Thursday, July 23, 2009

Five People To Avoid At The Theater

We've seen a lot of movies recently. That usually tends to happen in the height of the Summer Blockbuster Season, when we go on vacation, and when we are able to purchase discounted tickets. The stars aligned these past months and all three of these factors came together to send us to the theater at least once a week for the past month (a lot, for our pay grade). It seems that every time we see another movie, we encounter several people who live to make the theater experience as frustrating as they can. Since I am generally too passive to do anything on the day, I choose to write scathingly about it later. Today I feel I have earned the right to rant since I actually "shushed" someone for the first time in the theater (before you get all up in arms, they were swearing and talking loudly throughout the film - which happened to be Harry Potter - and someone else had already shushed them once.) I've decided to outline several people I meet at the theater that almost make me want to wait for the DVD release.

1. The party people: The worst thing about this one is that they come in a group. Usually teenagers, usually high, they come in five minutes before the movie (which, thankfully, restricts them to the front row). They've usually smoked a copious amount of weed, or broken into their parents liquor cabinets to pre-drink vanilla vodka before the evenings main event, a PG movie and then calling the least observant parent to pick up the whole crew in their mini-van. They send a younger sibling trying to make the cut to save twelve seats, and then they saunter in and sprawl out with their snacks and huge purses (likely holding a two-six of sour puss) They make out, chit chat, and giggle, generally distracting the other paying patrons, and then whine about the lameness of the show upon their stumbling departure.

2. The Texter: You all know who I'm talking about, the problem is you likely ARE who I'm talking about. It seems like overnight it has become acceptable to text during a movie, since you're not making any noise. I've even witnessed a pre-show Rogers commercial that involved a girl texting her friend whilst mid-movie (can I just say EPIC Rogers FAIL, btw). Its NOT ok to use your cellphone at the movies. It lights up the whole theatre, distracting anyone behind you from the screen. I really don't want to know what you said to your boss, or how many shots of Patron you did last night, but if you're two rows down and whipping out your Blackberry so you can BBM your girlfriend, its hard to miss! I paid to watch the show, not to watch your social life drama unfold via Facebook, and you can Twitter your thoughts once you've seen the WHOLE movie. An extension of this are the people, who are audacious enough to answer their phone in the theater. This happened recently and I tried to give the offender the benefit of the doubt - maybe his wife was in labour? Then he said "Nothing, just watching this lame movie" and my grip on the arm rest increased tenfold.

3. The Critic: I have no problem with critics, especially when I agree with their thoughts. What I hate is the person who critiques the movie, during the movie, at a volume everyone in the general vicinity can hear. They subject you to their unenlightened thoughts, whining about plot points they didn't understand, asking what was said when the theater errupts into laughter and they were awakened from their mental slumber, then commenting on how unfunny the joke was. Lets keep it to ourselves, ok?

4. The Space Invader: I wish I was talking about martians who invade the theater with plans to capture and conquer (is "martian" even P.C. anymore?). I'm referring to the person who takes up their seat and half of yours when they sit down. I'm not discussing size here, its an attitude. Their elbow never vacates the shared armrest, and occasionally goes as far as your ribcage. Their shoulder veers to your side over and over, and their scent wafts into your bubble, causing your popcorn to taste of B.O., or worse CK One. This person often seems to be a smoker, and occasionally has a laugh to match their aura. Since I've gotten married and Derek graciously lets me take the aisle everytime, my encounters with the Space Invader has been limited of late.

and finally....

5. The Noisy Snacker: Don't be fooled, they come in all shapes and sizes. They usually sit in their seats, looking completely normal and harmless, talking in indoor voices until about fifteen minutes before the show time. You think you've lucked out and chosen a good seat, next to considerate neighbors. Then, they stand up. "Oh well, probably just taking a pre-film bathroom break" you think to yourself. Sadly, you are mistaken. You look up to see them returning at the last second, arms laden with popcorn, sodas, candy, sometimes even a five course meal. As the show starts, so too does the chomping, the rustling, and the slurping. They finally finish their popcorn and you breathe a sigh of relief; at least you can enjoy Act II in peace. No no, my friend, they still have sour patch kids, which they pull out of the rustling package, one by one, handing them up and down the row to their party, oblivious that all the other farm animals have had their dinner and made it to the barn by this point. I'm not ragging on everybody who gets a snack at the movies, I'd be in that category often enough, but these people have a specific talent for getting the most noise out of the smallest movements. Each bite echoes throughout the theater, coming through in THX complete with the added bonus of spit. Seriously? That's enough.

Clearly, I'm a rage-a-holic who should generally be kept in her cage, but it feels good to break out and howl at the moon every once in a while.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birth of the Haiku Movie Review

We have seen two movies in two days, not unheard of for us. Both films failed to fulfill all my hopes and dreams. Since time is short on my end these days, but I am clearly full of humble (read: loud) opinions, I joked that I should practice my haiku skills for reviewing films. Derek thought this was a great idea and coined the term "Haiku Movie Review". This is lovely since a haiku is traditionally five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third (though some examples vary) and this all fits neatly into a tweet. Obviously I am bastardizing the artful purpose of this poetic form, using it to serve my own purpose, but what artist has not stooped as low in their time?

The two movies we saw this weekend were Public Enemies and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Here are my respective #HaikuMovieReview(s):

Public Enemies:
Well acted and scored
True story pacing meets Mann
Too much handy-cam

Sub effects for plot
Comic relief overload
Why, Michael Bay, why?

Feel free to comment for further clarification, or to rage at my lack of respect for the art of poetry. With that, I bid you adieu.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Girl Who Cried "Art!"

Musing tonight about art and life. As I return from a much needed trip home, I'm struggling with the same old question. "If a tree falls in the forrest..." But my version goes more like this: Am I still an artist if nobody sees my paintings? Am I still a poet if nobody validates my iambic pentameter? What is it about the prospect of success that changes the value of my art?

I have no answers to these questions, except that I will always be at odds with myself in some respect. Part of me agrees with the fluffy-bunny-thought that I am an artist even if I am the only one who ever sees my work. By this right, even I choose to draw one legged stick figures for the rest of my life it is still art. The cynic in me, however, tells me that there are many people out there who think they are artists that would not even make it onto my creative waiting list. Both of these trains of thought are surprisingly egocentric. With the fuzzy-bunny version, I have the audacity to declare that anything I create is art, whether it is beautiful or not, valuable or not. With the cynical strain I have the condescension to judge whether what others create is worthy of being considered art. Both of these thoughts make me more uncomfortable with the amount of credit I am granting myself.

There is no conclusion here except to say that I cannot cure myself of the affliction that drives me to create. I cannot force myself not to think conceptually. It would take a serious amount of morphine to stop me from dreaming up ideas. So I will continue to hold out hope that I can create enough to satiate the desire, and that maybe someday someone else will condescend to give it that elusive title of "art".

If you were able to wade this far into my abstract post-vacation brain, you deserve a prize. Maybe next time, I'll have one for you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Hiatus Type Post

So, normally this is a writing-themed blog, however, since I am on vacation, so is my typical subject matter.

Tonight my sister-in-law and I made the (rather spontaneous) decision to cook a dinner of Chinese food, Canadian style, for the family. She rocked out the chicken chow mien, beef and broccoli, and my personal favorite, the hot and sour soup. I managed the szechuan green beans (if you have an issue with my spelling of szechuan take it up with Google) and the dumplings, as well as assisting with the rice, tea and various meat preparation tasks. All in all it was a great meal with a legendary amount of leftovers.

The reason I'm writing is not to tell you how awesome we are, though I could wax poetic on that topic for a while. While we were cooking, I noticed a paradigm shift taking place. We are currently staying with my in-laws, whom I have the good fortune to adore. When we began cooking, my lovely sister-in-law took it upon herself to banish her mother to the patio swing, promising she would seek her out if she had any questions regarding the location of the garlic grater. Minutes later, I followed suit with my grandmother in-law, who maintained she was just supervising. I succeeded in telling her this was not the case and she was to immediately go relax and allow us the chance to prove our worth in the kitchen.

The interesting thing was that it appeared very difficult for them to stay in the relaxation zone and allow the young (ha) ones to assert their culinary independence. Now that I have my own kitchen, I know the pain of relinquishing my space to someone who might get lost without a road map to my cupboard chaos. I can only imagine how these feelings may be multiplied by years of family dinner experience, Chinese cooking classes (it's true) and an overwhelming desire to nurture those who are only around for several weeks out of the year. Its interesting that something as simple as having dinner cooked for you can be an exercise in letting go; as well as in perspective, for those of us who are just beginning our foray into group cooking and entertaining.

Once you've had the joy of mothering three children, or becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother several times over you deserve a mammoth pile of respect. You know exactly when to time the rice, start the tea, boil the water, and who may or may not need an extra napkin at the table. You have years of dishwasher loading mojo on your side, and six different recipes for tiramisu, all of which turn out every single time. You've already achieved domestic-goddess-hood, mingled with career woman-dom, not to mention you've learned Facebook post empty nest. All these merit badges under your belt, and there is only one thing you find challenging: stepping back and allowing those you've successfully reared to show you what a great job you've done.

Why is it so hard for us to turn off that desire to suggest an alternate method, and allow someone to show us what we've taught them? Perhaps its the same reason that when I finish training someone at work, I still have the desire to coach them on anything they may choose to do differently (in my defense, I ignore this impulse as often as possible). Tonight was a lesson in letting go for two great moms, and a lesson in culinary timing for two eager daughters. I'm proud of us all for making it a spectacular evening all around.

We had a great dinner, and a great time together. Nobody got sent to the ER with food poisoning (yet), and my sister in law and I even carried our efforts into doing the dishes. To the casual onlooker, you never would have known what was boiling just beneath the surface. All this and a fortune cookie.