Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A super-duper low-key anniversary

It sounds way more impressive than it actually is. That's Andrew Mungo's thinking, anyway. "Lots of couples have done it, probably without ever realizing it," says the co-owner of The Screening Room. After all, it's just a click past silver on the anniversary scale. Which is pretty impressive. Chances are that you're not going to get smacked upside the head with a frying pan or, worse, the open-ended cold shoulder, for forgetting your twenty-seven-and-a-half, more or less, anniversary. But if the missus knew that you had let the occasion of your 10,000th day of wedded bless pass without an appropriate fuss? Big trouble? Maybe not. Right, dear?

And that, in a nutshell, is what's going on with Newburyport's long-running, hip-but-homespun alt-cinema: The theater marked a big anniversary not that long ago — its 25th or 30th, depending on how you count (30 years since Mungo and Nancy Langsam showed their first film, 25 since they got run off Plum Island (long story, that) and set up shop on State Street) — without a whole lotta hoopla. A story in the formerly cool alternative weekly, a mention on their Internet pages and mailers, lots of private congrats from the regulars. Then it was time to fire up the popcorn machine, run the evening's film ("La Vie En Rose," a portrait of French singer Edith Piaf, if we remember correctly) and then, after the hard-core filmies finish reading the credits, cleaning up all the spilled popcorn. A similar blowout celebration is in the works for the Screening Room's 10,000th night at the movies, which will also feature,by coincidence, a French-themed film: "Julie and Julia."

Now for the math — and we're taking Mungo's word on this, so let's hope he did well in school — the cinema began its run (on State Street) on June 12,1982, so October 28, 2009 marks 10,000 Nights at the movies for us. The tricky part is remembering to add seven nights for seven leap years. Mungo estimates they've served up one million pounds of popcorn. If that is true, and we have no way of verifying that number, exactly, we estimate that he has swept or vacuumed up 25,000 pounds of popcorn. Or maybe people don't spill as much we do.

Credits roll, curtain closes, congratulations.

You can always find out what's going on at The Screening Room on their Web.

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