February Pieces Of My Mind #3

From the slow end sequence in The Parallax View where the pacing is all wrong

  • I just learned about “tipsy tubing”, a youth activity where you float slowly down a tropical river on a large communal swim ring while getting shitfaced on Mekhong rum (no, it has no similarities to whiskey).
  • At the end of the Viking Period, there were in all likelihood a lot of shipwrecks at a depth of less than five meters in Lake Mälaren and along adjacent stretches of the Swedish coast. They were all lifted out of the water by isostatic rebound, chewed up by the waves and ice along the shoreline when at surface level, and finally their last timbers rotted away when they came up into the air.
  • I wonder when the Roma quit practising a recognisable Hinduism.
  • “Groovy Kind Of Love” has extremely inane lyrics and rhymes.
  • A bird is singing the snowmelt song here!
  • Reading an excellent 1830s travel book by the energetic Victorian polyglot George Borrow, who married late, had no children and is strangely preoccupied with describing good-looking men that he meets. Another striking set of Borrow’s attitudes is that he admires Roma, respects Muslims and despises Jews.
  • Is the Škoda Enyaq named for Enya, Q and ENIAC?
  • The ageing body: at 50 I still have my six-pack, but I’m developing faint wrinkles between the beer cans.
  • Movie: Sunset Boulevard (1950). Middle-aged former silent film starlet Gloria Swanson expertly plays insane middle-aged former silent film starlet Norma Desmond. Erich von Stroheim plays her valet. Buster Keaton has a cameo. Grade: good!
  • Funny thing about the male gaze in Sunset Boulevard. It seems to me that we’re supposed to find 50-y-o Gloria Swanson’s character hopelessly unattractive, and instead have the hots for 21-y-o Nancy Olson. She is presented as the proper and natural mate for 31-y-o William Holden, who looks like 40. Now, as a healthy 50-y-o man in 2023 with a healthy wife my own age, I feel that entertaining Olson would strictly be a job for my son. The reason that I’d rather not get too friendly with Swanson’s character is that she’s nuts, certainly not that there’s anything wrong with her looks!
  • Movie: The Parallax View (1974). Journalist uncovers the trail of an enormous murderous conspiracy that kills US senators and witnesses to the murders plus truckloads of unrelated bystanders. Would have been interesting to know even vaguely why. Grade: OK.
  • There’s a chimp playing the 1972 video game Pong in The Parallax View.
  • Sigh. There’s a new paper about “A non-normative Roman imperial cremation”, and I’m like yay, have they identified the grave of a member of the Imperial family!? But it turns out it’s just some anonymous everyday townsperson who died during the imperial period.
  • My great grandfather’s parents had some unusual ideas about names. He was named Sven Isidor. His brother was named Otto Villehad.
  • Saw reporting on a sexological study aiming to identify the sex position that was most likely to give the woman an orgasm. It had a really odd basic design, because what they studied was penetration without any use of hands, the woman’s own or the man’s. I’m trying to find a simile. This is like a football tournament where all the players have one leg tied up behind their asses. Sure, one team or another will win the tournament. But what does this really tell you about football?

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

11 thoughts on “February Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. > Roman imperial cremation
    In German we have the useful adjective “kaiserzeitlich” (of the imperial period), which is different from “kaiserlich” (relating to the emperor). And of course, during our own imperial period, the paper would likely have been in German anyway 🙂 Sic transit gloria mundi.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kaiserzeit / -lich are some of the first German words a Swedish archaeology student learns as she begins to look into the Iron Age of Scandinavia.


  2. “I feel that entertaining Olson would strictly be a job for my son”

    Who remembers The Graduate? My guess is that while all generations find it funny, they laugh at different times.

    German film titles for non-German films are notoriously bad. (An insult on top of the injury of dubbing them, which most are, though connoisseuers can seek out original versions with or without subtitles.) However, The Graduate is known at Die Reifeprüfung which is not a literal translation, but close enough, and contains a pun relative to the contents of the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always found that one particularly strange, given that Dustin Hoffman’s character plays a college graduate (not a kid fresh out of secondary school), and the man himself was over 30 at the time.
      But yeah, “final examination”/”test of maturity” makes a good pun in view of the extramarital activities with the very mature Mrs. Robinson.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the MAD magazine parody, when Dustin Hoffman crashes the church wedding he is scolded for using a cross as a club. He replies “be grateful I am not using it in the original way”.


  4. An archaeologist of Iron Age India told me that he believed that quarrels between Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains were quarrels within the literarti and aristocracy (plus people who were attached to the temples and monasteries and schools which rich people sponsored). He doubts that the average farmer, charcoal-burner, or camp follower had religious practices which fit any scholar’s theories until quite recently.


      1. The talk was 10 or 15 years ago but IIRC images of gods from ordinary people’s sites in Iron Age India are hard to definitively assign to any one of the religions practiced by kings and theorized by literate elites. These days I think of parallels from Bronze Age Egypt (where ordinary people pay a lot of attention to beings like Bes who can solve their ordinary people’s problems and don’t say much about the gods such as Amun who get gifts from Pharaoh) and from post-Roman pagan Britain where most of the archaeological evidence for ritual and sacrifice is from elite sites.


  5. You missed a major point of Sunset Boulevard. Norma Desmond was not a starlet. She was a star, as was Gloria Swanson. There is a very big difference. Norma Desmond had been a star. Her name on the marquee could sell movie tickets. She may no longer have been making movies, but she still thought of herself as a star. Her self delusion proved to be far from harmless.

    As for the ages of the actors. It’s annoying. There’s a twenty year gap between the ages of actors and actresses. If you consider it a convention, you do the adjustment, just as people watching plays in Shakespeare’s day would accept young men acting as women or we’ll accept twenty somethings playing high school students in a sitcom.

    Liked by 1 person

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