Larry Enright

Larry Enright

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Post by Al Them - Drive-In Movies

My good friend, Al Them, a writer and humorist, read A King in a Court of Fools, episode 12, Drive-In Movie, and here is his reaction.

Sad to say, I may have contributed to the demise of drive-in theaters. I did my fair share of Zagnut buying, and on those rare occasions I hankered for a mouthful of wax and syrup I would buy a Nik-L-Nip or two, but I might have killed off Richard Hollingshead's glorious invention.

The first time I went to a drive-in theater was in 1960 in June. I had finished a 12-hour shift pumping gas, fixing flats, and cleaning and restocking tools at the Hamilton Garage, and I drove alone to the Toms River Drive-In to see "Gone With the Wind." I awoke sometime during the burning of Atlanta. If any drive-in inspector saw me dozing they might have declared the Era of the Drive-In over. It wasn't their fault; it was just a long day. Sorry, Mr. Hollingshead. Please give me another chance.

In 1961, I asked Ellen if she would go to the drive-in with me. Ellen, whom I had just met,  was the friend of a girl I knew platonically, it was the first week of summer, and Ellen's family was "down" for the month. ("Down" means "down the shore" or, equivalently, "in that place appointed by God for human fulfillment and watery exercise.") Ellen said she would ask her parents, and the next I heard was from mutual friends who reported Ellen was offended at being asked for an intimate encounter with a stranger. What?! I was not so naive to be unaware a drive-in was called a "passion pit," but that was for other people, not harmless creatures like me who had only two characteristics to recommend him: a liking for movies and access to a car.

I was so embarrassed and distraught that I immediately walked to the trampoline concession where Ellen had gone to jump with some friends. I found Ellen and told her so insistently that my request was innocent and friendly that she believed me, and we became good friends that summer. We never did go out on a "date" date, but we did fun things in groups, and the only loser in the whole fiasco was Mr. Hollingshead, who was forced to write a second "X" in his accounts notebook.

In August of 1961, I did manage to have a "hot" drive-in date with the cousin of Kathy D., a beach buddy from Jersey City who had a thick Jersey accent and smoked Marlboros. In an amazing coincidence, thirty years after my third drive-in experience, Kathy and her husband bought the shore house that had been built by my grandfather for himself and his two generations of progeny. Anyway, Kathy's cousin Linda was happy to impress me with how wild and free a Jersey City girl could behave in a steamy, parked car, and we happily necked for twenty minutes without regard to anything that was occurring on-screen. If real life were like the movies, the scene would dissolve and refocus on a contented couple puffing Chesterfields, but real life is instead like...well, real life. In particular, the real lives of two Catholic teenagers. So we stopped kissing in fear we would go too far and make the Blessed Mother cry, even if the Blessed Mother had not been paying strict attention to us and was perhaps watching the movie, as we eventually wound up doing. Watching the movie, that is, not crying. For the rest of that summer, I was so embarrassed at being unable to smoothly handle an unclimactic evening, that Linda and I exchanged sheepish looks and spoke mostly through intermediaries. I fear that if Richard Hollingshead, Jr., were informed, he may have envisioned the collapse of his enterprise.

Some years later, I made one last curious attempt to extend the longevity of drive-ins, whose extinction had been predicted for a while. "Fritz the Cat," the only X-rated cartoon, was featured at the ironically named Family Drive-In in Virginia. I had never seen an X-rated movie, I loved cartoons, and I seized the opportunity to see forbidden fare without feeling the need to shield my face or wear a trenchcoat. I suppose I expected to see furry, silly, animal body parts with jokes, but alas, the film was confusing, boring, slightly crude, and unfunny. As it turns out, I never went to a drive-in again, so I guess the cat killed my curiosity. Goodnight, Mr. Hollingshead.


Check out Al's books on Amazon. He's a great writer and really funny guy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A King in a Court of Fools - Hot on the Trail

"The dry brown grass on either side of the trail heading south undulated across the open field, brushing at my feet and dropping tiny seedpods that stuck to my pant legs. Cicadas clicked an amelodic song that rose and fell in time with the waves of wheat-like grass. And at the end of each phrase, a lone woodpecker paused and began again its drilling for ants on a dead maple tree somewhere deep in the woods. We loved the woods. We spent as much time there as we could. I think if it were possible, we would have lived there. To us, it was home. But the woods also held mysteries we had not yet unraveled. None of us except Tom had been to its southern edge, so none of us knew what to expect as we followed the trail south into the unknown."

The 11th episode in the continuing misadventures of the young Tom Ryan is there for you to read, or listen to me read in my most dramatic fashion, complete with some slide guitar I play, or (and this is NEW!!) download the complete story to-date to your Kindle, Nook, or other compatible e-reader. It's all good fun. It's all free.

Over 1,300 people from 20 countries read last week's episode. Share the news, tell your friends. Click here -> A King in a Court of Fools

Thanks, and enjoy!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Simple Simon - a review

“Simple Simon,” by Ryne Douglas Pearson, is a fast-moving thriller that is difficult to put down. Superbly written and well thought out, the book was a pleasure to read cover to cover. It is a techno-thriller to be sure, but the most beautifully written part is the portrayal of the character of Simon. An autistic teenager, Simon’s life has been highly regulated and structured by his parents and doctors to provide a mechanism for him to cope, to interact with people, and to function within the bounds of his own little world. When that world is suddenly thrown into chaos, Pearson does a wonderful job of showing us how Simon struggles in his own way to keep his life on track and consistently simple despite the absolute whirlwind of destruction spinning around him and everyone with whom he comes in contact. Ironically, he becomes the one point of consistent sanity in a world gone mad. I particularly liked the interaction with his new friend, Art, a man who clearly feels inadequate, but who ultimately rises to the task. I highly recommend “Simple Simon,” and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Here are some links to see more about it:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A King in a Court of Fools - The Book of Tom

A reading from the Book of Tom:

There are three places you never want to be caught dead: at the Isaly’s without a quarter, downwind when Big Bob is farting, and anywhere near Sister Concepta’s office.

This week, the Caswell gang is in trouble, big trouble. A King in a Court of Fools is a story of kids being kids. Remember back that far? Follow the serial and it might help you remember what it was like just being a kid.

Here's the link (including, as usual, my dramatic reading of the episode):

What else am I doing? I am working hard on the sequel to Four Years from Home. I'm having fun with it, but it is a difficult write for me, sometimes very frustrating, sometimes confusing, sometimes inspirational. Time and energy are always the problems; I don't have enough of either it seems. But enough of that. I am having a blast with A King in a Court of Fools, so enjoy!