The Good, The Bad, & The Bonobo

eli wallach tuco hanging the good the bad the ugly

I had quite an entertaining weekend.  Friday I didn’t get out of bed until 1 in the afternoon (don’t ask), and didn’t do much all day beyond watching TV and playing some Rock Band.

Saturday, though, I woke up bright and early, and headed down to San Diego.  Why?  To surprise Korkie for her birthday at the zoo, of course.  After some leaked details of the surprise during the planning stages, it was fun to actually see the surprise work in the end – at least, the important part.  She found out she was headed to the zoo with Cody, but nobody, as far as I know, spilled the beans about the fact that all of her friends would be showing up, as well.  Her face was fairly priceless.  The day was a blast, and involved our viewing of pig sex, polar bears (#4 in ways to easily make Mark grin hard), bonobo group violation, and our group’s discovery of a non-exhibit squirrel that was apparently blind.  We eventually found some zoo folks to help out the little guy…

blind squirrel

An entertaining drive home (Emily and I discovered a new game), a confusing game of Mau, and a fun dinner at T.G.I.Friday’s later… the party was called when the birthday girl started falling asleep in the car.  A day at the zoo with (roll-call:) Lauren, Francois, Korkie, Cody, Emily, and Aja would have been quite enough to label this as a pretty darn nice weekend.  Then, of course, there was today :).

After a little bit of a late start (my fault), at 8:45am Nick and I headed up to Hollywood hoping to get into the TCM Classic Film Festival showing of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Pass-holders for the festival were given priority entrance, so there was a chance we might not even get in.  We made it in decent time, only to find the standby line extremely long.  We were given placeholder tickets of numbers 132 and 133, so we had no idea if we’d make it.  As the line started to move, though, success was ours.

I’d never been to Grauman’s Chinese before, and beyond the “cool” factor of finally actually being out front, and the splendor of its exterior, getting inside was all the more wonderful.  The detail and style of the interior, not to mention the absolute massive size of the theater seating area, was marvelous.  A picture would not suffice – you’ll have to see it yourself some time.  As Nick and I walked down the aisle to find seats (and there were more than plenty), he nudged me and said, “Look to your left.”  I wasn’t sure what I was turning to see, but there, walking down the side of the theater, was Eli Wallach.  Dude… freaking Eli Wallach!  Now, I knew he was going to be there for a conversation before the movie (he plays Tuco), but still… I was pretty giddy.

The interview with Mr. Wallach (by Robert Osborne, no less) was absolutely great.  Even at 94(!) years old, he is still just as charming and hilarious as he’s always been – just a very down-to-earth guy.  He told stories about Clark Gable, gave wonderful anecdotes about acting and directing, and over the 30 minutes he was up there, I barely stopped smiling.  Very honestly, that alone was enough of a treat for the price of admission.  Of course, then the movie started to play.

As the curtain pulled back and the screen lengthened to its full width, I, Nick, and the guy sitting two chairs away from Nick, all let out an approving giggle.  The intro title sequence played, too much applause, and I just couldn’t believe that I was actually watching this movie (one of my favorites) on film and on such an enormous screen.  When that first, beautifully ugly face rolled onto the screen, half of the audience (including me and Mr. Reiber) laughed.  It was amazing to see that tight close-up in all of its full-sized glory.  Haven’t seen the movie?  I’m talking about this:

the good the bad the ugly opening face

Also, before I go on… I have to mention, beyond the overall thrill of the whole thing, how great it was to see my favorite shot in the movie play out before me in this classic theater on a giant silver screen:

The audience really had a great time with the movie – cheering, clapping, laughing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to see it with.  Surprisingly, it seemed like a number of people had never seen the movie before, and I have to envy them – if you’re going to see it for the first time, this is the way to do it!

After it ended, Nick and I headed across the street to grab some food, and as we sat there looking out of the window, it was still very surreal.  Not only was it an odd day in terms of just the movie-viewing experience, but on an even more personal level, it was kind of lovely.  Both of us are finally, after far too long, looking at a Hollywood future, and actually being up there and amongst the craziness of the town and the glamor of the event, for me it was kind of “Huh, so this is what it’ll be like.”  Just the prospect of possibility that, at some point in the future, I could be returning to that theater to see a movie that I’m in – it feels really good.  Even if I don’t make it that big, the fact that I’m giving myself a chance is very gratifying and exciting.

And, failing all else, I could always just work at the San Diego zoo :).

nick reiber and mark mushakian happy in front of grauman's chinese

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About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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