage has winning moments and scenes–including the final one. But time may be running out on Greta Gerwig’s scatterbrained shtick, and I don’t want to see Ethan Hawke playing bad writers anymore. Maybe he should get to be a good one?

Masterminds–Don’t have a clear recollection of this one. Something about hillbilly bank robbers and Kristen Wiig. Owen Wilson as a bad guy. Kate McKinnon funny as a redneck dyke (I think).

Mississippi Grind–Ben Mendelsohn OMG. Also, I’d lost track of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. Good to see them still making good films.

Felicia’s Journey–William Trevor died earlier this year, giving me an excuse to watch Atom Egoyan’s 1999 film adaptation of this story about a desperate young Irish woman alone in England, and the serial killer tracking her. I don’t think the film has aged well (though I missed it when it was young). It’s stiff and awkwardly campy–the latter effects were terrifying in the novel, as I recall.

3:10 to Yuma (1957)–I thought this movie would be set on a train. Disappointed.

The Spectacular Now–By all rights, Miles Teller shouldn’t be such an appealing actor: His face is so fleshy and frat-boy complacent. But boy can he act. Also, Kyle Chandler can act, and so can Shailene Woodley. This film is from James Ponsoldt, who also made the very fine alcoholism drama Smashed, which I just re-watched (OMG Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The two films end on identical shots.

Get Out–Very entertaining and pretty creepy, especially the notion of racist white people putting the brains of their late family members inside the bodies of healthy black people.

Flow thyself

nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura…

–Dante Alighieri

 

It’s the first Saturday in March. Here’s a passage from a book I’m reading:

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The reader became the book; and summer night

 

Was like the conscious being of the book.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

 

The words were spoken as if there was no book,

Except that the reader leaned above the page,

 

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be

The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

 

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.

The house was quiet because it had to be.

 

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:

The access of perfection to the page.

This is Wallace Stevens. It was quoted in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, a very pessimistic look at how our increasing dependence on fiber optic networks is causing very real atrophying of our neural networks. The word I learned from this book is “neuroplasticity.” I supply a link to the definition because it is so much faster to do that than to put it into my own words. This is an example of the phenomenon that worries Carr. With so much information available with a few clicks on the keyboard, we no longer have the need to commit information to memory, or to devote much cognitive effort to anything. Our thinking has become scattered and shallow.

I worry about this, I see the symptoms in my own behavior, but I feel powerless to get off the information overload express. Tim Ferriss talks about a low-information diet. It sounds good, and I try not to chase down every stray story that I see linked on the Facebook or Twitter. I don’t post on Facebook, although I occasionally comment or offer “likes.” I defiantly avoid listening to NPR news during the 70-80 minutes I spend commuting each work day.

But still, I feel I’m frantically swimming against the firehose of information. I’ve always tried to know everything, as long as I can remember–I was a very annoying kid–but now I am desperately looking for filters. I rebuke myself constantly: Do I need to spend five minutes reading this story about plane crashes in Long Island? Stop looking at Facebook the way you aimlessly open the refrigerator. Stop. Focus. Breathe. Look around.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and for the past few hours I’ve been rather joylessly trying to enjoy leisure reading. I told myself: “The next few hours, just relax and read. Don’t worry about what else you need to do. Don’t feel anxious about time slipping away. Just live in this moment.”

Here’s another good tidbit from The Shallows, about Nathaniel Hawthorne. I took photos rather than transcribe.

Nathaniel Hawthorne experiences the pre-industrial world. From The Shallows.
page from Carr's The Shallows
Nathaniel Hawthorne experiences the pre-industrial world. From The Shallows.

Returning to this blog for the first time in four weeks is part of losing myself happily. I promised to document things like the books I read and the movies I watch. I stopped drinking a year ago in part because I felt too much time slipping by too quickly, unnoticed in the happy haze of drunken hours. [Distraction: I just paused to look at this.] Now that my evenings pass without the lubricant of alcohol, I am far more conscious of every passing second. For the last year, I have reveled in the idea that I am lengthening my lifespan this way, eyes open and alert for two or three additional hours. I’m really, really “woke.”

But this could be another trap. I’m now reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. First published in 1990, it’s dated in some ways, but I’m finding myself responding powerfully to his description of our condition in today’s hedonic treadmill. A couple of extended passages:

…symptoms of disillusion are not hard to observe around us now. The most obvious ones relate to the pervasive listlessness that affects so many lives. Genuinely happy individuals are few and far between. How many people do you know who enjoy what they are doing, who are reasonably satisfied with their lot, who do not regret the past and look to the future with genuine confidence? If Diogenes with his lantern twenty-three centuries ago had difficulty finding an honest man, today he would have perhaps an even more troublesome time finding a happy one.

This general malaise is not due directly to external causes. Unlike so many other nations in the contemporary world, we can’t blame our problems on a harsh environment, on widespread poverty, or one the oppression of a foreign occupying army. The roots of the discontent are internal, and each person must untangle them personally, with his or her own power. The shields that have worked in the past–the order that religion, patriotism, ethnic traditions, and habits instilled by social classes used to provide–are no longer effective for increasing number of people who feel exposed to the harsh winds of chaos.

The lack of inner order manifests itself in the subjective condition that some call ontological anxiety, or existential dread. Basically, it is a fear of being, a feeling that there is no meaning to life and that existence is not worth going on with.

[…]

As people move through life, passing from the hopeful ignorance of youth into sobering adulthood, they sooner or later face an increasingly nagging question: “Is this all there is?” Childhood can be painful, adolescence confusing, but for most people, behind it all there is the expectation that after one grows up, things will get better. During the years of early adulthood the future still looks promising, the hope remains that one’s goals will be realized. But inevitably the bathroom mirror shows the first white hairs, and confirms that fact that those extra pounds are not about to leave; inevitably eyesight begins to fail and mysterious pains being to shoot through the body. Like waiters in a restaurant starting to place breakfast settings on the surrounding tables while one is still having dinner, these intimations of mortality plainly communicate the message: Your time is up, it’s time to move on. When this happens, few people are ready. “Wait a minute, this can’t be happening to me. I haven’t even begun to live.

[…]

… sooner or later we wake up alone, sensing that there is no way this affluent, scientific, and sophisticated world is going to provide us with happiness.

As this realization slowly sets in, different people react to it differently. Some try to ignore it, and renew their efforts to acquire more the things that were supposed to make life good–bigger cars and homes, more power on the job, a more glamorous lifestyle….

Others decide to attack directly the threatening symptoms. If it is a body going to seed that rings the first alarm, they will go on diets, join health clubs, do aerobics, buy a Nautilus, or undergo plastic surgery….

Daunted by the futility of trying to keep up with all the demands they cannot possibly meet, some will just surrender and retire gracefully into relative oblivion. Following Candide’s advice, they will give up on the world and cultivate their little gardens.

–Csikszentmihalyi, pp. 11-13

I suddenly remember a line from movie editor and amateur philosopher Walter Murch, a quote that I won’t look up right at this moment. The gist of it: He believes that people are happiest as adults if they can do the kind of thing they enjoyed most when they were in their preteen years.*

Movies I have watched since mid-January:

The Night Manager (Susanne Bier)–Teevee. A guilt-free, minimally taxing binge-watch.

The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet)–Museum piece, but intense. I really like the raw performances offered by African American actors. Morgan Freeman purportedly an extra in this 1964 film, but I didn’t spot him.

La La Land (Damian Chazelle)–Nothing to add about this film. Nice but forgettable.

O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)–Bravura study of a half-century of racial dysfunction in LA. Deservedly acclaimed, though I agree with Tony Scott that domestic violence gets short shrift.

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson)–I can see why this museum piece of English kitchen sink realism is so beloved. Generations of British punks seem to know this one, and I can see why.

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)–Whoa, Greta Gerwig.

Weekend (Andrew Haigh)–Powerfully intimate gay drama–it probably doesn’t speak well of me that the rawness of the sensuality made me uncomfortable. But then, so did the use of alcohol and cocaine by the film’s characters.

The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance)–It feels like the over-ambitious script that Cianfrance put aside to make the simpler but more powerful Blue Valentine. PBtP, on the other hand, is a massive overreach for profundity and power, but with an unforgivably thin script, thin characters, and stupid scenes and character motivations, and a pointless ending.

Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)–I like the idea of a film about sexy, bikini-clad young women that takes them, their needs, and their anxieties, seriously. After so many movies like Superbad and Risky Business and everything in between, where men get to  do all the acting out, this time it’s the girls who have fun. To be sure, these girls are very, very bad. All this, plus James Franco. Otherwise, I don’t want to take this movie too seriously.

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach)–Baumbach, with Ben Stiller as a Woody Allen stand-in, comes perilously close to Crimes and Misdemeanors, but it’s still good stuff. Stiller’s character hits perilously close to home.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog)–Seemingly an inspiration for the more recent documentary An Act of Killing.

 

*What did I like to do in my preteen years? I listened to awful music. I read books about history and sports. I obsessed over things like baseball history and drawing baseball fields. I played a tabletop simulation baseball game obsessively, keeping detailed statistics. My team was the 1972 Cincinnati Reds. I will think about this some more. Maybe I’ll ask my parents.

Sunday afternoon, fast and slow

Last gasp of a bad habit

There’s not a more fraught period of time for me each week than Sunday afternoon. It’s 3:37 p.m. as I type, and the sun has finally come out on what was a chilly, gloomy weekend. Sunday afternoons are a time of rising panic, and deepening regret. Where did the weekend go? Why didn’t I have the time of my life? Shouldn’t I have been working in the yard, or going on a 50-mile bike ride, or finishing that overdue library book? And this dread goes back to my youth: a looming pile of unfinished homework, or returning to peers and teachers that I didn’t like very much.

But I think my horror of Sunday afternoons has its deepest roots in college. I remember the fall semester–I think it was junior year. Every Saturday night I’d be out all night drinking. I’d sleep in until noon. Then I’d grab the Sunday edition of The New York Times and stumble down to the commissary in the basement of John Jay Hall. (For the life of me, I can’t remember what that eatery was called.) I’d load up on coffee, eggs and bacon, and whatever else they were serving. I’d take my tray and my newspaper to a table in front of the television. And there I’d sit, Sunday afternoon after Sunday afternoon, reading the Times and watching professional football.

After the games were over, and after I’d trudged through the Times Magazine, the Book Review, the opinion columns, the Travel section, the Sports section, and all the rest, I would go upstairs and step outside in the darkening hours of Sunday. The day was shot, and I hadn’t begun to study. I hadn’t spoken to anyone. I felt very lonely.

So, I don’t exactly remember the moment when I started making changes. I do know that I have not been an avid fan of the NFL since college. Today, while I share some of the pious disdain people have for the crippling spectacle of American football, my revulsion truly stems from recognizing it as a colossal waste of autumnal Sunday afternoons.

It’s 3:50 now. The light is a little softer outside. I am trying to embrace Sunday afternoons as a time of rest and reflection, not an occasion for mounting anxiety and despair. Birds flit about outside my window. I played soccer this morning at Twin Lakes Park. I did some administrative work for Durham Atlético. S.O. has asked what kind of music she should put on. I asked her to put on Philip Glass. (Maybe we’ll catch some of this. Pricey, though.)

The photo at the top of this post shows two pipes I used to own for the purpose of vaping. I threw them away yesterday. It’s another milestone: on Memorial Day Weekend, 2015, I smoked my last tobacco product. I’d been a smoker, on and off, for 27 years. It’s true that I wasn’t a heavy smoker these last few years, but still I puffed, every day, even while getting lots of exercise, improving my diet, and losing weight. My use of tobacco was a crutch, as it is for many, a way to fiddle and stay busy, and find a release for tension and anxiety. I’d quit many times over the years, but I’d always returned to smoking. I didn’t smoke cigarettes so much as cheap cigars and cigarillos, a taste I developed living in New York City in the mid-’90s. In Brooklyn, on Eastern Parkway among the West Indians, I fit right in.

But on Memorial Day Weekend one and half years ago, I decided to give this vaping thing a try. Rather than attack the compulsion to smoke, I decided to change substances. I quickly discovered that I didn’t much care for inhaling the flavored gas that was heated in my pipe, but it was a close enough substitute for smoking tobacco. As unsatisfactory and thin an experience as vaping was, I still had my crutch, and at least I was no longer putting smoke into my lungs.

Six weeks ago, over Thanksgiving, I finally walked away from the crutch of a vape stick. I’d kept my pipes around–just in case–but yesterday I threw them away, just after snapping this photo.

So, I don’t inhale anything besides oxygen and nitrogen, and I don’t drink. I have a lot of thoughts about my past and perhaps future relationship with alcohol, but I’ll save that for another time.

I suppose I feel virtuous, but I also feel a sense of shame. I feel the weight of all those hours lost to lonely–if meditative–intoxication and stimulation. Opportunities I may have missed, money I wasted or didn’t earn, friends I lost or never made.

These habits were things I did instead of doing things. I think back to those nights–night after night–on Eastern Parkway, where I had no social life, no worthwhile job, no money, no girlfriend, no courage, no path forward in the city. In the evenings, after another long day working as a legal assistant for a midtown Manhattan firm, I would go down to the pizza shop on Flatbush Avenue below Grand Army Plaza, grab a greasy slice of sausage-peppers-and-onion. At the bodega I would get a 40-oz bottle of Budweiser and a box of Phillies. Sometimes I sat in the bushes in the center of of the roundabout, out of everyone’s sight. I did this in the rain, in the winter, too.

I am scrambling now, trying to wring the most out of the years that are left to me. It’s easy to rid myself of these crutches when I have things to do that are more important.

Book I read:

Today is the day that the main branch of our local library closes for renovations. Voters passed a $43 million bond back in November, and as a result, the library will be closed for a whopping two years. I have mixed feelings about this. While our library was physically dingy, and socially dispiriting (it was filled every day with homeless people who need a daytime hangout), it’s a pretty decent one nonetheless. The programs aren’t bad, and the book collection is about as good as I think is reasonable to expect.

We have other branches, of course, so I’ll be able to request and check out books during the renovations. All this is preamble to noting that I have held onto an overdue library book for the stupidest reason: I want to refer to it while blogging here.

OK, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. It comes freighted with heavy blurbs, like this from the Black Swan himself, Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.”

That may be a bit much, but Taleb is all about going big or going home. I don’t have a coherent response to the Kahneman’s book, but I did find it a chore to finish. After a while, I felt like the chapters were one parlor trick after another, pulled from the back catalog of a long, distinguished academic career. But boy, there were a lot of nuggets, even if I think they should have constructed a more clear argument.

Here are a few, and this is the purpose of keeping the book around. I wanted to write down a few of these things.

“the world makes much less sense than you think. The coherence comes mostly from the way your mind works.”

Cognitive ease–reduce cognitive strain if you want to write a persuasive message. Use simple language. Put ideas in verse (!).

Halo effects.

Framing effects.

Heuristic questions.

[target] How much would you contribute to save an endangered species?

[heuristic] How much emotion do I feel when I think of dying dolphins?

Kahneman divides our thinking into System 1 and System 2. The first is the intuitive snap judgment generator. This is the source of our biases, of course. The second is our deeper reasoning. But it’s lazy.

Here are some characteristics of System 1, cribbed from page 105.

  • generates impressions, feelings, and inclinations; when endorsed by System 2 these become beliefs attitudes, and intentions
  • can be programmed by System 2 to mobilize attention when a particular pattern is detected (search)
  • links a sense of cognitive ease to illusions of truth, pleasant feelings, and reduced vigilance
  • distinguishes the surprising from the normal
  • infers and invents causes and intentions
  • neglects ambiguity and suppresses doubt
  • exaggerates emotional consistency (halo effect)
  • focuses on existing evidence and ignores absent evidence (WYSIATI)
  • sometimes substitutes an easier question for a difficult one (heuristics)
  • is more sensitive to changes than to states (prospect theory)
  • overweights low probabilities
  • shows diminishing sensitivity to quantity
  • responds more strongly to losses than to gains (loss aversion)
  • frames decision problems narrowly, in isolation from one another

This is all I have time for. I’m going to return this book and pay my fine. It’s 5:26 p.m., and, starting in 34 minutes, the library closes for the next two years. I’m going to miss it.

Movies:

Watched the first three episodes of The Night Manager, based on John LeCarré’s early-’90s novel. The cast (Hugh Laurie, Toms Hiddleston and Hollander, etc) is excellent, but it’s basically a coffeetable tale–like an investigative article in Vanity Fair or something. Glamorous and predictable. Perfectly watchable, though.

Saw the first two episodes of O.J. Simpson: Made in America. It’s every bit as good as advertised. Its director, Ezra Edelman, turns out to be the son of Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman. The former spoke at my college graduation.

OK, off to the library. Then to walk the dog. It’s well past the magic hour outside. It’s getting dark.

UPDATE: Back from the library, where I grabbed a souvenir photo.

One last overdue book. See you in two years.