A couple years ago bunny_hugger gave a talk at a chatauqua held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. At the end of the night they gave her a $20 gift card, and then realized maybe the non-local attending could have used that at the start of the night instead. But she kept the card because, who knows, maybe she'd get back to Austin someday.
A couple more years ago, a company built a walk-up theater in the actual city of Kalamazoo, this despite it being (a) 2006 and (b) the city of Kalamazoo. Not the suburbs, the actual urb. It went bankrupt, of course. But a few years ago the Alamo Drafthouse bought it, refurbished it, and added it to the company's small chain of Quality-Experience Movie Theaters. You know, with real meals and table service through the movie, and the ability to order people who won't put their cell phones away ejected from the theaters. And no unchaperoned teens.
We talked repeatedly about going there someday but never quite worked out something to go there for. Last Friday we finally had something we wanted to see and that we couldn't see except by going there. Nice convergence.
The theater was newer, and bigger, than I expected. I had thought it was a classic movie palace-type theater saved from wrecking. That it's a surprisingly modern movieplex-type theater, only the bathrooms have tile that's a blazingly intense orange, I didn't imagine. Similarly I didn't expect that while they have the sort of art-house and experience-movie things --- the theater beside ours was doing a Sing-Along of some movie I never heard of, complete with issuing buckets of props needed for the alonging --- they'd also have your regular old first-run movies like you might see at any theater.
Having a waiter, and table service, at the theater feels bizarre. You place your order anytime during the show by writing it out on slips of paper (provided) and putting it in a slot for pickup. This feels so imperious. I had to write my thank yous, and that felt like not enough. And that was just asking for refills on my soda and popcorn (made with real butter and so surprisingly delicious). It did leave me feeling that when the Revolution finally breaks out, this is the sort of thing that will see me sentenced.
Future record as an enemy of the people aside, though, it's a great experience. The seats were generous and comfortable, the food very good, and the pre-movie show a bunch of trailers from the 80s and oddities like this stop-motion Alice in Wonderland thing that's 880 percent creepier than you think it is.
The gift card was still valid, and they even returned it to bunny_hugger. Souvenir or acknowledgement that we can put more money on the card and use it again later? Either way works.
Trivia: At the time it finished production The Jazz Singer could be seen with audio in precisely two theaters in the United States. Source: The Speed of Sound, Scott Eyman.
Currently Reading: South Slavs in Michigan, Daniel Cetinich.
PS: A Leap Day 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Grammar, in which I try making some deeper mathematics coherent.