Sneakonomics 101 - Sneakonomies of Scale

Aug 10, 2009 at 7:45 pm
Sneakonomics 101 - Sneakonomies of Scale
Fernando de Sousa, Wikimedia Commons
Recession. Literally, a pulling back a of a surging, forward-moving tide. The moon never considers whether the tide is a good thing or a bad thing, what its ideal point is along the sand. That's a detachment I sometimes envy when considering the other recession. I pore over the newspapers or turn up the calm radio voices, searching for the turning of the tide as fervently as any early navigator with an astrolabe and a chart with the stars delicately limned in the shapes of the gods.

That tide is something I think about a lot as someone who writes about both food and movies. Open your restaurant at the wrong time? Low tide, high and dry in a business that already has a Ginsu-thin margin. Own a movie theater? You grew up on a milk-tale of the Depression making the movies into the entertainment choice of the masses. This is serious business, so please take me seriously when I tell you there is only one way to accurately describe my watchfulness, my sympathetic sorrow, my fearful hope of a rushing return.

My heart is full of the pain of disco.

I've written before about the costs and benefits of sneaking food into movies as they relate to ethical concerns. The best way to support the people who give you a wonderful popcorn-smelling and air conditioned place to watch movies is to buy more tickets. There are, however, conditions under which it's not ideal to go to a movie, even when you want to go. This weekend I found myself with a particularly rattling and aqueous cough. Does the Creature from the Black Lagoon have tuberculosis? Has my father finally succeeded in welding his '74 Ford truck into a submarine? Aren't you glad I wasn't sitting behind you at Julie & Julia on Friday?

This plus the fact that my sneak of the week partner, the illustrious Madam H, had the poor foresight to have her broken arm slung in some transparent net contraption*, meant discretion was the better part of valor and my living room is the better place to watch a movie.

While not subjecting anyone to my unintentional one-woman show interpreting the entire foley track of Roger Corman's Jason and the Argonauts was my main motivation in staying home, there's a certain freedom that comes with the pairing as well. Madame H and I ate food I might normally deem too complicated and/or possibly distracting to other people to sneak into a movie, particularly one likely to be full of people beating the heat. It also gave us the freedom to choose from a vast array of movies to fit our mood rather than attempting to fit our mood to the movies available.

This week's top 5 grossing movies in America and the attitudes they invoke?

1. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (violent, nostalgic, lacking kung-fu grip)

2. Julie & Julia (inspired, hungry)

3. G-Force (amused, suspicious of rodents and the government)

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (escapist, sanguine [partially])

5. Funny People (I once decided things were never going to work out with a guy I was dating because he'd told me he walked out of Punch Drunk Love because it was not as funny as Billy Madison. Adam Sandler in serious roles ruins things in a fundamental, but ultimately illuminating, way.)

None of that quite matched up with what I needed. I felt deeply that I wanted something that went beyond the usual two hour escape of the fun and fluffy summer movie, something more concerned with transporting me to a realm where ridiculous possibility is only constrained by a loose-slatted cage of coincidence. Also there had to be musical numbers to salve my heart, my aching, coughing heart.

My heart was full of the pain of disco.


*Pro Tip: Using an opaque sling as an extreme sneaking technique, but a good one to master before attempting the others that rely on your acting abilities, such as using a wheelchair or motorized scooter for sneaking.