Happy Easter Everyone!

I like to draw Easter Bunnies from the ears down, and when I started this one at the Flower’s behest she said, “Why do I think this bunny is going to be in a race car and wearing sunglasses.”

Ask and ye shall receive.
Not shown: My blasphemous picture of Jesus coming out of the cave on the third day and no one being around because all the witnesses are out looking for Easter eggs.

Photographs and Memories. (Or at least memories.)

Instapundit linked this interesting site called Lost Films, which is based on the brilliant premise of going around and developing the film found in old cameras.

I like cameras but I don’t take a lot of pictures. My dad, who took photography rather seriously, once noted that if you’re taking pictures you’re not really at the event. I’ve found that to be true, almost tautological. (In order to take a picture of a scene, you generally have to step back from that scene.)

And so, what often happens around here is this momentary realization that an event is coming up for which pictures are usually taken. Then a check of the camera, which is most likely out of batteries. Then there’s a long discussion and much pondering over where the charger is. And, while we’re thinking of it, does this camera even have a charger?

Well, the last one did, but this one doesn’t, so it’s a matter of going to the store–of course it’s inevitably late, so…

The upshot is no pix from this Easter. And the general upshot is that we end up with pictures in a flurry. After all, once the camera is set up and charged and you’ve remembered what all the little buttons–okay, you never really know what all the buttons do, but you can figure out the big three–it’s easy to start taking pictures again.

Until the baby picks it up and starts running around with it and you have to hide it to keep her from dropping it in the toilet.

Then you forget about it.

Then comes another day when you realize, you’re going to want pictures….

Pookahs and other Supernatural Creatures

The Flower has found herself so abuzz with the happenings tomorrow that she has agitated herself into a couple of very late nights (midnight). Apparently, she loves Easter. Her favorite holiday, even, perhaps.

It’s the finding treasure aspect of it.

Also, the magical creature aspect. The Flower has an ongoing correspondence with the tooth faerie. I’m not even supposed to know about this top secret relationship.

Which, of course, leaves me free to act completely innocent when the time comes for sightings and otherworldly shenanigans. At the same time, I’m the usual resource when someone wants to know the nuts-and-bolts of any fantastic creatures.

I was probably worse with The Boy. Probably a lot worse. With him, it was monsters. No, monsters were his friends, so it was a good thing they were everywhere. And I was always seeing one run by, which would prompt 20 minutes of questions about what it looked like, what it was doing, where it was going.

When I went under the house to run the network cable, the voices of the monsters that lived there were quite audible, I was told when I came back up.

My expertise came in handy at one point, when The Boy developed a sudden (and completely inexplicable) fear of vampires. It was then I revealed my history as a vampire slayer to him.

I’m less good with the Pookahs, I admit. They are masters of time-and-space, after all.

Fortunately, I still have some connections with the monsters, and can deliver the occasional bit of news or wisdom.

Winter Of Our Discontent

Try to convince kids that in your day, cartoons were only on Saturdays and holidays, and they look at you like you’re crazy. The Flower and the Barbarienne were treated to some “Herculoids” today and while the Barbarienne was satisfied with it–as she is with anything animated–The Flower was incredulous that we were subjected to–nay, grateful for–such entertainments.

Even more amazing is that “Herculoids” and most of those holiday entertainments were hand-me-downs from Boomers. And sometimes not even English-speaking hand-me-downs. For example, Morozko (1964), known here as “Jack Frost” or “Father Frost”, was a bizarre Russian fairy-tale/love-story–or even worse, the 1959 Mexican movie Santa Claus.

Both of these would later be mocked on “Mystery Science Theather 3000” along with the perennial 1964 classic Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.

Jack Frost was the subject of one of the lesser–yes, one of the lesser–Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated specials. He’s a sympathetic character in that one, but I’m pretty sure he was villainous in one of the other Rankin-Bass abominations.

As bad as the Russian Jack Frost is, it towers over the Michael Keaton movie of the same name. I saw that in a theater, believe it or not. Keaton is an on-the-road musician dad who ends up dying and being given a chance to fix things–as a snowman. Michael Keaton. Star of Batman. Snowman.

The premiere Jack Frost movie is also about a human being reincarnated as a snowman: This Jack Frost is a serial killer whose DNA merges with snow and gives him all the super-powers of, um, snow.

Better even then this movie is its sequel: Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman. The serial killer villain of the first movie is back, and where the first film has occasional moments of distasteful gore, the sequel is pure camp and a laugh a minute.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?”

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.

“I don’t know what day of the month it is,” said Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell! Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!

“What’s to-day?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“To-day?” replied the boy. “Why, Christmas Day.”

Merry Christmas!

This year has been a little crazy for the Andersons
You may recall we had some trouble last year
The robot council had us banished to an asteroid
That hasn’t undermined our holiday cheer!

And we know it’s almost Christmas
By the marks we make on the wall
That’s our favorite time of year!

Merry Christmas
From Chiron Beta Prime
Where we’re working in a mine
For our robot overlords

Did I say overlords?
I meant protectors!
Merry Christmas
From Chiron Beta Prime

–Jonathan Coulton

The Picture


There are pictures on the piano
Pictures of the family
Mostly my kids but there’s an old
Picture of you and me

You were five and I was six
In 1952
That was 40 years ago
How can it be true?

A brother needs a sister
To watch what he can do
To protect and to torture
To boss around, it’s true

But a brother will defend her
For a sister’s love is pure
Because she thinks he’s
Wonderful when he is not so sure

Christmas Cheesecake?

Watch it, you sleazebags. That’s my momma (Christmas, 1969).

Ever notice how, if there’s a news show or documentary about ‘69, there’s all this hippie crap and “it was a time of upheaval” and blah-blah-blah?

You never see that in our family photos. There’s no indication of anything upheaving anywhere. This attractive young woman does not look like she’s about to build a bomb or set the student center on fire. Ask my parents about the events of the ’60s and they’ll say “I was busy.” And they were.

My mother was (and is) a curiosity: Catholic school girl who went on to get a math degree (but hated math) and to have a computer career (and hated computers?) way ahead of her time. She was a career woman, but she made a lot of my clothes for the first 5-6 years of my life. I never had a piece of store bought bread till about then, too, since she baked, cooked, cleaned, washed, etc.

Though she would consider herself a feminist in the ’70s (down to the whole fish/bicycle thing), she’d have been the first to warn any woman who wanted to “have it all”. She had it all, and it was a lot of work. And a lot of it worked out in a less than optimal fashion.

Still, I’ve come to be impressed by my parents ability to raise children that survived at all. My mother was an only child (with a mysterious backstory that includes adoption) and my father had a younger brother he didn’t associate with much, and they were both part of that nuclear family culture which assumed that big, close-knit families could be replaced with books by experts.

Of course, my generation was even worse, with the extended family being a distant memory of the previous generation. But we, at least, have the advantage of knowing that the experts are full of it.

Christmas Sap-lings

Although I’m not feeling particularly festive this season, I confess to being moved by Scrooge! when it comes on. Except for Die Hard, there are few Christmas movies we watch regularly.

What?

Die Hard is a Christmas movie! What better captures the spirit of the season than “Ho, ho, ho! Now I have a machine gun, too”?

We used to watch It’s a Wonderful Life when it was on constantly, before they re-secured the copyright on it. And it’s still one of my favorites. There’s an NYT article up now about it where the writer takes a somewhat contrary view. Apparently, people are outraged by this opinion piece.

Which I guess goes to show that outrage is the new mistletoe.

It’s actually not a bad article. There are a few points worth refuting, though. Maybe some people actually do think of IWL as a “cheery Christmas tale”, but I don’t know any. It’s a feel-good movie, sure, but not a “cheery” one. In some ways, it’s just this side of Job for cheeriness.

Then there’s the claim that Pottersville is better than Bedford Falls: More exciting, more economically vibrant, etc. I think I’ve read that before, from a strictly economic viewpoint. The author supports his point by citing other resort towns that have thrived where manufacturing has failed.

Those who find merit in this just demonstrate how much closer we are today, as a society, to Mr. Potter than the Baileys.

Pottersville is a slave state: Nobody owns anything but Potter, and nobody does anything without his permission. It produces nothing but wasted lives. It’s probably not even a nice place to visit but you definitely don’t want to live there.

Then the author talks about George’s criminal liability for the loss. This occurred to me, too, since it’s the action that’s criminal whether not the money is replaced. But does a scene with the Inspector agreeing to look the other way–as is implicit during the singing of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”–actually improve the movie?

It’s like that alternate ending as seen on SNL (which I can’t find, so here’s another version).

Then there’s a reference to George humiliating Mary (when she’s unclothed in the bushes), and later to him treating her cruelly right before they first kiss. The former characterization is just heavy-handed. The latter shows a fundamental lack of understanding about George and Mary’s relationship.

She, of course, is Bedford Falls to him and George must overcome his attraction to her in order to do what he wants. But when fate intervenes, and he’s given the choice between doing what’s right and doing what he wants, it’s only her that makes doing the right thing bearable.

Also, the article characterizes the townspeople as bitter and small-minded which I think is that “inner Potter” talking again. At the same time, referring to brother Harry as being a slick self-obsessed jerk seems uncharitable, given that he does offer to take over the S&L. And I think he would’ve done it. It’s George who feels he can’t let him do it.

OK, “emasculated” by being kept out of WWII? Really? Would anyone have seen it that way at the time? This was a war when the home efforts kept the war machine going!

The article wraps up with the economic prospects of Pottersville versus Bedford Falls and concludes that P-ville had the brighter future.

Au contraire: Potter did indeed win (and bigger and bigger Potters against more and more Bailey’s), yet given the current econominc situation–in these difficult economic times, if you will–the Potters of the world are busy trashing things while the Bailys of the world are doing fine.

The Bedford Falls are doing all right, too, unlike the Pottersvilles.