Weekly Photo Challenge- The BIGger Picture

Once again, another photo because I couldn’t resist the Weekly Photo Challenge.

I try to explain to people that I like watching anecdotes play out on the big screen.

And when I say big screen, I mean it.  Go IMAX or go home.  🙂

B(ee)-Grade Material

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

B(ee)-Grade Material

When I jumped off a roof in Cannes in a bee costume, I looked ridiculous. But this is my business; I have to humiliate myself.” -Jerry Seinfeld

“All right fellas, I’ve got quite the story for ya.  You’re never gonna believe it, but I bet ya anything this’ll knock yer socks off.  It’s a gasser, I tell ya.  A real smash!”

Johnny looked at the assembled group in their expensive suits and knew that he would really have to break out the big guns.  It was like looking at a pride of animals at the zoo.  For the moment, the large desk was enough to keep them at bay as they blinked at Johnny with boredom and disinterest.  Their attire was regal, but their viciousness was legend.  Johnny needed to make each move skillfully and cautiously.  He could only hope to leave the room with the angry crowd smiling and well-fed, not hungry for his head on a plate.

“Now ya see”, Johnny began as he wiped the sweat from his brow, “we have a killer story here.  It’s a real knock-‘em dead adventure.”  Johnny suddenly became aware that he had left his laptop in the car.  He would have to improvise.  Removing his gray suit jacket and exposing his white shirt and button-up vest, Johnny felt very much like a slab of pasty veal.  The higher-ups looked at the young fellow, realized just how ripe he was, and started sharpening their claws.

“Mr. Goodspeak”, the largest, oldest, and baldest of the man said as he sat forward in his leather chair.  “We really don’t have time for-“

“Right!”  Johnny clapped his hands and threw his arms up in the air and gestured for the men to sit back.  When he saw just how much he had sweated through his armpits on his shirt, Johnny hurried to pull his limbs back down.

“You’re busy fellows!  I get that; let’s cut to the chase.  We’re in ancient Egypt.  We have views of pyramids being built.  We really have to bring out the history here.  I mean, the story is a fun one, but there’s educational value to it as well.  That’s how we pitch it.  See, everyone knows about the giant pyramids.  They’re a wonder of the world, for crying out loud.  But what they don’t know is that there was a corner that had never been opened.  It’s location off to the side, and underground, kept it hidden until we had the technology to find it.”

“And in this tomb?”  The largest man spoke with venom in his voice.  If he hadn’t started shooting daggers at Johnny yet, he was certainly sharpening them.

“A bee”, Johnny said.  “A giant, mummified bee!”

“A bee”, the man replied, clearly bored.  “You’re wasting our time with… a bee?”

“Now wait just one second fellas.  Ya gotta hear me out.  I said it was a giant bee.  We’re talkin’ about a creature the size of a Volkswagen Bug!”

Johnny paused for a chuckle in response to his joke.  He heard none.  The wailing and gnashing of teeth had not yet begun, but he could sense it approaching ever closer.

“Anyways”, he said as he pulled his tie looser.  “This giant bee has been mummified the whole time.  But somehow; magic, honey, amber; we don’t need to understand right now, the bee’s alive!  We meet this bee when the wall comes down and he sends the people into a frenzy of panic.  This deep and booming voice comes bellowing out of the giant mummy-insect.  As strips of fabric fall off of its rotted face and his ancient wings beat frighteningly, the bee manages to call out in tone of doom, “Bee-warrrreee.”

“Bee-ware?  Honestly?  That’s the story you have for us?”

“I, that is, if we got the right person to voice the bee, it’d work.”  Johnny felt the sweat dripping down his back but did nothing.  At this point, all he could do was stand and face his attackers head on.  Fleeing for safety was no longer an option.

“And just who, dare I ask; did you have in mind for this?”

“Christopher Lee”, Johnny answered timidly.

“Christopher Lee.”  The man laughed.  “You think the man that did Dracula, and Tolkein is going to be associated with this stupid tale?”

“He was in Star Wars”, Johnny replied.

“Pff.  That proves nothing.  He was a Bond villain, for crying out loud.”

“Yes”, said the man to the right of the leader, pointer finger out-stretched in proper correcting form.  “But it was a Roger Moore one.”

“So?  Heath, you’ve really got to get over this whole Sean Connery obsession.  It’s annoying.”

“You’re just jealous that I played golf with him and you never did.”

“Because you didn’t invite me!  He called later and asked why I didn’t come!  I told him I didn’t know anything about it.”

“I still consider that a favor to the great Sean Connery.”

The leader roared in anger and rose up to his full height.  The dissenter got the message, sunk back in his chair, and picked at what was left of the T-bone steak in front of him.

“Look son”, the leader said, returning his attention to Johnny.  “We’re just not interested.”

“But I’m telling you, it’s a great story!  It’ll be scary and educational and if we shoot in the desert we can save all our efforts and production funding for the bee!”

“I’ve been in this business a long time, kid.”  The man stood up, his display of being an attentive audience member was over.  He leaned back slightly, tucked his hands into the pockets on his vest, and pulled out a solid gold pocket watch with the left.  “You simply don’t have a hit on your hands.”

“You haven’t even let me tell you about the main character.  Sandy Trapps confronts the bee in the dusty tombs and finds out a way to kill it!”

“Let me guess, this Trapps fellow finds a way to drop a giant piece of stone on the bee at the last minute?”

“How… how did you know?  I just wrote the ending last week.”

“Story as old as time kid”, the man said as he made a show of checking his timepiece.  “And your time is up.  We’re due for dinner.”

“Wait, there’s just one more thing!”  Panic had fully set in for Johnny.  He needed something that would save his skin.  “What if… what if Sandy Trapps is a hot female archaeologist?”

A silence fell over the room.  Johnny could see mouths closing, minds at work, and cash registers adding in the men’s eyes.  “You mean, like Tomb Raider?  We don’t want to get sued over this.  I mean, it has potential.  But I don’t want to be in litigation and get bad press.”

“No, no, she’ll be blonde.  Sandy blonde; get it?”

“Does she have to be blonde?”  The man to the right of the alpha-male had spoken up once again.  “I hear Catherine Zeta-Jones is in terrific shape.  She was in that movie with Sean Connery, y’know.”

“Jenkins!  Enough with the Connery!  I’ll lock you in a cage and melt the key if you don’t keep quiet.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now son, this is a promising idea.  Blonde, that’s inspired.  Genius.  What else did you have in mind for her?”

“Smart, adventurous; she’ll be able to talk her way out of trouble with tomb robbers and supervisors that don’t want her in the field.  She’ll cause too much ruckus out in the ‘quiet’ world of history.  She’ll be capable and savvy.”

“Okay, but will she be wearing a tank top?  We’re gonna need her in tight clothing.”

“Oh yes, sir.  Absolutely, sir.”  Johnny mentally shook his head sideways, but outwardly nodded in agreement.  You gotta give a little to get a lot, he told himself.

“Terrific.  And maybe there can be some underground lake that she swims in and gets trapped.  Movies with women in swimsuits are dynamite.  We’ll blow the box office lid wide open!”

“Yes sir”, Johnny agreed again.

“I tell ya what boy, why don’t you come and prowl the town with us?  We were going to have some lamb skewered and served raw, but I think we could all use a drink.  What say you join us down by the watering hole?  My treat.”

Johnny scrambled for his jacket and nodded excitedly.  He had survived his first meeting with the dominant-crowd.  But a part of Johnny couldn’t stop worrying that he would end up devoured by it all.

The Speech Will Be Televised

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Speech Will Be Televised

“I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word that I am saying.” –Oscar Wilde

Percival fiddled with the pesky clump of hair at the back of his head that refused to cooperate.  Most of his black hair lay flat and dormant, but this patch had a rebellious nature that would not be tamed.  No matter how much he wetted it or tried to comb more dormant hair over it, the little flag of insubordination waved boldly. Taking stock of his appearance in the mirror, Percival silently prayed that the people would not notice the tuft.  He had a hard enough time commanding respect as it was.

The task that awaited Percival was not a glamorous one.  There were some in the audience that would outright mock him.  Percival refused to take his role lightly.  He felt that he provided a service to those in attendance.  He believed that his speech should be as professional as possible and that people should know what was expected of them.  To him, theater etiquette was incredibly important.

Percival felt the heft of the flashlight weighing heavily yet comfortably in his right hand.  He had often considered letting his left hand carry the burden of illumination.  His dominant limb would then be free to deflect the napkins and pieces of popcorn that frequently made their way towards his face.   However, he felt it was vital to always have the flashlight at ready.  He was more adept with his right hand and therefore he could shine the light on any troublemakers that much faster.  He clicked the button quickly as his thumb merrily bounced along.  He repeated the action.  The lamp lit up, then doused itself again and again.  The obvious attempts by others to sabotage his weapon of enforcement had been thwarted.

Now was the time for action.  Percival tucked in his polo shirt, adjusted the collar, and gripped his flashlight that much tighter.  He took a deep breath, opened the door with his left hand, and stepped into the next room.  The crowd was small, but Percival was used to the low attendance.  No matter how few the numbers, there were always a few hecklers in the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen”, he began as he placed himself between the seats and the screen.  He clicked on his flashlight and shone it in the faces of the audience.

“Aack”, protested a voice.  “I thought you took care of the flashlight.”

“I did”, a woman responded.  “He must have found the batteries.  And the light bulb; it’s actually rather impressive.”

“Why?  Why do we go through this every frickin’ time”, the first audience member asked.

“Stella, don’t talk that way to your father”, her mother replied.  “Honey, she does have a point.  Don’t you think you take this a little too far?”

“No”, Percival responded.  He turned off the flashlight and continued in his informational lecture.  “We’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend tonight, but there are a few housekeeping notes we would like to address before we begin the presentation.”

“Ugghhh”, Stella moaned as she made a show of throwing her head and shoulders onto the empty pillow beside her.  “Every.  Lousy.  Time.”

“Honey, it is a little late”, Dawn offered.  “Maybe we could skip it this one time?”

“First and foremost, we would ask that all cellular devices, cameras, and gaming machines be silenced at this time.”

“No.   No no no.  Hank McNigh is supposed to call me.  We’re going out to the Howlaween Dance, Daddy.  All my friends are totally jealous.  He’s on the tennis team, just like you were!”

Stella’s pleas fell on unrelenting ears.  “I was on the lacrosse team”, Percival replied.

“Oh.  Well, still.  I mean, it’s important.  What’s he going to do when he calls me up to ask me out and I don’t answer?”

“One would hope that the young individual understands the complicated procedures involved in leaving a voicemail.  Besides, if he likes you that much, I think that he should ask you out in person.  Not over the phone like some cowardly lout.”

“Mommmmmm.”

“Percy, be nice.  The boy could be terribly pleasant but he’s just shy.  You’ve raised a very strong-willed daughter.”

“Regardless, I’m still going to have to ask for all electronics to be turned off before we begin our feature.”

“Mom?”

Dawn looked at her daughter’s pleading face.  She looked to her husband and gauged the amount of patience he had left after his day of work.  Then she returned her attention back to Stella and wore a look of resignation.  “I don’t think you’re going to win this one, kiddo.”

“Finnnnnne”, Stella said as she pulled her phone from her pocket and pushed the big circular button.  A happy little tune sang goodbye to its owner and went to sleep.

“Thank you”, Percival said with a nod.  “We would also like to remind those in attendance that this evening’s movie will not be available in 3D.  We are aware that the movie has been advertised as such, but seeing as how no 3D glasses were handed out to any patrons tonight and our theater has never been equipped with 3D technologies, we felt it necessary to remind our visitors of the fact at this time.

“Once”, Dawn said as she mockingly threw her hands in the air.  “I asked if we were seeing a 3D movie once.  Not since then.  You know, like how a certain someone once forgot to put on the emergency brake at the lake and our car drifted into the water?  Then we stood around for five hours while the tow truck pulled it out and tried to dry off the inner workings?  I don’t bring that up every time you reach for the car keys, do I?”

“I wonder what Hank’s parents are like”, Stella said to no one in particular.  “I bet he doesn’t have forced family nights like these.”

“Finally, we must strongly discourage any talking during the movie.  There are no intermissions, so we ask that all questions be held until the film has concluded.  We understand that sometimes there are confusing moments.  However we offer that those answers might come later and folks should simply wait until the movie is over.  Talking over the movie and disturbing those around you is hardly productive.”

“Does this mean we’re watching a documentary?  Hank’s going to think I’m rejecting him because I’m watching another global warming preach-fest?  We get it.  It’s hot outside.  Use less gas.”

“Finally, we would like to remind the younger members of our audience that sometimes older patrons become amorous during a presentation.  Any kissing or groping is entirely appropriate and is to be expected by those around them.”

“Percy, I wish you’d stop saying that.  You’re going to give certain people ideas that I’d rather she didn’t dwell on.”

“Dawn, she has her tongue pierced.  I’m guessing she’s already tried it out on a boy or two.”

“Percy!”

“Nah, Mom.  He’s right.  I’ve got my kissing technique all down.  It’s cool.”

“I can’t believe this”, the mother replied.  “How long have you been making out with boys?”

“I’m not telling you that, it’s personal!”

“So if you’re out kissing boys, then why is it so bad when your father and I kiss on the couch?”

“I don’t know; because you’re old.”

“How heartwarming to hear what my daughter thinks of me”, Percival commented.  “Now we begin our movie for the night, ‘Grumpy Old Men.’  Thank you for coming.”

“Oh fun”, Stella replied sarcastically.  “An old people movie.  If they start talking about, ‘The Last Great Generation’ again, I’m outta here.”

Percival placed his flashlight on the table behind the couch.  He walked up to cushion in the middle of the couch and sat down.  Dawn, seated on his left, handed him the bowl of popcorn.  Mumbling some phrase about wanting to be closer to the food, Stella scooted sideways and put her head on her dad’s shoulder.  The business of the day to day would come for them soon enough.  For now, they were happy to share in the humble activity.

Projecting Sound (Daily Post Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

(This week’s writing challenge was to craft a story about sound.  So blame The Daily Post for what follows.)

Projecting Sound

If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.” -Alfred Hitchcock

There are mechanical beasts in the world that should not be trifled with.  Sometimes they are monster trucks that drive over any obstacle in their paths.  Other times they are a massive train followed by a seemingly endless row of cars that could flatten a person in a second.  However, the best of the by-gone machines is the film projector.

Specifically, an IMAX projector from the late seventies is a prime piece of entertainment.  The metal panels are held on by screws which have been loosened and tightened many times over the decades in order to allow access to the inner-workings.  The two-by-two foot panels warble and warp, sending eerie reverberations as they try to maintain their shape when removed.  Even the fasteners that hold the metal to their bracing bars screech with protest when they are wrenched on as tightly as can be.

The separate sound reel adds to the fun.  With forty pounds of analog soundtrack, the long spoke turns and revolves the magnetic tape.  When it rewinds, the revolutions send out a low “whurrrr” until it reaches its peak speed.  Then the noise shifts to a whine as high-pitched emanations come from the metal disc whizzing along fast enough to knick one’s skin.  However, the real (or is that reel?) joy comes when the projector is in full operation.

It starts off quietly enough.  As the massive motor beneath the rotor starts to pick up speed, the sound echoes throughout the booth louder and louder.  “Chung chung chung”.  The film moves horizontally through the behemoth as it goes faster and faster.  Within seconds, the rhythm of the projector is joined by the almost-inaudible cry of the film as it accelerates to twenty-four frames per second.  A mile and a half of film zooms through in a brief forty minutes, the entire time the flashing pictures are accompanied by the comforting “thrumb” and chugging of the analog relic.

In theory, all goes just as it should.  The squawk of a walkie talkie produces an incomprehensible “skkrttch” from the usher below.  Quiet murmurings from the audience are heard through the booth walls and panes of glass.  The projectionist calls back down to the usher in his own voice.  That response also becomes distorted and muffled through the static as the electronic devices try to transmit across the short distance.

Suddenly the vexing and headache-inducing hum buzz of the overhead lights is cut short with a sharp snap as the breaker sends the world into darkness.  A lone thumb pushes against the starting button.  It responds with a satisfying “chunk”.  The audience falls into silence just before the screen grabs their attention and the speakers on all sides come alive with an increasingly majestic soundtrack.  That is, assuming everything goes as planned.

Every once in a while another sound or two might be heard.  Sometimes the film refuses to turn or speed up as smoothly as it should.  In that case, the horrifying sound of “CRRRRCKKKK” is bellowed across the room as the film rips itself in half.  Of course, one such noise wouldn’t be enough.  The platters that contain the film still want to keep turning, so there is the drone of those motors in motion while the loose ends dangle off the end, producing a “ka-flap, ka-flap, ka-flap”.  The rotor, used to being the star of the show, cries out louder than anything else, “KHKHKHKHKKKKKKKK” as it tries to chew through the film.  The existing perforations are soon joined by new, more ragged ones created by the sharp teeth indiscriminately piercing random spots on the film.

As the projectionist is brought to attention by the “crrrrrrckkkkk”, the “khkhkhkhkhkhkkkk”, and to a lesser degree, the “ka-flap, ka-flap, ka-flap”, he rushes forward and pushes several buttons.  The three previous noises slow as one or two “thunk” and “chck” sounds stop all operations.  Then the resonances of a projectionist’s cursing can be heard through the booth.  (We’ll let you imagine those words without any help.)  Hopefully it is confined to the booth, but the afore-mentioned windows sometimes allow the crowd to hear the hard consonants, which cause the younger attendees to giggle and squeal in delight.  Finally, as the projectionist surveys the sight before him, he uncontrollably lets out a whimpering sound.

There is much to be said for digital technology.  Yet it lacks the richness of sound that only an analog projector can provide.  With the newer generation of projectors, all one can hear is the constant, boring, droning noise of a fan cooling of the lamp.  But with an analog projector, a lonely projection booth can come alive with an endless array of sounds.  Even if those sounds are quite what the audience expected to hear.

The Father’s Sole Son

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Father’s Sole Son

It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.” -Mark Twain

Floyd felt the lateness weighing heavily on him.  He had arrived to open the movie theater at nine a.m. and it was now ten at night.  He wanted to go home.  His bed was waiting for him.  His cat was assuredly hungry.  The only thing standing between Floyd and his bus that would take him away were the last people that stubbornly refused to leave the theater.

If Floyd were being completely honest, he would have to admit that he hadn’t actually asked anyone to leave.  He knew that if it were he, a fellow movie nut, he would also want to stay through the end of the credits.  However Floyd was the one ushering tonight.  Floyd was the employee this time; not the movie buff.  He kept hoping that if he sent mental notes to the few guys left sitting in the theater that they would wondrously leave of their own accord.  As the credits for the soundtrack and locations scrolled by, Floyd realized that his powers of mind control were just not up to snuff.

Someone had to stand at the back of theater to make certain that everyone left and tonight that someone was Floyd.  He stood there, arms at their sides, nodding to each person as they left.  His role was that of a representative.  Floyd was not expected to smile or speak.  If he were to offer an occasional, “thanks for coming” it would be viewed by the common outsider as a nice thing to do.  Really though, Floyd was just a figurehead.  He was a reminder that yes, someone did work here, and that someone was probably going to have to clean up the bucket of popcorn that was kicked over twelve minutes into the movie.

A man briskly walked out of the theater.  He started to rush by, saw Floyd, and scurried over to him. 

“Bathroom?” 

“Up the walkway, to the left”, Floyd replied with a rehearsed simplicity.  He knew that any further directions would have been confusing.  And a man who had walked out of a three-hour movie did not have time to waste on details if he had a general direction to follow.

A small boy wandered out of the theater and found his dad.  His sleepy eyes widened as he looked at Floyd.  Floyd wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve the boy’s attention.  He hadn’t blinked, he hadn’t sneered; as far as Floyd knew he hadn’t even moved.  What reason could the boy have for taking notice of the non-descript usher?

The boy elbowed his father and looked down at Floyd’s feet.  The dad smiled.

“Are those shoes comfortable?”

“I think so”, Floyd replied.  “They do all right.”  Floyd still didn’t know what it was about his new shoes, but everyone felt inclined to comment on them.  Some folks had a pair just like them, only pink.  Some thought they looked space age-y.  Floyd had bought them because they were shoes, they looked comfortable, and they had been on sale.  He didn’t know why this stranger was asking, let alone why his son would care.

“They’re Salomons”, the man continued.  His tone implied more of a statement than a question.

“I think so”, Floyd said.  He honestly didn’t know, nor did he care.  He remembered the brand starting with an “S” and assumed this man knew better.

“My dad made those shoes”, the little boy beamed.

The smile on the boy’s face said it all.  It wasn’t specifically Floyd’s shoes that the boy cared about; it was the connection to his father.  He quickly took his dad’s hand and they scurried up the ramp.  The way the boy looked at his father made it all perfectly clear.

It didn’t matter what the boy’s father did for a living.  The man could have been a judge or he could have been a fisherman.  The head of the family could have sold beers at a stadium or been one of the players on the field.  Floyd knew instantly that the boy simply cared that someone was supporting his father’s work.  The boy had pride in his dad.  The smile that had popped out had said it all in one quick glance.  He was proud of his dad, and he loved him.  If he had to point at strangers’ feet to find an excuse to talk to people about how great his father was, then he would do it.  This was the man that took him to movies and worked hard to pay for their popcorn.  The son, as far as he was concerned, had the coolest dad one could hope for.

Floyd also smiled.  The affection the boy had on his face had infected Floyd.  He took it with him on the bus and carried it all the way to his home.  Even into the next day, Floyd kept thinking about the pair of movie-goers.  Any man that could inspire that much love in his son was a rather fine man indeed.

Tales from a Batsuit

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Tales from a Batsuit

It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that defines you.” –Batman Begins

There is an experience that only a select group of individuals have been subjected to.  Granted, the choice is usually their own, and in theory they take up the mantle willingly.  Still, the argument can be made that only those that go through this act of lunacy comprehend why they do such crazy things.  I am of course, talking about dressing up like a giant bat.

Other costumes exist and other heroes can be portrayed.  Spider-Man is especially fun because one’s entire face is covered.  Anyone can be Spidey.  Plus, the more you leap up on random objects and take on wacky poses, the “better” you are at being the Friendly Neighborhood wall-crawler.  I think Superman is a little harder to pull off.  If you don’t have the chiseled jaw and black hair, not to mention the muscled physique, then the whole thing can just come off as a sham.  (The attempt to pull Supes off led me to dying my hair, including my eyebrows, black.  The less said about the whole thing, the better.)  Sure all the kids love a good Superman, but one has to be able to pull it off.  Iron Man, Captain America; they’re all well and good.  In the end, nothing tops Batman.

The only trick is finding the right suit.  Thanks to the wonders of built-in padding, all ages, genders, and builds have portrayed The Dark Knight.  As someone who has dressed up for several movie openings at work, Batman is, no contest, seen as the coolest.  It helps if you have extra gear like batarangs or a Joker to chase around, though it is hardly necessary.  People see Batman, and they smile.  Fist bumps, photo opportunities, high-fives; all are common occurrences when a guy is dressed as Batman.

This is not to say that adopting the cape and cowl is all perks.  First off, the ears are floppy.  Have you ever seen a cool Batman with floppy bat-ears?  No, you haven’t.  There are ways and tricks to fixing them, such as ironing them stiff or inserting bits of cardboard, but it all seems rather silly.  Due to the open nature of Batman’s face, facial hair is simply a no-no.  If you’re going to play Batman, you’ve got to shave that beard off.  However, Batman is a creature of gruff and scruff, so stubble is quite okay.  Also, let’s just come out and say it.  The Bat-Booties don’t really cover up one’s shoes all that well.

Then of course, there’s the heat.  Batman movies have this annoying habit of coming out in June or July.  I may not live in the desert, but it feels like it in the suit.  The thing is all black and multi-layered.  The next time that you are going to the beach in your swimsuit, consider putting on a full-body, tight-fitting costume, then go ahead and drape an extra layer over your back.  Top that off by covering your hands and head.  The whole thing gets mighty toasty.  However, the kids like it, so it’s worth it.  And they’re not the only ones.

It has been said that, “Chicks dig the car”.  Well, the same can be said for the suit.  I don’t pretend to understand it.  Maybe women really do like dark characters.  Maybe Batman is fun for all ages.  Maybe we all want to be a little silly and leave our worries behind.  But for every guy that wants to hug, hang out, or take a picture with Batman, there are five females that feel the same way.  I have heard squeals of excitement, off-color comments, and then there was the gal who ran and literally jumped into my arms.  (Happily she wasn’t heavy and I wasn’t holding anything when she leapt at me.  That gal was either a little too excited or quite brave.  Or both.)  They smile, they wink, and sometimes they get a little handsy.  It’s odd, but also highly entertaining.

That perk is rather nice, but it is not the reason why I spend several minutes putting on a decidedly high-maintenance suit.  In the end, I think some movies deserve a little more effort.  I like romantic comedies, but those don’t really require anyone detaching their mind from reality.  Action movies are fun, however for those you mostly just have to turn off your brain.  Comic book movies; well there’s a certain suspension of disbelief that folks have to adopt.  If there’s a guy in a Batman costume waving and shaking hands, then it all becomes a little more plausible.  Really, I fell that folks want to have fun and I think some big goof in a costume helps that along.  Of course, none of them will ever know that fear the constantly haunts me.

They can’t see the run in my bat-tights, right?  I sure hope not.  The Bat-Sharpie only fixes so much.

Held Captive

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Held Captive

Charles Bullit knew that this line of work was supposed to be exciting, but as the gun pressed against his temple he started to think that there were better ways to spend the day.  With his capturer holding him in a tight headlock, his range of motion was quite limited.  He tried to keep his breathing somewhat steady while his eyes darted between the three players that were all attempting to control the scene the way they wanted.

First off there was the man with the gun to his head.  Bullit didn’t know what his motivation was or who he thought he was, but he knew that this fellow was a quite capable of being rough.  There had been no introductions made, the man had run up, grabbed him, and forced the gun on Bullit while the crowd stood by and watched.  Not knowing his name, and feeling that such pleasantries had long since gone out the window, Bullit had decided to refer to him as “Jerk”.

Standing on the other end of the mall’s courtyard was the man with a megaphone.  Most of his physical traits were obscured by the megaphone he seemed to keep in front of him at all times.  Bullit could tell that he was probably in his late 40’s.  He even had the spare-tire around his belly to compliment what was probably a bald patch underneath the black cap.  To finalize his attire, the megaphone-carrier wore a pair of sunglasses even though it was a fall day and the clouds were not letting up.  Mostly due to the megaphone that the man seemed to treat as an appendage, but also because of his rather unhelpful manner, Bullit figured he should be called “Loudmouth”.

ImageThen there was the only person that seemed to be trying to help.  The man standing about twenty feet away from Bullit and Jerk radiated confidence.  He had pulled a gun the moment that he had seen Bullit being taken and hadn’t taken his eyes off of Jerk the entire time.  He kept a safe distance, but his badge and the orders he barked out showed he knew exactly what he was doing.  Bullit could only assume this was the man that he was supposed to be meeting.  All things considered, Bullit could have written up much smoother ways for this meet-up to play out.  Regardless, Bullit kept his gaze mostly on his best shot of getting out of this, the man he decided was “Hero”.

Feeling that he wasn’t getting enough of Bullit’s attention, Jerk grabbed him tighter around the neck and half walked, half dragged his hostage backwards.  Hero followed very slowly, while Loudmouth called out, “This isn’t how this is supposed to go!  You know what we’re after, so just do it!”  Bullit could hear Jerk grunt and saw the man sneer out of the corner of his eye.  Without warning, he slid over to the left.  Bullit tried to turn to see where they were going, but that only caused Jerk to press his gun deeper into his temple.  Bullit quickly decided his curiosity wasn’t worth the migraine and gave Jerk the attention he seemed to want so badly.  Hero was side stepping, each foot quietly and confidently placed on the mall’s linoleum floor as he followed Jerk’s every move.

Bullit had felt like he could talk the situation out.  He waved his free arm and tried to get Loudmouth’s attention.  When he opened his mouth to speak, Loudmouth quickly interrupted him.

“You!  Do not say a word!  You’ve been warned!  We know what we’re doing, we’ve got this.  Just keep quiet or it’s all over!”

Bullit didn’t find those words terribly comforting.  Jerk grunted again and grumbled into Bullit’s ear.  “He’s right.  Keep your mouth shut and it’ll all be over soon.  Do what I tell you and you’ll be fine.  You mess this up for me and it’ll all go badly for you.  A few more minutes; that’s how long this’ll last.”

Bullit tried to nod along but found himself too worked up.  He looked to Hero with pleading eyes.  Hero looked at him and then cast a glance to Loudmouth.  Seeing the Mr. Megaphone wasn’t focused on him right now, Hero nodded confidently and for the briefest of seconds took one hand off the gun.  He raised it to his mouth, his index finger in front of his lips, and then returned his hand to his sidearm.  Bullit had gotten the message.  All three players in this game wanted him to keep his trap shut.

Screams echoed from behind Jerk and Bullit.  A few seconds later Bullit could see the baristas deserting the espresso stand that he and Jerk were approaching.  He had to give his captor some credit.  He no longer had his back exposed and could focus on the one-hundred and eighty degrees around them.  Bullit took in his environment, trying to find something that would help him out.  He knew that he wasn’t supposed to make any sudden moves, but he was growing tired of being treated like a bag of floor that was lugged and tossed around.

Loudmouth apparently figured out what Bullit was up to and protested in the only language he knew; shouting.  “Don’t even think about it!  Your job is to shut up and not throw any curve balls!  Be a good little hostage.”  Bullit wished very hard that he had a curve ball that he could throw.  At this point he’d aim it right for Loudmouth’s annoying face.

Suddenly, Hero leapt into action.  In one fluid movement he had sheathed his gun and ran full charge towards Jerk.  Jerk had been distracted by the outburst between Loudmouth and Bullit and Hero had taken advantage of it.  Bullit could feel Jerk’s eyes growing wide as Hero was only a few yards away.

“Stay back!  I will take this little punk out!  Stay back!”

Hero, almost within arms’ reach, took the situation under consideration.  Bullit knew that if he lunged just right, he could take out Jerk.  But Jerk was not in the mood to call it quits.  He pressed the gun even harder into Bullit’s face and moved so that his captive was directly between him and Hero.  He moved the gun to the base of Bullit’s skull and pointed it upwards.  With his other hand Jerk pulled at the hair on top of Bullit’s hard and pulled back sharply.  With that, Bullit had had enough.

“Okay.  Stop.”

Loudmouth threw his megaphone on the ground but Jerk refused to let go.  Bullit was done.  He stomped on Jerk’s foot, felt the grip on him loosen, and punched Jerk right in the jaw.

“What’re you doing?”  Hero was shocked and came running up.  He pushed Bullit roughly aside and knelt before Jerk.  “Hank, are you okay?”

“Larry, what’s happening?”  Jerk, or rather, Hank, was dazed.

“The freakin’ extra ruined the shot, that’s what happened”, Loudmouth answered as he walked up to the three of them.  “Kid, what do you think you’re doing?  We can’t use any of that.”

“Jerk here was getting a little too rough.  I know I’m just a walk on player, but what the sam hill, man?”

Hero, know known to Bullit as Larry, grabbed onto Bullit’s arm and pulled him aside.  Loudmouth went to check in on Hank and started muttering, “Never in my twenty-one years of directing…”

“Look kid”, Larry started.  “Do you know why you weren’t allowed to talk?”

“Because union rules say that if I say any lines then you have to pay me different.”

“Right.  So what makes you think if we don’t want to hear a word you say that we’re going to love you for changing the script?”

“I’m sorry”, Bullit said.  “But Jerk over there…”

“That ‘Jerk’ is Hank Stuffin.  He’s the second biggest name on this picture.  He made enough money last year to buy your house.  Ten times.  So you treat him with respect.  Now, you know who the biggest name on this picture is?”

Bullit didn’t, so he stayed quiet.

“Me.  This is my picture.  I’m tired of making romantic comedies.  This is my big action break.  Do you know how many chocolate shakes I’ve had to give up getting in shape for this role?  How many hours I’ve spent in the gym while some muscle-bound trainer yells at me?  And you’re going to come here and mess that all up for me?”

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you, but the guy was getting rough.”

“What did you expect?”  Loudmouth came up, taking the sunglasses off for the first time so Bullit could see his eyes glaring a hole through him.

“I dunno, I thought I might get to drive a car or something.  Maybe ride on a bus that you guys were using.”

“Kid, what kind of spy movie takes place on a bus?”  Ludmouth yanked his hat off and threw it on the ground in disgust.  “Now get off my location.”

Bullit shrugged.  He could hear Loudmouth talk about having to reset and reshoot but he didn’t feel bad for what he had done.  They could have been nicer, he thought.  Charles Bullit walked off the set only too happy to leave the movie world behind him.

The Movies You’ll See

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Movies You’ll See

When you travel to a theater
You will find a patron greeter
They’ll say what there is to see
And the choices will fill you with glee

You could see a flick about a rhinoceratops
Who befriends a small boy who likes pork chops
Then there’s the drama that takes place in France
Where a man loses everything but his underpants.

Then there are adventures deep underground
Where monsters and creatures travel around.
There are guys who like to drive really fast
Because they must escape from their past.

There are movies for all kinds of folks
There’re talking animals that make jokes.
Watch a dance movie where they bounce and leap
Then one person mis-steps and they’re all in a heap.

So many ways can you watch these shows,
What option to pick?  Why, nobody knows!
Do you want them with popcorn or candy?
Are you the sort that thinks 3D is dandy?

You can go see them alone in the middle of the day
You can go see them just when the weather is rather gray.
You can go see them when they are brand new
You can go see them with a friend who wants to go too.

Seats on the sides are by far the most springy
And you won’t have to step in that gooey thingy.
Try to avoid people who are much taller than you
They want to see movies just as much as you do.

Maybe you’ll laugh at a fish that plays guitar
You might see worlds that exist in a pickle jar.
Some alien might cause you to let out a scream
You might even fight crime with a super team.

Whatever you watch, sit back and enjoy
Rub your hands and squeal, “oh boy!”
You can leave before the credits are done,
Just remember that this is supposed to be fun

The Uncomfortable Seat

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Uncomfortable Seat

H32 was not having the greatest of days.  There hardly was a good day to be had when one was a theater seat, but today seemed especially vexing for H32.  This was the day that a four year-old had taken to jumping up and down on it while letting their chocolate bar smear over every available surface.  The smearing of sugar and milk products made H32 sneer.  People do not appreciate the amount of patience it takes to live a life of being sat on.  H32’s job wasn’t the most difficult, but it grew weary of the pressure that was laid on it hour after hour, day after day.

Tuesdays were the worst days.  Discount night at the theater brought out the cheapskates; those that felt they could put their legs up on the chair in front of them and treat seats as their own personal trash can.  H32 might have understood if they stopped at leaving their garbage in its cup holders, but it never stopped there.  If there was going to be gum stuck to the bottom of its seat, odds are it occurred on a Tuesday.  As a way of making things worse, patrons seemed to use their extra money to buy nachos.  Nachos with extra cheese.  The biological effects of the nachos ruined H32 for the rest of the night.  It fought to keep the stench from overwhelming its senses.  In the rare instances where the eater of complex foods did allow H32 to escape the silent killer, there was always the strong possibility that the cheese would end up smeared on what was once perfectly nice fabric.

H32 knew that other seats had it much worse.  There were seats in new theaters that were made to jostle and thrash themselves side to side so that their occupant could feel “entertained”.  The patron didn’t care how much the programmed movement nauseated and disoriented the seat.  Some chairs were kicked and kicked and kicked until they finally snapped in half; a jagged crack in the plastic scarred their spinal region.  H32 was in a somewhat comfortable theater.  The reckless crowd didn’t sit in his area.  They always seemed to prefer the back rows.  At least, that’s what Q thru X claimed every night after closing.  Any chair that resided in that area was guaranteed to smell of either cigarettes or alcohol several nights a week.  H32 didn’t take kindly to the toddlers that would stand on his seat while drooling on his back.  However it was a far better fate than being puked on or having a cigarette extinguished on its seat and feeling the dim ambers burn through its fibers and padding.

H32 had tried to get early retirement.  Of all the seats in the theater, H32 squeaked the loudest.  If the staff had cared as much as the rest of the chairs did, H32 would have been WD40ed long ago.  That was not the case.  The slackers, the partiers, and the under-age kids that got paid to loosely wear their polo shirts just wanted a paycheck and a free movie for them and their friends to watch.  The actual work held no interest for them.  They tore a sampling of tickets, let the popcorn gather like pennies in a piggy bank, and hurried their way through a quick clean at the end of the night so they could go on to something much more enjoyable.  These were not the people that made repairs; these were the people that smoked a few with their friends in row W.

H32 started to feel that it was time to take its game up a notch.  The only way it could escape would be to make its presence so intolerable that management would step in.  H32 was an aisle seat, how hard could it be to get kicked out?  It just wanted to be broken down and freed of this thankless task.  The spilled sodas, the keys and pointy belts poking at its once pristine fabric; the abuse was awful.

Then there was the kicking.  The endless kicking from antsy adults, obnoxious children, and elderly men with canes who wanted the folks in front of him to pipe down.  If one more person in row J took out their frustration on H32’s backside, it was outta here.  The pain would be severe, the infliction upon itself would be desperate, but H32 was ready for that drastic gambit.  If it came down to it, H32 would spring a few coils and poke anyone who tried to use him right in their rear.  Normally cushions were expected to soften a blow, but H32 was set to break that trend.

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