I Felt Lucky, But I Was Wrong
I TURNED ON THE TV THIS MORNING looking for some mild entertainment. I usually fire up the Tube as background noise while writing. My hope was for an old musical – you know, a Fred and Ginger type of film.
I didn’t find it.
Instead I was treated to a “Dirty Harry Marathon.” A bit different than I had hoped for, but…I felt lucky and it made my day. After all, a man’s got to know his limitations – at that time of day.
So – I started to work on a piece about the arrival of all the colorful birds in our backyard – Hummingbirds, Cardinals, Finches, and even the big Redtail Hawks. I thought that a Fred and Ginger musical would help me rhapsodize about the songs I could hear drifting from the trees. That was my plan anyway, but Dirty Harry and The Dead Pool took me in a different direction.
Instead of something idyllic and suitable for reading over a glass of wine it came out reading like something from the first draft of “The Birds.” In real life I doubt that two Finches could take down a Condor and pluck him bare – and I’m not really sure that the Woodpecker in our backyard was strapped. It was perhaps the strangest 1500 words I’ve ever written.
After about three hours I just gave up on the writing part and moved from my office/kitchen table and moved to the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair in front of the Big Screen TV. It was now me and Inspector Callahan taking care of business. Popcorn – I needed popcorn.
A minute and a half later I was back in my chair with a hot bag of popcorn and a Diet Somethingorother.
“Did I fire six shots or only five?”
“It was six you big dummy. Harry, munch, munch, gulp, bluffed you.”
Most of those movies (I can’t call them “films.”) were shot in San Francisco while I was living there and I knew a few comedians who got small parts in one flick or the other. They played punks/thugs or ambulance drivers – not exactly roles that win Oscars. Some of them didn’t even get their name in the credits, but they did get paid which is, of course, the most important part.
I was never in any of them. My film career was limited to two “Independent films.” That means that nobody in their right mind was willing to finance the project so it was shot in pieces as they could scrape together some money. I agreed to be in the movies as a favor to the director, but only if I got paid in cash – no checks. My Momma didn’t raise no fools (a couple of whining neurotics perhaps, but no fools.).
I sat there for three more hours watching David Soul be a vigilante cop and Tyne Daly get machine gunned on Alcatraz. Luckily, they both went on to star in their own Cop Shows (“Starsky and Hutch” and “Cagney and Lacey”).
One of these days I’ll try the Singing Bird thing again, only I’ll check the listings first to see what movies will be running. I won’t even try if they are going to be doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger Marathon. I’ll wait until I see a Busby Berkeley mob of Bleach Blonde Chorines hoofing it across the screen.
I’d even settle for an Abbott and Costello Festival. At least then I’d know who was on first.