Years ago I wrote a column declaring that everything about autumn is cinematic. The golden light, the painted sets, the sweaters — you take your pick. It’s a time to go apple-picking and antiquing and driving through golden countrysides in search of gourds. (Early fall is, anyway. In November, I wish I could crawl into a log for the next four months.)
Our little family unit thought Sunday would be a great day to load the big kayak on the car roof and go up to Chain o’ Lakes State Park, which delivers pretty much what its name promises. It’s a string of kettle lakes connected by shallow channels, excellent paddling water from one end to another, although I’m partial to the channels — lots of wildlife up close, excellent birding.
We went to a lake at the end and launched the boat. After our usual squabble about which end of the lake was the outlet, we found it and started down. Twenty feet in: A beaver dam. Not a big one, just a couple wrist-size sticks bound together with mud. Alan got out, moved it aside, and dragged us over the mud hump. A few feet later: Another one. Another sticky portage. By the third I said, “Let’s drag this thing back the other way, reload it on the car and go down to the middle of the chain. This is ridiculous.” It made me think of a movie, all right: “The African Queen.”
We did so. Sand Lake, the middle lake, was much nicer. We paddled the perimeter — look, a diving duck; look, a heron — and set up the channel. Twenty feet in: Gravel scraped the bottom. Jeebus frickin kreesto, are we that fat? We are not. Although the mighty family truckster kayak has more of a keel than the classy, expensive one Alan calls his own, this was something new. Then I took a closer look around, and remembered we haven’t had significant rain in nearly a month. Water plants that normally lap at the water’s surface were standing inches out of it, looking sort of wilted.
We backed out and went to a picnic area for turkey sandwiches. It was very cinematic.
The turkey was the leftovers from a t-breast Alan smoked on the grill Friday afternoon. Another very movie-ish thing to do. Emma and Alex came over for dinner. Emma quashed the hot rumor du week in the newsroom — that “an L.A. agent” had called the paper, wanting her number. No, it was just a guy in L.A. who handles publicity for several C-list celebrities who likes to talk to her. No overnight-sensationing for E., alas. So what? We’d miss her on turkey-barbecue nights if she left us.
From the NYT, a good story on Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers:
In the old NFL Films clips, Lambeau Field is shaded in the gloomy tones of a Green Bay winter, clouds of players’ and fans’ breath filling the frigid air, the now-legendary figures prowling the field like mythical figures, clumps of grass stuck in their face masks, toughness etched in their expressions.
Add dramatic music to the low, gravelly voice of the narrator John Facenda and the mystique of Lambeau and the Packers dynasty, a grainy romantic view of professional football in the 1960’s, anchored itself in the American imagination.
To this day, bring up Lambeau Field and it often launches a Facenda imitation: “The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. …”
“I hear some of the lines I wrote back then and wince,” said Steve Sabol, NFL Films’ founder and the writer of Facenda’s memorable voice-overs, whose creations were originally done as highlight films of each team’s season.
Good for him for wincing! As he points out later in the story, “frozen tundra” is redundant. Also, Vince Lombardi hated that line and ordered it removed because it served as a reminder of how his expensive soil-warming system had failed in the Ice Bowl of 1967.
Yeah, that’s a good reason.
A “soil-warming system.” Down south they call it the sun.
Thomas Friedman is back on the op-ed page, and speaking plainly: We’re in trouble in Iraq. Duh.
No, that’s too flip. Here’s the money passage, long but dead-on:
Being away has not changed my belief one iota in the importance of producing a decent outcome in Iraq, to help move the Arab-Muslim world off its steady slide toward increased authoritarianism, unemployment, overpopulation, suicidal terrorism and religious obscurantism. But my time off has clarified for me, even more, that this Bush team can’t get us there, and may have so messed things up that no one can. Why? Because each time the Bush team had to choose between doing the right thing in the war on terrorism or siding with its political base and ideology, it chose its base and ideology. More troops or radically lower taxes? Lower taxes. Fire an evangelical Christian U.S. general who smears Islam in a speech while wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army or not fire him so as not to anger the Christian right? Don’t fire him. Apologize to the U.N. for not finding the W.M.D., and then make the case for why our allies should still join us in Iraq to establish a decent government there? Don’t apologize – for anything – because Karl Rove says the “base” won’t like it. Impose a “Patriot Tax” of 50 cents a gallon on gasoline to help pay for the war, shrink the deficit and reduce the amount of oil we consume so we send less money to Saudi Arabia? Never. Just tell Americans to go on guzzling. Fire the secretary of defense for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, to show the world how seriously we take this outrage – or do nothing? Do nothing. Firing Mr. Rumsfeld might upset conservatives. Listen to the C.I.A.? Only when it can confirm your ideology. When it disagrees – impugn it or ignore it.
Tomorrow: The 125-pound pumpkin. Well, close anyway.