Sunday, December 20, 2009

A New Old Tradition

Every so often I get an urge to watch a really good movie. Oddly enough, this desire rarely drives me toward the nearest cine-plex. The first place that I always look is: The Redford Theater in Detroit. Many, and I would guess, most Detroiters have never heard of the Redford theater. They don't advertise that I know of, but rather build their business by word of mouth. Somehow or other, my parents have known about it since I
was a kid and took us there from time to time.

The theater originally opened in 1928 and when you walk into it today, you feel as though it were still that era. A group of dedicated volunteers have managed to preserve and restore the theater right down to the Japanese courtyard decor surrounding the front of the theater and starry sky ceiling. This group of volunteer also belongs to the Motor City Theatre Organ Society which is housed in the theater. As you may have guessed, the theater has an old, working organ. (That I will get into later.) While I am certain it has not maintained it's original ticket price, I would still say that the $4.00 admission that they charge is about the cheapest movie in town!

The other part of the Redford Theater that I love is that it only shows old movies. In fact, as you will see, they are dedicated to giving you an old movie experience. I think that as a kid, I was oblivious to the fact that most people hadn't gone to the theater to see Laurel and Hardy in "Sons of the Desert" (my favorite!) "You wax eater!!!"

While I realize that you can turn your television to Turner Classic Movies at any given time to catch much of the Redford Theater lineup, there is really something different about seeing these movies on the big screen with an audience. The first time that I took Mick to the RT, we went to see "Blazing Saddles." It was very different to hear a room full of strangers cracking up at the humor that Mel Brooks was doling. Only at the Redford Theater
will you get a balcony full of college students cheering at the mere mention of Gene Kelly during an introduction of "Singing in the Rain". (They always do an introduction.)

The theater also has an intermission with all of the movies, just as an old theater would have. They have a 50/50 raffle during the intermission. I won it when I went over the summer to see Mary Poppins. I walked away with $68, so factoring in the cost of the tickets and concession stand for all of the movies that I have gone to, I would say that I have made about a $55 profit going to the Redford this year.

This brings me to a new tradition for my family... "A Chistmas Story" at the Redford. I have always loved this movie. Actually, I love any movie which allows my parents to reminisce about their childhood. The Woody Allen movie "Radio Days" is a great example of this. The little known, but brilliant "Avalon" is another. "A Christmas Story," always seems to extract
the exclamations from my parents such as "Oh my goodness! Do you remember those snow suits?" "Look Matt! Look at the stove that she's using in the kitchen!" More than anything though, it conjures up a good laughing spell from my Dad which is an unforgettable thing.

"A Christmas Story" is shown every year at the RT because it is quite popular with their audiences. We went as a family once a couple of years ago, and sure en
ough, I began to get the itch to go again. I randomly put something on Facebook and quickly found out that my sister had gotten the same itch and had been planning to go. My brother Mike jumped on board. Everyone (in Detroit) was able to go except for my parents, who already had tickets to the symphony. Sorry Mom and Dad! It is a tradition now, so we will plan better next year!

It was so much fun to hear everyone laugh as the Dad pronounces "Fra-gee-lay. Must be Italian!" The audience cheered as Ralphie takes a stand against Scott Farkis the bully. "Yellow eyes! Yellow eyes! So help me God, he had yellow eyes!" The theater even threw in an additional raffle for a leg lamp!

So let me take you on a tour! (But bear with me. While these photos were supposed to be in an order that made some sense, Blogger does not seem to want to let me shift them around.) Get ready for some nostalgia:

This is looking at the overall scene from the balcony. Unfortunately with my camera, there is no good way to catch the starry sky, but there are twinkling stars above this already fantastic scene.
Some of the evenings participants: Mike with his girls, Madeline and Natalie
Check out the Santa Bears behind the tree. I totally had the 1986 bear!

Mick, my nephew Vinnie and my brother in law, Steve.

Here is an example of some of the detail above the lights that was preserved in the middle lobby. I am taking this from the stairway that leads to the balcony:

The theater is always decked out for Christmas:

This was as close as I got to the organ.
I believe that it is original, and yes, there is an organist playing as you walk into the theater and during intermission. Usually the tunes relate to the movie that you are going to watch and in this case he was playing Christmas music. See how the organ is up on the stage? As the movie is beginning, the organ sinks slowly begins to sink until it is below.

At Christmas, they have an elaborate train set at the front. Wow. Whatever happened to train sets? I kind of want one.

Detail of some of the decor to the left of the stage:

Before every movie the curtains open and the National Anthem is played on the organ. I like to imagine that they have been doing this since World War II. (Who knows? Perhaps they have.)

This is a view of the middle lobby with the snack bar. What? I didn't mention the snack bar? $1.50 popcorn with real butter!!! Other inexpensive classics may be found such as Vernors ginger ale and Chuckles. (When Mick ordered Chuckles this time, the volunteer behind the counter responded "Chuckles! Ho Ho Ho!"
You can also see the other staircase going up to the balcony
Before most of the movies, they will usually show a "short" of some kind. Most of the time it is a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but in this case, we were treated to a silent Laurel and Hardy film that I had never seen before (accompanied by the organ of course.)

Here is a detail above one of the staircases. I am afraid that my flash made it appear a bit gaudier.

To the right of the stage

What photos did I not take? The entrance or the main lobby! Fortunately, you may find some on the Redford Theater website:
While you are there, you may just want to check out their Calendar of Events for the movie schedule. I will see you there!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Digs- Christmas Edition

Welcome Avid Reader, to the
McCulloch Family Christmas Home Tour!
Yes, Mick and I now have the ultimate Christmas gift... a roof over our heads. Several of you have been asking for photos, so here they are!
As I write this, I am imagining the reactions that people will have based on where they know me from. The Detroit crowd will surely think..." Wow! This is a lot bigger than her last place!" The Springfield crowd might think: "Whoa! Their house they just sold was twice that size!" Well, you are all correct. We have landed right in the middle, which I think is pretty good for a non-profit employee and a student. We really love this little place, and we are happy to share it with you. (Too bad I can't funnel you some celebratory Christmas cookies via the internet.)
This is the entry way to the condo. Cute, no? They look like little Snow White cottages to me. One thing that I love is that no two buildings are the same and that the landscaping is quite fabulous. The building across the street is forest green with yellow trim. The one next to ours is beige with orange trim. I enjoy the variety because it doesn't make it seem like a "condo" (By the way, some of these photos were taken this summer. It is just kind of icky out right now, so I pulled from the archives. Plus, all of my recent shots were taken at night.)

Let us start with the main floor: First up is our living room. I never thought that I would go for yellow walls. In fact, I had very specific plans to paint the one wall a bright orange, but there is just something very homey about the yellow. Oh, and I am just a little more than lazy in this particular area. Next up? Curtains!

Here is another shot from the living room looking upstairs:

And our dining area, which is open to the living room. I really wish that we had brought my old light fixture, because this chinese lantern has got to go!

Here is a shot of our kitchen:
And another. I don't know why, but I went a little ga-ga over the little pantry off of the kitchen. These were built in the 40's and this just seems so appropriate for that time period. I also really dig the retro gas stove and like to pretend that it is from the 40's as well, but the reality is that it is probably from the 60's.

This door leads to the most treasured part of the home: our basement! We went without one in Springfield and I am going to cherish having one more than you can imagine. Unfortunately, it is so jam packed with moving boxes that you can't even walk through it yet, so I will not be posting a photo.
I am excited to say, however, that I will have my own sewing area down there. Oh yeah!!! I also enjoy this door, because conveniently, there was a cat door waiting for us despite the fact that the previous owner did not have a cat. I did measure the cat door during our inspection and measured Murphy as well. I concluded that there was no way that he would fit through it, but wouldn't you know that the crafty fella figured out a way to manuever his girth! Nothing comes between Murphy and his food dish in the basement!

Moving upstairs: This is our office. We decided to treat ourselves to a new desk and bookcase and we are so glad that we did given the amount of time that Mick spends in there and the fact that I work from home at least once a week now.

This was my grandfathers desk:
Our bedroom was the one room that I actually bothered to paint. It was formerly a peachy pink color and I just couldn't imagine myself relaxing in that space. Again, I imagine the difference between Springfield and Detroit... Detroit: Oh that wall behind the bed is really different! Springfield: Really Carrie? The grid again?
Well, I couldn't help it. We've never had a headboard and our bed needed something behind it. It is a Chicklet orginal.

Here is our deck. Well... our deck with the previous owners furniture. We didn't bring ours from Springfield as we anticipated living in an apartment. Have any that you want to get rid of?

The condos are all situated around areas of green space. Ours is one of the smaller spaces, and yet it is still a good size. Looking to the right from our deck:

Looking to the left from our deck:

Condo fun facts:
1.The buildings are arranged so that no two windows line up. You will never look out of your window and directly into someone else's.
2.These were built to house World War II veterans
3.Our condo accepts and encourages guests!!!