Cinematic Incidents III: The Last Jedi Incident

I like Star Wars. I like Star Wars to the point where I’m one of those people who takes time off and spends most of the day in the cinema watching the latest film back to back…and then goes back to watch it a few more times over the next few weeks. After all, the chances of getting to see each one on a cinema screen are limited to a few scant weeks and months.

With a six-month-old baby, this year was always going to be a little bit different. I knew – and didn’t mind so much, given that the time I wasn’t at Star Wars I’d be with my daughter – that I’d likely only get to see The Last Jedi in the cinema once, at a midnight screening. I’d be able to pop out, watch it and come back while everyone else was asleep.

Circumstances, though, seemed to want to conspire against me seeing it at all.

On Tuesday, when I went out to the car, I found the windscreen heavily iced over. I thought, through a combination of hot water and scraping, I’d managed to remove all the ice from the screen and around the wipers.

I was wrong.

Hitting the switch to wipe away some of the now water from the screen, my wipers protested, moved a few inches and then refused to do anything else, regardless of how many times I tried it.

Checking with the garage, it turned out I’d managed to snap something, which meant ordering a replacement part…which would come in on Thursday…after I was due to see The Last Jedi.

My car was now – especially with changing weather conditions – out of action.

Not only was watching The Last Jedi under threat, but I was due to take some time off the afternoon before the screening to do some family activities which required a functional car.

So I decided that I’d try to get a rental car last minute.

The booking went in, it was accepted and it was confirmed. I’d have a rental car delivered to me Wednesday morning. Everything was back on track, although a little more costly than I’d anticipated.

Wednesday morning came.

A message appeared on my phone. Please could I call the local branch of the car hire company, there were issues.

Apparently, despite accepting and confirming my booking, they: a. didn’t have a car available for me; b. didn’t offer a delivery service from that branch.

After an hour or so of calling between various parts of the car hire company and repeatedly explaining that “no, a car at 4pm wouldn’t help, I need it before then” and “no, I can’t collect it from the branch. I’m not able to get there, mainly because I don’t currently have a car I can use, hence the need to hire one”, I admitted defeat.

Plans for that afternoon were changed to ‘at home’ activities, and a taxi was booked to take me to the cinema at 11pm, assuming something didn’t happen to it and I ended up walking to the cinema.

At 10.55pm, the taxi showed up. Things were looking good.

I was at the cinema by 11.15pm. Things were still good.

I sat down, enjoyed a hot chocolate, bought my film snacks and at 11.45pm, I went up the escalator and into the screen.

The audience waited.

The adverts began.

The Black Panther trailer started.

Things were a little distorted.

The trailer was in 3D.

I had my 3D glasses on, but everything was in double.

They were old glasses. Maybe they’d been damaged over the years and were no longer functioning properly.

Others were complaining though.

Maybe they just needed to adjust the projector. These things happen. Things are left set up for a previous film, they don’t realise and they just need to adjust things. Everything would be fine for –

A cinema staff member was calling out, apologising for the issue. Things sounded more serious.

Apparently, the projector wasn’t set up for 3D showings. They had no capacity to adjust it.

Dread set in.

They would cancel the showing. My opportunity to see The Last Jedi on the big screen would be lost. My chances to avoid spoilers before seeing it would disappear.

They were going to issue free tickets so we could see it at a later date as compensation.

In the normal scheme of things that might be fine. But this was likely my one chance to see it.

But he continued talking.

They were going to move us to another screen. We’d see it. In 2D, but we’d see it.

They’d skip the trailers. Just go straight in.

We’d see it though.

The audience poured out of the screen.

We poured into the next screen along.

We took our free tickets.

The film began.

Cinematic Incidents 2: The Jackie Incident

A quick update to my post about random incidents at the cinema.

Today we went to see Jackie at the cinema. A good film that may have been overshadowed slightly by two incidents – at least for somebody who collects random cinema incidents.

First off, we were slightly late in getting to the screen. Fortunately, it hadn’t started, so counting ourselves lucky, we took our seats and waited. And waited. And waited.

Of the 15 or so people in the screen, we were the only ones who seemed to have noticed that the 12.40pm showing still wasn’t showing at nearly 1pm. So I headed off to find a member of staff – who asked whether it was okayed if they skipped the trailers now that the screening was running late – and about 10 minutes later the film actually started.

All was well and good.

Then at the end of the film a voice piped about explaining what happened to Jackie and Bobby Kennedy after the events of the film. At first, I thought that it was a narrator on the film. Then I realised it was a guy who had stood up a couple of rows down who had taken it upon himself to provide a short lecture on the Kennedy family.

Given what happened with Black Swan, should I just start to accept that something random will happen at films involving Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky?

Something like nostalgia

This past week has been something of a nostalgia trip for me.

Obviously there was Rogue One on Wednesday night/Thursday morning (and again on Thursday afternoon – and probably again on Monday). Like for many, Star Wars has been with me for as long as I can remember. I’m just slightly too young to have seen a New Hope on its original release, but watching it on TV is one of my earliest memories. It informed so much of my creative endeavours in early childhood (along with Doctor Who). It was how it was discovered I was colour blind – I coloured in my Chewbacca drawing green. I won’t go on about Rogue One for fear of giving out spoilers, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it. It’s a great prologue to one of my all time favourite films and adds another layer of context to A New Hope.

Outside of the build up to Rogue One, I’ve been reading The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Mark Frost’s book that acts as a lead in to the new Twin Peaks series due out next year. I vaguely remember watching Twin Peaks when it was originally on. I think I must have come to it quite late – possibly after the reveal of Laura’s killer – as I only seem to remember watching the later episodes on BBC Two. A friend re-introduced me to the series just before I went to university. It lead to some very weird dreams over my first year at university, and when I was awoken by a fire alarm one night, my half-awake mind immediately went to the scene of Bob in police station and the sprinkler system going off. Not the most pleasant of thoughts to awaken to. The book – presented as a secret dossier on the town that was recently recovered by the FBI – is enjoyable and, again, provides an extra level of context around the happenings from the original series. At the same time, I’ve been re-watching the original series and am now impatient for the new series to start.

I’ve also been reading Dragons of Summer Flame. The first time I came across the Dragonlance setting was in the form of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons adventure module DL8 Dragons of War. It was the very first AD&D module I ever owned. I’ve no idea why I started with DL8, other than perhaps it was what was available at the local hobby shop. I ended up collecting the complete DL series of modules, although I never got to run the complete campaign. At some point, I also stumbled across the Dragonlance Chronicles novels as well, which I devoured along with the Dragonlance Legends series and a handful of the other novels in the early part of my teens.

I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs off and on since I was about 8 and, even though I don’t get to play regularly at the moment, I still enjoy reading the sourcebooks and about the potential worlds there are to explore. I’m also a regular viewer of Critical Role – the weekly D&D game of some nerdy voice actors broadcast by Geek & Sundry. So although I might not be actively playing, I’ve still been getting my RPG fix. However, it felt like time to dip my toe back into Dragonlance fiction. The main challenge so far has been trying to remember everything I used to know about the setting. Not that not knowing detracts hugely from the story so far, but simply because there’s this constant sense of having a fact or bit of background on the tip of my tongue and never being able to quite remember it. Fortunately, I still have my old sourcebooks and modules and, if they fail me, there’s always Wikipedia and the Dragonlance Wikia.

Anyway, enough rambling.

Happy holidays and, if I don’t get to blogging before the 31 December, all the best for the New Year.

52 and some other things


Books 50 (Superfreakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt), 51 (Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson) and 52 (The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric) have been read.

My initial impressions here pretty much held up.

Superfreakonomics was interesting, although, having heard several of the ideas from the book on the Freakonomics podcast and being a sequel, it didn’t quite have the same spark, the same sort of joy at the quirky insights that the first Freakonomics book did (Think Like a Freak, the third book, is on my bookshelf to read at some point).

Death’s Daughter was good fun and had certain charm to it. I’m certainly going to try the next book in the series at some point (once I’ve cut a little bit more into my backlog).

The Book of Human Skin, while not a bad book, didn’t quite shine for me. I had a couple of niggles with it, mainly stemming from the book being made up of five first person accounts that seemed to be presented, at least in my reading of it, as written accounts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the approach, but there are some oddities with it. The main one for me being that one character is a semi-literate valet from Venice. As semi-literate his account is full of phonetic spellings and misused words. Yet why would an account that would be supposedly originally written in Italian and then translated for the reader into English be full of English phonetic spellings? It’s also written with a tone of voice that invokes more the traditional portrayals of Victorian English lower class. So it just ends up creating a dissonance between what’s presented and what its supposed to be. Perhaps if I’d read it at a different time I would have enjoyed it more, I wouldn’t have noticed the oddities, or maybe I’d have noticed them and discarded them without a care.

…and more

I said those were books 50, 51 and 52, but I managed to slip in another book between them so they ended up being book 50, 52 and 53.

Book 54 of the year is Blaze by Richard Bachman/Stephen King and 55 is La Prisonneire by Malika Oufkir and Michelle Oufkir. Book 56 is a secret for the moment as it’s research for the next Vasini Chronicles novel.

Based on my current reading rate, I could end up hitting 58 books by the end of the year. Which means that the 293+ unread books on my shelves may get read in 5 years rather than the 5 1/2 years it was looking like was going to take.


We went to see Arrival at the weekend. Really enjoyed it. I had been a little sceptical going in, but the movie sold itself to me.

Between this book…

The City Between the Books & The Bridge People has been out for two weeks now. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at them, you can find the book for the low, low price of 99p on iBooks and Kindle.

The sample on iBooks is from The City Between the Books and the one on Amazon is from The Bridge People, so you can get a flavour of both stories.

And the next

As I write this section at 12.45pm on Monday 28 November (with Twin Peaks Episode 17 playing on the TV, should you be interested), Scrivener is telling me that I’m 95,397 words into the Vasini Chronicles II, which means that I ‘only’ have 44,603 left to write of the first draft (assuming I keep to my revised target).

The final book won’t be 140,000 words. It will be shedding many words in the early edits. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to write words to get to the words that will actually be in the book.

I seem to be picking up a little steam with it, but whether I’ll be able maintain my current rate remains to be seen. Either way, the hope (and I stress the hope) is to have a draft finished by the end of January. Wish me luck.

Horrors from the distant past

Some years ago now, I wrote a horror/action short film. Although filmed*, one of the DV tapes – the one with the big reveal – was corrupted (possibly down to some eldritch power summoned by the filming). It meant that instead of a 10-minute short film, we ended up with a trailer.

So in honour of Halloween next week, here’s the trailer to Cryptic Writings, a film that never was.

Directed by Bill Thomas and produced by Savage Media.

* At the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, where, apparently, many of the cannon and cannonballs for the British side in the Battle of Trafalgar were produced.

Cinematic incidents

We went to see Suicide Squad at the weekend. My experience of it seems to be on par with a number of comments I’ve seen about the film.

However, it will be remembered if only because it gets to go on my list of ‘Incidents at the Cinema’. I’ve experienced a number of ‘incidents’, mostly technical issues, but some have been of a more…well…you’ll see.

This time around, it was having to watch the first five minutes twice.

We didn’t realise it when we booked, but it turned out to be a subtitled showing. Except that half the subtitles were off the screen. Not knowing that it was a subtitled performance, I spent a little while trying to work out why some of the speech was subtitled and other bits weren’t – did they think that some of the accents were too strong to be understood was the front runner in explaining it away.

Five minutes in and they restarted the film and every character was subtitled, and it became clear that it was a subtitled performance. Except now, every so often, two lines of subtitles were laid over each other. Hopefully there weren’t any people with hearing impairments in the audience who might have been affected. Not that it would have necessarily improved their experience of the film if the subtitles had worked perfectly.

There’s been a few other technical incidents over the years, including:

  • The film breaking towards the end of Galaxy Quest. A small portion of the film was skipped, but no real harm done.
  • The start of You, Me and Dupree being shown instead of Hoodwinked, leading to a hurried hunt for a member of staff to notify them before it got a little too risque for the youngest in the audience.
  • The projector initially being set for the wrong screen size for Lesbian Vampire Killers, which we originally thought was how it was supposed to look and an attempt to make the opening scenes look more stylised.

The less technical issues have been…well…uhm…different.

The Watchmen incident

Watchmen was a simple case of a fire alarm going off. It’s the sort of thing that can potentially happen. It was made slightly more impressive though as it happened to coincide with the flamethrower going off on Archie, Nite Owl’s ship.

We were told by the voice over the tannoy to leave the screen, and, while we tried to get our head around why a flamethrower on screen would set off a real-life fire alarm, we headed off to the foyer. Based on the smell coming from the area of the tills, it seemed that the popcorn maker had decided to burn its latest batch.

After a ten minute wait, we were finally told that we wouldn’t be re-admitted as it was too late into the showing. So we ended up having to return the next week. Fortunately, they must have changed the settings on the alarm so as not to be set off by onscreen fires.

The Black Swan incident

The screen was crowded, so we’d ended way down the front, almost having to look directly up to watch the film.

Despite the crowds, there was not much in the way of disturbances during the film.

The credits rolled, everyone got up and slowly filtered out from their sits and almost immediately jams formed. We waited for movement.

The lights came up, and someone called out from the back of the screen: “Can someone get a member of staff? We have someone who needs medical attention.”

Someone quicker off the mark than me, and capable of moving past the mass of people still trying to exit, headed off to get help, while another person asked whether they needed a first aider.

The offer was declined as apparently they’d already found a policeman who knew first aid amongst the audience at the back of screen.

Except – and I admit that this is just me interpreting what I saw from where I stood at the front – the individual requiring aid was just sat there in the seat closest to aisle, staring ahead. There was none of the activity you might expect when someone is dealing with a first aid incident – no one trying to reassure the guy, no one checking him over, or doing…anything…Apart from queuing to get past him.

And there was the fact that this medical emergency had only occurred when the film had ended, almost as though it had only been noticed when people had tried to leave at the end of the film. It just suggested that the worst had happened and that the person at the front of that queue had been unwittingly sat next a corpse as they watched Natalie Portman’s Nina descend into insanity.

I still would like to know – have the reassurance – that my suspicions were wrong and the guy got the help he needed and is now leading a healthy and fruitful life. I’m reassured by the fact that I’ve never been able to locate any news coverage of the event, and you would have thought that something would have been reported if the worst had happened. Right?

The Big Nothing incident

For Big Nothing we got to share the screen with an inebriated couple. Just my wife (at that point, my girlfriend), me and two very, very drunk people who were, at least initially, sat behind and off to one side.

The other couple, as you may expect given their condition, were boisterous, carrying on conversations and clambering over seats. But, just as I was building up to say something, they’d always settle down. For a short time at least.

Eventually the outbursts became a little less frequent.

When I realised there hadn’t been an outburst for some time, I glanced across, half-expecting them to have fallen into a drunk slumber, only to discover the woman had stripped naked.

In such situations, I believe you have three options:

  1. Politely suggest that maybe it would be worthwhile having something between them and seats which they couldn’t vouch were overly hygenic.
  2. Find a member of staff and alert them.
  3. Do not let your attention divert from the screen.

Option 1 was discarded as it would  have required engaging with them and may have prompted them to become noisy again. Option 2 was discarded for similar reasons. So for the remainder of the film, my eyes did not move from the screen in front of me. But the couple did remain quiet from then on. So maybe it was the clothes rather than the drunkenness had caused their agitation.

When the credits rolled, we hurriedly left the screen. Although, by what I saw out of the corner of my eye, the woman had decided to dress before leaving.


I’m not sure whether I’m particularly prone to incidents at the cinema. I’m guessing, giving the number of films I see and that there’s 17 years between Galaxy Quest and Suicide Squad, it shouldn’t be that surprised that a few incidents have occurred. So is it really that unusual for these sorts of things to happen?

In other news

Back on the 10 July, I wrote:

There’s still a while to go before blogging and maintaining the website becomes habitual. I have a vague memory of hearing a fact that it takes six weeks for people to settle into a new routine and for things to become normal, everyday habits. If the fact is true, and not something my mind is just conjuring up while I sit in the late-night dark writing this, then come 15 August this will be just a usual part of my day.

I’ve made it to six weeks of blogging then. It’s not quite become habitual, but it is getting there.