Game Face

Continued From: Big Weekend

At the Swan Drive-in, Blue Ridge, GA, the rain ceased after "Toy Story 3," so we placed our comfy folding chairs alongside the car and viewed the next movie 'round midnight in the cool cool.

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," based on a video game, was okay, but too hyper for my tastes. I should have seen "Go Fish: The Hands of Nines."


Big Weekend

Big weekend, watching "Toy Story" in 3-D.

1. Drive-in

2. Drizzle

3. Donna, shotgun


Off the Wall

Saving Facebook: My Confessions: 

On Travel
We're heading west this year to hit some national parks, Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and non-park Monument Valley. Might just take in Jellystone. I hear it's gigantic! Might as well visit Jellostone Park, too, while we're out there. Have some picaniks...

Friend Brandon
I heard that you were hitchhiking out there!

Hope I don't get thumbburned.

On Vision
Insurance will not pay for my cataract surgery, but they will sew me shiny new buttons for eyes!

Brother Bob
Will Obamacare cover the buttons that have the floating pupils that move around when you turn your head? Those are the greatest!!

Actually, I'm still awhile away from fixing cataracts and dealing with insurance issues. I am dreaming of shiny new buttons, though. Baby blue, of course.

Friend Sheryl
You might try adding a bright red yarn wig and white sailor cap with those new eyes.

Yarn wigs and sailor caps. You may be thinking of Red Buttons....

I always wanted a sailor cap.

Don't read this part: And a red yarn wig.

On Shopping
Now going to do battle at the dollar store.... Pray for me.

They shredded me and put me on a shelf with Taiwan meats.

On Grooming
Oh, thank you, thank you! I've found a good home for my unwanted facial hair....

Friend Claire
Yeah, Frank's nose!

Friend Frank
You got that righ...HEY!

On "Psycho"
"Psycho" was released 50 years ago today (June 16). I was too young to attend, but I remember the hoopla around it stirring up more of a culture frenzy than "Star Wars" created on its debut. Hitchcock's "little film" turned out to have the most longevity of his pictures with the general public, I'd say, although I adore many of them....

Friend Cathy
Like you, I was also too young to attend, but then I got old enough to see it and took nothing but baths during my teenage years.

Yep. Altered my behavior, too. I like to sink sedans into swamps.

Please tell me there wasn't a butcher knife involved.

No. No, I don't think so, but I'll go check with Mother....


Movies in the Movies: 'The Tingler' (1959)

Continued From: Death, Where Is Thy Tingler?

Having worked as a theatre projectionist, I'm fascinated with how cinemas are portrayed in motion pictures. "The Tingler" has a major fright sequence inside one.

The coming attractions trailer encourages the audience, "DON'T BE EMBARRASSED TO SCREAM!"

Nowadays, attendees are not embarrassed to scream. The screaming is into cell phones and totally unrelated to the movie.


Seriously now, what business should advertise such a thing? Why would I care to come back to fork over the admission for my certain demise?

While the publicists are gathered, why not continue the honesty?



Here's where I connect with the movie. The projectionist is doomed. The Tingler escaped into the theatre and hurried up to the machine booth.

Boy, that is so scary. His neck! The poor sap had to wear a tie!

I'll be awake for nights.


Death, Where Is Thy Tingler?

I've calmed down enough to tell about a recent encounter we had with "The Tingler."

While the lights dimmed before the film, I was reminded that back in 1959, as a promotional gimmick, producer-director William Castle famously equipped theatres with "Percepto," meaning he hot-wired seats to give viewers an electrical jolt during the fright sequences when the tingler is on the loose.

The cell phone vibrated in my jeans. I thought I was gonna die.

For the uninitiated, Wikipedia sums up the plot this way:

"A pathologist, Dr. Warren Chapin (played by Vincent Price), discovers that the tingling of the spine in states of extreme fear is due to the growth of a 'tingler' -- a spinal parasite which can kill the host unless it is destroyed by screaming."

At a deadly point in the movie, there's an autopsy of someone who could not scream to save herself. She had a tingler inside her body. The hideous creature was still alive and managed to cleverly escape into *our* dark auditorium 51 years later. Seemed like a stretch, but we screamed for our lives just to be safe.

Saved and finding ourselves to be survivors at the conclusion of the picture -- oh, we laughed and laughed!

I drove home and proceeded up the walk to the house. Something caught my eye, slithering towards the door....

A Tingler!


I made Donna step on it.



Big Weekend

Big weekend, manscaping.

I put a hotel on my navel.



Continued From: Big Weekend > Fab Grabs > More Fab Grabs > Big Romance > Double Header > Off to Sepia "The Wizard"

I enjoyed "Jaws" again during the recent presentation at the Fox.  Today marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the film, the most anticipated movie in my experience.

That was an exciting event. I read the novel the previous summer and I was primed for the flick and not disappointed. I stood in line for hours with my mother at the old Phipps Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, which was an event in itself that she would agree to wait around so long. The only remaining seats together at showtime meant we sat on the front row in the auditorium. Amazingly, we both survived whiplash when the shark came out of the water at us. I've seen "Jaws" many times and it never fails to entertain, frighten, and influence me, meaning I haven't been deeper than my knees into an ocean since the Gerald Ford administration and the fin search has never ceased.

On a pleasure trip the next weekend, I went to view "Jaws" once more, this time in Wilmington, NC with my friend Bill. The sold-out Saturday matinee put us down front inside the Bailey Theatre. The movie started and I settled into my chair, bracing for the intensity to follow.

"Jaws," said the woman behind me, as the title, "Jaws," appeared on the screen.

"Oh, great," I thought, "we've got a reader." I have zero tolerance for talkers during movies.

A few seconds passed and the woman vocalized what became a continuing series of inanities directed at her small children who should not have been in attendance.

She stated bright observations like, "Oooo, isn't that a pretty beach? You've been to the beach with Gramma, remember?" and "The sheriff looks like your Uncle Bobby, but without the glasses -- and Uncle Bobby has a whistle."

I bit my tongue and stewed as her live narration accompanied the series of violent on-screen attacks and near misses which fill the opening third of the motion picture.

"Cover your eyes. Something got that girl. ... Eww, don't peek. Messed up her hair! ... Oh! Oh! Not again! Something is hongry!"

"I thought there was an 'u' in 'hongry,'" I pondered with myself.

That inconsiderate babbling bubble brain ruined the afternoon, taking me out of the story and into her sappy, crappy haid.

Yes, in her case, "haid." It rhymes with "daid," which I was plotting.

About 40 minutes into the adventure, actor Roy Scheider slung chum into the calm sea from the deck of a small boat. At that instant, the mammoth Great White soared out of the ocean, seemingly into the faces of the audience, the first clear glimpse of the predator in the movie. It is a thrilling moment.

As soon as the massive, elongated screams of the crowd subsided, I heard behind me a zippy lilt: "It's a shark!"

I had had enough. I spun around in my seat. I spoke loudly and precisely. I intoned heavy sarcasm, because ... I like to.

"That's right, lady. ... It's a shark. ... NOW, SHUT ... THE HELL ... UP!!"

I pivoted back around to the screen. We, the audience, enjoyed the remaining mayhem in peace.

When the lights in the room beamed up afterwards, I felt even better. No one had emptied a jumbo Sprite onto Mikey.

This true incident has become my crowning glory, my legacy, for whatever that is worth, repeated or referenced by my buddies surprisingly often over three and a half decades with a goodly portion of amusement.

Note to Self: Now, shut the hell up.



Follow Mike on Twitter

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

Tap. Tap. Tap. Is this on? I stepped out for 17 days to drive a rental car 5013 miles. Mission accomplished. Now, I must wipe the prints....

Whoops! Just realized I didn't eat lunch. I love make-up sammich....

Any meal is a great meal when it evokes the word "slathered."

Taliban announces "a new spring offensive." Seersucker armour-piercing roadside bombs and off-the-shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

TOY STORY 3 in IMAX 3-D costs $17.50 per ticket. For that kind of money, I'm staying home with my Slinky.

I hope my wife lives forever. Whatever would my Cougar Town be like? Ee-yeeesh! I'm going to go hide under the bed to be safe...

Donald Fauntleroy Duck is 76 today. State or set forth precisely or systematically, Donald, state or set forth precisely or systematically.

THE GOONIES was released 25 yrs. ago today. I was there with pal Frank Thompson, who said, "The screenwriter must've been paid by the "Wow!"

Inexplicably, appallingly, I feel the hot, stinky clutches of MARMADUKE pulling me to the drive-in. Hep me. Hep me, please.

Successfully resisted MARMADUKE at the drive-in tonight. Instead, staying home to watch BRIGHTY OF THE GRAND CANYON (1966). I be happ'nin'!

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Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty's having a learning experience. There are behemoth hamsters?!


Off to Sepia 'The Wizard'

Continued From: Big Weekend > Fab Grabs > More Fab Grabs > Big Romance > Double Header

The first time I projected "The Wizard of Oz" was in 1972 at the original North DeKalb Theatre, near Atlanta. I had heard the stories about the opening reel of the film, which is properly displayed in a sepia tint. The movie transforms to full color at the moment Dorothy enters The Land of Oz.

A ludicrous urban legend insists that color cinematography was invented while this production was before the cameras, about 20 minutes into the screenplay, so the studio decided to shoot the picture in color from where they'd left off. What the heck.

I guess it follows that color was uninvented before they finished, because the last sequence returns to sepia.

Nevertheless, some people have it in their heads the entirety of "The Wizard of Oz" is in color.

I was delighted when a concerned mother found her way to the machine room and asked me why the presentation was "in black-and-white."

"Oh, we thought we'd save a little money," I said. "We'll be turning the color on in a few minutes."

"Well, okay, thank you."

My other favorite trivia regarding "The Wizard of Oz" is the fact crazy MGM executives were prepared to remove Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" number in order to shorten the Kansas material.


This wonderful scene is only the high point of the show. In fact, my world stops whenever I'm in the vicinity of the song. I gotta watch and listen.

"Over the Rainbow" via YouTube


Big Weekend

Big weekend, spotting this flyer and resisting the power of suggestion.

My sentiments exactly.


Double Header

Continued From: Big Weekend > Fab Grabs > More Fab Grabs > Big Romance

After all these years, I was somewhat emotional while projecting "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986) and "The Breakfast Club" (1985), reuniting with my old haircuts.

Especially, the Ally Sheedy.


Big Romance

Continued From: Big Weekend > Fab Grabs > More Fab Grabs

Showing this movie at the Fox was a dream come true.

I'm a fan of "The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock" (1959).

So, I stood on stage during the picture and improvised a revival with Sandra Bullock.

We were very happy together. The audience wasn't exactly reverential, but I kept them at bay by threatening, "Get back! Or we'll do 'All About Steve!' I mean it! Pelt me with some more Milk Duds, will ya?"


More Fab Grabs

Continued From: Big Weekend > Fab Grabs

First, a backstage view at The Fabulous Fox, looking through the screen and into the auditorium during a motion picture. At the edge of the projector light, a seam is visible where two sections of the sheet are joined together. Movie screens are dotted with thousands of tiny holes, otherwise it would be impossible to see through the partition.

Officially, the holes are to prevent glare from bouncing back into the eyes of the audience. Four out of five peeping Toms disagree!

The camera doesn't lie. I was meant to be a projectionist. I'm out of focus.

From the projection area, here's a snapshot of the balcony and stage with the rarely seen jewel drop curtain, which we've been flying in at the end of recent film presentations. Like me, it's a sparkly relic of a bygone era and slightly less yellowed.


Fab Grabs

I snapped several behind-the-scenes cell phone photographs last week during our technical preparations in Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre. The first leg of the annual summer film festival was about to get underway. I've shown many movies in this room, off and on since 1978, and joined projectionists Scott and Stan in the current toiling, too.

From the Dress Circle, the screen is seen masked to its widest "scope" setting, which we utilized for "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Jaws."

My belt was snugged to 34 inches, its widest "mope" setting, which I used for all five flicks and Mike Durrett's diet off, jawing Quiznos.

In a reverse shot of the auditorium, the 35/70mm projector pre-screens one of the films, while I sneak downstairs to invade the crew's backstage snack machines. I estimate the descent to be seven stories, but quite worth the hike and U-turn climb back up to the booth. Twenty-cent Cafe Mocha rules!

One of the perks of employment in a theatre is you can get close, watching movies from the stage wings. Of course, I had to learn to nibble popcorn perpendicular.


Big Weekend

Big weekend, showing movies at the The Fabulous Fox.

I had more lenses than the projectors.


Big Weekend

Big weekend, sitting in Silt.

Silt, Colorado.

I, and my ever-present imaginary toothpick, hang with our snappily ironic ride.
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