Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you're a fan of classic movie houses and haven't visited the renovated Portage Theatre, please do so. Dennis Wolkowicz (aka "Jay Warren", when he's accompanying silent films) has done a remarkable job in rehabbing this theater, where I used to view second-run "B" grade horror films. Back in high school the Portage was divided into three very cramped screening rooms. To enter the seating area and see one single screen and all the renewed detail is stunning.

I went to the Six Corners Monster Film Festival with Chris, who - bless his heart - can't seem to do anything simple. I left home at 5:45 and told Chris that I would call when I was in Six Corners. An hour later I could see the Portage in my sights, and pulled out the cell. What transpired was fifteen minutes of unintelligible phone calls. Apparently, Chris made it to Six Corners way before I did, and when he has idle time on his hands, he's dangerous. And for Chris, it isn't enough to simply stand in line and wait to meet Svengoolie. Chris has to stand out. So he bought a five dollar mask at Family Dollar, put on his sunglasses, flagged down a rickshaw driver who drove him all of one block to the Portage, and stood at the front of the line. I finally recognized him, but by then I was frustrated with the phone calls; he wouldn't remove the mask or his iPod earbuds to take them properly.

We finally met up in the theater, where I fell asleep a couple times during the viewing of "The Mummy" (a lisping Karloff as a risen from the dead Egyptian priest. That's a stretch.) and marveled at how great it was to see one of these films in a large screen setting. And they had the remastered dvd, as well. Having it myself, part of me wished they would have played the other four films in the collection.

We left the theater and, after getting lost with Chris trying to find his car, headed out, all the while he's overexaggerating the evening's events to someone on the phone. Going south on Milwaukee, I started to get anxious as Chris lighted a smoke, looked for a something on his iPod, and tred to shift into third gear. Finally, I took the iPod from him so he could focus on the road. When we got to Belmont, he asked, "Which way is west?" In his mind, he thought I would have joined him back in his place for drinks with Peg and Brian. Had I not gotten only four hours of sleep the night before, I would have. But I make a barely tolerable houseguest on a full night's sleep, so I didn't want to spend my time in Albany Park dozing off while the three of them talked. It just would have been rude.

I mentioned this to Chris, who immediately invoked the "Back in my day" act of 1906. "I've been up since the crack of dawn", he said. Trying not to escalate the situation into an "I can top your tale of woe" contest, I told him I had to walk the dog, and he surrendered, finally driving me to the train station.

Overall, it was a good night. I love being able to hang out with Chris whenever the opportunity arises. It brings back to mind the slew of great parties he used to throw when he lived in an alley loft on Belmont. Most of the folks I consider friends today I met through him. He's had a really rough year and came through a little battered, but with a better sense of who he is. His friendship is something I'll treasure as long as I can.

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