Saturday, June 25, 2005

Random observation

I was just thinking the other day- what is the big deal about alphabetical order? Yes, I know that it makes a handy-dandy filing system, but what I don't get is why the alphabet needs to be in a particular order in the first place. This isn't a unique thing- every alphabet has a special order, but there honestly isn't much of a reason for this. Sure, when you're in kindergarten the order (and the song that goes with it) makes an effective mnemonic device, but once you know what the letters mean, the whole thing feels arbitrary to me. The letters exist primarily as symbols for one or more sounds, and have no real qualitative value. In other words, A is no greater than B, and there's no concrete universal law that states that Z must be last (the ABC song must be different in Britain, where they say "zed"). This isn't a pet peeve or anything- it's just something I've been wondering about. If you can think of a compelling reason why the alphabet should have the order we all know (from a causation standpoint- I know the effect that alphabetical order has on modes of classification), I'm all ears.

Scenes From a Mall is a lousy movie but an applicable title in this case

A few months ago I transferred to another theatre because they were short-staffed. I like the change of venue- my coworkers are more friendly with me, I get all the hours I want, and the booth equipment is newer. However, the new theatre is not without its drawbacks. One of the big ones is that it's quite a bit further from my house- about 15 more miles each way, which hits my gas budget pretty hard. A more personal issue is that, unlike my old theatre, it's situated smack dab in the middle of a mall. And you know how I feel about malls.

Now, I'm not going to gripe about my ideological objections to mall culture- after all, I've done that already, and seeing as how I almost never update this thing the post won't be hard to find. No, this space is reserved for more specific observations/gripes about the mall in which my current place of employment can be found.

To begin with, the food options found within are slim and, for the most part, pricey. Now, nothing against PB&J, but you just get sick of eating the same thing every day, so sometimes you have to shell out for lunch. However, even the most modestly-priced restaurants can't fill me up for anything less than $8. Which may not sound like much to you but is a decent chunk of change when you're a non-union projectionist.

A more work-related gripe is a typical projectionist pet peeve- the staring audience members. Maybe this will come as news to some of you, but there are people who start the movies, and before they start the films they have to thread the projectors. But just because a person is doing something behind a glass partition doesn't mean you're visiting the zoo. Projection booths are filled with people who work this particular job because they aren't big on interacting with paying customers (who have a tendency to treat service-industry workers as subservient goons). As such, chances are the guy threading the projector doesn't really want to be watched as he is working, much less waved at. I'm willing to make exceptions for young children, but once you're in double digits, I'll ignore you no matter how largely you gesticulate in my direction.

My next observation isn't a gripe so much as just something I noticed when leaving the mall today. On the way out to the garage where I usually park my car, a modeling agency has an office, and today they were advertising for "free screen tests for reality TV show." I didn't really think much of this until I noticed that there were three sharply-dressed model-type girls standing by the sign trying to reel in mall-walkers (they didn't bother with me, to my relief). To me, this says just about all there is to say about reality television as a genre- only type-A photogenic (or in this case telegenic) hotties need apply. THE AMAZING RACE is pretty cool though.

Then there's the parking lot itself, where I have recently rediscovered the phenomenon of the space-stalker. You know the types- when the lot is semi-full, these are the drivers who circle the lot in search of customers who are leaving in order to swoop in and steal their spot. Today, this was taken to an almost frightening extreme by a guy who followed closely behind me like the world's most inept stalker while I strolled out to my car. If I wasn't in a hurry to leave I would have taken a nice long walk around the parking lot, up and down a bunch of rows (or maybe even levels), acting lost so as to throw this asswipe off the scent. Following someone around simply to have first dibs on their parking spot is pretty much the definition of being a selfish leech.

Which brings me to my final gripe- customers who park in employee-designated spaces. Perhaps this doesn't sound like a big deal to some of you, but I really hate this. Say I'm working the late shift on a Saturday and I get stuck in traffic. Lot's pretty much full anyway, but there is absolutely no way I'm getting an employee spot. Half of them are invariably filled with cars no mall employee could possibly afford (H2s, Lexuses, etc.). Sometimes I see these people parking and getting out of their cars, and some of them even have kids with them. Yeah, great example for your progeny, parents- take a parking spot that's designated for someone that's not you. Children have a tendency to pick up on little things like that, and can seize on the realization that rules aren't really all that important. Listen, the employee parking spaces weren't designated in the lot for the purpoe of stealing space from the paying customers- they're a courtesy given to mall employees for convenience, and they are certainly convenient. When I'm on a schedule, I shouldn't have to hunt for a place to park for twenty minutes. The sooner I turn the car off, the sooner I can come in and start your movies. So leave me the spot, so that everyone wins.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The pet peeves column only the people in Dallas can see

Seeing as how it's been nearly three months since I last posted here, I figured it was time to poo or get off the pot, so I came up with the idea of writing posts about little things that bug me. If this works out, I'll keep doing them every so often when I think of something. So, without further ado...

When I was in grade school the school lunchroom they would sometimes sell orange juice. I always loved orange juice growing up, so I'd buy that whenever they had it instead of milk, just for something different. I remember that there was always one kid who complained every time they had orange juice because he couldn't stand the pulp. He was a pretty big kid so I never asked him why (I didn't want to get him angry, I guess), but I always figured that he was just a weirdo.

Flash forward to a few years ago. I'm at my local grocery store and I have a craving for orange juice. I head over to the dairy case and I notice that there are all sorts of orange juice- regular, "heart-smart," calcium-fortified, and you guessed it- pulp-free. Which either means that big grade-school pulp-hater guy grew up to be the president of Tropicana or there are lots of pulp haters in the world. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Honestly, I just don't get it. What's wrong with pulp, folks? You like oranges, right? Well, oranges are full of pulp. So why not drink orange juice with pulp too? Seems a logical extension to me. But pulp-free orange juice seems to sell almost as quickly as regular orange juice, if not faster, since when I went to the grocery store this evening the pulp-free row of the dairy case was actually more empty than the normal-level-of-pulp row.

I fear that it's only a matter of time until scientists genetically-engineer an orange with no pulp. I know it sounds odd now (I imagine the orange slices will be nothing more than little baggies full of juice) but corporate science being the way it is, they'll do their damnedest to appeal to the pulp haters of the world. "Love oranges? Hate vitamin C? Introducing Sunkist pulp-free oranges. Loaded with all the vitamins, minerals, and great taste of regular oranges, but without all that pulp you hate." And then maybe they'll throw in a dig at pulp saying that the Taliban loves it or something.

But for me, orange juice without pulp just isn't orange juice. Try fresh-squeezing yourself some. What are the chances you'll get a batch without any pulp? Oh... wait, let's see here... well, whaddya know, zero. One time I stopped at a convenience store late at night with a raging OJ craving, and all they had in stock was pulp-free. So I bought it, opened it up in the car, and took a drink. I swear the first thought I had was "who put Tang in my OJ?" That's what it tasted like to me, an orange drink- sweet, sort of orange-y, but lacking in the body and presence that pulp provides.

Recently, my salvation has arrived in dairy cases. That's right- orange juice with LOTS OF PULP. More than just answering the question "where does pulp go after the wussy fake-tasting OJ the kids like has had its soul sucked from the mix?" extra-pulp OJ just tastes so much better to me than that de-pulped concoction. This is a drink that puts on no airs and harbors no illusions- when you take a drink, you know exactly where it's been, and it's like the orange is right there, giving you the gift of its goodness. Or something like that. I first tried LOTS OF PULP OJ when I had a pretty bad cold- sneezing and coughing and the like- and just drinking it made me feel better. On top of that, when I went into a coughing fit later in the day, little bits of pulp came up with the lung-butter I coughed up into my mouth, and it tasted a lot better than it would had I been drinking juice without pulp. All right, so that was kind of gross, but it really was a cool moment, in a weird way.

So maybe I can't stop the wussification of the American consumer (why can't they just drink apple juice, fer chrissakes?), but I can do my part to show my love for old-school pulpy OJ. Imagine an orange juice that was 95% pulp, with just enough juice to give the pulp flavor, and it would come out of the carton slowly, like cream soup or ketchup. I know I can't be the only pulp fan out there. So I ask you- pulp, yea or nay?