December 31st, 2003

Christmas 2003

This year was the smallest Christmas gathering at my parent's home ever. My siblings all have other in-laws or places to go, and, although they have in the past given priority to the Dells for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, a number of factors, including my mother's health, contributed to a scattering this year. Until a couple of days before Christmas, we weren't even sure that Dad would be able to bring Mama home that day. It ended up being just Georgie and I visiting, and we brought with us the makings of a decent, if abbreviated, Christmas dinner. My parents seemed in reasonably good spirits, and Mama's strength and alertness continue to improve. My dad's campaign to convert the house to be handicapped-accessible continues, most recently with an impressive enclosure for the wheelchair lift he put in during the summer. Although far from the most festive Christmas day we've ever had, we felt good about what we were able to accomplish, and spreading family visits out over several days is probably more like what my mother is up to.

Milwapa Collation, Holiday Tea

We had Milwapa Collation at the residence of Leah Fisher for the first time in years. A nice festive time was had and we assembled a nice-sized zine for the month. After handing out the disty, Georgie and I went over to Gate House, (residence of Shelia Haberland, Tim Kozinski, et al) for their annual holiday tea, which had a British Raj theme. Shelia wore one of her collection of saris, Jeannette Gugler sported a handsome sowar camise outfit, Bob Seidl and Tim were dapper in their pyjamys, and Judy Seidl represented the British side in an elegant period gown. We noshed on the Indian and British snacks and socialized with friends into the early evening.

Peter Pan, Dec. 28, 2003

Peter Pan

Georgie's friend and old roommate from Madison, Kris Wilke, came to visit on Sunday the 28th, and as part of the festivities we went out to the Southgate cinema to see the new film of J.M Barrie's "Peter Pan." We were very pleased with this adaptation, which has been publicized as the most faithful to the original novel and play, which from my very dim memory of reading it as a child, I can attest to. Jeremy Sumpter is the first actual boy to be cast as Pan in a major production, and manages to be both a handsome young man and mischief incarnate. Rachel Hurd-Wood, who plays Wendy, was an excellent choice as well. She is just right as the girl on the cusp of womanhood, and the photographers manage to make her look very girlish and very grown-up by turns. And a very excellent performance by Jason Isaacs in the dual role of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Isaacs turn as the ineffectual Mr. Darling shows he has the capacity to do roles other than villains, but his Hook is remarkable also in that it is an almost completely different character than either his Lucius Malfoy or the dragoon "Tavington" in "The Patriot." (One sinister hissing whisper does sound much like another, but that's really the only overlap—remarkable.) Much has been made in the past of the Freudian implications of the duality in the dream-image of the dangerous and seductive Hook being played by the same actor as Wendy's father (a conceit that goes back to the stage play and was evidently Barrie's idea), but the real conflict for Wendy's affections is between the pretty but shallow and self-centered youthful Peter (whom Hook argues, "cannot love,"), and the wickedly enticing, sophisticated, older pirate. The kiss of Wendy's first love energizes Peter to overcome Hook in the climactic battle, but it is ultimately the heartless chanting of the youths "Old, alone, and done for!" that erodes Hook's happy-thought powered flight and scuttles him to his doom in the jaws of the crocodile.

There is a very good supporting cast, headed by Vanessa Redgrave as Wendy's stodgy aunt, and the special effects and scenery are imaginative and well done. The scenes involving Peter's loose shadow are particularly clever. And extra kudos to Ludivine Sagnier, who basically has to mime her expressive and bratty performance as Tinkerbell. Reccommended, although I do agree with the criticism that the fight scenes can be a bit brutal for the very young--and, if you're feeling your years, I'm afraid that "Old, alone, and done for!" might be the mantra you take away with you--.