Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Around To It...

Not that there's a great uproar across the blogosphere about my lack of writing recently, but I still feel bad about my output (or lack thereof) over the past couple of months.  I still have a lot of ideas and topics for future posts floating around in my mind that I simply haven't been able to hammer out on the keyboard.  Most of this has to do with a perceived lack of free time caused by our impending move.  In about a week our little family unit will be packing up and moving from our little house in our little town to an even littler apartment in a big city.  Along with some other distractions over this summer the move has been hanging over our heads like a dark cloud.  At this time it almost feels "selfish" to take the time necessary to think out, write, edit new blog entries.  And that's not even mentioning the time involved with adding photos to those posts.  If all goes well I should lose this excuse in another month or so and be back to my old output of about a blog per week (on average).  We will see...

Not being able to get around to writing has reminded me of a little piece of my past (a VERY little piece).  Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky.  Yes, there actually is an Army base by that name--it's not just a gold depository.  I was only in the service for two years, but in that time I managed to not write home nearly enough.  I should mention that this was way back in the "dark ages" of the late 1980s.  It was a time before the internet and before cell phones.  While it may seem difficult for someone growing up today, there was a time--not all that long ago--when people would actually write letters as a way to keep in touch.  And I'm talking about literally writing a letter on a piece of paper and using a pen of pencil rather than sending out an e-mail or a text or tweet.  We did make phone calls too (frequently from an ancient device called a "Pay Phone"), but letter writing wasn't quite the endangered art form that it is today.

This isn't to say that I never wrote, it just wasn't as often as it could have been.  During the first part of my time in the service I had a girlfriend and most of my writing involved letters sent to her.  After we broke up I spent a lot more time feeling sorry for myself than writing.  Either way, I never wrote home to my parents nearly as often as I wish I had.  It's true that we're talking about something that I did (or didn't do) nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago, but I still regret my laziness to this day.

At one time my mother sent me a package full of snacks and presents around the time of my birthday.  It was a wonderful little slice of HOME, and a great distraction from the daily grind of living in the barracks doing "Army stuff".  There was one little item in it which was probably meant mostly as a joke, but it also let me know the error of my ways (as minor as that error might have been).  It was a small cardboard box that contained a little wooden token.  The small circle of wood had one word imprinted on it: "TUIT".  My mother wrote on the box "In case you're waiting to write until you get around to it, here it is!"  Yes, she had sent me a "Round Tuit".  The obverse of this little novelty had the name of my father's personal company name, GUSCO, inscribed on it.

I've always remembered that little wooden token and thought about the fact that I should have written home more often.  I actually kept that box of gifts and sent it home when my time in the Army ended.  Along with some other stuff I packed into it there were still some of the original contents.  Not too long ago I found that same box my mom had sent me all those years ago at my parents' house while I was visiting them.  What a wonderful surprise it was to find the little "Round Tuit" in there!  I am now keeping it handy to remind myself that I need to keep finding the time to get around to keeping in touch with the people in my life, as well as finding the time to write this blog.  Hopefully I'll be more successful at doing that today than I was when I was a much younger man.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Worcester Movies on the Common 2012: JAWS

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Worcester Film Works' 2012 summer film series Movies on the Common continued with it's second show on Thursday July 19th.  The film for the night was "Jaws" (1975).  While the movie might not have been quite as family-friendly as some of the other offerings from shows past, it was very appropriate for an outdoor summer movie series.  "Jaws" was, of course, one of the first of the Hollywood "Summer Blockbusters".  Nowadays summer blockbusters are a dime a dozen.  Every week from Early May right through August it seems like some new blockbuster opens in the theaters.  They're called "Blockbusters" before they even premiere and earn a single dollar.  Back in 1975 the idea of a movie that debuts during the summer and becomes a blockbuster was a relatively new concept.

This was the second of three monthly shows in the Movies on the Common series and follows the successful inaugural season in 2011.  On the third Thursday of each month through the summer (June, July and August) a classic movie is projected onto a huge screen set up behind City Hall on the Worcester (MA) Common.  Musical acts are now a regular part of the series and all of this year's shows actually feature two bands before each movie.  There are also vendors set up selling food, drink and ice cream.

Because I didn't think The Little Monster was quite ready to see some of the more intense stuff in "Jaws" I went to this show alone.  The program starts at 5:00 with the first musical act.  Iza Jane was the opener for this show.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to arrive until around 8:00 and missed Iza Jane altogether. By the time I got to the Common the second band, Heavy Horses, was already halfway through their set.  And what a great set it was (at least if you like covers of mostly 1970s rock and roll--as I most certainly do).  I'm not sure what I missed during the first half of the gig, but I did hear familiar songs from the likes of Foghat, Heart, Kansas, Bad Company, Styx, Jefferson Starship and the J. Geils Band.  It was a rockin' set of oldies but goodies!

Turtle Boy welcomed me to the Common
A cloudy sky threatened, but didn't affect, the evening
Heavy Horses perform
The crowd slowly builds as showtime approaches

Another view of the Common from the Soldiers and Sailors monument

Worcester.  You gotta love it.
After Heavy Horses finished up the stage was transformed into a movie screen.  But there was still quite a while to wait until it got dark enough to start the movie, so it was time to check out the vendor tables.  Worcester Film Works had their usual set up and were selling Polar soda (local company) and popcorn that was popped in their now-functioning popcorn machine (it never worked during last year's Movies on the Common series).

Worcester Film Works' table (and popcorn machine)
Also present were regulars Sweet Sister Ice Cream with their ice cream truck, and The Theatre Cafe with their hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and veggie wraps.  They also offered the option of ordering anything from their regular menu, which would be prepared at their restaurant on Main Street and delivered to the Common.

Sweet Sister's ice cream truck
The Theatre Cafe's table
That's Entertainment had a table set up for the second straight show too.  They were offering some free comic books as well as fun Worcester T-shirts and funky Japanese candy for sale.  I picked up a comic to bring home for The Little Monster and bought a package of grape flavored candy.

That's Entertainment's table
Some free stuff, and my package of Japanese grape candy
There was also a new table at this show manned by folks from Next Step Living Inc. that offered free information and giveaways about going green and reducing your home's carbon footprint (see the magnet from them in the photo above).  You could sign up to get a free home audit and free CFC bulbs to replace old incandescent ones in your house.

I should probably mention here that I'm a geek (in case anyone didn't already realize that).  For this show I just HAD to bring along my November 1979 issue of TV Guide from the week that ABC had the network television premiere of "Jaws".  It made for some excellent pre-movie reading!

Appropriately enough, Finz, the Worcester Sharks hockey team's mascot made an appearance and handed out freeze pops before "Jaws" started.  Unfortunately, this would have been one of the highlights for The Little Monster.  She missed his appearance last year too.

Finz hands out some chilly treats to the crowd

Finally it was 9:00.  The sky darkened and it was time for the movie to start.  I munched on my popcorn from Worcester Film Works as John Williams' famous theme played over the opening credits of "Jaws".

The skies darken
The popcorn's ready
The crowd swelled as darkness fell and movie time approached
Can't you just hear the music?
Roy Schieder feeds some chum to the big fella
All good things (and movies) must end

A happy crowd files out of the Worcester Common
It was fun watching this great movie in an outdoor setting and hearing the reactions from the crowd to both the shocking moments and the most famous lines ("This was no boat accident", "You're gonna need a bigger boat"...).  A recent heat wave had just ended and the threatening-looking cloudy sky from earlier in the evening gave way to a clear and cool night that made for great movie watching.  I don't know how many people turned out for this show, but it certainly seemed like a good sized crowd made up of all ages (and a few dogs too).

Two shows are down and there's only one more left in the 2012 Worcester Movies on the Common series.  That one will be "The Princess Bride" (1987) and will happen on Thursday August 16th (with a rain date of August 23rd).  I'm hoping to be able to make it to that one as well and will try to get a report out soon after.  Until then, please keep out of the water!