Archive | December, 2013

Happy New Year!

31 Dec
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, from all of us at De Jungle!

Where Credit is Due

28 Dec

Here at De Jungle, we’re an absent-minded lot; though we pay our bills, we often do so on our timetable and not that of our creditors. Our creditors respond to our forgetfulness by tacking late fees onto the balance owed.

credit cards

a two-edged sword …


Today we called our credit card company in an attempt to get one such fee rescinded. It soon became apparent that the creditor was not going to budge. There was the matter of the late fee they’d reversed for us in October and also the one we’d persuaded them to reverse in August. No longer would they tolerate our wicked, wicked ways. “Alright”, we said in a high-handed tone as we prepared to play our trump card. “If you will not reverse this fee, we shall pay our remaining balance, cancel the card, and make no further purchases.” We felt triumphant and self-congratulatory. We’d hit just the right note of haughtiness without being rude. Unfortunately, the young man on the other end called our bluff. Well then, we’d just have to make good on the threat. We made our payment, after which the man turned us over to someone who’d close the account.

The next person did everything she could to make us regret our rash decision. She pointed out that we’d been with them for over a decade. She then offered to reduce our interest rate by 8 points, lowering it from astronomical to the merely usurious. We were tempted but ultimately unmoved. Would we mend our absent-minded ways? Probably not. The representative cancelled the card and bid us a reluctant good-bye.

Now we’d done it. We’d cancelled access of a line of credit and we couldn’t use the card anymore. We felt strangely relieved …

A Self-Scanner Darkly

22 Dec

Here at De Jungle, we like to denounce social evils, and we’ve just decided on the latest evil that we shall engage in quixotic combat:  self-scan check-out machines at grocery stores.  We’ve only seen them in the larger grocery stores, but we’re convinced that they will soon become ubiquitous unless we the people get mad as hell and boycott the darn things.

We’re against them because they’re clearly intended to enable stores to reduce personnel, thus improving their bottom line and creating more unemployment.  One worker is put in charge of monitoring two or more self check-out stations, thus reducing the number of employees required to deal with us marching hordes of consumers.

self-checkout

We’re also against them because we usually use check-out time to ponder the covers of hard-hitting investigative news tabloids such as the National Enquirer,  with headlines like “Peter O’Toole -The Twisted Secret He Took To the Grave!”  If we’re busy scanning our own purchases two and three times ’cause the scanner’s not reading the bar code, we’ll miss out on all that.

The third reason we oppose these stations is that we’re plain lazy – after earning the money to buy the groceries, we’re too tired to scan our own Kosher pickles, bananas, and Tide detergent.

We’ve therefore decided that no matter how long the regular check-out lines are, we will not use the self-scan stations. We’re aware that our action (or non-action) by itself will have very little impact.  Nonetheless, that’s our position and we’re stickin’ to it.  If enough of us hold firm and refuse to use these devices, self-scan check-out stations shall go the way of shag carpets and avocado counter tops and well they should.

Belief and the Lack Thereof

14 Dec

We’ve wondered about a/theism for a while.  As in other things, we’re wusses about the whole God / No God thing.  We can’t imagine being so certain about the non-existence of a supreme being that we’d plant our feet firmly in the atheist camp, but the unquestioning attitude of “I read X and Y in this sacred text, therefore I believe X and Y” gives us pause as well.

We find proselytizing believers a bit off-putting, but we find proselytizing non-believers no less so.  Nat Hentoff is a columnist who is an authority on the First Amendment.  He also happens to be an atheist.  The thing we’ve always found refreshing about Nat Hentoff is that he has never exhibited any tendency to convince anyone to be atheist.  He seems comfortable in his beliefs, and he seems willing to leave it at that.  The late Christopher Hitchens, however,  seemed to go out of his way to promulgate his atheism.  We often agreed with Hitchens (and just as often disagreed with him), but his need to go out of his way to advance the cause of atheism seemed to us rather tedious.

We don’t know about you, but we find both concepts (there is a creator who made the universe / the universe exists but there is no creator) equally unlikely.  As with a lot of our posts, we don’t really know where we’re going with this.  We like to talk about movies a lot, so we’ll close with a metaphysical movie joke (we didn’t write this one, we just heard it.)

When Spielberg dies (he’s very much alive as we write – this is a joke) he is dismayed to learn that he cannot get into Heaven; they don’t allow film directors there.  Peering through at the pearly gates, he sees a slightly rumpled bearded man on a bicycle ride past.

“Wait a minute”, Spielberg protests.  “That’s Stanley Kubrick!  You let him into Heaven, why won’t you let me in?”

“Oh, that’s not Kubrick”, the gatekeeper informs him.  “That’s God.  He only thinks he’s Stanley Kubrick…”

Image

RSC stages Rick the Deuce

10 Dec
Richard II

Richard II – he’s more exciting than you think

We’ve always had a certain apprehension when it comes to seeing Shakespearean plays. Shakespearean language, though poetic, can be hard for us normal folks to figure out. What if we don’t understand what’s going on? What if we don’t like it? What if it’s boring? Such were the fears going through our heads as we went to  see a high-definition video of Richard II staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Keep calm, we told ourselves.  After all, David Tennant, plays the title role.  He was the 10th Doctor, so that had to count for something, right?  Still, it was was one of the Bard’s historical plays, and history is boooooring.  If worse came to worst, we could always discreetly nod off.  As long as we didn’t snore, who’d be the wiser?

What a surprise for us, then.  We always thought that life in medieval England was about as slow as molasses, but in the hands of the Bard, there’s always something hittin’ the fan.   And while we might have missed a few subtleties here and there, we had no trouble understanding what was going on, which was a big relief to us plebeians.  We need more screenplays like this one. The play is set in 1399, when the idea that a king’s power was bestowed by God was prevalent and this concept informs the action of the play.

The acting is of course, top notch.  Tennant plays Richard as an effete, opportunistic, dotty character who nevertheless captures our sympathies in the second act.  He’s not the only one shines – Jane Lapotaire as the Duchess of Gloucester kicks acting booty, as do Michael Pennington as John of Gaunt, and Nigel Lindsay as Henry Bolingbroke (we could go on – there’s not a bad performance in the whole production.)

As to the staging, the lighting, and the look of the thing, let’s just say that if you see it, you’re gonna love it.

So, if this production comes to your town,  go see it and don’t be as freaked out as we were before we saw it.

Fun Facts about Federico Fellini

4 Dec

Apropos of nothing in particular, we’d like to ruminate on Fellini for a bit. After all, the late maestro’s name is almost synonymous with film making. One quirky thing about Fellini’s films is that the lip movements of his actors often didn’t match the dialogue they were speaking. We always thought that perhaps Fellini had difficulty obtaining quality recording devices, but it turns out that he could have had perfectly synchronized sounds and images if he had wanted. Before shooting a scene, Fellini often had not finalized what the dialogue would be, so he instructed the actors to recite numbers, and he would have them record the dialogue used in the final film later. So something like:

Woman: 23 47 35 8.
Man: 91 62 4 67.

could become:

Woman: You were out late last night.
Man: What do you mean? I was home early.

To Fellini, synchronized lip movements were not what made a film a film.

Another fine fact about Fellini actually involves his wife, Giulietta Masina, who played Gelsomina in the 1954 classic, “La Strada.” After the film was released, the Disney people approached Fellini because they wanted to create a character based on Gelsomina. Apparently, nothing ever came of it…

Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina

Giuletta Masina