Friday, October 7, 2011

So Your Ten Year Reunion is Approaching

So your ten-year high school reunion is approaching. Congratulations on reaching this milestone of adult American development. As a much older, wiser person, I'd like to offer you some advice for this event in our digital age.

First things first: yes, it really has been ten years. No, I can't believe it. Yes, it seems like you were dorm-shopping at Target just yesterday.


For the purposes of this guide, I will assume you are the sort of person who moved away from your home town after high school and is now pursuing a difficult, low-paying field in a much bigger city. Why? Because I don't understand any other lifestyles.

Step 1. Your reunion may be up to a year out at this point, but you've just received a notification on Facebook/email to that old address you forgot you had, telling you to save the date. You're toying with the idea of going (you will not end up going). You may have already asked your best friends, with whom you're still in touch, if they're thinking about going. Wouldn't it be fun if you all went together (probably not)? Tentative plans are lightly pencilled in. You begin daydreaming about what it will be like, based mostly on old TV shows or 80s romantic comedies. You'll show off your partner to that person you always had a crush on. They'll tell you they secretly had a crush on you, and you'll just laugh and laugh while your ego inflates. People who stayed in town will marvel at your ability to live in a larger city, and how much cereal costs there. You are the life of a party that you will in no way be attending.

Step 2. Six months out, you've gotten a few more specifics on what your old student body officers have cooked up. Really? It's in THAT hotel? And it costs HOW much? And there's a FAMILY day? Who has a family already (see step 3)? You make the rounds with your friends, who are all in different large cities, debating the merits of these new details. You still keep the weekend open, but think it might be fun to just plan your own thing. This is pencilled in somewhat more lightly than the reunion itself.

Step 3. The Facebook tsunami. Scientists have yet to figure out quite how this begins, but you are bombarded with friend requests from people who look like the parents of people you kinda knew. Remember that time your freshman year at college when you were eating lunch by yourself, and that guy you'd gone to school with for 12 years and never spoken to sat down next to you, said hi and invited you to a party? This is like that, but with much more passive aggression and baby pictures.

You call your mom and have her check your yearbook for you, to verify some of these names. This is stressful because half the people have changed their names. She verifies them and asks when you're going to figure out what you want to do when you grow up. You get sweaty and hang up. Now, you're going to be tempted to say "yes" to all these requests. DON'T. If you follow my advice, you'll be happy with what you're struggling to do in that big city. You'll have no problem dedicating 80% of your income to rent and working mostly for free. You'll still find the narrow aisles and random stock of your corner grocery room quaint.

But you're going to say yes anyway. And when you do, you will regret it. The growth is exponential. You will find your secret crush, and see pictures of their five children. You will also discover their favorite musicians are Nickleback [sic] and Chris Brown. You will go down the rabbit hole of friend lists, spending hours remembering where these people sat in English and who they went to prom with. You realize some of those uteruses have only been baby-free for a total of five months since high school. But you will begin to think: I could have a house. I could have a regular job. I could make a set income and actually try creating a budget. I could mow the lawn on weekends and drink tea on a thing called a "porch." And you will realize My God, I've been spending $20 a week on Golden Grahams.

You will then be horrified by the political views of most of your classmates, but wish you'd talked to that one weird kid more because they seem pretty cool now.

Step 4. The reunion is a month away and it looks like you'll be missing it. You just went to those two weddings on opposite coasts, and work's been thin lately. Your friends all agree that the slumber party you were planning would have been awesome, but you'll meet up in one of those big cities you live in soon. You once more daydream briefly about really cutting loose on the girl who laughed at your new haircut that one time, then go back to accepting Facebook requests out of guilt.

Step 5. The reunion was last week. You've thus far resisted the pictures all your new Facebook friends have uploaded, but you finally caved. It looks like everyone had a decent time. It looks like you wouldn't have had a single person to talk to. And ugh, people still smoke inside public places back there. You probably made the right move. You crack open a box of cereal, go to your window, look at the city and cry a little.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Movies I've Never Seen #4: Spirit of the Forest

Spirit of the Forest

In which I fully describe the plot of a movie I've never seen and know nothing about, based solely upon its Netflix picture.

Spirit of the Forest is based on the whimsical Scandinavian folk tale "Skellenvagbitchmunden," so get off the director's back already because it in no way infringes upon the Smurfs.

Now, on to the plot: Gargamellen is an evil wizard who lives in the forest and wants nothing more than to feed the Smorfen to his pet dog Israelen. The Smorfen are of course the titular "spirits of the forest," but this isn't truly known until a stellar reveal in the 7th act. I suppose I should mention that since this is based on a Scandinavian story, it comes in at a bulky 5 hours 23 minutes.

In an attempt to escalate his Smorfen-cooking efforts, Gargamellen uses chopped up Smorf bits to create a female Smorf and sends her into the Smorf village. Once there, she entices the all-male Smorfen with a surprisingly lewd dance. Dada Smorf, being older, wiser, and far less interested in females than the rest of the village, recognizes this as sabotage on the part of Gargamellen and uses ancient forest magic to reprogram Smorfette into a vicious killing machine.

The film takes a wild turn here. Smorfette, now completely consumed with desire to destroy Gargamellen, dons a pair of Ray-Bans and a leather jacket and speaks in broken Austrian-accented English. At one point the director inserts a full scene from Terminator, apparently transferred directly from an old VHS copy.

In the hour-long climax of the film, the Smorfs, led by Smorfette and Dada Smorf, invade Gargamellen's compound and kill him. The death scene is a combination of those from Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, but without the nuance. With Gargamellen dead, balance is restored to the forest and the Smorfs celebrate with a 24-minute musical number. This was Sweden's 2008 entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

Also there's a talking tree voiced by Ron Perlman, because why not.