Yesterday was a travel day, so we got to St Paul in the afternoon and checked in to our hotel. I’ve been wanting to see Mission Impossible 3 which in theory I have a piece of music in, so I found the nearest cinema showing it, which was out in the ‘burbs. We have a TomTom GPS in the car (and no maps) and I’ve upgraded the voice to John Cleese. So, as one does, I just programmed in the address without paying any attention to where I was going, north and south etc. and allowed Mr Cleese to guide me to the theater 25 minutes away.
I saw MI3 which I found quite enjoyable. The action movie genre is not really my thing, but I always liked the paranoia of those old Michael Caine movies like ‘Funeral In Berlin’, along with the quirky 60s/70s style of The Avengers and The Prisoner. I know JJ Abrams is a big fan of that era, and I thought he did a fabulous job, especially as this is his first feature. My favorite parts were little touches that reflected his personality. For example there’s a helicopter chase at night through a farm of massive wind turbines, and at one point one of the huge blades gets sheared off and scimitars into the field below, startling a flock of sheep. I was the only person in the theater that laughed out loud at that one. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day I could project this sequence behind ‘Windpower’ when I play it live!
However, the piece I wrote with JJ was not really in evidence. I even knew the scene it was supposed to be in, but if it was there it was totally buried. At the end of the movie I sat there as the 300+ credits rolled by, all the endless ILM animators and digital matte artists. Everyone else had left the theater and the staff started sweeping up popcorn and looking between the seats for cell phones and loose change. I was convinced the projectionist would stop rolling the credits and I’d have to stand up and scream at the top of my lungs “turn that back on! I want to see my credit!”
I came out of the cinema around 9.30pm and had a real hankering for Chinese food. Programmed it into the GPS, which is never as effective with restaurants as it is with road directions. So John Cleese starts directing me to several closed or non-existent Chinese restaurants, all seemingly two or three miles apart. The streets are mostly dark and no-one is about, curious for a Saturday night, but I gather St Paul is not exactly a hotbed of activity. John Cleese is sounding increasingly aggravated.
Or is this in fact St Paul? I came to the realization I have no idea what city I’m in. Isn’t St Paul attached to Minneapolis? Isn’t that where Paisley Park is? I don’t know how to ask the GPS these sorts of questions, so I briefly contemplate actually stopping to ask for directions. Lapse into a reverie: I pull up to a large purple mansion. It’s the security staff’s night off. Ring the doorbell and a lithe silk-clad figure answers the door and, with a naughty flick of his eyebrow, invites me in to view his collection of Faberge eggs. A bit like that night 23 years ago when I staggered up a driveway in Encino in the pouring rain to visit the King of Pop! But this is just a fantasy. (And it’s Kathleen’s fantasy really, not even my own.)
Back to the serious business of finding Chinese food in a city where pizza and BBQ seem the more popular fare. John Cleese has one last suggestion: the Grand Hunan Buffet, only 2.3 miles form here. I decide to give it one more shot before reverting to the hotel (whevever the hell that is, probably 30 miles away by now!) I am led into a brightly lit downtown area. People are lining the streets in rhinestones and stetson hats, I can barely move. Cowboys and cowgirls are pouring out of a concert venue. I read on the jumbotron that it’s a Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert, whoever they are. Then suddenly I see one of those rolling neon tickertape displays, like in Times Square. I recognize this from earlier in the day! I must be back near my hotel! There’s been another mining disaster and Barry Bonds has tied The Babe at 714. And there’s the Grand Hunan Buffet. Lights are on, but there’s no parking outside. I pull into an underground garage, and suddenly realize this is the garage under my own hotel.
The Chinese food was pretty good, so Mr Cleese came though for me after all. ‘You’re arriving at your destination’, he said in a bored voice, ‘but I’m not going to carry your bags. From now on, you’re on your own.’