Things fall apart.

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(That is a truly tacky title and I apologise. A bit.)

At this time yesterday, I was already at work. At this time today, I am very resentful of the ongoing construction (it’s been four months of digging, filling, re-digging, occasionally moving giant concrete structures, more digging) because they always start earliest on days when I want to sleep in a bit. Jerks. But, for the first time since June, we are now connected to the ‘normal’ water supply rather than the auxiliary, who needs water pressure when you’ve got a giant hose?, one. On hot days, a drink tasted like an inner tube. It was less than delightful.

The construction has also meant that just to leave my house, I have to make a detour across the neighbour’s lawn to get to the garage and do a big loop to get to a useful road to begin my commute, because my street is a mess of gaping holes, mud, and gravel. Beyond my neighbourhood, for a while, there was construction in my way on four of the possible main routes to work as well. As it stands, the ‘fast’ way (called that (by me), but probably not actually fastest) up Somerset has been closed to me since May. By the time it’s done, my bike will have been put away for winter. Very sad.

However, the theme for today is ‘what’s gonna break now?’, after I had to call the popcorn machine repair folks for a third time in as many weeks. You know what’s gross? A motor that lives under a popcorn machine. Apparently, coconut oil, popcorn bits, and dust are not good for them. It actually makes them look like they are full of the Creature from the Black Lagoon’s poop. Now we have a bright, shiny new one that will keep everything nice and toasty warm again. Because our patrons (and staff) take popcorn very serious. We get accused of serving days-old popcorn (never), or changing ingredients (nope) if a batch is not exactly perfect. (We’ve also had two embolisms caused my errant kernels in the oil line this year. Which breaks things like this.)

ANYway, this comes on the heels of months of repairs to our old 35mm projectors (the sound has been wonky on and off for months), installing new-to-us seats in the balcony, replacing the switching board in our marquee, and our alarm going off every night on one set of doors, even though there has been no breach. There have been a lot 1am phone calls, which sometimes I get to answer shakily because it’s 1AM, and grouchily because they expect me to be able to answer detailed questions at 1AM. I have also spent a lot of time on hold during the day to try to get repair people to, y’know, actually take time to diagnose the problem instead of saying ‘Oh, well, it might be this? I’ll replace a thing and hopefully that’ll fix it.’

I’d blame this all on things not being built to last anymore, but all of these things are old. The cores of the popcorn machine and projectors are from the 1960s and 70s, the sewers and waterworks under my street have needed an overhaul for at least a decade, Somerset had some of the gnarliest potholes in town, the marquee switching board might be from the early 1950s, and the alarm system was installed in the 1990s. We fix them in hopes that they will stay fixed, but it doesn’t always work.

And the fact of the matter is just buying new is not a solution, not only because our antiquated machinery frequently doesn’t have a modern equivalent, and even if it was, it is generally not built to last. Because guess what? Our laminator broke on the weekend. Like, super broke. And it was only four years old. It’s not like we spend all day trying to put plastic over sheets of corrugated cardboard or anything; it gets used, but not for anything tricky. It just…didn’t last. And there aren’t experts around to fix that kind of thing. Even if there were, it’s still probably cheaper to order new. Or easier, since repairpeople FREQUENTLY DON’T SEEM TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. And that’s depressing.

In addition to more or less unavoidable crap, we’ve twice had a front door smashed (in one case by a man’s head – he refused to press charges against the folks who used him as a battering ram) and once had someone break the marquee. Nice, eh? It’s like the building is rebelling AND people are rebelling against it as well. Margot Kidder and James Brolin are going to show up any second and put in a bid, I expect.

Edited to add this video, because I’ve been on an Electric Six kick, not because I almost tried to clean in/around the popcorn motor before turning off the breaker or anything.


 

Day One

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Hey, remember way back in January when I decided I was going to write a blog once a week in 2011? Well, that resolution sure as hell didn’t happen. I’m sure my three readers were/are heartbroken.

I’m irritated with myself as well, because I have not really written anything in months and months…and more and more people, far more creative and talented ones than I am, have mentioned lately that writing is, like, 90% about making oneself write, and write anything, rather than aided by sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike. So, rather than sign up for NaNoWriMo or similar (I can’t get my head wrapped around writing fiction), I’ve got this blog. With a bit of a facelift.

Some people do morning pages; I’m going to do daily blogging, at least for a little while, to keep me from just wasting my brain cells watching reruns of British panel shows on YouTube.  Of course, given that I haven’t been paying attention to the universe lately, and that I don’t want to get too head-up-my-own-arse any more than a blog does normally, this is perhaps a stupid day to start such an endeavour.

So instead, here’s a link, that’s already been posted all over the place, about the death of film as a medium.

I wrote a bit about the (im)practicalities of running 35mm film a while back, but yeah, the end is here already. I knew it was coming a few months back for two reasons:

1. A letter from a Giant Studio (mascotted by a yellow-shod rodent) distribution rep (one who has not let us book anything in years) saying (slightly paraphrased):

Dear Beloved Customers,

I am retiring after 40 years. It’s been real.

Sincerely,
Repguy

P.S. If you haven’t gone digital yet, you’re fucked! Love ya!

 2. My boss finally decided to get a digital projection system, which is a frickin’ monumental financial investment for an indie theatre, because yes, if a cinema doesn’t go digital, it’s more or less fucked.

More or this later, but it suffices to say that our projectionists are not thrilled about their impending dispensability, and I am not terribly thrilled to have the responsibility of running press screenings myself. (There is more than one button involved! How will I cope?!)

That’s not to say there aren’t advantages: It is awfully nice to have access to more classic movies (35mm print of Doctor Zhivago that we were meant to run a few weeks ago was in early stages vinegar-syndrome and therefore unplayable) because digital copies are cheaper/more plentiful, for example. But, nonetheless, progress often begets sadness. And the whole thing is bringing on a lot of wistfulness for this longtime popcorn monkey.