2013.02.13 Off the movie sofa and on to Mardi Gras fun

Written by David Green.


When Maddie was home during the holidays, we watched a lot of movies together, or, more accurately, the beginning of a lot of movies. We were choosing among the selection of movies available on Netflix through our Roku—a device that brings a movie to your TV via WiFi. Many of those movies David had placed in his queue for future watching.

We had never heard of many of them and the one- or two-sentence synopsis isn’t always accurate, so we decided to give them 15 minutes to prove themselves. If the movie didn’t grab us in 15 minutes, we moved on to another selection.

Sometimes, it was obvious in the first seconds or minutes that it was one of “those” movies—the kind of movie David might choose—foreign with subtitles, long, slow-moving with lots of panning of the camera. Ones that you could tell you weren’t going to know what was going on for a while, and even then, you knew you weren’t going to like it.

Last Tuesday night I was watching movies alone. I clicked through a lot of the choices on Roku, but nothing grabbed me until I hit upon “The Last Rites of Joe May.” I thought it had the potential to be a comedy even though the description had an air of grimness.

 “Low-stakes hustler Joe May returns home from the hospital to find his landlord assumed he'd died, and rented his apartment out to a single mom and her daughter. Joe's life takes surprising turns when he agrees to let the woman and her child stay.”

Oy. I could tell right at the start it was a loser, but I gave it a bit more time. The 15-second pan from the one guy lying in a hospital bed to another (Joe May) lightly rapping on the window, trying to attract the attention of a couple of pigeons—if that wasn’t enough to make me choose another movie, it was the voice of someone singing opera music in the background.

It looked like it might be set in New York City, so I hung with it a few more minutes—until the slow pace, just like some of David's foreign film selections, got to me. I just couldn’t do it.

I started next on “The Grocer’s Son,” just as I realized that I was flipping through the “Instant Queue”—David’s picks. It, too, started out slow, dark and with annoying music—hallmarks of a David movie selection.

“When his father suffers a stroke, Antoine reluctantly returns home from the big city to his small mountain village to help out with the family business, a grocery that makes daily rounds to the town's elderly inhabitants.”

This one actually was a foreign movie and a pretty good, sweet movie at that. I don’t want to sound completely bigoted or biased, here. Some of the movies I enjoy most are foreign. But, as a rule, foreign movies don't hold my interest. 

 I miss watching movies with Maddie, but I am in New Orleans as I write this and have a new favorite past time—watching Mardi Gras parades with Rosie and her family and friends. Maddie would understand; she's been here and has the beads to prove it. Actually, she doesn't have all that many beads because I absconded with the majority of them—to give to participants in the library's Summer Reading Program.

I could be fine and dandy just watching the baton twirlers, dancers, bands, Elvis impersonators, guys with flaming serpents, guys in motorized "Laissez" Boy recliners, and the incredible floats, but catching beads and a huge variety of other crazy junk made in China becomes an urge that's immediate and almost impossible to resist.

When I heft the bag of beads I collected, it feels like it weighs at least five pounds…I cradled it like a baby and it approximated my memory of the weight of my grandbaby Ryland a little after he came home from the hospital.

A good many of those beads came from the generosity of Rosie and Taylor and their friends, but I did catch some myself, and even talked someone from the Petoskey Steel Drum Band into throwing a football when I held my hands up in the shape of the lower and upper peninsulas and yelled, "Michigan!" 

My conclusion after spending three hours watching two parades is this: to consistently get beads you need to be a little kid (Caroline), tall (Taylor), beautiful (Rosie), friends with the Krewe members (the people to the left of us), or up high on a ladder with a backboard attached to a big fishing net (the kid to the right of us), and not old and gray-haired (that would be me).

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