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Work of Art — Sorry ­— we’re sold out

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By Art Trujillo

“Let’s all go to the movies in Santa Fe to watch ‘Lincoln.’” The idea sounded great, until we discovered that all showings of that film, starring Daniel Day-Lewis had sold out, as in, “There will be no more tickets sold today, and probably not tomorrow.”

As much as we believe in keeping our dollars in Las Vegas, there are times, when considering a new car or watching a new movie, that such just isn’t possible.

Crestfallen, we returned home to wait until “Lincoln” might arrive here.

I still haven’t seen “Lincoln,” but I bought a DVD, at a price that didn’t cause me to take out a second mortgage. I’m waiting for my family to gather before we watch it at home.

There are also those kiosks at Walgreens and Wal-Mart that allow one to rent the movie. Perhaps someone will explain how they work, my never having used those machines.

I assume that to avoid theft of the movies, there’s a chip that causes the DVD to expire/go blank after a few days. Nevertheless, the demand for movies in their various forms has caused changes in people’s habits.

A product of the early-to-mid 20th century, I well remember how watching a movie meant going downtown, either to the Serf, the Kiva or the Coronado. The Kiva still exists; the Serf has gone belly up, and the Coronado left decades ago. We still have the Fort Union Drive In and Ilfeld Auditorium offers free weekly movies.

The active indoor theaters of last century provided fare for all appetites: the Serf generally showed later releases; the Coronado ran Westerns, and the Kiva showed Spanish-language films. I emphasize that going (out) to the movies preceded by decades the ways people nowadays often watch. This week, I streamed an old movie, “Butterfield 8,” on my iPhone, with a screen the size of a postage stamp.

Movie going in Las Vegas used to be a family event. On the school playground on Mondays, when one of us did a Tarzan or Cheetah imitation, everyone knew the allusion, their also having watched the movie.

When movies took on a more portable form, through places where one actually rented a film, things changed. My recollection is that precious few people owned an actual film player, a VCR, which necessitated renting that bulky machine as well. I believed we’d reached the ultimate in electronic progress.

But then there came another variation for watching. Our neighbors, Pete and Anne Dumont, bought a machine that accommodated a large, thick disk that looked like the LPs of old. One simply inserted the disk — with no moving parts — and watched. But that didn’t stick around long.

Soon came DVDs, smaller disks and even Blu-ray, an invention that makes everything much crisper. And, the ultimate, so far, is the ability to simply dial up a movie and watch it instantly.

And now that we’ve covered the evolution of filmdom, what about the effect on our ability to socialize or at least to say hi to someone we run into at the movie house?

I once listened to a lecture on the future of video viewing. The speaker recalled the days in which we’d crowd movie houses, and for those who like the outdoors, filled drive-in theaters.

Throughout the country, the speaker told us, that innovation morphed into places called Video Palace, House of Movies and Showtime. Las Vegas itself once had a number of such places, and one could even find a selection of movies in convenience and grocery stores.

A topic for an entirely new column might also deal with the portability of movies and even television, in that the Tivo makes it possible to watch things at our convenience.     
Tivo, with its ability to record and save programs, has even affected the ways we schedule our entertainment. Don’t have time to watch the Super Bowl this afternoon? Then come over later on. That tack works, but only if we avoid discovering the results of the particular game from someone who watched in real time and is just dying to tell us all about it.

• • •

A Readers Digest-type entry mentioned an auto mechanic who was trying to decipher a hastily left phone message about where to deliver a customer’s car. The message provided the street name but no address, except for “You can’t miss it. There’s a blue Pontiac parked in the garage.”

The obstacle was that the mechanic himself was driving the blue Pontiac, and he lacked the x-ray vision to see through garage doors. So he drove slowly down the street, clicking the car’s garage-door opener, until a door swung open. The car had not been in the garage, but soon it was.

It was tempting to do something similar when Optic columnist Lupita Gonzales found an auto remote control on the ground in our small office parking area downtown.         

Thinking it was mine, Lupita handed it to me. Then, recalling the garage-door incident, I wondered whether I could play that same game. At first, I thought that any car missing its remote would likely be nearby. A sweep of the Safeway parking lot caused no cars to blare their panic alarms.

Then, realizing Las Vegas has many parking lots and many more streets, I thought it best simply to mention the discovery in this column.

The fob carries a tag for a Dodge Challenger. Anyone wishing to claim it need only come by the Optic, demonstrate that the remote can indeed activate the panic alarm, and drive off with a newly found remote.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.