culture, entertainment, family, humor, life, parenting, pop culture, random thoughts

Santa is kind of like FedEx

Thing 2 (who’s 7 now) is having doubts and asked me the other day whether Santa Claus is real.

I asked him what he thought, and he said he wasn’t sure but that he didn’t see any way that one man on one sleigh could deliver all those toys to every kid on the planet in just one night.

I said that’s not how it works.

I explained that Santa used to deliver all those toys personally. back in the old days, when the population was a lot smaller, but that he uses a lot of helpers these days.

Santa is kind of like FedEx, I said. One truck couldn’t possibly deliver all those packages to all those homes and businesses in all those countries in one 24-hour period, I said, but a fleet of trucks and planes certainly could.

I said Santa runs the operation. He’s like the CEO. The toys are made by the toy companies, not elves. These days, the elves run the warehouse and oversee distribution.

The toys are delivered first to Santa’s headquarters at the North Pole and then, on Christmas Eve, they’re flown on big cargo planes from the central warehouse to regional distribution centers all over the world and then to local distribution centers, where the toys are placed on trucks and driven to people’s homes.

That’s a lot easier and a lot more efficient than trying to pile all those toys on just one sleigh, I said. The delivery truck drivers drink the milk and cookies and send any leftovers to the North Pole, where Santa shares them with the elves.

Thing 2 thought about it for a moment or two. “I don’t get it,” he said.

That’s OK, I said.

Image

In this 1927 photo, Santa Claus (left) receives his pilot’s license from William P. MacCracken (seated) and Clarence M. Young of the U.S. Department of Commerce. PHOTO: Library of Congress

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culture, entertainment, family, humor, life, parenting, pop culture, random thoughts, school

Play a game of Monopoly in just 30 minutes? Where’s the fun in that?

Concerned, apparently, that the generation raised on smartphones and YouTube lacks the attention span to play regular Monopoly, Hasbro is coming out with a version called Monopoly Empire that’s supposed to last 30 minutes, start to finish.

I understand what Hasbro’s going for here. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of the game because it took forever. I’d bail after a couple of hours, and I was never around when it ended.

But, then, a few Christmases ago, Thing 1 got a Monopoly game for Christmas. It came in a wooden box, and everything except the logo in the center of the board is retro. It was nice, as Monopoly sets go.

My wife had to work over Christmas break, so I stayed home and decided to give the game a second chance.

Thing 1 set up the board on the dining room table. We played a couple of hours that first day. We bought and developed property, went to jail and collected $200 when we passed go.

I thought we must be missing something, because neither of us were going broke, so sometime on Day 2, we checked the rules, and it wasn’t my imagination.

When you play it the right way, the winner is simply “the last player remaining in the game,” whenever that might be.

Our game lasted a week and ended in a tie, when Thing 1 went back to school and I went to work. I had a little more money than my daughter did, but neither of us had anything close to a Monopoly, which was OK.

Sometimes, the point isn’t to win. Sometimes, the point is just to play.

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culture, entertainment, family, life, movies, parenting, pop culture, random thoughts, technology

Drive-in movies turn 80, but their days may be numbered

CIMG0121The world’s first drive-in movie theater opened 80 years ago on Thursday. According to History.com, Park-In Theaters opened on June 6, 1933, in Camden, New Jersey.

Drive-in theaters boomed after World War II, and by the late 1950s, there were about 5,000 of them across the country.

Two years ago, the last time the National Association of Theatre Owners counted, there were 366. This summer, there are surely fewer.

Our closest drive-in, the Hi-Way 50 Drive-In in Lewisburg, Tenn., closed after last season. We found out when we went online a couple of weeks ago to see what was playing. The website was gone, but we found a message from the owners on the theater’s Facebook page. It says they’ve retired but they’re hoping someone will buy it and reopen it.

I hope so, too, but I know it’s unlikely.

Drive-in theaters are a risky business. They’re at the mercy of the weather. No one goes to the drive-in when it’s raining, and no one goes if it’s sticky hot, either, but the owners have to pay a fee to the movie studios either way.

Hard-top theaters make money by overcharging for popcorn and Cokes, but it’s easy to bring snacks and pizzas and a cooler to the drive-in, so they don’t make a lot of money on concessions.

Drive-ins used to make money by showing second-run movies (which don’t cost nearly as much to rent as new movies on opening weekend), but VCRs and then DVDs, Blu-Ray and streaming services such as Netflix have pretty much killed the demand for second-run movies. The movies in theaters today will probably be at Redbox by the time school starts in the fall.

The latest threat to the drive-in, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times, is the shift toward digital projection. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The paper says Hollywood may stop distributing 35-millimeter film prints by year’s end. Hard-top theaters have already converted, but a lot of drive-in theaters probably can’t afford the cost of a new projector. The Times puts the cost of conversion at about $70,000 per screen.

So, this summer, find the closest drive-in theater and go, and take the kids. Take a Frisbee or a ball and play in the field between the screen and the first row of cars while you wait for it to get dark enough for the movie to start. Walk to the concession stand and listen to the sound of the movie echoing from car radios and boom boxes. Take pictures.

Because this might be the last summer you have the chance.

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