Earlier this year I was my great pleasure to strike up a cyber-friendship with Peter Gelderblom, founder, editor of, and contributor to, the terrific Web site 24 Lies A Second. Peet (as he is known on the Web) lives and works in Holland; he originally dropped a very nice line or two in the comments column of one of my posts and invited me to rework an old article of mine for publication on the site. I took this as a very great compliment, as I had followed the site for some time previous to his contacting me, and it turned out to be a whole lot of fun to work with Peet and 24 Lies editor Jim Moran to get my big, ungainly, bloated piece of work into something close to fighting shape. Not everybody liked the piece when 24 Lies turned it loose, and I really didn't expect that everyone would-- I got criticism of it when I originally published it on this blog too-- but Jim and Peet were endlessly supportive and have always made me feel welcome to submit new ideas for further articles. In fact, I may have finally tumbled one around in my head long enough to actually start working on getting it ready for them to see.
In the meantime, Peet and I have kept in contact, peering in at each other's Web presences and dropping the occasional e-mail and/or comment on the sites. I got an e-mail from him last week, actually, alerting me to the presence of a new 24 Lies Brian De Palma poll (check this one out, Blaaagh!) and an article freshly minted from the Gelderblom pen (keyboard) called "The Shape of Substance: Brian De Palma and the Function of Form." As I want to give this one more than just the cursory bathroom once-over, I've printed it out and set aside some time this weekend to read it, as I have all of the articles from the contributing writers on 24 Lies. But I was very happy that Peet felt compelled to write to me and solicit my reaction to this one in particular, and I'm relishing the anticipation of consuming it as much as I am the inevitable actual enjoyment of engaging with his ideas in the piece.
From left, Rasmus (the disillusioned dinosaur fan), Luka (my future son-in-law?), and blogpal Peter (Peet) Gelderblom
Attached to his e-mail was a very amusing anecdote than I wanted to pass along, and now that I have secured his permission I shall do so. (This originally appeared as a post on the 24 Lies reader forum, but Peet passed it along to me for reasons that will become obvious):
"A while ago, I also posted a funny story on the forum about my oldest son and me, considering the REAL horrors of Jurassic Park. I guess it's the sort of thing only daddies like you can truly understand...
My son Rasmus has been a dinosaur fan for as long as he can remember, and there's no other movie he yearned to see more desperately than Spielberg's modern classic Jurassic Park. Again and again, Rasmus begged me throughout the years if he would be allowed to see it. Finally, by the time he reached the age of seven I deemed him old enough.
As we sat down before the television together, I wondered what would gruel Rasmus the most: the T-rex scene or the velociraptor chase? Little did I know that it turned out to be something else completely.
You remember the cartoon, about one-third into the movie, that explains how the dinosaurs were recreated from fossil DNA? Since Rasmus doesn't understand English, I was directly translating everything that little string of cartoon DNA said into Dutch, until the bomb dropped and out of my mouth came something along the lines of: 'That's why every dinosaur in Jurassic Park is female.'
Now, for those of you less familiar with the mindset of the average seven-year-old boy, let me assure you there is nothing - I repeat: nothing - more appalling to them than girls...
Rasmus turned to me in utter shock and said, 'What?!? Are all the dinos GIRLS?' Instead of being smart enough to deny it, I confirmed him of his deepest terror. Try to put yourself in his shoes: what he considered to be the coolest creatures on the planet turned out to be what he detested most of all. In a few seconds time, Spielberg had crushed the love of his life and I was partly responsible. It seriously pissed Rasmus off. 'What a stupid movie is this,' he said. 'I will never find it exciting now!'
Luckily, the T-rex scene was able to change his mind. Nevertheless, he may never fully recover from that initial shock. Neither may I."
Thanks, Peet, for the terrific story, and for the fine work you do at 24 Lies A Second. I thoroughly recommend anyone interested in serious, accessible discussion of film to stop by this site right away and make it a regular destination. And the forum topics are always interesting too. I haven't been as active in there as I should have been over the past summer, but some of the topics under discussion now have convinced me to modify my behavior right away. As for that De Palma poll, Blow Out is the current leader (and my choice), with precisely twice the support of the nearest contender, Body Double. Who will cast the first vote for Carrie? Come on, people! And surely Sisters is worthy of a first-place vote from someone. You can even cast a vote for The Bonfire of the Vanities if you want to (I'm talking to you, Mysterious Adrian Betamax), but just follow it up with a good reason or two in the comments section. (Oh, and yes, Peet, we will have to talk about Body Double, which I haven't seen, by the way, in at least 10 years-- it's one of the few De Palma films I have little use for, and I'm very interested in hearing out an opposite point of view, especially yours.)
As Bugs Bunny might have said, ain't the blogosphere grand?