Friday, November 26, 2010

A Christmas Carol

I was 6 or 7 the first time I saw Alistair Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge. My family and I lived n Sebastian Place in Halifax and we just got our first television the fall of 1956. CBHT, channel 3 in Halifax, was the only television station at that time. It was the Christmas holiday andDad had given my brother, Danny, some money to buy me and him some fish and chips from Willman's Fish and Chips shop. DAnny rode his bike there and back and we settled in front of the TV for the broadcast of A Christmas Carol. I remember that the ghosts scared me, and I didn't like Tiny Tim. The movie was terrific and became for me the iconic Christmas movie. Every Christmas since that time I have watched that movie. Most of the time I watched it with my dad. We always became teary eyed at the same spot and made fun of Tiny Tim's "God bless us, everyone." When I became a dad my daughter and I watched it every year. VCRs became affordable early in my dadhood and I bought a copy of A Christmas Carol to watch. I did it mainly because the movie was broadcast later and later every year and I wanted my daughter to enjoy it with me.
There have been several remakes of this Christmas classic and most of them had better acting than the emotive Alistair Sim. George C. Scott as E. Scrooge, is probably the best portrayal done. I still like the 1951 version best of all because of the memories it evokes. I enjoy "A Muppets Christmas Carol", Walt Disney's "Mickey's Christmas Carol", and even Bill Murray's "Scrooged."
"There is more of the gravy than the grave in you," says Ebeneezer to Marley's ghost. Scrooges missed promise to his sister Fan, and the realization that his anger is misdirected are priceless lessons for all. When in "Mickey's Christmas Carol", the spirit of Christmas Present cannot pronounce "pistachio" and says "green gravy", my daughter and I laughed so hard that the milk I was drinking at the time came out through my nose.
I was fortunate to teach Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" to my students for many, many years and it became a more meaningful lesson when the availability of the movie occurred and I was able to incorporate it into my lessons.
I need to buy a copy of the Alistair Sim version because I gave my copy to my daughter in Vancouver. Last year i saw that the movie was being broadcast around 8 PM my time. I called my daughter and, even though there was a 4 hour time difference, we agreed that she would watch the video while I watched the broadcast at the same time. I know it seems maudlin, but I felt we were watching at the same time and felt a synergy over the expanse of distance. Christmas season won't be the same without spending a joyous couple of hours with Alistair and company. I have watched it every year since 1956. I would be a sad loss not to see him again this year.
Merry Christmas and a "Bah, Humbug!" to all. LOL

About me

To those who have read "About me" in the profile, I am sad to say the my elder cat, Zoe, succumbed to age and feline disease this past summer.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A soitin musing about Stooges and a sentence about Jerry Lewis

"If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking til you do succeed" - Curly of The Three Stooges. I said that the other day when helping to put a double-door bar cooler in the upstairs canteen of the local Royal Canadian Legion. One of the executive members who was there burst out laughing and said she never heard that before. That got me to thinking.
Whatever happened to the sheer enjoyment of mundane slapstick humour? I suppose that today's humour is more cerebral , off-colour, and aural. I grew up during the early days of television when the various stations bought fillers to complete the programming hours. They used to present various short subjects and one source was the old Three Stooges films. The pie-in-the-face and eye pokes always made me laugh. I was smart enough to understand, even as a youngster, that what was seen on television was make-believe and no one really stuck a finger in the eye. The Stooges were an composite of society in which there was a bully (Moe), a syncophant (Larry), and a loveable, well-meaning but incompetent dupe/dope (Curly- who replaced the other dope- Shemp). These guys would always screw up while trying to be helpful and in the end, everything worked out. The lessons were simple- don't be afraid to try and don't worry about looking foolish if giving an honest effort.
Early in my fatherhood, my daughter and I would watch the Stooges whenever they appeared on TV, especially when one of the Boston stations would broadcast a New Year's Eve marathon special of the Stooges. I knew all the routines and I waited to laugh until my little Boo laughed. The amazing thing was that she laughed at the places I would normally laugh and that was wonderful.
Our favourite Stooge film was the one where the boys attempted to fix the plumbing in a ritzy estate and poor old Curly kept add pipes to a leak with T joints and got trapped in his own maze. Of course, the water caused the floor to weaken and he fell through.
As an occasional golfer I bust a gut every time I see Curly washing his clothes at the golf course ball cleaner. Improbable - yes. Funny - definitely. Whenever I hear their theme song I always get a smile and a happy feeling. Niagara Falls recalls one of their great bits - "Slowly I turn, step by step."
And then there is Jerry Lewis, in my opinion, one of the funniest movie comedians. I know there are a lot of Jerry Lewis detractors out there, but look at some of his routines. His miming of big band music is absolutely fantastic. Another slapstick artist he is. The French government and I appreciate his humour, so there!!