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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Pancake Witch: Long 'Lost' 1969 Kids Film "Winter of the Witch" Touches a Generation

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The 1969 children's film "Winter of the Witch," which is being rediscovered by a generation of adults in their 30s and 40s, involves a witch, a boy, pancakes that make people happy and floating bubbles.

Sometime in the early to mid 1970s — perhaps in your library, perhaps in a classroom — you saw a 23-minute short film called Winter of the Witch.   It is based on a children’s book called Old Black Witch by Harry and Wende Devlin.  The film was made in 1969 and stars Hermione Gingold as the Witch, Roger Morgan (in his only known role) as Nicky, Anna Strasberg as the unnamed single mother, and narration by Burgess Meredith.

Finding a Shared Memory: The Happy Pancake Witch

The comments on the Internet Movie Database entry for this movie tell a very similar story of people searching their whole lives for the source of their strange memory about a witch making pancakes:
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'Lost' 1969 kids film touches a generation

  • Article by: JENNIFER MENDELSOHN , New York Times
  •  May 18, 2011
The nostalgia trip of "Winter of the Witch" now is readily available online.
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For years, Scott Murdock was haunted by a cinematic image fluttering at the periphery of his memory. It involved a witch. She was serving pancakes. And there were lots of colorful bubbles floating over the screen.
He couldn't shake the vision from his mind. Yet he had no idea where it came from.
"Everybody I asked about it thought I was nuts," said Murdock, 41, a computer programmer in Kansas City, Mo.
He wasn't alone. In Madison, Wis., humorist Ann Imig, 37, had a similarly unsettling memory.
"I would ask people, 'Don't you remember that movie with the witch and the magical blueberry pancakes?'" she recalled. "They'd say, 'No, Ann, you're high.'"
Repeated queries and, for some, years of online sleuthing confirmed that the film is real: a 1969 short called "Winter of the Witch." The film, now easy to track down on the Internet, is being discovered by a generation of adults in their 30s and 40s with a fervor more typically associated with locating a long-lost relative than a kiddie movie.
Scroll through the movie's reviews on the Internet Movie Database, and you might think you've stumbled upon a support group for people who have experienced something akin to alien abduction. Typical subject lines read, "Validation for all," and "I'm not the only one!" Then there is, "OMG!!! ... Finally!!! I have been wondering about this movie for YEARS!!!"
The resurrection of the long-dormant little movie is one more example of the ways in which the online world has become a de facto nostalgia clearinghouse. Sites such as YouTube and eBay now provide instant access to millions of pieces of everyday ephemera that most people assume had been lost forever: educational filmstrips, old commercials, kitsch toys, school lunchboxes -- the list goes on. Rediscovering such things can be surprisingly powerful and emotional, a visceral connection to the magic of childhood.
'Witch' was popular in schools
Based on the 1963 children's picture book "Old Black Witch," the movie stars Anna Strasberg as a single mother who moves with her young son into a country house haunted by a witch (the velvet-voiced Hermione Gingold). The witch turns out to have a handy knack for cooking pancakes that make people instantly happy, as illustrated by a blast of circus music and a burst of colorful bubbles crudely superimposed on the screen.
The first project of Parents' Magazine Films and producer Thomas Sand, "Winter of the Witch" was distributed by the Learning Corp. of America to schools nationwide. Thousands of students watched it on old-fashioned projectors in gyms, libraries and auditoriums; for many, it was a favorite rainy-day activity or a Halloween treat.
By all rights, the quirky production should have faded away, just like the turtlenecks and head scarves it features. But something about "Winter of the Witch" burrowed its way into the consciousness of a subset of children who saw it, and it never left, leading many to search for it well into adulthood.
"Those colored dots must have burned themselves into some people's brains," said Gerald Herman, who directed the film for $500 while a student at New York University. He now runs an art-house cinema in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Certainly, the psychedelic dots make the movie all the more intriguing for grown-ups. "It was obviously a drug film," proclaimed one viewer online. Another gleefully recalled the "magic trippy pancakes."
Herman dismissed the notion of any latent drug theme.
"We didn't have any hidden agenda while making the movie," he said. "This was Parents' Magazine, after all."
Films link to a simpler time
In a world that seems fraught with anxiety and danger, the film and others like it are a kind of emotional comfort food, a direct link back to a simpler, safer era -- a time when getting to watch a 22-minute movie at school was a special event, not something you could do on a phone, and when children's entertainment wasn't replete with product tie-ins.
Filled with period details such as Volkswagen Beetles and TV dinners, the film's slightly homespun, melancholy look also encapsulates what it felt like to be a child 30 to 40 years ago, right down to the crackling of the splotchy, color-saturated 16-millimeter film.
"It was a safe and cozy feeling sitting on the shag rug in my preschool watching that film," said Imig, a mother of two who likens the experience of seeing "Winter of the Witch" again -- the film is now on Google Videos and can be readily purchased on DVD -- to being in a time machine. "There's just something wonderfully validating to know it exists."
Murdock's 2007 blog post about his four-year-long search to find the film has become one of the places the witch faithful convene. They share their eerily similar tales of reconnecting with the film, drawn there by searching variations of "happy pancake witch."

. . Click Here to Read More.

The "Winter of the Witch": An Illustrated Summary




Nicky & Mom leave The City for unknown reasons. Where's Dad?
As the story begins, a single mom empties her refrigerator and her son Nicky helps pack. They leave their tiny apartment in The City with only what possessions they can fit in their car, and drive to a small town with no living arrangements made for them.
Luckily when they arrive they find a shady realtor who is more than happy to sell them a haunted house for $400.

$400 gets you a lot of house in 1969, as long as you don't mind a small witch infestation.
They’re only in the house for a few moments before The Witch appears, curious about these new people who have invaded her home.

I'll get you, my pretty, and your little boy, too.
Nicky and his mom are not afraid, and inexplicably Mom agrees to Nicky’s request of “Can we keep her?”
Mom and Nicky fix up their part of the house, while The Witch sits in the attic spinning cobwebs and being all sad.
Before long Nicky and the Witch become friends, and chat about the good old days of Witchery.  It seems that since the world has become such a scary place, witches are no longer needed and have no purpose anymore.   Nicky suggests that she cook for them.   This gives the Witch an idea.

(*insert evil cackling laughter*)
The next morning the Witch (who shall hereafter be referred to as The HPW (for The Happy Pancake Witch) comes down to the kitchen to whip up a batch of blueberry pancakes.

"Eye of newt, toe of frog, LSD, tears of a virgin..."
Ignoring all advice about not taking food from strangers or witches, Nicky digs in to the cakes…

Hey, little boy, want some flapjacks?
Nicky immediately falls under the spell of The HPW’s laced cakes and gets really, really happy.

So happy, he sees psychadelic spots
Mom walks in at that moment and demands to know WTF the HPW has done to her son!

BUSTED!!!!!
Thinking fast, The HPW realizes the only way out of this situation is to shove a cake into Mom’s face.

Mom foams blue at the mouth with happiness
Just then these two old bags show up to rag about what a crappy housekeeper Mom is. Their batty remarks are just about to wear off the happiness spell. Luckily Nicky knows just how to shut old people up…

The cure for catty old women

"Ambrosia!"
With everyone happy again, Mom decides to open a
drug house
pancake parlor to spread the
LSD-laced
happiness-infused joy.

Thank God the HPW won that old cauldron as second prize in that karaoke contest
Needless to say, the
drug house
pancake parlor soon became quite the
neighborhood nuisance
popular attraction…


Is this where you come for the "pancakes"?
…and Mom, Nicky, and The HPW worked hard to further contaminate the food supply.

OBEY
With the local population placated and news of the Happy Pancakes spreading throughout th greater region, The HPW finally reveals to Nicky her evil plan. Once her pancakes make everyone forget the worries of the world and they are all happy, she will once again start scaring and terrorizing them all!

"Starting with.... YOU!!!!!"
THE END
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Party Time: Rature, End of the world Celebrations May 21st Judgement Day

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End of the world? How about a party instead?

May 18, 2011
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For some, it's Judgment Day. For others, it's party time. A loosely organized Christian movement has spread the word around the globe that Jesus Christ will return to earth on Saturday to gather the faithful into heaven. While the Christian mainstream isn't buying it, many other skeptics are milking it.
A Facebook page titled "Post rapture looting" offers this invitation: "When everyone is gone and god's not looking, we need to pick up some sweet stereo equipment and maybe some new furniture for the mansion we're going to squat in." By Wednesday afternoon, more than 175,000 people indicated they would be "attending" the "public event."
The prediction is also being mocked in the comic strip "Doonesbury" and has inspired "Rapture parties" to celebrate what hosts expect will be the failure of the world to come to an end.
In the Army town of Fayetteville, N.C., the local chapter of the American Humanist Association has turned the event into a two-day extravaganza, with a Saturday night party followed by a day-after concert.
"It's not meant to be insulting, but come on," said organizer Geri Weaver. "Christians are openly scoffing at this."
The prediction originates with Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer from Oakland, Calif., who founded Family Radio Worldwide, an independent ministry that has broadcast his prediction around the world.
The Rapture - the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on earth that precedes the end of time - is a relatively new notion compared to Christianity itself, and most Christians don't believe in it. And even believers rarely attempt to set a date for the event.
Camping's prophecy comes from numerological calculations based on his reading of the Bible, and he says global events like the 1948 founding of Israel confirm his math.
He has been derided for an earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994, but his followers say that merely referred to the end of "the church age," a time when human beings in Christian churches could be saved. Now, they say, only those outside what they regard as irredeemably corrupt churches can expect to ascend to heaven.
Camping is not hedging this time: "Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he said in January.
Such predictions are nothing new, but Camping's latest has been publicized with exceptional vigor - not just by Family Radio but through like-minded groups. They've spread the word using radio, satellite TV, daily website updates, billboards, subway ads, RV caravans hitting dozens of cities and missionaries scattered from Latin America to Asia.
"These kinds of prophecies are constantly going on at a low level, and every once in a while one of them gets traction," said Richard Landes, a Boston University history professor who has studied such beliefs for more than 20 years.
The prediction has been publicized in almost every country, said Chris McCann, who works with eBible Fellowship, one of the groups spreading the message. "The only countries I don't feel too good about are the `stans' - you know, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, those countries in Central Asia," he said.
Marie Exley, who left her home in Colorado last year to join Family Radio's effort to publicize the message, just returned from a lengthy overseas trip that included stops in the Middle East. She said billboards have gone up in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
"I decided to spend the last few days with my immediate family and fellow believers," Exley said. "Things started getting more risky in the Middle East when Judgment Day started making the news."
McCann plans to spend Saturday with his family, reading the Bible and praying. His fellowship met for the last time on Monday.
"We had a final lunch and everyone said goodbye," he said. "We don't actually know who's saved and who isn't, but we won't gather as a fellowship again."
In Vietnam, the prophecy has led to unrest involving thousands of members of the Hmong ethnic minority who gathered near the border with Laos earlier this month to await the May 21 event. The government, which has a long history of mistrust with ethnic hilltribe groups like the Hmong, arrested an unidentified number of "extremists" and dispersed a crowd of about 5,000.
No such signs of turmoil are apparent in the U.S., though many mainstream Christians aren't happy with the attention the prediction is getting. They reject the notion that a date for the end times can be calculated, if not the doctrine of the Rapture itself.
"When we engage in this kind of wild speculation, it's irresponsible," said the Rev. Daniel Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. "It can do damage to naive believers who can be easily caught up and it runs the risk of causing the church to receive sort of a black eye."
Pastors around the country are planning Sunday sermons intended to illustrate the folly of trying to discern a date for the end of the world, but Akin couldn't wait: He preached on the topic last Sunday.
"I believe Christ could come today. I believe he could choose not to come for 1,000 years," he said. "That's in his hands, not mine."
No one will know for sure whether Camping's prediction is correct until Sunday morning dawns, or fails to dawn. In the meantime, there will be jokes, parties, sermons and - in at least one case- a chance to make a little money.
Bart Centre, an atheist from New Hampshire, started Eternal Earth-bound Pets in 2009. He offers Rapture believers an insurance plan for those furry family members that won't join them in heaven: 10-year pet care contracts, with Centre and his network of fellow non-believers taking responsibility for the animals after the Rapture. The fee - payable in advance, of course - was originally $110, but has gone to $135 since Camping's prediction.
Centre says he has 258 clients under contract, and that business has picked up considerably this year. But he's not worried about a sales slump if May 21 happens to disappoint believers.
"They never lose their faith. They're never disappointed," he said. "It reinforces their faith, strangely enough."



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Hermann Missouri Featured in Top Five Summer Wine Destinations: best summer wine destinations in the U.S.

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Five Summer Wine Destinations


May 18, 2011
 http://blog.cheapoair.com/top-5/five-summer-wine-destinations.aspx
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Wine travel destinations worth visiting
 
Summer means a lot of things. Road trips, sandy beaches, and festivals are just a few of the things the remind us that summer has arrived. Summer also means it's time to pop the cork and pull out your favorite seasonal wines. However, there's nothing like combining your love for wine with your love for travel. We've put together a few of the best summer wine destinations in the U.S.
 
Napa/Sonoma, California: Napa and Sonoma, California are the obvious choices as the top summer wine destinations. Napa and Sonoma are the two destinations on this list that are world renowned for their wine offerings. One of the best things about this part of Northern California is that there are so many things to do. There is great food and golf nearby, and San Francisco is just a short drive.
 
Asheville, North Carolina: The southeastern United States hasn't always been known for their wine production, but Asheville has established itself as a top wine destination because of the Biltmore Estate. One of the largest mansions in the world, visitors could easily spend a weekend at the Biltmore Estate alone. Special wine tastings and events often take place on weekends during the summer.
 
Hermann, Missouri: Hermann, Missouri is one of the smallest destinations on this list, but it has been making wine as long as anybody in the U.S., dating back to the mid-1800s. Hermann is better for a long weekend retreat, as it is located amidst the backroads of Missouri. It doesn't feature the same number of wineries as places like Northern California, but still has a lot to offer in the way of a historic town and beautiful scenery.
 
Finger Lakes, New York: The Finger Lakes region can be one of the most beautiful and pleasant places to visit during the summer. This coupled with its large wine country, makes it a great summer destination. The Finger Lakes region is the largest producer of wine in New York. Book a cozy retreat along the water and enjoy a nice retreat.
 
Yakima Valley, Washington: Yakima Valley may not have the same fame as west coast destinations like Sonoma and Napa, yet it makes for one of the best wine destinations. Much of this is thanks to the beautiful climate and scenery during the summer. Offerings during the summer range from wine festivals to tastings and tours to wine country spas.

http://blog.cheapoair.com/top-5/five-summer-wine-destinations.aspx

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