Showing posts with label movie theaters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie theaters. Show all posts

Friday, January 6, 2023

At The Movies

With apologies to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Image by rosi capurso from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  


Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet." 
                                                                                          -Orson Welles

Dear Grandstickies and Gentlereaders,

We moved across the semi-mighty Monongahela river from D'bluff to the SouSidah Pittsburgh in the summer of 1961.

At the time it was possible to see a double feature, at least one cartoon, and previews — no commercials — for 35¢ at the SouSide's Arcade movie theater if you were under 12. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons the Arcade would be bulging with kids. 

If I could scrape two quarters together I could also buy a snack. I saw a lot of the movies released in the early 60s. The Arcade, now long gone, specialized in first-run schlock and second-run mainstream movies. I thoroughly enjoyed both categories. 

Godzilla! Godzilla! 

Access to cable TV, which, believe it or not, dates to 1948, was rare but the theater owners knew what was coming. They organized campaigns to "stop pay TV" in its tracks. Imagine having to pay to watch TV, that's what commercials were for! You paid to see movies, movies unlikely to turn up on your local 3 or 4 broadcast TV stations till years later.

{And yet nowadays ya have to pay your local cable monopoly to watch shows saturated with commercials.}

Well, Dana, I guess that's the price you pay for not having to deal with set-top antennas decorated with wads of aluminum foil.


For the record, endless fundraising by PBS stations was a thing from early on, but commercials that are not commercials, "underwriting spots," were not. Also, commercials that were admittedly commercials were limited in number and didn't take up nearly 20 minutes of every hour of viewing on the commercial stations. 

{I see what you did there.}

As the years rolled by, going to the movies got more and more expensive, there were more and more of them, but less and less of them were worth the time/money. 

I hadn't gone to the movies in quite some time when my late wife talked me into going to see Forrest Gump at one of those theaters where you can enjoy the sound of other movies playing in miniature theaters bordering the one you were sitting in. To this day it's my favorite movie of all time. 

But at the time I was unaware that being subjected to a commercial before being allowed to watch the movie I had paid to see — after having to arrange financing in order to buy some popcorn flavored with melted margarine — had become the norm while I had been busy living my life. 

So of course I did the only rational thing a man of principle could do under the circumstances. 

I started complaining to my wife in a deliberately loud voice, as though my hearing aid had shorted out. I was cleverly attempting to prompt my fellow Citizens of the Republic to start complaining in equally loud voices. 

Up the revolution!

Instead, they looked alarmed and began whispering to each other, looking around for the nearest exit. And this was prior to 9/11 and before mass shooting incidents initiated by addled whack jobs off their meds running merrily amok became commonplace.    

Obviously, I was unaware of a minor shift that had occurred in the zeitgeist. That's what happens when you don't keep up with the newsletter.

My wife didn't get upset, she just started giggling and looked at me in surprise. I'm not normally the one who leaps upon the barricade to inspire my fellow revolutionaries.

Fortunately, the police weren't called. As far as I know, no one even complained to the manager, probably because I quickly surrendered. That's one way to tell the difference between a full-blown wack job and a mere cowardly crank by the way. 

However, I like to think that I inspired a dinner table conversation or two. 

"Hey, I went to the movies today and saw a really cool movie called Forest Gump. The popcorn tasted like it was topped with melted margarine but the movie was the best one I've seen in a while, the only one I've seen in a while actually... She talked me into going.

And there was some free entertainment before the movie even started. Some whack job that was so loud he sounded like his hearing aid had shorted out started bitching about a commercial they ran. Pretty funny. I complained to the manager who gave me a free $10 soft pretzel to go away."

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down to share this column or access my golden(?) oldies. You too can be a patron of the arts! Click here.    

Feel free to love, hate, or troll me on my Facebook page. I post my latest columns on Saturdays; other things other days. Cranky don't tweet, but in light of recent events, I'm considering it... Go Elon, go!