It’s the famous Humphrey Bogart line from the iconic film, “Casablanca.” I “daddy-sat*” again last night while my mom went to a church Christmas party and Christmas lights viewing outing. I mention it because it was shown last night on the Turner Classic Movies channel and my dad and I watched it.
My dad is practically blind now from age-related macular degeneration, a process which had been going on unrecognized for a number of years (–not that anything could have been done about it if it had been recognized). As his vision deteriorated, he complained about his glasses not being fitted properly, the poor quality of the picture on their TV, etc., etc. He had cataract surgery, but his vision did not improve all that much. When their TV before last died, he talked my mom into buying this great hulking behemoth of a cathode ray television (CRT) that was literally about the size of a washing machine, which was supposed to be high definition, and was supposed to have greatly superior picture quality to their previous TV. They had “the hulk” for a number of years, but it finally gave up the ghost last summer and my mom replaced it with a flat screen high definition TV.
When they first got “the hulk,” my mom was very dissatisfied with its appearance. In the past, they had always had console TV’s which come built into a nice wooden cabinet, usually with some sort of door(s) to hide the screen, but this thing was a huge glass tube in a huge plastic box and was huge, hulking and hugely “unsightly.” After my mom had gone on and on for a while about its unsightliness, a family friend built her what is essentially a cover out of plywood that sat over the TV and the little stereo holder thing on casters that held their stereo, VCR and cable box, which not only hid everything but the TV screen, but also provided a large flat surface for the myriad of framed pictures of us, friends and relations, friends’ and relations’ children, etc. She painted it “builder’s beige” to match the walls in the den (and every other wall in the house), I got a remnant of gold brocade upholstery fabric and made her a nice dresser scarf for it, and she was as happy a camper as she could be with this great cyclopean TV screen she could do nothing to hide when it was not on. Of course, “the hulk” had a more or less square screen. The new flat screen has the same diagonal dimension but has a rectangular “wide screen.”
“The hulk,” perforce, sat on the floor, since it was so heavy it took two grown men and a four-wheel hand trolley to move it anywhere. Ideally, the flat screen should be put on a TV stand, but that would have made it too high, and it would have covered up part of the built-in book case where my mom displays some of the objets d’art and tchotchkes they have acquired on their travels. (They have some really nice Belleek pieces, porcelain figurines, a Royal Doulton tea service, and Waterford crystal pieces, among others.) So, the new TV went on the floor where the old one had been. Because it has a rectangular screen, it did not fit the square shape of the cover and there was about a foot of daylight above it. My mom was not happy with this “gap.” It was — you guessed it — unsightly. The first proposed solution was to cut down the cover our friend had made for them. At some point, I was going to cut it down with my electric jigsaw. But then she remembered that off in a closet somewhere, she had this little box with three drawers designed to hold VCR tapes. Le voilà! Turns out it is exactly the right height. The camper is happy again.
Now, I have to say, I was initially not that impressed with the picture quality of this new “high-def” flat screen TV, but it turns out the fault lay not with the TV, but with the viewing angle. You wouldn’t think 8 inches would make that much difference, but it does. Last night was the first time I’d watched their TV since she put it up on the box and — wow! The picture was not only sharp, but had a remarkable depth of field. Now I see why everyone is raving about “high definition.”
So, last night I’m “daddy sitting” — sitting in mom’s recliner, crocheting snowflakes, not paying much attention to this game show and that game show and the local news, but after the news, I know that some sitcoms will be coming on that neither he nor I care for, so I check the on-screen guide, and see that “Casablanca” is coming on. Win!
I’ve always liked “Bogey,” and his costar in “Casablanca” is, of course, the actress Ingrid Bergman (also know as the mother of actress Isabella Rossellini). “Casablanca” premiered in 1942, two years before Bogey met “Baby.” At the time it was filmed, Bogey was five years into his increasingly tempestuous marriage to Mayo Methot whom he divorced to marry Bacall. Several times throughout “Casablanca” both in the film’s “present” and in the “flashbacks” that establish the back story between Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman), Bogey toasts Bergman with, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
At my mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary (they had their 66th this past November), my dad gave a little speech which he ended with a toast to my mom — “Here’s looking at you, kid.” So it was special getting to watch “Casablanca” with my dad last night, and seeing it in high-definition, I noticed all kinds of things I hadn’t noticed before. And yes, Sam did “play it.”