My Life is Changing

This last year has brought change to my household. In the last twelve months I have lost a father-in-law, gained a daughter-in-law, become a published author, started booking speaking engagements, and on and on. I’m a busy gal these days.

The Music Effect

Music does this really weird thing to me. You know how in movies when you have this obsessed detective or even a stalker who has a wall or secret room covered with a jillion photographs connected to each other with a web made of about three miles-worth of brightly-colored yarn? That’s my brain on music.

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Example: After I added some music to a play list on my laptop, the song “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke began. I start to dance immediately. (I was also folding laundry at the time.) I did the Twist, the Fly, and the Watusi, as instructed. Suddenly I think about Gilligan’s Island, because of course, in one episode Ginger is instructing one of the other castaways in the correct form for dancing the Watusi.

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Before I finish that thought, my mind jumps to the scene in Innerspace when Martin Short’s character is drinking and dancing to the same song. I adore that movie. Fast-forward to the end of the film when the credits roll. Short is racing down the road to save Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan from the bad guys, and the song is blasting again, this time sung by Rod Stewart.

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For a quick moment I think of how much I appreciate Rod Stewart for recording older songs like that—fun and beautiful classics that deserve a new audience.

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Hopping back to “Twistin’ the Night Away,” which is only half-over at this point, I think about how smooth Sam Cooke’s voice is—even on a party song like this. What a voice he had. And how sad that a talent like his was lost in such terrible circumstances. He was killed in a hotel at the age of 33, his death ruled justifiable homicide because he was inebriated and… it’s just like a movie.

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Why haven’t they made a movie about his life? Who would play him? Denzel Washington is too old for the part. Even Hill Harper is past 33. Maybe that cute Dayo Okeniyi from Hunger Games? I wonder when the next Hunger Games movie comes out…

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Yep, all of that in a 2 minute-41 second song. While I’m dancing. And folding clothes. I told you it was weird.

 

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

How to Be a Movie Criminal

Being a movie villain is incredibly easy. There’s really nothing to it. You can get away with almost anything, and half the time, the audience will cheer for your wicked plans to succeed. The best part is, you don’t need any real education or skills, and most of your “bad guy supplies” can be found already lying around your house.

Need to steal a car? In movies, all you have to do is reach underneath the steering column and pull a handful of wires loose. Next, touch the ends of any two random wires together. This will easily start the car, and you’re free to drive away in mere seconds.

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Have a crack at safe-cracking? Twice as easy. Just grab a stethoscope and some duct tape. Now get to the nearest safe and tape the end of the scope to the side of the dial on the front of the safe. All you have to do is start turning the knob. Stop whenever you hear the tumblers click, and turn the other direction. Repeat until the locking mechanism makes one last big click, and the safe will pop open, revealing a huge stash of cash.

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What about just breaking into a building? Piece of cake. Just reach into your hair and pull out a bobby-pin. (Guys, if you don’t have a gal with you, find a paper clip.) Now pull the bobby-pin open a little and shove it into a door lock. Jiggle for a few seconds, and the door will fly right open.

Kidnapping isn’t very nice, but in movies it’s often part of the caper. Again, it’s pretty easy if you know how. First, get a white hanky and keep it folded in the palm of your hand. Next, follow your intended victim into a parking garage—all the best kidnap victims hang out in parking garages.Lastly, cover their mouth with the hanky. They will pass out immediately, without any struggle at all. This will also render them nearly weightless, making them easy to carry to your villain hide-out. Also, most kidnap victims in movies will succumb to Stockholm Syndrome in a matter of hours and fall hopelessly in love with you.

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Now for the big one—The Bank Heist. You’ll need at least two friends for this one, plus a getaway driver (see stealing a car, above). You all will need to dress completely in black. Don’t worry about the security guards noticing a group of armed men in black jumpsuits—they never notice details like that in the movies. Also, carry a can of shaving cream or spray-paint with you. This is for the security cameras. Spraying them with paint or cream completely disables them, even retro-actively, so nobody will see your faces. As far as the actual robbery goes, no need for handing the teller a note, just scream out that you’re robbing the place. The tellers will then throw bags of money at you and then you can leave quickly by your getaway car.

I’m sure you’ve noticed plenty of other fantastic ways to commit crime in the movies, most as easy as the ones I have mentioned. So why doesn’t everyone become a movie criminal? Well, there is one downside to the whole racket. It turns out that in most of the movies you see, the criminals get caught and sent to jail—if they’re lucky.

Who is your favorite movie criminal? Let me hear from you!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

Lydia, Woman of Purple

My debut novel is now available on amazon!

Lydia, Woman of Purple

It’s a man’s world… 

… and Lydia lives and works in the heart of it. Selling luxurious purple in a Roman trade city, she watches the people struggle to preserve their decaying empire through devotion to pale, lifeless gods of stone and myth. 

Followers of The Way arrive and share with Lydia and the citizens of Philippi a powerful new message of love and redemption. 

Caught in the middle is Marcus, Lydia’s young cousin whom she raised as her own. Marcus searches for truth in a world of deceit. Seduced by the ways of Rome, he questions the promise of hope through Jesus of Nazareth. 

Can Lydia survive in this man’s world and help Marcus choose the correct path? 

“Lydia, Woman of Purple” by Kimberly Black, Buoy Up Press

The Old Theatres

My hometown of Amarillo, Texas consists of nearly 200,000 residents who, at some point in their lives, have uttered the words, “There’s nothing to do in this place.” Perhaps this persisting theme is one of the reasons I spent a great many weekends at the movie theatres. Maybe that in itself is what prepared me for this blog adventure.

Over the years I visited almost every cinema in my city. Most of the movie houses I attended growing up are now gone. Only three indoor theatres and one drive-in remain.

The funny thing is that even the long-gone locations maintain their landmark status today. Paramount Theatre in downtown Amarillo

If you talk about Polk street downtown, any Amarilloan over the age of 45 will ask you whether you refer to a location north of the old Paramount Theatre or south. The building itself remains, but it now serves as offices.

Though a huge glass building now stands at the intersection of I-40 and Washington, plenty of locals recall the beautiful art-deco design of the Esquire Theatre. I remember walking to see the movie Midnight Madness there with a group of friends, just months before the iconic building met its demise.

I remember the lines that stretched out in front of the ABC Cinema on Western street when Star Wars premiered. That building is a church now.

The Plitt and the Showplace 4 both anchored strip malls on 45th street and 34th, respectively. The malls are still there, but the theatres have vanished.

I recall watching Superman 2 and Clue at the monolithic whitewashed Fox Twin. That building disappeared and a Barbecue joint now resides in its place.

A few blocks from my home at the time, Amarillo’s first “big city multiplex” sprang up. It was the UA. The six huge, high-tech screens stretched for blocks, it seemed. I saw dozens of movies there. The most memorable was Let’s Spend the Night Together. Actually, there’s a long story that goes with that movie—I’ll fill you in later. The last movie I saw before the UA was torn down was Spaceballs, so maybe the destruction was justified.

The two big enclosed shopping malls each had a theatre as well—gone now. The last surviving mall theatre shows the discounted, second-run films and the occasional indy flick. The once bragged-about rocker seats with cup holder armrests are dingy and tattered. The seat cushions wear stains and yawn open with exhausted hinge springs.

The Tascosa drive-in is still popular for its heritage and history. That’s where I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Silver Streak.

Today the two major Amarillo theatres are mega-plexes. The Hollywood boasts 16 screens and the UA Star offers 14, including an I-MAX.

Why do I bother mentioning, let alone writing a whole blog about buildings that don’t even exist anymore? They are just buildings.

For the last 27 years I have worked as a professional building designer, and I know what makes a building important. It isn’t usually the unique design or the technological innovations. Those are just the contributing factors to how the building is used and how the user feels when they are there. The events that take place within the walls change and mould you. The events imprint themselves into your memories. They become part of you.

The buildings are gone, but they still live in my memories, just as the new theatres will for future generations.

Maybe the new cinemas don’t dress with the same panache as the old ones, but in the “old days” we didn’t get fancy  3-D specs, either.

Storytellers maintain a revered place in every culture. Theatre, both the buildings and the medium, continues to capture our imaginations and stand prominent in our memories.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!