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My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

To drag me to Hell: Drag me to DRAG ME TO HELL.

Just broke out a fresh box of Fruity Pebbles. I should've let 'em age a bit longer. Taste more like Spacely Sprockets.

Hmm, so far, no new Twitter Followers. 49,786 to go. 17 minutes left. Hurry! ... I guess everybody is stuck in traffic...

Blockbuster has alerted me: "PAUL BLART: MALL COP and DEXTER Have Arrived." All evolution & the struggle of mankind bring us to this glory

News Item: "Man Calls 911 Because Orange Juice Missing from McDonald's Order" ... Cops say he was beaten to pulp in the wrong way.

It's a small town. We don't rate a Pep Boys w/Manny, Moe & Jack. We've got a knock-off: Klep Boys w/Fingers, Woe & The Neck.

News Item: "Man fined for sending poop through the mail." ... Tail Mail.

News Item: Music producer Phil Spector sentenced 19 years to life for murder. His hairdresser executed at dawn. Rinse. Repeat.

Watched THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (1941). I'm told Daniel Webster is related to me, distant cousin or something. He never writes.

@frannycats asks "What's the difference between cat hair and cat fur?" ...To me? Or Cruella de Vil?

I feel a major napp coming on. It's correctly spelled with two p's. There could be all caps...

Some woman on TV is telling me she's "reusing catheters" for the rest of her life. Lady, I just tuned in here for the chance of precip.

@DaveMalby asks, "How many men actually buy stuff out of the vending machines in the men's restroom?" ..I've stopped. The mints are rubbery.

Snubbed in Comedians on Twitter list. I'd be sandwiched between @frandrescher & @jimmyfallon. Either way, I'm in a pickle.

I was really expecting more Followers this hour. 49,786 to go. Five minutes left. The buffet is starting to turn. Yellow mayo, is that bad?

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Fright Night

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatGood grief. I was up all night, holding Morty's paw. I told that boy not to watch spooky movies.

The horror, the horror...

"Whack-a-Kitty" via YouTube


'House of Hits,' Then and Now

Continued From: "Michael's 'Navy'," "'A Hard Day's' Plight," "Tales From the Dark Slide: The Lost Picture Shows," "What a Way to Beau," and "'How the West Was' Run."

I am a student of movie advertising, fascinated by the art of the coming attractions trailers, posters, and print ads. I peruse the displays in newspapers for extended periods and remember doing so in earnest as early as age eight. That's when I noticed the Plaza Theatre had its own slogan.

There it is, the ever-present, "House of Hits."

How cool is that? No other theatre in Atlanta dared boast such a high platitude upon itself, which was strange, considering other theatres ran the same mix of pictures as the Plaza.

Few, if any, were knowingly and actively booking flops, seeking the title of "House of Bombs."

Oh, the Fox did brag conceit about its fabulousness and being "The South's Finest," but those were descriptions of environment, not the product on the silver screen.

Much like the Capri, or I should say, "The Comfortable Capri," a curious, milquetoast claim.

That's the best they could come up with?

So, if the Fox is "fabulous" and the Capri is "comfortable," we're comparing a tuxedo to a muu-muu and bunny slippers.

I've got news for them. The Capri was never comfortable. It was somewhere between a wedgie and flesh caught in a zipper.

Truth be told, few of us buy tickets to look at the interior design or lavish in relaxation splendor. We purchase admission to see a particular show and it had better score!

The Plaza believed, apparently, the world revolved around it, so competitors would have to be content to acknowledge their subordinate status to the bold, overlordy "House of Hits," settling for lesser slogans, such as, "Tool Shed of Hits," "Garage Apartment of Hits," Mother-in-Law Cottage of Hits," "Slave Quarters of Hits," or "Hash House of Hits, Now With Butter Squirts."

Obviously, such verbiages could sap too much valuable advertising space. I, frankly, don't recall seeing these particular bombasts used. Any possible exhibitors' turf war was fought in private.

"House of Hits" are the three little words I remember most from throughout the 1960s. Unfortunately, the catchphrase ceased to apply during the next decade, as the Plaza dabbled and splashed in the seedy cinematic underbelly of skin flicks. The beloved term, altered slightly, made way for, the obvious, "House of Hims."

Actually, I don't comprehend what happened to the slogan. Whatever the new wording became, they probably chickened out like I did. Titular decisions are problematic.

For the past four decades, since the Plaza dropped the phrase, I've been known to answer my humble abode's telephone, "House of Hits."

I like the sound and, subsequently, no one ever inquires about "Ishtar," "Hudson Hawk," nor "Howard the Duck."

In recent years, I've drifted to answering my phones with either "Funhouse," "Funmobile," or "FunWalmart," depending on the globetrotting.

I do drop in the occasional "House of Hits" for sentimental reasons and to keep the franchise alive. Use it or lose it.

In closing, I know this story had you at "House of Hits," but I thought you might also be interested in my preferred method to conclude telephone conversations.

Because "Good-bye" is so shopworn, so 1920, so civil, I opt for either "Plenty Free Parking" or "Member F.D.I.C."

It all depends on my mood and area financial regulations.

Plaza Theatre marquee photo by dbking, Creative Commons license.
1964 movie theatre ads courtesy The Stan Malone Collection. Closed Mondays.


'How the West Was' Run

Continued From: "Michael's 'Navy'," "'A Hard Day's' Plight," "Tales From the Dark Slide: The Lost Picture Shows," and "What a Way to Beau"

This newspaper advertisement, dated Aug. 5, 1964, is for a suburban showcase "at popular prices" of "How the West Was Won," following its initial 30-week CINERAMA engagement at Martin Cinerama Theatre, downtown Atlanta, the previous year.

As luck would have it, when I discovered the ad, I was listening to Alfred Newman's glorious "How the West Was Won" score.

Yep, I'm a cowboy.

Still no pony, though.

Giddyup. The Cobb Center Theatre, a large shopping mall installation, was newish at this point, a thousand-seat beauty.

Giddyup. The last time I was in the area, the enterprise had long been closed, ravaged in graffiti, broken glass, high weeds, and a posted condemnation notice. It looked like a slum. I snapped my fingers in a steady beat and waited for the Sharks and the Jets to pirouette by.

I did a little divertissement, an arabesque and danse de caractère into my car, and drove away -- but with a sneer and disheveled sweatshirt.

MGM's "How the West Was Won" was the last of the 3-strip CINERAMA productions, meaning the epic had been photographed with a trio of synchronized cameras, placed adjacent to one another to grab their portions of the BIG pictures.

The finished movie, shown from interlocked 35mm projectors, had each machine beaming one-third of the collective image onto a mammoth deep-curved screen. The jolt was CINERAMA managed to extend the action to the edges of the viewer's peripheral vision. It was a precursor to virtual reality entertainment.

Only a handful of theatres were equipped for the full-scale CINERAMA treatment, so after the initial "How the West Was Won" playdates, the three sections of footage were combined and printed onto a single strip of 35mm celluloid to exhibit in ordinary cinemas on their essentially flat, significantly smaller screens. Today, this cheat is known as Fake IMAX.

No, not really, but I feel better. The visual resolution and manipulation was not true CINERAMA and, surely, it was a disappointment to witness, even in a nice venue like the Cobb Center.

Elsewhere, going forward, the official CINERAMA theatres featured special one-strip 70mm, deep-curve projection, as first hatched via "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" and "Circus World." Now peddling blow-ups of traditional films, the revised, less clunky, less expensive process was never as viscerally successful as pure CINERAMA, although worthwhile. The era burned out with "Krakatoa, East of Java," five years down the hole.

Readers are highly recommended to view the Blu-ray digital restoration of "How the West Was Won," which has a stunning transfer, cleverly suggesting the deep-curve of the intended cinematography and presentation.

I've seen "HTWWW" six times in actual CINERAMA performances, as recently as 2003 in Los Angeles' CINERAMA Dome. Sitting up close, centered adjacent to the TV, watching the "Smilebox" edition on a 46-inch 1080p set is nearly as satisfying as being plunked into the "sweet spot" at a CINERAMA theatre. (The standard 2008 DVD has its rewards, too.)

In some ways, such as image clarity, brightness, and absence of format distractions, the video experience is better. I could smell the buffalo and Eli Wallach, so, darn it, they've gone too far.

Related: "Cinerama Holiday" | "It's the Bass Bass Bass Bass Words"

Thanks to Stan Malone


What a Way to Beau

Continued From: "Michael's 'Navy'," "'A Hard Day's' Plight," and "Tales From the Dark Slide: The Lost Picture Shows"

One of those 1960s' sex romps delivering more tease than T's, "What a Way to Go," was playing in Atlanta's finest movie theatre when "A Hard Day's Night" and "McHale's Navy" came to town. Top heavy with perky stars, no one could fault The Fabulous Fox passing on the singers and the sailors for the swingers.

Weeks later, we presented "What a Way to Go" at my employer's Emory Theatre.

I spent a long Saturday in the basement, spray-painting 450 or so large metal alphabet letters fire-engine red to spruce up the neon marquee over the street entrance.

I listened to Shirley MacLaine and her lover boys cuddling and smooching, show after show, as the soundtrack squeezed through the cracks in the wooden auditorium floor above my head. The package was a perfect, ear-opening mating lesson for a 12-year-old lad: the birds and the bees and the buzz.

Inhaling can after can of spray paint fumes can do that.

And explains why to this day before I sex romp, I shake it vigorously until I hear a tiny ball roll around inside.

Special thanks to Stan Malone


Big Weekend

I've never been one to speak of prowess in the bedroom, but my warm spot left me.


My Quest for the Perfect Potato Salad Is Over

The Ross Sisters: "Solid Potato Salad" from "Broadway Rhythm" (1944) via YouTube



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My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

This just in: VIAGRA Official Site has emailed me. Frankly, I'm not up for it.

@rawpodcasts asks "Are Cheerios not the greatest midnight snack?" ... Close, but Cheetos is the answer.

@frannycats sez: "Hey guys! Lay off.. Real men do love cats, ya know? I've been preaching that for yrs." Amen, sister! I've got the vapors..

I put some Greenies treats on the floor for my cat. Honestly, he sniffed them and then made cover-up gestures over them!

At 65MPH, a ladder fell off a truck & my wife ran over it! She & the car are unharmed, but there's your stairway to heaven.

My wife says, if I eat all my lunch, she'll give me a bonus Shed Ender! Don't know if that's for me or the lasagna, though.

News Item: "Man Falls Off Bridge While Urinating." ... Well, somebody's got to say it. Might as well be me. ... *ahem* ... What a way to go.

News Item: In Austria, "eagle mugs woman, takes purse." Those were a flew of my favorite things...

It's been a long time since I've picked up a newspaper. The daily comics are now in color! Best technical achievement ever!

News Item: "Granny has vaginal surgery to snag young husband." Well, that was an unfortunate use of the language.

Hoping to reach 50,000 Followers within the hour. Only 49,816 to go! Whew, being me is dizzy.

Just followed @sniffyjenkins, mainly because I don't meet many Sniffys. My used pocket squares supplier & Sniffy. That's 2.

A fawn ran out in front of my car. I slowed, missed. Then some hick passed me, yelling "L'ARN TEW DRAHVE!" I hollered back, "LEARN TO TALK!"

The worst part of growing older is no one "Daddy-Os" me.

Personally, I find weed-whacking to be quite romantic. The strolling violins do help.

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Tales From the Dark Slide: The Lost Picture Shows

Continued From: "Michael's 'Navy'" and "'A Hard Day's' Plight"

Looking at the movie pages of "The Atlanta Constitution," Aug. 5, 1964, it's interesting to see the heading, "Now Playing: Atlanta's Finest Drive-In Theatres." "Finest" meaning, of course, those businesses willing to fork over the costly advertising fees for inclusion.

There are 16 venues listed in the "Drive-in Ladder," which fills nearly an entire column of newsprint, however there were more theatres on the landscape. By 1965, at the peak of the drive-in boom, approximately 25 sites operated in the greater metropolitan outdoors.

Increasing real estate values, daylight saving time, video cassette recorders, cable TV, and a shrinkage in family-friendly fare were among the villains in the demise of drive-ins, beginning in the late '60s. I'm convinced the corn dogs did not help.

Only one drive-in has survived, the Starlight. No longer known as the "Twin Starlight," it was reconfigured years ago into twin triple Starlights with six total screens.

As a projectionist, I loved the drive-ins. I've said many times, there's nothing quite like running a movie at two o'clock on a warm, breezy summer morn, standing outside beneath the stars and a full moon, watching a panoramic western unfold.

I operated the equipment in eight of these theatres during the 1970s, as part-time income and mostly for fun.

1. South Expressway -- My first night ever for the local projectionists' union was here, showing 35mm "Paint Your Wagon," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," and a color cartoon. It was a Sunday in May, two weeks before I graduated from high school. Six-hour show. 9 p.m. start. Three reels repeated for the late arrivals, another hour. Oh, and that cartoon again, another seven minutes. Twenty-plus miles from bed. Me, driving Mom's Chevy Nova on the Interstate, alone. A school night. Life was good.

2. Roosevelt -- Amazingly, this early drive-in never upgraded to a modern widescreen, so all post-1953 movies were shrunk, "letterboxed" to fit. Tiny, but nice. Park real, real close.

My initial program: Steve McQueen in "The Reivers" and John Wayne and Rock Hudson in "The Undefeated."

3. South Starlight -- Legend says this is Atlanta's first drive-in. I played a triple feature of little-known schlock horror retreads on my first night and "Apocalypse Now" nine years later, the last.

This is the only theatre I ever worked where a customer offered me marijuana for pointing him to the toilet.

I told him, "No, thanks."

I was afeared of the Corn Dog Munchies.

4. Northeast Expressway -- First movies: "Vanishing Point" and Jacqueline Bisset in "The Sweet Ride."

Yuck, the many years of eating those bad cardboard pizzas. That explains my high cholesterol and my pepperonis.

5. Bankhead -- The projection room was inside the snack bar building. Unbeknown to me, a marauder broke in after hours and stole cases of raw meat out of the kitchen freezer while I was showing "Scream, Blacula, Scream!" or something less educational, 40 feet away and near the condiments.

Remarkably, the corn dogs were left unscathed.

6. Scott -- The closest location to my childhood home and the sentimental favorite. The single night I was on the payroll was the worst stretch of my career. The Scott was a junk equipment nightmare. I don't recall the mediocre titles on view, but the plethora of technical problems besmirched my doubly romantic memories of "Munster Go Home" and "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," emanating previously from this very shrine.

7. Thunderbird -- A one-shot guest appearance for me, unspooling the inaugural Billy Jack, "Born Losers," and another American-International time killer / soul snatcher.

The Thunderbird screen was centered under the landing pattern into the nearby Atlanta airport, busiest in the world. Low flying, extraordinarily loud, immensely terrifying jets weren't annoying at all between the every four minutes. I waxed nostalgic for old-fashioned howling babies interrupting a movie.

8. Glenwood -- I calendared three years in that bunker, one night per week, starting with "Smokey and the Bandit." The job wasn't a lure financially, but it had well-maintained big boy toys.

Although I worried for my safety amongst the irate customers on an unfortunate 4th of July, I couldn't help but smile when our frantic crew failed to ignite their huge, damp fireworks display. "And now, enjoy 'The Boatniks!'"

Coming Soon to a Drive-in I Could Be Near

I may inquire about substituting for a night at the North Starlight, the final drive-in and one I missed. (In projectionist terms, the North and South Starlight are separate operations.) I checked out the North booth in 1972 and got called away, missing the gig. I feel like I owe 'em.

And then they can close.

Special thanks to Stan Malone


'A Hard Day's' Plight

Continued From: "Michael's 'Navy'"

On the day "McHale's Navy" opened in theatres, Aug. 5, 1964, a little something long-anticipated by salivating youths entered release, too. The Beatles' first motion picture, "A Hard Day's Night" was one of those items with minimal box office expectations from The Man.

The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night newspaper ad, Atlanta

In metropolitan Atlanta, it premiered in 11 drive-ins and five neighborhood hardtops for a one-week run, a sign of no faith from the studio and exhibitors. There was no downtown movie palace prestige and trendy Lenox Square, which had the exclusive claim to all United Artists' films of the era, chose to continue with their 8th hold-over week of UA's surprise success, "The Pink Panther."

"A Hard Day's Night" was dumped into second and third tier venues for quick exploitation, a pattern, reportedly, employed across America. Audiences sought the film anyway and John, George, Paul, and Ringo became A-list movie stars, much to the befuddlement of head-scratching industry executives. "Help" was soon on the way.

My theatre, the Emory, acquired "A Hard Day's Night," the following week. I was excited to see the flick and spent much of my free time watching from the observation window in the manager's office, where I could scrutinize and hear the picture and the crowds.

Much of my working time involved inventing much of my free time.

The main memory I have is the boisterous screaming of the adolescent girls attending the matinees, already a Beatlemania cliché -- but, hey, adolescent girls! (My own teendom was pending, months to come. Zits need not apply.)

One afternoon audience was so noisy, it seems, a 2-by-3-ft. ceiling tile vibrated and dislodged into the second row seats below. No one was hurt. Cool dust POOF!

The Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat booking ended. It'd been "A Hard Day's Night" and I'd been working like a puppy.

Related: "100 Things About Me #159: Neat, The Beatles" | "100 Things About Me #128: The Flab One Meets the Fab Four" | "A Hard Day's Patsy"
Thanks to Stan Malone


Michael's 'Navy'

My friend Stan stumbled upon a carton of vintage newspapers recently. Remembering I had worked in a movie theatre during elementary school, he phoned to ask me a trivia question derived from "The Atlanta Constitution."

"Do you know what you were showing at the Emory on Aug. 5, 1964?"

I thought back 45 years and, without hesitation, said, "McHale's Navy"?

There was a long pause. Silence.

"Don't ever tell me how you think you're losing your memory, again," he snapped.

I giggled, "Good guess, huh?"

I have a solid grasp of my youth, but I have to read back to see what I wrote in the last paragraph. I'm absent-minded recalling the freshly-minted past.

Um. Yeah. "McHale's Navy." I see. Yeah, I remember that week vividly. My family was vacationing near Charleston, SC on Sullivan's Island, our annual retreat. I was distraught I was not present for the "McHale's Navy" engagement, all-new and based on the hit TV series and -- for the first time -- in color!

When I returned to Atlanta and scooted to the Emory Theatre, a half mile from my home, I learned of a phenomenal, unanticipated occurrence. "McHale's Navy" had sold-out several shows and many disgruntled customers, who were lined down the street and around the corner, were turned away at the door.

During my tenure on the staff, I had never seen any assembly reach full house proportions in the 492-seat auditorium, nicely accessorized with a snarling mob scene outside.

Oh, there was that one night, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, when we had standing room only for "PT 109," his biography, but no fisticuffs were threatened at the box office from unruly parents behaving badly for their children.

The promise of armed combat with our elderly, no-nonsense ticket cashier, Mrs. Holloway -- well, there's an Indiana Jones movie for you.

I was 12, so, I mean, I was a legendary observer of the show business. This capacity news was astounding and I had missed it! I was crushed.

The next summer, I was in town and ready to wrangle customers when we played the highly-anticipated sequel, "McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force," but the crowds didn't come.

Gee, Lt. Cmdr. McHale (Ernest Borgnine) didn't even bother to make the picture.

This time, it seemed everyone was on shore leave, but me.

Thanks to Stan Malone



Follow Mike on Twitter

My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

News Item: "'Spray-on Viagra' helps men last six times longer." And eggs don't stick to the pants.

About that "'Spray-on Viagra' helps men last 6 times longer." Are we talking time or expanse? I may need to pack a lunch and roller skates.

@LNSmithee asks "SIX times longer? You mean that 4-hr warning is now a 24-hr warning?" Seems so. I may need caffeine & a caddy.

News Item: "Radio Shack Employee Arrested for Punching Customer." Some people don't know their place. Supposed to be the other way around.

I may have been in a tornado. It happened fast. All I remember is everything below my belt was spinning counterclockwise.

My "Mommy"s came out "YmmoM!"

The bad storm, possible tornado, came and I was Twittering. I know my priorities, gang. I'm solid!

Back from the dump. Resisting protocol, I drove to the opposite side of the dumpster to toss the garbage. Keepin' it fresh!

News Item: "New beach shoes combine high heels and flippers." Ah, yes, the Flump.

A big cookout across our creek... I can smell the wieners. I'm a vegetarian. I wish they'd go inside to smoke those things.

Discovered I have a gallon of out-of-date milk. I'm not panicking. Solution: FROOT LOOPSATHON! I'm a genius (who forgot to buy Froot Loops).

Homemade Froot Loops are not an option. I think there's lead in the spray paint.

News Item: "Pregnant woman tries to rob bank." Midcrook heard coaching, "Breathe... steal! ... Breathe... steal! ... Breathe... steal!..."

Just now I was involved in a high-speed chase, but I got my li'l tinkly bell back from the cat.

Heading off to bed... It's my nightmares' season finale!

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Cartoon Carnival in Outer Space!

Daffy Duck and Marvin the Martian in "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century" (Chuck Jones, 1953) via Yahoo! Video

Mr. Magoo in "Destination Magoo" (Pete Burness, 1954) via YouTube

Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian in "Haredevil Hare" (Chuck Jones, 1948) via YouTube


'Star Trek' Is Way Fool: The IMAX Experience

Well, they got me. I've always been a proponent of truth in advertising, so this newspaper blurb for "Star Trek" has things stated exactly right.

Here's what caught my eye and lured me to the theatre:


So, I did. I drove the 62 miles to the AMC Barrett Commons 24, north of Atlanta, and, indeed, I experienced "Star Trek" in IMAX for a limited time.

The problem is it is the recently installed digital IMAX projection that is "limited."

And done intentionally to dupe customers!

We, the audience, are having "a limited time," as in "an inadequate, short, cramped, diminished, faulty, ineffectual, insufficient, little, mean, minimal, narrow, paltry, poor, reduced, restricted, small, unsatisfactory time."* Our viewing session is flaccid.

I learned later upon research, nicely explained in this article, "Is IMAX the Next 'New Coke'?" from "LF Examiner," "The Independent Journal of the Large Format Motion Picture Industry," that AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas have stooped to join the scheme of the once respectable IMAX firm.

Their plot is to put significantly downscaled screens and projection into wee, lacking auditoriums not constructed for the huge IMAX experience typified in the 80-by-60-foot images (or larger!) as have been standard in true IMAX outlets for years and years, building the IMAX brand and the public's expectations.

Next, they slap the IMAX name to their on-the-cheap renovations and raise your ticket prices to a premium. You, the public, after all, are idiots. That's exactly what they think of you. Look what you pay for their snack bar hijackings.

Being a professional projectionist, my lifelong trade, I can easily say these new, digital IMAX operations (not the superior 15/70mm film outlets) are, comparatively, like looking at a copier snapshot print-out instead of a beautifully detailed wall portrait.

I'll be the first to admit the digital IMAX presentations are a vast improvement over what you'll see up on the screens inside most multiplex auditoriums of the 21st century. I was thrilled on one hand for the boost, but the nefarious practice of forcing customers to pay an admission surcharge -- in my case, $4 per ticket -- expecting definitive IMAX is a scam!

We're told the ticket increase is for the honor of viewing IMAX, but these installations are not full-featured IMAX, they are IMAX Lite, as I've named it. Other unhappy customers, writing online, refer to the hoax as "Fake IMAX" and, the technically accurate, "Bullshit IMAX."

When you are being chumped a full IMAX surcharge for an inferior product without forewarning, that is fraud. I'm up for a class action suit, if anyone cares to start one.

Being as I write about humor, that would be funny.

I've worked for a wide, crusty crowd of disreputable theatre executives over the decades, but these IMAX cheats, once my projection heroes, are despicable, whoring weasels.

That goes for you, too, AMC and Regal.

Good gracious, don't get me started on Regal Cinemas!

Beware at a theatre near you.

*Thanks, Thesaurus.com


Big Day

I ate a box of "Star Trek" cereal to boldly go where no man has gone before.

That's right. The ladies' room at the QuikTrip, Jasper, GA.


Thoughts During Ian Fleming's 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'

I visited the Fox Theatre a few evenings after my "Gone With the Wind" projection gig, as a civilian to see the national tour of Ian Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" stage production. Some thoughts, while focusing on the show:
  • James Bond's nickname, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," was coined in 1962 by a journalist. 007's creator, Fleming, based his 1964 children's book on the 1920s' car known as "Chitty Bang Bang."

    "That's an unbelievable coincidence," I smirked, munching hot, buttered bang-bangcorn.

  • This musical is excellent, better than the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" film, keeping many parts. I'm so thankful it's in color!

  • If I had a flying car, would Homeland Security make an air marshall ride shotgun? Or would he lurk incognito in a random seat to keep me guessing, "Is he or isn't he?"

  • When man landed on the moon, I was projecting the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" movie. By the end of this play, I came to dread facing the traditional all-nighter with Walter Cronkite again.

  • Did the flying Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ever go parking and do the bouncy-bouncy with the Flubber car?

  • Still waiting for Jane Jetson to be born, grow up, and share her weightless and fluffy cookie recipes.

  • With my fear of air travel, I'd never get a plane car. I'll stick to matter teleportation. It's the only way to fly.

  • But, mostly, I imagined a Truly Scrumptious pajama party with Pussy Galore, Honey Ryder, Mary Goodnight, and Plenty O'Toole.


Cryptic Notes to Self

"Here I am -- the latest Himbo to hit town."

"Living in sin with The Fruit of the Loom."

"Jury Duty Prep --

"Collect the pocket lint.

"Can I have your pocket lint?"

"Puppy Weaning Parfaits"

"Changing my name to 'Funky.'"


Big Weekend

Morty had an excellent check-up at the animal clinic on Saturday.

Although our boy tried to hide between the small of my back and the wall of the examination room, his doctor raved about Morty's health and physique and patient demeanor. So much so, he was gifted with a handful of Pounce treats and three toy mice to take home!

Morty spent the rest of the weekend meowing "Great cat!" around the house, repeating a comment the vet had written on the medical chart. We'll never hear the end of this one.


Mikellaneous: Movie Edition

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My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

Saw FLASH OF GENIUS about the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. Stoked me for the documentary on the creator of shoelace tips.

A 16-wheeler carrying huge sheets of glass tailed me on the freeway, causing me to brake for silent movie comedians.

Saw THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) in Blu-ray, which, of course, accentuates the young, hot, minxy Frances Bavier.

Gearing up for the frumpy Jennifer Connolly in the remake...



My wife says I'm too sarcastic. Huh? When she watched BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA, I said nothing, putting a puppy pad under the SONY. Nothing!

Today's Movie: BANDOLERO! (1968), filmed in part on John Wayne's THE ALAMO set. I've been there. Best Mexican meal ever! You go, Texas!


Saw movie: BREWSTER'S MILLIONS (1945), about a guy who must spend a million dollars quick. Today, he 'd amble out to the lobby for a snack.

TCM showing DR. NO. I remember seeing it in original release before any of us kids knew about 007. Cool. Made mental note re: bikinis, too.

Thinking of watching THE GODFATHER trilogy on HDnet Movies, if I can get my fedora blocked & pop 9.5 hrs of popcorn in time.

We're gonna need a bigger bowl!

Just In: "New beach shoes combine high heels and flippers." ... Hmm, didn't I see this on Cinemax? HOT WET DOLPHIN HOOKERS?

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Back to the Fab: Bygones With 'the Wind'

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #170: Fabulous Fun" and "Fox: In the Box"

Recently, Scott phoned from The Fabulous Fox, "Mike, come run 'Gone With the Wind' with me on Sunday."

"Aw, we don't need to do that, do we? Haven't we shown it enough?"

"Apparently, not," he said, considering our yearly unspoolings in the '80s and intermittent bookings since. I last showed the four-hour southern epic there 11 years ago and Scott: five. "Gone With the Wind" always delivers a crowd in Atlanta.

"Well, ohhhh-kay," I said in my little boy "don't wanna do chores and stuff, Mommy," voice.

And days later, after seven years on furlough, I was back, working the Fab.

Durrett and Rhett, together again. Scott and Sc'lett, too.

Frankly, I did give a damn, when I said, "What do you mean 'they're going to feed us'?"

"We get meals now, part of the deal," Scott explained, morphing into and out of Santa Claus. "We order. Theatre buys and delivers."

"If I had known that," I said, "I would've shown 'The Hottie and the Nottie' with you. 'The House Bunny,' even. I'm free 'Paul Blart, Mall Cop.'"

Soon, we were underway. On Scott's cue, I was to push the large, green, thumbs-optional buttons underneath the porthole. I prefer the thumbs to, say, an index and a pinky. My thumbs are powerful and exacting and seasoned veterans. I give the audience professionalism, knuckled strength, and, yes, humanity.

No awards, please. I was on the clock -- with hot sustenance and sporks to come.

Thumbs #1 and #2 punched, synchronized and cute, changing the bright light beams tilting down to the screen from the digitally-shown "Fox Theatre Feature Presentation" header over to the 70/35mm film projector.

As Max Steiner's stirring "Gone With the Wind" overture enveloped the audience, I heard myself say, "How do, Cap'n Butler!"

Adding, "Enough work, when do we eat?"

I've always been inquisitive.

"We've got to do the sound checks, first," Taskmaster Scott informed me. "You walk around the auditorium and listen. I'll stay here and adjust the levels, if need be," he said, presenting me with a portable two-way radio.

It took me a few minutes to negotiate the numerous stairways descending to the balcony and onto the main lobby floor, where I sharp right-turned and passed unobtrusively through the packed, mammoth orchestra audience to a position near the stage, underneath the screen.

Scarlett O'Hara squeezed into her swangin' hoop party frock. Scott whispered into his radio, "Mike, are you there?"

"Look! I'm walkie and I'm talkie! Now, you walkie and talkie, Taskmaster Scott. I'm walkie and talkie! Are you walkie and talkie?"

"Good, Brian Regan, ha, funny. It's the Civil War, Mike. They had dashie and yelpie."

The movie volume was assessed to be about as balanced as it can get inside a gargantuan plaster room with 4,000-plus popcorn munchers gawking shoulder to shoulder.

I returned to the booth. We settled into our projection caretakers' routines for the duration of the matinee, selecting items off Today's Menu.

Lunch arrived shortly after Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground.

"That battle was a terrible, terrible thing, and right here on Peachtree St.," I sighed. "But worth it for this complimentary cheese and spinach ravioli."

Scott was lost in thought -- probably something highly technical concerning the show in progress. He said, "What kind of wine goes with 'Fast & Furious 4?'"

"That would be Yoo-Hoo," I offered.

Minutes before five o'clock, "Gone With the Wind" concluded. The theatre closed its doors for a quick clean-up, as Scott and I reset the equipment for another round. We also made a small adjustment.

Sometimes the intelligibility of the dialogue on a 1939 film is difficult to discern via 2009 amplification methods. Scott took his tiny jeweler's screwdriver to the sound racks and administered the surgical correction. We conferred and we were confident, on the next show, Rhett would not be heard to say, "Frankly, my dweeb, I don't give a drat."

It comes with experience, folks.

The evening's throng was ushered into the Fab and we began again. This "Gone With the Wind" went off without a hitch.

Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground. Persistent bastard, I'll give him that.

"Would you like chilled, bottled grocery store tap water with your Panini, sir?"

I nodded to Scott and smacked my thanks, before sharing the bad news: "I'll need to be off whenever 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' plays. I'm a vegetarian."

"What if you only ran the reels pertaining to clear skies or simple red sauce?"

"Mmm. Okay," I caved, arm twisted. "Maybe we can order Chinese."

"You ever thread a projector with chopsticks?"

"Fortune cookie say, 'Anything possible.'"

At 11:07 p.m., we closed out the movie and the final capacity crowd of happy customers headed home.

"Fabulous," Scott said to me.

"What say we run a late show? I'm hungry."


Special Report: Trekkies Bash New 'Star Trek' Film as 'Fun, Watchable'

via Onion News Network



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My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

Hangin' out on No Pants Day.

I'm a bit concerned. I think I've got the swine hayfever. I've been "Ach-OINK!"ing all day.

Today is my one-year anniversary on Twitter. I think 140 of you characters should buy me a cake.

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Raced to the animal hospital ... Arrived in time to overhear a detailed discussion on "eye boogies." So that was nice.

We equipped a specialty team of veterinarians with miners' hats. They went in and determined our stray cat is a "neutered male." They think.

In honor of today, Star Wars Day, I dozed off, just like I did in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK all those years ago, never to return.

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News Item: "Arrested Man Patted Down 4 Times, Still Has Gun" If gun persists more than 4 hrs., contact your doctor or Mexican drug cartel.

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Non-stop nightmares of gnashings by Hannah Montana Wolverine and then being favored with a tune.


Fox: In the Box

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #170: Fabulous Fun"

After the movie era, The Fox Theatre was on the fast track for demolition. A dazzling office skyscraper plotted to have itself erected on the prime plot of Peachtree St. Concerned citizens united in a "Save the Fox" movement, which, surprisingly, worked!

Since the mid-1970s, Atlanta Landmarks, the resulting non-profit organization, has shepherded the venue through restoration and rebirth, creating the most successful auditorium of its size (4,000+ capacity) in the U.S. Though the main focus has been on live performances -- Broadway plays, concerts, operas, and ballets -- movies have been a part of the formula, averaging 10-20 events each year, some with staggering success.

In 1978, while pursuing the radio career ("8:27, 56 degrees" -- one of my oft-copied quotes), I received a phone call. The Fox needed a second projectionist for, as I remember, the world premiere of "Born Again." Would I be interested?

"Would I?" I responded, from inside the Fox booth, four seconds later.

Little did we know, my pal Scott and I, that either of us would be affiliated with the theatre decades later. He has clocked more than 30 years, showing movies at the Fox. I placed myself in the coveted "call me if you're desperate" position about seven years ago, having moved hours away from the city.

Other motion picture machine operators, as we're known in the biz, participated at the Fox during my tenure, largely due to scheduling necessities. I mention this only to let you lucky viewers know, occasionally, Scott and I were far, far afar. We were not there. Nuh uh. No, sir and/or madam. Don't look at us. We didn't do it. We have witnesses! Back off. I've got a gun.

I've marked numerous moments of projection pride in the Fox box, as I call it, because I needed a title.

I actually do refer to the place as "The Fab," but that's for Part 3.

On-the-job highlights would certainly encompass these 70mm specials: the southeastern premiere of "The Right Stuff" (1983), a door-busting week of the supposedly over-exposed "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), and the glorious revival of Abel Gance's epic "Napoléon" (1927) with composer Carmine Coppola conducting his full orchestral score in the pit. We did several nights on that one and I was so disappointed I couldn't sit out in the audience to experience the electrifying production.

In the summer of 1981, Burt Reynolds directed "Sharky's Machine," a much anticipated Warner Bros. release, in Atlanta. The Fox arranged to host a cast and crew party for Burt and his team during their shoot. I ran (with projectionist Paul) the 70mm print of "Deliverance" (1972) reel-to-reel that afternoon.

Come December, Scott and I rolled up our sleeves to screen the world premiere of the completed "Sharky's Machine," the biggest movie event to hit town since the "Gone With the Wind" uproar at the Loew's Grand in 1939. That's said acknowledging the possible exception of the 1946 Fox debut when Walt Disney personally unveiled "Song of the South" to the globe.

We knew Burt Reynolds would attend the festivities and watch from a prime balcony location, so all of the audio in the acoustically-challenged room was pre-balanced directly at his chair. To this day, movie sound checks are tweaked from "The Burt Reynolds Seat" and, if I told you where it is located, I'd have to show you "Stroker Ace."

Continued: "Back to the Fab: Bygones With 'The Wind'"

Fox Theatre: Closed (1975) photo ©Stan Malone, used by permission
Fox Theatre photo by hoyasmeg via Flickr, Creative Commons license
Little Girl and Fox Projector Beam photo by hoyasmeg via Flickr, Creative Commons license
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