I was planning to devote this column to something called “The Container Concept,” which has to do with using shipping containers and boxes to think about the way we organize (or should organize) our lives. The popular guru of the container concept is Sue DeRoos, who uses the example of our refrigerators to prove her point. We have no real problem with understanding that a refrigerator offers sharply delineated parameters in which we must store our frozen foods. If we can understand this, says Sue, we should be able to see the rest of our lives in this context–as a series of containers that we should approach as the freezer compartment in our refrigerators. We only have so much space, so we should use it wisely. The whole decluttering movement is based on this premise, and one scholar, Alexander Klose, has even written a fascinating and intellectually demanding book, THE CONTAINER PRINCIPLE: HOW A BOX CHANGES THE WAY WE THINK, that serves as a “cultural history of the shipping container as a crucible of globalization and a cultural paradigm.” Imagine that–philosophizing about a box, albeit a very provocative one. I have been especially interested in these approaches as my wife, Jeanna, and I prepare to downsize by moving into a condo. Our guiding principle has been to avoid renting a storage space in one of those ubiquitous storage complexes as so many appear to be doing. We are running out of space it seems.
As I sat down to outline how I might spin all this information into a coherent and meaningful column, I realized this would be “Kelly’s Place” Column No. 1,500. That should be cause for celebration, or at least an incredulous statement lamenting the rapid passage of time. Then I understood how the container concept is relevant to what I have been doing since May 6,, 1989 when my first column appeared. What I have been doing is fitting my thoughts into tidy little one-thousand-word containers each week. I am grateful for these containers because they have taught me to contain my thoughts into as little space as possible.
To give me some perspective on what I have been containing each week, and to give you some more things to think about, I will take a look at six columns–#1, #250, #500, #750, #1,000, and #1,250–to see where I’ve been and why I’ve devoted 1,500 Wednesday (and sometimes Thursday) evenings to composing this column. So, here goes.
My first column (May 6, 1989) was titled “A Little Smooth Talk” and in it I reviewed two movies–”Smooth Talk” and “Stealing Home”–that had just appeared on VHS (how many of you remember what this means?). Over the years I have written this column while the world around me changed. Like the time traveler in H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” who watched centuries whiz by, I feel as if I have traveled from one planet to another during the past twenty nine years.
Column #250 (October 12, 1994) was part of my annual “Halloween Horrors” series, and consisted of a book review of Valerie Martin’s novel MARY REILLY (1990, which became a movie starring Julia Roberts in 1996). In this retelling of the familiar Dr. Jeckyl / Mr. Hyde psychological horror story, Mary, who works as the doctor’s chamber woman, has a ringside seat to the transformations that are taking place at her place of employment, and along the way has many opportunities to ruminate on the nature of the man-beast she works for.
Column #750 (June 8, 2004), “Watching The Paint Dry,” found me staring incredulously at a new Reality Show that was just what its title implied–watching paint dry. In case you are wondering, this show was satirical in nature and made fun of the way–too–many reality shows that were infecting our television screens at the time. Remember this was one year before the debut of YouTube, and we didn’t have cat videos around to help us pass the time.
Column #1,000 (March 21, 2009) was called “The Playlists of Experience,” and gave me occasion to compare our various audio and video playlists to the memories that are managed (and in some cases manufactured) by our brains. After all, our brains have been compiling playlists for centuries and I found (and still find) it helpful to see our memories as playlists.
Column #1,250 (February 18, 2014), “Things We Can’t See Or Understand: A Tale Of Quantum Computing and Pizels,” was my first foray into the weird and fascinating world of quantum mechanics, a topic I have pursued (without fully understanding it) ever since. Stay tuned for my review of Carlo Rovelli’s incredible and mind-blowing book, THE ORDER OF TIME.
Before you send your congratulations on my somehow arriving at Column #1,500, put the cork back in the champagne because I have a confession to make. While I was consulting my Loafer logbook, I discovered that on January 28, 2017, I mistakenly numbered that column as #1277, when it should have been #1,247. Blame this on quantum mechanics if you will. So, that makes this week’s column #1,484 instead of #1,500. So, let’s agree we are close enough to call this a milestone, saving #1,500 for a later date (@October 1).
So, although I made a not-so-significant counting error, it is good to look back over the kinds of things I’ve covered–movies, TV, music, books, and science–all part of the wild and wonderful world of popular culture. And I trust you will understand why I have never devoted a column to mathematics! Maybe I should do this next week, just to prove I can count correctly.
See you next week with Column #1,485 (I think).