A Fine Feathered Friend Farewell

Sarah Rice, one of our talented colorists, is leaving for Scotland to pursue her masters in film curation. We’re thrilled that she is going on to bigger and better things, but we are also extremely sad to see her go. To commemorate the occasion, we asked her to write about her favorite film: 

When presented with the idea of writing a blog entry about my favorite piece of film at MIRC before leaving my job behind to go devote the next year of my life to hunting the Loch Ness Monster, I honestly couldn’t think of anything.  Of course, I don’t mean this in a bad way.  For something to be special to you, it does not necessarily need to be…well, special.  It can also be extremely useless, random, and stupid.  To say I have become a connoisseur (though a somewhat amateur one) of the cute, weird, and always lovable cute-weird combo would be an understatement.  From puppies to human pincushions to playing Where’s Waldo with Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, I could never- NEVER– chose a favorite.  In these final moments, the images are all a jumble – mixed in with each face and memory I am leaving behind.  Sometimes, when everything is lovely, sparkly and special to you, the thing that stands out the most is usually the dirtiest or ugliest one of the bunch . . . or not.  Sometimes, it just HONKS out to you.  I don’t know.  I hear something that somewhat resembles a quack, so I go with it.  I will be the first to admit, I am easily manipulated by even the thought of an animal doing basically anything.  Call it the “YouTube Generation” part of me.  I have no shame.  Basically, my overactive yet simple mind can think no more.  So on this day, I simply present the world with the very first memory I have of what was formerly known as the Newsfilm Library: A Mad Swan.  Yes, a mad swan is what I remember.  No, I can’t really explain why because I don’t know.  Something about a staged story of a fake poacher and a swan.  A very, very mad swan.  Like, really mad.  And if swans don’t really do it for you, the world famous squirrel and dog duo make a most welcomed appearance.  But I digress: Fox Movietone News Story 14-633 reels 1 and 2.  Title: Mad Swan in Tanglewood.  Date: May 22-23, 1932.  Location: Tanglewood, Long Island, New York.  These things will always compose some strange memory of a place far, far away with the acronym MIRC which kind of sounds like my boss’s name, Mark.


“DID YOU KNOW!?” fact time: Did you know that swans were almost extinct in the US during the 1930’s?  A lot of protection measures were apparently taken to preserve their population.  And there you have it:  Mad Swan in Tanglewood from 1932 is exactly what they did in that decade to protect the near extinct species of birds.  They purposefully pissed them off – until, on this fateful day, the swan was like, “Okay, one day I will come back in the form of millions and kill you all.  Prepare for swan war!  Also known from this day forth as SWAR WORLD I!”  Be warned.  I also learned when researching for this blog that swans do not attack humans without a given cause and that they have the ability to recognize a person that has been nice to them in the past.  Please, I beg you to remember this.  It could mean your life.  I have seen both the movie Birds AND countless hours of WWII material here at work.  I know.

When I brought this blog topic up with my coworker and good friend, Brittany, I mentioned this song was playing in my head when I came up with the idea:


She thought it was weird that I did not associate the tune with what it really was: Stars and Stripes Forever.  In fact, when I hear said Stars and Stripes Forever, I always hear the lyrics to this song as if it existed before the well-known Sousa piece.  Maybe this makes me a bad American.  Maybe this means I am meant to go to Scotland.  Maybe this means I love ducks too much.  In fact, I was somewhat of a child prodigy when it came to drawing ducks.  At arts and crafts time in Kindergarten, the kids used to crowd around me while I would grab a crayon and go at it.  Drawing ducks.  Mostly the ones where you start out drawing a number 2 and then embellish from there.  God, I was good.  I still have a composition notebook full of them.  It has become somewhat of a relic – a family heirloom I will pass down to my uninterested, most likely non-existent children.

If I can trace some path from the origin of my duck love to the discovery of Mad Swan in Tanglewood, it would probably lead me to believe I was pre-destined to work at MIRC.  I don’t know.  This may be a bit of a stretch.  I also loved elephants as a child, but when has that ever come in handy?

Anyways, Wikipedia presents the shortened version of the lyrics as such:

Be kind to your web-footed friends

For a duck may be somebody’s mother

Be kind to your friends in the swamp

Where the weather is very, very damp

Now, you may think that this is the end…


And as abruptly as the song end, this ends.  For me and for all that eventually pass through these doors (but please, not the film).  I take my memories, swans and all.  Thank you MIRC for the web-footed and human-footed friends you have given me.  I will hold these thoughts close when I am crying on the floor of my apartment from all of the haggis, scotch, and seasonable depression I must suffer through on my island of rain.  The things we endure for higher education.

If I leave you with anything, please always remember:  A duck may be somebody’s mother.  Don’t question this.  Just accept it.

I did.  Now look at me.

Nevermind.  Disregard.

Sarah Rice

Watch the mad swan in the MIRC-DVR: mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A2142

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