Monday, August 9, 2010


Do you remember Shel Silverstein’s MAGIC? . . .

“Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins’ gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I’ve had to make myself.”

Well, that’s the life the 25 or so former Lake Highland High School students from Dallas seem to have been living since I last saw them . . . some thirty years ago.

Lake Highlands High School

In fact, it seems they have been making a lot of magic.

It actually was those thirty years ago when a couple of these high school students, at the end of that Spring day, rushed into my Lake Highlands High School classroom, excited and anxious as they blurted out, “Mrs. Blide, will you sponsor us for our club?”

“What club? Doing what?” I asked.

“We’re starting a film club. The Principal won’t let us have this as a school club unless we have a teacher sponsor. We need you to say, Yes.”

“But I know absolutely nothing about film.”

“That’s just fine,” they responded. “We know everything.”

“But, why me? I am sure there are other teachers here more knowledgeable than I . . .”

“Well, you’re more off the wall . . . ” I heard them gush.

“Hmmmm,” I responded, daring not to ask for a closer explanation, “I’ll take that as a compliment. OK, just let me know when and what I need to do.”

And so Fantastic Cinema Productions (FCP) was born. In 1980 they created their first film, “Friday Night 2112.” Not being too hopeful with their Super 8 mm product vs. a 16 mm film, they took their achievement down to Houston, Texas to enter it in a film festival competition. The judges were literally “blown away” and awarded them first place. This was just the beginning..

This July, 2010 became the 30 year reunion of that earlier small band of high school “nerds” some of whom ended up sharing the glow and glory when John Davis, one of their own, was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Animated Feature for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in 2002.

Even those other creative best friends who went on to other occupations (one of whom is with NASA, many others who are continuing to use their creative and technical “fun” beginnings at FCP in other ways) will, it seems, never forget what great friendships developed through FCP that will most probably last a life time. And it all started with a kid in a school who had the gumption to get other kids excited … along with a certain teacher who who didn’t know a thing about film.

The "Mutants" thirty years older, as Jimmy Neutron looks on.

Early morning get together of Mutants with families meeting at Lake Highlands High School waiting for buses to tour the old sites where "2112" was filmed, and to renew memories

"2112," starring Lane Wimberly and Greg Jones with the movie's actual house of horror.

Brad Vanderburg, one of the FCP tour leaders for revisiting "2112."

Allen Black, Bryan Holloway and John Davis reminisce at Richland College, another site in the movie.

As was tradition, next was an Ethiopian dinner at the Queen of Sheba Restaurant followed by a huge party bash at John and Kim Davis' beautiful home including viewing the new DVD of "2112" which brought laughter, tears and fond memories of those times thirty years ago.

JOhn, Mak, Brad, Allen and Lane face the accolades

But wait. There’s more. This former teacher of 36 years is enjoying what every single teacher’s hope, expectation, dream of addressing that chalk board on day one of their chosen life’s work. There is not one working teacher who does not look over his packed room of riveted eyes (well, at least at first) toward her, who does not believe that some young face will one day write the Pulitzer novel, invent that needed robot or create the solution for World Peace and be a good person who will find hope and growth lasting a lifetime.

Life is good.

PS: A post reunion momento from John Davis to Patti Blide.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


(Written by Dick Blide at request of Blogmaster, Patti Blide)

Our summer vacation was melded with getting together with our son and family. We flew from Portland; they drove up from Cape May, NJ, to Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. We had rented a cottage on this lovely lake for a weeks get together … Patti and me, son Alex with wife June, grandson Zachary and June's son Josh.

I had lived and worked in Saranac Lake, NY from ’69-’75 as medical director of the Will Rogers Hospital, a general chest disease facility. This return brought back great memories including those of skiing and hiking in these mountains.

Our first day was foggy and rainy but, being intrepid adventurers, we scaled Whiteface Mountain (would you believe they have an elevator?). The top was “socked in” so views were of clouds vying with fog. June was ecstatic to find her fear of heights “fogged out.” We had been here many times before so we knew there was a spectacular panoramic 360 degree vista with Montreal visible on a clear day. We recalled that two years ago Alex and Zach had rented mountain bikes and had ridden from top to bottom following the old ski trails.
Next was our venture to the Olympic Ski Village in Lake Placid to watch the ski jumping on to wetted-down plastic mats. “Wet and Wild” was the most exciting event with Olympians and future Olympians competing, skiing or snowboarding down a ramp, then doing somersaults and twists before landing in a pool of water on a mid-summer day, representing snow.

Perhaps our happiest moment was celebrating Zachary’s 20th birthday with cards and an ice cream cake in Ben & Jerry’s in Lake Placid.
Smiling and excited, June made dinner fun, picnicking at the cottage most evenings while absorbing the sunsets at lakeside.

All three boys are guitarists so they entertained us by jamming most evenings. Alex could be faintly heard early each morning softly playing his guitar in the boathouse.

Between adventures we shopped, now and again, in Lake Placid to the delight of Patti (she has to have her daily Latte) and June (who must have her trinkets). One of my favorite lunchtime restaurants, The Cottage on Mirror Lake, found us enjoying their delicacies. We even stopped in the recently enlarged library in Lake Placid to see if my book, Heartfelt, which I had dropped off two years previously, was still there. It was and had been checked out a few times.

We enjoyed walks in the woods around Upper Saranac Lake and we got to use the motor boat and canoe to explore the entire lake.
We discovered a champion in our midst for rock-skipping on the lake water surface. Josh won with eleven skips testing every flat rock available.

After a week in paradise, Patti and I took off for Dallas, where Patti had been invited to attend the 30th reunion of Fantastic Cinema Productions, a student film club she had sponsored while a teacher at Lake Highlands High School in 1980. How many teachers are even remembered, no less feted, thirty years after their students have graduated? See the accompanying blog for Patti’s description with pictures of this event that brought happy tears to her eyes.