Tuesday, September 30, 2014

a most wanted man

It appears that Felipe Zapata, John Calypso, and my mother (my mother, folks!) have joined forces to have me, to use Felipe's term, "institutionalized."  I suspect that is not quite the same thing as being declared an "institution" or even a "national treasure."

Now, I will hold my hand up (as Dr. Bob is wont to say) to being a tad eccentric on some topics.  The weather comes to mind -- and my tolerance of it.  You can now add dry cleaning to the list.

One reason I drove from Bend to Salem was to drop off my dry cleaning.  I know that sounds as if I crossed over the border of Eccentric to the land of Crackpot.  But hear me out.  It is not as odd as it first seems.

On the cruise and in London, I managed to accumulate a soiled pile of clothes that need dry cleaning.  During my last trip to Bend, I discovered Darrel and Christy do not have a local dry cleaner.  They are part of the ever-growing group of Americans who do not wear clothes that require the equivalent of chemical warfare to refresh their duds.

I do.  Plenty of wool and silk.  All requiring the artful hands of a professional.

Melaque does not have a dry cleaner.  And we don't need one.  Who would wear wool in the tropics?  The nearest dry cleaner is an hour away in Manzanillo.  And I have no idea how skilled the shop is.

Since I was coming to Salem to see people and take care of some financial matters, I decided to give some custom to my favorite dry cleaning shop in town.

I have been handing over my laundry and dry cleaning to Tammy Nelson and her family at Quality Shirts and Laundry for over 20 years.  And, even though I now let long periods of time pass without stopping to see them, Tammy always greets me by name and asks about my recent adventures.

And that is probably the primary reason I keep coming back.  Relationships with business owners have always been important to me.  I am not going to fly up here from Mexico with all of my dry cleaning.  But when I have a choice while passing through, it is nice to know those old ties are there.

Speaking of old ties, I caught A Most Wanted Man last night.  The movie had just opened in London while we were there.  But it has already slipped out of the first-run theaters here in Salem.

I ended up seeing it at Northern Lights -- one of those establishments retrofitted from an old time cineplex to a new-fangled brew pub.  The screen and sound were decidedly 1970s, and so was the ticket price.  $3.

In this filming of a
John le Carré novel by the same name, American intelligence with its reliance on arrest, torture, and electronic surveillance is taken to task by a German intelligence officer who believes in the superior nature of human intelligence. 

But it is more than that.  It is also a film about personal and national redemption.  And because the novel is by
le Carré with his peculiar form of of Manichaeism, American optimism is mocked in favor of European angst.

Given its ideological straight-jacket, I liked the film.  Because human intelligence is all about convincing people to act against what they perceive to be their own interest, the plot takes time in rolling out and developing.  To have filled the movie with chases and gun fights would have made the subtext fraudulent.

The real reason I went to see the movie is P
hilip Seymour Hoffman.  It is his last starring role.  And a great bit of acting it is.  He so commanded this film that every time the scene turned away from him, I was never quite certain if he would return.  A similar sentiment was applied to Frederich Hölderlin: "Whenever he left the room, you were afraid you’d seen the last of him."

And we have.  But it was a brilliant chord that set his departure.


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