Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cleaning the Pipes! (No, literally...)

It was Tuesday, and as I was procrastinating work early in the day I decided to check Facebook. Scrolling through, I see the usual stuff for this week. People hating their jobs, people talking about first week of school, etc. Grrr. Another farm game? How many times do I have to block this crap? All of a sudden, my eyes scan this:
Dude. What the? Did I just read that correctly?

I immediately assumed the worst. Was there some kind of cave-in or sinkhole? Did this happen when some guy flushed the toilet? Did this same poor schmuck on the john fall in? These were the kinds of questions filling my head.

Wait. There were two films screening tonight that I was planning to attend: Sunrise and Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Were they still going to show them? I check my e-mail to see if I've received any notice about the evening's screenings, and in my inbox is a message. It contains some info about what happened.

"At approximately 10AM this morning, construction crews began jack-hammering inside the Paramount Theatre.

That’s right! Work is being done to repair plumbing problems that require immediate attention. The carpeting outside of the downstairs men’s lounge at the Paramount Theatre has been pulled back and a hole is being drilled into the concrete floor in order to gain access to plumbing that is nearly 100 years old...

...During this time, all of our regular programming is still going on as scheduled. I’ll make sure to keep you updated with photos and information on this important project."

Jeez. That sounds serious. I know The Paramount is an old building, but it seems so well-equipped that I realized I took its delicacy for granted. In essence, the venue was just served with one of these.
When playing Monopoly, I haaaated drawing that card. I can only imagine how crappy it is to deal with this in real life. Mostly because I knew it wouldn't be cheap. My mind boggled at the concept of digging into the floor to first find the pipe to deal with a problem. In no way does that sound like a good time.

It seemed like a blind dig. Like looking for buried treasure or that jar of pennies you buried when you were a kid. Or perhaps archeology. Images swam in my head of an army of jackhammers plowing into decades of concrete, excavating untold rewards as they search for leaky plumbing. That concept of blind digging led my mind to an old video game from my youth: Dig Dug. For some reason, I remember I was obsessed with that game back in the day. Looking back now, I see the premise is completely absurd. A fake Smurf guy goes tunneling in the ground to kill dragons and something that I can only describe as a tennis ball with goggles. You can pick flowers and kill creatures with big rocks that look like a chocolate peanut cluster. Oh, and your only weapon was a bicycle pump that you hooked up to the critters and make them explode. Now that's effed up. How high was the person who came up with that one?

So after tracking down an emulator and playing Dig Dug for about an hour on my computer, I made my way to the theater. As I made my way to the seats, I passed by the downstairs men's room.

I was surprised at how nondescript it was. Now, I wasn't expecting the crew to still be hammering away (that would not exactly make an ideal environment for exhibition, would it?), but I guess I was expecting more debris or mess. All I saw was a plastic curtain over the doorway and a roped off area with "caution" tape (or "cuidado," if you prefer Spanish). Almost like the remnants of a crime scene, only without the chalk outline or... you know, a body. There was also a small sign posted. I leaned in to read the print.

Ah. Well that's yet another reason I love The Paramount. It's always so professional. I continued up the stairs to my normal seat in the mezzanine. Saving my spot, I then went back downstairs to get my customary Dr. Pepper and popcorn.

Sitting in anticipation of the first movie, I kept thinking about the quote from the Facebook post. The one from Executive Director Ken Stein that said:

"Considering we were built on the site of the old Avenue Hotel and the War Department of the Republic of Texas, who knows what they might find before locating the pipe."

So what could someone stumble upon while tunneling beneath the floor looking for pipes that are a century old? This is beginning to sound like the plot of a creepy short story, or a Goonies type adventure. Either way, I had way too much time on my hands sitting there in the upper level (See? This is why I don't get places early!). Just what would they find down there? My movie-soaked brain began to postulate some wild theories... Let's take a look, shall we?

(cue the wavy imagery and the dreamy music from a harp)

Theory #1:

Now that would solve the money issues involved, wouldn't it? Oil takes care of a lot of problems (ask Jett Rink, from Giant), but it also makes much bigger ones. In addition to environmental disasters, you run the risk of becoming a megalomaniac like the fellow in the photo above. Hide your milkshakes.

Theory #2:
Warp Zones

Tip for the crew: always go to World 4. Everything else is a waste of damn time.

Theory #3:

This is a little shout out to fans of cheesy, somewhat obscure '80s horror films. It's about kids who dig and find the gate to hell in their backyard (or something like that). You know, now that I think about it, how come no one remakes this?? Hollywood can remake Clash of the Titans and The Karate Kid, but not this? Has anyone even attempted to make a similar story? Amongst the bajillion books Stephen King has written (or even the 5000 he's published since he ruined The Dark Tower series), you'll telling me he has nothing like this in his bibliography? The time is ripe for a new "digging to hell" story. I'm just hoping it's not here in my favorite theater.

Theory #4:
The Sarlacc

Damn. That thing's really nasty... and kind of obscene looking for something from the Star Wars universe. If the crew per chance happen to find the Sarlacc beneath The Paramount, then the 7-year old version of me would've ask them to say hi to Boba Fett for me. Of course, the present-day version of me just can't help thinking that this was the safest picture of the creature I could find to post. Seriously, I look at it and all I can see is a gross orifice thing that may get the IT department to block your computer (and possibly get you fired just for looking at it). Trust me, i searched for a long time before settling on this one. All other pictures were definitely in the NSFW territory. If I did get you in trouble for this picture... try and use the jedi mind trick on the IT guy. Or tell him you'll find him a date with a gal dressed in Princess Leia's gold bikini. That should get you off the hook.

Theory #5:
The Holy Grail

Plausible. Maybe. I mean, no one knows what happened to the Grail, right? And no, I don't think it's really a bloodline that ends up being Amelie in that Tom Hanks movie where he has bad hair (or Linda Fiorentino in Dogma). I'm talking about the cup. The one in that silly sequel that some people think is the best Indiana Jones movie. In all seriousness, it's not. Don't get me wrong. It's entertaining, but it's not very good. That scene where the cup heals the bullet wound? When I first saw that, what came to mind was hydrogen peroxide. That's the Grail's power? I can get that for like a buck at the CVS down the street! I guess it does have its merits, though. After all, I do base my horrendous Sean Connery accent on his role in this movie. "You call this archeologeee?" My advice to the digging crew? Let the Grail go, or you'll fall like that chick from A View To A Kill.

Theory #6:
The River of Slime

Speaking of subpar sequels...
Even as a kid, I thought Ghostbusters II was crippity crap. I haven't seen it in almost 20 years, but I remember a dancing toaster, some dude named "Vigo" (not Mortensen), and The Statue of Liberty walking. Oh, and the river of slime. They found it while digging under a street if I recall correctly, so this is just a heads up for the diggers. Careful, you may end up dangling above this pink stuff. And watch out for Vigo, too. You are like the buzzing of flies to him.

Theory #7:

Now, if it were me digging down there, this is my worse nightmare. Say I'm jack-hammering away and hit a pipe and the hole floods. Then, let's say a skeleton pops up, like above (from Poltergeist, by the way). If so, I would magically turn into Jo Beth Williams there. I'd scream bloody murder. Like a little girl. With a skinned knee. Who all of a sudden is swimming with a corpse. Here's hoping that amongst all the places that have stood where The Paramount now calls home, a cemetery wasn't one of them.

(end of daydream sequence)

So I come to, finding that I've been staring off into space like The Hubble for the last few minutes. I glance around quickly to make sure I'm not attracting strange looks. Okay. All clear.
The first movie is about to start, so it's time to discard these nonsensical thoughts and focus on the film in front of me.

Oh! And before I forget. The Paramount sure could use your help right now. This is an expensive project (approx $10-20,000), and they're not likely to find oil. So, if you'd like to donate and help the cause, you can click here. Doing so would make you feel good about yourself, like when you play Monopoly and get that awesome Community Chest card. You know the one I'm talking about. No, not the second place in the beauty contest one; I mean the card about the bank error. Cha-ching!
It's also good karma. And if you contribute $250 or more you can even choose a DVD of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House or The Money Pit (a Tom Hanks movie much better than The Da Vinci Code). I thought that was a cute touch, and shows that The Paramount can still maintain a sense of humor, even if they do likely feel like this at the moment:

Yes, that is from The Money Pit. Young Tom Hanks is awesome. Where are your Oscars, Shelly Long?

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to download an emulator app for my cell phone. That way, if I have free time in the future, I won't daydream about such ridiculous notions... I'll just play Dig Dug.

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