A little while ago I was sitting next to Joey and his friends in a new home theater I had designed. Joey is the son of one of my clients. Joey's eyes were fixed on the large screen watching Ice Age while I curiously watched him. In his lap was a large bucket of popcorn he was systematically devouring by shoveling large handfuls of kernels into his mouth. Joey appeared to not be blinking and was completely immersed in his theater experience. As I looked around, I noticed his parents had stepped out for a second. But to Joey, that did not matter. In fact, nothing mattered to Joey at that moment except what was on the screen and his friends close by. (As well, maybe some popcorn.)
The wonder in Joey's eyes brought back vidid memories of my childhood and the very circuitous path that has lead me to my present-day passion as a Consultant who designs and orchestrates the installation of various technologies in homes and businesses. Of course, this includes home theaters.
Looking back, my brother Paul and I always had a knack for production which was enthusiastically flamed by our parents who adored the arts. In some ways when I think about it I should have known I would be destined to be a facilitator of entertainment experiences.
As a kindergartener, I can recall participating in an all neighborhood production of the Nutcracker in my parent's basement in Barrington, IL. The Russian Dance was my specialty and I jumped and whirled with reckless abandon. My Mother had a knack for project managing "events" and somehow convinced other mothers and fathers to lend their children for a couple Saturday afternoons for practices. Of course, this is something they gladly did.
I also remember a simple pine puppet stage my parents purchased. It is amazingly still in my basement. My brother and I would put on productions of Camelot, The Music Man, and other Broadway classics. Paul and I conceived elaborate choreography and created fabulous sets with just markers and some craft supplies. We had an old ratty dragon puppet no matter what the show and we blew dense clouds of smoke into the audience. (We devised a way to have baby powder come out of a squeeze bottle through the mouth.) On the couch our parents patiently and lovingly watched every performance but usually succumbed to parental exhaustion most evenings. (We found this out years later.)
Technology became more affordable in Junior High for our "Productions" creating and recording our own Saturday Night Live Satires complete with Elvis impersonations by a local high school friend. We also created outlandish simulations of Lucha Libre wrestling matches (When it was a TV show from the 70's and not Jack Black's Nacho Libre Movie.) improvised by crazy sound effect mechanisms that included odd things such as Slime.
One day my Dad brought home a rented 16 MM projector from the Evanston Public Library. He had various films in tins but he put on the short film An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. As my Dad threaded the print through the projector's sprockets, I found myself completely immersed in the process of film projection and creating a "Film" experience. To this day I can remember the soldier in the movie running home to his loved one only to be snapped out of his dream by the bridge's gallows.
High School and college created many exploits of creating videos such as the Doughboy who came to Dinner. One of my brother's friends worked for Pillsbury and gave him a 5 ft Solid Styrofoam Doughboy. We purchased and 8mm video camera and produced a short video of our Poppin Fresh buddy coming to dinner. I will never forget the CTA bus driver 's face as we kept asking him to help us get various shots of the Doughboy in and around the bus while on Clark Street in Chicago
. The following week Paul and I edited the the footage, added audio, and we had a film that was played at all of our friend's parties.
I "See" these experiences vividly like they just happened. My "Inner Child" laughs at the crazy things I experienced with others. As I get older, I believe part of what I do is help bring the inner child out for our clients. We can create cool intimate moments for loved ones. One client I know sits and plays his vast music collection with his daughter. Very cool to see.
In the mail today came a new Rega turntable that I just purchased to play my old albums. My 25 year old son helped me connect my old Martin Logan speakers up to a Sonos amp. (Shameful) I turned and I ran to my basement to grab some old albums. We played Robert Palmer, Yaz, Genesis, and even Kraftwerk. (I am a product of the 80's) There was the feeling again of joy and being a kid. My son understands the communal aspect of music and we together created an experience that we will always remember.