Don’t tell the FBI, but when I was 5 I made a poster advertising a screening of The Wizard of Oz and hung it in our living room window. I was charging 25 cents, and my brother and I were in our makeshift Dorothy and Tin Man costumes, waiting for the VHS tape to rewind. (My mom had recorded the movie when it aired on channel 13. I still remember exactly where the commercials interjected, offering us time to go to the bathroom and/or get a snack.)
Our theater boasted a 19-inch screen and two yellow plastic Little Tykes chairs. It was so much better than when we used to watch it in black and white.
Flash forward to 2012. I’m bundling up a 13-day-old Leo in a yellow blanket and the lion bonnet I had a lady from Etsy make just for him. Frank’s Tin Man costume already ripped up the side, and Collin’s homemade Scarecrow hat looks pretty darned close to the one from the movie. We watch it several times a week, even though Frank, like his uncle, is a little scared of the Wicked Witch.
It’s still one of my favorite movies of all time. I can recite every word in my head. I have a pair of ruby slippers.
Obviously I’ve been a big fan for a long time for reasons I can’t even begin to get into. But, I’ve never experienced The Wizard of Oz like I did last Sunday, when I saw it on the big screen for the very first time at the Senator.
My mom, my aunt, my cousin, Collin and I settled into comfy seats with popcorn, peanut chews, and Swedish fish, the curtains closed before us. We couldn’t wait to pay attention to that man behind the curtain.
After Betty Boop’s Snow White ended, and all but a few kernels of our popcorn remained, that familiar overture boomed through the speakers, rumbling the ground below us, the “young at heart” for which this film was dedicated.
As the all-too-familiar picture unfolded, I found myself seeing and hearing details I’d never noticed before. A sign painted on Professor Marvel’s caravan indicated that he was a “balloon exhibitionist.”
The munchkins became individuals, rather than a bright blur of tiny faces. “That’s me; that’s Frank, and that’s Leo,” Collin pointed out when the Lollipop Guild did their little song and dance for Dorothy. He continued to point “himself” (the guy in the green plaid shirt) out. It was easy to follow that particular munchkin when he was so…big.
I admit I was a little afraid when Dorothy and the guys were wandering through the woods. Collin and I held onto each other when the Cowardly Lion read the sign: “I’d turn back if I were you.” Those Flying Monkeys are terrifying when they’re 8 feet tall!
I focused on every word of every song, laughing with the rest of the audience at the appropriate times, clapping when the Witch was dead. (Ding! Dong!)
The most dramatic moment, as you can imagine, is when Dorothy opens the door that leads from Kansas to Munchkinland and color, glorious color, gushes through the screen. The audience gasped and applauded just as it must have 75 years ago.
Seeing The Wizard of Oz at the Senator was like putting on a pair of glasses and a set of hearing aids. The movie means even more to me now that I’ve seen it under a magnifying glass, soaking up the details of the costumes, the sets, the special effects, and heard it through an amplifier: every creak, every rustle, every note of the orchestra, and every whisper of desperation for a brain, a heart, a home, the nerve.
Above all, I was locked in and focused expressly on the masterpiece before me. I wasn’t folding laundry or pressing pause to break up a fight about a toy. I didn’t check my phone once the entire time. Those 101 minutes were dedicated to The Wizard of Oz.
After running into a fellow St. Joan of Arc teacher and her three spectacular daughters that I’m lucky enough to call my students, we left, our minds buzzing our hearts fluttering.
I can’t wait to return to the Senator for some more of their special showings
. On December 20th, at 10:00 a.m., they will be airing another one of my favorite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life, for charity. Bring a few canned goods, and I’ll see you there!
December 02, 2014 04:49
By Robyn Barberry
Every year for our anniversary, Patrick and I try to visit someplace different. This year landed us in Austin, Texas, thanks to a recommendation by a longtime friend who is an artist. Plus, Austin is known for great food and music. We’d heard the phrase “Keep Austin Weird,” and proceeded with caution and curiosity.
We didn’t find Austin to be all that weird. People were quite friendly. The food was even better than we’d imagined. And we found ourselves most impressed by the architecture of the houses in the neighborhoods we traversed in our journey from one restaurant to the next. Every house was unique, many were colorful, and great care was taken in adding the little touches that whispered, “home.”
We stayed in a cottage ourselves, and our incredibly helpful innkeeper, Sovay, was glad to oblige when we asked her to help us find a mission-style Catholic church. She led us to St. Ignatius Martyr, a short bus ride away.
I admit I was a little disappointed when I first saw the building. I was hoping to step back in time in a historical, pueblo-style church. This cream bricked church looked to be about the same age as mine, which was built in 1965 (I later discovered that they’re exactly the same age). It did, however, boast the characteristic mission arches I was looking for. At the center of the second story stood an intricate stained glass image of St. Ignatius in reds, yellows, and many shades of blue.
Inside, an alabaster glow exuded from the white marble on the altar. The risen Christ superimposed on the crucifix saw over the space. Two mission-paned glass rooms flanked the altar, with the one on the left housing the musicians and choir. Four sections of oak pews were lit by a gilded chandelier with faux pillar candles, dozens of radiant white and chrome pendant lights, and predominately blue stained glass skylights. The whole place felt warm, and I’m not talking about the Texas heat.
Mass began with the priest asking us to greet each other. I wondered if this was the way “peace” is shared in the Archdiocese of Austin, but we shook hands again after saying the “Our Father.” The music was outstanding, as is to be expected in Austin. I couldn’t even keep track of the instruments, strings and woodwinds so diverse and yet so harmonic. According to Patrick, the cantor sung, “Like a Disney Princess,” which is a huge compliment in our household.
Before giving us our final blessing, the priest asked anyone who had a birthday that week to stand for a blessing. Mine was the Monday before, but I didn’t think it counted. Then, he asked who was having an anniversary. Ours was the next day, so we stood and were blessed. Lastly, he asked the visitors to stand and blessed us as the ushers handed out information cards and pocket-sized wooden crosses. I’m going to use mine as a Christmas ornament to honor our visit to this special place.
After Mass, I perused the small store set up in the vestibule, where they sold religious jewelry, music, DVDs, crucifixes, and cards of saints I’d never even heard of. People I’d never seen before stopped over to wish me a happy anniversary and welcome me to their parish. I found some things I liked in the store, then realized I only brought enough cash for the collection. Still, it was fun to window shop for Catholic gifts.
I consider my parish to be very welcoming, comfortable place for visitors, and I was elated to feel the same way at St. Ignatius Martyr. The whole experience was a reminder to me that the building itself is a very small part of what makes up a church.
July 07, 2014 02:55
By Robyn Barberry