Sunday, August 31, 2008

Old, But Still Relevent, Thoughts on the Death of Cinema

[Note: This is a holdover from my old blog, dated Sunday, May 27, 2007 . However, after catching another theater flick recently, I really couldn't pass up a chance to remind myself how stupid I was for doing that.]

I must be getting old - because I just don't 'get it' anymore. I realize that between the first few years of my marriage and a kid I've drifted out of the loop a bit. I've come to accept it. The past few days have been so fucked up though... I actually caught myself wondering just what the hell has happened while I've been holed up at home over the past few years.

Now that Kira's getting older and the family is taking a more active role in babysitting, Jenn and I have been getting out of the house more. Don't get me wrong, it's been great to get some time off for the both of us to unwind and catch our breath for the first time since she was born. The strain was really starting to set in, and I've noticed a really marked improvement in our marriage since we've been able to get out and do things we've missed.

That being said, what the fuck is wrong with people these days? I disappear into daddy-land for a few years and the place goes to shit! I admit that it's probably been this bad for a long time, I just hadn't realized it. But being away for a while allowed me to start experiencing the most useless and destructive of all human emotions: nostalgia. Now this is a phenomenon that needs to really be understood for you to get why it's so funny and yet infuriating at the same time. Nostalgia works completely contrary to every other function of human memory. Think of it this way: it's like your brain purposely forgetting how hot a stove is just so you can have the joy of putting your hand on it again.

Luckily for me though, the real world broke up my little love fest faster than Rosie O'Donnel can down a ho-ho. We're talking startling levels off efficiency here. It generally takes years, or even decades, to dissolution someone so completely that they're ready to Molotov Cocktail society and just start the fuck over. For me, it only took one night.

I'm not even talking about the obvious shit that I think pisses everyone off. Like the fact that I've been dodging construction on every street in a five mile radius while they run pipes along the side of the road - despite the fact they can't seem to take ten minutes to fill the gaping potholes not six inches from their fucking feet. The fact that politicians can take time out of their day to drive the cost of a pack of smokes up 25% to pay for a program that Hoosier Healthwise USED to cover, but they can't take a few hours to keep gas under 4 fucking dollars a gallon. Or the fact that I can't play with my daughter on the front lawn for fear of a drug-crazed female celebrity driving her Mercedes up onto the lawn and killing us both!

None of that really compares to my experience last night as I tried to rejoin civilization. I must have missed a memo somewhere along the way, because apparently we've all decided to become simpering pussies with no regard for common sense. It's not so much that I didn't get a vote, I just wish someone would have informed me of the decision. It's embarrassing to always be the last one to know.

We decided to do something we haven't done since Jenn was pregant and go bowling. I remember in high school when we'd crawl out of bed at the buck crack of 2 pm on a Saturday, shake off a hangover that could kill a rhino, and go bowling. Apparently bowling alleys have decided to change their policies since that time. Peak business hours (read; the only time anyone with a job can actually go) are now given over to league nights. Gone is the stigma of the three-hundred pound, double-jowled, hairy-backed league bowler slinking away for his Tuesday night addiction. The only reason I can fathom for this change is so these people can actually claim they have plans for the weekend. A blow has been struck for forty-eight year old singles everywhere.

While that was disappointing, it was far from the low point. It's official, take down the time and call the meat-wagon; the movie theater experience is dead. This one really pains me on a personal level. Some of my best memories are tied to the very theater where I witnessed all this shit go down the other night. I had my first date with my wife there 6 years ago, and caught I can't tell you how many midnight premiers there with the old crew. Looking back, I can't believe I used to get pissed off about cell phones during the show. I would rather have had a ringing cell phone shoved up my ass sideways than to sit through another bout of this bull-shit.

Since Jenny gets withdrawal symptoms if she doesn't drag me to at least one movie every six months with a leading man she wants to jump like a circus monkey - we went to see Pirates 3. The movie itself wasn't that bad, a little cheesy at times and kinda the same-old from the first two movies, but it was entertaining. The shit going on around me was so strange though, I would have believed anything at this point.

First - after shelling out almost 20 bucks for two tickets online to make super-duper double decoder ring sure that we would be able to get in, we get to the theater at 8:45 for a 9 o'clock showing. The first open parking space was somewhere between the doors and Shangrula, which had I been paying attention, would have given me a clue that this night was going to be interesting. Bidding a tearful farewell to our Sherpa at the door, we head to the little machine and swipe the credit card we used to buy the tickets. I am actually impressed with this system, as we get to walk past the lines of people waiting to buy tickets like VIP's. That right there was my last pleasant memory of the evening.

The concession stand was no surprise - they've been charging crack-house prices since the dawn of time. I have to wonder who the real asshole is here though, because even though I bitch every time, I still shell out three dollars for a fucking coke and four bucks for a bag containing 90% air and 10% corn matter smothered in butter substitute. My only regret is that I didn't invite Dan along, that man can hide a six pack of mountain dew like a Taiwanese heroin mule.

We walk over to our theater, which is roped off despite the fact that there is no line. Guess they really wanted to get that 'premier' feel down, obviously oblivious to the fact that they are in Indiana and no one cares. Somehow I've managed to get popcorn in one hand and the coke in the other. On a normal day this wouldn't be a problem; unfortunately, it was Nazi Appreciation Day at this particular theater. Thinking back, it was pretty naive to assume those arm bands were just schnazzy accessories. Despite the fact I had my ticket checked not ten feet from the spot I'm standing, we're forced to juggle our items and dig into our pockets for stubs. I look helplessly at the manager blocking the door like a Swiss Guard, holding up both full hands.

In return, I get a very pleasant 'I'll wait while you work this out, but I'll be damned if I'm going to offer to hold your drink, peon' look. So after making sure Jenn has her ticket and pawning off my load on her, I present my stub and resist the urge to kick the manager in the balls. After all, it's not like I'm going to be seeing this asshole again, right?

When we get in the place is packed to the gills, but only because everyone is observing the men's room urinal rule. Why the hell can't people just sit next to someone? Instead, you plop your ass down with a seat or two of 'buffer space'. Now, this is just fine in principle - unfortunately, when everyone does this, you end up with 200 single seats and nowhere for a group of 2 or more to sit!

We walk over 4 empty seats that are being 'saved' by a woman with an infant (you had better fucking believe we're coming back to that) and sit down to enjoy the movie. Not even fucking close. First, with the bitter taste of our first encounter still firmly present in the back of my throat, my nemesis returns. I sure as hell hope this was a special occasion thing for the premier, because if not, things are even worse than I could have imagined. The last time a manager got between me and a movie screen it was to apologize for a few minutes of warped film and hand out a full refund. Times have changed. We get a lecture from Colonel Numb Nuts about movie theater etiquette I assumed would be evident to anyone who wasn't raised by rabid wolverines. I actually waited in silence for a 'thanks for coming out', or even 'enjoy the show', but again my hopes were futile .

Dickface bows out to applause (yes, people were actually clapping for an authoritarian smackdown by a future Darwin Award recipient - you can't make this shit up), and we get on to the show. Wait! Not yet! Annoying isn't it? Well it wasn't a picnic for me either, so you can fucking deal with it! We're not even to previews yet people.

I remember the first time I saw a Coke ad before a movie, looked at my date and remarked 'what the fuck?' Apparently I was the only person who had a problem with this, because now I've got to sit through ten minutes of advertisements for everything from cars to online airfare. Another fifteen minutes of previews and the movie starts to roll.

The first twenty minutes goes by with relative ease, and I actually start to relax. Then the crying starts. This is a good time to explain something. See, I hadn't really taken stock of the theater's occupants before sitting my happy ass down - and that was a big damn mistake. Apparently it was 'unwed teenage mothers who have no family or friends' night at Kerisotes. Again, I missed the signs at the door!

See, when Jenn and I couldn't get anyone to watch Kira, we had this novel idea... wait for it... we stayed home! Apparently we were wasting our time being considerate, as it seems to be a vanishing trend. Every five minutes there's a baby crying, people rushing out only to bring the kid back in two minutes later to rinse and repeat! Apparently Colonel Numbnuts and the Nazi Brigade will jackboot all over your ass if you want to put your feet on the back of the seat in front of you, but a half dozen screaming infants doesn't even register on their radar. Go-Fucking-Figure!

I could go on forever, but I'm exhausted and pissed off, so I'll take this opportunity to wrap up and get the fuck out of here. We had to sit through a lecture, take a hike, listen to crying children, were bombarded by staggering amounts of corporate advertising, and treated with the kind of respect and dignity only afforded by your finer totalitarian regimes. Oh. And we got to pay them 30 bucks for the privilege.

And these people wonder why everyone pirates their product now?

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