Celebrating the Outsider at Christmas – Bell Book and Candle

51+PNg8JS7LI’ve mentioned the film Bell Book and Candle in my rundown of favorite holiday movies in the past. I revisit it now because it’s such an atypical Christmas film. I recall my mother taping it for my father back in the early days of VCRs, when some of us wanted to capture every film and TV show for posterity. We didn’t know YouTube was coming, or Netflix, or DVD collections of complete runs of TV series. One movie cost at least $40 then, and older films which hadn’t won Oscars or been box office smashes weren’t as quick to be released. Local TV stations were still showing movies then, albeit with large chunks missing to allow space for commercials. My family spent many hours sitting in front of the TV remote in hand, pausing for commercials, trying to get the most pristine copy we could.

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Anti-nationalist sentiment – The Pursuit of Happiness (1934)

First up, thanks to all of you who sent notes of encouragement after last week’s lengthy discussion of Alzheimer’s. It’s not an easy road to travel, but since when was life ever easy? It’s good to know how many people I have in my corner.

pursuitNow on to the blog I started writing two weeks ago, a group of thoughts about a movie I watched even more weeks ago, almost by accident. It’s old. So old that, if you search it on IMDB, it doesn’t even show up on the initial list of possible films, even if you type its exact title. It was made in 1934, and I discovered it because I was watching some films with Joan Bennett on YouTube. (Not a lot of Joan Bennett’s films are available on NetFlix streaming!) I was watching Joan Bennett films because I was reading a biography of the Bennett family, which was recommended by Lara Parker in her latest book, which I reviewed recently. All this discussion of her early film work got me interested in seeing some movies. That’s the way my mind flows. One thing to the next.

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Losing yourself… or finding myself?

A couple of weeks ago, before I went on vacation and avoided email and work like the plague for ten days, author and columnist Robert Bidinotto posted a column about the impact of heroic fiction on the development of the psyche. It’s a through-provoking an moving piece. It literally brought a tear to my eye, when, expounding the effects of his love of heroes, particularly Superman, he says:

I can’t tell you how important such experiences were to a lonely little kid with a big imagination, growing up in that four-room ranch house. Those heroes told me that life didn’t have to be a series of boring, empty routines. That there was more to the world than the claustrophobic rural township where I grew up. That the universe was a huge place filled with adventure and romance, open to infinite, exciting possibilities.

But, most importantly, that you always had to stand up for justice.

Like millions of other kids from that era, I took all this very seriously.

I still do.

This passage reminded me of the impact heroic fiction had had upon me as a child, and continues to have today. During the toughest times of my development (and I believe I’m still developing, lo these 47 years later), heroic fiction has assuaged my loneliness, inspired me to dream, and provided me with an escape from a world which has a habit of delighting in being ugly every now and then. Continue reading