Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Dutch

I'll get back to the above video in a bit, but first a Secret Santa(s) update, scant though it be. So, we were convinced that the lovely pranksters behind the laying of gifts at our door each of the 12 Days of Christmas were our professional artist friends Robert and Titia (TJ), who moved here from Holland three years ago this May. This couple and their three sons are head and shoulders the most creative people we know, so we feel it's exactly the sort of thing they would dream up. They're also extremely kind people and nuts enough to be sneaking about at all hours in the name of such a project, so again it all pointed to them. Also, there were a few small spelling and grammatical errors in certain of the notes left with the gifts, perhaps indicative of authors for whom English was not their first language. Pulling all the 'evidence' together, flimsy though it was, we concluded it could only be Robert and TJ, or, as we call them and the boys for convenience' sake, "The Dutch."

On Christmas Eve morning we had breakfast with The Dutch and, when the time felt right, Susan brought up the matter. Then I joined in to intensify the interrogation, but we were both greeted by blank looks and firm denials. I looked Robert and TJ right in the eye, just inches from their faces, asking them to swear it was not them, which they did. Well, we were bewildered and felt utterly bamboozled! We had little choice but to believe Robert and TJ, as they were adamant they were not behind this joyous seasonal scheming. Yet still we remain unconvinced! It has to be them! So, the facts remain that either they were the Secret Santas and are the greatest actors of our generation, or indeed, as they claim, it had absolutely nothing to do with them. As things stand, it is still a mystery. Perhaps it's best that it stays that way?

As I mentioned, Robert and TJ have three sons. They're great kids and rather than being peas in a pod, they're as different from each other as it's possible to be. The youngest, Hugo (11), although fun-loving and kooky, is seemingly the most sensitive. He loves to be involved in serving food at meal times and is obsessed by space travel and knights and templars. He loves to explain books he's reading in detail, often walking us through those with plenty of maps and illustrations. He's obviously a details guy and, despite his sweetness, Hugo kicks ass in the realm of the martial arts, so go figure.

The middle son, Felix (13), is very affectionate, but completely crazy. A real livewire, he is determined to track down a Bigfoot on Vancouver Island, can hardly keep still for a minute, and has more energy than he knows what to do with. He has one of those Jim Carrey-esque rubber faces, so is constantly distorting it for humorous effect, and speaking far too loudly out of sheer excitement. Moreover, Felix is perhaps the son most visibly inherently blessed with the considerable artistic talents of his parents. He is always doodling, inventing characters and weird machines to dwell in inventive, otherworldly landscapes that take him an age to plan and draw. Most interestingly, he fills sketchbook after sketchbook with the incredible adventures of his two favourite invented characters, Peter and Rammstein, the latter named for his favourite band. If Felix doesn't end up a professional artist like his parents, I'll eat my desk.

As if Hugo and Felix aren't fascinating enough, then the oldest son, Dirk (15), is truly a Boy Out of Time. Like his parents he's already a giant, making Susan and I look like Hobbits standing next to him. He is obsessed by old things, especially machinery like 8-Track cartridge players and chunky bakelite telephones. He's also in thrall to classic 70s detective dramas, his all-time hero being Columbo, so Dirk was really upset when Peter Falk passed away last year. He writes extremely lengthy, highly detailed murder stories with recurring characters. As a professional writer I critiqued one for him and was genuinely blown away by Dirk's work, particularly his patience in scene-setting, character development and building dialogue. However, this young writer did not use a computer to create the story, or any others he's written. He uses a typewriter. Dirk is obsessed with vintage typewriters and has amassed a collection of thirty or so from thrift stores and garage sales in under three years. Often, when we visit The Dutch, weather permitting he'll be off in the garden somewhere, typing away at a desk he's set up, oblivious to the world as he bashes out another story or one of the dozens of letters he writes each week. Extraordinary. Dirk is so taken with his collection of manual typerwriters that he is compiling a series of short films presenting 'tours' of certain favourites on his YouTube channel, under the unsurprising moniker of Dr. Typewriter.

Anyway, the video above was created by Dirk and sent to me yesterday. Animation and filmmaking in general are other areas of creativity that Dirk is interested in, and I would put money on him pursuing this seriously in some capacity when he leaves high school. His first project in this arena was to edit and add a soundtrack and special effects to some footage of Felix on a Bigfoot hunt in the Sproat Lake area of Vancouver Island. The clip you see here is a bizarre, but really fun two minutes created for a school project, and I love it. It's rough and ready, but then this is the product of a 15-year old mind armed with very basic equipment. Just enjoy it for what it is, and please feel free to drop by Dr. Typewriter's YouTube channel from time to time to see what else he has dreamed up!

So, that's The Dutch for you. They're an amazing family whose friendship, inspirational talent, unbridled loveliness and truckload of eccentricities help to brighten our lives in this small Vancouver Island town. But we still want to know exactly what their movements were over Christmas...