Monday, January 17, 2022

TCMFF, The Good, The Bad, and The Pandemic

This post is going to look at what we might have to look forward to with an in-person post-COVID TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). I am going to focus on what you might be able to expect for the COVID requirements for the upcoming TCMFF.

Disclaimer 1: Most of what follows is based on what I like to think is educated speculation on my part. I am basing this on the way another similar but different event I did volunteer work at, which ran late last year. I have volunteered for Comic-Con International (the huge show in San Diego every July) for more years/decades than I care to admit. In November 2021, the good folks at Comic-Con International (myself included) ran Comic-Con Special Edition (CCSE).  The idea was to have a much smaller show, say a third to half the size of a normal Comic-Con. Mostly, it was to get people together for an in-person event, but also it was a test case for how the organization would manage running a much much larger in-person event post-COVID. In addition, I did look at a number of Los Angeles movie theater web sites, and their guidelines seemed consistent with what happened at CCSE.

Disclaimer 2: Bearing in mind Disclaimer 1, CCSE was run under the conditions that existed in San Diego in November 2021. TCMFF is being run under conditions that we don't know about at this point in time. TCMFF is being held in Hollywood, which falls under the city of Los Angeles/county of Los Angeles, which may have stricter requirements than San Diego. Ideally, the conditions will be better in April than they are now, but there is no guarantee of that, and even if the conditions are better in April, I don't think it's likely the restrictions that were in place at CCSE (and currently in place in LA now) will be more relaxed at TCMFF.

Disclaimer 3: I have been vaccinated (full, two-dose Pfizer vaccination in May 2021 and booster in December 2021). I believe in science. I believe that organizations like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control know more about virology and the COVID-19 virus than I do, and I trust their judgement. In my lifetime, I have benefitted from vaccination. I have never seen an iron lung, except in Classic Movies. I have never known anyone who has died from Typhoid or Tetanus or Small Pox. There is a Cary Grant movie, Room for One More. In this film, Cary Grant and his both real-life and fictional wife (Betsy Drake) adopt older children who are not the most-desirable candidates for adoption. One of the children they adopt, Jimmy-John, has braces on his legs. They don't say it, but I assume that Jimmy-John has braces on his legs because of Polio. I've never known anyone who had Polio. This is because of vaccines.

Note 1: If you are on the fence about getting vaccinated, you probably should do so, while you still have time to do it before TCMFF starts. It's probably going to be much easier to show proof of vaccination than proof of a negative COVID test come April. Think about it, do you really want to have to schedule a doctor's appointment the day before you leave on vacation? If you have a legitimate health or religious reason for not getting vaccinated, I do understand that and hope that you can stay safe. I hope that my getting vaccinated will help keep you safe.

Note 2: If you don't believe I'm vaccines, I don't want to argue with you about it. You are not going to change my mind, and I am not going to change yours, so why waste each other's time? If you post comments about how vaccines are dangerous, or that COVID is fake, I will just delete your comments. Yes, I do believe in freedom of speech, but you can exercise that freedom on your own blog and freely speak about how Pfizer is injecting us with tracking devices or Jewish space lasers caused the California wildfires to your heart's content. Just don't do it here.

Now first let's look at what TCM currently says about the situation (the following was copied from the TCM Film Festival web site (About > FAQ) after 4 pm Pacific time on January 17, 2022:

WHAT COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS WILL BE IN PLACE AT THE 2022 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL?

The health and safety of Festival attendees is our number one priority. Attendees will be subject to all applicable federal, state and local safety precautions in place at the time of the event. In addition, TCM may, at its sole discretion, implement additional safety precautions to be determined. Mandatory compliance for Festival attendees could include, among other requirements, mandatory masking, social distancing, capacity limits, negative test results verification, and/or proof of vaccination. As we continue to monitor best practices and adhere to any required safety measures, we will release a more detailed plan closer to the Festival.

To be honest, I would say that this is purposefully vague. This is not to say that TCM is not watching the situation and creating a plan. They say they are monitoring best practices, and I'm sure they are, but they probably do not want to release a detailed plan at this point only to have to change it later. Still, looking at what is said here, it doesn't look all that different than what happened at CCSE, so using CCSE and a little research as a guide. Let's look at the different parts:

  • Mandatory Masking – This one is kind of a given. Figure that you will need to wear a mask anytime you are indoors, unless you are actively eating or drinking. At least, that's the way it worked at CCSE. Possibly, this would be relaxed inside a screening or Club TCM, but don't count on it. I looked at TCL Chinese Theatres, the Legion Theater, the New Beverly Cinema, and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures web sites (links at the end). Consensus is that masks are required in screenings, unless you're in your seat and actively eating or drinking. The Academy Museum theater has no snack bar, so they make no provision for eating and drinking. Let's face it, no one likes wearing a mask, but if you really can't handle wearing a mask for a long periods, maybe this is not the year you want attend TCMFF.
  • Social Distancing and Capacity Limits – I combined these two because they are closely related. 
    • Social Distancing – Rule of thumb for social distancing is 6 feet space between people. I'm not sure how you would do social distancing in a movie theater, unless you have two empty seats between people and stagger the rows maybe. That means theaters would be at 1/3 capacity. I don't seen that happening, and that's not what they are doing at movie theaters in Los Angeles now. realistically, I don't see how they can do social distancing in Club TCM or in lines:
      • Club TCM is held in the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Well, that room is not getting any bigger. In theory, you could limit attendance to events in Club TCM, which possibly works for things like panel discussions, but the biggest event, the closing night party is packed, and the only way you could socially distance would be to turn a lot of people away. TCM knows that Club TCM is part of the experience. I don't think TCM wants people upset about not being able to get into events and the parties, unless there is a very compelling health reason to do so. Again, you may need to wear a mask when you're not eating or drinking like in the theater. I'm not saying it will happen, but it seems likely.
      • In theory, you can socially distance in a line, but logistically, you need to have somewhere to put it. First, off we're not talking about one line, We're talking about three lines, Spotlight, Other Passholders, and Standby. Also in the TCL Chinese Multiplex, you have three sets of three lines. Let's look at largest theater, the TCL Chinese IMAX (920 seats at full capacity). The worst I ever saw it was The Manchurian Candidate (with Angela Lansbury introducing). The other passholders line had Disneyland switchbacks in the courtyard in front of the theater, started again up the stairs through the mall, out the side of the mall, and ended about where the wax museum is. I was about line number 400 and I was just past the point where it was completely out of the mall and turned the corner going back toward the wax museum. That line was two or three people abreast (people tend to attend screenings in small groups) and still goes that far back. Even assuming people still can stand in small groups, put six feet space between groups and that line goes half way to Burbank. That's probably an exaggeration, but it is going to be a lot longer and at some point you need to worry about crossing streets, waiting for Walk signals etc. It's a logistic nightmare, and that's just one line. Maybe because social distancing in lines seems unrealistic, masks again may be required while standing in line when you're not actively eating or drinking. Again I'm not saying it will happen, but it seems fairly likely.
    • Capacity Limits – Traditionally, capacity limits for events are imposed by the venue itself. The Super Bowl is being held in SoFi Stadium next month with a capacity of just over 70,000. Currently, there are no plans to limit attendance at the Super Bowl. Once those 70,000+ tickets are sold, that's it. Full capacity is met. Movie theaters work the same way. There are only so many seats. When those seats are full, you are at full capacity. Other venues are a little more difficult to manage. For a venue like Club TCM, the organizers have a rough idea of how many people attended events like the closing night party in the past, and know that  limiting attendance probably means telling people they can't come in. Technically, there is another way to limit capacity, sell fewer passes, but then you make less money, and TCM is a for-profit company, owned by WarnerMedia another for-profit company, owned by AT&T still another for-profit company. While I do think TCM cares about classic movies more than profits, AT&T cares much less and wants to see a profit. Considering that TCMFF only made modest price increases on passes, Early Bird prices were the same as 2019, with non-Early Bird prices roughly 10% higher, yes, I know Palace and Classic were more than 10% higher, but Essential was almost exactly 10%, and Spotlight was less (probably all comes out in the wash). Possibly, they are selling fewer passes, but I  doubt it. You would need to sell a lot less passes to make enough difference for social distancing. Obviously, if the situation gets worse, and they have to limit capacity, TCM will do so. I'm sure they are making contingency plans they hope they never have to use.
  • Negative Test Results Verification, and/or Proof of Vaccination – A couple of months ago, I heard someone complain about passes being only at Will Call and not being mailed out. Verifying negative test results and proof of vaccination is the reason. They need you to pick up the badge in person, so they can do this.
    • Proof of Vaccination should be relatively simple. You show your vaccination card or possibly a photo of your vaccination card or possibly some sort of standard digital proof of vaccination, like a QR Code from a site similar to https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/. They check this against your photo ID, and you should be good to go. However, note that fully vaccinated is usually interpreted as 14 days after you receive second shot on a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 two-shot vaccine or 14 days after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 one-shot vaccine.
    • Proof of  Negative Test Results is more complicated. There will probably be a window of time before the event where the test has to be done. For CCSE, that window was 72 hours, which is what some of the theater websites are asking for. CCSE started on a Friday, so the negative test had to be done on the Tuesday before the event or later. For TCMFF, 72 hours before would work out to the Monday before TCMFF or later. Also, it's very likely that the test will need to come from a health care provider, not an at-home test (if you do a home test, how do they know you were the one person who took the test). You will likely need some sort of written proof of the negative tests from a health provider in your name that matches the name on your photo ID. I'm guessing this may take longer to process, because the paperwork for different healthcare organizations all looks different, and it may take longer to find what they are looking for. There are at least two different types of test available, antigen and PCR/NAAT tests. I think most events accept either at this point, but if you are going this route, you should make sure you do the correct type of test, as the situation might change.

This is the way the situation looks right now. It is possible that things will get way better in the next three months, but I wouldn't count on it. It is possible that the situation will get worse, but we probably won't know that until we get there. I am not going to sugarcoat things. The situation is going to be challenging. I do believe that TCM is up for the challenge, and if we cooperate and be patient, I think that this year's TCMFF is going to a safe and fun event for all.

Special Thanks are due to Ruth Mundsack for giving me the skinny on how screenings work at the Academy Museum.

Related Links:

Saturday, December 4, 2021

What a Character Blogathon: Theresa Harris

This post is part of the 10th Annual What a Character Blogathon, hosted by, Outspoken and Freckled, Once Upon A Screen, and Paula's Cinema Club.



Theresa Harris had a career spanning four decades and appeared with the likes of Barbara Stanwick, Marlene Dietrich,Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, Ruth Hussey, Greer Garson, Rosalind Russell, Robert Mitchum, and Ginger Rogers, and worked  filmmakers Josef von Sternberg, John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Busby Berkeley, Michael Curtiz, Woody Van Dyke, Roy Del Ruth, William Wyler, George Cukor, Jacques Tourneur, Orson Wells, Robert Siodmak, Otto Preminger, Jean Negulesco, and Alfred Hitchcock (episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, directed by Hitch), not too shabby considering the limited roles she played.

If the world was fair, Theresa Harris would have been a star, not a character actress, but as we all know, the world is not fair. As unfairness goes, people of color bear brunt of unfairness far more than their white counterparts. Theresa Harris had the looks of a movie star and could sing and act like a movie star, but she was African-American, which meant she usually played maids, often without screen credit.

Theresa Harris was born on New Year's Eve, 1906, though some sources say 1909, in Houston, Texas. She studied music as a child in Houston, before her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 11. After graduating from Jefferson High School, she studied music at the UCLA Conservatory of Music and Zoellner's Conservatory of Music, before joining the Lafayette Players, an African American musical comedy theatre troupe. Originally, she had aspirations of becoming a concert singer, but then switched to acting after being cast in an uncredited singing role in Thunderbolt (1929), video available here.

Theresa Harris' first credited and arguably her best role came in the Pre-Code Baby Face (1933) opposite Barabara Stanwyck.  Harris plays Chico and works in the small-town speak-easy owned by Stanwyck's abusive father. After Harris is fired for breaking dishes (and Stanwyck's father is killed when his still explodes), Stanwyck and Harris take to the road together. What makes this unique is that is that throughout the film they remain friends and confidantes. Though later in the film, Harris appears in a maid's uniform, she is probably the best dressed maid in all of classic film, and the two still maintain an equitable friendly relationship, very unusual even by racy progressive Pre-Code standards. The song "Saint Louis Blues" is used throughout the film with Harris providing vocals twice, including the scene where Stanwyck seduces a railroad bull in a boxcar to gain the pair passage to New York.

Hollywood has always had a habit of repeating themselves, especially when something is a hit. Three years after Baby Face, in another Barbara Stanwyck film, Banjo on My Knee, Harris again got to sing "Saint Louis Blues," this time in a full production number backed by the Hall Johnson Choir, video available here.

Often in the classic era, actors of color were required to speak in an unrealistic uneducated black dialect, and Harris could "Sho' nuff" do this with the best of them as she did opposite Bette Davis, in Jezebel (1938). However, Harris often stood out from other African-American actors by speaking perfect English in her film work.  I have nothing to support this, but I'm convinced that when given a role, she first read her lines in standard English to see if the director would let her could get away with it. Imagine the gall at the time, a colored woman speaking correctly. I also imagine that she lost work due to this. Again, I have nothing to support this, other than a very strong feeling that this was the way it went down. 

All, I know is that she when was allowed to do so, she put her own personality in what otherwise would be throw-away roles. The racist stereotypes of the time played for easy laughs with the racist audiences. Actors of color almost always played an exaggerated version of how white people thought black people should act. By having the courage and conviction to play herself, Theresa Harris came off as natural, and her charm shone through, even in tiny roles. In one all-time of my favorite films, The Big Clock (1948), she appears briefly letting her light shine as the Stroud's family maid. Obviously, director John Farrow (Mia's father) didn't have a problem with this. Me, I much prefer this tiny uncredited role to her "better" credited performance in Jezabel.

I read somewhere that when Theresa Harris films would play in black neighborhoods, theater owners would list her name on the marquee with title of the movie, because in her two minutes of screentime, she was more of a draw to black audiences than anything else Hollywood could offer. Her importance to the African-American community is also evidenced by a cover story which appeared in Jet magazine, September 11, 1952, available here.

Three of Harris' best roles came under the direction of Jacques Tourneur in the 1940s, two back-to-back performances in the Val Lewton horror films, Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and four years later in Out of the Past (1947). All were relatively small parts, which more or less sums up here entire career. 

In Cat People, she plays a waitress, Minnie. Although she speaks slang in this role, it's not the Sho' Nuff colored slang, but standard American slang, as you would expect from a waitress in greasy spoon restaurant. It's only a few short scenes, but her interactions with Kent Smith and Jane Randolph, regulars at the restaurant, are natural and flawless, she even gets a witty rotort. 

In I Walked with a Zombie, she plays a servant on a sugar plantation on Saint Sebastian in the Carribean. Francis Dee plays a nurse hired to care for the mistress of the plantation, whose illness has left her near comatose. Again, playing a servant, Theresa Harris has great scenes with the Dee, in particular, the one where she introduces her to her infant nephew, and afterwards, the conversation takes a dark turn to voodoo.

Possibly, the most unique role in here career is her small part in Out of the Past. Theresa Harris plays, you guessed it, a maid, Jane Greer's ex-maid to be specific. Robert Mitchum has been hired to find Greer, and he tracks down Harris in an all black bar. The scene lasts only a minute or two, but it's one of the few times I've ever seen black people relaxing in a club, in an otherwise all white movie. It's actually quite refreshing (image below taken from the Jet article mentioned above). 


I've saved the best for last, a film I had never seen until just today, The Flame of New Orleans, a period comedy from 1941. Theresa Harris plays Marlene Dietrich's, I'm not going to mince words, slave. Marlene Dietrich's character had been in Europe before the start of the film, and you could argue that she was a servant, not a slave, but being set in New Orleans in the 1840s, I'm going to go with slave. Putting that issue aside, it's a great film and a great role for Harris. 

Marlene Dietrich plays Countess Claire Ledoux, a glamous woman who manipulates all the men around her. Though a servant/slave, Theresa Harris is more of cohort. She lies for her, spies for her, and helps manipulate Dietrich's would be lovers. In Baby Face, Theresa Harris and Barbara Stanwyck are more of less equals, but Harris is just along for the ride. In The Flame of New Orleans, Harris is less equal in terms of society, but more of a partner in crime in the context of the film. She even gets a love interest in the form of Clarence Muse, another slave/manservant. This very funny film. Theresa Harris is in it a lot, and she steals every scene she's in.


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Theresa Harris retired after an uncredited appearance in The Gift of Love (1958). Per several sources, she invested her income from acting well and was able to live comfortably until her death in 1985. As a footnote to her long career and her struggle to get decent roles in a Hollywood that had no place for her, playwright Lynn Nottage, inspired by Harris' performance in Baby Face, wrote, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. This off-broadway play is a take on 1930s Screwball comedies, featuring a strong willed African-American maid who is also an aspiring actress. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark was nominated for several Drama Desk awards in 2012.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

TCMFF 2021 Virtual Madness

 This year, there was a lot more going on at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) virtual edition. With the addition of more programs on HBO Max, and Club TCM events on Zoom, it made the choices much much harder this year. 

For those of you new to the Festival or my blog or my Festival picks, I normally do them in the format of NCAA tournament brackets. In an in-person TCMFF, I would do them by times, as you normally have about five things going on at the same time, and you have narrow it down to one. And try to find time to eat and sleep during all of that. 

Obviously this time, it's less of an issue. You still need to find time to eat and sleep. But with roughly half the material being on HBO Max, you can watch them or less at your leisure and with a DVR, I should get to see pretty much everything I want to. 

To make this work, you really need to have round numbers. I counted 77 individual events, not counting three Club TCM events I'm unable to attend. I may have miscounted, don't quote me on this. That's the number I came up with. That's the number I'm using, so there. I did combine two related pairs, because it made sense to do so the SF Sketchfest Plan 9 from Outer Space and Plan 9 from Outer Space and Tex Avery King of Cartoons and Tex Avery at MGM. This brought the total down to 75 events of which I dropped 11. Mostly these are films that I've seen a lot of times or I really don't care about or possibly have never been able to make it through the movie.

In no particular order these movies are:

  • The Goodbye Girl
  • China Syndrome
  • Ocean's 11
  • Diner
  • Lady Sings the Blues
  • Annie Get Your Gun
  • A Star Is Born (1954)
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Antwone Fisher
  • The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization
  • Scarecrow

Also, I did drop off three of the club TCM events, because they were unavailable or I had a conflict. Meet TCM was still available but it was scheduled the same time I'm getting my first COVID vaccine, so I'll do the responsible thing for society and get vaccinated and miss this. You're welcome. Opening Night Toast with the Hosts and Curating The Classics are things I definitely would have wanted to see but both were full by the time I got around to registering for them. I'm really bummed here. That'll teach me to procrastinate. I'll blame working too much, but the truth is I waited too long. 

This left 64 films and other event, which I broke into four brackets of 16, named after venues at a normal TCMFF. I did take the liberty of taking my top four picks and putting them in the top each the bracket of 16, so that they would have a good chance of making it to the final four. My picks, my rules. Then I drew the names of the films randomly to fill in the brackets, trying to put up TCM films against the HBO Max films, as much as possible

For the sake of simplicity, I'm only going to talk I'm only going to talk about the most interesting lineups in each group. 

TCL Chinese Group



One of the toughest battles in the first round was From Broadway to Hollywood versus Danny Glover. From Broadway to Hollywood sounds really interesting, but I really do like Danny Glover. The reality of the situation here is they're playing from Broadway to Hollywood in the wee hours of the morning. I probably will record it and watch Broadway later.

The other big battle in this group is in the second round with L.A. Rebellion about Indy African Film-makers against the Bill Morrison film, let me come in. Never seen either one here, but Bill Morrison does really cool stuff with lost/damaged silent films. It's playing really late, even at  Pacific time so I might end up recording it. I'm going to do my best to watch L.A. Rebellion on HBO Max anyway.

For the rest of the brackets, it really comes down to Tex Avery. By the way, TCM, you're killing me on the Tex Avery thing, I know you think it's cute to put it on Saturday morning, but 6:00 a.m. eastern time is 3:00 in the morning here in San Diego. Even though this is one of my top picks, I may end up recording it, although I might just go without sleep and get up at the in the wee hours and watch it, anyway. The other surprise here is I Love Trouble. I've never seen it, premiere on TCM, and that's strong enough to carry it into the Elite 8.

 Egyptian Theater Group


The story here is Sound and Sound Makers (strikethrough is They Won't Believe Me playing at the same time). It's one of my top picks, mostly because I've seen Ben Burtt and Craig Barron at the live festival, and their stuff is always way cool, and as an interactive Zoom  presentation, that just makes this a must see, especially since I missing most of the other Zoom presentations.

The toughest decision in the first round comes down to two essential films On the Waterfront and West Side Story. Going with West Side Story mostly because they're calling it the Opening Night film of the festival, which I don’t normally get to see because the level of pass I have. Would be a very tough call if there were opposite each other at the same time, and you had to decide which one you wanted to see more on the big screen.

The other tough call in the first round is Nichols and May vs The Searchers. If it was a real festival I would probably go with The Searchers. I've never seen it on the big screen and it would bound to be playing at the Egyptian or the Chinese, and that would be spectacular. The thing is I've seen The Searchers a bunch of times and Nichols and May, these behind-the-film-makers films TCM selects are usually really cool, so Nichols and May goes on and oddly it makes it all the way to the Elite 8, another surprise.

Club TCM Group



In the Club TCM Group, the only real surprise is Whistle at Eaton Falls taking out The Maltese Falcon. Normally The Maltese Falcon would trounce the floor with a film like Wizard of Eaton Falls, but I've seen The Maltese Falcon several times in the theater and bunch on TV/DVD and it comes down to the film I haven't seen before.

The big surprise in this bracket, however, is Hawks & the Art of Comedy. I love Howard Hawks movies and that's strong enough to take Hawks & the Art of Comedy all the way to the Final Four past my original fourth pick of She May Be a Movie Star (Places in the Heart,  strikethrough, is running at the same time), another Club TCM Zoom presentation.

Hollywood American Legion Group



The story here is SF Sketchfest Presents Plan 9 from Outer Space. This is my second pick for the entire festival behind Tex Avery it dominates in this whole group.

I really need to see The Méliès Mystery. It gets knocked out by Plan Nine but I'm going to watch this one no matter what on HBO Max. The other shocker in this group is Streets of New York. Anything Bruce Goldstein has his hand in is pretty cool and looking at the history of film in New York from the Silent Era to the 1970s, that's got to be a treat.

Final Four



Probably not too surprising that Tex Avery takes out Sight and Sound Makers. I will watch both but Tex Avery is just so cool, so cool I probably will get up at 3 am for it and be totally wasted for the rest of the weekend. The shocker here is in the other bracket. Hawks & the Art of Comedy taking out SF Sketchfest Plan 9 from Outer Space. I didn't see that one coming myself but if it came down to the two I think I'd rather see the Hawks & the Art of Comedy. Again, I will watch both, but that's what the pick would come down to.

Unfortunately Hawks & the Art of Comedy cannot stand up against Tex Avery, so Tex Avery stays my number one pick, followed by Hawks & the Art of Comedy, and then we have the consolation game between Sight and Sound Makers and SF Sketchfest Plan 9. Plan 9 Takes it for third place with Sight and Sound Makers coming in fourth.  Just to round it out, I'm going to pick one film from earlier in the Festival to be my number five pick, so you get my top five. That would be The Méliès Mystery.

Effectively this is fairly typical of an in-person TCMFF. You often have to skip films you really want to see because it's up against something you want to see more. With being able to watch things on HBO Max on my own schedule and DVRing the stuff I really need to see on TCM, I stand a good chance of seeing pretty much everything I really want to. Good job, TCM. I will see you all in Hollywood in 2022.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Need This Pandemic Over

I started working at home sometime roughly a year ago. I don't remember the exact date. Not having any reason to go out has resulted in me spending way too much time sitting on my ass and not moving. About a month and a half ago, I decided to start walking everyday, partly because of this and partly because I couldn't fit into any of my pants anymore, I had to buy pants in a larger size.

When I first started walking, I would always try to make sure I put on real pants or shorts and not go walking in the lounge pants I wear to work in. Bear in mind that I'm of the generation that doesn't wear pajama pants to go to Target. As time went by, I just said screw it, why bother, I'm just walking on near my house, right.

I live on a steep hill, so I walk up and down it everyday because I figured that's better than walking on flat ground. So today I was walking and right at the top of the hill was a guy who rents out in room from one of my neighbors. I've seen him around often enough that I always say, hi, even though I don't know his name or anything. I said, hi and turned around and walked down the hill again for another trip.

When I got back up there was a woman there talking to him. She was about my age kind of cute, and she looked at me, and said, "Nice pajamas." Well, shit.

I kind of bumbled through an explanation of working at home and my pants not really fitting and being kind of lazy. I even told the story of somebody on Facebook who posted recently that her going out clothes missed her so much that they hugged her so tight now that she could hardly breathe. Well, the woman says she knows how it is. She puts up one leg, and she points to where she had ripped out the crotch on her jeans, the pair she was wearing. Not that I minded really, I mean she was cute. Here's an age-appropriate  woman who I don't know from Adam, or Eve I guess, showing off the split in the crotch of her jeans. What the f*** has happened to our societal norms. I'm running around in pajamas. What seems to be a perfectly reasonable woman is showing off the hole in the crotch of her jeans to a total stranger.

I told this story to my wife, and she was like, everybody is losing their filters, but like 20 years early. I knew exactly what she was talking about. If you haven't been through this, trust me, you will. At some point in your life, you're going to be taking out your parents or some older relative out to dinner, and they're going to set off some family secret bomb over cheesy biscuits at Red Lobster. They'll just let it drop that your racist Uncle Don actually had a black girlfriend on the side. Or your Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jack had to get married, because she was eight months pregnant with your cousin Donna. Or your mom back dated the family Bible because her oldest sister was born out of wedlock (my mom actually did this).

We need this damn pandemic to be over. We need to get vaccines in arms and some herd immunity, so we can start going out and acting like civilized people again.