The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont on December 21, 1996 · Page 13
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The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont · Page 13

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Saturday, December 21, 1996
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Zbt fjcrlingtcn Jfrtf prrs PAGE ISA RELIGION & ETHICS: Guide to holiday serv ices. 14A Saturday. December 21. 1996 Features Editor Julie Warwick. 660-1 808 or (800) 427-3124 Livin Molly Walsh ft Toy crazes steal magic from giving One of the least attractive aspects of Christmas is the materialistic madness that descends every . ear in the form of parents elbow ing each other to buy "the hot toy." often an - outrageously expensive bauble that was pieced together by child labor in some 1 off-shore sweat shop. This is love? No. This is in the spirit of Christmas? No. This is inevitable? I Yes. Just a week ago I could have sclf-righ- - teously dissed the Tickle Me Elbow phenomenon w ithout compunction. The pictures of parents coming to blows to buy the furry. $30. bug-eyed critter from the Sesame Street gang seem proof that the human race is circling the drain. How can anyone justify the expense ! on something so useless? Who can for-; give the temper tantrums, whining and ; squabbling that this chunk of fluff has inspired in an apparent plot to reduce ! grow n men and women into the compos-) itc toddler from hell. ' The scalping of Elmo for hundreds of I dollars is further proof that Tickle Me r, terrorism is afoot. I'd like to say that I w ill never, ever l indulge in this sort of gag-inducing con- sumer gluttony. But this week I had a bad shock. For ' the first time ever, one of my children ' made a request for a brand-name toy. The plea made w ith adoring gaze and tiny blond head tilted cvcr-so-cutcly to the side packed a wallop. I wondered " whether my reputation as the cheapest I mom on the block was under threat. I Should I rush to the nearest toy store? I My 3-ycar-old daughter Lilla asked very specifically if Santa would please t bring her a Cabbage Patch doll. (Thank goodness she has not yet been infected by the Elmo plague. ) The request was a reality check: It re- minded me that as my children grow j older, I cannot shield them from com- mcrcial excess. Nor can I claim the t moral high-ground myself, as I come sneaking in the door with Chenille sweat-; ers, antique linens and other non-essen- tialsof my own liking. How soon until my girls plant their ; feet and demand: "Who are you to deny ; me an Elmo?" Compared to Elmo, the Cabbage Patch characters are moldy lcft- overs. But the portly patchcrs anthro- ! pomorphous vegetables that never heard of coleslaw have some staying power, partly because their exploits are re- counted in a series of inexpensive picture t books. These titles are not great children's 1 it s crature, but for some reason both my daughters love the tales about the garden bumpkins. (Could it be because the cab-l bage kids are perennially unsupervised?) I went as far as pricing the Cabbage T Patch dolls and discovered gulp J they can cost even more than Elmo: $30 ; to $45. Multiply that by two, because, of course, my daughter Grace would want one if Lilla had one. ' v Sydva purchase would be cost prohibit itive?Ana,probably not worth the dough. ' I suspecftfcaf even if my little Lilla shrieked with delight over a Cabbage Patch doll, it probably would not in the long run provide any more or less joy than the inexpensive, generic dolls that ; both my daughters have been perfectly ; happy to push around in their mini- strollers until now. ; My children have a motley collection ' of toys broken-down, nand-me-down and few Grade A models from grandma. The least expensive toys such as the $9.99 doctor's kit are often their abso-I lute favorites. They also like to create ' toys, games (and huge messes) out of I things they come upon around the house. This kind of play, in which the child's y mind is the battery, is more enriching than playing Nintendo or listening to El- - mo's heavily marketed giggle. Rationally, I know this. But as I picture my daughter's face when she asked for the Cabbage Patch, I realize it will be much harder than I thought to bypass the Merry Materialism , that lingers well beyond the present holiday season. Let's just hope for some decent after-Christmas sales. Molly Walsh is a Free Press staff writer. Her column appears on Saturdays. If you have a suggestion or comment, call 660-1859 or the Opinion Lineal 660-1893. 1 V i ' r i-J v Through his books and the PBS series "Cosmos," Cart Sagan made the galaxy a bit more comprehensible for one of its species. a irea f r ." ',- M Swanton's Mike Walsh acts in the margins By Casey Seller nv I'rew Stall W riter M Emmet Walsh alias Mike Walsh, president of the Swanton High School class of 1 953. who still keeps a house in his hometown sums up his plight when he says. "I'm up there trying to do Hamlet, and everybody's picking up on my gravediggcr." But what a collection of gravedig-gcrs. Walsh's resume of stage, television and movie roles looks more like a page from the phone book, including appearances in some of the best films of the past 30 years, from "Little Big Man" and "Slap Shot" to "Blade Runner" and "Reds." "Suddenly, you're Pete Rose or Cal Ripken," Walsh said of his career's length and volume. " ... And you don't know how you got there." If moviegoers don't immediately recognize his name, it's because Walsh's performances rarely last more than a few scenes. Anyone who's seen the Coen brothers' manic comedy "Raising Arizona" remembers the guy regaling Nicolas Cage's character with a drawn-out anecdote ("Naw, not that mothcr-scratchcr!" is his signature line) at the film's outset, but they would be hard-pressed to name the actor: It was Walsh. "I'll do a movie and not pay any attention to it, like 'The Jerk,' and suddenly ... kids are doing my lines back at me." he said from his other home in California. "I have a whole audience from 'Fletch' and 'Back To School.' " Why do people tend to remember his work, even in movies they might rather forget on the artistic merit of many of his films: "I have to work" like "Wildcats" and "Red Scorpion"? "Obviously, I tore it apart," he said. "I tear everything apart." OUT AND ABOUT IN VERMONTAt Waterfront Video Where killer Claus meets high art on video Take out your No. 2 pencils and prepare for a pop quiz. Question: The whole point of going to the video store is to: A) Get in and get out as quickly as possible B) Settle for a movie that doesn't stink too badly because all the new releases have been rented C) Not leave in a rage over video store clerks who think "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" is the sequel to "Ernest Goes to Camp." D) All of the above. The correct answer, for many Bur-lingtonians, is "D." Ever since Empire Video closed a few years back, locals have bemoaned this city's lack of a video store with character, one that has a wide selection of foreign, offbeat and hard-to-find titles. Now the whining can cease because that video store has arrived. Sagan, 62, By George Tibbits Ike 4uhjWVrtt SEATTLE Astronomer Cart Sagan. a gifted storyteller who extolled and explored the grandeur and mystery of the universe in lectures, books and an acclaimed TV series, died Friday of pneumonia after a to-ear battle with bone marrow disease. He was 62. Sagan was surrounded by his family when he died at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he had a bone-marrow transplant in April 1995 and occasionally returned for treatment, said center spokeswoman Susan Edmonds. The center had identified his disease as mclodsplasia. a form of anemia also known as preleukemia syndrome. Sagan, who lived in Ithaca. N.Y.. helped transport an ivory tower realm into the living rooms of ordinary people, enthralling millions with his vivid writing and flamboyant television soliloquies. He won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 1978 for "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence." In 1980. his 13-part Public Broad M. Emmet Walsh as a wary parole officer In "Straight Time," one of the actor's "I've had more fun being 10 different people than being the same character 10 times." Mike Walsh, Swanton Tonight at 9, he tears apart the role of a mysterious Santa Claus on "Early Edition," the surprisingly successful series about a Chicago man who receives tomorrow's paper a day early. He enjoyed the role, but doesn't plan on any regular TV appearances. "I've had more fun being 10 different people than being the same character 10 times." But whatever he's playing, Walsh, 6 1 , still loves the role of Mike Walsh, On the prowl for Vermont nightlife Waterfront Video on Battery Street in Burlington is the kind of place where one can spend hours trying to select a movie there are that many good titles to choose from (5,500 right now). But first, let's start with the decor. It's big, it's bright, it's airy, but most of all the store is 100 percent unadulte- rated comfy kitsch. Being at Waterfront Video is like hanging out at the home of a favorite eccentric aunt. The store is littered with such treasures as a black led millions casting Serv ice series "Cosmos" became the most-watched limited series in the history of American public television, a record since surpassed bv "The Civil War." The series turned him into a national celebrity. Comics parodied his references to "billions and billions" of stars. "Carl was the best teacher of science in the world." Professor Yirvant Tertian, Clnrncll University "but it really established, despite the joke that comes with it. just how vast the universe is." said Greg Andorfer. executive director of the Maryland Science Center and "Cosmos" producer. Some purists complained that Sagan sometimes oversimplified and made significant interpretive errors, but he had the full confidence of his department chairman at Cornell University. M. Emmot Walsh: Here are three of the actor's favorite roles; all are available on video. B "Straight Time:" Walsh's breakthrough role, as the overworked parole officer of a newly released convict (Dustin Hoffman) seething with rage. "That was the film that put me on the map with (filmmakers)," Walsh said. B "Blood Simple:" A rare lead performance as a sleazeball private de- Vermonter. A few years ago, he played the Stage Manager that archetypal New Englander in a University of Vermont production of Thornton Wild-er's "Our Town." "I love that play, and I love that character," he said. The third generation of a family that includes two St. Albans mayors and two velvet Elvis (the Vegas years,) a neon pink flamingo and copies of albums by Jim Neighbors and Robert Goulet. Play a little Twister, admire the bowling trophies on display or settle down on a couch in back and watch an animated short film courtesy of Wallace and Gro-mit. No one will mind. Really. "We want this to be inviting," explained owner William Folmar. As for the movies, expect new releases like "Mission Impossible" and "Toy Story," but take pleasure in knowing that Waterfront holds many surprises. Like "The Train" with Burt Lancaster, "Stranger Than Paradise" and a big hunk of Preston Sturges comedies from the '40s. Whoever set up the shelves has a sharp wit. In addition to the customary Documentary and Foreign shelves, looks for space dedicated to such directors as Martin Scorsese and Robert Alt-man, and groupings like Way Out of the Closet ("Go Fish"), Cheese Parade ; v J i.-s into space Mastrotanm funeral. ISA "Carl was the bct teacher of science in the world." Professor Yen ant Ter-zian said. "It is difficult to think of a more positive, compassionate, and intelligent person Sagan never shied away from the label of science popularizer. "I wear the badge proudlv." he told The Associated Press in 1994. Aside from his flair for making scientific ideas comprehensible and exciting. Sagan built up an impressive research record and always insisted that science was his top priority. "From when I was a little kid. the only thing I really wanted to be was a scientist, to actually do the science, to interrogate nature, to find out how things work." he said. "That's where the fun is. If you're in love, vou want to tell the world!" Born in New York City on Nov. V. 1934. Sagan said he had fully expected to follow his Russian-born father into the garment industry but began to chart a career in astronomy while at high school in Rahwav. N.J. V RAJ CHAWLA, ( freH Vnirtnv Warner Hroihvr 84 film roles. A primer tective In the first film from Joel and Ethan Coen ("Fargo"). B "Clean & Sober:" As Michael Keaton's empathetic Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, a kinder cousin to his "Straight Time" character. B On TV: The actor plays a jolly old Chicago elf at 9 p.m. today in "Early Edition" on CBS Vermont state senators, he returns every summer. "I put it in my contract that if I die or get killed on some ancient location, they've got to ship my whole carcass back to St. Albans," Walsh said. "I can't get away with diddly-doo back there." ("Attack of the 50-Foot Woman") and Great Apes ("Escape from the Planet of the Apes.") Horror films occupy more than one shelf. Would you like Cult Horror, Hammer Horror or Classic Horror? All of it is a bit overwhelming. Andy MacLeay of Colchester couldn't help but exclaim, "Cool!" as he surveyed the shelves and selected a copy of "Silent Night, Deadly Night." "It's a movie where Santa Claus becomes a killer," he explained. "I like strange movies." B Waterfront Video is located at HI Battery Si. in Burlington. The store is f open from 11 a.m. to II p.m. Monday- Friday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Saturday-Sun- day. Rentals range from $3.25 for new ! releases for one night to $1.50 for two nights. For information, call 660-5545. Maria Blackburn

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