Pictured are four Native Americans, in authentic garb. Surrounding them are a host of TV sets, on which appear images from movies, TV shows and commercials that portrayed or rather misportrayed Native Americans on screen. Included on the various TV sets are images from Smoke Signals, Billy Jack, the Crying Indian from the Keep America Beautiful commercial, Little Big Man and The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Some of these images are more obviously offensive. A white actor playing Indian, Tonto and the whole crying Indian thing. Certainly, the sole male model draws the eye the most, but the three women, plus papoose ground the image in the meaning that it was meant to convey.
Alice and Chris arrived safely in town, after check-in they swung by Chez Harry’s for a visit. Harry was more than willing to fix dinner for every one, but Chris insisted on buying everyone dinner. He had Harry choose the place and it was a beauty, Paesano, the same Italian restaurant where we celebrated Bub’s next to last birthday. It was great, and both Alice and Chris were pleased with the choice. They are both avid foodies, which makes me think that we are going to have to up our game for Chris’s upcoming visit to Saint Louis in late July. A year-and-a-half of Covid, plus being out-of-town since the great reopening is going to make this endeavor difficult.
In-between road trips, this one and the last, which also bracketed twin episodes of house guests, first CRAB and then Dan and Britt, we managed to catch up a little on local Saint Louis events. A TV news report told us of a bear sighting out in Wildwood, where Dave and Jill once lived. This is not too surprising, because this is near the far west end of Saint Louis County and is already pretty rural and is surrounded by even more rural counties. But the TV news report went on to compare this bear sighting to a previous one that had occurred in none other than Richmond Heights. A bear was treed and darted east of Galleria, little more than a mile from our house. This happened in May, while we were out west. I assumed that the tranquilized bear was transported to a locale that was more bear friendly, like Wildwood, but it appears that while we have been encroaching on wildlife, wildlife has been also encroaching on human habitat.
This visit our nightly TV regimen begins every evening with episodes of Rick Steves’ travel show, before moving on to our more mundane thirst for murder mysteries. The first one about Paris mentioned the Moulin Rouge. I was surprised to learn that it was still in existence and that Dad had even seen Josephine Baker perform there in 1949. I learned a new phrase, léchage de fenêtre, which means window licking, not to be confused with the British usage of this phrase, here in America it synonymous with window shopping. Another show set in Scotland emphasized the legendary Scottish frugality. In Edinburgh, the castle there fires its big gun everyday to set the clocks of all of the ships in the harbor, at one instead of noon, saving the frugal Scots eleven rounds. We Englishmen enjoyed Anne’s bit of disquiet with Rick’s gentle ribbing. All of this travel showing has excited my wanderlust and I look forward to exploring Europe. Today was weigh-in day and even though we both only loss about half-a-pound each, it still felt like a victory, after spending a week living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. We celebrated at Katy’s in Carmel, Anne had an omelet, Dad had pancakes and I had an eggs Benedick over Dungeness crab. We also toured mom an dad’s first house here in Monterey. They paid $13.5K. Zillow now has it as almost a million. While we were inspecting the property, the home owner showed up and toured us around the yard. When my parents bought the property, it had been stripped bare of trees, but when we viewed the house, it was covered with large trees. What a difference a lifetime makes.
In addition to his best-selling Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, author Douglas Adams also wrote a couple of detective stories. Similar to its more famous sibling, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has us following the travels and travails of another odd couple. In Hitchhiker’s there was everyman Arthur Dent and his resident alien Ford Perfect. In Dirk Gently’s the title character has the impresario role and Todd is his Doctor Watson.
I read the two published Dirk Gently’s novels years ago and was pleased this week when I learned that they had been made into a television series. Produced by BBC America and Netflix, but not available in America on Netflix. I had to stream it on Hulu. I’ve watched the first season, which is set in Seattle, but was filmed on location in Vancouver. These production related contradictions only serve as overture to the many other contradictions that comprise the meat of this show. In which we are introduced to an ensemble cast of oddballs, each of whom seem to be powered by their very own personal infinite improbability drive.
Elijah Wood of Frodo fame is the most recognizable actor in the cast. He plays the hapless Todd, who as we first meet him is having a very bad day. Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) soon introduces himself to Todd and things go from bad to worse. Todd is making do as a bellhop and has just witnessed the aftermath of a massacre in the penthouse and then subsequently fired for finding it, when he meets Dirk. Talk about shooting the messenger. How much worse can it get? Dirk is on a case, searching for a kidnapped missing heiress. Her father, the man who hired him, was one of the massacre victims. After some convincing Todd agrees to help Dirk solve his case and get the girl. The game is afoot. Through the subsequent eight episodes of season one, we follow this duo as they investigate crimes and navigate a world where steampunk time travel, psychic vampires and government conspiracies are all too real.
With multiple storylines and plot twists that can turn on a dime and the just plain weirdness of the whole show it is sometimes difficult to follow along with what’s happening. And frankly, although it was a while ago, I didn’t remember any of this story from reading the books. As it turns out there is a good reason for my amnesia. The show’s creator Max Landis only loosely based this series on the Douglas Adams books and these stories are supposed to occur after the events described in those novels. Call it fan fiction or whatever, it is certainly a strange brew or simply a different cup of tea, depending upon your tastes.
What a wanker! But, if Preet Bharara can become a Ted-head, then maybe so should I. What began years ago as a pair of commercials for NBC’s coverage of the Premier League (watch them here and here) later blossomed last year into Apple TV’s new hit sitcom, Ted Lasso. Both incarnations star Jason Sudeikis as the titular Ted. With part hokum, part good natured personality, Lasso parries all comers with his boundless optimism, “You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a ten-second memory.” Once the coach of a third-rate American college football team, Ted jumps the pond and lands like a fish out of water as the head coach of one of Britain’s top soccer clubs. Clueless of the sport and reviled by all those who follow it that ten-second short-term memory sure comes in handy. Even his new boss, the woman who hired him cannot stand him. The team’s new owner, she only hired him to get back at her philandering ex-husband, whose only love was this team. With Ted’s expected incompetence, she hopes to precipitate its relegation and her ex’s humiliation. With no knowledge of the sport, a boss who has set you up to fail, a locker room full of man-child misfits and martial problems to boot, what could go wrong?
Missing from those NBC adverts, but furnished in glorious abundance in this show are the qualities that makes Ted Lasso a charm. Ted is self-admittedly ignorant of all things soccer, but is also wise in ways that matter more, much more. Step-by-step, day-by-day he worms himself into the hearts and minds of all the members of this club. From biscuits with the boss, who soon becomes fixated upon them, to first noticing and then respecting the team’s lowly kit man, Ted touches them all. The Sudeikis schtick does become grating, like a one note SNL skit that has gone on too long, but by about the third episode rays of comic joy begin to pierce this façade. By the fifth episode, if you are not openly weeping, well maybe this show is just not your cup of tea, a pity. As in any sports themed show the turnaround is foreordained. Detractor’s cries of “What a wanker!” are replaced with crowd cheers of “Wanker! Wanker! Wanker!” I couldn’t stay up late enough to binge the entire season in one sitting, but I’ll finish it today. Then I’ll sit Anne down and watch it again with her. This last year has been unendingly craptacular, in almost every way. Little breaths of sunshine like Ted Lasso will help me to make it through to the next day.
Yesterday, we undecorated our Christmas tree and took it outside. It now stands in the backyard next to our bird feeders, providing our feathered friends there some additional cover while they feast from our bounty. We packed up all of our decorations and hauled all that stuff back down to the basement until next season. I put away the bicycle X-mas light decoration, but at Anne’s request have left the window lights up for a while yet. Our Christmas is now over, except for all of the chocolate and turkey still left.
First thing that morning Anne’s phone began dinging. She got a pair of texts from the USPS announcing the imminent delivery of the package that we mailed to Dave and Maren last year. Their two-day delivery eventually spanned two-months, but it finally arrived safe and sound. After it arrived, we were treated by a barrage of photos from the appreciative recipients. All’s well that ends well.
I watched My Octopus Teacher last night. This Netflix documentary tells the story of Craig Foster, a South African documentary film maker and his almost year long relationship with a common octopus. Suffering from burnout from work, Foster retreats to the sea, a world where as a child he once enjoyed immensely. The waters off the Cape of Storms are cold, 46 °F, but he snorkels the kelp forests there without a wetsuit. On his first outing, he meets an octopus and then proceeds to visit her everyday after. An octopus only lives for about a year, so Foster estimates that he knew her for about 80% of its life. This movie features exceptional photography and combined with his hypnotic narration, offer a moving story of his relationship with this otherworldly creature.