Saturday, April 26, 2008

Movie "21" Memory/Hawaii Kilauea Volcano

Hawaii Trade Winds Not Blowing Out Volcano Gases For 2nd Time
Volcano National Park had to be evacuated earlier this week for a rare second time on 4/23/08 United Press reports at
"Federal News Radio." Big Island's Kilauea Volcano has continued to spew its sulphuric gases, but the trade winds have failed to blow out the noxious fumes their news reports. Volcano National Park Officials are also quoted there, saying they're in contact with the National Weather Service and "...look forward to favorable winds by week's end." The link above provides additional information. My earlier blog posts this past week regarding Pele and the recent volcanic eruption provide links and information regarding the first evacuation which also included surrounding communities.

"21" Movie Stimulates Vegas Card Gambling Memory

I decided to take advantage of the special early afternoon rate to go to the movies recently and received the added bonus of a memory being stimulated. I've been so pleased our community finally has our own five screen theater complex again. Our previous theater closed some thirty years ago. I've been taking advantage periodically of viewing offerings of featured independent films I've looked forward to seeing. Often these are the films that never are shown in our surrounding communities more commercial movie houses.

One such film was the subject of an extensive post I wrote here earlier about "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." I was able to watch that film prior to the Academy Awards and will write next time about the eminent DVD release.

The movie theater drama I recently viewed, "21," is inspired by real events in which six MIT students undertake making a financial killing in Las Vegas by card counting -- a practice not welcomed there. The cast includes Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey and others. If you're curious to see some scenes, read more about the storyline, and where it was filmed, I suggest you follow the link on the title above. I enjoyed the movie and left the theater feeling not only well entertained but in possession of a long ago forgotten memory.

Memories can be triggered in the most unexpected ways and at equally surprising times is a fact of which I've become more aware in recent years. This movie reminded me of those early college years, fellow student friends and acquaintances with whom I long ago ceased to have contact. Some full names I now remember, others are just shortened surnames by which the individuals were known, but I won't include them here.

The story as I first heard it was that two older students newly admitted from out of state had been talking about the possibility of devising a plan whereby they could beat a certain card game and win a lot of money gambling. Most of us just assumed this was the type of ideas fun talk that abounds on campuses but rarely goes beyond that stage. As the year progressed, however, these students were said to have progressed from talk to actually developing a system to enable them to win. Even then, those who heard the story concluded the system would likely not prove to be consistently successful beyond sport gambling in their dormitory.

Winter session passed and the spring session in the new year was coming to a close. Renewed rumors circulated in certain campus circles that the two students most specifically known as the brains behind this plan had actually come up with a system they and others, including a friend of mine, were increasingly confident would succeed. Furthermore, they were so convinced their system would work they were going to try it out in Las Vegas and win their fortunes.

None of us really thought such a trip would materialize into actual reality as the school year ended. Most of my friends left campus but I remained, attending summer school in an accelerated effort to hasten my graduation. The fall sessions began and my friend had not returned to the campus, so some of us began to ask questions about where they were. Eventually, someone purported to know that they had actually gone to Vegas, but that was all anyone knew. As the days, weeks, then a month or two went by we could only wonder if they had really gone to Vegas?

Questions abounded in our minds. Were they busy practicing their system as we spoke, accumulating thousands and thousands of dollars? Had they already won a lot of money, left the city and were now traveling all over the country, or even the world? I don't recall that we ever considered any of them might have incurred any actual physical harm from this venture, much less that anyone would figure out they had a system. I wonder if they considered all that in their planning? Of course we did know organized crime supposedly was in control of the casinos, if not the city, but surely these gangsters wouldn't be too hard on a few young clean cut college boys just having fun.

In the 1950s the rapid communication with cell phones and inexpensive calling long distances of today was not present. Long distance calling by the average person was usually done only in a case of emergency -- somebody died. So none of us really expected to hear from our former classmates right away and we didn't. In fact, we also wondered if maybe they might just go off to college somewhere else later and we'd never hear from them again.

Then, one late fall day I checked my campus mail box and found a letter that resolved the unanswered questions about my friend. He wrote me describing a much less exciting scenario of events than any of us had considered. He had gone to Vegas, but had not even been able to attempt to use the "system" as authorities had determined he was underage, and threw him out of the casino, so he never even got to gamble.

He wrote he had used his session's tuition money for this unsuccessful excursion which was less than pleasing to his father. Left without adequate tuition funds and to his own devices he had concluded the best thing he could do was join the Air Force which he had done. He was completing basic training at the time of his letter. I don't recall what, if anything, he said about any others who went to Vegas or what happened to them. I'm sure I would have answered his letter, but we didn't keep up a correspondence as I recall.

Many years later I happened to notice his name in an alumni magazine where he had updated his status. He had taken a position teaching at a university, having completed his undergraduate studies, then earning a doctorate after completing his Air Force enlistment term of duty. He was married and had a family.

Isn't it fascinating how memories are triggered? I wonder what other memories are waiting to emerge in the future?


  1. Memories, like the corners of our minds...

    Yep, tis a mystery how they get triggered...

  2. Hi Joared
    Your writing reminds me a lot of my dad's. It's a real pleasure to read. He went to high school in the 1930s, so you are probably younger. But there's a great old-fashioned, orderly style about it. You also use things like "to whom," which people don't use anymore.

    I liked your insight about the way phone technology has changed the way we live.

    I think memory is perhaps the most mysterious thing that we humans will ever experience.

  3. I always joke that I can remember things that happened thirty years ago but can't recall what I need to do today. Memory is a quirky thing as we age.

    I think I'm going to see "21" -- I always enjoy Laurence Fishburne.

  4. Joared, thanks for dropping in on my weird dreams blog. How did you ever find them--nobody EVER goes there....I have not kept that one up very well, in fact. But, welcome. I enjoyed looking around your place--I'm from California, interested in theater, too, in fact, I graduated from the Pasadena Playhouse back in the old days when it was a school of theater arts. Now I enjoy being a grandma, too! Come again!

  5. Hi Joared, it's nice to meet you! I know Pam very well and flew out to meet her last fall. We chat weekly and yes, she is an amazing talent.

    I LOVE movies and those are both on my list. I refuse to own a cell phone. :)

    I was married on a beach on Kauai four years ago. I've been to various island except the big island. I hope to go back next year!

    See ya soon!

    P.S. That is Pam & I on my sidebar in the wheelchairs under "help fight als."

  6. Memory is an amazing thing. For the most part, I also seem to require triggers. I enjoyed reading your account.

  7. "21" certainly stirred up some interesting memories for you. Poor guy, after all that planning they won't let him in because he was underage.

    I found it interesting that he accomplished a lot in
    his life. You can't keep a good man down!

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. Re: the Kilauea eruption: The trades are blowing the emissions away again, and I feel good today. Yesterday was a no energy day due to the volcanic smog.
    It's usually not very bad in Hilo, where I live. We're 25 miles away, and I can see the volcanic plume from my deck most days.

  9. This is a wonderful recommendation for the movie. I'll put it down on my netflix list. Thanks for the excellent review.