Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Citizen Kane...my favorite part

I love this conversation between Kane and Susan. They're in the fireplace room and everything is falling apart. Susan doesn't pretend she loves him anymore and she's given up on the opera dream. Kane has no ambitions left. He's tried to make her happy by staging an opera for her to sing in but it failed so now he's gone backwards to being simple. And that doesn't work. He can't win. We've all felt this way.

I can't get over how powerful it is that he repeats the same line. "I thought we might have a picnic tomorrow."
She's laid down an argument that's impossible to beat. And she's being so bitchy because she wants out. And if he bites and starts to argue it makes him seem like he's actually still trying to fight for her love or to salvage the marriage. But because he repeats that line it's like he's completely defeated. He's almost talking to himself. And his delivery is the from depths of sadness.
They eventually go on the picnic and he is completely miserable and she is still complaining. He hits her and that about wraps up the marriage. But this one line repeated is priceless. I can't find a clip with that scene in it but it's my favorite in the whole movie.

01:41:10 Kane: ...but you get into the habit.
01:41:12 Susan: It's not a habit, I do it because I like it.
01:41:16 Kane: I thought we might have a picnic tomorrow.
01:41:21 Kane: Invite everybody to spend the night at the Everglades.
01:41:24 Susan: Invite everybody. Order everybody, you mean, and make them sleep in tents.
01:41:28 Susan: Who wants to sleep in tents when they've got their own room...
01:41:32 Susan ...with a bath, where they know where everything is?
01:41:34 Kane: I thought we might have a picnic tomorrow.
01:41:41 Susan: You never give me anything I really care about.

This taught me a lot about writing dialogue. When you have two people with truly different agendas then you aren't always supposed to get an argument. Sometimes you go with the argument if it suits you, but sometimes you just have two people who aren't on the same page at all. They don't argue, instead they just maintain their course and it's not even a collision. It's just the fact they are in the same room that they are talking at all. But really they aren't communicating. This is dramatic dialogue because it doesn't ever really take place in real life. We've learned the art of arguing like on soap operas where it escalates. But this is dramatic in the sense that they are saying what they are thinking regardless of what the other person is saying. They aren't listening at all. Sometimes you want characters to be snippy and contrary, other times they don't care anymore and at that point only the audience is seeing both sides. See? It's a device to get the audience to ignore the words. It's also non-linear because the argument gets derailed. He still wants to have the picnic. But is it about a picnic? It can't be. He's miserable. She doesn't want to go. So what's it about? The argument isn't about a picnic and the first clue is that he repeats himself.

interview dos and donts

shake hands without wincing
bring all the application info you need
wash crud out of eyes
arrive on time
thank the interviewer

admit to spending 8 months on the beach in Mexico
explain your hand is swollen because you were playing pick up basketball
tell the truth on your application so it appears you are insane
admit to living in a group home "That really sucks"
say things like, "Does it really matter?"

Fortunately, I interviewed in Laconia for a job in Laconia and the job pool is at an all time low here. The interviewer was doing a reference check on someone else while I filled out my application and she asked, "So did he work for you before or after he got out of prison?"
Unfortunately, I'm still easy to pass over.

The stop after that was the food stamp office where just sitting in the waiting room was enough to make me not want to apply. I'll lick paper tray liners at McDonalds before I accept food stamps.

It was kind of research for the social services element in my santa cruz story but it brought back bad memories of incomplete applications, mysterious forms, criteria to be elegible that make my head spin, babies crying, out of work men standing at the window (they kept it closed because of the swine flu) shouting, "What am I ghhona eat? Ya cancelled my caahd. I ghot cancah ya know?"

So it was on to the family dollar store to buy peanuts and prunes as part of my fruit and grain diet. rice and beans. no more milk. no more bread and cheese. Grain salads and fruit from now on.

Then a few hours at the goodwill reading room otherwise known as the old chair closest to the book shelves. I was looking for a grain and nut recipe book but I ended up reading an essay by a tramp in 1934 California. He described the conditions in federal camps. 200 men kicking stones in a dusty town. He decided these men were pioneers in a world without new places. It's hard to leave behind somewhere familiar and take to the road but that's how America was colonized and also Australia (island prison). But in 1934 the land had ceased giving back and there was less of it to farm so the men wandered. They were maimed by accident and drink and disease but they were no less intelligent than your average man. Their ambitions were simply obsolete. They merely wanted something extraordinary to do and that opportunity had changed from pioneering to technology...and the majority of the men couldn't make that transition so they picked apples and drifted with the wind. That was the author's conclusion. He wasn't a journalist but his writing was very good. He'd probably been a school teacher in the past and now slept on a blanket near the road and observed.
None of them expected a hand out but with a maimed hand or foot they only had their brains left, and that was helping them survive.

I thought it interesting that I read the essay at the Goodwill in 2010 after visiting the food stamp office and an employment agency as my day trip away from the group home. I had to hold the book so as not to hurt my swollen finger. When I coughed my ribs ached. The author was trying to make sense of it all. He wasn't just reporting. He was writing an essay on the condition and philosophical essence of the hobo. I felt close to this man, Eric Hoffer. He didn't need to write that essay and by the time he wrote it (the essay compilation was from the '60s) he'd probably made it in life. But the need to share this experience and this opinion impressed me. The book had essays by B.F. Skinner and Jean Paul Sarte. And this one time hobo from 1934 who slept on a blanket and played checkers with a guy who only had one hand. I just checked up on Eric Hoffer and he's an unusual person.

At the Goodwill, a couple nearby was reading the off a rack of used CDs. "Charlie Daniels, Fire on the Mountain....Celine Dion...."
An old french guy with a walker and those gigantic black shoes you get when you have diabetes was talking to the sale lady, telling her about another time. A woman picked up a sparkly blouse, looked at the price tag and moved on. A guy with a cane was browsing the diet books. Outside it was starting to snow after two days of rain so a clerk went to put salt on the sidewalk. Cars rolled by with their lights on.

The opinions in the book were like the snowflakes falling on the wet sidewalk. If the conditions were right they would collect and you might even be able to notice them and make decisions because of them, but with rain they would go away and in the spring a child going to play basketball at the park would never know they existed. B.F. Skinner devoted his life to understanding behavior...but look around a Goodwill on some afternoon and tell me what impact B.F. Skinner has had. At the social services office there were handouts on everything. I looked at one that gave advice on brushing teeth, going to the doctor, getting food stamps, getting work, getting a GED. One that sticks out was a colorful page with children's songs on it.

"This little piggy went to market
This little piggy went home
this little piggy went to church
this little piggy went to school
this little piggy went to work"

Then there were instructions on how to wiggle your kids toes or fingers (if they had 5) and sing the song. It was about singing and bonding with your kid. And how to get them to read. And I guess it's a little bit of brainwashing. Market, home, church, school, work. The little piggy never goes and robs a bank. He never drifts aimlessly to Mexico; the little piggy has a pattern and he sticks to it. Brush your teeth. The food pyramid. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Stay in school. Don't do drugs. There was one pamphlet that had a circle with three stages:
1. Honeymoon Phase,
2. Buildup/Tension,
3. Abuse.
It asked, "Does this look familiar to you?"
The office wasn't filled on a Tuesday at 3 pm but it wasn't empty either. I stayed an hour just reading all the pamphlets. They kept asking me if I'd been helped and I kept saying I was all good. I just wanted to see what was going on in there. I'd heard tales and I'm getting to the point where emergency assistance is needed.

I've been reading Hesse's Glass Bead Game again and dreaming about Waldzell, the elite school for musicians and glass bead game players. He talks about a bent toward universality that the students are recognized for. This is interesting because I wonder what kind of universe they think they lived in. There were no social service offices in Castalia. No car mechanics on disability. No mothers who need to set up a ride to interview about food stamp extensions. No this little piggy songs to teach kids. So, they studied history through the eyes of others. But is that the same thing? Can you really refer to the human condition once you read someone else's opinion? The students of Waldzell lived like monks. Outside the walls a world of politics and war took place but they only read and wrote histories. There were no infants. No parents. No mothers. No econoline vans. No jammed fingers or bruised ribs. No dust bowl tramps playing checkers. I wonder if that influenced his decision to call the school Waldzell. Kind of a play on Wall. Like a walled city that only analyzed experience. But universal theories require more than just book knowledge.
Who knows? Shawn just dropped by and told me the poker game starts in 5 minutes. I gave him the chips and now I'm off to play some cards. That's what we do here in this hobo camp. we play cards and ponder the human condition. B.F. Skinner just got paid better.


As part of my "Get fit before I die" plan I joined the men's pick up basketball league at the Laconia community center. If I had use of my fingers I would take a picture of the three injuries I sustained in my first 3 hours.

The first happened in pregame warm ups. A bad finger jam on my right ring finger. The next was when I battled with a guy who outweighed me by 50 pounds. We both dove for the ball and I got the worst of the collision and rolled head over heels on my shoulder. But, as is normally the case, I think I broke a rib somehow. It's all connected.
Lastly, someone just rolled the ball near me and as I went to get it I tripped over my own waterlogged legs and fell to the ground on my knees. This wouldn't have been so bad if I had managed to keep my fingers from ending up between my knees and the floor. My pinky took the whole weight of my body and the tip now looks like the tip of a mercury thermometer.
I was trying to rebound and my entire back seized in a spasm to my neck.
I think I made 3 shots and missed 4. 6 points. 0 blocked shots. 2 assists.

I told a 20 year old, "I haven't played this game in 22 years."
His expression was like, "That recently?"
Then I said, "I played baseball." and immediately regretted it because that's just a glory days line. I might as well say I played whiffle ball or frisbee football in Junior High School. I was a great lawn darts player in 1983. Scott had a set and we played in his backyard. You toss the dart way up in the air so it comes down in a hoop.

I took some pictures before I mangled both my hands beyond repair. I'm typing this with my toes.

I spent some time at the employment agency and finally landed a real job interview...assembly stuff...anything to get some money. But now I've got a broken rib and mashed pinky and swollen ring finger. I can barely put the lid back on the aspirin bottle. So will I be able to fake it at the interview? We find out.

The coordinator gave me an ice pack to put on the finger. I'm too tired to stay awake. Probably broke a blood vessel in my heart and am slowly bleeding out.

Except for the injuries it felt good to be running and sweating and boxing people out. Full court to 11 points. Lots of long jump shots and missed passes. The average weight was like 250 so when they push me around I move willingly. My back is killing me right now. If I'm able I will go back tomorrow after the assembly job falls through.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.