Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dear 2016 TCMFF attendees and staff

Photo from Raquel at Out of the Past
On April 28, after several flight delays and mini breakdowns, I made my way west to Hollywood. I made the trip alone-only personally knowing two people who would be attending the festival.
I've known several of the attendees of the festival for years through social media. We have bonded over our love of classic films, Cary Grant, Buster Keaton, and hard liquor drinks. Many of these people I consider close friends who understand the feelings I have for Beatrice Lillie and Harold Lloyd while every other person in my life asks “who?”
Way back in August I agreed to share a room with a girl I've talked to for years. I wasn’t anxious at all about spending five days sharing a room with her and having her show me the ropes of the festival. We planned and often talked about how wonderful it was going to be. A few months before the Festival, two more roommates came on board with us. Two girls, I knew but was admittedly nervous about rooming with. I want desperately for everyone to like me, almost to a fault. 
The moment I stepped off the plane people were already awful. I'm usually the one with the crappy attitude, but I was too happy to be an ass right off the bat. I was on cloud nine and unusually cheery. The woman at my shuttle gave me the business for not alerting her to the fact I was standing beside her waiting. She did have eyes and did see me there, but I guess she was upset that I didn't announce myself. The driver of my shuttle stopped on a random side street just off of Hollywood Boulevard, got out, grabbed my bag, opened my door and pointed at me to get out. I told him I didn’t think this was my stop, but he insisted I get out and get out fast. I got out and stood on this unfamiliar street all alone with a large suitcase and backpack wondering where I was. L.A. had already been unkind, but the moment I stepped foot into my apartment for the next four days, my luck changed.
Four women in one small apartment should spell disaster, but we were there for one common goal, to have the most incredible time watching as many classic films as possible. We all loved Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, Scott McGee, and Sean Cameron when most of our or my peers don’t know who any of these men are.  I was new to the Festival while these other ladies were veterans. They knew the ropes, the people, and the places. Those three could have gladly told me to have fun and bail, but they didn’t. They introduced me to their group of close friends and helped me find my way through Hollywood with friends.
It usually takes me a while to get comfortable with people, but there was no time to be standoffish; I had to jump in head first, and I found myself getting to know the people I knew online. I spent over an hour in line with Lara talking about Marion Davies, Dan and I discovered our shared hatred of the song “Jack and Diane,” Matt sent me home with an incredible autographed Jerry Lewis DVD set and Angie, Kristen and Jessica gave me entertaining stories for years.
Years of seeing everything Alec Baldwin was in came to a head the moment I saw him on the red carpet. These fantastic people shared that moment, that excitement with me. At both of the midnight showings of Roar and Gog 3D, I laughed until I had tears rolling down my cheeks with these people. I wasn’t ashamed to let out huge loud belly laughs at Ben Mankiewicz interviewing Adam West because I wasn’t alone-I was with my people. They understood how incredible that moment was. They felt the magic I felt on a random Thursday night poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, something that you just don’t get to do, like ever.
Over those four days, every encounter with a TCM fan was a pleasant one. Everyone was happy to be there and happy to share his or her story. Each day I went to bed knowing ten more people who shared this great passion with me. 
The staff of TCM, what can I say? A couple of years ago I was involved in a TV show for a major network; it was a reality-based show that was far from reality. The experience was one I won’t soon forget. The people behind the scenes were rude, and the people in front of the camera were somehow even ruder. It killed me to know that people in television are truly awful and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Every single person who wore that TCM staff badge was incredible. In line, I was asked how I was doing, if I was having fun and told to have a great time. Everyone smiled and seemed happy to be there. On Sunday morning when a gentleman on Hollywood Boulevard was giving me some grief, a TCM staffer asked if I was all right. Any run-in with Ben, Scott or Sean was great. Nobody acted like they were too busy or important to deal with a fan. Ben listened to me tell an oddly random story after I had a glass of straight vodka and no food in my stomach. He smiled, listened and took a photo with me. He probably could or should have told me to take it down a notch, but he was kind. I never felt like a stranger or felt out of place. I was always welcomed and accepted.
I so often hear others call this a family reunion of sorts and I finally understand what they mean. I fell in love with these people and here days after I had to say goodbye, I’m still sad. The TCM Film Festival is such a crazy, chaotic event, but you share something pretty special with these people. I came home and tried to explain how my body felt after sitting through hours of films, only getting three hours of sleep. Nobody here will understand the pain in my knees from sitting in a theater or how at some point you will find yourself sitting on a dirty floor because standing in line for long periods of time is rough on your body. Nobody else will know what it’s like to adjust the phantom lanyard around your neck two days after you’ve gotten home and taken it off.  Nobody else will know how thoroughly acceptable it is to spend gobs of money on a piece of chocolate because it happens to be named after a film. Nobody else truly understands the feeling you get when you see the silhouette of Rocky on a billboard along Hollywood Boulevard. Nobody understands except those of us who gather once a year and put our bodies through hell for the love of films and friends.
Thank you, everyone, for making my first festival such an amazing experience. I can't wait to do it again next year.

Friday, June 24, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - The Last Day

Sunday, May 1, 2016
It was the last day of the film festival. I had just seen the excellent Faye Dunaway who was a trip. During the hour-long conversation she never once spoke of Mommie Dearest. I was sad but had heard that it's a bit of a sore subject for her. I won't say much more because the event was taped for a special that will run on TCM sometime next year.
After the Dunaway interview, I had time to hit up In ‘N’ Out for a fantastic cheeseburger. It was number one on my list of places to visit while I was there and luckily it was only a few blocks away from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It was worth the short walk, and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a must during the festival.
After a fantastic greasy meal, I met up with Jessica at Grauman's Egyptian Theater for the last film of the festival for us both. We walked down to the Egyptian and saw Faye Dunaway introduce the film Network. I had never seen this film and knew very little about it, so I was excited especially when I saw William Holden was also starring in it. I loved the movie even though I scratched my head for a good few minutes after it ended. I was heartsick once the credits began to roll because I knew this truly was the end. No more popcorn aroma, no more theaters, and no more cheering before, during and after a film.
Everyone somberly filed out of the theater. I  took one last look at the palm trees that line the sidewalk. It was the last glance I would have of the Egyptian Theater until next year. (If I would be lucky enough to attend again next year.) I took in the last sights and sounds as I walked down Hollywood Boulevard to the Roosevelt Hotel. Most of us would be boarding a plane in a matter of hours.
Monday, May 2, 2016
We joined everyone else whose films had already ended in the lobby of the Roosevelt for the closing night party. Everyone wore their best attire as we shared our favorite stories and said goodbye to the new friends we had made. I was lucky enough to meet Ben Mankiewicz and chat with him for a while before we were told to head back to our hotels or go home.
A large group of us decided we weren’t ready to call it a night. Luckily we were in Hollywood and At the end, there were just the four of us roommates, and we were all incredibly sad.
In ‘N’ Out was open until 2:00 a.m. Nearly 25 of us filed into the small burger joint ready to close the place down. We laughed, told stories, took photos and ate until we were nearly sick. It was one of the highlights of the trip. After a couple of hours, we were kicked out of yet another establishment and told to head home. We all started the long walk back to our hotels. One by one we lost people as we went. It was sad seeing each person walk off into the darkness knowing you wouldn’t see them for another year. 

Once we made it to the apartment, it was about 2:45 a.m. We were all so tired from the lack of sleep the last few days. Kristen called an Uber to take her home. Angie and I had a shuttle coming at 3:30 a.m. so we tried to stay awake. I sat on the bed listening to Angie talk but kept dozing off. Before I knew it, we were saying bye to Jessica, who didn’t have to leave until later that day.
Angie and I got outside and waited and waited for our shuttle. It seems as though they couldn't find us. So we had to run down the block to the Lowes  Hotel where we found our shuttle on the map on our phone.
The drive to the airport was long, and my head floated in a sea of sleepiness and excitement. I was so ready to get home and so ready to sleep for days, maybe even weeks. I was the first passenger off when we made it to LAX. I hugged Angie hard and wished her a safe flight before I turned and took one last look at the palm trees. I would miss the idea of California but not Hollywood.
I made it through the line and stopped in a little shop to get myself a snack, bottle of water and a blanket. One of my favorite parts of travel is exploring the airport. I love the shops and people watching, but this time I couldn’t do it. I was too tired. I found a seat and sat down to wait for my 7:30 a.m. flight. I had about two hours to go.
The next thing I remember my phone was belting out the theme to one of my favorite films The Third Man. I fumbled as I answered and tried to adjust my eyes to the sun now shining in front of me. Brian wanted to make sure I was awake and wouldn’t miss my flight. I looked around and noticed that my flight was about to board. I thanked him and tried to pull myself together before I boarded. Next thing I knew they called my row, but I was half asleep an sat up clapping. I had spent days clapping non-stop, and I guess my body thought I was still in a theater. Everyone looked at me, and a few people laughed while others grabbed their children and pulled them a bit closer and away from me. I popped up and stood in line swaying back and forth. I had never been more tired in my life.  On the plane, I sat in my seat and willed myself to stay awake. I hadn’t seen the ocean when we flew in, so I wanted to see it on the way out. I held my eyes open and squeezed my thigh over and over until we were finally ready to take off. I grabbed my phone and started to tape the ocean below; I woke up four hours later as we landed in Kansas City. My phone was nearly dead because it had tapped the entire flight.
I ran off the plane and saw my two fella’s waiting for me. It felt like a movie as Alex ran to me and wrapped me in a hug. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip to California.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TCMFF 2016 Day Four and so long LA

Sunday, May 1, 2016
It was the last day of the film festival. I had just seen the excellent Faye Dunaway who was a trip. During the hour-long conversation she never once spoke of Mommie Dearest. I was sad but had heard that it's a bit of a sore subject for her. I won't say much more because the event was taped for a special that will run on TCM sometime next year.
After the Dunaway interview, I had time to hit up In ‘N’ Out for a fantastic cheeseburger. It was number one on my list of places to visit while I was there and luckily it was only a few blocks away from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It was worth the short walk, and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a must during the festival.
After a fantastic greasy meal, I met up with Jessica at Grauman's Egyptian Theater for the last film of the festival for us both. We walked down to the Egyptian and saw Faye Dunaway introduce the film Network. I had never seen this film and knew very little about it, so I was excited especially when I saw William Holden was also starring in it. I loved the movie even though I scratched my head for a good few minutes after it ended. I was heartsick once the credits began to roll because I knew this truly was the end. No more popcorn aroma, no more theaters, and no more cheering before, during and after a film.
Everyone somberly filed out of the theater. I  took one last look at the palm trees that line the sidewalk. It was the last glance I would have of the Egyptian Theater until next year. (If I would be lucky enough to attend again next year.) I took in the last sights and sounds as I walked down Hollywood Boulevard to the Roosevelt Hotel. Most of us would be boarding a plane in a matter of hours.
Monday, May 2, 2016
We joined everyone else whose films had already ended in the lobby of the Roosevelt for the closing night party. Everyone wore their best attire as we shared our favorite stories and said goodbye to the new friends we had made. I was lucky enough to meet Ben Mankiewicz and chat with him for a while before we were told to head back to our hotels or go home.
A large group of us decided we weren’t ready to call it a night. Luckily we were in Hollywood and At the end, there were just the four of us roommates, and we were all incredibly sad.
In ‘N’ Out was open until 2:00 a.m. Nearly 25 of us filed into the small burger joint ready to close the place down. We laughed, told stories, took photos and ate until we were nearly sick. It was one of the highlights of the trip. After a couple of hours, we were kicked out of yet another establishment and told to head home. We all started the long walk back to our hotels. One by one we lost people as we went. It was sad seeing each person walk off into the darkness knowing you wouldn’t see them for another year. 

Once we made it to the apartment, it was about 2:45 a.m. We were all so tired from the lack of sleep the last few days. Kristen called an Uber to take her home. Angie and I had a shuttle coming at 3:30 a.m. so we tried to stay awake. I sat on the bed listening to Angie talk but kept dozing off. Before I knew it, we were saying bye to Jessica, who didn’t have to leave until later that day.
Angie and I got outside and waited and waited for our shuttle. It seems as though they couldn't find us. So we had to run down the block to the Lowes  Hotel where we found our shuttle on the map on our phone.
The drive to the airport was long, and my head floated in a sea of sleepiness and excitement. I was so ready to get home and so ready to sleep for days, maybe even weeks. I was the first passenger off when we made it to LAX. I hugged Angie hard and wished her a safe flight before I turned and took one last look at the palm trees. I would miss the idea of California but not Hollywood.
I made it through the line and stopped in a little shop to get myself a snack, bottle of water and a blanket. One of my favorite parts of travel is exploring the airport. I love the shops and people watching, but this time I couldn’t do it. I was too tired. I found a seat and sat down to wait for my 7:30 a.m. flight. I had about two hours to go.
The next thing I remember my phone was belting out the theme to one of my favorite films The Third Man. I fumbled as I answered and tried to adjust my eyes to the sun now shining in front of me. Brian wanted to make sure I was awake and wouldn’t miss my flight. I looked around and noticed that my flight was about to board. I thanked him and tried to pull myself together before I boarded. Next thing I knew they called my row, but I was half asleep an sat up clapping. I had spent days clapping non-stop, and I guess my body thought I was still in a theater. Everyone looked at me, and a few people laughed while others grabbed their children and pulled them a bit closer and away from me. I popped up and stood in line swaying back and forth. I had never been more tired in my life.  On the plane, I sat in my seat and willed myself to stay awake. I hadn’t seen the ocean when we flew in, so I wanted to see it on the way out. I held my eyes open and squeezed my thigh over and over until we were finally ready to take off. I grabbed my phone and started to tape the ocean below; I woke up four hours later as we landed in Kansas City. My phone was nearly dead because it had tapped the entire flight.
I ran off the plane and saw my two fella’s waiting for me. It felt like a movie as Alex ran to me and wrapped me in a hug. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip to California.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

TCMFF 2016 Days Three, Four and Faye!

Saturday, April 30
The midnight movie was a 3D viewing of the newly restored sci-fi flick Gog. I’ll admit, I nodded my way in and out of consciousness throughout the entire film, so I can’t give you any details except Herbert Marshall, and Richard Egan are in there and it's very campy. I wish I wouldn’t have fallen asleep but I know I’ll end up buying it on DVD.
Sunday, May 1.
The last day of the festival started off a bit rough for me. I was up early after only three hours of sleep with an upset stomach. I knew I had played it fast and loose with the fast food and now I was paying for it. I had planned to see M*A*S*H with Angie but decided a light breakfast may be a better idea. I found a Starbucks with the most beautiful view of the Hollywood sign. I bought a paper and just sat and enjoyed my last day in California. I had quite a few events scheduled, but as I sat enjoying the view and my lemon bread. I decided to cut back on what I had planned and just take it easy for a beat. I didn’t want to rush through my last day. I tried to enjoy every last moment of it.
I wandered over to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to watch the ‘Entertainment Memorabilia Exhibit and Appraisals from Bonhams’ and wasn’t disappointed. One young man about my age had stumbled across hundreds of correspondence between his grandmother and Joan Crawford. They were examined and determined to be authentic. After listening to some of the contents of the letter and watching them being examined, I realized that I was supposed to meet Angie after her film got out.
I raced over to Grauman's Chinese theater and finally took some time to find the handprints of the
people I so admire. I compared my feet to Norma Shearer’s and realized that women’s size four feet in 1929 make my size 10.5 feet look ridiculous. I put my hands into the handprints of Harold Lloyd, Robert Redford, William Powell and Cary Grant. I imagined how the scenery had changed from the moment they signed their names to what I was looking at today. I’m sure no film characters were walking around charging $5.00 to take a photo with them. There was no Starbucks around the corner, no men holding up signs advertising $5.00 on everything in their store.
I know that life was a bit slower, more glamorous back then. Women were in heels and men wore suits everywhere they went and had a newspaper tucked under their arm. I never imagined myself to be the cheesy type who would put my hands on a dirty sidewalk just to see how they measure up to Joan Crawford’s but I did, and I don’t regret it for one second. For a moment in time, I was in the same spot as these wonderful people, and it was pretty cool.
It wasn’t long before a crepe stand caught my eye and I had to grab a quick Nutella crepe before I met Angie. As I sat and tried to eat, a man started yelling at me. There was a significant crowd, and they all turned to see why this man was yelling. The gentleman proceeded to call me a few names for a while until I decided to change my location. I got up, and he promptly ran over to me and asked for the rest of my crepe. So I handed it to him, and he inhaled it. Luckily he started in on another guy eating and let me be on my way. How or why that all started is beyond me, but handing over my crepe was worth getting away from that mess.
I met Angie so we could head down to the Montalban Theatre. It was about a 25-minute walk from where we were. I was excited to get to see a live taping with Faye Dunaway and see a small area outside of the three blocks I had inhabited for three days.
We saw Musso and Frank’s up close, the gorgeous Capital Records building and the legendary Montalban Theater. When it was announced that Faye Dunaway would appear to record an extended live interview, I changed all of my Sunday afternoon plans. I would end up missing Charlie Chaplin in The Kid, and the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers but it was going to be so worth it, and I had seen each of those movies before.
We had a bit of time to kill before we had to be in line, so we stopped at some hole in the wall restaurant along the way. Again the best thing about California is the way they put avocado on everything. I had a fantastic BLT with avocado and a slice of pizza. The pizza ended up being bigger than my head, and I opted to just take it with me. I knew the best way to make friends while in line is to show up with food. It worked because when we showed up two hours early to get in line, there were already 37 people ahead of us. We were thrilled to be in low enough numbers to secure a spot in the theatre for the interview. I promptly put it out there that I had untouched pizza to give to anyone who was hungry and within 30 seconds the first person in line Kristen sent me a message that she was starving. I took the pizza to the front of the line and chatted with Kristen and our mutual friend Paula. They had been waiting an hour and a half before we had gotten there. They were so excited to be down in front, but as I found out later-Kristen had to sit in the back due to her wheelchair and the lack of handicapped seating in the theater. She was not happy about it, and I don’t blame her.
For two hours we sat and watched life happen around us. It was a typical Sunday for everyone who woke up late and stood out on their balcony sipping their coffee watching us wait in line. We watched the new host on TCM, Tiffany Vasquez interview people in line all around us. Previously a fan, Tiffany had won a fan contest hosted by TCM. From there she worked her way up to becoming only the third host in network history and the first female host in network history. We all kind of dislike Tiffany because she is living our dream. She asked where everyone was from, why we loved the festival and to give Robert Osborne a special birthday/get well message. I have watched TCM for weeks since we returned wondering if that will ever air.
Soon our line was moving, and we were on our way to see the excellent Faye Dunaway, aka Bonnie Parker; aka Mommie Dearest aka: notoriously ‘difficult’ and prone to say exactly what she’s thinking.
This was going to be interesting.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

TCMFF 2016 More from Day Three

Saturday, April 30, 2016
I only watched two full feature films all day Saturday. The morning started at the historic Grauman's Egyptian Theatre a block from our apartment. I had planned to see Field of Dreams or One Man’s Journey, but everyone was buzzing about the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation.
Ron Hutchinson, a widely recognized film historian, founded ‘The Vitaphone Project,” which seeks out missing soundtrack disks and picture elements for early talkie shorts and features. The project has found over 3500 previously lost soundtrack discs and restored over 90 early sound shorts from the twenties and thirties.
I love film, and I love history so at the last minute I turned left to head to the Egyptian. I am so glad I did. We were treated to 11 early sound shorts from Warner Bros. They included many vaudeville acts like George Burns and Gracie Allen who was so adorable my heart almost couldn’t take it; Baby Rose Marie and my personal favorite Vitaphone short was The Beau Brummels starring the vaudeville comedy duo, Shaw and Lee. I laughed until I cried at the comedy duo. My heart yearned for Alex because I knew he would have loved the dry and absurd jokes in this short.
I left the Egyptian and went to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where I set up shop for the next eight hours. Club TCM had a day of incredible presentations. The first was Cari Beauchamp’s My First Time in Hollywood presentation. My First Time in Hollywood is a new book by Beauchamp, which is a collection of stories by some of the biggest names of the classic era including Harold Lloyd, Myrna Loy, and Marie Dressler. They discuss what it was like to arrive in Hollywood. Reading those stories were Former Saturday Night Live Star Laraine Newman, Sunset Boulevard star Nancy Olson Livingston, and Suzanne Lloyd, to name a few.
After that, I walked around the Roosevelt Lobby to stretch my legs and ended up meeting Matt from Warner Brothers, we chatting about movies and I walked away from that conversation with a copy of The Best Years of Our Lives for Brian and two autographed copies of The Nutty Professor starring Jerry Lewis.

The next presentation was ‘A Conversation with Elliott Gould.’ Mr. Alec Baldwin was the interviewer, and I had held my seat all day near the front for this one moment. I could have reached out and touched Baldwin, and I had to restrain myself several times from doing so.
I was watching Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock interview Trapper John from M*A*S*H  I heard bits and pieces, but for the most part, I just zoned out and snapped over 1,000 pictures during the hour-long interview.
This was followed by the presentation of Hollywood Home Movies.  The home movies are pulled from the Academy’s collections and show movie stars at home or behind the scenes of different films. I saw Ginger Rogers with bright red hair swimming at her house and Joan Blondell as a WAMPAS Baby Star.
I found a new friend during my earlier tour of the Club TCM room,  Lara who is writing a book about one of my favorite actresses, Marion Davies. We decided to grab some dinner at Baha Fresh before the screening of Midnight starring Claudette Colbert. After dinner we went to get in line two hours early, knowing it was a small theater and big draw. We were numbers 37 and 38 in line. We sat on the floor and talked all about Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, and Hearst Castle. She told me about her time spent in France with the niece of Davies and how she had built a friendship with the family. She showed me photos and regaled me with stories that had me green with envy.
There wasn’t a seat left when Bonnie Hunt took the stage to share her love of the Claudette Midnight. She had shared the film with her patients when she worked in a hospital before she became an actress. The comedy was one that I hadn’t seen but one I will be buying as soon as possible. Again the magic of sitting in a full theater laughing with others and sharing the love of a great black and white movie is incredible. Once the film was over, we all cheered and clapped because it was just that good.
I didn’t have far to go because the midnight screening of GOG:3D was right across the lobby. All of my roommates met me at the line to see this much talked about camp classic. I had no idea of what to expect because I hadn’t ever been to a 3D film in my life. I was promised an unforgettable experience, and that is precisely what I got.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

TCMFF 2016 Days Two and Three

The fire alarms had just gone off as we waited to see Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? And I was stuck outside on the second story of the theater complex in a crowd of people waiting it out.
For a good 20 minutes, I watched people and took in the sights, sounds and smells of Hollywood, most not good.
Once we were given the all-clear, we went in to retrieve the drinks we had yet to touch. The bartender made us new drinks and didn’t charge us, but we were due in our seats in a couple of minutes. I took a couple of sips then trashed mine the moment I saw Ken Jenkins by the entrance door. We were being herded into our line, but nobody noticed that it was Ken Jenkins! He was there alone, and nobody was asking him for an autograph. I had to run past him to get my spot, but I smiled and waved at the man who was married to Katharine Houghton. The man also happened to play Dr. Bob Kelso on Scrubs and also happened to play Courtney Cox’s dad on Cougar Town. I had several people ask me who I was so excited to see. I was tickled that I had him smile and wave at me but disappointed I didn’t get a photo with him.
Once we made it into the theater, we sat down in our primo seats and tears filled my eyes. This was the moment I had dreamed of for so long. It was my first classic film at the Turner Classic Film Festival.
All those years of watching promos and wishing I was there was paying off. All those years of crying and knowing I would never make it, and I was here. I was finally here. It was overwhelming and emotional.
Katharine Houghton came out and discussed how difficult it was to work on the movie with her aunt, Katharine Hepburn due to the health of Spencer Tracy. Everyone knew Spence was ill, and tensions ran high. Another issue was race; Houghton said she was young and na├»ve and didn’t understand what the fuss was about. She also did a few impressions of Hepburn that had the crowd roaring. After ten minutes or so she presented the film, got up and left. The movie started, and the crowd cheered with each name that clashed on the screen. We were all so excited, and the air was electric. That feeling soon faded for me. At this point, I had been up for over 20 hours and only slept for two hours the night before. My head started to drop, and my eyes grew heavy. I didn’t want to fall asleep during my first film. I was so mad that I would squeeze my thigh to stay awake, and I almost drew blood several times. Spencer Tracy stood up to give his speech that makes me cry like a baby, then the next thing I knew the lights went up, and the crowd was clapping. I had fallen asleep sitting up even though it was only for a few minutes.
Our group of four met up and began our walk home. Each of us discussed our favorite part of the night and what our plans were for the next day. I didn’t have time to think about what a whirlwind day I had just had because as soon as I hit the pillow, I was out cold.
Friday, April 29, 2016
I woke up that morning with an awful headache and swollen eyes. I had plans to see ‘The More The Merrier,’ a favorite in our home but with the awful headache I had, I decided to go to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and have breakfast. I've never been one to shy away from eating in a restaurant alone. I sat at the counter and enjoyed a waffle with sausage and a mimosa. It was too early for the next film block, so I wandered over to the Francis Ford Coppola Hand and Footprint Ceremony. I didn’t try to get too close and opted to be in a spot that would be easy to get out of for the next film. I watched in awe as Francis Ford Coppola, director of the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now,  stood in a suit and pressed his hands and feet into cement. It was truly something you don’t see every day. I watched for a while until I realized that I needed to meet up with Angie for my first film of the day, The Way We Were.
Robert Redford is easily one of my favorite actors, and that film is one of my all-time favorite films ever. The story drives me insane, but I’m a sucker for it every time it’s on, and I bawl like a baby every time I sit and watch it. I honestly felt in my element as I sat and cried with the theater full of people. We clapped, and all tried to pretend we weren’t crying, but the glossy red eyes were evident to everyone.
The next film I ventured to was When You’re In Love, starring Cary Grant. His daughter Jennifer introduced the once lost film to a packed house. Jennifer spoke of how she thought she had seen every film her father had made until TCM contacted her a few months before the festival about this film. She had never seen it and was so excited to both see it for the first time and introduce it at the festival. Ms. Grant shared stories of watching her father’s films with him, which wasn’t often and how she is going to be introducing a jewelry line in his memory soon.
Finally, it was time for the film, and everyone was on the edge of their seat to see this long lost gem. At the end of the film, everyone applauded and cheered and went on and on about how wonderful it was. I, on the other hand, was incredibly disappointed. I knew nothing of the film except that Cary Grant was in it. It’s about Grant falling in love with an Opera singer. I’m not a fan of musicals, and while I’m glad I was there for the premiere of the film, It isn’t one that I will seek out for my collection.
There was a good lull in films, so I ventured to Larry Edmunds Bookshop in search of a gift for a lady in my hometown. She had called me before I left and asked me if I could search for anything that involved silent film star, Leatrice Joy. She told me a story about her connection to the film star and I couldn’t resist finding her something, and I did (more on that later.) Then I was off to Mel’s Diner a ‘must visit’ restaurant that everyone praised. I had a B.L.T. with some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. While California food leaves much to be desired, I do love that they put avocado on nearly everything. After a quick caffeine boost, it was off to our next film Batman: The Movie, with Adam West. The next six hours were the most fun I had during the festival.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TCMFF 2016 Day One

I had just gotten kicked out of my shuttle and was wandering down a street in Hollywood when my roommate Angie yelled at me from up the block. I had never been so happy to see someone in my life. She showed me how to get into our apartment and where we would be staying. To get into the apartment, you had to unlock a gate, climb some stairs, use your key fob to use the elevator, turn right, then left, then right again before you hit our door. It was an excursion in itself. I would occupy the left side of the bedroom, Angie, from a suburb of Detroit would take the right side, Kristen from Pasadena took the couch, and Jessica from South Carolina had the bad luck of getting the air mattress with the hole in it. We had a refrigerator filled with canned wine a television that we didn’t turn on once and a place to sleep. We were set for the next four days.
After I unloaded my things, Angie showed me where we would be spending most of our time, the TLC Chinese Theaters and down a block and across Hollywood Boulevard was the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I would end up spending seventy percent of my time in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Club TCM), and Theatre Four of the Chinese Theater Complex. We explored for a bit before we hit 25 Degrees for a meal. 25 Degrees in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel boasted the most amazing hamburgers in the area. I was too excited to think about food, which is unheard of for me. We ate what we could before we ran back to the apartment to change into our fancy clothes for my first event of the festival.
I had a hard time deciding what to do with each second of the next four days. At any given time during the festival, at least four events are happening at once.
The first night we got to choose between the red carpet, a poolside showing of the Harold Lloyd classic The Freshman, the Betty Davis classic, Dark VictoryA Tree Grows in Brooklyn or One Potato, Two Potato.
My big choice was between my favorite silent comedian or the red carpet. When Angie and Jessica said they were going to do the red carpet because it was always a ton of fun, I had to go with them. It was something I don’t get to do every day and the fact that I was number 38 in line was incredible and possibly won’t happen again. The red carpet event only holds a handful of people and only a few are lucky enough to get a seat on the bleachers.
The red carpet arrivals are the best bet to see any star you were hoping to see during the festival. I knew that I wouldn’t make it to see Jack Lemmon’s son introduce My Sister Eileen and hoped he would walk the carpet, which he did, and he was incredible to watch. His mannerisms and voice were just like his father’s. The entire audience was in awe of him and to top it off; he was hysterically funny too.
I was able to see Darryl Hickman, Ted Donaldson, Chris Lemmon, Gina Lollobrigida, Salvatore Cascio, Louis Gossett Jr., Norman Lloyd, Roger Corman, James Cromwell, Lee Meriwether, Anna Karina, Ann Robinson, Katharine Houghton, Leonard Maltin; the fantastic Carl Bernstein and Alec Baldwin.
It was so incredible to see Alec Baldwin standing doing an interview only six feet in front of me. I tried to yell at him, but all that came out was a shrill squeak that got the attention of his wife who smiled and waved at me. They were incredibly gorgeous to see in person and contrary to popular opinion he seemed gracious and kind to everyone whom he encountered.
I felt so out of my element because I was all about seeing Alec Baldwin and I was so vocal about it that tossed out facts to everyone around us. Like the fact that his real name is Alexander Ray, and that just happens to be my son’s name and a huge coincidence. When he got to our area, everyone turned to look at me to see how I would handle it. However, everyone else there was more excited about the actual classic film stars. I felt like a total dork and like I didn’t exactly belong there at that moment. Each celebrity made their way down the carpet and stopped to do an interview with Sean Cameron from TCM. They stopped and posed for pictures and talked to us. It was so surreal to have Chris Lemmon tell us about his dad or have TCM host Ben Mankiewicz stop and speak to us and tell us that we are the reason this magnificent event is possible. I am such a huge Mankiewicz fan that having him stop and chat with us until he was dragged away was fantastic. He didn’t have to stop and talk, but he did, and he was down to earth and a fan just like us.
Time flew by, and before we knew it, we were too late to get into any other films. We decided that we would grab some dinner at the famed Pig ‘N’ Whistle while we waited. I wanted something that would keep me full for a while and decided to go easy with pasta in a tomato sauce.
Our next and final stop of the night was one of the films I was looking most forward to seeing. One of my favorite movies is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? I love Hepburn and Tracy, but Hepburn’s niece, Katharine Houghton, and Sidney Poitier steal the show.
Angie and I ended up getting in line early enough to get numbers 17 and 18 then we headed over to the bar outside the theaters for a drink. TCM had classic film star inspired drinks, and I fell for it.  As the bartender handed me my glass, the fire alarms went off. The employees told us to hang out because it happens a lot and it’s usually a false alarm. We sat until a manager came over and said we had to go. We were on the second story of this shopping center/theater and with everyone from all the theaters outside, we had nowhere to go. I stood as Angie talked to some of her friends and watched the people walk down Hollywood Boulevard. It was interesting to see who was going to come around the corner, a tourist? Batman? Darth Vader? Charlie Chaplin? Audrey Hepburn? Who knew? That's what I love the most about this town.
(Continued)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TCMFF 2016 My first trip to LA and the Festival

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - Thursday, April 28, 2016.
I plan everything to a fault, I just never plan for the ‘what if’s.’ I left work a half an hour early so I could beat the predicted severe weather that was already popping up on the radar. The National Weather Service was calling for a massive outbreak of strong, long-lived tornadoes and that was nothing I wanted to deal with while I was on the road. I booked a hotel room close to the airport for the night so Brian wouldn’t have to drive me to the airport in severe weather at 3:00 a.m. and frankly I wasn’t going to risk missing my flight, so I kissed my guys goodbye and hit the road. Along the way, I watched as the sky turned black to the southwest of me as I drove as fast as I could to beat the storms. I listened to the radio as they discussed the tornado dropping all around me.
I arrived at the hotel ready to take a bath, grab dinner and relax. I scheduled a driver to take me to the airport before I left to get dinner.
I walked into my hotel room and turned on the TV, no cable. I called the front desk, and the clerk told me it was due to the weather. I also didn’t have wifi, and this massive room was starting to feel very lonely. I called Brian a few times to check the weather in Falls City, but I mostly sat in that quiet room feeling more and more alone by the minute. It was a miserable feeling not to know what is happening at home or outside the door. I hoped that the weather would cooperate and not give us the scare it had promised to provide the last few days.
Once the wifi came back up, several messages came through on my phone. Apparently, the cellphone towers were also down due to the weather. I saw two messages from my airline and thought nothing of it. I checked the radar and Facebook to kill time. I finally came back to my e-mail and opened the first from Southwest Airlines. They were offering me a discount on wifi for my flight. The second was an e-mail I had never gotten from any airline my flight had been canceled. But why and how? I called Southwest, and they let me know that the weather had pushed back so many flights that my flight had to be canceled. I agreed to a flight on Thursday morning through hysterical tears. I knew there would be several events that I was going to miss because of this mess. I dried my tears and went to the front desk of the hotel to check on the cable situation and cancel my driver for the next morning. The lady at the desk couldn’t have been ruder. She tried to tell me it was too late to cancel the driver who wouldn’t arrive for another 10 hours then she said the cable was still out due to the storm though her cable worked fine on her TV. She then proceeded to tell me that it was somewhat unfair that my driver wouldn’t get the tip or money she would have gotten if my flight had not been canceled. I was floored by the entire conversation. After an exchange of words and several angry tears, I decided that no storm was going to keep me from getting my money back and leaving this place. I had 36 hours until my plane left and I wasn’t going to spend one more moment away from my family and in a terrible hotel with no cable and rude staff.
I called Brian and told him that I was headed home he was hesitant because of the weather, but there was nothing that could have stopped me. I packed my car back up and headed back north; the sun hadn’t set, but the sky was a wicked shade of black to the west of me. Lightning startled me as I drove as fast I could trying to beat the storm that I had raced against only a few hours earlier. Lightning and large sporadic raindrops didn’t bother me as I inched closer and closer to the next most significant town. Once I hit the city limits the wind, hail, and rain hit all at once. I pulled off the interstate and into town as I tried to see through the buckets of rain. I parked in a Target parking lot on the north side of town and cried for the next hour. I was tired and defeated. None of this was supposed to happen. I was supposed to be asleep and dreaming of the adventure I was going to have, not crying in a parking lot because I couldn’t see to drive home. An hour later I hit the road again, and two hours after that I pulled into my driveway.
Wednesday, April 27. I went to work. What I assumed would be the longest day of my life ended up going pretty quickly. I got some extra work done and didn’t have a terrible day. That night I sat with my guys at dinner and realized that an extra day with them is great. So I was able to shrug off everything I missed and appreciate the fact that I was still going. Nothing was going to spoil this adventure.
Thursday, April 28. We left town by 3:30 a.m. The drive was quick and smooth as we made our way to the airport. I said goodbye to my fellas yet again and breezed right through security and to my gate. I’m usually a nervous flyer but to be honest, the drive home in the blinding rain, hail, and wind a few days earlier had made flying seem like a piece of cake.
At 9:30 a.m., Pacific time, I stepped off my plane and into an entirely new world. The idea of LAX had terrified me, but I managed to make my way through the airport and to my luggage like an old pro. I grabbed my suitcase that was the size and weight of at least four small children and stepped outside. The air was the same as it was in Nebraska. It was cool and crisp, but unlike Nebraska, the air smelled different. I paced back and forth as I tried to find my shuttle. After a good ten minutes of searching, I found where I was supposed to be and waited.
The shuttle driver pulled up, and I climbed in. I was so ready to get out of this airport and see what L.A. had to offer. An hour later we finally made it out of the cluster of buses, shuttles, and Uber drivers. What I saw was nothing like I had imagined. The landscape was brown, dry and dead. There were oil derricks along the side of the roads and not the beaches or palm trees that television had promised.
After an hour and a half, I got my first glimpse of the Hollywood sign. The lady who sat in front of me assured me that we were almost there, almost to Hollywood. We drove a bit further and then pulled onto a side street and stopped. The driver got out, opened my door and pointed at me. He took my suitcase out of the car, dropped it on the sidewalk and pointed at me again to get out. I didn’t know much, but I knew this was not where I was supposed to be. I knew my apartment was near the Lowes Hotel, and we had passed that a few blocks back. I tried to tell him that this was not my stop, but he got angry and kept pointing at me to get out. Everyone in the shuttle waited for me to get out so they could be on their way. I pleaded with all of them, but they didn’t care, they ignored me as I climbed out on to the corner of Hollywood Boulevard with a heavy backpack, purse, and large suitcase.
I stood and watched my shuttle pull away, not knowing what had just happened, as people swarmed around me. A Spiderman stood near me asking if I wanted a photo of him as I resisted every urge I had to kick him. I started to walk down the side street as I texted my roommate to find me. This trip was nothing like I had imagined it to be. I had daydreamed of pulling in front of a gorgeous apartment building to my friends with open arms. Instead, I was dragging my 47-pound bag down Hollywood Boulevard, sweating and yelling at this Spiderman who wouldn’t stop following me.

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