Sam Bauman: A better way to go to the movies
December 25, 2017
There I was comfy last week in the Galaxy when during a light-sword duel, a voice rang out: "I'm not the last Jedi," a warning that there are more "Star Wars" to come. Surprised at such sudden update, I have wondered how much of important dialog I had missed over the years.
Readers of my movie reviews in the digital edition of the Appeal may have noticed at times that I have omitted important details.
Reason for such errors is my poor hearing levels, even with excellent VA-tuned and supplied wireless hearing aids.
Mine are wireless, which means I can pick up the soundtrack from the theater soundtrack as broadcast over speakers in the ceilings. Despite such help, my understanding of complex plot twists was faulty, and as I thought about my failings, what could I do?
I had noticed signs in the Galaxy lobby about devices to assist the hard of hearing, so I asked a nice young lady at the inside counter if she could explain how such devices worked.
She pulled up two gadgets.
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"This one turns up the sound levels to a louder degree to the user's desired level. It only works for one person and no one else can hear it or are bothered by it. This one is more complicated," she said, holding up a device with a stiff, flexible cord and antenna and a small box at the end. "It displays the dialog in print with lighted characters. Users can control the size and brightness of the characters."
She gestured toward the end of the flexible metal cord. There was a small flowerpot-shaped item at the end.
"This fits into the soft drink holder while in use." She pressed a button and characters blinked into life in a small box. It was the closed captions that came up with the current film automatically.
This explained the line of type that comes up when I search to see what was playing. That simply noted there were closed captions available.
So those affected by hearing loss (40 percent of seniors suffer hearing woes) can enjoy their movies again at no cost (give the usher your driver's license as security).
Sounded good, so I opted to try the two devices. A simple set of instructions was all I needed, so I took the two devices into the theater to enjoy "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
It felt odd and awkward to get settled in, but things fit well and the flowerpot item slipped right into the soft drink slot.
I tried the sound level booster first and it worked just fine, perhaps too well as the sound level increased.
Then I tried the character-reader device and played with the controls until the characters matched the action on the screen. The chapters were then right in sync with the action. And I knew what the actors were saying.
I used the character reader for the length of "Star Wars." A bit awkward going from small screen to big one, but it worked and I enjoyed the movie and knew what was going on.
So I'm ready to begin reviewing films again and I promise a better and more full review.
Why I waited years to look into these devices I can only blame on not thinking when I saw the "closed captions" line in the previews on the Internet.
It's been a good year for me, with my pacemaker doing its thing. No skiing season ahead as I'm afraid of falling and not being able to get up. I would have to stick to the blue runs anyhow. But my skis sit right near my front door, tuned and freshly waxed. And I can watch the Winter Korea Olympics. I skied once in Korea many years ago. No lifts then, but it was fun.
Good skis, better than I was a skier. Maybe come spring skiing, I'll be up there.
I can hope …
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.