January 6th, 2008

Bergman again, and another "almost famous" someone I know

I saw another Bergman film last night: Wild Strawberries. This didn't impress me as much as The Seventh Seal, but it was still interesting, and extremely watchable despite, in many ways, not much happening. 

Very simply, this is the story of an aging and successful doctor, Isak Borg, who is about to receive an honorary degree. On impulse, he decides to drive to the university, and his daughter-in-law, who is estranged from her husband (Isak's son) accompanies him. Isak seems a nice old man on the surface, but he is trouble by strange dreams. On the drive, his daughter-in-law accuses him of being cold at heart, partly because, despited being very well off, he has insisted that his son repay a debt, which is one cause of stress in her family life. They visit his family's old summer house, and he remembers a summer there when his fiancee was seduced (among a wild strawberry patch) by his brother -- and she ended up marrying the brother. One reason is his coldness -- he won't kiss her, for instance. The trip continues, and they pick up some passengers -- a spritely young woman (Sara) and her two boyfriends, and later a squabbling couple.

Isak continues to have flashbacks, so we learn of his eventual wife's infidelity (and the fact that his son's actual parentage is in doubt). We also learn the real source of the stress in his son's marriage, and we meet Isak's very controlling mother. We also meet a gas station attendant who reveals that people outside Isak's family regard him very highly. In the end, predictably perhaps, Isak realizes that for all his outward success, his personal life has been a waste, and he vows (it seems) to do better. I.e., it's a bit like A Christmas Carol, in some ways.

It seemed about less than The Seventh Seal, but it is still fine work, and I was never bored, which might seem odd for a subtitled film with little real action. Actors known to me were Ingrid Thulin (who played his daughter in law), Max Von Sydow (in a small role as the gas station attendant) and Bibi Andersson, who played Sara.

If you look at the cover of the current Teen Vogue (and who doesn't regularly look at Teen Vogue?) you will see a picture of three teenaged girls, subjects of a cover story about them: they are three budding supermodels, apparently. One of them is named Karlie Kloss, and she is a student at Webster Groves High School, a freshman. Her sister is my daughter's age, and they have known each other since Kindergarten. (We have a picture of their Halloween procession in Kindergarten -- the girls are arranged by age, and my daughter, who was tall for her age then, is second to last. The last girl is Kristine Kloss, who simply towered over Melissa then. Kristine is not heavy at all, but her sister Karlie has the same height, more or less, but is stick thin. Which is why she's a model, I guess.)

I don't know Karlie Kloss at all (she's a year behind my son in school), but I do know the family a bit because Melissa and Kristine played softball together for 8 years, and were both varsity field hockey players last year. (And of course we see them around at school functions and such.) So it is interesting to see a very much local girl getting such national attention.

Summary: On Spec, 2007

 Summary: On Spec, 2007

On Spec put out four issues this year, starting with Winter 2006. (They date the Winter issues the year Winter started, but they don't appear until well into the next year, close to the end of winter.) These issues included 30 stories, 2 novelettes and 28 shorts (two short-shorts). The total word count was just over 140000.

I think 2007 was a pretty strong year for the magazine. I particularly like Will McIntosh's "Perfect Violet" (Summer), one of a few recent stories dealing with the idea of selling and buying memories, in this case telling of an impoverished woman who has had to sell some of her best memories, including ones concerning a lover her father had forbidden her to see. From Winter I thought Matthew Johnson's "Lifebuoy" quite intriguing, with a really nice basic idea: cops get a "lifebuoy" which allows them to back time up a few minutes when a raid or something starts to go bad. But the heroine wonders why the time limit when her partner dies after a lifebuoy expires ... and that questions leads to some queasy realizations. Both those stories are SF -- from Fall I liked three fairly traditional fantasy stories (traditional but in each case original too). Leah Bobet’s "The Sorceress’Assistant" is about a man who comes to work for a hermitlike sorceress, yet who realizes he can do some magic himself -- why? and how?. Marie Brennan's "Nine Sketches in Charcoal and Blood" is the story of the auction of a dead man's effects, and the curious group of people who gather to bid on them -- they know each other, they knew the dead man: what was the connection? Wesley Herbert "The Blood of a Virgin is Hard to Come By Legitimately" is a bit of a romp, and not wholly successful, but fun: a witch has cursed the heroine's father, and she must gather the ingredients for a counterspell.

Other nice stories this year came from Robert Weston, Kay Weathersby Garrett, Kevin Cockle, Jerome Stueart, Catherine MacLeod, James Moran, and Trevor Morrison.

I counted 10 SF stories out of 30. Also, 12 of 30 stories were by women: 40%. In 2006, ratio was very similar: 14 of 37, or about 38%.