Okay, I'll admit I skipped my meeting and my going-home-early-to-get-some-sleep idea and a bunch of other things so I could hang out in the desert with Lawrence (of Arabia) and Auda and Ali and the gang. But look, folks, opportunities to see the big man on the big screen are few and far between anymore, and Just Not To Be Missed. Larry has a special place in my life. It's my favorite movie ever, for one thing, unless Star Wars is my favorite movie ever, a thing about which I go back and forth a lot. (Actually, Lawrence is a lot like Star Wars. It's Star Wars in the desert. Camels instead of X-wings, that's the only difference.) For another thing, it's one of the few movies ever made that refuses to lionize its hero, shows both his good and bad sides and eventually ends (spoiler alert!) not in triumph but in catastrophe. And, yeah, it cleaned up on Academy Award nominations, and it's considered one of the best films ever made, and David Lean is a genius, and blah blah blah, but those are just other reasons to go see it. The main reason is Lawrence himself, as played by Peter O'Toole. He's both noble and psychotic, cheerful and unbelievably messed up, probably suffering from a pretty severe case of PTSD and at the same time believing he's a god. He's a psychologist's dream, or nightmare, or something, and yet when he's onscreen, it's very hard to look at anything else. Besides, he helped me write the synopsis for Mindbender, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that he died in 1935.
Thursday was the 50th anniversary of the film's release, and also the introduction of yet another new! Improved! version of the film. Unlike 1988, they didn't add any missing footage (and thank all the gods there are; the movie's pushing four hours as it is). What they did instead was take a digital picture of each and every frame of the original film footage, which, being 50 years old, is in pretty sorry shape. Then they took each digital picture and loaded it into something called 4k software, which I didn't follow very well, but if you're into digital photography, you probably know what that means. The technicians then went over the digital photos of every single frame of this thing (remember, pushing 4 hours) and removed things like cracks and splits, deepened the color where it had obviously faded or stained, corrected the lighting where it was too dark, and did other photography thingys until they had a finished product that was as close as they could come to what David Lean originally had in mind. The result: You can see every pore on Larry's face. You can count the hairs in the camels' noses. I don't mean to be flip, here, but it's unbelievably clear. Considering that half the movie is gorgeous shots of desert vistas, it sure is nice to be able to look at them and practically run your hand through the grains of sand. A Blu-Ray of all this is being released in November, and if it looks half as good on a TV as it does on the big screen, it'll be worth every cent you'll pay for it. Not owing a Blu-Ray player myself, and having a TV that's at least 20 years old, I can assure you that this is not a paid endorsement of any kind whatsoever.
Speaking of great undertakings that don't always end well, I'm not sure what's going on with Talk Thursday. It's been a month or so since I heard from anybody at the Topic-o-Meter, and the last time we assigned dates for the topic, it was just me and Cele (though Shinsige dropped in at the last minute). Since then, all quiet on the western front (and that's a different movie altogether). So I'm not sure if we've dropped off the face of the planet, or what, exactly. At the moment I'm forced to assume that we're at least on hiatus.
The point of Talk Thursday (and there is one! There is one!) was, or is, if I understand correctly, to encourage regular blogging. There was also the whole "oh yeah, and we're all going to blog about this thing in particular" but I think that was basically arbitrary, because the topic could be "The Sock Drawer" and you could end up with a column about sex toys. Certainly it encouraged me (especially the sex toys). So I'm kind of not sure what to do now. Except to keep blogging on Thursday, since that seems to be one of the best nights to grab a table at Afrah and snarf down pita bread before my meeting. (Anymore, you want to go to Afrah, the earlier the better; past about seven the place fills up so fast you'd think you were in downtown Amman on a Saturday night. Okay, I'll admit that wasn't the world's greatest metaphor.) Besides, blogging on Thursday means I have an excuse to haul my laptop somewhere, use somebody else's WiFi and look intellectual for a little while. The chicks go for ladies who look intellectual in Muslim restaurants. Er, or so I hear.