IN MY OPINION
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(with the hope that everyone in my family will think about making a similar list before their birthdays and/or Christmas roll around!)
24 May 2006
The psychiatrist is out of town for a few days. I don't think he lets me know any more when he's going to be out of town because he thinks I take time off...when I should be using these "free days" to get caught up.
Well, he's right, of course, and this time is no exception. I really planned to get more done than I have up to now, but Lemrel was here over the weekend, so nothing got done, and then I happened across "Home Movies #1" in the videotapes.
"I'll just copy a bit of it," I thought. I figured I could take a couple of hours off to get this video transferred to DVD so I could make a few videos for the Vlog.
Well, it turned out to be more complicated (of course) than that. I need to sit there and divide it up into chapters, which means watching it...and you get started watching something created back in 1982, and it's just difficult to turn away, you know?
In 1982 we were just getting started with foreign students. Eduardo had gone home, after five months here, and Ned had followed him to Brasil. He had recently returned, after being away for a year. (If you watched yesterday's video, you can see Ned speaking what sounds like pretty fluent Portuguese). Home Movies #1 has shots of several subsequent foreign students. I'd forgotten how much we did with all of them, and how varied the experiences were.
In 1982 we bought a new video camera and there are a lot of camera experiments on the tape. Hilarious videos--the screw-ups are always the most fun.
And there is Sparky Juice, a video which is almost unintelligible, but it's a family classic. Paul did an imitation of Julia Child that, whether you can understand it or not, is hilarious. "Sparky" was our cat (who worshipped our Brasilian student, Caico) and Paul's bit hinges on the things to mix with Sparky in a blender for a delicious drink. He also mentions a tall dark bottle on the table--even I had forgotten, until I heard it the second time, that what he's saying as he adds its contents to the blender is "a bit of Pitu." Pitu is a Brasilian rum. I got it all transferred to video and showed it to Walt when he got home from work and we both sat here in stitches all over again.
Other things on the VHS tape include some Christmas shows put on by the Intermediate school and the junior high school. Paul sang in the choir; Jeri played in the orchestra. 25 years later, the quality doesn't seem quite as outstanding as it did at the time, but the sincerity can't be denied.
People have asked me if watching stuff like this doesn't make me sad, and no it doesn't. In fact, it helps a lot. Even if Paul and David were still alive, the children they were in these videos would not exist any more anyway. I may have written this before, but I once joked to David that it didn't make any difference whether he died early or not because I wouldn't miss him--I'd just sit here and watch old videos. Only half of that is true, of course. I miss both kids very much, but it's fun having them back as children on the old videos. And for a brief moment, I am back there, too. A young mother laughing at the antics of her kids.
And it's fun having the young, happy Ned, and the young Jeri and Tom. I don't see the adults they have become, but the carefree kids they were and remember how much I enjoyed watching all of their artistic talents develop, laughing at the flops. Wondering how in the world I didn't make them get off the damn roof instead of jumping off for video effect.
There is a video on this particular VHS tape that stopped and started so many times that I don't know if it ever finishes--there are concerts in the middle of it, and old TV programs in the middle of it. It's quite a challenge to think of putting it together they way they intended it to be done. I'm not quite sure I want to put in that much work, but I think it would be fun to try.
The cool thing about how the kids ultimately learned to videotape was that they worked together so well they could shoot an entire movie, without a script, from beginning to end, and have it all come out great.
Somewhere in all our collection around the house there is a video Ned made for Walt's mother's 80th birthday. There were all these 80-somethings doddering around a park at a picnic and reminiscing with each other about Grandma. Ned would stick a camera and a microphone in their faces and tell them to say something or other. They'd look a little puzzled and say it, and then he'd move on to the next person.
When he finished shooting, he played the video on a monitor in the park for everyone to see--and it played like he'd planned and carefully cut and edited it.
When Walt's brother got married, they asked the kids to videotape the service. This was the wedding video to end all wedding videos. We had our video camera, and the video camera that belonged to the City of Davis (because we had that kind of relationship with the city at that time). Ned also worked for the local cable channel and borrowed the mixing machine from the studio. They put a camera on either side of the church, with cords running into the sacristy (which I started calling "the green room"), connected to the mixer. The kids had no headsets, so they couldn't communicate with each other and couldn't know when Ned (who was at the mixer and couldn't see either Jeri or Paul, who were running the cameras) was switching from camera to camera, couldn't know when to zoom in or zoom out.
In the entire wedding video there is only ONE place where they didn't get it right. Jeri and Paul communicated with each other silently across the chapel, and Ned put it all together and the end result was more professional than some videos I've seen.
But all of the expertise that they acquired over the years started around the time of "Sparky Juice," and how tickled I was to find it again today!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Reports are that Peanut is doing great with his new friend.