Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Theatres

Though I do not posess much (read: anything) in the way of faith or religion, that lacking has never precluded me from giving due respect to a higher power.

That power is imagination (and it is precisely that power that gave birth to all other deities, but that's a topic for another time), and I have always preferred to honor its presence in the medium of film.

The movie theatre has long been my temple, and the rituals that I have abided in my weekly sojourns have as much rote as as Midnight Mass.

So it is with much regret (and pain) that I find my temple desecrated - it's once bright sheen now tarnished with the mire and misery.

I can let slide the ever-rising ticket prices. I'll even forgive the outrageous concession stand costs (I typically spend twice as much on snacks as I do on the price of admission, and never have I felt that the food prices were justified).

But the people. Oh the people. I cannot forgive them.

First of all, we are all there for the same reason, aren't we? We all paid the high prices to get in the door, didn't we? When then are you distracting my movie-watching experience by text-messaging your friends for the entire duration of the film?

My last excursion to the theatre (a dismal experience to say the least) was on Valentine's Day. I normally loathe Valentine's Day (another topic for another time), and this year I was given no reason to change that stance: As the lights dimmed and the movie began, the patron directly behind me loudly announce to his female friend how "so drunk!" he was. A short time into the film, the young lady to my right (who had politely asked my wife and I if we could shift down one seat to make room for her boyfriend) answered a phone call and proceeded with a whispered conversation for no less than 10 minutes. (You might ask why I didn't say something - apparently she was whispering only loud enough to be heard by those on either side of her...that is, her boyfriend and ME. My frustrated glares were apparently not being received correctly, but speaking out against her ghastly behaviour would only have disturbed others around us, and I don't want to contribute to the problem). Half way through the film, the girl directly behind my wife (presumably the companion of the guy who was "so drunk") threw up into her popcorn bag.

If I came to your church drunk, talked on my cell phone through ten minutes of the sermon and then threw up, I would likely be arrested.

And yet people come to the movie theatre (MY church) and get away with this sort of behaviour with alarming regularity.

With the rising prices making these excursions to the theatre more and more a luxury, I can't believe how utterly disrespectful the other patrons continue to be. And it seems to be getting worse.

There was a time when movie theatres showed no commercials. We listened to soft music until the lights went down and the curtains went up (the curtains!) and after a couple of previews the movie began. There were no cell phones to disrupt the show. No affordable laser pens to flash across the screen. Now, those days are long behind us.

Had I the means to do so (that is, the finances), I would open my own movie theatre. There would be a strict dress code - formal wear. There would be no advertising, save for the trailers preceeding the show proper. Concession costs would be well below ticket prices. Cell phones and similar electronic devices would not be permitted. And there would be curtains.

In this perfect theatre, all the patrons would respect the night out.

They would come, watch, enjoy and leave.

It would be everything I could hope for.

And I would owe it all to excluding just about everyone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I have a dog.

Living in a building that is pet friendly (and next to a building that is pet friendly, and across the street from a building that is pet friendly...) means that there are many neighbour dogs for my little hellbeast to play with.

Getting a pet - a dog, for example - is a big responsibility. They have to be fed, cleaned, brushed, and walked. In fact, they have to be walked often. And it's when that happens that I get really tired of living in the vicinity of other people.

Dogs, like most living creatures, excrete substances. Unpleasant substances. And they do it two, three, maybe four times a day, depending on their diet. No one wants to pick those excretions up. But guess what, pet owners? That's the kind of thing you signed up for when you got yourself a pet!

Many of my neighbors fall into the "Wow, that's sick! I'm not going near that!" category. I don't. That means that when I take my little dog out into the common areas of the neighborhood so he can check his pee-mail and leave some of his own, I feel obligated to pick up his little mess. And being in the minority in my neighbourhood, that means both the dog and I have to navigate a minefield of dog droppings in our to accomplish our respective tasks.

Needless to say, my dog isn't nearly as careful about where he steps as I am.

Worse yet, a lot of the neighbours have BIG dogs. There is one thing I utterly loathe about big dogs. And I am regularly reminded of it when I take my pet out for the last squirt of the night and he walks right through a mess the size of a birthday cake.

I understand! It looks like it weighs 5 pounds and you don't want to put your hands in it! But I don't care! You knew the giant black Lab you adpoted was going to do things like that every day! After a week of not cleaning up after your dog, the strip of grass more resembles a hazardous waste dump, and for some reason that's where my dog wants to go!

And I wish it ended with dogs.

I know cat owners who keep the litter box in their living room (or kitchen, good LORD) and then don't bother cleaning it for a week. I don't visit those people if I can help it.

I know parents who notice their kid needs to be changed and wait for their other half to do the work (this plan breaks down when both parents are extremely stubborn, and it's the kid who has to suffer it).

Irresponsibility is rampant. A big part of it is just that people are bloody lazy.

But more than that, it's that there aren't enough consequences for this kind of behaviour.

It is actually the law where I live that pet owners must properly dispose of their pet's waste when it is deposited anywhere other that the pet owner's own property. If there was a by-law enforcement officer to hang out in our neighbourhood and fine the people who can't be bothered to remove their mongrel's filth, maybe people would start to get the idea.

Ah, but that sounds too optimistic. People learning lessons about their own lousy behaviour and making effort to alter or improve themselves? That doesn't sound like the world I live in.

Maybe if I just woke up tomorrow and all the pet owners were gone, along with their pets, I wouldn't have to worry about it.

Maybe then it'd be the smell of fresh air and green grass that greeted me when I took my cared-for pet out first thing in the morning.