Saturday, May 05, 2012

Marathon Men

Thursday morning found me waking up a bit before 8 AM – which is considerably later than I normally get up on Thursdays – showering, dressing, and getting in the car to make my way to Tysons Corner.
Whenever I have to drive someplace unfamiliar, I always run into the same problem with my car’s nav system.  Basically, it presents me three options, but the view of the map is zoomed out so far that I end up picking some random route that has me going all over creation even though it looks like it’s pretty close to a straight shot.
In this case, I had mapped out a route earlier on my phone that involved taking 267 most of the way, getting on 7 for less than a mile, and then boom, I was there.
That’s what it looked like on the nav system in the car, but, in fact, I learned shortly after I got onto the Greenway, that it wanted me to take the Greenway to 28, and 28 to 50, which, just…no.
All along the way, after I failed to take the exit to 28, it kept hectoring me to take different exits, until I finally got to the one that the route on my phone had told me to take.
In any case, the trip took less time than I had anticipated, and I arrived about 2 hours before the marathon was set to start, and about a half an hour before the box office would open to allow me to pick up my pre-purchased ticket.  (I wasn’t able to use the kiosk to get my ticket because I had paid for it with my PayPal account rather than a credit card.)
At that point, a line for the marathon had already formed.
Eventually, after I wandered around for a while, the box office opened and I got in line to pick up my ticket.
There was a woman in front of me who did the thing that women always do when they’re in line in front of me:  continually turning and straining to see something in the distance behind me.
Seriously, if there’s something over there that’s so important that you have to keep looking at it, just get the hell out line and go over to it.
Worse, once it was her turn to pick up her ticket, she, naturally, had to turn something that should have been a simple and straightforward process into something that was needlessly complex.
Of course, that was my fault – I emit some sort of field that forces people in front of me in line to make things complicated.
(I have the worst super powers ever.)
It seems that sometime after she purchased her ticket, her credit card got stolen, so she couldn’t use that to confirm her purchase.  The power of the “Pretzel Wagon Effect,*” as I called it, rendered the woman working in the box office incapable of processing this information on the first, second, third, and fourth attempts by the woman to explain the situation, and ultimately she had to find someone else to come over and listen to the story three times.
Eventually, the other person was able to understand the situation, and asked, “Do you have your confirmation number?”  The woman said no.  The man said, “It should have been e-mailed to you when you bought the ticket.”  The woman dug around in her purse and pulled out a piece of paper.  “Is this it?”
It was, and that was all she needed.
Well played, Pretzel Wagon Effect; you added at least ten additional minutes of standing in line to my day.
Scott arrived shortly thereafter, and we got in the line – which had expanded considerably already – and were soon told how it was going to work:

1. We would be allowed into the theater
2. We would make our way to a table where we would be given a lanyard with a badge, a promotional comic book (which was just an extended ad for some hotel chain), a poster, and our choice of one set of the collector’s edition 3D glasses.
Badges?  We don't - oh, we DO need badges?

Once we got to the table, a woman working there said to me, “Oh, you’re going to be so disappointed.”
What?” I asked, in a small voice, fearing the worst.  “Why?
”We’re all out of Thor glasses.” (I was wearing a Thor T-shirt.)
Not really caring that much about the glasses – mostly because I don’t particularly care for 3D anyway – I shrugged, and went with the Hulk glasses.

Hulk smash puny third dimension!

We ended up getting fairly decent seats, which was surprising, given how many people got in ahead of us.
Sometime before the first movie started I went out to get some snacks, and, of course, the Pretzel Wagon Effect struck again, despite the fact that I had gotten in the line that contained no children and very few couples.
Of course, I wasn’t terribly concerned about missing anything anyway.  As I told my boss, in response to her text telling me to be sure to get up and move around a lot, I’d seen most of the movies multiple times already, so I was free, for example, to get up and pee whenever I felt like it.
The movies themselves were enjoyable, of course, despite how many times I’ve seen them.
In between each movie there was a brief intermission during which they had activities like trivia contests.  After the first one, when it became clear that A. the prizes weren’t all that great and B. they were going to give the majority of them to kids, I opted not to participate further.  (On one of the questions mine had been the first hand up, but the guy running it picked a kid instead, despite the fact that there was a large section of the audience yelling at him that I was first.)
The “events” actually got pretty annoying, and the crowd tired of them early on, until finally, during the last intermission, the guy just gave up and said he’d give free posters to anyone who wanted one and didn’t bother with the rest of it.
During the first intermission it became clear that one of us had to stay in the theater at all times to protect our seats.  There was a group of kids dressed up as the Avengers, and when they left during the break, some lady took one of their seats.  When they returned, she wouldn’t move.  “Captain America” appealed to the crowd to try to convince her to move, but she refused, despite the fact that everyone present was booing her.  Eventually the manager had to come in and get her to move.
I just can’t imagine what was going through her head to make her think that was a fight she was going to win.  I mean, you don’t steal a seat from the Avengers…


Overall, I was pretty impressed with the crowd.  No one was ever particularly annoying when the movies were actually playing.  Even the annoying kids sitting next to me managed to STFU for the most part.
Because I wouldn’t be getting home until around the time I”d normally be getting up, I consumed truly massive amounts of caffeine to keep be going.  It didn’t keep me from falling asleep when I got home and went to bed, but it did prevent me from staying asleep for very long, and I ended up waking up after a scant four hours.
I went out into the world and did a Costco run, then came home and watched some recorded TV.  I had been toying with the notion of taking in a matinee of the movie so that I could see the 2D version, which I assume would be less blurry and dark, but I was just too wiped out, and ended up taking a couple of naps instead.
And that was my Ultimate Marvel Marathon experience.  Overall it was a good time, and I’m glad I went.

*So named for the episode of The Simpsons in which Marge opens a “Pretzel Wagon” franchise and begins selling pretzels – and only pretzels – from her car.  At one point, she’s selling pretzels at the nuclear plant, and Lenny stands in line indecisively trying to figure out what to order.  “I’ll have uhh….one…uhhh….”  Carl, standing behind him impatiently, tells him to hurry up.  Lenny finally decides to buy one pretzel.  At that point, Carl moves into position.  “Let’s see now, I’ll have…uhh….”

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