Time: movie documentary review

60 years

Time amazon-documentaryTime is a black and white documentary film put together by the New York Times’ Op Doc folks, which I saw on Amazon Prime. It starts out as a series of snippets of home videos by Fox Rich, about her and her husband Rob, pursuing their American dream to start a clothing store.

Then things went south, financially. We discover Rob and a cousin decide to rob a bank, with Fox as the getaway driver. They are caught and both are given jail time. Fox, who was pregnant with twin boys, received a few years. But Rob got 60 years, without a chance of parole.

So the bulk of the film is about Fox trying to make sure her six sons remember their father while working unceasingly over two decades to get her husband out of prison. As the tag suggests, “this bears witness to the power of one woman to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds with the aid of her faith and family.”

Time was one of fifteen films that were considered in the “Documentary Feature category for the 93rd Academy Awards. Two hundred thirty-eight films were eligible in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.”

I’ll admit that it took me a while to see where the film was going. Once I picked up on the narrative direction, I found it fascinating and inspiring.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it received 98% positive reviews from the critics. But only 46% of the general audience felt the same. And I understand why, I believe.

This is NOT a story about persons falsely accused. These people clearly did the crime. Ought not they do the time? Perhaps. But 60 years?

Why is life so complicated?

Here’s a paragraph from an IMDB review from ferguson 6, 7 out of 10 stars. “There are some mixed messages delivered here, which is understandable given how complicated life can get. Perhaps the most vivid message is the impact incarceration has on a family.

“Fox is an extraordinary woman devoted to raising her sons as strong and smart young men. But she also decries that her boys have never had a father and don’t even know the role one plays. While Fox displays the ultimate in polite phone decorum despite her frustrations with an uncaring, inefficient system, we do see her sincerity as she stands in front of her church congregation asking for forgiveness of her poor choices.”

If you watch Time, please be patient. It probably won’t grab you at the outset. It’s only over the course of the film that you get to see the effect that  lengthy incarceration has on a family.

Why we’ve counted years – a Big Deal

a new system for reckoning the passage of time

years.timeline“What year is it? It’s 2019, obviously. An easy question. Last year was 2018. Next year will be 2020. We are confident that a century ago it was 1919, and in 1,000 years it will be 3019, if there is anyone left to name it.”

Those are the opening sentences in the article A revolution in time by Paul J Kosmin. The subtitle: “Once local and irregular, time-keeping became universal and linear in 311 BCE. History would never be the same again.”

D’oh. There are so many concepts we take for granted – the number zero, e.g. – that we take assume that they’ve somehow ALWAYS existed. But “from earliest recorded history right up to the years after Alexander the Great’s conquests in the late 4th century BCE, historical time – the public and annual marking of the passage of years – could be measured only in three ways: by unique events, by annual offices, or by royal lifecycles.”

What about the Hebrew calendar, for which it is currently 5779? “One of Alexander’s Macedonian generals… introduced a new system for reckoning the passage of time. It is known, after him, as the Seleucid Era. This was the world’s first continuous and irreversible tally of counted years. It is the unheralded ancestor of every subsequent era system, including the Christian Anno Domini system, our own Common Era, the Jewish Era of Creation, the Islamic Hijrah, the French Revolutionary Era, and so on.”

Moreover, “these Seleucid Era year numbers were marked onto an unprecedented range of public, private and mobile platforms. Era dates were affixed to market weights, jar handles, coinage, building constructions, temple offerings, seal rings, royal letters, civic decrees, tombstones, tax receipts, priest lists, boundary markers, astronomical reports, personal horoscopes, marriage contracts – and much, much more. In our own world, filled with ubiquitous date marks, it is easy to underestimate the sheer novelty, and so historical significance, of this mass year-marking. But, in the ancient world, this was without precedent or parallel.”

Why is this such a big deal? Chronology and dating “are the stuff that history is made on, for dates do two things: they allow things to happen only once, and they insist on the ordering and interrelation of all happenings. Every event must be chained to its place in time before it becomes an available object of historical articulation. And the modes by which we date the world, by which we apprehend historical duration and the passage of time, frame how we experience our present, conceive a future, remember the past, reconcile with impermanence, and make sense of a world far wider, older and more enduring than any of us.”

For ABC Wednesday

Not squeezing more in

I was having some sort of claustrophobic panic attack.

On a Saturday morning, we were scheduled to go to the Wizard’s Wardrobe to do a little cleanup, then onto New Paltz to see one of my oldest friends.

My wife, announced that she was going to go to the store to pick up a few things. My heart sank, just a little bit. This would take her longer that she thought – it almost always does. This would make us late for appointment #1, which would make us tardy to appointment #2.

Then, abruptly, she decided to stay home and relax for a few moments before we had to go. I was pleased but shocked. And I had nothing to do with this. She was downstairs, and I was upstairs, and I had only responded to her initial decision with a neutral-sounding “O.K.”

Another story: I was relating something at work about someone who used to be there – for reasons of privacy, I won’t say who – but the problems we were seeing she related to problems she was seeing in her workplace. And it gave me a whole new perspective.

Another story: sometimes her husband is crazy, and she more or less accepts that. We were at the MacHaydn Theatre about 40 miles away. She was going to wait for a lot of the other cars to get out of the parking lot before she tried, even though she had had opportunities.

Well, I was having some sort of claustrophobic panic attack, and she accommodated my irrational need to get out of that parking space. She puts up with a lot.

The blurry picture, BTW, was taken by me on my tablet on May 15, our anniversary. Yes, I suck at this; tell me something I DON’T know. But most of the pictures of her in this blog were taken years ago, some before we even met.

Happy birthday, honey. I love you.

October #1 rambling: recovery mode

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will commission 36 playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.

wrong reenactment
Still on the mend, wearing this band around my waist, until at least November 9. I will write about this eventually.

I’ve managed to watch more baseball in the past week and a half than I saw the entire regular season. Great to see former Met Rusty Staub after his heart attack. Rooting for the Mets, or if they get eliminated, the Cubs. Just realized that the World Series Game 5 would be November. If it’s the Dodgers in the Series, I’m rooting for the American League team.

ALSO, my office is moving this week. Note to self: do NOT pick up anything over 20 pounds.

Understanding Mass Incarceration and Bringing It Down: An Interview With James Kilgore.

John Oliver: rips GOP candidates for blaming gun violence on mental illness in absence of a plan, and Migrants and Refugees.

Color film was made for white people.

The War on Science, even in Canada.

Seth Meyers explains that ridiculous Congressional hearing over Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood’s “Government Funding”: The Same Kind Your Doctor Receives.

What the Speakership Battle is About.

Pope Francis met with an openly gay couple — and unlike Kim Davis, who ambushed him, he did so intentionally, and Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?

If we gotta honor a Christopher…

“Sick of hearing about the damn emails.”

Analysis Ranks Presidential Candidates By Their Supporters’ Grammar.

It costs you $43 every time you wait for the doctor.

What Happens When There’s No Internet. Presented By BuzzFeed & Hyundai – is it real?

Sweden is shifting to a 6-hour work day.

Shakespeare in Modern English? “The Oregon Shakespeare Festival… recently announced that over the next three years, it will commission 36 playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.”

Chaz Ebert reviews the play BlackWhite Love, about Roger and Chaz Ebert.

How to Make a Sandwich. It only took 6 months and cost $1500.

K-Chuck Radio’s Sunshine Pop includes rare music from Mary Hopkin and Victor Garber.

New 2015 remix and video of Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s 1983 international smash hit single ‘Say Say Say’.

Van Morrison and the Thirty-One Songs about Nothing But a Bad Contract.

Mark Evanier continues to list the twenty top voice actors in American animated cartoons between 1928 and 1968, including Hans Conried (Snidely Whiplash), Don Messick (Scooby-Doo) Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone), Jack Mercer (Popeye), and Gary Owens (Space Ghost, Roger Ramjet).

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

It’s so very nice that Eddie the Renaissance Geek wished me well after my surgery, given the fact that he’s had much more serious health issues of his own.

Albany High hosts tours in advance of vote on improvements.

What’s the last comic book or graphic novel you picked up at a comic book store? Also, The Big Event effect.

SamuraiFrog: Ant-Man and the Book Light Lady.

Donna’s quote resonated.

GOOGLE ALERT (not me)

New national role for Biscovey head teacher. “Roger Green is one of 70 heads across the country…”

Time passages

I’ve read old journals/diaries of mine from the 1970s and 1980s, and much of it is cringeworthy.

from the Oddity Mall
from the Oddity Mall

I read this book last year, Thinking in Numbers, by Daniel Tammet, and discovered that I had something in common with American philosopher William James, who noted that “the same space of time seems shorter as we grow older.” He cites a mathematical explanation by contemporary French mathematician Paul Janet, who noted:

our experience of time is proportional to our age. For a ten-year-old child, one year represents one-tenth of his existence, whereas for a man of fifty, the same year equates only to one-fiftieth (2 percent). The older man’s year will thus seem to elapse five times faster than the child’s…

I came to that same conclusion at least thirty years ago; it’s all math.

Someone on Facebook noted that the TV series The Twilight Zone – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Where Is Everybody?” was presented 55 years ago this month, October 2, 1959. Another commented, “I can hardly believe it.” This response seemed strange. Things that happened 50 years ago (Beatles, ML King, Vietnam) feel like a long time ago to me.

Whereas, when the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the TV show Friends made Jaquandor feel old, that seems more understandable to me. (Not that he’s old, but that he feels so.) Because looking back 20 years doesn’t feel like twenty years when you’re over 40; it’s all math.

Friends isn’t that chronological linchpin for me, as I watched it only about half the time. But the band Nirvana is; the band, with Dave Grohl as its final drummer, just before stardom, got together 24 years ago. Now THAT makes ME feel old.

Looking back can be kind of uncomfortably yucky. Ken Levine listened to tapes of radio programs he DJed in the 1970s and cringes a bit. The Coverville is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, but host Brian Ibbott said on that program, “Don’t listen to the first year,” when he was figuring out the format. I know that feeling.

For some obscure reason, I’ve read old journals/diaries of mine from the 1970s and 1980s, and much of it is cringeworthy. The only reasons I keep them are these: 1) I could use some of it to cull out family and FantaCo history; 2) all the terrible stuff I could throw together as a roman a clef.