Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Stranger

 "Mother died today. Or was it yesterday. I don't remember." These words start The Stranger by Albert Camus. So I recollect. As it turns out, the internet tells me I'm essentially right. It was most likely was the Penguin translation of the 1980s that I'm recalling. 

I have thought about these words for many a decade whence I first read them. And on June 3rd of this year, if I had posted this then, they would have been accurate to me. 

This whole little tale, those few sentences you have just read, is an odd compilation of the impression that literature left on the mind of a young man, the passage of time from that impression to the moment described therein, and a retrospective telescope back through time from that moment to that long ago initial impression. 

Or in my case, Mother died today. Or was it yesterday. I don't remember.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Holocaust Commemoration, 2024

Earlier in May, the city of Cambridge held its annual Holocaust Commemoration hosted by Brian Corr and the Cambridge Peace Commission.

This year was a particularly harrowing one given the explosive mix of the world's events: the war in Gaza and the rise of right-wing authoritarianism and fascism in this country and around the globe. Brian made it clear that this ceremony was to remember events of 1930s and '40s Europe and was not an opportunity to editorialize on our current topics du jour, no matter how pressing or upsetting they may be. The speaker was the 100-year-old Esther Adler, who grew up in Breslau but fled the Nazis in 1938 to Palestine. Her amazing story and her redolent humor filled the room. It's not often that you hear a gathering of Jewish people laugh at the mention of Kristallnacht, but that is what happened. It's also worth noting that this is an interfaith event, with rabbis, pastors and imams all present. 

I was asked to introduce the poem Bashert which is read aloud every year. Here are the brief comments I made before we began. It is a truncated version of my comments from the 2019 event, which I also posted in this blog.


As part of tonight's commemoration, we read Bashert. "Bashert" is written by Irene Klepfisz and it means something like "destiny" in Yiddish.

Klepfisz tells us the fate of many people, propelled by random chance or simply a desire to survive.

These were people she presumably knew, and they come alive for us because we know them too, in our memories, in our lives and in ourselves.

We say about the Holocaust that we should "Never Forget." Tonight, we remember many things:

  • We remember all communities that have faced or face repression or persecution or genocide, wherever and whoever they may be.
  • We remember our own commitment to confronting intolerance and our recommitment to one common humanity.
  • And we remember our admiration for the human spirit ... its profound ability to resist and be resilient ... but also its deep ability for caring and kindness.

This is a responsive reading ...

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

My movie list

I am a fan of film noir, and have been for a long time. Perhaps it's the atmospherics or the long shadows - or maybe the tough guys and dames on the streets of some long beleaguered city. Whatever the reason, I've been knocking away at a strong number of them over the past few years, and so I tallied a list.

As for directors, there's lots of Henry Hathaway and Alfred Hitchcock with some Carol Reed, Jules Dassin and Fritz Lang thrown in for good measure.

On the actors side, James Mason has become a fan favorite, followed closely by Ray Milland and Robert Donat. 

And of course let's not forget the best Holmes-Watson pairing of them all, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. 

Anyway, it's all just fun stuff from long ago.

TitleYearActor(s)Director
13 rue Madeleine1947James CagneyHenry Hathaway
49th Parallel1941Leslie Howard
5 Fingers1952James Mason
Adventures of Tartu1943Robert Donat
Berlin Correspondent1942
British Intelligence1940Boris Karloff
Captain Horatio Hornblower1951Gregory Peck
Cash on Demand1961
Charade1963Cary Grant; Audrey Hepburn
Circle of Danger1951Ray Milland
Cottage to Let1941Alistair Sim
Counterspy meets Scotland Yard1950
Cry of the City1948Victor Mature
Damn the Defiant!1962Alec Guinness
Deadline USA1952Humphrey Bogart
Dial M for Murder1954Ray Milland; Grace KelleyAlfred Hitchcock
Dick Tracy1945
Dick Tracy’s Dilemma1947
Diplomatic Courier1952Tyrone PowerHenry Hathaway
Dracula: Dead and Loving It1995Harvey Korman; Mel Brooks
Enter Arsene Lupin1944
Foreign Correspondent1940Joel McRae
Funeral in Berlin1966Michael Caine
House on 92nd Street1945Henry Hathaway
I’ll Get You1952George Raft
Johnny O’Clock1947Lee Cobb
Lady in the Fog1952Caesar Romero; Lois Maxwell
Man Hunt1941Walter Pidgeon; Joan BennettFritz Lang
Man in Cairo1953George Raft
My Favorite Brunette1947Bob Hope; Dorothy Lamour
Mystery of Marie Roget1942
Naked City1948Jules Dassin
Nazi Agent1942Jules Dassin
New York Confidential1955
Night Train to Munich1940Rex HarrisonCarol Reed
No Highway in the Sky1951Jimmy Stewart
North Sea Hijack1980Roger Moore; James Mason
Pimpernel Smith1941Leslie Howard
Port of New York1949Yul Brenner
Rear Window1954Jimmy Stewart; Grace KellyAlfred Hitchcock
Sabotage1936Alfred Hitchcock
Scarlet Street1945Edward G. RobinsonFritz Lang
Sherlock Holmes films1939—Hound of the Baskervilles
Sherlock Holmes films1939—The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes films1942—Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
Sherlock Holmes films1943—Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
Sherlock Holmes films1943—Sherlock Holmes in Washington
Sherlock Holmes films1943—Sherlock Holmes faces death
Sherlock Holmes films1944—The Spider Woman
Sherlock Holmes films1944—The Scarlet Claw
Sherlock Holmes films1944—The Pearl of Death
Sherlock Holmes films1945—The House of Fear
Sherlock Holmes films1945—The Woman in Green
Sherlock Holmes films1945—Pursuit to Algiers
Sherlock Holmes films1946—Terror by Night
Sherlock Holmes films1946—Dressed to Kill
Sink the Bismarck!1960Kenneth More
Spy Hunt1950
Strangers on a Train1951Alfred Hitchcock
The 39 Steps1935Robert DonatAlfred Hitchcock
The Dark Corner1946Lucille BallHenry Hathaway
The Deadly Affair1967James MasonSidney Lumet
The Fake1953
The Heroes of Telemark1965
The Iron Curtain1948Tyrone PowerHenry Hathaway
The Lady Vanishes1938Alfred Hitchcock
The Naked Street1955
The Secret Ways1961Richard Widmark
The Stranger1946Orson WellesOrson Welles
The Underground1941
The Upturned Glass1947James Mason
Triple Cross1966Christopher Plummer; Romy SchneiderTerrence Young
Waterfront1944John Carradine
Where There’s Life1947Bob Hope
Whispering City1947Paul Lukas
Woman in the Window1944Edward G. Robinson