Holy Pokey

28 May 2002

We had a good time for Mark's birthday, and he was happy. I can quite highly recommend "Enigma" to any of you who were wondering whether it was worth seeing. Go. See it. It's spread out to more locations now, so it should be closer to you, even if not close (sorry, Sarah!).

For years, my grandmother kept telling people that she didn't really like movies. Not her thing, nope, just didn't like them. What she meant was that she didn't like movies that were too new to have Shirley Temple in them, and it was mostly because she wasn't seeing things she liked. Then she got to see movies like "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Angels in the Outfield," and she discovered that the '90s could be just as heartwarming as the '30s and '40s, and now she's happy. And I'm hoping to be like that myself this summer. I'm hoping that there are some movies that can prove to me that the '00s can be just as geeky and quirky as the '80s, which are my own personal Golden Age of Cinema. (The Princess Bride. Real Genius. Sneakers. The Empire Strikes Back. Bull Durham. The Indiana Jones movies. A vast majority of the movies I want to watch over and over again are '80s movies. Okay, so Sneakers is from '92. Close enough.)

So, "Enigma." It's a fictional movie, not a documentary, about the code-breaking efforts at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Screenplay written by Tom Stoppard. It features an actress improbably named Saffron Burrows, and I ask you, does that not sound like a hobbit? But her character is named Claire Romilly, so it wasn't anything the directors or writers could change. Saffron Burrows, though. I'm just frightened that real-life people could name a child that, whether or not it's a stage name. Ahem. Sorry. Sidetracked by the IMDB. It had been so long since I saw a movie where we could sit around afterwards discussing the characters' motivations and not feel like we were pulling them from some orifice or another: "Um, maybe he was, like, beaten as a child or something? And that made him totally irrational?" No. We could point at specific things that the characters did that indicated their mindsets at a given moment of the movie, consistent with their personalities and thought patterns in the rest of the movie...it was something that I feel I should be able to do more often, but cannot.

And while it was definitely fictionalized, I've recently done research on Bletchley Park for the Not The Moose Book, and they didn't do anything that struck me as jarringly wrong. Which is pretty darn good. I agree with Mark that there should have been some comment at the end that the main character was intended to be a fictionalized, straight version of Alan Turing -- they commented that the programmers never got "recognition," but the main character was so obviously Turing, and they didn't breathe a word of "recognition" for him.

Anyway. Good movie, go see. We also saw the preview for "The Importance of Being Earnest," which we all thought we'd like to see when it comes to the theatres around here, and the preview for "The Mystic Masseur," which is a dilemma: it looked more like a rental movie than a theatre movie, but we're none of us convinced that it'll ever show up in a local video store at all.

Also we've watched too many British people talking if we use phrases like "we're none of us." My apologies.

We were talking about songs getting in our heads, on the way back, and Amber said that when she had something or other in her head, Em got it out once by singing "Father Abraham." You maybe know this one if you were once a Sunday School kid? "Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Faaaaaather Abraham...." Timprov calls it the Holy Pokey, which amused me no end. Unfortunately, I now have "Father Abraham" in my head, interspersed with bits of the Hokey Pokey. And I thought I'd share with you. Since "Linger" worked so well on poor Tom last week.

I finished reading Mysterium last night. Decent stuff -- I was glad to read it but won't be rushing out to buy my own copy. I don't think I've read Darwinia (I'd have to check the first couple of chapters to be sure), but it looks like Mysterium is much like Darwinia from the other side: a chunk of this universe is deposited into another, rather than vice versa. Makes me wonder why that particular premise is so fascinating to Wilson. I mean, we all have our obsessions, but mystic geographical displacement seems like an odd one.

Last night, I got a reminder of how all of this works, why it's worth it. I saw my author copies of The Chinese Americans sitting on the kitchen table, and I knew that Amber hadn't seen them, so I handed her one and got my author copies of Analog and Spellbound off the shelf. She leafed through the book and said it looked cool, which seems to me to be the socially appropriate response. I showed her the illustration of my story in Analog, and she found "Grandma Disappears" in Spellbound. Started reading it. Checked to see how many pages it was and kept reading it. She read through, and then almost without pause, set it down, picked up the Analog, and dove into "Irena's Roses." I said something like, "Oh, looks like we've lost Amber!" and with a brief, distracted smile, she looked up and said, "Yep," and went back to "Irena's Roses." When she finished, she was absolutely dazed. This is someone who usually likes to talk to us, but she just wanted to go home, have a quiet minute to get her head out of that world.

Hee. I did that. Me, my story. You just don't get to see it that often. And it was particularly cool that my story sucked her in enough that she didn't want to talk with people I know she enjoys (us). She just went totally into the world of the story.

I don't know how to explain how motivating and happy-making that is, if you don't understand.

One more thing: it's Linda's birthday! Happy 50th, Lin!

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