Inventors are a breed of people whom I have long admired. There’s something enormously empowering about moving through the world, noticing that something is lacking, and then feeling confident and capable enough to think to oneself, “Huh. I can fix this.” And then proceeding to just fix it and reify your imagination into reality.
Years ago, in a different lifetime, my company once dispatched me to some conference in some great wild yonder. I don’t remember the details at all; like, I literally don’t even remember what the whole event was even about anymore. (Such is the hazy reliance of human memory, alas.) But I do remember one single memory: That morning I was sitting in the little dining area adjoined to the lobby, enjoying the hotel’s complimentary breakfast spread and leisurely perusing the morning’s paper. It was some local rag, the kind I always enjoyed flipping through whenever I traveled. There was a certain feeling of total voyeuristic locality that I always loved. Ha! Here’s what’s going on in town! I’m one of the people! And for whatever reason, a small article caught my eye: “Local man gets fed up and builds steps at town park on his own.” The exact wording of the headline escapes me now, but the gist of the writeup was that there was this sexagenarian who always strolled the town’s park every day. And the dirt walking path in the park apparently had an easement that was quite steep not easily navigable for older folks.
Well, for years, this sexagenarian –a war vet; or at least someone who had served, if I recall right– had bugged the local municipal government to build some steps on the easement. It was steep! Dangerous for old folk, especially! Well, for years, the town did nothing. So one day, at the crack of dawn before anyone was up and about, this old geezer just takes a bunch of wooden boards, a hammer, and a bucket of nails to the park and builds his own steps!
Of course, once the town learned about it, they sent engineers to tear the whole thing down (“not to code”), which I think everyone generally expected. (Governments can do great things. But often, they’re much more adept at impeding and destroying rather than building!) But it was the principle of the matter. That old dude tried to follow all of the right procedures, saw nothing was being done, and finally just did everything himself! Yeah!
This morning, I had my own bout of two-handed-can-do-attitude as well. My stupefying, unbridled genius was restless for a fresh, new challenge. Later this evening, Mal is coming over for “artistic-foreign-movie-night.” She and Bagel wanted to watch something and while I rooted for a Vin Diesel or The Rock vehicle, I was soundly rebuffed and summarily shot down. The only wrinkle in our planned endeavor though is that Mal is Chinese and her English isn’t the greatest. So I needed to obtain Chinese subtitles for whatever we’d be watching. Well, we ended up selecting Certified Copy which is a 2010 art film by the Iranian writer and director, Abbas Kiarostami. (Not exactly Michael Bay, but alas, I was outnumbered. ☹️)
Anyway, getting to the point: Certified Copy is a French movie and features significant spoken portions in French and Italian, in addition to English. So if we were gonna make this work, Bagel and I also needed English subtitles. We basically needed dual-track subtitles for this foreign film.
Dear Reader, let me assure you: I looked everywhere. Dual-subtitled video doesn’t exist for purchase or rent anywhere!
I tried Amazon Prime, Netflix, as well as our local library. And while our library had a Criterion Collection edition of Certified Copy, there was nothing that featured dual-track subtitles. Anyway, fast-forwarding to the end, by using VLC, Google, and sheer force of will and perseverance, after spending all morning on it, I figured everything out!
Mwhahaha! Sure, maybe not quite on the level of inventing the lightbulb or the printing press. But I’d like to think I channeled some of my inner-Edison and Guttenberg this morning. They’d be proud. 😀😄😁