Monday, December 28, 2009

Gone With the Wind

I love this movie! I've always loved it, not just because it depicts the strength of the Old South after the Civil War, but also because of the special effects of that time.

Yesterday, my friend, Fran, and I got to see Gone With the Wind for it's 70th anniversary. It's hard to believe that this incredible flick was released back in 1939 - long before I was even thought of. But it was and to many, it's considered the greatest movie ever made.

The last time I saw the movie was in Richmond, Virginia, 20 years ago. It was the 50th anniversary and Stephanie and I, like the other hundreds of people there, dressed in period regalia and got to feast on local delicacies during the intermission. Several of our friends went with us, and we made it a great party.

One of the most famous movies of all time, GWTW had it's share of notables. Of course, most notable were actors Clark Gable, Olivia DeHaviland, and Leslie Howard. Hattie McDaniel, the actor who played Mammie, accepted any role to further the advance of her race, and said so. Another notable was Susan Myrick from Atlanta. Not an actor, but a dialect expert. She was hired by producer David O. Selznick to coach actors in their southern accent. For Selznick, everything had to be perfect, even down to the hoops under skirts. When Ann Rutherford asked Selznick why having the hoops mattered when no one in the audience would know, his explanation was, "Because you'll know." For him, that was enough.

New to the American movie scene was Vivian Leigh. Cast at the last moment, according to legend, Vivian was "suddenly discovered" when she appeared as a companion to Laurence Olivier during the filming of the burning of Atlanta. Of course, sensationalized legends were just as effective in marketing then as they are today. The truth was that an unknown would be cast and that Selznick wanted the publicity to create a huge buzz in America. Regardless of how Vivian was selected, she was the best choice. Years of critics - both professional and novice - have attested to that.

Needless to say, my head is filled with trivia about this great film. How the movie was made fascinates me even today.

While the last screening was last night, you can still get the DVD or blu-ray at local places around town or from a retailer online. It's a great time to watch an incredible classic.

Enjoy ..............

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The True Spirit of Christmas

If you haven't taken your children to see Santa Claus yet, there's still time! In spite of economic downturns, job losses and a host of other challenges in our world today, Santa is still the beacon that all is right in the world at Christmas time.

When I was a child, I couldn't understand why we'd see Santa at so many places. My little mind thought that Santa was able to jump from department store to department store, and that he did it just in time for me to see him there. It wasn't until later that my mother, in her hopes of extending my make-believe world, told me that Santa has "helpers" to help him talk with all the kids because he was busy making the toys at the North Pole.

Sometimes today, I wonder if I know the "real" Santa. If not, he's mighty close. Last year, I met Santa Dick at Green Hills Mall working a seasonal job at the mall, and there we became friends.

Over the last year, I've had the opportunity to get to know Santa Dick. He epitomizes what Christmas is all about. Adults and children alike love this wonderful Santa because he genuinely cares about the children (and, yes, adults) that he meets.

Santa Dick recently told me about a little girl he met who understood the real meaning of Christmas. "I just want some balloons for Christmas," she answered when Santa Dick asked her what she wanted. When asked why she just wanted balloons, she told Santa Dick, "So other children who don't have toys can have my toys." Needless to say, by the end of that story, I choked up. That little girl, at her young age, understands Christmas!

How many of us really understand the true meaning of Christmas? I wonder how our economic recession has affected what we give this year. Maybe it's not as much or as expensive as we've given in the past. And that's good. It's time for us to slow down and just love and care about each other.

Do you know what the first gift of Christmas was? It was a baby, lying in a manger, who was born to take away the sins of the world. That unconditional gift is for every single person who ever lived before then, during that time, and since that time. It's for you and for me. Santa Dick would echo these same sentiments.

There's time to go see Santa ... and there's time for us to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

Merry, merry Christmas to all of you! May you be exceptionally blessed this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Polar Express and Camp Hope

I can't say it enough. Kids who have suffered injuries from burns need you!

Every summer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center sponsors Camp Hope, a cost-free camp for these wonderful kids. After being teased and taunted at school and in their communities because of their scars, these children have the annual opportunity to have a stress-free camp opportunity with others their age who have also suffered from burn injuries.

This Thursday, December 3, at 7 p.m., my office is sponsoring a special screening of "The Polar Express" at The Belcourt Theater in Nashville. Tickets are $20/person, age 18 and up, and $15/person, under age 18. Ticket prices include dinner provided by McDougal's, Subway and Gigi's Cupcakes. Of course, popcorn and soft drinks will be provided, too.

Dinner and a silent art auction begin when the doors open at 6 p.m. Professional paintings, paintings done by the camp kids and some high quality amateur artwork will be for sale. You may see a few Titans tickets for auction there, too, so make sure you're there early enough to see what's there.

Proceeds will go to Camp Hope (via the United Way). To purchase tickets online, go to The Belcourt Theater Link. Don't miss out!