Fun With My Imaginary Friends

When I was little I always wanted to be my favorite TV or movie characters. That’s one of the reasons I loved Halloween and costume parties. Those were my opportunities, rare as they were, to dress up as Princess Leia (Star Wars) or Kelly Garrett (Charlie’s Angels) or Mary Ann Summers (Gilligan’s Island).
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In high school I took Theatre Arts so that I could reprise the roles of my most beloved actresses. Like Judy Garland, I got to play Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. I played the role of Lizzie, Katherine Hepburn’s role from The Rainmaker. I even had the part that Vicki Lawrence played in a skit once performed on The Carol Burnett Show.



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As an adult it’s much more difficult to “pretend” you are someone else, unless you’re a professional actor or don’t mind being put under doctor’s observation. My dilemma is this: how can I indulge that little urge without completely embarrassing myself or, more importantly, my family?

My friends and I came up with a fun game of make-believe that we play at restaurants. When the host/hostess asks for a name to call when our table is ready, we leave them the name of one of our favorite characters. It’s great fun. It makes the host smile when they recognize the name, and it’s a hoot to watch the other patrons’ facial expressions.

We’ve used Charles Carmichael and John Casey (Chuck), Jack Shephard (Lost), Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and others. At one of our preferred local eating establishments the hosts know us and ask, “Who are you today?”  It makes their job  more fun, too.
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Is this silly? Yes, and ridiculous, but don’t we have enough boring and grown-up stuff that we have to do already? I’m not suggesting taking on an alter ego for anything important, serious, or legally binding. However, for the little moments that would be otherwise boring and mundane, I say enjoy! Rather than saying good-bye to our fictional movie friends when the credits roll, enjoy them just a little longer by taking them with you for times such as these.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

When I Grow Up

When I was five years old, I remember someone asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told them “Carol Burnett.” It was true then and it’s still true for me.

As I grew a little older, though, I learned to read, and it broadened my outlook a bit. In the third grade I read every Nancy Drew book I could find, along with Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Little Women.

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Little Women was it, too. I think between the third and sixth grades, I probably read Little Women a dozen times. I was going to be Jo March. I was going to tell stories. I was going to be a writer. Period.

In Junior High I joined the school publication staff and worked on the newspaper and the yearbook. In High School I was the Entertainment Editor for the newspaper. I was a writer. Done.

Now in the “real world” I write. I tell stories. I write blogs about story-tellers. I teach children through stories. I have my first novel waiting for publication at the publisher. I have a few more “in development” as they say in the business.

Now do I consider myself Jo March? Well, I don’t have to wear corsets and hoop skirts—so maybe I have a little advantage over the fictional character. But I do consider myself blessed to take adventures in words through reading and story-telling, just as she did.

Whether I’m acting out a silly skit (like Carol Burnett) for a group of kids, or reading a story book, or writing an adventure set in far off lands, story-telling is an essential part of my life. My childhood dreams have come true, and for that I am truly grateful.

As far as the movie versions of my favorite books, I must say that I love them all. Liberties were taken, but in every case I found that the players all stayed true to the spirit of the characters.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

Not Your Typical Christmas Movie

Christmas is the time of year for family and festivities. It’s when company comes and stays for a few days… maybe a week. When you’ve eaten everything in the house and played every board or card game you know, it’s time to turn on a Christmas movie.

Which ones are your favorites? Do you turn on the classics or go for the quirky?

Of course there are the standards for kids, like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch who Stole Christmas and Charlie Brown’s Christmas are fantastic for the whole family.

For some Christmas is the time for The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind. Everybody can enjoy a timeless tale of hope and love.

But what if the kids are all grown? What if, after four days of turkey sandwiches, you’re all Christmased out? Why not try a new holiday tradition?

One family I know decided to make Jurassic Park their annual Christmas movie. They still enjoy family time together, just without the twinkling lights and mistletoe.

I know folks who take advantage of long days when the weather is too cold or inclement by watching movie marathons. Star Wars,
Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia are wonderful for these situations. Take a snow day and watch a whole season of a TV series. For some science fiction try Warehouse 13. For a little western adventure enjoy Gunsmoke or Bonanza. If you need both space travel and gun-slinging indulge in Firefly. (It may be the best TV show to ever end after only one season.)

Other less-Christmassy options are Lethal Weapon and Trading Places. Both films take place during the holidays. Both feature Christmas music and decorated trees. However, both of these films include much more violence and mature themes than Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Whatever your Christmas fancy, remember to share your time and your favorites with the ones you love. And share with me—what are the movies you watch in December?

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!