Thursday, January 07, 2010

"Out of true" moments

OC it may be, I have to have sharp pencils before I start rabbiting away, even when the bulk of my work is done on the computer. I dislike a dull pencil when a sharpener is an armlength away. First pencil grinds away, too long a time. Second, the same. The points are unevenly sharpened, with more lead/graphite showing on one side than the other. I remember what Henry Petroski said in his book on the pencil: the lead is off center, out of true....Is this another sign of the Decline of the West? Lazy manufacturing processes, or is my 'lectric sharpener going rogue?

We lost "Doc" from rehab over the holidays. Charlie, who has been attending rehab for over ten years, told me Doc had Gone West. I did not know Doc well: we exchanged greetings. He was over 80, carried an O2 bottle around through rehab. Gotta admire those old guys, they press on with a minimum of fuss.

C. Aubrey Smith, team captain of the Hollywood Cricket Club, looks like a fellow who would do little fussing. Caught him in von Sternberg's Scarlet Empress last night. A fascinating film: I had never seen it, I am ashamed to say. Sets by Hans Dreier (thank you, IMDB! ), who got his start in Germany and worked on over 500 films, were gorgeous, as were the uncredited (Travis Banton )costumes. Freakish sculpture by Peter Ballbusch lent a creepy feeling to the interiors. And of course, there was Marlene, Josef's little pal since Der Blaue Engel; beautifully shot by Bert Glennon the cinematographer, though with von Sternberg's rep as an early auteur, I'd say he had a thing or two to do with some of those shots. Sam Jaffe, in his screen debut, was cast as the half-wit heir to the throne. The film is a beautiful depiction of an out of true royal court.


Barrett Bonden said...

C. Aubrey Smith - the name fitted the drooping face (bit like mine) so well that I can't help feeling the one was engineered for the other. I suspect he appeared in the earlier version of "The White Feather" starring John Clements and Ralph Richardson, perfect casting for the senior officer who tells the junior officer that he's let the side down and there's a bottle of whiskey and a loaded revolver waiting in the library. Wore a monocle and you've got to believe it was inserted at birth. Drawled "Don'cher know." I can't imagine he saw himself as an actor, rather as an artefact shipped direct to Hollywood from a club in St James. A cliché in the days when clichés were profitable.

The Crow said...

I like what you've done with your masthead. Where was this taken?

I've always liked Marlene. She was quite a broad, one of many female film stars from the '30s and '40s who earned that respectful title.

See you farther down the pike - got a little hand-wringing to do. Plus, I want to see if the local library has a copy of Petroski's book.


Relucent Reader said...

BB:Thank you for your comment, Yes, he was pretty much 'stock footage' when a certain Type was required. He got into the movie racket fairly late in life, I read.
Crow: Thank you for the comment.Detroit was the locale for the photo at last years Red Bull Air Races. My nephew, Young Master Matthew,got the shot.
Marlene is gorgeous in this film, she was a star, alright.
Hope to hear from you soon, look forward to reading your blog again.