Sunday, January 29, 2012

Three Blog Night Again

Hello, everyone! The weekend hit and things got busy and i neglected my blogging. So, to make up for that I would like to present three blogs.

Friday: My Book, My Gift

The events detailed in Amber Waves happened not long ago – well, some of them happened a very long time ago – in the days after 9-1-1 and the infamous shoe bomber, when most of America began looking for terrorists under every bed in a manner that would have made Joe McCarthy – look him up – proud. The one positive thing I can see to come from it all is a radical increase in foot cleanliness spurred by airport security concerns and resultant required shoe removal. You might call it pedophobia, if there is such a word.

In the context of that time, our travelers found themselves in a place that just didn’t give a damn. The people who lived there had their own set of priorities, and clean shoes were not of paramount concern. But, then, what was worth blowing up in Amber Waves, Nevada?

Many of the events that take place in this book actually happened as part of the historical record. Some did not. I have taken liberties with them all, for dramatic effect. Or comedic interpretation. Or poetic license, or shits and giggles.

Replaying Jason Edwards’ life was like running a highlights reel: although he had many ‘lives,’ re-inventing himself again and again, memory best recalled the most dramatic ones that found him encountering the famous and notorious. The rest were not dull, exactly, just tame and peaceful. And you, Gentle Reader, prefer to hear about the tumultuous and confrontational. Admit it, you do – it makes for better storytelling.

The results are the stories in this book that I have given you.

Saturday: The Disney Movie That's Still On The Shelf

I may have written about this before, I do not remember. Even so, the question bears repeating. The Walt Disney Studios have produced arguably the best animated films of all time. If we add Pixar to the mix, the best recent films join the list.

Every one of these films is readily available on DVD and most on Blue-Ray, at least whenever the vaults are opened to sell them to the next generation. These are timeless classics, like Bambi, Dumbo, Snow White, and more recent classics like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Up. Yet one remains mysteriously missing. Of course I mean The Song of the South.

I saw it when I was a kid, and that was already a theatrical re-release. I whistled and sang Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, literally, for years, and always felt joy when I did. But the film disappeared. Pirated copies exist, I am sure, but Disney decided to pull the plug on any push to put this one on tape or disc. Why?

The answer seems to be a matter of image, if I understand it right. The image that Uncle Remus presents to young people of African-American decent turns out to be a negative one, an Uncle Tom image of the placating, put upon old Black Man (before our current era of political correctness one might have used the “N” word and meant it in every sense possible, especially the ironic ones), subjugated by the white community around him. At least, Disney seems to think so.

Perhaps I saw a different movie. I saw a man of color struggling to retain his dignity while at the same time giving the young white child who loves him and admires him every scrap of education Remus could. I saw a man who was put upon by the society around him, no longer owned as a slave but often treated like one, yet remained the true font of wisdom in the story. I saw the real hero of the story being that marvelous black man, who saved the boy’s soul as well as his life.

Maybe it is reverse discrimination that has kept this fine film on the shelf: maybe the film is so good at portraying how life was for people like Remus that the white community is embarrassed to admit it. But today is a new age, filled with new awarenesses. Disney ought to release Song of the South without explanation or apology. It was the product of its times, and a reflection of a specific chapter in American history but, more, it is a wonderful vehicle for telling every child who will listen that, in the end, it is the clever and witty Br’er Rabbit who will outsmart Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear every time.

Sunday: Silly Men in Training

My grandson is great fun to be around. He will be four years old in March. Already, he displays a remarkable sense of humor and an easy, infectious laugh. Watching his funny bone at work, and admittedly encouraging it at every turn, I have come to a conclusion: either Xander is very sophisticated, or my own humor operates on the same level as a three and a half year old.

Diane says, “No comment.”

But sometimes she can be a real pooh-pooh head.

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