I was on vacation, camping in Banff with my family, when my son asked me to turn on my phone to see who’d won the MLB Home Run Derby.
Before I could check to see how many balls his Dodger Max Muncy had cranked out of the stadium, a text popped up from our Q107 promotions department, “SO sorry to bother you during your vacation …”
I skimmed the message. I was invited to go to a screening of a movie called The Meg.
I wondered if it was a biography of rom-com star Meg Ryan.
The movie was not a biography of Meg Ryan.
A day later, driving home to Calgary from Banff, I told my husband I needed to go to a screening of The Meg. He looked giddy. You know what makes a crime blogger giddy? Stories that are terrifying.
“You know that’s the story of the Megalodon, a prehistoric massive shark,” he said.
“You’ll be scared.”
I pulled up the text message I’d skimmed: “SO sorry to bother you during your vacation. You’ve been invited to go to the screening of The Meg. It’s in Los Angeles so they need to know ASAP.”
(What The Fin!)
After doing the Q107 morning show on Friday, I put on a shark costume – what else would one wear to go The Meg in L.A.? – and headed to the Calgary International Airport.
In L.A., I took my first Uber ride to the luxury hotel the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, where The Meg gala events were being staged. I scarfed sautéed shrimp and potato chips in the hotel lobby bar (where there was no one to judge me for ordering a side of chips to accompany shrimp done in a smooth lemon and brandy sauce), then headed to my room to dump my stuff and shower.
My first “wow” moment of the trip was seeing the theatre’s box-office window. It’s outside. I’ve never seen an outdoor box office. Imagine lining up in the wintertime in Calgary to buy a movie ticket – outdoors. It’s unthinkable.
In The Meg screening, I sat by myself because my husband was correct.
I was going to be scared.
I spent summers as a child on the lake in cottage country Ontario – “on” being the key word. My cottage friends and I all believed there were lake sharks.
Our parents implored us to get in the water and swim and water ski, but their pleas meant nothing. Kids in Grade 2 don’t know the difference between salt water and fresh water. We just knew that something was brushing our toes when we were in the lake and it could be only one of two things: a lily pad or a shark.
Instead of being in the water, we stayed “on” the lake – on the dock, on the raft, on the tube, on the boat.
Now, here I was in Los Angeles, about to watch a shark movie … alone.
The Meg stars Jason Statham as a deep-sea diver, who comes out of retirement to save the crew of an undersea observation program. While exploring the deepest part of the oceans, the crew unleashes the Megalodon.
The movie also stars Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis and Chinese actress Li Bingbing.
Rainn Wilson, who plays Morris, an eccentric billionaire who funds the science centre, has the best line.
“Are you saying we opened a super highway for giant sharks?” he asks in the film.
It’s this idea that’s so terrifying – when you least expect it, a shark is going to pop up (even in a Canadian lake) and eat you, or at least rip off your leg.
After the premiere, a bunch of movie reviewers, reporters and radio hosts headed to a gala in the hotel. I took a small silver smiling beaver with a red maple leaf on his T-shirt and stuck him in one of the shark displays, just to leave a little Canadiana there.
I sucked back as many arrachera grilled carne asada tacos as I could until my stomach hurt. I would have slipped them into my purse and brought them back to my hotel room if I’d had a way to get them there without them falling apart.
I did also “borrow” napkins from my hotel’s sister residence building. Next time I have hockey parents over for a party, I’m going to bring out my new swanky Ritz-Carlton napkins.
I also brought home a roll of toilet paper that had a golden sticker on it. I’m saving the posh TP for a really big moment.
Saturday morning, after trying scrambled tofu for breakfast, it was time to interview the stars of The Meg and its director Jon Turteltaub.
There were 11 radio hosts from across North America invited to a roundtable interview with Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson and Turteltaub.
In The Meg, Jason Statham’s character Jonas Taylor retreats to the Philippines after one of his rescues goes wrong, but when he’s called upon to save the world, well, let’s just say his six-pack should also get top billing.
I had to ask him about his bod:
I also took the chance to toss an “I Love Canada” shirt at Ruby Rose that she held on her lap for the whole interview. I thought it might be too much to ask her to go change and put on the $4 souvenir from Dollarama, but I have passive-aggressively tagged her in a number of Instagram posts asking if she’s going to wear it.
We were told that we were not allowed to take photos with the stars because of the number of interviews they had to do that day, but that didn’t stop me from hiding in a bathroom and scoring a photo with Li Bingbing – think China’s Angelina Jolie, who’s ready to make a big splash in North America with The Meg.
When it was time to head back to LAX, I scored a super fancy Uber – his profile even said so: “Young is known for cool car.” Back at the airport, I bought my Dodgers fan a souvenir T-shirt, hat and balls for his collection.
One more delicious meal – veggie pizza at the airport restaurant SeaLegs (with my fancy stolen, er, borrowed Ritz-Carleton napkins) and it was time to head home.
I landed in Calgary a little after 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Less than 12 hours later, I was at the diamond, watching my son play, back in my starring role as Baseball Mom.
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