GUEST POST: IT RAINS YOU GET WET EDITOR le0pard13 SHARES SOME OF HIS ‘LAZY THOUGHTS’ ON THEIR ‘A THEATRE… A MOVIE… AND A TIME’ SERIES AND REVEALS VALUABLE TRICKS OF THE TRADE. NOT TO BE MISSED!By Ronan Wright on February 2nd, 2012
le0pard13 is the internet moniker of a father of two, spouse to one, who blogs on family and the popular arts out of The City of the Angels. If you ask him, he’d say this about himself: ‘Born in the 50s, grew up during the 60s, and survived the 70s.’ The late baby-boomer (or maybe Generation Joneser) has wondered the later years with an unexpected IT job at a medical center well past a third decade now. Just don’t ask him to explain it.
I became an instant fan of Filmplicity once I discovered it last year via our mutual friend Ruth over at her Flixchatter site. Our Man Ronan’s generous invitation to actually contribute something to his wonderful site (I’m not saying what I’m bringing is good, mind you) is nothing short of awesome for moi. Can you tell I’m not from those parts the blog editor calls home, yet?
His guest appearance on my blog last month really kicked off the blogging year for me in unexpected ways. His Five Ways to be a Happier Blogger in 2012 not only has had the most views in the calendar year for my meager site, it offered valuable avenues to what I do, which only benefitted me and those that stop by and read what’s there.
In a good many ways, what Ronan espoused in his guest article, and his recent list of Steven Spielberg films, gave credence to a line of posts I have been running called A Theatre… A movie… and a Time. It seems the most common reader response they’ve generated is to ask how exactly I do it – put them together, I mean. They’re not much, really. Usually, I try to keep this set of articles relatively short — no less than 300 words, but no more than 500, if I can help it.
For the curious, my life outside of this activity is pretty much taken up by work and family, as most folk. Let it be said, though, I don’t think I’m so much a writer than an online reactor to others and their ideas. Hence, the subject of this piece came from my readers.
Why It’s Done
The series of posts I began in the Spring of last year seems to scratch an itch I’ve had ever since I began scribbling down my lazy thoughts in the ether back on Father’s Day of 2008. I guess I didn’t know I had such things to offer or knew what do with them. Unbeknownst to me, the blogging communities, of which Ronan and Ruth, their Filmplicity/Flixchatter readers, and others were at the heart in solving this. It appears the only thing I’m good at, except irritating my long-suffering spouse and haranguing my kids to no end, is remembering things – both good and bad. My wife has accused me of having, along with passing down to her children, the nostalgia gene.
Guilty as charged. Though, to be accurate, I myself inherited that chromosomal trait from my mother. Such a thing wouldn’t have come from dear ol’ dad… the old man had little time for sentimentality. Besides, if he hadn’t smoked, I think he’d have had a problem remembering the names of the people he met (mostly women, btw) if they hadn’t written their names on the back of his matchbooks. So, with that, along with my love of watching movies from an early age, an idea formed to create an arc for a series of memory downloads I christened TMT, for short. The a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time entries, in essence, are an archive of these memories.
Full disclosure, I credit to my good friend, blogger and writer over at Colonel Mortimer Will Have His Revenge for the inspiration. Reading his look back at the films and theaters in his life triggered all of this — hey, original I’m not.
You see, existing as an organic being I know my memories, like me, are not destined to last. Born in the 50s, growing up during the 60s, and surviving the 70s, I know this as a certainty. Besides, having a memory like my mother’s, a woman who treated her children to the stories of her youth during her all too brief time on this mortal coil, would be considered a waste by she-who-wouldn’t-let-her-sons-forget. In essence, this is my small way of repaying that debt.
How It’s Done
Initially, I came up with a list of movies and the theaters I visited over the decades. Here, too, I was plain (and circumstantially) lucky. As the old saying goes, “Choose your parents wisely”. Is doing so a godsend, I wonder? My begetters, both from the state of Texas, would never have met in that most unique southwestern area of the United States. El Paso and Corpus Christi are on opposite ends of that shire, like they were. Their respective families moving to the City of Los Angeles in California, where they met, are what brought me (and my brother) forth.
It also had the unexpected benefit of placing me in shouting distance of Hollywood and in the midst of the film capital of the U.S. And, one loaded to the gills with old and new movie theaters screening all kinds of fare.
As much as these engrams are bioelectrical, and very much analog, the method that carries them to the annals of my blog remains purely a digital exercise. Without a doubt, Evernote, the online digital assistant that helps “Remember Everything”, is invaluable at keeping track of every little thing it takes to put a post together. If I find something, be it an online post of a specific film that triggers a memory of mine (this occurs a lot and I try to give credit in the piece to those who sparked it*) or driving by an area where once stood a demolished movie palace (which happens a lot these days), this cloud app captures it (on my phone, tablet or home/work computer). It’s invaluable as an overall tool in an endeavor such as this.
Of course, the first step outside the memory is centering on the initial ‘T’ of that acronym. You’re not getting far without the Theatre. There are two web sites I frequent for the task of identifying and highlighting them. Cinema Treasures and CinemaTour are it, with the former getting the most of my attention. Cinema Treasures is as they describe themselves:
“We’re passionate about movie theaters and going to the movies. Since 2000, Cinema Treasures has united movie theaters and patrons to build the world’s most comprehensive guide to movie theaters, and help celebrate and preserve the moviegoing experience.”
Even the New York Times cited them in a news article from last summer for their work and preservation to that effort. If you read the various comments for the diverse movie halls listed, you’ll note I’m not the only one wispily recalling their experiences tied to a specific theatre of yesteryear. I’ve even added some remarks to the site myself (mainly in regard to my stint as a movie theater projectionist many years ago). CinemaTour, also, is no slouch for the information and images it captures by contributors and readers for their ever-growing “cinema history around the world.”
‘M’ comes next, and the best resource out there for the thing we call a Movie, especially to those who blog about film, is the Internet Movie Database, or IMDB. Want to find out the release date for film, shooting locations, trivia, or quotes, this is where you want to me. Surprisingly, those who contribute worldwide details (again, full disclosure: I be one) to Wikipedia offer some splendid information on individual (mostly well-known) films, as well. Most of the time, I’ll obtain a copy of the movie poster from the folks at MoviePosterDB. If I can’t find a representative one-sheet image there (rare), then it’s off to Google or back to Wikipedia, or Wikimedia.
Finally, we’ll arrive back at the last ‘T’, which in this case has morphed to the quintessential Time. This is where I begin the triangulation of it all. An entry doesn’t mean anything without context. Sometimes, it involves locating the release date of a film, the calendar of the period (the Time and Date site is indispensable for the obtaining any schedule of yesteryear), or delving into these databases of movie houses and film to pull from this old brain of mine the associated landmarks and events to help nail it down.
A good portion of the time, I can pinpoint the day and date of that particular memory. Families, and sometimes friends, help for some of the older recollections. Other times, I have to estimate the period it all happened, or give less personal tidbits because the remembrance of it has worn away through daily living and the loss of brain cells (I blame the drinking ;-)).
Either way, it all amounts to what I can personally impart to the reader of that past movie-going experience… a snapshot in other words. An impression in my life. My favorite writer of the last few years, Robert Crais, recently gave an answer to a question posed by another good friend of mine that I found fitting. It came from the blogger also known as Pop Culture Nerd doing a Q&A post about his new novel release. I think it sums up both the why and how of this archive venture I’ve come to find myself in. One accomplished through the support of the blogging community and those more generous than I (and thus is a good point to end on):
PCN: “Best advice ever taken?”
RC: “Write what you love.”
* Truth be told, what really kicks off an entry (whether it’s on that list of mine or not) most of the time is other bloggers. As Ronan stated, “We are what we read”.