I finally listened to episode #368 of This American Life, “Who Do You Think You Are?” on my way in and for the first half hour or so of my work day. About half the show was excerpts from a series that Studs Terkel, a recently deceased, longtime Chicago radio man hosted in the 1970s called “Hard Times.” He did interviews with ordinarily American citizens about their experiences from the Great Depression. It was fantastic to hear these unique perspectives of witnessed history. Listening to a piece like this makes me think about how valuable the mass media archives of the 20th century could potentially be as the future rolls on.
And I guess that I’m thinking about it relative to photography in a sense: sure, we have photographs from as far back as the mid-19th century, and it is amazing to look into the faces of the people who lived at those times. But what still photos lack (a clear idea of what the people who lived in those times THOUGHT about them), sound recordings and motion pictures of the 20th century have in spades. As generations of people pass on and memory continues to fade, we retain an ability that no era in the past could boast: we can engage those past generations in conversation through recordings. Pretty amazing stuff, if you think about it.
And speaking of voices from the past informing the events of the present, an interesting little piece here from New Scientist about how the worldwide economic doldrums we find ourselves in were predicted (with computer assistance) in 1972.
Beyond that, had an enjoyable and somewhat productive weekend. Michelle and I went to see Quantum of Solace on Saturday. Not usually a movie she’d be interested in, but we had a good time at the last Bond. I thought it was good, but I agree with most of the critics I’ve read that Casino Royale was better. The review I saw in The Onion tried to parallel the 2nd Daniel Craig-Bond flick with The Dark Knight, both being the first sequel in a largely-reimagined franchise. I dunno if that’s a fair comparison, in part because Batman has such a long, rich body of source material to work from: the Joker is a well-established and defined character; James Bond is up against a new villian every time out. So anyway, Bond was good; not great, but good.
Michelle was on pins and needles through most of the movie. She hasn’t watched a lot of action films, so when she DOES see one, it is literally a heart-pounding thrill ride. It’s fun for everybody. After we left the theater, we talked about some other movies like this one that she might try, and we agreed that action flicks with lots of explosions, chases, fights, and general debauchery are a great reason to have a bigger TV.
OK, well, the kids are starting to back up in the office. Best get to it…