A taste of home
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Dinner & a movie

The Two Crabs made their first trip to a London multiplex theater on Saturday. We caught a 5:30 show of "Brokeback Mountain" at the Islington VUE theater.

Going to the theater in the UK is an unusual experience. First off, the cost. You think US movie ticket prices are bad? We paid 17 pounds for two adult movie tickets, or $30.09. And there are no matinee prices; it's one price all the time. We then spent another 8 pounds, 50 pence on a large coke and a small bucket of popcorn (no extra butter available, but you do get a choice of salted or unsalted popcorn). Total cost: 25.5 pounds, or $45.15!

It was a nice-enough theater, with stadium seating, big comfy seats with cupholders. And the rows of seats are separated far enough that you don't have to stand up to let somebody get in or out. In fact, the seats do not even fold up like at most U.S. theaters. Screen was rather on the smallish-size compared to the size of the auditorium, but it had a great sound system.

Then the lights dim, followed by: 30 (THIRTY!!) FRICKEN MINUTES OF COMMERCIALS AND PREVIEWS! We've complained many-a-times about the nonsense preshow back home, but this was absolutely ridiculous. The only good part was their commercials were rather funny.

Now comes the show. First let me say that Brokeback Mountain was a WONDERFUL film (Old Scratch/Coconut enjoyed it a little more than Speckled Hen/Pineapple Princess). Definately a best picture Oscar contender, and the acting was superb and it was a beautiful love story that just happened to star two men.

The strangest part about the movie-going experience was how absolutely QUIET and polite the audience was during the show. TOO quiet, in fact. Few people laughed or showed any audible emotion, except for the occasional nose-blowing during a sad scene. At one point during a funny preview commercial, I burst out laughing and then was quickly embarrased by the fact that not one person in the theater was making a noise. There was only one point in the film where where the audience actually showed signs of life, letting out gasps and "oooohhs" -- but I wont tell you when it happened because that would ruin the film. But for the most part, nobody was whispering to their seat-mate. No cell phones ringing. No idiots fumbling with cellophane wrappings. Absolutely nothing except the occasional popcorn cruncher. You could have heard a pin drop.

After the movie, we made our way to our local street market, Chapel Market. There is a woman at this market who sells bootleg DVDs on the sly. She has them in a little wooden box, each DVD going for 5 pounds apiece, or about $8.50. Most of them are current films still playing in theaters. (No, they did not have Brokeback Mountain). You can always find the DVD seller; just look for the crowd huddled around her. She has another guy who works as a spotter. As soon as police or the market manager come down the way, she quickly hauls ass with her box until the coast is clear. Anyway, to make a long story short, we decided to buy a DVD, more out of curiosity than anything else.  We picked "King Kong."

Now my past experience with bootleg DVDs is that most of them are shite. Usually blurry, out-of-focus, camera movement, shadows of heads from audiences, etc. Not this time. The "King Kong" bootleg was FLAWLESS. It looked like an original DVD with perfect picture and sound quality. It's as if somebody in the studio had stolen the masters and created a perfect DVD copy! Too bad the same can't be said about the movie: KING KONG SUCKED ASS! I had expected a lot more from Peter Jackson, but this was just shite.

Now I don't want to condone buying pirate or bootleg films but this is exactly the reason why we never go to the theater anymore. If we had spent $45.15 to see King Kong in the theater, I would have been one pissed-off crab. As long as Hollywood keeps churning our crap and selling over-priced tickets to see that crap, piracy will continue.

So on Sunday, we went ice skating at Kew Gardens, the largest of many outdoor rinks set up across London during the winter season.  Unfortunately, we had miserable weather but still had a great time.  Pineapple Princess, who is quite the ice capade, dragged her own figure skates from Virginia. I had to settle for the rentals, which sucked.  Cost for ice skating for one measly hour: 10 pounds per person, or $7.77.  As for Kew Gardens, this is one attraction we must visit again during better weather. The gardens and greenhouses are spread out over several hundred acres, and the village of Kew is quite cute and hard to believe this is still part of London.

That brings us to NACHOS!  In Kew, we stumbled across a great little pub called The Railway, located naturally next to the train station.  Not only are the nachos at Railway the best we've had in London, but they could be the best nachos I have EVER tasted. EVER.  NACHOS RULE!