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A Henry Ford Moment

We may be in a Henry Ford moment―and I don’t mean anti-semitism.

The history of unorganized American manual labor for more than two centuries has been a relentless drive to the bottom with two interruptions I know of; Henry Ford’s introduction of the living wage and the New Deal’s introduction of collective bargaining. These two 20th century phenomenon were strangled in their cribs by the GOP and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, which is why the middle class is rapidly disappearing. I’ve had a tribute to Henry Ford in my back pocket for ages. The announcement that Costco will pay $16 an hour may actually be a tribute as well: that is almost exactly, in inflation-adjusted dollars, equal to the $5 a day wage with which Ford single-handedly changed America and Capitalism. I had hoped to place the whole Ford tribute in the main column, but I find the less I put here, the more people read. So, it’s a footnote.

I’d like to express my fervent hope that Costco’s decision, like Ford’s, does what congressional Republicans refuse to do: create a rising tide that lifts all boats. GOP members of congress may be idiots, but GOP business people will pay what they have to in order to prevent their work force from decamping to Costco, just as every American machinist got a pay hike courtesy of Ford.

Time Loop Redux: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things ****

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things on Amazon Prime is another valiant effort to push forward the boundaries of the time loop trope, which, as most of you know, reached its pinnacle in Groundhog Day, IMHO.

You may think it is silly to start with this, but this movie is sooo close to being the perfect length for a comedy: at 99 minutes, it is only nine minutes too long. It is good, albeit not great.

It is funny, sweet, clever and entertaining. It meets my main criterion for time loop films, which is to mention Groundhog Day. Like Palm Springs, it puts more than one person in the loop. Like GHD, it doesn’t waste our time with a bunch of handwavium about how the loop started. Like all great time loop films, it is a romance, albeit a young adult romance.

Credits: Written by Lev Grossman of The Magicians fame and directed by Ian Samuels, who also helmed the YA film Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. Harold Ramis (may he rest in peace) and Danny Rubin (may he be greenlighted again someday) are still the Best Time Loop Film Team Ever, but I am encouraged that Hollywood keeps turning out new product in this venerable genre.

The movie makes it seem as if Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is a time loop movie. It is a time travel movie, not a time loop movie.

Mein Hut Der Hat Drei Ecken

In 8th grade at Beaumont Elementary in Portland, Oregon, our German teacher, Mr. Knopf, was a good enough teacher to realize students remember songs better than lectures. While he taught us numerous German songs, the three I remember are Stille Nactht (Silent Night), O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree) and Mein Hut Der Hat Drei Ecken (my hat it has three corners).

Radio Swiss Classic (an Internet music channel) is the soundtrack of our lives, and once a month or so, I would hear a classical piece with the tune of Drei Ecken as a motif. For a year or two, I searched the Internet without success to answer this question: did the composer steal a folk tune, or did the folk song borrow a classical motif? And somehow, I never got to the radio in time to see the name of the selection.

I still can’t answer the question about which way the borrowing went, but with the help of my friend Kevin Mostyn, I finally developed a Google query which yielded a result: the tune of Mein Hut Der Hat Drei Ecken is a repeating motif in Paganini’s Festival Of Venice and is entitled O Mamma, Mamma Cara.

 Help for the Pitch Impaired

It is my pleasure to continue to support musical freelancers; in this case, I asked a talented musician to “top up” a version of the world’s most specific parody, Cupertino Star, in which I supply the vocals.  (Cupertino Star explanation) Most of you have heard of autotune, which can be turned all the way up to create a robot voice. In my case, it simply allowed me to sing in the same key as the backing track.

This and That

“Even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don't wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.” ― Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me? As Tamara Levitt of the Daily Calm asked, “What are you reserving you heart for?”

Covid Humor
Let’s revisit “Up the Down Staircase” as if it were re-written in 2021 by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe

Capitalize Black but not white
For a breathtaking tour of the state of today’s conversations about race, check out the Google Search results for capitalizing Black but not white. Thanks to my former colleagues in the UPI retiree chatgroup for noting this.

Literal Figures of Speech

In the book Love, Medicine and Miracles (see right-hand side of this column), Dr. Siegel says figures of speech come from somewhere: one example is that a figurative broken heart can really “break” your physical heart. I am convinced that happened to me; healing the broken heart four decades later improved my heart health.

Another figure of speech, “Blind with rage,” came to mind during a recent conversation. I was blind with rage one day when someone made a request of me that I could easily have met. Perhaps I was deaf with rage as well. A person who was truly interested in spreading loving kindness―who I am now, not who I was then―might have been able to accept the request and act on it, producing unimaginable benefits in two lives.

That’s why meditation is so important. You don’t forget, bury or push aside the emotion, you embrace it and observe it, and then try to move on after saying to yourself, “that’s a strong emotion.” Not something I was capable of as a young man. Something I am more capable of now.