The AMC “Dine-In” Movie Theater: Goodbye, Cruel World.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life, Tips 1
The "scene" of the crime! Get it? Scene? Like a scene in a movie? Hahahhhahaha! I kill me! Photo: Me
The “scene” of the crime! Get it? Scene? Like a scene in a movie? Hahahhhahaha! I kill me! Photo: Me.


I’m going to tell a story about Claus but I’m not being nostalgic.

Last weekend, I wanted to check out the fancy new theater up on State Street. The theater is new within the year, I think, though sometimes I’m the last to know about these things. It looks new: everything is shiny and the carpet is fresh-smelling. But that’s not all that’s going on at the AMC on State Street, oh, no.

This AMC features “Cinema-Suites.” What’s a Cinema-Suite, you ask? A Cinema-Suites is a place where you go to die happy. The official description is different; AMC decided to not include “die” in their messaging for some reason. Officially, “Cinema-Suites [offer] a grown-up atmosphere featuring in-theater dining, a full bar, and extra-comfy recliners. Enjoy handcrafted burgers, bowls, desserts, and more while you enjoy the show.” Oh, but, AMC! You’re being modest!

Here’s how it works: You get your ticket. You go into your theater. You are shown to your specific seat by an usher. You sink into the comfiest recliner into which you ever sank your tush. A table tray swings in from your right hand side. There’s a cup holder. There’s no bib, but you feel like there could be and that would be fine. There’s a button on the left side of the chair and when you push it, the chair begins molesting you in a friendly way, raising your feet up on the foot rest as it’s reclining you back. It’s not a massage, exactly, but it’s not not a massage. Then, just when you’re laughing with a tall German that this is so much fun and way, way too easy to love, a waiter — a real waiter! — comes and gives you menus.

There are delicious foods on this menu. Your waiter comes and takes your order and he will bring you what you ordered while you watch the movie. Hot food. Like a burger. Or a hot fudge sundae! Or — wait for this, you can’t believe this — popcorn! You can’t get popcorn at a concession stand because they bring you your popcorn on a tray. Is anyone else freaking out about this? Because I am not being sarcastic: this is amazing. I didn’t even want popcorn. I’m not supposed to eat popcorn. But I ordered some anyway because it was Claus and my last date and because they were going to bring it on a tray. A big bucket of popcorn on a tray, brought to me while I’m essentially lying in a bed, watching a Hollywood movie that cost more to make than the GDP of most of the world’s developing countries.

I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m saying it’s a heckuva town.


The Trouble With Backpacks.

posted in: Rant 0
Backpack, rucksack, satchel, bomb. Photo: Ligar, 2001.
Backpack, rucksack, satchel, bomb. Photo: Ligar, 2001.

I touched on the subject of current events the other day; I am allergic to doing this usually (see: The Papergirl Pledge) but I keep seeing abandoned backpacks and this forces me to think of terrorism. I used to see backpacks left someplace and think of Grand Canyon hikers sick of carrying freeze-dried goji berries or students who got careless. Now I think of bombs. This makes me furious.

There was a satchel in a leaf-clogged corner outside of Union Station the other day. It was tattered, old, and looked empty as could be; a deflated balloon of a bag. No threat there, surely. But a bomb at Union Station would be a smart move for a terrorist. Abort transportation at a major hub and you abort infrastructure and flight. This morning there was an old duffel bag crumpled against the wall right where you turn in the corridor to Terminal A here at Washington Reagan Airport (I’m headed to Chicago for a do-over of my catastrophic trip a few weeks back.) It wasn’t a satchel, exactly, but it was an abandoned canvas thing and I immediately eyed it, suspicious.

The worst incident, however, occurred when my family and I were at the vodou exhibit at the Field Museum over Christmas. I didn’t mention it at the time, probably because I was too bitter about losing my Kindle.

We were milling about in the main gallery and suddenly, a museum guard said in a loud voice, “Does this belong to anyone? Excuse me! Does this backpack belong to anyone?” She held up high a very full backpack and the museumgoers turned to look.

The two girls who were standing next to me murmured, “Oh my god… That… Let’s get out of here,” and they slowly inched toward the door. I stepped toward my sisters and said, “Okay, that’s an abandoned backpack? That is not okay. Where are Mom and Mark?” We were instantly discomfited and looked for our parents and my blood pressure rose. Why the Sam Hill would someone leave a backpack in a corner of a public place? First of all, do you not care about your belongings? Second, and much more importantly, did Boston escape your attention? Do you have the context everyone else has for abandoned backpacks in crowded places?

I felt more fear as the guard shouted again, “Excuse me! Does this bag belong to anyo — ” and then it was claimed. A young man went to the guard and apologized, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I set it down and forgot.” I looked at him with dagger eyes. I could’ve socked him in the gut. Look, I’ve misplaced things. That very day, I left my Kindle on the bus. But carrying a heavy backpack ought to take up a small space in one’s consciousness. If it was set down, one might wonder, “Moments ago I was a pack mule and now I feel light as a feather. What has changed in this situation?” and retrieve one’s backpack.

When I lived in New York City, I became neurotic the moment I got a mailing address. I feared things I never feared before: hurricanes, bed bugs, epidemics, terrorist attacks. Once out of the city, I returned to my baseline outlook: naive, optimistic, Iowan. But backpacks remain a source of fear and likely always will. Maybe more in the near future. I resent this a great deal.

As my ex-uncle-in-law used to say in his heavy Croatian accent, “Eyes open. Eyes open.”