The Psycho House

A dream came true for me during our Hollywood vacation (see previous post). As some of you know, I’m a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies and Psycho is one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted to see the famous house and Bates Motel up-close.

Universal Studios Hollywood offers tours that pass by the house on a tram. It all happens in the blink of an eye, so if you’re a hardcore fan, it’s not enough. I really wanted to actually get off the tram and walk on the set.

I called the ticket hotline and told them it was my goal to see the house and actually walk around. They told me I could do that with their VIP Experience, which costs a hefty $299 per person. That’s a lot of money for a studio tour, but Daniel and I decided that it’s actually a small price to pay if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do. For example, if your dream is to see the Eiffel Tower, you might spend thousands of dollars on a trip to Paris. With that in mind, it’s really not so bad to pay $299 per person for the VIP Experience.

Daniel and Nathan

We arrived at the VIP entrance of Universal at 9 A.M. and enjoyed a gourmet breakfast. Our tour guide then took us to the rides, which we got on immediately with no wait. After that, we took walking tours of movie and TV sets, including the houses from the NBC show About a Boy. An amazing lunch followed with beef, lobster, pasta, desserts, and any other extravagancy you could imagine, all included as part of the experience.

After stuffing our faces, we continued on the tour. Our tour guide knew we wanted to see the Psycho house because at the beginning of the tour, he’d asked everyone if there were any special places people wanted to see. I explained to him that it was my dream, and it was the only reason we bought the VIP tickets, and he said he understood. We were six hours into the tour, pretty worn out from all the fun we’d had, and we finally came up to the Bates Motel.

Our tour guide didn’t stop to give us warning, and it happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to get my camera out. The tram drove right past the motel and house, and in the blink of an eye, it was all over. I felt heartbroken. It was the same drive-by viewing we would have gotten if we’d bought standard tickets to the park. All this waiting and anticipation for that?

When we got off the tram, the guide asked if we had enjoyed the tour. I told him that I was actually pretty upset. I explained that when we bought the tickets, we were told we’d get to walk around the motel and house, and that’s the only reason we bought the tickets. I also told him I didn’t understand why he said we’d spend time at the motel when all we really did was drive by it. He said we could always ride the tram again, as if that was a reasonable solution.

Our tour group dispersed at 3 P.M. Daniel asked if I wanted to go back and take the tram again. I said, “No, this is not over.” We walked to the front of the park and tried to get into the office of the VIP tours. The doors were already locked and apparently they were closed for the day… At 3 o’clock. I guess they cut out early to avoid any unhappy guests.

We then went to the customer service building and I patiently explained the situation to a young man at the desk. He didn’t seem to know what Psycho was, nor did he understand what I was trying to accomplish, but he called over another gentleman, who I also explained the story to. This man seemed to understand about the movie and the set, and he explained that the agent who sold us the tickets must have been “mistaken,” and said that the set is far too old and rickety for people to walk around. That’s why people can only see it from the tram.

While all this was going on, the younger guy called over to the VIP office and got someone on the phone for me. The man on the phone was very nice and listened intently as I explained the situation to him. He said, “This isn’t right. We have to fix this. Will you wait in the office for 20 minutes? I need to make a phone call.”

Here’s where the fun begins…

20 minutes later, a new tour guide walked in and greeted us. “Come with me,” he said.

He led us behind the building and a large gate opened up, revealing the backlot of Universal Studios. It was like stepping into a new world. At first I thought we were going to get on a tram and drive by the house again, but when he took us over to a van, I knew something bigger was happening. We got inside and started driving through the back roads, past famous buildings and houses seen in hundreds of movies and TV shows.

“Is this really happening?” I said to Daniel with a huge grin.

A few minutes later, the van was parked in the lot of the famous Bates Motel. It was just the two of us with the tour guide and driver. We walked around the parameter of the motel, snapping dozens of photos from every angle. It must have looked hilarious seeing us taking pictures of a decrepit old house like a couple of paparazzi.

Nathan at the Bates Motel

“Hey guys,” the van driver said. “I need to make a few stops. Do you mind if I leave you here for a half hour?”

Um, hmmm…. Leave us here alone at the Bates Motel with our own personal tour guide? Let me think about it…

“Do you want to go up to the house?” the tour guide asked.

“Can we do that?” I asked.

“Well you have to be very careful on the steps going up the hill. They’re pretty old, so watch where you step.”

The steps had huge gaps in them, so we tried to stay around the edges where there was more support. There we were, creeping up the hill toward the house, just like Lila Crane. It was sunset and there was an eerie glow behind the trees. It was perfect.

Psycho House and Bates Motel at Universal Studios Hollywood

When we got up to the house, I noticed our tour guide was busy on his phone and a plot seemed to be brewing. A few minutes later, I looked down at the motel to see a man in a khaki blazer creeping up the steps toward us. It was an actor dressed as Norman Bates!

We posed for a photo on the front porch with Norman. As we were standing there, he whipped out a butcher knife from his coat pocket and aimed it at me.

Norman Bates at the Psycho house

It was all so beautifully sinister and wonderful. We loved it. Apparently the actor dressed as Norman was already done for the day, but our thoughtful tour guide had called him and asked him to come back to the set to surprise us. Now that is how you do a VIP Experience!

We were so grateful and must have thanked the tour guide several dozen times. He explained his philosophy about how Universal Studios makes movies that people love. Audiences pay money to see the movies, money to buy the memorabilia, and money to see the park. If Universal can make someone’s dream come true simply by taking them to the set, they should do it, and so that’s what they did for us that day.

I am so happy that I can say we got to see the Psycho house and Bates Motel up-close. It was unfortunate that things hadn’t worked out with our first tour guide, but I’m actually happier with the way it worked out because of the special tour we got. I owe a huge thank you to everyone at Universal who made this Hitchcock fan’s dream come true!

Vampires In Training

Mar 24, 2009 / Filed in Life, Movies / 3 Comments

It’s 3AM and I’ve finally convinced Rodney to stay up with me.

I’ve always been a nocturnal person. Even when I was a kid, I would adjust to an evening schedule during the summer when I was out of school. My parents always hated it. They would say “But Nathan, you should get your sleep.” I would try to explain, in the best way a child could, that it makes no difference what time you go to bed as long as you get your rest. Even to this day, they make a big deal about it, and I have no idea why. I get the same amount of sleep as everyone else, just at a different time. Oh, well.

One thing I’ve often wondered is whether or not my schedule is internal, or if it is affected by light. Let’s say I went to a different country where my sleeping patterns aligned with their time zone. For example, I usually go to bed at 6AM here. So what if I went somewhere that would make it 10PM when I went to bed? Would I just stick to my regular schedule, or would I once again re-adjust my sleeping patterns to go to bed when it’s 6AM there? I hope that makes sense. It does in my head.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to convince Rodney to stay up with me, and he wouldn’t go for it. He likes to be an early riser. But I’ve finally convinced him, and little by little, he’s been doing it. Tonight, he proudly announced he was going all the way and staying up until 6AM.

He also admitted that it’s really nice being up late. The world is so quiet and peaceful. You get a lot of work done at night. I would say that everybody should try it, but that would defeat the purpose, now wouldn’t it?

Speaking of nocturnal, we just finished watching Twilight for the second time. I love that movie. I can’t put my finger on why. On the outside, it’s just another vampire themed movie, this time geared at younger audiences. But there’s something so dark and romantic about it. I think everybody loves a good vampire story because of the symbolism behind it. The ability to live forever. The mystery of hiding your true identity. And as with all vampire movies, there is the tragic love story between mortal and immortal.

And besides, I think Robert Pattinson is just dreamy. 🙂

Get your cosmos ready because the Sex and the City sequel has officially been confirmed! Director Michael Patrick King will begin filming this summer in New York City with a planned release date of summer 2010.

What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

I was 10 years old. It was a Friday night and I was staying over at my friend David’s house. With his mother’s supervision, we made pizza with english muffins and sat down to watch a “classic” movie he’d told me about called The Phantom of the Opera.

Filmed in 1925 as a silent motion picture, it told the dark love story of Erik, a disfigured man who lived in a private world underneath a Paris opera house. This “angel of music” secretly gave a young woman named Christine vocal lessons. She was his obedient student until Raoul came along and ruined the whole thing. It’s then that we discover Erik is no angel at all, but instead, a violent and jealous man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Despite his rage and cruely, there is something lovable and pitiful about Erik that you can’t help sympathizing with.

It was a love story that has stayed with me always.

In 1995, I had the great pleasure of seeing the musical version of The Phantom of the Opera in St. Louis. I was moved by the experience. Haunted by it.

I recently learned that Andrew Lloyd Webber has written a sequel, called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time. Fans are pretty upset about it, saying the whole thing sounds ridiculous and will ruin the whole story.

I disagree. I think Andrew Lloyd Webber is smart enough to know this has to be a solid piece. It isn’t as if he’s going to write it haphazardly. I’m sure many revisions will be made before the public sees it and that all details will be carefully considered. It debuts in London in November 2009.

I’m certain the next chapter will find its way to America too, and someday, I look forward to seeing it. Until then, I’ll always have “the music of the night”.

Getting ‘Sex’ Tonight

May 30, 2008 / Filed in Movies, TV / 3 Comments

fandango

12 more hours until we meet up with our favorite fag hag to see Sex and the City. I can’t wait!

The reviews have been negative, but you know what they say about sex… even when it’s bad, it’s still good. 🙂

Two of my favorite celebrities are together… Awww. I’m a fool for a love story… Even a Hollywood one.

Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer.

Jennifer Aniston is someone who I will eternally associate with the character of Rachel on Friends. Although I know most actors consider that to be a curse because nobody wants to be typecast as the same role their whole career, I personally think of her with fondness because I love that show.

Oh, and let’s not forget Office Space. Such a great movie. Also, The Object of My Affection. Part of the “gay 90’s”, specifically the fag hag era.

And John Mayer… I have a strange love for him. I’m not really a fan of his music, but I love his sense of humor. In fact, I think his comedic side have made more headlines than his songs in recent years. But a sense of humor will win my heart every time.

He’s witty, and subtle, and borderlines on dry and sarcastic at times. Just my style.

(Now kids, what are you doing snuggling in the sun? Don’t you know it will cause early signs of aging, wrinkles, and spotty skin? I hope they’re wearing sunscreen!)

Netflix Woes for Nashville

Jan 9, 2008 / Filed in Movies / 1 Comment

If you’re a customer in the state of Tennessee, and maybe even surrounding states, you might be in for a long wait for your favorite titles on Netflix.

I knew something wasn’t right when I visited my Queue yesterday and noticed that only 3 out of 22 of my chosen DVD’s were available for shipment. In the past, I’ve hardly ever had that happen. Even new releases usually arrive on the day they come out.

Next I tried to e-mail their customer support. Good luck with that, by the way. All you’ll get is a vicious cycle of FAQ pages. Just when you think you’ve found a link to write someone, you end up on yet another FAQ page. I finally gave up and just called them.

The man I talked to was very nice, and pulled up my account.

“Whoa!” he exclaimed. “I’ve never seen that many titles unavailable on one page!”

That’s encouraging. He investigated the matter and found out Nashville just opened a new facility before Christmas. He said that it usually takes them a little while to get everything sorted, so that’s probably why I was running into delays.

I asked him if there was any way to re-route my deliveries to come from Kentucky, where they used to be shipped from. He said there wasn’t, as the system is set-up to deliver from the nearest location.

So if you’re in the Tennessee area, be forewarned that it might be slim pickings for awhile if you’re in a rush to catch a new DVD that’s out. I’ll go ahead and stick it out, though. I’ve been with them for 4 years and always had great results. So I do have faith that they will resolve it.

Sex and the City Movie

Dec 8, 2007 / Filed in Movies / 6 Comments

The first trailer for Sex and the City is out. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I miss that show. Those were good times.

Is it too late for a Golden Girls movie?

Putting Me in My Place

Nov 2, 2007 / Filed in Humor, Movies / 6 Comments

Sorry to sound like a scrooge, but I hate movie theaters.

I hate paying $20 for two tickets when I can rent the movie through Netflix if I just wait 6 months.

I hate paying $10 for a watered down soft drink and a stale box of popcorn.

I hate the crowds, the lines, the people talking, the uncomfortable seating, and only having a small divider between me and some stranger for 2 hours.

I hate 30 minutes of previews for movie’s I’ll never go see.

Anyway, Rodney really wanted to go to “Bee Movie” today. Opening day. Can you imagine how many screaming, crying kids will be there? Ugh.

I do want to see the film. I love animation, and I love Jerry Seinfeld. You can’t go wrong. But still… I could wait for the DVD.

So Rodney and I were discussing it, and I was naturally trying to talk him out of it. Rodney usually gives in and caves, but this time, he put me in my place…

Nathan: “I really don’t want to go, especially when it’s just opening.”

Rodney: “Sometimes it isn’t about you.”

Nathan: “I’ll go buy the tickets.”

Fandaaaango.

It’s rare that I post anything about “hot guys” because I’m not one to speak openly about a guy’s attractiveness. There’s nothing wrong with it, but as a person choice, it just feels superficial to speak of a guy based solely on his appearance. People are so much more than that.

But there is one guy I have to talk about after seeing him in a movie this weekend. His name is Derek Magyar and he is much more than just a pretty face. He is a very talented actor, and he’s smoldering with sexuality in the film “Boy Culture“.

I wasn’t even familiar with the film, but it’s actually won a lot of independent film awards and received raving reviews. Derek stars in this story of a hustler who falls in love with his roommate, played by Darryl Stephens (“Noah’s Arc”). Wow, when I typed that out, it sounds like a really lame plot. But trust me on this… “Boy Culture” is a must-see, filled with a very talented cast and very well executed plot and direction.

There are many elements that make a good movie, and I think everything came together in harmony for this one. But Derek is what makes it a winner. If you’ve ever heard the term “makes love to the camera”, Derek has mastered it. His mannerisms and subtle gestures are right on target. When the story calls for vulnerability and emotion, you can feel it just from his eyes.

The only thing I hate is that Derek is a breeder boy off camera. It shouldn’t really matter, right? Acting is acting. But there is something refreshing when an actor actually is gay, especially a hot one. Then you can really imagine him having sex with another guy. Ah, well…

In any case, Derek is about the hottest actor I can think of. It’s not just appearance, it’s the depth of his acting skills that really make him special. Check out “Boy Culture” if you get a chance. It’s on DVD.

About Nathan

I'm a happily married gay man, writing about my life as a new father and sharing our adventures with a side of snark.
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