Monday, April 10, 2006

On the Brink of Failure, A Plot to "Game" Some Film Students is Saved by a Good (and Observant) Samaritan. A Wynnsong Story.

This weekend I watched David Fincher's The Game for the first time in a couple years. It holds up really well. I flipped to the station it was playing on right as Douglas's character was walking into the CRS offices for the first time. As soon as I saw the CRS abbreviation (which, for those who don't remember, stands for Consumer Recreation Services), I laughed, remembering back to those couple of weeks during my junior year in film school when we were all weirdly fixated on The Game.

When I first saw it at the good ole' Wynnsong, I was pretty freaked out. After the film let out, the first person I saw in the glare of the lobby lights was Tim Donner. (I think he was there to watch some movie Hickman was setting up for an after-hours screening.) Tim, having already seen it, asked me something innocuous like, "What did you think?" And I must have looked at him suspiciously because he asked, "Are you okay?" laughing a little nervously, as Tim was wont to do. Truth was, I wasn't okay, exactly. I was paranoid and suspicious. I felt like, somehow, Tim Donner was in on it, even though I didn't know what 'it' was. Coming out of that movie felt like waking up out of sleep. I hadn't come to my senses yet so Tim Donner asking me what I thought of the movie seemed like another strange extension of The Game; I felt like he had ulterior motives. I love it when a the reality of a movie can supplant the reality of your regular life, even if for just a little while.

The story the movie reminded me of specifically was this one:

All the way back in 1997, the Heath Bloop Wars were in full swing. I don't remember what Heath did to Matt Gray, but Matt was itching to pay Heath back in full. An opportunity presented itself when we learned that Heath, Shawn, and Heath's girlfriend at the time, Teanne, were off to see some random weekday matinee of The Game together over at the Wynnsong Theater. I believe they were on their way out to the theater when Matt and I first conceived our nefarious plan. I'm not sure with whom the idea originated, but Matt and I wanted to recreate for Heath (and Shawn and Teanne) that weird, hazy feeling of paranoia that Matt and I felt when we first saw the movie, but, more maliciously, we wanted to focus our efforts on Heath. If everything succeeded brilliantly, we'd have Heath turned into a blathering paranoid nutball in a strait jacket in no time. Or at the very least, we'd have him legitimately worried. We didn't have much time (the film's running time of 128 minutes to be exact), so we set to work.

To begin, we needed some people neither Heath, Shawn or Teanne would recognize. We recruited some first-year film students we found on some dorm hall or another, and told them the plan. Somewhat amazingly, they were game and agreed to help us. We drove over to the little house Danny McBride shared with Fradley and... (who was it? Sieb? Lucius?) Anyway, the four of us told Danny our plan and he agreed to let us borrow his videocamera. It was low on charge so we had to hang out for a little in Danny's dark dark house while it recharged a little. Satisfied we had enough charge to do what we wanted to do, we drove (in two cars) to a Burger King on the other side of I-40 from the Wynnsong, and realized we had some time to kill before the movie let out. Matt and I bought those first-years some BK lunch and made conversation for a bit. Then it was time. The first-years got into their little blue hatchback and headed for the theater, and we headed back to campus.

A little while later, when Heath, Shawn, and Teanne got back to the dorm, they had an unusual story to tell. Matt and I just so happened to be on-hand to hear them tell it. We affected an attitude of disbelief as the three of them told us what happened to them after the movie let out.

As they told it, they were coming out of the movie and getting into their car when some random moviegoer pulled up beside them. "Hey," the good Samaritan said. "I think those guys are filming you." At which point Heath, Shawn, and Teanne looked to see two unkempt young men, one with a camera perched on one shoulder. Upon being spotted, the mysterious film crew dropped immediately back into their little blue hatchback and took off out of the parking lot. Heath, Shawn, and Teanne drove after them, but were waylaid by a inconveniently-timed red light. The hatchback got away.

"Wow," said Matt and I. "That's frickin' crazy." And this wasn't entirely just us enjoying delicious dramatic irony. Things had not gone according to plan. Our plan had been for our first-years to videotape our Trio of Victims without being spotted. We would then deliver the unsettling videotape they produced to Heath, probably by slipping it into his mailbox at the film school. It was after Heath took the tape back to his dorm room and viewed it that we expected to hear the hilarious fruits of our labor. But we hadn't counted on the good Samaritan factor. If we thought there was any chance that Heath, Shawn, and Teanne, our Trio of Victims, would suddenly become Marauders for Truth running down our naive accomplices, we may have reconsidered using those guys. When we caught up with the first-years again, they told us their story. "They saw us," they said, sounding a little shaken. If I remember right, they were pretty freaked out when their quarry started driving after them. Turns out getting spotted wasn't the only screw-up. The camera's charge lasted all of 20 seconds before it died and so the videotape we got was essentially useless. If it weren't for that meddling good Samaritan, the whole thing would have been an entirely wasted effort.

So even though we didn't get the bloop we planned, we did succeed, even in a small way, to extend the paranoia of The Game out of the theaters. At least for a little while. I forget how soon after that happened we eventually told them our part in it. After that, Heath got into it by sending a videotapes(I can't remember what was on the tape itself, only that there was a tape with a white piece of paper taped to it with Heath's old circular insignia on it written in red marker), and leaving keys where I would find them. On one, Heath had written, "Don't make a motion." Man, did that make me laugh. Didn't Heath write 'CRS' in weird places all over someone's room? So many that, months and months later, the guy was still finding 'CRS's he hadn't found yet?

Anyway, we had some good times with CRS back at the SOF. Good times. Obviously, if any of the participants want to chime in with their recollections or corrections, please do.

All right, that's it for today. More tomorrow.

11 comments:

harwell said...

I knew from the headline exactly what you were going to talk about and yet I don't believe it was I who heard the good Samaritan or saw the guys in the hatchback. I sort of got second-hand blooped/paranoia, if you will. My account of the situation, essentially, isn't even worth telling - that's how lame of a bloop it was. It almost doesn't even register on my list of bloops.

My favorite part of the story though is imagining you and Matt Gray buying these guys Burger King as if you're doing them some grand favor, or that Burger King is a just sum for what you've asked them to do. You don't even remember their names! Ha! That's so incredibly lame. I love it! I can't imagine why they said yes other than the sheer boredom that NCSA often provided.

CRS was everywhere though back then. That's for sure. And who knows? Maybe it's still all around us...

At the very least, you should admit to yourself that it sounds intriguing.

blankfist said...

Wow, yes, I remember all of that, but that's not entirely how I remember it. That doesn't mean your account isn't the correct one, though, just that my memory may not be what it used to be since I've turned the ripe ol' age of seventy-two. Here's the way I remember it. We came out of the Wynnsong, as you say, and we were approached by a Good Samaritan who said a group of people were filming us from their car.

I remember her pointing and describing the car, although I don't remember what type of car it was, and I remember not being worked up as if it was all just a well-executed ploy by the CRS, as you make it seem, but I think we thought it was one of our friends playing a trick on us. Or maybe I'm remembering incorrectly.

On any account, I do remember the CRS games we used to play on people, and I remember this one time when you left your dorm for a spell, Crane, and Shawn and I (both being RAs with keys to everyone's dorm rooms) moved everything around in your room. Wow, what an abuse of power, come to think of it. I think I did the same thing to Pedulla's room. On any account, I remember Shawn and I pulling innocuous pranks like moving your drawers around so your socks would be in the bottow drawer instead of the top, and lame stuff like that.

Although, we did pull the battery from your cordless phone, and when you returned, you were hoping mad at me (not Shawn, oddly enough) because you almost went to Best Buy to purchase a brand new cordless phone. I never understood why you didn't have the smarts to check the battery, but that's not important now, I don't think. Funny stuff.

blankfist said...

Yeah, I don't remember it being that grand of a bloop, either. No. No, it wasn't. But, maybe it seemed like a really awesome bloop to you two, because you had deliberated a great deal over it, and even if the fruits of your labor weren't the ripest, freshest, plumpest they could be, in your mind they were the best tasting freshmen... er... fruits.

Captain Mike said...

I really want to know who these impressionable 1st. years were, as they would have been classmates of mine. I don't recall anyone mentioning being lured into a nefarious scheme by a tall, Whopper-wielding pied piper. I do remember everyone going to see "The Game" and "U-Turn" during my first few weeks as a film student.

harwell said...

I would just like to go on record saying that the whole rearranging your dorm room was Heath's idea and that I didn't touch your cordless phone battery and in fact suggested that Heath not unhook it, because that was crossing a moral boundary in my book. Heath doesn't have such a thing though, so sorry about that. I should have done more to stop him, but dude - girly arms.

blankfist said...

Don't let Harwell fool you, Crane, he was just as much a willing participant in this as I was. The only difference: He did have a moral issue with keying into your room for a bit, but was easily persuaded. He did not have a moral issues with unhooking your cordless battery. In fact, and I know this is going to sound completely out of his character, but he was cackling the entire time in that, you know, Harwell sort of way that sounds a lot like Ernie (from Seasame Street) snickering. If you haven't heard it before, then I'd be hard pressed to explain it, but let's just say he truly was enjoying himself and he was truly an active and willing participant. Period.

JudgeHolden said...

I wish I remembered who they were, too, Mike, just so I could tell you. Then you could tell me whatever happened to them. As for the phone thing -- you guys were there to witness my mini-freakout when I realized my phone wouldn't work. I kept hitting the 'PHONE' button, or whatever it was that got me a dialtone to call out, and it wouldn't work. I'd been having problems with that phone and thought it had finally died on me. You guys were in my room hanging out at the time, or maybe you guys were just waiting for me to use my phone, so I think when I started talking about getting a new phone, or talking about throwing this one away, or checking the phone line to make sure it was plugged in, you guys told me you'd taken out the battery. Pretty funny. I don't remember the moving everything around thing that well, but I don't doubt it happened. Do you remember whose room you wrote CRS all over, Heath?

As for the Wynnsong incident, if you guys don't remember, than I can only go on my memory of what you guys said back then, and that may be pretty weak anyhow. The truth of that day may be lost to history, which is sad sad sad.

blankfist said...

Did I write CRS all over someone's room? I didn't know I did that. If I had to guess, it sounds like something I'd do to Ryan (you remember Ryan? The guy that used to say "hure" for "whore")...

Speck said...

I remember Pete Sattler had a blue hatchback...

blankfist said...

Peter Sattler. Wait. Wasn't that the guy that looked like Jesus come his second year? If so, he accused me of stealing his pot from his bedroom at a party he had at his house, which was funny, because I don't smoke pot.

noahkey said...

Wow, Speck. That's a pretty gay picture. That looks like some shit you should be using to troll myspace.

For dudes.

BOC