Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friendly Ghosts With Normal Names.

Had another dream last night.

My old friend Ed was there.  He had that grin that can only be described as "Sh** Eating." 

He was a handsome devil, no denying; and that grin seemed to indicate a greater knowledge of things than you, the recipient of that grin, could ever hope to have.

Most times, that was true.

When I woke up, the only thing going through my head were, of couse, a quote from my favorite Missouri writer.

"Upon arrival do not speak to St. Peter until spoken to. It is not your place to begin. 

You can ask him for his autograph -- there is no harm in that -- but be careful and don't remark that it is one of the penalties of greatness. He has heard that before.

Don't try to Kodak him. Hell is full of people who have made that mistake.

Leave your dog outside. Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit you would stay out and the dog would go in."

And as I have said before, a few times.....if there isn't something after this, that enables me to see again those that have gone before me, I'm going to be plenty pissed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Night at the Hills.

As some of you know, I don’t go to movie theatres much anymore. I enjoy a good movie, and I suppose I like the big screen well enough, but the modern sound design tends to make me edgy; and I cannot enjoy a movie if I’m crawling out of my own skin.

I have many good memories of movie theatres around the country, for in my wild and wayward youth, I did a lot of traveling, and I did attend my share of films.

I can remember an old movie theatre in Chillicothe OH, that would do midnight showings for the cast of an outdoor drama I was doing there back in the 1980’s. There were, I think, 150 people in the cast, so the theatre owners weren’t exactly losing money on the deal, but it was an opportunity to see first run films after hours. I saw GHOSTBUSTERS there. Still one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. When the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man came around the corner, I literally fell out of my chair with laughter. I sat next to a pretty girl who tried to teach me sign language. That particular summer was filled with all sorts of wonders.

I can remember the old Budd Theatre in Harrison, MI; it was a rare treat to see a movie during those trips to the cabin; usually delegated to a weekend night during my Father’s two week vacations. Sometimes, they would drop off the whole brood to see some children’s based movie…and to prove my age, I can tell you I saw the theatrical release of H.R. PUFFENSTUF. For some reason, however, I remember that they ran several previews of movies that were decidedly NOT children-friendly; there was one called THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, which I learned later in life was about a violent gang of miners in the coal country of Pennsylvania.

Yikes. I can remember nightmares of being buried in coal far beneath the surface of the earth.

I wish I would’ve had a more finely honed idea of what PUFFENSTUF was alllllll about. Well. I found out about that too. Later.

Oh, and don’t get me started on GONE WITH THE WIND. My Mother took us to see it when it was re-released to theatres back in the 70’s for some Anniversary or other…..I still have to leave the room when they’re in Atlanta, cutting off the brave soldier’s leg. You don’t see anything but shadows, and you hear the sounds, but oh….that scene made an impression on me for….well…..almost forty years.

But my favorite memory of movie-going is the old Hills Theatre in downtown Rochester, MI. You can’t argue with the memories of your hometown. It was an eight hundred seat theatre with one screen that died from the community’s infection of multi-plexes. But it had the neon sign and it smelled like popcorn, and you could listen to the soundtrack of the film from the lobby. And the ushers still wore uniforms, and the chairs were red cloth that didn’t rock.

My best friend Drake and I would walk from his house, through the park, and down Main street to the theatre on any given summer night, weather and parents permitting. The ticket seller sat in the little glass booth facing the sidewalk, looking so much like Zoltar the Great, dishing out tickets through the little hole in the bottom of the front glass, enter the lobby with the red and black carpet; buy your popcorn with real butter and a drink…and perhaps some Junior Mints because you can’t go to a movie without them…..find a seat about halfway down, in the middle, and off you go……

The last movie we saw together there was THE REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER. I still have a great love for the Sellers movies; but even after Drake and I went our separate ways (different high schools will do that to you; it’s the age of things, isn’t it?) I still went to that theatre rather than any other in the city; it was more homey….and by the end of its tenure, it was doing double features.

It went away in the mid-eighties, I think; they sold the building and remodeled, and now it’s some kind of multi-store mini-mall thing that I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in. The funny thing is, by the middle of the 1990’s, all the multi-plexes that brought about the downfall would be gone, as well

. But the memories of popcorn and Swashbucklers, and John Wayne and Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore and even that awful, AWFUL, SGT PEPPER movie with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton live on forever.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Waiting for the Repairman, or Somebody Like Him.

We had a little power outage near the end of the night, and when the power surged back on, there were several systems still offline.  Fortunately, we still had impulse power and inertial dampeners were unaffected, and life support was at 95%.

So, I'm awaiting for engineering to make repairs.

This is, in fact, my 700th posting.  And I wish I had something significant to say.

But it's Friday, the sun is out and the sky is a lovely blue.  The grass is green, and somewhere in the neighborhood, somebody is mowing.  Some of the sprinklers are going in that rhythmic "t-chk t-chk" sound.  I have no plans, no immediate chores (other than waiting for the Repairman) and I do have a pile of books waiting.

Let's just see how Ace Atkins handles Parker's Spenser.

I hope it's good.

I miss Spenser.

Oh, look.  There's a lawn chair calling out to me.

See you at 701.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This is so uninteresting, I actually fell alseep writing it....

I was recently in a meeting.

Meetings can be give and take here at the Pancake building in the Capital City of the Northern State.  Sometimes, they can be productive.  Most of the times, they can be drawn out, beating to death each and every subject.

Kinda like all those Faculty Meetings I used to have to sit through.  People sitting around using fifty dollar words.

I kept thinking...."when, eventually, the Alzheimer's Disease gets me, I'm going to forget everything....but THIS....FREAKIN'.....MEETING."

Monday, June 11, 2012

A wilted little plea, repeated.

One of my favorite lines from CYRANO:

I carry my adornments on my soul.
I do not dress up like a popinjay;
But inwardly, I keep my daintiness.
I do not bear with me, by any chance,
An insult not yet washed away—a conscience
To rags, a set of scruples badly worn.
I go caparisoned in gems unseen,
Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded
With my good name—no figure of a man,
But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung
With deeds for decorations, twirling—thus—
A bristling wit, and swinging at my side
Courage, and on the stones of this old town
Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!

Far too many people are living out loud with nothing significant to say; except, perhaps, "look at me."

And I realize that there are times when the cannons need to thunder; there are times when the voices have got to reach to the sky.

But in deeds we shall be remembered.

And if not now......

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Pirate Looks at Fifty.

I love this song.

It hits home more and more as I approach the age I never expected to achieve.

I picture myself standing atop a mountain of sand, pirate hat cocked jauntily 'pon my head, eye firmly patched, a rubber sword brandished high above my head, shouting like Lear in the teeth of the storm... 

I. Regret. NOTHING.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The October Country......

My Uncle, my Mother's Brother, was the catalyst for the longest sustained love affair of my entire life.

It started with a Christmas present; he bequeathed to me several paperback books.

They sat on a shelf for several months, until my annual illness fell upon me, and I spent a week recovering in bed from....let's see....I believe that time, it was mononucleosis.  Wicked stuff, that.

So, because there was no cable television, and the afternoon television schedule was abysmal for a teenage boy, I cracked open the book.

And thus it began.


Oh, it was delightful.  Out, far beyond the tiny universe that was my sickbed, in fact the tiny world that was a teenage boys life, I flew.  Each new story in the series gave me chills, or laughter, or thoughts of a deeper nature than I had ever thought before.   But it was more than that....I could taste the air, and feel the red sand of Mars beneath my feet as I followed in the tracks of the first explorers, and the natives of the red planet.

That led to SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and the crisp October air, and the sound of a calliope from that deceptively evil carnival run by Mr. Cooger and Mr. Dark  That Pandemonium Shadow Show.....

And for thirty seven years, I collected everything he wrote.  I dined on it, I feasted upon each story, each image....and when the banquet was over, I longed for more.

He told a story once, when the author was a young man, he attended a fortune teller who told him that he would live forever.  And he lived as if he was going to.

And in my heart of hearts, I hoped he always would.

Mr. Bradbury departed for the next chapter early this morning at the age of 91.  He leaves behind a large contingent of die-hard fans, and one man who still occasionally becomes that young boy in the sickbed, reading with new-found fascination at the wonders of worlds only dreamt of....

Godspeed, Ray.

Eternal thanks.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The echo of a long remembered song.

Here I am again, in this smokey place with my brandy eyes....
I'm talking to myself.

I remember a time when all I needed in the world on a weekend was ten bucks.  Ten bucks would buy two tickets to a movie and a pizza afterward.

That feeling, waking up on a Saturday morning with nothing on your mind but what you were going to do that day, without the pesky responsibilities interfering with the good time.

Not that I needed the city sounds and the city lights and surround sound in the movie theatre and the sounds and lights of the pub.  I was also perfectly content staring into a bonfire as a thousand thousand stars made their presence known on a cool summer's evening.

Things have changed.

Ten bucks won't even park your car these days.

The kids along the Cedar road have grown up; some have families and there are new children on the Cedar road and new places built along the way.

You can carry your phone in your pocket and you can get movies on them.

The world has gotten warmer, and colder somehow.

But give me a bonfire and the sound of the river going by; give me a phone to chuck into the corner and ignore for awhile; give me a thousand thousand stars to gaze at in wide-eyed wonder.

Give me all of that and I can get through another day, or a week or a month.

Or as long as it takes.