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Delightful Antwerp Fash Mob Sound of Music

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A friend has sent me this wonderful video of a flashmob in the Antwerp train station who suddenly begin dancing to Do-Re-Mi from Sound of Music. I know some people might think it too sentimental, but Sound of Music is my favorite movie from my childhood and this was my favorite song. This is amazing. I can't imagine the work it took to organize and rehearse this!

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I had the dubious privilege of viewing The Sound of Music seventeen times in Boston’s Gary Theatre during its opening in that city in 1965. Twentieth Century Fox gave the film an initial “roadshow” release in select large cities using theaters that could accommodate the 70-mm screenings and six-track stereophonic sound. The roadshow concept involved two showings a day with reserved seating and an intermission similar to Broadway musicals.

This sort of high-mindedness meant expensive tickets, and 20th Century worried that they would lose control of the admission money if they left it up to the mostly independent theatre chains to come forth with their actual gross figures for every performance. Consequently, to support their paranoia, 20th Century hired trustworthy goons, usually poor graduate students like myself, to stand in each theatre’s lobby and count theatre-goers entering the theatre to see if the body-count matched the box office report.

This duty involved wearing a rented tux and standing around during the period before the lobby doors were closed and actually counting each patron who entered, using a small mechanical “clicker” concealed in the palm of the hand. Twentieth Century required that the Checker (that was our title) remain in the theatre from the start of the first show to the start of the second show, and until I became buddies with the manager of the theatre I watched the movie to pass the time—seventeen times. After that nearly month-long probation (I worked every weekend) the manager decided I laughed at his jokes in the right places and he invited me to hang out between shows in his office, where we drank good whisky and I listened to his life story and many, many more jokes.

After a few weeks some 20th Century Fox bean counter caught on to the fact that I had divided loyalties and I was fired from this cush and rather lucrative job, alas. I still have my clicker, and still can recite much of the dialogue and most of the lyrics for The Sound of Music. However, whenever I offer to sing one of those memorable tunes at gatherings I am quickly discouraged from it by other party-goers.

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No, I never actually cheated 20th Century Fox. My counts were always complete for the time interval and, I hope, accurate. However, I figured that the period between my assigned duties was my own as long as I didn't leave, and I was curious to learn just how far the manager would go in his attempt to groom me. Not to far, I learned; what he was actually doing was evaluating me as a prospective suitor for his daughter, in her first year at Brandeis. I was able to disabuse him of that possibility without showing all of my cards; he wrongly concluded I was too Christian to fit into his family. We parted on friendly terms.

I haven't wanted to see the movie since. Sorry, Free Thinker.

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