Ada Theater

I get it. Maybe you’re not so interested in my Dancing with the Stars ravings, or my weekly sharing of a “Downton Tabby” photo, or my steady stream of craft beer push-posts from Untappd. On the other hand, I am only one person. On awards show night, two-thirds of the world is live-posting. That’s hard to get away from and so I take an eighteen-hour sabbatical from social media. It’s a little better since muffling hashtags became possible in Twitter; Facebook really needs to develop some form of that feature. Fear not, gentle reader, the purpose of this post is not to bitch (but thanks for listening!).

It’s true, though, that my idea for this post began with a friend’s link, in honor of the Oscars tonight, to a list of things which you no longer find in movie theaters and his follow-up request to name the first movie we ever saw in a theater.

The first two movies I remember seeing in the theater were Bambi and The Aristocats. I was a tot long before the Disney princess machine sprang to life. Going to the theater was a special occasion. As with other “out” experiences of my childhood, there were no frills. When we ate at a restaurant, we just had water to drink because soda pop or milk was too extravagant an expense. If we went to the county fair, there was no cotton candy or game-playing, because it simply wasn’t necessary. It was fun to be there and just walk around looking at things and animals. At the theater, we didn’t indulge in popcorn or other snacks.

Bambi posterI’m inclined to think that Bambi was my first movie. My mom took me. All I can remember about the experience is that I became hysterical when Bambi’s mom was killed in the forest fire. We probably went to see this movie because my mom loves rabbits, and Thumper, of course, was a major character. That backfired on her.

The Aristocats posterI’m inclined to think that The Aristocats was my second movie because after the experience of Bambi, my mom probably wanted to make sure we saw an upbeat story. I don’t remember much about that movie other than that the lady cat wore a pearl necklace. She did, right?

In conjunction with remembering the movies, I thought about the Ada Theater in which I saw them. You might recall from other posts that I think of my childhood town fondly. The theater was right on Main Street. It still is. This afternoon I found this nice page about it.

My third movie theater memory is from high school, after we had moved back to my parents’ home town in Wisconsin. I was fifteen and my friend was fourteen, and her dad had dropped us off at the theater downtown. I don’t remember what the movie was that we were going to see, but it must have been rated PG, because we were going in on our own, but perhaps it was PG with a racy reputation, because my friend’s dad was inspired to say that I could easily pass for sixteen or seventeen. I thought absolutely nothing of it at the time, but when I was older and recalled it, I realized that it was a kind of creepy thing for him to have said. Don’t worry, I don’t remember any other questionable behavior by him.

So in honor of Oscar, those are some way-back movie memories. In the last twenty-four hours, I’ve watched Secretary, In Your Eyes, and Unfinished Sky. I recommend all three.


October 16, 2011


Today I completed my consumption of Harry Potter. It began not altogether intentionally on June 8 of this year when I clicked Play on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I theretofore had had no interest in the boy wizard, but my work colleague gave me the audiobook mp3s (1), so I thought what the heck. I figured I’d listen for an hour or two just to say I’d given it a chance and then put it back in the drawer.

Merlin’s beard, was I wrong! I’m pretty sure that it was less than 30 minutes before I was completely sucked in.

I’m convinced that a large part of the reason why I fell so easily was because I was listening and not reading. Afternoons at the office belonged to Harry. I found that he was the perfect accompaniment to my graphic design work (as long as it didn’t involve thinking). I was able to offer just the right amount of attention while working that the listening required. As much as I enjoyed it, I don’t feel like I would have stuck with it if I had been training my eyeballs on the paper versions.

As someone who has that common human fantasy of writing books for a living, I soon realized that some of what I found so fascinating was being aware of Jo Rowling’s craft. If I ever get around to long-form writing, I know it will be difficult for me to spin the tale in a leisurely enough manner so that all the interesting flavors have time to develop. She is a master.

I was really excited Thursday afternoon because I finished listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. One hundred fifteen hours of enthralling narration in total. Friday afternoon I had the shakes.

The same coworker also has all of the DVDs. So when I finished listening to a book, he’d bring me the movie to watch. He is my Harry Potter dealer.

The movies I found to be hit or miss. And why wouldn’t they be? How do you trim a twenty-hour book down to a two-hour movie? Even the shortest book was eight hours. Stuff is going to have to be left out. I wonder how people who hadn’t read the books got along with the movies. I was glad I knew what went in the gaps.

One thing that I absolutely loved about the movies was much of the casting. Who other than Dame Maggie Smith could have been McGonagall? Who other than Robbie Coltrane could have been Hagrid? Conversely, though I love Gary Oldman, he didn’t quite fit as Sirius.

So this afternoon I watched Deathly Hallows Part 1 and then this evening, a little thrill as I made my way to a movie theater for Part 2. That was some of my motivation for not wasting any time listening to the books. I wanted to finish in time to still find Part 2 in a theater so that I wouldn’t have to wait for the DVD to come out. Success.

It was kind of weird, though, too. I got to sit with 500 of my closest non-friends and listen to them rustling wrappers and chomping on the delicious real popcorn with real butter at this neighborhood, second-run theater. For the first half hour I had some trouble hearing the movie. Seriously.

Things eventually settled down and a good time seemed to be had by all. Applause broke out three or four times, which brought a tear to my eye (I’m much sappier in my advancing age). I do, however, look forward to watching again in the privacy of my own home in a few months.

So there you have it. Now what am I going to do with myself?

(1) I listened to the Jim Dale version and I thought he did a wonderful job. I know there are those who are every bit as enthusiastic about Stephen Fry’s reading. I found a respectful back-and-forth here.

Get off my lawn

December 30, 2010



Somewhere along the line, I became a curmudgeon. I did and I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I don’t act my age, but at the same time I’m pretty crusty about a lot of stuff. I don’t exactly mean to be. Does that just come with getting older?

I almost climbed a tree tonight. If it hadn’t been winter with a foot and a half of snow hanging around I would have. Maybe. The kids across the street do, why shouldn’t I? When I was a kid, I spent a notable amount of time in trees. There was a woods at the end of our street, and as I recall, there was one old, large tree that we climbed. Sometimes I went with a friend or two, sometimes I went by myself with a book.

My parents visited for the Christmas weekend. I always find it challenging when people—yes, even my loving mother and father—invade my space. I’ve been concluding recently that I’m an actual introvert, especially after reading this article (via mstori). I used to say that deep down I was shy, though anyone who’s spent any amount of time around me knows that I can get chit-chatty with the best of them—if I’m in the right mood and/or have enjoyed my favorite libation. 

Now I realize that the reason that I can talk to people quite comfortably—even complete strangers under the right circumstances—all hail the m-dash—is because I’m not actually shy. I just choose not to want to be around other people quite a lot of the time. (Sorry, friends, nothing personal. I know some of you understand.)

My choosing to want to be by myself, aka not deal with other people—even my loving mother and father—I’m sure is perceived by outsiders as being curmudgeonly. And perhaps so even by my mother. My dad’s the quiet one.

A few posts ago I wrote about three of my favorite movies, whose characters I could identify with. One of those was “Under the Tuscan Sun.” In the other context, I was admiring the main character, Frances, because she just up and stayed in a place where she was traveling for a random reason. I would like to do that. But that’s not where the similarities end, if I’m honest.

In this context, I must note that Frances is kind of uptight—sort of like me! Here again, I am and I’m not. In addition to the spontaneous geographical change she experiences, Frances receives several sage wisdoms from a woman who befriends her, Katherine. One by one, Frances embraces those wisdoms and her life gradually turns around.

One of the wisdoms Katherine expounds (not a particularly original one) is to never lose your childlike enthusiasm. For a number of reasons (this is not one of them), I always weep like a baby for much of this movie. Tonight I did not weep but I did get ever so slightly choked up when I was perusing a London map, when I realized how much I was enjoying this Lily Allen album, and when I was moved to tell my online friends how I feel about them—and I do!

But I digress.

With regard to the childlike enthusiasm, being around my mom this weekend made me think about that. She’s always chattering about something, she’s always asking 3,000 questions about whatever’s going on at the time. I mostly find it annoying. But why? Well, I think it might be just a little bit because she still has that childlike enthusiasm that I seem to have mostly lost.

And, for a third time tonight, I have and I haven’t. I am crustier than I used to be, it’s true. But these days I give myself permission not to fake it if I’m not really into it. Do you allow yourself to admit that you might not want to do what everyone else expects you should? Do you allow yourself to sit tight on that lack of desire to conform?

I do. I’m not trying to be superior. In fact, I feel rather inferior tonight. And I’m not pleased that I’m envious of my mom about something. Nobody wants to be like their parent, do they? And you really don’t want to admit that they seem younger than you—their offspring—in some ways.

My mom wouldn’t have climbed the tree tonight because she has two fake knees and one fake hip. I was just worried about what the neighbors would think, so I only stood below it. There’s a difference, not in my favor.

Take What You Take” © Lily Allen

Characters??? lives welcome

December 15, 2010


I am always open to ideas that would let me escape my current life and start a new circumstance. Sure I go on trips, but I haven’t uprooted myself since 1994. So while I work out a plan for moving to London (as friends and longtime readers will know I want to do), I instead like to lose myself in a good flick. There are three whose characters’ situations I empathize with the most.

(The latest: my plan for getting to London has basically become to wait out the crap economy until I can sell my condo and lose less than the 25% that I estimate would be the case in the near future. That, and my rabbit is becoming elderly and though he’s very spunky and healthy, I wouldn’t want to subject him to the stress. I know, convenient excuses for inaction. But I digress.)

It should come as a surprise to no one that I love Bridget Jones. I read the books, I watch the movies over and over and over. I want her life because she is a single career girl (sort of) in London surrounded by good friends. It’s mostly the London part that I want, and I know I’d have three good friends to start (hello, M, S, and D!). I’m a graphic designer and writer, and those skills are pretty portable. Though unlike Bridget, the singleton aspect of my life wouldn’t bother me very much at all.

In that regard, I might be a little more like Frances in “Under the Tuscan Sun.” That character lives out the ultimate version of my fantasy. She sees and she stays. Other than the unacknowledged dissatisfaction with her circumstances after her divorce, there is no preplanning to her hopping off the tour bus and not looking back. If I had the cash, I’d absolutely embrace that kind of spontaneity. I get weepy every time that bird poops on her head and the old woman decides to sell the house to her.

Frances worries that she’ll never find love again, but it isn’t until she stops looking so hard that it comes her way. That’s what I always say. I am quite happy being on my own and am not looking to get hitched (unlike Bridget), but figure someday love might find me in its own time (as Frances eventually accepts).

And why is it that I think I need to go somewhere else to be happy? Just ask Arthur Dent. I suppose to an outsider, my life looks just fine, but I want more. Not in a greedy, materialistic way, but in a way in which I could feel more fulfilled. Because I don’t. And like Arthur, I can’t quite muster the ambition to be better than my just-gettiing-by self. I want better, but good enough is good enough. So why wouldn’t it be fun to have your life/world/universe turned upside down in the space of an hour? I’m sure that in a new situation I would, for a while anyway, be able to become greater than I currently am.

But for now, I settle for feeling it vicariously through these movies.


Last tango for my eyesight

October 16, 2010


Maybe I’m extremely nearsighted because when I was nine years old, I spent too much time looking at the photo included with Time Magazine’s review of “Last Tango in Paris.” That’s not actually the truth, because I’ve worn glasses since I was six-and-a-half or seven. But I remember spending a lot of time looking at that photo.

I don’t remember what incidence of somebody realizing that I couldn’t quite make it out led to my first visit to the eye doctor. I just remember that it was part of the way through first grade or in the beginning of second grade when I got my first pair of glasses. And being the early 1970s, the frames were plastic and dark. And because at that time, my fashion sense was determined by my mother (who also was still sewing us matching outfits), my early frames always had multiple straight sides. My mom loved hexagons and octagons.


Here are some early school pictures of myself wearing glasses. I think we have ages  seven, eight, and nine. I’m sure the right-hand photo is age nine, because I’m wearing a retainer (also, please note the Winnie-the-Pooh turtleneck). That was a result of the dentist/orthodontist determining that I had small jaws and would need braces, and that all my adult teeth wouldn’t fit. Therefore, four of my permanent molars were pulled, I had black thread stitches in my gums, and I got a lot of mileage out of grossing out other kids with those very stitches.

Age nine was also about the time I would have been going cross-eyed from that “Last Tango in Paris” still in Time, which I usually checked out in the bathroom. Well, that’s where “reading material” ended up. As a girl, however, the previous sentence doesn’t have quite the same connotation as if I had been a boy. Also, my mother was squarely into hexagonal frames by that time.

The photo was of a woman on the left and a man on the right sitting, facing each other, with their knees up and legs intertwined. As I child, I was all atwitter because I perceived that there were breasts exposed.

My eyesight continued to worsen for thirty years. Then the distance vision leveled off but I hit forty, so now I have bifocals. That totally sucks. I’m on my second bifocal prescription and can quite tell that it needs to be updated again. Health insurance only pays for one pair of glasses per year. I have four months to go.

So tonight, because I’m once again way behind on my Comcast bill (cable tv and inernet) and am once again pretending that I’m about to stick it to the man and cancel it all and just watch what I can using city wireless internet (two year city wireless only about $40 dollars more than two months Comcast cable tv and internet) and what’s free on the internet or with a couple of relatively inexpensive subscriptions, I brought home some sushi and a really tasty Argentinean Malbeca, and tuned in to Hulu for a movie and a Comcastless test drive of a movie on the internet.

“Last Tango in Paris” was the first title that came up that wasn’t zombie, slutty, or sci-fi slutty. I remembered that Time Magazine write-up and settled in, thirty-eight years later, to watch the movie that left an impression nine-year-old me.

It was alright (except for the part where free Hulu didn’t show me the last twenty minutes as it asked if I’d like to buy the DVD, erm, no), but nothing earthshattering, other than I got to practice listening to some French.

I know a lot of men just love “The Godfather,” but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see what all the fuss is about Marlon Brando. He has a funny voice, he’s a little bit pudgy, and a lot of it in this movie is done with camera work. However, I will give the ’70s a lot of credit for being less uptight about sex, sexuality, and nudity. What changed?

And, although there was plenty of nudity in the movie elsewhere, what I remember from that photo in Time ended up being one or two feminine curves with nothing much really showing, and four strategically placed knees.

What a letdown!


(Compared to the well-defined actual breasts shown in the movie, the ambiguously smoothed curves in the photo at top are just as my nine-year-old-self remembers them.)

Starring as me

August 16, 2010


Who would you want to play yourself in a movie? I’m not asking who is your celebrity doppelgänger. I’m asking who would be able to channel the inner you on the big screen? 

Figuring this out occupied my thoughts as I laid in bed last night waiting to fall asleep. I had initially thought that maybe Zooey Deschanel could be the one, because I love her quirkiness, but she’s also kind of wispy, and I’m not wispy. The second name that popped into my head was Janeane Garofalo. I thought that I should try to consider more possibilities but quickly realized that there was a reason why Ms. Garofalo came to mind.

I thought about what I know about her. If put under pressure to name movies she was in, all I’d be able to come up with without looking is The Truth about Cats and Dogs and that superhero one (by the way, that skull bowling ball that she used wasn’t just a prop). What I remember is that she does dorky and class clown, awkward and a little attractive, wallflower but underestimated.

I figured she’d be the one to be able to pull off portraying my type of personality in a believable way. I’m not a starlet, glamour girl type, and it was just a happy coincidence that there was a little more of a physical resemblance (beyond the dark hair) than I had realized.

Through the years there are celebrities I’ve been said to resemble. In my early twenties, it was Joan Jett and Martha Quinn. More recently, it was Mary McDonnell. I don’t really see it beyond hair color and/or style.

Back to doppelgängers. I learned of the website, where you can upload a photo of yourself and it will come up with celebrity look-alikes. I did it five times with different photos. I didn’t try to trick it for four of them, though when I kept getting a particular result, I did, as a last resort, give it the sunglasses photo just to test it. Naturally you have to take these things with a grain of salt. First, my matches were almost all men. I accept that. But second, some of the more outlandish matches it gave me included Prince Harry, Desmond Tutu, and Jessica Simpson. What?

I was relieved that it did return Janeane Garofalo one time (coincidentally, the same photo that I chose to use of her). And I was a little bit flattered that it gave me Gary Oldman twice, because I really like him. But who was the celebrity that it gave me all four times? James Spader. I’m not sure what to think about that!