Monday, April 18, 2011


When I was a kid, my dad ran movie theatres. Since he was was a whiz at cheapo promotions, I got to witness things like Scrap the Caddy night, where, in honor of a double feature of Any Which Way You Can and Every Which Way but Loose, people got to whack at a junkyard Cadillac with a sledgehammer. Since I was a hammy little boy, and easily pressed into service, I got to stand around downtown Lawrence wearing one of my dad's many masks, handing out flyers. Since he was an alcoholic, he got transferred/demoted/moved around a lot. After his stint managing the Varsity, he spent some time at the drive-in. I didn't make it out there very much--it was way the hell out of town, and my clanking blue Schwinn with the clouds on the chain guard wasn't great for my chubby legs on a long jaunt. I remember getting screamed at for whining that I couldn't keep up one muggy summer afternoon; probably the last time I tried to get out there by bike.

But when I did make it out past the edge of town, there was always something awesome going on. I could barely swing the sledgehammer, but I gave the Caddy a couple feeble thumps. I thrilled to Megaforce, and sat gape-jawed at Escape from New York--so agape that the next day I went to Woolworth's downtown, bought a pirate's plastic eyepatch, and wore it for a week or so, until the headaches got too crippling. A bully named Chad--absolute scourge of my year in second grade--shoved me off a light-speed merry-go-round. Deft, I managed to get my hands completely behind me so that I could absorb the impact with my face; neither the first nor last time my face would be home to the mud & the blood & the tears.

Sitting on the grey gravel staring at the screen in cooling air. A lot of moments got under my skin--maybe none so much as this one, from Alien ripoff Galaxy of Terror:

Shards moving beneath the surface, body invaded and turning against you. Anything even close to this revolts and disturbs me to this day.

(The movie is remembered--more or less--now only for a giant-worm-humps-a-woman's-clothes-off-and-then-to-death scene that you can look up for yourself. Even as a larva, I remember being nonplussed. My favorite Alien ripoff: George R. R. Martin's Haviland Tuf story, "The Plague Star".)

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