533 shopping days until 18.104.22.168.0 4 Ahau 3 K’ank’in.
After over a year out of work (I like to think to think of it as a sabbatical from wage labor, rather than unemployment) I did finally get a job, several months after we arrived in Louisville. I work part time as a machine monkey, running postal insertion and sorting machines. I actually enjoy it. I get paid to do aerobics for five or six hours per day, with noisy machinery in a warehouse, rather than paying to use exercise equipment at a gym. I lift boxes full of mailers instead doing the clean and jerk with free weights. Breaking a sweat on a daily basis has whipped me into shape–I have lost at least 25 pounds and I am much more limber and lithe than the old man I felt like less than a year ago. So, you may ask, what does that have to do Jack Nicholson, and why have I posted the above pretty-in-pink pic of his beautific mug?
When I perform repetitive physical tasks, as I did when I worked as a baker, or when I operate complicated production line equipment, the repertoire of movements become a meditative dance, and the dance once learned allows both focus on the task, and frees the ghosts in the machine, so to speak, to wander. And the ghosts in my head do wander.
One of them wandered into a shabby cinema on some side street in my occipital lobe, and sat down to watch The Last Detail, which happens to star Jack Nicholson. The film was released in 1973, and I haven’t seen it since the Seventies, so the print was old and the projection quality poor. What remained of the film in the mind’s eye seemed to be inter-cut with scenes from Hitchcock’s Marnie (There are drunken sailors in both movies, I think). Nicholson makes this face, you see (See above). Sitting under the flickering cone of light in the empty theater, I watched this face ebb and flow on the screen. A thought entered, like an usher with flashlight: Jack Nicholson built his career on the moment just before he speaks, utters a witticism or vulgarity or a barb or explodes into a rant, the moment when he makes the face. It is the exact face a constipated baby makes when it feels the big dump coming on, and is about to shit its diapers. This, the ghost whispered, is the secret of his success as a movie actor, and probably as a ladies’ man as well. Little Stinker.
The credits rolled. The monkey continued to dance to the clatter of machine. That is all.