Ed Driscoll

Great Party, Isn’t It?

I hope your weekend was as fun as my “staycation” was. It began, sort of, on Friday afternoon, when I interviewed Virginia Postrel about her gorgeous new book, The Power of Glamour; watch for that to appear online in the not too distant future.

I’ve written about Santana Row in San Jose a few times; I did an article on the place for PJ Media’s Lifestyle blog back in 2011. It’s basically a mixed use block of apartments and condos with stores and restaurants on the first level, built in the late 1990s, but designed to appear as a quaint fin de siècle European street. Because Nina and I visit there a lot, we signed up for their Rewards Program, and between dining and shopping there over the years since 2005, had banked enough points for a free night at the local hotel in the middle of Santana Row. On the way into our check-in, we drove by one or two protestors (on the same intersection in 2009 where the Tea Party and the pro-Obamacare left collided) with a hilariously outdated peace flag, plus “No Blood For Oil!” and “Bring The Troops Homes” banners. Bring them home from where? Germany? Subic Bay? They’re gone from Iraq, and will be gone from Afghanistan next year. What could go wrong? We checked in Saturday at 1:00 PM, had a terrific dinner that night at the Left Bank Brasserie nearby, and the following afternoon, walked over to the local movie theater for a revival showing of that madcap laugh-a-minute comedic romp, The Shining.

At least that’s how it felt to me; I realized I was getting too carried away when Nina whispered to me halfway through, “I don’t know how anyone can laugh their way through this film.” I replied that I wasn’t really laughing, just enjoying all of the great lines in the film. But I did dial it back a bit – I remember seeing a revival of Sunset Boulevard a few years ago at the beautiful old Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, and was wondering why someone in the audience found every. frickin’. line. by Norma Desmond to be a laugh riot. People in old movies are funny! Because they’re in black and white and old and antiquated unlike we modern people who are superior in our knowledge of all things.

I was afraid for a moment that I was turning into that guy.

But upon discussion afterwards, it turned out that Nina and I were watching two different versions of The Shining (appropriately enough, since psychological doubling is one of the key leitmotifs of the film.) Nina was watching the legitimately scary movie for the story and plot. Having seen the film on videotape, laserdisc, and DVD umpteen times over the years, and knowing it almost shot for shot, line for line, I was watching a mixtape of Stanley and Jack’s Greatest Hits.

The staggering helicopter photography under the opening titles. The pioneering gliding Steadicam shots through the massive British sets that make up the Overlook. Barry Nelson as Stuart Ullman as Heywood Floyd. Danny on his Big Wheel. The Diane Arbus-ish twins. (“Come and play with us, Danny.”) Delbert Grady telling Jack how he corrrrrrrrrrrreccccccccccttttttteddddddd his daughters, the aforementioned twins. Grady and the Bartender, ghosts from previous Kubrick films. Shelley Duvall, beloved by feminists everywhere. Jack Nicholson, chewing up massive amounts of scenery. All Work and No Play Make Jack a Dull Boy. Scatman’s Clockwork Orange-esque stereo velvet nudes. Here’s Johnny! Great party, isn’t it? The hedge maze. Midnight and the Stars and You.* And trying to spot all of the appearances of 21, 12, Room 237 (add up the numbers), the Summer of ‘42 (divide the numbers in half), and all of the other references that make The Shining Kubrick’s dark funhouse sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Right to the very last shot in the film.

But then, every film that Kubrick made after his breakthrough movie in 1968 had references to 2001 in it, if you knew where to look – and Kubrick, the ultimate OCD director, loved to insert these sorts of clues to keep his (almost) equally OCD fans enthralled.

And now, the weekend having concluded, alas, back to the real horrorshow: our usual News of Fresh Obama Disaster and continuing woes of California’s fiscal collapse.

* A song my dad owned as part of his enormous big band-era record collection. Creeped me out tremendously the first time I heard it wafting up from the speakers in the basement after I had seen the film.