(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION DEC. 21-23, 2018) — It’s that time of year. Time to put aside our petty concerns, gripes, and ponder the gift of having made it through another 365.

One of THE PLANET‘s Christmas/New Year traditions is to re-read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address. Consider it a refresher course on the possibilities of America, a country blessed with great abundance and cursed with unlimited potential. We could wax long and deep on the wistful sense this exercise provides. Suffice it to say that these documents provide a barometer of who we are, where we are, and where we are going. The quotients to these measurements proceed directly from the benchmark each one of us holds as a starting point, for “The American Dream” has to be an individual, not indivisible, dream. E Pluribus Unum , and all that jazz.

Another personal tradition comes as a form of conjuring, one that we have named JoyPoint. In JoyPoint, we — kids and adults — take stock, part of which includes deliberate remembrance of a joyful personal moment from the past. In this exercise, we go around the room in turn telling the story of a particular point in time in a specific incident where and when we became weightless because of — take your pick — (   ) fun    (    ) joy    (    ) laughter    (    ) all of the above. Along the telling, we all come to our smiles.

Here’s my JoyPoint for this year. It harkens back 59 years, to 1959. Some of you may remember that year: the Crockett craze was winding down giving way to the hula-hoop, Boston’s Ted Williams had a pinched nerve, and dad drove a blue 1955 Pontiac station wagon with a translucent, aqua shifter. On a winter’s day that year, THE PLANET  found ourselves in the Palace Theater on North Street, one of the grand dames that foolishness later tore down for a … for a … parking lot. Our brothers and friends were there for a showing of William Castle’s new film, House on Haunted Hill. To this day, the flick remains one of our favorites.

House featured one of Castle’s gimmicks, one that he dubbed Emergo. In the climax of the film Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) maneuvers puppeteer-style a skeleton out of an acid vat — you know, the kind of acid vat we all keep in our cellars. That’s the cue for the projectionist to let loose a plastic skeleton from the right of the screen, from whence it travels on a wire to the balcony, where one of the uniformed ushers waits to corral it.

In those days, especially on Saturdays, we paid our quarter to get in, and we stayed for at least two showings — sometimes more. On this particular day, having seen the film once and knowing when the prop skeleton would emerge(o) from the screen area, guess what the house packed mostly with young boys had in mind for the second show?

Mayhem, of the innocent variety.

Somehow in that hidden network of communication that young boys had when they were on to a prank, all of us had armed ourselves with any disposable projectiles handy. My ammo included a popcorn box and a bunch of jaw breakers, not a bad arsenal for a seven-year-old. My brothers, more resourceful and older, had earlier scavenged the theater for anything they could throw.

The scene unfolded.

The skeleton, about to be mauled.

Price bid the skeleton out of the vat. The plastic version ushered forth from the right of the screen and made its slow ascent to the balcony. We look back today and marvel that such a crowd of hyped-up, sugared boys could show restraint of any sort, but that’s what they did. They waited until the skeleton was overhead, precisely half way twixt screen and balcony, far enough from its starting point that the poor usher or projectionist would have no choice but to continue them bones on the journey.

All at once, a ton of debris rocketed up from the seats, enough to assure the skeleton would be peppered but good. Popcorn boxes, cups, candy boxes, newspapers, rolled up foil, jujubees, rootbeer barrels, and the dreaded others pummeled Mr. Bones and made the skeleton dance, a bombardment so fierce that the mechanism that propelled it forward gave up the ghost and died. The skeleton hung there, in media res, and as we remember was basically torn to shreds.

THE PLANET may have laughed harder and may have enjoyed ourselves more in the many years to follow, but we can’t recall when. Pure. Utter. Fun. A moment when we became weightless. To this day, when we talk about this moment with our “bruv Mick,” the laugher cannot be contained.

THE PLANET invites your comments. We’d love to hear one of your JoyPoints.

Have a great weekend, everybody.


Include me out” Sam Goldwyn.



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  1. Unwanted Carl
    December 23, 2018 at 5:16 pm #

    Looks like I won’t won’t be getting an Orbit. Merry Christmas from the Dumpster. and of course Happy New Year

    • joe pinhead
      December 23, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

      Hey you never know its doubtful but maybe the Orbit ends up with the campaign signs

      See there’s hope

      Just sayin

      • Art Seller
        December 23, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

        Pinhead Your way out of your leauge. The Gman is someone you wish you were but it is never going to happen ,He is a giant in his field and you are but crumb on the floor to be swept up and never to be seen again. When you have an accomplishment tell us about it but I won’t be holding my breath. And for the last time because I will not waste any more time with you what have you done for the taxpayers of this city?? We know what the Gman did but we are waiting to hear what you did. You are just a moron looking to be heard. Case closed.

        • Joe Pinhead
          December 23, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

          Another dodge? again really? unable to answer the simple questions we put before you? no wonder your unstable at CC meetings and out in public/ You and or the Gman the gutter guy are nothing more than coffee getters. you can proclaim your anything online and in your own mind. I mean at the end of the day I am not interested in doing anything other than exposing you your alter ego’s and those dam barking dogs to the public as the frauds that all of you are. Anyone reading the posts will draw the proper conclusions. Hell the voters did in a large way. Art AKA the Gman AKA h, U etc. nothing more than frauds internet tuff guys. all bluster no muster. Cream and sugar please
          coffees on now run and fetch it for us little man

          Just sayin

  2. U
    December 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm #

    Go work on a circuit breaker you fool.

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2018 at 7:35 pm #


      You lied I thought you and all those voices in your head where done with me? your words not mine. I am not certain of the Circuit breaker reference but ok.
      My question to you still are out there with one more additional one
      Where the hells my coffee little man?

      Just askin

  3. The School committee
    December 25, 2018 at 7:40 am #

    Merry Christmas,Trump has been quiet today

  4. Bill Q
    December 25, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    This Joe is a fruitcake. Must be on the tire crew? Aka sec….y