Friday, August 17, 2012

I went to AMC and barely saw a movie.

Today, my family and I went to the AMC Theater at the Liberty Tree Mall theater in Danvers, MA. My girls were very excited to see "The Zombie Movie," (a.k.a ParaNorman.) We arrived 30 minutes early, purchased our tickets and settled into our seats with 12 minutes to spare before the previews were set to start. However... after the "Where Movies Live" ad played for what seemed like longer than usual, it froze. after a couple of minutes, the screen went blank. You could still see some illumination on the screen, so clearly, a projector was on, but alas, no sound and no picture. I learned a while ago that since the installation of digital projectors, there is a good chance that they are set to automatically start. In other words, no one is there when your movie starts to make sure everything is o.k. 

Isn't that the perfect set up for a business that thrives or dies on the product on the screen? Set glitchy systems to run automatically and not check on them until people complain. That will do wonders for your customer service. I have been to quite a few theaters this summer and not one ran without some kind of issue; masking, lights not going off or staying on, audio issues, and now this. This was the final straw.

Nothing happened for the next twenty-two minutes. An employee with a walkie-talkie was in the theater after the first five or ten minutes of nothing on the screen. At no point did the employee make any attempt to address the audience to let us know what was wrong or how long it would take to fix. We were literally and figuratively left in the dark.

Have you ever tried to sit with two very excited four year-olds in a theater full of kids and there is nothing on the screen? I don't recommend it. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, when the staff finally did manage to get something on the screen, it was the first minute of the trailer for "Killing Them Softly."  This was completely unexpected and totally inappropriate. My wife and I attended a PG rated movie with my two 4 year old daughters and we were all expecting something appropriate for the rating of the feature.

Once the staff realized the mistake, the screen went blank for several more minutes while adults started the disgruntled grumbling.

Almost exactly a half hour later than the advertised time, someone managed to get the feature on the screen. It was presented with no pre-show and more importantly, no trailers. My girls and I were really looking forward to what would probable be in front of ParaNorman: Frankenweenie, Finding Nemo 3D, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians and possibly The Hobbit.

Watching a movie without trailers is very unceremonious. I never knew how plain it would make a movie until I experienced it. I was very, very disappointed with how the theater performed and I am extremely reluctant to take my children back there. I want them to love movies, not get frustrated with equipment that staff can't seem to master.

I did not stay and make my complaint known to theater staff at the time because my children were tried and it was past time to eat dinner. Also, it was after shift change, so everyone that experienced it first hand was most likely gone. Besides, if you make a mistake - especially two or three in a row like they did, you need to come to us. Not hope we don't come to you.

On AMC's corporate site, we can get a handle on what AMC expects from their projection staff. Let's take a look and see how it stacks up to today's performance. I will emphasize the parts of the job description they failed.’ll ensure the best possible out-of-home entertainment experience available. That’s what we do. We’re AMC®, and we’re one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. You’ll train, coach, motivate and evaluate all booth operators. You’ll also manage routine housekeeping, equipment maintenance and timely communication with the theatre’s technical systems engineer. Bottom line—you help to put on a great show.
Take a look at a few of your soon-to-be responsibilities:
  • Deliver a comfortable, distraction-free and picture-perfect entertainment experience
  • Monitor film build-up and tear-down process for the highest quality
  • Coordinate booth operations and duties (e.g., build-up, tear-down, trailer programming)
  • Ensure picture-perfect presentations through auditorium and booth evaluations
  • Identify picture and sound problems and correct them accordingly
  • Execute pre-feature programming
  • Complete required booth reports
  • Measure screen luminance monthly and submit report
  • Manage and train projection booth associates by using established booth certification/training materials
  • Track operating expenses for booth maintenance, repairs and supplies
  • Answer guests’ questions and concerns
  • Guarantee crew members satisfy all AMC guest service standards
  • Assist with other functions and perform other duties as instructed by the General Manager
  • Uphold AMC’s high standards and deliver entertaining company-wide programs
As a presentation manager at an AMC theatre, you’ll also be required to demonstrate:
  • Proven supervisory experience with effective managerial and training skills
  • Persuasive written and oral communication skills along with strong analytical skills
  • Ability to effectively delegate and follow up with booth crew members
  • Proficient guest service, administrative and follow-up skills
  • Ability to consistently meet deadlines in a timely fashion
  • Standing, walking, lifting, twisting and bending on a frequent basis
  • Solid mechanical skills, manual dexterity along with strong eyesight, hearing/color perception
At AMC, we live in a team-based culture where a take-charge approach exists at all levels. Especially, when you want to take charge of your career. We offer continuous training and development programs, highly competitive compensation with performance-driven bonuses and excellent benefits including free movie passes, health and 401(k) plans. If working in the entertainment world, delivering superior customer service and a fun working environment matter to you, apply online today. You could end up working in show business.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Secret History of the World.

I have had an idea for a book rattling around in my head for a long time. It's not an alternate history style book, but a "secret history" style story.

Zombies, werewolves and vampires seem to always be at one point or another in the horror spotlight. Those stories always seem to the creatures in the spotlight and everyone is aware of them as the movie builds to the climax. Back in 2003, I started thinking about how sightings and encounters could be covered up and hidden from the general public. Allowing movies to be made would help convince the masses that the creatures are mere superstition. Now, with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter set to have a major studio release, I thought it was about time to kick the writing into gear, since there is a market for this kind of storytelling.

Through several time periods and historical events, we would learn how these creatures have skirted notice, influenced everyday life and who the people are that fight and risk their lives to keep them a secret.

War, politics, religion, disease, fact and fiction will all be explored along with ancient and modern historical events mixed in.

Would you read this book?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Favorite and Most Expensive Star Wars Items I Would Never Buy

Christmas is coming up and people are starting to think about presents. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite and most expensive Star Wars items available for sale. There are a couple exceptions I used when compiling my list, only new items, are listed, nothing from an auction site, nothing vintage and nothing that was an actual screen used prop. With these condition, let's start with....

#11 - Honorable mention: 
Fine Molds 1/72 scale Millennium Falcon model kit.

 Cost - ¥13,300 about USD $172.89 or €127.70

Fine Molds has a history of fantastic Star Wars kits. They have a fantastic eye for detail and they produce very intricate and sizable kits. The Falcon has over 900 pieces, including a grill for the main drive engine. Some of the finished kits look indistinguishable from the actual large scale film used model that is as of now, part of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination traveling exhibit.

With proper colors, weathering and a lot of patience, the finished kit could be the centerpiece of any collection. This is an honorable mention because it is the only one that I can reasonably see myself purchasing.

#10 - Lego Super Star Destroyer

Cost - $399.99

This kit is HUGE! It contains three thousand one hundred and fifty two pieces. Oddly, it only comes with 5 mini figures; Darth Vader, Admiral Piett, Dengar, Bossk and IG-88. By comparison, the Lego Death Star comes with 24 mini figures, 6 of which are exclusive to the set.

The detail on the ship is fantastic, especially the underside aft section. I think it is financially impossible to produce a kit that does justice to the detail on the actual model, but this is a fantastic addition to the Lego line.

#9 - Harrison Ford Certified Authentic Autographed Star Wars Photo.

Cost - $469.99

Harrison Ford doesn't sign a lot of autographs. His aloofness toward Star Wars is well documented. He is one of the only actors that has never attended a Star Wars Celebration. His autograph is truly a collectors dream, especially on the photos that offers.

There are eight different pictures to choose from, seven are Star Wars and one is Indiana Jones, and all are numbered with a Lucasfilm licensed Certificate of Authenticity. This is the only guaranteed way that I can see acquiring a quality Harrison Ford autograph, without meeting him in person.

#8 - Kotobukyia Star Wars ARTFX Bounty Hunter Statue Set

Price - $600.00

Kotobukyia makes some fantastic vinyl statues. This set comes in six different parts, Boba Fett, Dengar, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, Bossk and IG-88. Each one comes with a base that connects together to form the Imperial logo. Each also comes with a part of Darth Vader to give you a super special bonus seventh figure.

Statues range in size from 7" for Dengar to 11 3/4 for IG-88. I was considering buying them all one at a time when they released them, but, if one sold out before I could order it, it would either be too expensive to purchase on the secondary market, or I would end up with a missing bounty hunter and an incomplete Darth Vader.

#7 - Star Wars Boba Fett Artist Portfolio

Price - $499.99

Description from
The Boba Fett Artist Portfolio consists of 11 images (12 x 17) taken from the original crew gift drawn by Joe Johnston for the Empire Strikes Back and given to select members of the pre-production staff in March of 1978. Limited to just 75 pieces, each portfolio includes a certificate of authenticity (signed by artist Joe Johnston) and is packaged in a holographic textured portfolio with a brushed metal titanium alloy Mandalorian symbol on the cover. Outer portfolio measures 15-inches tall x 18 1/2-inches wide.

I love Boba Fett. From his first appearance in a California parade, followed by the Star Wars Holiday Special and his official appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, I was always intrigued by the character. The design was totally different from anything else in the series and he did what no one else could do - completely and utterly stop the heroes. Having said that, I don't love Boba Fett THAT much. 

#6 - Supreme Edition Boba Fett Costume

Price - $849.99

As I have said before, I love Boba Fett, but not that much. Not only am I too tall for the costume, but you could buy individual pieces and create a more screen accurate costume, with weathering and all the missing chotchkies that this costume doesn't include.

While it is a good Halloween costume, having done work with the 501st, this is merely a costume. The picture below is armor.

Even though it would cost more, I think it would totally be worth it.

#5 - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Imperial T.I.E. Fighter Replica

Price - $999.99

From Entertainment Earth:
With this Star Wars TIE Fighter Replica, one of the Galactic Empire's deadliest ships is yours to own! Scanned from an actual screen-used model used during the making of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, this TIE Fighter FX Model will be a "most impressive" addition to your Star Wars collection! The Star Wars Episode IV Imperial TIE Fighter Replica is a limited edition not to exceed 1,000 pieces that measures 17 3/4-inches tall x 13 3/4-inches wide x 14 1/8-inches long. Constructed of high-quality resin, injection-molded ABS, and machined metal, it features LED lighting effects and includes a numbered plaque and certificate of authenticity.

If I had the money, this would be heavily considered.

#4 - Star Wars: Frames

Price - $3000.00 - Limited run of 1138 pieces. (Sold out)
From Sideshow Collectables:

The ultimate limited edition, Star Wars: Frames brings together master filmmaker George Lucas' personal shot-by-shot selections from all six legendary Star Wars films. Limited to only 500 copies and showcased in a sumptuous deco-inspired wooden box, Star Wars: Frames contains six books, each corresponding to one of the movies in the Star Wars saga: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

All six books reside in the beautiful wood-inlaid box, which is adorned with two exclusive high-relief sculptures of Darth Vader and Yoda. Each limited edition is numbered and contains a special portfolio with a bookplate signed by George Lucas. For collectors and Star Wars aficionados, this history-making extremely exclusive package will live on as a grand project devoted to the art and craftsmanship of a cinematic phenomenon.

Frames presents an essentially photographic, and yet filmic, look at the cinema of George Lucas - in glorious widescreen, presented as never before on large-format press, over 1,300 images printed with the highest production values available to bookmaking.

Lucas' selections provide a visual history of Star Wars: Frames. From the abstract qualities uniquely derived from the interactions of light and film, to the superlative digital imagery, each frame is a defining moment in the narrative of Star Wars as seen through the eyes of its creator. Representative of Lucas' personal reflection on each film, Frames is an inimitable memoir of his magnum opus.

The Star Wars: Frames Book features:
  • A numbered bookplate signed by writer-director George Lucas
  • A custom limited-edition arts & crafts maple-wood case, flanked by two uniquely sculpted high-reliefs of Yoda and Darth Vader.
  • Over 1,400 frames (more than 230 frames from each Star Wars film) in six leather-bound volumes (each 22" x 11"), hand-selected and reviewed by George Lucas
  • Exceptional large-format film frames magnificently reproduced in a breath-taking original widescreen aspect ratio, as never before in the history of Lucasfilm publishing. 

Even if you consider the case "free" the books still run $500.00 each. That's a lot for books, and I have purchased some pricey books in the past.

#3 - Sistros and Braata: Secret Origins of the Sith

Price - $3000.00 Limited to 25 pieces (sold out)

Housed within the Chancellor's Suite, Palpatine ruled the Senate with deeply rooted deception. His Executive Office was filled with ancient Sith artifacts that were unfamiliar to the Jedi, and thus his identity as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious was shrouded in lies.

Flanking the entrance to Palpatine's private chamber stand immense bronze statues of Sistros and Braata, two of the Four Sages of Dwartii. The sages' ideas were not supported by all citizens of the Republic, leading to controversy and discord in the galaxy. Within the statue of Sistros, a secret neuranium-lined hollow holds Palpatine's lightsaber, hidden beneath the bronzed finish.

Product Size: 17" H (431.8mm) x 5" W (127mm) x 5" D (127mm) I will let you decide if they are worth the price for the size, and the fact that almost no one will recognize where they are from. 
#2 - Life size C-3PO and R2-D2
Price C-3PO - $5950.00   R2-D2 - $5450.00

I want these, but there are three problems.
1. I really have no room for them
2. They are sold out
3. I don't have $11,400 to spend on light up statues.

Having said that, these are fantastic. I have watched the videos of how to unpack them and assemble the parts. The craftsmanship is top notch and I can totally understand why they are sold out. They have lights and sound and of course you can pose them, Threepio more than Artoo obviously.

#1 - Darth Vader Bronze Statue

Price - $18,000.00 limited run of 30 pieces.

From Sideshow Collectables:
Sideshow Collectibles and Noble Studios are extremely proud to present the 1:2 scale Darth Vader Bronze Statue. This outstanding representation is expertly sculpted by legendary artist Lawrence A. Noble and stands approximately 3 feet, 9 inches high, cast in 150 pounds of high quality bronze. This extremely limited edition statue is a truly impressive centerpiece to any collection.
So, for EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, you will be purchasing a half size Darth Vader statue. I would think that for EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, you could hire a member of the 501st to come over your house and stand there like a statue for a few hours a week, any time you want. Then you could buy plane tickets to California and England. While there, you could meet everyone that has portrayed Darth Vader on screen and then you could buy a screen accurate costume you could wear yourself. I mean, you would have EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS to burn.

Still, as overpriced as some Star Wars collectables have become, they are pretty sweet.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Here's some footage from the proposed "Gatchaman" feature film. Some of you may know it as "Battle of the Planets," as it was known in the States. I think it looks pretty nice. Apparently, it's still in the works for a 2011 release. We'll see if it happens.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

14 interesting facts about North Korea

If you think our freedoms are being stripped away, remember these facts about North Korea;

1. You can’t turn off the government radio installed in your home, only reduce the volume.

2. Idolatry in North Korea is such that it is second-nature for ordinary citizens to “rescue” portraits of Kim Il Sung before all else in the case of a house fire (there are even special bunkers for statues in case of war)

3. Many people don’t even know that man has walked on the moon.

4. There is no Internet, cell-phones have been banned.

5. A main cause for all problems are Americans. Mothers teach their children to sing songs about bad Americans, there are many postage stamps showing the death of “U.S imperialists”

6. A six-day work week, and another day of enforced “volunteer” work, ensures that the average citizen has virtually no free time.

7. The very first thing you do when you visit North Korea’s capital Pyongyang is visit and give a flower to a big statue of “Dear Leader”.

8. About 0.85% of the population are held in prison or detention camps.

9. Most traffic control is performed by female traffic directors (reportedly handpicked by Kim Jong-Il for their beauty), as the lights are switched off to save electricity.

10. Dogs are banned in Pyongyang to keep it clean.

11. Avarage wage in 2005 was 6$ a month.

12. Visitors of North Korea are given special guides and can’t go anywhere without them.

13. North Koreans are used to often disappearing electricity and have many candles prepared.

14. North Korea has the fourth-largest military in the world, at an estimated 1.21 million armed personnel


Monday, February 22, 2010

A few more pictures.

This frog let me get really close, which is cool since I almost ran him over with the lawnmower.

This is Hextall.

This is Boo, showing off one of her many talents. Sleeping.

A tulip from last spring. Almost perfectly symmetrical.

Winter pictures.

This is a series of winter pictures that I took. I really tried to evoke the bleak and cold that you endure during the long New England winter.

This was taken on a very overcast day at dusk.

This was actually a pretty sunny day. You would never really know it.

This is my favorite. The sun is desperately trying to break through the clouds just after a heavy snowstorm. You can feel the cold in this one.

Lit only by the street lights, there's a small amount of heat in the cold night.

It always seems colder to me when the snow sticks to everything. Last week that is exactly what happened.