b Papa Dog's Blog: YAT/Possible Auto Theft/The Peril of Mothers-in-Law

Papa Dog's Blog

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

YAT/Possible Auto Theft/The Peril of Mothers-in-Law

As predicted, I’ve had a little time on my hands today. I filled a chunk of it going into Berkeley, which was deserted on account of American Thanksgiving (or, as I’ve been calling it in conversation with Mama Dog, YAT*). I went to the UA (though now UA is apparently part of something called Regal Entertainment Group to see After the Sunset, which is as perfunctory as you might think if you’ve seen the trailer, but hey, it was a movie, and I had to pick something I knew Mama Dog would never be keen on seeing. (Tomorrow we’ll be seeing Kinsey; it’ll be our first time to the movies together since Baby Dog was born.

I was a little early for the movie, so I decided to walk down the street and see if Barnes Ignoble was open. It wasn’t, but on the way I got to watch either a crime or some stupidity in progress. A guy came trotting past me and stopped to pick something up off the sidewalk. I thought at first he was grabbing a discarded butt, but as he went running back in the direction he’d come I realised it was a big chunk of rock. I had a weird little presentiment, and then sure enough he stopped at a car and started hammering at the window with the rock. I passed, bemused, wondering how wide a berth I needed to give the guy, when he suddenly dropped the rock, evidently unable to break the window with it, and ran past me around the next corner. I had time to register that the motor was running in the car, and it clicked that this was probably the car’s owner. He had locked the keys in and for some reason he thought it was a better plan to break the window than to call AAA. When I got across Durant I looked back and saw the guy coming back around the corner with a great big length of industrial pipe over his shoulder. He dashed up to the car, smashed in the rear passenger window, and dove in like a Duke of Hazzard . Another passer-by stopped with me at the intersection, watching. “Did he just break into that car?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said, “but I think it’s his car. The keys were locked in with the engine running.” The guy peeled out of the parking space and roared down Shattuck Avenue. “Well,” I philosophised, “either way, it’s his car now.”

The movie killed time. The most annoying thing was the obligatory US (or Regal) pre-show learning curve display from the non-union projectionist. She kept adjusting the focus back and forth during the trailer for Flight of the Phoenix. The focus swooned around so much I started to feel like I was at the optometrist’s. Then she started experimenting with the framing, randomly cropping the image off in all four directions. The movie looks like just another crappy remake and I’ve seen the trailer before, so none of this was any great loss, but damn it puts me on edge before the movie starts. If I’m going to pay money to see a mediocre Brett Ratner opus, I at least want to be able to see the stupid thing clearly.

By the time the third trailer came on, she had the equipment figured out, which was good, because this was the most interesting of the trailers. The movie was Monster-in-Law, and it looks like formulaic crap too, but it’s interesting because it marks the emergence from retirement of Jane Fonda, looking oddly like a withered Princess Di. She’s the titular monster, pretending to be thrilled with the prospect of gaining Ennifer Pez as a daughter-in-law while secretly fantasising about smashing the young lady’s face into the coffee table.

Later, while Mama Dog was preparing the Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, she asked if she could play one of my Clancy Brothers CDs. I said “Yeah, sure,” wondering if she was up to some sort of Bre’er Rabbit thing in reverse, but she really did seem to want to hear it. She said she thought it was good festive music for YAT. I was toting Baby Dog around at the time, so I stood bouncing her by the computer letting her hear the real versions of songs I sing her while changing her. One of the on the disc was “Whiskey, You’re the Devil”, which is all about the ways liquor can lead a man astray. Mostly (according to the song), it seems to lead him into the war, but buried in the middle is a stanza about the domestic perils that may result. It gives this neat summation of the ancient in-law struggle: “Said the mother, ‘Do not wrong me,/Don’t take my daughter from me,/For if you do I will torment you/And after death my ghost will haunt you.’” There’s a mother-in-law from hell to make Jane Fonda’s comic harpy look like a piker: her wrath extends beyond this mortal coil.

I looked up and saw Gran fretting at Mama Dog over the preparation of the YAT dinner, and I wondered…first that trailer, now this song…is the universe trying to send me some sort of warning? My guess is not, but I’ll tread lightly for the next couple days anyway.
*“Your American Thanksgiving.”


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