Friday, June 19, 2009

Movie Madness

I don’t like to criticize, but . . . I am going to anyway. The entertainment industry has gotten out of hand. Each movie or show that comes out costs more and more money to produce. Movie stars are getting paid more for a few months of work than my whole neighborhood would make in a lifetime. I don’t really care how much movie stars get paid, except that they pass those costs onto the consumer. And by the consumer, I mean me. I am not made of money. Jelly donuts maybe, but not money. The truth is I don’t even have any money. Unless you count the 18 pounds of change that has collected in the bottom of my purse, I am penniless.

The recession hit me hard. It was so bad I had to give up shopping at the dollar store. Not because I didn’t have any dollars, they just told me I couldn’t shop there anymore. Some outrageous rule about not opening and using deodorant in the store and putting it back on the shelf. I don’t get it. Product testing, hello. Anyway, most everyone has been somehow impacted by the recession. The only ones not affected by the recession are Bill and Gates. No, not Bill Gates. My Uncle Bill and his cousin Russell Gates, they work in the printing department at the U.S. Treasury. All the rest of us cannot afford to do fun things like go to the movies, who has that kind of money?!

In my family, we reserve high dollar amounts for silly things, like food and shelter not completely unnecessary things like movies. Incidentally, that is the number one reason that they don’t take checks at the cinema, most people don’t keep that much money in their checking accounts. I am afraid to even go near the theater. Anyone seeing me go up to pay for a ticket knows that I am carrying at least a thousand dollars of hard cash on my person and that is just to cover admission. A professional mugger would make a killing if he just stood outside in the parking lot; he could rob a few people and call it a night after only working an hour. It wouldn’t be a bad gig, especially on weekends with the matinee crowd. Hey that gives me an idea . . .

No, not that idea! Stick with me people. Focus. I know how we can afford to go to the movies. As with all of my ideas it is a very simple premise, we just need to put a plasma donation center on one side of the theater and an organ harvesting center on the other. Can’t afford Milk Duds? That is ok; your body automatically makes something that you can sell!

“Mom, can we get popcorn this time?”
“Well, I don’t know honey. We already took out a second mortgage on the house and I don’t have any more cash.”
“Pleeeeaaase Mom!”
“I am not sure sweetie. Why don’t you go ask your father?”
“Where is he?”
“He is at the blood clinic.”
“Where, I don’t see him?”
“Look through that window. See he is lying on the table.”
“He is in between the man with no arms and the man with no legs.”
“Wow, he looks different through the glass. He is so pale.”
“Yeah, that is how you can tell they are almost through with him.”
“What should I say when I ask him?”
“Just ask him if he really needs that other kidney.”

Ok, so maybe that idea still needs some tweaking but there are more where that came from. Another idea I came up with is the black-market candy sales business. I could sell generic candy inside the theatre, I would only have to unload enough to cover my costs. However, it is dark in there and people don’t always know what they are getting, so a hefty profit is almost guaranteed. If you see someone wearing a trench coat in the middle of summer, and they appear to make a lot of noise when they walk, slip me a fiver and I will give you some ‘Malted-Milk-Duds’ and some ‘M & N’s. Or maybe you would prefer some ‘Crimson Vine Licorice’ or some ‘Mike & Spike’s. However, use caution when opening our sodas, the ‘psssshh’ sound tends to alert security. They have a vest and a little rolling floor sweeper thingy, they mean business. Other than their militant rules, I feel sorry for them. You can tell a job has little upward mobility when they won’t even let you use a real vacuum.

Honestly, I don’t even know why I would want to go the movies anyway. Between hogging the armrest, kicking the backs of the seats and talking over the actors, it isn’t as relaxing as other people make it out to be. It makes me tired; I don’t normally do that much activity in a day. Plus, it is a workout climbing over all those other people in the row just to get to the bathroom. And don’t even suggest not doing that. I tried it once, and let’s just say those ushers get very nosey about puddles under the seats. “Is this what I think it is?!” “Did you do this?!” “What is the matter with you?!” Too many questions. I paid to watch a movie, not get the third degree.

See how hard it is to go to the movies? Is it fair that I have to follow all these rules and they can charge exorbitant prices and make me watch whatever garbage they put out and I have no recourse? It is not right. Anywhere else, if you are not satisfied with the product you return it to the store. You raise a fuss, you demand your money back, you scream for a manager, you stand up for your rights, you use force if necessary, you get tasered! Ok, so except for that last part, it is a good system. Why not use it at the movies too?

Me: Yes, I just saw your latest movie “Return of the Swamp Thing” and I am totally dissatisfied. Them: So?
Me: I want my money back.
Them: What?
Me: It was no good. I was not moved to a single involuntary emotional reaction. I did not learn anything. There was no moral. Oh, and the popcorn was stale.
Them: What do you want me to do about it?
Me: I want my money back.
Them: Uh, no.
Me: But it stunk. It was a terrible movie. I want my money back. And I want to be reimbursed for my time.
Them: Lady, are you crazy?! Did you not see the movie previews? Of course it stunk. The posters weren’t even any good. I had to have the snack-bar guy photo-shop them just to make them look better.
Me: I am sorry about that, but I am still upset about this. Don’t you want to keep your customers happy?
Them: I would love to. But since they put in the Plasma Center and the Organ Center next door I have had to invest a ton of money in handi-capable services. Like extra wheelchair spaces, IV hook-ups, staff nurses, and a defibrillator. I had a guy code last week; and I can tell you that ambulances are not good for business. I can’t afford to give you a refund. On top of that, candy sales are way down and if things don’t pick up I may go out of business all together.
Me: Um, you know what? Never mind. I can be the better person here. It is just a few dollars after all. So I will just be on my way.
Them: Hey you dropped something, it fell out of your coat. Is that a generic peanut butter cup?! SECURITY!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer School

Summer break is that time of year when I am reminded of why we need to pay teachers more. If for no other reason than they are required to have conversations with our children during the school year, that we do not want to have. Over the summer vacation, we get to have those conversations. All the time.

“Mom, did you know that someone buys a Barbie every 3 seconds.”
“Really? How do you know that?”
“I read it.”
“The Bathroom Reader for kids. But I wasn’t in the bathroom when I read it.”

I know it is tough on teachers to compete with the media and all of the technology that is incorporated into everyday life.

“Mom, did you know that if our body did not produce mucus, our stomach lining would begin eating itself, and we would die! So snot is actually good for us.”
“Wow, did you learn that at school?”
“No. Cartoons.”

I think kids are so distracted in these fast and ever-changing times that it is hard to keep their attention.

Sluuuuurp, Sluuuuuurpp, sluuuurrrrpppppp.
“Son, what are you doing?”
“What are you doing? You were making a weird noise, how were you making it?”
“Oh, that. That was just me squishing my spit.”

Part of the problem with our culture is that everyone is always trying to one-up each other to shock and disturb. It is a constant problem, even in families.

“Mom, I read about a guy who eats 2 pounds of metal a day.”
“So that he could break a world record. He ate the two pounds a day, until he ate a whole plane!”
“How does his body handle it?”
“He has a genetic mutation in his stomach lining that allows him to swallow metal and not get sick. Isn’t that cool?”
“Um, I guess.”
“Mom, if you could eat 2 pounds of metal a day what would you eat?”
“I don’t think I would. I don’t want to.”
“Well if I had a special and unique talent, I wouldn’t waste it like Mom would. I would eat a light pole.”
“It’s for training. I would work up to eating a helicopter, but not one that was moving.”

Then the little one, who had been listening quietly the whole time, said: “Well, I would eat the whole world. Then when I pooped, you could see it from space!”

Sometimes, it doesn’t seem like they are learning anything.

“Mom, do you know what the secret ingredient in Coca-cola is?”
“It is called 7X. But no one knows what 7X is because it is a secret.”
“Yeah, I heard on the news about a secretary who tried to sell the secret formula a few years back, I wonder if she knows what the secret ingredient is.”
“That is the problem with knowledge, it just gets out,” he said.
Then I tried for sarcasm, “Yeah, I guess it is better to lock it up and not let anyone know what you learned. Keep all your smarts to yourself.”
“Mom, that is weird, that is like giving a thief all your money so that he doesn’t steal it.”

I guess they are learning something after all.