17 January 2010

Messy Waxes Sentimental... and a poll...

(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)

Oh, all right. I admit it. After all the bitching and whining and slamming of morons is done, your Messy is a sloppy sentimental old fool after all. Proof.

The Boy is off across the Big Pond to conduct some Very Important Business that apparently only he can manage. This will apparently take only a millisecond. He left around dinnertime today and will get home on Wednesday around dinner time. It hardly seems worth taking the passport out of the safe deposit box, but there you are. When you gotta go you gotta go. I expect he'll come home tired and crabby, so I'll make sure to have some dessert on hand. When The Boy gets cranky, the only thing you can really do for him is throw food at him and tuck him in for a good ten-hour sleep.

In any event, I was feeling rather sorry for myself. I rooted around in the wine cellar and found a bottle of Mauro 2005 from Castilla y Leon. This sounds much fancier than it actually is. What it IS is a nice Spanish temperanillo that has a lovely nose with florals and fruits, with some tannin at the finish as well as a nice dry hint of gravel and saltiness that drinks very well now and for another five years or so and is available for less than $20.00 a bottle. It was splendid with the pasta I made for dinner and has enough heft to be splendid tomorrow night with cassoulet.

That said.....

I WAS feeling sorry for myself, so I was wandering through the cable guide for tonight and found a movie that I haven't seen since it was in the theaters....in 1968. That's right kids, I AM that old. Mind you, I was five at the time, and it was a matinee. My mother took me to the theater and then to the Woodward's lunch counter (store now defunct, alas) for a milkshake, where she broke the news that I was soon to have a baby brother.

Now you have to realize that I already had a baby sister. When she was new, I apparently guarded her crib and was not at all thrilled at the idea of strangers holding her or even getting NEAR her, for that matter. As a three-year-old, I took the notion of "take care of your sister" very seriously. She was a stinkin' cute pudgy baby with black, black hair, very fair skin and bright blue eyes, like a summer sky in Alberta under a high pressure system, which is pretty damned blue if you know what that looks like. I was terribly jealous of her eyes. Mine are green which I felt at the time were VERY ordinary and downright boring, given that my grandfather and uncle had the same Sprite-bottle eyes. I didn't find out that MINE were the unusual color for a good many years after.

I remember that movie as being the most magical thing in my life to that point. I was lost the minute the opening credits ran. It was (for those of you that are old enough) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I remember it quite clearly. The song rang in my head for days after. (Chitty bang bang, chitty chitty bang bang, chitty chitty bang bang, we love you....) I was allowed my very own popcorn for the first time - there used to be a child size option - and I got to tell the lady at the concession to put double butter on it. I even gave her the money myself. Mom had a box of Smarties and a bottle of Orange Crush, which we shared. I felt very grown up and was allowed to wear my grey and black kilt with the ruffled shirt and the black patent Mary Janes for the first time. I had picked out the lace trimmed ankle socks myself and felt terribly grown up.

Tonight, I watched the movie on the Retro Channel for the first time since that day. The songs were still the same and I remembered all the lyrics, too. It was made at a time when Dick Van Dyke was still good-looking and we all thought of England as green and beautiful, with odd and happy people strewn over the countryside. There was the Baron of Vulgaria (a crude and no doubt non-politically correct character that was a parody of a German baron, which was all right because everone, 23 years later, was still stinging after WWII), the Toy Maker, the Child Catcher and the Baroness, all looking exactly the way I remembered them. There were little blond children that were weirdly well-behaved and a shaggy dog and everyone was smiling all the time, because truly bad things Just Couldn't Happen.

I remember getting my brother too, a few months later. Both my brother and sister were adopted, by the way. Up to the time I went to school, I firmly believed that to get a baby, one simply went to the doctor's office downtown and picked up a naked baby (you didn't even get the diaper, Mom brought all of the clothes with her). It was a grand adventure for me. Here was this platinum blond, blue eyed infant and he was OURS. Magic, just like the movie.

So, and you KNOW I have to ask.....

What was your favorite movie when you were a child? What is the movie that you saw that has stayed with you for all the time since? I think we all have one, we just need to think about it for a bit.


  1. My two favorites were Mary Poppins and Lady & the Tramp. I also loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, just not *quite* as much. Mary Poppins has stayed with me, to the point that I bought the 45th anniversary DVD, and the moment it arrived in the mail, I opened it and watched the movie, followed by the movie with commentary, followed by all 2 hours of special features. ;-)

    Love the story, Messy! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oliver! Same year as you, 1968 and I was six. Musical Dickens dreck, with Mark Lester doing everything in his power to be doe eyed and adorable via soft focus, Oliver Reed as the scariest motherf*cker ever, Ron Moody channeling Marty Feldman as Fagin, pre-Pufnstuf Jack Wild in a fit of appropriate casting as The Artful Dodger, and frequent special appearances by Shani Wallace's remarkable boobs in a bodice.

    Insanely stupid, endless songs, sappy beyond all logic and reason.

    Every now and again I'll be walking (ambling, usually) and the cadence of my steps will bring on the song "one boooooooy, boy for saaaaaaale, he's going cheeeeeeeap, only seven guineas. That. Or thereabout..."

    Ah, yes. BTW - we have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and watch it once or twice a year, when the kids want to see it. Only Cubby Broccoli could have made that film. Had a Bond-girl name and all.

  3. I remember Oliver.... at least the sound track. One of the kids that used to babysit from time to time used to bring it over and sing like a loon. We thought it was hilarious. Sad to think that we may have destroyed a budding singer's career... Nah. Even then I knew she was a no-hoper.

    I think I got to see Lady and the Tramp once before it got tied up in litigation and locked in the vault for a few decades. I never did understand why they didn't just PAY Peggy Lee and get it the heck over with. It's not like they could deny that she sang the song, right?

    The Sound of Music was another musical that got watched in our house every time it was on TV. It was a favorite of my mother's, so that TV time was absolutely sacred. Not a big deal then, though - there were only two stations and no cable. Yes, I am aware that dates me, too.

    One movie I have NEVER watched was Bambi. Mom took me to see it when I was four or so - it was another matinee. She had to haul me out screaming and crying when Bambi's mother was killed. Apparently there were a bunch of parents contending with wailing children in the foyer.

    After that, I never wanted to see that movie again. From that day to this, I don't even like watching clips of the thing. I've tried to block the whole experience from my mind and I've pretty much succeeded. I only know what happened because my mother told me. I think it's a major "How To Fuck Up Your Kids" movie.

  4. Movies weren't as magical for me when I was a kid. Not sure why? Maybe just because it was a few years later (and that small amount of time *does* make a huge difference, due to technology and the proliferation of TVs in the home and local UHF stations) and so movies were on UHF pretty much all of the time? Whatever it was, movies didn't really grip me until much later in life. Perhaps I just needed to accumulate more life experience in order to know when I'd experienced something truly amazing? Who knows? But, for me, going to movies as a kid meant (honestly) pulling over near the drive-in and hiding in the trunk or the back floorboard (under a blanket) of the car so that my folks could pay for two instead of four people. They'd have made home-made popcorn prior to us leaving, with real melted butter dribbled over all of it, and salt, shook up in a paper grocery bag. Heaven! They'd have filled a couple of jugs with juice and we'd all pile in. I don't remember a single movie title that we saw there, but I still have a true and honest warm spot in my heart for popcorn made on the stove, with real butter dribbled over. :-)

  5. I grew up in the Eighties, the golden age of really awful movies, and my mom seemed to think that "the kids love movies, let's go to every new one that comes out that isn't rated R", so it seems like I saw all of them. Might be why I've got such a strong distaste for Hollywood even today.

    My fondest childhood movie memories involve a combination of buckets of popcorn bigger than my head, Mountain Dew served in bathtub-sized cups (and the attendant performance enhancement when playing sports after the movies ended), and all the other incidentals to the theater experience (including putting my initials in the high-score list on the Smash TV arcade cabinet). The movies themselves? Not so much, although I still love Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure out of all proportion to that film's quality.

  6. Beauty and the Beast, with The Little Mermaid coming in a close second. I was a total girly girl as a child, obsession with power tools nonwithstanding, and loved old fairy tales. I have both on DVD, and watch then when I'm feeling down.

    As another 80s/early 90s kid, I didn't really connect strongly with any of the live action movies out at the time. I still have a soft spot for Short Circuit, Ghostbusters, Star Wars and the like, but none of them were movies I was obsessed with as a child.

  7. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and my Dad was in the Army and then college for much of that time. We didn't go to movies at all and we didn't even have a working TV until I was in 6th grade. My husband calls me a "poor deprived child" every time he starts talking about the movies he thinks I should have seen but that I know nothing about.

    My parents did make the mistake of letting me go to some kind of special program at school when I was in 7th or 8th grade, however. I watched some Bela Lugosi movies ~ The Pit and the Pendulum and at least 2 others. I remember them mostly because of the nightmares I had for years afterwards. Even now I still have an occasional nightmare about a woman locked in an iron maiden while the dungeon door slowly clicks shut and everyone else leaves the castle forever.

    I watch quite a few movies now but I'd much rather be reading.

  8. Well, the movie that's *stayed* with me all these years is Star Wars. Since that's ALL it was called in 1977, I don't use the subtitles that other fans use these days. There are folks who will only call it "A New Hope" and would insist that I'm not a True Fan for calling it otherwise. The amusing thing is that I'm older than many of those types of fans. Anyway, Star Wars has taken up far too much over the decades of what should be my OWN imagination, and still has a hold. ::sigh}}

    Jaws is the reason that I have a phobia of being in dark water. This includes man-made, freshwater lakes. AND I GREW UP ON THE OCEANFRONT. Damn you, Spielberg!

    Raise your hand if the boat ride in Willy Wonka freaked you the hell out.

    Ah, yes. Oliver. To this day sometimes I end up with snippets of "Who Will Buy?" in my head, because of course it's never the entire song when that happens, is it!?!? In high school I wrote a parody of "Food Glorious Food" for a sketch comedy type of play. Since I grew up in southern Cal, it was "Smog Glorious Smog." AND it actually has a reference to global warming in the lyrics! Meaning, the alarm has been sounding for over 20 years.

    Outside of the movies, I believe it was also 1977 when I first saw "Sweeney Todd" performed onstage. Angela Lansbury and George Hearn, ahhhh yeahhhhh. While the rest of the family recoiled in horror, I was... just... "Ooooooooooo..." If only my sister would let me share it with the niece. So what if she's 10. I was 9 when I joined the dark side, dammit! And she could end up playing Johanna!

  9. T, I think this is one you would get.... It's from my literary muse, archy the cockroach, from something he "wrote" called "The Ballade of the Under Side":

    above me wheel
    the stars and suns
    but humans shut
    me from the sky
    you see their eyes as pure
    as nuns
    i see their wayward
    feet and sly
    i own and own it with
    a sigh
    my point of view
    is somewhat wried
    i am a pessimistic
    i see things from the
    under side

    I'm sure you get it, or will if you think about it for a bit.

    When I was in university and things were very bad, I went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. It showed at the Westmount Theater for about three years straight. I could get lost in it, you see. There are times when real life doesn't bear thinking about.

    My favorite movie from The Feral Years was Mad Max. BEFORE it was dubbed into "american".

  10. What great reminiscences!

    I loved The Wizard of Oz, but only saw it on TV, and it was years before I knew that the Oz scenes were in color because we had only a black & white TV.
    The scenes in Mary Poppins where they step into the chalk paintings (penguins and merry-go-round races in particular) remain vivid.
    I loved (still do) Chitty-Chitty, especially the inventions, when the adults pretend to be toys, and the dreaded Child Catcher!
    I saw Snow White in the theater, and the scene where she is lost in the woods scared the bejezus out of me. It is only a few seconds long, a fact which surprised me when seeing it again as an adult!

    We went to the drive-in a lot too, and it always seemed to be one of those "Sinbad"-type movies with a cyclops and moving skeletons. Does anyone remember those?

  11. ohmegod!
    I'm sooooo old I can't even remember what my favorite movie was!
    Surely I must have liked Disney films but all I can remember is Oklahoma! My stepfather was infuriated that I sneaked out and went to watch what he considered an idiotic American movie so it stayed with me. Actually I assume it was dubbed in French and I loved the singing and dancing --and then I grew up, gasp!

    Love the pix of Spring! Just the right time of the year to cheer us up, that and the description of that wine --sheer poetry!

  12. I'm going to limit myself to under 10 years of age. Because as we all know by now, I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre at 10 and it changed my life.

    I did like Bambi a lot. My dad died when I was a baby, and I already understood Death so I identified with Bambi when he sadly went to hibernate in his little cave all by himself and then woke up in the Spring, ready to resume living on his own. Shit happens, and life goes on. Check.

    I still regard Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a masterpiece. A life filled with alternating bouts of Beauty and Terror was also something I identified with. Also the idea of coming across a house in the woods with seven lonely men who all would love my pie appealed to me.

    Like Smag, my folks would have us hunker down in the wayback of the Valiant station wagon to avoid paying for 5 instead of 2. My parents never paid any attention to ratings and took us to whatever they wanted to watch, and counted on the fact that my little brother and sister would fall asleep before the sex scenes. Me, they didn't care what I saw. Actually, they didn't care what any of us saw ~ they just knew my bro and sis would ask too many annoying questions and interrupt the movie.

    Two distinct memories are watching "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" and there's a scene when one of the guys goes to take a pinch of snuff from an offered silver snuffbox, and the guy offering the snuff snaps the box shut on the guy's fingers and he screams and writhes in pain.

    The other was a war movie my dad wanted to see. My mom and dad had treated themselves to a cheese pizza (which was a minor miracle in our family ~ usually we did the contraband popcorn in the paper bag a la Smag's folks and yes, we had real butter, too) and I guess I wasn't feeling well because the sight of the blood and guts on the screen and smell and the yellow-and-red of the cheese pizza my parents were scarfing down made a bad combo and I got up and moved forward to tell my mom and dad I wasn't feeling so good and I did ~ all over the front seat ~ and their pizza. Man, were they pissed.

    I do vividly remember seeing "Billy Jack" when I was little and being instantly enamored because Billy, like me, was part Indian he didn't like taking crap from The Man, and he went barefoot a lot.

  13. Don't laugh. "Santa Conquers the Martians." Yes, THAT one. See, it was a rainy day, not too cold. I was 5, give or take a year, and a firmly entrenched believer. We took a BUS to it, which was something we never did, so that was a treat in itself. I think Santa was present IN PERSON, and we got some kind of raffle ticket when we got there. I only know that part, because I won a paint by number set after the movie. My brother was extremely jealous, and spent the next few years tryng to prove to me that there was no Santa, until I reminded him that if I didn't get presents from Santa, neither would he. The movie explained how Santa knew so much about what we did, because in the movie, he had a great big telescope to watch us with. After the movie, it was still raining, and we took the bus home, or maybe my father picked us up. I was too excited about my new paint by number set to care.

  14. I woke up this morning knowing it was Vincent Prices, not Bela Lugosi, movies that I see in my nightmares. Don't remember any nightmares from last night though.

  15. My parents took my sister and me to the movies when we were small. There would have been a bunch of westerns, but I don't remember any movies except "Pajama Game" and "How the West Was Won"

    My wife an I watched "Pajama Game" a month or so ago, and it is still very good. A very young Bob Fosse did the choreography, and still danced in a couple of numbers. Jon Raitt was a vocal disappointment but Doris Day was at her best.

    The second movie was in "Cinerama" so we had to go to Omaha, Nebraska where they had the closest big wraparound screen theatre. I hated it; nothing but people drowning, getting shot, geting hanged, and whatever common ways of dying they had in the 1800's.

  16. Schuyler, one picky little comment. A signed-in member should not need to enter the squiggly letters to get his comments posted.

  17. First, "T" is really "herdthinner." I made a gmail account because hotmail blocks messages to more than 50 people at a time, and I very much needed to send an email to everyone at my church (for my moving sale. I hate craigslist. HATE IT).

    But "herdthinner" was taken on gmail, or some damned thing like that. Anyway, blogspot makes me post using the gmail account instead of hotmail.

    Yes, also liked CCBB. Sorry that I didn't confirm it. It may have been my first exposure to Britishisms like "wizard," "smashing," and "keen," but don't quote me on that.

    As a kid, every weekend's early afternoon I watched channel 5's Family Film Festival, hosted by Tom Hatten. He also hosted the Fleischer Bros' Popeye cartoons on a different day. The FFF introduced me and like-minded kids to, well, "the classics," like Marx Brothers movies, Abbott and Costello, the Hope/Crosby "Road" Pictures, and even weird-ass stuff like the live-action/animated movie "The Daydreamer." But hey, that one had Ray Bolger as The Pieman.

    Stuff like that - and the importance of the Warner Bros. cartoons exposing kids to classical music - mustn't be dismissed as a way to bridge generational gaps. I mean, I'm 42 and my favorite comedian of All Time is Jack Benny. Jack Benny! I remember, as a kid (8? 9? 10?) being very excited to see Dorothy Lamour, because of the "Road" pictures, perform onstage as the mother (character's name escapes me) in "Barefoot in the Park."

    This isn't to say that Kids These Days can't or won't appreciate stars, films or TV of yore. Folks like Gene Wilder are stopped every day by wide-eyed kids thrilled to meet "(iconic character)" Veteran actors up their kid-cred when they do comic book or sci-fi movies, and things of that nature.

    In the real world, Massachusetts is having its Kennedy-replacement senatorial elections. I've been torturing myself for 2 weeks by listening to the local radio guys obsessing over Scott Brown. I disagree with nearly everything they say, and when I (rarely) do agree, still wish they'd STFU already and move on to a new topic. They're like car accidents to me. So horrible to hear, yet I can't turn to another station! I... haven't the power! HELP ME!

  18. Never listen to local radio! All you can do at this point is get out your Ramones CDs and play them in the car when you drive. Loud. This will make you feel better, I promise! When you're at home, plug your I-Pod into a dock and listen to "This American Life" free podcasts from NPR.

  19. Haven't been to The Fly for a while, but of course pooham cannot resist a poll!

    We watched "The Wizard of Oz" every year when I was a kid, but on television. Good times, wonderful movie!

    My favorite memory of a film watched at a movie theater was "Bambi." Such a happy, sad, moving movie, especially for me when I saw it when I was 5 or 6. But I was also fascinated by the drawings(?) and scenery(?) in the film.

    The art in "Sleeping Beauty" struck me the same way. I love old Disney!

  20. Messy, we also watched "The Sound of Music" each and every year when it would air on the networks. Still love it. It was also one of the few VHS movies my Mom owned when the kids were small, so it still reminds them of visits to Granny's.

    I remember seeing a movie called "Orca the Killer Whale" when we lived in Window Rock, AZ. There was no theater there at that time, so we watched it in an auditorium. It scared me badly even though we lived in the middle of the desert!

    (P.S. The word I just had to type in to post this was smagyrod! hahahaha)

  21. Wow, I'm the only 1 who grew up in the 80s, period, because "The Little Mermaid" came out in my preteen years, as I recall. I loved it, but it's not a kids' movie that stayed with me. I always remember this song at the beginning of this movie "Toby and the Koala Bear": the song was "Jake the Fake." Great song. The movie I saw when I was 12 or so is a family standard, so I'll include it here-- we quote it & use quotes in conversations, etc. That would be "Labyrinth" with David Bowie & Jennifer Connelly. The other standard is "The Princess Bride," of course, but again, not exactly a movie from when I was little.

    I didn't like Snow White. I didn't like that she had short hair, & I thought her voice was too high & she annoyed me.

    What gave me nightmares? "Something Wicked This Way Comes" I saw when I was re 6, & that scared me. "Thriller" also scared me b/c my cousins watched it when I was 5 or so. But I didn't get nightmares from "Thriller."

  22. Oh wait! You know the movie I also loved when I was a little kid was "The Last Unicorn."

  23. Nah, Jennifer, I grew up in the eighties, I just don't remember going to the theater before The Lion King, specifically, but we did have L&TT & MP on vhs and I watched them regularly. Also had CCBB on VHS and I watched that regularly too.
    Purchased SoM on DVD to replace my copy on VHS when I got my DVD player.

  24. I am cracking up here, pooham, about the word you had to type to post. =-D

  25. Guys, you're killing me here. You have to remember that when I was CCBB, it was a FIRST RUN MOVIE in 1968. Sigh. Ok, ok.

    The movies that gave me nightmares? Strangers On A Train, and Cape Fear. The FIRST Cape Fear, the one with Robert Mitchum, not the histrionic twaddle in the remake......

  26. Messy, I fully remember that! ;-)
    I didn't have movies in theaters growing up, though. We got to see whatever replayed on tv, and we rented a VCR for birthdays. When we got our first (hand-me-down) vcr, I was 8.

    Movies that gave me nightmares, hm....IT strictly terrified me. But then again, it was the first scary movie I'd every seen, and the first thing rated above PG.

  27. The Wizard of Oz was THE annual video sacrament for my family; during my childhood, this flick was broadcast on TV once a year amid much ballyhoo. Each viewing was an intense emotional experience for us kids, even though we were aware of the datedness and general fakeness of the production.

    We had only a B&W TV set, but we all knew that when Dorothy opened the door after her house had crashed, the next scene was going to be a blaze of Technicolor plastic Munchkinland!

    Of course, Judy Garland's rendition of Over the Rainbow always makes me teary; they played it on the evening news when she died...haunting....

    And to this day, those winged monkeys still give me the willies.

  28. Welcome, Dr. Worm!

    We didn't have a color TV until I was about nine years old and the old B&W set finally died beyond all redemption (I suspect my mother had a hand in its demise).

    There WAS no cable television until I was about the same age, and we never did get cable when I was living at home. We had three television stations, and the movies that were on TV were the ones that we watched. There wasn't money to go to the movies very often, either.

    I'm told (by The Boy) that my pop culture education was severely stunted by this...but then he was in the same situation I was and worse. He's a farm kid, you see. Unless someone drove him, he couldn't exactly walk or bike over the the theater to blow his allowance. At least in suburbopurgatory I could go once in a while on my own.

  29. Yep, Messy, I was a quasi-farm kid too. Closest theater was 30 miles away.
    Cable was something we had one winter when I was 10. Otherwise the big three and PBS were the only channels I got. ;-)

  30. Thank you, ma'am, I'm glad to have such a nice place to pop out!

    Even in the sort-of-populated area where I grew up (OK we are talking in the 1960s, from one end to the other), there were 2 TV stations: ABC in town (owned by Jesse Helms, but we won't go into that now); NBC / CBS nearby,; and public TV at yet another place (big University of course).

    Per Wizard of Oz, one year the usual station didn't broadcast it, for some unknown reason (Billy Graham was on, maybe?), so we somehow tuned in towards a distant station, sat close to a snowflake screen, and by leaning close, gleaned the dalogue and songs. Of course we knew it all by heart anyway, but....

    Yeah, so what was the 20th-century version of "on foot uphill both ways" ?

  31. "we had to get up to change the channel, and there were only 3 of them"

  32. Some time ago (high school-ish) I was horrified to learn that a whole slew of my friends had never watched The Wizard of Oz. And the others who had, couldn't recall the last time that they had. I thought that *everyone* had the thing memorized.

    Silliest of all about that... okay, I'll give some background first. One of the friends was, and still is, a DJ for his university's radio station. He graduated millennia ago, but nobody has ever wanted his time slot. The show is... eclectic, to say the least. Sometimes he even persuaded the gang to get together in the old barn and put on a show. Radio shows, that is. Most were original (improvised, I mean) radio shows. Some were from scripted materials. All were done as comically as we could, even when sticking to the original dialogue.

    In order, the best and funniest of our "productions" were MacBeth, Casablanca, Death of a Salesman, and The Wizard of Oz. Yes, we made MacBeth and Death of a Salesman funny. VERY funny.

    Okay, there's the background. I can't remember if he suggested TWoO or if I did. But the plan was to perform the movie script as a radio play, and that's when I learned that I was the only one who had any significant memories of it. And the guy who'd never seen it at all was the one playing keyboard for the song portions! To this day I regard it as a miracle that we pulled that off. On the other hand, disastrous performances (MacBeth) made things just as interesting as the ones where everything clicked (Casablanca).

    While a kid: VHF, there were 7 channels. UHF... 3, maybe? I'm only counting the English-speaking channels.