Friday, September 19, 2014

How To Be A Real Santa

First pull a second mortgage on your house. Also an attorney because your wife will divorce you once you destroy your house and blow all your money. Then hire a movie director to orchestrate the special effects and then hire ten reindeer. Now you have to get the reindeer up on your roof so you will need two monster wooden ramps so they can enter the roof and then leave it. Now you need to reinforce the roof to hold about six thousand pounds and you might have to level it or the reindeer will slip off and fall to the ground and you will have to pay the man you rented them from for ten dead reindeer.

Now you need at least three industrial snow machines because mother nature can not be depended on. And you will need fog machines to hide the technicians who will be running the snow machines and the digital projectors. Oh right the digital projectors will be used to beam an image of you and your reindeer flying through space and this will be projected on smoke. Now all you have to is get down your chimney.

So you have to get your chimney enlarged to fit you and your presents. Then you will need mountaineers to lower you down the chimney and pull you back up. You should have two Santa Suits because creosote will turn you black and you don't want to be a minstrel Santa. When you return to the top of the chimney all you have to do is get the reindeer off the roof through fog and manufactured snow in the dead of night. And say a few HO HO HOs while you are doing it because your daughter is videotaping you.

Real Santa

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Fascination with Dead Celebrities

Poor Robin. Poor  Joan. You are buying peanut butter and there is Robin Williams. And there he is again. And again. And again. And if you have forgotten that he was in Mork and Mindy there he is all of twenty something in his Mork costume. And right next to it there he is right before he hung himself. And there he is in Dead Poets Society. Good Morning Vietnam. Forget that he was persona non grata until he committed suicide. It is like he just won an Oscar for best death.

And then there is Joan Rivers. That thirty year old face on that eighty two year old body. She is there too as you buy your coffee your toilet paper and your trash bags. She is there looking younger than her daughter and then there is a picture of her in the Carson years before she pissed off Johnny for good and that was that. But mostly there is this plastic Joan looking like a very young sexy blond except we know she is somewhere under that face. And now she has been brought back now that she died.

It would seem the way for old has been celebs to gain immortality is to die. It doesn't seem to matter if it is suicide or not. But the media machine cranks into overdrive and gives us every phase of their life. Phillip Seymour Hoffman did not seem to experience this as much. We had a spate of photos and then it seemed to go away. Maybe it is the longevity thing. But one thing is for sure. If Robin was depressed over his slipping career he can rest easy now.

Because he is back. Oh. And so is Joan.
The Pitcher ...Summer Sale
Real far would you go for your kids?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Who Wants To Make A Christmas Movie?

There has been a fair amount of studio interest in Real Santa my story of a man who becomes Santa Claus to keep his daughters belief in Santa alive. Lets face it since Elf there has not been any great family movies so maybe the studios think Real Santa  might be the answer. I started thinking about what makes a great Christmas movie and I settled on some basics.

One a Christmas myth in danger of being shattered. Miracle On 34th Street takes on the concept that Santa Claus could be real if someone said they really were Santa Claus. Who is to say they are not Santa Claus. And John Gailey the lawyer attempts to prove Kris Kringles authenticity in court and his bailed out by the United States Post office giving him proof that Santa does indeed exist. The myth of Santa Claus remains intact.

Or the moral allegory. Its a Wonderful Life. George has thrown away his life and now he has a chance to find what he has missed. All this of course done by an angel Clarence. Same with the Cary Grant movie The Bishops Wife. The path not chosen by David Niven is pointed out by the antics of the angel Dudley. The moral is that we may be redeemed through the miracle of Christmas

Of course there are the movies that are just entertainment Christmas fodder. White Christmas, Holiday Inn, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Feel good films celebrating the nuttiness of Christmas. Where Real Santa fits in probably somewhere between a moral allegory and the nuttiness of Christmas.

We will see if there is room for one more Xmas movie.
Real far would you go for your children?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's Obits

I was reading the obituaries of F Scott Fitzgerald the other day. I had some time between classes and the college had a very old collection of miscellaneous articles. In there were the New York Times and other papers convering Fitzgeralds death. They were not kind. The NY Times and others lamented how Fitzgerald had squandered his talent. How he had written about topics that were light and frivolous and the spoiled generation of the twenties. They surmised that maybe The Great Gatsby might survive him but that was probably a long shot.

And the other papers were worse. Many of the editors hacked poor Fitz apart. Saying he had some talent but ultimately he was a drunk and he got what he deserved dying at the ripe old age of forty four. They didn't even bother summing up The Great Gatsby accurately calling it a bootlegger story and dismissing his work as a flash in the pan. The real world had real problems and Fitzgerald had essentially written about nothing

And so it went on. They were unanimous in their prediction that he was a minor player in the literary field and that Gatsby had merit but that the author and the book probably would not stand the test of time. Of course Fitzgerald was out of print and out of mind at the time. Their collective jaws would certainly hit the floor at his legacy now and The Great Gatsby's place as a corner stone of our collective literary heritage.

Of course all those editors are dead and forgotten now. The last laugh was Scotts.
The Pitcher

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Touch of Fall

Something about the air. Maybe it is the bike ride out in the country where you can smell the cut hay. Or apples. Or corn. The hazy sun above. The funny light that falls under the trees. But there is something there now that lets you know fall is here. Something that goes all the way back. Back to when you cared about school starting or the sound of leaves underfoot. You almost don't notice it anymore.

But the season has changed and you wonder about the baseball games you did not go too. How did a whole summer slip by without getting downtown? But somehow it did. And now you know it is too late. The speed of life or something. But now you are riding through the country and there is the waiting air. This transition is upon you.

For good or for bad winter is on the way. And maybe that is the breath you feel. The great pause before the great freeze. Almost like the land is bracing itself. Snow will come. Ice will come. And all that summer splendor will be covered up. But for now it is the ride through the gathering storm. Just a touch of fall really.

Monday, September 8, 2014

WGN with Rick Kogan

On a Sunday night on the top of the Tribune is the WGN studio where Rick Kogan broadcasts his After Hours show. One of the remaining book shows in Chicago and you want to be on it. Because not only does Rick read your book he talks intelligently about it and you get to sit there and enjoy the company of the newspaper man with a literary nose and believe me when I say he is the last of the Mohicans because newspaper men belong to the last century.

And you have thirty minutes to talk about your book and writing. An eternity in radio time on a station the size of WGN (50KW) and you get to beam out across the state on a Sunday night in September while the city nurses its' first Bears defeat and everyone is pulling down the windows because those first cool nights have rolled in like an early messenger of the winter to come. But for now you concentrate on the task at hand.

And the red light flashes and Rick nods to the producer to cut the music and then you just roll. And he is a pro because he leads the interview and lets you ramble and then takes it over when you veer and you manage to get in all the information (website, signings, multiple books) and you chat off the air and you know some of the same people by now and then you are going back down the elevator past those marble quotes on the wall and you know the digital world is out there still...
but for a moment you saw something greater.

Something better.
The Pitcher
Real Santa...Sometimes you just have to believe


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why Did Margaret Mitchell Want Her Manuscript Burned?

The order was clear. When she died the original manuscript of Gone With The Wind was to be burned. Not much different than the burning of Atlanta. Total oblivion. Taken out to see the old plantations left from the war when she was a child she became the savant for the South. Why did this "flapper" take on such a task. Or do writers ever get a choice? And what about the accidents and depressions she suffered.

Writers all suffer from depression. But Margaret Mitchells came when she was laid up from accidents. She seemed early on accident prone. And on one of her recovery periods she began the giant manuscript that would fill a McMillans rep suitcase...two of them in fact. And then she wanted it all back but by then it was too late. He had already started reading.

And the world was never the same. The rebel without a cause who never really settled down until she did to write Gone With the Wind became a celebrity. And she hated it. And the movie came out and she spoke with Clark Gable and then she and her husband became semi recluses after World War II except to go to the movies.

And there she died. A speeding car killed the author of Gone with the Wind on her way to the movies. And then the final order was carried out by her husband. He burned the entire manuscript. Why? Destroy the artist and destroy the art. She didn't want people to see that her early draft was rough? Or maybe the wind that carried her to write the story of the South in a vision also carried a final command. Destroy the evidence. After all she wrote the South's version of the Civil War.

And the South takes no prisoners.

Books by William Hazelgrove