THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #247

LOVE:

AirPods Pro:

When Apple first released their AirPods, I did the thing I normally do when Apple releases new products. I scoffed but found myself immediately enchanted. They were unattractive and expensive and I didn’t see what the point would be, but then I went deaf, and ironically, I became more and more interested. There was an accessibility feature that allowed the headphones to work as a kind of quasi-hearing aid. Turns out that it didn’t work all that well because I was totally deaf and no amount of hearing amplification would have helped. Still, I had the AirPods and I started loving them. It was wonderful to be untethered from my iPhone and I quickly became enthralled with the things. I thought they were still monstrously ugly but I loved them and I would hear nothing against them. I even bought them a little carrying case that matched my bag and, you know, that was a wonderful thing for me. Then Apple dropped a new pair out of the blue and I said, you know what…? …Okay. I ordered them, even though the price was outrageous, and I have been obsessed ever since. The AirPods Pro (the hell is with that name? Why plural?) are less ugly than their predecessors, fit better, and have noise cancellation. Now, get your jokes out about me being half deaf to begin with and giggle about my need of noise cancellation. Have you got your chortles out? Good. The noise cancellation turns out to be a game changer. The technology works so much better than I anticipated. So much ambient noise is blocked out and I’m allowed to bask in the glorious solitude of silence. I don’t even play music or audio half the time, I just love listening to nothing. I don’t hear myself shaking a martini. I don’t hear my beautiful boots click on my gorgeous new floor. I don’t hear my heater run. I don’t hear anything. It’s dreamy. Silence is golden, y’all. I simply can’t get over the sensation of the sound shutting down as the AirPods Pro go in your ears. It’s like the sound of a power outage. It’s insane and it feels like magic. Go shopping, reader. You need these even if you feel you don’t. The only negative for me right now is that I don’t have a gorgeous little case that matches my bag, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time. OH! You can charge them wirelessly! I also thought this sounded stupid and deeply unnecessary, but, well, I guess I’m into it now. It’s such fun to own things and never have to plug them in. The future is wild and wonderful.

The Lodger:

Do you remember years ago when I nearly lost my mind because of an idiotic New Year’s Resolution that I followed through with? After that nightmare, I’ve never made the mistake of setting a resolution ever again. For whatever reason, I forced myself to watch and review a movie for every single day of the year. That’s right…I made myself watch 365 movies, of which only a handful were palatable. Ever since then, I’ve found it very difficult to persuade myself to sit down and watch movies. I remember the agony and horror of that awful year, but the trigger is starting to fade. Last night I finally watched a movie willingly for the first time called The Lodger and I was completely enchanted with it. The Lodger is a movie based on a play based on a book about the Jack the Ripper murders. A well-to-do family who were going through tough financial times began renting one of their rooms to make ends meet. The renter who took the rooms was a university doctor who claimed he kept irregular habits and not to worry about his odd comings and goings. This was all fine and dandy at first, but eventually the entire family began to suspect that he was the perpetrator of the vicious crimes himself. The acting is the melodramatic performance of the 1940s, particularly in those old movies that are direct stage adaptations, and though it was somewhat hyperbolic, all of the acting was absolutely sensational. It is a horror film of the highest quality and I can’t recommend it enough. Jack the Ripper goes by Mr. Slade and he decides that he must rid the world of seductive women because a woman like that ruined his brother. He is clearly deranged and pained and downright terrifying. Soon, Mr. Slade learns that his landlords also house their niece who is an up and coming star of the London revues. Slade, unfortunately falls madly in love with her and wants to…well…he wants to cut out the evil within her. Ultimately he wasn’t successful and was nearly captured by the London police, but he committed suicide before he was apprehended. It was a magnificent movie. Gave me chills even nearly eighty years after it was committed to film.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation:

I don’t read a lot of modern popular fiction. Most of my reading time is occupied with old tomes on Egyptological matters and my continuing quest to read everything ever written by Agatha Christie. I’m doing a bit of remodeling and I didn’t use a lot of foresight, so the majority of my books about ancient Egypt are currently inaccessible. Unable to complete the third volume of Wonderful Things, the most marvelous history of the history of Egyptology, I had to pick up one of the other books I have in stacks and piles around the house. I’ve always been taken in by the cover of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, so I bought a paperback copy of it ages ago. I decided that this would be the next book I read, and instead of reading a chapter a day like I normally do, I found myself sitting for hours in the bathtub, poring over the book, laughing richly, and finding myself utterly enchanted by the story. It’s about a young woman who has recently come into a bit of money following the death of her parents. She has no great aspirations in life, she worked — quite badly — for a time as an assistant at an art gallery. Other than that, she has no real family or friends or hope for children. She’s just kind of stagnant, and this feeling of stagnation inspired her to do an experiment where she would try to kill off all the things that bothered her and wake up a new and happy person. To do this, she decides she needs to sleep for a year. This is a noble goal, I thought, daydreaming of doing the same thing. I love sleep so much. But I also love getting things done. The protagonist finds sleep difficult, so she is lucky enough to find a quack doctor who is willing to prescribe her insane amounts of medication to keep her mind quiet. This is exactly what she needs. So she begins popping pills, watching Whoopi Goldberg movies on repeat, and doing absolutely nothing aside from wandering down to the bodega to get two cups of burnt coffee. Her plans to do nothing are constantly thwarted by her feelings for an old boyfriend, her acquaintance, Reva, who she really doesn’t like, and the side effects of all the medication she’s on. It’s a difficult book to explain but it’s a simple one to read and I loved every page. I was unable to put it down, and though the ending is one that becomes inevitable and obvious, the way it is written is so well done that I was jealous of the author for writing something so unique, so unusual, so refreshing, and so utterly satisfying. The book was a wonder and I highly recommend you give up an afternoon or an evening to read this.

Eye of the Devil:

I can’t believe that I’ve written about movies three times this week. I’m really a changed person, it seems. Now that I don’t have a lot of the concerns I used to have every day, I’m able to actually do things for fun. It’s weird, and I’m still feeling guilty about it, but I’m sure I’ll get over that soon enough. Normally, whenever I watch television, I do it with a lingering feeling of guilt that I’m wasting time that should be spent other places. Don’t have that to worry about now and it’s strange to actually focus on a movie instead of watching it out the corner of my eye. Around Halloween, TCM had a marathon of spooky films from the past, and I thought they all sounded divine, so I recorded a handful of them. The most obnoxious thing about DirecTV Now is the reality that some videos delete themselves after a certain time. I don’t have until I retire to watch, which forces me to actually watch the movies I record at a reasonable time. I couldn’t find the film anywhere else, so I decided I’d better sit down to watch it, almost assured that it would be drivel I could guiltlessly give up on and delete. Annoyingly, at first, I found myself bewitched by Eye of the Devil from the very beginning. It is about a nobleman from rural France who lives in Paris with his wife and two children. They’re very happy and he works hard to make sure they stay away from his ancestral home. According to him, though, he has to go back alone for awhile because the vineyards are failing and he has to go comfort the peasants. The wife is upset by this and soon follows and soon finds herself and her family in a heap of trouble. It turns out that there was more to the story than rotting grapes. It was time for an ancient pagan ritual that the nobleman had to be a part of. In this ritual, which is slowly teased out in the most suspensful way, an individual in the community must be sacrificed for the continued good fortune of the village. It’s a dark film that reminds me of one of my favorite Bette Davis movies, The Dark Secret of Harvest Home. Both films are about communities who have dark secrets to keep good fortune in their homes. To them, it’s better for one person to die in a sacrifice than for the entire populace to suffer. Eye of the Devil was wonderful and the production was sumptuous. It could so easily have been cheesy and a disaster and a snooze, but it turned out to be a decadent and haunting picture. Highly recommended. And I watched it on the side of the road waiting for a mechanic to come fix my tire, and I must tell you, it was a wonderful way to pass the time!

HATE:

Jack Hunter and the Quest for Akhenaten’s Tomb:

When it comes to the study of ancient Egypt, there is nothing too painful for me to muddle through. I once watched a movie about building a theme park in Egypt where poorly animated mummies came to life and tried to destroy the owners. It was awful, truly one of the worst things I have ever seen, but it was so bad that it was entertaining. I managed to finish it, and I managed to forget the worst bits of it, but the important thing to note is that I was able to muddle through it. Well, reader, it’s finally happened, I found a film so awful that I couldn’t even try to complete it. It was worse than that new version of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, a film so awful that I didn’t think I’d ever find something to top it on my list of trash. I’ll make the background brief, but there are some important facts that you need to know about how this film came into my life. My father recently passed away, so I’ve been clearing out his things and trying to get things in order. I won’t go deep into details but he left me a mess in a lot of ways. In the living room, I had to scour the flour and it’s still not as clean as I’d like it to be. It’ll get there or I’ll find myself an area rug. I was horrified at the state of the DVD player so I just decided I’d grab a cheap one to replace it. Blu-ray players were literally the same price, so I grabbed one of those instead. As I was exiting the electronics department of Walmart, I saw a new release move entitled Jack Hunter and the Quest for Akhenaten’s Tomb. Of course I squealed and threw it into my cart. I don’t buy movies anymore, I just stream stuff, but this seemed too fabulous to pass up. What on earth was there a movie about an obscure Egyptian pharaoh for? I didn’t get to the film right away, but when I did, I could not believe what was happening. And I could not even begin to understand what was happening. I don’t think the writers or the actors knew what was happening. I don’t think the art director has ever seen an actual Egyptian hieroglyph. I don’t even know if the studio realized what they’d done by green-lighting this drivel. I got about forty-five minutes into it before I couldn’t go on. There was a tiny little obelisk that was allegedly a key that led to the tomb of Akhenaten, and I just couldn’t deal with it. No Egyptian pharaoh would go out of their way to give tomb robbers a map to their tomb. That’s absurd. The archaeologists in the film were stereotypical treasure hunters and their costumes were ridiculous. I don’t know if I will ever find the willpower to finish the movie, but someday, maybe when I finally get bored on one of those rare occurrences, I’ll try and finish it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that bored. So bad. Abysmal. It’s on the list of movies that I wouldn’t even show my worst enemy. BAD.

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