Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Scraps

Windy night out there. Not a dark and stormy night, particularly, just dark and windy enough to knock more leaves off the trees, along with small branches. Green's still the majority foliage, but yellow and brown are expanding aggressively. The tree across the street from my front yard -- which I see daily from my window, here at the word mill -- has gone flush yellow in a matter of days.

The other day Ann said that she participated in a school assembly about bullying. I think this is something that pedagogues have cooked up recently, since I don't remember Lilly attending such an event five or so years ago, but then again that's the kind of thing I forget. Anyway, it was all I could do not to say something along the lines of, "You mean an assembly to help bullies improve their techniques?"

Mocking aside, I doubt that such well-intentioned anti-bullying assemblies have much effect, at least on bullies. Who among the kids will think, "Ah, I've been such a bully. Think I'll turn over a new leaf." Who considers himself a bully?

On the other hand, I remember a low-intensity bully in elementary school, a strapping fellow named David who wasn't consistently a jerk but who had his ugly moments. One day in the fourth or fifth grade, he said -- using that exact phrase above -- "I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to be nice." And he did it. A pretty rare transformation, now that I think about it. But I don't think his inspiration was a school assembly.

I watched part of The Big Chill on TV the other day, first time I'd seen it since I caught it at a dollar (two-dollar?) second-run theater in Memphis in late 1983. Before watching it this week, I vaguely remembered thinking it was an entertaining ensemble movie that had been lacquered with an irritating and Hollywood-contrived social message pandering to the vanities of people born right after World War II. After seeing it again, I still agree with my 1983 assessment.

Maybe I should see The Return of the Secaucus 7 again. I don't remember much about it either, except that it was an entertaining ensemble movie without much of an irritating social message, or characters who were ridiculously successful in their mid-30s.

I also saw Secretariat recently. It's a well-made, feel-good horse movie, and a good example of Disney craftsmanship. The movie also reminded me of Secretariat's intense fame in 1973. Like a lot of people without much previous interest in thoroughbred racing, I watched him on television as he won the Belmont and thus the Triple Crown. The movie encourages you to cheer for Secretariat and his plucky owner, of course, but I felt a little bad for Sham, the horse Secretariat famously bested. Clearly a great three-year-old, but one completely overshadowed by an even better horse.

Yuriko's birthday was earlier this month. She didn't want a cake, but custard-and-fruit creations from a bakery in Arlington Heights.

Boy, were they good.

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