Simply put, there is no better place in the world to watch a movie. A classic Depression era movie palace, the Grandin fell on hard times in the 70's when new Star Wars megaplex's swallowed the market. I'll never forget seeing all the classic Disney movies there back in the 60's. My favorite was "Jungle Book." Watching in the huge, dark theatre surrounded by gargoyles always made the experience even more rich. In late 70's, the Grandin was taken over by the Mill Mountain Playhouse. The Playhouse needed a new home thanks to a devastating fire at their theatre atop Mill Mountain. The Grandin, with minor renovations, carried the theatre through until they scored new digs on the Market in Roanoke. One thing I learned only recently was that the actors in play productions had to use the alley behind the theatre as their costume/changing room. I heard one actor in a recent interview talk about being dressed as a soldier with a prop rifle standing in the alley waiting for his cue to go onstage when a City policeman responded to the cal of "Man with gun..."
During the Playhouse's Grandin days, I spent two summers volunteering as an usher during the summer stock productions. Dressing in a tie, carrying a flashlight, and saying yes ma'am to elderly patrons was all I needed to watch play after play for free.
After the Playhouse left, the theatre sat barren until it was saved and preserved by a community group. Over the years, the theatre has experienced a revival of sorts. It's palatial movie main house was carved up to enable to multiple screenings, yet the group managed to retain the original charm of the theatre. These days, the Grandin still serves the most enticing popcorn and shows the most thoughtful films in Roanoke.
I didn't know much about Julie and Julia when we made it to the 5:05 show. I figured it was about Julia Child and starred Meryl Streep. So it was bound to be good. We resisted the popcorn temptation and climbed the stairs to watch the movie in the small, former balcony, screening room.
The movie was incredible and has now moved to the top of my favorite movies of the the year list. I have always loved Julia Child, and Meryl Streep simply nailed her. Having never seen Amy Adams, I fell in love with her at first sight. The male actors featured in the film, Stanley Tucci (Paul Child) and Chris Messina (Eric Powell) provided powerful performances. Nora Ephron's seamless direction as she switched from present to past was stunning.
Not knowing anything about the film ahead of time allowed me to be completely surprised by the plot. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a central point in the plot was a blog that Julie, innocently began. A frustrated writer in search of an outlet, Julie is encouraged by her saintly husband to follow her passion (2002) and create a blog to write about cooking. As the plot develops, Julie begins to see the fruit of her labors as people begin reading her work online and commenting on it. Eventually her blog leads her to sort of cyber stardom.
When I innocently began this blog a few years ago, all I knew was that I needed an outlet to record the stuff I was always writing in the late hours of sleepless nights. Here's what I wrote in my first blog entry on May 9, 2006.
Entering in to the blogshere is a bit scary. It's a bit like taking some kind of leap off a building. Back 1994, I bought my first computer. With it, I managed to find a way to get access to an "800" dial-up line. The first thing I did was Netscape over to my favorite weather service site and view the latest satellite image. I thought the world stopped turning when i saw that image.
Now I'm entering a new world of communication. Perhaps I'll only be communicating with myself. That's fine by me however.
I love to write stories.
It turns out that really few people actually read this blog, and that's always been okay with me. I've never really been visited on the blog by famous people, although a fantastic equine artist did find it and reads it from time to time. My family sometimes reads it, so I'm always careful about what stories I tell. Also, for the first time last year, one of my third grade students found it and began spreading it around to her classmates. That, more than anything else, dampened my enthusiasm for expressing my truest feelings and ideas. Now, my blog lives in a G-rated world.
Over the years, I've grown other targeted blogs. I have a horse racing blog where my extended family can gather and read news from our family horse racing contest. I developed a specialized political blog with the goal of saving my local golf course from development. That more than anything else is my greatest blog success. While I pretty much handed off the keys to the blog to the local neighborhood alliance, the blog went on to pressure city council to stop their nonsensical, greedy development plans and convinced them to try actually running the golf course. Two years later, the course has been spared the wrecking ball and the city is about to agree to a five year extension of the golf course lease.
I've also been experimenting with another specialized blog which I keep rather private. It belongs to the members of my local teaching association. In it, I post local association news. It's growth has been modest. I think that teachers, in general, don't have much free time to spend viewing blogs during the school year and in the summer, they are too busy decompressing to really care.
My interest in blogging has waxed and waned over the past few years. I'm in the midst of one of those creative lulls right now. I haven't added much content to this or any of my blogs over the summer. I'm not sure why. Perhaps that third grader really did take the wind out of my sails.
After watching Julie and Julia, I am anxious to visit with the Google monster to see if I can find Julie's original blog. I'd like to see it in its original form. In the movie, Julie was portrayed with an appealing writer's innocence. I remember feeling that way when I wrote and later recorded my bear piece. Sometimes, when I take the time to ponder, I find myself missing that innocence.