Ali and I headed to The Blue Horizon Restaurant (1174 Brooks Ave.) for breakfast. The place is definitely an ideal diner. Anyway, this morning it snowed a little — maybe an inch or so — and we didn't think it was a big deal, so we decided to drive out to check out gas fireplaces. Ali mentioned a place on Hudson [which I think is Fireplace Fashions (1936 Hudson Ave.)] and we also wanted to head out to Pettis Pools; the waitress helped us out and found the address in the phone book and we decided to try and find Pettis Pools and Patio (1186 Manitou Rd., Hilton) first.
We headed out on 390 and noted that we were at the Blue Horizon when the big car crash happened that closed it back in February of this year. I was driving the Roadmaster and when we got to the turn onto 490 West, I slowed way down, expecting that there might be ice as it was exactly 32°F outside. The turn was pretty clear, though … until I went to accelerate onto 490. The big wagon started fish-tailing but I managed to reel it back in and avoid either spinning out or hitting anyone else. The highway was pretty much wet with a slushy mix, but there was something wrong: there were dozens of cars spun out and off the road.
The mystery was solved on the first bridge we came to as the wagon fish-tailed a bit again. Since it was straight road and only for 50 yards or so, it wasn't hard to keep things under control. We forged ahead, but saw more and more cars spun out. Apparently every single bridge was covered in solid ice, albeit giving the illusion that it was just more wet slush. We decided to give up our quest and get off at the next exit, but there was one more surprise.
A Honda Pilot started to go out of control in front of us on the next overpass. It swerved left then swung right and ended up skidding sideways down the road and slamming into the right guardrail, coming to rest right in our lane. Ali wanted me to stop, but I was on the icy bridge and was just barely touching the brakes until we cleared the overpass and I braked hard, stopping in time to avoid T-boning the poor guy. The driver of the Pilot got it out of the way and I decided to just run over the piece of plastic bumper laying in the road. Unfortunately it was dragging under the car. Fortunately we ran it over when I got onto the shoulder and we got the hell out of there.
We were passed by a car going far too fast and then likewise by a charter bus (which was also half into our lane, the prick). The exit to Rt. 386 was next and I couldn't bear to watch the bus careen across that overpass — and, naturally, also couldn't avoid watching. However, they successfully slowed down for the cars that had already spun out. The trip home was much slower and safer — amusingly taking us right past the Blue Horizon once again.
I headed out to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see The Man Who Would Be King. Despite the snowstorm, there were quite a few people in attendance — the movie was excellent and well worth the risk. Basically it tells the tale of a couple con-men. They head to a country called Kafiristan (which is a fictional place north of Afghanistan) where they intend to become kings. The plan is simple: based on the notion that the warring tribes are largely without solid leadership, bringing a bit of British army leadership would make it easy to take over tribe-by-tribe and eventually take over the country.
Well, they almost die on their treacherous crossing of the high mountains. [In fact, I wondered if they did indeed die at that point and the rest of the film is just fantasy — something to think about.] Once in Kafiristan, they get into one of the first tribes they find, get a translator, and succeed in defeating the neighboring tribe. In the battle, Danny is struck by an arrow that — by luck — doesn't even scratch him yet stays in place as he rides around, continuing to fight. The people start rumors that he's some kind of god and he quickly ascends to the status of the second-coming of Alexander the Great — Alexander's son, to be exact.
So now Danny is king and god, ruling with a commoner's wisdom and absolute authority. Danny's Earthly-anchored partner Peachy notes that they should cut-and-run: they made it to the top, and the best thing they could do is to pack up a lot of riches and quietly slide out of the country. Danny has other plans — he's realistically gripped by power. He is believing what his followers are telling him: that he actually is the son of Alexander.
I'll leave it at that in case you want to find out for yourselves how things resolve.
But the thing about the whole movie is that it's so solidly realistic. It's not like Danny becomes evil through his power — he is overcome by the power. The pragmatic man he was is swept away in the current of illusion. He becomes falsely anchored in "the now" because he's averaging between an infinite past and an infinite future. His delusion comes from his followers elevating him ever higher: an equally destructive position as to being thrown down a deep chasm. It is a lucky man indeed who can survive either fate. Very lucky.
I greatly enjoy pondering the significance of the movie. It's good and sticky … something that will continue to haunt my personal philosophy.
But then on the way out of the theater, I come upon a most peculiar scene. A man is lying on the ground on the side of the driveway with another one on a cell phone summoning help. It turns out the guy was walking home and slipped on the ice. He said he heard something pop in both his legs — a police officer with medical training suggested he probably dislocated his hip. After a few minutes an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. The small crowd that had formed — thankfully a few people were his friends that he asked me to try and locate — stood around impotently while experts treated him. I felt bad that I couldn't do anything to help him. It looked to hurt like hell, but rolling him around to make him more comfortable would have only made things worse.