Sunday, September 27, 2015

Seeing a drive in movie. Things have changed!

Cinderella got underway as the sun set.
There are only about 300 drive in theaters left in America. There were once 5,000. 

I went to one last night in North Hoosick, New York — Hathaway's Drive-in Theatre — which is in the country, right across the state border from Bennington, Vermont. Admission was $9 a person or $20 a carload. For that, you got a triple feature.

Some people sat in cars, others in the backs of pickup trucks. Families sat in front of their cars in lawn chairs. Gail and I watched from the front seats of our rented Toyota Camry.

You no longer hook up a crummy little speaker to your window. Nowadays you listen to the movie FM radio (88.1 at the Hathaway). So the sound is about as good as in a regular theater, maybe better. One nice thing is there are no strangers sitting next to you, and nobody's munching on popcorn in the seat behind.

The first movie was Cinderella, which I would normally not see, followed by a borderline watchable Adam Sandler comedy called Pixels. In the old days it would be called a "B" movie. In this case the "B" stands for "bad." Gail and I left before the last movie, a Mission Impossible sequel, because it didn't end until 1 a.m.

The owner sold popcorn and ran the show with his iPad.
I CAN'T REMEMBER the last time I saw a movie at a drive in, but it was at least 30 years ago. I went last night just to do it, not for the movies. I remember going to drive in movies while in college, usually with a date. It was better if you had a car with a bench seat, so you could easily snuggle up. Best case, you would start off sitting in your regular places but gradually inch closer until you were in a position for some physical interaction. For many guys, at least, very best case was moving to the back seat, which too often led to forced marriages due to a kid arriving in nine months. My car back in the old days had bucket seats, so nothing happened except watching the movie.

Bucket seats, I think, helped doom the drive in theater.

In most drive in theaters, the snack bar is beneath the screen and the projector and projectionist far back behind the cars. But that's not the way it works anymore. At the Hathaway, everything is digital. There is no projectionist. The movie is controlled from elsewhere. Last night, it was from the snack bar, where the theater owner operated the cash register as his iPad controlled the show via WiFi to the projector 50 yards away.

It was a lot of fun going to the drive-in. I hope I get to do it again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

At the Hershey chocolate factory, it's bathtubs to the rescue

In Hershey, Pennsylvania, in the early days of the Hershey chocolate factory, founder Milton Hershey and his crew needed an efficient way to transport materials used in the chocolate making process. After a little creative thinking it was "bathtubs on wheels" to the rescue. It was such a good idea, they are still used today.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

VIDEO: Niagara Falls: Beautiful, magnificent. . . and tacky!

Niagara Falls, which straddles the border of New York and Ontario, Canada, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

It's breathtaking. Yet just a few minute walk from the falls in Niagara Falls, Canada is a few square blocks of non-stop tacky tourist stuff. Oh, it's fun! But the contrast to the magnificence of the falls is dramatic and I suspect a surprise to a lot of first-time visitors. Here's a quick look at both "Beautiful Niagara Falls" and "Tacky Niagara Falls."

While we were there in August, 2015 Gail and I stayed at Scott's Tent and Trailer Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario (A KOA is just a hundred yards away but costs quite a bit more). An shuttle bus picks you up right in front of the campground for a few dollars and takes you to the heart of the falls area in about 20 minutes and returns you back to your RV when you are done for the day. (I believe it runs every half hour).