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A movie theater etiquette manifesto (slightly revised)

A movie theater etiquette manifesto (slightly revised) (photo)

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I have always loved going to the movies. And more and more I hate going to the movie theater.

What happened to the movie theater as a haven, a refuge from the problems of the outside world? These days going to the movies is a more stressful experience than real life.

That’s not the way it should be. And it needs to stop.

That is why I wrote this blog post and the accompanying petition that you can find at PetitionOnline.com. Read it, and if you agree with me, please sign it. Will it change anything? Probably not. But this has been driving me crazy for months. I have to do something. If you see a movie with me, I can promise you that I, at least, will be following these rules. And if you see a movie with me and you don’t follow these rules, I might give you a piece of my mind.

We, the undersigned, in order to improve the moviegoing experience for all theater patrons, pledge to:

1. Shut Our Mouths. Talking is permitted up to and including the trailers (we, the undersigned, also pledge to make fun of anyone who shushes people for talking over the MovieTickets.com ad). After that, we will be quiet. Valid exceptions: midnight movies and any film starring Nicolas Cage.

2. Turn Off Our Cell Phones When the Movie Starts. And on the off-chance we have a job that requires us to leave our phone on, we, the undersigned, pledge to sit in the back row of the theater so no one behind us is disturbed when we check it (please note: fantasy football manager does not qualify as a job that demands you leave your phone on).

3. Never Bring a Baby To An R-Rated Movie. Do you know why your baby is crying? Because it’s 10:30 at night and you’re forcing it to watch a man with knives for fingers use a naked woman as a whetstone.

4. Never Bring Loud, Stinky Food Into the Theater. This is the rule about outside food: nothing crunchy, nothing smelly. The worst possible thing you can bring to a movie (besides, y’know, a weapon) is Chinese takeout. People who bring Chinese takeout in crackly plastic containers should receive one warning. A second violation gets you a lifetime ban.

5. Sit Directly In Front of Someone Only When There Are No Other Seats Available. Only a-holes sit directly in front of someone they don’t know just because they “like” that seat.

6. Leave a Buffer Seat Between Ourselves and Strangers Whenever Possible. Only psychopaths sit immediately next to a stranger when they can sit somewhere else. True story: one time a guy sat down directly next to we, the undersigned, in a theater with dozens of empty seats. He wore his sunglasses through the entire film and occasionally turned and stared at we for minutes at a time. We, the undersigned, promise never to be that guy.

7. Never Put Our Crap On a Seat And Pretend We’re Holding It For Someone Just So No One Sits Next To Us. Genuine seat saving is totally acceptable. Fake seat saving so you have extra space to stretch out is a dick move.

8. Throw Our Garbage On the Floor. The movie theater is the only public space in the world where it is socially acceptable to act like a pig. That is the way it has always been, that is the way it always shall be. We, the undersigned, vow that no matter how many times multiplexes include “Please Throw Away Your Trash” messages in their pre-show entertainment, we will continue to ignore them.

8a. (In Moderation.) We, the undersigned, do enjoy being pigs, and tend to think a clean auditorium is the responsibility of the theater staff, not the customers. But we, the undersigned, also recognize that it’s hypocritical to expect others to change their bad habits and not change our own. So we, the undersigned, will moderate our mess (and, really, if you needed someone to tell you not to pour Coke on the floor of a movie theater, maybe movie theater etiquette isn’t your biggest problem). We, the undersigned, will clean up after ourselves as a concession, with the understanding that movie theater owners have just as much to fix as movie theatergoers, and they should expect their own manifesto/petition in the future. (NOTE: PetitionOnline doesn’t permit after-the-fact changes, so byrule 8a will not appear there.)

Sincerely,

We, The Undersigned, People Who Truly Love Going to the Movies

Ready to take our pledge? Want to suggest other parts for the manifesto? Comment below or on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to sign the petition at PetitionOnline!

Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Sample Foghat Wine

Slow Vine

Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Had a Rockin’ Wine Tasting

Catch Fred on the new season of Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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As per The Late Show’s themed gift recommendation this past December, we all spent the holidays delightfully unwrapping various Foghat albums and compilations. And while those cassettes remain in our tape decks, there’s still more ’70s boogie rock to enjoy in the form of fermented grapes. Yes, Foghat has its very own wine, straight from the cellars of drummer and Late Show fan Roger Earl, and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen joined host Stephen Colbert to sample the goods. And thanks to Earl’s watchful eye and drumstick swirl during fermentation, the pinot noir unfolds nicely on the tongue and has the perfect notes to swig directly from the bottle while shrieking, “HELLO, CLEVELAND!”

Watch Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert don literal “fog hats” and take a slow ride through some tasty spirits below.

Kevin Spacey is the “Father of Invention” in new trailer

Kevin Spacey is the “Father of Invention” in new trailer (photo)

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Anchor Bay Films has released the trailer for the upcoming Kevin Spacey vehicle “Father of Invention” (he’s a father, not the father, I think). The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival back in 2010, and will finally come to theaters on October 14.

The trailer doesn’t look bad at all. The reviews out of Berlin didn’t look great — i.e. “comedies don’t get much more unfunny than ‘Father of Invention,'” Kirk Honeycutt from The Hollywood Reporter — but the trailer doesn’t look bad at all. And the cast looks impressive, with Spacey backed up by Johnny Knoxville, Heather Graham, John Stamos, Craig Robinson, Michael Rosenbaum, and Virginia Madsen. As a lapsed Kevin Spacey fanatic — who once convinced someone to buy a Playboy magazine for him so he could read the Spacey interview in it (and then destroy the pictures of naked women because who would ever look at something like that) — I’ve been waiting very patiently for a comeback. “Casino Jack” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats” both looked promising, but neither film really amounted to much. He was great in this summer’s “Horrible Bosses” revisiting the old “Swimming With Sharks” asshole boss archetype; if “Father of Invention” and then “Margin Call” (opening one week later on October 21) both deliver, Spacey’s really got something cooking this fall en route to his highly anticipated Netflix series developed with his old “Se7en” director David Fincher.

What’s your favorite Kevin Spacey performance? Tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Spoilers good for the soul, says science

Spoilers good for the soul, says science (photo)

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Disgruntled bloggers are a little less gruntled this week, since learning the news that a University of California, San Diego study finds what many of them have argued for years: that ruining the ends of film or TV plots don’t actually spoil anything. In fact, they may enhance the enjoyment. Here’s an excerpt from the U of C’s findings, as quoted on MSNBC.com:

In an experiment, researchers gave away the endings for three different kinds of short stories — those with an ironic twist ending, mysteries and tales Leavitt calls “more evocative literary stories.” These were real short stories by authors such as John Updike, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekhov, Agatha Christie and Raymond Carver; none of the 30 undergrad study participants had read these stories before… people “significantly preferred” the spoiled versions of the ironic twist stories and the mysteries. (The so-called evocative stories were less appreciated in general, “likely due to their more expressly literary aims,” [study author Jonathan] Leavitt writes. No spoiler alert needed there.) But in all three kinds of short stories, people like the texts with the spoilers worked into the opening graphs about as much as they liked the unspoiled texts.

According to Leavitt, spoilers “may allow readers to organize developments in the story, anticipate the implications of events, and resolve ambiguities that occur in the course of reading.” In other words, if, like most human beings of adult age, you know that “Planet of the Apes” is set (UNSCIENTIFIC SPOILER ALERT) on Earth before you watch the movie, you’ll spend the film looking for clues to that fact throughout the narrative. This provides an interesting argument for why spoiler warnings are unnecessary: spoiled endings essentially make us more active readers (or viewers) and a more active reader is generally a more satisfied reader.

It’s all interesting stuff, and as someone who’s always argued that writers should be allowed to spoil stuff in their writing (with appropriate warning), it’s nice food for thought. But here’s where the study loses me a little (sorry, science). It concludes that “perhaps birthday presents are better when wrapped in cellophane, and engagement rings are better when not concealed in chocolate mousse.” It’s a conclusion delivered with tongue firmly in cheek, but it made me think of my wife, who demanded that my engagement proposal be a total surprise, and who adores surprise parties and surprises in general. If I’d giving her a engagement ring that hadn’t been concealed in (my case proverbial) chocolate mousse, I’d say there’s a decent chance she would have turned me down, at least until I came up with a more clever way to propose. I, on the other hand, hate surprises. If you’re throwing me a party, I better know about it in advance.

Which got me to wondering: what if different people are wired differently in regards to spoilers? The U of C’s study’s sample size was just 30 undergraduate students, not very large at all. If they’d performed the same test on 300 students, would the results be the same? I have a feeling if I’d been a subject of the experiment, I would have voted in line with its findings. But if my wife had been a subject, she probably wouldn’t have. She likes surprises too much to enjoy them being spoiled.

What if there is something in our DNA that makes us more curious about — or wary of — spoilers? Could it be hereditary? I seem to get my own aversion to surprises from my mother, who has always claimed if we ever threw her a surprise party she would turn around and walk out. U of C needs to dig even deeper into this, and search for a genetic link regarding spoilers. Maybe there’s a spoiler gene inside us. And maybe it’s shaped like the Statue of Liberty. Science, it’s up to you to find out.

Do you buy the university’s study? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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