Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Showers Later in the Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 18, 2018

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Submitted: February 18, 2018

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Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Showers Later in the Day

by

Stephen Loomis

 

The recent death of cinematic genius and legendary meteorologist, Stanley Dejowski, during what was clearly his most ambitious project and what he had hoped would be his comeback movie, has created renewed interest in the man and his career. As eulogized in the magazine Today's Weather, “The impact of his genius upon the current minimalist school of filmmaking and upon our appreciation of precipitation in general cannot be overestimated.”

To understand the man and his unique personal perspective, described by most film critics as “Magically idiosyncratic” and by most of the film-going public as “Puzzling at best,” we must examine his life and work.

There are three events from his childhood that are universally acknowledged to have been crucial in shaping his consciousness and devastating in their long-term traumatic impact. The first, of course, was the gift of an intricately carved and elaborately wrapped rain gauge, presented to him at his first birthday by his favorite uncle, Uncle John, whom the family refused to speak to ever again. This early association of weather with both love and loss was further ingrained upon Stanley at age 5, when his father abandoned the family, leaving only his umbrella. Finally, the disappearance of his snowflake collection from its locked case must be seen as the most significant influence in Stanley's lifelong ambivalence regarding the joys and treachery inherent in both relationships and weather.

As his sister recalls, “He had hundreds of little bottles of water, all clearly marked with locations, dates and times. His ‘rain collection’ he called them. Our relationship? I don’t think he ever truly believed I wasn’t to blame for the disappearance of his snowflake collection. I remember our mother pleading with him, 'Stanley, stop crying. Nobody took them. They just melted. We’ll buy you more.'”

She paused and a tear ran down her cheek as she thought about her late brother. “He was a strange kid.”

The unique joy Stanley found in weather could not have been expected to have been shared by his peers. All too often, when Stanley shared his snowball collection, carefully preserved in the family's freezer, with another child, that child would throw one, deliberately destroying it beyond repair. Stanley would be inconsolable in his tears of hurt and anger. Ultimately, he chose to withdraw from others, devoting himself to his system for classifying icicles.

If, however, these early traumas were formative, so were his successes.

He became active on his school newspaper, The Weather Vane, and soon had his own column, Dew Point.

“Nobody read it,” his High School English teacher recalls, “but it kept him from getting the crap beat out of him after class.”

It was during his freshman year at the University of Tucson that Stanley’s life took the direction that would bring so much moisture to the American screen. Working odd jobs, such as shoveling snow, he was offered his first acting job with an avant-garde film company.

“I stood there with a hose shooting water over my head, playing the William Tell overture on a kazoo,” he wrote in his celebrated autobiography Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Showers Later in the Day. “Within twenty seconds, I had destroyed five thousand dollars worth of equipment, but I was hooked on filmmaking.”

It was as a graduate student with combined majors in Meteorology and Cinema that he made his first independent film, Snow. Applauding it as “Poetic in its simplicity,” “Meltingly beautiful” and “White, oh so white,” critics were convinced that it would have taken major awards if it had been abbreviated from its original length of three-and-a-half hours to a short subject. Yet, it would be unrealistic to deny that first ugly undertone of criticism expressed at the time by the film critic for the magazine Downpour writing, “Enough with the snow already!”

Snow’s instant success in every state but Alaska permitted Stanley to demand the big budget that made his next production, Rain, possible. Rain was an even bigger success than Snow, although he almost died of pneumonia filming it.

Meanwhile, Stanley’s family life had begun to deteriorate. He had married Suzy Bigguns, chief meteorologist for the Illinois television channel WWET, but what had started as sunshine and gentle breezes all too soon became thunder and lightning.

Stanley’s daughter, Windy, recalls, “Dad used to shout at her, ‘You call yourself a meteorologist? You wouldn’t know a stratocumulus from your elbow!' Mom would fight back with ‘Snowballs! That's all you got, snowballs!'" Stanley’s son, Hail, has refused to comment.

Not surprisingly, Stanley was ripe to be seduced by Lola Abramowitz. Friends describe their relationship as “hazy, hot and humid,” and it was Lola who got Stanley hooked on cocaine.

When he went into his drug rehabilitation program, the tabloids ran headlines like Rain man or snow man? Stanley’s experiences in rehab were harsh, and staff recall him sitting in the day room shouting obscenities at the weather channel.

Upon his discharge, Stanley rededicated himself to his vision of making the joys of weather accessible to everyone.

But the American public no longer shared his passion for the complexities of precipitation.

His movie Sleet got only a trickle of responses.

Worse, Stanley found himself satirized by the movie Slush.

Perhaps it was desperation that drove him to make his last and greatest film, Tornado.

Stanley was last seen rising over Kansas, whirling and filming. He was found in Nebraska, still clutching the camera with a smile of triumph on his up-turned face.

Tornado's posthumous showing brought meteorologists, critics and the American public alike to their feet.

His obituary in The American Meteorologist read, “He died a weatherman’s death.”

It was Stanley's wish to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered to the four winds.

At the small ceremony, attended by his children and the few friends he had left, Windy expressed her belief, “If there’s a rainbow in Heaven, Dad’s sitting under it.”

As the urn was opened and the ashes dispersed on the warm summer's breeze, Hail, breaking his silence, offered closure to his father's life with, “Dry at last. Dry at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m dry at last.”

 


© Copyright 2018 Stephen Loomis. All rights reserved.

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