Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scrap bag of ticket stubs

I save my ticket stubs from the different concerts, plays, ballets and films I attend during each year. I started doing that when my husband and I moved to San Francisco in 1993; there were so many interesting things to see and do and it became a way for me to remember all of the places we in fact visited during our year there. I would venture to say that I have a ‘scrapbook’ of ticket stubs. They are however not organized in a book, but rather are stored in a plastic baggie. Let’s call it a scrap bag. Believe it or not, I do dig into it from time to time. I recently got a question from two friends who could not remember if we had been to the cinema together during 2010 (in fact none of us could remember doing so, but we did remember talking about doing so, and then we got confused and wondered if we did in fact end up at the cinema). I consulted my scrap-bag to find out. I quickly found out that I have seen a number of films during the past year (but none of them with these two friends): Black Swan; Hereafter; Another Year; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—part 1; Red; You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger; The Ghost Writer; Alice in Wonderland; Shutter Island; It’s Complicated; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Where the Wild Things Are; Sherlock Holmes. This does not include the films I have seen on our cable TV channels—more recent films that I never got a chance to see when they were playing in the theaters.

I started keeping track of all the films I have seen when I was a teenager. I think the first film I ever saw (sneaked in to see) was Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy from 1972. I was hooked after that experience, and started to write down all the films I had seen. By the time I was twenty I think I had seen close to four hundred movies. I stopped writing them down after that, and I didn’t save ticket stubs either at that time. Going to the movies was just what you did when we were young—out with friends, on a date, and so on. There was no cable TV, no Netflix, or video/DVD rental stores to supply us with films on demand. So you went to the movies when they came out because that was your chance to see those films. I read Vincent Canby’s movie reviews in The New York Times religiously; he was a terrific and provocative movie reviewer. You just knew he loved the movie world. According to Wikipedia, he ‘became the chief film critic for The New York Times in 1969 and reviewed more than 1000 films during his tenure there’. What a wonderful job that must have been, and what a job in and of itself. Think about it, at the time he started reviewing movies there was no Internet, no Google--no information at your fingertips. If he needed to check on any facts, he had to spend a lot of time searching for them or tracking them down. If I want to find information on an actor or a film or a TV show, I go to my favorite movie website—Internet Movie Database www.imdb.com. It is a mecca for movie lovers. I can surf there for hours. But the point is that I find what I’m looking for within a few minutes.

Charles Bronson was one of my favorite actors from that time in my life—the actor of Death Wish fame, but also of The Mechanic and Mr. Majestyk. And does anyone remember Jan Michael Vincent (The Mechanic, Buster and Billie, White Line Fever)? He was popular with us too. Richard Thomas of the Waltons fame has a horror film to his credit (e.g. You’ll Like My Mother). The actress Sian Barbara Allen was also popular (with me at least)—she starred with Richard Thomas in You’ll Like My Mother and ended up as his love interest on The Waltons; they apparently were romantically involved at that time. It was somehow thrilling to even come across that little tidbit of information in a teen fan magazine of one sort or another—some gossip from the movie world. Now it seems as though the world revels in every nano-particle of information they can get about celebrities. We’ve gone from a scarcity of information to information overload. But I’ll take the latter as long as I can sort through what is useful. I love the fact that any and all movie information is available at my fingertips these days. But I still need my ticket stubs to remind me that I was actually there in the theater watching the films. 

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