Thursday, January 28, 2016

Day 1519 - Seeing Christina Perri in concert is awesome (and painful)

This story is completely true.  It took place about a year and a half ago.  A few people know most of the details, but I don't know if they knew them all.  I hope you find it entertaining.

I remember the first time I saw Christina Perri.  It was on a Sunday morning on VH1 (maybe MTV2) at my cousin Mary and Kevin's house.  The video was "Jar of Hearts" and Mary told the story of how her song was played on one of those singing competition shows and how it got picked up from there.

I don't know why I remember that, but it was enough that whenever the video showed up, I would watch it.  Then I followed her on Facebook, mostly so I would know when her new album was coming out.  And I bought it the first week it was released.  I did the same thing with her second album.

I liked her music more than enough to see her in concert.  So when it was announced that she's be singing at The House of Blues, I knew there was no way I wasn't going to see her.

But I wanted to make this concert special.  I almost always try to get an autograph from a performer when I see them live, and this would be no different.  However, this time I decided to call in a favor from my cousin Jim.  See, Jim was a VJ for VH1 at the time and had interviewed her a number of times already.  I simply decided to use his celebrity to my greatest advantage by seeing if he could get me backstage.  So I called him pretty early in the process, explained what I wanted, and he said that he would see what he could do.

Time went on and I didn't hear anything.  But at the same time, the volleyball team I was on was doing very well.  We played on Thursday nights.  The concert was on a Thursday night.  In fact, the concert happened to fall on the night of the volleyball championship.  The two events were slated for a head-on collision.

The day got closer and closer.  After calling Jim again (who was also in a holding pattern), he finally got the good word.  There was going to be a meet and greet before the show.  He could get me into that as long as I had my ticket (which I did).  I just had to mention some guy's name, say I was there for the meet and greet, and everything would be fine. 

And, of course, our volleyball team crushed the competition and we were scheduled to play in the championship.  I wasn't going to be there (I wasn't missing that concert), and another one of our players, Luke, wasn't going to be out of the country.  Our coach tried everything in his power to get the other team to switch days, but it wasn't happening.

The day of the concert arrived.  I was also recruited from my job at the comic book store  to type in the comic order that night.  It was due at midnight.  So after the concert, I was to make my way back to the comic book store and do that.  Nothing like a lot of multitasking.

I got to the House of Blues at the right time.  I went in, told the girl who I was looking for, and that I was there for the meet and greet.  She didn't even confirm anything that I said, she just put me in the back of the line behind all the "official" people who had paid for the privilege.  I was with the House of Blues employees (off duty) and some journalists.

We slowly made our way to her, and I finally got my chance to meet Christina Perri in person.  I had her sign my CD's, and I got a picture with her.  While we were standing there, I brought up Jim's name because he had interviewed her so many times.  I said how great he was, and her reply was, "... I love him."  I responded to that with, "I love you."

Wait.  What?

What the heck was that?!?  I don't do that.  I have met a number of cool and awesome celebrities over the years, and I've never said that to them.  I honestly don't know what I was thinking.  I also don't know if she heard me.  (I'm sure she did.)  If she did, she didn't react to it.  (Thank goodness!)  And I moved on.

At this point the guy in charge told us that if we wanted to meet the opening act, we could, or if we wanted to wait, when Christina Perri was done, we could just take our places on the concert floor.  I opted to get a good spot by the stage.  It turns out that was the right move.  I'm of the mind that the closer I am to the singer, the better the experience.  Well, unless I was onstage, I wasn't getting any closer. 

The concert was fantastic.  I had a blast.

Once the concert was over, I could boogie on out of there.  I hustled to where I parked my car.  As I made my way there,I was about 30 feet away when I saw it too late.  There was a pothole in the sidewalk and my right foot dropped right on in and my ankle just gave way.  I dropped like a rock.  My ankle was sprained, I had torn my jeans, and I had a nice scrape on my left knee.  I got up, felt my ankle and knew it was sprained. No doubt.  I hobbled to my car, and what was there waiting for me?  A ticket.  I had parked too early in this particular spot. *sigh*

So now I've got a sprained ankle, and I still have to make my way to the comic book store and type in the order.  I get there, I type it in, and I send it.  All by around 12:30.  I send a message to my boss, John, saying it's all done, and I head home.

The first thing I do is take off my shoe and sock.  Oh, yeah.  It's pretty nasty.  I had no ice in my house, so I used the next best thing.  I filled a bucket up with the coldest water I could and put my foot into it.  When I went to bed that night, I kept my foot elevated and hoped that was the end of it. 

It wasn't.

The next day I worked for a few hours at Drug Mart before heading to the comic book store.  But before I did that, I looked at my messages.  I had one.  It was from John and it simply said, "Diamond didn't get our order.  We're screwed."  So, apparently the order that I sent the night before wasn't received?  C'mon!  Three long and treacherous and painful hours at Drug Mart later, I was able to leave and go to the comic shop and find  out what happened.  The first message I got was, "Called Diamond (our distributor).  They figured it out.  We're good."


Now I could finally relax (finally) relax.

With a sprained ankle.

And the volleyball championship?  Nope.  We lost that, too.

I'm sure there's a lesson in that mess, somewhere. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 1494 - Movie Roundup of 2015

2015 was another year where my movie intake decreased.  I only watched 138 movies this year.  Yes, yes, I realize that there are a number of people who don't even come close to that total, but for myself it was on the low end.  However, that being said, I think it actually proves the quality of television this last year, because I watched a bunch of TV.  Stupid TV.

And, just like last year, there are movies that haven't been released in Cleveland yet, so this list will morph and shape over the next month.  For instance, I saw Whiplash in 2015.  As a 2014 release, it moves into my #2 spot in my favorites of 2014.  It's amazing.

But without further ado, here's my list of my favorite movies of last year.

1. Ex Machina - Oscar Isaac builds a robot, Domhnall Gleeson questions it to see if it has real artificial intelligence, and Alicia Vikander crushes it as the robot.  No movie made me think about it as much as this one did this year.  And, like the best movies, it rewards multiple viewings.  That ending is perfect.

2. The Hateful Eight - With the exception of Jackie Brown (which I don't like), I don't think any Tarantino movie has been as divisive as this one.  I personally love it.  It's brutal, profane, violent, and a whole lot smarter than a lot of people seem to be giving it credit for.  And that name in the opening credits (but not in the poster) - classic!  Whether it was worth the 70mm presentation will be decided when I see it again in a regular theater.

3. Steve Jobs - Michael Fassbender made a believer out of me.  His performance as the title character is riveting, and makes you care about a man who is nearly impossible to care for.  Warts and all, Steve Jobs, the man and the movie demand your attention.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road - Oh how I love cars chasing each other and things blowing up.

5. What We do in the Shadows - The funniest movie I saw this year.  A houseful of vampires have to deal with the mundane aspects of life (somebody has to do the chores) all in front of a documentary crew.  Petyr, the Nosferatu-looking vampire is a complete hoot.  And who doesn't love Stu?

6. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation - Man, I'm a sucker for these movies.  I love the characters, I like the stunts, I try not to think about the mission too much.  Entertainment for entertainment's sake.

7. Room - A young woman raises her son in a tiny little room. What he doesn't know is just about everything, since he's never been outside of it.  Until one glorious day.  This is less of entertainment than it is a brilliantly acted take on how one can survive such a situation, and how one could possibly deal with the after-effects of said situation.  Jacob Tremblay, as that little kid, is astonishing.

8. The Big Short - How a group of wall street guys bet against the housing industry a few years before it collapsed.  They saw the signs, and the movie explains it to you in layman's terms.  Even so, it's some complicated stuff.  But the actors (especially Steve Carell) keep you invested (pun intended).

9. Brooklyn - Saoirse Ronan is an Irish immigrant who comes to Brooklyn and eventually finds a fella.  When she has to go back to Ireland for a time, things get complicated.  As a viewer, my emotions were all over the map, but the last 15 minutes or so made it for me.  Not splashy, just good.

10. The Walk - If I hadn't seen this in 3D, I don't know if it would have been as good.  But since I did, I thought it was amazing.  No, I haven't seen Man on Wire, and that may have influenced me as well.  But watching Joesph Gordon-Levitt's Philippe Petit make that walk between the two towers was one of the most breathtaking things I've seen this year.

11. The Martian - I've got the book ready to read this year.  However, having not read it, I really dug the movie. Who doesn't love a good Robinson Crusoe on Mars story?  And the fact that there was a minimum amount of dumb in the movie made me happy.

12. SPECTRE - No, it's not the best Bond movie ever made, but I still like it tons more than Skyfall (of which my opinions are quite clear).  It's overlong and has some stupid plot points, but it still felt like a Bond movie to me.  And I love me some Bond movies (except Skyfall).

13. Ant-Man - What could have been just a bit too much is just handled deftly enough.  Funny when it needs to be, dramatic when it demands it, and, yeah, worth it just for that first post-credits sequence.

14. The Final Girls - Yeah, here's the one you've never heard of.  A girl and her friends are somehow transported into a schlocky horror film.  However, that girl's deceased mom is one of the actresses in that movie.  Very meta, sometimes absolutely hilarious (the song Lollipop will bring a smile to your face every time you hear it after this),  and has more heart than you could possibly expect from a movie like this.  The only reason this went straight to video is because the marketers had no idea what to do with it (I'm convinced).  I knew I'd love it when I saw the trailer and it didn't disappoint.

15. Trainwreck - Forget the love story between Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.  That's conventional stuff.  The real stuff is the triangle between Schumer's character, her dad, and her sister.  The family drama is so, so strong and moving, that I wouldn't have minded if the movie had just dealt with them.  Alas, we also get the weak romantic story.  Not Schumer or Hader's fault - they both do well, it's just that the other stuff is so good.

16. The Babadook - Scary little movie on its own, but even better when you read peoples' theories on what they think it was about.  Scared me more than It Follows, which I liked, but didn't love as much as many others.

17. Furious Seven - Not as joyously insane as the previous two installments, but Paul Walker's final ride ended on a perfect touching note. You could tell there were certain things that the filmmakers probably wanted to do, but Walker's death prevented it. 

18. Dope - From the opening credits which give the different definitions of the title word (all of which are in play), I was in.  A nerdy high school senior gets embroiled in things way above his head, and it's funny, crazy, and frightening (in a real-life sort of way).  Sure the ending is a touch of a cop out, but the rest of the movie is solid.

19. Sicario - This got a lot of play from a lot of critics.  If you look at it from the point of view that the very capable Emily Blunt's character is in things way, way over her head, then the movie works just fine.  But if you were looking for her to kick major butt, then you're going to be disappointed.  But Benicio Del Toro - oooh, he's cold-blooded.

20. The Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse - This one is the gimme of the year.  I saw the trailer, and all I did was hope that it lived up to it.  I thought it did.  If you're going to make an extreme movie, then please go all out.  This movie did just that.  It wants to make you laugh and sometimes wince and sometimes groan, and it succeeded at all three.

And, yes, there is one major (major!) film that I saw this year that didn't make my top 20. I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I'm sure I'll see it a number of times.  That being said, there are just some insurmountable things that are in the movie that I can't get behind.  I still like it, but yeah, Scout's Guide gets a place in my top 20, and The Force Awakens doesn't.