three cannisters of dirt
Friday, October 27 2006
Gretchen looked around the house and declared that it was a mess and that she hated living in a messy house. This was the opening shot of today's cleaning jihad, a thorough affair that reached from the carpet of her basement library all the way up to the top floor bedroom. It never reached as far as my laboratory, a perpetual outpost of chaos no matter how low household entropy goes.
We found ourselves dumping out the vacuum cleaner dirt cannister three times and it's more than 2 quarts in size. The first time it was rich in drywall dust from the summer garage drywalling project. By the third dumping the dust consisted almost entirely of cat hair.
Gretchen has been a professor at various local college programs since late summer. She doesn't particularly enjoy teaching remedial English students at the community college, but she is always talking about how delighted she is by her students at a maximum security prison near Ellenville, whom she teaches as part of the Bard Prison Initiative. The students in the Bard program are an especially bright group, since they represent the tiniest fraction of the general inmate population. Compared to the sloth, lack of curiosity, and weak reasoning skills of her community college students, the prisoners come across as representatives of an entirely different species of mammal.
Some of Gretchen's prisoner students have been telling her that she should see the movie Hard Candy, insinuating that she reminded them of the female protagonist. Today Hard Candy arrived in its little red Netflix envelope. Gretchen made an elaborate dinner featuring a vegan noodle bake, which we ate while watching the film.
It was a low budget production, with the vast bulk of it featuring only two actors. Most of what happens takes place in dialog filmed mostly in one location, an interior space full of saturated colors that seemed to be intensified by filtering techniques. The camera work was occasionally jarring, as though we'd taken ecstasy. Strangely, there was virtually no mood music on the soundtrack, and this made our reaction to its disturbing content seem all the more authentic.
When the movie was over, I felt as if I'd been beaten with a hammer (and my balls haven't felt the same since). Usually it takes a lot to disturb me, unless, of course, one cuts the crap and goes straight for the balls. Unusually for a movie, neither of its two main actors were the slightest bit sympathetic. Though he was eventually shown to be evil, I kept hoping the male protagonist would manage to escape and the righteous sadist who'd come to punish him would suffer a terrible fate. I don't care how terrible someone is, it's hard not to root for him when he's totally helpless. Unless, perhaps, his name is Dick Cheney.
As to the question of why Gretchen reminds her prisoner students of Hard Candy's protagonist, that was never clear. I think, though, it has something to do with her no-nonsense take-charge attitude and her fearlessness when dealing with what society has decided are its villains.
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