Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bewitched (30Aug05)

It's interesting how our movie night has become a given. Tuesday night is Cheap Theater night now, and that's that.

This week, I had an employee meeting for my part-time job, and I was asked to work Tuesday nights when a coworker goes on vacation. I was the only one who could do it, so I agreed, but I was seriously annoyed. No one messes with my movie night and gets away with it.

Not even Hurricane Katrina.

The rain hit Ohio on Monday, and it just kept coming. It was still pouring on Tuesday night -- making it the perfect night to stay home, firmly planted on the couch -- but I was having none of it.

Shortly before 7, I told Paul it was time to go.

"Even in the hurricane?" he asked.

"Yeah," I replied. "Why? Do you want to stay home?"

"Nope," he answered, and we went to bundle up in our raincoats and climb into our most rough-weather-friendly vehicle, my SUV (as opposed to his rear-wheel-drive Mustang). And off we went.

This week was the first Tuesday of the new school year -- and not even the tail-end of a hurricane could stop the joyous adults from flocking to The Cheap Theater on a school night.

Since it had been raining cats and dogs all day, I expected the theater to be empty (actually, I hoped it would be, since we were running late). But I was wrong. The first Cheap Night of the school year was much too momentous an occasion to let a little hurricane get in the way. So the parking lot was packed (though, admittedly, not as packed as it had been on some summer Tuesdays). We had to wait in line behind large packs of excited adults to buy our tickets. And when we stepped into the lobby, making our way to the ticket-ripper (who was looking more than just a little overwhelmed) was much like trying to make your way to the stage at a Nine Inch Nails concert. (It's all about holding your breath and using your elbows if necessary.) I think we may have cut in line in front of one of the few families in the theater, but hey -- in a crowd like that, you snooze, you lose.

We cut through traffic in the hallway, too, racing in front of a group of slow-moving retirees to get our seats. The back row was full, so we had to go elsewhere.

Paul chose two aisle seats in front of an elderly couple. Personally, I would have gone up a row, to give us that empty row between us (just in case the old guy was a seat-kicker or something), but I followed on behind. As soon as we sat down, thought, the woman, who was seated behind Paul, grumbled not-too-quietly, "I'll never be able to see over them." I expected them to move in a huff. Instead, they traded seats so she was on the aisle.

That's two weeks in a row that our presence has caused people to change seats. I'm starting to feel bad.

Then again...not really.

The chatter in the theater was as excited this week as it had been on the first Tuesday of summer vacation. The average age of people in our particular theater was probably around 45 -- but they were as noisy and giggly as a busload of 13-year-olds on a class trip. Fortunately, for the most part, they calmed down once the lights went out and the movie started.

And there wasn't a single child screaming in the theater. It was all quite refreshing...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (23Aug05)

This week, I experienced a reversal of fortune at The Cheap Theater. This week, I wasn't the one with the bad movie karma...

As has been the case of late, we arrived at the theater at the regular time and took our seats in the back corner. This week, it was especially thoughtful of us to sit there, since I'm still fighting the last stages of a nasty cold, which still subjects me to the occasional coughing fit -- and if I were sitting in the middle of a crowded theater, that would be just plain rude. I'm starting to realize, though, that sitting in the back corner may not be totally beneficial for the Cheap Theater Experience in general. While it's nice and secluded and generally comfy, it takes me away from The Cheap Theater Crazies, thereby making the experience so very...normal.

But I digress...

We took our seats behind an early-20-something couple, and -- since we were still quite early -- we struck up a very business-like conversation about web development (which has been the case quite often lately, since we just released a new-and-improved We'd been chatting for a while when the couple ahead of us got up, walked down the aisle, and took new seats in the middle of nowhere.

I gasped when they got up and left. "Were we being annoying?" I asked Paul in shock. We weren't being loud, were we? After all the obnoxious people we've encountered in our seven months of Cheap Theater experiences, could it be that -- in a strange reversal of roles -- we could be the ones who drove our fellow moviegoers crazy? How strange..!

But then the two took their seats, and I watched their two heads become one. "Oh..." I said, relieved. "They just wanted to make out. They wanted privacy." So it wasn't just us after all. I felt much better.

In general, the whole Tuesday night experience was quite pleasant, really -- after someone fixed that horrible buzzing speaker (but hey -- that's what you get for 50 cents). The people who eventually sat in front of us weren't too tall -- nor did they have big, poofy hair. They didn't have small children. They were a little on the chatty side, but not enough to be really irritating. No one gathered around our seats to hang out and chat. Everyone around us behaved like...grown-ups at a movie theater.

Of course, that wasn't the case everywhere in the theater. If it had, I probably would have been concerned that I'd accidentally been warped into a strange parallel universe. But no... Elsewhere in the theater, cell phones rang and rang in all directions. Women shrieked in random fits of laughter over things that weren't really all that funny. But none of them were close enough to make me jump out of my seat every time they did it.

It was unusually peaceful. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to enjoy a movie without distraction.

Frankly, it was just plain weird.

Normally, as we walk out of the theater, Paul and I try to find our way back to the car while discussing all the Crazies around us. This week, I stepped out of the theater and began discussing the weather. It was actually quite cool out, signaling the pending start of the school year.

We walked out behind two college girls, though, who had found themselves in my usual position.

"Could you believe them?" one was saying.

"That other lady was going to say something, too. She was like, 'Excuse me...' but you beat her to it," the other one said.

"She probably would have been nice about it. Not me!" the first one told her friend.

And I just smiled, relieved that I'm not the only one with Bad Movie Karma -- yet a little disappointed that I hadn't been nearby to witness whatever it was that had happened. I felt like I'd missed out on all the fun.

Next week, the kids will all be back in school, and the Tuesday night insanity will once again slow down for the school year. Personally, I'm kinda hoping that, as the kids disappear, the Crazies will once again come out of hiding. I hate to admit it, but I might just miss them a little.

By the thoughts on the movie: thumbs up. The action started getting a little drawn-out and boring toward the end, but overall, I loved the action / romantic comedy combination. For a full review of the movie, check out Coinneach's review on N&

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Revenge of the Sith (17Aug05)

After spending two days interspersing work with naps, drinking lots of fluids, and trying to flush a cold that popped up out of nowhere out of my system, I was dying to get out of the house. I was tired. I was sick. I was just the teeniest bit cranky. And I figured the best way to keep that to myself was to shut myself up in a movie theater for a couple of hours. So Paul and I scarfed down some leftover lasagna (made with homemade pasta, thank you very much) and rushed out the door.

We were a little behind our usual Tuesday night schedule, but since it wasn't Tuesday night, it didn't really matter. Wednesday night crowds are child's play -- even in those quick-we've-got-to-do-a-bunch-of-fun-stuff-before-we-have-to-go-back-to-school late-August days -- because no one wants to pay full price (even if full price is a whopping buck-fifty).

We walked right through the line, past the ever-helpful ticket-ripper, who directed us to our theater, where we settled into the two back-corner seats. These seats, I've found, definitely have their ups and downs:

UPS: They're secluded, so you won't have anyone next to you or behind you -- and they've got incredible amounts of leg room.

DOWNS: People often come late (and come and go during the movie), thereby giving you a blast of outside light/noise whenever the door opens. And, for some reason, late-comers often feel the need to hang out in the back of the theater (right next to where you're sitting, trying to watch the movie) and chatter for a while as they decide where to sit.

Two of those late-comers chose -- out of about 200 empty seats in the theater -- to sit directly in front of us. This wouldn't be so bad, really, if the two of them didn't have the big fluffy unkempt hair that guys think makes them look like, I don't know, some suave surfer guy from the O.C. or something. The one on the aisle also had a spinal issue of some sort that caused him to repeatedly (and loudly) crack his neck throughout the movie. The other one -- the big, fluffy-haired guy in front of me had the best posture I've ever seen. Normally, I'd commend the young man for his beautiful posture -- but it's not as commendable when he's sitting up, bolt-straight, directly in front of you (and right in your line of vision), so you almost have to stand up to see Yoda.

One thing I noticed about our Star Wars viewing was the obvious lack of freaks. I remember when I went to see Episode I (check out my review), and there were droids and Siths and Jedi Knights everywhere. But with us, in The Cheap Theater, there were only the standard-issue Cheap Theater Freaks. When Darth Sidious first said the words "Darth Vader," there was only one meager cheer from the other side of the theater. And there were only three nerdy teenage boys (who sat across the aisle from me) who had obviously seen the movie a million times already. But they weren't dressed up as Jedi -- they were just dressed up as nerdy teenage boys.

I have to say, it was a bit disappointing. Star Wars just isn't quite the same without the freaks.

(If you'd like to read a review of Revenge of the Sith, check out Coinneach's review on

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The dog ate my homework...

We didn't get to The Cheap Theater last night, but I have a perfectly good excuse.

Yesterday, I woke up with a sore throat, which sucked, though it didn't come as a surprise to me, since I should have known that my constant running for the last...three months would most likely shut down my immune system. I felt like crap, so I slept in a bit, and then I spent the rest of my day in a stupor.

At about 4:30, I gave up and took a nap until Paul got home. And just when I thought that I could get a little bit of pampering in my delirious state, Paul came home with a stomach ache ("My whole stomach feels like...pain," was how he explained it). So the two of us, as pathetic as any two human beings with minor illnesses can be, had some soup for dinner. And we agreed that, despite the fact that we had been looking forward to seeing Revenge of the Sith, it might not be the best day for it. So the farthest we got from home last night was the pharmacy on the corner.

Paul seems to be feeling better today, and I'm considerably less delirious, so we'll try again tonight...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Longest Yard (9Aug05)

This week, we had a bit of a challenge to face when it came to selecting the movie of the week. These wasn't a single movie that had been at The Cheap Theater for more than a week that we wanted to see, so we had to plan ahead to determine which of the new movies would be less crowded. We had two options: The Longest Yard and Revenge of the Sith. We figured that Star Wars was more likely to be packed with crazed fans who were competing with their friends to see who could watch it the most times -- and, for some reason, The Cheap Theater management had chosen to show it on only one screen, as opposed to the two they'd given to The Longest Yard. So the decision wasn't all that difficult. We agreed to see the movie with more possible showtimes -- and we left really early.

Despite the fact that we left home 45 minutes before showtime instead of the usual 30, there were already people piling in when we showed up. As the ticket-ripper ripped the tickets of those ahead of us, he pointed behind himself.

Rip. "Right there," he directed.

Rip. "Down that way, on the left."

Rip. "Right there."

Rip. "Right there."

Rip. "Right there."

When we got up to him, it was more of the same. Rip. "Right there."

The seats in the back row were already taken, so we moved up the aisle a bit and took our seats.

"THEY GOT MARRIED IN A CATHOLIC CHURCH, RIGHT?" I heard a raspy voice holler from behind me.

"YEAH!" another one hollered back.

I turned to see that two old men had taken their seats in the back row of the theater. Either they were seriously homophobic and didn't want to sit anywhere near each other, or they were saving seats for the rest of the folks from the home -- because there were three seats between them, which caused them to yell their conversation about someone's Catholic church wedding, which was either in January or March. They couldn't quite agree on which. Throughout the quickly-filling theater, people turned to catch a glimpse of the old men and smile.

I grinned, contemplating the fact that these old men had chosen to take the seats that are typically snatched up by amorous teenage couples (or, in our case, people with really long legs). I wondered why they'd chosen those seats, preferring not to think about the reason why teenagers choose those seats. And I quietly prayed that the displaced teenage couples didn't end up in the seats right ahead of us.

When the movie finally began, the theater was packed and noisy. I'm going to guess here that the generally rowdy and irreverent nature of the movie inspired the crowd. It was most likely the violence and the loud music to match that made everyone in the theater so rowdy (or maybe the movie made them think about the upcoming football season -- which, in these parts, can turn the mildest-mannered accountant into a crazed beast). Whatever the case, there was a constant hum of chatter around me. The guy behind me jabbered through the whole thing. And though the movie's volume was cranked beyond the usual levels, making it almost impossible to hear much non-movie noise, I'm sure that the two old men continued their conversation in the back row.

I'll just say now (since we've already published a review of The Longest Yard on that I loved the movie. Everyone around me loved the movie. We laughed -- and we even unknowingly cheered from time to time. But there was one person in the theater who obviously wasn't enjoying herself -- the two-ish-year-old girl whose parents decided to take her along to the movies for a fun family night. The little girl, perhaps dissatisfied with her parents' choice of movies, shrieked through the whole thing -- the kind of angry shriek that kids let out when they're forced against their will to sit for any amount of time. The poor child was furious, yet her parents were really determined to see the whole movie, so they stayed. They generally ignored her shrieking, and they only removed her from the theater a couple of times -- for a couple of minutes -- and then she'd be quiet for a couple of minutes before starting all over again. At one point, they even attempted to quiet her down by flipping open their cell phone (I'm guessing the idea was to show her pictures taken with the phone's camera), the light of which was pointed directly at my left eye.

I'm still baffled by the whole kids-in-the-theater thing. It's something that I rarely saw before we began our Cheap Theater Adventures, so maybe it only happens there. But if this is, in fact, becoming a trend, I think new movie theaters should consider adding a room that churches have included in their designs for ages. In the church I grew up in, it was called The Cry Room -- a sound-proof room in the back of the church with a big window overlooking the sanctuary. There was a speaker mounted inside, so parents could watch and listen, while kids could shriek and run around all they wanted.

Or perhaps theaters should consider offering child care for a small fee -- like fitness centers often do.

Or perhaps parents of young, energetic children should consider another novel concept -- the babysitter.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Pacifier (2Aug05)

Sometimes I'm amazed by the things that happen around me in the movie theater. Sometimes I wonder if it's just me. Maybe I have Bad Movie Theater Karma. Maybe I ruined someone's movie-going experience once, back when I was in high school or something, and I've been cursed ever since. In fact, I do happen to remember seeing Son-in-Law with my friends and being excessively noisy. We most likely did ruin the experience for the other two people there. And then there was the time that my friend and I saw the Beavis and Butthead movie, and we decided to go to Denny's for a soda before returning to the theater and watching the next show. I'm pretty sure that the two of us giggling and quoting lines before they were spoken may have bothered a few people. And perhaps now I'm paying for it...

This week, the movie listings for The Cheap Theater were pretty slim. We'd already seen everything that really interested us -- except for one movie. For weeks, I'd been suggesting The Pacifier as an option. And for weeks, we'd ended up seeing something else. And while I'd started out pretty indifferent toward the movie, I eventually became obsessed with seeing it. And this week, I finally got my chance -- because there wasn't a single other movie that we were even remotely interested in seeing.

We raced up to the ticket window, and I walked past two older women who were discussing their options.

"I've already seen everything I wanted to see here," one of them told the other. Apparently we're not the only ones who have exhausted the theater's options. It's definitely time for some new movies. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

So we hurried off to the on-its-way-out theater -- a small theater that's so far out of the way that it's barely in the building. I expected it to be almost empty, but there were plenty of people in their seats when we got there. In fact, the back-row seats were already taken, so we had to look elsewhere. Paul chose the aisle seats in the next row from the back, behind a couple whom I'd place at just a little younger than my parents.

Last week, you may recall, I had a run-in with a teenage couple making out a couple of rows ahead of me, thereby leading me to suggest that the following reminder be added to the pre-movie reminders:

"Please remember that making out is to be done only in the specially-designated making-out seats."

The couple ahead of us had obviously not been notified of such specially-designated seats, since they had chosen rather visible seats -- in a well-lit, pre-movie theater -- for their make-out-fest. They fawned and petted and smooched and giggled, just two feet in front of me -- with no regard for the fact that I had just eaten and didn't have a strong enough stomach to sit there and watch them.

I looked at Paul and gave him my best "what the heck?" look.

"Maybe we should sit somewhere else," he told me. "That's a little...distracting." And as he began to point out various places where we could sit instead of behind these amorous seniors, I was suddenly struck with a serious case of the giggles.

I was just starting to rein in my giggles when a man walked past me, holding the hand of his prancing little boy, who was wearing light-up shoes (also see last week's entry). The giggles came right back in full force -- such full force, in fact, that I almost fell out of my chair.

It was then that I realized that these people -- with their cooing and smooching, with their prancing kids in light-up shoes, with their hay fever, and even with their cut-off shorts and high-heeled boots -- somehow follow me to the theater. It's gotta be just me. I've gotta have seriously Bad Movie Theater Karma.

As I sat there, contemplating what I could have possibly done to deserve this, a cell phone behind me rang.

"HELLO? ... I'M SITTIN' IN THE MOVIE THEATER! ... YEAH!" began the long, loud conversation, to which we were all invited to listen.

The couple ahead of us stopped making out. They both turned to shoot death-ray stares back at the phone-talker. Then they scowled and quietly grumbled about how rude he was, pausing occasionally to glare back at the man or to stroke one another's faces.

Fortunately, however, the phone-talker ruined the general mood for our aged lovebirds -- either that, or that movie was just that good -- because they detached from one another's faces long enough to see Vin Diesel save the day. And I was greatly relieved.