friendship / at the movies


-- चार हजार एक सौ और सोलह --

I'm still getting the hang of posting entries over on the Squarespace version of this blog, which I am more and more confident I will be switching to permanently soon. I suppose there's a few of you who read this exclusively as fellow LiveJournal members, with my posts on your friends list, the way so many of us used to, and I'm probably running a rather high risk of losing you as readers. I'm just so disillusioned with LiveJournal now that it's a price I'm willing to pay. I never believed I had any particularly large number of readers anyway.

Both this blog and cinema_holic will be semi-consolidated on the new site, by the way. They will be separate blog pages, with links at the top of the page; basically they will be separate blogs but on the same website. I guess the same could be said of these two blogs here on LiveJournal as well, except on the new site they will be much more easily toggled back and forth. Anyone clicking through to the links I post to social media will have far easier access to my personal blog posts. Considering a lot of people I work with read my movie reviews, I'll have to be more cognizant of that than usual, perhaps. Or perhaps not: I already learned several years ago that I needed to be more careful than I thought, even here on LiveJournal, without click-throughs via links posted on Facebook.

Lori R was taking a new hire around the office for introductions yesterday, and when she introduced me, she was surprisingly excessive in her description of my reviews: "He's a movie buff, and he writes the best reviews in the world!" Jesus, Lori. Take it down a notch! That kind of hyperbole sets people up for disappoitment. Not that I would ever think of my reviews as disappointing -- I have a long history of bizarrely thinking the review I'm writing is not that great, while I'm writing it, and without fail, when I read it again later, I think it's fine. I do write good reviews. I don't know about "the best in the world," though.

The setup of the Squarespace website is something I expect to evolve over time; it's a fairly simple setup currently, which is to be expected for its beginning. But I want to incorporate things like my personalized greeting cards, images of which are all hosted on Flickr; and maybe even start posting fiction in a different section. That story I started early last month has been deglected for weeks now. I should really get back to it. Maybe this weekend. Shobhit is working double shifts both days so I should have a lot of time to myself.

Anyway, I'm also getting the hang of having to do a few extra html commands in the formatting of these entries, a lot of which LiveJournal does automatically, even in the code editor that I've continued using even though LiveJournal offered auto-formatted posts ages ago. I like the greater control over formatting -- for instance, if I want a link to open in a new window, it's just easier for me to type that html code into the text rather than trying to figure out what setting to click on some other page or window. The thing is, in the code editor option for the blog page on Squarespace, I have to add code for things as simple as starting a new line or starting a new paragraph. I never had to do that on LiveJournal, not even in the basic code editor.

This is why I'm glad I'm posting on both sites for the time being, basically as a test run on the new site. I got this idea from work, where IT does mirroring for a time whenever they implement some new program, to identify and work out bugs.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और सोलह --

Ivan was sure happy yesterday -- so much so that he sent me a ton of giddy Facebook Messnger IMs about it, near the end of my work day: the boss he hated so much, who was the biggest reason he gave notice where he works and was switched to "on call," apparently quit without notice. So now they are asking him for a bunch of shifts for him to do in her wake, which is making him feel better about stress he had apparently been feeling about finding a new job -- which I didn't realize was stressing him out so much; he's pretty good about hiding it around me, unless it comes up in conversation and he openly states feeling stress. It doesn't even seem that logical to me -- he often talks about how easy it's always been to get work as a nurse, as that's one industry where work is always in demand. In the course of our relatively lengthy exchange, he revealed something I found a bit fascinating: when I said he is apparently skilled at hiding stress, he replied, I am NOT skilled at hiding my stress at work actually. He had even previously stated, I could not even conceal my contempt for [my boss]. I've always been bad at hiding my emotions and feelings towards people, and it often gets me in trouble.

Oh, really? Ooh hey, let's make this about me! That there is an indicator of his fondness for me if there ever was one: apparently if he disliked me at all, or even had any problem with me, he would be incapable of hiding it. Interesting. I always found him to be largely mysterious the first time he lived with me, but this time around he's very different in a lot of ways, not least of which is his clear appreciation of me as a friend. This is very different from my last roommate, Tommy. As a point of comparison, I really never did get any real sense of Tommy's sincerity, about anything. Except maybe that he suffered from social anxiety. I was always fond of Tommy and enjoyed his company, and even deliberately made that clear to him, but I could never tell whether he was intimidated by me in any way, or perhaps at best he was indifferent to me. I'll really never know because I made truly valiant efforts at staying in touch with him until I realized that, regardless of whatever issues he had that I tried deferring to, I was wasting my efforts. And I'm not much interested in wasting my time, or particularly my energy. Literally the only times I got him to agree to meeting up with me after he moved out was when I said I had a present for him or offered to pay for dinner (which I only did once, figuring he was still recovering from the financial pressures of several months unemployment). So: instead of actually saying anything to him about it because of the clear chance that it would hurt his feelings or make him feel bad about himself -- something I never wanted to do -- I just gave up and stopped trying. For all I know, that was what he wanted all along.

Ivan, on the other hand, in spite of his weird penchant for lying about small, meaningless things ("I never lie about important things," he once said to me -- all I can do is take his word for it, I guess), still demonstrates his comparative integrity through action. He follows up and doesn't ignore me, and we socialize and make plans regularly, rarely having plans canceled. I have a feeling he'll be the one lasting, genuine friendship to come out of the seven different roommates I've had over the past seven years.

That said, as I told Shobhit recently, once Ivan moves back out -- still expected to happen sometime in late 2018 -- after that: no more roommates! Hopefully ever. One great guy out of seven isn't exactly the best track record (most were fine, to be fair; on the other hand Ivan was literally the single one out of all them who was truly dependable when it came to rent payments), and I will be thrilled not to have to deal with all associated bullshit anymore -- from the tediousness of placing ads and showing the room, to the risks of what other bullshit the stranger might otherwise bring into my home. I want no more of it.

Speaking of integrity of friendship, though, I have to bring up Laney, because I came to a realization about her just yesterday. I would not go so far as to call her my "best friend," which is a loaded term and she's still not my closest friend, although she's getting close. But what I would say about her is that she's the best at being a friend. We've been good friends now for some thirteen years I'd say, and she is now the single friend I have ever had that long who consistently accepted me as I was, good or bad, from the beginning and without faltering on that point. She does challenge me when appropriate, but she has also demonstrated a depth of understanding that none of my other friends either want to have or are capable of having (on the latter point, my theory is that our both being gay -- in spite of our respective genders -- is what makes the difference, particularly in capacity for empathy). I have never once felt judged by her, and I think it's probably that more than anything that is the reason she is a genuinely beloved individual, by a great many people, far more than just me. I am grateful to have all the close people I have in my life, but these are the specific reasons I'm glad she's in it.

She will be turning 60 later this year, though. Maybe it's just that she's had the most time perfecting her friendship strategy! In any event, we could all -- not least of us, me -- learn from her.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और सोलह --


I went to a movie last night with Sara from work, the first time I had done so in a while: based on a quick look at my Social Review archives, although we've done things like have lunch during my Birth Week, it looks like we haven't gone to a movie together since we saw The Red Turtle in February. Last night, we saw Maudie, which I had been thinking looked like it could be all right but was not at all making it a priority to see, until Sara asked if I was interested. I said yes more as an excuse to go to a movie with her than because of particular interest in the movie. But then, guess what? The movie was great! I almost surprised myself when I gave it an A- with my review; I had been thinking through most of the movie that it would get a B+, but in the end I was very impressed, and even more so as I thought about it more afterward. We were both very impressed.

And it was at what used to be Sundance Cinemas -- up on 45th and 9th (a block west of Roosevelt), in the U District. Except it's no longer Sundance Cinemas, which was purchased by AMC Theatres. And actually, I guess, it's a bit more complicated than that, and it's taken me a while to get the history straight: here's a Variety story from late 2015 about Sundance being purchased by Carmike Cinemas for $36 million. I never heard that news at the time, likely because Sundance Cinemas -- which I first discovered in West Hollywood, a couple of years before they opened one in Seattle -- continued operating under that name. But then, as of last December -- as seen in this Hollywood Reporter article -- AMC Theatres acquired Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion, thereby making them the largest U.S. movie theatre chain.

Now, to get back to a micro level, the history of this specific multiplex in the U District (the only theatre in that neighborhood with more than three screens; it has 10) -- when I first moved to Seattle, long before SIFF began operating local theatres and when Landmark Theatres was the chain operating all the theatre houses that reliably offered independent and foreign films -- it was a Landmark Theatre, and it was called The Metro. It was one of the many theatres Barbara and I used to go to constantly. It went through their first conversion, from Landmark's The Metro to a Sundance Cinemas, in 2012.

Shobhit moved from New York to West Hollywood in September 2011, so late that year was likely when I first discovered the Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood -- a concept I immediately fell in love with: a full bar, including hot meals, making it effectively a dinner movie house; and more importantly, because of the alcohol, no admittance for anyone under 21. No fucking children! It immediately became one of my favorite theatres to go to, and after initially being saddened by the closure of the Metro, I was elated to find out it was being opened as a Sundance Cinemas for Seattle. When that remodel was done, far more comfortable seats had been installed, and so had a full bar, and offerings of things like sandwiches and pizzas. It remains my favorite theatre to go to if I have to go outside of the Capitol Hill or downtown areas to see a movie. It's rate that that happens now, thanks to SIFF's three different theatres between Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne, but I still always like going there.

Anyway, I guess Sundance only got their run under that name for about four and a half years. Why they continued as Sundance Cinemas under Carmike but not under AMC, I'm not sure -- but it was just a couple of weeks ago when I was Googling Sundance movie times and could only find AMC showings that I got confused.

I felt kind of bad for their employees last night, clearly having to deal with a lot through this transition. I overheard one of the cashiers say to another customer that they had re-opened as AMC about a month ago. The thing is, I am a member of AMC's loyalty program, and was also a member of a separate one run by Sundance Cinemas. I asked if there had been any carry-over, and the basic gist I got was that in some ways yes, in some ways no. The young lady I spoke to actually did pretty well, all things considered. I got the distinct feeling I could have taken advantage if I were a less honest person: she literally asked me how many tickets I had under the old loyalty program, as though I could just say, "Two!" and she'd just offer me to free tickets. I don’t know if that would have happened because I didn't try, but I think it may have. But I had some number of points is all -- and had fairly recently used a free ticket the last time I came, so I'm sure I was not yet anywhere near another free ticket -- and that's what I told her. I had no idea how many points I had. Apparently, the fact that I was already an AMC Stubs member before this transition complicated things. She asked for my phone number and it brought nothing up; I guess I need to log in to that account online and add it to make things easier, but when I gave her an email address it worked. The curious thing about that, though, was that at the AMC Theatre at Pacific Place downtown, all I have to do is show the QR code on the e-card I have on my phone and they just scan it, but evidently they didn't have such scanners at the "AMC Dine-In Seattle 10," which is what the Theatre Formerly Known as Sundance Cinemas Formerly Known As The Metro is now officially called.

Having this long and detailed a memory of the history of one theatre house in this town is making me feel a little old. That said, the pitfalls of increasingly monpolizing corporate mergers notwithstanding, this is ultimately more beneficial than not to me as a customer, partly because of what this theatre is still holding over from Sundance's practices, which other AMC theatres do not do -- $6 tickets with presentation of an Orca Card on Mondays, for instance. Yay super-cheap tickets! With tax it came to $6.75, and that's still by 25% the cheapest movie theatre option I get anywhere in Seattle -- even when compared to the $9 tickets I pay at SIFF cinemas, which are themselves discounted $5 for SIFF members. I do hope they keep that deal around indefinitely; it's one thing that has many times convinced Shobhit to come see a movie with me on a Monday night.

I can get discounted tickets for all movie theatres in town now, I just realized. I only can at the AMC Dine-In 10 on Mondays, but it still counts. My SIFF membership discounts all tickets by $5 at all their theatres. And Costco sells discounted tickets to both AMC and Regal Cinemas -- 2-packs or 4-packs that work out to around 32% off per ticket. Shobhit was the one who advocated getting those tickets nearly every time we shop at Costco, because since I go to both those theatres regularly, then why wouldn't we do that? If saving some money is an option then we might as well. I just keep those paper vouchers in my wallet for whenever I wind up at those theatres.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और सोलह --

-- चार हजार एक सौ और सोलह --