Thursday, November 26, 2009

On this Thanksgiving afternoon, I am happily trapped in front of a huge tv with non-stop football and a crowd of avid family. How this happened to one who is so historically averse to football is easily explained. My sons-in-law are fans, my 7 and 9 year old grandsons are fanatics, my daughter's partner is a big football follower. So, Betsy and I are in a tiny minority. But I know that soon the tv will be turned off and we will share Thanksgiving dinner with my brother and his family. Since we don't all see each other for long periods of time, this week has been precious to all of us. We have been to see the ducks at the Peabody (twice!), we've had Memphis barbeque (none better), we posed the kids in front of Sun Studio, drove down to Oxford to see the Grove at Ole Miss and Faulkner's home, and lavished attention on the grandkids. So, sitting through football is not too much of a sacrifice for all these gifts. I am truly thankful.
In a world full of conflict and uncertainty, we have much to be thankful for: the gifts of family, the beauty of nature that surrounds us from grand canyons to tiny leaves of intense color, music that lifts our spirits and calms them as well, and loved ones living and gone. For all these and much more, we give thanks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mad Men, from Don Draper to Scrooge

The last episode of Season 3 of MAD MEN proved to be one of its best, tying together strands from all three seasons. The writers have continued to illuminate Don Draper's mysteriously cold character through flashbacks and affairs and his strange behaviors towards the women in his life. All these entanglements begin to clear as Don's business life and marital life are on the brink. What is the future for Stirling Cooper? And for Betty Draper and all the characters we have grown to love/hate/tolerate in this complex story? And what of the Draper kids? Will they turn out to be cold animatrons like Mom and Dad and have to pay enormous psychiatric bills? We will just have to wait until next summer to find out.

Last night we went to see Robert Zemeckis' new 3-D version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in his sometimes painful animation process where the more normal humans look less real than the grotesques. Marley's ghost and the three spirtis are less scary than Tiny Tim. Somehow that problem needs solving, although the process is much improved over the robotic looks of BEOWULF. Nevertheless, this version is far closer to the original Dickens' version than any I can remember in a long time. The grimy soot of London is everywhere, the candlelight as the only source of light is perfectly real, and the story develops with most of Dickens's original dialogue intact. "Are there no prisons?" growls a Jim Carrey-voiced Scrooge. One caveat: this one may be too dark and scary for small kids who must sit through the early exposition and then have their socks scared off by those apparitions. But, as a Holiday entertainment or just one of the great stories, this A CHRISTMAS CAROL delivers.