>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 37 – June 22, 2003

Now Playing: “Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream

Summertime is a wonderful time of year where families all over the world get together to celebrate togetherness like it was Christmas or something. Unless you're in one of those wacky hemispheres like the Southern Hemisphere where all the seasons are reversed and the toilets flush backwards and people get eaten by koala bears on the way home from school. At least, that's what I hear from other people who, like me, have never visited that particular hemisphere because it's really, really far. I mean, it might as well be on Neptune or something, because I hear interplanetary travel is more convenient and hassle-free than a trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Anyway, here's what happened:

-If you're a reader of the comic strip “Hi & Lois”, and I hope to God you're not, you probably think that going to a movie with your family is a wholesome and fun-filled thing to do. This is true, provided that the year is 1956 and the family you're going with isn't mine. If you do not fall into one or both of these criteria, the moviegoing experience will be a terrible one akin to being locked in a concentration camp with Gilbert Gottfried. Whatever happened to that guy? I haven't seen him in anything since “Problem Child 2”, where he played the unscrupulous elementary school principal hell-bent on destroying John Ritter's life. Is he dead?

-The physiological status and well-being of crappy comedians aside, I thought I'd warn you that if you have the guts to go to a movie with your mom (heretofore referred to as “my mom”) and little brother, be prepared to be the only family at the theatre. Families don't go to movies anymore. Now only guys on dates go to movies. And the guy, attempting to impress his zit-encrusted girlfriend who's wearing a “Stop Staring at my Chest” babydoll t-shirt, will laugh and point as you walk into the megaplex with my mom and brother in tow. If you live in a particularly unrelenting neighbourhood (mine) then the guy may even throw a few kernels of popcorn at you as you walk by. But my mom will be completely oblivious to all of this, because we're GOING TO A MOVIE GOD DAMN IT AND WE'RE GONNA ENJOY OURSELVES EVEN IF IT KILLS US. Ah, summer.

-Many people may have noticed that the cost of purchasing a meal at a movie theatre is often comparable to the cost of constructing a major suspension bridge. However, if you are dumb enough to go to a movie with your family, you are probably dumb enough to pay $8 for a bag of cold, stale popcorn. I bet some theatre executive got paid a lot of money to come up with this brilliant marketing strategy: “Hey, if we charge more money, we make more money!” We must find this theatre executive (I bet his name is ‘Chip') and bludgeon him to death with his own Nobel Prize in Economics.

-After spending next year's tuition on food that homeless people won't eat for your little brother, you will proceed into the theater proper. There, your family, into which you're praying you were adopted, will insist on sitting in the front row. Now, here's the thing: 10 years ago, the front row was a coveted theatre position. That's because all the seats were directly behind each other, like you were on some kind of bus, and if someone who was over 4'7″ sat anywhere in front of you you would lose approximately 50% of the total viewing area. And back then, viewing areas were a lot smaller, let me tell you. The TV in my den is bigger than a movie screen was when I was a kid. Boy, those were the days. When things were done right and you could get a malt from Pop's for a nickel. Wait, that wasn't me. That was the Archies. Never mind.

-Now that I've concluded the unstructured rant portion of the newsletter, I wanted to tell you that modern theatres no longer cherish the front seats. No, modern theatres implement what's known as “stadium seating”, which means that the back row is 400 feet up, directly in front of and often blocking the projector, while the front row is no more than 3.5 inches from the actual screen. But my brother wanted to sit in the front row, which was cool, because it meant that while the movie was going on I could actually see the characters' individual DNA strands.

-Remember when you were little and you went to the movies and before the movie started you just kind of patiently stared at a blank screen for a half hour like some sort of monk? Well, the movie industry decided that people were getting bored, so they decided to put something on the screen for you to gaze at before the movie starts. This is, of course, a Powerpoint slideshow for a Honda Civic. Oh boy! That's so much better than a blank screen! Do you know what a Powerpoint slideshow looks like from the front row of a movie theatre? Remember ‘Asteroids'?

-Quote of the Moment: A guy comes up to an empty seat beside me, asks “is this seat taken?”. I say “no”. He says “Of course it isn't! It's in the front row! Loser.” Then he walks off, laughing maniacally, no doubt to go make out with his date. Hey, girls love a guy with a sense of humor. I should know; I read about it in Cosmopolitan.

-The average movie is two hours long. That's twenty minutes of movie, and an hour forty of previews. There will come a time, mark my words, when people will pay $12 a head to just sit and watch previews for the entire length of time, without even the pretense of having a movie to see. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I'm just saying “Be ready”.

-At some point during the movie, your brother is going to have to go to the bathroom. Maybe it's because his bladder's too small. Maybe it's because he just drank 6 litres of watered-down coke. I don't know, I'm not a doctor. Whatever the reason, you're going to have to get up and miss a good portion of the movie standing outside a bathroom stall looking like a registered sex offender despite the fact that your brother is twelve years old because your mother, who is, no offense, an overprotective looney, will not have it any other way. That's ok, though. You're probably only missing the previews.

-As I left the theatre, family in tow, I realized I was probably being a little immature. I mean, sure, it's embarrassing hanging out with my mom and little brother, and, sure, all the tough neighbourhood guys with their dates will probably beat ne up the next time they see me, but gosh darn it, I'm twenty years old and I can to do something nice with my family every now and then. And, hey, I know hanging out with your family isn't ‘cool' or ‘hip to the groove', but neither is writing over 1500 words complaining about it.