A is for Automata, The Avengers, and Anime.
So here’s the first installment of the Encyclopedia of Me meme (special vowels only edition): three things beginning with A.
Automata: I have always been creeped out by things that move when they shouldn’t. Ex.: the clown doll in the first Poltergeist movie (although in all fairness, that’s at least partly clown-related). Also, fortune-telling mannequins in glass booths, ventriloquist’s dummies, and most of Disneyland. Which is why The Crooked Hinge is John Dickson Carr’s most frightening book, and World of Wonders the saddest of Robertson Davies’.
“The Avengers,” on the other hand, made me happy every Thursday afternoon after ballet class. Diana Rigg, of course. Diana Rigg’s wardrobe and shoes. Camp sensibility. British humor. And my very first exposure to the plot device of unresolved sexual tension between characters. Still loving all of those things, how many years later? Thanks to Auntie Julia’s generous gift of the box set of Avengers 1966, we’ve been watching them with Little Sunshine, who is mad about Steed.
Anime. One of my earliest television memories is of a Japanese cartoon called, I think, “The White Snake.” We were living in Kaneohe at the time, on the island of Oahu, in a largely Japanese neighborhood. “The White Snake” had all the elements I associate with classic anime: a boy, a couple of animal sidekicks, a quest, a girl with supernatural powers. I’ve never been able to find any reference to it anywhere, but I remember scenes from it very clearly–an underwater landscape, the girl falling from a tower and turning into a snake as she tumbled through the air. Likewise a movie with a Norse folktale theme, involving mountain trolls, a boy, a couple of animal sidekicks, a quest, and a girl with (wait for it) supernatural powers.
Later, I had a serious crush on Speed Racer.* Which reminds me of my theory of romantic imprinting: think back carefully to your first crush. That’s right. Now, admit it; aren’t you still falling in love with that person/character/creature? In my case, I admit it freely: I’m happiest with gender-blurring Byronic speed demons with complex family histories. Always have been. Always will be.
*Wouldn’t a live-action Speed Racer movie starring Johnny Depp be cool? Seriously. Johnny Depp. Speed Racer. It was meant to be. (Danny Aiello could be Pops. Any old big-headed starlet-of-the-moment could be Trixie. And some he-man like Brad Pitt could be Racer X, so the straight girls have something to look at, too.)