Thursday, September 8, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/16: Clearing My Directory, ESB at Old Line, Gene Hackman as Harry Caul

1.  It's been over two years since I left LCC and I had email contacts in my directory that went back eight or nine years. Today I decided to clear out the over one thousand names of former LCC students out of my directory and remove the group email lists I had set up for certain classes.  It was fun to have some warm memories return, triggered by some of these students' names, fun to remember how much I enjoyed so many students over the years at LCC.

2.  The Deke's school held parents' night tonight and we went to the Old Line Bistro beforehand for dinner. The last two or three times I've been to Old Line, I considered ordering Denizen Brewing's Lowest Lord Extra Special Bitter (ESB).  It's an English-style ale, a bit more sweet than bitter, and it has what I think big time beer tasters call a biscuit-y quality.  Well, whether its taste quality was biscuit or toffee or something else, I loved this beer and wished that more brewers concocted ESBs.  Drinking this beer brought back memories of drinking ESBs in Eugene with the Troxstar and I wished he'd been at Old Line tonight and could have added his ESB expertise and enjoyment to the evening.  Just for the record, I ordered a plain burger with a fried egg plopped atop the beef patty.  Awesome.

3.  While the Deke was meeting with parents at the school, I watched a second movie of my dream Gene Hackman-between-1970-and-1975 triple feature.  How many times have I watched The Conversation? I'd guess between fifteen and twenty times and every time Gene Hackman's portrayal of Harry Caul deepens my uncertainty about the existential dilemma of how we humans are, at the same time, islands of isolation, left with the burden of creating meaning out of an essentially meaningless existence, while also connected to others, especially as the results of what we do begin to take shape. As an expert in audio surveillance, Harry Caul lives an isolated and paranoid existence. In this movie, he is confronted, as he had been earlier in his life, with the fact that he cannot simply spy on people, satisfy the clients who hire him by selling them taped conversations, and remove himself, morally, from the sometimes mortal consequences of his work. Harry is a superb technician, but his isolated life renders him incapable of really understanding other people -- not his occasional lover, not those who work for him, not his competitors, not his clients, not the woman hired to seduce him, and, most of all, not those whose conversations he records.  It makes for a brilliant movie and Gene Hackman's complete inhabitation of Harry Caul haunts me every time I watch this movie and unsettles me long after the movie ends.

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