ARE A LOT OF CHILDREN in our lives, lately. My buddy Vince and his wife
Pat were the first into the pool with Aiden and, recently, Catriona. Paul
and Geraldine had Ilya over two years ago, Phillip and Julie had Dexter
over a year ago, and now Greg and Vicki have Lily. I'm sure I might be
forgetting some people, but these are just the kids we've seen or heard
from over the holidays.
Vince and Pat needed a bit of an escape this holiday,
so we agreed to meet up for a nice, adult dinner of Portugese
food, while the kids had a sitter. K., always the thoughtful auntie,
picked up presents for Aiden and Catriona, and Vince called us yesterday
to thank us.
"Hey, here's Aiden," Vince says over the phone.
There's a pause as Aiden, now four, picks up the phone
and collects himself.
I say hello back. I'm always unsure what to say to children,
mostly because they don't like talking about the fallacy of the "new economy",
or systemic corruption in politics.
"I just want to say...that I've been playing with my truck...even
though...I know...it's a collector's item."
It's a nice truck, a vintage Ford with a steering wheel
that moves and pivots the front wheels, but I wouldn't call it a collector's
"Oh, no, Aiden. You should play with it. That's what it's
for. Don't worry about it being a collector's item."
Still, he's probably right. He's growing up with Pokemon™
and price guides for everything from comic books to Happy Meal™ toys. Thanks
to the collectaphilia of the Boomers, there are a generation of kids out
there who know the meaning of "mint in box". No doubt Aiden and a lot of
little boys like him will insist on keeping their toys, not out of sentimentality, but for some future incarnation of eBay where they'll recoup the investment of hours of careful play and buy, I don't know, a Sony™ holodeck, or the sweet vintage PT Cruiser they always wanted.
VINCE, ALWAYS THE SHUT-IN, has jumped into the home theatre
thing with both feet. He hasn't gone so far as to put a mini-theatre in
his basement, complete with marquee, ticket booth and popcorn machine,
but he's got the DVD player and speaker array, and has burrowed in for
I'd have bought a DVD player by now -- they're actually
cheap enough for me to afford -- if there was anything to watch. I've made
a mental promise to myself that if enough of my "must have" films appear
on disc, I'll bit the bullet, but so far it's been nothing but a torrent
of dreary recent releases and "classics" I've seen too many times.
My list of "must-haves"? (I'm assuming you care.) Well,
they did release Patton just recently, though it's always sold out, and I'd probably get Ang
Lee's Civil War film. But the Holy Grails remain unreleased: Sergio
Upon a Time in the West has been on tape for years, in the same
awful "pan and scan" version you see on Bravo every six months, and I'd
rather have the de-luxe letterboxed version, probably the first time I'll
have seen it properly; The Godfather, Parts One
are also must-haves, and I could probably watch them once a year, when
K. goes home to Nova Scotia, leaving me stag and in search of my morose
A few years ago, the complete Looney Tunes were available
on a series of laserdisc sets, and cost a fortune, but I wanted them badly.
If they ever showed up on DVD, in the same complete set, my mind would
be made up. Classic Warner Bros. cartoons were gospel to me as a child,
a glimpse into the offbeat minds of a recent past that, by the sixties
and seventies, was already being re-cast as a hopelessly noble "Greatest
Generation" epoch of earnest, Nazi-battling, dust bowl and Depression struggle
leavened with the merest touch of Astaire-Rogers or Preston Sturges.
Watching classic Looney Tunes like "Porky in Wackyland"
made me aware that there had always been smartasses around who thought
in absurd non-sequiturs, and found the most profound humour in a world
where any crisis could be allayed by slapping your nemesis with a t-bone
steak, planting a big wet kiss on them and jumping down a hole in the ground
with a victorious whoop.
I'd have to own Lawrence of Arabia, of course, and some of the great Powell and Pressberger films, like A
Canterbury Tale or The Red Shoes. I might have seen Dr.
Strangelove on disc somewhere, though I could be mistaken, and
in any case, I've seen it enough (fifteen times, by my guess) that there's
no rush. And so I remain, a consumer electronics sluggard.
It's people like me who ruin perfectly good economies.