Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Leaving Soon (from a theatre near you)

What is it with movie theatres these days? (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Galaxy.) I honestly didn’t expect to have a rant like this until I was well into my “old and crotchety” years but on this I feel I must speak out while I (and everyone else who’s even an occasional moviegoer) can still hear myself speak. This May long weekend, as a treat, I thought I’d take my eldest off to see the new “Iron Man” flick. Between the reviews, the trailers and both of us being like a “before and after” picture of geekdom it seemed like the perfect afternoon break for the pair of us, that is until the trailers started.

Now, I’m pretty sure most ad wizards out there get nervous when tasked with advertising an M. Night Shyamalan movie these days. Despite the man’s genius and genuine earnestness to tell a story he hasn’t had a decent hit since “the Sixth Sense”. But, for heaven’s sake, enough with the deafening base already. We get it. It’s scary. Boo. Now turn down the sound, you idle crow. Here’s tip #1 of today’s rant. Do you know why “The Sixth Sense” was a hit? It…was….quiet. Take it from a dad, nothing more nerve wracking to an adult movie audience than a pale little kid who only speaks in whispers. Screeching soundtracks, thundering base and quiet parts interrupted with high pitched screams are formulaic as advertising goes and done…to…death. Shyamalan, if you’re reading this, fire your advertising team. They’re not worth what you’re paying them.

As for the theatres themselves, really folks, use some common sense. If it’s an afternoon flick, chances are it’s going to be filled with those who’d prefer to keep their hearing intact. And don’t give me any argument about “But you feel like you’re really there!” Here’s tip #2, movie-boy, if I wanted to experience the A-stan, real or fictional, I’d be there. You’re not doing me any favours. In my past I’ve had an arty-round drop a little too close for comfort, thanks. I don’t care how much you crank the sound. It won’t compare and just ticks me off. Though the texture of the popcorn at the theatre and the dust I got to chew when the 105 shell dropped short do taste remarkably similar in texture and fake-buttery goodness. But I digress. In short, muffle it gentlemen. I’d like to keep my kid’s hearing intact for a few more years anyway.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Easter Memories: Confessions of a Veteran Bunny

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Personally, I link it to the trauma of the whole “going bunny” experience, well that and the new job and the half-crazed effort to get myself back into shape (ooohhh look, another blog topic). Either way, with most of my down time spoken for of late, I find myself increasingly taking from my own sleep period to accomplish the basics. Working out, maybe laundry, or if I’m really lucky, a page on the book. As such, blogging is limited to those brief periods only when I’m conscious enough to focus on the keys. Still, with a second Easter mission badge on my cap I’m starting to feel like a holiday veteran so without further ado I give you…

Easter: Confessions of a Veteran Bunny

I don’t know how it happened. I really don’t. How did I find myself leopard-crawling across the frozen surface of the snow with a bag of shiny eggs clutched in my teeth praying that the thin, sun-glazed crust on which I was suspended didn’t shatter to send me plummeting six feet deep into the snow beneath. Maybe it was when I volunteered to do the egg hunt for the second year in a row. Maybe it was when I realized that with Easter almost a full month early and a snow pack that outdid anything seen in the last third century I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to back out and disappoint the nieces, nephews and children of direct decent who counted on my efforts as being part of their quiver of “happy childhood memories” on which they will draw someday in the far future when their happy memories and pleasant childhood will be all that stands between them and that fifth gin and tonic. Who knows? What I did know was that there I was, uncle to four and father of two, working his way gingerly across the frozen wastes that during summer months masquerades as my brother’s front lawn to carefully place a single egg in the boughs of the old willow tree. Undignified you say? Hah! No more so that making your way on foot only to find yourself suddenly staring at your own boot at eye level while its mate along with the rest of your body plunges five feet into the drift beneath, a position that would look (and feel) undignified to even the stretchiest of die-hard, cirque-de-soleil performers.

So…crawling it is, then, gentlemen. On the one hand I was glad that there was no one of the two legged variety to witness my indignation on the other hand there was always the fear that I would end up like some sort of Easter-esque Oetzi, found frozen to death in a melting glacier mysteriously clutching a bag of eggs containing curious bits of folded paper on which cryptic geographically induced rhymes were neatly typed. The irony was not lost on me that 2000-or-so years earlier in Jerusalem, Christ, got a “get out grave free!” card. The rest of us poor sods have to dig ourselves out the old fashioned way. Hmmmpph. Daddy’s boy.

Ah well, at least all ended well. Within two hours I had successfully managed to place the eggs around the farm, the clues within all cleverly leading to the baskets and their carefully chosen and purchased contents specified to each child participating. A resounding success of effort that the kids blew through in about thirty minutes. Hah, Martha Stewart ain’t got nothing on me…except for not having to walk with a limp for a few days. It helps to have staff I guess. Still, in hindsight, a few pointers for the ones who get to wear the long ears in the household:

  1. Meet the new dog before coming onto family property. With all due respect to my brother’s bouvier-wolfhound cross “Fluffy” the last time you want to play the role of a rabbit (Easter or otherwise) is when you are letting yourself onto family property with nary a human for miles and the new dog checking you out as a potential chew toy. And here you are carrying bags upon bags of chocolate. Merde.

  2. It’s easy to let spending get out of control in the quest to get the “balance of the baskets” just right. Keep it simple and if you’re taking donations get the money up front. “But the kids had such a great time last year,” is nice and all but that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.

  3. Modify your hunt based on the children involved. The first year I did this the kids moved as a group. As a result the younger ones tended to get left behind as the older ones scrambled for the loot. This year I drafted two different hunts based on participant capabilities each with their own sets of clues. The key was they’d have to come back together to join their clues and solve the mystery of where the loot was stashed. Think of it as cross-country hangman. Just make sure you don’t lose them in the snowdrifts. Brightly coloured toques, folks, they’re not just fashion statements, more like hand-knitted flare guns.

    Well there you have it folks, a little bit of wisdom from a veteran bunny. Remember, if you’re destined to take up the ears, plan ahead. Until they find the body, or everyone converts to paganism, chances are this is going to be an annual event. Sigh.

Image - Easter Sunday, 2008

Welcome to the Tundra, We got ice and snow...