Monday, March 28, 2005

The Sinister Man in the Park

The year: 2004. The place: A small park in Beverly Hills. The cast: Me and Jenna, my three-year-old niece.

Occasionally, I take her to play there. They've got slides and swings and ropes to climb. It's a decent park. On this particular day, I had my new digitial camera with me, and I was shooting some photos of Jenna. It was getting pretty late in the afternoon, and the park was emptying out. At length, we found ourselves in an area built to look like an old pirate ship, with a large steering wheel and the facade of a hull.

As I shot some more photos of Jenna, I suddenly realized that we were not alone.

Standing a few yards away was an attractive woman, about 30 years old. At first I barely realized she was wearing a policeman's uniform. She gazed at us almost admiringly, it seemed. Eventually she broke the ice by asking about our relationship.

At this point, I had not yet put two and two together. I introduced my niece, and told the woman a little about me, where I worked, etc. But after answering a few more questions, it finally dawned on me that her interest in me was not social. Someone, she admitted, had dropped a dime about the strange man in the park taking all those photos of the little girl.

"Is there a law against taking photos of my own niece?" I asked the policewoman.

She looked sympathetic. "No," she admitted. "But we get a lot of crazy calls. We have to check everything out."

I felt myself feeling a little resentful. "Well, you've done your job," I told her.

Undaunted, the woman proceeded to ask Jenna a few questions: Who she was, what my relationship to her was, where her parents were, etc.

It was humiliating.

I looked around the park in vain. Which of the dozen or so people still left had made the call? I wondered.

Eventually the woman asked to see my driver's license, which I produced for her inspection. Then she apologized once more and left.

The photos came out well.

But you know, I can barely look at them without thinking about that phone call, about the person making the call and how she was suspicious about the perverted man taking those evil photos of the unsuspecting little girl.

Better luck next time, Mrs. Busybody.

Has anybody ever called the cops on you for doing something that wasn't illegal? No, no, I didn't think so.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Time Warp

The chapter title refers to the fact that I've been absent from my blog for about a month. But there's a more compelling reason for it. Today I asked a friend to look at this list of my 100 favorite movies:

Brett's Favorite Films

After perusing the list, she asked me how it was possible that The Rocky Horror Picture Show was conspicuously missing.

It's a little difficult to explain why I, a huge fan of musicals, never embraced The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I'm going to give it the old college try. Why did I love Young Frankenstein, a hilarious sendup of those old monster movies, while TRHPS left me totally cold? I believe I saw it at least twice in the cinema when I was a lad—with the drunken audiences who threw toast and rice and water all over the place, and provided their own "witty" comeback comments to the dialogue.

Here are two things I hate:

A) Loud, unnecessary noises

B) People talking, shouting and/or whispering in a movie theater.

So that goes a long way to explaining why I didn't come away from that particular movie with a more positive experience. Also, I think I view the film as a little too odd and campy for my taste.

Here's another piece of the puzzle, though. I love Monty Python's Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall, so the idea of men dressing up as women clearly does not bother me. The difference is, in those TV series, men were portraying women. But I must admit that I'm a little uncomfortable by the whole concept of "drag queens." It's not something I think about a lot, but I know I have avoided seeing movies like Too Wong Foo and Hedwig and the Angry Inch because there's something about transsexuals and transvestites that just gives me the creeps. Oddly enough, homosexuality in and of itself does not bother me in the slightest. I've seen plenty of gay-themed movies (i.e., Jeffrey and Trick) that I have found perfectly enjoyable. So go figure.

One last thing: When I went to England in 1979, I saw a stage production of The Rocky Horror Show musical, which I enjoyed a lot more than the movie version. Oh, and I do like that "Time Warp" song.

Maybe I just need to see the film on DVD, with nobody shouting out comebacks like, "That's right, asshole!" and no chance of getting rice stuck in my hair.

What do you think of The Rocky Horror Picture Show?