Friday, August 29, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Return to the Nostalgia of the
Drive-In Movie Theater

by Paul M. Carhart

As we zoom through our on-the-go lives, it’s nice to occasionally stop and smell the roses, catch a concert or play, or even check out a movie or two. We on-the-go humans need some down time!

Used to be you could catch two movies at a drive-in and watch them in the comfort of your car, your arm securely around your significant other, kids in the back seat chomping on popcorn brought from home. While common knowledge seems to avow the extinction of the drive-in movie, I’m here to testify. Although it differs somewhat nowadays from its portrayal in Grease, the drive-in movie theater is not dead.

Sound Improvements
First of all, if your car doesn’t have an FM radio, don’t visit today’s drive-in theater unless you bring along your ghetto blaster. That’s right! No more tin cans dangling from your window. Nowadays, the movie soundtrack is delivered in vibrant stereo directly to your receiver of choice. The better the car stereo, the better your listening experience. This also opens up some interesting viewing options. Now, if you bring the appropriate stereo, a camping chair and enough batteries, you can watch your movie out under the stars if you prefer the open air to the confines of your automobile. I’ve seen kids sitting on top of truck cabs, whole families perched around the front of their SUV in camping chairs as well as the expected romantic dalliances veiled behind steamed-up windows.

Pricing Differences
The days of paying by the carload are gone. But in most drive-ins, kids under twelve are still free and your ticket price, which is usually about the cost of an indoor movie ticket, is most often for both films. On weekends, the theater will often repeat the first film so you can watch it again for the same price. Be aware, however, that there are a few drive-ins out there that are now ticketing each film separately. Not that it’s a rip-off per se, but you should know what you’re getting in to.

Security Concerns
For the most part, patrons of modern drive-ins are family folk, hoping for an enjoyable night at the movies. However, the drive-ins I’ve been to in recent years are, admittedly, just a tad seedy. Stray from your vehicle at your own risk. Because it’s possible to bring in whatever “beverages” you want from the outside, it is common to smell alcohol and pot as you pass by various open windows. Some drive-ins prohibit drinking on the premises and employ roaming security guards to enforce their stance.

Snack Bar and Bathroom Advice
If you insist on paying through the nose for the nasty fare served at the snack bar, get in line well before the movies start. Every drive-in I’ve gone to in recent days has had a ridiculously long snack bar line. We always bring a cooler full of drinks, pre-popped popcorn and a few of our own candy bars and/or chips when we go. The bathrooms aren’t much better. Use them early or they are not going to be suitable for use at all. I don’t think anyone cleans them over the course of the night. Still, they’re probably not much worse than the restroom at your local Wal-Mart.

If you can get over some of the downsides of the modern drive-in theater, you’ll enjoy sinking into your seat cushion, cranking up the stereo and catching a couple movies with your spouse and kids. We always look forward to it.

Keep in mind, the above was true when I lived in Colorado and it’s true in Southern California… two very different urban landscapes. I can only assume, no matter what state you’re in, if you scour the Internet hard enough, you’ll come across your own hidden drive-in theater. You may have to drive an hour each way, but I bet you’ll find one.

Then only you can decide if it’s worth it to give it a try.

Bonus: If you live in Southern California, check out the drive-in we often frequent: The Vineland Drive-In.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Zooming Thru Life:
Strategies To Beat The Summer Heat

by Paul M. Carhart

No matter how often you're on-the-go, when it's sweltering hot, it sometimes feels like there's no place to go. Here's a few things you can do to beat the heat.

The Hydration Solution
No matter what, if you don't take any of these tips to heart, remember this: You've got to stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water. Americans already don't drink enough H2O. When you're hot and you're sweating, it's even more important to replenish your body's fluids. Drink it warm. Drink it cold. But drink it and drink it often.

Fight The Sun
First of all, the sun is your enemy. And he's bigger than you. In order to do battle, you'll need weapons. If you're going out in the sun for any time at all, sunscreen is imperative. Likewise, don't spend your days squinting. Sunglasses are required attire for recreation or work. Hats can also be found for every occasion. One of my favorites is an Australian outback suede hat with a wide brim and mesh in the crown to let the air flow through… perfect for the hottest of days.

Shop Til You Drop
Air conditioning at someone else’s expense is always a good idea. Department stores, restaurants and shopping malls will keep it nice and cool in order to entice refugees from the sun like you into their web. Why not be a willing participant?

Water, Water Everywhere
Or you can let more conventional wisdom prevail. Park swimming pools and the beach are great, if not crowded, places to cool off. Or take a shower in the middle of the day. At night, relax in the tub.

Cold Intake
On top of the water that you're already drinking (right?), feel free to supplement your fluid intake with ice cold drinks, floats, shakes, smoothies, even an ice cream bar or sundae. You've worked hard, treat yourself!

Get Outside At Night
The end result of a hot day is a hot home at night. If the aforementioned shower or tub soak doesn't do the trick, go for a walk. Once the sun goes down, it's inevitably cooler outside. If you have a convertible, take a drive with the top down and if you don't, just roll down all the windows and let the wind blow through your hair. Some cities still have drive-in movie theaters too. You can get two movies for the price of one and since the sound is now broadcast on an FM station, you can bring a camping chair and catch a couple flicks out under the stars.

Wet Washcloth
When it’s all said and done, you still have to go to sleep at night. And if it’s still too hot, dropping off can seem like an impossible task. I’ve found that if I take a simple washcloth, soak it all the way through, wring it out and fold it over my forehead, it will cool me enough to drift off to sleep.

And tomorrow is another day. Perhaps it won’t be so insufferably hot!

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Introduction To Zooming Thru Life

by Paul M. Carhart

I think you can agree: We all live on-the-go lifestyles to one degree or another.

August, 2009 will see the release of my first nonfiction book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle (Blademaster Press), hereafter referred to as ZTL. In it, I share what I've learned about the increasingly common on-the-go lifestyle that I know I share with your readers.

Over a decade ago, as a “flakey artist” turned just-out-of-school Art Director, I had to come to terms with my new on-the-go lifestyle. As I climbed corporate ladders and traveled around the world, I discovered little truths that made things easier, more efficient or saved me time and/or money. These are the morsels that make up my book.

However, as I was writing ZTL, I came across other tidbits that were also worth sharing. Items that were more than what the tip-based format of the book would handle, yet too small to warrant a book or even a chapter of their own. And these chunks of wisdom just continued to come to me!

The final tip in ZTL is “Share What You Learn.” So, I took my own advice. Rather than let them fall by the wayside, I've compiled these nuggets into shorter stand-alone pieces. What better purpose for a blog?

So each week, dear readers, you will discover fresh ideas for making the most of your on-the-go lifestyle. Reader participation is always encouraged, so please leave your comments and questions. I'll be monitoring and am always delighted to respond to feedback.