Friday, August 31, 2007

Racing Against the Clock

I've been trying to fit everything in this morning -- two reviews to write, a few more to edit, lots of emails to send out, this week's blog entry to write -- before heading off to my parents' cottage for a few days. But it looks like time is running out -- so I'll have to post this week's entry when I get back.

Have a great holiday!

Friday, August 24, 2007

When It Rains…

New at Since Last Week:
The Nanny Diaries
Death at a Funeral

You know how the old saying goes…. Well, it definitely poured here this week.

It started insanely enough, on Sunday, with a mad, frantic dash to furnish our basement with a futon (“a good futon,” said my husband) before the in-laws show up this weekend. But that part is a very, very long story, and this week’s story is long enough already. So anyway…just when we finally worked out a deal with the salesguy, snagging us a [good] futon with a few scratches and dents in the wood for a decent price…just as we were about to load it up in the car and take it home…that’s when the rain started.

Immediately following, we did a little more rushing—this time, over to The Cheap Theater to see Ocean’s Thirteen. We came racing in at the last minute (after lugging the futon through the house and dumping the parts in the basement), and I was a little worried that we might have to sit in the front row (as we did for Ocean’s Twelve), but, for some strange reason, when we walked into the getting-full theater, there were two wonderful back-row seats, just waiting for us. It was lovely. And when I sat down, I couldn’t believe my butt! The Cheap Theater got new seats! I was in cheap movie heaven! I only paid a buck to see the movie, and I even got a padded seat!

I’d have to say, though, that the padded seat was the highlight of the whole week. After that, it was all downhill.

So here’s what happened on Monday afternoon:

At around 2:30 or 3:00, things started to get really dark. Really, really dark. There was thunder and lightning. And there was a whole lot of wind. And then I heard this noise—a noise that sounded like a garbage can had fallen off the front steps of the house. Now, we don’t have a garbage can on our front steps, so I was starting to wonder if the Evil Neighbor Kids had dumped off something earlier in the day, while they were playing with their obnoxious BB guns in my front yard (seriously, I’m going to throttle the Evil Neighbor Kids someday). Curious, I walked to the living room and found that our tree had fallen down. Okay, so not the whole tree—but half of it, at least. A really big branch. Huge. And it was all over our yard—and in our neighbor’s driveway. So I called my husband and told him, and he said, “I’m on a call right now. Can I call you back?”

(Hello? Did I just mention that our tree just fell down? Am I not freaking out enough?)

So after he called back, he decided that it might be a good idea to come home an hour early. So while he packed up and drove home, I went through our paperwork, looking for our homeowner’s insurance policy and the phone number of our tree guy. By then, it had started raining.

So we called the tree guy, who said they’d be there around 6. I’m not sure which 6 they were talking about—on which day—because they never showed up. And my poor husband ended up braving the hurricane conditions and hacking up the tree enough for our neighbor to get in and out of her garage. Meanwhile, I went and got groceries, all the while thinking about buying a condo.

But wait. There’s more. While I was digging through paperwork and staring at the tree that was lying in our yard, I stopped to check my email and discovered that the site was down. Well, not down exactly. The hosting company had said that they were upgrading their software, so we might have some database problems for a while on Monday. Now, I’d already had those database problems on Monday morning, and I figured it was over. But here they were again. You could get to the site. You could see the skeleton, but you couldn’t get to any articles. I figured it would come back eventually (“Fifteen minutes!” the hosting company promised. They lied.). But it didn’t. In fact, it was down all night. When we tried to contact customer service, they said they had “specialists” who were “looking into it”—but it could be another 24 to 48 hours.


So on Tuesday morning, I had a giant tree in my front yard and a site with no content. And I was pretty much ready to curl up in a ball and die. But, instead, I went to the screening of 3:10 to Yuma. When all else fails, go see a western, I guess.

Since the site was down, I thought about taking myself out for lunch afterwards, since I just didn’t want to look at that poor, naked site any longer. But I headed back—which is a good thing, since my husband’s network had gone down at work (I know…really weird, huh?), and he had set up shop in his office at home. He said the tree guys had been around, and they said the whole tree needed to go. He also called some other tree guy, who said he could take it down Wednesday morning at 7:30.

As for the site, nuthin’.

So, with a naked site and a tree still in our front yard, we figured we might as well just go to a movie. This time, Resurrecting the Champ. When we got there, I was a little surprised to find that no one was there. There was one other critic waiting to get in, and there were two people in line. Two. Usually, when I get to the screening, about 30-45 minutes before it starts, there’s a big, loud, angry mob, ready to throw things at me for not waiting in line. This time, there were two people.


When the rep let us in, there were seven of us in the film critic row, and that was about it. By 7:30, there were a couple more critics, and then there were about 10 other people. It was weird. As Jason said, they could have screened the movie in the break room at Wal-Mart, and we would have had plenty of room (and, as I pointed out, we could have gotten Sam’s Choice sodas for a quarter—maybe even a dime!).

So apparently, no one promoted the screening. Either that, or no one wanted to see it—even for free. Still, though, despite the empty theater, when one couple came in, they stopped in front of our row and stood there for a few minutes while they glared at the “Reserved for Press” signs on some of the seats. Really, people. There are 5,000 other seats in here—and you’re mad that you can’t have those two?

Fortunately, though, the movie wasn’t bad at all. And it helped me forget about my naked site and giant dying tree for just a couple of hours.

On Wednesday morning, 7:30 came and went, and there were no tree guys. But, on the bright side, my dear, sweet husband was able to figure out how to make some programming changes to get the site back up—or at least parts of it. So that was a start.

The tree guys finally showed up at around 3, and I was a little bit nervous when I noticed that one of the guys had a hook for an arm. I kid you not. There was a hook. And this was one of the guys who was going to be using a chainsaw in my front yard. Clearly, he’s not so good with a chainsaw. Why would I want him giving it another shot in my yard? So I went into the basement, where I wouldn’t have to see the blood.

Fortunately, though, there was no blood and no screaming. And, a couple of hours later, there was no tree. It looks really weird. And it’s ridiculously bright in our living room—so I’ve taken to keeping the curtains closed.

So anyway…we still had one little problem: the site. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the thing fixed, which meant another long, frustrating conversation with a clueless customer service rep. Let’s do the math here. The site was completely naked for 43 hours. Then it was partially naked for another 11 hours. That makes 54 hours without a fully functioning site. Now, I’m not going to go into the numbers here, but what it boils down it is a pretty serious loss in readers. (So if you were driven away earlier this week by a shamefully naked site, please go back. We’re fully clothed now, and we really want you to come back. Please. Thank you.) But it was Wednesday night, and we were finally working again.

Then came Thursday. I got up on Thursday morning, and the tree was gone, and the site was working. All was good and happy and sparkly in the world. And then I got to my computer, checked my email, and started getting to work, only to discover that my Internet connection had just gone and disconnected itself. This led to an hour of finagling, accompanied by a fair amount of bad words. And then, for no apparent reason, it just came back.

Just like that.

So I got back to work, putting together this week’s massive newsletter. I got everything ready to go, and I sent a test email to myself. And what happened?


I tried again.


I tried five times, and nothing ever showed up in my inbox. So I called my poor husband/webmaster in a panic, asking him if he could think of any possible reason why our mailing function would be broken. He couldn’t think of one reason. Not one. But since he couldn’t do anything about it, he said maybe I should just skip this week’s newsletter—an idea that I instantly rejected, since the site had been naked all week, and I desperately needed to tell people that we were still here. So then he told me that I might have to take my newsletter document and translate it into normal email format.

And that’s when I started to sob.

You see, my newsletter document is 17 pages of HTML code. I keep the format every week, and I update the information and send it out. That way, it doesn’t take a lot of work. I keep up with the links during the week, and it takes me an hour or so on Thursday morning to do all the audio links and the trailers and contests and things. I didn’t even know where to begin reformatting it—and even if I did, it would have taken me until next Feaselday. So I continued to sob.

That’s when my husband took pity on me and said he’d come and try to fix it if I would make him lunch. So I wandered off to make lunch.

Anyway…that whole thing brought about another hour’s worth of headaches—during which time I had to cut out a part of the newsletter because it was making the mailing function pissy, for some reason or another. But eventually, I got it sent out—and only 2 ½ hours late. Yea.

By this point, I had told myself not to even think that things couldn’t go any worse. Because they always can. Just ask Murphy.

Also by this point, I had decided that there was just no way I’d be going to the screening of The Kingdom. It’s too bad, since I was looking forward to seeing a movie so far in advance that I’d have time to actually put some thought into my review. But, if you recall, the in-laws were scheduled to arrive on Friday afternoon, and that meant that I needed to clean toilets and scrub floors and bake brownies for my bro-in-law.

I also needed a good stiff drink. Or three. My intention was to drink myself to sleep. Of course, that’s not what happened. What happened was I spent the night cleaning bathrooms and washing towels and things in preparation for guests. And I watched a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show. And I went to bed early.

When I got up this morning, I was really, really looking forward to this morning’s screening. It’s not that I was totally psyched about the movie or anything, it being a documentary. But I just couldn’t wait to get out of the house. Just to get out for a while and talk to someone else—someone who could talk to me about something other than hosting glitches and trees—would be wonderful. And, fortunately, the first person I saw when I walked up was John. And John is always happy to hang out and chat. To make things even better, he had brought his lovely friends from Washington.

On the downside, there was no screening. The print hadn’t shown up yet, and it wouldn’t be there for another hour. And it would be another half hour after that before the screening could start. So we ended up rescheduling the screening for next week—which was really no big deal, since the movie isn’t coming out for a few weeks anyway. And that left me with plenty of time to grab lunch with John & Co., which was absolutely wonderful (both the food and the company). It also means that I have one less movie review to write this afternoon, which gives me the time for one more music review. So it all works out in the end.

Next week is another relatively quiet week, screening-wise (or at least it’s supposed to be). We’ve got Wednesday and Thursday morning and Monday and Thursday night. The problem, though, is Thursday night. On Thursday night, we have two screenings scheduled. Instead of scheduling them for the same time, the reps scheduled one for 7 and the other for 9—giving us the illusion that we could actually do both. There are, however, two problems:

1) The first movie is 110 minutes long.
2) The screenings are at two different theaters.

While some of us see this as an impossibility—and have resigned themselves to seeing either one movie or the other—others of us see this as a challenge. So here’s the scenario that Kevin has set up for us:

Okay, so we get out of the one movie at 8:50. Since the parking situation at that theater is a nightmare, and we’d never even be able to get out of the garage by 9, we’d have to have someone pick us up. In a van. And bring us to the second screening at the second theater. We might be a little bit late, of course, so we’d have to talk the rep into telling the crowd that the print was late, and that the movie will be starting just 15 minutes late. And that’s how we could make it work.

Personally, I love a good challenge. And if someone has a van and a willing driver, I’d be all over that plan. I’ve done the two-theater back-to-back double-feature before. And though it was totally insane then, too (in fact, I think it may have been last Labor Day weekend, too—since I’m pretty sure I had to get up the next morning and drive the six hours to my parents’ cottage…), I’d definitely do it again. So find me a getaway van, and I’m in. Else, I guess I’ll just have to pick one or the other.

Tune in next week to see what happens…

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Friday, August 17, 2007


New at Since Last Week:

Don’t tell, but I’m skipping a screening right now, as I write this. Clearly, the hot, humid weather of the last few weeks (not to mention the fact that it’s August—and very little of note comes out in August) has left me feeling a bit sluggish. Lazy. Indifferent, even. And maybe just the tiniest bit burnt out. And I just couldn’t force myself to leave the office this morning to go and see something heavy and dramatic.

Actually, I’m starting to understand why studios release nothing but bad comedies in August—because, really, that’s all I feel like watching right now. I don’t feel like watching something long and dramatic. Just hook me up with something light and silly (and preferably short), and I’m good. And, fortunately, that’s what I got this week.

It all started on Tuesday morning, with the press screening of The Nanny Diaries.

As you might recall, I was a bit concerned last week about our pal, Kevin Carr, who left for Comic-Con and never came back. Fortunately, though, he arrived at the screening on Tuesday morning—all in one piece and sans prison tattoo. He was, however, very, very tan, having just returned from a cruise. He had to explain the whole thing to us, since most of us are completely unfamiliar with the concept of “vacation.”

To celebrate Kevin’s safe return, we decided that a special happy hour was in order. Since several of us were planning on heading to a screening of Superbad on Tuesday evening—and since that screening just happened to be taking place on campus, which, of course, is saturated with college bars—we figured that we’d head to the screening a bit early.

By the time my husband and I showed up (admittedly quite late), Bill and Kevin had secured a table on the bar’s upper patio. Bill had a glass and a pitcher of beer in front of him (he informed us it was his second pitcher). And Kevin had a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea with a straw in it.

“Look!” Kevin exclaimed as we sat down. “Two-dollar pitchers of Long Island! And they just bring it out with a straw!”

Since we were seeing Superbad that night, I figured it would probably be best if I drank as much as possible in the short amount of time remaining before the screening, so I immediately ordered my very own two-dollar pitcher (with a straw) and a couple of plates of appetizers.

Before we left the bar, Kevin managed to down a second pitcher (which, I swear, he drank in approximately 20 seconds). Then we carefully made our way down the stairs and across the sidewalk to the theater. Having just finished whole pitchers of drinks, we made a pitstop before heading into the theater and attempting to climb up the ridiculously uneven stairs to the seats that Jason and his girlfriend had saved for us.

As it turned out, I found myself wishing I’d had a second pitcher before the movie. Because while some of it was quite funny (especially anything involving McLovin), I wasn’t nearly drunk enough (and probably not nearly male enough) to find it absolutely, positively hilarious. The guy sitting next to my husband, on the other hand, was laughing so hard that, looking back, I wonder if, perhaps, he wasn’t laughing at all. Perhaps it was a seizure. Maybe we should have called 911.

Wednesday night’s screening, however, was more my style—and I hadn’t even been drinking. But Frank Oz’s new movie, Death at a Funeral is hilarious. And, clearly, it’s funny for viewers of all ages—because the senior citizens that made up the crowd at the screening seemed to love it just as much as I did.

Wednesday’s screening was held at a theater that rarely hosts evening screenings. And it’s probably just best that way. The last time I was there for an evening screening was back in December. It was my last screening of the month before leaving town for the holidays, and I made my way into a lobby that was packed with Red Hat Ladies, who multiplied by the minute, and who had obviously never been taught that (a) it’s not polite to shove people out of the way and (b) when you go inside the theater, it’s not polite to yell at your friends, who are seated on the other side of the theater.

This week’s screening wasn’t packed with Red Hat Ladies, though—or at least if they were Red Hat Ladies, they were incognito. But since the theater is in an older, wealthier part of town, the crowd was old. Very old. But if they were rich, they clearly weren’t refined, well-mannered, rich old people. They were loud. And pushy. And when they were let into the theater and took their seats around Neil, Kevin, and I, they got even louder. And pushier. And once the movie started, they seemed to get louder still.

We were clearly surrounded by Pepperpots. They reacted (loudly) to everything that took place in the trailers and in the movie. When the opening credits began, one woman behind us announced, for the whole theater to hear, “This is our movie now. It’s not another preview.”

They were, however, absolutely fascinated by the opening credits, which consist of a simple animation of a coffin traveling along a map. Occasionally, it would make a wrong turn, and it would then turn around and go back. It also went around roundabouts. To the Pepperpots, this was all wildly entertaining.

“They could have just done the whole movie this way, and these people would have loved it,” Neil pointed out to me.

As the movie continued, not only did we have to endure the constant chatter of the Pepper Pots (which, admittedly, gave us a near fatal case of the giggles), but I can’t even tell you how many times we were interrupted by the ringing of cell phones (if only those big guys with the night-vision goggles had been there!). There was also the guy behind us, who had some horrible illness, and who spent the majority of the film honking his schnozz into what sounded like a paper bag. All in all, it was so loud in that theater that I missed large portions of the dialogue. But the audience seemed to find it absolutely hilarious, so it must have been funny, right?

Really, you’d think that such a refined part of town would make for a refined crowd. But when it all comes down to it, I rank them second on the Obnoxious Scale—because they’re still slightly less obnoxious than the Balcony Brigade.

Other than this morning’s screening, that was it for the week. Things have been eerily quiet lately. We’ve had a few screenings—but lately, all the biggest releases haven’t been screening. This week, for instance, we saw Superbad and Death at a Funeral, but we didn’t get to see The Invasion or The Last Legion. If this continues, we may have to start doing what Kevin and Neil did on their show right before Kevin went on vacation: psychic reviews. We’re just going to have to start writing our reviews based on what we guess the movie is going to be like. Just for the record, I psychically give The Invasion a D+. And The Last Legion gets…a C+ (mostly just because Colin Firth is in it).

Next week is another ridiculously slow week. Apparently, there’s a screening on Tuesday—because I got a pass for it, even though it isn’t on any of our schedules. There’s also a screening on Thursday night—for a movie that doesn’t come out until late next month. And there’s an obscure documentary (I think that’s what it is) screening on Friday. But I guess that’s okay. It’ll give me time to catch up on the pile of DVDs that showed up yesterday morning…

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Friday, August 10, 2007

TGIA (Thank Goodness It’s August)

New Reviews on Since Last Time:
Rush Hour 3
Becoming Jane
Hot Rod

Last night, I finally did it—I finally pulled myself out of the giant, stinking pit of unwritten reviews. Thank goodness it’s August!

Mind you, in order to accomplish that task, I actually skipped two screenings this week. But hey, you do what you have to do. And now I’ve written reviews of every book I’ve read, every movie I’ve seen (though, of course, I still have that pile on my coffee table—but I’m getting through those, too), and every game I’ve played in recent weeks. My To Be Reviewed list is empty. And I can’t tell you how wonderful that feels. Last night, after I finished that last book review that I’d been putting off for much too long, I decided to celebrate by running out to the mall and buying myself a new pair of shorts (contrary to popular belief, I do actually wear them from time to time). But, of course, the shorts that I wanted—the ones that I already have in tan and wanted another pair in any other color—were no longer available in my size. There were three pairs of white shorts there, taunting me, all in ridiculous sizes, like 0 or 00 or something. I don’t think I’ve ever been a size 00—not even when I was in third grade. So that put a serious damper on my celebration. So I went home and mixed myself a drink instead.

But anyway, let’s go back to the beginning of the week….

As I mentioned earlier, I played a lot of hooky this week—so I only ended up going to two screenings. The first one was Rush Hour 3 on Monday night. It had been a hectic day, as Mondays usually are. But this Monday was made just a little more hectic by our camping weekend—which was a whole heck of a lot of fun, actually. Or at least it was right up until the point that it started raining. Did I say rain? I meant flash flood. And did I mention that we were in a tent? And that we got to our campsite late on Friday night—when it was dark—and we chose to set up the tent on the nicest, flattest part of the site, as opposed to the highest part of the site? So when I woke up on Sunday morning, we were, quite literally, floating. There was at least an inch—maybe two—of water under our tent. So we frantically got everything ready and packed it in our car (except the tent, of course—since we were hoping it would stop raining long enough for our tent to dry out before we took it down). Then we drove our car over to the motor home, where my brother and his family were just finishing their breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast while watching TV. We pretty much camped out in the motor home for most of the day, until it was time to leave—then the sun came out just in time for us to take down our sopping tent and throw it in garbage bags. And when we finally got home (after a longer-than-expected four-hour drive), we had to set up the tent in the garage to let it dry. So, yeah. We were a little beat come Monday.

Not only that, but I once again headed out to knitting on Monday afternoon. Over the last couple of weeks, I hadn’t had any kids show up to knit with me—so I ended up driving 20 minutes to get there, then waiting a half hour, then driving the 20 minutes back. This week, however, we decided that I’d just skip it—and if someone actually showed up, they could call me and I’d drive out. I was actually relieved not to have to make the trip—since I had lots of catching up to do and another screening at 7:30—but, of course, I got the call. So I packed up my knitting and my work and headed out. When I got out at 6, I rushed to the theater. Then, noticing that I was early, I stopped in at Old Navy—which began this whole obsession with buying new shorts.

So anyway, I made my way back to the theater and took some notes on a CD while waiting for my husband to show up. When he did, we made our way into the theater, just as they were starting to let in the general public.

It’s always interesting to see which kinds of movies draw which kinds of crowds—and Rush Hour 3 definitely drew the loudest and most obnoxious of crowds. Things were definitely rowdy before the screening started—and poor Jason ended up seated next to someone’s baby (who, actually, was probably better behaved than the rest of the crowd). When the DJs from the sponsoring radio station got up to do their spiel, the woman behind me kept yelling down at them, as though she were having a private conversation with them. That made me a little worried about the rest of the screening—since I was pretty sure I’d have to spend the movie struggling to hear Chris Tucker over the woman behind me (then again, I’m not sure which of the two would be more irritating).

But, as it turned out, the crazy woman behind me wasn’t the most irritating person in the theater. Surprise, surprise. The most irritating person in the theater was actually some guy in the very front, off to the left. The one with the Bluetooth headset, which he left on during the movie, which meant that there was a little blue flashing light, flashing, flashing, flashing all through the movie. I found it amazing, since security was especially heavy—and the big, burly security guys with their night-vision goggles kept harassing anyone who might possibly have a cell phone on them. But the flashing blue light on this guy’s Bluetooth…no big deal. I guess you can’t really pirate a movie with a Bluetooth headset. So no harm, no foul.

On Tuesday night, we were once again back at the theater for Stardust. I was on my own for the night, after having said hello and good-bye to my husband as he came home from work and I left to go back to it. So I got there in plenty of time to hang out before the screening and discuss Harry Potter and the crazy old lady who shows up at just about every screening, claiming to be press, even though she really isn’t. We call her Hazel. But perhaps her real name is Gert.

We also spent some time discussing the mysterious disappearance of Neil and Kevin, whom we haven’t seen since they left for Comic-Con. It appears as though Neil is actually still out there somewhere—though he tells me he’s spent the week attempting to recover from his journeys. But I have yet to hear from Kevin. My guess is that he ended up in a brawl of some sort (or an unsanctioned eating competition) with an angry geek and ended up in a California prison. And maybe now he’s still out there, hanging out with his new prison buddies, like Paris Hilton. And perhaps he has a prison tattoo on his head.

The more I think about it, the more worried I am for Kevin. So if you happen to run into a jolly fat, bald guy (with or without a prison tattoo on his head), could you please check to see if it’s Kevin? And if it is Kevin, could you tell him to let us know he’s okay? Thanks.

The Stardust screening was actually pretty empty—which is too bad, since it was such a fun movie. If you liked The Princess Bride (and who didn’t?), go see it.

So Wednesday was yet another screening of Superbad—but I chose to skip it, in favor of watching my husband’s last hockey game of the season. It was clearly an important game, since five other spectators showed up—which, I believe, might be a record. Two were probably dads—and they ended up getting bored and leaving early. One was a wife who spent half the game on her phone. And the other two were a player’s new bride and a friend, who didn’t shut up for a single second during the game (but if you’d like to hear about the wedding pictures or the bride’s job or her friend’s feelings on the upcoming school year, I can tell you all about those). As annoying as it was, though, it made me feel right at home. It was just like going to a screening.

Then, on Thursday, I was planning on another screening (really—I was totally planning on going to screenings Monday through Thursday night this week), but then I decided that I was so close to reaching my goal of breaking even that I’d just stay home and finish. I also did some laundry, which means that I actually have something other than old track pants to wear today. And then I went on an unsuccessful shopping trip, which still makes me just a little bit angry and bitter.

And now that I’m caught up, I decided to take the day to do fun stuff—stuff like watching all those DVDs that are waiting on my coffee table. Or like diving into that pile of books.

But, realistically, I’ll most likely end up spending the day attempting to wade through my overflowing inbox. Wish me luck—and if I’m not out by next Friday, call 911.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Down Time

New at Since Last Time:
The Bourne Ultimatum
Rescue Dawn
Talk to Me

It was a quiet week on the film front. Of course, I could have gone to screenings just about every night, if I’d wanted to. But, well, I didn’t. So sue me. I needed some time to catch up—and I’m almost there. If you don’t count the DVDs that I have piled up on my coffee table—the ones that I still need to watch—I’m only two more reviews away from being totally caught up. Just one book and one CD. And that, my friends, makes me happier than my morning cup of coffee.

So the only screening this week was on Tuesday night, for The Bourne Ultimatum. As I mentioned earlier, just about everyone went on Friday morning, so there weren’t many of us there—but just as we were pulling into our spot in the parking garage, Jason pulled up right next to us. He was just back from his Comic-Con adventure, so I couldn’t wait to hear the stories. He had some great stories about Christopher Walken and a birthday cake—not to mention the already infamous Kevin Smith roundtable discussion (which I’ve actually watched on YouTube since then). Mostly, though, Jason was just exhausted—which I totally understand, after spending four days at a film festival this spring.

For the screening on Tuesday night, we were at the theater with the balcony. For some reason, I keep going back to that balcony, despite the fact that I’ve had all kinds of horrible experiences with the other people who tend to sit in the balcony. All those times when people talked through the movie…or chatted on their phone…or repeatedly kicked the back of my seat—that was usually in the balcony. But still, for some reason, I still keep going back. Probably because I’m a glutton for punishment.

This week, the Balcony Bruisers were out in full force. Before the movie started, the radio station hosting the screening decided to do some sort of giveaway. In general, we film critics hate these giveaways—because taunting people who came out for a free movie with more free stuff is like giving a kid a nice big glass of Coke before bedtime. It’s just not a good idea. Personally, I would like people to calm down a bit before the movie starts. I would like them to sit down and shut up (and turn off their phones), so I can watch the movie without the extra soundtrack of excited conversations and ringing phones. Those giveaways, on the other hand, just get people up on their feet, yelling and screaming and jumping up and down (no, I’m not even kidding—it’s pretty sad, considering the people jumping up and down are usually grown men and women).

This time, they were giving away T-shirts and restaurant gift certificates. To win, you had to answer some sort of trivia question related to The Bourne Ultimatum. The girl doing the giveaway, however, was clearly new to this whole thing—and she didn’t realize that, as soon as she asked a question, everyone in the theater would be screaming out answers, and she’d have no way of knowing who got it right. So she changed the rules, telling people that they had to raise their hand and wait to be called upon before answering. But this, I’m afraid, was not second grade. This was a free movie. And there were people in the balcony.

After a couple of questions, the Balcony Brigade realized that they weren’t being called upon. They decided that that was because they just weren’t being loud enough. So they got louder. They yelled and screamed and hurled insults at the poor girl who was trying to maintain order and failing miserably. All she wanted to do was give away a few free T-shirts. Finally, she called on some loud, obnoxious kid in the balcony, who correctly answered her question. But when she told him to come on down to get his T-shirt, he said, “I’m not going down there. I’m eating popcorn.” So he made his friend go down and get it for him.

After that, however, it was wide open for the people in the balcony. They were actually called upon to answer questions (probably because they continued to get louder and more obnoxious, and the poor girl was afraid to ignore them). At one point, someone actually called out a cheer of “Let’s go, balcony!”

Yea! Go Team Balcony!

Fortunately, though, Team Balcony actually calmed down once the movie started. Or perhaps I was too distracted by my battle to keep dinner down to be distracted by the loud, obnoxious people around me. I don’t know why the heck Paul Greengrass feels the need to punish people for watching his movies, but he continues to do so. It was the same with The Bourne Supremacy, so I knew it was coming—but I’m pretty sure it took maybe five minutes until the shaky chase scenes had me squeezing my eyes closed in an attempt to calm my lurching stomach. About halfway through, my stomach actually went into convulsions. And by the end, when I had made it through the whole thing without throwing up even once, I felt like I deserved a medal of honor.

In my review, I pointed out that it seemed as though Greengrass put a cameraman on a child’s wagon and pulled him down a flight of stairs. But I believe I was incorrect in this statement. My friend pointed out that she saw a feature on the movie, and it was actually a wheelbarrow. I stand corrected.

So after making it through The Bourne Ultimatum (after which made my husband drive home—so I could keep my eyes shut—and then I turned in early, so I could sleep it off), I chose to skip Bratz: The Movie on Wednesday night. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, of course. I would have loved to see Bratz. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to it all summer. But I was still recovering.

Yeah, that’s it.

I was actually planning to catch one more screening this week—Thursday night’s screening of Superbad. Despite the fact that I’ve seen Hot Rod, and I know just how bad things can get (and don’t ever say “cool beans” to me—ever), I’m actually looking forward to it. But then, on Thursday afternoon, we got the call that our weekend camping trip (which was on the verge of cancellation) was, in fact, on. And that meant that we had to spend our whole night running to the store to buy lanterns and tarps and ropes and Doritos and steaks. You know. All the camping essentials. So Superbad will have to wait.

And now it’s time for me to get my stuff packed up. Though we’re tenting it, my brother and sister-in-law and the kids will be there in their air-conditioned motor home. So don’t feel too bad for me. I actually plan on spending the weekend watching my new Muppet Show DVD in air-conditioned comfort.

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