I don’t know what elementary school is like these days, but my memories of it are mostly of protracted bouts of boredom interspersed with occasional bouts of what adults always referred to as getting in trouble, which I usually referred to as “fun”. Adults never seemed to be getting into much trouble or having much fun; it’s a connection that’s hard to overlook at that age and, it turns out, this one. But another thing I remember (and that I hope for the sake of our future citizenry this part of the student experience remains) is that occasionally when the teacher either had to pad a lesson schedule or sweat out a hangover or something, the old 16mm projector and some beat-up cold-war-era film spools would come out and they would show you something just so damn weird that you instinctively knew that you weren’t quite geared up to fully appreciate it.
I am here today to share one of those things with you.
The first time I saw this, I was somewhere between grades one and three. I didn’t remember it all that well and didn’t really care to remember it at all until a site linked off of Mirsky’s Worst Of The Web in the earliest days of the internet featured a plea to help a man find a movie about a Happy Pancake Witch who made magic pancakes that solved some sort of chronic regional strife via magic polkadots. Later on the animation in the World-of-Warcraft-related OK, Stop Dots bit jogged that memory, and recently when my wife mentioned that her love of both polkadots and pancakes might be well-served by polkadotted pancakes, those memories rushed back with the smooth pressure a hydraulic ram. So it was time to get to searching.
It turns out that the guy who made the linked-from-Mirsky’s site all those years ago has written up a long reminiscence of his quest, culminating in his discovery of the real title: “Winter Of The Witch”. In an oddly abortive turn, with the unspoken hinting at the unspeakable, he seems to have been unwilling to take that last find-and-watch-it step; in my mind I imagine him very still in a long moment, his finger poised over the mouse, its pointer poised in turn over a play button. Seconds leech slowly past and his eyes lose focus considering the moment of watching, of being changed by what cannot be unseen, of a stranger’s unblinking stare wearing his own face. He closes the browser and his eyes, breathes deep and turns away from the abyss he barely glimpsed, hoping that he was only barely glimpsed in turn.
Or, alternatively, it just hadn’t been uploaded yet. Lucky for us, it is now available for your viewing pleasure courtesy of Google Video. The title of this post is taken verbatim from the dialogue: “Oh, they’re not just pancakes; they’re the final solution to the unhappiness problem.”
Listen, kids: don’t do drugs. Stay in school.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen: “The Winter Of The Witch.”.
Don’t say I never loved you, internets.