Classic Movies · Stuff You Should Know

Naughty but ice

It s a Gift Year 1934 Director Norman McLeod W C Fields

On the holiday quiz that’s posted at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, there’s a bonus question that asks: “What was your favorite movie-related Christmas gift that you received this year?” It was supposed to be answered after December 25th—but I sort of jumped the gun with my answer ( had a sale on their Region 2 DVD W.C. Fields Collection, and so I bought a copy for myself.)

As a rule, my family and friends shy away from movie-related gifts—particularly DVDs, since they’re usually afraid I might already have what they’ve bought me…and I’m afraid I usually do. I tried to rectify this by starting a wish list over at but to no avail: the ‘rents still haven’t got their computer up and running and sister Kat is usually tending to other things. I don’t want to sell them short, however; Kat got me a cute gift—a director’s megaphone—and Mom sprung for a DVD recorder so I no longer have to stay up at an ungodly hour to watch certain movies. A doff of the TDOY chapeau goes to my other sister Debbie, who did look at the wish list and purchased for me two books that came highly recommended from my fellow cineaste Vince Keenan: John DiLeo’s 100 Great Performances You Should Remember–But Probably Don’t and Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery. (I’m in the middle of Screen Savers right now and if you’re looking for a crackling good film reference, you really should pick up a copy.)

I’m gonna get a lot of mileage out of this baby.

So, I’m over at sister Kat’s for Christmas Eve—and there’s this gi-normous wrapped gift under the tree, which my Mom informs me is mine, all mine. I ask her what it is, and she coyly responds—in a way that would suggest I’m still eight years old—that I have to wait ‘til Christmas to find out. Well…okay, I said—and though I made a few random jokes about the package, I pretty much moved on from that point.

Christmas Day, the next morning. Or I should say afternoon—we had planned to open up gifts that morning, but Kat came down with the vapors or something (I believe she diagnosed it as a migraine) and so we didn’t start unwrapping the loot until we finished dinner. But in that time, Kat asks me what I think is in the package.

A sane person would have excused himself and made a quick exit out the back door—but because I’m an idiot by trade, I decided to guess what it was. It was about the size of a computer printer…or more specifically, a printer with a scanner, copier, fax, etc. attached. So that was my guesstimate on the Showcase Showdown, Bob…and upon seeing the impression on my sister’s face, I know that not only am I not anywhere near the ballpark—I have seriously committed a major Christmas gift fox paw.

So then I start getting the third degree. “Did you want a printer/copier/scanner/fax, etc. for Christmas?” Kat asks.

Boy, I was blowing this big time. “Well, I have a printer at the apartment,” I stammered. “Although it’s not really mine—it’s Dad’s—he just lets me borrow it. But yes, I could use a printer/copier/scanner/fax, etc…of course, I’ll certainly understand if that’s not what’s in the package.”

At this point in time, I’ve pretty much flunked the exam and will no doubt be spending time in summer school next year. As it turned out, it was not a printer/copier/scanner/fax, etc…but an ice-maker.

Cold drinks not included.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, it was a very thoughtful gift and I’m pleased to have received it…in fact, I set it up this morning and as I type this, it’s on its way to making lots of lovely ice because—to be honest—I’m a man who likes a lot of ice in whatever I’m drinking. I’m not British. Back in 1979, when Hurricane David kissed the city of Savannah, my grandfather wasn’t concerned about the damage Dave did to his swimming pool (though it did prove a bit costly)…he was pissed because he couldn’t get any ice.

It’s just that…well, kitcheny and household items are usually the last on my list whenever anyone asks what I want for Christmas. When I was living in Morgantown, Kat paid me a visit and for one reason or another decided to cook something in my kitchen (a risky prospect at best, since I believe the Board of Heath had came and went…and they weren’t smiling) and she asks me: “Where is your garlic press?”

“What the !@#$% is a garlic press?” I responded. She went out and bought me a garlic press as a result. I don’t think I ever used the damned thing again in the time between her visit and when I eventually moved back to Savannah.

I just went and checked on the ice. It’s coming along slowly and surely, which is a very good sign because only one of two things was destined to happen once I turned it on: 1) it would make ice, or 2) it would burn down my apartment. There’s an indicator on the machine that you can set to make small ice (my very favorite, the kind you get in motels—one of the few perks at my former La Quinta job, I might add), medium ice or large ice (probably won’t be using this option too often—I hate big ice). In the long run, I’m not certain the ice maker can measure up to an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle…but then again, I’m not eight years old any more, either. Thanks ever so for the gift, sis.

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