Monday, March 03, 2008


More news of fresh disasters: last night and this morning we were treated to a long spell of freezing rain, so the roads are coated with ice. As a result the kids' schoolbusses were cancelled for the day, so Thomas and James are home - and I have to keep them corralled downstairs while the plastering is going on in the bathroom upstairs. (Yes, that's still going on...we're up to Day uhhhh...9 or 10 I think.) And the city appears to be sold out of salt or icemelt - I went looking yesterday (knowing this ice was coming) and couldn't find any. Today I was reduced to my homemade invention - wood ashes on the ice. They don't do anything to dissolve the ice, but they DO provide terrific traction. You can walk on them like walking on earth. They're also environmentally friendly, if that matters to you - they just wash into the soil with the rain. They make a fearful mess, though.

It's been very noisy here - James and Thomas are playing duelling movies on the computer and the TV. I got on the computer for a few minutes, and turned on a cd for myself, only to have Thomas come over and rather prissily turn down the volume. Oh, what was I listening to that was so loud and annoying? "Solitudes" - sound effects of birds chirping and rain falling on a lake in the wilderness. SO disturbing. I should be ashamed of myself.

We've been watching the last of the special features on the Charlie Chan movies - the last ones were the voice commentaries by a Charlie Chan expert and one of the guys who put together the dvd collection. I didn't think they could find enough to talk about on the subject, but they were really quite interesting and informative. They said that, in our PC era, people complained that Charlie Chan was a stereotype, but they point out that in these movies, EVERYONE is a stereotype. The matriarch, the comic butler, the skeptical police superiors, the winsome innocent heroine, etc. They pointed out that one character, a young man, is wearing a hat - that immediately marks him as a newspaper man. And it's true - all reporters wear hats. You never see a young lawyer - they're always older men, with mustaches. And for all that you can find stereotypical features in the Chan character, they're balanced by rather original ones. A Chinese character as a detective WAS a new idea; prior to Chan, the typical Chinese stereotype would have been the laundryman (a convention they took advantage of and skewered in 'Charlie Chan at the Racetrack') or the sinister Fu Manchu type, in silk gown and long fingernails. People should not focus so much on minor stylistic details, and lose sight of the bigger picture (no pun intended) - Charlie Chan was a very positive portrayal of an Asian character, at a time when that was rare.


Anonymous Antique said...

Thomas' reaction to your nature sounds reminds me of myself. I recall in my very early years (60s) this fascinating bit of machinery called an Arsey Vicar which sat alone in a corner of our formal living room. You balanced this round, black plate on the top of a fat crochet hook, twisted a knob, then thrilled as the plate fell, a brush moved over it, and music filled the air. Great fun for a little boy. The music wasn't so good, but watching how it worked was a hoot.

Which brings me to the point: Anything Mom played on this wacky Rube Goldberg device was always too loud. It didn't matter what it was, it was too loud. Can't answer as to why, even today, but I guess it's probably male nature to shut out sounds we don't readily identify with when we're focused on a task (such as serious play). Sort of like how we turn down the volume of the car radio when we're driving in a unfamiliar part of town, searching for a particular cross-street or business sign. Certainly you've seen this happen a few times and thought to yourself, "That's the most amazingly stupid thing I've ever seen"?

(And I'm old enough now to be playing those nature sounds myself)

11:01 am  
Anonymous Christopher Johnson said...

Yesterday, we had the heaviest snow of the winter here in St. Louis. Just about everything shut down and I got a day off. Today, it got up in the 40's, the roads were basically clear and it was actually kind of nice out when I drove into work this afternoon.

5:40 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I'm gonna kill you, Johnson.

Today, we had approximately TEN INCHES of snow! And not only snow - it started as wet heavy snow, then it turned to ICE PELLETS, then it turned back to snow! We shovelled our driveway 5 times. And the second time was after the ice pellets, and it was like shovelling sugar. Oh yes, the kids were off school again, and the city was basically paralyzed for the whole day.

I tell you, when I was young, I used to scoff at snowbirds - those older people who spend their winters in Florida. I'd say, "Ha! What kind of Canadian leaves just because of a little snow? Why, a true Canadian LOVES the snow and the ice! We have FOUR seasons up here, not 2...blah, blah blah..." Now, with every year that goes by, as winter approaches I'm more sympathetic to those older people who flee for warmer climes. Winter is horrible up here!

9:26 pm  

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