Thursday, April 17, 2014

TCMFF 2014 Day 0

[Okay so I did something very very stupid. Somehow while trying to edit this post, I ended up replacing it with my TCM Film Festival (TCMFF) Day 1 post, so I'm had to re-create it, and it just might end up being a very abridged version.]

This is my report on the first day of the TCMFF, well, not so much the first day, but the day before TCMFF started, hence Day 0. To start, I'm going to cover the trip up to TCMFF and the events surrounding it, so please bear with me. The original plan was to drive up, but I had car trouble, so that was not meant to be. About 5 months ago, I bought a car, a 2005 Mercedes SLK350.

It's an insanely cool car, retractable hardtop convertible, fast, beautiful, and it drives like a dream. The problem is about a month after I bought it, I started having an intermittent problem, where sometimes it just wouldn't start. I took it two or three different places, and after having it three time over a period weeks, the third place finally figured it out. It was either the ignition switch or the Engine Control Unit, but they couldn’t diagnose it any further. The plan was to do the ignition switch first, because that was the cheaper of the two parts. But before they gave me the car back, they replaced a $15 part, figuring that it was cheap and easy to do, so it was worth trying even if it might not fix the problem.  For two and a half months, I didn't have a problem with it.

Then the Saturday before TCMFF, the problem comes back, and as it turns out, the ignition switch was a dealer-only part, and ultimately they couldn’t get it in the two business before I had to leave. Now, I was really looking forward to driving up to Hollywood with the top down, music blaring, cruising Hollywood Blvd., etc. All of a sudden, I wasn’t even sure how I was going to get there.

I started looking around, and it turned out there that AMTrak has a train that leaves from a station 10 minutes from my work and gets to Union Station, Downtown L.A., in 2 hours 20 minutes, which with traffic I don’t think I could drive in that time. Then you can get from Union Station to Hollywood on the L.A. Metro in 20 minutes, which I know I couldn’t drive in that time, at least not without a Mini Cooper and green lights all the way a la the remake of The Italian Job. Train it is.

Now, my original plan was to crash on a friend’s couch on Wednesday night. The other advantage of taking the train was that without a car, I wouldn’t have to pay for parking at my hotel for 4 days, which covered a little better than half the cost of a room for an extra night, Wednesday. This meant that not having to drive, I could drink on Wednesday night, woohoo!
I left San Diego (Solana Beach Station) at 3:20. Turns out, the train was kind of cool. About the first almost hour, the tracks stay close to the coast and the scenery is awesome. There’s even a 10 minute section where the tracks run on a low bluff, just above the beach, so you are literally watching people surf 60 or 70 yards away. About the time you start getting into Orange County, the train moves inland, so you the scenery changes to the light industrial buildings and the backs of strip malls. Still by this point, I probably would have been hitting my first bad traffic if I had driven, so moving at 50 mph with nothing to look at was still a win.

I got into Union Station on time at about 5:40 and found my way to the L.A. Metro line. Turns out that this was the first station of the line I wanted and considering I had two small, but surprisingly heavy bags, being on the train first and finding a seat was a good thing. The Hollywood and Highland Metro Station was about 8 or 10 stops from Union Station, so 20 minutes was about right. The station was about a 5 or 10 minute walk to my hotel on Sunset. I checked in and was in my room at 6:40. I honestly don’t think I could’ve driven in that time. Since I had booked Wednesday so late, I had to get a different room for Wednesday night. Now my room on Wednesday was literally the smallest room I’ve ever had in this country. Fortunately, the room I moved to the next day was fairly nice.

I took a quick shower and changed clothes. I had managed to wrangle an invite to TCM social media mixer that they were having at Sadie Kitchen and Lounge. I got there about a quarter after. I was immediately greeted by Nora, who does Social media for TCM. She gave me a Harold Lloyd button. Turns out there was a hosted bar and hors d'oeuvres. Almost immediately, I ran into @willmckinley and his girlfriend Maggie and @EliseCD.

I also got to meet Ben Mankiewicz. Now, I tend to not care too much about celebrities, but I do like Ben Mankiewicz. He has a great sense of humor, the right level of snarky without being mean. In real life he seem like a cool down-to-earth guy. There were a lot of other people (including twitter #TCMParty regulars) there, not all of whom I got to meet that night. But since I’m trying to re-create this blog post from memory, I’m just going to throw out the names of those I know were there. Sorry if I miss you. Let’s see there was @ciniebugz, @IrishJayhawk66, and @CitizenScreen. I also met a couple of people I don’t think I had ever interacted with online before, @jlundenberger (who works for the New Yorker) and @WeRecycleMovies.

The party was great and it was really fun to start putting names and face together with people you mostly know 140 characters at a time from twitter. Turns out there was Warner Brothers Classics party going on at the Formosa that night as well. The people I was talking to as the TCM party was clearing out offered me a ride, so I gladly obliged. The weird part is that when we got to The Formosa, and it was like the entire party had picked up and moved a mile and a half away and picked up where it left off. Suffice it to say that it was great, we had a chance to drink, talk about old movies, and meet new people. It was pretty great.

By late in the evening, it was pretty obvious that one of the people we were hanging out with had had a few too many. Will and Maggie suggested that we share a cab and get her back to her hotel. It turns out that she wanted to get something to eat, and both Will and Maggie were on still on East Coast time and had to be up early the next day, so I agreed to take her to get food, pizza, about the only thing open on Hollywood Blvd at one in the morning. The pizza was okay and I walked her back to her room and made sure she got in okay.

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