Saints and Sinners

I’ve lived in an unincorporated section of the county for over 30 years now. So I know all about fireworks.

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As various cities banned personal use of fireworks, this small little section of nowhere started to get some attention from people who like big booms. Even though we’ve always had a fireworks show across the street at the lake, a nice one, some people apparently need to blow stuff up real good and so this is our life in early July. It’s loud and relentless, it goes on for days, a lot of it is still illegal anyway, and I think I side with the animals now.

It’s a hard call for me. I think I can put up with most things that happen only once a year, and I’m a big traditionalist, very sentimental. Fireworks are often spectacular, it’s America’s birthday, etc. I can live with the noise, and a bit of fear about fires, and of course a frantic cat who was literally galloping yesterday, like a horse.

Still, it was a little crazy. I don’t remember this many explosions, and that makes sense—there are more people living near me than last year, probably at least 50-100 on this section of my street with the new developments. It was nonstop for a few hours, and that’s a literal expression.

So I reached a point that with each bang, I sort of hoped for a scream, and a siren. This is a bad thing to fantasize about, picturing your asshole neighbors blowing off fingers. Although after 11pm, it started to seem reasonable.

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I didn’t watch any of this. I didn’t look out a window, and I didn’t find video of the Trump thing or any of the televised stuff. I read and did various things, and Julie watched Wimbledon, and then she decided she’d like to watch something fun.

This is where I get all glow-y. I remember all of those years I spent in the basement, chained to the computer, working long days and usually seven of them every week. Unscheduled days were rare and a little weird.

So this has been her, and even in the summers when class is over, she has church stuff. Now, she has an open season and time for all sorts of things, and she decided yesterday she felt a little left out of this Marvel business. She had no desire to do what John and I had, see all the movies in some sort of order to prepare for the big one. She just wanted to see what it was all about, and since she’d already seen Iron Man she was ready for whatever I suggested.

And Captain America: The First Avenger is a great Independence Day film, I think, and the right one to see in terms of chronology. There were plenty of great visual moments, some good comic book action, and an awareness (at least on my part) that this was an origin story, elements being set up for the rest of the MCU to expand on.

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But mostly? These are morality plays. Of course. Nothing new there, but it struck me as remarkable for the times we live in, which may explain some of the appeal, dunno. Steve Rogers’ moral code is of its time, and simple—he doesn’t like bullies. Innocents are to be protected. Sacrifice is the name of the game.

Somehow this works for me, on July 4th. If we’d just wanted to drown out the noise, we had plenty to choose from. Jaws is always fun on the Fourth, as is Independence Day (duh), but I imagine a case could be made for the appropriateness of all sorts of stuff to watch.

And the more—and the faster--the calendar pages flip over, the more I’m drawn to what makes me happy. Any art form can bring me pleasure; there’s just something about a familiar film that lets joy bubble up in small but significant ways. I could make a list of these movies, and a few would be classics but most? Just ones that make me happy, quality or not, sophisticated or stupid.

Scene from “Stranger Than Fiction”

Scene from “Stranger Than Fiction”

None of the comic-book movies really fit in this category, but Cap comes close.

You know what comes closer? Stranger Than Fiction, which just landed on Amazon Prime, and which I just watched for the fourth or fiftieth time, not sure.

If you don’t know the movie, the quick capsule—Will Ferrell plays a boring, unremarkable IRS agent who one day becomes aware that a female voice is narrating the trivial aspects of his life. This is the conceit of the film, never explained, sort of like Groundhog Day in that respect: Harry Frick (Ferrell) somehow has become a character in a novel that’s being written by a well-known, reclusive author (Emma Thompson).

Other than that, though, it’s a warm, sentimental story about opening ourselves up to change, about passion, about nice people, about love. Frick goes to audit a baker who’s been underpaying her taxes as a political protest (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is explaining in the above scene how she dropped out of Harvard Law after realizing that all the baked goods she supplied her study group with were doing of more value than any law degree.

See? Another morality tale, masquerading as fantasy. It may actually be fantasy, but that’s another reason to watch, for me.

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Chuck SigarsComment