Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A little misunderstanding

Last Saturday I attended the Indy Horror Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb. It was a great way to spend a cold, gray, dreary Saturday afternoon in March, indoors, reveling in the imagined sufferings of others. I saw three features and three shorts, staying at the theatre from about 4:30 to 10:30.

I found out about the festival from the Midweek, a free weekly serving DeKalb County. I faithfully read the Town Crier and do the crossword puzzle. I use it and The Daily Chronicle to find out what is going on in the area and to help plan weekend activities.

Here's a quote from the event description: "The sister festival of the Chicago Horror Film Festival screens independent horror films from all over the world. Tickets include an entire day of films and activities, including a scream contest, guest performances and a late-night paranormal investigation of the theatre."

I was especially excited about the paranormal investigation. A past Midweek article showcased this unique tour of the Egyptian Theatre, and I remember that past tours cost $50 a head, a price too steep for me, and a bit much for what it is. After the last feature, I saw George, a middle-aged man with long straight white hair. I told him I was looking forward to the tour. He asked me, "Do you have a ticket?" I thought that question odd. I'd just come out of the theatre. Then I said I was looking forward to the tour and "I'm glad this one is more reasonably priced. The last one cost $50 or something like that." This time it was George's turn to give me a quizzical look, but nothing more was said.

I asked him why he stopped writing the column. Mind you, I really liked his sense of humor, a mix of self deprecation liberally dosed with obvious and obscure pop culture references. He told me stopped writing the column because the paper changed owners and the new owners didn't want to pay him enough for the column. I thought, "He got paid do write those columns?" It wasn't like he did any research or interviewed anyone for them, and they were buried in the back of the paper, just before the classified section. I liked them. They were well-written. Just off the cuff. George also spoke very eloquently about the paranormal energies in the theatre and claimed to have been pushed once by an invisible hand.

But he told me to come back at 11 p.m. and bring my flashlight and a camera, which I did. When I arrived at 11, George wasn't in the lobby, but a stern looking man wearing a suit was collecting tickets and handing out waiver forms. When he asked me for my ticket I showed him my ticket stub from the film festival. He said, "But this is a separate admission."

"That's not what the Midweek said," I replied. "I also talked to George earlier about this." The theatre manager's eyes bugged out and he gave me a disgusted look and said, "I'll go get him." In the meantime, I stood there and looked around at the fellow tour participants. One older woman had three young sons or grandsons with her, and a huge, dark green crystal in her hand. If I were Superman, I'd back away slowly.

The theatre manager, still looking like someone who's sacred space was about to be overrun by strangers, appeared with George, who apologized for the misunderstanding and then told me with a straight face that the tour price was $50 and they just happened to have one ticket left...

I felt so embarrassed, I could feel the blood rushing through my ears. I stammered out, "I must have misunderstood the Midweek article," apologized, and walked out of there as fast as I could. But as I was walking home, I thought, "Wait a minute. You worked in the newspaper business for a few years and have a degree in English." I raced home to verify that the Midweek article indeed said price of admission to the film fest included the paranormal investigation.

Lessons learned: (1) Yes, lowly typesetters and copy editors at weekly newspapers, words do mean things and people act on information they read in the paper.

(2) Spiritualism is fodder for crackpots and charlatans, even in the 21st century.


Greg Locascio said...

P.S. There also was no scream contest or live entertainment. A woman with a British accent came onstage every so often and introduced a film. I've watched the Sundance Channel enough (2 times, actually, in hotel rooms) to know that at the end of the film, the filmmakers come to the stage for a question and answer session. I was hoping this would never happen. Even more frustrating, the emcee urged us to go talk to the filmmakers after one of the features. Problem was, I didn't know who they were. They hadn't been properly introduced.

In spite of all the misunderstandings and false promise, I enjoyed the movies I saw and felt I got my $12 in entertainment, even without the paranormal investigation.

Anonymous said...

That sucks man. Hang in there.