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I recently watched the last half of a movie I never imagined I'd watch the first or last half of ever again: Harry and the Hendersons. It's not the worst movie ever, and I was happy to watch it rather than Mark Harmon being all stern (he was busy being stern on almost every other channel I get), but I suppose it was an hour I could have devoted to, say, reading Proust. Or something like that.

What I didn't expect was that watching John Lithgow being humanized by a giant, kind-eyed big-foot would send me hurtling into a vortex of pain - childhood movie pain. Harry and the Hendersons, you see, reminded me for some ridiculous reason of a film I saw back in 1984 - a terrible, no-good, very bad film that made me very, very sad when I was eight years old.

WARNING: What you are about to read is full of spoilers. It is pretty much made up only of spoilers. Why you would be upset to find out things about movies you could have seen hundreds of times over since the 1980s, I don't know, but there it is. And if you have seen either of these movies (I'm going to talk about another one, too, because remembering the misery caused by watching the first one reminded me of the misery caused by watching the second one) hundreds of times, you are a terrible, terrible person who wants to support filmmakers who make young, sensitive, imaginative girls cry their hearts out. Also, by "spoilers", I mean "plot points I'm pretty sure I remember having been part of the plots of these movies, but that I may, in fact, have made up because I was under ten years old when I saw the movies, and my memory is not very reliable."

So. In 1984, I saw Iceman. I just looked it up on Imdb and discovered it was directed by a man named Fred Schepisi, who looks like a cross between a jolly uncle and Freddy Krueger and went on to make things like Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation, and, naturally, Mr. Baseball. Iceman starred Timothy Hutton, and John Lone, and Lindsay Crouse (Riley's boss from the Initiative [Buffy]). Here's the Imdb summary:

"An anthropologist who is part of an arctic exploration team discovers the body of a prehistoric man who is still alive. He must then decide what to do with the prehistoric man and he finds himself defending the creature from those that want to dissect it in the name of science."

That's right. There is a lovely prehistoric man who is very confused but wants to be friends with people, and a couple of decent scientists who respect life and feelings, and then there are EVIL, HEARTLESS science-y people who want to torture this poor, confused, friendly creature in order to learn things. Here's where my memory gets a bit hazy. For some reason, this man hates the sound of helicopters. And after a whole lot of "But he's a living creature! He deserves respect!" and "He could advance the cause of human knowledge! He must be dissected!" he is hanging out in his enclosure, the bad science people bring in a helicopter for some reason, and he freaks out, jumps off something and dies. He just dies. And all the kids watching learn a little something about moral ambiguity, and the suffering of innocents, and how life is tragic and awful and tragic.

Remembering how inconsolable and angry I was at the end of this movie reminded me of how inconsolable and angry I was at the end of another movie. This one was called The Dog Who Stopped the War (or La guerre des tuques), and it was also released in 1984. That year was one that made me very sad, apparently. The film poster makes the whole thing look like an adorable cuddle-fest:
Snow-fort fun! Winter hijinks! A big, goofy, lovable dog! Here's the Imdb plot summary (which I suspect was translated from a different language, probably French):

"During Christmas' holidays, the children of a village split in two gang to play a snowball war. But that half-tone war scattered some bitterness and make more difficult the mutual attirance between Luc, the chief of the assailant and Sophie one leader of the snow castle defenders."


The kids have a snowball fight. They build giant snow fortresses. They start kind of hating each other. There is a big, goofy, lovable dog. The children become more and more hateful and competitive and vicious. THE BIG, GOOFY, LOVABLE DOG IS CRUSHED BY A COLLAPSING SNOW-FORT AND DIES. The children realize that they have become hateful and competitive and vicious and decide never to fight again BECAUSE THEY KILLED THE DOG. 

I believe I saw this in the theatre at someone's birthday party. During the closing credit sequence, all you could hear was the sound of dozens and dozens of young children weeping. One of those children was I. I knew those snowball-throwing kids were taking it all too seriously. Throughout the movie, I was thinking, "Come on, guys. You should learn to cooperate and be nice to one another." I already knew that kids shouldn't fight and be mean. THE DOG DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE.

Thank God for the arrival of 1985 and movies like Back to the Future, which was only upsetting because I kept thinking Marty McFly was going to make out with his mother. 

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

 
 
It's always upsetting when you realize a lot of people are younger than you are. Really, everyone no longer in elementary, junior high, or high school should be older than I am. There are certain kinds of people, though, whose youthfulness is especially egregious.

1) Doctors
Doctors should not be younger than I am. Doctors, from what I know of them from 1990s television, spend approximately 25 years in school, and then an additional 56 years as residents. They spend years and years falling in love with one another, having sex in closets, developing tragic friendships with people who are dying, and fighting off knife-wielding attackers in the emergency room before they become actual doctors. So the fact that every specialist I see looks at me appraisingly from eyes that never appraised the 1980s is upsetting and wrong and generally unacceptable.

2) Newscasters
Newscasters should not be younger than I am. Sure, the ones who look a little bit like high-class prostitutes or rich men's mistresses - they can be youthful (in that soon-to-overripe kind of way). But the ones who've cut their call-girl hair and developed those immovable hair hats should not be younger than I am. They are supposed to give the impression of gravely delivering grave news they don't fully understand because they're newscasters, not journalists, god dammit, and they're supposed to do so using lips that existed prior to the year 1990.

3) Mothers in telephone/internet provider commercials
Actresses playing mothers in telephone/ internet provider commercials should not be younger than I am. You know the ones I mean - they're often ethically ambiguous, not actively attractive, but not noticeably unattractive, and they are enviable because they are lucky enough to have husbands who don't know how to use the television remote and children who have attitudes and inappropriate boyfriends. They look both despairing ("That's a remote, you darling, hapless man!") and smug ("I have a husband, children and a television, you darling, hapless spinster!"), and as of a couple of years ago, they started looking about ten years younger than I am.

Thank God I'm not a successful professional or a contented family woman, or I'd be surrounded by such upstarts all the time.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

 
 
The other day, while combing the internet for corgi-fied movie posters and lists of foreign words that have no equivalent in English (did you know that the Germans have a word for "excess weight gained from emotional overeating" that translates literally as "grief bacon"? If you did not know that, were you truly alive until one sentence ago?), I came across a list called 48 Things That Will Make You Feel Old. This list inspired me a) to suspect I might be older than the person who compiled this list, and b) to remember the following three things that recently made me feel aged and "hey kids, did you realize there was a time before the internet when, if you wanted some good, old-fashioned corgied-up movie posters, you had to get scissors and paper and make them yourself"-y.

1) My niece, who was born when I was already basically an adult and is now in JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, is maybe going to be playing the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" next year with the school band. A couple of things about that bother me. The thing I was proudest of in grade seven (besides my battered "journal" full of "poetry", obviously) was my Ramones t-shirt, which I purchased from a Yonge St. head shop (along with a t-shirt featuring a skull wearing an eye-patch that I have since tragically lost track of [the shirt, I mean, not the eye-patch]). I still have that Ramones t-shirt, which makes it twenty two years old. My Ramones t-shirt is nine years older than my niece. Also, when I was in grade seven, my music teacher (who looked almost exactly like James Taylor) made us sing songs like "One Tin Soldier" and "Big Yellow Taxi." They were roughly twenty years old when we sang them. When my niece performs "Blitzkrieg Bop" it will be thirty-seven years old. Of course, my music teacher was much older in relation to the release dates of his songs than I was in relation to "Blitzkrieg Bop", but still. If we'd sung thirty-seven-year-old songs in junior high school, we'd have been singing songs from 1952.

2) When I was in my first year of university, my boyfriend's fifteen-year-old brother purchased Ill Communication and was amazed to discover it wasn't the Beastie Boys' first album and that I had been all of ten years of age when I heard that first Beastie Boys album. That experience of feeling much older than a younger person occurred eighteen years ago.

3) On a recent episode of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon was revealed to have purchased a tiny Princess Leia costume for a daughter she does not yet have. This revelation triggered a sudden, vivid flashback to Halloween, 1982. I was in love, IN LOVE, with a boy named Colin. Colin was emphatically not in love with me. Imagine how thrilled I was, then, when I turned up at school on Halloween wearing my super-awesome Princess Leia costume and discovered that Colin was wearing a super-awesome Luke Skywalker costume (I preferred Han, really, but Colin wasn't dressed as Han; he was dressed as Luke). I proceeded to pursue Colin around the schoolyard (not a winning strategy, by the way), yelping things like, "But you have to love me! I'm Leia and you're Luke! We HAVE to love each other!" That totally underwhelming, slow-moving chase sequence was made possible by the fact that this was 1982, and NOBODY KNEW THAT LUKE AND LEIA WERE BROTHER AND SISTER. 

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
The comments I am about to make about the George R. R. Martin books I (and every other person currently not dead) have been reading are not insightful, revealing, or original; they are really just symptoms of the terrible affliction from which I am currently suffering, an affliction which involves me wanting to talk as much as possible about the predictable and unexciting things I have been thinking about A Song of Ice and Fire.

Here are the three things I would like to say about these books (I have just started reading book four, and have not yet watched the series, because each book is 85,000 pages long and so I've been busy):

1) I feel very ambivalent about the fact that each book is 85,000 pages long. On the one hand, that is wonderful, because I would rather read these books than talk to friends (unless it's about how vividly these stories call to mind the murkier, bloodier periods of medieval history), talk to family (unless it's about how hard it is to behave honourably and not get beheaded) or talk to my guinea pig (who is surprisingly uninterested in my reflections on moral ambiguity). On the other hand, I can't take it anymore. It's like The Incredible Journey, if those animals were about to finally get home, but then found their home had been destroyed, and then had to go on the run again, and then were forced to marry a sort-of-villainous dwarf, and then soiled themselves... The lack of closure makes me happy and stimulated and extremely depressed. And the longer the story goes on, the greater the likelihood that the people who don't seem sympathetic but whom you really kind of like will kill someone you also feel that way about and/or get killed in some horrible way.

2) If I were to appear in one of the books, I would promptly die. Not only because I lack physical strength, spiritual courage, and intellectual resourcefulness...but because I HAVE NO IDEA WHO ANYONE IS. I mean, I do, for a brief, clear, shining moment. I know who the Butcher of Khas Dogol is (made up by me) and what happened when the Butcher encountered Durthan the Aggrieved of the web-footed folk (also made up by me - I am, I am not ashamed to say, less creative than George R. R. Martin and the lengthy fantasy novels I am planning feature none of his imaginativeness with all of his people-soiling-themselves-ness). For two or three pages at a time, I can recall who has pledged allegiance to whom, and which coat of arms features eight wizened peas, and which a poxy crab. And then someone else dies in an awful way, or is disfigured, or is betrayed by someone they trusted/didn't trust at all, and I lose track of it all. If I turned up in one of these books, I would almost immediately be killed because I would rush up to some familiar-looking person, forgetting he'd recently changed sides and set fifteen people on fire.

3) Not a chapter goes by without someone shitting himself. When I have the time (because hot damn, I already have the inclination), I will create a version of the series with all the parts that don't feature people shitting themselves taken out, and you'll still be looking at 85,000 pages of classic Martin.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

 
 
Recently, doctors have begun to warn of the dangers of "Facebook depression." According to this article, young people can start feeling low because of repeated exposure to "status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times."

This is a problem not limited to the young, as I can attest. So many people I knew long ago have moved to exciting places, have been to parties, have visited cottages. So many people have jobs and handsome dogs and way more friends than I have. Facebook shows me this, and Facebook cares not. 

Then there are the blogs. Oh, THE BLOGS. My friend (who does not even live here but whose good taste defies geography) brought the following blog to my attention: www.asinkremains.com. It's written by a young woman from Toronto and features attractive, light-drenched things. There are photos of gorgeous, delectable meals (from restaurants at which, theoretically, I could also be dining as I live in the same city), and photos of relaxed but hopelessly stylish living rooms (which I could at least be working towards by way of yard sales and a keen eye for sales), and photos of attractive women in relaxed and hopelessly stylish clothes (all my pants are the same colour. Why are all my pants the same colour?). Also, why am I not accompanied everywhere by dancing motes of sunlight?

This kind of blog creates in me a feeling it took me awhile to find an appropriate name for. I considered "envog" (envy + blog), and "blinferiority" (blog + inferiority) , and "bluilt" (blog + guilt), but in the end settled on "blahg." Such blogs make me feel blahg. 

But then I thought: "Surely there must be others who stay in on Saturday nights with their best friend Robert Osborne...who will never be comfortable pairing shorts with tights...who will never be in a position to craft their own letterpress wedding invitations..." Surely there must be others who live untidily and unstylishly and in a way that would embarrass blogs and Facebook pages alike. 

So to counteract the effect of the blogs that make me feel blahg, I offer the following three photos of my apartment, all totally unstaged.


Picture
1 bag of Swedish Berries (empty); 1 bottle of cheapest-available Argentinian wine (not drinking during the day - just neglected to put it away the night before); 1 copy of New York Times (largely unread)
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1 bottle of wheat germ (never sure exactly how long that's supposed to last; doesn't yet have the rancid smell the internet warns me about); 1 extremely large and aged bottle of tonic from long ago when my friends came over and we had some with gin; a cucumber for my guinea pig.
Picture
1 vibrantly grey sweatshirt-like shirt I got at Old Navy; 1 vibrantly grey cardigan I got at Jacob at some point in the 1990s and continue to wear.
It's not that I want people to stop having beautiful things, and making beautiful things, and looking beautiful; it's just not nice when you think that everyone around you is living a beautiful life while you're busy throwing out some questionable leeks (that you never used because you never got around to making that quinoa recipe) while watching an NCIS episode you've already seen and didn't like the first time. 

But if I could convince myself that in living rooms everywhere regrets are cultivated while leeks go bad and Mark Harmon looks weary and worldly-wise, I'm sure I'd feel a whole lot better.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.