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Movies are very popular. Although one movie ticket now costs about the same as a major article of clothing, more and more people are shelling out the dough and spending a mind-numbing hour and a half, or sometimes 4 hours, watching scantily clad teenage women (formerly known as girls) making prom preparations which involve using really bad words like the one that caused little Ralphy to get his mouth washed out with Lifebouy soap in A Christmas Story. Each week we get the statistics on how many bazillion dollars the top ten movies made over the weekend.

My wife, Lynn, her friend Cindy and her other friend Katina are what could be called movie buffs. They feel an obligation to make a major contribution to our declining economy by conspicuous spending in support of the movie industry. On some rare occasion when Cindy or Katina is unavailable, I am drafted to accompany my good wife to the picture show.

We go to the local Cine-plex. “Cine-plex” as you may know comes from the Latin "cine" meaning "100" and " plex" meaning "little bitty screens." The movie my wife has selected thankfully does not involve scantily clad teen-age women swearing and drinking beer. It involves older, twenty-something or sometimes thirty-something, frequently unclad women drinking hard liquor, using some really dirty words, and graphically shooting people who displease them. I believe there were also male actors involved in the movie but I didn’t notice them, so I can't be sure.

How could one possibly justify spending the equivalent of the cost of a small but important household appliance on such mindless drivel, you might ask? Well the answer I'm sure will surprise you and the millions of other folks who have never in their whole lives seen one of the most important and enlightening parts of the whole movie--- drum roll--- THE CREDITS. If you don't see THE CREDITS, you don't get your money's worth. It's as simple as that.

Since almost no one in the whole world has ever seen THE CREDITS, I feel an obligation to explain them to you. THE CREDITS occur after the movie itself seems to be over. After all didn't everyone see in great big letters THE END. Shouldn't that signify that it's all over? People have been so conditioned to believe THE END means there ain't no more, that they actually get up and leave the theater. By so doing they miss THE CREDITS, hence, depriving themselves of an extremely educational segment of the movie, or at least the post-movie. Also they miss the two guys who come in to clean up the left over popcorn and soda pop containers during THE CREDITS.

I know about THE CREDITS because my good wife would never leave the theater without them and I would never leave without her. (My wife also watches the credits at the end of every television movie she sees, even if she has seen the movie and the credits 17 times before.)

THE CREDITS tell you who are all the important people who participated in making the movie. They also tell you who the important people's assistants were--and who the assistant’s drivers were-- and who coordinated the assistant’s drivers-- and so on and so on, world without end.

Here are a few important things to watch for in THE CREDITS. First, there are a bunch of managers and directors. They are somewhat different, but very important. Watch for the--production manager, location manager, transportation manager, catering manager, potty-break scheduling manager, “quiet-on- the-set manager, main director, first assistant director, second assistant director, third assistant director, casting director, etc. The functions of these important people are never explained but should be obvious to any sophisticated moviegoer. However, some of the more esoteric positions (like “grip”) may escape all but the most erudite. (I believe this is the first time in my life that I have been able to use "esoteric" and "erudite" in a single sentence.) Let me explain some of these common credit terms to you.

The Clapper-Loader--one who loads the clapper. (Not to be confused with crapper, which calls for a cleaning manager, not a loader.) This person also loads film into the camera.

Best Boy--he/she is the best boy on the set as determined by a vote of all cast members present and voting. You will notice that Best Boy is not gender specific as many Best Boys have names like Sandra Sue or Mary or Phyllis, etc.

Gaffer--One who gaffs. This is originally a sea-going fishing term used to describe the person who brings a big fish into the boat with a large hook mounted on a wooden handle. In the movie business it is the person who rigs the lights. This is only logical. (It is erroneously thought by some to be related to the one who commits a social faux pas known as a “gaffe.”)

Key Grip--This is the one who grips the key to the movie set. No one can get in to work unless the key grip unlocks the door.

Dolly Grip--This person works only on movies starring Miss Parton. His function is never openly discussed. The Dolly Grip usually pays for the privilege of doing this job.

Head Grip--Works directly for the Crapper manager.

Best Boy Grip--Works directly for the Best Boy. Has unspecified duties. (Don’t ask. Don’t tell.)

Prop Master--By the end of the day many cast members are very tired and have trouble standing on their own two feet and need to be propped up. The prop master is in charge of this activity.

Key Hair--One who holds the key to the wig room and unlocks the door at the proper time.

Boom Operator--One who hits the big drum to make a loud noise like thunder.

There are many other important jobs listed in THE CREDITS that only my wife and her faithful companion or friends will know about unless you too become a credit watcher and really get a grip on what it takes to make the whole movie thing work.