The Shapiro Files

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween, Happy Baby

Perhaps a love of Halloween is genetic. Just in time for one of my favorite holidays, Melody has entered the stage of social smiling. Up until the last few days, any smiling was likely a sign of gas (very common in newborns). But all at once, Melody has begun to communicate happiness through honest-to-goodness smiling. Talk about warm fuzzies! Check out this photo of our happy little girl:

Click for a larger image

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Book Comedy

I love old books. I love the way they smell. I love the way they feel in my hands. In tribute to well-worn (and well-loved) books, here's a cute little cartoon I recently came across:


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spam Woes & Walnuts Revisited

Spammers have found their way to The Shapiro Files. Those of you who have been kind enough to leave and/or read comments here may have noticed a recent plethora of "Comment Deleted" postings. This is because spammers have been posting all sorts of odd advertisements by way of comments left on my blog. So to curtail this new new influx of spam, I had to grudgingly activate a word verification step for posting comments. I apologize for this extra step and hope it doesn't deter anyone from leaving comments--especially since I love reading everyone's comments so much. It's one of my favorite parts of blogging.

On a completely different topic, as a follow up to my previous posting on Message from Space (i.e. "The Walnut Movie"), I was able to get a DVD copy of the film via Ebay. The audio/video quality will probably be horrible (not to mention how awful the movie itself will likely be), but I just had to have a copy of this movie that I've been obsessing about for over 25 years now. And speaking of obsessions, check out these comments between me and my cousin Brad of The Egel Nest in which I reveal my obsession with some anthropomorphic alphabet letters from my childhood.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Walnuts in Space

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley/Canoga Park area of Los Angeles in the late 70's early 80's. This was not the most glamourous of neighborhoods. For example, one of the area's landmarks was a decaying movie house that showed double-features of second-run films for only .49¢. I recall seeing lots of different movies there during my childhood (Saturday Night Fever, Hair, and Ragtime all come to mind). But the movie I most fondly remember seeing there was some sort of post-Star Wars rip off I saw with my father that somehow involved glowing walnuts. Yes, glowing walnuts.

At first I was bored out of my mind. I may have even dozed off. But then characters in the film started discovering glowing walnuts (apparently sent from space) in their beverages and elsewhere and these discoveries seemed to signify something important to those who found them (I don't remember what). It was at this point in the film that the audience began laughing — timidly at first, but eventually quite uproariously. When it was over, my father kept saying that he really couldn't tell if the movie was supposed to be a comedy, but that it was one of the funniest movies he had seen in a very long time.

Over the ensuing years, my father would bring up the "walnut movie" from time to time; but neither of us had any idea what it was called. And when we asked people about it, no one knew what we were talking about.

Enter Google.

I started thinking about the movie yesterday. It's just one of those things that crosses my mind on occasion. So I typed "70's sci fi movie walnuts" into Google. and lo and behold, the results gave me exactly what I was looking for. After 25 years, I now know what that crazy walnut movie was! It was a 1978 Japanese production called Uchu kara no messeji that was released in the U.S. as Message from Space. Here are all the details from IMDB. It hasn't been officially released on DVD, but it looks like there are some DVD-R copies floating around on Ebay. I'll see if I can get a winning bid. I'm sure the movie is horrible. But if there was ever an opportunity to regain — even for just one brief moment — that lightening in a bottle that was my childhood, this must be it!

The glowing walnuts await.

UPDATE (August 27, 2011): Six years later, I just discovered that this piece of late-70s nostalgia (and a wonderful memory from my childhood) is now available via Netflix streaming. Will wonders never cease?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Disaster Movie Weekend

No, I'm not speaking metaphorically (no household catastrophes to speak of...knock on virtual wood). Rather, as Netflix DVDs are something we can still enjoy with a minimum of baby-related interruptions, I thought it would be fun to go with a disaster movie theme for the weekend. Marcie has always been a big fan of the "Oh no, we're all going to die...Wait, maybe we won't!" type of movies. So I Nexflixed (I think I just invented a new verb) The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, two famous 1970's disaster films that I hadn't gotten around to seeing until now.

Surprisingly, despite some major 1970's cheese and lots of over-the-top acting, the movies were actually pretty entertaining. Works of art, they're not. But they helped make for a couple of nights of fun movie watching. They have also allowed me to create the following checklist:

Ingredients of a Disaster Movie
  • A technological marvel (giant boat, insanely tall building, futuristic airplane, etc.) upon its first use
  • A headstrong captain, architect, pilot, etc.
  • A co-star does nothing but disagree with the above-mentioned headstrong captain, architect, pilot, etc.
  • An administrator with a huge stick up his tuchas who insists on putting the lives of the passengers/occupants on the line to help further his reputation (this guy usually gets killed by the end of the movie)
  • A group of B-list celebrities and former A-list celebrities way past their prime
  • An incredibly annoying kid
  • Mass deaths as a result of panic/stupidity
  • A whole lot of destruction
  • The deaths of some of the B-list celebrities to make the disaster feel "tragic"
  • An incredibly cheesy pop song à la "The Morning After"
Did I miss anything?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Back Online at Last

Wow, these past 4+ weeks have certainly flown by! For anyone who is still kind enough to check my blog on a regular basis, many apologies for the huge gaps in posting. Obviously, I've been fully involved in Daddyhood and have set aside other interests for a while. But I'm back and ready to start posting again!

So how's parenthood going? Very well, I'm glad to say. It probably won't surprise anyone that we're completely crazy about our little Melody and even after over a month, I can't help but to stare at her each day with wonder. It seems she does the same with us too. She'll just sit in my arms and stare at me with a quiet intensity that's pretty amazing.

I also love having her rest in my lap while I play piano for her. Pretty much every time I do this, she falls asleep. It's very cute. I guess she finds the piano very soothing. Either that or my playing bores her (she won't be the first person I've put to sleep with my music)!

Incidentally, many people ask us about the whole sleep deprivation thing. Yep, that certainly is a reality of raising a newborn, but it's one we knew about going into it. So no big surprises there. But along those lines, here's a great Dilbert cartoon that covers that topic about as well anything I've seen. You'll see that I took the liberty of changing a couple of the names in the cartoon (ya gotta love Photoshop). Enjoy!