Category Archives: Non Sequitorial

Is it 2021 yet?

Has 2020 all been a bad dream? Or is this a reality I’ve actually been living through? I remember sitting on my sofa around mid-March, when someone on TV said we’d probably be sheltering in place for the foreseeable future. I actually laughed, finding that simply incredible. Well, it was no joke, because after a brief mirage called “summer,” we’re doing it again, and for who-knows-how-long.

And now we’ve come upon the holidays, and there’s nothing about them that seems normal. The only thing that does is the perennial hope the New Year brings, and I don’t think anyone will argue 2021 doesn’t carry extra weight. The next year carries equal measures of portent and potential, and I for one can’t wait to get on with it.

Here’s hoping it’s a good one as I remain, ever optimistic.  See you on the next calendar page.

Hittin the Holiday Film Vault

Movies are my favorite form of escapism, and when I first posted this list a while ago, the only diversion I needed was one from the over-commercialism of the season. How quaint that seems now. Without going into the reasons why, let’s just take these little gems for what they’re worth, a short vacation out of a reality that’s become too grim of late. So get cozy, grab the popcorn and lose yourself in these trifles of holiday storytelling.

1. The Shop Around the Corner ( 1940) – Must be my Eastern European blood calling to me, but I just love this sparkling Ernst Lubitsch romance set in a prewar Budapest gift shop. Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan as two battling sales clerks who don’t know they’re falling in love via the post, as each other’s anonymous pen pal. Stellar secondary characters, including a priceless William Tracy as the cheeky delivery boy, Pepi. The Christmas Eve menu at the end had me salivating.

2. The Man Who Came to Dinner ( 1942) – After dining at a Ohio local’s home during a  lecture tour, notoriously acerbic radio personality Sheridan Whiteside slips on his hosts’ icy steps, and takes over not only their house but their lives. Starring Monty Woolley as The Man and Bette Davis as his aide-de-camp, the snark and sarcasm are so sharp and quick you’ll come away nicked but you’ll be laughing too hard to care. Still fresh over seventy years later, The Man is based on Algonquin Roundtable-er, Alexander Woolcott, his cronies thin veneers of Noel Coward, Harpo Marx, Gertrude Lawrence and all who were definitely in-crowd.

3. Holiday Affair (1949) – No one did heavy-lidded better than The Mitch, and the very fact that he actually made a holiday film piqued my curiosity enough to watch it. Just by the look of this poster you could see the only thing that remotely indicated that it had anything to do with Christmas was war-widow’s Janet Leigh’s sheer wrapping definitely promised presents for someone. Oh, somewhere among the movie’s a plot involving a department store clerk and a retail spy, a sassy kid, a train set, a jilted–oh who cares! Mitch smolders and Janet’s a brush fire waiting to happen.

4. A Christmas Story ((1983) – All nine-year-old Ralphie wants for Christmas is a genuine Red Ryder BB gun, and he’ll do darn near anything to get it. Based on the recollections of storyteller Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash, Peter Billingsley had the part of a lifetime that until this day loops every Christmas on cable channel TBS. Darren McGavin ought to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for one priceless part as Ralphie’s dad who spouts the immortal words, “It’s a major award!”

5. The Holiday (2006) – Don’t ask me why I like this story of American movie trailer maker Cameron Diaz, and English wedding column writer Kate Winslet who swap their respective Hollywood and Surrey homes for the Christmas holidays. Maybe it’s got something to do with Jude Law being tossed into the mix, I don’t know, but the whole thing sure sounds like a good idea to me.

happy effing thanksgiving

Seriously. I mean, what else can happen? Haven’t we already been though the grinder–how many times this year? How much more fucked up can it get before 2020 calls it a day? How many people are afraid of the answer to that? All I know is it’s thirty-six days and counting until we can nail this bastard shut. Then it’s only twenty more days until, well, you know. Hanging on until then.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…well. What else can you call yourselves besides survivors?

RIP John Lewis

I met John Lewis at an author breakfast at BEA in New York in 2012 for his book “March,” where Diana Gabaldon and Chris Matthews were also featured. After their panel, the authors stuck around for to sign the books we all received gratis, his being a thin preview copy. He was the first one I went to, and bending from the stage, Mr. Lewis graciously took the time to talk to me as I told him I’d like to teach his book in my classes. It was so noisy in there, I can’t exactly recall what he said. Or maybe it was just I was so awed as I knew I was speaking to history. The dedication in the book he signed for me still speaks today.

Are you brave enough for video?

I was in a work Zoomer last week, when the first thing I did when logging one was turn on the camera. Out of six people, I quickly found out I was the only one who turned theirs on. So I asked why, and was told since we’re home, we’re being casual. So “casual” means no camera. Got it. So I went to get some consensus from my friends. One of them told me she hasn’t worn a bra since March for her meetings. Another bud told me he usually has a drink in hand. No one wears shoes. Some like to photobomb with their cats, but never with kids.  Meetings are one way to escape them for an hour. I for one always wear make-up and earrings. And I’m no camera wuss. Neh-vah.

Staying physically distant is about as patriotic as you can get

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Feel free to go outside and barbecue in the virus-dispelling air. Swill copious beers to clear your mind from all the bullshit that’s been clogging it these last few months. You also have my permission to have a second hot dog. What the hell–we have worse issues than our salt and nitrate intake. Like COVIDIOTS that think mask wearing is a deep state conspiracy. So you think this virus is a hoax? That it’ll just “go away?” Oh…rrrright, like that crusty oozing bleeding cold sore that comes back whenever you’re stressing. Hey, remember the chicken pox you had when your were six? Wait until it does a scabby revisit all over your body as shingles. They were viruses too!

But who wants to think about them now. It’s a holiday! Party like it’s 2019!

March Mania

e81c189f8951bf90ea28fc6741cc4d04Okay, it’s March now, and I’m sorry, this month is just weird. We celebrate being Irish, but how come we don’t have a day to celebrate being Dutch like me? I mean seriously, we have great chocolate and that kid who put his finger in the dike. And long before Colorado got legal they were smoking in the streets of Amsterdam, But I digress.

And isn’t that just typical. Because things getting weird seem so apropos this most weird of months. March is kind of like being a teenager: no longer a child, but not quite an adult either, made even worse because it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. For instance: even though Spring is less than two weeks away, March is still messing around with Winter. Friday it’s going to be 72 degrees during the day, and 35 by night, 28 two nights later. Such are the vagaries of weather in this part of Jersey. And even though the squirrels and sparrows are chasing each other up and down and around the maples and the daffodils are sprouting, I’m still turning on the furnace at night. Plus there’s my own self, still pudgy with winter poundage, but my feet and arms and legs are yearning to breath free in shorts and sandals, my body low on Vitamin D, which comes from not spending enough time outside. Big surprise there! Who wants to, when the outside’s not exactly been inviting lately—except for this week when it’s sadistically flirted with the upper echelon of the thermometer. And now it’s about to get worse. Now the college where I work, which is on Spring Break next week, is about to go remote for the immediate future, the reason for which I’m worn out from contemplating. But isn’t that just typically spiteful of bipolar March.

I’m just sayin’… Think about it: it’s windy, and it’s associated with a lion. And although lions are majestic and strong, realistically—they will eat you. Julius Caesar was told by a seer on his way to the Senate to “beware the Ides of March.” To which he answered, “Well, the Ides of March have come,” and the seer replied “Aye, they have come, but they are not gone.” But he’d be, before the afternoon was out. And then there’s that whole “March Madness” attributed to college basketball playoffs. Is it coincidence this term of insanity is applied? If it isn’t, then why isn’t the football season called “November Nutso” or baseball, “May Mania?” Because the other months just don’t seem as off-kilter as March, so expectedly unreasonable. But then again, maybe not as interesting.

Come on April!

 

Pot Luck

Some watch for robins, some for crocuses, some even say marshmallow peeps, but for me the real harbinger of spring are potholes, I’m telling you, those pervasive little asphalt assailants never fail to creep up on us, around every bend and over every hillock, disguised like shimmering little macadam birdbaths until you hit one and bam! there goes the hub cap, spinning away like a frisbee.

I live fifteen miles from work, and on my way home last week I counted no less than 25 of the replicating little suckers. And that didn’t include the ever-widening fissures in the middle of the road, and the winter erosion of the softer shoulders, due to the dig and drag of the snow plows. And then there’s those inevitable frost heaves that pitch up and crack the roads, always on whatever side of the road I’m driving. Which, of course, quickly becomes your side when you swerve into my lane to avoid them.

But if all this isn’t bad enough, the cure isn’t much better. How many of you have driven smack into a fresh pancake of cold patch, that municipal quick-fix of asphalt the town boys tamp down with shovels and their own boots, to shut up the one irate taxpayer that doesn’t quit calling until it’s fixed. Ahh…the lovely ping-ping-ping of loose tar as it plies itself to the undercarriage of your car. You’ll be scrubbing that off until nigh on August. Soon those road patch patties will be as ubiquitous as dandelions, and just as hard to get rid of. Because if you’re betting on highway dollars on high to get them gone, you can just forget it. Cold patch is too much of a bargain.

For the meantime, take your comfort where you can get it. After the mild winter we’ve had here in Jersey, it could have been much worse. Besides, it’s only a matter of time until we’re burning our bare feet crossing it. And that, my dears, could only mean a day at the beach.