In the Twinkling of an Eye (A Memory)
For a long time I delivered pizza. I recently wrote a novella about the experience, which I will desperately ship out to some contests, and I have written other things about the experience, and will probably in the future write some other things. I write all these things because the time I spent placing pepperonis and chopping peppers and driving a failing manual transmission vehicle at high rates of speed through residential zones was consistently wonderful.
Our store had a regular lunch customer. He was notoriously cheap, and would order a soda for himself and a water for his wife and then swallow her water and pour half his soda into her foggy cup and ask for refills. Once, when he dined alone and I was filling in as a waiter, he pinched his fingers together and asked about the fee for "just this much" soda. I poured all his sodas for free, of course, and worked in his senior discount on top of the savings.
Later in life a friend and I ran into him in Target, in another city. Oh, he said. He was happy to see us. We went through a few aisles of consumer electronics. He'd point to something on a shelf and then to something on his body and ask which we thought was more valuable. An example: he pointed to something like an alarm clock or an ornate lamp (the memory is too distant for clarity) and then pointed to a ring on his finger. We of course told him the ring was more valuable. He was our hometown's only jeweler.
And he laughed. In the twinkling of an eye, he said, I'd choose the ring too. But I might be surprised.
Tequila and Tacos (Some Advice for Dining Out or Getting Some Drinks)
Not long after my fiancee and I moved into our current apartment a taco bar opened not even one block away. The news was incredible but frightening, as we live in a lone hovel crouching among condos, but then the menu appeared online and the prices were good, great. The owner has stated in print that he or she (I can't remember which) hopes to have some success in our neighborhood, which has eaten all other restaurants and bars, by selling at prices accommodating to people who work in movie theaters and in other restaurants and bars.
There is a patio, and it is popular, and we have more than once been seated next to raucous clumps of people intent on chasing each drink with a story of someone else's sexual mortification or at least with another drink, and although Sarah and I have soured a little at these times, they have occasionally led to some amazing service. I like to think, when this happens, that our server has been more attentive to our empty glasses because he or she appreciates our civility. Maybe I just like to think it explains other times when we've grimaced alone in the dark, waiting and waiting for refills as the neighborhood's noises creep in on us.
Bring Me the Review of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (some reviews)
These reviews will be quick.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
I don't remember how this movie came to my attention, but it did. It's directed by Sam Peckinpah, and you can read about it here. It is from 1974 and, like a lot of older movies, features actors whose ages and appearances are shocking by today's standards. There is a million-dollar bounty and an alcoholic piano player who tries to collect the thinnest portion of that bounty and there is a prostitute. Somebody pours tequila on his crotch in an attempt to kill (I think) crabs. There are a few awkwardly prolonged stretches of nudity, but maybe the awkwardness is the point. The film is dark and sour at times and if nothing else it will convey to you elements that probably inspired a lot of more recent films. And Ebert loved it.
I wrote about this book just the other day and now I have finished it. It is pretty great but its greatest parts are its first half and its last quarter. The third quarter is also good but it does some things that feel a little desperate, like the writer wasn't sure exactly what was up next for the character. (This is a problem I regularly have.) But remember what I said about the last quarter. The narrative comes around.
The writing is good and the character is good if a little depressing and if this isn't the best overall novel I've read in the past several months it is the one that drew me back to it most regularly and the most plaintively. It's absolutely recommended, and I can't figure out why Amazon is selling it in hardback for $2.44.
A lot has been written about this book, Tom Bissell's analysis of several of the best of the present's video games and of video game culture in general, but I'll say this: I'm enjoying it. I was almost turned off by a reviewer who wrote that Bissell is basically writing for a sympathetic audience, oozing fanboyish over quality games and dumping criticism on weaker titles, but I decided that's okay, that writing for a specific audience, probably already on your side, is okay. My feeling through the reading hasn't been so much ah ha as ah, yes, which is to say that I haven't learned a lot about modern video game culture but that I have learned a lot about how I feel about it. Bissell is good at drawing out and articulating feelings that, for most of us, swirl dormant and unnoticed in our chests.