Saturday, March 14, 2009

RUNNING DOWN A DREAM (I Wanna Be Sedated)

Sitting in a great breakfast spot in one of our favorite cities in the world -- Charleston, SC. It's a great way to begin our first day off, as we have a joyous history in Charleston. The tour has been an insane whirlwind, so to sit with our coffee and blog is a welcome respite.

The first three days of the tour found us on six different airplanes, logging an extraordinary amount of terminal time. We longed for the bright southern sunshine we saw streaming through the terminal windows -- a tease indeed, as we'd come from eighty degree weather in Jackson MS and Jacksonville, FLA. (Oh, the feeling of deplaning in those towns, YEAH!! THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT! THEY CALL IT ENDLESS SUMMER, BABY!)

We were looking forward to our first roadtrip and just getting in a car and taking a look at the country. The itinerary called for us to drive from Louisville KY to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee NC. Mapquest had the drive logged at six hours straight up.

As we made our way out of town, the vista opened to what we'd imagined we would find in KY -- broad pastures, emerald grass, and yes, it did have a tinge of blue. But not a horse to be seen! It took hours, but when we finally spotted them, it was magic. For Stef, that is; Vic had already given way to exhaustion and was in deep slumber behind the wheel, adjusting his small pillow against the window from time to time.

But the horses-! Deep sable against that grass, those impossibly slender legs, almost slow mo as they moved, seeming to float like something in a dream.

On and on we drove, the miles unfurling behind us, and miles to go before we slept. Or screened, for that matter. Perhaps naively, we imagined ourselves arriving well before screening time, slouched in Adirondack chairs, legs stretched out to catch the rays (we really, really should have known better -- it had turned sharply cold in Louisville.)

Vic continued to drive in a zombie like state, as KY gave way to TN. In the distance now, the mountains were visible. As we neared the North Carolina border they came into focus, the craggy, looming hills sere and brown against the bluish peaks beyond. Evergreens were distinct on the hills among the deciduous tree yet to unfurl their leaves, like an unfinished painting.

We were nearing our destination, well behind schedule, and breathed mutual sighs of relief when we reached our exit, only to find that the mapquest directions we were given seemed to break down and disintegrate. We stopped in a convenience store for assistance and were given directions which took us back the way we had come, deep into the wilderness, farther and farther into the hills, a whitewater river running far below in a ravine, huge trucks passing us with a roar. And NO. PLACE. TO. TURN. AROUND. We were in Deliverance country, and fancied we could hear banjo pickin' as we remembered the curious stares of the local folk in the convenience store way back yonder. Or -- wait. WAS that curiosity? Hmmmmmm. (Later, our host was to say that back in the woods there if you hear banjo music you should head in the opposite direction. But then, we'd already done that.)

OK, we will 'fess up -- a touch of panic was ensuing as screening time was approaching rapidly. The sun was going down, and this was quickly beginning to morph into the plot of a horror movie. After some perspire-y calls to our contact at the college, we somehow managed to stumble back into civilization and onto -- whoa! -- a beautiful, modern college campus, nestled sweetly in those Carolina hills. We had been on the road a rugged nine hours.

The campus buzzed with vibrancy -- at the venue we screened at, there were young people bustling hither and yon, exuding creativity. Across from where we were screening there was an ongoing Battle of the Bands and music filled the halls. Sounded pretty damn good, too!

Luckily there were enough film buffs to fill the screening room, and the post screening Q&A was as lively as the ones which preceded it.

Remnants of that horror movie were still to linger however. As the lights went up, an old colleague of Vic's materialized like an apparition from thirty years ago. No, he was real, and he had started the University's film program when he split the Hollywood scene four years ago. Jack Sholder had gone from working on docs (that's where Vic met him in '78) to directing such classics as NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET II and THE HIDDEN. This blast from the past rejuvenated a half dead Vic, and we all then repaired to a right fine Mexican chowdown and a couple beers in a local eatery. We knew then that there would be a tomorrow.