Almost forced to pay for a movie theater’s marketing

John Kelly
Columnist May 20, 2013

I have nothing against mini pancakes, or what the Dutch call poffertjes. I like pancakes in all their myriad forms: mini-, midi- and maxi-; buckwheat, buttermilk and sourdough; sweet potato, red velvet and Funny Face.

What I don’t like is paying for the privilege of getting a discount on my pancakes before I’ve even decided if I want pancakes.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Okay, I always want pancakes, but it’s the principle of the thing.

This came up twice over the weekend when I bought tickets to the new “Iron Man” and “Star Trek” movies.

I suppose we’ve all grudgingly become accustomed to paying those ticket “convenience fees” that are really only convenient for the ticket-seller. I didn’t blink when I bought the tickets online from Fandango with my credit card and was charged an extra $2.50 so the theater didn’t have to hire more workers. I chose the fastest option for getting the tickets — printing at home — since God forbid I should trouble the theater with printing the tickets for me.

But what really frosted me was when I clicked on the link to print the tickets and saw that the theater had tacked on two pages at the end: a pair of $2 off coupons for mini pancakes. The Regal Majestic 20 — I love that name: Regal Majestic; how redundant can you get? — wanted me to print out their marketing tools.

I might not have a problem with that if printer ink was as cheap as tap water. But printer ink is among the most expensive liquids on Earth, more costly than the rarest single malt scotch. I estimate it to cost about $3,000 a gallon.

Fortunately, I adjusted my printing options before hitting the button, printing just the first two pages and foiling their nefarious plan.

By the way, guess how many movie screens the Regal Majestic 20 has? Well, it has 20. Guess how many movies they were showing? What with multiple screenings of 2-D and 3-D versions of “Star Trek,” “Iron Man” and “The Great Gatsby,” there were a grand total of nine movies offered.

In the weeds

I heard from plenty of fellow weeders after last week’s column on the tactile pleasures of weeding. Some said they find weeding far from enjoyable.

An Arlington reader named Phyllis said she wore out her knees weeding recently. Two plants, in particular, fight her eradication efforts. Wrote Phyllis: “One I used to call the ‘porcupine weed’ because at the point of maturity, in an amazing tip of the hat to evolution, it would hurl its needle-like seeds in a spray whenever it was touched. It did so last month as I was weeding, sending me to the ophthalmologist.”

Phyllis said she nicknamed this weed “al-Qaeda.”

The other unwanted plant is a lily called arum. “Its beauty sucks you in,” she wrote, then its white flowers turn to seeds that are scattered everywhere. Phyllis calls this plant “Ahmadinejad.”

Dick Coleman of Alexandria said weeding is a metaphor that can provide spiritual sustenance for those fighting cancer. “Several times among our family or friends I’ve seen a furious weeding episode when cancer is diagnosed in a loved one or oneself,” he wrote. “It’s so deeply satisfying to find a symbolic cancer that you can get your own hands on.”

Finally, my plant choices did not sit well with some readers. “With all due respect,” wrote Martha Klein of Norfolk, Conn., “everything you are doing on your property is hurtful to the earth, and these actions destroy habitat for American pollinators, and put our food supply at risk.”

Yikes. Sorry!

What Martha meant was that the non-native pachysandra and liriope plants in my front yard don’t belong here. She recommended I read “The Climate Conscious Gardener,” published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Silver Spring master gardener Paula Jean Hallberg recommended the book “Bringing Nature Home,” by University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy.

Wrote Paula Jean: “He discusses a simple yet powerful concept: Because humans have used up so much of the land and other resources, we have left little room for nature (plants, insect, animals, etc.). This has had a devastating effect on their ability to survive, since we also have converted each of our little home environments to landscapes with no ‘food’ for the native insects, which co-evolved with the native plants that used to be in abundance.”

For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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