Don’t ask…

My wife is ill.

Living in America I should really say ‘my wife is sick’, but I can’t use that sentence without wanting to add ‘and twisted’ on the end.

So….my wife is ill.

Very ill actually.

She has spent most of the day – and last night – coughing, sneezing, throwing up and sporting a high temperature.  What;s even worse is the fact I had to cancel our 6:20pm showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

It’s such an emotional time.

Unfortunately I couldn’t cancel the tickets online with the same ease I booked them, so I had to put on outside clothing and drive to the cinema.

Sorry, ‘Movie Theatre’.

Sorry, ‘Movie Theater

(rolls eyes)

After a 35 minute drive I arrived at the cinema and headed into the noisy, bustling foyer.  I navigated the slow, shuffling popcorn munching morons and made a beeline for the box office desk.

The young girl behind the (bulletproof?) glass called me over and I pushed my pre-printed ticket under the glass towards her.

“I need to cancel these tickets; my wife is sick (and twisted) and so we can’t make the 6:30 showing”.

She smiled, took my tickets and proceeded to scan stuff and type things on her tiny little keyboard.

After a few seconds she said, “So I have to ask, where are you from?”

Did you have to ask?

“From Vegas, born and bred” I replied, with a smile.

She looked at me blankly, an emotion came across her face (ooer!) which I can only describe as bemusement.  No, wait….confusion; the word is confusion.

I decided to help her out.

“Just kidding, I’m originally from the UK”.

She smiled (out of relief mostly) and what followed were the usual questions of “How do you like it here?” and “How is it different from the UK?” etc.

After a minute or so of “I don’t miss the clouds and rain” and “Well, the TV over here sucks” she smiled again at me and slipped me my refund receipt.

Before I could thank her and leave, she hit me with this one…

“Let me ask you one more question; since you’ve been here what stereotype of Americans have you found not to be true?”

Wow, this was an interesting one.  Where do I start?

Actually, where DO I start?  I couldn’t think of a single stereotype off the top of my head and here I had this young girl smiling at me, expecting an answer…..an honest answer.

Naturally.

So I went with the most common stereotype; the one that is synonymous with Americans, known the world over.

“Well, there’s the stereotype that Americans are stupid…” I began.

Her face dropped.

The foyer fell silent.

I felt like that out of town stranger who had walked into a saloon in the Old West.  Even the popcorn had stopped mid-pop.

She looked mortified and started spouting some bollocks about the revolutionary war and the fact that it was actually the English fighting the English or something.  I tuned out to be honest.

Hey, she asked the question.  Be prepared for the answer.  Well, half the answer in this case.

Before I could say that I found that stereotype to be (mostly) untrue, she looked behind me and said “Next please”.

Oh dear.  Touch a nerve did I?

As I got in my car I smiled to myself as I nearly said, ‘Americans are very easily offended’.

Cunt.

See?

ron offended

Wait, she DID ask for an American stereotype that I had found not to be true…right?

Right?

Give me a sign…and I will point and laugh at it.

Yesterday I was in traffic, sat behind a truck that had the slogan:

‘Behind You All The Way’.

Ah, the irony.

I was on my way to see Star Wars Episode VII : The Force Awakens for the second time.

When I got to the cinema I realised I was extremely early (like I was keen to get there, for some reason) and my man date hadn’t arrived yet.  Out of boredom I began wandering around the child-filled lobby, raising suspicion with security.

My boredom took a breather when I saw this sign on the wall…

image

OK, so most of this is standard stuff about not bringing in your own food and switching off your phone…blah blah blah, but it was a little disturbing to read ‘no weapons’.

Does that include lightsabers?

It was scary to see that written on a sign that was NOT trying to be funny.  They meant it.  If you’re armed you’d better not mess with these people, they have a sign.  What do you have?

Oh, wait…

But my favourite part was that they felt it necessary to advise they WILL wake you up if you’re snoring, like it’s a regular thing.

This had me laughing out loud to myself.

Security began to close in.

This, combined with the contradictory truck logo, reminded me I had two or three amusing photos on my phone that I was saving for a potential blog post in the future.

Well, now this post is that post.

Enjoy.

image

On the back of a camping chair (and down the front of my pants)

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We need to protect the gaylords it seems….or are they there to protect us?

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TV show about your mother.

Thanksgiving…it’s not British don’t you know?

Today is Thanksgiving.

I’m at work.

“What??”, I hear you cry.

“On Thanksgiving!!??”, you continue.

But let’s be honest here, I’m English; I don’t give a shit about Thanksgiving.

It’s not that I dislike it or anything, but it’s just not something that’s been in my life, like tampons.

It’s there, and I’ve seen it on TV a lot, but that’s for someone else to deal with.

Plus, my side of the family are a little over 5100 miles away in England so we wouldn’t have been together anyway, enjoying a holiday none of us celebrates based on something that never happened in the UK and is entirely America in origin.

You’ll be surprised how many people have asked me if we celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK.

(shakes head sadly at the state of the education system)

It also baffles me why Americans think we celebrate the 4th of July over there too.

I suppose, if they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (Irish) and Halloween (Celtic), why wouldn’t we celebrate Independence Day?  After all, it’s a holiday that commemorates the United States’ independence from the British Empire.

missing you

Sounds a hoot.

In fact, I think I’m supposed to be offended.

But I’m not, because I don’t care.

Tampons.

The only 4th I celebrate is Star Wars day in May.  The nerd in me loves the pun.

To be honest, I seriously believe that no-one here knows why they celebrate the 4th of July, only that it has something to do with Will Smith.

will the fuck

The cinema ‘experience’ (Part 3)

Following on from parts one and two, here is the final category in why the cinema experience isn’t that great.

3. The Performance

Bearing in mind I left the comfort of my home to see a film, I still have some issues with the viewing experience. These are:

Retard Retail therapy

All the adverts.

SO many adverts.

The same adverts that we’ve seen on TV, but this time they’re the unedited, longer versions that we can’t avoid on the massive screen. Usually we’d ignore them at home by making tea, fast forwarding (if it’s a recorded program) or muting them entirely.

Not at the cinema.

Nope, here you have to endure it all in high definition with super loud digital surround sound.

Still boring.

sleep cinema

In addition to the adverts for cars, yoghurts, perfumes, mobile phones and alcohol (seriously, what exactly IS the demographic here?), they have at least 3 or 4 adverts about the cinema experience.

Eh?

It’s basically 10 minutes spent telling us how great it is to visit the cinema and how much you should go to the cinema and what to expect at the cinema…..WHILST YOU’RE SAT IN THE CINEMA!

Surely these are the adverts that should be on TV?  I really don’t understand the point of advertising a product to people who are already using it.

“Try Oxygen….it’s great!”

In addition, they advertise that “It’s not too late to grab a Coke from the foyer”.

This isn’t because you’ve forgotten to buy refreshments, but because you’ve already finished your drink during the 40 minutes of crap you’ve had to endure prior to the film.

Technical difficulties

Blurry screen, sound out of sync, all the lights staying on, lines and marks on the picture throughout, bad sound etc… I’ve experienced it all.

vhs

The daddy of technical fuck ups, however, was back when ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ was having its run back in 2013. I had already seen it in 3D, but I really wanted to see it again in IMAX so I decided to go to a late night showing [1].

The film got to around 10 minutes from the end when suddenly the screen went pitch black. The sound was still going on, but there were no visuals.

Never before has a film’s title been so appropriate.

After everyone in the cinema had heard the end of the film, a staff member came out and apologised.  He then said they were going to restart the film from the place we’d lost the picture.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and sat back to watch the last 10 minutes properly.

They started it from half way. The film is over 2 hours in length.

Bollocks.

I was getting tired, but I decided to Klingon until the end of the film.

(groan)

I eventually left the cinema around 2am.

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan…….ts

khaaaan!

The limbo moment

I hate this moment in movies.

It’s that span of silence between the BBFC film card…

HIAB BBFC

…and the first bit of anything actually happening on screen.

The reason I hate this is because people are unable to put away their phones or stop their inane conversations until something actually happens on screen to distract them.  They’re like fucking cavemen seeing fire for the first time.

“Duuuuuuh?”

Once something happens (dialogue, action, anything), their conversations die down and their phones (mostly) get put away.

It’s like distracting a crying baby with a set of jangling keys.

distracted

The only Limbo moment that I love (which always commands total silence in a cinema) is the one between the 20th Century Fox fanfare and the trumpet blast of the Star Wars opening Crawl.

That silence is gorgeous.

Then the ‘Lucasfilm’ logo comes up, sparkles for a bit and disappears, followed by the words: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”.

Without exception, I get goosebumps of anticipation every single time.

In fact, I’m getting them right now, just thinking about it.

I felt a pang of sadness when I heard that Disney had bought the franchise.  Not because I think they’ll make it all childish (after all, George Lucas was responsible for Jar Jar Binks and Disney did a great job with the Marvel franchise), but because I was going to miss the 20th Century Fox/Star Wars crawl combo.

Will we get that goosebump moment?

I really hope they open with an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon flying over (or through) the Disney castle at the beginning.

We’ll see.

Steamboat Starwars

Anyway, all this got me thinking about how I’d love the cinema experience to be.  How would I run the cinemas if I was calling the shots?

Well, here are the rules and regulations I would put into place:

  1. No mobile phones allowed in the screens. They will need to be checked in with staff, or switched off and inserted rectally.
  2. Only quiet foods allowed, such as Marshmallows or warm soup (hot soup would involve too much slurping).  All food will be served in bowls; nice quiet bowls.
  3. You can still have popcorn, but only as much as you can carry in your hands.
  4. Food prices will be reasonable, negating the need to sneak in your own (we all do it!)
  5. No talking.  Snipers with tranquiliser darts will be deployed in all screens.
  6. No babies in the screens.  Ever.  Babysitting services will be provided.
  7. Children will be allowed.  Snipers with lower dosage tranquiliser darts will be deployed in all screens.
  8. No adverts.  Plenty of trailers and previews of course.
  9. Large, soft, reclining seats with footrests.  Most will have vibrating massage features as standard.  Plenty of legroom.
  10. Allocated parking.  One vehicle per party.  If there’s a lot of you, hire a minivan.
  11. Friendly staff. Preferably film lovers and nerds.  All staff will be required to watch every movie with free food and drink provided.

That will do for starters, although I get the feeling I may have gone a bit too far here.

Oh well.

I don’t care.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the movies.

I love movies and I will always love movies.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever stop going to the cinema because, despite its shortcomings, it’s easy to forget all the hassle when you’re engrossed in a really good film.

One day I will find the perfect cinema experience (in a galaxy far, far away?), but until then my search will continue.

Fin.

[1] The best time to go to the cinema is for a VERY late showing, ideally around 11pm. Then it’s usually only you and some fat guy in a black t-shirt.  On this occasion there were a small handful, just like the popcorn in rule number 3.

When nerds collide

Today in Forbidden Planet a couple pushed past me; bickering over which of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the best.

He said “Leonardo obviously” and she insisted it was Raphael.

They were deadly serious.

Come on guys; they’re just fictional characters. They’re not real!

Pfft…nerds.

Besides, everyone knows R2-D2 is the best.

Teenage mutant ninja droid

Spoiler Alert! The butler did it!

Warning – This post contains spoilers for:

 

The Shawshank Redemption

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Titanic

I just want to make sure you know before you go on, although shame on you if you haven’t seen these films or read the books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, are you ready?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a massive lover of films/movies.  I love the variety of escapism they provide and relish any opportunity to sit down and watch one.

I love most genres of film, some more than others.  There are some movies in particular that require having a box of Kleenex to hand but I prefer to watch those alone if I’m honest.

I’m not going to go into detail about these types of films because it can be a little bit embarrassing to admit to, and it can also be considered a bit taboo especially if (as a man) you admit it to your friends.

My wife occasionally watches them with me and will sometimes hand me a Kleenex at the appropriate moment, but I still find it embarrassing as these movies don’t really have the same effect on her as they do on me.

But enough about films that make me cry.

I want to talk about something else entirely.

One of the things I love to do is re-watch a film/movie with someone who hasn’t seen it before. More often than not this happens after its run at the cinema and has since moved to DVD or BluRay.  I enjoy seeing someone go through the same range of emotions that I did when I first saw it.  It’s like watching it again for the first time.  However, there is a small nagging problem with this that really gets on my tits.

I shall elaborate.

This weekend my wife and I sat down to watch ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ as she had never seen it.  I was excited at the prospect of watching it again through her eyes and eagerly pulled the DVD from my extensive (and slightly nerdy) collection.  I inserted the disc into the machine and loaded it up.

The first thing that came up was the frustratingly unskippable copyright notice.  I did what everyone else does and started prodding at the remote control to skip it.  This of course never works; it just displays the words ‘This function cannot be performed here’.

I didn’t care.

I shouted “Come on you bastard!” whilst continuing to prod furiously at the button like someone stood waiting for a lift/elevator desperately holding in a massive poo.

Admit it; we’ve all been there.

So we waited.

And we waited.

Eventually, after about a week and a half, the words disappeared from the screen and the DVD menu finally appeared.

On this particular DVD menu  it wasn’t a static image with the usual choices of ‘play movie’, ‘scenes’, ‘extras’, etc., no, this was a slow loading animated menu with scenes from this awesome film playing in the background.  In fact, the first of these scenes was of the protagonist Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) crawling out of a sewage tunnel into a river during a stormy night with Shawshank prison in the background.

Yes, that’s right; the DVD menu had basically revealed the ending of the film.

What the fuck?

How is that allowed?

You don’t see the menu for ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ with Darth Vader saying “No, I am your father” to Luke Skywalker.   It would be an outrage to all of the remaining four people on the planet who still didn’t know.

In the same vein, you don’t see a picture of Severus Snape zapping Albus Dumbledore with his wand on the dust cover of ‘Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince’ with the words “Guess what happens on page 556?”!

So why have it on a DVD menu?

This really pisses me off.

My immediate reaction to seeing this was to jump up in front of the TV shouting “Look away LALALALALA Don’t look at the screen LALALALALA!!!” whilst fumbling for the button to ‘Play Movie’, but it was too late.

My wife had seen it.

Now she was aware that some guy escapes from Shawshank prison but she didn’t know who it was so I suppose there was still some mystery.  The mystery lasted right up until she saw Tim Robbins; a full 12 seconds into the film.

So, for 12 seconds it was a gripping thriller full of mystery and suspense.

And ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ isn’t the only DVD that does this.  There are so many DVD/BluRay releases out there that show key scenes at the menu, revealing plot points and endings.

In fact, the one film that couldn’t possibly have been spoiled by this idiocy was ‘Titanic’, which has a fucking static DVD menu!

Spoiler alert!  The ship hits an iceberg and sinks.

So this is a plea to the DVD/BluRay studios and distributors:

Stop being dicks.

Thank you.

StarWarsAnimated

May the farce be with you…

Whilst travelling on the tube this evening, I saw a poster for a phone network that had Yoda on a poolside diving board. Yoda!

It just didn’t sit right with me. Or maybe I should say: “sit right with me, it did not”.

Star Wars is sacred and awesome.

Fact.

I’ll even concede that the prequels, despite being nowhere near as good as the original trilogy, weren’t all bad…except for Jar Jar (I’sa wanting to punchy puncha da fishyfacey Binks betcha betcha). So to see the wise green Jedi master reduced to advertising talk plans makes me want to go all Bantha-shit crazy on their asses and shove a lightsaber up their thermal exhaust ports.

Come on George, have some dignity!

I’ve also seen Darth Vader advertising all sorts of shit in the past. Unless its Ventolin or black Turtle Wax, it’s not on!

I have a bad feeling about this.

So please don’t allow Chewbacca to start promoting hair straighteners, or Queen Amidala start advertising make up. It’ll break my heart.

And don’t even think about touching R2-D2; there will be blood.

Bleep bloop beep booweeeeee!

You said it R2.