Easter weekend in Cynthiana is strange and surreal

Easter weekend in Cynthiana is strange and surreal

Until this past weekend, I would never have associated the Easter holiday with the strange and surreal. But if it keeps up the same pattern as last weekend, Halloween will be hard pressed to remain my favorite holiday.
Friday morning, I was driving on the Bourbon County side of Headquarters Road. It was obvious even then that the rain was going to cause flash flooding at least.
Water was already standing inches deep in pools along the roadsides and the natural drainage off the hillsides resembled nothing less than old creek beds.
In the meantime, I was getting thoroughly irritated by the two-ton truck tailgating me because, apparently, I wasn’t driving fast enough through deep, standing waters.
Thinking it would be a good idea to get some pictures for this week’s paper, I saw a potential image of creek water running through a barn along the side of the road. Though it was at the height of the pouring rain, I pulled into a nearby driveway, grabbed my camera and went to the side of the road.

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I noticed the Nicholas County school bus coming down the road. It’s the one that transports students to the Harrison Area Technology Center every morning.
I did not notice the pool — NOTE: not a puddle! — of water right in front of me. The school bus’ front tire sent a tsunami shooting high above my head.
It was like standing in front of a firing squad. I saw the wall of water coming and there was nothing I could do except take it, shrug, and get my picture.
Later on, as I’m drying off while covering heroin arrests at the Sheriff’s department, I listened with bemusement to a phone exchange between Sheriff Shain Stephens and family members of an accused drug trafficker who were apparently attempting to dictate the terms of their son’s surrender….

“Let me get this straight,” said Stephens. “You’re going to tell him to give himself up ….. To me? ….. Where.”

There was a slight pause.

“The intersection to Shadynook Road? No? Oh, you want me to come down Shadynook a few miles. ….. Alone. … No other cops…….

“How about this, you get your son and drive him here to the station and we won’t add running from police to our charges. ….. I am listening. …. Yes he did run from police …. Those are your demands?! ….  How about this, he comes in now or we find him later…. Yes we will. ….. I promise we will ….. Because he’s a heroin dealer!”

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Listening to that negotiation go its expected direction — Nowhere — I forgot all about my experience with the roadside tsunami until Saturday morning at The Frankie Taylor Community Easter Egg Hunt at Ingles Field.
One thing I have learned about kids — when they’re excited about an event, like, say, an Easter egg hunt, they’re as coiled to spring as an Olympic sprinter in the starting block.
Despite being an un-spring-like morning with slightly frigid temperatures, the intense anticipation of hundreds of children surrounding the different Easter egg hunt fields at the stadium generated its own kind of heat.
By 11 a.m., the scheduled start time for the hunt, the kids were looking for any sign, any excuse, to pounce on those eggs.
I saw Leroy Conner walking out to the center of the field with every good intention of arranging an exciting, but orderly, start to the Easter egg hunt.

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Lacking a sound system or a bullhorn, Conner raised his arm for attention and that was enough to prove a basic law of physics: Kinetic energy, once released, cannot be stopped.
Once the first few kids launched themselves into the field, the only thing Mr. Conner could do was stand still and let the inevitable tide of children run by him.
I understood a little about how he felt.
But let me tell you, the Kentucky Derby bills itself as the fastest two minutes in sports. Pah! I say.
The Derby has nothing on the Frankie Taylor Easter Egg Hunt. That field of 10,000 eggs was picked clean in less than 60 seconds.
If only there was a way to apply this method to cleaning their room, I heard more than one parent say.
Afterward, on what became a cloudless and warm spring day with deep blue skies, I took pictures of rising flood waters in the west end of town.

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After all that, the spectacle of Kentucky losing to Wisconsin, painful as it was, barely registered as a footnote for such a strange series of Easter weekend events.

What’s so “pure” about obsolete?

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So last weekend, I drove eight hours north to watch movies at the drive-in.
The Riverside Drive-In in Vandergrift, Penn. sponsors two film festivals a year: The April Ghoul’s Monster Rama and the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama, which happens in September.

Click this link. for more information about Drive-In Super Monster-Rama.
I’m a fan of schlock horror movies. The worse, the better … sometimes at least. It doesn’t matter to me if the movie comes from the silent era or in this age of digital graphics – if it has a monster in it, I will find time to see it on the big screen.
And if that big screen happens to be outdoors with a food counter that serves grilled hamburgers, deep-fried dill pickles and ice cream sandwiches – all the better. But the real appeal of the Riverside Monster-Rama festivals was the chance to see several relatively “classic” horror movies including the original “Halloween,” “Carrie,” “Phantasm,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Suspiria,” “The Beast Within,” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.” Given the chance to see these movies on the big screen, well, eight hours is hardly what I’d call a major sacrifice.
But there was another unique feature to this festival that made the long distance trek to the drive-in appealing.
The Riverside was one of several dozen drive-in theaters to participate in a contest sponsored by Honda Motors last summer to buy digital projection equipment. The majority of movie studios are no longer going to make 35 mm film reels of their movies. Digital projection technology has taken over the landscape.
Unfortunately, Riverside was not one of the contest winners. They had to buy their own system.
One of the selling points for the April Ghoul’s Monster Rama is the chance to see classic monster movies in their native habitat – the drive-in theater. Another selling point is that most of the movies are original 35 mm prints.
Before I go on, let me explain that there are two types of people who attend events like the April Ghoul’s Monster Rama.
I go to see horror movies projected on a giant screen. I make fun of them a bit and try to one up my friends on our knowledge of obscure trivia about the movies on-screen. I could care less about the medium in which the movie is being projected.
Others go for the nostalgia of watching a 35 mm print projected on a big screen. They like the projector hiss, the clicking sound of the gears in the sprocket holes, the scratches and edits and jumps.
Emma, one of the Riverside owners, called them “purists.”
Having just purchased a new digital projection system, The Riverside decided to show off their exciting new investment by running a high resolution version of “Carrie” and “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” rather than the faded 35 mm print.
The movies looked beautiful onscreen.
The “purists” complained.

Nobody made a federal case out of it. A few simply expressed their wish that that all the movies would be shown in 35 mm – as they were meant to be seen.
This is the point at which the “purists” and I part ways.
On Saturday night, we were treated to an original 35 mm print of John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” The film debuted in 1978 and the print was original.
Now, I love John Carpenter’s work. He was raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky and graduated from Western Kentucky University. As a big fan, I’ve made a personal study of his work. He works primarily in the horror and science fiction genre, nevertheless, Carpenter is an accomplished filmmaker. He intended his horror movie, which would be a ground-breaker, to be seen in stark seasonal colors of orange, black and white. Black and white, especially.
The 35 mm print, however, is over 35 years old. Color films fade over time. Halloween was also made at a time when studios used cheaper film stock The night time colors were no longer jet black. They had a reddish hue. The other colors in the movie had faded dramatically.
It looked like an aging 35 mm movie.

And where it belongs is on a shelf. What it is not is the movie Carpenter intended audiences to see.
It’s pointless to debate the subject with “purists.” They are in love with the idea of what movies used to be. But watching a gradually disintegrating image on antiquated technology for the sake of “purity” I think rather misses the point.
For me, though, the thrill of this genre is not watching a product in a sad state of decay.
The digital preserves the integrity of the director’s vision. That, for me, is a purer kind of “purity.”
Regardless of the debate, though, it was a great two nights of movie watching.

The Riverside Drive-In has only started sponsoring these festivals in the last three or four years, but it is paying off for them. People have traveled to April Ghoul’s from as far as Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska (friends of mine, actually), Michigan and Maryland (friends) hell, even New Jersey (more friends of mine.)
Emma said that each succeeding event has attracted a larger audience.