The Fairy Diary Day 132 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

I checked the scroll this morning. There at the bottom a message from the High Fairy awaited. I was not expecting it as it has been several days since I sent one to him. It was short and to the point – just to notify us of the name and description of the human whom we must contact at Azhnastria. 

We will know him by his one eye and his name – Nimrood. 

I shared this knowledge with Noralei and the boys. Rumble noted from his studies that Nimrood is a family name, passed on from father to son. 

Still I wish we knew more. More fodder for thought on the empty road. 

Can we get in to see him?

Will he be friend or foe?

The Fairy Diary Day 129 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

The return of Noralei today did much to dispel the depression we have been under since the battlefield. Merlin brought her to us himself. We all thought she looked marvelous. (Especially Dunfallon). But she demurred and would say only that the time she spent in Merlin’s castle was responsible for any changes in her humble appearance. At that point she turned and thanked her host for all the new things that she had learned from him. 

This prompted Rumble to ask Merlin just what had the project been that required her skills as a smith. 

Noralei immediately begged the favor of Merlin to be the one to answer him.

Merlin assented with a smile and a nod. 

And she unfolded a great bolt of cloth which stood tall on its own and soon surrounded the entire party. And she stated simply that it will keep all fairies within its confines safe from the effects of any iron weapons. 

I was stunned by the timeliness of this remedy.

How did our wizard friend know?

The Fairy Diary Day 93 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

As ordered, I returned to the High Fairy’s chamber this morning with Rumble and Dunfallon in tow. The pixie was wide-eyed at the sights within. It was a task just to keep him focused on the meeting at hand. Even so he was the first to notice that an envoy from Merlin was present in the chamber. 

The High Fairy told us to pay him no heed as he would share his message later. Still it was difficult not to glance at the owl waiting atop its perch on the far side of the room. 

His excellency recounted to my friends all that we have learned from Willie and ended with a plea for all of us to undertake a new mission. To the lands of the humans. 

To this the owl added the intelligence about the enemy running rampant in the human territories. Thus our suspicions were confirmed from our experience with the refugees on our way back to Nonin-gal-dith. 

Though the High Fairy proposed that we take time to consider our answer before committing to the mission, each of us volunteered on the spot.

Columbia Strikes Back

Columbia Strikes Back

The Close Encounters story continues (and another brief hiatus for #1939TheMiracleYear)

When “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” was set by bid for Tom Moyer’s Westgate theater in Beaverton it was months before it was to open in December of 1977. They offered their largest theater in that complex, and there should have been no problem with opening the film in the normal course of business.

But that exact same house was the exclusive venue for a film that opened in Portland in May – Star Wars (aka Star Wars IV – A New Hope). Most films exhaust the available audience within a month or six weeks. Not so with this juggernaut. Yet there would not have been any problem if Star Wars could have been moved into a smaller house at the same complex. The contract, however, that Tom Moyer Theaters had with Fox for this film precluded such an arrangement. It possessed a provision that almost never kicks in – a ”hold over” clause. According to this provision, if the three day (Fri-Sat-Sun) gross exceeded a set amount, then it automatically held over for another week. When it became apparent that Star Wars was not losing steam, but actually picking up force six months after its opening, they contacted Columbia (the distributor of CE3K) to ask to move the opening of their film onto another (smaller) screen in the same complex.

That was not acceptable to Columbia – either CE3K went into the contracted theater on schedule or they would sue TMT for breach of contract. In any event TMT was going to be sued for breach of contract, for Fox would insist on suing if Star Wars was taken off while still doing holdover business.

Columbia took CE3K away from TMT and gave it to their competitor Larry Moyer (Tom’s estranged brother) and brought a breach of contract suit against TMT. When Tom brought a restraining order against Columbia, the distributor went another step further, by removing TMT from the bid list in Portland, effectively giving all of their upcoming films to Larry. This led Tom to claim that Columbia’s actions were in essence a group boycott and hence a breach of antitrust law.

The District Court ruling went against Columbia on their breach of contract claim, but against Tom on his antitrust claims. As these things go, appeals dragged the suits on well after the life of the films in the theaters. In fact, Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back came out in Tom’s theaters before the decision from the appellate court came down.

When it did come, the 9th District Appellate Court upheld the District Court’s judgement against TMT’s antitrust claims.

Per the Entertainment Law Reporter 4:19:5
“Columbia had sound justification for its refusal to deal with Tom Moyer on the basis of the ‘Close Encounters’ episode. In Columbia’s view, Larry Moyer had the next best available facilities in the area. And, even assuming that there was some type of ‘conspiracy’ between Columbia and Larry Moyer, there was no showing of any anticompetitive purpose or effect.”
(Evidently the records I dug up for the lawyers to analyse were the basis for the following section of the report):
“Tom Moyer was the only party likely to suffer from any conspiracy, and his system-wide grosses and profits had increased each year; the profits from the Portland market declined only four per cent from July 1979 to February 1980.”

I would like to close this out with a comment as to what happened afterwards, but I don’t recall how long Columbia locked TMT out of their product.  (A project for another day, when I can access some newspapers from the time period to check the ads).  I can’t help but think that Columbia got the worst of the bargain.

Close Encounters across the Street and of Another Sort

Close Encounters across the street

[Taking a brief recess from #1939TheMiracle Year]

I’ve written before about attending film screenings as part of my job. Both those in film industry screening rooms and those scheduled in theaters for press and word of mouth purposes. All of which I gained entree via my position as a film booker.

[The screening of “Star Wars” was one example of the latter kind, see this post]

Less than seven months later, my wife and I attended another film that was destined to be a ground breaking bit of cinema and another blockbuster. Our invitation was to the King Theater in Seattle on December 8, 1977 for Steven Spielberg’s latest picture “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

It was a familiar theater. It set right across the street from my former place of employment, the UA 150 and 70 (the site of our Star Wars viewing).

Dazzle – Din – Drive. A 3D trifecta in 2D, of sight and sound and emotion.

Eye-popping special effects.  That moved you between suspense and wonder.

A sound track and score that surrounded and carried you along.

And a story with characters that swept you up in their struggle and longing.

It was clear that Columbia had a hit on their hands. Both from the evidence of my own eyes, and from the reaction of the crowd.

I had an encounter of another kind with CE3K after our move to Portland for a booking position with Tom Moyer Theaters.

But first, there was another switch to be mentioned.  Within a year of moving down, my position was changed from that of a film booker to one in the accounting department. I was now responsible for paying the film rentals due to the studios – the biggest outlay of monies from the company.

Besides the normal activities of drawing up estimate and final payments, there was a whole lot of record keeping involved. And it was these records that were the point of my limited involvement with CE3K soon after this switch. Records that I myself had not created, for they hailed back a couple of years prior to my time at TMT. But now I was responsible for curating them. And it was in this new capacity that I was called upon to pull up the pertinent records needed by the lawyers in one of the lawsuits the company was embroiled in, which just happened to involve two blockbuster film titles.

It was then that I learned the curious details of this matter – when CE3K and Star Wars collided.

But more of that story next time.

Tongues on Interstate 5

Tongues on Interstate 5

The gifts of the Spirit were expounded in the teachings from the pulpit, both at the Lutheran church where we first began our journey in this deepening relationship with God, and at Crossroads, the Christian community church into which the Lord soon placed us.

Probably the most controversial gift of the several gifts of the Spirit has been (and perhaps always will be)  that of ’speaking in tongues.’ First, controversial to those on the outside of the church- who view the phenomenon as simply ‘crazy,’ and then on the inside of the church itself, falling along sectarian divisions, running the gamut from acceptance on one end to repudiation at the other. (I feel you can judge the degree of acceptance, based upon the corresponding degree of veneration for the Word of God).

[Aside – Of course there can be problems with the high degree of acceptance on both scales, if they conclude that “speaking in tongues” is the sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, leading to a doctrinal conclusion (I believe falsely), that you are not a Christian unless you speak in tongues. That is simply not the case, and Scripture does not support that particular conclusion.]

Against this background understanding I was led to seek what this meant for me. From the time that I invited Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life, I felt a presence physically. Though nothing visibly touched me, there was something about these experiences that gave the sensation of touch. I can only describe it as something similar to when someone comes up beside you, out of the range of your vision, yet you feel their presence, palpably. Most times it is strongest during worship and my body reacts physically to the weight of the presence.

So, I had no doubts that the Holy Spirit was pleased to dwell in me. This, coming from the simple belief that if you accepted Christ into your heart, you have the Holy Spirit, for that was (and is) His promise. I had seen the operation of some of the other gifts via others and through myself (perhaps, more on this at a later date), but as to ‘tongues,’ I was waiting.

I do not recall that it was right away. There was a bit of time between my learning about such things and my direct experience of them.

I did not note down the day, for I did not keep a journal at that time. But I do know what I was doing and what happened.

I was on my way to work – alone, driving down Interstate-5 to Portland. I must have been praying, with my eyes open, of course. Anyway I felt the presence of the Lord. And I wanted to thank and praise Him for His nearness. I opened my mouth to do this and instead of expressing my thoughts in English, another language flowed effortlessly from my lips. Actually I was singing in this foreign language.The realization dawned on me slowly that I was singing in French, and the words were celebrating the elements of communion.

As those of you who have read pertinent posts in my blog, you know that my major in college was French. I can state that I am more fluent in reading French texts, than trying to speak it in conversation. Even then it is halting as I have to go through the process of selecting the words to express my ideas. Such was not the case here, that part of the control center of my brain was bypassed.

As I continued to sing, the French dropped away, and something new was substituted in its place. I felt as if my very spirit within was expressing my adoration towards the Lord in a direct one to one correlation. A language that I can only describe as that which is obliquely referred to in Scripture as “tongues of angels.”

I believe this latter experience to be what the Apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 14 as that use of a tongue, without the interpretation, and is for the edification of the one speaking. It was for my benefit.

And as I am writing this it is with a renewed realization of the work of the Lord in my life to make me into the man he created me to be, for the work he has called me to do, began that day.

I Learn Another Sword

I Learn Another Sword

Picking up from my last Memories post, we had one more thing to check off of our checklist to complete our move from Renton down to Vancouver.

I had a new job – check

We had found a new home – check, check

And a new home for my fencing – check, check, check

And now we were looking for a new church.

We limited our scope to one of the Lutheran flavors, specifically we would only consider one belonging to the Missouri Synod. We sampled one in the vicinity of our home, but nothing struck us. We widened the circle and finally landed at one on the opposite side of town.

Everything about the church seemed right to us. But especially the pastor. We had not met the like before. There was something about him that was, for the lack of a better word, ‘charismatic.’ As it turns out that was exactly the right word. He taught from the Bible, not from another book, such as any currently invogue self help psychology piece (a la transactional analysis). The style is called expositional teaching, which is done by going through the Bible text, line by line, and expounding upon its meaning, giving historical and cultural context to better understand the people written about and God’s dealings with them.

And there was teaching we had never heard before. We were taught about the Holy Spirit – something always catechized but seldom introduced into any sermon from the Word (i.e. The Bible).  A whole new understanding and deepening was opened to us. Not something brought out of a man’s imagination – for what he taught was right there in front of us on the pages of our Bible. We now had a place to call our church home.

But with it came a significant reckoning for me.

I attended one of the small group meetings at the church. We were encouraged to get to know one another better as individuals before the meeting got underway. I sat with a man of about my own age by the name of Randy. I went first. He listened to my introduction of myself as being new to the area, working for a cinema circuit across the river in Portland. And very into fencing.

He said a few words about himself, and what he did. But what he added next stopped my mind in its tracks. He stated simply that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. But more than the simple words were stated, I knew by its emphasis that it was of supreme importance in his life – taking precedence over everything else he had mentioned – indeed the governing direction for his life choices. There was not a hint of pride, spiritual or otherwise in the declaration.

It was something that challenged my life, who I was and where I was going. The unexamined life is a treadmill from one milepost to the other, and can become numbing, when one is completely focused on the self. Randy’s words had sent me into what is classically called a dark night of the soul.

I will not bore you with a litany of confessions I made before God in the privacy of my room. More importantly, at issue, was, who was the Lord of my life? Was I the measure of what is right and wrong? Or was there something or Someone outside of myself who knew better?

Not without reason is the Bible, God’s Word, likened unto a sword.

Hebrews 4:12 –

‘For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’

In my case, the Word was a scalpel (and a mirror – another appropriate and biblical comparison) that revealled the gulf between myself and a Holy God. It illuminated my need for the gift the Gospels offer – forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His execution for my crimes.

As this work of the sword was all inward, (and I must say, continues to do so), from then on there was another emphasis to be added, a sword directed outward, in another manual of arms so to speak. In the training of another Master.

I was no longer lord of my life, but Jesus was.

No going back. No going back.

[Other posts that cover my spiritual journey:]

Three Kings Went Forth

I Can See Clearly

My Brother vs the UU Church

Moony and the Baptists

My Brother’s Accident

I Fence the Marx Brothers

I Fence the Marx Brothers

After our move from Seattle to the Vancouver/Portland area in 1980, I was looking for a place to continue my interest in the sport of fencing. It so happened that the club at which I fenced in Seattle – Salle Auriol, also had an affiliated club in Portland by the same name. (Portland’s club was coached by Yves Auriol; and Seattle’s by his brother Leon).

The one downside was the location, Vancouver-wise, that is. The studio was on the west side of Portland. I drove into my job in the heart of downtown Portland. So I was commuting mainly on the I-5 corridor – to and fro. No big deal. But on the days I fenced, it meant an extended trip further away from home – up the hill on the Sunset Hwy, past the Zoo, past the exits to Beaverton, and off on the exit to NW Cornell Road, where the meetings were held in an athletic club.

But it was worth it. Not only was it good exercise, something of great value for an office-bound cubicle dweller, but also the challenges of fencing there improved my form and fencing abilities.

Among the major factors for this were two of its main members, the Marx brothers, Robert and Michael. Robert was the older of the two, by a couple of years, taller than six feet and skilled in the use of the epee, a heavier weapon than the foil. Michael, an inch under six foot was a master with the foil. At the time he was the current US National foil champion, and had been since 1977. And he was also on the 1980 US Olympic fencing team.

(You may or may not remember, but the US teams did not compete in those Olympics set for Moscow because President Carter called for a boycott that year after Russia invaded Afghanistan in late 1979. So Mike did not compete until the LA games in 1984. His brother Robert was also a member of the team in ’84, competing in the epee events).

Anyway, I did get to fence the Marx brothers in 1980. And in a tournament.

It wasn’t for any national standings that I can recall. Purely local, and perhaps just an exhibition. It was held on the campus of the Lewis & Clark Law school.

I faced off a dozen or so fencers on that Saturday morning, including the Marx brothers. They beat me of course. But I beat all the other contenders, placing third for the tournament. (Bronze?)

It was exhilirating.

My interest in fencing faded away shortly after that. I had been challenged and began to train in the use of another sword.

But more about that later – so stay tuned and Watch This Space.

The Mountain Blows its Top

Eruption of Mt St Helens

We moved from Renton down to Vancouver, Washington in February of 1980. Just in time to see a mountain go up in smoke.

My Mom and Dad were already living in the area. We’d been visiting them for a couple of years  – (more of an imperative from their perspective, as we now had a grandchild of theirs to bring on our visits).

My Dad worked with Tom Moyer Theaters in Portland OR, an up and coming theater circuit (my Dad had made a switch from General Cinema Corp back in 1977). He passed on the word to me that they were looking for a film booker to help in their film-buying department. Film booking was what I did at the Saffle Theater Service in Seattle, so I had the skills and experience. And thinking it would be a good move, I applied.

I got the job, and a whirlwind move ensued. In short order, we sold our home in Renton, packed up our household and ourselves, and trooped down I-5 to Vancouver.

(Aside – I think my book collection weighed more than all our furniture and our individual body weights combined. The moving company miscalculated on their estimate – which created a problem. Mr Moyer would only pay the estimated amount and refused to pay their final billing. I didn’t either).

We stayed with my folks while we were looking at homes, and were turned onto a property by my Mom who had a friend wanting to sell their almost brand new home in the Hazel Dell area. We put our signatures to the contract on March 15 (the day that a series of minor earthquakes began to shake things up below Mount St Helens, a snow-topped cone in the nearby mountains), and were safely nestled in our new house by the beginning of April.

Things really began to shake after that, or so they reported on the news. For we never heard a peep from within our home, or from my folks’ house – where we passed most Sundays for supper. And their house was one whole hill closer to the mountain than ours.

We didn’t hear it on the day Mount St Helens erupted either – Sunday, May 18, 1980. Again, we were alerted about the event on the news, and immediately went outside to look. And there right from their front yard we saw what looked like a column of smoke, belching forth from the top of the mountain, and rising up and up, out of our sight. It was drop jaw, awe inspiring.

And that was not the end of it. More eruptions followed in the next five months, including one that sent the ash our way (the original eruption had exclusively gone eastward).  I had to go up on our roof and scoop the ash out of the gutters by hand. It was surprisingly light-weight and silt like.

And it was getting everywhere. Advise was being offered to car owners to make sure extra precautions were taken to insure that carburetors were protected against its intake. (Imagine a full roll of toilet paper substituted for the regular air filter).

We missed the last big eruption in October of 1980. Our attention was focused elsewhere.

For on that day, our son moved the mountain off of our minds by his birth.

Revisiting Our 1975 SoCal Trip

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I have been scanning the photos from our many albums lately to preserve them for the future. (Alarmingly a few are fading away). In that process I have not only come across more photos from our 1975 trip, but also other mementos – tickets, brochures, schedules, etc. from that adventure.

With this has come a better knowledge of what happened when.

Our flight down (via United flight 453, seats 13a and b) was a red eye, departing Seattle at 10 pm on October 19, and arriving at LAX at 1:34 the following morning. So I can now give an exact time for my ordeal with the splitting headache.

Our first day there was very busy.

Through the info in the album, I now know that the order of our doings were exactly opposite of what I had earlier recorded. We did Hollywood first (Oct 20 through 22) – our chance spotting of the Selznick studio – and tours of MGM – Paramount- Universal; and then Disneyland was second (10/23-24).

And my memory was jolted by these:

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I had forgotten we had toured the NBC studio in Burbank and took in the Tonight Show while there. But when I commented to my wife that I didn’t remember ever seeing Johnny Carson, she replied, “Of course not, Silly, Robert Goulet was his guest host that day.” Another jolt to the memory.

That particular detail came back to me. But who else was on the show for that evening?

I did a Google search and found a Wikipedia list, giving a day by day description of the Tonight Show episodes.  It contained a confirmation that Goulet was indeed the guest host for that episode. And it also listed Phyllis Diller as his guest on the show.

I can hear her laugh even now.

On Monday I will put up a page by page copy of the Disneyland booklet for that year under my research category. I hope that it may be of help to someone researching Disneyland in the 1970s.

[How much was the E-ticket going for? Or what exactly was an E Ticket? – certainly not what it is in our day.]

So stay tuned, and Watch This Space.