Best TV Show That I Just Watched

Best TV Show That I Just Watched
Parks & Recreation

Friday, November 22, 2013

A few hints as you go to the movie theater

I have now been working at the box office of a movie theater for a little over a year. During that time, I have weathered all of the holidays once and the opening weekends (and usually the Thursday night premieres) of films such as Skyfall, Breaking Dawn Part 2, Life of Pi, Hobbit, Les Miserables, Iron man 3, Despicable me 2, Fast & the Furious 6, Instructions Not Included (a huge film for my theater) and many more. Here are just a few tips as you go to the theater this weekend, next weekend, during the holiday season, whenever, to make it easier for both you and the person who is helping you at the register.
The movie theater should be a place of enjoyment for all of those people involved. While I understand that sometimes there are issues that are beyond the control of the customer, more often than not, if mutual respect is shown for the employees of the theater and for the other guests as well (an this goes for both sides of the counter), a theatrical experience can be mostly stress free for all involved.

What this all boils down to is: please use common sense.

1- Please do not come up and yell at us that "our website said such and such". I check our website every day that I am working so that I know exactly what it says and what it doesn't say. With very few exceptions, the problems are almost always user error.
1a-Last night, for example, we had a 5 pm showing of the original Hunger Games and then our showings of Catching Fire started at 8pm. We had about 20 people buy tickets to the original, thinking that they were seeing the sequel earlier than anyone else. It was far from a packed showing, but, after the movie started, they came out and wanted a refund and every single one said, "Your website did not say it was the original". While it is true that it did not specifically say "The original Hunger Games", our website only had the one showtime for it, showed the poster of the original and, next to the poster and the one showtime had the listing- Hunger Games- 2012. If you are still confused, it is your own fault.
1b- Many times, people say that it is "our website" and when we ask them what website they used, they will say Flixster, Fandango,, or many other websites. While we do send our showtimes to these sites, more times than not, they get them wrong or do not list them as specifically as we do and seperate them into IMAX, 2D, 3D, etc.
1c- Even if it is the website of my company, they will often be looking at a different theater in my chain and they will tell us that the website showed that we had a showtime at 1030 in IMAX. I ask them to show it to me, and the top of the page clearly shows that it is for the different theater.

2- For a very busy movie, please make sure you have your ticket and do not throw it away. I had about 10 people last night come up to me and tell me they threw their ticket away and I needed to print them another one. Guess what? Once you buy a ticket and it is handed to you, it is your responsibility to keep it and hand it to the guy at the podium as you enter the theater. Please do not yell at me and tell me that you are going to be late for your show because you threw your ticket away. I will do my best to help you, but please do not try to make me responsible for your mistake. Luckily, in each case last night, the customer came back to me almost immediately after having purchased the tickets and the seats that they had chosen were in easy spots to remember where they were sitting, but this is not always the case.

3- Do not make up a version of events to hide your error. When you tell me that you purchased 13 tickets and you know that you purchased 13 tickets because you just did it at our automatic ticket machines and the machine only gave you 10 tickets and that I need to find some way to make sure that you get all 13 of your tickets, please try to remember that you actually only bought 10 of them and your friend purchased 3 at the machine next to you. We have ways to check to see if the card has ever been used and if it was declined or if it went through and how much the transaction was for so we know how many tickets were purchased.

4- Please do not have an argument with your moviegoing partner in front of the cashier and hold up the line. It is very uncomfortable for us to stand there with a smile on our face attempting to help you while you are throwing a fit that you have already seen that movie, or you don't want to see this movie, or you paid for dinner and you sure aren't going to pay for the movie as well, or any of the number of other arguments that I have witnessed.

5. If you are going with a bunch of friends to the same film and you want to sit together but you are paying seperately and the theater has reserved seating, you can all come to the same cashier so that you are not blocking every single cashier while you are all running back and forth from station to station trying to decide where to sit. At my theater, we can seperate out the payments. Even if this is not the case, you may go to the same cashier who can make each transaction very quickly since that cashier knows where you have all chosen to sit.
5a- If you are going to the same movie, and you are paying seperately, and you all have exact change, just give one person all of the money and have them pay for all of the seats all at once.

6- If you are standing in line to buy tickets for a moment, and you know what you want to see, and you know that you have a rewards card and you know how you want to pay for it, please have the rewards card and your payment method out and ready to hand to me. It makes it go faster for everybody else and gets you out of the line faster as well.

7- Please make decisions quickly and voice your opinions. If you do not know what movie you want to see, please do not clog up the cashier station while trying to decide. We are more than happy to answer questions, but, just as when a couple is having an argument in front of me and all I can do is stand and smile and watch as the people in line get more and more impatient, the same thing happens here. If you have an opinion on where you want to sit or what movie you want to see, please voice it to your moviegoing partner. Do not say "I don't care where we sit" or "I'll see whatever you want to to see" and then complain as your moviegoing partner makes the decisions and say, "But I don't like to sit there" or "I don't want to see that."

8- Please do not complain to us if you have a specific seat that you like to sit in and that seat is already taken. If it has been purchased, it is no longer available. Please do not ask me if the previous customer could move down one seat. You may ask them once you enter the theater, but the other person got their seats first, so they have the right to say no. Also, if the seat is no longer available, all that I can do is recommend a different showtime that has that seat available in it. The early bird gets the worm. This is especially troublesome if it is already 15 or 20 minutes after the movie has started.

9- If you have a large group and want to ensure that you can sit together, it is best to get your seats early. And no, 10 minutes before showtime of the big new release is not what I would consider early. Last year, on Christmas Day, I had a family of 37 people who wanted to see a 7 pm showing of Les Miserables (a very popular movie on Christmas day last year) and wanted to be able to take 2 entire rows in the exact middle of the theater to sit together. They were shocked, appalled and told me that I had ruined their entire Christmas Day by not allowing them to do so. Now, it wasn't that I was not "allowing" them to do so. It was that the showtime was sold out and they had arrived at 730- half an hour past the start of the showtime that they wanted to see. This probably would have been an impossible request for most any film on most any day.

10- Please do not try to make it sothat there will be no one sitting next to you, in front of you, or behind you- especially on an opening weekend. If seats are going fast, do not try to leave a seat between you and another guest. If this is done, that single seat will usually not sell. I have a great way to almost guarantee that I have no one anywhere around me- I sit on the front row center seat. If you do not like this option, you will more than likely have people around you.

11- The Golden Rule- Treat Others as You Wish to Be Treated. If it annoys you when people talk during a movie, do not talk during the movie. If you don't like it when people kick the back of your seat, please do not kick the backs of chairs in front of you. Again, please use common courtesy and it will be a better experience for all of us.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Commentary tracks

On Facebook, a friend of mine asked how often I listen to commentary tracks. Instead of clogging up her other post discussion (which involved the music of How To Train Your Dragon by john Powell, which I LLOVE), I decided to write a post.

In general, I would say that I listen to about half of the commentary tracks that I have on disc. Yes, I watch a lot of movies and have a lot of discs, but I still find time to have them going in the background quite a bit.

There are several different types of commentary tracks and each one can have its merits. But, here is how I gauge what I llisten to:

Who is on the track? If there is someone of whom I am a huge fan of their work, I will listen to the track, no matter what, with one exception. I love the work of Tim Burton, but he cannot do commentary tracks alone. If he has someone with him, he is better, but alone, he gives amazing nuggets like this actual quote from the Sleepy Hollow Commentary track: "In this scene, I decided to have Johnny wear black." WoW!
I have listened to tracks by sound designers like Ben Burtt who explains that he made this sound by dropping strawberry Jello through fishnet stockings into kitty litter while he was standing exactly 7 1/2 feet up. I love geeks no matter what department they are in!
Danny Elfman on the Pee Wees Big Adventure track states that one particular piece that he had written for a harmonica was tested by many different professionals and told that it was too fast, too many notes and could not be done. Then, a guy came in and did it in one take. Great stuff! Elfman is usually good for the first hour of his tracks, but he usually runs out of things to say near the end.
Ben Affleck- say what you will about the guy, but he is hysterical! His commentary tracks on Pearl harbor, Armageddon, and Mallrats are some of the funniest things that I have ever heard and proves that he does not take himself too seriously.
Kevin Smith- the Mallrats comentary is one of the best around since it is a party atmosphere and is very funny all the way through. In fact, one of the jokes on the track makes it into the Jay and Silent bob Strike Back feature film. Kevin usually has a bunch of different commetaries on his films- one is usually more technical where he is very honest about filmmaking, and the other is like a fun party track.
Weird Al Yankovic does a great track on UHF where he gives actual addresses of the locations used and tells a lot of funny stories as well as how difficult is was to get the film made.
John carpenter and Kurt Russell- these guys have no delusions as to what it is they do for a living. Their Big trouble in Little China commentary is a lot like watching it with your best buds who in the middle of the film take a 3 or 4 minute detour into talking about their kids playing hockey.
Joel Schumacher, on the track for Batman & Robin, actually apologizes for the film he made explaining that the script was written around toys that had already been made to sell that Christmas.

If I know that there is a lot of behind the scenes trouble in making the film, I will listen and see how much is brought up of the troubles. Sometimes, the speakers stay far away from discussing it and other times it will devolve into mudslinging. You ever wonder why those disclaimers are there before the movie begins/ This is the example of why it is there.

Writers tracks- If the main actors or director are not on the track, many times I will just "sample it" and see if the speakers are interesting. If they are, I will listen to it from the beginning. but, if the writer is on there, I will usually listen and try to gain as much as I can when they discuss how they make their decisions on where the plot and characters go. This can be especially intriguin if its an adaptation and they discuss why they left in what they did and took out what they did.

It has happened where I have lost a llot of respect for certain people, or at least been made to remember that they are just human as well and not to be held up as a paragon of intelligence. Jennifer Connelly is pretty to look at but quite a ditz when it comes to discussing films, her craft, and even just random storytelling. Vanessa Hudgens, on the Bandslam commentary, reminded me that she was only 19 or so when she made the film. It was a lot of giggling and "he's so cute" type comments. While I can't say I have ever been a fan of Michael Bay as a person, his tracks are fascinating, but just go to prove that he is a pretentious dick. On Armageddon, he starts out by saying, "Making a movie is like a war." and continues to discuss how important his job is and how no one can do what he can do. I listen to Michael Bay's tracks and just giggle all the way through with the ridiculous things he says.

Sometimes I watch the commentary ttracks of films that are complete misfires or just dont quite add up and you hear the makers discuss what they wanted to make and what they thought thy made and give their good intentions and they can make you almost want to like the film just for the good intentions involved.

But, if the film touched me on any level and especially if it is one of my top films of the year, I will listen to it just for the magical quality that creative people have in discussing how they brought their work to the screen.

On the weekend that How to Train Your Dragon came out on BluRay, I bought it that morning and watched it all weekend. My wife did not see it in the theaters, so I forced her to sit down and watch it with me (forced because she doesn't really like animation). She loved it and was crying at the end. I then watched it 3 more times (just the film) and did all of the extras that were included on the disc- the featurettes, the commentaries, the whole thing. I made it a How to Train Your Dragon weekend. On the commentary track, the directors talk about how the "learning to trust each other" scene grew from a planned one minute scene to almost 5 because they knew that the whole film hinged on that scene and if it didnt work, the whole film would not work. They also discussed that, originally, Hiccup was alone in his room when he woke up at the end and discovered he lost a leg. It was Steven Spielberg, who saw the first cut at Dreamworks SKG, who told them that Toothless needed to be there and to help his friend out. Of course, Spielberg turned out to be right.
How to Train Your Dragon was a special film to me.
It was the last film that I saw with my dad in the theaters. We saw it as I was driving him back home from San Antonio to Hurricane Utah when he was diagnosed with cancer. He died 11 weeks later.

Commentary tracks can be like film school in a box, a drunken good time while you are still sober, a memory of what makes a film so special to you, an apology, an affirmation, or just a peek behind the curtain at the magic that can come out of creative people.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

List of things about me

On facebook right now, there is a 'game' where you list facts about yourself. I decided to blog mine.

1- I was born 9 weeks premature in 1972.

2- I taught myself how to read when I was 2 because my parents would not read the TV and movie listings to me everyday. I was also very annoyed when my grandma could not read the cards while playing games with me.

3- I have, as of this writing, seen Raiders of the Lost Ark 626 times.

4- I have been to all 50 states as well as Canada, mexico, England, France, Netherlands, belgium, Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Monaco.

5- When I was 15, my team won the Trivial Pursuit Championship for the Utah Department of Public safety.

6- I worked at Blockbuster for a total of 13 years altogether.

7- I have always been a'nightowl'. I prefeer to drive long distances at night and I rarely go to bed before Midnight, more often than not, it's more like 1 or 130 in the morning.

8-I would take a lot of books to school in my backpack so that I could loan them to friends if they didn't have any reading material. This continued as I grew up and I loaned a lot of movies to people from the neighborhood and am still a go-to friend for movie borrowing.

9-Before I left on my mission, I saw every single film that came out in theaters from April 1, 1991 until October 5, 1991. This led to me seeing The Commitments- a film that has since become one of my all-time favorites.

10- I co-host a podcast called The Geek Agenda ( ) in which we discuss films, and the ultra fan inside all of us.

11- I came to love films because my parents realized that, when I was a very sick kid and very fussy, I would quiet down when in a theater, but not necessarily in a car.

12- I became a human IMDB before there was an IMDB. I once won a Blockbuster contest by linking 320 people together. My next closest competition only had 87.

13- I met a friend in college (the head of The geek Agenda) and it was only about6 months later that we discovered we were actually second cousins!

14- I went to the State Drama competition 3 years in a row with pieces that I wrote myself based on favorite films of the time (Good Morning Vietnam, Rain man, Talk Radio).

15- I went on a mission to Paris France. I was originally called to the Port-au-Prince Haiti mission, but the missionaries were pulled out due ti a civil war while we were in the MTC so my call was changed.

16- To help learn the language, I read, in their original French versions, Les Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, Three Musketeers, man in the Iron mask, and the whole series of Asterix comics. I also read, in French translations, Bright Lights Big City, Fletch, Silence of the Lambs, Dark Half, and Carrie.

17- I was companions with one of Mitt Romney's sons, matt.

18- I helped write the Utah State Core Curiculum for Social Studies in 2001.

19- My favorite jobs at Blockbuster was making room on the New release Wall for all of the week's new films, and receiving so that I could be the first one to handle the new films as well.

20- In Vegas, I have been lucky enough to see 2 Cirque de Soleil shows, O and Mystere, and I have also seen David Copperfield, Huey Lewis & the News, Drew Carrey, NiCole robinson, Wayne Brady, Penn & teller, Charles Fleischer,and had front row seats for George Carlin, my stand up comedy idol.

21- I donated a kidney to my mom in 2003. It was a very tough year, but we both came out well and my mom is still doing extremely well!

22- I got to watch my cousin argue a case in front of the US Supreme Court. Wow! That was absolutely amazing!

23- Both carole Mikita and Attorney general of Utah at the time, jan Graham, pulled the "Do you know who I am?" card to try to get a very popular movie on a very busy weekend at Blockbuster and to get late fees taken off of their account.

24- I was the first person hired for the retention Department when it began at Pinnacle Security.

25- While working at Blockbuster, I had 2 cars drive into the building.

26- I got to meet Bill Conti (composer for Rocky), larry Linville (Frank Burns of M*A*S*H) and Rob Paulsen and Jess harnell (Animaniacs) and Paulson did a live version of the Nations of the World song.

27- Did the motel room scene from 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' with Eric Taylor as my final project in drama in high school.

28- Kate Beckinsale and Gemma Arterton are my female celebrity crushes. I will watch anything they are in.

29- My favorite actors are Harrison Ford and Michael J Fox.

and, finally

30- I finished a novel consisting of 119,000 words in October of 2012 and am currently looking for an agent to sell it to get it published.