Reporter's Note: President Obama is on vacation. So am I. And I don’t know what that means in Hawaii, but here it means lots of movies … and of course my daily letter to the White House, which in honor of the break, is a just series of little stories this week.
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Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Went to see the movie “Nine” with the family and I must say it was absolutely wretched. I wasn’t impressed by the previews some weeks back and now I know why. The film I peeled off the screen of my new Blackberry was more entertaining. They say an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters could eventually turn out “Hamlet;” I am convinced that “nine” refers to the number it took to render this load of tripe. The only enjoyable moment came when I dozed off briefly, and dreamed that I was being crushed by paving stones as punishment for witchcraft. If we ever catch Osama Bin Laden, just lock him in a room with a DVD player and this movie. He’ll give up his entire gang before the night is out.
Forgive me. I used to be a movie critic as a sideline to my reporting and this cinematic experience brought some flashbacks of bad movies past. I suppose the disappointment with “Nine” was also heightened by the fact that I have always found Christmas to be a wonderful time for movies, whether at home or in the theaters, so my hopes were high.
All of which, reminds me of a story.
One early December evening, twenty-six years ago, my sister called when she and I both lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Chris was bored or feeling blue or something and not in much of a holiday mood, so we decided to check out a movie together. Neither of us had heard anything about the film we chose, and in truth, I can’t recall any advertising for it. But it seemed like a reasonable selection and we rendezvoused at a local strip mall cinema to buy our tickets and popcorn, and settle in to see what we would see. The theater was all but empty, which lowered our expectations even more.
Turns out that the movie was marvelous! We laughed until we cried, and then laughed some more. We stayed on the edges of our seats throughout the story. And we left afterward still giggling and wondering why no one, as far as we knew, had even heard about this terrific movie. Eventually everyone did. “A Christmas Story” became one of the most popular movies of the season. I ended up buying books by Jean Shepherd, and seeing the film so many times I can hardly bear to watch it anymore…and yet I do.
One postscript: I mentioned that the theater was nearly empty. Not quite. Unbeknownst to me, there was a young woman in the back row who was watching not only the movie, but also my sister and me. And she was not happy. She did not know who Chris was, but she was certain that I did not belong with her. That young woman, giving us the evil eye in the dark, was a person I had just started dating. But rather than dismiss me as a two-timing creep on the spot, she accepted the fact that she and I had not declared ourselves an actual couple yet, and sometime in the next few weeks when we were out on a date again, I happened to mention that I had recently seen this fantastic movie with my sister, and the whole story came out.
Other women I have known might yet have been suspicious, but not her. We shared a laugh, traded stories about our favorite scenes in “A Christmas Story;” and we’ve been married for over 23 years. Now that’s a date movie!
Hope all is going well with your trip and the family. Be safe and travel well.
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