Paying the Way for Friendship

Amanda_bar_2 This Christmas I plan on upholding a tradition that I seem to have developed over the past four years – that is, I always end up hitting the movie theaters on X-Mas evening.  I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve been to the movies, but there’s something enjoyable about spending a quiet holiday evening as one of the only movie-goers in the theater.  This year I plan on checking out Twilight.  (…okay, you can stop laughing now, thank you very much.)  Seeing this type of movie at this type of year serves two purposes: 1) it satisfies my vampire quota since HBO’s True Blood wrapped up it’s season, and 2) the timing assures that little to no witnesses will be around to hear me actually uttering the words “One adult for Twilight, please”.  I still have some sense of shame, after all.

Whitey But seriously, I do have a financial point to make in all of this.  I want to take my roommate Bridget with me to the movies, but she has stated emphatically that she will contribute no money to the ever-growing Twilight coffers. She obviously has no idea of the pale hotness that awaits her viewing pleasure, but whatever.  I now have decided to take it upon myself to pay for her movie ticket which is, sadly, a bribe that I’ve used before with other friends.  And while I don’t begrudge Bridget or any of my other friends for not wanting to see certain films, is it too much to ask in the spirit of the season to make your poor little Amanda happy by accompanying her to the movies? 

I’ve always been the first to offer a monetary compromise when it comes to appealing to my friend’s good graces. In college I had to resort to several bribes in exchange for a car ride (I was Favor_3 car-less in college, if you couldn’t guess).  I was very careful to be all too aware of how too many favors can quickly turn into an annoyance amongst friends…which is the very reason why I became so liberal with my gift-giving under these circumstances.  For example, once when my friend Cherie took me to Best Buy I bought her A Clockwork Orange on DVD ($14.99!), or when my friend Ashley took me to Barnes & Nobles I got her one of those insipid Shopaholic books (cough).  While some people might suspect this to be a sign of poor friendships, consider the fact that many people nowadays have their friends chip-in for gas or other travel fees (depending on the destination).  Instead of gas money I merely offer an alternative form of repayment.

And yes, Bridget’s company might not exactly be a fair exchange for the price of a movie ticket these days (I'll keep milking that "student discount" until I start to go gray!), but the opportunity to see her surrounded by black-clad tweens screaming “Bite me!” at the big screen should be well worth the ticket price.


Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (2)

The Downside of Getting What You Pay For

Amanda_bar Get ready, because you’re in for a long one.

On November 26th I had the pleasant surprise of being offered a free ticket to the Madonna “Sticky & Sweet” concert being performed at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.  My friend Cherie had purchased two tickets Sticky_sweetpreviously and her guest (her mother) had sent in a last minute cancellation, so it was either go to the concert alone or invite her only schmoe friend who wasn’t working on a Wednesday & had plenty of time on her hands.  Luckily, I was that schmoe friend.  And though I insisted repeatedly that she let me pay my share of the ticket price ($59, plus additional fees) my friend wouldn’t hear of it.  Being a moderately financially-reasonable person, however, I offered to pay for both the parking and a souvenir for my friend. 

Unfortunately my “pay for parking” plan didn’t go off as well as I would have hoped, as I only had $20 in cash…but between the two of us we were able to cover the ridiculously over-priced $30 fee.  Now I‘m not an avid concert-goer – my last concert being a Michael Bolton performance at the Hard Rock in July (and don’t you give me any lip about it – that man sings like an ANGEL!) - but $30 seems a tad excessive for such a nightmarish experience; I can easily imagine the Madonna concert parking lot to be reminiscent of one of the seven layers of hell. As someone who deals with traffic control on a regular basis as part of my job, I was about ready to slap on some day-glo outerwear and start directing cars myself.  So what, exactly, am I paying the $30 for?  Parking felt like a gladiatorial event, and I certainly could have used a shield and spear to fend off my vehicular rivals…who knew that minivan-driving soccer moms blasting “Material Girl” from the windows could be so ferocious??

Stadium Once parked and inside the stadium the concert turned to other, more important, matters: souvenirs.  Having arrived at the scheduled start-time of the concert (7:30PM) we observed that there was some delay in Madonna’s appearance, so we took this time to head on over to the concession stands.  Fully loaded with a Bud Lite apiece ($16 for the both of us, my treat) we browsed through the “Sticky & Sweet” tour paraphanelia; there was nothing too impressive to see beyond the hilarious prices ($40 for a shirt?!).  I can understand that artists make most of their money off of touring, but if I’m going to be paying $40 for a t-shirt I expect it to be worth it – good quality, good fit, and with back & front designs.  (On a related side-note, there is Madonna nothing I love more than t-shirts that have back & front designs; as far as a concert is concerned there is always something to list on the back, such as tour dates or even the name of the tour/artist across the shoulder blades.)  Madonna offered about five t-shirt options, and none of them were worth the price – the front either offered a bizarre & unflattering photo of Madonna (see image), or it came in an unattractive and moderately see-through pink color.  The only clothing item I really liked was a zip-up cotton jacket with “Sticky” and “Sweet” on the sleeves, but not for $70 (not to mention that, taken out of context, I don’t want to be thought of as advertising myself as being “Sticky”…).  But seeing as a Madonna concert is a fairly big event in my otherwise boring list of yearly activities, I commemorated my attendance with a $5 magnet.  As an offering to my friend Cherie, I bought her both a magnet ($5) and a t-shirt ($40).

That’s $86 thus far, and the show hasn’t even started yet.

Now I don’t presume to question the undoubtedly busy schedule of Madonna, but one expects a certain degree of promptness from a performer of her caliber and experience.  And if nothing else, the price of the Sign tickets alone should inspire some respect on her end for her well-paying fans.  The concert started at 10PM.  The concert was SCHEDULED to start at 7:30PM.  There were no opening acts to be seen beyond an appearance by popular DJ Paul Oakenfold, who proceeded to play Rihanna and Justin Timberlake hits over the speakers for a half hour (umm…bravo?) which I suppose counts as a performance despite the fact that 6th graders across the country do much the same at sleepover parties

When Madonna finally took the stage she seemed annoyed with the crowd.  Or maybe she just always calls her audience members “retarded” and “motherf____s” (no less than five times!); consider it a cute personality quirk.  However you might feel personally, you have a sold-out crowd of thousands of fans all there and waiting to hear you – the least she could have done is uttered a single apology (or even just an explanation!) in reference to the excessive delay.  Instead we were treated with very little dialogue, an impromptu boxing match, a flamenco dancing stripper, shuffling monks, before BOOM! it was over before I even realized it was over – I was too blinded by the floodlights - and Madonna was nowhere to be seen.  No encore performances from her.

Regardless of my derisive comments the show was very entertaining, and thank gawd for that - I can only imagine what I would be feeling if I had been kept waiting so long for a lackluster show.  The unfortunate Candy thing about these concerts is that there is really no repercussion experienced by the artist for any ill behavior (just look at Akon, who assaults his fans!).  Someone can't walk out of a concert and demand their money back like they could in a movie theater.  And though my time was flexible that night and I was comfortable with the after-midnight closing of the show, I'm sure other fans were relying on an earlier performance...especially considering that the following day was Thanksgiving.  Negative feedback among the fan community seems the only option, as I certainly would not buy (or even recommend buying) a full-price ticket to another Madonna concert (now give me another ticket freebie and we'll talk).  With the disregard that the artist herself seems to give her fans, and the lack of care shown to the them in the disastrous parking and lack of any sort of information given to the crowd regarding the length of her delay (it was a constant “in a few minutes” from the stadium staff) it simply is not worth the asking price.  You're basically paying to be aggravated.  Madonna charges too much, and certainly keeps her crowd waiting too long, to justify my love for the concert (Haha, Madonna-puns!). 

You get what you pay for, Madonna, but you also reap what you sow!

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (1)

All it takes is faith, trust, and your credit card!


CastleI had a brief break in posting because this weekend myself and four friends went to Disney World (including fellow-poster and roommate, Bridget).  I suppose it could be considered weird to be going on vacation at this particular point in our economical crisis, but we certainly weren't the only ones who had fun & self-indulgence in mind...I mean seriously, a 90 minute wait for Splash Mountain?!  And actually looking at the base cost of my Disney "necessities" (i.e. a ticket & hotel room) I actually didn't end up spending that much money.  That's NOT INCLUDING SOUVENIRS, of course...let's be realistic, people.  I only have so much self-control.

Our party stayed at the cheapest Disney resort on campus - the Pop Century.  Dividing the cost between us, three days and two nights surmounted to about $75 per person.  A 3-Day Park Hopper ticket runs for about $155; however, last year I received a seasonal Disney pass from my father, so my ticket price is already covered (score!).  We also decided to hit up Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween event (an additional $52) , wherein they allow a limited number of guests into the park from 7pm until midnight for Halloween & villain-themed parades, meet & greets, and similar events.  Oh, and did I mention you're allowed to wear full costumes?  OH YEEEEA.  As if we even needed an excuse to dress up.

Pan_gang_4 About three months prior to the actual event, Bridget & I settled on a Peter Pan theme (last year having been an Alice In Wonderland theme).  I was to be Peter, Bridget was Tinkerbell, and we also had a Captain Hook, "Tick Tock" the crocodile, and Tiger Lily.  This is where the real money was spent - my costume (hat & dagger included) cost about $55.  Both the purse and the shoes were around $20 each, and the green tights were a steal at about $8 off eBay.  So we have about $127 that I spent on my room & ticket, and $103 spent on my costume.  Oh, if only the spending ended there...

The Epcot Food & Wine festival was also going on during our visit, and being the responsible (and legal) adults that we are, we decided to get trashed in the happiest place on Earth!  And let me tell you, $6 a plate and $8 for wine and/or beer adds up real quick when you're hopping from booth to booth.  I was drinking French sparkling kir while eating Greek spanakopita and Austrian tafelspitz.  Sounds yum-yum-yummy, even if I don't know how to pronounce it!  I can only vagulely estimate that I spent anywhere from $50 to $70 while eating around the world, but I really couldn't help it - my stomach said "Yes!" while my budget said "No!".  Though, really...what budget??

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (0)

A Free Concert On The Arts Quad...

Rjd2_2 What’s better than having a good concert come to your area (especially when your area is rural Upstate New York)?  A FREE concert coming to your area!  Last night marked the end of welcoming in new students to our school and featured a pretty big concert with RJD2 in our Arts Quad.  While some other good musical acts do come to Ithaca, the spacing between shows is usually pretty lengthy and the price tag high.  There's also the hassle of parking or taking a bus downtown to the venue where most shows happen. 

Speaking of high price tags on concerts, I went to the All Points West Music Festival this past summer, which is one of several multi-day festivals throughout the country that can cost you anywhere from $100 - $400 for a few days of music.  While the atmosphere and music are worth the money in my opinion, it's always painful for college-aged concertgoers to have to shell out that kind of money AND THEN get completely ripped off by festival food where a hamburger costs $9.00.  It's always a good idea for the savvy festival-goer to pack a lunch when going to any sort of festival, carnival, amusement park, sporting event etc. 

Back to RJD2 - the concert was pretty solid and weather perfect for a night outside with the History building as a backdrop.  There were a good mix of Cornell students, Ithaca College students, and maybe a few townies to spice things up.  Next on my concert calendar are Andrew Bird and Toubab Krewe in downtown Ithaca.  Unfortunately, these concerts are not of the free persuasion! 

Posted by Brian Macpherson on | | Comments (1)

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