Tuesday, August 31, 2004

When I got into film school, my mother was surprisingly supportive. A fellow movie buff, she went to work expanding my knowledge. Made me lists of flicks I should see. Sure, I knew Sixteen Candles, but what about The Four Hundred Blows? I had seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but not The Third Man.

Her enthusiasm may have been motivated by securing a seat at the Oscars someday. But really, I think she recognized that despite naming me Michael David so that I'd be "MD", I'd better suited for creative endeavors than medicine. I hadn't inherited my grandmother's musical ability -- I'll assume that'll skip two generations -- but I did have some of mom's artistic skills. ("Hey, I'm depraved on accounta I'm deprived.")

She had painted when I was little, and I gotta tell ya, at first I was dubious of her talent. Her paintings were off in perspective, and rather crude. Her Venetian gondolier looked more like a Muppet in a bathtub. Maybe she knew it too, because the painting was tucked away in the corner of the living room, behind the piano on which I wouldn't practice. ("You ain't heard nothin' yet!")

But after she and my father retired to Las Vegas, she took up painting again. And her skills improved tremendously. The house soon became her gallery -- lots of landscapes of Red Rock Canyon and the Nevada mountains, but a few portraits, too. It was fun to compare our art skills -- we were direct opposites. Put a brush in my hand and I might as well be fingerpainting, but I'm not bad with a pen or pencil, whereas my mom wasn't crazy about drawing. And she always has trouble depicting men -- they come out too delicate, too effeminate. My caricaturish drawings of women make their features overly prominent -- I'm lucky if they don't look like men in drag. ("Nobody's perfect.")

As a birthday present, she made me this picture. It's hardly a great representation of her abilities -- she used colored pencils, and still lifes were never her forte. But a lot of thought went into it -- a collage of props from some of our favorite movies. Click on it to enlarge the picture. ("I wanna be big!")

I realize it's not clear, but see how many movie references you can recognize. For example, in the bottom right corner is the bullwhip of Indiana Jones. There's 22 others. ("I am big. It's the pictures that got small.")

Give up? Click here: Surrender, Dorothy


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