June 12th, 2005

krazy koati

Take your lessons at the movies

I should have known there'd be trouble when I looked at the Shaw Brothers cinema web site. Singaporean web sites tend to be unnavigable messes, and theirs was no exception, but they added the twist of demanding one register to see movie times. So I plunged blind to the cinema on Orchard Road.

That floor was a mess, too. It had a great principle, set on a torus with a glass inner ring looking down five flights of empty space into the mall, and some long escalators crossing the gap. Around the rim are restaurants, from local stuff to Subway sandwiches, and walls decorated with James Bond movie posters. But the popcorn, drinks, and related stands -- and the big displays of advertising materials for upcoming movies -- completely hide any hint of the ticket booth or the line. I could find the theaters, and plenty of things to buy to eat, but not tickets.

Finally I gave in and got into the line at Starbucks to ask directions, then realized this was ridiculous and went to a Starbuck worker who was just standing around nervously. He pointed me to ... a diorama for Mr and Mrs Smith, and said there was a queue behind it. And in fact there was, but I had to go a quarter-way around the rim to get an access point. And on the wall, high up, hidden behind trees, was a fine glowing neon sign, ``BOX OFFICE =>'', which would have cleared the matter up had it not been obstructed.

The velvet ropes, too, manage to confuse the issue. The leftmost line, according to the small signs, was for people picking up tickets bought online or via SMS. (You can do everything, including check-in for planes, via SMS.) But the people were in the center line and the rightmost line, which was only implicitly for everyone else.

The theaters themselves are called ``Lidos'', and numbered 1 through 7, plus Classic, which will not be supported once the theater switches to Intel. Lidos 1 through 3 are up another level, along with the wheelchair-accessible bathroom, which, if I haven't missed an elevator somewhere, requires riding an escalator or climbing stairs to reach. There's also another level in back, around 4 through 7 and Classic, but it seems to be unnumbered and there seems to be no way to get up there.

Trivia: Irvington, New Jersey, was named Camptown until the 1850s Stephen Foster hit ``Camptown Races'' embarrassed city residents. Source: The Jersey Game, James M DiClerico, Barry J Pavelec.

Currently Reading: Quest for the White Witch, Tanith Lee.