June 30: the world we live in

I cannot now even imagine a Hollywood film I would like to see. Yesterday I had access to the Amazon Prime catalogue of films and I scrolled merrily on through the catalogue of rom-coms, action movies and goofball comedies. In the end I plumped for Hangman (2018), a thriller of the serial killer variety with Al Pacino. Al Pacino is an elder statesman ex-cop. The younger male lead is a cop with a murdered wife. The female lead is a New York Times journalist also with a past trauma I was chatting to my sister during her big trauma recapitulation scene so I missed what it was exactly. The car chase came about 50 minutes into the film. The serial killer would be an white male between 25 and 35; this was smartly checked-off at the beginning of the film by the police as though they had seen enough of these films already themselves. The woman in the mortuary was conventionally jovial as the bodies piled up one every eleven o’clock at night. The killer was nothing if not punctual. You could set your watch by him. Al Pacino loved crosswords we saw in the first scene of the film, which made his inability to spell out the hangman word a mystery in itself. Victims were referred to as vics, a first time for me. The whole thing was serial killer by numbers. I suppose people want the familiar, the conventional arc, the genre they are can slip into like an old slipper, but if the stories we tell are all so neat, when do we ever get to confront the world we actually live in?


june 18: dollops

French is a courtly language. I was putting a dollop of yoghurt onto my stewed rhubarb yesterday when I quizzed myself as to the French word for dollop. I was irritated because I should be able to come up with something adequate for this. It is not like the word for a combine harvester which you either know or don’t; it is a word you can construct yourself. Miffed, I looked it up, and to my delight and disappointment saw that I couldn’t come up with a word because French doesn’t do it. The renderings the on-line and hard-copy dictionary offered were cuilleree or morceau (literally, spoonful or bit). Delighted because my competence was not shown up but disappointed in the language. Yes. French is a courtly and a precise language but not very expressive sometimes. You can imagine at the French court no dollops would be permitted and it was the court and then the academy that dictated the development of the language. In German, by the way, the word is Klacks. Much nicer. The word Klecks with an e means blob. The change of vowel indicates a change of dimension. Three-dimensional Klacks (dollop) becoming two-dimensional Klecks (blob or smudge). Vowels can have this transformative effect. In English a splash is bigger than a splish, right?