From vampires to scientologists, a weekend in the city

Temperatures in the windy city have begun to plunge, transforming what was formerly a leisurely fifteen minute walk to the train from my apartment into a brutally chilly venture. Although the weather makes it tempting to stay indoors, there’s simply been too many exciting things going on around the city to miss out on. I trudge forth into the winter “wonderland.”

Friday night, original plans fell through and my boo and I decided to go and see what all this Twilight fuss was about. Much like the respective Jonas Brothers-Miley Cyrus-owning a cell phone before high school crazes of teens and tweens in the past year, I had apparently missed the boat on why the Stephenie Meyer novel was on the “hot list” of every girl and sexually-confused boy between the ages of 11 and 16. With our sudden lacking of plans and mutual fandom of vampire cinema taken into account, we decided to brave the crowds and shell out the dough to check out Hollywood’s latest box office sales savior.

TWe definitely underestimated the militancy of the crowd, even at the latest Friday night showing, which was predominately a non-teen demographic. Ten minutes before the show and we were left scrambling for far-left, second-row seats — only to avoid front-row seats. My neck and upper back have still not forgiven me for that lapse of judgment on the seating situation.

And, unfortunately, neither have my eyes and ears. Yes, the film was entertaining — the score, by Carter Burwell, was quite good and the eye candy was pleasing, for two of its strongest points. A vampire love story told competently from innocent beginning to dramatic end. That said, the storyline was somewhat tedious and one-dimensional, owing to the pedestrian acting, save from the odd, jarring special effects that took the visual experience of the film from average to ridiculously hokey in a matter of seconds.

It also didn’t aide my experience when I later learned that Meyer is a devout Mormon, planning to donate 10 percent of her earnings from the film to the Church of Latter Day Saints, one of the leading contributing organizations to the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California. This, compounded by the fact that one of the nation’s largest theater chains — Cinemark/Century Theatres — is owned by CEO Alan Stock, a man who donated $9999 to support Proposition 8’s passage equals lots of angsty vampire-fueled dollars for the Religious Right. What will they think of next? A teenage zombie love drama? (I hope so!)

But it wasn’t all bad. The raspberry martini at the attached bar/bowling alley wasn’t too shabby — I think it was called a 7-10 Split. So deliciously clever. And the film’s director Catherine Hardwicke’s breaking the record of highest opening weekend at the box office ($70.6 million) for a female director deserves some props.

Saturday evening was spent learning more about soul-suckers of another kind: Scientologists. After a day spent window-shopping in Lakeview, I wandered to A Red Orchid Theatre in Old Town to catch a performance of the Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant. The hour-long musical was very amusing, with the troupe of kiddies satirically telling the story of L. Ron Hubbard, dianetics, the E-meter and auditing through the ages. The staging and production values were extremely low-budget, which added to the allure of the message in the intimate space.

The show was first presented in New York in 2003, resulting in the threat of a lawsuit from the Church of Scientology, unless the word “unauthorized” was added to the title. Probably a good idea for the writers — the scientologists have some financial muscle behind them, to the tune of an estimated $500 million+ annual revenue.

Scientology has been in the news this week as Germany’s attempt to ban the cult, er religion, from practicing, on the grounds of its coercion of vulnerable people into financial ruin and personal harm, was dropped. In addition, just yesterday, Mario Majorski, an ex-Sociologist entered a celebrity centre in Los Angeles holding samurai swords and was shot to death by security guards. The man had previously demanded the church pay him $50,000 for “ruining his life.”

How could a loving religion be so life-ruining? What could inspire such seemingly unprovoked rage? As I started to do my homework, I had an answer that made it make a little bit more sense:

[Homosexuals] should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized; for here is the level of the contagion of immorality, and the destruction of ethicsNo social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst.

That’s L. Ron Hubbard, himself, explaining his views on homosexuality. And I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Church of Scientology’s brilliance. Any readers have any other favorite nuggets of truth from Mr. Hubbard?


One thought on “From vampires to scientologists, a weekend in the city

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