Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday matinees

I wouldn't say I've been exactly killing it at work lately.

Oh, I'm not disappointing anyone -- I'm answering all my emails and fulfilling my requests in a timely fashion. But I haven't been striving a whole lot, and there are times I worry about that more often than others.

It was during one of these periods of worry last Friday that I volunteered to start coming in at 5 a.m. on Monday mornings.

You see, my company -- a party rental company -- has been rolling out a new version of the rental software. So far, the rollout has focused on locations on the West Coast. But now it's time to hit up our East Coast sites, and we don't have a technician in the Eastern time zone.

On Friday, I overheard a conference call between one of the trainers and a couple of my co-workers. There was frustration being expressed on both sides, with the trainers wanting us to do more prep work to minimize the possibility of technical problems on the go-live day, and my side explaining that certain problems were impossible to prepare for and would inevitably arise. At one point, I heard the trainer say "Are you going to come in at 5 a.m. to help them on Monday?"

Why, yes. Yes, perhaps I will.

The question wasn't directed at me, but I popped into my boss' office about 15 minutes later and volunteered to do it. He was incredibly pleased. "It'll just be for a month or so, right?" I asked. "Yeah, six weeks," he responded.

No problem.

Of course, I probably wouldn't have been so quick to volunteer if I didn't immediately sense the opportunity this schedule provided me.

On Mondays, my wife takes my son down to daycare, and I pick him up. I'm usually there to get him around 4, but we technically have until 5:30 before we're actually late to pick him up. Just lately I've realized that the traffic is not that much worse if I wait longer, so I've been trying to fit in errands or other time-killers, to get a little time to myself between my duties at work and my duties as a parent.

With my normal 7:00 to 3:30 schedule, I don't have time for anything more than a couple short errands.

Working 5:00 to 1:30, on the other hand, would allow me to see a movie before I have to pick him up.

As long as I can get to something that starts by 2:30, or even quarter to three (if it's short), I'm in the clear to hit a matinee ... and just hope that waking up at ten past four doesn't leave me comatose in the theater.

Yesterday's first installation of the new schedule was not a great way to start. Four friends and I had gone to the Los Angeles County Fair the previous evening, meaning I didn't get back to my house until just before 11, having indulged on too much food and too much beer. This after I'd gotten only four hours' sleep the night before (I started Silent House after midnight on Saturday, a kind of celebration after cleaning up in my poker game).

But Zombie Me made it into the office at 4:59 nonetheless, and good thing too -- my first two hours may have been my busiest of the day.

When 1:30 finally rolled around, I was still standing -- barely. And Celeste and Jesse Forever was still starting at 2:05 at the nearby Arclight. Hard to believe, since this little movie had been out for a month, and I had already flirted with seeing it several times. I figured it wouldn't last this Friday's new releases, and it was only 89 minutes -- a perfect length for a body on the verge of collapse.

I figured I should probably get the largest caffeinated soda the Arclight would sell me, but I was already reeling from the fact that there was no matinee price at this theater, meaning I was paying a full $12.50 to see a movie on a Monday afternoon. Besides, I'd drank two consecutive Diet Cokes just to keep me going in the past two hours. Since I didn't feel like taking on any more liquid, I'd have to hope that the lingering effects of that caffeine intake would sustain me.

And I did survive the whole movie without falling asleep. Even though I wasn't getting the small bursts of adrenaline that laughter provides.

Yeah, I didn't really dig this movie. While it's not a straight comedy -- there are times when it feels like a downright drama -- I figured that its comically talented stars (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) would be good for a few laughs. As it turns out, not really. The lack of laughs would have been alright if I'd found the movie poignant, but it failed me there as well.

I won't go into too much of a review of Celeste and Jesse, except to say that it commits dual sins: it's way too formulaic in parts, but it's also way too scattershot and unconventional in others. It's basically a mixed bag of mediocre filmmaking, which is disappointing also because I realized afterward that it was directed by Lee Toland Krieger, whose The Vicious Kind really worked for me a couple years ago.

It pains me to say this, but it was Rashida Jones who kind of let me down here. Serving as a co-writer in addition to executive producer and star, Jones is probably the most dominant single creative force behind the film. And though I love her -- really, I've had a thing for her ever since she first appeared as Jim's new girlfriend on The Office -- I don't know if she's quite capable of carrying a film. (It ends up being her story much more than it is Samberg's.) There are some people who are simply delightful in a supporting role, but they just don't fly when someone makes them the lead. That could be the case with Jones, though I never would have guessed it coming in, given the ample charisma she's brought to everything she's done.

Of course, I can't discount the fact that it may just be a bad idea to see any movie after you've only had eight hours of sleep in the previous two nights.

Maybe I'll use next Monday's 1:30 release as an opportunity to go swimming in the nearby Pacific Ocean. That'll certainly wake me up.

After all, watching movies is not the only thing you don't get to do as much of when you're a husband, a father and a new homeowner.

But the pull of this unique Monday matinee opportunity will be strong enough on most weeks to bring me back to the theater.

I mean, I'm a guy who loves movies -- which, like Celeste and Jesse, is also forever.


Nick Prigge said...

I remember the days - long, long ago - when I worked 6-2. That meant I was so often tired but it also meant far less crowded matinee showings of movies. I was particularly fond of getting to check out the new releases right away on Friday afternoons. That's all changed.

I also think you should totally skip at least one movie just to go swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe I'm only saying this because I don't have access to the Pacific Ocean, but still......

Travis McClain said...

I was already reeling from the fact that there was no matinee price at this theater, meaning I was paying a full $12.50 to see a movie on a Monday afternoon.


The terrorists won, then.

I'm in a bit of an irritating situation myself as regards matinee showings. There's one theater in town, and they don't open until 4:00 when school is in session. I can make a 20 minute drive to Louisville and catch a show, but then I'm burning up a lot more gas.

Side note: those Captchas are getting to be entirely ridiculous. Now that they're not even using actual words, I can't even guess what the hell half of them are.

Vancetastic said...


I was going to skip the movie this Monday -- as in, today -- since I just went to the movies yesterday, and I want the weather to still be warm enough to make the Pacific dip maximally refreshing. Alas, I did not have the forethought to bring a bathing suit. So I will be seeing Lawless today, if I can get to the theater in 20 minutes time after leaving work. If not, a later showing of Robot and Frank.


I applaud the business sense of that theater, since it's true, many early showings in most markets barely have the attendance to make it worth it for them to have the theater open. Then again, there's something great about wandering into a theater in the middle of the day and actually having the option of an early showing available to you. It's similar to being awake in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep, in a way.

I'd like to turn off the Captchas -- I agree that sometimes I am almost prevented from commenting because I can't decipher them successfully. But as soon as I do, I'm sure I will be bombarded, and that's annoying.