Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Throw another struggle on the fire, my darling

Scene - Suburban Super Mall - Gargantuan Cineplexiopolis. Mele and Franzy have spent an annoying day shopping for boring clothes and have decided to see a movie.

Franzy: Two students for Eagle Eye, please.
Ticket Seller: Where would you like to sit?
Franzy (sharing a puzzled look with Mele): In a chair?
Ticket Seller (assuming the polite smile of murderous fantasist): Ha. No, I mean where in the cinema? Front or back?

*Freeze frame*
Franzy strolls into view, wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and smoking a pipe. His speaking voice is so nasally that he must surely be endowed with all the useful knowledge of the universe and must be listened to.

Tweed Jacket Franzy: Rest assured, dear people, that this is not some bungle in the storytelling. We are not about to discover that in fact Franzy and Mele are at the front of the queue for the world premiere of this film. The diehard fans have already come, absorbed and left. Friends, this isn't even a whimsical anecdote about stumbling into the wrong mall, the wrong cinema or even the wrong queue. This is the twelfth showing for Eagle Eye this week. 3:40pm is not a popular time to be lining up outside the movie theatre to watch a film that will surely cut into the regularly regimented times associated with school holiday dinners, sleepovers and twilight football matches. Our stunning heroes are not going to go Seatless in Seatle or anywhere else this fine afternoon. There is plenty of room at the inn.

Tweed Jacket Franzy flourishes his pipe like a conductor's baton.


Mele: Uh, in the middle.
Ticket Seller (barely restraining himself from spitting into the hand with which Franzy is taking his change and tickets): Okay, you're in K 18 and 19, Cinema 21, up there on your right!
Franzy: What the fuck was that all about?
Mele: They don't need allocated seating! There's no one here!
Tweed Jacket Franzy: I just told them that!

Mele and Franzy walk into the 300 seat cinema. It is entirely empty. They ignore their allocated seats and sit wherever the fuck they feel like. Around the middle somewhere. Mele puts her purse on the seat next to her. Franzy puts the box of popcorn next to himself. They relax and listen to the kind of cockless musak in which the singer sounds as though he has decided that the voice of a grown man singing about the emotional struggle of declaring his undying love for his sweetheart should sound just like that same grown man straining on a four-steak turtle-head and losing. You know: Matchbox 20.
Teenagers march in declaring exactly how the ticket seller can deal with himself and his seating allocations and sitting defiantly up the back.

Enter Tiresome Couple Number One. They are hunched over their tickets, checking the letters on each vacant row before arriving at whatever row Mele and Franzy ended up in the middle of. They edge along the row, checking each seat number. Finally Tiresome Woman Number One stops in front of Franzy's popcorn.

Tiresome Woman Number One (looking first at popcorn, then at Franzy, then at popcorn again): Is this ...? Would you ...? Does that ...? I got a ticket for ...? Can I ... just ...?

Franzy gazes glaze-eyed first at woman, then popcorn, then woman again. He picks up the box of popcorn just in time before
Tiresome Woman Number One engages the considerable landing gear and touches down, filling up the entire seat, right next to Franzy, in the middle of an almost entirely empty cinema. Franzy manages to keep his beefy arm glued to the armrest, but Tiresome Woman Number One is taking off her jacket, tossing her hair all over the damn place and generally acting as though she and Franzy were on a first and last date. Franzy and Mele share a second puzzled look, even more puzzled than the last.
Franzy, stubborn prick to the last, decides that he will die rather than move.

Tiresome Couple Number Two. They also carefully navigate the confusingly arranged seating using their tickets as treasure maps and arrive at the same destination, this time on Mele's side.
They check their tickets. They confer with one another. They check their numbers, their tickets, one another, the breeze and some handy fish entrails.
Mele and Franzy grit their teeth.

Tiresome Man Number Two (doing his Kindly-Cop-Produces-Arrest-Warrant bit with their ticket stubs):
Excuse me, what seats do you have?

Tweed Jacket Franzy (puffing on pipe): Bear in mind that the entire cinema is still empty at this point, some six minutes before the feature presentation is due to begin ...

Mele (sighing in a charming manner while looking about the cinema): These ones.
Tiresome Woman Number Two (tossing out a well-practised Anything To Avoid A Fuss Titter): Ha ha. Sorry, I mean: what does your ticket say?
Mele (turning to Franzy): What the fuck is going on here?
Franzy: I have no idea. (To
Tiresome Couple Number Two) I don't know. Do you want me to look? They're here somewhere.
Tiresome Couple Number Two watch Franzy and Mele slowly and unenthusiastically go through some of their things, digging in handbags and thrusting hips to reach low-access back pockets.
Tiresome Man Number Two (this time treating us all to his finest Traffic Cop Letting Young Driver Off With A Warning): Oh, look, don't worry about it.
Tiresome Woman Number Two (overbaked relief): Yes, we'll just sit up there.
he indicates the completely vacant row behind Mele and Franzy.
Tiresome Man Number Two (to Tiresome Woman Number Two as they shuffle back out):If anyone else comes along, it'll be tough luck.
Tiresome Woman Number Two: Here, it's just where we were supposed to be, but one seat back.
Tiresome Man Number Two: But if anyone comes along, it'll be tough luck.

No one else came along.

GTH - Oh lookie! Squib takes out two points! Hooray! Hooray for Squib!


  1. Gold!

    Although you can never tell when the pimply teen will come with the flashlight to check that you're all in the seats you were given and that you don't have your feet on the seats in front of you.

    You were lucky this time Franzy!

  2. raofl!! A few months back, my dad and I nearly killed ourselves trying to get to Indiana Jones on time at a cinema we'd never been to before and when we got there, all puffed out, there was a queue about a mile long. I noticed that if you wanted to pay twice as much for some bullshit VIP ticket you could join the no-queue on a special red carpet FFS

    When we finally got to the ticket seller, there was this whole allocated seat business. It just took all the fun out of going to the cinema

  3. Shippy - I would love to see them actually try to move people sitting in the wrong seat while a movie was starting. They'd get booed to the rafters!

    Squib - It gets worse ("Worse? How could it possibly BE worse? Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!").
    At the Maroochydore Sunshine Plaza cinemas they have instituted an airline-style check-in system.
    You line up to buy your tickets, buy them and then join another queue which snakes around the always-severely congested foyer while you wait for your cinema to be allowed to walk down the immense, empty departure hallways to go and sit down.
    "Cinema 4!" they call. "Cinema 4 can be seated now!" And slowly people emerge from the lines while everybody else resists the temptation not to bash the pusherinerers.
    "Is that for Tropic Thunder?" they all ask the overworked ushers.
    It is truly, utterly mad.
    And I only just realised then that it's some bastardly attempt to stop people sneaking from one cinema to the next in the empty departure halls.

  4. It was pretty amazing that in a 90% empty cinema we still managed to be in somebody else's seat...

    Assigning seats is so stupid. It seems like the movie cinemas are starting to introduce it but I'm betting Australians aren't taking to it. If you're late, you get a shit seat and you wear it. Big deal.

  5. I missed this post yesterday so now it's not showing any header for me to guess at. Grrr-arrgh.

    (nicely), Perhaps the ticket seller was new to the job and just following his training instructions?
    (not-so-nicely), or maybe his mind runs along the same lines as the checkout person I encountered yesterday. Purchase was $4, I handed over a $10 note. she almost counted ON HER FINGERS to work out the change would be $6, then fumbled in the till unsure whether to give me notes or coins or both. I finally said "the change is $6, give me a $5 note and a $1 coin". The relief on her face nearly bowled me over.

  6. Anon - I would have made them wear it too ... That damn lady kept bumping my elbow!

    River - It seems like the correct answer would be: "It cost $4, I gave you $10, so you give me three on dollar coins, two two dollar coins and a five dollar note."

  7. Love your math.Franzy. With that system I could be rich before I'm too old to enjoy wealth.

  8. Iswear you made the whole thing up.

    the world is surely not quite this Mad Yet

  9. Kath - I know. But sometimes, sometimes I like the actual experience of going to the movies. The popcorn, the parking, the being in public - which I'm sure you can appreciate as a writer yourself.

    River - Why not start today? The government will guarantee any losses you make or trouble you get into!

    Mum for movies - Not a word of lie. The world definitely DOES have these morons floating around in it.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32