austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

When I'm living in my solar dome on a platform in space

So I did go to the Rifftrax event. The theater most convenient to me was just a little off work, so I had to fill about two hours between leaving work and the soonest I really could go to the theater without awkwardness. I tried going to a used book store I'd never visited before, on the odds that they might be open after ordinary office hours; they, being a used book store, failed to have hours posted on any web site anywhere including with the local chamber of commerce. They closed the minute I left the office. But it looks appealing from the outside.

As I was getting into the theater a woman drove past in one of those tiny Smart cars, which I have only seen a few times in the wild before. They probably always look like they're speeding, due to the apparent length contraction suggesting it to be a normal car moving at velocities above three-quarters the speed of light, but this one seemed even faster because the rear window was popped open.

At the theater I found I could buy my ticket from an automated station, allowing me to avoid that annoying ``talking to another human being'' thing. That avoidance lasted only another forty feet, as I gave my ticket to the taker, who returned half the ticket and gave me a pair of 3-D glasses. This excited me: I had no idea the Rifftrax Live treatment of Plan Nine From Outer Space would be --- or even could be --- in 3-D, particularly as that's two more dimensions than Ed Wood was able to film. I also had to actually talk with someone to get popcorn and soda.

I was there early anyway, and the theater was filling up --- I think it was at least three-quarters full ultimately --- as the screen showed those facts of dubious interest, such as how ``only in the movies ... does a car explode whenever shot by a single bullet'', which isn't really actually true in the movies either. A few minutes before the start of the live feed it switched to an endlessly repeating video encouraging the idea of attending movie events; I couldn't figure out if this was supposed to be 3-D, but it didn't seem to be. In fact, the Rifftrax thing was not in 3-D, so I don't know why I got the glasses other than that they gave me something to drop and lose on the floor for the duration of the night.

As the feed started up, we also got some connection glitches, including the screen going completely blank as Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson talked about how this was all live and anything might happen. It almost seemed to be a slickly done joke, except there was no punchline. And as the short --- Flying Stewardess (``Here's your copy of Air Disaster Weekly'') --- got going there were repeated glitches of up to a few seconds each, provoking awwwws from the audience. After the introductions three women came to sit to my right; the woman who sat immediately next to me then got up again and vanished for several minutes, only to return with candy and soda. Moments later she got up again, vanishing for much longer than she spent seated. I put my soda on the other armrest, next to an empty seat, and tried not to crowd that side, but she still spent more time away than at the seat. I don't think it was anything I did.

Between the short, about how women learn to be flight attendants back in the days when airlines weren't punishing people for occupying airplane seats, and the feature, came a pair of short mock advertisements created by one of the people responsible for SomethingAwful. I understand the comic intention the bits had, but I wasn't amused by them; the bits were too heavy-handed for what were supposed to be whimsical premises (advertising a convention regarding types of mills, and for a berry-protecting security service).

There were also a couple of more amusing songs from Jonathan Coulton, who somehow has no legal affiliation with They Might Be Giants despite his songs ``Mandelbrot Set'', ``Kenesaw Mountain Landis'', and ``The Presidents''. One was about what an adolescent reading Omni in the mid-80s might fantasize about the future when advances in cybernetics means he can talk to a girl. It played better than I may be making it sound, particularly if you have a specific memory of Omni from the mid-80s. The other song was a sing-along tune about zombies, meant to tie into the whole raising-the-dead theme of Ed Wood's opus. My theater's audience wasn't so much for the singing-along part, but I did my best, which was indistinct from the worst that he encouraged in zombie-like chanting. Better-received was the 'Rifftones' song explaining Plans 1 through 8, which I thought a good idea but one needing more space to develop fully. Writing off a plan as just going way over budget is a good idea but it could use more lyric space to sprawl out.

One intermittent feature during the riffing was putting the short or movie image to the right side and putting up boxes with Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett to the left. I liked this, even if it distracted me from watching the movie, particularly when one moved around and appeared simultaneously in another Brains' box. Also seeing Plan Nine From Outer Space in these circumstances, with nothing distracting me other than comments about the movie and laughter at its many odd little notions, gave me finally the chance to sort out the plot, or at least the sequence of events, in a way I never had before. I also noticed how astoundingly little Vampira has to do with the movie, too; she has a couple scenes with Tor Johnson and otherwise is just wandering alone on her own corner of the terribly packed graveyard set in cutaways the whole film.

While Plan Nine was not in three dimensions, it was the colorized version, which ... didn't really do anything to overcome the slightly creepy air a lot of colorized movies have. The faces of people looked more like putty than skin-colored and the fading to black-and-white in underlit sides --- this in a movie which had its lighting problems to start with --- left it looking weirder than was probably meant.

The night's presentation could really have used some sort of 'closing credits', at least a minute or two. While everyone on stage in Nashville said their goodbyes and the screen faded to the Rifftrax title card, the audience here stayed still a few moments, afraid they might be missing something coming up. It needed a proper signal to warn that we could go home now.

The Smart car was still parked and still tiny but looking fast as I left for home.

None of the Brains noted the newspapers reporting FLYING SAUCERS OVER HOLLYWOOD also contained the immortal headline, New Petitions Against Tax.

Trivia: Jeremiah N Reynolds, who relentlessly lobbied for the United States South Seas Exploring Expedition's launch and was part of the Potomac mission to Sumatra of the early 1830s also published a short story based a whaling legend he picked up in Chile, ``Mocha Dick, the White Whale of the Pacific''. Source: Sea of Glory: The Epic South Seas Expedition, Nathaniel Philbrick.

Currently Reading: The Playful Crowd: Pleasure Places In The 20th Century, Gary Cross, John K Walton.


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