Vernacular

When I saw an article labeled “Guilty Pleasures” online, I printed it and marked it for a future column topic.

The future arrived today, Monday, which is my self-appointed deadline for the column, which appears on Thursday.

Micaela Marini Higgs wrote the piece for The New York Times, which is one of my guilty online pleasures.

The writer’s theme is that we shouldn’t feel guilty about what we like to do, designated as “What some people consider the junk food in our media diets.”

One thing I enjoy is checking out old shows or movies, even if I get them on my screen in mid-stream.

On Sunday, I watched a movie set in England, called “Hot Millions,” filmed in 1968, about the early days of the computer age.

The London-based film provided some of the well-known stars of the period, including Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Karl Malden, Bob Newhart, Robert Morley, Cesar Romero and Lynda Baron.

Ustinov plays a con artist who talks his way into a London firm that has huge, boxed computers.  Because he doesn’t know how to operate the machines, he accidentally coaxes the new gadget to start printing out checks in high denominations.

After Maggie becomes his wife, she does some investing that pays out large amounts of British pounds.

Ustinov has been released from prison for embezzlement. His dream is to conduct a symphony orchestra and at the conclusion of the film, he does just that, with Maggie playing the flute.

One of the great pleasures (and I felt no guilt) is seeing some of the stars of that time. Maggie is beautiful with a nicely coiffed head of red hair.

I also saw part of 1957’s “Desk Set,” with the fabulous pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

The “Desk Set” plot line provides an early-day threat of replacing humans with computers in offices.

I didn’t see the full movie, but in a review, I found that the misunderstanding at the core of the film is mostly in the background and when it finally comes to a head, it is dispatched of in moments. No one is shown for a fool except a computer. That’s comforting.

I’ve also been watching HBO’s “Years and Years,” a quirky British production.

A reviewer described it as a series about a lot of ideas, runaway technology, European nationalism, the failure of liberal democracy, a half family drama, half speculative fiction. You get the idea.

Then I watched “City on the Hill,” which stars Kevin Bacon, as an FBI agent, described as a solid anti-hero.

I’ve also been watching “The Loudest Voice,” a biographical story about Roger Ailes who presided over the Fox News development.

The most moving episode, so far, causes viewers to relive the horror of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by airliners guided into the twin towers in New York City.

Although the millions who saw the television coverage that morning have sad memories of the fateful day, to see the TV coverage is to relive the personal experience of Americans who watched the drama in real time, 18 years ago.

Watching the episode did not qualify as a guilty pleasure.

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