Produced by Gary Drevitch
We were having what we thought was a sweet, significant family conversation the other day, about illnesses and diseases in our extended family, when the kids asked about our own dad, Freelance Grandfather:
"Is he always going to be in his wheelchair?" Tiny asked us.
"Yes, he will. But he doesn't have to sleep in it."
"So he could DIE in his wheelchair?"
"Well, I suppose, but probably not really IN the wheelchair."
And then Fellow chimed in: "Of COURSE he could die in his wheelchair!"
"How?" Tiny asked.
"Someone could SHOOT him while he's in the wheelchair!"
COMING TO SCREENS IN 2018 (WE CAN ONLY HOPE): "TRANSFORMERS VS. SMURFS: REQUIEM"
The baffling blue Smurfs are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ongoing experiment in communal toadstool living and to celebrate, Paramount is planning a big-screen Smurf movie, satisfying the long-held desires of absolutely no one.
ONE THING WE KNOW FOR SURE: THE SLEESTAKS WOULD SCARE THE PAKUNI OUT OF SMALL FELLOW
io9, the new sci-fi site from Gawker, offers a detailed analysis of why "Land of the Lost" is cooler than "Lost," to commemorate our own favorite Sid & Marty Kroft series' debut on DVD. And maybe they're right, but the Others, for all their faults, never gave us nightmares like those damn Sleestaks used to.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR INDIGENOUS CULTURE, INDIA
They're translating "High School Musical" into 17 languages. Can't wait to find out how to say, "GETCHA' HEAD IN THE GAME" in Tagalog.
ITUBE, YOU DON'T TUBE
Interesting poll in this month's issue of Parenting, which asked Moms, "Is it OK for parents to upload a video of their child on YouTube?"
63% said No, including this mom from North Carolina who brought everybody down by sharing her uniquely dispiriting daily affirmation:
"Whenever I'm tempted to post a video, I remember that YouTube is international, and that there are plenty of perverts out there who look for videos and images of children."
Autism-inducers could become as popular as Provigil among the geek set by 2020. . . . Over the past year, researchers have demonstrated several times that they can turn mice autistic by messing with brain chemistry -- and then "cure" them using the same techniques. . . . It might also lead to recreational autism, where people who want to take a break from having messy emotions about other people decide to unplug and enter a state where human relationships are no more important than inanimate objects.
Edutopia, the only education reform magazine funded by George Lucas, takes us on a tour of public-school cafeterias around the world, to find out which is the most nutritious. (Spoiler Alert: It's not the U.S.!)
We spent the past weekend at the New York International Film Festival at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side; Saturday we took Tiny and three of her BFFs to the "Shorts for Tots" screening (for ages 3-to-6), and then lathered, rinsed, and repeated a day later with Fellow and three of his Wee Pals, who took in the slate of shorts for 5-to-10-year-olds, along with every other seven-year-old kid we know.
And the films were wonderful. There were about a dozen shorts each day, ranging from a minute to about 10. Each kid (and parent) was given a pencil and a ballot to fill out, so they could review each short and name their favorite. The kids' selections were fairly predictable (as were our own), and there will be few surprises when prizes are awarded at the close of the festival next weekend, after which many of the shorts will be posted here for home viewing.
1. Shorts for Tots:
The animated version of Mo Willems' best-seller "Knuffle Bunny" was included on this slate, which struck as unfair since its familiarity will certainly sway many young voters. We read "Knuffle" when it came out a couple of years ago, but never purchased it because it seemed to us an example of a children's book that is really for, and about, the parents. But based on the kids' responses to the short film, we may have been wrong. The kids loved it because it's really, we now see, in the genre of "What was I like when I was little?" books. We expected all of our girls to list "Knuffle" as their favorite, but we underestimated them. Because two out of three chose . . .
"Rain Down From Above," (see it on YouTube) a wordless film directed by Ivan Maximov of Russia about a biblical deluge in a quiet village where elephants, children, and the elderly live side-by-side. We thought the downpour was a little too scary but the girls were drawn in by the beauty of Maximov's art, the accompanying music by Prokofiev, and the emotions of the villagers, separated from each other by the storm but eventually, ingeniously reunited.
But our own favorite was "Animal Book," (see the trailer on YouTube) from the U.K., about a girl and her big sister who tend to the massive cogs and machinery in an oppressive, industrial city but find figurative and literal escape when a book with wings flies by. It's the Quay Brothers meets "Teletubbies," and it just pushed all of our buttons. We thought it was stunning.
As for the other films, several featured the Sun in various moods, and a pair of shorts from Japan were simply unwatchable.
2. Short Films One:
The big boys enjoyed "Crank Balls," (see excerpts on YouTube) about grumpy balls of dough whose lives are considerably brightened by a happy, alien force. They also loved "Game Over," (see it on YouTube)
an inventive set of stop-motion reimaginings of classic video games,
featuring a pizza as Pac-Man, bugs as Space Invaders, and a "Centipede"
game in which a salt shaker fires at muffins. These two shorts collected
all of the boys' votes. But again, our favorite was something more
arty: "The Tide," a magical and moving film by Mette Skov of Denmark,
which tells of a boy and his talking teddy bear who sit glumly in the
back of his parent's car on the way to a vacation by the shore. The
parents argue, then stop at a gas station, where the boy and his bear
run off to the shore to help a beached whale they had spotted before the family
Also on the slate was the completely delightful "Zhiharka," from
Russia, an old Ural fairy tale that crosses "Little Red Riding
Hood" with "Road Runner," and "Shhh," a British short that thoroughly
rips off the old "Kids in the Hall" "I'm crushing your head!" sketch,
while making it vastly creepier.
We'll update if and when more of our favorites become
available for viewing online. To read about one animator's experience on the children's
film festival circuit, check David Levy's "Animondays" site.
The "Bootstrapper" blog has named FD.com one of the Top 100 Web sites by, for or about freelancers, so we thank them for that.
NEW IN THE SIDEBAR: LINKS, BOOKS, AND TWO FROM THE VAULT
You'll also find updated Amazon links to three non-fiction
children's books by FD, aka Gary Drevitch — one already published and
two others in the pipeline. Put them in your shopping cart now for all
of your inquisitive Fellows and Sweeties.
Also, responding to popular demand from Freelance Dad completists,
we've posted two sitcom "spec scripts" written a few years back during
a period in our career when we were particularly disinterested in
earning a living. One is based on "Everybody Loves Raymond," the other
on "Malcolm in the Middle." We happen to think they're hilarious — especially the messed-up formatting that we didn't bother correcting. . .