July 18 1974 Sense and Nonsense
Photographs are little mementos of past experiences. No other inanimate object is treasured more in a household. Looking at an old photo brings back the mood of that long ago day when the camera immortalized a portion of it. It also settles a lot of arguments. In our family we argue a lot about what year we did such and such, and what year such and such happened. Pretty soon out comes the old album or more often, the box of loose photos we are someday going to put in albums.
“There, I told you so!” shouts the arguer triumphantly to the arguee on a hypothetical occasion. “There is Aunt Ellen in a bikini in the summer of ’62. Therefore Cousin Joe was not born that September, but some other September instead.”
We have about fifteen home movies most taken in the first year we got the camera. Now we need to invest in an editor-splicer to sort the good from the bad. Most of the bad is what I have taken. I never used to believe I was a “shaker”. I can hold both arms straight out with all ten fingers parallel to the ground, rigid as the Rock of Gibraltar, even in a high wind. However we have reams of footage of film which looks like it’s been taken from a row-boat during a bad storm. Another bad habit of mine is assuming the film has ended before it really has. Our camera is one of those modern idiot-proof things that are supposed to be smarter than most people. When the film is finished, a red flag comes down in the viewfinder to indicate this fact. The trouble is that it is inconsistent.
Sometimes the red flag gets stuck somewhere and all the exciting happenings you think you have filmed are all for naught. Because this has happened two or three times, I no longer trust it at all. I go by instinct instead. When my instinct says, “This is probably the end of the film.” I then relax and shoot everything in sight. (As it won’t turn out anyway.) We have some dazzling shots of bugs, toads, leaves and people making obscene gestures. All of these scenes, I might add, turn out beautifully. Apparently my arm and aim are rock- solid, and judgement of distance, etc. are perfect when photographing stuff I think won’t turn out.
About once or twice a year or whenever the latest film has been developed, we have to go through the whole collection. If there is someone under twelve in the audience we also have to show the Abbott and Costello film which came as a free bonus when we bought the movie outfit. We have seen this film so often that most of us know it by heart and no longer shudder when the heroes stall their car on the railroad tracks with a train coming. It is now more fun to see it in reverse. The projectionist now automatically shows it both forwards for the little kids, and backwards for the more mature audiences.
Another free bonus we received was a large envelope containing cardboard titles for home movies which we have used only once. Our very first movie is called “A Super- 8 Colour Spectactular” and no one could possibly miss the title as half the film features the brilliantly coloured sign resting on the mantelpiece. The rest of the film, if I remember right, features two women, one blonde, and one with dead black hair, having their hair teased by a ten year old dresser. These two women no longer exist. We are both redheads now. I believe I switched shortly after that movie was developed. I still cannot understand why black hair looked so much better on my mother than on me. It could be possible that it is because she was born with it and Mother Nature does a better job of colour matching than Miss Clairol. Anyway home movies do point out ones imperfections. I believe I also went on a diet after that first film.