Sunday, December 21, 2008

Die Weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü

When I was in high school our German class watched a 1929 silent film starring the lovely and talented Leni Riefenstahl (who later became the unapologetic hagiographer for one of history's nastiest murderers) called "The White Hell of Pitz Palü".

At the time I was living outside Chicago, which in the late Sixties and early Seventies endured a number of exceptionally cold and snowy winters. The coincidence was too much for my feeble brain. The title of that old flick has forever hung in the back of my head as the description for a really snowy day. I was once viciously upbraided by the battalion S-3 for putting the title at the top of a battery status report one weekend at Ft. Lewis during a brief flurry of snow-like ice particles that is wha normally passes for "snowing" in the lower Puget Sound region.

But...this weekend in Portland is VERY different. I'll explain in a bit. But first, let me introduce you to my daughter's boyfriend.

He's four, which makes him an older man. I'm almost a decade older than my bride, though, so I'm poorly placed to lecture her about the caution an impressionable girl needs around aging roués. And he's bald, which made Mojo believe, at first viewing, that the show was a tragic story about a child dying of leukemia. No. He's just as bald as I am. Hmmm...what's that about a girl looking for a man like her father..? Maybe I shouldn't be so fast to get squicked out about ol' Caillou.Anyway, old and bald make no difference to Baby Girl: she luuuurrrves her some Caillou. At some point in the day she will toddle over and look at me with those sweet little girl eyes and lisp "Up!", which is a command for hugs and carrying in Missyspeak. But all this is merely the sweet kitten teasing the sour puss: after toying with my affections she will squeak "Watch Caillou on 'puter!", which is my cue to carry her down to the workstation so she can fill her eyes with her inamorata.

Oh, sure, we watch some Barney, and the Wiggles. But it's really all about Caillou.

Ah, sweet bird of youth. My little girl is growing up so fast...

Speaking of which, here she is trying on Peeper's old baby shoes.

What a minx. She's also doing something tricky and Vanity-Fair-ish with her pullups. Go figure; you can't get the girl to watch "Project Runway" but put her in a disposable diaper and a pair of too-small shoes and suddely she's channelling Dita von Teese.

She's lucky she's a cutie, is all I can say; "It's always tempting to impute/Unlikely virtues to the cute." Helps her get away with mur-der.

So I think I mentioned that we've had some snow? Here's the crew snuggling on the couch to try and stay warm - we've had a historic dump of the white stuff, and today is supposed to be worse: wind, freezing rain, ugh...Mind you, no cold ever frozen could keep clothes on the Peeper.

Here he is as that adorable character, the Littlest Sumo. That's mommy's bathrobe tie as his mawashi. Note that daddy convinced him that looping the thing under his boy bits so as to create a sort of three-dimensional "trylon-and-perisphere"-type effect was just wrong.

This is what we like to call one of his his "queerbait" moments. We hope that his first girl- or boy-friend will understand that a young Drama King's just gotta DO this stuff sometimes. He's pretty loveable when he gets all silly and foofy like this - we found we like him better as Sally Bowles than as Grumpy McCranky, which is his OTHER out-there personality.

The latter comes out when you beat him at Stratego.Fortunately for the Peep, he has found one opponant he can consistently beat: Gramma. His manic little happy dance when he captures her flag is a true explosion of disrespect and poor-winnerdom. I can only cringe to think what's gonna happen the first time he does this to someone who doesn't love him. I hope he's learned some discretion before then...

So. Here's downtwon Portland, Pioneer Square, as the snow continued to fall yesterday. The official Portland "holiday tree" (yeah, I know - it's a Hanukkah bush and a Kwanzaa shrub, too, right?) is in the near background; 75 feet of mighty Oregon timber (note cute, athleticly chilled wife in foreground for scale).

Oh, and I'd suggest visiting the link for the tree lighting to read the comments; the second is perhaps the finest pure snark I've read in a long time. Sweet.

We grabbed a bite at Portland's finest all-turkey-restaurant-run-by-Chinese-Americans, shopped at Ross-dress-for-less ("Cheap, and we fuckin' like it that way") and then met our friends Brent and Janelle at the Heathman Bar for a cocktail and chat. The downtown was a Hollywood set of lights and drifting snow, the perfect setting for a Christmas movie. Of course, it was also freakin' cold, but, whatever. You can't get the cool FX without cost. Here's Pioneer Square from the other direction, lookig romantic in the snowy twilight.And then back to the MAX and the snowdrift that was our little Honda and then home. The morning light is showing drifted snow like I've never seen it. Amazing.

Brrrr!!!! Time to go outside and play before the freezing rain starts! Back later today.

Hope you're having a great weekend-before-Christmas.

Oh...which reminds me; this is an off sort of time of year for me, Christmas, and I wanted to talk about that. Remind me if I forget, ja?

Auf Wiedersehen von die weiße Hölle vom Piz Portland!


Red Sand said...

Trade offs, eh? Snow for seasonal effect, cold on the ears and fingers. Happy solstice.

pluto said...

Your weather really sounds rotten. One of the very few benefits of living in Minnesota in the winter is that we virtually never get freezing rain.

I hate the stuff. It settles gently on everything and before you know it you can't open any doors, you skid through stoplights with a stupid look on your face, and it gets stuck in the strangest places waiting for an opportunity to make you fall and break your leg.

So the Peep has mastered Stratego at age 5, smart kid. I introduced my older guy to the game when he was 7 and he hated the game at first sight. He didn't want to make a move unless he could see what he was getting himself into. Yes, I know, I'm raising a budding accountant.

On the other hand, he really took to Connect 4 and virtually never looses a game against any skill level to this day. He really loves backing the other guy into an impossible corner. I'd sure hate to be his first boss.

Lisa said...

I have a hard time attaching the word "lovely" to Reifenstahl's name.
But, I do anticipate your meditations on Christmastime.

FDChief said...

RS: It's lovely, bur we get it so seldom that it paralyzes the entire region when we get more than a dusting. Any Midwest or Northeast U.S. mayor would be burned alive if their snow removal was similar to ours.

Pluto: I actually like the snow, but, as I mentioned above, not the way they deal with it here.

Better a careful accountant than a reckless "money manager", as our recent financial problems suggest...though I can see the problems the former would have with rolling the iron dice!

Lisa: Leni was indeed lovely outside as she was loathesome within. Sadly for us self-deceiving humans, not all evil is ugly any more than all beauty is benificent.

Lisa said...

People are self-deceiving and superficial. You are right that people like to imbue beauty with goodness, but I have never had difficulty calling something outwardly unpleasant "lovely," if indeed it/he was, and vice versa.

Beauty goes all the way through, or it isn't. (I can be a hard case.)

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

First of all, funny because I really love the word "hagiography". It's one of my favorites...though not as favorite as "haggis".

So, I'm "Hohenzollern" are you signifying Prussian, Germanic, or religion zealot? Or simply wealthy, eccentric family?

They are actually Irish, mostly.
And definitely nouveau riche... but now I'm just being petty. Can't believe you drove me to it!

And yes, we've got our issues. On a Greek scale. But the holidays are the one time when those issues are put aside. And you're right...the kiddos make it all worth-while.

FDChief said...

Lisa: I guess I am cursed with the ability to see both the beauty and the evil. I can acknowledge Leni's charm and artistic skill at the same time that I can despise her adulation of evil and her amorality. Like that mackerel in the moonlight, she both shines and stinks.

I think we have a bigger problem with that now than we used to. We seem to have a real issue with people like Dick Nixon and Ollie North and Poindexter...all felonious bastards, all still around smarming their way through the public forum. It seems that as long as you clean up nice and keep your fly buttoned it's nearly impossible to do something so malicious that you can't get book on "The View". WTF?

FDChief said...

WD: Response to your comment back at UEdS; short version: the old German Imperial family.

Hoch, hoch!

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

haha! Actually, you reminded me of how my mother still vividly recalls that, when she went to school in Florence (less than a decade after WWII) the Italians would hiss "Tedesca!" at her when she walked down the street. She felt deeply wounded by the misconception since she'd inherited her blond hair and ice-blue eyes from her Dutch father.
I have never had that problem since I inherited my father's (and my Mediterranean grandmother's) Latin coloring (combined, weirdly, with my Dutch grandfather's height and lanky form).

Ael said...

Actually, it looks rather pleasant.
Yesterday, I asked my wife what it was like outside. She said it was had warmed up. It was only 21 below.

It has since gotten colder again.

But it is truly lovely in the sun where it is so bright, it makes your eyes hurt. Also, the sky is a hard, clear blue.

FDChief said...

WD: Odd story about that Nordic coloration. On a visit to Germany in the late Eighties my ex-wife observed to my father that, contrary to her expectations, modern Germans seemed much darker and shorter than the huge blond Aryans of her imagination.

My father, ruthlessly bloody-minded son of the Depression and the War, barked "Of course! All the tall, blond Nazis got killed in the War!!"

FDChief said...

Ael: I wish. The sky has been resolutely gray and nasty and the weather just hard.

As I told Pluto - I love the snow, just not the way it devastates the local traffic around here...

Lisa said...

"it's nearly impossible to do something so malicious that you can't get book on "The View". WTF?"

That may be precisely the point -- people are shameless voyeurs watching for the thing that will make them appear normal or good.
(Maybe, they just wish to revel in/along with other's misdeeds.)

The motto used to be: who is the most scurrilous profiteer? We may be headed toward another standard.

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