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To paraphrase Norma Desmond, android phones are smart. It's the operators' brains that got smaller.

The iPad proved mightier than the iPhone in an electronic battle to the finish in a Los Angeles movie theatre.

iPad: Bringing a Gun to the Texting During a Movie Knifefight is resourceful journalist Richard Rushfield's hilarious account of how he stood up against an iPhone-wielding thug out to violate the darkness for his fellow theatregoers.

I'm not sure how I feel about bringing any piece of electronic equipment into an auditorium. You're there to see a movie. In you're in need of pre-show entertainment, bring a book. And not a Kindle. For the love of Mike, can't people leave home without have a TV screen constantly constantly in tow? We're become a race of Gerry Todds!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKtEevNsWI8

Half the time security at press screenings prohibit us from taking our phones into the theatre. They tremble at the thought of me pirating a picture on my Cricket dumb phone. They have put me in the habit of leaving my phone in the glove-box. Besides, the only people who need to be on call even during a movie are doctors and Jesse Jackson.

Annoyed by the sudden flash of blue light in the corner of his eye, Rushfield decided to fight back: "I turned my iPad on, opened the browser to a white screen and positioned it on my lap pointed directly at my neighbor’s face and away from mine. Thus, I was able to continue to enjoy (or not) the movie - with the screen pointed away from me - ignoring him while he glared at me in outrage and waved his hands around in protest. Finally as he seemed about to make a stink, it dawned on him that he was not in a position to complain about people having their screens open during the movie. I saw him visibly deflate and put his phone back in his pocket. Without a word, I then turned my iPad off and put it away."

Earlier in the piece Rushfield relishes the thought of having pesky neighbors evicted from the theatre, but concedes that it is a time consuming process and one that frequently draws a spectator out of a film for a good 10 - 15 minutes.

My advice is to fight fire with fire by using one's cell phone. Call the manager of the theatre and complain. You don't even have to leave your seat. The same goes for sound and focus issues. You didn't pay ten-bucks to run out to the lobby and hunt down an usher.

I have been known to dial the box office from my seat on several occasions. I won't narc the theatre, but the image was so blurred during one evening screening it actually caused a patron to cry out "FOCUS!" (When was the last time you heard someone call for focus? It brought a nostalgic tear to my eye!)

I wanted to do my best Cagney in Man of a Thousand Faces by shouting, "THEY CAN'T HEAR YOU," but why waste such good material on a crowd that paid to see What to Expect When You're Expecting?

After flipping open my phone, I broke the Sacred Oath by speaking aloud during a movie. "Hi," I said to the concierge who minutes earlier gave me my ticket. "I'm in auditorium #4 and the picture is out of focus. Would you please send someone up to fix it?"

I received two rounds of applause, one after I closed my phone and a second ovation three-minutes later when the picture suddenly became legible.

Readers of The Big Screen would never violate the sanctity of an auditorium with so much as whisper during a movie, let alone flash their iPhone. Just in case some of the unwashed drifted in, the only illumination permitted in a theatre during the presentation of a film is the beam of light spread across the screen. (Multiplexes seem to have finally fixed the problem of bright red or green exit signs bleeding onto the sides of the image.) No phones, no computers, not even a Timex Indiglo. Nothing but darkness and the space between you and the screen.

And if you spot the kid in the crowd with a laser-pointer, do the world a favor by inserting his hands in the nearest wood-chipper.

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