Sunday, 20 January 2013

The End of the Base Theater

In the first couple of years that I spent in the Air Force....I probably went over to the base theater at least forty times a year.

The Air Force would run through roughly 220 movies a year.  Some would be around for one night....a few for two nights....and on rare occasions....a couple for a third night.  So you had to get a schedule and pay attention.

The cost?  In the late seventies....it was around a buck to go into a theater, and the popcorn and Coke was maybe sixty cents.

I admit, these Air Force theaters were fairly standard....nothing fancy.  Every theater had a funny smell.  Most head seats that had been there for thirty years.

This past week, the Air Force came around to admit there's a change coming.  Since the movie industry is switching over to digital....these 35 mm projectors are going to go obsolete very soon.  The Air Force has figured out the cost of refurbishing each base theater to a tune of $120k each.  Basically, with 120 of such theaters in operation....they really can't afford to fix them all.  So they will fix sixty, and shut down the other sixty.

The theater at Ellsworth Air Force base in South Dakota did their final show last night.  It will be no more.  If you want to see a movie....you will have to travel downtown.  It is the end of an era.

To be kind of honest, I doubt if that many folks go to nightly shows anymore at a base.  I can remember walking into the Rhein Main theater in 1978 on a Tuesday night, with a two-star movie showing, and at least one-hundred-fifty folks in the audience.  Today, on a Tuesday night with a three-star movie?  You might be lucky at some bases to find thirty people attending.

The barracks guys have found streaming video and don't need to go walk a mile over to the base theater to watch a movie.

Some older guys will sit and pause over this period...say the 1960s and 1970s....when they spend hours at the base club or the base theater.  They will reflect over cheap prices and cheap drinks.  Most of that is slowly coming to an end.

The No-Pay Idea

I admit, it was a fairly radical idea of conducting government business.

For four years....the US Senate has been unable to write up and pass a budget bill.  Senator Harry Reid has noted various minor problems.  Strangely enough....no idiot journalist has commented in his presence that for two hundred years....the Senate was able to conduct such business on a yearly basis.

This week, the House came around to this new concept.  They were going to compromise on a number of things and rig up this catch-twenty-one episode.  If the Senate lagged or played no-compromise, then pay was set to expire for everyone in the House and Senate.

You can imagine this scene.  Some Senator getting a call at the office....the bank is a bit worried that a check arrived for $10k and Senator Bob doesn't have funds to cover it.

At some point during this discussion....the House came to find out that the Constitution spelled out this odd pay event....perhaps in a way to ever prevent such an event from happening.  You can change the pay of everyone, but it's not effective until the next fiscal year after this.  So October of 2014 is the earliest that a no-pay situation could fall into play.

It wouldn't help currently, but I would imagine that sixty percent of Americans would say go ahead and make this happen.  I don't believe the Senate will pass any budget this year, or next year.  They've gotten use to this non-action stuff.