Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Forty-Five Minute Movie Club

Best in Show, the hilarious 2000 mockumentary directed by Christopher Guest that parodies the world of competitive dog shows, has always been one of my fave films... even in my B.C. (before canines) days, before I really knew how crazy dog owners could be.

I've probably seen it more than ten times -- in movie theaters, on TMC on Sunday afternoons at the JCC gym, aboard planes, in hotel rooms, on DVD -- never tiring of the razor-edged spoofery, kooky subplots and the spot-on performances from Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean and Christopher G. himself.

The movie is so beloved to me that, in about ten minutes, I'll be dashing out of the bungalow and driving to Goshen so I can relive the hilarity...while also burning hundreds of calories, sweating like a beast, building my abs, glutes, quads, biceps and triceps and keeping my heart rate elevated.

Where can such an awesome experience be had?

At the Cardio Theater at my summer gym, Straub's Fitness -- a darkened room with ellipticals and stationary bikes instead of seats, a wide movie screen and extreme air conditioning -- the perfect fusion of culture, comfort and calisthenics.

The Cardio Theater at Straub's offers one film per day (which they replay over and over) ranging from the highly acclaimed to the inexplicable. Over the past ten days I saw Blue Velvet; Let Me In; Pulp Fiction and The Fighter...as well as a few other flicks whose names I cannot recall.

Oh wait. I did see something inane called My Fellow Americans. It had something to do with presidents and had an all-star, if elderly, cast. And then there was that clunky movie with Drew Barrymore where she plays a pregnant unmarried girl whose married lover is killed by her new boyfriend played by Owen Wilson. And then there was the one with Ben Kingsley where he plays a psychic psycho who kills people in really sick ways, carving out their eyes or something... I'm not sure because I was only semi-watching.

Yet, the sheer awfulness of these movies make them perfect for the Cardio Theater experience because they mildly entertain, or at least distract me from my exertion and then I have no problem walking away for I harbor no curiosity about the outcome of the plot nor the fate of the characters. It's kinda like a Zipless you-know-what.

Within the context of the Cardio Theater, awful is an asset because it enables me to adhere to my 45 minute cardio routine and then move onto other parts of my workout. In fact, when a movie is truly great, it is painful to leave just when the plot starts thickening. In the case of the quirky and creative Aussie flick Muriel's Wedding, I was so bereft to leave prematurely that I talked friends into renting it later that week so I could find out what happens.

Since Memorial Day weekend, I have seen the first 45 minutes of over 20 movies. Sometimes, my stay at the Cardio Theater is abbreviated because of prior plans (such as last night, where my limited time actually saved me as Let Me In got seriously gruesome around the 27 minute mark) and once or twice a summer I will actually stay for the ENTIRE film.

When this happens, I am left to bathe in the warm afterglow of holistic fulfillment. And wonderment. In a world where so much is wrong, I simply cannot believe that something as amazing as the Cardio Theater exists.

The Cardio Theater offers guilt-free (and FREE!!!) movie-going...any time I want (that is, between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. five days a week and 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends...not bad). But the absolute greatest (and most mysterious...to my mind) aspect of the Cardio Theater is that it is the least popular feature at Straub's Fitness, meaning that it is completely underutilized, meaning that it is VIRTUALLY FREAKING EMPTY whenever I arrive!!!!

This means that I not only get the absolute BEST "seat" in the house, smack-dab in the middle of the room, but I score the best machine (the Precor elliptical with the yellow handles) AND THE TRAINER GRACIOUSLY STARTS THE MOVIE FOR ME AT THE BEGINNING AND I get to yap on my cell phone if I want because no one else is in the room with me so I don't become that jerk talking on the cell phone during the movie. I can also text with impunity, unconcerned that I am causing other movie-goers to squint at the glare from my LCD.

This, dear reader, is Bungalow Babe's definition of Nirvana.

Well, I've gotta get to Goshen because I intend to watch an entire movie tonight at the Cardio Theater and it'll take me about 15 minutes to get to the gym. But don't admire my devotion. I'm not being virtuous by planning to exercise for 90 minutes straight. This is sheer indulgence.

And oh, there is a Straub's much closer to me than the Goshen location. My local Straub's is about 5 minutes away, in downtown Monroe, but the movie they are showing today is The Name of the Rose. I saw that on a plane.

I recall that it kinda sucked.

Which would make it absolutely perfect for a 45 minute viewing at the Cardio Theatre if only Best in Show wasn't playing in Goshen.

UPDATE: 10:09 p.m.

I am back in the bungalow, sweaty but happy. Alfie and Nala the Pomeranians can hardly believe their good fortune; their mistress is a human salt stick. They are licking my legs and feet. Now, they have jumped up on the bed and are licking my arms.

When I left the bungalow, I realized that I really didn't want to travel to Goshen because I had driven there earlier in the day with Little Babe to apply for his Learner's Permit at the county DMV. And just before my Goshen run, I had done a round-trip to Manhattan in order to teach a morning class on the Upper West Side. So, with a sigh and a shrug, I turned left off of Route 17M into the parking lot of the Straub's in downtown Monroe.

After all, I can see Best in Show whenever I want. Perhaps on my laptop. I think I even saw it for sale at Shoprite.

Entering the luxuriously empty Cardio Theater, I plunked my bag down, claimed the best machine, took out my BlackBerry and put it on the monitor, removed my tank top and baseball hat and spent 48 minutes running in my sports bra and shorts to one of the most entertainingly bad films ever made: The Name of the Rose.

Alone in the dark room, I screeched with laughter, groaned, snorted, hooted, heckled, conducted a phone conversation, talked back to the screen and generally had a blast. I hardly know what to praise first: the cliched dialogue, the ominous music, the hideous monks, the requisite hunchback, the grotesque murders, the hint of Satan, the creepy castle, the semi-hot nude sex scene featuring a young Christian Slater or Sean Connery as the world's most implausible celibate. Four miles later, I was in a state of ecstasy. And because the movie sucked so badly, it was easy to leave in order to finish my workout in the weight room where I was so inspired that I found myself doing extra reps, which I haven't done in, oh, years.

It was a night to remember at Straub's Cardio Theater.


montanna said...

The first thing you should do is exercises like hanging leg raises, knee raises, and reverse crunches. These particular exercises will work your lower abs. Its a great way to make sure you abdominal exercise muscles look great all over.

steven eisen said...

The first thing you should do when you've got a good thing going and all those machines to your self is keep it on the QT.