since i'm working mostly nights, and when i get home i'm rarely ready to go to bed, i thought i would use those few extra hours to watch some movies that i have so frequently neglected recently. for example, in 2005, my year end chase summary told me that i had spent a little over eight hundred dollars at destinta movie theaters. it's not that hard to do. considering a movie ticket was 8:25 in 05. and my little brother did not work, so i usually paid for his tickets. but this year however, i have spent about sixteen dollars at the movies. the reasons i think are twofold. a few years back i used to get excited in may when the big budget blockbusters started cramming into the theaters one after another. the formula for these movies hasn't changed in years. a farm boy on a distant planet living with his uncle and aunt, a high school nerd living in queens with his aunt and uncle, a group of mutants living in new york (with a bald, paralyzed man). essentially these figures overcome there fears of the outside world and shape it for the better blah, blah, blah. Netflix is the second reason.
and on a side note, there's only about a three to four month difference between release in theater and dvd. the only movies that have gotten me out of the house thus far this year have been watchmen and adventureland. both well done films in their own right, though i feel i need to see them both again. watchmen hopefully will eventually bring downfall to the superhero film genre as it has both been overused and cliche since sam raimi followed bryan singer's lead in 02. adventureland on the other hand was a magnificent coming of age story, with special focus on that whole after college thing.
and since acquiring netflix, i've just found it profoundly easier on both the wallet and sanity. instead of trying to fight opening weekend crowds for the "perfect seat", i can relax in my living room, smoke some pot, and chill.
so, night falls on canonsburg. there's the occasional musings of a drunken man in the hallway of my apartment around this time. they yell at each other back and forth, laughing and screaming. a temporary skirmish sometimes breaks out and they begin to fight. these are usually a test of who has the bigger balls though. and i'm left to choose between one hundred and seventy movies. the number keeps increasing thanks to a little known media center hack. “little known” but it is actually becoming quite popular.
however, for a time, my ideal collection, was a shelf full of dvd's that would eventually gain dust, as the time to watch them became less and less. than this idea of ripping and returning was brought before me, and has completely changed the way I keep a dvd library. granted it's illegal, but i like to think as an early adopter of the dvd format, and the countless thousands of dollars i've spent at the movies and purchasing dvd's, the film industry can look the other way on this one. Maybe not.
my time off from work awarded me ample opportunity to go through and watch these movies. however for some reason or the other i began watching TV. shows that have been on for a couple of years, but that i never had time to watch because i was working or... i was probably working. the office, lost, battlestar galactica. but now i've made my run through them i'm ready to return to movies. even though i'll be able to follow tv more closely now. but it's summer and everything goes on break until the fall.
so the first film i watched was the life aquatic with steve zissou. this was my favorite film of 04. i saw it three separate times at the theater, i was so much in love with it at the time. watching it a few nights ago, i forgot some of the more hilarious moments. bill murray returns from smoking a joint and his producer comes to greet him. murray remarks that "this is probably his son ned, we just met." in another scene murray is talking to his long lost son and apologizes saying "i'm sorry i didn't acknowledge your existense all these years... it won't happen again. i promise." it wasn't well received by the fans of wes andersen's previous films. although i personally feel this is his strongest film ever.
On yet another side note, I did in fact purchase the amazon kindle. This is related to the next set of movies. I've had the device for a little over a month and trudged my way through three books during that time. It's an impressive little machine. It's not like reading on a computer screen at all and very closely imitates the look of printed text. The only downfall to this device is the price of books. They are cheaper, enough to warrant the purchase in my opinion, but they aren't nearly as cheap as they should be. There is no production cost related with them, and therefor publishers and authors are making bank off the books right now. I've read that this is due to the low adoption rate of e readers and that as more people buy kindles and sony e readers the price is bound to drop. However, a standard book is four to five dollars cheaper. You save there, and on the the price of actually having to drive to the store. I'm currently working my way towards the finale of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. But I've been debating on which book I want to read next.
Which brings me to the next movie I watched. Since moving in here, annually I watch the Star Wars Saga. Not on any sort of dead set time line, but I usually begin by watching Empire and slowly work my way through the series. By the end, I shudder at Hayden Christensen's so called acting, and George Lucas's so called scripts. However, I haven't watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in it's entirety in any shape or form since before I moved out of my parent's house. I own all the movies, and their extended editions. Yet I haven't watched a good Rings trilogy is five years.
I find this disturbing. At least one person alive can attest to the effect those films had on me during my useless, loathing high school years. In a way, they were the most important part of my adolescence. The stories and characters contained within were more real than the white, republican, god fearing people of peters twp. And so I started with Fellowship.
I've fallen asleep on it, and it took me three nights to watch it, but it reminded me of high school. Except I don't remember being as impressed with it as I am now. The sheer brilliance and awe of Peter Jackson's trilogy need no introduction, nor do they need to be reviewed yet again. They ushered in the sword and sandal epics of the past few years. They redefined what was commercially and economically possible in terms of shooting films. The idea of back to back sequels has been imitated redundantly since these movies were made. The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean. But those sequels were epic let downs. Jackson's film progressively pushed the boundaries and never sacrificed good story telling in the process.
But it helped me decided what to purchase next for the Ole kindle. In the midst of the night I downloaded Tolkien's Rings books and will brave them after I am finished with the Dark Tower. I read these books once, but was at an age too young to appreciate the full complexity and genius of such a work. Too young to realize why those books are so important.
I started Two Towers the other night, and have now fallen asleep on it twice. I figure it will take me three nights to watch Return of the King. But breaking it down has it's upsides.
On yet another night I watched the Wrestler. The movie had been hyped and talked about and reviewed and appeared on many top ten lists. But for me Mickey Rourke was just that guy who played Marv in Sin City. I'm in now way familiar with his career and these two movies are the only ones I can safely say I have seen him in. But I read a Maxim article on his turbulent career, with it's ups and downs. It talked about how he quit acting in the early nineties and pursued a boxing career. I also read that directors didn't like to work with him as they found him difficult to manage.
So I approached this film with some caution, not expecting to walk away both troubled and moved. And like so many movies I begin watching this way, this one did in fact do just that. Rourke's portrayal of Randy “the Ram” Robinson was so on target, so to the letter that I forgot all about Rourke in general and became absorbed completely. The Wrestler appears to start in the shadow of a fading star, until you realize that the star has faded and the shadow of his legacy that is trailing him is also fading. It goes from drama to a troubling philosophical tale about aesthetics and stardom. At times we don't know whether to feel sorry for “The Ram” or simply feel sorry for the people around him. “The Ram” is clinging on to the last vestibules of starlight that he can grasp, spending a fortune to keep in shape and looking good, all the while his entire world, that makes him human is crumbling down around him. It was a fantastic character study. And one of the best films I have seen this year.
My tastes in movies and fiction have been changing over these last two years. I'll still always love the summer blockbusters. They are pleasing on the eyes (Megan Fox-Transformers-need I say more) But I cringe at the thought of Michael Bay behind the camera. I often mock the dialogue in these movies, with nothing but contempt (Remember Darth Vader's infamous “NOOOOOOOO!!! in the end of Revenge of the Sith). Or I suppose I can sigh at the thought of another Will Ferrell comedy.
Also if it's not to much trouble, I'd like to discuss work for a minute. I have been back to work for a little over four weeks now. Humorously, I worked briefly at Primanti Bros on Steubenville Pike. I'm not exactly sure what I expected when I applied there. Within the first ten minutes of starting I realized I had make a huge mistake. It reminded me of working at Subway, with beer. For example, on my first day I was asked to come in at ten in the morning and work their Friday lunch shift. I arrived around ten minutes early. I was introduced around and shown the place from 9:50 to 10:00. At 10:01 my only thought was “what the fuck was I thinking?”
I've visited Primanti brothers both drunk and high. Never sober. Well, maybe once. I had been drinking that day, but I'm sure I was coherent enough to make a decision to go in there. It seemed chill enough, but everything seems pretty chill after you've hit the bowl, right?
Instead of giving me something to do, I was sort of shuffled around for the first hour. It was during this time that I was shown how to punch french fries. I've done this before. At Atria's. I talked with the man who was punching them. A lady at a meat slicer kept eyeballing me, and it started to creep me out. I introduced myself and she told me her name was Rita, SHE WAS THE PREP LADY. She declared this with such authority, like I was trying to take the job from her. In all honesty she scared me. So I returned my attention to the man punching fries. He told me he had worked there about two years. Then he pulled back the side of his cheek and revealed a tooth he had pulled himself. With a pair of pliers. The next thing that took over was combo laughing/insanity. I saw myself here for the next few years, envisioned what it would be like to become a seasoned veteran of the Primanti Bros. Empire and decided it just simply was not for me. Right then and there, I knew this wasn't going to last.
But what choice did I have. All I've read about recently was this economy in shambles. Unemployment, banking, housing. All those things hit me, and I realized nevertheless I needed to keep working. There were still several applications out and about and I just had to hope that someone would call me.
While at Applebees, I witnessed one person cut themselves. The kid was a screwup in his own right, and nobody was really surprised. The first cut I witnessed at Primanti's was the very next day. I was in charge of making coleslaw. For those of you who have never made nine or ten five gallon buckets of coleslaw, I honestly would say, Give it a try. The recipe, I was told, would take a few weeks to learn. This was misinformation, because I saw it once five weeks ago and I still remember it. While chopping the hundred or so required heads of cabbage for this recipe, my workmate cut himself something fierce. Rita, THE PREP LADY, luckily had some sort of powder that she put on the cut. It was essentially gunpowder because it cauterized the wound. My workmate agonized over the pain from the powder for the next half an hour or so. I've never seen color leave someone's face but this dude went pale white. I couldn't believe my eyes.
On another night, one of the managers was giving a demonstration on how to clean the fryers. It's really difficult (sarcasm). He was using a razor blade like an asshole trying to scrape dried old fryer grease from the back of the fryer. Showing off, know it all kinda attitude. And then wouldn't you know it, he digs deep into his pointer finger with the fucking thing. I couldn't believe my eyes. Never mind where the blood went. Just don't eat at Primanti brothers.
This was all during my finals week at school. The placed closed at midnight during the week, and two in the morning on the weekends. It was the next day I was off that I realized just how much like Subway that place was. On Thursday I got a call asking if I could work. On Friday I got a call asking if I could work. On Saturday I got a call asking if I could work. I've seen this before. And I didn't like where it went then.
Never mind the 7.15 pay. Never mind the regression and the few years actual cooking experience. Never mind it all. But I was working. What choice did I have?
As luck would have it, someone did call me. I applied at another restaurant in the Robinson region, and wasted no time starting there instead. I was back up to ten dollars an hour. My brief stint at Primanti's was over, but will not be forgotten because it had an interesting effect on me.
I've been working since I was thirteen as previously stated. I had a job, that I probably should have waited to get and thrust myself into that working environment. And Subway, because of their staffing problems, just worked me endlessly. But I was paid more and more as time went on, and in effect, personally, creatively, and financially I hit the plateau there. There was no getting any higher, aside from buying the place. Nor did I have any desire to creep up the management ladder there. Some ladders lead to interesting places. Like a ladder in the barn leading to a loft where you lose your virginity with your high school sweetheart. The ladder at Subway was equivalent to the ladder you use to clean your gutters. Once you get up there all you see is pile of decaying shit.
Primanti's reminded me that no matter where I go, the end result is going to be the same. I'm fairly happy with my new job, but in time boredom and the dull decay of variability will take hold. I'll begin to look at the walls less a workspace and more as a prison. Some jobs take a little more time, Primanti's only took a few short minutes.
But I also recognize the utter immaturity involved in quitting a job, with no future or prospects hanging in the balance. I respect the idea of capitalism, I respect the give and take, the work and succeed. I want to contribute to a society, and be useful. But there is a difference, a big difference, between being useful and being used.
Scott and I the other night got stoned and made some egg McScooter's. A late night version of the McDonald's classic. We ate them and laughed and discussed political philosophy, economic philosophy, and growing up. I had this to say on growing up. “You're whole young life, you just can't wait to be older. To be independent and live your own life. And then when you get there you're like 'Seriously... This is it?'”