Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Home Movie


Remember home movies, which were silent, short clips that cost money to develop so you were careful what you shot?

In today's New York Times op-ed, Frank Rich writes about the above home movie, Disneyland Dream, by amateur filmmaker Robbins Barstow about his family winning a trip to Disneyland. In 2008, it was enshrined in the National Film Registry alongside many films including The Terminator and the terrific Elia Kazan/Budd Schulberg satire A Face in the Crowd.

Rich was waxing elegiac about a bygone hopefulness in middle-class America, but for me the primitive technology is as much a part of what's been left behind.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Keys


Nobody told me there'd be days like these, especially the night before Christmas Eve. It's a tale of keys lost and found that Rube Goldberg could not have charted.

Parker Spitzer was airing a pre-taped greatest hits -- including the excellent stocking stuffer of Gene Simmons on his visit to the Anne Frank house --  so I had a rare day off. My girlfriend was in Colorado with her folks, my kids were out of town with their mom.  So it was Errand Day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Escape from "A Wonderful Life"

Each Christmas, the chestnuts are taken out of mothballs to pull at our heartstrings and pocketbooks. Linus shames the cynics with his Biblical message, Bing and Bowie cryogenically reanimate their intergenerational pa-rum-pa-pum-pum, and Scrooge and George Bailey rediscover the meaning of life.

Well, I have a slightly different tradition.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Divorce Is Hot

Divorce is a rite of passage -- like losing your virginity, marriage, becoming a parent, going through illness and losing your parents -- that you can hear about forever, but not really understand until you've experienced it yourself.

But unlike those other examples, which are generally honored and supported by societal rituals, divorce is quite isolating. There aren't greeting cards or parties or showers, there are only ruptured friendships, an underlying sense that you might be contagious, or that you have torn up the societal contract.

So I was fascinated to read that with much fanfare, prominent divorcees Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington have unveiled

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Father's Watch

When my brothers and I were divvying up the stuff left behind in my parents' house, we laughed over the fact that my parents never threw anything out. I found a set of dessert goblets they'd been given as a wedding gift in 1958, that they'd moved to their new home in 1960, and then again to their next (and final) home in 1976. When I found them in a top cupboard, they were still wrapped in newspaper from 1960, meaning they had sat unused for 16 years, then been moved -- and sat untouched for another 33.

They saved boxes from every piece of electronic equipment, in case it ever had to be returned under warranty, and then kept the boxes long after they'd replaced the equipment (and usually kept the outmoded/wornout/broken piece itself too).

The most emblematic find

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Burt & Elvis (Guest Blog for East Portland Blog)

I've always loved getting assignments. Dave Liljengren at East Portland Blog has been asking guest writers to post about a video of their choosing.

Since he was paying the same as I pay myself, I said "Sure."

Click here:
http://www.eastportlandblog.com/?p=3150

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