(July 9 – July 15)
This week slid settled naturally into the eternal conflict between doing nothing and the need to get things done. It began on Monday morning, as the week typically does, when I woke up with a thumping headache. It was so bad it pretty much forced me back into bed until the later afternoon.
Now, I normally like sick days—I like the excuse to sit on the sofa, wrap up warm, and allow myself to do nothing. This, however, was not one of those sick days. This was one of those days when retreating to bed and attempting to sleep was the only answer. Naturally, I kept thinking of all the things I could have been getting done with a full day off work.
It’s the paradox of doing nothing: when we’re busy, we work towards the moment when we get to sit down and do nothing; when we have time to do nothing, we inevitably crave filling that time by doing things.
I had a peculiar echo of this later in the week: a day without meetings. This is always welcome: it’s a day where you finally have all the time you need to catch up on the things you’ve been too busy to do all week. Of course, you’re also faced with the mighty struggle against the inertia of not having to leave your desk and do something else in twenty minutes or so. It’s a challenge to structure your work around days that have no structure, and to maintain motivation when movement is at a minimal.
I finished the very excellent Killing Eve this week, which presented me with the dilemma of what to watch next. After much consideration, I eventually decided on: nothing. This was after continuing to be underwhelmed by a second episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It’s weird: an eccentric, alt-history period tale about magic in Victorian times produced by the BBC is something I should love, but I’ve watched the first two episodes now and it just isn’t working for me. Oh well.
Over the weekend I had an urge to revisit the Dirty Harry films. I found enough time in my schedule to watch Dirty Harry (a.k.a The One With Dirty Harry) and Magnum Force (a.k.a The One With The Vigilante Cops; or The One With David Soul if you prefer; or The One With Starsky Or Hutch, I Can Never Remember Which, if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to use IMDB). I remember both films fondly from my formative years, and totally enjoyed revisiting both.
It did strike me, however, that these are both very right-wing movies, which is not something I would normally enjoy, and yet I don’t find them objectionable. I think it’s because the first movie, at least, posits such extremes (a terrifyingly insane serial killer, a ruthless cop, and a legal system that isn’t equipped to deal with either) that you really have very few qualms about siding with Harry. It’s a Spielbergian masterclass in audience manipulation. Of course, it also helps that the film is extremely well made and easily earns its Cinema Icon badge of merit.
The second movie, if anything, confuses matters even further by having a group of vigilante cops who could almost have been inspired by Harry’s actions in the first films. And yet, here we have Harry rejecting the judge, jury and executioner methodology and siding with the system—even though his solution, of course, is to kill off the bad guys rather than put them through that same legal system.
I shall have to catch up with The Enforcer (a.k.a The One With Cagney Or Lacey, I Can Never Remember Which) next week.
I was looking for an easy read this week and picked up From A Certain Point Of View, a collection of Star Wars short stories that caught my eye some months ago. I knew, going in, that it featured stories about various background characters from Star Wars (or A New Hope, if you want to be annoying). What I didn’t realise is that the stories also follow the chronology of that movie and gradually, piece by piece, fill in all the things that were happening just off-screen to characters that we glimpsed (or, in some cases, simply heard) throughout the movie. I’m mostly loving it so far, and the stories are just short enough that I keep falling into that “just one more” trap.
Yes. It’s a trap.
I also listened to another Audible freebie: The Despatcher, written by John Scalzi and read/performed by Zachary Quinto. It’s another damn good listen. Short enough and good enough that I wished it was longer once it was over!