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Jim's Jottings - January 12, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy New year, everyone!

Movies: Several of us OLLI folk found ourselves at the AMC Cinema on Tuesday to see Darkest Hour. It’s a really fine film, featuring the Golden Globe acting performance of Gary Oldman as Churchill. The film is quite dark and might have been in black and white…but, it will still be in town next week, so we highly recommend it. Also, Coco,(the Golden Globe winner for best animated feature),using the Mexican Day of the Dead style as its inspiration. And, today, The Post will be showing at both cinemas…highly anticipated and with rave reviews. Finally, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri the Golden Globe Best Drama film, opens at AMC today.

Opera News: Just a reminder that the documentary about the building of the new Met, The Opera House, will be shown at the Regal Hollywood cinema on January 13 and 17 at 12:55 PM, and at 6:30 on January 17. Later in the month, the new production of Tosca will be presented in live simulcast on January 27 at 12:55 PM. There is no Wednesday encore this year [curse them!].

Lastly, if you enjoy the old films being presented each month by Turner Classic Movies, Jan 14 and 16 will feature “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt.

Film Forum/Special Events: Our first Special Event will take place next Friday, January 19 starting at 10 AM in Classroom B. Lawrence of Arabia is my personal favorite film of all time, as it was for Steven Spielberg who says seeing it as a kid made him decide to make movies! We’re looking at it to help understand how the Middle East became such a muddle. The new ten-foot screen is here and will be installed in time. Many thanks to those of you who donated for the screen. You were so generous that we’ll be able to upgrade the sound system as well.

Here's the flyer for Lawrence


Film Forum Special Winter Event
Friday, January 19, 2018

How did the Middle East get this way? Who were the major players that won World War I, then re-drew the maps of the old Ottoman Empire with little regard for religions, tribal loyalties or the vast reserves of oil waiting under all that sand?

  • Homework: read A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin and/or Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson.
  • Schedule: 10-noon: watch part one of the film; noon to 1: catered lunch ($5.00); 1-4 watch part two of the film; 4-5: panel and general discussion.
  • We’ll be revealing our new ten-foot screen for the first time.
  • Join Jim Held and guests for an illuminating day of discovery and enjoyment of one of the greatest films ever made…and still banned in Saudi Arabia!

A Peace to End All Peace

The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts―including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq's competing sects―are rooted in the region's political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed by the Allies after the First World War.

In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he delivers in this sweeping and magisterial book the definitive account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day.

A new afterword from Fromkin, written for this edition of the book, includes his invaluable, updated assessment of this region of the world today, and on what this history has to teach us. [Amazon.com]

The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War I was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, "a sideshow to a sideshow." As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by four men far removed from the corridors of power. Curt Pruefer was an effete academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment jihad against British rule. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Palestine. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order gain valuable oil concessions. At the center of it all was Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist digging ruins in Syria; by 1919 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army, as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.

Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present. [Barnes & Noble.com]

OK, that takes care of the “need to know” material. Now to some fun…

Brief Story #2: One of my humans sat heavily in his man-chair and raised the foot-rest. After a time, I made my way to the space he offered between his legs, a warm place, I’ll admit, but needing to be shaped to suit my requirement to be touching as much of him as possible, for in no other way could I gather information emanating from his energy field, to be transmitted to the mother ship. Soon, my sister sauntered over to join me, sensing that there was more to be had from this all-too-naïve and weak hu-man. She insinuated herself against my belly and covered hu-man’s right leg, then made sure to place her head atop mine for clearer reception by the mother ship. The energy began to flow instantly, helped along by the hand of the hu-man that scratched our ears and bellies…the energy flow was almost too much to bear…so much information! The hu-mans seemed to love having us around, giving us free reign in their home place and allowing all of our scientific instruments, designed to be in the shapes of balls, bottle caps, crumpled paper and the like, to spy on them continuously. Little did they know that the seemingly harmless house cats they so-readily cuddled with, were a very advanced race of space aliens plotting a take-over of the entire planet…as soon as we could learn how to get rid of the pesky, stinky dogs. Meanwhile, could you please stroke me right…there! Thanks!

I think that gives you enough to chew on for this edition. Enjoy this balmy weather…until Sunday.

Just Jim