Mrs. Bergson and I recently watched an old movie called The Falcon and The Snowman.
If you’re a movie buff, you may remember that it’s a story about a young man (played by Timothy Hutton) who was working for a civilian defence contractor. He grows disenchanted with some of the secrets that he’s privy to and has his drug-dealing buddy (played by Sean Penn) sell the information to the Soviets.
It’s a good movie but I was struck by the appearance of Hutton and Penn, who were both about 25 when it was released in 1985. They look ridiculously young.
Hutton had become a star five years earlier with his work in one of my favourite movies, Ordinary People. Penn had great roles in Taps in 1981 (with Hutton) and Fast Times At Ridgemont High in 1982 that propelled him to stardom.
There’s nothing exceptional about The Falcon and The Snowman other than it captures two young movie stars finding their way early in their careers.
Penn went on to superstardom and is widely considered one of the finest actors of his generation. Hutton has made dozens of movies although it’s more often in supporting roles than as the lead.
But in 1985, the world was theirs. They were young stars with bright futures ahead of them.
It’s a thought that I often have as watch older TV shows.
One of my all-time favourite television series was M*A*S*H, which was filmed from 1972-83. Again, the actors are frozen in time. Alan Alda was in his mid-thirties when filming began; he’s now 78. Several of the actors have died; Larry Linville (Frank), Harry Morgan (Col. Potter), McLean Stevenson (Col. Blake) and Allan Arbus (Dr. Sidney Freedman) are all gone.
One of my favourite bands in the 1970s and 1980s was The Kinks, an English outfit perhaps best known for their hit Lola.
They also recorded a song called Celluloid Heroes, which talks about strolling along the Hollywood Boulevard looking at the stars in the walk of fame. It’s a reflection on their struggle to be known and the fact that those who did star in movies and television will live on.
“I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,” the song goes. “A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes. Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain. And celluloid heroes never really die.”
So whether Penn is Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times or Hutton is Conrad Jarrett in Ordinary People, they’ll always be 20 years old when the movie starts in your living room.
• • •
I’m pleased to announce that my wife and I did some painting recently and we remain married.
Only a couple that has been together for a while -- and do those kinds of jobs as a team -- can understand why that would even be in doubt. In an attempt to brighten up our laundry room, we decided that it was time to mud the screw holes in the gyproc and put a couple of coats of primer on it.
The job took longer than normal because, well, I’m both busy and sometimes very lazy. I did the first coat of mud one weekend, gave it a light sanding and applied the second coat a week later and then finally got around to painting about three weeks later.
Since it’s a laundry room, it’s not big to start with; it’s also filled with a freezer, washing machine, dryer, water tank, furnace and some shelving units for storage. By the time we had all of that pushed into the middle, there wasn’t much room to move. I had the music playing, as always, and I would have a foot tapping or be doing some terrible dance moves.
Mrs. Bergson is all business when it comes to the jobs. While I’m busy singing along to some forgotten gem from the 1980s, she’s thinking three steps ahead.
We’ve had the discussion many times about how I can get up on a Saturday morning, make a coffee and a bowl of cereal and sit on the couch with the laptop. When she gets up a while later, she’ll walk out of the bedroom and ask me a question about something we’re working on.
She’ll have been awake 30 seconds and had more analytical thoughts than the early riser had in however long I’ve been up.
It wasn’t a major surprise to anybody when a major study back in December showed that the brains of the two genders do have some different wiring. (The study generalizes its findings; it doesn’t mean that this applies to everybody. No doubt there are many exceptions.)
The study found that women’s brains are highly connected across the right and left hemispheres, which means they have better social skills and memory and are better adapted to multitask. It makes them better listeners and more able to utilize both sides of the brain, one of which is wired for logical thinking and one for intuitive thinking.
Men’s brains have strong connections between the front and back, which is ideal for co-ordinated action and perception.
What it ultimately means is that my wife and I make a good team. While we aren’t always as understanding as perhaps we should be of each other’s differences, it’s those differences that make us a better couple.
While my brain goes into sleep mode like a computer, her brain is always working. My brain, on the other hand, seldom gets us lost in the car and generally knows the time to within a few minutes.
So while I’m busy in my own little world singing and dancing with a roller in my hand, she’s analyzing what’s next.
It all works together in some mysterious way. At least until the next time we have to paint together, that is.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org