Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Case of Very Old Spice


Today's post features screenshots from This Man Is Dangerous, directed by Jean Sacha, staring Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution. Rather than give a recap and review of the movie, I'll just say that I really liked it. On the TOS scale, it ranks somewhere between "Arena" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" I'm going to have to see more of the Lemmy Caution films (besides Alphaville, which I have already seen). I really enjoyed the cinematography; the movie is replete with outstanding shots. 


I've taken some screenshots and arranged them in random order and fabricated a preposterous story to go along with them. The story you are about to read, has very little to do with the movie. I'm sure others have written better reviews. Instead, I give you, A Case of Very Old Spice.

A special dame gave me a ring on the telephone. I was all smiles, but she couldn't see that over the phone. I heard something in her voice that troubled me. She wanted me to drop by as soon as I could.


I came right over. She said that she had something to show me in the bedroom. There it was in black and white, all over the bedspread.


She wanted to read the newspaper, or do papier mache. I don't know. I couldn't stay. I sensed that there was something she wasn't telling me.  I didn't like the way she looked at the wall when she spoke to me. Maybe it was the wallpaper, maybe it was my cologne, I don't know. I wasn't in the mood for looking through the want ads. I told her I had to leave. The frail didn't stop me, so I went to see an old friend about a bird.


He showed me a few nice birds, but he said that he had an even better one. She was at a cottage in the country. He gave me the address. When I got there, the lights were on but no one was home...if you don't count the platinum blonde in the raincoat with a far away look in her eyes. They were glassy, unblinking eyes. She had assumed room temperature before I arrived. Apparently that bedspread was to die for.

I took the stairs; they went down in the way that stairs often do. Someone had left in a hurry. Dinner and drinks were still on the table. I thought that I would sample the spirits. Someone had other ideas. I dove under the table when the first shot sounded. After checking to make sure than my factory warranty had not been voided by any after market perforations, I came up behind my pistol. I knew that I could create a comical effect if I held it so that the shadow from the end of the rod rested on the tip of my nose. Absolutely no one can shoot straight when they see that. Besides, I was close enough to that bottle that it would probably attract any bullets meant for me.


The mysterious shooter didn't fire again. He had already heard his mother calling. I moved to the doorway. The rat ran rather rapidly right down the roadway. I held up my heater and attempted to time how long it took him to run from the rear sight to the front sight as a way of estimating his exact speed. The angle wasn't good; I couldn't make a decent estimate. I fired a shot that beat him to the corner instead of coming in behind him. Then I lost sight of him.


I drove back to the main road. As my tires hit the pavement, another dame rolled up in a pink Peugeot. (Honestly, everything in this story is black and white and shades of gray, but I swear the Peugeot was pink). She had eyes the size of dinner plates. They were mysterious things, like smoke-filled mirrors. We were out in the country, but I could see the mean streets of Paris reflected in her gaze.


She told me that my friend with the bird had sent her. The bird wasn't at the cottage. They had had to move her. Constance--that was her name--told me to follow her. Even if she hadn't had lips that held an unspoken promise they would never deliver, I would have followed her. I wanted to see if the other earring matched.

I followed her to an abandoned monastery a few miles down the road. She dashed inside as soon as we arrived. Maybe it was my cologne. I ran after her. I caught sight of her just before she disappeared behind the columns and up a stairway.


I ran up the stairs. Constance's eyes had changed. She was having a slapping contest with another skirt. This was the bird my friend had mentioned. Her father would pay big money for the return of his little girl. When I suggested that she ought not to damage the merchandise, Constance told me to go down stairs; my friend wanted to see me.



I found him playing pool. He put down the cue-stick and turned his back as I approached. I really needed to get some different cologne. He told me that while he was excited about the ransom that he might get for the wealthy frail upstairs, he couldn't get dancing off his mind. Did I think that was strange? Sure, I did, but I couldn't tell him. You just don't tell a guy his dancing dreams are dross.


He asked me to follow him. I did, but I had a queasy feeling about this whole situation. I wondered how I was going to get that bird out of the nest and back to her father. A reward would spend just as well as a ransom, especially if I didn't have to split it with Constance and my friend. Who was I kidding? He wasn't really my friend. We had met at that Yahtzee tournament in Cannes. As much as he had enjoyed Yahtzee, he had confided that he would rather be playing backgammon. That was his problem. He always wanted to do something other than what he was doing. I would've told him that was just life. Life shakes you up and rolls you around. You're the dice, not the roller. You roll as best you can, and every once in a while someone will yell, "Yahtzee!"

I didn't get to explain any of that to him. As we went through the door, he turned and grappled with me. The strange part was that he was humming, "The Blue Danube." That's when I realized that he wasn't trying to fight; he was trying to dance with me. He wasn't a very good dancer. I've seen Conga lines with fewer left feet.


He suddenly turned away. I could tell that he was holding his breath. He mumbled something about cologne. I'm afraid I lost my temper at that. I was getting kind of sensitive about that cologne. My grandfather had given it to me, his grandfather had given him a whole case; it had been in the family for over a century; it really was my grandfather's Old Spice. I took him in a headlock, and encouraged him to relax and think about roses and lavender.


He broke away, or passed out. I don't remember which. When I turned, Constance was watching. I grabbed her and started to dance; I was in the mood. She twisted in my grasp, coughing and turning her back to me. The move proved unfortunate for her; she got traces of my cologne in her hair. 


She ran for the hose but the wealthy frail wanted a drink, and she was faster. They struggled over the hose. 


The frail finally got control of the water. When she smelled Constance's hair, she did her best to help the poor girl wash off the cologne...from a distance. 


I decided to go for a walk and ponder my life choices, and how the day might have gone differently if I had not decided to wear grandpa's cologne. 


There's a certain clarity that comes with a walk in a picturesque locale; the fresh air coming through those windows didn't hurt either. The respite from that cologne helped me come to a conclusion.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The water broke...and my wife's obsession with dead people

I didn't think that the second repair of the year would arrive so soon. It came this morning, like the Spanish Inquisition.* I went out into the garage for a snow shovel...because...I had a hankering for some quality shovel time before I left for work. I never left for work. I didn't make it to the shovel. Instead of the usual warm tranquility of the garage, I was met by a water heater spilling its guts like a petty criminal accused of a major crime being grilled under hot lights by a bad cop with a taser and a sock full of sand.



The entire plan for the day changed. The snow could wait (which sounds like the name of an interesting short story--this isn't it). New plan. Step one: make it stop--turn off the water and power. Step two: clean it up. Step three: drain the beast (and shovel snow). Step four: find and acquire a new unit--none were to be had in town; I had to expand the search area. Step five: Remove the offender. Step six: dry the premises. Step seven: Install the new recruit, and add water and power.

I left out the part about crying because I knew how much a new water heater would cost; and the crying again when the only one I could find that would fit cost even more than I expected.

Fortunately, Wife was available to help with the parts that required three or more hands. She did disturb me at one point by coming into the garage and announcing that she had found a date, several in fact. I hadn't even realized that she was looking. After all, we just went out last week to see The Last Jedi. If she'd have asked, I'd have been willing to go out again. But I know sometimes she gets spam emails or internet ads from dating service sites. Had she answered one? Before I could ask, she told me that she had found the dates of birth and death for some children or stepchildren of one of her ancestors. Family history is great, but can it be a dangerous addiction? Can this obsession with dead people really be healthy? Actually, I'm really glad she's doing it. I think she says stuff like that just to give me something to write about.

I hated having to replace the water heater. I had things that I needed to do at the office. I had planned an entirely different blog entry for today with some cool pictures from This Man Is Dangerous and some interesting fiction to go along with the pictures. But, the successful completion of a home repair project, no matter how minor, always make me feel like this:


That's right. Like I've just slain Hector and dragged him around the field. I just have to remember that Achilles' eventually took an arrow in the heel. Speaking of which, I have some absolutely fascinating observations about The Iliad...but I'll not go into them now. I'll do the same with my somewhat less fascinating observations about The Last Jedi.

*No one expects the...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I'd rather fight, than switch...or vice versa

The first home repair of the new year:
The frail told me that the light in the bedroom had burned out. She had already changed the bulb. The new one didn't shed any more light than an old shoe either. I grabbed the old bulb. It seemed fine to me. I hit the switch. The light pulsed like a warp nacelle, but just one time with each flip of the switch; it wouldn't stay lit. I had heard this story before. I knew the cure. I also knew that it would be the weekend before I could light up my doll's life with 120 volts and a 60 watt bulb. She knew the score. She would live with it until I was good and ready to make Edison's pet dance to my tune. 

(Picture from This Man Is Dangerous--which I also watched on Saturday. It's a great movie--French Noir featuring Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution. I'll do a write up on it...maybe Thursday)

It was a Saturday. The sun stared through a cloudy sky like a one-eyed man behind a smoking pipe. There was a foul smell in the air. It hit my nostrils like the stench of that frozen hamburger I had left in a drawer to thaw before Christmas vacation at college...and remembered two weeks later when the vacation was over. It was the odor of a task left undone. I had hidden the meat so my roommates wouldn't eat it before I got back from a late class--that part of the plan was entirely successful; nobody ate the hamburger; it was a long while before any of us wanted to eat hamburger again.

I checked my wallet for lettuce. I had enough for a small salad. I started the brown beast and drove it to the local mercantile. It was inside that I saw him. He was a big man, a Mack truck in a vest. I walked past without a word. I knew that I was in the right aisle.

He wasn't having it. "What do you need?" he said in a tone that he must have thought sounded helpful.

I wasn't sure that I liked his attitude. Maybe he was implying that I wasn't competent to find the right item. I wondered just who he thought he was, questioning my skills. I thought about politely bending his nose with a hard right cross to cure him from sticking it into my business. A couple things kept me from acting on that thought. First, I wasn't sure I could reach his nose without a stepladder. Second, I knew who he thought he was; he worked there; he had helped me at least one other time. 

"I need a light switch," I said with an air of casual electrical nonchalance. 

"There, on your left," he said, pointing. 

I'm pretty sure he said, "There," and not "they're." Either way, I saw the switches. 

"These are white, and those are off-white," he pointed to another basket. "What color did you need?" Apparently, the entire chromatic panoply of light switches consisted only of white, and off-white. 

Naturally, I had no idea what color I wanted. I didn't care. I knew I needed a 120 volt 15 amp switch. I looked at the picture on my phone that I had taken of the switch. 

"That's off-white," he said, looking at the picture.

I was impressed with the big man's grasp of the color palette, as well as his rapid application of the knowledge to the facts at hand. I had decided on white...ish. "I better get two," I said. I explained that this was not the first time that I had had to do this. Besides, there were two switches in the box. I figured that I might as well replace them both. 

Once again, there were two open checkouts. At one, a woman with 47 plastic storage boxes was fumbling through a purse. At the other, there was a guy I knew. I asked him if this was the quicker line. He said that it wasn't, but this was the only checkout that had the razor blades that he needed. I moved over behind the dame with the storage boxes. I figured those containers were meant either for Christmas decorations...or she had bad luck keeping pets. Probably the former. 

When I left the store, my acquaintance was still waiting in the other line. 

I had the element of surprise on my side for this caper. I cut the power and moved in under cover of darkness...or at least pretty poor natural light. In a matter of seconds I had cracked the combination on the cover; it was flat head, not phillips. Inside, things got a little tricky...I had to switch to the phillips head. I replaced the contents with the new stuff and replaced the cover. No one would even know that the box had been breached. 

When I restarted the juice, those electrons danced to give off a soft white light that would make angels blush. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Smoke and Lights

The little things, like an acknowledgment from a friend, can brighten an entire day. The first day of the year was a beautiful day.



Here's the rest of the day in a jumbled order--like you often get at many fast food places.

"Did you need anything else?" the cashier asked.

"No," I answered.

"Beautiful," she said with a smile as big as sunshine.

"Lots of people call me that," I said.

"I bet they do," she responded with a laugh.

"At [name of another store in town] the cashiers even ask for my phone number."

She looked puzzled. Apparently she found that difficult to believe. I felt slightly wounded. 

I elaborated. "In fact, they refuse to sell me anything if I don't give them my number."

"Oh," she laughed, understanding that that other store has that whole loyalty reward system based on customer telephone numbers.

After that it was pretty much just the total and, "Do you need a bag with that?" to end the conversation.

In fact, I did not need a bag...what with only getting the one item and all.

Backup. When I had found the item that I needed, and went to check out, the two open registers were backed up. Both had folks with baskets full of stuff. One of the registers was at a dead stop; there was either a problem with the register, or someone was checking a price; or perhaps invisible alien brain rays were slowly sucking their life away; I don't know; I'm just speculating. The lady at the register for returns saw my predicament and called me over. I recognized her. She's always trying to make conversation, so I felt safe with the, "Lots of people call me that," rejoinder.

Why was I at the store? I needed a temperature gauge for my smoker. The smoked prime rib I did for Christmas Eve dinner had been so delicious that wife wanted me to smoke something for dinner. I was going to smoke potatoes, and peppers, and steak. I had been doing all the smoking on the best guess principle and checking the temperature of the meat with a thermometer from time to time. I wanted to try something a little more precise. The system is completely manual, with charcoal and wood chips or chunks added whenever I feel a disturbance in the force requires action to bring balance.

I couldn't find a temperature gauge for a smoker. I did find one that goes inside an oven. It was cheap, a temporary measure.




The meal was delicious. The steaks took longer to cook than I had planned,but the low temperature smoke and the final searing really made them tasty--with no small thanks to my ad hoc rub creation. (I didn't actually add any hocks, or hawks, just various seasonings.) The little potatoes, bathed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and a hint of parsley pleased everyone. Daughter said it tasted just like fire--apparently she meant that in a good way, because she kept eating them. I should have made more of the potatoes, but I didn't expect daughter to like them. Wife fabricated a delicious salad that, with the olive oil and vinegar based dressing, created a refreshing palate cleanser between bites of steak and fire-flavored potatoes. I give the meal five stars.

Before the great fumigating of animal parts and edible flora began, I completed the traditional removal of the many little points of Yuletide radiance with their accompanying wire leashes. Although the temperature soon induced me to put on some gloves, I didn't need a hat (though I could have kneaded one to keep my fingers warm). The sun beamed in pale brilliance that lit the day like Capt. Kirk's face in a close-up with an alien babe. Speaking of babes, alien or otherwise, Wife assisted in boxing the lights as I took them down from the house and the trees. 

The lights are now covered by their cardboard bushels, to sing their message of cheer no more for 11 more months, but the refrain of their soft lustrous voices will linger in the heart the whole year through.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Last Jet I Flew...and some thoughts looking toward a new year

Here we are. The new year stretches like an immense scroll of blank paper before us, clean and untouched, disappearing into the ether, awaiting the ink and smudges of our daily struggle. The past year stretches out behind us, bearing the print of our thoughts and actions, stained with spills, strikethroughs, blackouts, tears (and tears), rips, beautiful prose, memories (good and bad), pages upon which we would dwell fondly in our thoughts, and pages we would like to forget. Each day is really such spot upon the great scroll of life; we just give it special significance with the turn of the new year. 

The new year is full of promise; we will be better than we have been; we will improve. January begins pregnant with hope and resolution. Before February, most of the hope and all of the resolution expire, stillborn in the face of winter's grim and frigid reality, and our recognition that we would rather embrace our weaknesses than fearlessly forge them into strengths. 

We imagine this:

We discover that it's really going to be like this:



Like water, we choose the path of least resistance. Having followed that path so many times before, the way is worn and easy, with sides too steep and slick to easily overcome. But this year might just be different. Small goals are still goals. Gradual achievement by small increments builds eventually to lofty attainment. Of course, procrastination can be very satisfying in the short term. You decide.

The conclusion of the travelogue
The last jet I flew in was from San Francisco to Boise. I can't remember much about the flight. I think maybe I had the cranapple juice. We arrived at night, several hours later than the original itinerary had promised. My son picked us up. He drove us to my parents' house where we had left our car. We had a nice visit; we shared some of the high points of the trip before loading up and heading home. 

That drive was the last leg of the trip; it was the most difficult. We had risen before 7:00 a.m in France. That was 11:00 p.m. in Boise (of the day before). We arrived back home after midnight. We were awake for over 25 hours (or I was; I'm pretty sure my wife slept on the plane from France). That's not something that I haven't done before (or more plainly stated: I have stayed awake longer than that before). I don't know if it was the travel or what, but I was completely exhausted. So a good nap during the drive would have done me a world of good...except that I was the one driving. I think I did sleep for a millisecond during the drive; I'm pretty sure I had a dream during that minute foray into the twilight zone of consciousness. I've never understood how people can fall asleep while driving...now I understand.

What a great year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A unifying moment, and an abbreviated movie review

I attended another girls' basketball game--two in fact, the JV and the varsity. Once again, the JV game proved to be the more exciting of the two. The game was in the second quarter when we arrived. The home team trailed 20-9. Things looked grim.

Shortly after sitting down, we realized that most of the folks around us were supporters of the visiting team. I wasn't worried; they were well-behaved. Besides, I'm well-trained in the manly arts of dodging, diving, and running away. But seriously, my whole body is a weapon...and just as effective as the body of the fictional deputy who originally said that. 

The girls on the home team eventually scraped a game plan together; they completely dominated the rest of the game, making up the deficit and winning by about five points. It was quite inspirational for the home crowd.

The most remarkable part of the evening was the prelude to the varsity game. There is a time at these events when the divisions of teams and towns fall away; all of the spectators and participants are unified in a vision that transcends mere athletic competition. It begins before the starting players are introduced. The announcer says a few things; the cheerleaders move to the floor; the band prepares to play. A flag slowly unfurls from a case hidden in the ceiling; the audience rises. As the announcer completes his recitation, the cheerleaders, on command of one of their own, turn in unison away from the audience to face the red, white, and blue of the great banner descended. A moment later, the band bursts forth with the strains of the national anthem. For a few minutes, the audience and players, home and away, are united in reverence and respect for the sacrifices of those who brought forth a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, for the brave whose sacrifices have hallowed the cause; we add our devotion to the proposition, with knowledge of past imperfections, but with a desire to preserve this more perfect union. 






At The Movies
If our family goes to a movie during the year, it will probably be at Christmas time. My daughter has three of the movies currently playing on her wish list. My list has only one movie. If our lists were set in a Venn Diagram, it would look like a pair of spectacles--the circles did not overlap. Naturally, since I was paying, and driving...we saw one from daughter's list. Wife didn't care which we saw.

The first fifteen minutes of the movie provided an excellent illustration of how modern youth have become largely divorced from reality. Three of the four previews of coming attractions played upon that virtual--as opposed to real--reality connection. I could make additional comment upon that, but I know that nobody wants to read that...and I don't want to go to the trouble of writing it. I already write enough stuff that nobody wants to read.

As for the movie itself, Jumanji, you know what you're getting when you walk into the theater. If you've seen the 1995 film, or the 2005 Zathura, you shouldn't be surprised by this 2017 film. The only twist is that the game becomes a video game that pulls the players into it as the game avatars; instead of bringing the jungle to the players, the players are brought to the jungle. So there's not much that's new here. 

You know where this movie is going, and how it's going to get there. Nevertheless, it's an awful lot of fun. The Rock, and Kevin Hart are particularly entertaining. At times, it was laugh-out-loud funny. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with Jack Black's role; he plays the self-absorbed girl in the body of the male avatar. He just wasn't very funny. The predictable jokes about male anatomy didn't do the film any favors; they were the lowest of the lowbrow moments in the film. 

On  a ST:TOS scale, with "The Enterprise Incident," "The Omega Glory," and "Balance of Terror" being at the top of the scale; and "The Alternative Factor," "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," and "Plato's Stepchildren" being at the bottom of the scale, 2017 Jumanji ranks in the middle of the upper half of the scale, just below "A Piece of the Action."

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Combat - Escape to Nowhere - recap and review

Combat!
Season 1 Episode 7: "Escape to Nowhere"


Once upon a time there was a lieutenant. Something very bad happened. We don’t know what the very bad thing was. We only see that he is in a village littered with dead American soldiers. The lieutenant is face down in front of a cart; he has had a very bad day. 

He raises his head and calls for the captain; the lieutenant is our friend Hanley. There is no movement or sound from the body of the captain. Instead, a wolf pack lopes in to town, as wolf packs do. Hanley is very frightened; he puts his head back down; he plays dead (but is he grateful? And will he survive? He seems to have more than just a “Touch of Grey” (but I think that’s just dirt in his hair). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOaXTg3nAuY (one of the few Dead songs that I recognize)).

It doesn’t look like Hanley will get by. The wolves begin looting the bodies. One of the wolves brings Hanley around with a well-placed fang.



Cut to the opening credits



Hanley is our only regular in this episode written by Malvin Wald, and directed by Robert Altman. Our guests include Albert Paulsen playing the part of General Von Strelitz, Joyce Vanderveen as Maria, and Sasha Harden as Colonel Kliest.

We next see Hanley being lightly grilled (with a hint of smoke, cigarette smoke that is) by a big bad wolf. Hanley responds with his name, rank, and serial number. The wolf wants to know whether the road to grandma's house goes through Falaise, or Argentan. (Falaise is 25 to 30 miles south of Caen. Argentan is about 20 miles south of Falaise—based on a quick look at a map. They are still in Normandy).

Hanley’s placement in the shot at the large desk, trapped between the German officer’s hat and a rocket-ship-like decanter of brandy is interesting. Perhaps it is an interesting bit of foreshadowing. (I usually write these as I watch; I watched this one before I started writing, capturing a shot here and there). Anyway, the light barbeque continues until General Von Strelitz enters the room, and wolf jumps to his feet as fast as his little legs will carry him (like he has been stabbed in the behind with a red hot poker). Von Strelitz soon gets called away to the phone.

He doesn’t seem happy about the call. After the call, Von Strelitz, like the woodcutter, takes Hanley away from the wolf.

Our little lost lieutenant finds himself, all Little Red Riding Hoodishly, traveling through a forest. He’s in the general’s car. The general instructs the driver to pull away from the main route. When they stop, Von Strelitz has the driver hand give him a map. The driver seems reluctant to provide the map. We soon learn the reason; the map is extremely dangerous. When the general opens it, a large hole erupts in the map (the Falaise Gap, I believe).

This rift in the wood pulp-based representational continuum proves fatal to the driver. The general, using the time-honored and highly persuasive technique of the Luger behind the ear (Hanley’s ear, not the general’s), convinces Hanley to take the driver’s place. We next see a body roll into water. The view moves to a pair of black boots, and rises to reveal Hanley doing his best Wehrmacht cosplay.

Hanley becomes the general’s new driver. We can bet he won’t be handing the general any maps. Night has fallen (but it took no damage as a result, and will eventually get back up), and Hanley and his handler are approaching a fancy French estate. Hanley reminds the general that if he is caught in the German uniform, he’ll be shot. The general reminds him that he could’ve been shot in his own uniform. Hanley doesn’t have a good response to that.


Von Strelitz introduces Hanley into a glorified officer’s club within the chateau (perhaps it's a club for glorified officers). Maria comes down the stairs singing (in a scene rather similar to the entrance of the character Harmony Rivers in my exciting novel, Justice in Season). She obviously has some kind of relationship with Von Strelitz.

Here we see her failing in an attempt to perform the Vulcan salute as part of her song.

We also get to meet Colonel Kliest (who wins the coveted “Best Hair” award).

Things look dicey for Hanley when Von Strelitz sends him with a note for Maria. As he walks up the stairs, he bumps into a German officer at a table on the landing. Maria, rather than Von Strelitz, rescues him by calming the officer and sitting him back down.

Best Hair, who had been sitting at Von Strelitz’ table is called away to a phone call. When he returns, Von Strelitz and Hanley are gone. We rediscover these two as they drive up to a cemetery and church.

Inside, in a bedroom with a leaky roof, the general reveals that Best Hair is an SS man, and that the driver Von Strelitz killed, was one of his agents. The general plans to use Hanley to escape to the allied lines; Von Strelitz participated in a close-but-no-cigar assassination attempt on Hitler. But he can’t leave Maria behind; they will meet at the train station. The rain begins. The lone candle in the room sputters under the drips from the leaky roof…and Maria is his daughter.

In the morning, they leave, or attempt to. As they leave the building in pouring rain, they’re intercepted by Madame Dubois’ fourth grade class for heavily armed orphans.

The kids are highly disgruntled about the deaths of their parents. Fortunately for Little Red Hanleyhood and General Woodcutter, a clergyman arrives to stop the children. “Stop” is not quite accurate. He reminds the kids of the Ten Commandments, specifically the prohibition against killing. He takes a rifle from one kid and throws it away. Another kid has a crisis of faith, or at least decides that he has a markedly different interpretation on the previously mentioned prescription; he aims and fires as the cleric steps between him and general. Not having had time that morning to prepare any clerical spells against high velocity minerals, cleric responds by assuming a kneeling, bleeding, and praying position.

He soon follows with the “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” a mound of dirt, and dying position. Most of the kids run away. Hanley and Strelitz leave. As they pull away in the general’s car, the camera moves to an elevated position to show a couple of the kids and the dying cleric in the rain through the fork of a blackened tree.

In the sunshine, the two adventurers wash up, and find time to discuss death, the children, and the priest: Everyone does the dying thing; it’s just a question of how. When the general asks if Hanley believes in God, he responds, “The children did.” What a certain child believes will turn out to be important for the general.

Cut to a train station at night. They board the train. Maria finds them. Von Strelitz tells her about his escape plan, and his involvement in the failed assassination attempt. He wants to "Begin Again" elsewhere, bidding her to "Come Sail Away." She doesn’t take it well; she instead goes all "Cold as Ice," treating him like he's just a "Dirty White Boy." At the next stop, where Best Hair and his men are waiting, she leaves the train and tells them where her father is. Hanley clues Von Strelitz into the fact that the sauerkraut is about to hit the fan. When Best Hair and his man get to the cabin in the train, they have gone.

After some stealthy maneuvering among the trains, Hanley eliminates Best Hair’s first man. He takes out another with a nifty reverse defenestration move among the train yard buildings. They make their way back to Best Hair’s car where Hanley punches the express passage ticket to the next world for the guard there. Von Strelitz calls to Maria. He's like "Don't Be Cruel," but she is all, "We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together." As Hanley and the general drive away, Best Hair conjures a series of magic missiles from his Luger toward the car. Von Strelitz, definitely not singing "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," takes a bullet to the torso. 

Hanley eventually stops to bind the general’s wound. General Von Strelitz suddenly changes into the wolf in grandma’s clothing; he wants Hanley to drive him back to the German lines. Von Strelitz again places his Luger to the back of Hanley’s head, reminding him that it is all the better to shoot him with. 


Hanley channels Boston and decides it’s “More Than a Feeling;” he takes the “Don’t Look Back” attitude, refusing the general’s kind request. Von Strelitz squeezes the trigger, but not enough to make the pistol fire. He relents, opting to go with the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” and to lighten up while he still can. Hanley, humming "Free Bird," drives to the allied lines, finally stopping in front of a vehicle loaded with British soldiers.

Both Hanley and Von Strelitz made their escape, although the general’s destination remains in question, that shot from Best Hair having drained his life away during the drive.

There was only a little French in this episode, but I liked it. It seemed a lot like a cold war defection movie trimmed down from two hours to 45 minutes. There was some interesting commentary about war, and what it does to the people who aren’t soldiers. It’s worth trying to imagine the constant stress of Hanley’s position in pretending to be the general’s aide, all while not speaking German.

There were some things about it that remind me a little bit of the “Missing in Action” episode. Both had women who were willing to sacrifice everything for their cause. Crazy eyes’ cause was her new boyfriend; Maria’s cause was her loyalty to the Fuhrer and to the war. Both of them ended up contributing to the deaths of people for whom they had cared.

Once more I found the C’s that seem to be Altman’s favorites: candles, clergy, and churches. He ended with the dead guest in the final shot.