Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mom's Cable TV

Scene from "Lovers and Lollipops"

One thing the girls and I always look forward to when we go out to grandma's is her cable TV. The trouble is, the movie channels wait until the wee hours to show the hippie movies. I always notice some off-beat movie coming on right before I should be heading for bed. Of course I have to stay up to watch it, and I end up going to bed at some ridiculous hour. And even at my age, I'm still nervous about mom suddenly emerging from her room and scolding me for being up.

When I was out there last December, I watched "Alice's Restaurant," with Arlo Guthrie, which came on around 2:00 in the morning. This time, I watched "The Trip" with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Peter's character drops acid and has an extended psychedelic experience that goes on and on and on. It grows tedious at times. Director Roger Corman uses lots of the same camera shots over and over, but splices them together and speeds them up, in an attempt to make the film wild and trippy.

The film was fun to watch though, as a campy trip back to the 60's. Fonda enters a groovy club where a girl with body paint dances feverishly. The interiors in the movie were far out, as were a lot of the scenes flashing by while Fonda was tripping.

I wasn't sure what statement the film was trying to make about acid. The film opens with a disclaimer saying: LSD IS EVIL. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. But some speculate that the film was really made as sort of a manual for LSD users. There are a lot of places where Fonda's trip turns bad, but some say the filmmaker was making sure he couldn't be accused of making a pro-drug film.

What was even weirder was the movie I watched the next morning, a 1955 film called "Lovers and Lollipops". It seemed like an art film, because though it was black and white, the lighting was incredible and it had a rich aesthetic quality. And it had very little plot. A beautiful widowed woman with a 7 year-old daughter named Peggy starts dating an engineer. The camera quietly follows their unfolding relationships---the growing romance between the couple, Peggy's resistance to mommy's new boyfriend, the boyfriend's effort to bond with Peggy, the ensuing conflict between the couple when Peggy comes between them..and the resolution. This all takes place in New York City at landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Central Park. The cinematography was superb, and the film was nuanced in its portrayal of the emotions that occur in three-way relationships. The antics of Peggy were so natural and true to life, I recognized my own kids time and time again. She may be the closest thing to a real little girl l've seen on-screen. It was unlike any film from the 50's I've seen. I highly recommend it.

But the weirdest thing we saw last weekend was a show on the History Channel, "How William Shatner Changed the World." The title was tongue in cheek, but the premise of the show was how Star Trek had inspired many of our advances in science and technology. William Shatner was the narrator, naturally, which kept things in the quirky, comical vein. The factual segments were interwoven with clips from Star Trek and sight gags involving Shatner. The most surreal moment was when they showed Shatner sitting in a port-a-potty. I don't even want to try to explain why.

When Lilah became hooked on Star Trek earlier this year, we didn’t know a new movie was on the way. Now that the movie is out, Star Trek stuff is everywhere. When we rolled into Hays, the sign at the Burger King said, "Star Trek Cups Are Here." The front page of the Hutch News displayed the top edge of Spock's face.

Although Lilah only likes the original TV series and has no interest in the new movie, or the Next Generation, or Deep Space Nine, it’s a good time to be an old-school Trekkie. Because the movie is inspiring new batches of merchandise related to the old TV show. On one of our stops on the way to Ness, we found a Pez Collection with the entire crew from the original series: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov. The Pez company had tried to make the faces realistic. Lilah likes the fact that the Pez version of Dr. McCoy has bags under his eyes.


  1. You forgot to mention the "Big Joe Polka Show." That's always a treat.

  2. Yes, isn't it though. I wonder if the Big Joe Polka show is on YouTube.

  3. I love all of these posts. I need to see Lovers and Lollipops--looks familiar. Really excited to see the Peter Fonda trip. Thanks!

  4. Yeah, you really should see Lovers and Lollipops. I think you'd love it. And The Trip is fun --get Hawthorne to watch it with you. It would have been a lot funner if I'd had someone to watch it with.

  5. That's funny about the Bones pez--I want one.