Monday, August 26, 2002

Good Friends; Bad Movie

My friend Scotty and I have a constant battle over which films to see. Our tastes vary widely, sometimes crossing over into one another, but for the most part we disagree entirely. He likes the more popular films, while I enjoy playing the elitist movie snob. Give me a good, long subtitled French film any day. This would, of course, drive Scott right over the wall. Not to say that he doesn’t enjoy art films, it’s just getting him there that requires work. He’ll go to the worst, schlockiest films ever and walk out surprised that it was mind-numbingly awful (example: Any film starring Vin Diesel). Yet, he will go kicking and screaming into an “art film” and walk out loving it.

So it was with great pain that I went to see Blue Crush last night… Good Lord, they could not have put in any more clichés if they tried. I would warn you about spoilers, but you have already seen this movie half a dozen times (and much better, I might add), that it is all but impossible for me to ruin this for you.

The story centers around Ann Marie—unfortunately, not Ann Marie of THAT Girl fame, that would have been too cool—no, this Ann Marie is a surfer chick who’s “the best anyone’s ever seen.” She’s so good that:
* no one, outside of her two friends and little sister have heard of her.
* the filmmakers have to constantly tell us that she’s so great, because she hardly surfs (she just relives the “horrible accident” again and again, to the point you want to yell out, “Just drown already!”)
* people have to constantly tell her how to ride the waves. Near the end, a champion surfer actually tells her that she is going to help her catch a wave, like she’s never done it before. Shouldn’t someone competing in the “Pipeline Championship” have some clue as to surf?

Poor Ann Marie, she had an accident four months earlier (no scaring, outside of her psyche), and it renders her too chicken to take on the waves. However, every morning she gets up, checks the surf report, wakes up her friends so they can all go surfing. But every time she goes to take “big pipe,” she chickens out. No one seems to understand her… poor Ann Marie.

Soon she meets NFL professional quarterback… Donald Hollinger! No, no, no. His name is even less imaginative: Matt Tollman. She tries to resist him, but he’s such a friggin’ hottie, she can’t. This is the only part of the film I found real: he’s too damn cute to resist. So they sleep together—apparently, constantly. However, we never get to see any on screen action. If I were the screenwriter, here’s what I would have to say about that: I slapped 9 bigg’ns down to not see any bangin’? If the dude had shown a little more of his swolls, wantin’ a little backside action, that would be a fancy feast!

The ‘writer’ really should have to go back to remedial English in 7th grade… If I am going to have to listen to this drivel, show me some hot, hairy ass!

Her flirting with the QB, pulls our heroine from her training. Her (total lesbian) friend Eden, played convincingly well by Michelle Rodriguez is very upset that Anne Marie isn’t training. Eden gives the constant talks on “getting out there and doing what others can’t,” along with Anne “being the best,” and “showing everyone the champion you are.”) I’m not sure where on the cliché list those land, but I believe they are all within the top 15. The sad thing about Michelle Rodriguez playing Eden is that we are constantly reminded that whoever cast this film completely missed the mark: Rodriguez should be in the role of Ann Marie, as Kate Bosworth is in way over her head playing Ann Marie.

The night before the big surf contest, Ann Marie goes out to a Luau with Donald’s football team and their skanky wives. All are hos but think they are “all that.”

Naturally, Ann Marie goes into the restroom alone so she can overhear the other women talking about her (cliché #26). She comes out of the stall and makes some stupid remark, gives a woman her shoes—her shoes!—and leaves. The best part of the scene was when another skank walks out of a stall and says, “Ohmygod! Like, was that her?” I bet the people at Pulitzer are wondering if they can give out an award for movies.

Ann Marie does what any rational person would do in a moment like this, she walks fully clothed into a lagoon! Donald/Matt follows her in—fully dressed. What is the director saying here? Maybe he was hoping the actors would drown and he could get out of making this film? Actually, this is so we can have a discussion where the water spontaneously grows lights under the actors, so we can see them in the dark, murky water? Hey, is that a hungry, vicious shark? No, just a fantasy... a wonderful fantasy…

Because she doesn’t have a brain in her peroxide bleached head, Ann Marie asks Donald (Matt?) what to do. If he had said, dye your hair black, perm it into a flip, tease it sky-high and move to New York, I would have been happy. Instead, he took the cliché road out and asked her what she wanted (read: how do you see the picture ending). She said, “I want my mom to come home, I want my sister to go to school, I want to be on the cover of Surf magazine… even if I don’t win, I want any girl on Surf magazine.” Again, she asks him what to do and he says “Don’t let a man tell you what to do.” Which means: in a few scenes, I’ll tell you my tale and you’ll go out there and surf the best you’ve ever done in your life achieving all the aforementioned goals, plus me. That Donald says a lot in just a few words, no?

Finally, we get to the big contest. All the great female surfers are there. We know this because Ann Marie’s kooky side-kick Lena introduces them: “Hey is that [insert famed female surfing legend here]?” (If Eden has to ride Anne Marie’s ass to get her to train, then Lena is the one to encourage her to par-tay! Oh, that kooky Lena…)

Best of all is the announcer for the contest. Every sporting contest I have ever been to in my life is filled with the announcer giving out dry facts to the crowds. If there is an injury they’ll give a warning and maybe some encouragement, other than that, they are pretty quiet. Well not at this championship. No way, this announcer gives more of a commentary/play-by-play, speculating on what the surfers are thinking—even understanding what they are saying way out on the water. And the girls in the water can clearly hear what the announcer says—even under water! This is not good for Ann Marie, because the announcer constantly speculates why she is fucking up so badly. “Is it because of the terrible, terrible accident four months back? Could that be why she is so far behind and hasn’t a chance in hell of winning this, achieving anything in life, or getting laid by Donald ever again?”

To build drama, Ann Marie chokes about half a dozen times readying for her big ride. Naturally, she has a wipeout so she can come back to shore and get the necessary last minute pep-talks needed to go out. Donald comes by to tell her of the time that he got hit hard on the field and how he went back out there and did it. Gee, that was swell.

So, Ann Marie goes out one last time, and with the help of a world class surfer, is told to “paddle, paddle, paddle” to catch the “perfect wave.” Ann Marie gets perfect 10’s across the board! Although, the announcer says that this is not enough to win the meet, she is a champion none-the-less. Thank God for him, because I couldn’t have figured any of this out for myself.

Hurray! Ann Marie comes back on to the beach a champion! Everyone gathers round. Never mind the competition is still going on, the beach is crowded with people trying to get to Ann Marie—the loser, who botched it more times than anyone can count, but pulled it off at the end. Even the sponsor chick who is going to give her all she wants is there to greet her. Too bad mom didn’t show up—that would have pulled my lunch right up and onto the 15 year-old girl in front of me that was cheering when Ann Marie finally fucking did it. And then, just before the credits roll, comes the cover of Surfing Magazine with Ann Marie on the cover! She did it! Oh, the joy, the absolute joy.

Interestingly enough, Ann earlier stated that she wanted a girl on SURF magazine, what she ended on the cover of was SURFING magazine. Maybe they’re saving Surf for the inevitable sequel…

As punishment for making me watch this, Scotty now has to watch two horrible movies of my choosing. I am at this moment looking for some really bad subtitled French films…

Friday, August 23, 2002

Friday, Glorious, Friday!

I am SO happy it’s Friday. It’s been one of those weeks (I seriously do not want to relive the crap of this last week of pure hell), and I am unbelievably happy and grateful that the end of the week is upon us. It’s especially amazing to me that until a few years ago, I hated Fridays.

Long ago, in a lifetime far, far away…
…I used to work for these bastards that owned a chain of mediocre “Luxury Theatres.” I say mediocre, because they were once pretty cool, but due to the ineptitude of the management of the company, had slipped and the word luxury could not be applied to anything in the building. The company was riding on the coattails of their reputation that had been set 20 years before, and that rep was quickly erroding. An interesting side note: later they remodeled the theatres, added a lot of neon, digital projection, new seats, etc., and they seem even more behind the times. People still go, make no mistake about it, but the glory days are truly over.

Anywho… back to me.

Movie theaters do their primary business when ‘real people’ (i.e. those with jobs, or in school) are in their spare time. That would be evenings and weekends—for the school kids, Christmas break, spring break and summer break. So when were we busy at the theatres? Friday night, all day Saturday, Sunday matinee and a little on the weeknights (and the aforementioned school breaks).

While the rest of the country would be anxiously awaiting the weekend’s arrival, I would be dreading it. New movies, more crowds, and a disaster or two waiting to jump out at us. No matter how well planned we would go into the weekend, something would surely come along and F’ it all up. If a film didn’t break—and throw the show times off for the rest of the day—then employees were sick, if everything else was fine, then we ran out of some silly bit of stock like popcorn, coke, cups, along with the occasional napkins or straws. You’ve never seen a woman go ballistic until you tell her there are no straws (unless it’s when the tampon machine breaks—then you get a first hand look at the ravages of the PMS).

If we’d covered everything, that would be the night that all the plumbing (read: toilets) backed up into the snack bar, causing us to run around in our bare feet with our pants rolled up. Although it was disgusting, it wasn’t that bad until someone mentioned that the water level was quickly rising to the level of the plugs located around the snack bar. Great, do I want to die of typhoid or electric shock. Wait… wait… I’m thinking here. In the meantime, people are still clamoring for their popcorn—trust me you don’t want to get in the way of someone who came to the movies and can’t get popcorn.

Regardless of what crap went wrong, it was always at the worst possible moment. Usually, a general manager from the company would be watching when and employee would scratch their nuts; or my favorite: would drop a hot dog on the ground, pick it up, dust it off, and throw it back on the grill.

Those Fridays were a lot like Mondays for everyone else. It was crunch time, get the work done faster and better than before—generally, without any reward (at least monetarily). The satisfaction of a job well-done only goes so far for a 16 year-old (or a 36 year old, for that matter).

By the time Monday rolled around, it was a dream! The events of the weekend were over and the prep for the next weekend would begin—but at such a nice slow pace. I used to love Mondays—unless it was a holiday—then I’d f’ing hate them. I’d wander in on Mondays, get the place ready to open, read the paper, start some movies, make a call or two. If I was lucky, I’d see about 12 customers the whole shift. A day without seeing a customer was a sunny day indeed. Mondays, were just glorious…

Now I’ve done a 180 degree turn on this. I hate Mondays (unless they are a holiday) and love, love, love Fridays!

I have nothing of note planned for the weekend (okay, sure there’s the obligatory masturbation several times on Saturday—it’s been a busy week and I must catch up!). I do have a thing tonight I’m going to, but nothing for the rest of the weekend. I thought about the Lonestar, but why bother? No, that’s not self-pity, it’s my natural lethargic state. I’m excited about the weekend; it’s more about the prospect and potential of doing something amazing and fun, but not about actually going and doing something.

So, three cheers for Friday and all the potential for a possibly exciting, potentially fun, probably dull weekend. Hey, a lousy, lazy-assed weekend is still better than a fun-filled workweek.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I am not depressed…

A friend came up to me and asked if I needed someone to talk with. I was a bit taken aback because I have never needed anyone present in order for me to talk. I am a constant running conversation that people just happen to walk into and out of.

Often, in the middle of a conversation, I will make reference to some off the wall subject and the person I’m talking to will give me that ‘look.’ (You know, the one that says they are worried that I’ve lost my ever-slipping grip on reality). How do I explain that while I’ve been talking to them for 20 minutes, they are at the tail end of a conversation that began two hours earlier? You just wandered into a pre-existing conversation, buddy. While I may be talking to you about an employee situation, the conversation began earlier when I wondered what I would look like bald… all over; then if I could have any super power, what would it be; to why I continue to hate Lani O’Grady (and, in fact, the entire cast of Eight is Enough, especially the dad); and slipping into what would the world look like if the sky was green and trees were blue; leading to how cool shag carpeting used to be; and finally, why cheese is such a silly word.

So when you are complaining about what a fricken nut-job an employee is and I say “just like Dick… as in Dick Van Patten?” don’t act like I haven’t been discussing this already. You just weren’t there. Trust me, this conversation will be going on long after you've left the room.

Anyhow, back to wanting to talk…

Apparently, Scott (one of the sad few who actually reads this stuff) read my blog and thought I seemed depressed. Looking back, I realized that I may have seemed depressed—but I’m not. I’m just bitter. There’s a huge difference—I’m not exactly sure what that is—but none-the-less there is a difference.

I decided to check into the last few entries and after looking back , I want to extend to you from the bottom of my heart, my sincerest apologies. Christ, what drivel. So sorry. Poor Chris… So depressed. So depressing…

If you’ve read them (and managed to get past all the type-os and grammatical errors) I’m so sorry for you. God Bless You for attempting to get through all that. Jeez, I thought I was only a little bitter—I’m pretty fucking depressing to boot.

I have now made an executive decision that from this point forward I will stop being depressed and start being positive! (Hurray for me!) So let the positive spin begin!

[crickets chirping]

Um… I’m sure I can think of something positive to say. Something. Positive. Something. Pos...

Okay! Got one! That script I was working on? I stopped writing it... because it totally sucked. Okay, not normally a happy thought, however, I’m writing a much better script now! It’s a hair's breath from soft-core porn, but at least it’s something near and dear to my heart. That’s a good thing, right?

Funny thing… I just type the word porn and there’s a smile on my face. Good lord, I am such a perv. (I do not think of that as a complaint or something to be depressed about, it is merely an observation. Please do not judge me as depressed or bitter at being a perv, as it is strictly an observation, not a complaint).

I think need to add a little sunshine to my day (to keep me on the happy trail of joy), so I think I will go home and watch some porn… that will perk me right up (no pun intended).

See? I’m a happy l’il camper! Positively the happiest little pervert around, as I’m going to go home and watch some porn… all alone… talking to myself the whole time…

Ah, Crap… now that’s depressing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

Santana Row, the former Town & Country Village Shopping Center burned yesterday. My God, what a sight! Flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air, apartment complexes miles away catching fire, traffic for miles diverted and backed up—in short, a real disaster. Sadly, the $500 million complex was exactly a month away from it’s grand opening. Who knows what will happen now.

While only 20% of the 40 acre complex burned, Building #7 was the largest building in the complex. It is also the main building along Winchester Blvd., which is across from the Century Theatres, so if you want a showpiece, this is the spot you DON’T want it to burn, because EVERYONE is going to see a burnt out hulk of a building rather than your crowning jewel.

Thankfully, Crate & Barrel (mind you, the BRAND NEW, JUST OPENED A MONTH AGO Crate & Barrel) did not suffer any damage. That C&B is one awesome building… plus, it’s a great store.

Oh, yeah, and no one was hurt…

Talk about a warped and twisted sense of priorities, I’m more concerned that a store is okay, versus the safety of the workers? Ugh. Actually, I think it’s because I knew the workers were okay, I could worry about trivial things, and come up with my conspiracy theories.

In my world, there are no accidents, it all happens according to some plan. Be it “The Man,” Tom Wopat, or Martha Stewart, I know nothing just “happens.” Someone has plotted or done something. This fire couldn’t be an accident, it happened at the shift change, when fewer workers were on, construction was almost complete, the sprinkler systems were about to be finished… hmmm… there’s something sinister going on here.

Conspiracy Theory #1: Santana Row Owners Did It.
Building #7 was to house the $15,000 per month condos for businessmen. When Federal Realty (the owners of SR) started construction of “the Row,” we were at the top of the internet & real estate bubble. Since that has popped (actually, more like ‘came crashing down with great thunder’), will they be able to rent to a high-end market? What company is throwing around that kind of money in these hard times? What person in this area is throwing around that kind of money?

The building burned at the shift change, when fewer workers were inside, thus, allowing the fire to start unobserved. Plus, any liability incurred with the loss of life is severely limited by most of the employees being out of the building.

Where this falls apart is that we have known the economy has been dropping for a while. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to have made some adjustments to the floor plans? Or convert them into smaller apartments than to burn it all down? Besides, Fidelity Realty is an INSURANCE company! Who do you think is their insurance company, Farmers?

Conspiracy Theory #2: Worker Wanting Job To Continue/Disgruntled Employee
With only a month left to go and not much new construction on the horizon, I’m sure a lot of these construction workers are a little concerned. Where are they going to find their next job? With all these workers looking for a job, will anything this big be coming up—if not, where will they all find work?

Why not at Santana Row?

By burning down the main building, Fidelity Realty will need to get their centerpiece up and running again ASAP, and they will need construction workers. Why look, here are some right now… just waiting to work… with no other immediate plans.

Once again, it was on the shift change, so no one could see what was going on, plus, the arsonist’s fellow construction workers would be safe from the fire. It’s perfect… but not quite.

The problem is, construction isn’t stopping at this point. There are several other phases of construction that are starting up as soon as the main buildings are done. The Ciné Arts complex needs to be built and several other condos and housing units are scheduled to start as well. There is still time to burn something else down after the current project is done.

Now, there is the possibility of a disgruntled worker. Never underestimate the power of the disgruntled worker to really F’ things up. But why not destroy more? Did they hope it would ignite the entire complex? Why not start a separate fire two buildings over and get the whole place going? It seems too random to be disgruntled.

Nope, this seems a little more emotional…

SOLUTION: Conspiracy Theory #3: Sarah Winchester
For anyone who has worked or lived around the Winchester Mystery House knows, Sarah has always made her presence known. When she doesn’t like something, she has a way of making that distinctly clear.

I worked at the Century Theatres, next to the Winchester House and across from Santana Row (then called Town & Country) for years. Sarah had a way of coming in at the worst possible time and really f’ing things up. Bulbs would blow in projectors, films would snap at start, odd things would go missing when you saw them moments before you needed them. All attributed to Sarah.

To keep Sarah out of the projection booth, we used to have to keep the light on in the projection booth when we closed at night, or else the next day, She would wreak havoc. New managers never believed this theory… until the day they opened the theatre and the light was off—and things suddenly went terribly, terribly wrong. The first (and last) time it happened to me, I walked in the booth and it was completely dark. I laughed and thought “I’ll prove that theory wrong.”

First, the first film I started broke at start (I’d checked it three times). I started again and it snapped just after the previews ended. Then, about an hour and a half later, the bulb in C-house blew. As I was changing it (an arduous task) the bulb in B-house blew. Once those two bulbs were changed, I went to start A-house again… the bulb blew. As I was changing the bulb in A-house, I said, “Damnit, Sarah, I believe you. Go away!” Problems stopped.

I was not the only one to have incidents such as this. On the later occasions I walked into the booth and the light was off, I spoke to Sarah, begging her to go somewhere else. I opened the door to the outside and shoo-ed her away. No problems. Later that morning, I told the new assistant about Sarah being around and to shoo her away. He laughed… and two films broke on him, until he shoo-ed her away, too.

In 1906, Sarah’s house was a massive seven stories tall. She felt that the ghosts did not like such a high house and that she should build out, not up—so they sent the San Francisco earthquake to bring it down. Down it came.

Now suddenly, new construction, across the street from her house is growing taller by the day. Did Sarah decide that she didn’t like such a tall place? Well, there are taller buildings just to the east of her house with no complaints. However, Building #7 appears to be on a rather touchy spot.

Years ago, there was a restaurant in the old T&C called The Brave Bull. It was a beef joint that was a little iffy, to say the least. I knew several people who worked there as waiters and bartenders and they always made comments that Sarah didn’t seem to like the place much (seriously, who did?). They reported odd things that would go wrong and how late at night they “heard strange things.” Eventually, The Brave Bull, located on the same spot as Building #7 burned down.

Also on the same spot as Building #7 was Eli Thomas Menswear. I knew a guy who worked there and he said that weird things used to happen all the time. During my stint at the Town & Country Theatre, things occasionally happened, but not with a great deal of regularity. The stores that stood where Building #7 stood, there was a significantly higher frequency of strange happenings. I suspect that Sarah wants nothing on that particular spot and I think she has made her point abundantly clear.

To Fidelity Realty/Santana Row, I issue this caution: Do not underestimate Sarah Winchester’s ability to F’ around. Make peace with her, even if it’s to tell her to go bug someone else. What about the senior center next door? I’m sure they have a lot in common (death, one being there, the others so close. Maybe they could compare ailments?) Typical of old people, Sarah won’t leave until you force her to go.

For those of you who still think that Sarah didn’t do this, remember that employees of the Century Theatres did not always believe in Sarah’s abilities, we had to be taught a hard lesson. In November of 1981, the Century 22, the flagship of Century Theatres, directly across the street from Building #7, and next door to Sarah’s residence, burned down.

“I do believe… I do believe… I do believe…”
--The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of OZ (1939)

Monday, August 19, 2002

Lazy Days of Summer…

I haven’t written in a while. I could say I’ve been incredibly busy: traveling, working, out with friends, on dates, getting laid… but I’d be lying. The reason is pure and simple: I’m lazy.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing… sometimes I want to surf the internet… sometimes, I am actually working. As for dating… let’s leave that carcass alone. There is nothing there to speak of, so I’d rather not depress myself any more than I already am.


Don’t feel like a failure… be one!
I have not gone to the bars in ages. I’m not sure why—sudden burst of insecurity is all I can think of. I have posted to half a dozen websites in their personals sections… no response. Not one fucking response. How depressing is that?

I thought I was witty in my personal ad… maybe I was just annoying. Should I write something like “Hey, wanna get fucked?” Maybe that would be the kicker that would get a response. Good Lord… what if they sent a response that said, “Absolutely not!” I guess not getting responses is akin to that, eh?

I have no desire to go back to the bars, as I was not exactly a hit to start. Okay, I did have a nice first evening, but that was in comparison to the vast emptiness of anything previous. I chatted with Keith, I drooled over poor JD (the poor bastard had no idea that he’d hit on such a freak—maybe he did: I never heard from him again).

After that first night, my evenings at the Lonestar were strictly observations, with almost no contact with anyone outside of a bartender (who is REQUIRED to speak. Even then, they aren’t too chatty—so much for the tip-really-big-and-they’ll-like-you-and-introduce-you-to-some-hottie theory).

Okay, we’re moving on from Poor-Pathetic-Not-Getting’-Any section of our blog.

Elvis HAS Left the Building (and so has Groucho)
Apparently, after years of reports that he is alive and directing traffic in some small town somewhere, Elvis is, in fact, dead. Yes, he’s been dead for 25 years. So what? The bigger story (in MY book) is that Groucho Marx has also been dead 25 years. 25 years TODAY!

Will there be any big ta-doo over this? No. Just like his death, Groucho Marx will be completely run over by a drug riddled and bloated, has-been of a rockstar. Pity poor Groucho, who had the bad timing to die the same week as Elvis. Say what you will about Groucho, he and his brothers defined comedy in the 30’s and 40’s. His impact on comedy continues into today. The man loved and used irony with abandon. He poked fun at the establishment and made comedy more than pratfalls.

What else can I rant about?
I’m in a rather bad mood with all this ranting, so I’ll stop. It’s just so easy to complain.

I should get back to work… but it’s so much easier to procrastinate. With my penchant for laziness, I have a feeling that procrastination is going to win the day.

Finally, I’ve won something: Laziness! It's the best of both words!