April 20, 2011

Why I don’t go out much, part 2

Filed under: 20-minute,music,rants — Mark Dalrymple @ 2:07 pm
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D3C 3836

I tend to attract annoying people whenever I venture forth into the world of public performances. In fact, I’ve already written about that once here, with a string of bad experiences at the Lord of the Rings movies. A friend who read it told me “It must be a Lord of the Rings curse”. I wish it were so. I wish it was just limited to that. So here continues the Litany of Annoyance.

We have some good friends in the area, with a daughter who is a serious over-achiever.  In addition to knowing everything Star Wars, she has an incredible singing voice. The final high school choral concert of the year featured her singing a solo. I was expecting a somewhat noisy audience, given that it’s a group of students and parents in a somewhat backwater part of the state, but I was completely unprepared for the rudest grandmothers in the world. You’d think that if you were coming to a concert to hear Little Johnny sing, you would be quiet during the singing parts so you could actually hear them, and talk during the quiet parts. Bizarrely enough, they talked incessantly (and loudly) during the singy parts, and were silent during the in-between parts. After a brief, but friendly, dressing-down by me, they stop talking at the tops of their lungs, and only quietly muttered about “that bastard” sitting in front of them. At least I got to hear Erin’s solo.

The Pittsburgh Symphony is not immune to Audience Members from Hell. Sharlotte and I went to a “building the audience of the future” concert with some fun pops stuff on it. If this is going to be the audience of the future, I think I’ll stick to things like “CD’s” and “mp3s” and “sitting in an orchestra“. We were up in one of the middle balcony sections. Two rows ahead of us and about 30 degrees to our right was a guy eating a big bag of Peanut M&Ms. Crinkle-crinkle-crunch-crunch. Luckily he didn’t throw M&M shells on the floor. Behind us a couple of rows,and near the exit was a Young Teenage Couple making out. Behind us were some folks chatting. And in the row ahead of us, about 10 seats down, was a dude flicking his ticket. *flick*. And not in *flick* time with *flick* the music *flick*flick*.  I was *flick* amazed at his *flick* arhythmic abil*flick*ity to have no correlation *flick*flick*flick* with the music. *flick*.

Even the subscription concerts aren’t immune. Brahms Requiem. Nice piece, with the Mendelssohn Choir doing the backing vocals. The Brahms was on the second half of the concert, with the first half being some modern stuff. Persichetti in particular, and something else. I actually like Persichetti having played some of his band music. The folks behind us apparently hated it. Hated It. They obviously Just Came For The Brahms To See Their Friend Singing, and complained bitterly about being denied that. I’m ordinarily a meek and mild individual, but I had to ask them to be quiet, or leave, since they’re obviously not enjoying the music, and not making it especially pleasant for anyone else.

Musical theater. I was playing a run of Brigadoon in college. Someone out in the audience had a screaming child. Said screaming child was present for both halves of the show. Those of us in a pit (and it was a sunken pit, not able to see the audience at all) were giving each other the “can you believe that?” “no, I don’t really believe that.”

We went with a friend to see Fiddler on the Roof at a downtown theater. Behind us was a father with two young girls, maybe 6 and 8. Too young really for the show. Even though Fiddler has some familiar tunes, it’s a really heavy show. From the outset, the girls were asking “can we go home Daddy?”. “No, watch the first half, and if you want to go home at intermission, we’ll go.” They were reasonably well behaved, although Father Unit decided he had to explain everything that was happening. At half-time, the girls informed their parent, in unison, that they wanted to go home. “We’ve already seen half of it girls, let’s see the rest of it.” Argh! The girls did the right thing and started complaining bitterly, and thankfully they all left ten minutes into the second half.

Really. It’s not you. It’s me. Tell me how the concert or movie was, and I’ll be glad to live through you vicariously. *flick*



March 29, 2011

Why I don’t go out much, part 1

Filed under: 20-minute,rants — Mark Dalrymple @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , ,


Gollum crabI tend not to go to movies. I think I’ve been to two films in the last year : Up, and Despicable Me, and that was mainly at the insistence of my close circle of friends who really wanted to see these films. I tend also not to go to the symphony, which is a shame because the Pittsburgh Symphony is a truly amazing organization. I also tend not to go to local performances, like high school musicals, community orchestras, or band concerts.

It’s not that I’m agoraphobic, or anti-social. I just have a curse. It must be punishment for the sins of a previous life.

I attract horrifically annoying people.

I’m not talking about the “oh, let me check my email half-way through the movie” type, or the occasional “what was that?” whisper during a strange scene. I’m talking about the pathologically and willfully rude .

Here are a couple of examples.

Lord of the Rings 1: Sharlotte and I went to our local theater on the last week of the theatrical release, on a Wednesday at 8pm. We were the only folks there. (Rapture!). About an hour into it, a family of Large People showed up. He in a mullet, she had a kind of mullet too, and two too-young children. It was too dark to check their mullet states. Maybe ages 7 and 9. It was a school night, after all.

And, of course, they sat on our row, blocking us in. They then proceeded to consume Mass Quantities of very noisy food. Because they missed the first hour, there were many (loud) cries of “what’s that? What the hell is that?”. About half an hour before the film ended, they left and went to the lobby to play video games.

Lord of the Rings 2: we went with a group of friends on opening night, at another theater about 15 miles away. We sat in the back row so nobody annoying would be behind us. Little did we know that at the end of our row a guy with a bag of pistachios had set up shop. A solid hour and a half of “crinkle crinkle crinkle; Snap; crunch, chew-smack-chew, rattle rattle”. The last rattles were the pistachio shells hitting the floor. As expected, the rattling got louder and longer as more and more shells accumulated on the floor. Turns out this guy was hard of hearing, as was his wife. So once Gollum showed up on screen, the refrain of “what the hell is that?” “I dunno, what the hellis that?” was frequently heard.

Lord of the Rings 3: My friend RedToade didn’t believe me when I said I’m cursed. We saw the third LotR movie in his part of the world, about 50 miles away from home. He had us sit in the middle of the sparsely attended theater. “Yay! I might be able to enjoy a movie for once!”. But no. Right before the previews started, a father and young son set up shop behind us. The boy was one of those open-mouth chewers who could extract the maximal amount of noise from one piece of popcorn, and he had one of the 30 pound jumbo bags. I could only stand an hour of it until I turned around and asked him to chew with his mouth closed. He also had large fizzy drinks. In fact, he had two of them, and spilled them both. We had to keep our feet up on the seats in front of us, lest we get sticky feet.

Lord of the Rings Symphony: Howard Shore, the composer of the LoTR sound tracks, was on a tour conducting his “Lord of the Rings Symphony”. He was in Pittsburgh, so Sharlotte and I went. We had good tickets on the rim of the “family circle”. The rows were just four seats across, and along the side of the auditorium, with the orchestra-section seating on the floor below us.

Behind us was a gum-chewer. All through the first half I heard “chomp smack SNAP POP smack smack”, including lots of loud pops during Gollum’s Song, my favorite part. On the floor below us was a family of five: two oblivious parents and three young boys doing the “stop touching me you’re touching me” routine. Luckily the gum babe left at halftime. But she was replaced with a guy with a mohawk who sat in front of us. That guy was the most well-behaved individual of the evening. I wanted to hug him, but I feared for my eyes getting poked out.

And so, please don’t be offended if I decline an invitation to attend a public performance with you. It’s not you.  It’s me.

(There’s a Part 2, too)

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