|East meets Watts meets New Jersey [message #183724]
||Wed, 19 October 2011 17:53
Registered: September 2012
Sorry to be belated, but here's a trip report. |
I don't get into New York City as often as I might, given that
I live in central New Jersey and it's one fairly convenient bus ride
up to the Port Authority. Probably that's just because it's so close;
you know how it is to overlook stuff that's conveniently nearby since
it is so easy. But various events will pull me up to the city, such
as going to a TV show taping, or going to a Cinematic Titanic event.
Such was one in late September.
Although I made a couple tries at getting someone to go with
me, I didn't succeed and didn't really expect to. The brother who lives
in-state might be interested in going but he's got a wife and four-year-
old child to take care of. The brother who lives out-of-state had a
two-week-old child to care for. (He had, for an earlier Cinematic
Titanic show, arranged a get-together for me and a bunch of his friends,
and was supposed to include him, but work summoned him at the last minute
so I was just there with strangers.) My sister, well, she doesn't so
much get the whole watching-an-awful-movie-for-the-fun-of-it thing. Most
of my other friends I know only on the Internet where they can't really
get to New York City for a show since they live in, for instance, San Jose.
So what the day amounted to was a chance to go into Manhattan
to whatever I felt like in the afternoon, and head over to the show in
the evening. Here's where I thought of one of those obvious things:
there's a lot of bookstores in Manhattan. There are many books I have
not yet read. Oh, yes, we could work something out here.
Although I got several used book store locations, I ended up
taking the time just to go to one, The Strand. They advertise themselves
as having ``18 miles of shelves'', and that might well be the case. It
was certainly a satisfyingly dense collection of books. Considering the
size of my Strategic Reserve Reading Pile, I would have to be careful
about what I picked up and just why. Caution was particularly recommended
as I didn't have any list of books I really urgently wanted to read; I've
been trying not to add to my list given the Strategic Reserve Reading Pile
But I did pick up a few things, including a biography of Fred
Allen (and I just resisted also picking up a biography of Jack Benny
for the other side of the argument), which turned out to defy the usual
rule about biographies of comics by being a pretty chipper story about
a guy who was mostly reasonably happy; and a collection of short stories
by Chad Oliver, a neglected science fiction writer whom I like and who
tends to write stories not so action-packed or or emotionally charged as
Clifford Simak would. When I noticed they had math and science texts
in the basement I looked over to see if I might find a copy of either of
my textbooks on the shelves. Sad to say, they didn't.
They'd had a calendar of squirrels when I entered, but apparently
only had the display copy on hand. Too bad; I know someone I could have
given it happily, and who would have received it happily.
Between my starting time and the time spent wandering the store
I had got reasonably close to the show's start time, so I got back up to
the vicinity of the Best Buy Theater --- last time I was at Cinematic
Titanic in Manhattan it was the Nokia theater; remember Nokia? --- and
marched my way up.
My first time in the theater I had got perfectly well lost since
the actual seats are ... ah, you have to enter, and go to the right, and
down the steps, and turn backwards, and down the hall, and turn right,
or something like that. The point is it's not laid out like the average
Broadway theater, as best I can tell, and it may be as much as a quarter
of a mile underground. But after that first experience I was something
like an expert in navigating it: I stopped at the souvenir guy's desk to
buy a couple Cinematic Titanic DVDs (I haven't bought them online, since
I seem to just not be very good at buying stuff online), and realizing I
didn't know how or just where to buy something simple like a Diet 7-Up I
went in to take my seat.
I'd got tickets fairly late, partly because of this online buying
stuff again, partly because I thought maybe I'd find someone to go with,
and of course that didn't happen. I bought a ticket in the middle
section, which seemed to balance the nice-and-close aspect with the
not-too-expensive aspect, at least when you don't account for how
Ticketmaster insists on getting its cut of over $375 per ticket as a
``convenience'' fee. I realize everybody hates Ticketmaster and their
``convenience'' fees are a scam, but, I hate Ticketmaster and their
``convenience'' fees are a scam.
In the hour between the doors opening and the start of the show
they played tunes from the Nerd Music Suite. I can't define this kind
of music precisely, but, you know what I mean. The kind you get on mix
tracks made from Allan Sherman and They Might Be Giants sources. And
about half the row beside me didn't bother coming in while the Nerd
Suite Overture played, but waited for the performances. Maybe they had
a harder time deciding what books to buy.
The show proper started with about an hour of performances from
each of the Titans, but Dave Allen, who's not included in the riffing
for no reason I'm aware of. Maybe he just likes doing the introduction
bits instead. I can't imagine fans not accepting him, given that he's
funny and personable enough.
Several of the gang's pieces were similar to ones done in
previous shows: Trace Beaulieu reading from his book of poetry, for
example, or Joel Hodgson doing stage magic, or J Elvis Weinstein
singing with Dave Allen. One bit which returned which I didn't care for
was Frank Coniff's fat jokes about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Goodness knows I don't have any love for Christie, but fat jokes are
lazy, and that they were self-aware ``isn't this lazy'' lazy fat jokes
doesn't improve them. He did a few gags which had more substance, that
get at Christie's politics, which needed the lazy fat jokes to set up,
but I don't think the payoff was worth it.
Missing, and I think sadly so, was Mary Jo Pehl on-stage alone.
She had some time with Dave Allen, and good for that, but nothing like
her scrapbooking bit done at the Princeton show last April (where she
guided a fan into making a scrapbook to remember the experience of
making a scrapbook). Pehl is compellingly funny, particularly in
person; I wanted more of her.
The movie proper was _East Meets Watts_, in which a Chinese
guy comes to San Francisco so he can get handcuffed to a guy from Los
Angeles and they can go fight drug dealers hovering around the
Flynn's Arcade from _Tron_. This is also one of the episodes on DVD,
and it's even one of the episodes I already had on DVD. That's a
recorded live performance, so one of the differences here was that
Joel didn't misplace a line and then comment on the misplaced line,
making for the weird experience of the live performance not making an
error the recorded one did.
To the best of my recollection the new performance followed
the script of the earlier pretty closely. I recall a line about Tony
Bennett which felt like it was ripped-from-the-headlines, although as
I didn't read that particular headline I don't know what it was all
about. Apparently he said something foolish recently.
That's one of those things about being at the live show,
though; even if the thing you're looking at is the same, it's still
different by virtue of the context. It's much more fun to be sitting
in a theater with a couple hundred MST3K/RiffTrax/CT fans laughing at
the movie's efforts to pass off traffic as an action sequence than it
is to watch the same thing while stepping onto and off of the Wii
Balance Board trying to shed those stubborn last ten pounds, but then
aren't they always?
I didn't stick around for the autograph line afterwards. I
figured it was unlikely to be less than four weeks long, and I hoped
to be home sometime that month. I did wait for the theater to clear
out reasonably well --- I do that --- so I got to see some of the line
as it formed, and left the souvenir table inaccessible so I didn't have
to wonder about whether I should buy more DVDs.
Back in Times Square, it was long past dark, of course, but it
was Times Square as well, so the area was brilliant with that diffuse,
sourceless artificial glow which makes the nightscape so curious and
rich. I don't know just how to describe the way the lights of such a
late summer evening look, but it's light made tangible in its way.
Also, I realized that with the books and the show and all I
hadn't actually eaten anything, so I got a warm pretzel from a street
vendor, which was just about the right thing to have.
I'd missed my bus by just a few minutes, but that meant I had
prime choice of seats for the next one, and got a little more reading
done. And I got home just about in time to catch the _Doctor Who_
episode premiere on its first evening repeat.
What do you think, sirs?
http://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/ Joseph Nebus