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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Drive-in Movie Report: Well, Outdoors Anyway...

Okay, are we the only people who actually had the air conditioner running the day after Christmas? I'm not complaining, mind you. I prefer the need to run the AC to cool the place down versus the need to run the heater. I have no qualms about the image of Santa being a fat guy in Bermuda shorts.

And because the weather cooperated, we finally got to make use of my wife's favorite little Christmas present, the Torpedo Dark Room Projector. She has been wanting one of these things for a while and I just kept thinking it would probably be a real waste of money. But, without going into great detail, we tracked one down at Super Target and the box had clearly been opened (a bad sign to me) and the audio cable was missing. Long story short, they sell on E-Bay for as much as $150, we paid $85 at your friendly Super Target.

Now don't get all giddy thinking that you can purchase one of these Torpedo projectors and hook it up as your new 70" wide screen television in your home theater. It is actually a toy for kids (yes, you get it in the toy department), and I'm not quite sure what the life expectancy will be for the bulb. Also, when they say "dark room", they aren't kidding. The day we bought it, we went into a bedroom, aimed it at the white wall and connected it to a DVD player. It wasn't that great at all because even with the curtains shut, it was still somewhat light outside. I just don't want anybody to get any ideas of avoiding the cost of your huge wide screen TV thinking that you'll buy one of these and invite the neighborhood over for the Superbowl.
But my wife had a different idea, and last night we enjoyed our first "drive-in movie night" out on our new deck. We put a white sheet over the railing of the upper deck in order to create a screen and set the projector on a box on the new deck. Instead of using the sound that is built into the projector (it really does sound like an old drive-in) we connected it to the sound system I purchased for my laptop. Awesome!

If you ever recall going to the Mission Drive-in when it was still open (or any drive-in for that matter), there is something different about watching a movie and feeling the slight breeze, hearing the sound of something off in the distance that isn't part of the movie, and occasionally looking up and seeing the stars. It just isn't the same experience as inside a movie theater with obnoxious teens chatting or texting on cell phones or an unruly brat kicking the back of your seat.

We did have one minor irritant; somebody down the street from us must have been having a party because they had on a really crappy boom box turned on pretty high. During quiet parts of the movie we could occasionally hear the high pitched sound of a crackly speaker (not unlike a drive-in movie) tuned to KZEP or maybe KONO. But I guess it would have been rude of me to crank-up the volume on our little sound system to play stereo wars. I would have surely won the battle, but other neighbors may not have enjoyed all the squeaks and beeps and whizzing sounds of Wall-e in full Dolby quality.

Just like the drive-in experience, my daughter brought us some Bill Miller chopped sandwiches, fries and a bucket of iced-tea for us to eat while enjoying the movie. That was always one of my favorite things about packing up the kids to go to the Mission. We would take an ice chest full of beverages and lots of snacks to munch on, though I do recall always going to the snack bar for some pop-corn or maybe a hot dog.

Anyway, I'm not sure how often we'll enjoy a movie on the deck, but it was a nice way to spend a mild winter evening with a slight breeze. And when we were done, we didn't have to wait in along line of cars to get out of the place - we just got up and walked inside. Into the air conditioned house.


alienjeff said...

Here's the website for the closest operational drive-in movie to us, a mere five mile drive:

Pleasant Valley Drive-in

And here's an interesting related website:


Fun stuff. Great memories. Mosquitoes be damned.

-Jeff @ A View from the Fringe

Anonymous said...

How did the projector work outside? I've been wanting to do this for a couple of years now but haven't pulled the trigger on a projector. There is a great website, backyardtheater.com with alot of back yard enthusiasts.

Dave said...

How did the projector work outside?

It was okay. We purposely watched a movie that we expected to be fairly bright because we knew something dark (in color, not genre) would not be as good.

I think if you have kids and want to show cartoons at night it would be great. I would not attempt to watch sports on it. If you want really good quality, spend the money. For about $85.00 this was just what we were looking for.

Anonymous said...

.........cool..you can always say now that the stars always are out at your house......hahaha...next time we go over,.. we can get the hotdogs ..popcorn.ice cream...candy...raspa..sodas...i forgot...beer ....and not even mess up the car with litter...

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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