Category Archives: Muncie

Lance, is that you?

Seriously, how did I not know until today that the great Lance Henriksen was in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?”

After having seen the movie dozens of times, I watched it on TCM today and was startled to see the favorite from “Aliens” and “Millennium” on screen near the end, in the Devil’s Tower sequence.

He’s even in the credits!

Nice to see you, Lance!


The late, great late night


Yes, back in the 1980s, I was a huge fan of David Letterman. Yes, I stayed up for his 12:30 NBC show – after Carson’s “Tonight Show” – every night. Yes, I videotaped Letterman as I was watching. Yes, I excised commercials.

Yes, in a hall closet that’s been the repository of most of my VHS tapes over the decades – a closet that should be devoted to some more productive use, as I’m sure my wife is thinking as she reads this – are those tapes, buried along with videos recorded over the air of “The X-Files” and “Lois and Clark.”

Yes, I acknowledge it’s strange that I sat up and taped those Letterman shows.

I regret nothing. (Even though I haven’t watched the tapes in years.)

That’s because, back in those days, Letterman was the cutting edge of late-night comedy.

As I’ve noted here before, I was watching Carson from my late childhood or at least early adolescence. Carson was and will ever be the king of late-night. Nobody did it better.

Letterman – another Indiana guy, who spent time here in Muncie, working at the radio station I always listened to and going to college where I later went – was innovative and funny and awkward in all the right moments.

I haven’t watched a lot of Letterman in recent years and maybe it’s ironic that Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” have taken over my late-night viewing – when I can stay awake that late: The days of staying up until the 1:30 a.m. sign-off of Letterman’s old show are long gone.

So I was pretty pleased at this week’s news that Stephen Colbert was going to take over for the retiring Letterman on “The Late Show” next year. Colbert is sharp and funny and heartfelt and he’ll make a great host. I’ll probably check out at least the start of his show after Stewart’s sign-off.

I’m curious if Colbert’s right-wing ass character will “appear” at all on his new show. I’m curious how Comedy Central will replace “Colbert Report.”

You can bet I’ll be checking out Dave’s victory lap in this final year.

Heck, I might even break out some of those 30-year-old tapes and relive Dave’s glory days.

I can always watch those at 7 p.m., when I’m not too sleepy.

iPhoneography: More on the Ski-Hi Drive-In

ski hi tower concession april 2013

About a year ago I wrote about and posted some pictures of the Ski-Hi Drive-In, my community’s shuttered but last remaining drive-in theater – remaining, at least, in the sense of the shell of the screen tower and dilapidated concession stand/projection booth remain in place, where two highways meet north of Muncie.

Since that time I’ve talked to the owner of the property for an upcoming story for publication in my real job. He encouraged me to go onto the property and take pictures, so I thought I would share some here.

ski hi screen tower april 2013

The back of the screen tower, which greeted patrons – and now looms over passersby – is in pretty rough shape. The owner told me there was an apartment at the base of the tower that someone once lived in.

ski hi screen april 2013

It’s not that hard to imagine – and, for me, remember – movies playing out on the big screen framed by the Hoosier night sky.

ski hi longshot screen april 2013

You can still make out the earthen ridges made to elevate the front ends of patron’s cars, trucks and vans.

ski hi concession side april 2013

The concession stand exterior, with the expected graffiti.

ski hi broken door april 2013

The door broken in the past few years by intruders.

ski hi concession april 2013

The concession stand is still recognizable, but has put up with a lot of abuse from vandals, the elements and years of neglect.

I’ll update you when I know something about the fate of this once-grand old drive-in movie theater.

Today in Halloween: Scaring trick-or-treaters

Because I lived in the country when I was growing up, I’d venture into the city and go trick-or-treating every Halloween with my cousins and some friends, who lived in a densely-populated part of town with what seemed like a bazillion trick-or-treaters.

Seriously, you almost couldn’t make your way down the sidewalk without tripping over some other pint-size goblin or superhero.

We did it every year, but one year in particular stands out in my memory.

My cousin, friends and I made our way from house-to-house, like we always did. I was at a disadvantage, as always, because of my mask. I’m pretty sure this year it was a cheap rubber monster mask of some kind, but the disadvantage came in because I had to wear it over my glasses.

As a kid who got glasses in the middle of first grade, I had grown accustomed to all the drawbacks of being a four eyes. But one of the worst was how anything that covered your nose and face – winter weather knit ski masks, for example, but especially Halloween masks – would make my glasses fog up.

So I was flying blind. Or walking blind.

My group walked up the sidewalk to a house much like every other house we had visited that night. But this one was different.

Inside lived someone who loved Halloween very much. That or a sadist who hated kids.

As we drew near the door, someone on the front porch pulled a rope and a dummy fell out of a tree in front of us. It was obviously a stuffed figure but freaked us out anyway. We turned to run.

But they weren’t done with us yet. The homeowner had stationed friends or, most likely, teenage offspring, behind bushes and trees in the front yard. As we beat a hasty retreat they popped out at us, yelling and growling.

We all ran like crazy. Some of us missed the sidewalk and burst out into the nearby street. Luckily cars were moving along at a crawl because of all the kids who were out.

I’ve never forgotten that night. I still think of it when I’m walking my son through our neighborhood and somebody has obviously replaced a stuffed figure in a porch chair with a living, breathing person, ready to jump at us.

It’s fun to be scared on Halloween. A little bit.

Movie magic: My favorite big-screen moments

How many times, while watching a movie, did you find yourself wearing a huge grin of appreciation, chuckling with approval or outright yelling “YES!” back at the screen?

If that sounds familiar, you’ve had some goosebump moments, scenes that connected on a visceral level with you as a moviegoer.

I’m a lifelong movie fan and I’ve had a lot of those moments. But these are some of the very best.

The head popping out of the boat in “Jaws.” When my friend Jim and I went to see “Jaws” for the first time, the showing was sold out. We decided to wait for the next one, hanging out in a nearby ice cream shop. As we sat there, incredulous, the clerks behind the counter – who had somehow already seen the movie – dissected the entire plot, scene by scene, including the moment when, as Richard Dreyfuss dives to investigate a wrecked boat, the head of Ben, the shark’s victim, floats out of a hole in the hull. Even though the ice cream shop kids spoiled the moment for us, it was still amazing to see.

“Star Wars” and the passing of the Imperial ship overhead. Just after the opening credits of the groundbreaking 1977 science fiction classic, the blockade runner ship carrying, as we will soon find out, Princess Leia, passes overhead. The model is impressively detailed and looks big. Then the Imperial cruiser carrying, as we will soon find out, Darth Vader, passes overhead. And passes. And passes. And passes. You think it’s done but – psyche! – it’s just the docking bay. So it goes on and on and on some more.

Muncie in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana, so it was particularly goosebump-inducing to see not only the onscreen subtitle for Indianapolis but my hometown of Muncie. So the portrayal of Muncie and its denizens wasn’t very flattering. It was our biggest big-screen moment.

The boulder in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I didn’t know what to expect from Steven Spielberg’s homage to old movie serials, so the first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie – with a jungle trek, creepy spiders, double-crossing guides, skeletons on spikes and lots of whip action – had me nearly breathless with appreciation. Then Harrison Ford has to outrun a huge boulder. Holy crap!

Nick Fury shows up in “Iron Man.” I realized that my first four favorite moments were all from George Lucas or Steven Spielberg movies. My favorite modern-day movie moment just might be when Samuel L. Jackson shows up, eyepatch and all, at the end of Jon Favreau’s 2008 superhero movie that kicked off the Marvel cinematic universe. If “Iron Man” had bombed, the presence of Nick Fury wouldn’t have carried any more significance than the title of the ill-fated “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” (Hint: The adventure ended.) But “Iron Man” was a terrific movie and began the road to “The Avengers.”

iPhoneography: Zombie Walk

Really, who doesn’t love a good zombie parade?

Today’s Zombie Walk in Muncie – sponsored by local groups to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) – was held around the Ball State University campus.

Several dozen people turned out for what was rather a brisk Zombie Walk. It was a lot of fun and made for good iPhone pictures.

There was a medical theme to some of the zombies. I saw at least one in surgical garb and this patient, complete with IV.

Zombie Jesus or Zombie Russell Brand? You decide.

Zombie Bandana Guy was properly freaky.

Some charming zombies ladies in dresses. I’m a fashion know-nothing. Are these supposed to be out-of-date old lady zombies?

You think you have problems, all you zombies out there. This zombie had two heads. TWO HEADS! Yet she seemed relatively upbeat.

This photo doesn’t properly show it off, but this zombie had a drooping eyeball. Great makeup.

If you’ve got zombies, you need some paramilitary human presence. Goes without saying.

You can tell the zombie kid to the left is thinking, “What’s the deal with the guy in the red bodysuit? I thought this was a zombie walk.”

The organizers put a green screen near the end and asked zombies to pass in front of it. Made for some great closeup pics.

This kid was totally into it.

Zombie Blues Brothers. They’re on a mission from God.