Agrees with the Tomatometer 40% of the time.
One of my earliest memories of the movies is our third grade trip to the old theater in Berlin, New Jersey, to see The Sound of Music. Our teachers, Sister Eleanor and Mr. DeSanto, made sure we had our lunches, and we boarded the buses eagerly. I had heard about the film from my parents, who had seen it at Radio City Music Hall on an anniversary trip, and of course I fell in love with Julie Andrews and everyone else in the cast, except the Nazis. My classmates and I sat enthralled throughout the showing, and I carry images even today of the Von Trapp family peeling off one at a time to seek refuge at the end. What's remarkable is that I still remember much about the experience of going to the movie. As we filed out, for instance, all the eight year-olds in line were abuzz with talk of a dead black cat near the back of the theater. Quickly Mr. DeSanto covered it with newspaper, and we rode the bus back to St. Luke's. What a field trip - a bus ride, a movie, a dead cat! Maybe I notice too much, but I have always done it. Details about theaters fascinate me nearly as much as the stories I see within them. Here's a poem: "Movie Light" I hated darkness as a child. Bedtime was a battlefield, my only spoils a night- light shaped like a lamb and my door half-open to catch dimness from downstairs. My brother grabbed me often by this Achilles heel, locking me in closets or unplugging every lamp in the house when he was my babysitter. The only dark place untainted by horror was the theater, the beam cutting in just before the lights died all the way. Surely glancing into a bulb that showed movies would blind you faster than staring into an eclipse. I found comfort in thoughts like this. (I'd learned from a teacher that when you smelled your mother's roast beef, you actually inhaled tiny pieces of meat.) I wanted no more darkness inside my body; it stood to reason you are what you eat, and smell, and see. Okay, it's not all true, but it's a good mixture of the themes of movies, food and childhood, topics that repeat themselves in my mind and my writing. I love initiation stories, from James Joyce's "Araby" to Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum. I can choose one film - Empire of the Sun - as an exercise in discipline, but here's a short list of other favorites: Stand By Me, The Fisher King, The Piano, Cinema Paradiso, Nobody's Fool, Derzu Uzala, The Secret of Roan Inish, The Sound of Music, True Grit, The Accidental Tourist, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hope and Glory. I wish could watch these films in one marathon sitting, the Coke and popcorn flowing. A bit of my background: I was born in 1959 in Philadelphia. I attended Glassboro State College in Glassboro, New Jersey, majoring in English and Secondary Education. (The college is now Rowan University, after a Jersey businessman donated $100 million!) Glassboro's claim to fame, while I was there at least, was being the site of the 1968 summit between President Johnson and Russian premier Alexi Kosygin. I graduated in 1981, and entered the Masters program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. My MA is in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Since 1981 I have been publishing poems, short stories and essays in literary magazines. My work has appeared in Indiana Review, CutBank, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cape Rock, The William and Mary Review, Timber Creek Review, Juggler's World Magazine, Slant and many others. In 1995 Coreopsis Books in Lawrenceville, Georgia published my chapbook, The Composer's Dream. I teach at Stephen T. Badin High School in Hamilton, Ohio, as well as in the Workshop for Young Writers, a summer offering of the Ohio Writing Project. I have served as a member of the OWP Advisory Board, 1996-99.
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