Friday, March 23, 2012

The Bladder Games

Recently I both discovered and finished the Hunger Games trilogy, and have been awaiting the movie’s release with excitement. The previews looked great, even while I had no idea that Suzanne Collins had co-written the screenplay.

For the first time I actually asked to leave work early so I could catch the 12:30 PM show today. “K,” my supervisor economically emailed me, so I tried to keep watch of the time this morning. Scarfed down a lunch earlier than normal, then wrote a response to someone and...

It was noon! I ran out, jumped in the car, and cussed at myself for not leaving earlier. It didn’t help that one of the lights out in the middle of nowhere between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill had been mis-programmed so it gave the busy highway a short light and the empty road that crossed it, the long. Or that the idiot in front of me turning left didn’t pull the hell out into the intersection so they might actually turn sometime this century. Come on! Come on!

I squealed into the strip mall with the theater and noted that there was no line. Whew. Trotted over, flashed my pre-paid ticket, and went inside. Hit the bathroom, got a “medium” non-caffeinated drink which looked to be about two liters, and, steeling myself to fight for a seat, went inside the theater.

It wasn’t that bad. I scored a fair/meh seat. It was on the side and not at a good vertical angle, but this theater is not a particularly good one. Good enough.

They hadn’t started the previews yet. After a while, when the “Movie trivia” slides had started repeating, someone two rows in front of me started grumbling that it was past 12:30. “Start already!”

The murmuring of the crowd increased. A guy down the row from me became louder. When someone commented, he said, "What do you expect? They gave me a barrel of Coke to drink! I'm caffeinated!" and pointed to his empty two-liter cup. Everyone laughed. Finally a lady from the staff came in and said they were having problems with the projector. It would just be another five minutes.

I’d only taken two sips of my drink, but thanked my lucky stars for the wait because I had to hit the bathroom again. In the lobby I heard the lady tell another staffer, “We need to talk to the company now!”

I relayed this to my rowmates when I returned, telling them that I didn’t think “five minutes” was going to hold true. We waited some more. And some more.

The Coke guy got up and went out into the lobby. When he returned he said that he’d spoken to the ticket taker and she said that the projectionist had quit the previous night.

About that time a slide came on the screen saying, “Job opportunities. Apply at the front lobby.” A few people commented about that.

Well, more people went out to the lobby. I hit the bathroom YET AGAIN. (I hadn’t drunk much this morning, really!) We all compared notes:

Apparently the projectionist had indeed quit the previous night. Also apparently the only thing one has to do to run a digital “projector” is to hit a button. That is, after one has keyed in a code to unlock everything.

They had a code and it wasn’t working. No one at “the company” was able to find the correct code. But they’d get it, they promised. They were going to skip all the previews so we’d still get out at about the right time.

So we sat. I got up to stretch and noticed that all the seats behind me were empty. The lobby was filled with people getting free passes, some of whom were strolling toward another theater. We had been in Theater #1. Theater #4 was scheduled to start the movie at 1. They had just now finally gotten the previews to begin. Everyone was crossing their fingers in hopes that the movie would be able to be shown, but they couldn’t guarantee it.

Of course that theater would be filled by now. It was a teacher’s work day and there were lots of kids available to go to the movies. But (after a bathroom break) (I know! I know!) I ambled into the theatre to see if I’d be able to find a seat.

Not only found a seat, but a very good one. This was much better than Theater #1.

Saw a couple previews, the last of which was for the final Twilight movie. Are they still making those? It was clear that the audience did not approve of things Twilight, and I had to laugh.

Then the screen reminded us of its parent corporation and without missing a beat, went into Hunger Games. Hooray!

Wow! What a great movie! Except that about thirty minutes in, my bladder berated me for those few sips of fruit punch. The tension just added to the excitement, right? And after it was all over, I raced into the ladies’ room and—do you recall the Tom Hanks peeing scene from A League of Their Own? I expected Rosie O’Donnell to congratulate me after I was through. Whew!

(And now that I'm home, my bladder is operating quite normally, thank you.)

I want to see the movie again, this time in a primo theater when I can relax and enjoy the details. I think they missed firing the cannon a few times there, that kind of thing. WRAL had a feature about the filming in which they said that Katniss ran across a waterfall near Brevard and had to be on some kind of rope device to pull it off. I don’t remember that from the movie.

The forest scenery looked like what I see from my house, except for the mountains and waterfalls. Every time Katniss fell or rolled down a slope I gritted my teeth. “Ticks!” I thought.

You should see the movie. It's a two-Kleenexer. You might be able to get through the goodbyes at the beginning, but when you-know-who dies, you're going to need tissues. And I think they cut out some of the epilogue. I'd check, but I've loaned my copy to someone. Guess they want movie #2 to really concentrate on the setup of their world and the beginnings of rebellion. (Though they began that here.)

Kids far too young to see the movie were in attendance en masse. One older kid sat behind me. "Kill him! Kill him!" he hissed audibly as Katniss battled a female opponent.

Hey, I found a quote I want to include: Jennifer (Katniss) (Did you know that “katniss” is the common name for the plant sagittaria, which is named after Sagittarius, who is the Archer? Cool!) Lawrence described the HG trilogy as holding up "a terrible kind of mirror: This is what our society could be like if we became desensitized to trauma and to each other's pain."

Exactly. I despise the desensitization we’re being exposed to these days. What do you think about that? Do you have another idea about what HG is?

Here's a great review by one of my favorite reviewers. And this one has some excellent points to make.

I also want to point out to those nay-sayers who preach that a female protagonist cannot helm a successful action movie: nyahh!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When Will I Ever Learn?

Over the decades I've had a LOT of work done around my two houses (owned one at a time) and in their yards. Boy, can I tell you stories about the loser contractors—and even THIEF contractors—I've hired!

As a matter of fact, I've got a novel kinda started that incorporates a few of the more colorful stories. Someday I'll get serious about writing it. (Since it's a contemporary romance instead of sf/f, it will have to wait a bit.)

Last year was, I thought, my tenth here in this second house. Turns out it was more like the eleventh or twelfth. Either way, time to get some serious work done. You know, fix the place up, start on some of those dream projects.

Last Nov.-Dec. I had work done on the interior front third of the house. Well, third more or less. I had the awful excuse for wallboard stripped, new wallboard put on, crown molding and baseboard trim. I straightened out an angle in the living room where a entertainment center had been built into the original house. This also repaired the giant hole left there by the old-style TV that had to go.

Some of you may have heard the story about the carpenter who took forever to get the job done. One day he decided to get to a part of the job that he'd told me wasn't going to be attended to for another week and a half. (Else I would have cleared things off before he got there.) When I returned home, half my Wonder Woman figurines and the shelves they'd been on were on the floor. A couple of porcelain pieces lay there, shattered.

No note. No phone message. No attempt to clean it up. I called him and **I** was the one who had to broach the subject, because he acted like nothing was wrong. Then first he blamed the shelf that he had neglected to check, even though he'd been pounding on the other side of the wall it was mounted on. Then he blamed me. A few days later he finally said, "Sorry."

Needless to say, he bought replacements.

But before he'd started the job I'd insisted he draw up a contract stating precisely what we'd agreed to and how much it would cost. (I should have included a finish date.) So I felt good about hiring him, and will never, ever hire him again.

The painters who finished up came with a very professional contract as well as work ethic. When they broke my porcelain faux-French phone, the one guy immediately came to me and apologized profusely. They deducted the cost from the final bill. Lovely.

So three weeks ago I call up a landscape place who's done minor work for me before. I had a number of projects I needed done, and one was to take down the giant mural/backboard I'd had built on the property. Carpenter bees had taken it over, a huge buck had gotten caught in the netting, and basically, it was rotting away, no matter how many times I had a waterproofer come out and work on it. (Picture of it in post-buck days at top of column.)

I led them around the yard, pointing out the more minor stuff. "Uh huh, uh huh," the boss guy said. He was really interested in how many cement blocks had to be moved from this one patch I wanted cleared.

Okay, I finished showing the work. He huddled with his assistant for about fifteen minutes and came back with a price.

"Fine," I said. "Please give me a contract listing all this and how you're pricing it."

"Oh, we don't need a contract," he laughed.

"I watch People's Court all the time. Judge Milian says always get a contract for any job that's a lot of money. This is a lot of money to me."

He laughed some more, assured me that the price was for the whole thing and not piecemeal, and that they had all the details. They could get it done that week. Wait. They were working on another job. Would I mind if they worked on it that Saturday? Sure. Reluctantly, I let them go away with no contract in sight.

So today, three weeks later and not a Saturday, they came by. And missed a number of jobs. Did one absolutely wrong; I'd showed them three times and explained how the last guy had done it wrong, and they did it the exact same way.

It's frustrating to the max. You'd think I'd know by now. Well, I do, and I share it so you will know as well:


So if you hear me bitching about something else that I didn't get a contract for first, yell at me or hit me on the haid. Please.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's a Contest!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Applesauce and Moonbeams by Carol A. Strickland

Applesauce and Moonbeams

by Carol A. Strickland

Giveaway ends March 16, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win