Tag Archives: Airplane!

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It is summertime, which means it’s time for popcorn flicks and blockbuster entertainment.

When I look back, it is amazing how many times my friends and I shared bonding moments built around watching movies.

We can recall not only the movie, but where we watched it, scenes  and how we reacted to it.

The movies we have seen together run the gamut, from comedies to thrillers to horror to adult.

The first R-rated ones I saw were “Animal House” and a double-feature of “Kentucky Fried Movie” and “Groove Tube.”

If I recall correctly, we had Pedro’s older brother come with us as our “guardian” since we were 16 and worried about the Loew’s American in the Bronx enforcing the MPAA age restriction.

There are those movies that endure (“Airplane!” of course being one of them) and there are those dogs of a movie that are best forgotten.

But half the fun of recalling some of those godawful flicks is the chance for my friends to break my chops that it was MY idea to go see them.

Two that come to mind: “Squeeze Play,” a pseudo sex romp brought to you by the high-caliber Troma Films company, and “Vice Squad,” a violent, dark film with few redeeming qualities.

But for memorable movie watching — as in like impossible to erase the imprint for your brain — the first-place trophy goes to AMR crew member Rich Rodriguez who a few years ago brought to the man cave “Requiem for a Dream” and “Human Centipede.”

We were crowded into a small room to watch “Requiem,” of which I knew nothing. It was an incredible movie about addiction but so dark and heavy that I needed a drink when it was over.

It is one of those movies, like “Schindler’s List” or “Saving Private Ryan” that you are glad you have seen but cannot imagine ever watching a second time.

And then, as if that did not harsh our mellow enough, Rich popped in the DVD for “Human Centipede,” which was so vile and disgusting and repulsive that we demanded we watch it on fast-forward! (For an idea of how bad it was, consider that its sequel was banned in Britain!)

On a more uplifting note, there was the time we gathered at Pedro’s to watch “Ted,” the story of the raunchy, foul-mouthed stuffed teddy bear who comes to life.

At points we were laughing so hard and loud that we had to stop the movie and replay scenes because we were missing dialogue. That was a good time!

The crowning glory of movie-going moments, though, belongs to troublemaker Pedro following our viewing of “Return of the Jedi.”

We caught an early showing of the much-anticipated third installment of the “Star Wars” trilogy.

We exited the theater and there was a line literally down the block for movie-goers waiting to get in.

So what does Pedro do?

Like the inmates in the Jimmy Cagney prison cafeteria scene where word is relayed that “Ma’s dead,” Pedro delivers a major spoiler by announcing up and down the line of those waiting for tickets: “Darth Vader dies! Darth Vader dies!”

It was a wonder that Darth Vader was not the only one who died that night!

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Will You Still Need Me? Will You Still Feed me?!?!

Two of the world’s great philosophers have weighed in about getting old.

“Aging is for people who don’t know any better.” — Exercise guru Tony Horton, creator of the P90X workouts

“Getting old sucks. I don’t recommend it.” — My old man

I am rapidly moving toward being a man of a certain age *cough cough* (or should that be *wheeze wheeze*?). That is to say, I am turning 50 in a few months.

Certainly millions of other men have crossed this threshold before me and millions more will after. But there’s something mystical and captivating about 50.

For one thing, at this stage of half a century, you are forced to slow down.

The conversation I sometimes have with my body goes like this: “What do you mean my knee is giving me trouble?” “What the hell? My bedtime is now 10 p.m.?” And, standing in the bathroom at 2 a.m.: “Why is it taking me so damn long to start peeing?”

And with slowing down, comes reflection. I look back at my mistakes (mostly) and then I look forward and start saying: Gee, what DO I want to be when (if) I grow up?

That’s the thing: There is your biological/chronological age and then there’s your emotional age. And in the case of the latter, I’m 17.

I’m 17 and in the hallway at my friend Silvio’s house, celebrating his birthday with my chums, raising glasses of Tom Collins (long before I embraced the virtues of vodka-and-tonics) and pledging to each other that, like Peter Pan, we would never grow up. We promised to never, ever abandon the essence of our 17-year-old selves.

Mission accomplished.

I still celebrate burping with the gusto of a teen, guffaw at stupid jokes and recite random pieces of dialogue from “Airplane!” as if it was from a Shakespearean play.

Still, it’s hard to keep up that kind of frozen-in-Neverland fantasy when you face an uncertain economic future because of the challenges of your career, the certainty that your kids will soon be leaving your daily protective care and the crapshoot of what your health will be like in your even-more advanced years.

And if that dose of reality were not enough, there are these recurring questions: What is my next act? Have I peaked? Is there anything left for me to wring from my professional career or is it all one slow slide from here?

I was recently looking at a CNN.com slide show of celebrities who this year are turning 50. Among them, Russell Crowe. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Does that put me in good company? Do I look younger than Russell Crowe? Does he look older than 50?

True story: I recently visited my old high school for a Career Day presentation. I ran into a classmate who I had not seen since we graduated in 1982. As I looked into his face, I was like: Holy smokes! His hair is white and he’s got these creases in his face. Boy HAS he aged! I suddenly started to feel very smug and better about myself. Until….Wait just a minute here! He’s MY age!

This is the kind of crap that goes through your mind as a man. How do I stack up compared to my peers? How do I stack up against my own benchmarks of success?

Comics have an expression that speaks to the challenge of slaying an audience with your performance vs. bombing on stage: Dying is easy, killing is harder.

In a similar way, I don’t fear my mortality. Dying is easy.

It’s the living between now and my mortality that, dear 50, is a lot harder.