The Lydster, Part 56: Too Shy

There are times when my daughter is bold and fearless. In her classroom, for instance, her teachers rave about how well she helps the newer students get acclimated. Other times, she just wants to retreat behind one of her parents.

Her favorite TV show – pretty much her ONLY TV show she watches on a regular basis, as we’re TRYING to limit her consumption – is something called Little Bear. It is based on some 1950s books by Maurice Sendak, for which, quite coincidentally, we received a three-in-volume volume of the book. Little Bear lives in the forest with his parents and has friends with Owl, Duck, Hen and Cat. The TV series was filmed in the 1990s in Canada.

Most of these stories she enjoys, but a few of them made her quite frightened: one with Father Bear arguing with the personified North Wind, a couple featuring goblins, which look more like Santa’s elves.

But the episodes cycle through and repeat after a number of weeks, and Lydia’s discovered that there’s nothing to fear from the wind or the goblins.

I was reminded that, last Christmastime, we were at a party. The kids went upstairs with an adult to play. As it turned out, they were watching Little Nemo. I went to check up on her, and I noticed my child, in ithe midst of a bunch of happy children, looking terrified. She ran to me, and I watched the remaining part of the movie with her, including the scary dentist scene, during which she buried her head under my arm.

It occurred to me while reading Tosy, who has two girls about Lydia’s age, that before we venture on showing Lydia the movie The Wizard of Oz, perhaps I ought to READ the story to her first. Interestingly, my wife has a friend whose daughter had seen the Wizard of Oz a half dozen times, or more, by the time she was THREE, and wasn’t afraid at all. I remember being still afraid of it at age seven; on the other hand, in a pre-video age, I saw it but once a year.

Ah, the power of repetition.


Oscar-Worthy Movies I’ve Seen: 1939

Finally to 1939. THE first great year in cinema, it is widely agreed.
“GONE WITH THE WIND”, “Dark Victory”, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, “Love Affair”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Ninotchka”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Stagecoach”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Wuthering Heights”
At least three different times I said, “I really MUST watch “Gone with the Wind”, the first time when it was on broadcast TV and was in the top dozen shows ever broadcast on prime time TV. But I got bored the then, and have yet to sit through the whole thing. (Yet I found the Carol Burnett parody inspiring.) It was the longest feature film released up to that point, and I’m not holding my breath to see if I’ll finally carve out nearly four hours to watch it, even though it won 8 awards out of 13 nominations, including Best Screenplay, Best Color Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, and Best Film Editing, plus two special citations.
I definitely saw Mr. Smith, Stagecoach. I probably saw Mr. Chips, Of Mice and Men and Wuthering Heights. I almost certainly did not see Dark Victory, Love Affair (though I did see the remake, An Affair to Remember) or Ninotchka.
Then there’s The Wizard of Oz. When I was growing up in the 1960s, I watched it every year. I must have seen it seven or eight times on our BLACK AND WHITE TV. Scariest part? The damn trees. THEN we got a color TV for Christmas 1969 or 1970, and when I saw it again, it was like seeing it for the first time! What a treat! And I finally got the “horse of as different color” joke; in b&w, the horse is just different shades of gray. It got six nominations but only two wins – Best Song (Over the Rainbow – almost cut from the film!) and Best Original Score (including my favorite, music for Miss Gulch on her bicycle, which, as a bicyclist I’ve been tortured with. None of the actors got a standard Oscar, though Judy Garland received a special juvenile Oscar.
ROBERT DONAT in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, Clark Gable in “Gone With The Wind”, Laurence Olivier in “Wuthering Heights”, Mickey Rooney in “Babes in Arms”, James Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
A category where GWTW did NOT win. Donat probably won as much for earlier roles, such as in Hitchcock’s 39 Steps, as for this one. I don’t recall seeing Babes in Arms.
VIVIEN LEIGH in “Gone With The Wind”, Bette Davis in “Dark Victory”, Irene Dunne in “Love Affair”, Greta Garbo in “Ninotchka”, Greer Garson in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”
For the first time, both lead acting awards went to British performers.
Supporting Actor:
THOMAS MITCHELL in “Stagecoach”, Brian Aherne in “Juarez”, Harry Carey in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, Brian Donlevy in “Beau Geste”, Claude Rains in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Mitchell’s sole Oscar came in a year he also played Scarlett O’Hara’s father Gerald in Gone With The Wind, a grounded flyer Kid Dabb in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings and newspaperman Diz Moore in Mr. Smith, among other roles.
Supporting Actress:
HATTIE MCDANIEL in “Gone With The Wind”, Olivia de Havilland in “Gone With The Wind”, Geraldine Fitzgerald in “Wuthering Heights”, Edna May Oliver in “Drums Along the Mohawk”, Maria Ouspenskaya in “Love Affair”
I suppose I should see the first African-American performer to be nominated and win. Shouldn’t I?
VICTOR FLEMING for “Gone With The Wind”, Frank Capra for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, John Ford for “Stagecoach”, Sam Wood for “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, William Wyler for “Wuthering Heights”
A change Academy rules meant that directors could be nominated for only one film in a single year. Fleming also directed The Wizard of Oz, thus solidifying his already huge chances.

That year, the first Oscar for Visual Effects was given, not to Gone With the Wind and its burning of Atlanta sequence, or to the Wizard of Oz with the cyclone sequence or the flying monkeys, but to something called The Rains Came, which I’d never heard of. Disney won eighth consecutive Short Subject: Cartoon Oscar for The Ugly Duckling

Other 1939 films
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – believe I saw years ago
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex – no
Golden Boy – no
Intermezzo: A Love Story – no
Young Mr. Lincoln – yes
Midnight – no
Only Angels Have Wings – no
Destry Rides Again – don’t think so
The Women (being remade in 2008) – no
The Hound of the Baskervilles – I might have
Gunga Din – almost certainly I did


“Dorothy,” Part 2

Back on June 1, I did this summary column of all the things that I had learned in a month of blogging. The title above comes from “What Have You Learned, Dorothy?” from The Wizard of Oz (1939). That quote did NOT make the AFI’s top 400 quotes, though six Oz quotes did, let alone the Top 100 movie quotes (3 Oz gems.) I’ve liked this quote because of the delivery by Glinda (Billie Burke) of the word LEARNED.

I’ve LEARNED that I have nothing to say about the new War of the Worlds movie opening this week, even though it was partially filmed in Athens, NY, near here, except to say that I LOVE it when a big film hits a small town; it seems to really enhance the collective ego of the place. I especially have nothing to say about Tom and Katie.

I wrote about identity theft on June 10, but the worst was yet to come. The story about the breach in security that put 40 million credit cards at risk comes out. So, what’s the advice we get? “Be vigilant.” Check your statements for unauthorized expenditures and whatnot.
I’ve LEARNED that I’m feeling TIRED of being “vigilant”. Watching for the next terrorist/shark attack/industrial disease/assault on civil liberties/illegal incursion is exhausting enough. But having to be wary of the faceless interlocking conglomerate that seems to know more about me than I do makes me want to take all of my money and stuff it under my pillow. But if everyone did THAT, I’ve been told, it would wreck this economy.

Wrong change

Speaking of money, I’ve LEARNED that when I need 75 cents for a vending machine, little is more frustrating than having two quarters, two dimes and 13 pennies.

I’ve LEARNED that throwing money at a problem is a lot easier than changing hearts. This is why Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concerts tomorrow are much more remarkable than the Live Aid concerts two decades ago. Sir Bob is trying to make a systemic change in the attitudes and policies of the G8 nations towards the poorer nations, such as those in Africa.

I’ve LEARNED that Heather Mills McCartney (that’s the wife of Sir Paul) visited “Philip” and “addressed his worry and fears, and counseled him about living life as an amputee” on the June 29 episode of the NBC soap Days of Our Lives, and she is expected to appear once more, on the July 4 show. If she hasn’t already, expect her to talk about Adopt a Minefield, a topic close to her heart.

Burning the flag was my Flag Day message. So, of course, the House subsequently passes an amendment that would allow Congress the right to pass a law banning flag-burning. It still has to pass the Senate and then pass muster in 38 states. I’ve LEARNED that some legislation just seems to have a life of its own.

I’ve LEARNED that it is Canada Day and I had to LOOK UP the name of the Prime Minister. It may be conjecture on my part, but I’m guessing that most Canadians can name the U.S. President.

Beating Fred

I’ve LEARNED that I can scoop even intrepid writers like Fred Hembeck (June 23).

I’ve LEARNED that Lynn Moss, who I had immortalized on this page recently, is amazingly clever. She figured out the hotel problem in the last episode of my Jeopardy! story was Bill Clinton! My, that Julie has bright parents!

I’ve LEARNED how to link to a single entry on my blog, although not everyone else’s.

I’ve LEARNED that at least two of my sister Leslie’s friends are reading this blog.

I’ve LEARNED that my cholesterol is down from 204 last June to 176 this June. I’d like to say it was diet and exercise, so I will: bad diet and lack of exercise. But no pharmaceuticals.

I’ve LEARNED that Lydia is 23 pounds (50th percentile) and 33 inches (70th percentile), as of yesterday.

I’ve LEARNED that I am even more evil than Hemby in getting people to start blogs, like I did to my poor friend Lori, and I will continue to do so. Nothing will stop me. HEH, HEH, HEH!

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