Sunday, April 15, 2012

Secondhand Bullets

Arizona, I will have you know, is very concerned about my public health. I'm not referring to its flurry of recent decisions regarding my and every other woman's uterus -- that would be our private health, got that, legislature? -- but rather the health and safety of its people as they participate in society in public buildings. As I spend time in Arizona these last few weeks, I walk into various buildings, and whatever the building may be I can always find that trusty sticker on the glass or sign posted by the door reminding me of Arizona Revised Statute number whatever-it-is that forbids smoking in the building. That's right: noble Arizona, protecting the public's health by eradicating smoking  from all these buildings.

But in the Arizona legislature way of running the world, you leave those cigarettes in the car (you didn't actually think anyone writing these laws was walking anywhere, did you?) but feel free to bring your gun inside.

Arizona, home of the rogue state legislature, is all hopped up on allowing guns into public buildings. The usual jabber about freedom etc. is accompanied by a million-dollar-or-more cost to the public buildings that don't want the guns brought in (necessitating a gun locker/security at the entrance, which can be expensive, eh?) 

See, isn't that a great situation? Arizona really cares about public health. It values my safety! I won't ever have to worry about that stray secondhand smoke, which proper ventilation could whisk away. Have I mentioned that there is nary a building in this state without central air? Have I mentioned that we have weather that would not prevent anyone from going outside for their smoke breaks for at least 364 days of the year?  Nope, no one will be smoking inside, but they might shoot.  If only those secondhand bullets could be dissipated into the air before hitting my lungs!

Friday, April 13, 2012

MovieWatcher is dead, long live...Stubs?

There were a few significant deaths whilst we were living in Andong, Korea last year (2011), such as Harry Morgan, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sherwood Schwartz.  But the death that hit me the hardest was the death of AMC Theatres' MovieWatcher rewards program.

I have been a loyal MovieWatcher from the beginning. The beginning. Longer than any of you reading this except for my friend with whom I went to that initial run of movies in 30 days to become eligible for the card. That's right, back in MY day signing up for MovieWatcher Rewards, you had to see a certain number of films in a certain time period. Because we were hard core AMC moviegoers, of COURSE we did it. And I have been turning people on to AMC MovieWatcher ever since. Even though at first I would use my moviegoing friend/significant other to get double points for myself, I also shared with them the fact that they, too, could earn points and get free stuff including free popcorn on Wednesdays. A significant percentage of the movies I have seen in the past twenty years have been on Wednesdays. The AMC MovieWatcher program was a thing of beauty.

And then, it ended. Just like that, shortly after we arrived in Korea, AMC emailed us to tell us they were taking away our beloved MovieWatcher program to replace it with Stubs. All the elegance of the MovieWatcher experience replaced by short little Stubs, a new program that does away with the free Wednesday popcorn!!!!! and gives $10 rewards for every $100 spent at the theaters (um...ok, free Wednesday popcorn?) and get this get this get this COSTS MONEY.  Twelve dollars per year, to be exact.

Needless to say, I was not happy about this, but I was also in Korea, where there are no AMCs, so the full impact of this death did not really hit me until March 2012, when I returned to the United States only to go back through all the saved-but-not-yet-dealt-with Hotmail messages from 2011 and realize:

1. They apparently gave some of their "most valued customers" (me, obviously, but I'm sooo curious what the cut-off was?) a first year of membership free: March 21, 2011 - March 21, 2012. And I got back to the U.S. on March 8, 2012. So I could get a whopping 13 free days?  I sighed, heavily. And...
2. They also apparently offered last fall/holiday season a chance to get your second year of Stubs for half price, a mere $6 instead of $12, but that offer has expired...again, before I was even back in the U.S.A.

Surely, I thought, something could be done about this. Surely since I am the most loyal of loyal MovieWatchers -- I mean, really, I ALWAYS go to AMC unless the movie is too indie/quirky/hardcore to be there, and in recent years there have been fewer and fewer of those..oh, also there was my unfortunate incarceration* in Grand Rapids down the street from the $4.99 Celebration Cinema, but even then we went to the AMC sometimes...anyway the point is, I am loyal! Surely they could reward me! They have in their system all my loyal AMC-going activity. They must love me as I love them.

So I emailed AMC and pointed out that I went back to AMC the first week I was back in the U.S. and here I was, now, Stubsing, and even though the death of MovieWatcher made me so, so sad, wouldn't they love to extend my first free year to another year, now that I am actually here? I could even show them my boarding passes and prove I was in Korea?

No. "Unable to extend it," they said.

Ewwww, I replied. First of all, don't say "unable" when you mean "unwilling."  Secondly, how about that half price offer, then? Come on...I'm SO devoted to you. I mean, I want to be. But it takes two to make a relationship work.

They forwarded my message somewhere, and said I'd hear back in 5 - 7 business days.

Meanwhile, during those 5-7 business days, I go to another AMC movie (see! it's what I do!) and they offer me a chance to renew my now expiring but in a few days' grace period in the theater and get a free large popcorn, offer valid until the end of March. But I hold off, because I'm waiting to hear back on that email. And then I never hear back. So then I miss out on even the free popcorn offer.

AMC, you are killing me!

I dislike this new Stubs. I miss my MovieWatcher Rewards and my points and my card and my free Wednesday popcorns (which I always upgraded from small to medium anyway, duh, they always got a dollar off of me that way), and finally I emailed them and was like "And you didn't even answer me in 5-7 days?!" and ugh!! Just ugh, AMC!

So that is my woeful tale of the loss of MovieWatcher and my painful reentry into the U.S. and this brave new world of Stubs. Finally, today, someone took pity on me and said they'll send me a free popcorn coupon for my trouble...mostly because they didn't actually answer when they promised to in 5-7 days, I think.  And I just have to adjust to this new, lonely world in which AMC, Harkins, Landmark, what does it matter?  I mean...I still want to believe that There Is a Difference.  Because Silence Is Golden. And all that.

But I will always in my heart of hearts be a MovieWatcher.