How to Attach a Movie Screen to a School Bus

April 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Wanted to share an update to the Blue Starlite Drive-in.  Since we began showing the movies on E.6th in Austin we’ve had to laboriously piece together the screen for every showing.

Our screen is a great 9′ x 22′ heavy white tarp that is secured on all four sides with elastic ball straps. The original frame was of 1″ metal conduit that stood the screen roughly four foot from the ground.

Setting up and breaking down after every show was, of course, not fun. Every week I felt we were slowly making the screen’s support weaker and making matters worse was the screen still needed to be anchored to something solid so as to not blow away. And the screen just sat way too low to the ground, seeing that we wanted to fit more cars onto our drive-in lot.

Always looking to improve on the drive-in experience we looked towards a solution with what we had on hand.  So, add in an old school bus that was on site, some clever changes to our frame, and some tie-downs and sandbags we found ourselves the improvement!

Here are some photos:

With some recommissioning of the existing screen frame we anchored the screen to the bus, making successful a number of things.  One, is the screen doesn’t need anchoring. Two, it sits up higher. Three, the setup time is so much quicker and easier (with a little getting over my fear of heights and having to stretch a bit).

I’m super proud of this little move, and after finishing the second week – it has to be pulled out of the bus or fly away.

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China and The Manufactured Decay

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

China has too many apartments – it has too many retail spaces, and not enough people spending money they don’t yet have. The people of China need to all get credit cards and mortgages and start buying the things they are producing, that way they won’t all have to work in factories and eat rice with beans for every meal. Chinese people need to all own their own car, the need to have their own apartments, and they need to figure out how great suburbs are. The Chinese need to get with the program otherwise their their growth in GDP, their standard of living, their economic and political might will be for nothing.

I for one am not so concerned about this juggernaut of power that is fast becoming the best in everything, namely because I feel – as a lowly couch newspaper reader – that it’s all inflated numbers and expensive construction projects that are  not serving the actual people yet. What I mean by saying this is the people of China are growing their state incredibly fast, they’re doing this on premise that they no nothing better can come from what they are accomplishing except they have a roof over their heads and a few meals a day.

The Chinese have not been taught how to properly consume yet. By consume I mean meat for every meal or going to watch a movie every Friday night. I have a hunch most Chinese don’t enjoy these little things, but when they do  the state of China best watch out. The revolution of unions and class warfare of our past will pale to what will happen in China.

A link to a great video made by an Australian news program highlights one aspect of China that I find incredibly interesting – the over supply of retail and residential space throughout China. China has been the hottest place on the planet to practice architecture, mostly because they are building so much there. The preparation for the consuming everyman of China began several decades ago, mostly on the investment of the extremely rich and powerful.  Whole cities are designed and built for the onslaught of people moving up the economic ladder. Only problem is, the people are not moving up the ladder to actually live in these huge cities.  To me, they designed and built urban decay. Unlike here where we saw a quick blossom of city centers lead to decay China has millions of square footage that has never blossomed. If something like this had happened in the US, those responsible would be the greatest idiots in history – but in China…. eh, no big deal.

Check out the video here at Grist.com:  China’s Ghost Cities

Abandoned Drive-ins of Texas

April 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

During this last week I found an awesome drive-in movie blog that I wanted to share – I think whoever is working on this is a pure genius. What they’re doing is wandering around the state of Texas in search of old abandoned drive-ins. In Texas alone there are hundreds of drive-ins that once were, and several that still are holding on – mostly in the larger cities of Houston and Dallas. What this blog is trying to capture are the remnants of the many Texas drive-ins that can still be seen and to document what still exists of the dead and gone ones.

I have done another drive-in post for the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in located in Austin, where I also work occasionally (book us for parties or check us out at austindrivein.com!), and this blog certainly inspires in my quest for understanding why drive-ins are so terrific. In the state of Texas alone there are reportedly the remains (in all states of condition including wiped off the map) of 404 abandonded drive-ins. Not to be totally doomsday about the drive-in, there are still roughly 17 still operating in the state. This site has a great catalogue of all the drive-in of Texas, and any state.

Ok, so the blog is really my pet project that I’ve been meaning to get started on since moving to Texas in August. The first drive-in I recorded was the Starlite Theater outside the town of Brenham. It was a fun trip and I’m looking forward to doing many others. The next drive-in venture will be at the Old 87 Drive-in located in Fredericksburg. So, if interested in what happens, check out my other blog. I won’t update it on a schedule, because I just cannot be that punctual with everything.

Kirill Yeskov: The Last Ringbearer

April 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last week I stumbled upon a piece of writing by a Russian scientist. No, I didn’t get into nanobots or the latest theories on quantum particle combinations. It was a book about the Lord of the Rings. What got me to this place was my falling into a cavernous “google wormhole” after finding out Mr. Jackson has finally begun filming  JRR Tolkien’s two part The Hobbit.

You can find the translation of Mr. Yeskov’s here: at ymarkov: The Last Ring-Bearer.

What this is, are new tales of the events immediately following the great battle near the conclusion of Return of the King. The work however is not following much in the rulebook of Mr.Tolkien. In Tolkien land the good guys were Gandalf, Aragorn, and generally the immortal elves. In Yeskov’s world he wrote the ugly and repulsive Orc and goblin as the heroes. The people of Mordor and it’s subjects were scientific people who had embraced the industrial revolution and all the benefits of medicine, thought, and reason. Yeskov exposes Gandalf as a mastermind of deceit to the archaic West, framing him as using old myths and legends to justify destruction of the much more civilized people of Mordor. All that was good in Aragorn, Arwen, and the soldiers of Rohan is turned on its head. Aragorn is the conniving murderer of the king of Gondor while Arwen is the princess of cowardly and lazy elves. The West, Gandalf being the charismatic leader, becomes hell bent on destroying the East and sending them back to living in caves and trees just like the Dwarves and Elves. The East, led by Saurun and Saruman, uses medicine, military discipline, and reason in their actions to defend themselves against the West and their crazy beliefs in magic potions, swords, and fairy tales.

Although it’s not structurally well written to anything near Tolkiens level, Yeskov creates a brilliant back story of two Orcs following the great battle. As they try to return home to their land, which is now overrun with creepy elves and confused men, they are enlightened by a Ringwraith and come to uncover the conspiracy of Gandalf and the elves. The whole story, about 270 pages, just reinforced in me that history is written by the winners, even in a fictional world.

The work is simply great just for the premise, I enjoyed it and the parallels that can be made to our own non-fiction worlds.

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