My Life At The Pictures 1977 – 1981

I love movies. I’d like to think I love movies more than most people, because that makes me feel important and special and that I may have a crack at hosting a movie review show one day. But I guess the truth is I like movies just as much as the next person, only I enjoy writing about them. So I thought I would try and write about my earliest memories at the cinema because, well, it’s a Sunday and all the porn sites are down for some reason.
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One of my earliest movie memories and possibly the first movie I was taken to the pictures to watch, was Kingdom of the Spiders, released in 1977. That would have made me six years old. Hmm. Would my parents have taken me to see this sort of film at that age? Well, the thing is this. The fairly small Welsh town I grew up in, Cwmbran, had just two tiny cinemas back then. One had a single auditorium that seemed to screen Ray Harryhausen movies and nothing else. The other, situated in the town centre, had three auditoriums, each sitting maybe a hundred people, and it seemed to be about six months or even a year behind when it came to showing the big movies like Star Wars or Emmanuelle.

Kingdom Of The Spiders starred William Shatner, of Star Trek fame, although again, at that age I didn’t know he was mostly famous for sitting in a chair on a spaceship looking awesome. I don’t recall him at all in the film actually. What I do recall is a scene in a barn and in the corner of the ceiling, between the wooden beams,  was a big furry spider, its eyes all gleaming and glistening and saying “Hey look! I’m a spider! And this is my first movie!”

I’ll have to try and track that spider down one day, to see if he made anything of his life.

I also remember being taken to see Logan’s Run. This is another film released in 1977 and I’m now beginning to think I actually was six years old when my father took me to see all this depravity.Logans_run_movie_poster

Because you see, Logan’s run had a fair bit of nakedness in it, and most of that nakedness came in the form of the delightful, delectable, delicious Jenny Agutter. I think she put the ‘x’ in ‘foxy’, because without it, then people would just be ‘foy’. Which is an interesting word but I don’t think it means anything. Logan’s Run was about this chap, Logan, who started running. He lived in a future where everyone had to die when they reached 30, and he sort of had this task to find out if that really had to happen or not, or whether it was just the governments method of crowd control. Anyway, he goes on the run with scantily clad Jenny Agutter and all in all, it’s not a terrible movie and worth a watch today. Mainly for…ahem…Jenny Agutter.

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Then there was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Another film featuring the stop-motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, released in 1977. Actually, 1977 seems to be a key year here. The other connection is that, being six years old, I was the same age as Damien, in the first The Omen movie, who was supposed to become self-aware of his destiny as the anti-christ at the age of six. I wonder, if by taking me to see all of these films, my parents were trying to show me that my destiny was as a spider killing, running away with Logan, saving the princess from a minotaur, kind of guy?

I went to see Sinbad in the old, dilapidated, dark, gloomy cinema in Old Cwmbran, with my mother, grandmother and sister. I have one clear memory of a group of kids in the front row, being rowdy and throwing sweets at the screen, particularly when Jane Seymour’s breasts floated into view. My grandmother, always quite stern and to the point, stood up and shouted “You kids shut the fuck up!”. Remember, this is 1977 and nobody ever said ‘fuck’. You’d actually have to go to the cinema to watch The Godfather or Pete’s Dragon to hear the word ‘fuck’. But it did the job as those kids actually did shut the fuck up.

“When I grow up I want to be able to do that,” I thought, gazing in love and admiration at the old lady sitting next to me. My nan was sitting on the other side and had to remind me that the lady I was looking at was a complete stranger, but hey ho.

Next on my list, in this whistle-stop tour of movie memories is

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Yes. The first superhero film I was taken to see. I have no memory of being taken to see Superman, a couple of years previously. But this film I do remember. It was released in 1981 and so, being ten, I still wasn’t allowed to go to the cinema on my own, so begged my mum to take me to see this because the trailer on television looked so much fun. It was a superhero film where the superhero didn’t actually have any super powers. He relied on gadgets, such as a walking stick that could shoot bullets, and a speedboat that had guns and…and…I loved it! At that age, I didn’t really understand the convoluted plot about defecting spies. I didn’t know what defecting meant. I wondered if it was like defecating, but in a more refined way. Anyhow, the exciting bits for me, as I have already mentioned, was the walking stick scene and the speedboat chase. I’ve never watched the film since.

And so this brings to a close my brief first account of early cinematic experiences. In part two I will cover the years from 1982 to 1989, when I went to see films such as E.T, Spacehunter, Ghostbusters, Back To The Future and of course, Love in 3-D.

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The Complicated Social World Of Facebook – When Is A Friend Not A Friend?

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I had a message from a friend the other day. The tone was a little plaintive. Somewhat distressed, in fact.
“Why didn’t you respond to my post? About my problem?”
She had posted something on Facebook. A problem, in fact. I didn’t respond for a number of reasons –

1. I didn’t see it initially. Facebook keeps altering the algorithms of what you see in your news feed, we all know that. In fact, they came in for some criticism roughly a year ago for deliberately altering the algorithm so that people would only see sad and negative stories in their news feed. Of course, we all have the option of marking a person as a ‘close friend’ and so even if their post doesn’t appear in your news feed, a notification will appear to inform you they have posted *something*, regardless of what it is. Not a perfect work around but useful I guess. Maybe I should use that option more.

2. I regarded this person as a genuine friend, not as a “I’ve never spoken to them, never met them in real life, but boy, they’re my best friend on Facebook!” type friend. I had met the person, chatted to her a lot and felt I had a good, strong friendship with her. She has my mobile number, my home address, my email address. So if she genuinely wanted my input, my feedback, my thoughts on her pressing concern, she would have contacted me directly, by either of those three different methods. By posting the problem on Facebook, and so canvassing the opinion of her nearly one thousand Facebook ‘friends’ (the post setting was ‘public’) then to me, it wasn’t the sort of problem that required my personal intervention. She didn’t need me for support, in the context of the online virtual social media world of Facebook.

2.a (because it’s not quite a point 3, but is worthy of being separated slightly from 2. A bit like placing a block of butter on the shelf down from the margarine in your fridge. ). You know that oft quoted example of human nature regarding being the spectator to a car crash? That if you witness it and ten or twenty people reach the scene before you do, you are far less likely to offer to help or to become involved, as there is an assumption that those twenty people know what they are doing. So you become a bystander. Whereas if there is nobody else around then you are most likely to act on what you have witnessed – calling the police, going over to see if you can extract the occupants from the car if needed, and so on. So I find that it is the same on Facebook a lot of the time, that if someone posts something and you are a little behind on the replies, then you are far less likely to reply because “everyone’s said what I would have said anyway.”

3. I don’t really have a point three, but as the number three is seen as quite a spiritual and significant number to the followers of Alistair Crowley and The Golden Dawn, not to mention fans of the Back To The Future TRILOGY, then I thought I would make a third pointedly pointless point here.

But hey, back in the land of Seriousville, I just don’t know if I’m right or wrong. Was she justified to be hurt? Am I supposed to validate her feelings by way of being contrite and humble? We all have different internal rules for processing each different social interaction. What one person may term as etiquette (“You are a friend, you should have interacted with me”) another may term as impropriety.

But really, I would rather not have Facebook as my central hub, where all my Friends gather to post their problems, hoping that I (or another friend) will become involved and reply. It’s fine of course, for certain types of issues. But I’d like to think if someone actually needs me, then they would contact me personally, speak to me directly, add to the bond of friendship we already have by taking me into their confidence. Because we all like that feeling of being needed. That special feeling that we are trusted, away from the superficial world of social media sites.