Friday, April 11, 2008

Dreams and Nightmares

New on Since Last Time:
Smart People

(Don’t forget: for ITCS and more entertainment stuff, check out the blog.)

This week has been a strange week for my subconscious. Last night, for instance, I had a dream that I was in an ongoing feud with Sarah Jessica Parker. I suppose I am, really—but it’s not really one that she knows about. So I guess that doesn’t really make it a feud, does it? Maybe just a grudge.

Anyway, it was a quiet week for screenings this week—which isn’t a good thing, when I’ve got a radio show to do. John’s enjoying himself in Greece, leaving me to cover the show during a couple of weeks of late-week screenings—or no screenings at all. Fortunately, this week’s show wasn’t too difficult to cover. We saw Smart People a while ago, and I jumped in with a week-old movie—The Ruins. But that’s another story for later in the post.

The first screening of the week wasn’t until Wednesday night. Everyone was heading to see Street Kings, the new Keanu Reeves cop movie, when we got an email about that Zombie Strippers screening we’d all been so looking forward to. It was going to be an evening screening—not a morning screening—and it was going to be Thursday night. Now, that wouldn’t have been a problem if I didn’t already have tickets to see Avenue Q on Thursday night with David and Deb. David and I were, naturally, devastated. But the show must go on.

But anyway…back to Street Kings. When my husband and I arrived at the theater, our usual waiting area in the hallway was empty. It’s rare that we’re the first to arrive, but no one else was there—or so we thought. A few minutes later, some of the theater staff came out to tell the rep (in a not-so-pleasant tone of voice) that there were already a few members of the press inside. After lots of finger-pointing and discussing who allowed the press to just wander into theaters all willy-nilly, they let us in, too. And, as it turns out, two of those renegade press members were David and Jason—who already had our usual seats staked out. So we wandered over and settled in for the long haul. As we were doing so, the rep came along and complained that we’d taken her seats. And we were all pretty stunned. (And David, the only one who wasn’t stunned speechless, replied, “No, you always take our seats.”)

You see, the press is a pretty important part of these screenings. There’s a reason why we’re allowed in early, before the general public. There’s a reason why we have a few seats reserved, in case we show up a bit later. It’s because, in a small way, we’re supposed to be accommodated. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we get our own private boxes with reclining seats or anything. It doesn’t mean that we get free bottles of champagne—or even free sodas, for that matter. We just get to have our seats. For the most part, we work with the reps, and they work with us. We don’t ask for much, really. And we generally like the reps—some of them, we even adore. But we were pretty shocked by this one.

You see, this rep, who was accusing us of taking her seats is notorious for going in before we’re allowed into the theater to reserve the seats where she knows we usually sit for herself and her various friends and family members. She’s been known to save very few seats for press—which once resulted in us having to take random seats in the far corners of the theater for a summer blockbuster. If I recall correctly, she was also a part of The Great I Am Legend Fiasco. Now, she’s not the norm. Most reps are wonderful. Sure, they bring family and/or friends, but they don’t bring whole herds. And they tend to know where we like to sit, so they save seats accordingly—which is why the seats in the middle of the top row are typically reserved for Joyce and Rico, and the seats on the right, toward the front, are saved for John and Clay, and the seats at the front of the upper section, in the middle of the row, are generally reserved for the Internet Mavericks. There’s just this one rep who doesn’t seem to care. She also tends to get a bit snippy without really thinking. For instance, she once yelled at David for sitting in a press seat—even though, um, he’s press.

Now, it’s our job to see the movie. To take it all in. To see as much as we can and report back to our readers/listeners. We all have our ideas of where/how we like to watch movies. Some people like to sit up front; some people like to sit in the back; some people like to sit in the middle. I, for instance, tend to get sick if I sit too close. So all we ask, really, is to be able to sit where we feel we get the best experience. In fact, we even show up early so we can get those seats.

On the other hand, the rep’s job is to make sure that the screening goes smoothly—that the press get their seats, that the right number of people get into the screening, and that, generally, people are happy. Once the movie starts, the rep’s job is to keep track of the audience’s reactions to the movie. (And the rep in question, incidentally, keeps track of these reactions using the light of a cell phone or a bright, light-up pen, which inevitably blinds anyone who’s sitting nearby.)

Now, I really try not to let my general experience effect my review—but I will admit that being snapped at…and/or not getting a decent seat, even when I show up 45 minutes early…and/or being blinded by a rep’s cell phone every couple of minutes during the movie does tend to make me pretty cranky. Most of the time, I just try to suck it up and deal—but, sheesh…don’t complain when I sit in the seat that I’m completely entitled to sit in (and that I always sit in). That’s just not cool.

Incidentally, it wasn’t really because of the blinding light and the snippy rep that I didn’t like Street Kings. Mostly, it was because I was bored. And I think Neil said it best when he pointed out that it was just one soundtrack change away from the greatest comedy of the year.

But anyway…enough of my whining and complaining. I’ve gotten this week’s diva moment out of my system (I feel much better, thanks), and now I can move on.

When I got back from the screening on Wednesday night, I had a radio script waiting for me. Since I’m beyond this week’s diva moment, I’m not going to say a single thing about the fact that it didn’t show up until less than 12 hours before we were supposed to start recording. I will, however, point out that the whole thing made me very, very nervous.

You see, this week, with John on vacation and all, Clay and I were on our own. This was all very new to us—since (a) Clay and I had never done the show with just the two of us, and (b) John is usually the one who handles the technical side of the show. So this would be the first time that I was responsible for editing the show solo—and it would also be the first time that Clay and I did the show…um, duo. To further complicate things, we were on a pretty tight timeline. Our studio time started at 9, and we had a screening starting at 11. Yeah, two hours may seem like a whole lot of time to do a five-minute radio show, but that’s not always the case. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but remember the time that John and I didn’t leave the studio until after noon—and that was when John was handling all the technical stuff, as opposed to some relatively clueless newbie. Oh, and I also didn’t get the script until I got back from my screening, which didn’t give me a whole lot of time to feel settled into the show.

Thus, sleeping on Wednesday night required slight medicinal assistance. And I kept waking up, shaken by nightmares about the show. In one, we got into the studio, and it was covered in giant bugs—and they kept changing into new and equally horrifying bugs. Big, fuzzy caterpillars. Giant ladybugs. Huge spiders. Creepy-crawly beetles. And this all made it very difficult to calmly record and edit a show. In another dream, I discovered that Clay had decided to bring in two pretty young girls to appear on the show with us (for those of you who know Clay, this isn’t much of a stretch). Unfortunately, these girls couldn’t write, and they were impossible to work with. That, and they were pretty much brain-dead. And, well, there’s barely room for three on the show—so four is right out. So by the time we were supposed to leave for the screening, we hadn’t gotten anything yet, so we just packed up and left anyway.

Needless to say, I didn’t exactly wake up feeling calm and well-rested on Thursday morning. Mostly, I was tired and shaky. But I scarfed down my breakfast, gathered the necessary notes, and made my way into rush hour traffic to meet Clay at the station.

Fortunately, none of my nightmares came true. There weren’t any giant bugs or young bimbos in the studio. The editing actually went quite smoothly. And we were out of the studio in plenty of time to enjoy some coffee and a scone before the screening started at 11.

However, I think Clay’s dream may have come true that morning. Instead of the usual male-dominated crowd at the screening, it was all women…and Clay. I was there, along with Lori and Hope and our lovely rep, Brook. Even Joyce showed up sans Rico. Of course, as David pointed out to me later, we were all much too old for Clay. But it’s a start.

The movie of the day was The Counterfeiters. The guys didn’t show up because they weren’t in the mood for another Holocaust movie—but they missed out. It was a wonderful movie.

Then, on Thursday night, as the rest of the gang made their way to the bar for pre-movie libations, my husband and I picked up a pizza and headed to David and Deb’s for our pre-show meal. We were a bit bummed about missing Zombie Strippers, but, as it turns out, Avenue Q was well worth it. So I guess I don’t feel so bad anymore. There’s always DVD.

Today, I got to deal with one of the other issues that one faces in doing a scheduled radio show: release date changes. On the site, it’s not really a big deal if a movie gets bumped. Sure, I tend to create my schedule in advance, but I can just do a little switcheroo and move on. Sometimes it’s a bit inconvenient—but not often. All that changes, however, when you’ve got to plan for a radio show. For instance, I spent this morning trying to pull together my thoughts on The Counterfeiters. Then, this afternoon, I got an email to let me know that it had been bumped another week. Then there was this whole thing about having a screening on Tuesday morning—when we’d already had something else scheduled for Tuesday morning. So we settled on Monday morning instead and called it good. So, when the smoke had cleared, I called Clay and roused him from his nap to rework next week’s show for the second time this week.

Clearly, Clay and I have learned a lot about each other this week—much in the same way that newlyweds return from their honeymoon, only to discover that her new husband leaves his dirty underwear on the floor and his new wife puts the toilet paper roll on upside-down. This week, I’ve learned that Clay gets his scripts in at the last minute, and Clay has learned that I tend to be a detail-obsessed ball of stress. Fortunately, we still love each other anyway. At least for this week.

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