All Quiet On The Western Front (2022)

World War I

All Quiet On The Western Front.2022The current iteration of the film All Quiet On The Western Front is the third World War I film I’ve seen in the last four years. I watched 1917 in January 2020, and the documentary footage of They Shall Not Grow Old a year earlier.

There’s a bit of surface similarity between Grow Old and All Quiet. In each case, the potential recruits, from Britain and Germany, respectively, are led to believe that going off to war will be an adventure. They’re so cheerful marching off to battle. But they soon discover they’re mired in a slog of trench warfare.

All Quiet is a remake of the 1930 film of the same name, which I have never seen. The original won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, Lewis Milestone, and was nominated in two other categories.  The new film is up for nine Oscars, including Best Picture.

The characters even share the same names. Felix Kammerer plays Paul, the Lew Ayres role. Albrecht Schuch is Kat, played initially by Louis Wolheim. I did not know there was also a 1979 TV movie with Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine.

At some level, the charge by the soldiers, which happens thrice, looks almost exactly the same in the new film. Perhaps it’s to show what is explained in the epilogue, that tens of thousands of soldiers were killed to gain or lose only a few hundred meters of territory. This caused me slight confusion for a time.


Even in the “quiet” moments, one sees the horrors. The uniforms are stripped from the dead soldiers and shipped to a factory where women sew up the holes created by bullets and bayonets. Often, the names of the previous wearer have not been removed until after the recruit notices the old nametag.

Still, nothing showed the utter pointless insanity of war more than a segment near the end.

The new All Quiet On The Western Front is an excellent movie worthy of its BAFTA win. But it inevitably has lots of wartime violence, some of it up close. Occasionally, the participants consider their actions’ emotional and moral consequences. Then there’s the next skirmish, and a soldier has no time to think.

The eyes. The image that will linger in my mind is often the blue eyes of the living and the dead on faces caked with mud.

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(The takeaway here is that one should not be so quick to pigeonhole people who could turn out to be your political allies on some issues.
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I’m not unhappy about it. It’s just that I hope we can show such concern for each other when there’s no crisis. I know this is an unrealistic ideal.
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Movie review: Devotion (2022)

high flyers

Devotion 2022The newish film Devotion, which my wife and I saw at the Spectrum 8 Theatre in Albany in early December, is based on a true story that was the subject of a bestselling book.

Elite US Navy fighter pilots were being trained in the early 1950s. One was a black man, Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors), training close enough in Rhode Island to occasionally visit his wife Daisy (Christina Jackson) and their cute daughter. Things during training seemed surprisingly uncomplicated. But Brown feels inner turmoil, understandable when one is The First/The Only.

One of the other pilots is starting to forge a friendship with Brown, Lieutenant Tom Hudner (Glenn Powell). The plot gets more interesting when some men are on shore leave in France. Much of it involved a Famous Movie Star and other US military folks who are less comfortable with a black wingman.

Ultimately, the airmen are deployed to the Korean conflict. The airmen, especially Brown, are very good at what they do. Ultimately, stuff happens, and if you’ve read the book or most reviews, you have an idea what.

Most reviews are correct, with 81% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic wrote, “It’s committed to the hallmarks of the genre, for better and for worse.” This is spot on.

It’s a good film, and I’m glad I saw it. It’s not extraordinary except for the very detailed use of the aircraft, some of which were borrowed from aeronautic museums. The look and the flying felt real.

Too much Devotion

Incidentally, I disliked the generic title devotion, which had been used as the titles of films in 1931, 1945, 1995, 2005, and 2013. The book title was  Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos. Maybe Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice would have been less boring.

The 2022 Devotion was not a theatrical blockbuster, with less than $20 million in ticket sales, which is unfortunate.

Thinner or fatter?


thinner or fatter
from the Cambridge dictionary

One of those EOY questions:
Thinner or fatter?

Thinner. But you really need the bigger picture. In the first two months of 2022, I lost five pounds. I’ve lost five pounds a dozen times or more. I gained it back by mid-April and lost it again.

By mid-July, I was five pounds HEAVIER than I had been at the beginning of the year. So I decided to try Noom. (Here’s the old FTC notation: I haven’t been paid to plug Noom.)

Anyway, I was back to the year’s beginning weight by the end of July. Five pounds more off at the end of August. A quick five pounds in early September; was that COVID related?

Then I stayed there in September and half of October before losing five pounds in two weeks. It’s been prolonged, but the point is that I haven’t regained the weight. So I’m 25 pounds less than at the beginning of the year and 30 pounds less than on July 16.

The great thing, and I mean this sincerely, is that almost no one noticed. Only one person other than my wife ever mentioned it, and they notice almost everything. When you are considered obese, you can achieve stealth weight loss without anyone paying attention.

The shirt’s baggy instead of tight, but it’s the same shirt. I did need to buy a new belt, though, because – TMI – my pants started slipping down. I’d keep my left hand holding them up, which quickly got old.

The system

Let me tell you what I like about Noom. It categories foods into Green (eat all you want), Yellow (have somewhat less of those), and orange (a limit to those). But it doesn’t say, “You can’t have that.” The problem with previous diets has been the feeling of deprivation. I can NEVER have ice cream? Or pizza? What’s the point of life?!

The app tells me calorie counts and categories. It contains many brand-name items, including Panera sandwiches and Trader Joe’s entrees. Trader Joe’s BBQ Chicken Teriyaki is green and delicious, while the non-BBQ version, which I’ve not had, is yellow.

Noom has daily readings tied to psychology. It’s not just food issues but broader topics such as when one feels fear. The website indicates, “What sets us apart is that we’re a highly structured program that provides the insight, education, and skill development to help you understand the ‘why’ behind your stress, so you know how to manage it now – and always.”

What I try to do at least five days a week is eat a heavily Green breakfast and/or lunch. Breakfast is often oatmeal, banana, blueberries, maybe strawberries, 1% milk (yellow), and brown sugar (orange, but I don’t care). Sometimes, lunch is fresh spinach, a five-ounce can of tuna, and light mayo (orange, but whatever.) I can eat out or go to events without thinking they’re all traps to scuttle my goal.

And my goal is another five pounds. Then another five pounds. I’ve long found saying I’m going to get to X weight is not productive for me.

My A1C is down too, and I wasn’t even trying that hard.

The random 2022 post

Carnegie Hall

ice tireThis is the random 2022 post. I think I stole the idea from near twin Gordon. Some folks, such as Kelly, will highlight particular posts. “If you have a blog or other online writing forum, share some of your favorite work from this year.” That sounds like an intriguing idea, but too much work when I can just punt

January 21: What ordinal number is your favorite band’s best album? “Conversely, there isn’t a major Motown artist whose first few albums I would peg as their best, except one.” This was lots of fun. Thanks, Greg.  

February 27: Documentary review: Ascension. “Perhaps more unsettling than the lynchings of over 4,000 African Americans by white mobs were the public, festive occasions these murders became.” I watched the Chinese documentary, then Paramount Plus rolled me to Lynching Postcards, a chilling documentary short.  

March 23:  The follow-up post: ice, COVID, more. “I’ve been trying to access the records of the court case involving my grandmother, Agatha Walker (later Green), and my biological grandfather Raymond Cone from October 1926.” The next sentences: “Alas, I got word that they can’t find the records. They may have been misfiled or destroyed.” Sigh, big time.  The photo above is from this post. 

April 28: Not running for office. “At some level, when I was much younger, I suppose I thought I would someday consider running for public office.” Nope.

May 17:  1972: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” “The link has a number of resources.” This was about my “criminal” past and “Ban The Box.”

June 7: – a “quality hyperlink product”. “Lydia Davis was one of the FFAPL Literary Legends in 2021.” A rabbit hole I fell into. 

The second half

July 26: The Lydster at Carnegie Hall. “We took a taxi to the venue and got there by 7:30.” This was probably the most fun I had with my daughter this year. 

August 6: 1972 #1 hits: Watergate break-in. “American Pie, Parts I and II – Don McLean, four weeks at #1.” A Saturday music post.

September 15: September rambling: perfect Yiddish word. “In Memorium Video from this year’s Emmys and going about a decade back.” A linkage post.

October 25: Plan B, when you’re tired. “We have since canceled three hotel reservations.” About the fact that nothing was going according to plan because of COVID, my wife’s leg infection, et al.  

November 18: Me in the autumn of 1979. “In many ways, I remember 1972 better than 1979.” Things in my 1979 diary are totally foreign to me.  Weird.

December 2: From politics to library science. “He blinded me with science!” My life choices.  

Not incidentally, I was weirded out about the passing of Armen Boyajian on December 5. He’s a guy I’ve known since high school who’d been commenting on my blog recently. I answered the question specifically for him, which he may not have seen.  

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