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6:21 PM Tue, Sept. 25th

Column: Moviegoing ritual involves being annoyed

Photo illustration<br>Prescott Valley�s equivalent of Cliff Clavin and his brood are just seconds away from sitting behind Casey.

Photo illustration<br>Prescott Valley�s equivalent of Cliff Clavin and his brood are just seconds away from sitting behind Casey.

Ah, the movies, the cinema, the ... third thing. Films? No, that doesn't sound right. Flicks? I'm not sure that "flick" can be made plural like that. Well, it can, but it sounds wrong. Darn. I have no third thing.

Let me start over. Ah, the movies. I went to the late show the other night to watch the "Silent Hill" sequel. I used to be a HUGE fan of going to the late show when I was in college. The theater was always almost empty and, if you were spry enough, you could lounge about on up to three seats at a time.

And the concessions! I typically loathe popcorn. I recognize it for what it really is, a tasteless vehicle for butter and salt, and I'm for butter and salt. But it gets stuck in my teeth something fierce. For the next three days, I'm spitting out wedges of popcorn shell. When I'm at the movies, though, I always have to have my popcorn. It's a ritual, a comfort thing. And it's nice to know that if the bag tips, someone else will clean it up.

And the candy, of course. Load up on Dots and Peanut Butter Cups as well. Of course, then I always inadvertently double-dip, eating the chewy Dots with popcorn until it feels like I'm chewing a pine cone.

But what is the moviegoing experience without a drink that is four times the size of your bladder and costs slightly less than your student loans? I always plan ahead, saying to myself that I won't be buying a large, that I'll get a medium or small instead so I won't have to run to the bathroom in the middle of the movie, since my pleas to "just pause it while I hit the can" are routinely ignored by theater employees. But then I get to the head of the line at the concession stand, and I'm suddenly so unbearably thirsty. Like I just ate a 20-pound-ham by myself thirsty. So, throwing caution to the wind, I'll go ahead and order the barrel of Diet Coke (It has to be diet to wash all that candy down with). And I almost instantly drain the barrel waiting for the movie to start, which then means that I'll soon have to try to predict the movie's arc. Is this a lull in the action? Can I run out now and not miss a beheading that's crucial to the plot?

With all of this in tow, I find my way to my theater and take my seat. Gone are the stiff-back seats of my youth. These theaters now have tilty seats (What? It's a word) and big ol' cup holders that are perfect for stashing my candy in while my cold pop is wedged between my hot thighs, making both a temperature that they shouldn't be.

Perfectly relaxed in my comfortable seat, thoroughly sated with my mounds of sugary and salty and buttery goodness, I sit back and wait for the lights to dim and the sound system to be cranked up to ear-assailing levels, and prepare to enjoy the spectacle.

One small problem. I'm not alone. Without fail, ever since I was old enough to go to the movies by myself, someone always, always, always comes in and sits right behind me.

Part of the movie-going experience is the other people in the theater with you. I understand that. Heck, I embrace that. But sitting right behind me? I have JUST relaxed, my barrel of Diet Coke in the seat next to me, a trail of M&Ms leading from my candy bag to my mouth. I'm slouched. But that won't be comfortable forever. And I'm six foot, two inches. So, if you sat behind me, eventually, I'm going to want to sit bolt upright, obscuring your view. And if there is a child, it will always be the kid that sits behind me, so I spend most of my movie time bent over, trying not to ruin the experience for the child with the criminally late parents. I will exit the movie the same way, bent like the letter J.

And the talkers. Really, guys? I think that the advent of home entertainment has made people forget that, when they watch a movie, they are not alone, and that the other 100 people in the theater could not care less about your opinions. Even worse is when Loudy McLoudmouth starts spouting faulty movie trivia.

"Oh, I love her. She was great in 'The Matrix.'" First of all, that's Bruce Willis. Secondly, he wasn't in "The Matrix." But most of all, shut up.

But really, we're not there for the food or the company. No, we're there for the movie. And what can I say? Don't go see "Silent Hill 2." Awful, awful, awful.