Thoughts from the ammo line

It’s not Ammo Grrrll who is RUINING MOVIES. She writes:

Well, friends, the last two Friday columns were pretty serious. It’s time to get back to “narishkeit” – foolishness. And, I hope, a little well-deserved timeout from all the relentless bad news. My own President – installed through no fault of my own — is on the side of Hamas. It doesn’t get any more depressing than that. But, I digress. Already!

Like most Geezer-Americans, we rarely go OUT to movies. The background music is too loud and the dialogue – such as it is – has no subtitles. Plus, you can’t “Pause” a movie in a theatre while you go to the bathroom. Again.

We have several streaming services including Turner Classic Movies, which presents wonderful old movies, some even in black and white. Movies that didn’t need a warning about “Language” or “Full Frontal Nudity.” “Smoking” was not only NOT warned about, but strongly encouraged. Such movies often featured something called “writers” who wrote clever and engaging “dialogue” and sometimes there was not even one car chase!

When we watch mysteries or suspense movies there will often come a time in the movie when a shocking thing happens and one of the characters will say, “What the…!” which is the bat signal for Joe to shut it off abruptly and without warning. As a writer, he is triggered by that particular cliché and cannot abide it. Do you know ANYBODY who has ever said, “What the…” without adding at least one more word?

Most of what is on offer in theatres today is unwatchable for several reasons which I will get to eventually. Also courtesy is not in play in movie theatres.

People talk out loud, believing they are “whispering” when they clearly do not know the meaning of that word. They crunch on popcorn served in crinkly bags. They leave their cell phones on and even talk into them during the movie, or text. Unless you are waiting on an organ transplant, you have no business leaving your cell phone on in a theatre, at a funeral, or High Holy Day services in a synagogue!

Another problem with movie theatres, is that well-fed Americans are annoyingly tall and sit in front of the vertically-challenged. There can be five people in a party, three of whom are small children, but the 6’3” Daddy will always choose the seat right in front of me. Often he is wearing a stovepipe hat. Okay, I made that last part up.

Joe told me when we were just dating – Yes! Movies had already been invented! — that his father had taken him to see Spartacus in 1960 and the lady behind them not only did that clucky “tsk tsk tsk” sound whenever anything bad was happening, but outdid herself when the shot panned back on the poor rebel slaves crucified all along the Appian Way and she asked aloud, “Why didn’t somebody call the police?” Sigh.

What else can ruin a movie? Joe and I both have a visceral aversion to what are called “plot holes” – things that happen in a movie that nobody would do in real life or characters that mid-movie do something completely out of character. Oh, we have no problem with Fantasy or Sci Fi or any genre in which people behave with an internal logic. I love Muppet movies, but I do not want sweet Grover to become a child molester in the last 10 minutes of the movie. Or self-absorbed Miss Piggy to join the Peace Corps.

We have watched several movies in which, in a moment of life-threatening peril, the female character (usually a WIFE) will decide that this is the time to discuss her “feelings.” The situation clearly calls for them to run for their lives or load every magazine they can find, but, no, Caitlyn thinks instead that they should discuss why her husband was not sufficiently supportive when she had that conflict at work. Ai-yi-yi!

Joe is also particularly sensitive to the movie situation in which the husband tells the woman in peril that she MUST listen to him and do exactly what he says if they are to survive. And she gives him grief instead.

He lives in terror that that is how I would behave under similar circumstances. When he knows very well that I would listen to him and follow his directions to the letter — right after we talked about that time in 1971 that he disrespected my sister, the hippie vegan, by not loaning her his transistor radio. Not that I hang on to old issues, but when was the last time you even SAW a transistor radio? (Maybe if they rename it a “trans” radio, it will make a comeback. I’m thinking that will happen to “trans” fats, too.)

Back when Kiefer Sutherland and “24” were a thing, several of our dearest friends used to gather to watch it together. At the time it was the closest thing to a “conservative” show on television. As usual, Joe and I started paying attention a couple of years late, but we were not as enamored of it. And again it was the behavior of the loony women that ruined it for us.

In several episodes “Jack Bauer” is on some super dangerous mission where silence is golden, and either his wife or his daughter calls or texts with a message so banal it would be the equivalent of asking him to pick up a loaf of bread and a quart of milk on the way home. Always signing off with “I love you.”

In the capper that caused us to quit wasting our time, the daughter was in her apartment when a serial killer broke in. She was in hiding and saw her moment to escape and run down the stairs! Yay!

But…no — as they say, “you couldn’t even make this up” — she RAN BACK to get something! Her dead mother’s heirloom broach? Her diary with personal stuff in it? – No. She ran back to get her hair dryer, an appliance she could get at any Walmart and barely break two digits. Now I know almost all women take hair styling FAR more seriously than I do, but we both looked at each other and said, “I’m outta here.”

Nowadays, of course, there can be no heroic white people, or men of any color for that matter, who are not simply foils for the Strong Independent Women Who Save The Day.

Actors, screenwriters and directors must get an Advanced Degree from The School of Unlikely Fighting Outcomes. In this universe, a 98 lb. black woman in high heels can always beat the living daylights out of a 6’4” 250 lb. man of whiteness. Because of the Settled Science where there are NO DIFFERENCES between men and women.

I know this is possible from personal experience. Once when I was barely 30, very strong for a lady, and had taken a couple years of karate, the fellas I worked with on nightshift asked me to show them a couple of keen karate moves. There were often lulls in the workload on nights and, unsupervised, we invented our own diversions, most involving some form of wager.

Gamely I attempted to demonstrate a “move” to one of the guys on my nightshift. He was more than a foot taller and more than twice my weight, and had spent a great deal of his youth fighting in bar parking lots. No worries. I showed him the “move.”

And faster than a speeding bullet, he pinned my arms to my sides, picked me up about two feet off the floor, carried me to my chair and gently “settled” me into it. You know, because of the Settled Science. I had “lost” in less than three seconds. And I wasn’t even wearing a tight slinky gown and high heels.

Nor was HE really trying hard at all to win. Had he been actually trying to hurt me, with his superior reach he could have knocked me out cold with one punch before I got anywhere near enough to land a kick or a puny little blow. Luckily, we were friends, so the only thing he hurt was my pride. But, truthfully, even I had to laugh at how useless all my training was against such a superior opponent.

He bought me a stale Granola Bar from the vending machine as a Participation Trophy. This was in the late 70s. Today I would own the company and he would have been fired and probably arrested, even though I was a willing, if ineffective, combatant.

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