Tag Archives: General Cinema

Throwback Thursday: Home Alone

At school we are having a Christmas tree decorating contest. Well, sort of. One of the clubs is sponsoring a contest where teachers deck out paper trees, and by default at least a portion of our hallways. This year each department got to pick a holiday movie as the theme to base our decorations around. I’m not sure if we actually win anything for really decking the halls, but this year my department has gotten into it.

Not that I think we’ll win. While we may be one of the bigger departments in the school, we are all bogged down in research papers and somehow it seems there’s always another department who recruits students to help them really go all out. As much as I’d love to do that, we have too many standardized tests going on and too much prep to do before finals, so instead of sacrificing class time, we are sacrificing our own time.

Although we’ve done this contest for several years now, I’ll admit my department has never really gotten into the spirit of it. The first year I was the only one who really did anything for our fake tree and all I did was create ornaments for it. Now, the ornaments were pretty fantastic: they had the body of Frosty with the head of our principal. Thankfully I knew he’d enjoy it. The ornaments were cute, but nothing compared to the display the art department put on, complete with not only the most elaborate paper snowflakes I’d ever seen, but also snowflakes digitally projected all over the hallway.

This year, seconds after the email announcing the contest came out, my newest colleague ran across the hallway to confer with me about our theme. She wanted to make sure we got first dibs on our movie: Home Alone.

I handed the paper tree to her and told her to go nuts. And she did! She decked that tree in garland and wrote “Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!” She draw an amazingly accurate picture of Macaulay Culkin, complete with hands on face in mid-scream. She also added a great drawing of an iron to the top of the tree. She then created a window and looking at the tree from outside are the two male members of our department dressed up like the bandits–one even has a iron mark on his face.

Seeing what she created kicked a few more people, including myself into gear. I made paint cans which we tied to strings and hung from the ceiling in front of the fake window. Another of my coworkers created Kevin’s battle plan for dealing with the bandits.

Looking at it, it reminded me of my first experience with Home Alone, when I worked at the movie theater…during the sequel’s original theatrical debut. It opened on Thanksgiving day and it was a crazy day. Every employee had a Home Alone 2 button attached to our oh so stylish red polyester vests. There was a giant Home Alone 2 display stand, complete with a NYC skyline in the background. I remember several of my coworkers wanted that display and our manager had to raffle it off. He also had to raffle the posters off.

What I remember most about that premiere is having to do so much cleaning at the end of the night because we were so busy the place was trashed. Even behind the concession stand there was popcorn, butter and soda everywhere. Still, I loved that job and there are definitely days where I might not miss the pay, but miss the fun and simplicity of the job. I also greatly miss the camaraderie we shared. We were high school and college kids. For most of us, it was our first job. We got to watch free movies and eat popcorn. It was a blast!

While my current job may be more fulfilling and I may love it, a piece of my heart will always belong to General Cinema.

I’m not sure when the trees we’ve decorated will actually be judged, but I hope we at least get an honorable mention for our creativity and dedication.

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Throwback Thursday: Pour over butter popcorn

My first job (aside from babysitting) was at a movie theater. The summer after I turned 16, I was stuck in a tedious babysitting gig that paid $15 a day for two kids. Considering those days were about 9 hours, I was making $1.66 an hour. Sure, there were no taxes coming out of my check, I could watch whatever I wanted on TV and since one of the kids was in summer school for the first 4 hours of the day, there wasn’t a lot of “work.” But when the oldest boy decided to shut himself in his room and choke himself because I told him his mom said he was not allowed to play video games, I realized that I was working way above my pay grade.

So, I told the mom I was done and papered every business in town with job applications. The first, and oddly only, business to call was General Cinema. Thankfully, it was the job I most wanted to get. I interviewed with the manager and was hired on the spot. It seemed like a dream come true! Not only would I be paid nearly 4 times my previous salary, but I got unlimited free movies for me and two friends. Wanna know what makes you decently popular in high school? Free movies.

Despite having to wear a polyester uniform that made my butt look horrendous and smelling like rancid oil at the end of every shift, I LOVED my job. My co-workers, none of whom went to my school, were fantastic. Since my theater only had 6 screens, there was lots of down time in between movies, so we goofed off almost more than we worked. Plus, there was one unwritten benefit of my new job: all the popcorn I could eat.

I say unwritten because we weren’t supposed to eat any of that popcorn. We got free movies, but no discount at the concession stand. If we wanted a popcorn, we were supposed to buy it. However, like every other teenage employee in any sort of food industry, we found ways around the rule. Our theater gave out courtesy cups for people who wanted water (or to split up larger bags/buckets of popcorn or, as ushers quickly found out, to spit tobacco in and leave in the theater). When the managers were in the office, we’d just fill up courtesy cups, douse them with butter and snack, snack snack.

Plus any time the popcorn was being popped upstairs (this happened several times a week, but not every day), we could go in and fill up ticket bags full of as much as we wanted. I cannot count the meals I made of movie theater popcorn.

Ever since those wonderful days at the County Seat Cinema, I have adored all things movie popcorn. However, since I have two young kids, we don’t get out to the theater that often. My cravings for popcorn have not abated though. Instead, I’ve found my favorite substitute: Orville Redenbacher’s Pour Over Butter Movie Popcorn.

Good ol’ Orville first started making popcorn in my hometown, which every year has a Popcorn Festival in his honor. For the entirety of my teenage years, both Orville and his grandson Gary officiated at the yearly parade, so I may be a little biased in my love for his particular brand of popcorn.

While I definitely prefer all varieties of his microwave popcorn to any others I’ve tried, the pour over butter variety comes so close to that strange, not quite butter concoction we had at the movie theater, that it immediately sends me back in time. I even have fine popcorn salt just in case I need to make it even better…I mean worse…no, definitely better.

Tonight as I ran to the store to pick up a few essentials we needed at home, I saw the Redbox container and Baby Driver, which I’ve been wanting to see. So I grabbed it and made sure to pick up not one, but two boxes of my pour over buttery favorite. It won’t be quite the same as a true theater experience, but with our projector TV in the basement, my fake butter popcorn and surround sound, it’ll be pretty darn close!

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