Friday, December 11, 2015

A love note to Harkins Camelview

Will I be able to make you understand why I love this place so much and why I will miss it so much? 


 I do not remember the first time I went to this theatre* (*blogger wants to tell me this is spelled wrong, but its Harkins Theatres and I'm sticking to that.)  I just know that since I moved to Phoenix in 1995 I have been in love with this place. I love that it shows all independent and foreign films. I love that it's an older building and the screens are kinda old school, the seats aren't stadium and they aren't fancy, the clientele is a weird mixture of middle aged people and college students, and the experience feels very intimate. The whole place is cozy as hell. Even the bathrooms are likable. The murals are cool and the walls are slightly dingy and nothing about it is really slick or what I've come to experience at the nicer newer theatres and I totally dig that. And those mushroom shade structures out front? It hurts my heart they are going away.

But what I think I probably love the most about this place is that it helped me heal from my divorce. It helped me get to know myself better and to be a happier person. I am being totally honest when I say I don't think I would be doing as well as I am emotionally without this place.

Let me back up for a minute.

When I was in high school I got into this thing where I felt like I needed to be out doing something every Friday night. I mean maybe sometimes that would be hanging out at a friends house, but a lot of times it was going to the movies, going to a football game, going to a dance, or being silly with my friends driving around Rexburg Idaho. I went out on Saturdays sometimes too but it felt like I pretty much ALWAYS went out on Friday.

In college it was similar. When I was in college I had another experience that contributed to why I love Camelview so much - and really movies in general. The summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of college was little rough (an understatement) - for lots of reasons I was pretty depressed. I had recently moved to Provo and while I love Provo that first summer was a little bit of a difficult adjustment. I remember one day I was in my room which was part of the attic of an old house in downtown Provo. It was hot. No air conditioning! I was sweltering and in a very bad mood. I remember there was no one at home to do anything with and I really needed to get out of the house. I remember having this vague idea about the movies and air conditioning. I got dressed up in this summer dress, put on full make-up, did my hair, and then walked to the movie theatre in downtown Provo. The movie was "The Secret of My Success" with Michael J. Fox. I went to that movie alone. I was so much happier afterwards. Not only was it so much cooler getting out of that stifling old attic but it just felt good to go and do something. From then on I used going to the movies by myself from time to time as a way to regroup.


There's something so magical about movies for me. That summer in Provo I learned there was a Foreign Cinema on campus in the Kimball Building. I quickly fell in love with Foreign films. Pretty soon I was traveling to Salt Lake with my friend Nan to see movies we couldn't see in Provo. Movies like "Manon of the Spring" and "My Life as A Dog". These are still old favorites. I don't know why exactly I grew to love films of a quirkier and more exotic quality. I loved the pacing of foreign films. I loved that a lot of the time they are just more of a contemplation on life than an action packed sequence of events. They are often more quiet and I need that sometimes. I like the feeling of watching something in a foreign language and then having that language kind of wash over me. I delude myself often into feeling I can speak Portuguese for an hour or two. I enjoy American movies that are independent usually much more than mainstream films for the same reason.

For many years when I was married we went out on Friday nights. Sometimes just to dinner, or maybe to the art gallery, or First Friday, or some event - maybe dinner with friends. I always enjoyed going out on Friday. It felt like a great way to kick off the weekend and my fall back "go-to" activity was a movie and dinner. In retrospect I am not sure if my husband really enjoyed that as much as I did.

To me there was nothing better than driving around in the convertible with the top down on a warm Arizona evening, smelling all the goodness of the desert, anticipating a perfectly cooked steak and a movie. When my marriage ended my husband and I had 50/50 custody and we split the time the children were at his home and mine. I had them slightly more often than he did and one of the things we agreed on was that they would go to his house on Friday nights and stay until sometime on Saturday. I was okay with that and at first I would try to fill my Friday night schedule with meeting friends for dinner or something similar. But often I felt like I was just trying to fill up the time so I didn't have to think too much about being alone. It is weird when you have a bunch of friends who are in couples and suddenly it really doesn't work to hang out with any of them anymore. I totally understand why that happens, but it doesn't make it suck any less. Eventually I started to plan ahead that I would always go to a movie by myself if I didn't have anything else to do. And often (usually) I preferred that to anything else. It was the perfect way to spend my Friday.


I would drive, up Lincoln Drive to Scottsdale Road with the windows rolled down, smelling the desert and glad I had somewhere to go and something to look forward to. When you're overcoming something difficult spending time alone can be very soothing.  There's no one to answer to and if you want to feel sad or cry - you can go right ahead.  I healed one Friday night at a time. Camelview was a huge part of that and for that reason I will always love it. In the movies, in the dark, you have epiphanies about things. You learn a lot of important things about yourself. You see things you never saw before. You hear things in a new way. You become a student of human nature and it teaches you. You cry. You laugh. When you leave - whatever was wrong when you came is all better.

I know losing one movie theatre isn't going to totally ruin my little ritual. There are other theatres. And there will always be great movies. And the new movie theatre that is replacing Camelview will be awesome with it's stadium seats and dining options and blah blah blah. Very slick and beautiful and I'm sure lovely in it's own way. But it definitely will not be the same. I hate that we throw things away because they are old. I hate that people always want newer things and shinier things. They are hardly ever better. People usually figure that out when it's way to late. My last movie there was last weekend watching Amelie. Which is one of my favorite movies and I saw it there when it first came out. It was a fitting note to end things on. Anyway. This is my love note to Harkins Camelview. Thank you.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Podcasts I Love

Hey there!  It's been a long time!

I've had this blog post in the back of my head for a while now.  Do you listen to podcasts?  I drive a lot for work and while I'm driving I sometimes listen to a book on audio or music of course - but other times a podcast is just the right thing to keep me awake and my brain engaged.  When I'm listening to an audio book and I'm tired I can find myself drifting off and getting distracted and all of the sudden I have to rewind because I don't know what was just discussed - with podcasts, for whatever reason, I am less likely to do that.

So here are the Podcasts I have discovered that I really like:


This one is my newest and probably most favorite and you are going to love it guys.  So Starlee Kine,  who I have listened to and liked for many years on This American Life, has this new show which is kinda sort hard to explain but genius and awesome.  Basically Starlee takes a mystery that you cannot solve on your own and she solves it for you.  The offerings thus far have flung us into the weird world of Britney Spears reading habits, video stores who mysteriously vanish in the middle of the night, and a rambling sleuth all over the southwest for a belt buckle's owner.  I know it sounds weird and it is but it is also HIGHLY entertaining and wonderful.   There is something about Starlee's quirky yet soothing voice combined with offbeat amateur detective work that is perfection.

Starlee Kine

2. Reply All  

Reply All sort seems like a show I would not think I would like.  The common theme here is shows related to the internet and technology.  That sounds like snooze fest.  But that is not really what this is.  The stories Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt give us on this show are much more than that - they are about things as interesting as how an orthodox Jew continues to find access to his community through the internet even when he's no longer orthodox, how teenage girls have vast conspiracy theories about One Direction, and phenomenon like "weird twitter".  Just try it, I think you'll really dig it.  These guys are very entertaining and do a great job of finding really interesting stories.  

Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt

 3. The Moth 

The Moth is really cool.  It's people performing their personal stories live, under a spotlight in a roomful of strangers.  They hold live events around the country and broadcast them here.  Super interesting to listen to people share their personal stories and the emotions and content are all over the place but they are always entertaining.  

4.  This American Life

The list would be incomplete without this - I have loved This American Life for many many years.  I don't always get to catch it on the radio on Saturday afternoons and now you can listen via podcast.  Ira Glass is one of my favorite people ever and this broadcast has made my life more rich than it otherwise would have been and how many times can you say that about something entertaining?  

Ira Glass

5.  Invisibilia
 Invisibilia takes a stab at understanding human behavior - delving into beliefs, assumptions and emotions.  The two hosts are Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel and they manage to combine science, research, social science, and old fashioned story telling into this wonderful mix that makes you feel smarter and to see the world in different ways all at the same time. 

Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel

6.  Love + Radio 

I want to warn right up front this show sometimes veers into some territory some may find offensive.  Nick van der Kolk will give you a warning up front if he thinks you might be offended by something or if it's explicit in some way.  I will tell you I have found many of these episodes absolutely mesmerizing.  It's about love, human nature, and all the weird ways human beings experience love and relationships.  But they create this show by talking to some really interesting human beings.  They then mix the show in a way that makes you feel like you're on drugs sometimes.  Really.  It's pretty awesome if you're into feeling your brain stretch and expand as you listen to a podcast.  

Nick van der Kolk

7. Rumble Strip Vermont 

Rumble Strip is produced by Erica Heilman in Vermont and the concept is basically she interviews random people and manages to come up with some really surprising and interesting stories.  One week it might be an artist or a criminal or even a soccer mom but they will tell you about what they love, hate, think, feel or something they have done.  It sounds weird and maybe boring but it really never is anything but fascinating.  

Erica Heilman

8. Serial 

If you somehow missed the phenomenon of Serial I have no idea what rock you've been hiding under.  Seriously?  Anyway, if you did you really MUST go listen to the episodes already produced by Sarah Koenig.  Serial this season was the story of a man accused of murder and sitting in jail but there were a lot of answered questions in the case.  It's possibly the most entertaining piece of detective work I've ever heard.  I was so hooked I would look forward to each Thursday morning knowing there would be a new episode.  Sarah is currently producing a new story for the new season but we don't quite know what that story will be yet.  With her talent, I'm sure it will be amazing.  

Sarah Koenig

 I'm positive these will keep you busy for a while!  Let me know if you have a favorite I haven't mentioned.  I'm always looking for more ideas. 


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekend Photography - Tucson's Colorful Adobes

Sometimes you actually get to go on vacation for a half minute, spend some time with people you really like, and take some photos.  Tucson is a fun place to take photos because there is so much to love about the colors.

These were all just taken on my phone.  But they still turned out pretty good.

I should be doing homework.  I am so over school.  And by "over" I mean just plain old tired.  Hopefully I can rally!


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