Neverending Story memories

If you were on the Internet today, you probably saw the the Google Doodle was a celebration of the anniversary of the publication of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

For many children of the 80s, this book and the movie adaptation conjure up fond memories. I am no different.

I remember my Mom reading this book aloud to me as a bedtime story. The thing that fascinated me the most was that the hardcover edition she had checked out from the library had text in two different colors – one for our world, and one for Fantasia. It was the first “adult” book I had seen with any kind of color inside beyond black and white. It just felt magical seeing the words in green and red. I remember a certain excitement once I was old enough to read it, to be able to read those colorful words on my own and enter Fantasia, but at the same time it was kind of sad because I really liked going there with my Mom.

If you’ve never read the book, I suggest finding a hardcover copy so you can experience the magic too. The movie is only half the story.

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X Files – my first fandom

So, apparently today is the 20th Anniversary of the premiere of X-Files. Which means I have many feels. And apart from feeling old, I’m feeling nostalgic because this show was really my first fandom.

Technically, I shouldn’t really celebrate MY anniversary of the show until April 22 of 2014 because the first episode I ever saw was “Tooms“. I remember it well. I was home with my little brother, babysitting while my parents were out running errands or some such. We were both enjoying The Adventure of Brisco County Jr and we knew that the show after it was supposed to be really scary. Vincent was sitting next to me as the credits rolled for Brisco and we both made an unspoken agreement to see what the scary show was like. I remember sitting on the couch, both of us sorta bracing ourselves. The show appeared to be starting…the little FOX logo had popped up in the corner. It was really dark…I pressed the volume button up a few notches but didn’t really hear anything…it appeared to be some kind of hallway, maybe a prison…volume up a little more…then SCARY EYES!!!!!!!!!! And, BLARING OUT OF THE SPEAKERS CAME:

I screamed, pressed the volume button down as quickly as I could…but it was too late. I was hooked.

I spent the rest of the summer, tuning in every Friday night. I learned how to program the VHS player to record episodes when I wasn’t home and soon mastered the art of recording on SLP mode, editing out commercials, getting 7 episdoes on a 6 hour VHS. I even transferred the Pilot and E.B.E. to cassette and listened to them on my walkman while sitting in the backyard and with my walkman on the school bus in the morning and they were soon committed to memory.

Yeah, I was hardcore.

Soon, I was on the Prodigy message boards, reading tame fanfic (like reworkings of the Cinderella story with Scully as the heroine) and finding early filk lyrics. I had a poster of David Duchovny on the wall and I printed out DDEB (David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade) cards to carry in my tween wallet. I even wrote a script, my own fanfic, which I passed around to my 8th grade class, getting feedback. Everyone knew it was my show, they knew trying to contact me on a Friday after 9pm was hopeless. I signed up for an unofficial fan club when the show was truly just a cult show, getting a photocopied ‘zine sent to my house every few months (whenever the person in charge had time to get it all together).

I wrote fan mail to the actors and got my first autograph + photo back. Not sure if pen ever actually met paper, but it was a big step for me. Later on I wrote a letter to the composer, Mark Snow, asking him about how one would play the song on a flute (my high school instrument) and he actually sent me back some sheet music, which he autographed for me. My fangirl heart new the rush of getting that personalized autograph – life would never be the same!

X Files fan mail Autographed X-Files sheet music

And should I even mention the story where I managed to track down the copy of Playgirl that had the interview with David Duchovny? I’m sure the person I was talking with on the online forum didn’t realize how young I was, but I needed that magazine. When it arrived for me (thank god my Mom didn’t go through my mail, not sure what would have happened then!) I was SO EMBARRASSED, I closed my eyes, ripped out the pages I needed and GLUED THEM TO CONSTRUCTION PAPER! I didn’t want to see the random naked men, I just wanted to read about Dreamy David.

LOL'd when I found this

Like all good fandoms, it helped me make new friend, particularly bittertwee. She was already a family friend, but the show made the two of us become life long pals and to this day we still bitch about the show and then wax nostalgic about the characters and plots. And, yes, we even went to see the second movie, which was laughably bad but at least we were together.

Yes, eventually X-Files let me down. Carter never seemed to have a plan for where it was all going and the explanation of the conspiracy never came. He promised that all the questions would be answered in the movie but instead decided to drag the show out until Duchovny left and even dared to continue after Anderson was done with her role. MISTAKE!

I had left long before that, the episode with the “Butt Genie” pushed me over the edge and soon I found myself in the comforting arms of Joss Whedon and that long term relationship. But X-Files will always be my first. I look back on it with mixed emotions. I’m always surprised when I see younger users on tumblr reblogging posts, but I guess Mulder/Scully was the original ‘ship (even though I NEVER shipped them. never EVER). I’m still a little bitter about it all – when you devote that much time to a fandom, it’s hard not to feel hurt when it ends poorly. But it was one of the first. It was the first show to really deal with The Internet and probably the most involved I have ever been with a single fandom.

Happy Anniversary X-Files.

I want to believe.

Trust No One.

Believe the Lie.

This is all your fault.

“Traumatizing” reads

My library’s Facebook page posted a link to this blog entry and it has generated a LOT of comments, ranging from picture books to novels. Then Dunc went and posted about Flowers in the Attic this morning. So now I’m sitting here thinking of what books from my past have stuck with me, for better or for worse.

The first title that popped into my head was Where the Red Fern Grows. When I was in elementary school, our sixth grade teacher was the coolest person. Everyone hoped to have Mr. Gwynn as their teacher. And we all knew that his favorite book of all time was Where the Red Fern Grows and that it would be our assigned reading that year. In my 12-year old mind, I would read the book and love it and Mr. G would think I was so mature. Or something. Then the assignment happened…and I started the book…and the little suburban girl who had always owned a dog and a cat that she treated very sweetly was like WTF IS THIS SHIT?!?! (Only not because I didn’t really swear as much when I was 12). While I know this book probably represents how people trained their hunting dogs back in the day, to me it was like reading a chronicle of animal abuse. I don’t even think I made it to the end of the book. I went from admiring my teacher to being upset with him and not really respecting anything he said after that.

Of course, this was the start of being assigned traumatizing books. Bridge to Terabithia wasn’t far behind. I don’t think I finished that one either after someone spoiled me that it was a super depressing ending. Some people like those kinds of stories, I know, but it was not for me.

Soon, this was what reading became to me – books that were upsetting. I think for most of middle school, I pretty much stopped reading books. (Eventually, I stumbled upon Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but that will have to be another post.)

Suffice it to say, after these two titles, I stopped trusting my teachers’ recommendations and I honestly can’t remember how many assigned books I read cover to cover. Probably not until Senior year of high school…sad but true.

How about you? What is the first book the comes to mind when someone says “traumatizing childhood reading”?

movies and memories: “He can live with us, mom!”

Old friends, new friends

So this is how the story goes:

When I was little, my parents took me to see E.T. in the theater. I liked the movie, but like any child, I was very upset to see E.T. leave. My mom tells me I left the theater with tears in my eyes, telling her that E.T. could have lived with us. At some point, maybe later that day or later in the week, I was given my very own E.T. plush to love and squeeze and take care of.

A few years ago when E.T. celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary and Universal released a whole new set of toys, my parents got me the life-size doll in this photo.

And this year, I played Bioshock:Infinite. I adored the game and especially “my” relationship with Elizabeth. As the credits rolled, all I could think was how much I was going to miss her, that I didn’t want it to be over, that maybe there were more adventures to be had.

So last week, in a moment of retail therapy, I stumbled across the Hot Topic 25% off sale and there was the Elizabeth action figure, just calling to me. I had to have her!

Now Elizabeth and E.T. can live here in my apartment of misfit toys and continue having adventures here…

and they will. 🙂

The bird or the cage? #colorcap Elizabeth meets a fellow time & space traveler... #doctorwho #bioshock Elizabeth and the Time Lord #doctorwho #bioshock

when dinosaurs ruled my life…

I saw Jurassic Park on the big screen again today and my mind has been spinning with memories ever since.

I was always a movie geek and I think my love of Indiana Jones led me to Spielberg.  I was into the behind-the-scenes stuff so I knew the names of actors and directors and writers and it was hard for me to miss his name next to my then-hero George Lucas when the credits rolled after Temple of Doom (I was scared of the ghosts in Raiders so I only watched Temple for the longest time LOL).  But I don’t really think it was until Jurassic Park that my full on love of Spielberg really hit.

I can’t remember the specifics, but I did want to see the movie and I knew it was coming out.  My mom pointed out that it was based on a book.  At this time, my reading was mostly limited to Star Wars novels and books based on movies, so she knew what she was doing when she encouraged me to read the book before we saw the film.

I remember being so nervous when I went to the theater with my 6th grade friend Tara.  The movie was rated PG-13 and I was only 12 and I was scared they wouldn’t let me in.  I think I might have even asked my mom to write me a permission letter.  I remember clutching my military ID, worried that they would ask for it and I would be sent home.  Of course, that didn’t happen because no one cares who sees a PG-13 movie.  But still, it was a strong enough dread that I remember it.

I also remember this was right when the first stadium seating theater opened up in Laurel AND they had the new surround sound system.  Oh the sound of that T-Rex roar still makes me heart beat faster, I LOVE IT!

I think I dragged every single person I knew to the theater with me that summer to watch it over and over again.  My Mom said she thought it was scarier than Jaws (which I had yet to see…I think this is where I went on my Spielberg binge, renting all of the movies from Channel 3 Video, the local rental store, and rewatching classics like E.T. and digging out our taped-off-of-TV Beta of Poltergeist.  My older cousin was obsessed with dinosaurs, he actually had Robert Bakker’s book (the one that Tim is rambling about at Grant when he slams the car door in his face) and he had spent the summer sketching Velociraptors so when we went up to Maine in August, we had to hit the theater again.  I want to say I saw it at least 6 times.

I bought the soundtrack (even though I had started drafting a letter to John Williams about keeping the dinosaur sounds in the soundtrack because I felt they were part of the music LOL).  I listed to the CD SO MUCH I memorized the music cues for almost all of the scenes.  Especially that moment where Ellie yells “It’s the other car!” …that one was one of my favorites.

My Uncle Jim gave me a cassette copy of the audiobook, which was abridged but I didn’t care.  I listened to it over and over while I played Tetris on my Nintendo in the basement (you know, when I wasn’t dragging people to see Jurassic Park).  And I dragged my copy of the book around with me everywhere (it’s in pretty sad shape but I still have it now, yellowed pages and water damaged back cover…I remember when I spilled water on it, it was in a hotel in Orlando with my aunt, I was so upset).

I got my hands on several action figures included the Explorer (I was convinced that was the car I would get some day, painted just like Jurassic Park), T-Rex that roared when you squeezed him (I wore out the mechanism at some point and my Dad did some surgery to go in and fix it, poor Rex had a scar after that), a little T-Rex who had a bit of “flesh” that popped out on the side ot reveal bone and muscle, a raptor, and a dilophosaurus who screamed when you pressed down on his tongue.  We had raptor hand-puppet too, which made the noise when you pressed the button inside.  And we bought the board game which was just terrible, took hours to read the directions and it made no sense and I’m sure my parents earned all kinds of karma playing that with me when they did LOL.

And, of course, I bought the “Making Of” book and read it cover to cover to find out HOW they made those awesome dinosaurs.  I had such respect for Phil Tippet and Stan Winston.  I really wanted to do that, it was my dream job, to work in movies…and I guess some part of me still wishes I had pursued that career.  And another part of me knows that I would have been eaten alive like Gennaro 😉

Lost World and JP3 never lived up to the first movie.  First they didn’t have the great source material to pull from (the second book had very little in common with the second movie) and Spielberg was just a producer, not directing.  But I’ve always loved <i>Jurassic Park</i> and I watched it so much, cranked up the home theater system my Dad had set up, making the walls shake when the T-Rex roared (until my Mom would roar for me to turn it down).

This also started my love affair with Sam Neill who hadn’t done a lot of movies a 12 year old could see, but I remember watching Billy Zane terrorize him and Nicole Kidman in Dead Calm and also him being the proto-Bond in Reilly: Ace of Spies.  I still adore him.

Which is why it was so good to see it in the theater again.  It holds up so well because of those Spielberg touches.  Say what you will about him, the man knows how to make you care about characters, even when they spend most of the movie being chased by dinosaurs.  Like E.T. and Poltergeist, you can watch this movie at different ages and watch along with different characters.  For so long, I watched with Lex and Tim, but now I watch with Grant and Ellie.  And, joy of joys, the special effects still look GOOD probably because of the fact that Tippet and Winston used enough practical effects mixed with the primitive CGI (which cleaned up nicely too).

So to Michael Crichton, Steven Spielberg, the entire cast and crew of Jurassic Park, I want to say THANK YOU!  It might not be the best movie ever (there are some weird edits that still bug me to this day, which is usually attributed to the fact that Steven had gone to work on Schindler’s List by the end and didn’t worry as much about JP…can you blame him?) but it makes me HAPPY.  I could watch it over and over (and I have) and I know it was just an easy way to make money, making it 3D and putting it back in theaters but…I don’t care, it was worth it to see it one last time on the BIG SCREEN.

I ❤ Jurassic Park.