Since my son was old enough to walk he's enjoyed certain things in life. He has those normal boy interests of course: full contact sports, burning ants with a magnifying glass, practical jokes on his buddies, climbing things, making the lives of his sisters a living hell. You get the picture.
He's also had more esoteric tastes in literature and film that kind of set him apart in our podunk little town. A couple of things he's loved since he was very little are Godzilla films and Mystery Science Theater with both Joel and Mike as the hosts. At one point when he was probably six-years old he found out MST had riffed on a Godzilla movie. The resulting mix of matter/ anti-matter in his brain cause a minor emotional breakdown.
Even though he's twelve he still likes to throw a MST film in the DVD player when he has downtime. One of the unforeseen side effects of this is that he unconsciously mocks everything he watches. This drives Mrs. Wormer crazy when she's trying to watch "Mrs. Marple," Jane Austin or some BBC period piece.
We do family stuff but we also try and do fun stuff on an individual basis with our kids every once in a while. I've been trying to figure out something to do with my son since it's his turn but nothing really lept out at me as sufficiently cool until just recently. I found out Cinematic Titanic were coming to town.
Cinematic Titanic is Mystery Science Theater creator Joel Hodgson's current live movie riffing project. It includes the entire original cast of the show- Trace Beaulieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo, Dr. Erhardt), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester.)
So Mrs. Wormer and I jumped at the idea and we bought a couple of tickets. There was never any question that I was going to be the one who got to go with our son. Mrs. Wormer was too close to violently assaulting Joel if given the chance because of too many repeated viewings of "Eegah!" We decided it would be safer if I went.
Keep in mind this was the end of April when we purchased the tickets. We decided to keep the exact nature of the event we were taking the boy to a secret. All we told him is we were going to do "something really fun" at the end of May. We tortured him.
So Saturday night I drove a very clueless but excited son downtown on what turned out to be a weird, wonderful evening. The Rose Festival Starlight Parade was also taking place downtown and the place was a madhouse that just added to the anticipation.
Because of the nature of the venue we got all the way into the theater and into our front row seats with my son remaining ignorant as to what we were doing. He got a big frown on his face when he heard the usher mention "Titanic."
As we sat there one of the technicians started handing out little blue cards to write questions for the cast on. My son said "questions?" I asked him "If you could ask Joel Hodgson from Mystery Science Theater anything what would it be?"
His mouth dropped open, "Joel's going to be here!?"
"Not just Joel but the whole damned cast from the show and they're going to riff on a movie live," I answered. I got a tremendous hug from the little guy in response.
After a few minutes my son calmed down and we wrote down questions for Joel. My son's question was "Eegah!" centered of course - "When they put you in the Arch Hall Jr. machine how did you feel?" We turned in our cards and waited.
The opening of the show was hysterical. Each member of the cast comes out and does an opening bit culminating in Joel taking the stage and answering the questions submitted. He only answered a few but amazingly enough picked mine and Dean Jr.'s to read. When he answered my sons he singled him out in the front row and said his name aloud. It couldn't get any better than that.
Then the movie started. We watched some horrible film from the sixties called "Terror on Tiki Island." Sitting just a few feet from us on stage was Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu. Every time Dean Jr. would crack up Frank Conniff would lean over in his chair and start laughing as well. He was obviously getting a kick out of the little guy.
After the show we went through the autograph line with the cast and Mary Jo really loved that we'd surprised Dean Jr. by attending. They all remembered my son as the kid in the front row with the question. Joel was kind enough to let my son have his picture taken with him. Nice guys all the way around.
Dean Jr. couldn't stop thanking me for the evening. We both had a great time.
(Frank Conniff jokes with my son. Joel is to his right.)
(The Cast - Trace Beaulieu in foreground.)