Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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December 23rd, 1965

I really, really gotta be more careful!

I watched mother popping corn in the old traditional way, using melted butter on the stove top.

It made me realize how handy microwave ovens are. Next to PCs, the internet and cellphones, they will become, in my opinion, one of the greatest devices ever invented. In my first life, I mostly ate out - or ordered in. So, I rarely, if ever, cooked anything in a microwave oven. But for defrosting, reheating and, of course, popping corn - it was the king of my kitchen.

Mother only popped corn on special occasions, so I had asked, “What’s the special occasion?”

“You’re going to love tonight’s movie,” she beamed. “I first saw it when I was about your age, and I thought it was just wonderful!”

“Yeah? What’s it called?”

“You remember that movie you liked so much, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?”

“Yeah, the one with John Wayne?” I lowered my voice and did my best impersonation of The Duke. “Well, Pilgrim.”
“Yes! But, do you remember the other guy?”

“James Coburn?” I teased knowingly.

“No, the kind, gentle one.”

“Oh, the wimp who kept getting his butt kicked?”

My mother shook her head and smiled. Then nodded, “Yes, James Stewart. Well, he acts in tonight’s movie.”

“What’s it called?”

“It’s a Wonderful Life. And…”

“Oh, sheesh!” I said scrunching up my face. “Not that old chestnut again. They’ve been showing it just about every year since forever. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times already.”

“Don’t talk nonsense,” she said frowning and slapping my shoulder. “When did you ever see it?”

“I…” Then I remembered that I had only seen it for the first time around Christmas of ’65. I quickly took steps to correct my foolish blunder. “Sure I have, it’s the one where he’s a private detective and he gets framed for murder. And there was this half-a-dime in the…”

“No, no, no! That one’s called, It’s a Wonderful World.”

“So, isn’t that what you said? I’m pretty sure that was the same guy from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.”

“It is, but this movie is called It’s a Wonderful Life.” She stressed the word Life. Then repeated it, “Life!”

Thank God that Jimmy Stewart made two movies with similar titles. And thank God for mine and my mother’s knowledge of old movies.

So, anyhow, I ended up watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the hundred and first time. And to my mother’s great pleasure, I even pretended to enjoy it - immensely.

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