Thursday, July 08, 2004

Commercials at movie theaters are bullshit

Three weeks ago, I decided to finally see Eternal Sunshine. I liked the movie, but was disturbed by the whole theater experience. You see, I’m from a small town in Polk County, Florida. OK, OK, the town of Bartow, right in the middle of the bustling metropolises of Lakeland and Winter Haven. Actually, Bartow is the county seat. (Locals somehow squeeze almost 3 syllables out of this name, and call it “Bart-touw.”) Rumor has it that those other 2 HUGE towns were fighting over which one would hold this fabulous honor, and when neither side would give, our Bartow was given this illustrious title.

Yeah, I’ve trailed off, back to the point. Anyway, in Bartow, there are no movie theaters, and when you finally get out to a city where there is one, you don’t expect much because, well, you’re in a little ass city in Polk County, and there are cows (the beef kind) and orange trees galore. Lotsa big billboards with pictures of live cows, and the huge letters, “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner,” or steakhouses with a big ass Angus bull on the billboard. Kinda gross, but reality. Basically, the point is that the movie industry is not the crazed lunacy it is here. It’s a fun thing to do sometimes, like play mini golf or eat at Fat Boy’s BarBQ (they have really good BBQ beans). Actually, Polk County is the only place I’ve ever seen skateboarders wearing cowboy hats, and I don’t mean surf-style cowboy hats.

There I go again, ANYWAY, when I first came to LA, I saw the screening theater at Paramount, with those fabulous $700 seats, and marveled at the fabulousness a theater can be. So plush and spacious, amazing sound and picture, you feel like you’re really in for an experience. Then I spent a few years seeing very few movies, mostly independents in small theaters.

That was until 3 weeks ago, well, that’s when I first noticed it anyway. Went to a theater on the boardwalk in Santa Monica. Actually saw The Stepford Wives the day it was released a couple of days later at another theater in the same chain (Loews). BOTH theaters were insanely small, and the seats were so close to each other, we were all sitting practically on top of each other. As if that wasn’t enough, these seats were extremely uncomfortable, didn’t recline back far enough, and they had no support for my head or neck. Worse, you had to arrive earlier than you would for a Southwest flight to not be in the first 3 rows, and WORST OF ALL, there were about 10 commercials before the movie. I don’t mean previews, there were 10 of those too, but actual fucking commercials. Bad ones, too. I’ve sworn off of Fanta from this point forward.

It’s total bullshit. Commercials when I'm basically locked in to a crowded theater, and have no escape, no fast forward button on the remote, and I paid $10 fucking dollars to see the movie in the first place. Guess what, it costs just as much or more to see a movie, but now I have to sit through commercials. What! How is that possible? Theater owners, show some integrity! Don't you already rip us off enough with $4 Cokes and $5 popcorns?

Due to these bullshit commercials, I wonder if I can actually make plans after seeing a movie. Does 98 minute running time mean with or without commercials? How long are the commercials? What time will I actually get out?

At this point, I’d rather sit comfortably on my couch, drinking a perfectly mixed Coke from a can that cost me a grand total of 25 cents since I bought a case 4 days ago, and eat popcorn or dinner or whatever I want, while I watch a video from the store down the street. And the whole thing will be a better experience for cheaper.

Crowded theaters, uncomfortable seats, smaller screens, and expensive food and drinks have been slowly eating away at the pleasure of going to a theater for a while now. Commercials have completed the cycle. Movies are supposed to be an escape from the every day monotony, if only for a couple of hours. In a world already overfilled with advertisements, the sanctity of the theater has now been taken. It just makes me love my little video store more and more every day.

So, if you agree about the fact that it’s total bullshit for movie theaters to force feed commercials to a caged-in audience who paid at least $10 bucks for that sheer pleasure, you can sign this petition:

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Traffic Court Blows

I can't believe the bullshit I'm going through on this one...

Back in February, I got pulled over for an expired registration. Finally got the money to fix the smog problem to get the registration. It was rough though, it ended up costing 3/4 of what the car cost me last year. Gotta stop buying those $1000 pieces of shit.

So, expired registration = flashing red light for cops. Got pulled over a lot. One of these times, I showed the officer (Cop #2) that I'd already received the fix-it ticket for registration, and he gave me a ticket for not having a rear view mirror on my windshield. He said that the state of CA requires a rear-view mirror on windshields. What? Can anyone say, "semi truck"?

Anyway, I believed the idiot cop, who was probably a newbie or just a total asshole, and he handed me the $10 fix-it ticket and told me to sign, which, he said didn't admit guilt, it just stated that you got the ticket.

So, my registration is still expired a couple of weeks later as I'm saving up money, and I get pulled over again. This time, I just hand the cop both tickets (expired reg. & mirror). He asked if I had both side view mirrors at the time of getting the mirror ticket, I said yes, he said the previous ticket was wrong and to fight it. Looked it up online and talked to like 4 more police officers. Sure enough, Cop #2 was totally wrong. The state of CA requires 2 mirrors which see 200 feet behind the vehicle, one of which is required to be on the driver's side. The other can be on the windshield or the passenger side.

Flash forward to May. I completely flaked and didn't go to court to fight it or just put on a fucking mirror, get it inspected, and send my $10 in. Out of the blue, I received this bright yellow envelope from the Court, it was the first bill of any kind I got from the Courts on this ticket, and it was a collection notice. That's right COLLECTION NOTICE, and now my $10 fix-it ticket turned into $616 with no warning whatsoever. I believe that standard businesses are required to attempt to collect debts 3 times before sending to collections, but apparently the gov can royally screw people over by doing no such thing. What the fuck?

So, I decide to fight it after all. Took the day off of work, went to the stupid court house, paid my $4 to park. (More bullshit) And waited to go into the courtroom. Got there early so I was one of the first 10 people in. The jackasses at the courthouse overbooked by like 20 people. So, we saw this stupid video about pleas, and 20 people had to wait outside. Then this ornery Andy Warhol lookalike judge guy walks in. Found out later he wasn't even a judge. A commissioner or something.

He was an extremely mean jerk. We were all at our arraignments, where you just enter you plea, but he had the power to dismiss all of our cases. The problem is, the fucker wouldn't let us say a WORD. He said he didn't want to hear anything at all except, "Guilty," "Not Guilty," or "No Contest." And anytime anyone said anything further, he would interrupt, and address the whole room,saying something obnoxious like... You see she didn't hear anything I said earlier. As I've said, I only want to hear a plea. I'm not hear to listen to your stories. And we have too many people to see to have everyone ask me questions. This is your arraignment, people.

He was bitter and pissed off and irritated with being there. He threatened anyone who spoke with skipping them completely and moving on to the next person.

Scared to say anything except not guilty or I'd get yelled at and kicked out of the courtroom, I stated not guilty. Then, while waiting in the cashier's line, I saw people who had yet to go in. They asked me how the judge was, I told them how much he sucked.

About an hour and a half later, the lady at the counter finally got to me. She asked me for the $616. Turns out that if you plead not guilty, EVEN IF YOUR TICKET MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL, you have to pay the collection notice bullshit just to see a judge. I got the maximum extension, 10 whole days, and finally left the courthouse.

On the way out, I ran into one of the people who I had seen before. She asked what my judge looked like, I described him, she said that he was really nice to their whole group and basically dismissed almost every case. THAT IS SO FUCKING UNFAIR I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT.

Just now got back from the courhouse, wrote a bad check for the $616 hoping it won't go through my account until Thursday since I get paid that day and I have direct deposit. They gave me my court date. The first available date is August 24th, so they get to hold my $616 until then. It totally sucks.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Why can celebrities carry the Olympic torch?

Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, and Ellen DeGeneres all carried the Olympic torch this year. Jennifer Aniston too. Apparently, these people represent everything the Olympics stand for. The Relay selection committee looked for the "best in humanity," and this is who they came up with. Hmmm. OK, so these might actually make some contributions to society, but, come on, do they contribute more than other people? To the extent that they deserve to carry the OLYMPIC TORCH? These aren't athletes we're talking about. They're actors. What do actors have to do with sports? I don't remember a lot of people in high school who were in theater and played a sport. Why didn't we just give an Oscar to Michael Johnson this year for God's sake?

I would so much rather see ANY athlete carry that torch. High school students, Special Olympians, snowboarders, even people who invented some of the newer alternative sports, I mean, I hate the damn Lakers, but I'd rather see one of them carrying the damn torch. Sly Stallone said according to the AP that it was the best experience of his life. He's already had a pretty damn sweet life. Probably got a bunch of houses throughout the world, and a garage full of cars bigger than my house.

Jeez, don't we give these fucking celebrities enough? I mean they already make more money in a minute than I do in a year. On top of that they have limos, whatever cars they want, private jets, they don't have to save up money to go out to dinner or to Paris, and they get treated like Kings. Gifts just because they're famous. I had to spend hours inputting numbers on Coke caps just to win a bicycle. And now these so-deserving people get to carry the torch too.

I read somewhere that in '96, people could pay $3,000 for the priviledge of carrying the torch. So, if you can come up with more than my piece of shit car cost me, you could carry the torch. Well, if you're Tom Cruise or Ellen DeGeneres, you can.

So, I think I've figured it out. All of those celebs are probably S*c*i*e*n*t*o*l*o*g*i*s*t*s. The Church of S*c*i*e*n*t*o*l*o*g*y is probably paying off the Olympic Torch Selection Committee. Not that I don't like S*c*i*e*n*t*o*l*o*g*i*s*t*s, they're probably really nice people, I just can think of no other explanation. Is L. R*o*n H*u*b*b*a*r*d on the fucking selection committee?