Wednesday, November 24, 2004

YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO LOVE ME/BUT YOU DID/BUT YOU DID/BUT YOU DID/AND I THANK YOU...


It's late on a school night, the work week is about to come to a pleasant and early finish, and I've just wrapped up a session with a counterful of filthy pots, pans, plates and sippy cups. Edgar G. Ulmer's Bluebeard, starring John Carradine as a homicidal Parisian puppeteer, kept me entertained amongst the soap suds courtesy of my portable DVD player-- I had rented Mike Hodges' I'll Sleep When I'm Dead as my feature of choice for tonight's edition of Dirty Dishes Cinema, but a quick glance at the damage told me it wasn't quite a 108-minute job (the running time of this potentially nasty British noir, which I will save for Thanksgiving Eve), and that Ulmer's economical 70-minute thriller was more suited to the scale of tonight's undertaking. I dried the last spoon just as "Fin" came up over a shot of mockup of a bridge over the Seine, on which floated (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Carradine's lifeless body, chuckled at my ability these days to so accurately size up just how many crusty cereal bowls and murky drink glasses it takes to get through a feature film, and unconsciously started mulling over all the things I should be thankful for in the days approaching the holiday and, of course, beyond. It's not, as it turns out, a short list, but I'll give it a shot before the swirling sands of sleep form a towering dune from under which I won't escape until my daughter comes calling at the crack of dawn...

When I raise a glass on Thanksgiving, these are some of the things I'll be thankful for:

My wife Patty, who has gone through so much for our little family in the last seven years, and who continues to inspire me with her generosity, her beauty, her humor, her perceptiveness, her intelligence and her capacity for love. The only thing she truly lacks is the confidence and the ability to understand even a fraction of how wonderful she really is. She'll think this is weird, but everything she's given me, and the richness with which she's infused my life, always makes me think of a certain line from an old ZZTop song...

My gorgeous daughter Emma, who I love beyond my capacity to understand, who sings Christmas hymns and country tunes with abandon and enthusiasm, and who surprises me every day as she insists on leaving toddlerdom a little further behind on her journey to become, as Collodi (or Walt Disney) might have put it, a real little girl...

My gorgeous daughter Nonie, who I love beyond my capacity to understand, who never lets Emma's shadow get too dark and wide, who is a more relentless little diaper-laden jukebox than even her big sister, who never denies me when I need to hear her laugh, and who recently sat with me through The Incredibles and made yet another dream come true for her old dad...

My son Charlie, who never knew us beyond the voices he could hear from within the womb, and who I believe lives on in the souls of his sisters...

My parents, who were much smarter and full of love than I ever gave them credit for when I was a kid...

Patty's parents, who put the lie to every in-law joke ever told...

My best friend Bruce, who knows me better than anyone save my wife; the endurance of our friendship is something I'm frankly in awe of, and something which I strive never to take for granted...

Marlen, Letty, Nan, Trini, Miriam, Nancy and Juana, the women who take such good care of our daughters every day while Patty and I type and edit and type and edit and type...

People I've worked with over the past 17 years who started out as colleagues and became good friends-- Andy, Brian, Liz, Jennifer, Stephanie, Leslie, Blayne, Rob, Steve, James and Beverly...

This blog, which affords me the chance to, as my friend Katie so aptly put it recently, face up to the terror of writing, get the writing into some shape and form, allow it to be read and hopefully enjoyed, and spark my creativity and stamina as well...

Turner Classic Movies, a new semester of film school every month...

The privilege of hearing Vin Scully at work...

The appearance of both California Split and Charley Varrick on DVD before the end of this year...

Frank Zappa's "Montana" and the You Are What You Is album...

The increasingly rare opportunity to go fishing...

The double cheeseburger at Pie 'n' Burger on California Street in Pasadena...

The fact that Peter Jackson, Joe Johnston, Robert Altman, Guillermo Del Toro, Pedro Almodovar and Walter Hill make movies...

Seeing Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora make a "routine" double play look like it was choreographed by Fred Astaire...

My memories of the Alger Theater and the Circle JM Drive-In Theater in the Lakeview, Oregon of my youth...

Cary Grant in anything, but particularly Notorious...

Sophia Loren, Michelle Yeoh, Carole Lombard, Claudia Cardinale, Maggie Cheung and Shelley Duvall in anything, but particularly More Than a Miracle, Supercop, Nothing Sacred, Once Upon a Time in the West, Irma Vep and Popeye...

Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts blog...

Steely Dan's "Don't Take Me Alive" and the Everything Must Go album...

Rain (particularly Oregon rain... more on that in an upcoming post)...

The sublime final shot of Monsters, Inc., and also the whole ending of The Station Agent, perhaps the most mysteriously "right" closing of a movie I've seen in years...

That drive-in movie theaters are not dead yet...

Randy Johnson and Eric Gagne on the mound, as well as my sense of empathy for the poor bastards who have to try to hit what they so masterfully send to the plate...

Pauline Kael, who, more than any film professor, lit the light for me...

David Edelstein, Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott, Chuck Stephens, Stephanie Zacharek, Charles Taylor and Matt Zoller Seitz, film critics who keeping the flame burning against increasingly steep cultural odds...

Steve Finley's walk-off grand slam, October 2, 2004...

Darin Morgan, Clyde Bruckman, Jose Chung, The Lone Gunmen, Bill Macy and the "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" episode from the second season of Millennium (go ahead, connect the dots-- it's fun!)...

Multnomah Falls, just outside Portland, Oregon...

...and the fact that I can so easily smuggle 94% fat-free Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop and diet soda into just about any local movie theater and thus successfully avoid laying down twice the price of a (discount ticket) on relatively crappy movie snacks.

I often feel I don't deserve a life this good, but I'm grateful for the bounty anyway, as well as the desire to continue to make it as good as I can for my beautiful family and faithful friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are simply the most amazing and wonderful person the world has ever known.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Well, actually, there's Hal Fishman, and then perhaps Orrin Hatch. Only once the wonderfulness of these two exemplary figures had been established would I entertain a possible nomination for third place, and then only because Spongebob Squarepants, being a cartoon character, wouldn't be eligible for consideration. But thanks anyway, Anonymous. You're my biggest fan!

Ann O'Dyne said...

ah! and for Sam and Dave.