On this Festivus we would have many chances to voice our disappointment in others.
On Sunday morning we were all set to accompany friends at the airport as they waited for a flight. A few minutes after we’d started down the road they called and said we shouldn’t come, as they were too tired and were going to board early. We’d gone to dinner with them the night before and exchanged gifts so this wasn’t a big deal. Thankfully they’d called before we were more than a mile down the road. It seemed innocuous at the time, but it was the start of a long day of surprise cancellations.
We hadn’t had time to watch The Hobbit on opening weekend, so I’d bought tickets as soon as they were released on Wednesday for Sunday. I made sure we had the best seats (reserved) and we were going to trust in Peter Jackson and check out the high frame rate version that everyone is complaining about. The closest theater that provided all these things (reserved seats, hobbit, HFR) was in Century City, nine miles away. Now, nine miles doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind we’re coming from Hollywood, so it means driving through Hollywood and highland, through West Hollywood and finally through Beverly Hills. That trip typically takes 30-45 minutes on a good day. The mall there is typically overcrowded and parking can take forever to find as you have to trail people as they walk to their cars (and get lucky). When we plan on watching a movie there we have to rearrange our entire day around the trip. That’s one reason we hardly ever watch movies in the theater now.
We left early so we could eat along the way. When we finally got parked, got our tickets, went upstairs, got our 3D glasses, got our parking ticket stamped, went to the bathroom and finally were ready to walk into the screening room – there was a barricade in front of the door. An employee nearby was cleaning up a soda spill and told us “uh, you can’t go in there, hold on.” He ran and got his superior (also a teenager) who informed us that “that theater is going to be down all day, you should go see guest services.”
So we didn’t get to see the Hobbit. Not in HFR, not in 3d, not in IMAX, not anything. I hadn’t blogged about it, but the last time we tried to watch a highly anticipated movie in a special format a similar mishap occured. When we tried to watch Prometheus in IMAX 3D at Universal the projector broke during the exploding head scene. All other shows were sold out for the Hobbit, just like they had been for Prometheus six months earlier. To compensate us AMC refunded our tickets, rebooked us for a Christmas day showing (but the seats still aren’t as good) and gave us tickets to any other movie. This was better than Universal, who only refunded our tickets and gave us two passes.
We chose to watch Life of Pi. It was good, but not as good as the hype makes it seem. We also noticed, watching 3D again for the first time in a great while, how 3D makes every action scene seem jittery. It actually gives Sam a headache. My hope is that because the frame rate for the Hobbit 3D is doubled (48 instead of 24 frames per second), this jarring jolting visual strobe effect will be eliminated or at least subdued by the smoother action. I guess we’ll find out on Christmas day.
On the way home we decided to try Hot N Juicy Crawfish. I thought it was going to be a cajun restaurant. It was, but not the kind I was expecting. Instead of jambalaya we were basically asked to choose how many pounds of crustaceans we could eat. After waiting 5-10 minutes we pulled a waiter (not ours) aside and they took our order. Another five minutes later our waiter arrived and pouted when we said we’d already put in our order. After another five minutes a bag of cooked crawfish showed up alongside three pieces of fried catfish. The catfish was the best part, probably the best fried fish batter I’ve tasted at a chain eatery like this and the tartar sauce was chunky and sour, not some Heinz goop from a bottle.
The crawfish sauce was tasty and even the “medium” spicy level we ordered was plenty hot. Eating the crawfish was a physically demanding task. Everyone dons a bib and gloves, which makes the experience less stressful, but crawfish are basically tiny lobsters, without much meat. It’s actually easier eating almost any other kind of seafood than these things (I have experience in these matters). However, the good thing about eating “difficult” food is that you usually end up eating less because you have time to notice you’re getting full. We managed to finish the crawfish, catfish and half the cajun fries. Now it was time for the whole lobster….
Another ten minutes went by.
Twenty minutes went by.
Thirty minutes had now elapsed since we received our bag of crayfish and still no lobster.
Buckets (for that is how they deliver your food) of lobster and crab were steadily coming out of the kitchen, landing in the staging area next to our booth, and then whisked off to some far table not inhabited by us. This would get increasingly vexing when customers who came in after we’d finished our crawfish were already receiving THEIR lobsters.
Sam flagged our waitress and when we inquired about the lobster we ordered she scolded us and said that because a lobster is bigger it takes longer to cook. (as if we’d never cooked one at home and didn’t know that small lobsters take less than ten minutes to go from tank to table)
Another ten minutes went by. We looked at the time-stamp on Sam’s photo of the crawfish (above) that she took at the beginning of our meal. It had been over forty minutes since she’d taken the photo. We now started hailing any employee we could get, until we finally got a manager who admitted they’d “lost” our order due to a “funky” system. She said they would take the lobster off of our bill. She also looked at our cups and offered to refill our water (although she said “lemonade”), which is something that only one other employee ever did in the hour we were in the restaurant. I must have put so many lemons in my water she though it was lemonade, because that’s what she filled my cup with. Ironically I wouldn’t have long to enjoy it as five minutes later our bag o’ lobster finally arrived.
Remember when I said that eating slowly reminds you how you’re not hungry any more? Well, after 45 minutes of whittling away at the remaining cajun fries we were not in any means ready to consume an entire lobster.
So, we took it home.
Everywhere we tried to go for the entire day we were frustrated, but compensated. Sam asked if I wanted to go to Jamba Juice or Starbucks and see what would happen. I told her the trick doesn’t work if you expect something to happen. So we headed home and enjoyed some cream puffs Sam had picked up after work on Friday.
I would need the energy to get up and go to work the next morning while EVERY OTHER OFFICE IN THE UNITED STATES IS CLOSED BECAUSE IT IS CHRISTMAS EVE.