September 22, 2003

Geppetto and Me

By Tom Love © 2003

Sometimes I see an old man in my mind's eye. It's Geppetto from the Pinocchio story. He's the puppet master. At his disposal are all kinds of tools: Tiny, magical screw drivers, springs, hooks, carving things. More than a doll maker, part psychic surgeon, Geppetto works for hours with his screws and lubricants, tightening up the pieces of my soul, trying to make the pain of existence tolerable.

While reviewing a reel of movie film from my past, he noticed a strip where the film had gotten too close to the bulb. It had smoked, bubbled up and melted on to surface of the bulb.

"It's will be tougher than working with the springs and screws," he explained. "These images are actually burned onto the glass bulb so that when a new reel is projected, the old scene is visible in the background. Old and new images become superimposed, some shadowy, some distorted. You would have to look very closely to see if this is a new reality or part of the old one."

I had been compensating for the irregularities all this time, resulting in the buckling of steel plates and seals rupturing, causing great pain.

One solution would be to develop a special cleanser on the lamp. One thing's for sure, we can't exchange it for a new one. They don't make that model anymore and any transplant would be very risky, requiring several attorneys to unscrew the bulb. We asked about this approach at Lowe's Do It Your Warehouse but they warned against it. So far the only thing that has worked is the insertion of a lens in front of the bulb filtering out the old image, allowing the new one to project. This sounds good in theory but in real time testing, the image of the new movie lacks sharpness and focus, and the colors are a bit dull.

Work continues with Geppetto and me. I'll let you know if things improve.

UPDATE: Geppetto has been busy with a compound of optician's rouge imbedded in pitch. He has had great success erasing the burned-on images! However, traces still remain. He warns that further rubbing of the rouge/pitch combination may alter the very surface of the projection lamp, changing the perception of the ongoing reality. He assures me however that the movie will remain unaltered, only that my perception of it may change slightly. He speculates that there are other lamp reconditioning projects ongoing elsewhere but for some reason the technology is a closely guarded secret. I gave him the go-ahead to continue his work with the rubbing tool and have already noticed significant improvement. Observing my self and realizing that what I'm seeing is actually "me" was quite an experience.

Geppetto's task is almost complete. He says that he plans to retire to Genoa soon, relax and maybe write a book on puppet repair.

Tom Love is a writer from Atlanta, GA.

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