I recently won a raffle at a tradeshow I attended - the only raffle, I might add, that I entered. I hadn't meant to, unlike some of my colleagues, who made it a project to make the rounds of booths with a stack of business cards. But there was one booth that had this very cool big interactive video game, and whenever I needed a break from our own booth I'd wander over and play. Once they said, hey, don't forget to drop off your business card. I completely forgot about it until I got a call when I was back at work that I'd won a portable DVD player and a year's worth of Netflix. I thought it was a joke at first, but no - the package came a few days later. Now, with a brand new laptop computer that I specifically bought for its widescreen for DVD viewing, I don't need a portable DVD player. Any significant trip (business or writing) I'll have my laptop, and for shorter trips (trains up north to see family) I'd rather just read a book. I wracked my brain but nobody in my family really needed one, either and it's a rather extravagant gift (list price $399) for a random gifting. So I just sold it on e-bay. It went for $280, which is par for similar items, and of course is all free money to me. Also, the Netflix is worth another $200!
I suppose that I am lucky, or that at least luck strikes me fairly easily if I don't put a lot of energy into wanting something. Last fall I organized a number of employee events around the corporate United Way campaign, one of which was selling raffle tickets for gift baskets. I didn't have many volunteers, so I was the one sitting outside the cafeteria most days hawking tickets. At the close, I brought the tickets to one of the execs to draw, and with a handful of others as witnesses, we began. My name was the first drawn. I had to put it back, since I thought it would look bad if I won, considering that most people associated me with the thing in the first place. Besides, I didn't want to win - I'd only bought tickets to encourage others to.
It seems I should buy lottery tickets, no? But I believe the luck wouldn't follow me, because the act of doing it would mean I'd really want to win, and that would negate the luck. See, I never have bought one. Partly because I think it's a waste of time, and partly because of the way they market them to the people who can least afford to buy them. Seriously, let's market the American dream as job training and education and personal pride, not the nearly-impossible chasing of a free-pass to wealth. Okay, soapbox off.
All of this was just meant to explain that I have Netflix now. The problem is that I see a lot of movies in the theater, and have been pretty diligent at renting the others at a local video store, so there's almost no backlog of things I want to see to put in my queue. I made a half-hearted attempt to fill it, got three DVD's a couple of weeks ago, and two of them are still sitting there. My queue has weird things like "The Big Lebowski" and an obscure Doris Day movie and a MST3K movie.
Last night I watched "The Forgotten" because even though I'd heard it was really bad, they had filmed in my neighborhood which sparked my curiosity. (Of course, that bad movie with the dying Wynona Ryder and the old-man lover Richard Gere was filmed here, too, but I never succumbed. I have standards.) But I'd actually walked past Julianne Moore's trailer a few times, and was really disappointed when the reviews said it sucked. But as a free Netflix rental, with nobody (not the video store guy, not the ticket seller at the neighborhood theater) to know my shame, why not give it a shot?
As it turns out, it's really set in DUMBO, the neighborhood between the Brooklyn/Manhattan bridges. There are a lot of scenes where the camera swoops down from the skies along the tops of buildings to the rooms or streets where scenes take place. (The movie is so bad that I just figured out what that was meant to symbolize.) I think the only scenes shot here were early on when Julianne leaves her building and runs into a neighbor, or tries to find her parked car on the street. The rest of it is just dumb. The initial premise is interesting, it might have been a nifty psychological thriller, but it just falls apart. There were scenes meant to be frightening that I imagine caused entire theaters to burst into laughter. Yeah, that bad. Sorry, Julianne. But you looked pretty (though why, when you were on the run from the feds, did you not cover up your long bright red hair? It's called a hat or a scarf.)