A GIANT CUP OF REVENGE

A GIANT CUP OF REVENGE

I hereby promise to quit bitching about all the poor, misguided fools drawn to this site searching for pictures of obscene billboards and spoilers about shark movies. Last week, they gave me my highest week of traffic ever — by far. But since I don’t pride myself on being a source of info for people who like to see ugly guys get hummers overlooking major metropolitan streets or people who can’t wait for release day to see if the shark gets it in the end, it was kind of a hollow, empty victory.

Well, yesterday, I got more hits than I got all last week. In one day. And I’ve nearly passed that total again today, and it’s only 7 a.m. I know nobody cares about traffic except the schmo who runs the site, but for this schmo, this represents something of a victory.

That’s because for a change, all these people are coming to read something I actually wrote. My post about the jerk at the coffee shop got linked by both LA.comfidential and Defamer, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine. Yes, a lifelong dream, because I don’t know about you, but for me, life didn’t begin until Defamer came around. And they didn’t make fun of me (I think).

Of course, the flip side to all of this is that a bitter, mean-spirited post I expected a handful of people to read will now get read by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of LA dwellers, people who may actually know the creep. Right now, a conversation beginning with the words, “Dude, some guy’s totally ragging on you on his blog,” may be taking place somewhere in this city. Oops.

Well, a lesser blogger might back down at this point, but I say it’s time to step things up. Creep, if this gets back to you, I’d like an apology — and if I get one, I’ll print a full retraction and let everyone know you’re really a swell, misunderstood guy. I’ll even let you send in a picture if you found mine a bit unflattering. But beware: should you choose to stand your ground and assert your right to spoil movies loudly in coffeeshops and invade people’s personal space, I will renew my call for retaliation*.

In that case, you might want to find a new place to manage your iTunes — or there could be a lot of people sitting at your table next week.

____________________________

* “Retaliation” to be limited to minor annoyances in the immediate vicinity of coffee shops. I repeat yet again: do NOT harm this man (or verbally abuse him).

DON’T SIT SO, DON’T SIT SO, DON’T SIT SO CLOSE TO ME!

DON’T SIT SO, DON’T SIT SO, DON’T SIT SO CLOSE TO ME!

I have a new mortal enemy.

This morning, I decided to go to a local coffee shop to do a little writing. I got there early enough that the place was virtually empty. By “virtually empty”, I mean the only people there were me and the cashier/coffeemaker woman. That’s ideal for me, because the whole point of going out to write is to avoid all the distractions in my apartment.

So I placed my order, sat down, plugged in my laptop and got to work. And about a half hour later, this guy comes in and sits down at my table. At that point, there was exactly one other person in the place, a college kid studying his chemistry textbook. There were at least ten wide open tables where this goon could’ve planted himself, but he chose to sit directly across from me.

What makes this even worse — nay, in fact, completely unforgivable — is that this was the very same guy who was spouting off his “Village” spoilers exactly one week ago at this same coffee shop.

It was clear at that point that I was finished writing. The distraction of sharing a table with a stranger + overwhelming rage = Jerry out of his creative zone. I could’ve told the guy in not-so-polite terms that he was bound by all standards of human decency to move his smelly ass face to another table pronto, but it probably would’ve provoked a dispute about coffee shop manners that would’ve ruined most of my day. Or I could’ve moved to another table myself, but I’m just not that kind of person.

The kind of person I am is a vengeful person. I couldn’t attack, and I couldn’t retreat, but I could make him regret his decision.

So I stared at him. I never stare directly at people, because I’m too afraid they’ll notice, and I’ll have to look away and pretend like I wasn’t staring and they’ll know I was, and most of my day will be ruined. But this time, I wanted him to notice. And when he caught me looking, I had my next move already planned out: I would keep looking at him. He would either get creeped out and leave, in which case I’d win, or he’d start an argument, which would go something like this:

“You’re staring at me!”

“Yeah, well you sat at my table!”

Game, set, match: me.

But he kept working on his computer — iTunes, no less, yes, his important job that he needed to do two feet away from me was to manage his fucking iTunes for an hour. And he completely ignored my staring.

This guy was clearly a brilliant tactician. So I moved to Plan B. I began to exaggerate every sound I made for maximum annoyance — coughs, sighs, moving my chair back and forth on the floor — CREEEEEEEEAK!!!! — drumming my fingers on the table. I started humming along to the music — loudly. The place was still dead enough that I wasn’t worried about annoying other people. Sure, there was College Boy, but screw him. He should’ve come to my defense when he had the chance.

Then I took out my phone — just to spook him into thinking I was going to start making loud celph calls in his face. And that got him to look up. A-ha! I’d found his Achilles’ heel! But I’m too celph-conscious to let the world hear my calls, and I didn’t want to start bothering people at 10 a.m. just because I was at war.

So I started sending text messages. When he realized I wasn’t going to talk, he went back to work. But little did my tormentor know that since our last showdown, I had purchased a new celph — a camera phone, no less. I realized that by holding my phone at text message level, I was perfectly positioned to capture his ugly, inconsiderate face so I’d have a record of his transgression against humanity forever. And if he didn’t want his picture taken, he’d have to move.

He didn’t. Oh, well.

So now I ask your help. If you see this man, do not harm him. I repeat: do not harm him.

But please, please, please annoy the shit out of him.

Pontificate loudly about recent films. Spread spoilers in his general vicinity. Invade his personal space. This is a bad man, people, and he lives among us. For the good of humankind, let’s make him pay for his crimes.

I’ve been calling for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and now I finally know where to send them instead: a little coffee shop in my neighborhood that used to be pretty quiet on Saturday mornings. In fact, I know the exact table they should occupy. Their mission: to protect and to annoy. They can leave their guns at home and bring their kazoos instead.

Until then, this is my war. And one thing is for sure: I will be going back to that coffee shop next Saturday. I have a mission, and, besides that, I really need to get some writing done.

TODAY

TODAY

Today was my first day at the new job. After a virtually sleepless night, tossing and turning and thinking, “I’m going to be bad at it” and “Nobody’s going to like me” and “I’m going to hate it” and “It certainly isn’t going to help to show up exhausted because I couldn’t fall asleep” and “I’m going to be bad at it” and “Oh, yeah, I already thought about how bad I’m going to be at it, so why can’t I just stop thinking about that and get to sleep?”, it turned out that it wasn’t that bad, and I didn’t hate it. It really seems like it’s going to be a pretty cool job for the next three months, and I probably lost a lot of sleep over nothing. But that’s what I do.

And then I came home and saw that today was also the highest-traffic day ever for this blog, which was really exciting until I realized that a bunch of people came here looking for “open water spoilers”, which I don’t really have, but I just felt a little guilty for possibly misleading those people. And then I saw that a whole freaking slew of people — probably 90% of today’s hits –came here looking for this, which I don’t have and don’t want. (If that’s what brought you here, you can find it here.) Now, shoo, you pervs! People‘s moms read this blog!

This has plagued me since I first mentioned the controversy about the film a year ago. To this day, I get more hits for people searching for some variation of that than for anything else, and they don’t want my opinion of the psychotic filmmaker. They want pictures and downloads and graphic details. Blog traffic is one thing, but I doubt any of these people are sticking around to read my entry about watching “Dora the Explorer” with my niece. I’ve tried going back and editing my old posts, but the hits still come. Oh, no. I said “come” — that’s only going to bring more of them. Is there any way I can ever cleanse my blog of this junk and the jerks it opens my door to?

Great, something to keep me up all night tonight.

DON’T YOU HATE FILM GEEKS PONTIFICATING ON RECENTLY-RELEASED FILMS AND REVEALING SPOILERS?

DON’T YOU HATE FILM GEEKS PONTIFICATING ON RECENTLY-RELEASED FILMS AND REVEALING SPOILERS?

Warning: Contains spoilers for “The Village” and “Open Water” (but probably nothing you couldn’t figure out on your own). Oh, yeah, and “Jaws”, too. For a spoiler-free “Village” anecdote, see my previous entry.

The biggest spoiler I read about “The Village” before I saw it — and the one that perfectly encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the movie — is the explanation of the film’s PG-13 rating which you can read in any newspaper ad: “for a scene of violence and frightening situations”.

A scene of violence? That’s it? I thought this was a horror film. Worse, this scene of violence comes about halfway through the movie, so after that, you know the good stuff’s pretty much over.

But then again, maybe the bigger and more revealing spoiler are the words “An M. Night Shyamalan Film” in the ad, since that should’ve told you all the same things anyway.

Steven Spielberg gets a lot of credit for rejuvenating horror films with “Jaws”. His trick, which was pretty novel at the time, was not to show the shark at first. Instead, he teased the shark with music, with creepy shots of a dorsal fin slicing through the water, and with gruesome off-screen deaths, so that when audiences finally saw the shark’s face, it was milked for maximum effect.

The problem with M. Night Shyamalan is that he never wants to show you the shark. He wants to wait until the last five minutes of the film and then tell you that the shark was actually a guppy. And once you know this, you don’t enjoy his movies the way you’re supposed to. You sit there not so much interested in the characters, who’s going to live or die, or how they’re going to conquer the beast. You can’t enjoy any of the typical pleasures of a horror film, because all throughout, you’re just trying to figure out the puzzle. And once you do, the tension is pretty much gone and you can skip the rest of the film. I think Shyamalan has a lot of talent as a filmmaker but a very misguided notion of how to please an audience. The fun of a movie shouldn’t be in trying to outsmart the director. As one guy at the showing I saw muttered on the way out, “I wanted to see a horror film…”

Shyamalan doesn’t help his case by coming off like an arrogant prick in interviews. It only leads geeks like me to write patronizing reviews like this. If you really think you’re such a great director, M. Night, you should realize that the third act of your movie is built around a horror movie contrivance so unbelievable (let’s send a blind girl after the monster… all by herself!) that even a garden variety hack would never try to get away with it. Sorry, but an Oscar nomination doesn’t entitle you to insult the audience’s intelligence. But just when you’re ready to forgive the director’s pretensions, he shows up in his obligatory cameo, reading a newspaper in which every headline drives home the movie’s all-too-obvious-at-that-point-anyway theme.

When you strip away all the storytelling tricks and plot holes of “The Village”, there’s actually a pretty interesting premise behind it. It’s just a shame we never get to enjoy the movie it could’ve been.

So I left theater disappointed, still wanting to see a genuine horror film. My only hope was that “Open Water” might take the bad taste out of my mouth when it’s released next weekend.

And then I was stupid and looked at the ad for the film in the paper: “Rated R – for language and some nudity”. Language and nudity?! No mention of violence? Even “The Village” was slapped for “frightening situations”.

Oh, well. At least we’ll get to see some sharks.

A, E, I, O, U (AND SOMETIMES Y?)

A, E, I, O, U (AND SOMETIMES Y?)

A while ago, I introduced here the abbreviation “A&E”, which stands for “arrogant & entitled”, and which I vowed to use whenever someone annoyed me by exhibiting those characteristics in my general vicinity. Not surprisingly, living in L.A. gives me an opportunity to use this little bit of homemade slang on an almost daily basis. But lately, I’ve started to feel like it’s inadequate to capture all the things that bug me about the bad people. Oh, those bad people — you don’t know how much they bug me! Here’s a little anecdote from this weekend to illustrate:

On Saturday morning, Drew and I were hanging out at a coffee shop, which seems like a very L.A. thing to do, which is why we never do it, but what can I say, we did, and we were quickly reminded of why we shouldn’t. Soon after we sat down, a particular breed of L.A. denizen known to frequent coffee shops — whom I will call a “film geek” — entered the establishment and spotted a fellow film geek friend of his, typing out his screenplay on a powerbook.

Geek #1 approaches Geek #2 and immediately starts talking about the movie he saw last night, “The Village”. (Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers in this entry, though watch for my review soon…) It just so happened that Drew and I had already purchased tickets for an afternoon showing of this very same movie, and, as it was one of those movies rumored to center around the revelation of some mind-blowing twist, we had carefully avoided reading anything about it in order to preserve our enjoyment of the film. And we were seeing it opening weekend because we knew that some spoiler leakage was inevitable in the days ahead. (Fine, we’re film geeks, too.) But at this point, the movie had been out for only one day, so who’d be so obnoxious as to spoil it?

Well, Geek #1, that’s who. He began talking very loud, giving his detailed review of the film and basically recounting the entire plot. This put us in a tricky situation, and it was at this point that a very annoyed boyfriend of mine chose conflict avoidance and literally ran out of the coffee shop with his hands over his ears. I tried to stick it out, but the geek clearly wasn’t going to shut up until he ruined the entire movie, so I ran out to the sidewalk, too.

And we waited there, watching through the windows as we saw Geek #1 act out the movie in pantomime for the next five minutes, our stuff still trapped inside helplessly. Drew became angrier and angrier at the A&E on display, first thinking it was his right — then his duty — to complain to the geek and let him know the pain he’d caused us.

So when Geek #1 finished talking to Geek #2, we went back inside, and Drew told him, as politely as possible, that we had overheard the conversation and had to step outside because we were afraid we’d hear spoilers. You’d think a film geek might understand this, right? The geek’s response: “Oh.” And then he put his head down and went back to his latte and his screenplay.

No “sorry”, no “oops, I didn’t realize I was talking so loud”, no “don’t worry, it’s a piece of shit anyway”. Just “oh”.

A&E? Yes, but not the whole story. And out of this came a new acronym:

A, E, I, O, U

Arrogant. Entitled. Insensitive. Oblivious. Unmannered.

It’s a bit more rare to see all of these qualities on display at once, but congratulations, Film Geek #1, you earned the quintuple crown.

It seemed appropriate for there to be a “sometimes Y” in there, but we couldn’t think of one that worked. In this city, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it comes to us.