Thursday, December 22, 2016

Norman Rockwell, pt. 2 – or, How an American Painter Who Died Seven Years Before I Was Born Helped Me Realize that I’m Not Entirely Crazy After All

Thanks largely to my friend Randy McCoach, I have a bit of an update on my last post. (Make sure to read it first before proceeding with this one!)

As mentioned previously, I did hours of research over the course of a few days, trying to find any proof of the existence of a musical I believed that I was in when I was much younger. The musical, I believed, was called Norman Rockwell’s America.


Randy read my post, left a kind comment, and set to work. And this is what he discovered:


This clipping was from the July 2, 1993 edition of the San Bernardino County Sun (the county which Yucaipa is in).

Then, just to be extra sure, he did a bit more digging on my behalf, and pulled up one other gem:


Same paper, March 6, 1993 edition.

It turns out that I was wrong about the year – I had guessed ’90 or ’91; the musical actually took place in ’93. Oops. Also, this would mean that I was seven years old at the time of the performance (despite the casting call saying the minimum age was eight – I would have turned eight just a few weeks after the performances, though).

I was half-correct about a few other items, though:
  1. I had the name exactly right – Norman Rockwell’s America – as well as the college venue – Crafton Hills College.
  2. Crossroads Christian Fellowships of Redlands was the church my family was attending at the time. So yes, my connection to this musical came via church.
  3. Though I’m still unsure of where this musical originated (who wrote it, etc.), my impression has strengthened that it was most likely a local affair (as opposed to an actual licensed musical).

Also, happily, it turns out there’s no need for me to scour YouTube in hopes that someone happened to have uploaded an amateur recording of the musical all these years later. In presenting all of this to my mom, she was able to present a VHS of the performance.

Now I just need a VCR (or, I suppose, I could find a company that will transfer it to a DVD for me).

I was happy to hear that I was also correct about the first two scenes that I modeled (The Runaway and Family Home From Vacation). No confirmation on the third scene yet – not until I find a way to watch the video, at least.

All this to say:

I’m glad my memory isn’t always out to lead me astray.

And I guess Alex Mandel is off the hook.

Despite these confirmations, I’m still holding out hopes that I might be a time-traveler, though. Seems like it could be fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Norman Rockwell - or, How an American Painter Who Died Seven Years Before I Was Born Is Making Me Doubt Everything I Think I Know About My Past


When I was much younger – 5 or 6 years old, I believe – I was in a musical. It was at a local college – Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California – and, of course, I only had a few rather minor roles. The musical must have happened in 1990 or ’91.

I don’t remember now exactly how I came to be involved in the play. I think maybe my parents made some sort of connection through church friends and subsequently got me hooked up with it.

If memory serves, I believe the musical at Crafton was called Norman Rockwell’s America, or something very similar. Every scene started with a still reenactment of one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings. The models would then come to life and act out a full scene revolving around the painting. It was a clever idea, at least.

I was in three such scenes. I didn’t have any speaking roles; all I had to do was hold still for a few minutes before the painting came to life. I also did a small dance in one scene.

If you’re curious, here are the three images I portrayed:



(The Runaway, 1958)

I’m 100% sure that this is one of the three pictures I modelled. 



(Family Home from Vacation, 1930)

Again, I’m 100% sure this is the right image. I remember that I was “sleeping” on some sort of a bench, and that I had a white box with a toy frog seemingly about to escape. I especially remember the frog because the director let me keep it after the show was over. 


(Family Grace, 1938)

I have to say I’m only about 75% sure this is the right image. What I remember is that I was sitting with a family around a dinner table praying. I very clearly remember feeling like it was the most boring of the three. I’d have guessed the family was larger, though, and that there was a turkey involved.

That said, Norman Rockwell has another very famous painting, Freedom From Want, which has a larger family and a turkey. However, they aren’t praying in that image, and, perhaps more notably, there’s no little boy whom I could have portrayed – hence why I think Family Grace is more correct.


I also can remember a few random lines of lyrics from some of the songs:

The main theme must have been called Norman Rockwell’s America, which featured the line,

Norman Rockwell’s America 
– let’s give three cheers for this great nation

One song, I imagine, must be called Gossip, Gossip, or something similar.

Gossip, gossip, mean old thing
Most unhappiness it brings
If you can’t say something nice
Then “don’t talk at all” is my advice
Yes, “don’t talk at all” is my advice

There was also a song called At the Hop, which featured a lot of na’s or la’s or bah’s or something along those lines. This is the song I danced in (and, if I remember correctly, which broke off of the scene based on the painting The Runaway). I believe the main line was

Let’s go to the hop, oh baby, let’s go to the hop

And, of course, there was a song about the Saturday Evening Post (the magazine which debuted many of Norman Rockwell’s paintings), which featured the chorus:

Oh, I love the Saturday Evening Post
It’s the magazine I read the most
I think you will discover
If you look beneath the cover
It is more than any other magazine comes close

No clue why/how I still remember these random lines 25 years later. They just stuck, for some reason.

Anyway.

Just this week, I was thinking about this musical again. Though it was about 25 years ago, I wondered if it was perhaps one of those things that someone recorded at the time then uploaded onto Youtube many years later for nostalgia’s sake, or perhaps to make fun of someone else who was in the musical when they were younger – someone like me, hopefully.

After a bit of searching, I couldn’t find any such video on Youtube. That’s okay; I knew it was a long shot.


Now then. All of the background I just explained is merely a prelude. Here’s where my story gets much more tricky:

Not only could I not find any such video of the musical on Youtube, I actually can’t find any evidence of the play existing at all.

After many hours of searching online, I haven’t been able to find a single scrap suggesting that this musical is even a real thing. Here are all of the interesting/relevant items I have discovered, though:

ONE

There is, in fact, a musical based on the life and work of Norman Rockwell called ROCKWELL. This musical premiered in Vermont in 1992 – at least one year after my musical of memory.

The same musical was then “re-premiered,” so to speak, with the new name Perfect Picture. This re-premier debuted in 2013.

(Interestingly, the full name of the new version is Perfect Picture: …but was all of this real? What a peculiar name for the topic, especially given my current predicament over this memory I am trying to research.)

Also, in addition to the dates not adding up, the track listing shares nothing in common with my musical 25 years ago.

Definitely not related to my musical. 

TWO

Clearly, this approach wasn’t leading me anywhere on my quest to find this illusive musical I was in. I decided that my next step, then, was to work backwards from the music/lyrics that I remembered. And so…

It turns out that At the Hop was actually a famous pop song from 1957 by Danny and the Juniors, which my musical clearly just licensed for the play.

Similarly, Gossip, Gossip is actually entitled, Gossip, Gossip, Evil Thing (not “mean old thing,” as I thought I remembered), and was a calypso song from the 60’s or 70’s by Jester Hairston. It, too, must have simply been licensed for my musical.

Though I can’t find any song entitled Norman Rockwell’s America with the exact line I provided above, I discovered a song called Celebrate America with the line

Celebrate America 
– let’s give three cheers for this great nation

- the only change being “Celebrate” instead of “Norman Rockwell’s.”

This song was written by Mark A. Brymer, but not for the sake of a musical. If this is indeed the same song – and either the words were changed for my musical, or else I’m simply remembering it wrong – then, once again, it must have been licensed. (I can’t seem to find the year Brymer’s song was written/published; it seems to be the right age for the musical, though.)

And, finally, if there’s a song about the Saturday Evening Post magazine, I can’t find any evidence of it online.

*sigh*

Back to searching for the musical itself then, since the music was a dead end.

THREE

Ah, but what’s this?

It turns out there is, in fact, a musical called Norman Rockwell’s America, which was written by Alex Mandel!

At last! This must be it, right?

…there is just one small problem, though:

Alex Mandel’s Norman Rockwell’s America first premiered at the Theatreworks New Works Festival in California in 2014.

Yep: two years ago.

And yet I was in a musical called Norman Rockwell’s America about 25 years ago.

All this to say, here are the options I have come to:

  1. Alex Mandel is a plagiarizer, but somehow successfully erased all traces of the play he plagiarized. How very sneaky of him.
  2. The musical I was in was simply some locally-written affair. (Maybe a college student’s assignment? – it was performed at a community college, after all.)
  3. I’m really bad at researching things online and have misunderstood everything I’ve discovered and just don’t know the right places to look for the information I need.
  4. I’m a time traveler and just don’t realize it.
  5. My memory is simply playing tricks on me yet again.

Personally, I’m leaning towards some sort of mixture of #’s 2, 3, and 5.

I’m kind of hoping it’s # 4, though.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a Prison of Glass


Often, when people ask me how I’m doing, I’m not really sure how to answer this.

That sentence probably sounds really heavy. Is Aaron depressed? you’re wondering. Is he facing some tragedy I don’t know about?

Not at all, actually. I’m feeling rather content about things these days, more or less.

But for some reason, I’ve noticed that sometimes I feel ashamed to admit that I’m in a good mood.

…yes, that sounds as weird for me to write as it probably sounds for you to read.

It's true, though. Sometimes when I’m at work texting Emily, she’ll ask how I’m doing. Sometimes I want to tell her that I’m happy or in a good mood or that my shift is going well, or any number of things along these lines.

Instead, though, I usually settle on telling her that I’m “fine” or “okay.” Or, worse yet, I try to think of a negative spin to put on it: “I’m okay. Tired, though.” “Meh. I’m alright. Work is pretty busy.”

It’s not that these things aren’t true. I’m tired a lot. And if I tell her that work is busy, this is because work is busy.

If my dominant mood is happy or content, though, why don’t I just say this? Why won’t I let myself simply tell her – or other people – that I’m in a good mood?

I freely admit: it’s a very curious thing. Why should I feel ashamed of saying something positive?

Thinking about this reminds me of something I wrote years ago. I’ll re-explain it here:

One night I had a terrible dream. When I woke up in the morning, I was in a rather foul mood. This happens to all of us, I think. I kept dwelling on the events and the negativity of the dream all morning, and it kept me in that funk.

Later that afternoon, I started feeling better/happier. As soon as I “caught” myself feeling better, though, I literally remember “reminding” myself that I was having a bad day.

For a minute there, I let myself sink again. I soon became conscious of this fact, too, and asked myself, Why am I preventing myself from being happy?

Why do I sometimes seek out different moods that I imagine I’m “supposed” to be in, rather than just let myself be in whatever mood I am actually, naturally in?

This makes sense if I’m in a bad mood, seeking out the good. It’s worth pursuing happiness in that circumstance. But why do I seek out the negative when I’m feeling positive?

These are great questions. Unfortunately, if there are great answers, I don’t know what they are.

Perhaps I am not so happy as I suppose. I have found that this is true of many people. For at least myself, though, what I hope is more likely is that perhaps I am not so unhappy as I portray.

For now, though, I will just try to work on letting myself feel what I feel, and on letting myself express positivity without justifying it or toning it down.
People grieve and bemoan themselves, but it is not half so bad with them as they say. There are moods in which we court suffering, in the hope that here, at least, we shall find reality, sharp peaks and edges of truth. But it turns out to be scene-painting and counterfeit. The only thing grief has taught me, is to know how shallow it is. That, like all the rest, plays about the surface, and never introduces me into the reality …
Temperament also enters fully into the system of illusions, and shuts us in a prison of glass which we cannot see. There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.
from Experience by Ralph Waldo Emerson



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

the Right Time to Read



I recently finished reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. This is actually the second time I’ve read it; I first read it about five years ago.

That may not sound surprising to people, that I’m reading a book for a second time.

But actually, I didn’t really like it at all the first time I read it.

The writing is incredible. Stylistically, Kundera is a first-class writer, all the way. But I wasn’t wild about the plot – or the characters – at all.

And yet here I am, just having finished reading it again.

There is actually a very specific reason I pulled it out of the box it was buried in to give it another shot. That reason doesn’t really matter right now; I’d like to get at a different point for now.

This time around, I liked it quite a bit more than the first time. I’m still not too thrilled with some of the plot points and character quirks, but I found them much more forgivable this time. Originally, I’d have given it a 2/5. Now, it’s probably more of a 3.5/5 or so. It’s still not perfect, but there are a lot of things to admire about it.


This is actually the second time I’ve done this, though – re-read a book that I didn’t like the first time around.

I also did this with Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. I first read it many years ago (probably about 10 years ago or so). It wasn’t bad, I guess…but it was terribly boring. Or so I thought.

When I had occasion to read it again (like Unbearable, there was a very specific reason I revisited Faces), I realized that Till We Have Faces is actually INCREDIBLE. Very possibly in my top 10 favorite books now.


Why would I dislike a book so much the first time around, and yet grow so fond of it the next time?

Considering these two little tidbits, I can imagine this means that perhaps there is a “right” time to read a book, so to speak. I wonder if, when I first approached Unbearable or Faces, I had simply come to them at the wrong time – too early, in these cases.
If this is true, I can’t help but wonder: What makes it the “right” time or the “wrong” time to read a book?

Obviously the books themselves don’t change. It can only be something in me that has changed in between readings. But what was the thing that changed in me?

Am I more mature now than I was then? (hopefully, yes)

Am I wiser? (again, I hope so)

Do I pay more attention to the words? (meh – it’s hard to say)

Am I looking for different things in books now from what I looked for then? …

…actually, there might be something to that last question.

The first time I read each book, it was just a book I had recently picked up that I thought sounded interesting. There was really nothing more to it than that. And I didn’t like them.

When I returned to each of the books some years later, I had a very specific reason to read them. And now I like them.

I wonder, then, if our motives for reading a certain book actually affect how we feel about the book as a whole.

This sounds like a reasonable assumption. In fact, I see no reason not to assume this is the case.

That said, though, here are the next questions:

What other books could get the same treatment as Unbearable and Faces?

How many books have I read (just once) and liked, that maybe I would not like now?

How many books have I read (just once) for a reason and liked, which I may not have liked in a different circumstance?

And, most importantly of all:

What specific reasons for reading a particular book would make me like that book more? And what specific reasons for reading a particular book would make me like that book less?

There’s really no way to know the answer to these questions, of course. But they’re fun to think about.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Kamikaze


No matter who you are, what you look like, what you believe, or how you behave, someone out there will judge you. There will always be someone who doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t like you, wants to prove you wrong or shut you down, who finds you offensive or stupid or ugly or worthless.

Don’t listen to those people.

The fact is that their judgment of you says more about their character than it says about yours.

But why do people judge each other anyway? Why do people insult each other, feel the need to prove each other wrong? Why do people actually want to hurt each other?

When I was younger, I dealt with my share of bullies. And my mom would tell me the same thing that I’m sure you’ve heard: It’s because they’re jealous of you.

I’m not so sure this is correct.

Rather, I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered on the matter, of why people actually want to hurt each other. First, a small anecdote:

My friend B has some people whom she is close to. Lately, these people have all been making drastically different life choices than they used to. For better or worse, these choices have had an impact on their personality and on their level of happiness. B, on the other hand, has stayed more or less consistent with the types of choices she’s been making.

This fact alone doesn’t make any of them right or wrong, per se. B’s consistency might mean that she’s staying true to herself and to her character. It also could mean that she’s stubborn or stuck in the past.

These other peoples’ changes might mean that they’re evolving, that they have learned better ideas about how to handle life. It also might mean that they’re screwing up their lives.

Change itself is neither inherently good nor bad. It depends on the results of the change that help us figure out whether it is ideal or unideal.

Here’s the sad fact: B’s friends are all obviously, clearly, any way you look at it, less happy than they were before these changes and choices.

What we might assume from this fact, then, is that these changes and choices may not be ideal for them, right?

You’ve changed. You’re less happy. Therefore, the change is probably not good.

Okay then.

One day, B was at dinner with some of these people. And at this dinner, they were trying to give her advice. “You know, it’s really not so bad if you…” or “You should try this thing that I’ve been trying…”

This is ironic though, isn’t it?

Here is B who has, more or less, stayed grounded in her choices, in her attitudes, in how she handles herself. And, all throughout, she has remained at a basically-consistent level of happiness – if not getting happier.

Here are these friends of hers who have been making different choices. Those choices have made these people less happy.

And yet, they are the ones trying to give her advice? They are trying to suggest to her that she makes the same choices they are making? How on earth does that make sense?

But that’s a trick question. Of course it doesn’t make sense.

Now then.

I mentioned already that something you’ve always been told is wrong: He doesn’t like you because he’s jealous of you.

Now I’m going to dispel another myth for you. Hopefully the pieces I’m setting up here will start connecting:

There’s this idea out there of people “self-destructing.” People are going downhill; they’re backsliding; they’re hurting themselves; whatever. They’re “self-destructing,” we say. We might say that B’s friends I’ve been describing are “self-destructing.”

But that’s not entirely accurate.

People don’t self-destruct. In fact, there is no such thing as self-destructing. There is only kamikaze.

“Kamikaze,” you’ll recall, is what the Japanese called their suicide pilots in World War II. Kamikaze pilots were people who tried to destroy themselves and everyone around them.

The fact is that people do not self-destruct. They kamikaze.

People do not simply go downhill quietly, in a vacuum, in isolation. No. People go down, and they want to bring you with them.

They say that Misery loves company. (I actually agree with this phrase!) When people start to become unhappy, they want you to become unhappy with them.

When that person tried to hurt you on the school yard – or when they try to hurt you now at work or at home or in church or anywhere else you go –it’s because they are sinking. And they want you to sink with them.

Because people do not self-destruct. They kamikaze.

And when people are kamikaze-ing in your sphere, that says more about their character than it says about yours.

People will judge you and insult you and try to make you feel ugly or worthless. It’s all just a form of kamikaze.

People will try to hurt you – verbally, physically, sexually, emotionally. Kamikaze.

So please: get out of that sphere. Get away from the people that are trying to bring you down. Decide for yourself that you are beautiful and worthwhile. Decide for yourself that you are compassionate and worth the world’s time – and, for that matter, worth your own time.

Because you are. You are worth every second of yourself. If anything, it’s the world that should be in awe of you.

Yes, you. Whoever you are.

You are worth every second of yourself.

Please, please, start thinking so. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

November and December 2015 Reading List


For some reason, I’ve been really into reading recently. That may sound obvious coming from me. But I mean: really into reading.

The weird thing, though, is that almost everything I’ve read recently has been very out-of-character for me. (Not every single book, but most of them.) Many of the books I’ve read are not books that I would normally ever have considered reading before. Since Halloween, I’ve foregone the high quality I usually aim for in literature, and just devoured some much more silly/just-for-fun books. I guess I’ve just being reading…guilty pleasures(?) Something like that, at least.

Oddly, since Halloween, I haven’t read any books unless they were mass-market paperbacks (with the exception of manga, which have their own size to them). Even books that sounds appealing to me right now, I won’t read unless they’re in mass-market-paperback form. Weird. I can't explain it.

* * *

So then. Since Halloween, I have read:



Novels & Novellas…

Shutter Island by Denis Lehane - 5/5
Of all the books I’m listing here, this is the first I read. And, at this point, it’s still by far the best of them all. I had already seen and loved the movie. The movie is actually very faithful to the book—rare. The book is very well written. Strong, believable characters. Absolutely great pacing—something you really don’t want to put down. And, of course, it remains a twisty, wonderfully psychological story.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - 4/5

Congo by Michael Crichton - 3/5

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 4/5
I actually read this once before, I believe about 8 years ago. I don’t remember having much of an opinion of it back then, but I thought it was rather interesting this time around. Very eerie. Good use of setting, and, of course, Mr. Kurtz remains a deeply interesting character.

Batman Arkham Knight: the Riddler’s Gambit by Alex Irvine - 2.5/5

Lost Horizon by James Hinton - 3.5/5
I was attracted to this because it takes place in Tibet. It’s nothing at all like the real Tibet, but it was still a cool, unique story. And the main character is one of the most well fleshed-out characters I’ve encountered in quite a long time (definitely the strongest character from all the books in this list, at least).

47 Ronin by Joan D. Vinge - 4.5/5
Now here’s an interesting one…this is, in fact, a novelization of the recent Keanu Reeves movie, which was universally panned. Keep in mind that this means the book came after the movie. I, on the other hand, actually read this book before seeing the movie. (I’ve since watched the movie.) That said, the book was GREAT. Very strongly written. Despite being the longest book out of this whole list, I breezed through it in about two days. A cool story, all about honor and integrity. Good emotional impact. The movie was...pretty bad. It didn’t go into the characterizations nearly as well as the book, and much of the emotional impact was lessened, or absent altogether. The movie was just an excuse for action; the book was a powerful story. Definitely—perhaps surprisingly—the second best book (after Shutter Island) in this list.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm by Greg Keyes - 1.5/5
Not very good. Also, it had more typos than possibly any other published book I’ve read. My goodness, that editor should have lost his job over this.

Batman Arkham Knight by Marv Wolfman - 2/5

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King - 3.5/5
The writing is good. The story is good. But, surprisingly, the movie is actually better. Much more satisfying, and the arrangement of the scenes is a bit better structured. Still a good plot though, and the characters are probably equally strong (in both the book and the movie).


Manga…

Final Fantasy Type-0 - 3.5/5

Final Fantasy Type-0: the Ice Reaper 1 - 4.5/5
Final Fantasy Type-0: the Ice Reaper 2 - 4.5/5
These are pretty fun, but if you’re not a fan of the Final Fantasy games already (or of manga), then there probably isn’t much here to appeal to you. I’m excited to continue the Ice Reaper series though.

Wolf Children by Mamoru Hosoda - 5/5
Absolutely, positively wonderful. Beautiful. Not much to say about it beyond that. A great manga for people who may not really care for manga.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji - 4.5/5


Books I started but didn't finish...

Mortal Kombat by Jeff Rovin
Yes, this is a novel based on the video games. Bizarre tidbit about me: of ALL the books I own, this is the book I’ve owned the longest. Very weird, I know. Of all books, why this one? I read it when I first bought it (1993), and remember liking it. I dug it out of the closet last month, gave it another go, and, after about 60 pages, decided I’d rather just leave it as a fond memory.

The Thousand and One Ghosts by Alexandre Dumas
Read about half of it. Pretty interesting and well-written, just not what I’m currently in the mood for. 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Read the first 30 or so pages. Even for Jane Austen, this one is especially well-written. Rather humorous, too. I only set it aside because, like Thousand and One Ghosts, it's not what I'm in the mood for right now.

Borderlands: Unconquered by John Shirley
Read about 30-40 pages. Horrible. Just…horrible.

Vampire Hunter D 3: Demon Deathchase by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Read about half. Meh.

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami
Read about 30-40 pages. The setting is very visual, eerie, and well-developed. However, there are a few things about it that bother me, of which I will only mention two:
1)      Personally, I don’t like biographical fiction. I don’t want to read about a fictional character’s entire life. Just isolate the days/months/years most relevant to the overall story and give me those.
2)      If you’re ever going to read it: absolutely, whatever you do, SKIP PAGE 1. Just start on page 2. It’s okay; you won’t miss out on anything important to the story. Trust me. The images described on page 1 are just…not okay. I really wish I could unsee them.  I sort of feel angry that Murakami included them at all; I haven’t quite forgiven him for that yet—hence why I decided to set this aside for now.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrams
Read 30-40 pages (I guess that’s about how long it takes for me to come up with a basic opinion on a book…) Fun and quirky. Well written, but a little too cutesy for me right now. 


Again, this is everything I’ve read just since Halloween. I’ve been very, very busy.


Currently, I’m reading…

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
A little over halfway through so far. Interesting, intense story. Different spin on the vampire mythos. Not very well written though. The characters aren’t terribly well-crafted. And Chuck Hogan likes his thesaurus a little too much. I’m interested enough in the story to check out the other two books in the trilogy, but I’m not in a hurry to do so. (And no, I haven't watched the TV show based on these books.)


And, finally, my next book will (probably) be…

Shogun by James Clavell (I just ordered it though, and it’s possible it may not arrive until a few days after I finish the Strain. In which case, I may read one other book in the meantime. Not sure what…)

* * *

So there you have it. :) 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Secret Garden


I remember that, one day when I was younger, my great-grandmother took me to see the movie The Secret Garden in a theatre near her house in Palm Springs. I seem to remember it being a rather small theatre—certainly much less grandiose than the monolithic cinemas we are surrounded by today—and that you had to walk through a small, lattice, ivy-laced archway and into a simple portico to get to the theatre’s front door. I have no idea if this description of the theatre even remotely resembles the truth about the place; it’s just what I envision now, for whatever reason.

If I recall, I believe I stayed the night at my great-grandmother’s house the night before, and she had explained that this was going to be our plan for the next day.

For some completely inexplicable reason, I simply knew that The Secret Garden was going to become my favorite movie. I think I may have even told my great-grandmother this. I was, of course, very excited the night before, to be going to see my favorite movie for the first time.

I have no idea why I had simply decided that this movie was going to be my favorite. I knew nothing of the story at the time. I hadn’t read the book – probably, at the time, I didn’t even know it was based on a book.

But I was eight years old. So of course I was excited; of course I could predict the future.

I think something about the idea of a magical garden appealed to me. Though I had not yet seen enough of the world or of the forest or of trees to realize how intimately spiritual they can be, still, I think that somehow I was vaguely aware that plant life had some sort of near-magical quality to it that was worth pondering, and certainly worth making a movie about.

So The Secret Garden was going to be my favorite movie, and that was the end of it.

The big day came, and we saw the movie. I remember liking every moment that the main characters were in the garden—the “secret” garden—exploring, wandering, giving in to its magic. And I thought Colin seemed like a rather interesting person, someone I might even like to know, even though he was quite grumpy at first.

Once the movie ended, however, I remember thinking that the whole movie felt like it was leading up to this surreal (a word I, no doubt, did not know at the time) climax (another word I did not know), but that it sort of just fizzled out. (Did I know “fizzle” then? – probably not.) There was something about a fire towards the end, I believe. (Or was that fire in the beginning? Now I seem to recall the movie pretty much starting with a fire…)

Anymore, though, I can’t remember a single other thing about the climax or the ending. Also, I remember that I thought most every moment of movie outside of the garden was actually kind of flat. (I don’t think that, at the time, I’d have considered using the word “flat” synonymously with “boring” – movie scenes are not deflated balls, after all.)

But I had already decided that The Secret Garden was going to be my favorite movie; there was no changing that now.

I don’t remember what we did after we left the theatre—back across the patio, back through the lattice archway—but I believe that at some point before we even returned to my great-grandmother’s house, I had to admit that, actually, The Secret Garden was probably my second favorite movie. I mean, sure, it was a great movie, but it wasn’t actually the very best. There was, after all, Jurassic Park, which came out two months previously and which I saw a total of seven times in the theatre. (Was it really seven whole times? I say that number now, but actually I really can’t say if this number is exactly true. It was certainly several times, at the very least.)

I only saw The Secret Garden once in the theatre. In fact, I’ve only seen The Secret Garden once ever.

I can’t say precisely how long I continued to say that The Secret Garden was my second favorite movie, but I’d be surprised to find out that it was longer than a week, two at most.

How could I possibly have known that my prediction of the future would be wrong? I was a mighty eight years old, after all. I knew everything else.

 
 

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