Notes from the back row 

For the last-minute movie-nut shopper

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Okay, picture this.

It’s a day or two before Christmas (i.e. today) and you haven’t really finished dealing with that flurry of headaches known as Christmas shopping, in fact you’ve barely just begun. So you leave home early, hoping to shop a little before work but it takes about 10 minutes to make a left turn out of Alta Vista and then you get dinged with a seatbelt ticket once you turn onto Village Gate Boulevard.

Of course, there’s nowhere to park underground and the day lot is an absolute zoo and now it’s been close to 45 minutes since you left your house, three kilometres away. You vow to walk to work from now on even though the winter cold spell just hit and it’s about minus 15 or 20 outside.

While dipping and weaving though people who seem to think traffic/pedestrian laws don’t exist in Canada you rush into the village and make a beeline for the liquor store to get a last minute gift for your buddy from work, maybe one of those nifty Jack Daniels gift boxes with the cool shotglasses included. But no, the liquor store is lined up out the door. So is the grocery store, the pharmacy and Moguls (in case you wanted a mocha to warm up). Oh well, the bookstore isn’t too lined up, no one reads anymore. Hastily, you grab the last copy of the Motley Crue biography and rush to make your dinner shift serving food. "At least it’s Christmas," you tell yourself. "People will be in good spirits, happy, generous."

But they aren’t. They’re bitter because it’s cold and it hasn’t snowed enough this year and the hotel is too expensive and they don’t understand exchange rates and who really likes spending time with their families anyhow. Everyone is stressed out and you make shitty money and the lineup at the bar is longer than it has been since last Christmas. You get in anyhow and drown your sorrows with your friends and finally the incredibly hot waitress comes by with a tray of shots and the day starts to look up.

Said waitress asks you, "Why the long face." And you tell her the stockings are going to be empty this year, there’s just no time to buy gifts. She feels sorry for you, gives you her phone number and says, blue eyes sparkling, "Why don’t you just buy a bunch of DVDs at amazon.com and get them sent directly to your friends and family?" Suddenly Christmas gets a whole lot cooler.

You get half your list the latest box set collection of 24, the super-charged, cliffhanger, thriller, action television show starring Keifer Sutherland as a sometimes rogue Counter Terrorism Agent for the U.S. government. The 24-episode show takes place in real time and documents, minute for minute, an entire day full of crisis-filled situations with no apparent escapes. A gift to bite your nails to.

Everyone else gets the Lost box set and you start to wonder if maybe TV series weren’t better than most movies this year.

From the comfort of your own home you e-mail Christmas cards to everyone and inform them their gift is in the mail but may be late; it’s the thought that counts anyhow, right? Then you order the new deluxe edition of Sin City for yourself and all of a sudden your shopping’s done. Christmas in Whistler – not so bad at all.

On Boxing Day you go snowboarding with the waitress/genius and buy her lunch. Happy Holidays all around.

AT VILLAGE 8 Dec. 23-24: Syriana; Harry Potter; Walk the Line; Memoirs of a Geisha; Fun with Dick and Jane: Family Stone; King Kong; Chronicles of Narnia; Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Dec. 25-29: Memoirs of a Geisha; Rumour Has It; Harry Potter; Fun with Dick and Jane; Family Stone; King Kong; Chronicles of Narnia; Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Dec. 23, 26-29 Chicken Little; Jarhead.

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