Here’s the thing about seeing movies in Santa Barbara… All of the theaters are owned by only one company, and the majority of them are within 5 blocks of one another downtown.

You had the Arlington, which was this one gigantic theater that doubled as the local stage house. The only movies they showed were the really huge expected blockbusters, like Star Wars and The Matrix. Actually it was pretty cool inside, with faux Spanish mission architecture on the walls and stars twinkling on the ceiling.

You had the Fiesta 5, which was your general run of the mill movie theater, had the usual fare of romantic comedies and family movies and whatnot. The inside was a dump though. The insides of all of them were dumps. Why bother to spend money to spruce up the interior when you’ve got no competition?

Further down the street you had the Metro 4, which seemed to specialize in action/sci-fi/horror movies. As dumpy as all of them were, this one was probably the dumpiest. It’s a good thing the lights are out in the theater, ’cause you don’t want to be looking at anything around here.

Finally you had the Paseo Nuevo, (Means “new place.” DUR HUR! We use Spanish words to sound classy!), which actually was a fairly modern theater and not quite so trashed on the inside, however the entrance was at ground level, while the actual theaters were up two stories of stairs. This particular theater specialized in artsy fartsy and independent films.

Anyway, not matter which theater you’re going to in Santa Barbara, you’re going to have the same problem on Friday and Saturday nights: Drunken college students. I don’t know if they just were present in every showing of every movie playing, or I just happened to be unlucky enough to pick the ones that the drunken idiots went to, but it seemed to happen all the time.

All. The. Time.

So anyway, I’m going to the movies one night, and while I’m walking buy the concessions stand where they were bilking some poor sap out of 6.50 for a popcorn and a soda, I see these two staggering morons giggling incoherently to themselves.

“Oh great,” I think, “Just my luck these guys are going to see the same movie I’m seeing.”

And of course since the universe is governed by Murphy’s Law, that’s precisely what movie they were going to see.

So they sat there in the back of the theater yelling advice to the characters on the screen, throwing crap around the theater, and just generally being a nuisance. Now I’ll usually go out of my way to avoid confrontation with people, but these guys were ragging on my very last nerve.

So while they’re up there making a commotion, I’m down near the front row counting to myself before I go back there and start to kick their ass. 10… 9… 8…

“HA! That totally rocked!”

7… 6… 5…

“Dude, you totally beaned her in the head. Do it again!”

4… 3… 2…

“Holy crap, I think I just pissed my pants, man…”


And that’s when the aliens decided to attack.

Why does everything happen to this damned planet? You hardly ever hear about aliens invading some other planet, they always pick on us. Then there’s the fact that all the collapses of the universes or space time continuums and what have you are invariably centered on our planet, and seemingly every god that ever existed in any mythological pantheon is out there running amok in some form or another. Does earth just have great real estate value or something? Is that why everyone wants to kick us to the curb, because we have some little spots of green left that you can still see from space? Who knows.

And where were all the world’s heroes? Oh, they lasted about five minutes before the onslaught of the extraterrestrial invaders, and were all killed or captured before humanity was enslaved to rape the planet of its natural resources to build a new fleet to attack the next planet. The only one that evaded capture was of course…


Although a fat lot he could do when the whole world is under the dominion of space-bound reptilian horrors. Nope, it was up to the few of us who remained free in the ruins of civilization to fight a guerrilla battle against the aliens. I was part of the Phantom Gauchos myself, running around through the smoldering wreckage of California’s central coast with pulse rifles, performing hit and run raids and living on a dwindling supply of canned chili.

And it was VEGETARIAN CHILI. You cannot fathom the horror.

So anyway, once in a while when we were scrounging for food and fighting the radioactive chipmunks for turf, I’d catch a glimpse of Batman perched way up on some spire of wreckage. Cape billowing out behind him, he’d appraise the situation for a few moments, and then vanish into the night.

Gee, thanks for the assist, Batman.

Of course that just goes to show you how shortsighted I am. While I was sitting there pumping round after round into the chest of a giant toad monster, silently cursing Batman for not helping us out, I really should have known better. Because when it came down to it, who do you think it was that discovered the absurdly simple weakness of the aliens that no life form could ever achieve space flight without encountering?

Batman of course. I mean c’mon, the man’s a genius. And Superman was shacking up with the Lizard Queen, so you know he wasn’t going to come through for us. And it’s a widely known fact that no alien can successfully invade earth, because they always get foiled by something stupid, be it the common cold in War of the Worlds, fire if they were Martians, water if they were those poorly filmed aliens from Signs, or Macintoshes if it were ID4. I imagine that if we were ever invaded by xenomorphs, we’d just be proper fucked, but I digress

So within a month, the aliens were completely defeated, and life was back to normalcy as we waited for the next super catastrophe to befall our planet. And let me tell you, things worked out for us just in time.

We were out of chili.