Archive for March, 2009

Ah, Los Angeles. Age

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

You find a checkout line with only one person in front of you and most of her stuff is already checked and back in her cart.  You look up and down the long aisle filled with people and carts four and five deep at other lines and you can’t help but smirk.

The woman in front of you is older and that gives you pause but she holds a hundred and fifty dollars in her left hand along with her frequent shopper’s card.  “Oh, joy”, you think.  “She’s ready to go and it’s cash.  I’ll be out of here in no time.”  The total on the screen is  pushing $300 but you have confidence.

The cashier repeatedly asks for the woman’s shopper’s card.  The woman starts searching through her purse.  Just as you’re thinking of politely suggesting she look in her left hand the cashier takes the card from the woman and swipes it.  This does not deter the woman from looking through her purse.

“Two hundred and fifty-eight dollars and thirty-seven cents,” the cashier announces cheerfully although what’s cheerful about that amount of money for groceries escapes you.

The words have no impact on the woman searching through her bag.  “I can’t find my card.”

You and the cashier assume she means a credit card to pay for the rest of her groceries.  She means her shopper’s card.

“Ma’am, I’ve already swiped your shopper’s card.”  The cashier holds it up as proof.

“Where is it?” The cashier waves it in front of her.

You look around to notice that the other lines are moving slowly but enviably along.

The woman takes the card and offers her cash.

“You need another hundred and eight dollars and thirty-seven cents.”

There is a look of incomprehension and panic on the woman’s face that pierces you.  You see yourself in that look.  You see your future in that look.  If you had an extra hundred and eight dollars, you’d gladly fork it over not to move the line but to somehow assuage the gods of age.

She then utters the words that bring you back to the current situation.  “Can I give stuff back?”

She starts to unload stuff with the help of the bagger who is suggesting that she unload the liquor from the bottom of her cart first.  As if he never spoke, she puts one piece of preprepared food back on the check stand after another.  The total is inching downward.

You turn to people showing up in your line and explain the situation.  With considerable irritation they curse the infirmity of her age and move on.

One man decides to stay.  His hair grows only around his dome and in a line straight across the middle.  He  has grown that line of hair very long and combs some of the long, thin strands to cover the skin toward the back and the rest to cover the skin all the way to his eyebrows.  There it is cut straight across the eyebrow line.  He has dyed his hair jet black and the pale skin showing through the black hair gives an extraterrestrial version of the early Beatles look.

You self-consciously pat your own bald spot.  Now, you are surrounded by signs of age.

Finally, the woman puts back all of the food leaving the booze in her cart which totals three dollars less that she has.  At least, it seems, she still has her priorities.

Ah, Los Angeles “Watchmen”

Friday, March 6th, 2009

You rush out to see “Watchmen.”  You ignore the reviewers.  The New Yorker says things about the film that seem cruel.  That gives you hope because so often you disagree with New Yorker reviews.

It starts off just like a good movie.  There’s a big kung fu fight in the Comedian’s apartment ending with the Comedian plunging to his death. Violence, mayhem, blood.  All right, you think to yourself, this is going places.  It does go places.  All of them bad.

For writers, “Watchmen” is a primer in how not to write a script.  The characters talk rather than do.  The dialogue is so on the nose that the audience sniffs in discomfort.  There are flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways.  There are voice overs and voice unders.  You understand that all those rules for screenplay writing are for a reason.  Sooner or later, you start to lose consciousness.

The theater management clearly expects this might be a problem and lowers the thermostat down to about 60 degrees to keep the audience awake.  You jerk awake and blow on your fingers, stamp your feet and pray for blood to return to your extremities.  Visions of  a brazier and a bottle of whiskey float by.

At the two hour mark, people start to leave.  Thirty minutes later, you are one of the stalwarts who feel that the end must be near.  Unfortunately for the film, the writers choose this moment for Ms. Jupiter to say something like, “some things never end.”

On the positive side, it is the best movie about a giant blue ghost around.