Me and My Arrow

Me and my Arrow

There is something to be said about listening to your wife.

In my case it was a hard lesson to learn. (In fact the learning never ends).

I loved my Plymouth Roadrunner, but with that V-8 engine (and its racing cam) it was a bit of a gas hog. No longer could you pull up to the pump and buy gas for 25 cents a gallon. Our buying power for that commodity had been cut in half with the rise in price. And the price showed signs of going higher.

Time to look for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

I am not sure if the ad campaign for the Plymouth Arrow led us to consider that vehicle. The tune has stuck in mind ever since whenever I think about the car. The marketeers had picked up the Harry Nilsson tune from 1971. It had been composed for the ABC animated Movie broadcast on 2/2/1971 as the theme for its hero Oblio, the pointless boy, and his dog Arrow.

Anyway I had made up my mind that this was the car for us. Gas efficient, a 1600cc overhead cam engine, four cylinder, with a clean sporty look (although the bright orange paint job let everyone know you were coming). And did I say gas efficient?

But there was a BIG negative, not for me, but for my wife. The Arrow had a stick shift. This didn’t bother me at all, that stick shift was a four speed. Can you say sporty? I could grind those gears like Steve McQueen in Bullitt.

But my wife didn’t drive a stick. And wouldn’t drive a stick. She made her feelings very plain. If I bought that car, she would never drive it. (She didn’t say I could never drive her in it).

But it was fuel efficient, was my argument. And within our budget. And brand new. Our first brand new car right off the lot. (And last brand new car ever as it has turned out – so far).

Regret was slow in coming. Not for the car itself. It was a great car. But the seed of bitterness sown with that one-sided decision poisoned our relationship.

True to her word, she never drove that car. And every car after that has had an automatic transmission.

So all you young husbands out there. Learn this lesson, and don’t fall on that arrow.

Viewing Star Wars

Just wanted to reblog this post to mark the 40th Anniversary #StarWars40

Viewing Star Wars

Star Wars opened to the public on May 25th 1977 – the Wednesday before Memorial weekend. But I saw it before the public did, because that was my job.

At that time I worked for the Saffle Theater Service in Seattle, WA, and had been for a year. Part of my job was to attend the screenings of upcoming films and report back whether in my judgment the film would “play” or “not play” in the venues we negotiated for. If it were an art film or a documentary more than likely it was not for us, unless the boss deemed it a candidate for our theaters in the Moscow, ID/Pullman, WA area (homes respectively for the University of Idaho and Washington State University). If it were a saturation booking like “Sky Riders” from Fox, and if it was slated to have a massive TV advertising campaign, then, of course the answer was a resounding yes. We had quite a few drive ins and tank towns that wanted to get in on that action.

When the screening for a sci-fi fantasy film from Fox was announced in May of 1977 there was no buzz, no excitement going around among the denizens of Seattle’s film row. In fact, I don’t think there was any interest at all. I, however, was very interested.

Around Christmas of 1976, Fox had put out a brochure for their upcoming titles for 1977. I perused it as I did for similar offerings from the other distributors. Here Fox was touting the likes of The Other Side of Midnight, Julia, The Turning Point, and High Anxiety. What riveted my attention was the spread on a sci-fi title called Star Wars. The graphic didn’t mean a thing (of course it didn’t, no one had seen the picture yet – it showed Luke and Leia from the shaft scene on the Death Star). But the “written and directed by” credit did. And that was why I was excited – for it cited a name that I recognized as the director of American Grafitti, George Lucas.

So, it was with great anticipation that I sat with my wife in the UA Cinema 150 to see it unspool for the first time in Seattle. And we were not disappointed. The Cinema 150 sits (or rather did sit) under a dome and has (had) a gigantic screen. That screen filled an 120 degree field of view to your front. The opening scroll and the electrifying score racheted up the anticipation. And I swear that when that Star Destroyer loomed into the scene in pursuit of the other space ship, you felt that it was directly on top of you (I think it had something to do with the sense of space imparted by that dome).

From that moment I knew that this film was going to do fantastic, light years ahead of American Grafitti, but even so I did not know just how epic the grosses were going to be.

[Aside – I did have problem trying to convince one of our clients to play it at their theater. The Olympic theater in Forks, WA., did not want to take a chance on playing it until it was available for their normal two day schedule. They were only open four days a week – with two changes, one bill on Friday and Saturday and the other on Sunday and Monday. I finally convinced him to play it all four days, resulting in a record gross for him. Not surprisingly, he held it over another weekend].

Tales from my Father pt2

Tales from my Father pt2

Shortly after my father married, he was scheduled for a transfer. Another airman from the same unit was slated to transfer at the same time. As such things go, the Air Force allowed them to state their top three choices in order of preference.

This other airman wanted to serve at McChord AFB near Tacoma WA. So he put that choice right at the top.

My Dad strategized his selections based upon his knowledge of how such things usually worked in the military. He too wanted to go to McChord, but he put in for Larson AFB as his first choice instead. When the postings came through, my Dad was pleased to see that his new posting would be to McChord. His airman friend landed at Larson. (Confirming once again his understanding of how the government worked.)

At the time my Dad moved to McChord, the ACW unit had their own separate quarters on the base. As in his time at San Antonio for basic, supply problems were still rife. The airbase had a shortage problem, not enough blankets to go around, but unlike San Antonio there was plenty of food.

The nearby army base Fort Lewis had exactly the opposite problem – a shortage of food, and too many blankets. Such complementary problems created many opportunities for horse trading a la Sgt. Bilko. The ACW unit soon had plenty of blankets to go around.

The ACW kitchen at McChord was located right on the flight line. So all day long they could hear the F-86 Sabre jets roar in and out. The facility was principally for the personnel manning the radar, but it became a favorite spot for the base pilots to drop in for a meal. This kitchen was the only one open 24 hours a day and hence was more handy than the pilots’ own.

The ACW cooks always kept very good care of the pilots, giving them anything that they wanted, even items not on the menu for the day. The pilots in return would regale them with stories about their recent patrol of the Pacific coastline.

The pilots created quite a buzz around the kitchen when they came back from flights in which they had chased some slow moving lights off to the west. They would be closing in and then try to overtake these objects on afterburners, and these lights just as quickly warped away from them. Such actions left the pilots with the distinct impression that they were being toyed with.

This was the time of many UFO sightings, and a few years after the famous snapshot of the objects over Mount Rainier.

There was never any indication that the pilots were fabricating a tall tale. The cooks had the sense that the pilots were dead serious, and weren’t relaying anything other than what they had seen.

Tales from my Father Pt 1

Tales from My Father Pt 1

When my Father enlisted in the US Air Force in 1951, he reported to basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio TX. It was a rough time. The Korean conflict had just broken on the scene and over 100,000 men were crammed into a camp meant for 20,000.

Their uniforms were all WW2 issue – Army Air Corps khaki. The new blue uniforms for the recently separated service arm were not yet available.

In addition food was scarce and the men were always hungry. So after basic Dad was not unhappy to be assigned to the cooking school. All those similarly appointed made their way to Fort Devens in Massachusetts. There all the hungry enlisted men who had suffered through basic in San Antone were pleasantly surprised to see a mess hall flowing with “milk and honey.” Six weeks of training in their specialty ensued.

His first orders were for Larson AFB in Moses Lake WA which he reached via Payne Field, north of Seattle.  Dad in his capacity as cook was assigned to an AC&W squadron (Aircraft Control & Warning). These were special radar units were a part of the Air Defense Command (ADC), set up to give early warning about the approach of enemy airplanes. These Washington State sites were tasked to be on the lookout for Bearcat Bombers expected to be coming over the pole from Russia (the USSR). A squadron each was placed at a series of a half dozen bases that ringed the atomic facilities at the Hanford nuclear reserve in the tri-cities area of the state.

Other ACW squadrons were mobilized for service in Korea to do the same function at the air bases there.

From Larson he was seconded to another base, but only spent one day there. He was told that someone had read his orders wrong and that he should have been sent to Colville WA instead. They turned him around, however, and sent him back to Larson, as the new base outside of Colville was still under construction.

Having time on his hands and being curious, my Dad got a hold of some maps and checked out where the town of Colville was located.

When the orders came through for the squadron to proceed to Colville. The Master Sargeant asked the men assembled if anyone knew where Colville was. Dad spoke right up and said he knew the way, the fruit of satisfying his curiosity earlier.  So the Master Sergeant had the PFC join him in the lead car of the convoy as they headed for their new duty station.

They arrived in Colville hungry and pulled up in a line on Main Street. Having scoped out a place to eat, Dad again volunteered, this time to guard the cars and trucks. A lot of locals and looky loos stared in wonder as they passed the parked convoy, pondering what had come to their fair community. (There was very little in the local press about what the military was doing up on the mountain. Their equipment and mission was top secret).

They took the Tiger Road out of town, and over Squaw Creek up to the mountain where the base, at least as far as personnel goes, was ready. The radar installation had not yet been completed, but it would be soon.

Knowing that Colville would be the only place nearby to meet girls, my Dad came up with the following stratagem his first furlough there. Walking down the street he ran into some children, he opened his ploy by asking one of the boys if he had any big sisters at home. When the answer came back in the negative, he switched gears. Did he have a babysitter. Yes, he indeed did have one, and he led my father straight to the house where she lived.

My Mom answered his knock at the door. This being a small town out west in the early 50’s, if a man in uniform appeared on your doorstep, hospitality required that you invite him in. So she did.

She was home from school that day, looking after her younger siblings. Their mother had just passed away the week before. She entertained the young airman by playing the latest 45s on her record player. So the music of Eddy Arnold, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Patti Page and Bing Crosby’s version of Harbor Lights formed the sound track for their courtship.

They were joined in wedlock six months later. And for the shivaree (a quaint custom that takes various forms along the frontier in the US) he was made to push his new bride down Main Street in a wheel barrow.

Dinner at the Golden Lion or I eat snails

Dinner at the Golden Lion2

When I think of Christmas in the workplace, it always recalls to my mind A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (as I am sure it does many of you), and in particular, one of Dickens’ characters whom we meet in Scrooge’s encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Past, Mr. Fezziwig. There is something very attractive and warm about this character, the first example to the young Scrooge as a man who knew how to “keep Christmas.”

And when I remember Bud Saffle, my old boss at the Saffle Theater Service, echoes of Fezziwig reverberate, at least for one occasion – the office Christmas party.

That one year, Bud and his wife Diane, took his employees – myself and Lori B. (with our significant others) to the Olympic Hotel and its renowned Golden Lion restaurant. It was situated up in the area nearby my old workplace, the Fifth Avenue Theater. Though I had been working within spitting distance of this destination for a couple of years, I had never seen it, much less been in it. (We were more familiar with establishments of the fast food variety).

The Golden Lion was a high-toned eatery with decor and a wait staff decked out in a style reminiscent of the British Raj. (Turbans adorned those flaming the special dishes). It was a mite intimidating for one who didn’t know a chafing dish from a salad bowl. But our host put us at ease, and told us to order whatever we wanted.

Appetizers were first on the menu. Our first major decision. My eye landed on the word “escargot.” Having been a French major in college, I knew what those were – snails. I was not an adventurous eater, a truth to which my wife can testify. So, she was surprised when I opted for this gastronomic oddity. I admit I was curious as to how they would taste. And I learned that anything tastes GREAT in garlic butter sauce. Warm bread was supplied to mop up the extra.

After one bite of her appetizer my wife wished she had opted for something else. Perhaps one of the soups. She had ordered smoked salmon, easily her favorite fish, but in this instance NOT. One second through the smoke before serving, one step above raw, made her stomach blanche – (no, neither of us like sushi). I slipped her some bread with the heavenly butter garlic sauce.

The main dish selection was a foregone conclusion. We decided the minute our scan down the menu fixed on Chateaubriand Bouquetiere, a dish which just happened to be our favorite. We didn’t have to chew the rest of the evening. (The escargot had been springy, so for that course I got in all my chewing for the evening).

And dessert if I remember right was Bud’s selection, Cherries Jubilee in all its flaming beauty.

It must have been a banner year for the company. It was certainly a memorable Christmas dinner for us.

All Hail Eloise

 

All Hail Eloise

As they say in the movies, the following is based upon a true incident (and as you can see by the amounts and the mention of Cub Foods [i.e. Winco] this was back in 1991):

Let us sing of my pure one –
Famous in battle
Let us take up her praise upon our lips
For ’tis fitting that we praise –
Our lips and not her own.

With firm and measured tread
She takes the Safeway, the Thriftway
The thronging CUB food aisle
Swiftly to the fray she sweeps
Where each combatant must join the list
Against the exacting foe.
(All buttoned and be-ribboned
Anxious to take its toll)
With each stroke of the infernal engine
The cents into dollars count
Pressing hard ‘gainst the family purse and budget
As to the skies they mount
Thirty-seven point eighty blink the lights azure
Thirty-seven dollars and eighty cents
A princely sum that’s sure
Yet is her brow disturbed?
-No! There is only more resolve.
For her weapons this moment sheathed
Leap out at the total called.

And 37.80 ceases flashing
From its lofty height it tumbles down.
First fifty cents are taken off
Then six dollars in a lump
Double the sum of forty
As the coupons fall like trump
The total is hacked in half
And as the haze is cleared away
Another sixth is shorn
The total mortifies in rigor at 13.64

All hail Eloise
As she leaves the field
The victor undisputed
All hail Eloise
Her booty gained
In battle well-reputed.

RWOz2

Zefferelli at the Jewel Box

zefferrelli-at-the-jewel-box

It shouldn’t be surprising that I used to dream about my work. Probably every one does. But these dreams were the weirdest when it came to my job at Saffle’s Theater Service over on John Street in Seattle. In some respects they were like walking through an Ingmar Bergman movie.

In this particular recurring dream, the streets were empty, and I was wandering them alone. I moved in the silence, not a single person anywhere, and no vehicles either, just buildings and trees and other such landmarks. I would follow the familiar boulevard towards my workplace. But I stopped a block short, and took another street on a vector away from my goal. And then another turn brought me up a hill and over to Second Avenue. I felt awake and conscious – all was recognizable to me because it was the landscape across which I circulated for my job. And there was a deadline somehow involved in the logic of the dream, yet not binding, as time itself was slowed down.

My movements always came to an end over on a little section of Second Avenue between Bell and Wall Streets.  There all the film distributor offices were huddled together in one little section that was called “Film Row.” And there also was the focus of the “fun” part of the job, the screening rooms.

There were two main venues on film row, where the screenings for new films were scheduled. Fox was the only distributor to have their own in-house screening room. I have absolutely no recollection of this screening room (my boss must have covered the few offerings there). I have been told that it was tiny and uncomfortable, and every seat had a bad view of the screen.

The other venue was a different story. The Jewel Box was a gem. (The choice of name was a genuflection to that old favorite choice for a theater name. If you’ve seen those old theaters with the name Bijou above the marquee, you’re were looking at something akin to the same thing – ‘bijou’ is French for jewel). It was built in 1927 by B. F. Shearer as a showcase for his theater equipment company.

With only sixty seats one might say it was the size of a shoe box, (compared to the theaters of that day – not now), but it was comfortable. One center aisle divided two seating areas. At the front there were individual theater seats, but as you moved to the back there were a series of booths – bench seats with their own long tables upon which you could place your meals, ordered up from the Rendezvous restaurant next door (a side door of the theater led straight into it). One might call the arrangement with the booths an early example of stadium seating, for each pair of them had their own riser.

The summer of 1976, I spent a lot of time at the Jewel Box viewing films. Here are a few titles:

In May- Food of the Gods (AIP) Marjoe Gortner

             – Ode to Billy Joe (WB) Robby Benson

             – Eat My Dust! (Parnell) Ron Howard

              – Drive In (Col) a film made with Texas state tax incentives for the (what else) the drive in market

In June – The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday (AIP) Lee Marvin

              – Special Delivery (AIP) Bo Svenson and Cybill Shepherd

               – The Outlaw Josey Wales (WB) Clint Eastwood

               – Survive (Par) about the 1972 plane crash in the Andes Mtns and cannibalism

                – Obsession (Col) Brian de Palma pulls a Hitchcock with Cliff Robertson and Genvieve Bujold

In July  – St Ives (WB) Charles Bronson

              – Squirm (AIP) man-eating worms

              – Gumball Rally (WB) Michael Sarrazin

              – Futureworld (AIP) sequel to Westworld

In August  – Moving Violation (Fox) Stephen McHattie and Kay Lenz

                – The Shootist (Par) John Wayne

                – Car Wash (UN) Richard Pryor

                – Winds of Autumn (Film Brokers) Jack Elam

                – Drum (UA) Warren Oates, Ken Norton

[These movie “dreams” may have impacted somehow my “dreamlife.”]

One night we had the Jewel Box all to ourselves or rather all to our families, mine and my wife’s. And some few choice friends. I had arranged to rent it for my wife’s birthday party. (We all had dinner at the Spaghetti Factory before coming to the Jewel Box).

But what would renting a theater be without a movie? So I arranged for that too. I contacted Joe Vigil, my Paramount rep (and friend) down in San Francisco and ordered up a film title by one of my wife’s favorite directors, Franco Zefferelli. You may be familiar with his Shakespeare films “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Along with our snacks and cake we sat down to watch “Brother Sun Sister Moon.” The film tells the story of the life of St Francis of Assisi.

I believe for a time this director’s films may have eclipsed Gone with the Wind as her favorite.

News for #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

anstract-two

I have created a page on my blog (follow link) for #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld. Utilizing it, you may now go back and read it from the beginning.

There are two links in the menu at the bottom of the blog page to the #DEW, one “latest first” (newest to oldest), the other a link to the page by which you may access them “in order.”

Day Three Hundred Ninety Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah sent me out today to stock up on some supplies for our departure, which he believes will be soon.

Prices were noticeably higher than when the market was filled with merchants. So I wasn’t in a hurry to purchase anything. At the time I remember thinking that I would advise Elijah that we hold off until the next big market day.

I did buy a few necessities, and was about to leave when a riverboat put in and landed some passengers.

Curious, I stayed to look on. One figure stood out from the rest. Whereas most left the riverfront and dispersed, he went into the inn where we first stayed. It was the young man with a beard, Stan.