pizza

#807: Freestylin’ 3 – V.I.P.-stylin’ (plus vote results)

GETTING MORE TALE #807: Freestylin’ 3 – V.I.P.-stylin’

As a family tradition, any time there is a new Star Wars saga film, my sister and I have to take my mom and dad out to see it.  My dad won’t go see movies very often.  After all, he did make a scene at Lord of the Rings.  He just doesn’t like going, and doesn’t enjoy sitting still for two hours watching just one thing.

But we got him out to Rise of Skywalker, and to make it a treat for everyone, my mom decided she wanted to do the V.I.P. experience.  This V.I.P. stuff was new to my dad and I as well.

There are a number of things to talk about with this experience, so get a warm coffee and let’s go.

We went to a noon matinee.  Nobody ever seems to go to movies at noon on a weekend; it’s the perfect time.  I was told that the V.I.P. section had a full menu of food and service right to your seat, so I skipped lunch that day intending to make the movie theater my lunch.  I was not disappointed.

We went upstairs to the V.I.P. area where I was stunned by a cool looking lounge/bar/restaurant setup.  I suddenly felt under-dressed in my khakis and “Pickle Rick” T-shirt.

The seats in the V.I.P. theater are like individual recliners.  They were so incredibly comfortable that I just plopped right down, and didn’t move for the next two or three hours.  Who doesn’t shift around in an uncomfortable and too small movie seat?  The V.I.P. section eliminates that.  The serving staff (all friendly and helpful) got our drink orders right away.  My mom ordered wine.  Once we decided on food, we just paid by debit.  Well, my dad paid for me — apparently it was his treat.  We split a pizza with olives, tomatoes and feta cheese, and my mom ordered Hawaiian, finishing half.  My sister and her mainman Drew had beer, chicken wings and popcorn, and the wings smelled amazing.

“This is the best pizza I’ve ever had,” I said incredulously.  Who goes to a movie theater and says that?  I love pizza, folks.  I’ve never been to Italy, or even New York or Chicago, but I’ve eaten a lot of pizza.  That was a good one, right there.  I’m not saying “best in the world” or anything like that, but certainly “best in my limited Canadian experience.”  I’m saying that unless you’re from Naples or New York, you’re going to like the pizza.

We arrived early when the theater had just opened up so we’d have plenty of time to finish our lunch.  (We sat through the same boring trailers as last time, so I’ll warn you now:  there’s a new Harrison Ford version of Call of the Wild coming out with a CG dog and it looks utter shite.  I cannae understand why they used a fake looking CG dog.)  The lights stayed on until the trailers were over and the movie rolled, because I don’t think you want to be working your way through pulled-pork tacos or calamari in the dark.

On went the 3D glasses.  Since I’ve already reviewed the movie I’ll just talk about a few things that we didn’t discuss before.  The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t need to be seen in 3D.  While I enjoy it, I find things look less sharp in 3D, and there were few scenes that really jumped in 3D.  For The Rise of Skywalker, it’s not necessary like it is for, say, Avatar.

My father did say if they ever have a theatrical re-release for Lord of the Rings in 3D, he’d go out to see a movie again.  Make it happen, Peter Jackson.

He really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker.  “That was the best movie I ever saw!” he said at the end.  I’m sure that’s the rush of coming out of a theater.  I don’t think The Rise of Skywalker will really replace The Lives of a Bengal Lancer or Beau Geste for him in the long term.  The point is, he liked it.  And he didn’t like The Last Jedi very much at all.

In our post-movie discussions, I pointed out that J.J. Abrams seemed to stick it to Rian Johnson a bit.  Luke Skywalker says “I was wrong,” in regards to his decisions seen in The Last Jedi.  “I felt like it was J.J. saying The Last Jedi was wrong,” I told my sister who agreed.

One of the guys at work complained to me that The Rise of Skywalker is too similar to Return of the Jedi, in the sense that the state of the galaxy is returned similar to the way things were at the conclusion of that earlier film.  “Of course,” I explained.  “That was always going to be the case.  The sequel trilogy was never planned like Lucas makes it sound.  It was always tacked on.  Return of the Jedi was his intended conclusion.”  It tied up two threads that he originally set up for a sequel trilogy, which is the search for the Emperor, and the search for Luke’s sister.  Instead of saving those for the three sequel movies, Lucas concluded the saga in Return of the Jedi.  Period.  Oh sure, Lucas had story ideas for a sequel trilogy featuring midichlorians and a proto-Rey named KiraRey and the Midichlorians of Doom, I call it.  So let’s all cool our jets a bit when talking about the sequel trilogy.  We all played with Star Wars toys as kids.  We all had our own ideas for a sequel trilogy.  J.J. came up with a decent one, and while I am sure there is better fanfic out there, I’ll remind you that in the early 90s there was also far better fanfic depicting the prequels, too.  Because we never thought we’d get those either.  My own ideas for the prequels had Vader turning evil in Episode II, falling into a volcano then.  By Episode III he was already in the armor, hunting Obi-Wan and the Jedi.  To me this would explain why Obi-Wan immediately recognized Vader in his armor in Episode IV – he had encountered it before.  And my prequel series would have been better than George’s, just like your sequel trilogy would be better than J.J.’s.  We all think that.

Funny enough, the sequel trilogy ends the same way as Lucas’ original concept for Episode IX.  The hero slays the Emperor.  That’s how he envisioned it when he sketched outlines for nine films in the late 70s.  His midichlorian trilogy idea with Rey/Kira was something he concocted later, after Return of the Jedi already ended the saga.  Like it or not, that’s the sequence of events.

I will say that The Rise of Skywalker, like many Star Wars movies, was better the second time.  There are cameos and clues to pick up on, not to mention that incredible John Williams score.  The triumphant anthems during the final space battle really bring a tear to the eye.

Exiting the V.I.P. theater, we chatted with the manager a bit.  Apparently you can just saddle up in the restaurant area for dinner if you just want a nice movie theater pizza, or sit at the bar.  She said they have special super-hot pizza ovens there which helps explain why mine was so good.

This experience was an early new year highlight.  Usually I walk out of a theater with a sore neck, sore back, or both.  I admit I did have sort of a mild headache behind my eyes; this happens sometimes with 3D movies.  Or it could be that I only had five hours’ sleep.  Don’t know; just sayin’.  The point is, I want to do it again sooner rather than later.

One problem.  There’s absolutely nothing coming out that I want to spend that kind of money seeing.  Nothing.  Oh sure, the new Bond looks badass and Daniel Craig is cool, but I can never follow the twisted plots of those movies.

So I don’t know when I’ll be doing this again.  If James Cameron comes out with Avatar 2 anytime soon, I bet I could drag my dad out for that one!

 

 


UPDATE!

VHS Archives vote results!

You guys chose DAVID LEE ROTH for the next instalment of VHS Archives!  Your wish is my command.  One third of you wanted Roth, which is a good one from 1988, the Skyscraper tour.  The interview is by Steve Anthony.  I’ll post that one next in the coming days!

I do want to comment on a couple things and maybe scold you readers a little bit.

Nobody voted for Kane Roberts and Alice Cooper.  For shame!  That is one of the best in my entire collection.  Two very, very funny guys there, like a comedy team.  Sample quote.

“Alice has an incredible presence on stage, and he gives me some of those presents every once in a while.”

Come on, that’s funny stuff!

And technically nobody voted for Paul Stanley either, because that’s my vote and it only got one.  Shame!  Dan Gallagher did that whole interview in Gene’s makeup, and then Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum also sat in.

Roth is next on the VHS Archives, thanks for voting!

VHS Archives #51: Tom Green and Organized Rhyme – Loeb pizza ad (1992)

The things I’m finding that I never knew I had!

This tape, from November of 1992, contains a Guns N’ Roses concert called Live in Paris. You remember that one? With Soundgarden, Lenny Kravitz, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry?  I set the VCR to record it in the middle of the night, so I captured all the commercials as well.  First one:  Tom Green and his old rap group, Organized Rhyme, selling pizza on late night TV!

The only other copy of this on Youtube is in black and white.  Not sure why that would be, so here you go, Tom Green fans!

Part 203: Bitchin’ About Staff Meetings

east-side-mario-s

RECORD STORE TALES Part 203:  Staff Meetings

I used to enjoy staff meetings.  When we were a small  chain, we’d gather all the employees up after work at one of the larger locations.  If memory serves (and Lord knows we’re talking about 18 years ago now), the boss even brought a case of beer to the first one.  We’d go over ideas, improvements, problems, shoot the shit, it was informal and it was great!  It was one of the only times we’d have everybody together in one room.

As we expanded, that became impractical.  We started having meetings with just the managers.  These were a bit more serious in nature, sometimes heated, but we held them at a restaurant.  The boss would pay for everybody’s beer and food, which was really cool.  We’d have a good time, it was for social purposes as well as practical.  We usually held these “Manager’s Meetings” in the closest East Side Mario’s.  Decent, not the greatest food in the world, but I liked it.

MOTHERSIt’s a shame this wasn’t the 1980’s.  Then we could have had the meetings at a place like Mother’s Pizza!  Mother’s Pizza was the best pizza place in town.  I went there for every birthday.  It was co-owned by Ernie Whitt, the catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Later on, Cito Gaston bought in as well.  Mother’s.  Now that was a pizza.*

Ahem.  Sorry.  I tend to lose my train of thought when I talk about food.

We’d mess with each other.  I remember my boss had one pen that he just loved.  Loved it.  Freaked out when he misplaced it.  He’d run around the store yelling “WHERE MY PEN!” in a funny voice.  So somebody sneakily stole his pen just before the staff meeting.

We went to Mario’s for the meet.  Upon arrival, he complained a bit about misplacing his pen, but got on to business.  A short while later, one of the store managers was casually writing with it, nonchalant.  His pen.  His precious…waiting for him to notice it in someone else’s hands.

Suddenly, he saw.  He pointed.  “MY PEN!  MY PEN!  YOU HAVE MY PEN!” he yelled in that funny voice again.  Kids at the table next to us stared, wondering who this guy was!

Yeah, those were good times.  But as George Harrison said, all things must pass.  I’ve talked before about “The Great Change”, when CD sales started to slump.  Budgets got tighter, things got more serious.  Staff meetings were moved to a stuffy boardroom in the back of one of our stores.  We started receiving extensive emails with the “minutes” from the meeting, the mind-numbing minutiae.  This was a long way from beer and pizza.  The atmosphere was dour and the meetings sometimes dragged on for 2 hours.

After the meetings, I’d sometimes shoot the shit with one or two of the other store managers.

“What was that?” I would say.  “I could have said all that in one email!”

“Was there anything said in that meeting that couldn’t have been covered in one email?” someone asked rhetorically.

It was at one of these staff meetings that Joe dubbed me with the nickname Señor Spielbergo because of my thick beard.  But in the later days, that was one of the few moments of levity.  For me these meetings were just a stagnant waste of time.  Hours upon hours of time that I’ll never get back.

* I hear they opened a new Mother’s Pizza in Hamilton.  Maybe, for future record store kids, the dream of a staff meeting at Mother’s Pizza is alive again?  I hope so.

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

Fuckin’ sHEAVY!