Volume 1, Number 1 -- August, 1996

The Greatest Show on Earth

An Essay by Dean Shutt

 What follows is the unedited observations of a man on a mission. The comments are uncut and we feel reflect all that is good and right with America today. Our intrepid correspondent attended nine feature length films at six different in thirty hours. Some have suggested that this some kind of record. To that we say, "who cares?"

4:50pm- The beginning, the goal...eight possibly nine movies in the next thirty hours. So many questions, what to wear? Jeans or sweats? Jacket or no? Bring food, buy it at the cinema or eat between shows? Most of this will have to played by ear.

5:15pm- made good time, nearly home. Should have approximately one half an hour's turnaround time.

5:31pm- a little downtime before the odyssey begins. The first show starts at six ten pm at the Plaza4. Three dollars for a double feature of Four Rooms & Fargo. As the weather is nice, I have decided to go for a lightweight T-shirt & shorts combo. One concern, I'm forced to wear the same shoes that I wore to work. They are good shoes, but it goes against my better judgment to wear the same pair for so long. Lest you think I am getting carried away, the least difficulty could upset the whole delicate plan. I had better bring along an extra pair...and some sweats.

5:48pm- stopped for supplies (raspberry snapple, cigarettes, assorted candy, the sugar high could prove crucial). I am two minutes ahead of schedule.

6:07pm- At the Plaza, let the games begin. An old man tells me that Fargo is very good if I've been to the midwest. I haven't, should I be concerned?

previews/Four Rooms
The Rock
cost for Fargo/Four Rooms: $3.00

7:48pm- Four Rooms is over, a good start, next up is Fargo, then just six or seven more. A decent movie, not nearly as disjointed as I'd expected. The quest for cinematic nirvana goes on, so far so good. I feel healthy I feel strong, thus far the shoes have not become an issue.

8:02pm- Fargo begins.


9:41pm- Fargo is over, going to attempt to make it to The Craft at the Oaks.

9:56pm- At the Oaks, missed The Craft, will see Birdcage instead, must call accomplice.

cost for Birdcage/Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: $2.00

11:59pm- Birdcage finished, on now to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the accomplice has arrived. Fading fast now, not sure if a report will follow. The shoes have not been an issue, I'm pleased. I'm also just a little loopy at this point (as evidenced by the fact that I used the word loopy).

12:11am- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure begins

previews/ Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

1:39am- movie finished, now to sleep, way tired.

2:05am- home in bed, mind reeling, feet are fine.

9:00am- Awake, feeling semi-refreshed, must get paper and finalize today's activities. The tentative schedule is; Striptease, Richard III, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and MASH. There may be time to squeeze in another. Last night went well, four movies in just under eight hours. Four Rooms was good, Fargo was a bit on the strange side, but I enjoyed it. The Birdcage was quite funny, but who would have thought that Robin Williams would ever give the most subdued performance in a film. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was the perfect mindless entertainment to cap off the evening.

10:06am- Less than an hour till the festivities begin. The accomplice keeps asking "why?" How to explain a flash of inspiration such as this? I do this because it is there, because I must. What else is there to say? I have decided to go with the same shoes for a second straight day. I have further resolved not to bathe or change my clothes until this thing is done. It just feels like the right thing to do.

11:01am- At the AMC Oakridge, Striptease begins.

Courage Under Fire
The Spitfire Grill
cost for Striptease ; $4.50

12:06- (the following was dictated to the accomplice) Striptease is over. Twenty-four minutes to get lunch and make it to the Plaza for Richard III. The juxtaposition should prove interesting. The sunlight is painful and it is a hot day, we shan't be seeing much of it though. Besides a slight headache, everything is fine, will take some advil when we reach the theatre.

1:18pm- Richard III begins.

previews/Richard III
cost for Richard III ; $2.50

3:00pm- It is over, Richard III was not a subtle man.

3:24pm- back at the Oakridge Mall. Time enough for a quick lunch and then off to Towne 3 for The Magnificent Seven & The Great Escape. A problem has cropped up, the accomplice needs sunglasses, I may have to kill the accomplice if he upsets my timetable again. We will buy the sunglasses here. So far, aside from the mild headache, things are going well. The critical time will be between the end of the movies at the Towne 3 and the start of MASH at the Aquarius. Will we be able to fit in another film? There are several possibilities. The key thing now is to preserve the sanctity of the original vision, numbers are irrelevant at this point.

3:56pm- We have made it to the Towne 3, a chance to relax for the next six hours or so.

4:01pm- The Towne 3 is an older venue, wooden floors, curtain covering the screen. It's an arthouse mostly, with a smattering of classics. I'm concerned about the comfort of the seats, as we will be sitting in them for nearly six hours. I think we should be all right though.

4:05pm- The Magnificent Seven begins.

previews/ The Magnificent Seven
cost for The Magnificent Seven& The Great Escape ; $7.00

6:12pm- The Magnificent Seven is finished, our fears about the seats are confirmed. We are both numb below the waist. Next up, the three hour long, The Great Escape, we will spend the next fifteen minutes on our feet.

6:30pm- The Great Escape begins. We are going to attempt to hit The Craft at the Oaks or possibly Breakfast at Tiffany's at The Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto.

9:18pm- The Great Escape ends, an excellent film.

9:28pm- There will be no tenth movie, we need rest, we need sustenance, we need beer. Two hours to kill.

10:05pm- We are at the Brass Rail, my accomplice feels that this will be the most appropriate stopover on our journey. I must admit that this is better than my idea of playing miniature golf. We began this morning with cinematic dancers (not strippers, dancers) it is only fitting that we include the real thing in our travels.

10:17pm- Eight women in very small bikinis are to the "mix" version of the Loveboat Theme. How can anyone claim that ours is a nation in decline?

11:00pm- Jack in the Box, need we say more?

11:26pm- Palo Alto, just outside the Aquarius. Never before have so many, searched with so much futility, for so little. Soon it ends, soon we will know a kind of triumph that the little people never shall.

11:44pm- Tickets in hand, the excitement is palpable.

12:16am- We are seated, the air is electric with anticipation as we prepare for the final show. This close to the finish and still my feet are fine, what good shoes I have.

12:21am- MASH begins, we can barely contain our glee.

previews/ MASH
Strictly Ballroom
John Waters-No Smoking

2:27am- MASH is done, we dance a dance of quiet reflection on our way to the car, the journey that began seemingly ages ago, is now finished.

4:59pm- Finally now, a moment to reflect back on the excursion, nine movies with a combined running time of approximately nineteen hours. Viewed in the space of just over 32 hours at five different theaters. Total cost of tickets, $24.00. Food and beverage costs were upwards of twenty-five dollars. Was it worth it, did I get what I came for, am I a richer, more fulfilled person because of my journey? Nah, not really.

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