Saturday, August 06, 2005

Summer is for Family Reunions

Steve came from Hungary to the US when he was 10 years old. Miriam emigrated from England to Canada at the age of 17. Soon after her arrival in Canada, she came to America. Her sister, Rose, remained in Canada raising her family in Calgary.

My family began shortly after WWI, Steve and Miriam were set up on a blind date. He walked to her home after work on a Friday evening. Miriam recalled he was very handsome in his blue suit. She had no memory of what she wore except "a dress". The future bride and groom walked to a neighborhood restaurant. The waitress seated them and in a few minutes took their order. Steve had the roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, and peas. Miriam had no memory of what she had ordered.

Very soon after the meals were placed in front of the couple, Steve's plate slid off the table onto his lap. Miriam was horrified, fully expecting a torrent of anger. But, Steve calmly picked up the plate, placed it on the table. With the help of the waitress, cleaned up the mess as best he could. Miriam said it was at that moment she knew she would marry this man. My grand parents have both passed on; their legacy, their story lives on.

In a week, I will journey back to my home turf for a family reunion. Many people, including some in my own clan, look upon family reunions with trepidation; others as an opportunity to be reminded why they don't like certain relations; and still others, become more convinced than ever that they were adopted and can't possibly swim in the same gene pool because some are obviously in the shallow end.

Winter where I grew up

I do not share these views. I look forward to visiting with the people who, at various times, have shown an unconditional love and acceptance that is not possible outside of ones family. At other times, those same people have exhibited a tough love meant to force the acceptance of cold, hard reality. Most family, I do not see or hear from for many years at a time.

To come together with people who share many esoteric traits is a wondrous thing. Speech patterns, inflection, words chosen, and cadence; the same humor that only the Twilight Zone can explain; a walking stride, a smile, a laugh; the same remark with the same words said simultaneously by relations who live thousands of miles apart is precious beyond understanding.

We are not identical, only the same. In my family, we have members who are adopted and sometimes I'd swear they are more like their adoptive families than those born into it; many are made, few are chosen. I have straight and gay relations; pacifist relations (at times, aggressively so); relations who have made the military or law enforcement a career. I have relations who have experienced both sides of the law. There is a preacher and the insanely devout, agnostics, new age wackos, and me - an atheist. There are high tech nerds and neo-Luddites. But, we are family and all are welcome and all are loved.

Summer where I grew up

My family has spread across the United States from east to west, north to south, stretching out to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Chile. One clan member has family ties to this land that go back maybe 40,000 years. In the familial diaspora, we have experienced various levels of financial, vocational, and marital success. At the end of the day, we all have a place at the table and will not be turned away. The porchlight is always on and the bed covers are turned down.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

All About Meme

A week ago, New Victorian tagged me with the Movie Meme. (MEME ( long 'e', silent 'e'): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.)

I love movies. Having a physical handicap as a child, movies were my window to the world. My family would all sit or lie down and watch movies on the black and white TV nearly everyday. Then in summer, the Junior College would show free movies in the theater. My Mom, sisters, brother, and I would pile into the car and drive the 15 miles to see Bogart in 'Sahara'. It was great.

Choosing the five movies below has been very difficult; more difficult than I had first thought. Many great movies came to mind: Patton, Little Big Man, Airplane, Young Frankenstein, The African Queen, Being There, The Mouse That Roared, Ben-Hur, Gandhi, High Noon, Inherit the Wind, Lion in Winter, The Maltese Falcon, The Quiet Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, Unforgiven, Casablanca, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension. All are great flicks and I see them whenever I can. But these are films that, I would suppose, are commonly listed.

So, herewith, are my MOVIE MEME choices:

1. Number of movies I own: 25 (not an owner kind of guy.)

2. Last film purchased: "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

"It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder.

Your choice is simple

Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.

We will be waiting for your answer."

This film resonates even more today than it did during the Cold War.

3. Last film seen in a theater: "The War of the Worlds"
In the 1953 version, I was rooting for the heroes Gene Barry and Ann Robinson because they were sympathetic characters. In the Tom Cruise 2005 film, even though Gene Barry and Ann Robinson played the grandparents at the end of the movie, I was rooting for the aliens.
All in all, I recommend people sit down and watch the 1938 radio broadcast.

4. Five movies that I watch a lot/mean a lot to me: (Because I'm old and my film history spans the whole of American film history, I will cheat by listing 10 films - 5 each from the 1st and 2nd half of the 20th century. The films of the 21st century aren't old enough to be memorable.)

1st half

Paths of Glory, 1957. Kirk Douglas plays a French military lawyer in a tale of cowardice and the futility of war during WWI. The favorite song of all sides in the war, Lili Marlene is sung in very haunting scene filled with longing and ennui.

The Caine Mutiny, 1954. A mentally unstable US Naval Captain (Humphrey Bogart) jeopardizes the ship and is relieved of command by his 1st officer (Fred MacMurray) and faces a courts martial. "Then there was the strawberry incident."

12 Angry Men
, 1957. Henry Fonda as Juror #8, convinces the other jurors the case is not as obvious as they first thought. #8 investigates on his own and turns up evidence that causes doubt. Today he would be dismissed from the jury, possibly charged with a crime and the case retried.

Marty, 1954. A lonely butcher ( Ernest Borgnine) is approaching middle-age and his mother is hounding him about getting married. "But, Ma! I been to the bars, I been to the dances! All I get is hurt! I don't wanna get hurt no more!."

Bad Day at Black Rock, 1955. A one-armed man (Spencer Tracy) arrives in a small town that has a big secret. He quickly becomes the object of fear, hatred, and a murder plot. All he wanted to do was present a posthumous military award to the family of a slain WWII soldier.

2nd half

Red Rock West, 1992. Nicolas Cage arrives in a Wyoming town and is mistaken by the sheriff to be the hitman he has hired to kill his wife. Then the real hitman (Dennis Hopper) shows up. Very funny, quirky Cage movie before he was famous.

Twin Falls Idaho, 1999. Francis and Blake Falls (Michael Polish, Mark Polish) are Siamese twins who live in a neat little room in a rundown hotel. Having never experienced sex, they determine to hire a prostitute on their birthday. She is freaked out, but comes back...she forgot her purse. This is a very funny, sad, and touching story of fate and acceptance that challenges our conceptions of normalcy.

Savior, 1998. A US Embassy security official (Dennis Quaid) witnesses the death of his wife and son when a terrorist bomb explodes at a Parisian cafe. He runs down the street to the neighborhood Mosque where he kills all of the men at prayer. He disappears into the French Foreign Legion on a mission in war torn Yugoslavia killing Muslims with the Serbians. His chance for redemption is a young Christian woman who wants to kill her unborn child - the result of rape by a Muslim soldier. One of the most brutal war films ever made.

American History X, 1998. A neo-nazi, Derek (Edward Norton), goes to prison after committing a brutal murder of a blackman. In prison he is befriended by a young minority man. When Derek is released, he finds his little brother getting caught up in the same web of racism and hate that sent him to prison. Derek tries to keep his brother from the same mistakes. A very hard hitting film made all the more stark by the use of black and white for the flashbacks.

Rocky, 1976. A small time boxer (Sylvester Stallone) gets the chance to fight the heavyweight champion in what is supposed to be a publicity stunt. Rocky discovers that with work, determination, and a goal (his girl, Adrian) he can win the bout and gain the self-respect that has always elluded him. Not every boxing movie causes the viewer to throw shadow punches and cheer in the theater, but this one did and still does. You can't help but feel terrific at the end.

I will tag Seawitch and YellowRose's Garden.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bogie Hot, Tommy Not

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, "The Big Sleep"

Legendary silver screen great Lauren Bacall tells TIME magazine this week that "Tom Cruise is not a great actor."

"The word 'great' stands for something. When you talk about a great actor, you're not talking about Tom Cruise."

"His whole behavior is so shocking," Bacall says. "It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it's kind of a sickness."

Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai"

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Bitter Pill

Helen Thomas is miffed. What she thought was an off-the-record conversation with the editor of the Washington, D.C. newspaper, THE HILL, Albert Eisele, turned out to be very much on the record.

"I'll never talk to a reporter again!" Thomas was overheard saying. "We were just talking -- I was ranting -- and he wrote about it. That isn't right. We all say stuff we don't want printed," Thomas said.

That's right, Helen. We all say "stuff" and sometimes reporters (you, for instance), write down and publish them for the whole world to see. It's a shame reporters have this false notion about the right to know about somebody else as opposed to the right to know about"me".

Helen is a public figure and an opinion maker just as much as are the President and Vice-President of the United States. We have every right to know what they really think. We have every right to know what Helen really thinks, too. And if that comes at the expense of her privacy and trust in her own kind... oh, well.

How's it feel, Hellen? Turn about is fair play in politics and journalism. What was that saying Truman had, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Many things are cooked up in the kitchen we call Washington. If you are not going to kill yourself maybe it's time for you to get out.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.