Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Here's a Dead Mongoose"

Rain, while a common event in much of the world, merits breaking-news special-report status in Southern California. And while the hyped-up media over-coverage has gotten out of hand in recent years, rain in the Southland has always been a special occurrence.

In some places, 10 feet of snow would barely slow down the school buses. However, in So Cal, where schools were built with low-lying radiating satellite buildings, and large outdoor courtyards, a half inch of rain spelled disaster.

Well, Ok, not exactly a drop-and-cover disaster, but still, action had to be taken. And this action, as some of you recall, was called "Rainy Day Schedule."

Essentially, you take an elementary school with 700 children, deny them access to the sports fields, play grounds and courtyards, and shelter them from the terrible drizzle under the protective roof of the Cafetorium (all purpose lunch room, and auditorium).

Sorted, we were, by age and classroom. Little kids in front, big kids in back. The giant clickety movie projector whining away in the center of the room, screening beloved animated classics for the entire extended lunch session. Frequently the films would break, and rarely did the pictures sync with the sound.

Personally, I suspected the administration stored us away on these gray days to give the teachers extra time to snort cocaine, engage in occult-like rituals, and have orgies in the library...

As far as the movies were concerned, there were favorites, of course, like Johnny Appleseed, The Sneetches, The Red Balloon, and that strange one about the boy who lost the toy boat and it sailed down the river until it got stuck in toxic goo...

However, the most favorite of all, the one that received instant whoops of joy, the one we all crossed our fingers and hoped for, was Rikki Tikki. This was an odd little Chuck Jones creation lifted nearly in whole from the pages of Kippling's Jungle Book.

The story was simple. Snake-eating jungle rat gets washed up on the river-shore of some snooty British family's colonial Indian (dot, not feather) estate. He fights a couple of cobras, saves the sissy stocking-clad "boy's" life, and then some annoying bird sings a song. That's it. And we loved it.

Of course, the teachers knew we loved it, so they showed it over and over again to keep us occupied (only more fuel for my conspiratorial fire...)

So anyway, a friend, and frequent reader recently bought a copy of this masterpiece and we watched it over the weekend. I think this was the first time I had watched it since childhood and the experience was very odd.

Surprisingly, it held up, a tribute to Kippling more than anything. However, what was particularly surprising was the sensation of long-dormant memories flashing to life. Images and sounds from the familiar movie reawakening neural pathways. Thoughts and memories that I had not had in decades, stored silently away, shook off the dust and engaged with thrilling acuity. It was a pleasant buzz of energy in my head.

Here's a small clip from the movie.

14 comments:

  1. I thought a Mongoose was like a Deer? - that looks like a squirrel.

    Way to make me feel dumb..

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  2. A "Moose" is like of like a deer. It rhymes with Mongoose and starts with an "M" . . .

    Mongoose look like ferrets

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  3. I totally forgot about the Red Ballon until now! Did you also get to see the Lorax? That was another one we loved.

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  4. I knew Moose...

    Just thought a Mongoose was one too - blonde moment obviously

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  5. I have the Lorax on DVD. Funny thing is, he looks a little like Al Gore.

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  6. Its really unfortunate that you had to attend the non-gate school.
    They would bring us in-n-out and ice cream followed by all the star wars and legos we could play with.
    Back me up here Dave...

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  7. Its really unfortunate that you had to attend the non-gate school.
    They would bring us in-n-out and ice cream followed by all the star wars and legos we could play with.
    Back me up here Dave...

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  8. i guess it made me stutter

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  9. Oh, I'm sure they gave you a little of the in-and-out. That seems obvious to the rest of us.

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  10. Actually, Brian... Dr. Brian is correct. At Grovecenter, Rainy Days were also called "Ice Cream Days" because we all had ice cream sundaes after the burgers. It was pretty sweet, looking back at it now.

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  11. I was a big fan of the Apple Dumpling Gang and other disney cheese ball movies of the era.

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  12. Oh and escape to witch mountain......

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  13. I loved the Red Balloon and, being a geek, 3-2-1 Contact. I don't think we saw Rikki Tikki. I do remember a nuclear holocaust scare film that we saw way more than one too many times.

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Be compelling.

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