Just to follow up with attendance at the Texas UIL Football Championships:
5A Div II attendance: 42,621 (Katy v Cedar Hill)
5A Div I attendance: 48,379 (Lamar v Allen)
Total attendance over all of the championship games:
205,238 (10 games)
Some perspective (Comparing to college):
A single game:
Texas Tech v Baylor: 44,168
Bowl Games (up to today):
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: 35,442
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: 29,243
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: 24,610
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas: 33,217
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: 48,828
Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl St. Petersburg: 21,759
Total attendance to today: 193,099
It’s telling that all of the college bowl games, up to now, haven’t drawn the crowds that the Texas UIL has.
There is no comparison to other high school organizations — it’s obvious something is quite different here in Texas.
Spoilers below — read at your own peril.
I didn’t go to the midnight showing of Prometheus, as my son requested. I’m old. Well, older than him. And I had to work (a little) on Friday. He says he can go without sleep, which is astounding to me, but then I realize whenever I drive him somewhere, he sleeps. Touche, young man.
So, as a compromise, we went to the 12:40 pm matinee on Friday (yes, he’s out of school and yes, I took off of work). We went as part of a party of four.
I was surprised, although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been, that there really wasn’t anybody in the theater when we walked in about 12:20. I suppose I was still dealing with the Avengers in my head regarding what a blockbuster really is. That’s OK…I can get past that. This one, in my eyes, was more about the story and less about the spectacle…although you get the spectacle for free in Prometheus.
The previews started and I was surprised to be laughing as a Vince Vaughn preview. Considering he’s about as funny as…I don’t know how to finish that. I don’t like him. He did his best work opposite Will Ferrell in Anchorman. And he was number 2 there (my own personal inside joke works here).
So we fast forward into a movie that has had a lot of hype behind it. I, for one, am a fan of Ridley Scott, with my favorite movies being Alien and Blade Runner. Dark, foreboding, thought-provoking, kick-ass.
One thing I tried to do was avoid reviews prior to seeing the movie. I did, however, see one that kind of set my expectations about how I should walk into the movie — it was something like: “This is not a prequel, it’s a parallel”
That made sense. Initially I likened it to how I approached the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re a fan of the series’ (radio, books, TV, movie), you’ll know that there’s variability in each medium — and that’s expected and enjoyed. I think I took that a little too far for Prometheus. If you have the concept or notion that Prometheus “exists” in the same “universe” as Alien and you only use that as a frame of reference, then the pieces seem to fall into place fairly smoothly. The neat thing for me is that there are A LOT of unanswered questions, meaning the next installment(s) should be fun (unless they go all Matrix trilogy on it…screw you, Neo).
The movie opens with what looks like a creamy rubber man who drinks an interestingly black drink and then dissolves into a waterfall. This represented the seeding of the planet…see, the black drink broke-up his DNA into components which looked like they reassembled into smaller strands of our favorite double helix. Not much more about this, just know that it was pretty neat and looked like somewhere on earth.
We open the talking part of the movie with Noomi Rapace (she’s perfect for this role – Dr. Shaw) and her muse Logan Marshall-Green (Dr. Holloway) doing archaeology. If you’ve seen the trailers, and many have, you’ll know they find what amounts to a star-map that comes from many different cultures from many different times — an invitation in their eyes (really, an invitation — “Hey I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number call me maybe?”).
They believe that this is an invitation from what they believe are the seeders of life on planet earth (which they lovingly call the “Engineers” – Oh, I see what you did there).
I need to stop here — the movie is shot beautifully. This is what I expect from Ridley Scott and he didn’t disappoint.
To the spaceship! The Prometheus itself is pretty neat, with a lifeboat for Charlize Theron (Ms. Vickers) – yeah…she’s still pretty hot. The captain is the always reliable Heimdall, and it’s clear that it’s his ship.
What’s nice is that there’s some exposition about the Weyland corporation. And we get a special appearance by not-really-dead-but-I-play-dead-in-a-hologram Peter Weyland. It’s nice to find out why this TRILLION DOLLAR, 35 Light Year ride to a party you really weren’t invited to expedition was funded. Turns out, Peter Weyland was actually alive the whole time and commiserating via a non-explored dream conversation with his creation David (who proves to be a nice dynamic on creation and what any of this stuff actually means, cosmically). Weyland figured that if these folks created the life on earth (semantically, they seeded the earth – panspermia, but that’s for other people to argue about), they could give him immortality. Damn humans and their desire to live forever.
And, as Walter Donovan, Weyland chose poorly.
See, what they actually found was a biological weapons manufacturing and storage area. At least that’s what we’re told to think. That’s OK, I can live with that. But, as I’ll ask many times, why?
The scienticians stumble upon a hologram (thank you, David) that shows the Engineers running away from something. What they found were dead engineers, dead for perhaps 2000 years. They don’t know why they died, but they’re darn sure going to try and find out (and, really, it would be a pretty boring movie if they just said: “Shit, this is too scary…I’m staying inside.”).
So, we get to see a primitive form of what Alien fans would know as the ‘facehugger’ — at least that’s what I think. It has acid for blood (Molecular Acid, whatever that means). It’s scary as hell. It moves quickly. And it does things to your face that you only probably see in hybrid Japanese/German Porn movies (I apologize for that, but it needed to be said). We also get to see electro-shock therapy awaken a dead-head (magnificently preserved for a 2000 year old dead guy) — and it explodes…how cool. That allows us to test the DNA and BOOM, it’s the same as ours. Hypothesis confirmed.
I often wonder how much detail to write about. The problem with Prometheus is the complexity. This is, by far, a good problem. There’s a lot of story to tell. I remember from a Theatre class that I took in college that writers will write everything that they intend to be there…nothing more and nothing less. So that’s how I absorb movies, trying to remember that everything is important. Prometheus is no different. No doubt that there will be those who may not like this because of some expectations they have had. And I totally understand that. We’re dealing with a franchise that redefined horror and the look and feel of movies. There was a brilliance that came from Alien that trickled down to so many other movies. So how do you deal with the audiences that fall into three general calories: 1) never seen alien or any of the sequels (including the AVP franchise) 2) Those who have high (perhaps unrealistic) expectations on how Prometheus and the movies of the Alien franchise should mesh and 3) Those (like me) who see Prometheus as something that exists in parallel with the Alien franchise (and as we know, in curved space, parallel lines eventually meet).
So what do I need to say? Aside from the movie detail that’s been put above (and, mind you, that stuff (except for the reveal that Weyland is actually alive) occurs in the first 45 minutes of the movie…like I said, a lot of story to tell) there’s a complexity in the characters and the story that is very fulfilling.
What I’m left with is asking why…in a good way…in a way that spurs my desire to know more rather than trying to justify having watched the film. Why do the Engineers have designer weapons? Why do they want to destroy us? Who created the Engineers? How the hell did Noomi have a C-Section and walk immediately after despite the high-end auto-surgery device? Why did Weyland create David as a dick of a human? Perhaps the answer to the last one is that David is the perfect dick. What we would be without flexibility in our morals and ethics.
A lot of unanswered questions. My only hope is that in the subsequent releases they’re addressed well. I don’t care how they’re answered (I have my own theories that I’m concocting <– and leave me alone on this, I’m entitled) but I hope they’re treated with some good level of analysis rather than some flippant approach that is meant to appease rather than inspire thought. Is that hoping for too much? I hope not.
So — this review is light on substance of the movie, but heavy on trying to understand it. I’ve always found that I really like the movies that force me to think…that don’t have easy answers. Those movies that do that well I really enjoy. Gosh…Blade Runner is spectacular — exactly for those reasons (and not entirely unattributed to Vangelis‘ soundtrack).
I can’t tell you how to think or what to feel about this movie. I think it’s something you may either like or not. But for me, it was a love affair.
So…bottom line. I loved this movie. I loved the challenge of the characters and the story. I loved the CGI. I loved the unanswered questions. 8/10 for me.
I directed them to my last post.
Also…after having a couple days to let it sink in, A-Kon was great!
I’ll be sure to post anything here if I hear from them…which I doubt.
What’s even more funny is that the good folks from The Hilton East Brunswick are now following me on Twitter. I wonder if there’s a reason?
The con itself was great. My son had a great time. I learned a lot about the ‘kids’ (wow…never thought I’d use that term) and what they’re doing. I’m an older guy, but not too old.
Luckily, I’m fairly capable at being able to compartmentalize many things. I almost couldn’t do that here. The Sheraton is, without a doubt, the worst hotel I’ve stayed at. And I’ve stayed at a lot. I used to be quite a traveler — platinum on airline frequent flyer, platinum on multiple hotels, platinum on rental cars. I’ve stayed everywhere from a cricket-infested Motel 6 in-the-middle-of-nowhere, Texas to the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts.
I should have known it would be a terrible hotel experience when we rolled up and ALL of the parking was full. See, the Sheraton doesn’t care if you actually stay there. First come, first served. So…even though I spend money with them, I’m not treated to a parking spot – even IF I was willing to pay for valet – which I was.
They did OK…they took the bags while we drove around and tried to find parking. 1/2 mile away.
The good part was that there was no interaction with the staff for the rest of the day. We ordered pizza from a local shop that was pretty good. Ask me for the name ’cause I’ve already forgot. I’ll have to look it up.
Then…there was 3:00 am. Needless to say, there was revelry by the con-goers. And it spilled into noise that lasted until 4:30 am. I use 3:00 am because that was when I was awakened. After reports to the hotel staff, amazingly nothing was done.
This happened the second night, too.
Next step…removal of the lights from the elevators. But first, recognize that we actually stayed at the north tower, where there was very little elevator traffic. Good for us. Because if you were in the center tower, you had to wait in line, sometimes a significant one, just to use the elevator. Wow. I’ve never seen anything like this.
Back to the elevator lights. You find that one person, or a small few, can ruin things for everybody. To the con-goers that thought removing the lights was cool, you suck. You’re probably the same ones that kept me up all night.
Saturday was relatively uneventful, except for my trek to the surface parking lot to ‘refill’ the money so my van wouldn’t get stolen.
Early Sunday morning…yeah…the 3:00 am gang again. Another report. Another non-reaction.
I need to backup to Saturday night. My son and I went to eat in the sports-bar that was in the hotel. This, by far, was the best service that the Sheraton could have done. The server, Benjamin, was fantastic. But that’s where it ends. Because we wanted to leave on Sunday.
See, we packed a lot of stuff. With my son’s cosplay outfits, we needed to have a bell cart so that we would be able to retrieve the van and then pull up to the door to load it out. I called at 10:45 am to request a bell hop. They said they were behind (which I understood) and they said they’d be about 1/2 hour before they could get to me. This wasn’t a problem, so I waited in the room while kiddo was doing his thing on the con floor.
An hour later, I called to see what the status of the bell cart was. I was told that they didn’t know and I was transferred, inexplicably, to the valet. The valet had no information. The valet transferred me back to the front desk and they told me they didn’t know what the concierge had as far as a list and didn’t know when I would get the help I requested. I politely informed them that check-out time was 12:00 pm and I didn’t want to be charged because I can’t get my stuff out of my room.
Another hour…no call…no knock at my door (really…the maid service just opened the door…no knock).
I called the front desk again. I explained to them that it had been two hours since my initial request and that it was absolutely unacceptable that I wasn’t afforded any communication about the request. The wait wouldn’t have been an issue if they just simply would have called me…just to say they didn’t know.
The guest services representative sent her supervisor to the concierge, then I received a call and was asked, for the THIRD time, how long I’d been waiting. What this means is that I wasn’t on the list that my 10:45 call was supposed to put me on. Which I thought I had been put on. Which is what set my expectations.
Anyway, they said someone would be right up. And he was. But he was only going to help me with my bags — not take them to ‘storage’ as I requested (I’m not lugging these bags 1/2 mile to the van).
Well, they said they’d do it…but we’d have to go to the overflow area due to the volume of my type of requests. Which my bell hop didn’t know where it was. We walked in circles. Literally. Nobody seemed to know what was happening. It was almost like I was inconveniencing them.
So they take the bags and store them. Then me and the kiddo go to check out. She asked, “How was your stay?”
I replied, “You don’t want to know the answer to that question.”
She seemed genuinely stunned. Did people just say “OK” out of habit? Or were they so good they never had problems? I don’t know and I don’t care. I paid the bill and we walked to the van and drove to the entrance to get the bags. Which had been de-carted and I had to carry to the car myself. And they lost a bag. The bag with my kid’s regular clothes. “Can you describe it?”
“It’s the grey one you lost.”
Amazing. Just amazing.
Now, you may be saying, “This wasn’t so bad.”
Or, “C’mon, they had a lot of people to deal with.”
See…this is where the problem lies. It’s not my problem when they don’t deliver the value and customer service that is expected. I spent nearly $500 for TWO days in the hotel. What does $500 mean to you? What kind of value do you expect? Is it just for the room and a little food? Is that enough? Not for me.
Second, they knew how many people would be at the con. There were roughly 22k attendees over the three days. This was probably given to them in the contract negotiations. And it’s no secret that there were over 17k attendees in 2010. So they knew.
The bottom line — They were understaffed for the event. They didn’t know how to handle an event of this magnitude. They didn’t know how to take care of this particular customer. They did know how to lose my business forever. I will never voluntarily stay at a Sheraton or Starwood hotel. I will never recommend them or specify them for any corporate event.
It’s a big deal to me when customers suffer. My entire career has been based around service. That’s the life-blood of any organization. And if you forget that, you don’t need to worry about losing customers, ’cause you won’t have any.
The Little Things Matter
It’s been a while since I’ve posted — and I think there are a couple reasons for that; reasons that I won’t go into, yet (if ever).
I must admit, I wish they had this stuff when I was a kid. I was chastised by an artist named David who, being 47, said “This shit’s been around for a while, just not as big as now. You should have got on the fucking airplane.”
He’s right. I used to live in LA (to which he exlaimed, “Me Too!” — small world) and that’s kinda where the influx of the ‘con’ started. I grew up with Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets, Voltron and a host of other Anime and Anime-esque cartoons. Also, I was hooked on Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, Ultraman, Gamera and most of all Godzilla (Godzilla will always be a badass…keeping humans in check — we’re assholes).
So now I can watch as my son enjoys the same kind of stuff I did. I’m learning more about what he likes and he’s seeing that more and more of the stuff he likes is coming from the stuff I like — total bridging of the Generation Gap.
We’re going to San Antonio later in the year and I’m really looking forward to it. He’s a great kid and I’m so happy to see him enjoying this.
On another note, something that gives me pause and maybe, just maybe, gives me hope about the human race, the cutest thing happened today and I’m kicking myself for not having pictures of the event…
So, there are a lot of folks who dress up here…including my son. It’s totally cool. Well, anyway, there was this little girl — she couldn’t have been more than four years old, dressed as Pikachu (she was absolutely cute). Her and her family were waiting for the elevator here at the hotel when a very large, complete Pikachu with the full body and head came strolling down the hall. The little girl’s eyes lit up and she was both elated and a little scared…kind of like when a kid meets Micky Mouse (or one of the other Disney characters). There were a lot of people around and there was a collective “Awwwwwwww” when they saw the little girl go up to the full-size Pikachu. People were taking pictures and, most importantly, the full-size Pikachu made the little girl terribly happy.
It may seem small, but even with all of these people not knowing each other, it was a bonding moment. People were nice. People were polite. People were enjoying being people. That is so rare today.
So, anyway, that was one of my highlights. I’ll always keep that in my head. The little girl’s smile, the crowd’s encouragement and the happy moment it created. Thank you, kind strangers, for putting a smile on my face.