Sunday….

Well it’s the beginning of another week and tomorrow I will arrive at MovieStop at 8AM and begin unpacking and alphabetizing all of the tons of DVDs our stores will initally carry. I sincerely hope that we have help. Otherwise it’ll be just the store manager, the area manager (what the company calls their district manager), and myself. Either way, it promises to be a very busy day. We open October 6th.

Yesterday, I worked from 10AM-4:45PM. We put in shelves behind the counters, unpacked the computers, printer, laminate machines, the mouse for each computer, the cash drawers, merchandise scanners, monitors, credit/debit machines and got all of that good stuff hooked up. The alarm and camera systems are installed, the phone’s close to being hooked up and we unpacked the DVD release date board. Programming the computers et al will happen later this week.

Therefore I am resting up today so as not to be too tired tomorrow, even though I slept from 1:35 this morning until close to 2PM today. Calling that catching up on sleep is an understatement. I’ll more than likely go to bed after the Sunday animation lineup on FOX. One thing’s for certain – I’ll be a bleary-eyed zombie once we’re open. I have no doubt about that, especially since we’ll be running a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” DVD sale on used product. Now we just need to get word of mouth to travel far and wide.

I saw The Ten at The Lucas Theatre Friday night.

http://www.lucastheater.com

As a longtime fan of the cast of MTV’s amazing ’90s sketch comedy show The State and their 2000 film Wet Hot American Summer, I’m always there for whatever they do. As this city continues to not have any indie/arthouse theater, we have to feast on scraps. The film is even funnier than I’d imagined, with spot-on work (as always) by Paul Rudd. I could sit here and rattle off the cast and how terrific they are in this hilarious film but that’s nothing – you’ve got to see it firsthand. Winona Ryder, Gretchen Mol, Liev Schreiber, and Ken Marino also deserve mention. Hell, even Michael Ian Black inspires peals of laughter by merely appearing onscreen, delivering lines from a famous play, and simply giving a look to the camera. This is another in a long line of slam dunks from The State alumni (also, rent the Comedy Central series Stella on DVD) and if you’re tired of overblown, mindless nonsense that the multiplexes always program instead of catering to moviegoers that want variety, immediately see The Ten. It’s one of the best movies of the year.

To the movies I return…

In late July I had an interview for a job at MovieStop…

MovieStop logo

Just as an FYI, I have close to a decade of experience in customer service, with my employment history/background in video stores (two to be exact).

They were initially just interviewing for the position of manager. I’d felt like the interview hadn’t been great. I continued to put feelers out and eventually was hired by Target in early August.

Then lo and behold a few weeks ago, the area manager that’d interviewed me emailed me and said I, she, and the manager could meet this week over lunch to talk. I called Tuesday and she told me to meet her at the store (which is still under construction) Wednesday at noon.

My nerves were high. I was uncertain as to what to expect. I arrived at the shopping center in which MovieStop is located (directly to the left of Books A Million). I loitered a bit outside. Construction workers were coming in and on out. I looked inside but didn’t see the area manager (what they call their district manager). A few minutes later, she emerged from the store. We chatted for a bit outside – we were waiting on the manager. After I talked with her about how the location was a great choice, as it’s a few doors down from Circuit City, there’s a Best Buy across the street, and we spoke a bit more, we entered the establishment. There were counters wrapped tight in plastic and a few workers busy working on the floor and other things. I began filling out paperwork (application, W4 form, consent for a drug test, direct deposit form, etc.).

As I was doing this, she went outside to help hang a red “COMING SOON” banner in front of the store that has the MovieStop logo on it…

She was attempting to hang the banner with suction cups but it was proving a fruitless endeavor. I suggested that she get string and tie it to the black overhang/border. Initally thin red string was going to be used but then an older construction worker went inside and came back with slightly thicker blue wire. It worked like a charm.

She then announced that we’d be getting lunch at the mall. We then left and went across the street to the nearby mall. We stopped by the EB Games location there in the food court. She attempted to get the form I’d need to take to the drug testing facility but, as that store’s assistant manager hadn’t yet arrived and she didn’t want to impose, we decided to eat. (She said that she’ll get me the form next week.) So we then ate at the food court. I had Chick-fil-a, she had Asian food. She paid for everything. We talked about the positions that MovieStop has. She said that I needed to give Target a two weeks notice in order to leave there in good standing and that, since the store won’t open until October 1st or so (maybe the weekend prior or after), before I go in to work at Target and on my days off these next two weeks, I will get paid to go around to area businesses, talk to managers, hand out fliers, and mention that we’ll give 10% off to any customer that brings in a receipt from these businesses ; she also wants me to stop by and make sure the store’s looking decent (phone gets turned on, wallpaper looks good, etc.) I said the going to businesses idea sounds like a good way to drum up support. She then mentioned that, with my experience and if I wanted to move up in the company, that the position I’d most likely want/be perfect for is assistant manager. She asked if that’s something I’d be interested in. I said yes, definitely. The area manager went on to say that among the initial general staff they hire when a store opens, they tend to keep those that are friendly, wonderful with customers, and display a great attitude; also, everyone aside from the store manager and the assistant manager (keyholders, general staff) gets paid minimum wage. The pay is substantially higher than Target. Therefore that means you’re corresponding with the assistant manager of the new MovieStop store in Savannah.

I’ll get a 15% employee discount and also be allowed to check out movies. GameStop is their parent company (which bought EB Games in 2005, formerly Electronics Boutique; GameStop made $5.6 billion in revenue so far this year).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GameStop

EB Games was saved back in 2000 and then spun off by Barnes & Noble president Leonard Riggio; due to Riggio’s involvement, all GameStop, EB Games, and MovieStop employees receive a 35% discount at Barnes & Noble, despite the two companies no longer having any connection with each other. She also mentioned the long hours that come with opening the store (8AM-10PM and sometimes longer); I reminded her of my time working at Movie Gallery back in 2000 and, as that store was brand new as well, we’d get there at 8AM, open the store at 10AM and not get out of there until 2AM and have to be right back there at 8AM the next day. I then relayed a story about how during Labor Day of 2000, my mother brought up a plate of BBQ that I ate cold, as we were swamped and a sea of rental returns littered the floor behind the front counter. As such, I’m well-versed in the madness and maelstrom that a store opening causes. I asked about their marketing push; she said they’ll rely on stuffing flyers into bags at EB Games and GameStop stores here in the area, along with my efforts around town, and they’ll have radio spots and radio remotes.

After our lunch, we discovered that the manager (I guess) had stepped out to go to The Home Depot. We talked a bit more about the layout of the store and what’ll be where (counter near the front, candy on racks, a soda machine). She explained that there’ll be four flatscreen TVs at the back of the store playing MovieStop-branded promo DVDs (advertising promotions, movies coming out on DVD, etc.). She also showed me the layout of several different stores on her laptop.

Here’s a glimpse at what a MovieStop store looks like. Ours is a bit bigger than but more like the first clip and less like the last, as she said they’ll never open stores that big again.

Their DVD selection is, from my understanding, amazing. Since they deal in trades, it’s more of a wide variety of titles, and many potentially out-of-print titles. MovieStop offers a lifetime guarantee on their DVDs – if one doesn’t work, bring it in for an exchange. Along with store credit, they also give cash for trades. She explained that the computer tells us how much to give and that that price is non-negotiable. They also sell older movies on VHS (since new films are no longer released on that format) for 49 cents a piece. MovieStop also has a policy in which a customer can trade in 4 DVDs and receive ANY of that week’s new releases for free. If the customer wishes to purchase a season of a TV series on DVD, they’ll receive $19.99 towards the purchase price, as those TV series seasons can run a bit more price-wise. Another MovieStop policy is “BLAP”, which stands for “Beat Lowest Advertised Price”. If a customer comes in with a flyer from Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, et al, we’ll beat the price those stores are selling their new release DVDs for. MovieStop is very big on DVD presales; I explained to her that I’m also very well-versed in that. Customers can put $5.00 down and reserve a DVD before it streets (industry lingo for “comes out”). The one thing MovieStop does not do is accept duplicate trades (2 or more copies of the same title), as that can cause the store to overflow with excess copies of one title (That happened at Blockbuster alot). MovieStop currently has 29 stores, if I remember correctly. I am uncertain if Savannah is the 30th. The website, moviestop.com, is indeed owned by them but she said they’ll not launch it until the stores are a bit more established.

After I arrived home, I told the good news to my mother. Later that day, I went up to Target to pick some things up (including a prescription for her at the pharmacy). I went into the Human Resources lady’s office and gave her my two weeks notice. I told her that I wanted to thank her for the opportunity but that a position has opened up that has more responsibility, a greater pay rate, and is more in line with my background and expertise. She thanked me for letting her know and I received a Voluntary Termination Form. I initally was going to fill it out and return it later but as I was waiting at the pharmacy, I just filled it out and then gave it back to her. She was on the phone and seemed a bit miffed (perhaps) that I’d returned it so quickly. So my last day at Target is the 26th.

I’ll immediately begin accepting applications and conducting interviews with applicants this weekend. I have flyers to distribute as well. I’ve aso conversed with the manager and I am genuinely excited to meet her in person and help to make our store THE place for DVDs in our fair city, with outstanding customer service and a committed and determined staff.

So my already sparse blogging will more than likely come to a standstill, if that’s at all possible. But I’ll still try to bllog when I can. I may pull 18-20 hours a day but I’ll try my damnedest to get a few words out there into the ether.

Review: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

(20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Wrong Turn 2: Dead End on DVD October 9th.)

Many direct-to-DVD horror films are regurgitated pablum, only meant to line the coffers of the studio with even more greenbacks; competent direction, a focused storyline, and decent acting are usually not that important in the scheme of things. But sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised and want to scream from the rooftops your enthusiasm for a title. And Wrong Turn 2: Dead End presents that opportunity.

The first film, released in theaters in May of 2003 (unceremoniously dumped is more like it), was a brutally intense horror film that did not deserve the fate it suffered. While Wrong Turn was a terrific horror film, the sequel ratchets up the gore and the intensity, while not sacrificing character development or sprinkling in stupid writing. The result, I’m beyond pleased to announce, is one of the best horror films in recent memory.

A reality show pilot, entitled The Ultimate Survivalist: The Apocalypse, begins filming in the rural woods of West Virginia with six contestants. The series will simulate survival in a post-apocalyptic world and the winner of the series will walk away with $100,000. Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins), a former Marine, hosts and produces the series. Soon the show is the last thing on the minds of the contestants, as hideously deformed inbred mutant cannibals begin offing them one by one in horrific ways.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the characters because the film presents several horror movie character sterotypes but then totally turns the tables on the viewer. If you think you know who’ll survive, think again. Henry Rollins must be singled out, though, for his take-charge presence as Dale Murphy. Anyone who’s seen his IFC series knows how well-spoken, articulate, and calm Rollins is; as Dale Murphy he seems to be tapping into a little bit of his stage presence and the character gives as good as he gets. Rollins tears into this role with maniacal glee and the result is a character that is an immense pleasure to watch.

In the sea of direct-to-DVD offal that pollutes the market these days, it’s welcome and refreshing to watch a film that stands (severed) heads and shoulders above the rest. While I’d have preferred to see this get a theatrical release, its DVD release ensures every bloody moment is intact. For those who decry that horror is being watered-down for the teeny-bopper brigade and that the genre is being transformed into PG-13 pablum with paper-thin writing, here’s a film that washes that theory right down the drain. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End gives the horror fan exactly what they’ve been clamoring for, and then some. I can’t wait to see director Joe Lynch’s next film.

absent though i’ve been…

Well, things certainly have gotten quiet, huh?

Since early August, I’ve been working at Cible. Parlez-Vous Francais, then read that word and you’ll get my drift. While the pay is an immense improvement over what I’d made at my previous jobs, it’s far removed from my level of experience and the close to a decade in customer service I have. So while the work is grueling and taxing, money’s money. Despite the very nice people I work with on a daily basis, there’s no there there. I long for the interaction and rapport that customer service gives. It’s my lifeblood. That and movies. I just sincerely hope that the one job out there I have my eye on will be mine. ***crosses fingers*** At least then I’d be in my element. We can only hope.

Other than that, there’s not much else to talk about. I’ve got alot of movies to watch (as usual), Netflix, TiVo, you know, the usual suspects. I picked up The Monster Squad Two-Disc 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD last weekend. Lionsgate really outdid themselves. I still have the two commentary tracks to devour. Now if only they can do the same for director Fred Dekker’s other 1980s cult classic horror film Night Of The Creeps.

There are also a million cool indie movies screening downtown in the next fortnight. Good luck on me seeing them, as I’ll be working.

I’ve been forsaking this blog for far too long. I know I always say it but reviews – movie and TV show-related and maybe even book-related (I’m currently reading Chuck Palahniuk’s newest novel, Rant: An Oral Biography Of Buster Casey.) – are indeed forthcoming. So stay tuned. Despite my intense and altogether busy, busy, busy schedule, I’ll definitely make time for this blog. MARK MY WORDS. I’m off today (Wednesday) and tomorrow so expect a flurry of blogging to follow.