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Do You Mind?

Over the weekend, my mother-in-law took our boy on a little getaway with her to visit family, take a trip to the zoo, and have some fun outdoors before the crazy mid-west weather decides to try to give us snow again.  Since my husband and I don’t exactly get these breaks often, we took full advantage and hit the movie theaters, followed by some free Redbox movies, thanks to their mailing list that I highly recommend signing up for unless you don’t enjoy getting things at no cost.  Friday night was a local theater night, where we watched the latest film from WWE Studios, Oculus.  Saturday gave us Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, followed by dinner at a restaurant we used to practically live at.  Redbox gifted us with The Wolf of Wall St and American Hustle, two we sadly missed in the theaters.  Amazing movies; I was happy with all four but I am seriously burnt out on watching anything over an hour for quite some time.

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This brings me to a topic I’ve talked about many times before:  rude people in movie theaters.  For a movie like Oculus, where the viewer knows to expect many tense moments and frequent scenes where silence is used to build tension, it’s an unspoken rule to keep quiet and save the rustling of popcorn and opening of candy for scenes where the music hits loud or people are screaming.  Suspense is easily killed when you have people adding giggles, shaking of ice, or other noises to the movie soundtrack during moments you are meant to be on the edge of your seat.  The girl behind us who thought it was OMG HILARIOUS to burp like a frat boy certainly didn’t help, but she thankfully quit after I gave her the I-Wish-I-Could-Kill-You-With-This-Look stare.

The worst offender in Oculus did none of those things though.  It was an incredibly sick person.  The kind of sick where their sniffles sound like they’re drowning, where their coughs sound like a death rattle, and where they cannot control their bodily functions and obviously cannot stay quiet.  If you’re sick to the point where your brain is leaking out of the holes in your face, stay home.  The argument for going to work while sick can be made if you are one with no sick leave and bills piling up, but there is no excuse whatsoever for going to a movie theater when you are sick as a dog and sound like the Before part of a Nyquil commercial.  You not only kill parts of the movie for people who paid to be there, you run the risk of getting everyone around you sick.  I’m hoping that my husband and I did manage to escape without contracting tuberculosis, but it’s too soon to tell.  Please, if you’re sick, keep your movie night at home.

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During Captain America, things weren’t as bad as far as the typical complaints; I heard no loud popcorn eating and saw no cell phone usage.  Having arrived exactly on time, seating was fairly packed so we were close to the front and almost at the end of a row.  We were hoping to get lucky and not be too close to anyone, but sadly for us, a couple sat directly behind us halfway through the previews, followed by a mother with her two children.  The mother took what felt like ages to get settled in, rustling her bags and giving instructions to the young boy and older female she brought with her.  This was one of the few times I was grateful for the 25 minutes of previews that AMC shows, as it gave the lady plenty of time to settle in and shut up.

Did I say settle in?  Scratch that, I meant the total opposite.  First, her son decided to get very vocal about his displeasure; he began loudly whining while she did the bare minimum to calm him.  I don’t fault the kid at all for this; some children don’t want to quietly sit through a movie and are better suited for home viewings only.  Some children have zero interest in movies if they aren’t cartoons.  Any good parent should know what kind of child they have and adjust accordingly.  My son would get antsy sitting through Captain America, so bringing him along was never an option.  We’ll save it for DVD, where he can watch as he bounces around his room and takes as many bathroom breaks as he pleases.  Thankfully for the little boy, the other female was able to step in and assist; I believe she removed him from the theater, as I didn’t hear another peep once she took action.

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I should clarify.  I didn’t hear another peep from HIM.  The woman was a whole other story.  If I properly describe her, it’ll sound as if I’m describing a scene from a slightly racist comedy, featuring a “typical” black woman at a movie theater.  She was a walking stereotype and that is unfortunately the best way to describe her.  She kept busy saying “I know that’s right!” any time something positive happened for any of the main characters, and especially when Samuel L Jackson was on screen.  There is one scene where [not a spoiler] Captain American lands in a body of water that is definitely not an ocean.  She felt the need to say “Oh, Steve, didn’t you spend enough time in the ocean?” as he entered the water.  Poor Steve definitely got his fill of unsolicited advice, as she consistently told Steve to be careful, watch out, and so on during the ENTIRE MOVIE.  In a normal, conversational tone.  Because if she whispered, Steve couldn’t hear her.  I guess.

The couple behind us, who I initially thought would be basically invisible, are the kind of people who will eventually cause me to snap and become a headline on the evening news as the “Crazed Woman” who slaps a fellow moviegoer.  The male apparently had zero idea what was going on, so the female decided that the best time to explain it was during the movie.  “No, SHIELD is doing ______,” “Yes, he knew him from _____,” going on for entire scenes and explaining things that the most basic fan should know.  And if you don’t, maybe don’t come see the movie in the theater.  Watch it at home where you can pause and have all your questions answered.  Hell, you can even hop on Google and look things up until you know more than the average raging superfan.  The commentary is best saved for after the movie.  Sometimes the post-movie discussion with my husband is my favorite part of the whole outing.

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Movies are expensive.  $15 – $25 for a pair of tickets, depending on the theater and added costs for 3D showings.  $20 – $30 for concessions, depending on how hungry and thirsty you happen to be.  Movies are time consuming.  Over two hours in the theater, plus the drive there and back, which was an hour round trip for us on Saturday.  No one wants to spend all that time and money only to have their experience ruined by other people.  No one should spend all that time and money only to ignore the movie in favor of conversation, updating Facebook, or any other activity other than watching the movie you paid to see.  If you’re unhappy sitting in the theater, LEAVE.  I’ve never seen anyone turned down for a voucher for a different movie if they have a valid complaint; it’s easier for management to give you a free pass instead of argue and possibly alienate a customer.  We all deserve to have a decent experience.  So let’s make a tiny bit of effort and ensure that we all can.

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Teeny Tiny Sodas

I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about New York’s new ban on soda sizes above 16 ounces in an effort to help with America’s growing obesity problem.  The ban will apply in fast food restaurants, movie theaters, Broadway theaters, sports stadiums, delis, cafeterias at work, and most other places selling prepared food.  It will not cover beverages sold in supermarkets and most convenience stores.  The rule would not apply to lower or zero calorie beverages, such as water or diet soda, or to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or at least 70% juice.

I may be in the minority, but I am a huge fan of this.  Throughout the years, I’ve seen fast food cups morph in size; the drink that was a large years ago is now a small or medium in most establishments, with grossly large cups taking the large and super sizes spots.  When I lived in Connecticut, I gained about fifteen pounds in a short amount of time by drinking regular sodas rather than a low or zero calorie substitute.  I’ve watched children (whose parents I was acquainted with) become overweight at early ages because mom and dad didn’t mind if they had a Coke or Mt Dew with their meals and snacks.  We are a fat and sloppy country and I appreciate efforts such as this one to try to assist our citizens.

The majority of businesses that will be affected by the ban are establishments that offer free refills, either by self-serve or by asking a cashier.  This ban is not saying “You are NOT allowed to consume more than 16 ounces of regular Dr. Pepper with this meal!”  It’s simply making it more difficult for you to access those empty calories and damage your health.  When eating fast food, you’re packing on the calories as it is with a burger (300 to 600 calories on average, although it can often push 1000) and fries (anywhere from 250 to 600 on average) or onion rings (400 on average), plus any dipping sauces you choose to use with your side (15 calories per tablespoon of ketchup, but zesty onion ring sauce nets you 150 calories per serving).  It makes sense to try to cut out the empty calories by attempting to get consumers to take it easy on the soda.  In no way is the ban stopping you from getting refill after refill; the trips to the counter will burn some of those unnecessary calories anyway.

At the movie theater, if you are like me and never willing to step out until the movie wraps, perhaps this will push you to order a different beverage at the counter.  I prefer the 20 ounce Dasani bottled water at the AMC theater to accompany my popcorn.  If I’m in the mood for a soda, I’ll spring for a diet, but both my husband and I are always sure to avoid the regular sugary sodas.  A small buttered popcorn at Regal Movie Theater will net you 670 calories (unbuttered is 485) while a large at AMC with a reasonable amount of butter puts you just over 1000.  If you must have a regular Coke, it makes sense to give you a smaller size, limiting the amount of calories you pack on while sitting immobile for two to three hours.  I’m also not above bringing in my own drink if I must; a Vitamin Water Zero is a nice way to cut through all that popcorn butter and salt without giving me thunder thighs.

Restaurants have slowly begun to put calorie counts in clear areas on their in-store menus or on display elsewhere on site rather than just on their website or in a forgotten pamphlet in the corner.  They are not tweaking their items (for the most part, although some have tried cutting down on the size of items) but simply making sure the consumer is aware of what they are about to eat.  It makes the intelligent consumer see that if they have the 1/3rd pound Hardee’s burger with fries, they are consuming half of the calories they are meant to eat per day.  They may be pushed to substitute a salad for the fries, skip the mayo on the burger (one tablespoon nets you 90 calories, lite mayo nets about 35) or make sure to eat very lightly for the rest of the day.  This soda size restriction is a bolder tool to educate consumers, but a tool nonetheless to reduce the amount of obese people and to show people how many calories they are sucking down blindly with their already calorie laden meals.  It puts up a tiny barrier between the consumer and an increase in pant size, but it’s not a barrier they cannot easily step over.

If you are a stubborn person who absolutely has to have 36 ounces of Mt Dew in front of you as you tear into your meal, then order two drinks.  If you are going to ignore all the health risks involved in overeating and consuming more calories than your body is built to handle, why not have it hurt your wallet?  Health care costs are up, in part, because of the expanding number of obese people in this country and the many health issues that come with carrying around pounds of fat your body is not built to carry.  We make smokers pay more for cigarettes that will most likely give them health problems in their future, so why not do the same with people who play Russian Roulette with their health?

I understand that I’m being extreme here, but underneath the surface, they are both the same exact thing.  If a person wishes to damage their health, after receiving the education to fully understand what kind of damage their doing, then they should definitely be inconvenienced in life and in their wallets.  How many frequent fliers have been annoyed by an obese seat mate and had their space encroached on for the entire flight?  How many people have had to deal with a rude smoker going through cigarette after cigarette at the table close by while trying to enjoy a meal?  Why is it wrong to be concerned with the rights of people living healthy rather than the “rights” of people treating their bodies like trash?

I do understand that there is a lot of upset because it feels as though the government is sticking their hands where they shouldn’t in controlling what we can drink.  But they are not controlling what we can drink.  Sodas aren’t all being switched over to diet.  Establishments aren’t getting rid of all regular sodas, Icees, and other non-diet options.  You can still go to the grocery store and get a case of regular Fanta and drink it all in one night if you wish.  All this ban is doing is making it more difficult for the general (and sometimes uneducated) public to blindly damage their health and bodies.  Is that so wrong?

Bloomberg spokeswoman, Samantha Levine, stated “we’ve heard these claims of pending apocalypse before when we proposed bold public health initiatives, and they have been proven false.  Critics predicted the end of tourism and that businesses would sink when we banned smoking in bars and restaurants, yet we’ve grown tourism to record levels and the restaurant and bar industry continues to grow.”  Some will hate the ban, some will frequent food joints less, some will just buy two drinks, and some will declare it all a failure.  Some businesses will see a slump, some will see an increase, and some will notice no change.  Life, as always, will take this ban and treat it as the small speed bump it is; we will learn to take a tiny bit of effort and just roll over it, finding that we’re just as good on the other side.

Ring Ring

I often say that I write on this blog in order to stay sane.  I have a lot of garbage floating around in my mind and it requires a home, otherwise I run the risk of exploding.  Thursday morning, my husband and I arrived at work very early.  Sadly, we were greeted with an insanely long line at security and the 15 minutes we shaved off our arrival was for nothing.  We still managed to get to our desks before our scheduled time, or at least I did, as my hubby stopped off at the store for a drink and snack.  I walk in and set my bag down, only to be greeted by a man standing two feet away from my chair having a loud conversation on his cell phone.

“Yeah!  Well, I don’t know what HE was thinking, but that’s NOT how WE do it!  Yeah!  Uh huh!  No!  NO!  No way!  Well, here’s what I think!”

Five minutes or so go by of this guy barking into his phone as I boot up my computer and get some emails out.  As I log into one of the systems I need to do my super important work, my phone rings.  Finally, I think, this guy is going to back off!  No one can be so rude as to stand there wailing while someone is at their desk attempting to take a call.  Silly me.  Not only does the guy not quit talking and move out into the hallway, or at least a few steps away from my desk, he get louder and shoots me a dirty look as I attempt to hear the request from the state on the other line.

My call requires me to contact another department, so I hang up and get right on the second call.  The guy gives me another dirty look, switches the phone to his other hand and goes into a string of “let me tell you’s” to the person on the other end.  After fifteen full minutes of hearing this dude and trying to do my job, I’m able to wrap up my calls (which sadly I can’t take out into the hallway) and I crank up my ipod to tune this douchebag out.  To this douche, and to others like him, I say the following:

1.  If in an office, someone is at their desk and you are also at their desk, you are in THEIR space.  If you must take a call on your cell phone, step into the hallway like a decent human being rather than annoy someone whose phone is stuck to their desk.

2.  If you are in a moving vehicle and you happen to also be driving, your hands should be full of steering wheel and free of cell phone.  No conversation is that important.  If it is, buy a freaking Bluetooth.

3.  If you are in a movie theater, your Facebook updates can wait until the end credits.  The asshole who doesn’t silence or talks on the phone in a theater is just as much of an asshole as you if you’re sending texts and updating your profile while the movie plays.

4.  If in a long line (bank, DMV, etc) your phone rings or you feel the urge to chat and it’s not an emergency situation, let the call wait until you’re out of line.  Don’t be the jerk that squeals into their phone and forces other people trapped in line to hear the latest gossip in your office.

5.  If you are working and a customer enters your establishment while you are on a call, take three seconds to put your hand over the receiver and tell them to please give you a minute.  If you’re not doing something work-related, terminate the damn call.  If not, make sure you don’t leave your customer standing there like an idiot while you chat away obliviously.

6.  If you’re the customer and you plan on being serviced by an employee, put your damn phone away.  Yes, they are paid to assist you.  No, they are not paid to get a finger to their face while they try to help you because you’re too busy trying to decide what you and your husband want for dinner.

7.  If you’re in the middle of a conversation with anyone and your phone rings, excuse yourself prior to taking the call.  If it’s not urgent, shut the ringer off and let the call go to voicemail so you can wrap up the exchange with the person right in front of you.  ESPECIALLY if you are in a meeting.

8.  If you’re like me and a fan of ring and message tones that can annoy certain people, adjust accordingly and either mute your phone in certain settings or have a secondary profile with generic rings and beeps.  It didn’t kill me to change my text tone because it drove my husband crazy, and it won’t kill you either.

9.  If you’re using speaker phone, don’t.  Seriously, just don’t.  It’s loud, everyone sounds like a weird chipmunkish alien, and most of the time it’s unnecessary.  Turn up the volume, get a hands free set, pull the car over, do ANYTHING but use speaker phone unless you’re in the company of no one but yourself.

10.  COMMON SENSE WINS!  If you think it might be rude, unsafe, or if it would bother you if you were the person without the phone, don’t do it!  Use the thing between your ears and don’t live and die by the damn phone.

Why So Melancholy?

My husband and I watched Melancholia over the weekend, a 2011 film by Lars von Trier.  The story follows two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), during and after Justine is married.  Earth is about to collide with an approaching planet, Melancholia, something John (Kiefer Sutherland) is sure won’t happen, at least in the beginning.  Lars von Trier’s inspiration for writing the story came from a personal episode of depression where he noticed that depressed people tend to remain calm in stressful situations.  The film is shot in two parts, one for each sister.

In part one, titled “Justine,” we see Justin and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) arrive at their wedding reception.  During the evening, Justin is frustrated by her mother’s negative comments and attitude, her pushy boss who incorporates a work assignment into his toast, and criticism from Claire for not enjoying the expensive reception.  Justine sneaks off multiple times and begins to seriously frustrate her family and guests.  Eventually she heads back to her room with Michael where they attempt to be intimate.  Justin brushes him off and ends up having sex with a stranger on the golf course.  At the end of the reception, her new husband leaves her.

In part two, titled “Claire,” Justine comes to live with Claire and John, having fallen into a severe depression and being unable to care for herself.  As Claire struggles to get Justin to eat and bathe, John keeps himself busy by tracking the path of Melancholia, the rogue planet that is believed to fly past Earth without colliding.  Claire is insanely worried and discovers online that the planet will indeed fly by, but will then slingshot back to Earth resulting in a collision.  The fly by comes and goes without incident, but the next day shows Melancholia is indeed approaching Earth head on.  John commits suicide, Claire is hysterical, but Justine remains strangely calm.  She constructs a “magic cave” out of sticks and consoles Claire and her son, Leo, as the planet collides and Earth is no more.

I was interested in seeing Melancholia because I greatly enjoyed Antichrist by Lars von Trier and I greatly enjoy anything Jack Bauer is involved in.  While Antichrist was shocking, sharp, and raw, Melancholia is soft around the edges, flowing seamlessly and maintaining a very artistic vibe throughout the film.  I’ve never been a fan of Kirsten Dunst but she was utterly flawless in the role of Justine, completely selling me on her character without being overly dramatic or insincere.  She demands that the audience understand and sympathize with her depression, even if they don’t quite understand it.

This is not a movie for the viewer who expects suspense and cringe-worthy scenes; Melancholia is slow-paced and dramatic, but hardly secretive on where the story is going and what the final outcome will be.  The focus is on Justine’s emotional journey and the impacts various events have on her.  Her mother, who is obviously a bitter woman and has been her entire life, speaks a few words that Justine is unable to brush off and become a major factor in the wedding reception losing its joy.  The rogue planet’s approach and the end of life on Earth however, is something Justine is able to take in stride; she ends up being the rock for Claire and Leo, bringing strength where Claire can only bring tears and Leo only brings fear.

It was amazing to see Justine’s range of emotions during the wedding reception.  She is overjoyed in the beginning, kissing her husband sweetly and laughing at their predicament when the limo is unable to make a turn in the road and gets stuck, causing them to have to walk to John and Claire’s home and arrive two hours late.  She experiences great sadness as she sees the annoyance her family feels towards her and her mood changes.  There is anger at her pushy employer as he continues to demand she complete an assignment.  She displays great abandon and a consequence-free way of thinking in her sexual activity with the young man she just met and her dismissal of her job.  When her husband chooses to leave her at the end of the night, she seems almost unaffected by it, taking it in stride as her new husband turns his back on her.

If I was aware that the world would be destroyed by this time tomorrow, I would like to think I would make the most of my hours left on this planet.  John takes the easy way out, downing pills that Claire had brought home in her panic earlier and passing away in the barn with the horses.  He ends up missing out on the few hours he had left with his wife and child and leaves the world as a coward.  Claire spends her time frightened and upset, alternating between the two emotions and making herself miserable.  Justine somehow finds a sort of bliss; she isn’t afraid or upset, accepting what will come and smiling as she looks at the end of the world head on.  She may have come up short in the way she dealt with things you and I would find easy, but she came out on top in the end by not wasting her last moments in misery and despair.

I will say that this film isn’t for everyone, but from the little I’ve seen from Lars von Trier, I suspect that can be said about all of his work.  He tells the story in many ways other than simply using dialogue.  The music is important, as is the lighting, the placement of people and objects in the scene, the specific looks on character’s faces, and many other elements that some directors only pay minimal attention to.  I definitely recommend checking Melancholia out; we rented it through Netflix, but Walmart has it for $14.99 and I plan on buying it in the near future.  Even if you hate it, you get to see Kirsten Dunst naked, so it’s not a total loss for those of you who like boobs.  Happy viewing.

Forgotten Manners

My husband and I are borderline obsessed with all things Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and the round-headed twat that is Karl Pilkington.  We received a regional DVD player for Christmas and are now able to catch up on standup specials and both seasons of An Idiot Abroad.  On our road trip to Tennessee, we listened to nothing but their podcasts for the entire drive down, and we often listen in the car on the way to work or while headed home.  On this particular day, one of the topics of the podcast was etiquette and manners.  They brought up the classes that used to be mandatory that would teach a person proper posture, which utensils to use while eating and how to use them, and other basic mannerisms to be used in daily life.

Ricky Gervais and I share the same opinion on people who eat with their mouths open; he went into a tangent on how vile and disgusting it is to see someone eating with their mouth wide open as if the world is dying to see their half chewed dinner.  He said his ideal restaurant would be one that was empty except for him.  Totally ridiculous proposition but I am also totally on board with him.  Go to a Mexican restaurant and you have countless people chomping chips with their jaw nearly unhinged, filling the room with the deafening sound of crunching.  One time at Applebee’s we were seated near a girl who was eating her salad the way you would see a squirrel munching on lettuce, only minus the cute factor.  Do I have to bring up the way people eat popcorn at a theater?  In public, people smack their food, lick their fingers, and generally act as if they had been living in a cave for years and are just now able to go out into public, unsure of how to act or what is proper.

It’s not just the eating habits that have convinced me that manners are a thing of the past, but it’s the general behavior of people one encounters every day.  At work, it’s a rarity I get a “thank you” for holding a door open for somebody.  This morning, I had to press myself against the wall because four people coming down the hall the opposite way refused to move to let me by.  Just after they passed, a woman shoulder bumped me after she and her group also refused to budge to let me pass, no “sorry” or “excuse me” or any effort to get out of my way, even though she and her companions were rudely blocking the hallway for everyone who was simply trying to get their workday started.  At my desk later, a man stood slurping his coffee loudly as I worked, then left the office with his coffee cup still on my desk, leaving a lovely ring.  Restaurant patrons, in both fine dining and fast food, treat the person serving them as a lowly servant and demanding things rather than simply asking “can I” or may I.”

The way we treat people around us is just disgusting.  I absolutely think that it’s important to put yourself first in life and ensure you and your family are taken care of and free from harm, but I also think this can be done without putting anyone else out and without becoming a hindrance to those around us.  Take personal phone calls in the office for example.  Your coworkers are attempting to do their job in the most efficient and stress-free possible way.  Should they be forced to listen to a 30 minute one-sided conversation while you plan your child’s wedding or schedule kitchen repairs, or should they be forced to miss you for a bit while you step outside to a break area or to your car to use your cell phone?  If you forgot to clip your nails before work, should your coworkers have to witness you clipping away at your desk, held captive at their own as you groom yourself, or should you sacrifice a couple of minutes at your desk and at least go to the restroom?  It’s slightly inconvenient to have to adjust your behavior in public, sure, but it’s even more putting out to be the person that is minding their manners but still forced to deal with people who can’t keep their vile and annoying habits in check.

It’s odd, but I encounter better behaved people at rock/metal concerts than I do in my office, in any given grocery or clothing store, movie theaters, malls, my former neighborhood, parking lots, medical offices, buffets, or just those you encounter while traveling from point A to B.  For some reason, the people who are thrown together with the common interest of whatever band is on stage also (mostly) all have this mutual respect for each other and manage to behave like civil and decent human beings, even with the alcohol and whatever other substances are thrown into the mix.  If a bunch of lunatics smoking weed on the lawn while headbanging to Seether can manage their behavior, why can’t everyone else?

I don’t consider myself to be old-fashioned, nor do I think I’m easily annoyed.  I wasn’t brought up in an anal household where I was made to eat without dropping a single crumb or dirtying even a corner of my napkin.  I didn’t undergo extreme etiquette training that has now made me into an intolerant person.  Quite simply, I just expect to be able to go through life without bumping into a rude and thoughtless person around every corner.  I’m considering asking Ricky Gervais if my husband and I can move in.

Friends With Benefits With Marriage?

My husband and I watched the movie The Freebie last night, starring Dax Shepherd and Katie Aselton, who also directed the movie.  It centers around a married couple whose sex life is less than satisfying; they are very much in love and communicate wonderfully but can’t seem to connect on that physical level for some reason.  After months of a sexless but happy existence, Shepherd’s character, Darren, brings up the idea of taking a night off from marriage.  A freebie date with someone else, no holding back and no strings attached, one time only, no questions asked.

I enjoyed watching The Freebie and won’t ruin it for you; it’s currently streaming on Netflix if you’re one of the few who haven’t divorced them yet.  The film did result in a bit of conversation between my husband and I and got me thinking a bit about how married and committed couples deal with the physical side of their relationship when everything else gets in the way.  No, my husband and I didn’t grant each other a freebie and no, we have no plans to in the future.  The most we’ve ever discussed is something many couples do; the celebrity free pass.  The celebrity one is an easy one for couples to bring up because the chances of it happening are slim to none.  A husband can give his wife permission to bang it out with Brad Pitt because he knows it’ll never happen, just as a woman can give her girlfriend a free night with one of the lovely ladies on The Real L Word with the confidence that they’ll never be in the same room at the same time.

Talking about a free roll around with Emmy Rossum is totally different from talking about doing it realistically.  Lulls in a couple’s sex life can happen and unfortunately, like the couple in The Freebie, it often happens after marriage or another type of serious commitment is made.  Jobs and housework and children and pets and bills and friends and scheduling and LIFE just get in the way of that special time that used to be so easy to find together.  The comfort zone is also a factor.  Women stop wearing sexy lingerie, men stop shaving every day, you burp and fart in front of each other without shame, and you enter almost what can be described as a friend zone.  Things slow down, the passion dies a bit, and nighttime cuddles turn into sleeping back to back.

It can be considered a turn-on to think of you and your mate going off one night for a hot ride with someone else, knowing that you’ll be coming back to each other afterward, stronger and more in love than ever.  Whoever you have your tryst with will make you more appreciative of what you have at home, plus it’ll rid you of the urge to see what things are like with someone else and will rid you of the fear of knowing that the person you’re with is the only person you’ll be seeing naked for the rest of your life.  Excluding porn, of course.

For someone like myself, even imagining some woman with her hands on my husband is enough to make me cringe, so I don’t even want to imagine all the other body parts she’d be rubbing on him.  I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to pick up a guy to take home and bang, nevermind being able to face my husband the next day, even having his blessing to do the nasty with someone else.  Call me old-fashioned if you will, but when you get married or enter into a civil union, you’re committed to being with one person and one person only from then on.  If you’re unwilling or are one of those people who likes to share, don’t make that commitment.  You can pretty it up however you want, but stepping outside of your marriage or commitment, blessing or not, is still cheating.

The stigma of being a cheater aside, what about the other consequences of boning a stranger?  Condoms aren’t foolproof and don’t protect against everything.  How is your relationship going to be after one of you brings home a nice case of herpes?  What if a pregnancy results?  What if the person you chose to have your free date with decides to broadcast your roll in the hay to the wrong people or develops a connection to you and wants more or has a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend that now wants you to suffer?  If you’re “responsible” and choose a friend to have your free date with, how will that affect the friendship?  Will there be jealous feelings every time you all are in the same room?  But most important, is one free fuck worth your entire relationship and the live you’ve built together?

I can’t say I’m lucky to not have this problem because honestly, this isn’t a problem people should have.  You shouldn’t have to resort to sleeping with other people in order to fix your sex life.  Problems aren’t solved by running away and seeking someone else.  If you’re unhappy with how often you bump uglies, try to initiate it more often or dress sexy, plan a massage or a bubble bath, take them out to dinner or cook a romantic one at home, or maybe just rent some good porn and watch together.  Or maybe, just watch The Freebie.  If my night was any indication, I’m pretty sure it’ll have a positive outcome for you.

The Jamies Are Cursed

Do you remember the scene in Scream 2 where Jada Pinkett Smith’s character forgets to use her inside voice while in the movie theater?  Even better, what about the scene in Scary Movie 2 where Regina Hall’s character takes it to a whole other level with her loud obnoxious behavior and ends up being stabbed by just about everyone in the audience in order to get her to shut her trap.  It’s funny because it takes the typical annoying moviegoer and exaggerates the bad behavior to the point where it’s just over the top.

My husband and I have awful luck with movies, but never would I have expected to have an experience as awful as what we had Friday evening.  Along with two friends who will probably never see a movie with us again, the husband and I went to Houlihan’s for dinner and drinks before walking down to AMC to catch Paranormal Activity 3.  I was beyond excited about this movie, especially after seeing the preview that stated the last 15 minutes would mess me up for life.  The show was sold out so obviously we expected a bit of noise, but we’ve been to sold out shows before and it honestly hasn’t been too bad.  During the previews there was quite a bit of talking, but it quieted down once the movie started.  Oh wait, no it didn’t.  It got worse.  It got so bad that at one point I had my stuff in hand and was ready to walk right out of the theater, someone I’ve only done once before because I just couldn’t sit through Deuce Bigalo.

The talking went on almost nonstop; people making comments and swearing and acting as though they were watching this movie in the comfort of their living room.  This isn’t a loud action movie where some chatter is barely noticed, this is a horror flick with the majority of its scenes at a low volume.  It’s hard to be afraid of a loud bang when the audience is adding their own soundtrack of “awww shit girl, did you see that?!?”  Even more bothersome was the laughter.  I get that it’s funny sometimes when something silly makes you jump, but it’s unacceptable to carry on as if you’ve just discovered laughter.  It comes as no surprise that there were cell phones out; two ushers came in eventually after someone exited the theater to complain and told half a dozen moviegoers to put their phones away, but people who don’t care about keeping the volume down certainly don’t care if their phone is distracting you.  There were also a great number of people coming in and out of the theater throughout the whole movie.  Other than the movie I walked out of, there has never been a time where I’ve gotten up in the middle of a movie for anything; a bathroom trip can wait and I don’t need a refill on soda or popcorn bad enough to miss a scene.  Overall, the atmosphere of the theater felt more like a really dark keg party than it did an enjoyable fright fest.

All four of us received movie vouchers for a free show sometime in the next year, but in my opinion it doesn’t make up for it.  I can’t have a do-over on watching a movie for the first time and I have no doubt that when we buy Paranormal Activity 3 on DVD, we’ll see and hear a lot of things that will be totally new to us as I’m sure we missed quite a bit due to the noise and movement in the theater.  I told my husband on the drive home that they should do more to shut people up and keep them from acting like morons.  Flashed on the screen for a few moments before a movie is a little warning about cell phones and talking, a reminder to keep it down and behave.  No one listens to it.  The two ushers coming into the theater did result in a drop in volume, but it was brief because the audience realized that these people weren’t going to do anything but whisper to a few people to put their phones away.  The audience acted the way they did because they’re low-class and allowed to act that way.  It’s easier to give out vouchers when people get upset than it is to control a bunch of idiots.  There is no fear of being thrown out of a theater.  There isn’t any risk of getting in trouble.  Acting like an ass is perfectly fine because no one does a thing to stop it.

My husband said that the ushers really did everything they could do and they couldn’t take on a mob of morons themselves without the risk of physical harm or even more noise and disruption.  But come on, AMC, the little theater in our town has a cop there every single night, their car parked right outside the exit doors as they stand cross-armed in the middle of the theater.  If they can swing it, why can’t you?  Some kind of security there would be a great deterrent to people who think they can act like an ass without consequence.  I guarantee that if a cop came into the theater that night and picked one idiot out of the many to escort from the theater, it would have put the fear in the rest of the idiots and they would have toned it down.  Actions speak volumes; a warning on the screen prior to the movie means nothing if you can’t back it up.

I’m not going to argue my husband’s point that there was nothing they could do because I already talked his ear off about it on the drive home that night and it’s going to have to be one of those agree to disagree things with he and I.  He was right though that in our case on Friday, there wasn’t anything more they could have done.  I would just like that to change.  I’d be all for paying a couple of dollars extra to see a movie where the audience is 21 and over and there is a stipulation that in this particular showing, you must shut the hell up, keep your phone away and keep your ass in your seat.  I would rock my Skull Candy ear buds in every movie if there was a plug in the armrest that would broadcast the movie sound right into my ears, effectively reducing the noise around me.  I’d happily drop $50 to watch a movie at home on the same night it hits theaters; we usually spend close to that at AMC with tickets ($20) and snacks ($20  -$25) and you really can’t beat the comfort of our couch and our HD flatscreen.  I’m just not willing to sit back and accept the fact that people will talk and text and laugh and disrupt the audience and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it.

I’m not certain when it became acceptable to be rude and act like an ass, but I’ve noticed that as the years go by, people’s behavior becomes more and more horrendous and unpleasant.  Finding someone with manners has become a shock to me; I’m always amazed when the chick at the drive-thru says “you’re welcome” or someone at the grocery store says “excuse me” instead of wordlessly pushing past me.  I appreciate when people compliment my son’s manners, but in all honesty he’s not doing anything above and beyond, he’s just simply being polite.  Unfortunately, society has been flooded with an abundance of bad behavior that makes the people who know how to act look like the odd ones out.  Imagine a non-smoking concert that has numerous concert goers that smoke.  It only takes one person to break the rules and light up before a person or two around him does the same.  More people see it and even though it’s wrong, they do it because other people are so they won’t be alone.  Pretty soon every smoker in there is lighting up, even though it’s not allowed, and all the non-smokers who expected clean air have to suffer.  The same thing happens with bad behavior; if it’s not stopped it just spreads until every low-class person around is doing it.

My husband and I won’t be returning to AMC for quite some time; I have zero excitement about using our vouchers for a free movie and I’m glad we have a year to use them because I have no desire to go back to that place.  I’m happy sticking with our little theater in town; it doesn’t have the do-it-yourself popcorn but it also doesn’t have people who make Scary Movie’s Regina Hall look tame by comparison.  It’s just pathetic that I have to avoid a theater that I enjoy because I’m outnumbered by people who shouldn’t be allowed in public without a muzzle and shock collar.

Driven To Madness

The Baker household will be holding scary movie marathons from now until Halloween, and possibly afterwards as well if we can’t manage to fit enough into our schedule.  Over the weekend, we watched Antichrist on Netflix.  Directed by Lars von Trier, who caught the interest of my husband due to an upcoming movie he has written and directed that stars Jack Bauer, AKA Kiefer Sutherland, called Melancholia.  Being a fan of anyone who will put Jack Bauer on-screen, I was up for the movie.

If that photo is offensive, you may want to leave this page now and plan on never watching this movie, as it is quite graphic.  If you’re still with me, I promise not to give away any real details of the movie, and if I do, I’ll give you a giant spoiler alert.

Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the movie follows a couple who experience a great tragedy. The mother, Gainsbourg, is inconsolable but her husband, Dafoe, is determined to help her overcome her grief by himself. They leave their home and go stay in their cabin in the woods, perfectly secluded from society.  The opening of the movie was one of the most compelling and emotional scenes I have ever seen in any movie or television show.  It’s a beautiful combination of love, lust, sorrow and regret.  The movie splits into four chapters; after the opener, the couple heads to their secluded cabin to begin the healing process and hopefully strengthen their marriage and find a way to move on with their lives.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.  Antichrist definitely follows this model, but not in a typical fashion.  Gainsbourg’s character, known only as “she,” attempts to avoid her grief by seeking physical comfort in her husband.  He does comply, but also continues to push her to overcome her depression and sadness.  At first, it reminded me of the way my husband is with me.  He’s the voice of reason and I’m the ball of emotions; if something horrible happened to our family I would definitely expect my husband to be strong for the both of us and to attempt to help me overcome my sadness.  I was definitely feeling that parts of this movie mirrored my own life, at least in the beginning.

Obviously, you don’t go into a movie titled Antichrist and expect it to be rainbows and sunshine.  As Dafoe’s character goes further into his wife’s mind, He begins to understand her seemingly irrational fear of nature, but unfortunately discovers materials she’s been hiding that show that she isn’t progressing and recovering the way he would like her to.  This discovery snowballs into a terrifying ride for the couple that goes beyond cringeworthy.  Unlike many horror flicks and suspenseful movies, Antichrist doesn’t throw gore in for the sake of gore, nor do they resort to cheap scares to get the audience to jump out of their seats.  The events in this movie not only COULD happen, but they DO happen in some form or another worldwide.

I found myself intensely afraid and sympathetic for one character only to have the tables turned on me, my focus and fear turned towards the other.  If you’re a prude or if you’re easily disgusted, beware of this film!  Otherwise, check Netflix or Blockbuster…. or wait, nevermind about Blockbuster, but find this movie wherever you can.  I’m very excited about von Trier, the director, and I’m immensely looking forward to seeing his next movie.  It’s always refreshing to watch a movie that is both written and directed by a true storyteller.  Happy viewing!

Manners Are SO Last Year!

My husband and I have the absolute worst luck in this galaxy when it comes to going to a movie theater and having a fully enjoyable experience, free of interruptions and chaos.  Last weekend we went to see Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.  Aside from the technical difficulties the theater experienced while trying to show the film and the loud popcorn crunchers that we’ve learned to expect and accept, we had a group of talkers and laughers behind us who kept up their personal soundtrack throughout the movie and two teenage boys who were chronic phone checkers and put on a light show for everyone in the bottom section with their smartphones.

I’ve given up hope that the world will ever learn to chew their food with their collective mouths shut, so my husband and I tend to attempt to find spots to sit in theaters where we’ll experience the least distraction.  What I shouldn’t have to tolerate are the people who pay to go to a movie only to ruin it by talking through the whole thing or who can’t stand going an hour without updating Facebook.  This extends outside of movie theaters to virtually every place imaginable outside the house.  At work I am currently blasting Korn on my iPod to drown out a woman cracking her gum, a man clipping his nails, a girl loudly chomping Cheetos, and a couple of men having a loud conversation about meeting girls online.  At work.  Yesterday while driving home we almost hit a guy who was more interested in his mail than he was about being in the way of oncoming traffic.  Prior to that we had a golf cart wait in a driveway until we were nearly on top of it before it pulled out directly in front of us, causing us to slam on our brakes.  People encountered while trying to walk will make zero effort to get out of the way for you, regardless of the fact that they and their 5 friends are blocking the entire hallway.  Grocery store patrons will run you down or bump into you rather than say “excuse me.”  I’m at a point to where I’m shocked when a child says “excuse me” or “please.”  In short, people have become assholes.

I’m not that old at 30, but I find myself thinking “When I was in high school, I wasn’t a douchebag like these kids” or “Do they not teach manners anymore?  Because I was taught manners in school.”  I feel like the world I grew up in has vanished, replaced by rude thoughtless little pigs who run amok without a care in the world or a vague understanding of courtesy and respect of others.  Somewhere along the line, society quit giving a damn about anyone and everyone around them.  We don’t say please and thank you anymore because we’re expecting to receive things when we want it and how we want it; there is no room for niceties anymore.  If we’re walking, anyone in our path is in OUR way, not vice versa, so they had better move because we’re not side stepping or saying “excuse me.”  Children and teenagers act as if they walk on water, adults act as if everyone surrounding them is worth less than dirt.  It’s disgusting.

The part that worries me the most is that people like me seem to be the minority.  People who still believe in manners and respecting the personal space and boundaries of others, who give a “thanks” for the person holding the door for us and do the same for the person behind, who don’t walk around as if we’re the only one who exists and/or matters.  Instead we are now overrun with people who believe that those around them should both tolerate and accept their bad behavior, be it the gum popping cow I work with or the people who refuse to silence their cell phones in theaters or doctor’s offices.  For some reason, the rude actions of one person snowball and soon enough everyone in the office is cracking their gum and no one has their phone on silent.  Kids see their parents ramming into store patrons and figure that they are allowed to do so as well.  Pretty soon we have a nation of assholes promoting their asshole behavior and making people who are considerate of others feel like outcasts.  No wonder other countries call Americans fat pigs.  We are exactly that.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have no desire to surround myself with people who choose to act low-class simply because it serves their needs better.  There are a lot of people in this world and unless you decide to become a hermit or that weird rich guy who lives on the corner and is never seen leaving his house, you’re going to be forced to come into contact with other members of society on a daily basis.  You’re going to be put in social situations where you’re comfortable and situations that you can’t wait to escape.  There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for acting poorly around others when it’s so easy to be respectful.  Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.  Understand that public places demand different behaviors than your living room and make the proper adjustments.  Try and think of things this way before doing them:  If someone was doing ____ around me, would I be okay with it?  If the answer is no, Don’t Do It.  Have some pride in yourself and put your best face forward when out in public.  Otherwise, stay home.

Nothing in this life is free

Recently, I’ve been getting DVDs from a friend of mine.  Most of the time, I’ll pay her for the cost of the copied disc, but sometimes she won’t charge me anything.  Most recently I got a copy of The Losers and Iron Man 2; the first was a great copy, the second was a bit fuzzy but since we’ve seen it in the theater twice, I’ll watch it!  A couple weeks ago, I also got How To Train Your Dragon for my son.  A few months back, a different friend got my husband and I the recent season of Dexter so we wouldn’t have to wait for the DVD to come out.  Is this wrong of me?

Oh yes I would!

Sure, I know it’s frowned upon, but I figure it evens out in the end.  My husband and I both went to see Iron Man 2 twice in the theater, and once we took our son, so we more than paid for that film and we will be buying the DVD when it is released.  We’ll also be buying Dexter when it finally comes out, and recently subscribed to Showtime so we can watch the next season.  We pay Netflix monthly for the convenience of watching various films.  We spend a lot on movies and television shows on DVD and in the theater.

The “don’t steal movies” ads aren’t going to deter me from getting copies from friends.  People do it all the time and from what I can see, it’s not doing much, if any, damage financially to either industry.  People are going to whine about it the way Metallica whined about Napster, but it won’t stop people from getting not-so-legal downloads and distributing them to others.  Iron Man 2 made $128 million it’s opening weekend and stayed at #1 for the weekend after.  Can you show me how my bootleg copy hurt anything?

Too cool not to download

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