Time Travel and the Winsome Ophelia

I’m lucky I can bankroll my rudderless lifestyle by traveling north for punctuated gigs at the rare books department of a Dallas auction house as a “guest cataloger.” Unfortunately there is little in the way of job security. True, I know someone on the inside (my sister); but the fact is companies all over are eyeing ways to whittle away their over-head. Also, I need to be on call. When I’m not needed, there’s no work. And when I am needed, I’d better be able to jump. The pay’s just too damn good. And even though the work is basically data-entry, it’s fun, and it involves a particular expertise not everyone can claim to possess.

Here are some of the more visually interesting books that crossed my desk during the previous few weeks.

A groovy Ethiopian manuscript.

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A nice leather inlaid cover to a copy of Baron Munchausen.

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A particularly winsome etching of Ophelia from an extra-illustrated edition of Shakespeare.

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A cool illustration in that same copy of Munchausen. It’s a bridge between Africa and Great Britain.

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An artist’s portfolio in lithographs of his calligraphy work. This series is especially devilish.

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There are items in some of the other departments I’m aware of. I’d love to post some images and write about two them, but I don’t have permission. All I’ll say is that one involves an x-ray, the back-story of which should guarantee you being pushed to the front of the call-in queue on “Coast to Coast.” And the other involves some incredibly rare movie memorabilia. Actually, if I wasn’t so feckless, I’d try and get in there with my video camera and make a little documentary. But the last thing I want to do is become involved with the legal department of an auction house. It must be as labyrinthine as their bookkeeping department. Oh, well. What a missed opportunity. I mean, one of the movie experts involved is impassioned, articulate, and had a pivotal role in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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Last week when I trotted up the steps to my front porch upon returning to San Antonio, I noticed the unmistakable pink pasteboard termination notice from CPS (City Public Services–they hook us up with electricity and gas). But not to worry. It’s for apartment B, on the south side of the my house. Should I feel bad about not taking it to my neighbor? I mean, shit, he’ll find out soon enough. Besides, if I leave it where it is, it might work like a CPS scarecrow, keeping my own termination notice at bay.

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What’s up with doctors and their desire to rub the ugliness of mortality in our faces? Even eye doctors. I finally went in for an eye exam. I’ve fairly drastic myopia. It’d be criminal to put me in a car without my glasses and force me to drive across town. I’ve worn glasses since the first or second grade. But I’ve never needed any help reading or seeing up close. Up until about nine months back I’ve been able to read with or without my glasses. No more. I have to remove my glasses to read, dial a phone, sign a check, operate a camera, etc. As the doctor glanced at my info on the clipboard I explained my predicament, to which he replied: “Ah, well, considering your age, I’d say you’re right on schedule.” Sure, I’m not expecting an outright lie, but how hard would it have been to placate me with “oh, you poor thing,” or, maybe, “well, we’ll fix you right up”? And then that son of a bitch added, “it’s just going to get worse over the years–a lot worse.”

Well, fuck you!

So, it looks like I’ll soon be sporting some sort of bifocal. I’ve heard mixed opinions about the old-style bifocal versus the graduated, progressive version. I still haven’t decided. After the exam, I stepped into the adjacent eyeglass shop. A thousand styles or more … which all looked the same. It’s like contemporary cars. A thousand styles of crap. Does no one teach design anymore? I went home and ordered a pair of frames off eyeglassboy.com. They didn’t have my first three choices large enough to accommodate my massive cranium, but I ordered a pair I can live with. Once they arrive I guess I’ll find some place to put lenses in them.

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I watched a couple of time travel movies on Netflix online over the weekend. “Primer” didn’t live up to the hype. I loved the naturalistic dialogue. Loads of cross talk and incomplete sentences. The camera work was quite nice for a micro budget on Super 16. They claimed to have made it with a budget of seven thousand, and a tight shooting ratio of 2:1. The Wiki page, clearly written by a gushing fanboy, quotes a reviewer who opined that anyone who claims to understand the plot after just one viewing is “either a savant or a liar.” I hate that sort of nonsense. It’s a weak script, pure and simple. To try and bolster the rickety plot by suggesting that the audience are simpletons is, at best, a disingenuous smokescreen for half-assery. Still, I quite enjoyed it. My favorite scenes were early on before the characters began the actual time-traveling. The other film was “Los Cronocrimenes” (Timecimes). Like “Primer” it was a small, low budget indie film. Three locations. Four actors. They did quite a bit with very little resources. Light entertainment. Much better was a documentary on Haskell Wexler by his son, “Tell Them Who You Are.” Well worth watching.

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