August 26th, 2008

Loki riding

If there’s a fish tank in a movie or novel you just KNOW what’s going to happen...

If there’s a fish tank in a movie or novel you just KNOW what’s going to happen...

The bad guys blast it to pieces, of course.

So why was I suckered into thinking it wasn’t going to happen in the novel I just finished reading? Because I really truly thought the author was heading toward some (probably sappy) morally uplifting life lesson for one of the secondary characters.

But no. The bad guys blasted the fish tank to pieces! And killed all the fish! And they were clownfish! They murdered Nemo!!!

So here’s my plea to screenwriters and other writers who might feel tempted to blow up fish tanks to make a dramatic point: Resist the temptation. It’s been done. And done. And done.
Loki riding

Remember “Go outside and play?”

I have a serious allergy to all those nostalgia pieces that go on about “wasn’t life grand back in the day?” They just push my buttons big time. I usually respond by quoting the title of a Dolly Parton song, "The Good Old Days When Times Were Bad".

This isn’t one of those pieces, and it sure makes a lot of good points.,0,3678233.column

I feel sorry for kids nowadays. People blame the parents, but if they did let their kids "go out and play" and if something happened to the kid the parents might be arrested and charged with negligence and child endangerment.

I hate to think, for example, of what would have happened to my mother if she was raising kids now. When I was 3, while she was napping, I let myself out of the house and crossed a busy street. There were multiple attractions on the other side - I was fascinated with trains and there was a busy train crossing at the intersection, and there was a Dairy Queen there, as well.

Some total stranger brought me home; he knocked on my mother's door and asked if I was her kid. She had had no idea I knew how to work the door lock. If that had happened now, who knows, she might have been arrested and I might have been put in foster care. And the total stranger probably never would have dared to help a stray little girl.

Not that we want to go back to the bad old days. When I was in junior high, a friend of mine showed up with a broken arm. We were all excited, thinking she'd had some kind of adventure - maybe climbing on the mountain behind our school, or who knows? Instead, she said her dad had done it. I remember feeling a kind of sick disappointment. We all knew these things happened, and we knew there was nothing to be done about it.

There's got to be a happy balance, but people never seem to be able to make that balance work for any period of time.

But I have to say, I do have plenty of happy memories of those 1960s parentally-unsupervised “go out and play” days. It was pretty damn amazing how little attention parents paid to what their kids got up to. I can bet good money that not one parent in my old childhood neighborhood knew that just about every one of the 15 to 20 kids in the neighborhood between the ages of 4 and 6 were involved in digging a tunnel underneath a house perched on a cliffside and held up by stilts....