Why … so … serious???
With all due deference to the late Heath Ledger’s Nicholson-jacking genius, there’s little to joke about lately. Perhaps it’s the sting of having spent 16 simoleons on a seat at the Pointe Orlando IMAX, or the stress of surviving the salida from their miserably managed parking garage. But despite the afterglow from glimpsing Gotham in giganto-vision, there’s only one blockbuster sequel that I’m anticipating in our near future. It’s called the Great Depression II, and unlike Christopher Nolan’s shining Dark Knight, this follow-up feels less like The Godfather: Part II and closer to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Every day I read about Orlando’s ever-shrinking economy in the equally shrunken Sentinel; I watch my taxes fall by pennies (thanks for nothing, Amendment 1) while my property value plummets; I realize that a tank of gas now costs more than my wheezing car is worth. I’ve placed my possessions on Craigslist (anyone wanna buy a big-ass TV?), I’m learning to like dirt-cheap food (beets aren’t bad with enough butter and salt), and I keep the AC at 81 degrees. But no matter how desperate things get, there’s one thing that should never be cut because of costs: dating. After all, what’s the point of avoiding foreclosure, if you’ve got no one to share your bed with? Wooing isn’t without expense, but here are a couple of suggestions for romantic rendezvous that won’t rape what’s left of your credit rating.
Popcorn Flicks in the Park
The Enzian Theater in Maitland is better known for the breadth of their indie-centric programming than the affordability of their evolving menu. But once a month, on the second Thursday, they stow those newfangled digital order pads and screen a gratis outdoor performance at the stage in Central Park, on Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park. The Popcorn Flicks series features a classic film screened free of charge, under the stars. In the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of viewing an all-time favorite of my sweetheart’s, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (bliss, except for Mickey Rooney’s racist bumbling), and introduced her to one of mine, The Neverending Story. (Who can resist Falkor the dog-faced Luck Dragon?)
The shows start at sunset (around 8:30 p.m.), and I’d advise arriving at least an hour early to stake out a spot. Bring a blanket to sit on or a low lawn chair (out of respect for folks seated behind you), and pack a picnic. Sure, there are bugs galore, open containers of alcohol are verboten, and the screening has to pause every time a train rolls through the neighboring Amtrak station. But until they resurrect a drive-in movie theater in town, there’s no better place to share a bag of complimentary popcorn out in the night air. The Aug. 14 feature: Sean Astin and Corey Feldman in ’80s-tastic adventure The Goonies. Say it with me: Baaaaby Ruuuuth!
Drunken Monkey game nights
You might know Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, the Bumby Avenue establishment adjacent to Beefy King (not to be confused with the Funky Monkey Wine Company on Mills), as home to free-trade organic java, mouthwatering gourmet soups and avuncularly apathetic baristas. But did you know that they also host a variety of no-cover evening activities throughout the week? Sunday nights are devoted to films, shown at 7 p.m. on the flat-screen TV (July 27: Amelie) and 7 p.m. Tuesdays are for music movies (July 29: The Cure Unplugged). From 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday, they host a market for local B-Side Artists (Swamburger’s crew) to vend their creations. But the 7 p.m. Friday Board Game Night is my pick for a perfect, nearly priceless date.
Travel back to a time when gaming meant gathering around a tabletop instead of the hi-def, and a pewter token was the only avatar you needed. (I call dibs on the racecar.) You can bring your own board game or pick one from the Monkey’s modest shelf. They even provide live music: Last Friday night I played a romantic round of Reagan-era Trivial Pursuit while listening to Stranger Than Fiction, the trip-folk fellowship fronted by multitalented maniac Paul Sanders. Play your cards right, and you might get lucky for the price of a couple firstname.lastname@example.org