Tuesday, May 11, 2010


DVD note: The complete run of one of the best shows ever on MTV, Daria (1997-2002), is out today.

An animated spinoff from Mike Judge’s classic Beavis & Butt-head, Daria followed the adventures of its smart, snarky heroine—the embodiment of the sort of chick many of us daydreamed about in our teens, even though there’s a good chance she would have found us as dorky as she did everyone else—through the annoyances of life in an upscale suburban high school. If you’ve never seen the show, I highly recommend.

RIP to the great Lena Horne, who has passed on at 92. I’ve long remembered this lovely duet she did with Grover.

Like a lot of other people, I spent part of the weekend watching Betty White, at 88, absolutely nail her hosting duties on Saturday Night Live.
I didn't watch the show until Sunday afternoon, however, because I was at the drive-in.

Last week, you see, my pal Dewey loaned me an excellent DVD, a documentary by Kurt Kuenne called Drive-in Movie Memories, which chronicles the history of that noble icon of Americana. Packed with amazing photos and other archival materials, it left me craving a movie under the stars in the peerless late-spring Arizona cool. The Wife didn’t share my enthusiasm for the idea. Not only could I not talk her into joining me, even if I promised to take her to some chick-flick like The Back-Up Plan, she talked me out of going that weekend.

This past Saturday, however, I was not to be dissuaded. I headed for the Scottsdale 9 on McKellips. Because only a few things in life could be more depressing then going alone to a drive-in, I asked my pal Barry to come along. Barry is from Scotland, and though he’s lived in the U.S. for more than a decade he’d never had this quintessential American experience. I considered it my civic duty to see to it that he did. We saw The Losers, a violent and silly but well-crafted action picture with some funny dialogue and a nice deadpan performance by Jason Patric as the villain.

The movie was near-perfect drive-in fare, but even so, the experience has changed since I was a kid. For one thing, there are showtimes. Since when? Drive-ins used to just start when it got dark, but now they’re slaves to the clock, just like the multiplexes. Seems wrong somehow.

Also, the big clunky speakers which hung in your window, and were prone to unintentional kidnapping by absentminded departing audience members, are long gone; now you hear the movie’s soundtrack through your car radio. A better system, I suppose, but it posed a problem for me. Because of it, I couldn’t take my beat-up Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, even though it’s much more appropriate for a drive-in, because you can park it pointing away from the screen and sit in the back on lawn chairs.

But alas, the radio in my truck has been out of order for a couple of years. Thus I had to borrow The Wife’s car: a Prius. That’s right, I took a Prius, complete with its low-slung and heavily tinted windshield, to the drive-in. Fortunately, I had taken it to the dealership the morning before for its recall fix, so at least it didn’t accelerate uncontrollably and crash into the screen.

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