Friday, March 24, 2017

America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park: Action Park


If you were a kid growing up in New Jersey in the '70s, '80s, or '90s, there's a good chance you visited Action Park in Vernon, just over the New York line. In fact, many former patrons claim it was a right of passage to survive a visit to "Class Action Park"--a fitting nickname given its notorious reputation.

Just how dangerous was this place? It was so treacherous that while researching it I came across commenters on various sites that sustained broken noses, broken bones, skin burns, concussions, near drownings, and more. One said his mother worked at a nearby hospital, where she helped tend to a never-ending stream of kids coming into the ER with injuries from the amusement park. And they were the lucky ones. The place eventually became responsible for six deaths including an electrocution.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How Not To Let Yourself Go (Especially If You're Over 40)


"It'll never happen to me," I used to say when I was younger. "I'll never let myself go."

But then I was laid off in August last year and guess what? I did kind of start to let myself go, at least on some days. And let me tell you, it can be a dangerous slippery slope.

Getting up later then usual and lounging in my PJs on my laptop until 10:30 AM on most mornings became the norm.

I went quite a few days without wearing makeup, especially if I wasn't planning on leaving the house that day (who was going to see me? Before you answer "the UPS man" I can assure you we don't order much online and there really have not been many through the years that I would consider attractive.)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Elle Macpherson Kicked My Butt: My Favorite "Vintage" Workout Tape


Side note: here we go again; the blog template put the entire post on the homepage (grrrrr.) To leave a comment, here's the actual link to the post to do so (which also includes the title): http://www.goretro.com/2017/03/elle-macpherson-kicked-my-butt-my.html

When I was younger, I went through a brief period where I wanted to look like Elle Macpherson. And if I couldn't have Elle's face and body, I would have at least settled for her impossibly long legs. Eventually I decided that I was beautiful in my own unique way, but when Elle released a workout VHS in 1994 -- called Elle Macpherson: Your Personal Best -- I jumped at the chance to emulate The Body's body through exercise.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Three Reasons Why I Almost Never Go To the Movies Anymore


The last time I went to a movie theater was in January to see the Ben Affleck film Live By Night. Before that, it was a good year earlier, to see The Peanuts Movie in December 2015 and Spectre the previous month.

And the last before that was Big Eyes, in December 2014.

As you can see, there's a pattern here. I'm only going to the movies, on average, once or twice a year. And as it turns out, I'm in good company. Recently I came across the following chart showing the results of a survey taken just last month polling Americans about their moviegoing habits. (You have to subscribe to the site to get access to all of the source details, but you get the idea....however, I would be curious to know how many people they actually polled.)

Source: Statista
Hollywood should be alarmed by these stats; according to this, a combined 45% of those surveyed--nearly half!--stated that they never or almost never go to the movies. Of course, I believe there's a few obvious reasons for this: it's cheaper to rent and watch a flick on on-demand or from your local library  or stream it vs. paying a high ticket fee to see it on the big screen.

But for me personally, the reasons go a little deeper. Going to the movies isn't quite the joyful experience anymore that it was for me in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Here are three ways how moviegoing has changed from earlier decades--and hence, three reasons why I'm hardly going to a movie theater anymore (hopefully these won't make me sound too curmudgeonly.)

1. Less Movies Being Made That I Actually Want To See

I didn't watch any of the award shows this year, or last year for that matter. Part of the disinterest is because I've grown tired of listening to actors use the awards stage as a soapbox for their political beliefs. But mainly, most of the movies being nominated lately just don't appeal to me and even just the films being made in general feel very underwhelming.

When my friend and I went to see Live By Night, we had to sit through about eight previews and I can honestly say not a single one appealed to either one of us. It was one dark looking, shoot 'em down, action-oriented, CGI riddled hot mess after another...the new Vin Diesel movie, another with Keanu Reeves (John Wick: Chapter 2...was there even a chapter 1?), Kong: Skull Island, a dumb-looking comedy, and some horror flick that takes place in a Swiss mental asylum.

Where were the previews for the intelligently written dramas; something that looked like it might have a compelling story behind it and is capable of pulling some heartstrings? It doesn't seem like there's much that fits that definition in the pipeline for 2017.

Speaking of which, it seems lately that when Hollywood does produce a drama, it's a depressing one with no point or redemption to the story. For example, one of the winners at the Academy Awards the other night was Manchester by the Sea. I had no interest in seeing it and since recently learning the entire plot, will definitely pass. This movie (warning: spoilers ahead) is about a young man who lost his three children in a fire (that he set while drunk) and spends much of the film depressed and wallowing in his self misery. Although it was deemed an accident, his wife blames him for the fire, divorced him, gets remarried and has a kid which makes him even more depressed. He gets a chance to better himself when he is named the guardian of his teenage nephew after his brother passes away, but apparently botches that up too, and at the end of the movie he's no more happier than he was at the beginning of the film. The end.

I know someone out there right now is saying, "But Pam, that was a movie about what life is really like; sometimes there's no happy ending."

To which I say as an optimist, I would rather my money be awarded with knowing that the possibility for a happy ending can still exist in this world.

I'm not saying that Tinseltown should be giving us nothing but technicolor lollipops and sunshine, but if you're going to make a sad fictional film, at least give moviegoers a silver lining to it.

At least Manchester by the Sea isn't a remake, or the latest of a long list of sequels (do we REALLY need another Pirates of the Caribbean installment?)

I could dwell on this all day, but bottom line -- there just hasn't been much coming out lately that I want to see, and that includes renting it on on-demand.

There's been very few films during the past decade that have dazzled me with a combination of a compelling plot, juicy dialogue, authentic looking costumes, sets, cinematography, etc. and that includes Best Picture Oscar winners in recent years, like Spotlight and Birdman. Snooze. Lately I find myself skipping over the latest releases for on-demand, and curling up with a book instead.


2. The Rising Cost of Going to the Movies

I know that nothing is really exempt from inflation, but it's crazy to fantom that a family of four can easily drop around $75 or more on an afternoon at the movies today if they get regular priced tickets plus some snacks. It seems every time I've gone to the movie theater, the price of popcorn has gone up yet again; you'd be better off saving the money for an actual meal before or after the show (except the smell of that popcorn is so damn addicting.) I realize that theaters have added a lot of perks such as reclining seats, bars, and reserved seating to the modern moviegoing experience, but personally I'd rather have the "luxury" of paying only $8 a ticket, be allowed to bring in my own food and drink from home if I wish, and watch the film in a standard stadium seating theater.

Some movie chains do offer memberships where you can see a movie for free or receive money off the cost of a ticket after you've seen so many films, but I can't help but feel this is a marketing ploy to help offset the cost of lost business in recent years.

3. Putting Up With Other People

Thankfully this really hasn't happened all that often, but right in the middle of Live By Night, a couple came in with a young child--perhaps no more than 5 years old--who then proceeded to talk and make a fuss until one of the parents took him to the concession stand to get a snack. But...WTF? The movie was rated R. I realize the kid was with his parents, and believe it or not, he did quiet down once he had food, but I do have to question why anyone would bring a child that young into a movie that contained violence and profanity. It seems that a lot of parents these days do not want to be bothered with hiring a babysitter, so their solution is to push the limits and take their kid anywhere, even if it's typically a venue for adults only.

As my friend and I were leaving the theater, a couple behind us was actually complaining about what happened as well, and we ended up chatting with them a bit about how one parent should have taken the boy to see a kid's movie while the other parent watched the Ben Affleck film.

Then there's the whole mobile phone thing...it's sad that movie theater chains must remind us before the coming attractions that mobile devices should be turned off, and ringtones set to vibrate. However, as we all know, it doesn't always happen.

OK, I've griped enough. If you're not really going to the movies all that much, either, let me know your reasons why in the comments!

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