Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


I'm making a note here:

Huge Success.

Well, I seem to have survived the last couple of days. There were only four girls at the sleepover party which turned out to be a perfectly manageable amount. There was a little friction at first because they couldn't decide on a movie that would make everyone happy. The girls were really showing their personalities: the idiosyncratic friend wanted Juno, the girliest girl wanted Sleepover, the non-conflict girl was okay with whatever the other girls decided, and my steeped-in-geek-culture girl wanted Hellboy. Hellboy was deemed "too scary" (as were Ladyhawke, Princess Bride, Goonies, and The Mummy) and anything with ghosts (no Poletergeist) or aliens (no Galaxy Quest, no Close Encounters) were off the menu for two girls. Ferris Bueller's Day Off was given a thumbs down after the trailer was deemed "BORING!" despite two girls vouching for it being fun. I finally hit on Josie and the Pussycats, Clue, and (*sigh*) Sleepover and they ended up watching Sleepover though Kate was fairly sulky about it at first.

Band frictions threatened to flair up when the girls played Rock Band but they soon settled in and by the end of the party the girl with the least experience who was the most frustrated early on was begging to play more. Chips and sodas were consumed all evening, supplemented with veggies and dip and fresh strawberries, then the girls made personal pizzas which they shaped and decorated for quite some time. They spent the night in the living room and after I went to bed Kate tried to get the girls into Angel by showing them the Smile Time episode. They stayed up late into the night, being girls, but I think the most poignant and sweet part of the whole night was when they were all changing into pajamas and getting sleeping bags set up in the living room and they started comparing and showing off their blankies. Each of these sweet almost-teen girls not only had their blankies but brought them to their sleepover and compared them.

I made bacon, sweet rolls, and more fresh fruit, with optional juice, milk, and soymilk for them for breakfast and then one by one the girls left. Kate and I took her bike down to the bike swap but the larger bikes were few and far between (and being hoarded by one particularly annoying girl... Kate didn't even touch a bike for the first 40-50 minutes of being there. We finally left with a bike but it was way less fun than I thought it was going to be.

Headed from there down to meet Pramas for a very late "lunch" and strolled Emerald City Comic Con for a couple hours and ran into a ton of people we knew, some of whom we hadn't seen for ages. Feeling peppy, we crossed the street and finally caught a showing of Iron Man, which is still playing to packed theaters in Seattle. How great is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark? Really, really enjoyed his performance. I saw him in Less Than Zero over 20 years ago and have followed his career ups and downs since then. When the man is on, he's SO on. I hope he stays on because I'd love to see more from him.

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Theo + Kawali Grill + Spiderwick

Busy day. I've got photos and whatnot to recap with over the weekend if I find time but I'm frankly exhausted. In addition to prepping for a gigantic shipment of individual orders related to Green Ronin's Freelancer Fundraiser I had a pretty action packed day.

I went on a tour of Theo Chocolates in Freemont. Pretty fun and interesting (except for the oompa loompa dance, ug) and definitely worth the $5. Came home with lots of interesting chocolates and some freakin' awesome chocolate scrubs and lotions to boot (that stuff cost more than $5 but sooooo worth it).

I attended a meeting at Kate's school to go over the so-called details of the trip with the other parents and kids (supposedly). This was not at all fun, so I'm not going to dwell on that right now except to say that I may just be begging for crash space with people I know in New York because I can't imagine actually trying to stay 27 miles out of the city in a random New Jersey city ("I can't remember the name, it starts with a P.") in a $55/night Days Inn with 38 kids and calling that a trip to "New York". Ug.

After the meeting Kate and Chris and I decided we were going down to Columbia City to catch the Spiderwick Chronicles. We decided to have dinner out tonight and instead of going to one of our usual favorite restaurants I suggested that we try something new and hit up the Kawali Grill. Kawali Grill looks a little like a Pho joint or some other casual dining establishment and the food is unpretentious but the chef is top notch and the food was some really good and interesting Filipino-inspired stuff. We had some truly fantastic chicken satay with a great peanut sauce, then Chris tried a dish called Lechon Kawali and I had the house special Oxtail Kare Kare and Kate confined herself to a grilled cheese and fries. Food was fantastic, the Filipino television was hilarious, the chef personally came out to check in with us a couple of times and we were the only white folks in the place (usually a good sign of authenticity). Oh, and Kiro 7 News showed up to film something while we looked on but we couldn't quite figure out what it was about.

Spiderwick was enjoyable. I thought the visuals were incredibly faithful to Tony D's original artwork, which was so cool. The kid playing the role of the twins was convincing as his double character, and even though Kate ran down for us all the changes between the movie and the books I thought the changes were sensible and acceptably faithful to the source. A solid family movie. Congratulations to Holly and Tony!

And now: bed!

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Long Weekend

Kate had a friend over yesterday for a play date that turned into a sleepover. Some Guitar Hero was played. Her new room set-up provided play and hang-out space so the girls didn't have to commandeer the living room. We made an abortive attempt to have dinner at Stellar Pizza because Kate wanted to introduce her friend to "the best mac and cheese in the world" but Stellar was closed so we routed up to Columbia City and improvised dinner at Geraldine's Counter instead. Then we made a run to the video store where the girls rented Lego Star Wars for the 360 (we only have the regular Xbox version) and Meet the Robinsons.

Today Pramas was scheduled to play SotC down at Tim's so Kate and I had a sort of Bed Day. Except I couldn't decide if it was better to have Bed Day in bedly comfort or have "bed" day on the new couch watching movies on the nice tv. In the end we opted for the nice TV.

It was all 80s all the time today. First: Adventures in Babysitting. Holy crap, I never clicked that Vincent D'Onofrio was "Thor" in that movie (and that was after Full Metal Jacket according to IMDB). I thought Kate might like it as a girly caper movie but her final verdict was "Meh." Then we watched Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome which I picked because it was rated PG-13. Kate hated it. "They gave you a character but no plot. It didn't make any sense." We also watched The Last Starfighter which TiVo had pulled down from SciFi for me. I had vague memories of that movie being decent but watching it again I found it pretty cringe-worthy. Kate was most interested in that one, though even she recognized it as a pale knock-off of Star Wars. That was enough 80s for me for one day, let me tell you.

For dinner I had failed to plan ahead and was looking to throw something together in a hurry for my hungry family. I remembered that I had all the ingredients on hand for Heidi Swanson's Toasted Wheat Germ Soup, from her excellent book Super Natural Cooking(and the blog 101 Cookbooks) so I whipped that up. It was so unearthly simple I could have kicked myself for not having tried it before. Seriously: a cup of toasted wheat germ, six cups of veggie broth, an onion sauteed and then simmered with a few red pepper flakes, some sea salt, a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes and four cups of white beans. To my utter amazement, after a few ultra-tentative sips Kate had multiple bowls of soup and declared it "pretty good" which made my night.

One more precious day of holiday.

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Girly Night

Kate and I had a Girls' Night last night while Chris was wargaming. I picked her up from school after her "Dance and Cheer" activity and we went down to Starbucks for drinks and snacks and to decide what we wanted to do. Kate was in the mood to see a movie but the only thing even remotely appropriate in the major theaters was Bee Movie. I'm sure this will lose me cool points with someone but I just don't find Jerry Seinfeld that funny and I'm vaguely familiar with his show but only because Chris watched it so I'd sometimes catch an episode here and there. I got a few chuckles sometimes, it's not like it was bad, but it also grated on me similarly to Curb Your Enthusiasm. So much bickering on Curb, I just can't stand to watch it. Seinfeld's voice, that whiny, nasal voice... the thought of his voice trying to emote through a cartoon bee? Ug.

[Ranty aside: I saw Not-Ebert and Roeper reviewing Bee Movie and crowing about the brilliance of having some homage to The Graduate in this movie "for the parents"... I hate to break it to you OLD GUYS but The Graduate is forty years old and it might have been the hot shit when you and Jerry Seinfeld were teenagers but these days parents with kids young enough to be attracted by Bee Movie are generally younger than that.]

Anyway, Kate wasn't particularly interested in a movie about a whiny, entitled bee either so I looked for something else to do. I happened across an ad in the Seattle Weekly for Central Cinema and a plan was hatched. Dinner, drinks (for me), dessert, and a classy movie: Rear Window. Awesome.

We went and had a great time. Ate popcorn (with real butter!), each got an individual pizza, ended with a chocolate cake. There were old-timey cartoons, including this amazing specimen: The Butcher, The Baker and The Ice Cream Maker, which was apparently a sales device espousing the glories of "sanitary" pre-packaged ice cream ("...never touched by human hands...") and the space-saving wondrousness of square cartons. There were some appalling instances of racial stereotyping: the Indian chief in his rainbow rug" can't fill in for the missing maker because "his voice is one long grunt" and "the only word he knows is UG". There are also a couple of cute-as-buttons little Eskimos in fur parkas working in the freezer area, stacking the precious square cartons. Who knew how wonderful pre-packaged ice cream could be?

Had a nice Girls' Night and I would definitely head back to Central Cinema. According to the previews they're going to be showing The Professional, Gone with the Wind, and Being John Malkovich over the next several weeks.

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Blade Runner

I fell for Harrison Ford as Han Solo when I was seven and never looked back. I had the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones films, and just when I was barely emotionally mature enough for it, Blade Runner to cement that. I love Blade Runner and I love Harrison Ford in it.

When I heard that the Seattle Cinerama was showing Blade Runner the Final Cut on its glorious screen, I wasted no time in suggesting to Pramas that we spend our free evening at the movies. I'm SO glad we did! Unlike the original Star Wars movies that were so visually stunning in their day but aged so poorly and look so cheap and shoddy today, Blade Runner cleans up beautifully and is absolutely gorgeous. It's still believable. The additional scenes and cityscapes in The Final Cut are fantastic. It was great to see it on the big screen and if you like the movie at all, I highly recommend seeing this cut this way if you have the chance.

We arrived downtown a little closer to start time than I'd originally intended and we needed to find something to eat. All the name restaurants in the general Cinerama vicinity were either packed to the gills or had no possible chance of feeding us in half an hour. We walked a few blocks looking for anything promising and stumbled upon Wann, a Japanese Izakaya place, kind of like a Japanese tapas place. They have sushi and sashimi but no "sushi bar" per se. They offer several smallish plates, meant to be shared, as well as beer, sake, and shochu. We had a some "kurobuta sausage" (which, I kid you not, tasted exactly like hot dogs), some crunchy garlic rock shrimp, soft tofu, the double tempura roll, and the absolute HIT of the evening, the Mecha Godzilla roll (Seared kobe beef tataki covered asparagus, cream cheese, cilantro with habanero teriyaki sauce, spicy aioli, wasabi mayo, marked "extremely spicy"). Wow, I could eat another Mecha Godzilla roll right now. Shared a bottle of sake to wash it down and were in and out in half an hour. Unfortunately, by the time we walked back to the theater, picked up the tickets, and found seats the movie had already started but we didn't miss too much and we definitely plan to go investigate Wann some more when we have more time!

It was such a lovely night (not as cold as it's been and no rain at all) it was a shame to come home... so we didn't! After the movie it was still relatively early so we stopped at Stellar Pizza to have a pint or two, a nibble and a relaxing remainder of the evening. Headed home once Stellar closed up for the night and that was just right.

All in all, a good way to spend a free Saturday!

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Summery Girls' Night

I'd planned to have most of the day off today so I could go pick up Kate for the weekend but her dad was heading down to Vancouver, WA anyway so he let me know he'd just drop her off at the house. This left me with a few hours free to play Guitar Hero. Won the game on Medium (complete with encore) and jumped up and down like a fool when one of the songs I unlocked was YYZ. Rush geeks unite!

Kate walked in while I was rocking out and started jumping up and down with glee. I've told her she can play as much as she wants tomorrow while I'm working.

Because I'd already reserved the Flexcar for the day we decided to go out to the movies together. There's not much that I'd want to see in the theater at the moment but we did catch No Reservations. It is definitely NOT a movie about Anthony Bourdain's show on the Travel Channel, though the main characters are chefs. It was PG-13 and Kate and I had seen the trailer earlier in the summer and given it a tentative thumbs up, so we went ahead. Kate was hilarious. She looked around the theater and counted a total of 4 guys ("husbands or boyfriends" she declared) and the rest of the theater was women and girls. I was not the only mom out with her young daughter tonight, either. "Yep, that was definitely a chick flick," she declared on our way out. When did my daughter become so worldly wise?

This weekend: camping!

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Today was a crap day. McAfee broke my internet and I spent several hours on the phone with various tech support people who were purportedly trying to help me fix the problem. Of course, because it was ME (anti-technology field intact) things were complicated, technicians were stumped, and eventually I (and half of Pakistan) had to call it a day.

I managed to get back online through a miracle that came about through swearing, copious applications of red wine, and forces as yet unknown.

I was going to write up this really interesting (to me) comparison of how the conservative anti-witch Christians read Harry Potter (example one), how Time Magazine characterized the series ("Who Dies in Harry Potter? God"), and this guy's argument that the whole blessed thing is just one big purposeful Christian metaphor, beginning to end.

Instead, I found that what I had energy for was watching Moviefone Unscripted. Bruce Willis and Halle Barry (who used to be neighbors) talk about their movie but also just shoot the shit, with Willis looking off camera and asking "Should we be screwing around like this, like we're still neighbors?" There's some element of put-on, of course, but seeing Rupert Grint talk about his real life arachnophobia (where he blushes at the mere thought of encountering a spider) and Emma Watson saying "Not that I'd wish anything bad to happen to you but I'd really like to see that..." well, it's all so unexpectedly and refreshingly human. I'm basically shy and at core, a big ol' introvert. I'm no sparkling conversationalist and my best stories are those about things that happened to my friend Ray. I've been meeting people who others consider celebrities (especially in the game industry) since I was a teenager and I'm fairly jaded to celebrity in that way. Still, that's not to say I wouldn't love to be at a cocktail party or a Dinner for Five where I got to listen to people who have had entirely different life experiences talk about those aspects of their lives.

And so, I find I'm hooked on Moviefone Unscripted. So sue me.

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Hooray night out!

Ah, going out to see Die Hard and the new Heavenly Spies was just what the doctor ordered. I'm more relaxed than I've been in months! While Kate is a wonderful girl and I do enjoy the time I spend with her, having her dad not take her for even one weekend since March had begun to weigh on me. Having a couple of consecutive days where my parental responsibilities were lifted has been very good.

Life Free or Die Hard: loved it! Justin Long makes a good smartass side kick (having seen him in nothing but Mac vs. PC commercials since Galaxy Quest, I wasn't sure going in). When you see in the trailer that John McClane takes out a helicopter with a car, you know going in it's going to be over the top and they're going to overcome ever escalating danger in the most spectacular and silly ways. Fine with me! I was practically cheering in my seat. There was one part that broke the military mind of Pramas and kept him from enjoying it (where people in the audience were laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of the scene) but I was laughing along and enjoying the complete implausibility and it was fine, fine by me. Timothy Olyphant needed his Bullock mustache to look more menacing or something. As a villain, Thomas Gabriel was no Hans Gruber, but who is? I caught and enjoyed the homages to the original movie and Chris and I were the only ones in the theater who howled with laughter and recognition when Keven Smith hit the screen. Jefferson had seen the movie when we ran into him at the Buffy Musical and he said they'd dialed it down for the kids and complained about the lack of blood but I didn't notice or mind any such thing. Die hard has never been about the arterial spray: guys blow up, break their necks falling down the stairs, get strangled in chains and when they do get shot, they fall down and die without lingering camera sweeps of their blood-drenched corpses. All fine with me!

After Die Hard I skipped happily down the street to the Can Can where we had dinner and drinks and watched the new Heavenly Spies show. It was the first night and we found ourselves seated next to Secret Agent Rhinestone's parents and godfather. The show "Camp Heavenly Spies" was pretty good, I enjoyed a lot of the new routines and came to appreciate Agent James Blonde, who I hadn't warmed to previously (I was an Agent Cha Cha Cha fan) but who is very good. In fact, Rhinestone and Blonde won Best Exotic Duo at the 2007 Exotic World competition in Vegas in June. Congratulations, girls!

The Can Can has recently instituted minimums in addition to the cover, which wasn't a problem last night (as we intended to eat there anyway) but could put a bit of a damper on attendance for people who want to see a show and have a drink or two. Even that wouldn't be so bad but the waits for food, drink and bill were often just too damn long. We ordered three items (grilled pear appetizer, a flatbread, and french fries) and waited interminably for them to show up. We were seated at 9:15 or so and the first food was not on the table until after 10:05 and then the plates dribbled out piecemeal and we were incorrectly served bruchetta instead of the flatbread we ordered. Drinks (especially water refills) were very, very slow as well. But the thing that made the service especially bad in our case was the terrible wait for the bill. We were done and ready to leave before midnight. I wanted to catch the 12:15 bus home because it was a 40-45 minute wait for the next bus if we missed that one. We waited, and waited, for them to bring the bill back. It took 20 minutes after Chris gave them his card! Needless to say, we missed the bus and had to stand out on the street for another 40 minutes. I didn't leave with a very favorable impression of our waitress.

On the other hand, Can Can Chris recognized us and came over to say hello and how glad he was to see us. He noted that we hadn't been in for a while and I told him that we'd tried to drop in a few times but had been turned away at the door, so I assumed business was good and all. He admitted that he had mixed feelings about the situation because he didn't want to be turning away people who used to come regularly in the early days. He also told us about another show he's helping produce that will be over at the Triple Door and about their Tuesday night entertainment, "Juan-y Cash," their 15-year-old Hispanic Johnny Cash prodigy. This I've got to see!

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Vampire Moon

Friday night Chris and I headed out to the Egyptian for a midnight showing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode (Once More with Feeling) on the big screen. That is, of course, one of my very favorite episodes and I proposed to make it a group outing but in the the likely candidates for coming out with us either had conflicts or weren't able to get tickets. The line to get in when we finally showed up was around the block and longer than any SIFF line I'd ever seen at the Egyptian.

This Buffy musical event was put on by a group that's been traveling around to do the show. It's been in New York, LA, Chicago and elsewhere since starting up in Boston in 2004. If I was a bigger geek or obsessive fan of the show (I'm merely a person who liked it, not an episode quoting uberfan) I probably would have visited the group's MySpace page and known that they were handing out goodie bags, having trivia and fan-created videos, and a bunch of other stuff before the actual show. I appreciate their enthusiasm but after being told that "this is the awesomest, this is going to be the best night of your life" about six or seven different choreographed parts of the show, I was really, really ready for it to just start. Apparently I wasn't the only one as people started chanting "START THE SHOW! START THE SHOW!!" to the organizers' surprise and irritation. I enjoyed myself much more once they just started to roll the episode. Chris and I had a pact to duck out before the credits rolled so I don't know how they ended it or if the organizers came back out to reinforce how "awesome" it was once again. The episode itself would have been enough for me, though it was fun to be out with a bunch of other enthusiastic fans (and the various girls in bunny ears were pretty cute).

On the way home Chris and I both noticed that the full moon was HUGE in the sky. Gorgeous moon shot over the Amazon building, which I always love to see. I often carry my camera with me but didn't have it that night. Found out today that it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as the huge moon is an illusion! Space.com had an article all about how the nfull moon this weekend was at its lowest point in the sky for 2007 and that makes our puny human brains perceive it as being larger than usual. Neat!

Yesterday Kate and I had a frenzy of shopping, eating, movie watching, jewelry making, and mingling. Very busy day. It's our last weekend before she goes to her dad's for the summer and I'll only have two weekends with her the rest of summer break (except for the week that we're taking to go to Minnesota at the end of August) and the weather was finally summer-like so we took full advantage. Ended out he night hanging with Ray and Christine for a little barbecue action, ate some glorious Yukon River Salmon and grilled lamb and some outstanding strawberries and cream. Starting to feel like summer is actually here.

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My SIFF 2007 experience

We got a late start on the SIFF this year but I made an effort to get out there and catch a few movies in the last couple of weeks of the festival. Apparently, I also managed to miss all the GOOD movies. Of the award winners I only saw the Jury pick for Best Documentary (Out of Time, directed by Harald Friedl (Austria)).

My thoughts on my picks for this festival:

WHITE PALMS: Ultimately, while I was entertained by this film (and certainly didn't mind watching actual gymnasts strut their stuff for a while) it didn't have enough to stick with me for even two weeks afterward. I had to remind myself that I saw this film when I went to start this write-up. Not a good sign, really.

ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES: In retrospect, it was suitable as a g-rated film I could watch with Kate but that's about it. It wasn't quite a thrilling action-adventure, wasn't quite campy (despite some of the anachronisms and dated attitudes). I wouldn't recommend anyone go out of their way to catch it.

RETRIBUTION: Billed as "a supreme psycho-thriller" I think "thriller" is overstating by quite a lot. I found the plot muddled, the pacing terrible and the resolution worse, especially one of the final scenes that seemed to be tacked on as if they found some additional money in their effects budget. A disappointment even though it stars the excellent Kôji Yakusho.

TEKKONKINKREET: Anime. Aimed at adults this is no Miyazaki film. We took Kate with us to see this one (as we have fairly permissive standards and it was flagged as suitable for teens) and while not inappropriate it wasn't all that enjoyable for her. Like Princess Mononoke, the end gets all weird and dark and psychedelic. Enjoyable enough but I felt it was pretty inferior to the qulity of anime films offered at SIFF in years past (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle certainly).

IT DOESN'T HURT: I liked this film for the most part, even when the characters were acting in ways that the movie provided no context for. The actors were really good and engaging even when the screenplay let them down a bit. Being a Russian film it is infused with sadness and loss but it's about the most light-hearted sadness and loss infused Russian film I can recall seeing. Not exceptional but okay.

OUT OF TIME: The best of the matinees I caught this year, hands down. After last year's spate of downer (though excellent) documentaries I tried to confine myself to less dreary films. The story of four shops catering to "old school" clientčle and getting crushed. An old school butcher shop, a leather working shop, a high-end button shop, and a turn of the century drug store are all followed and eventually close (or continue to teeter on the very brink). The owner of the drug store in particular was quite engaging, roaming his empty store and exhorting non-existent customers to come buy the last of his ancient soap stock ("Can't get this anymore, this is the last bar!") in between stories of how he was a Russian prisoner of war. I was glad to see this won the Jury prize in its category.

STEALTH: Another film packed with excellent actors but a screenplay that holds them back. Written, directed by and starring Lionel Baier, this is a semi-autobiographical comedy about a young, gay Swiss man who becomes obsessed with his newly-discovered Polish ancestry. I chuckled at several points and found the main characters (the brother and sister) compelling but other times I was left wondering what kind of idiots made incomprehensible decisions and why. Close to being "pretty good" it ends up in retrospect as merely adequate.

YELLA: It turns out I would have much rather seen a story that was about Yella and Philipp roaming the countryside and working their business dealings than what the movie actually ended up being about. Interestingly, IMDB's description of the movie is "A woman's near-death experience causes her to relive another person's final moments in life," which is very different than how SIFF promoted it. Had I been thinking of the IMDB tag when I went to see it, I might have enjoyed it more. As it happened, I found the story veered to either confused or predictable with far too little time at any enjoyable in between places. Excellent cast, though.

BLOOD ON THE FLAT TRACK: THE RISE OF THE RAT CITY ROLLERGIRLS: We were on hand for the world premier of this one. Saw a few people we knew in the crowd as well (including the back of one Mr. Mona's head). This was probably my favorite film of the festival. It helped that we were there with the Rollergirls themselves in attendance (dressed to the nines, befitting their VIP status) and the theater occasionally erupted with cheers and applause from various fans and friends of the teams and factions. I laughed my ass off in several parts. Holy crap, Basket Casey stole the show! Loved it, just loved it. We were at the Bumberbout last year, which was included in the film, so that also heightened our enjoyment. Took Kate to this one (and she saw the mom of one of her school friends while we waited in line) and will be taking her to next weekend's Big Gay Bout as well. Unlike Miss Fortune and Hot Flash, Kate and I will not be the next mother-daughter derby pair as we both agree we're pussies who don't want to get hurt.

SCARAMOUCHE: Unlike Ali Baba, Scaramouche was unqualified awesome! Twists, turns, smartass scoundrels and sassy sirens, swashbuckling excitement and laughs, lots of laughs. Loved this archival presentation and was very happy that we got to see it. After two satisfying films in a row I was feeling a little better about the SIFF overall at this point, too.

LITTLE BOOK OF REVENGE: Our last film of SIFF 2007. With a title like this, I had to see it. A black comedy from Quebec, this one actually lived up to its press (There was actual comedy! Yay!) and we laughed a bunch. The character actors were all excellent and the pacing and screenplay seemed particularly good after slogging through some of our earlier choices. The director was on hand for a Q&A but we couldn't stay for it. A satisfying end to our festival experience, we gave this one a thumbs up.

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Operation Half-Birthday: Success

Cake close up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Because Kate's actual birthday fell during the Great Windpocalypse of '06, causing days of power outages across the city and so on, it's fair to say her birthday was kind of a bust. I promised her that we'd do a "make up" party and yesterday was the day.

We started by getting up early to try to go get passport stuff sorted, only to find me tearing the house apart looking for her passport and my certified copies of the divorce decree and parenting plan. To my immense frustration, I did something "smart" with my paperwork (putting it in some "safe" place I've still not uncovered) and while I eventually turned up the birth certificate, I'm just going to go buy a second certified set of copies at the courthouse tomorrow because I have NO idea where I "safely" put my others. I'm a dumbass.

Chris went off to play in his bi-weekly-ish Spirit of the Century game and Kate and I took the bus up to the SIFF Cinema where we watched Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. A little surreal to hear them talk about Baghdad and Basra (and how the people of Baghdad suffer under cruel invaders who need to be forced out) under the current conditions. Kate declared it was "better than that other one" (referring to our excursion to see Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast at the SIFF theater back in March).

On the way to and from the theater we listened to the last bit of the audio book of The Amulet of Samarkand (which we'd been listening to in the car on the way to Vancouver until Kate was no longer allowed to travel). We finished it up and I must say it was a very enjoyable book. Reader Simon Jones absolutely MAKES the audio book. He's great. I've become a big fan of certain readers in the audio book circles and I'm adding Simon Jones to my list of favorites immediately. He reads the next two books in the series as well, so I'm definitely going to be listening to the whole trilogy.

We got home just in time to pick up the Flexcar and the cake and dash off to the Family Fun Center. Kate picked out a Pirates of the Caribbean cake. Funny that the character of Will Turner was such a non-entity to her that she kept referring to the figures on the cake as "Jack Sparrow and Orlando Bloom." I have an unbelievably large amount of cake left. I may ask Chris to bring it to Flying Lab to get it out of the house!

The kids had a great time at the Fun Center, playing laser tag, dousing each other on the bumper boats (once it stopped raining), riding virtual roller coasters and eventually conning some of the parents who attended into paying for tokens so they could win tickets for a large amount of cheap plastic crap at the prize counter. Multiple kids told me the party was "awesome" and thanked us repeatedly for inviting them on their way out the door. Kate thanked me profusely as well. I warned her that I don't intend to do another big party like this before she turns 16 and for now, she's satisfied.

Today we're SIFFing it again. This afternoon Chris and I catch "Japanese psycho-thriller" Retribution and tonight the whole family is going to go TEKKONKINKREET.

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Nancy Drew

Man, the next time I stupidly wonder aloud why I'm so tired someone should just slap me upside the head and say "Because you're SICK, stupid!" In full-blown sick mode at the moment (sneezing fits, congestion, aches, fatigue) and even having been chewing Zicam, drinking echinacea tea, and taking DayQuil (which usually works pretty well for me) I'm definitely feeling it. Limping along through the day...

So, anyway, Nancy Drew. From 1977 to 1979, I was a huge fan of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries television series. (I was oddly attracted to Shaun Cassidy for reasons I can't begin to fathom now. Parker Stevenson was far cuter to my adult eye... and I thought that maybe he was just too "adult" to be attractive to a seven year old, but my lifelong love of Harrison Ford's Han Solo flies in the face of that theory. Oh well, I was a child, what can I say?) My memories of the Nancy Drew series remain fond and they fueled many games of pretend where I was a spunky child detective solving "mysteries" of my own. By the time I was in third grade, I had checked out all of the Nancy Drew mysteries from our public library and had started on the Hardy Boys series (while I liked the Hardy Boys on tv just fine, I always enjoyed Nancy Drew books better).

I've written before that Kate and I have played several of the Nancy Drew computer games together. Kate is not the avid reader that I was at her age; she loves stories but reading comes harder to her and she still struggles enough that reading for "fun" isn't much fun after all. Still, we've listened to all the Nancy Drew stories that have been released in audiobook format. Kate follows in my footsteps to Nancy Drew fandom as I followed my own mother. I imagine the feeling to be something like what sports fan parents feel when their kids discover their own love of the Cubs or the Broncos.

There have been several attempts to "update" Nancy Drew to appeal to kids today. I think this is foolishness! Nancy doesn't need to be turned into a pre-teen (ala the "Baby Looney Toons" fad of a few years back where all the classic cartoon characters were recast as diaper-wearing toddler versions of themselves) or made into a boy-crazy would-be sorority girl to capture the attention of today's Bratz-loving grade schoolers. There is a new movie out this summer that neither Kate nor I am looking forward to (but will probably see despite our skepticism) because, well, Nancy Drew isn't a Valley Girl! There's also a modern series of books (Nancy Drew Girl Detective) which aimed at the 8-12 year old audience (which is firmly where I was when I was reading the originals) but in a dumbed down and modernized tone that's unrecognizable as the Nancy Drew of the previous 70 years.

I'd been thinking that maybe my expectations were unrealistic, that my memories of the Nancy Drew mysteries of my childhood were those typical overly rosy impressions of youth (like my crush on Shaun Cassidy). To my delight, I can say that's not the case! One of the things I picked up at Scarecrow Video the other night was a DVD of the collected Nancy Drew episodes from the tv show. Kate and I watched the pilot episode and one other together last night and that old show holds up! Pamela Sue Martin IS Nancy Drew. She's clever and accomplished without being a know-it-all, she's remarkably pretty and extremely fashionable without needing supporting characters to comment on her clothing choices. You just notice that she's put together. She's exuberant and genuinely appealing. Sure, there are some hilarious gaffes in the 70s show (like scenes that are clearly being filmed in broad daylight but which claim to be taking place in the middle of the night, or scenes of the California coast which are supposedly in New England) but for a television show of that era the quality is really there. Most importantly, Nancy is the Nancy we expect. Kate watched this with me and loved it (though she hates the doofus casting of Ned as an uptight geek/comedy relief character; that's a valid complaint).

The treatment of Nancy Drew today, which foolishly relies on inane superficialities instead of focusing on those timeless characteristics that make Nancy Drew so iconic, reminds me a bit of the constant search for "the girl game" in the game industry. That approach is never going to get the desired result. The 1977 series shows it's possible to do Nancy Drew for the screen and to do it right.

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Working Weekend

I don't know why working through the weekend made me so tired but it has. I tried to balance work with some time out for good food and just relaxing and shooting the shit with the guys but man, I'm beat. I can only imagine it's worse for Rob and Steve, as they have the time difference to adjust to and travel on top of that. Still, great stuff got settled this weekend and I'm feeling very enthusiastic about the subjects of our meetings.

Carmelita was excellent as ever. Meyer lemon risotto with asparagus and fava beans? Sign me up! I shouldn't have gone in for dessert but just couldn't say no to the vanilla bean panna cotta with blood orange sauce and candied rose petals as I was never going to have another chance to try that particular concoction. Wow, good choice! Delicious.

We started things later today and I made pumpkin pancakes (and a Guinness cake) for everyone during the day, with dinner at Judy Fu's for good measure. Operation "Feed the Staff" was generally a success, except for the abysmally long wait at Crave. On the way home I ran them by Scarecrow Video, because everyone should visit Scarecrow at least once. Scarecrow was surprisingly vacant! I guess the combination of it being the end of a long weekend and the start of the SIFF (so all the cinephiles are doing that instead of renting DVDs) combined and had people going elsewhere. We roamed around Scarecrow for a while, Kate and I picked up a couple of videos, and we came back to GRHQ to cap the weekend with a viewing of Bill Hicks' Sane Man.

All this getting out and mingling with people is bad for my health, though. I seem to have picked up a particularly annoying sore throat and now that I'm home and tucked in for the night I can feel a headache (not fully formed) coming on. My throat hurts from talking and laughing with my fellows. The last four days have been good but tiring and tomorrow it's back to work as usual, with the additional burdens of having to sort our broken washing machine and getting the remaining documents for Kate's passport process sorted out.

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TV Party

So I was listening to Black Flag's TV Party the other night and was overcome by the urge to have a TV party. For those unfamiliar with the song, I've linked to the lyrics but the thing that makes the song goofy and funny isn't reflected in the lyrics. After they swear they're dedicated to their favorite shows, the guys in the band yell out various popular tv shows like: That's Incredible!, Hill Street Blues, Dallas, Quincy ("Ladies and Gentlemen, you are about to enter the exciting world of forensic medicine..."), Dynasty.

Checking out Wikipedia's 1982 in Television entry, it seems like we could do a 1982 TV party (making it a nice flat 25th anniversary) and pull in a lot of other great awful shows. M*A*S*H* was still on in 1982, as was Happy Days, Little House on the Prairie, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Three's Company, Benson, Dukes of Hazzard, The Facts of Life, Trapper John, M.D., Magnum P.I., Gimme a Break!, Knight Rider, and The Fall Guy. 1982 was the last year for WKRP in Cincinnati, Fridays, Barney Miller, Mork and Mindy, and Bosom Buddies. 1982 was the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo/Robin Duke era of Saturday Night Live. So much awful tv to draw from!

I presented the idea to my dinner companions on Friday and received a pretty enthusiastic response. I'm thinking it'll take some time to put something like this together but the more I think about it, the more I think it's something that just has to be done! Make it an all-day affair, like Toren's Cartoon Party, where people can come and go as they feel like it. If it's too hard to get a hold of the TV shows, we could always branch out into films from 1982, though that does stretch the "TV" part of TV Party. Still, 48 Hours? E.T. the Extra-Terristrial? First Blood (aka "Rambo")? Mazes and Monsters? Nightshift? Poltergeist? Oh yeah.

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Date Night

Kate's class left for their three day-two night trip to Victoria, BC. Since I took the hit on the OPI trip last fall, Mark is joining the kids in Victoria this time around. Kate was thrilled that her dad was coming and that all of the kids were going to get to meet him and see her other homeland. She's very proud to have been born in Canada.

Since we had a Kate-free night, Pramas and I didn't want to waste it just sitting at the house. Instead, we made plans to have dinner at Andaluca and then finally see Zodiac.

Andaluca was very nice. They're one of the 25 for $25 restaurants that we'd never been to and with that promotion coming to a close this week, we seized the opportunity. Overall, we had a nice experience. We arrived promptly and before most of the dinner crowd had filed in, were greeted warmly, served pleasantly and the food arrived in good time. Everything was delicious: sausage and cheese stuffed dates, sweet onion risotto, paella, the banana semifrio. There was some convention or other which reminded me very much of the ALA crowd, educated and bookish sorts. I met a woman in the washroom who confirmed that it's some sort of historical preservation group. Also having dinner at the next table over was Dr. Pepper Schwartz who was showing off copies of her upcoming book (Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years, not out until June. She was late to dinner because of backed up traffic on I-90 (which Googling has shown was because of an overturned semi during rush hour.

Zodiac was long and complicated but I really enjoyed it. "What a story!" as my sister-in-law would say. I'd completely forgotten some of the twists of the case. I thought the cast was great, despite the kind of dreary and cerebral central plot.

I took pics of the meal but I'm too tired to go about posting them tonight. They'll be on Flickr when I get around to it. For now, sleep in a warm bed.

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La Belle et la Bęte

We have Rosie the Dog as a house guest again this weekend. Kate is very happy about this and has been showering the sweet canine girl with attention. One small mishap: Kate left a ziplock bag that had previously contained leftover pizza out where Rosie could get it and this morning I came downstairs to a very guilty-looking dog and shredded plastic. I love that dogs have a conscience and the decency to be ashamed of themselves when they're bad. The first day Rosie was here, Bonnie was very out of sorts, running around the room upstairs thumping her foot repeatedly even though Rosie never got closer than the hallway outside of Kate's room. Her little bunny danger sense was tingling, I guess.

At John and Jenny's invitation, and after another great dinner at Panos Kleftiko, we took Kate out to see Jean Cocteau's 1946 film of Beauty and the Beast last night at the new SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center last night. Black and white French film, subtitled. Really interesting movie (if you like that sort of thing, which I do). Amazing make-up and costuming, especially for the time. I told Kate she was getting some culture. Heh. Some of the subtitles moved a little fast for her but basically it was alright and she enjoyed herself. I have to say, now the talking furniture and dancing candlesticks of the Disney film make more sense.

It was also a notable evening because it marked the first time Kate has willingly, enthusiastically brought a book she was reading along to entertain herself while the adults talked at dinner or on the bus ride. She's deep into The Westing Game which she got for Christmas from Hal. Kate's loving it.

We didn't get home and to bed until after 1:00am, so we slept in this morning and then lazed around eating pumpkin pancakes and bacon. This afternoon while Pramas was out giving Spirit of the Century a spin, I took Kate out to run errands. I've restocked the fridge and have ingredients on hand for Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs, Superfast Kefta, Roasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Scallop Chowder, Avgolemono, and Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Soup. I'll be sure to report back if there's anything among those recipes worth adding to my recipe pages. I've also got some salad and sandwich fixings for lunch as I've been relying entirely too much on canned ravioli to get me through the day.

Nice weekend so far. Now, Viva Pińata!

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Children of Men

Finally got to see this one last night. It lives up to the hype, thank goodness. Chris pointed out, and I agree, that it is nice to see a science fiction movie done in this way with a good story, solid acting, and without the reliance on special effects. In the same way that movies based on comics too often rely on special effects and don't bother with a tight story ("That was Lex Luther's evil master plan? Really? Lame.") sci-fi movies fall into the same trap of lingering on the neato-cool special effects and letting everything else fall away (I'm looking at you, George Lucas!).

I have to say I'm liking Clive Owen. I'd never seen him before Sin City and came away from that movie remembering his name. I had the same experience with Kevin Spacey after seeing him in The Usual Suspects. I look forward to seeing more of him.

As the credits rolled, a younger woman at the end of our row said, "Man, that was depressing." I laughed to myself because I didn't find it particularly depressing. Life in America today is depressing! Watching as we hurtle toward global war, cultural bankruptcy, and planetary extinction every day in the real world is depressing! That movie? Dark, sure. Brutal? In places. Depressing? Ha. HA, I say.

Anyway, good film. I look forward to seeing it again.



Bend it like Beckham

It was sweltering today, so I begged and whined until I got my way and finally got to see this movie! Ah, air-conditioned comfort! Seattle has so few truly unpleasantly hot days, we're always a bit taken aback when they hit. When temps get into the 90s, most Seattle homes don't have any air conditioning to compensate, and fans lose their effectiveness when they're just blowing hot air over you.

Bend it like Beckham was a cute movie, as I expected, David Edelstein's snarky review notwithstanding. It was a perfectly acceptible family film, and a fine way to spend a couple hours. Had to explain a scene or two that went over Kate's head, and especially what "Paki" meant and why the cute English-Indian heroine reacted so angrily when she was called it.

Saw previews for several art-house films that I'll be wanting to see. I've flagged but still haven't seen the documentary on Andy Goldsworthy. Definitely want to catch that before it leaves theatres, not much time left on that one I fear. I watched and enjoyed Rabbit Proof Fence, though it was not "family friendly" as the review I read claimed, at least not for my tender-hearted daughter who sobbed her way out of the theatre at the end. In a similar vein was the preview for Whale Rider, which looked right up my alley. And another documentary-style movie on birds and flight, called Winged Migration. I would much rather see any of these movies than be forced to sit through even another preview of Dumber and Dumberer, or Daddy Daycare! I'll take the art house ANY day.



X2, redux

Chris, Kate and I went to see X-Men United together last night. Chris and I had seen the movie separately on opening weekend, but it seemed like the kind of thing we could enjoy with Kate as well, so we gave it a shot. Kate loved it, except for the mushy kissing (and, she noted, the Wolverine she knows from the cartoon would never cry). She was sharp-eyed and caught the shadowy phoenix at the end. The general lack of blood from Wolverine's snikt, snikt action was definitely a plus for this family's entertainment.

Seeing the movie again reaffirmed my preferred theory about why Jean goes out at the end in the way that she does. The one criticism I've heard several of my friends voice about the ending is they can't understand why Jean left the plane and sacrificed herself. My theory on that was that from the beginning they tried to establish that Jean was having these uncontrollable surges of power: at the museum she starts overhearing the thoughts of everyone in the room, becoming "overloaded" and causing the tv screens in the room to start malfunctioning; Cyclops tells us that she's been having nightmares that "make the whole room shake"; when she tries looking into Nightcrawler's mind, it gets too intense and she has to break contact suddenly (she apologizes to Nightcrawler); when fighting against the mind-controlled Cyclops, she damn near releases a nuclear explosion (and since she's fighting against her lover, we assume she doesn't want to kill him or blow the whole place up...subduing him ought to have been enough, but she "surged" with power again). But the time they get to the jet, and it's inexplicably shut down, Jean understands that she's the one causing the problem, through powers she can't control. She leaves the jet in order to make sure everyone else gets away, and (knowing Cyclops will insist on trying rescue her, or waste precious time trying to convince her she's wrong) she takes matters into her own hands, blocks their efforts, and sacrifices herself.

Seeing it the second time really let me pick up that thread during the story. I was surprised that I saw that thread in the movie where so many of my comic-geek friends did not! Maybe it's a chick-thing?

Kate, after the final voice-over, said, "Oh, I totally thought she was going to come back." She will, sweetie, you just wait for X-men 3. For now, let's just start the count-down to the next ding dang Harry Potter novel.

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Ah, I see it's in vogue for the cool kids to say that X2 isn't a great movie. Bah. I thought X-Man 2 was a rockin' good time, and as good a movie as one could hope to get out of a comic book/animated series property. Silly, pedestrian me. I quite enjoyed it and am eager to go see it again. I guess all the King Geeks are still showing the rest of us how cool and jaded they are. You know the ones, the kind who when you say "Hey, have you seen Homestarrunner.com? Those Strong Bad e-mails are a hoot!" they're the first to respond that yes, they've been watching Strong Bad's e-mails regularly, and they really were better about a year ago before "everyone" discovered the site.


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Oh so busy

Yesterday I was in the house for about an hour. My friend Greg and his two girls were in town, waiting for wife/mom Nichole to finish some certification training she was doing. Haven't seen Greg in, oh, 15 years or so. In addition to taking a painting across town to be scanned, and making trips to the post office and UPS, handing a ton of important time-sensitive e-mail that popped up ("Where are we supposed to ship these books today?" Um, the same damn warehouse address I've given you for the last 6 books, perhaps? "Your account is going to be canceled in 4 days unless you update your billing information!" So, of the three billing options you have saved in regards to my account you can't find *one* that you like?... Hey where's my restock shipment for books X, Y, and Z that I'm now out of stock on?? Blah, blah, blah.), I also received a delivery of new books and drove copies across town so certain contributors could have them before the weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit with Greg and his girls. I took Kate out of school and let her and the girls have the run of the Seattle Children's Museum for a couple of hours. After a quick lunch, it was back to running around trying to get Kate's things packed for her weekend with her dad, including digging up her birth certificate, her social security card, and other things she needed for her border-crossing interview (her dad applied to get her some sort of fast pass thingy to make their regular border crossings easier).

Several hours of brutal traffic jams later, I found myself at the Cascade Mall, child-free and with no one waiting for me to return to Seattle at any particular time. I took advantage of this and bought tickets to the first available showing of X-Men 2. It was a couple hours until I could get into the movie, so I bought a couple of books that caught my eye at Waldenbooks, headed out for a sandwich at Quiznos, and spent probably an hour reading in the comfy chairs at Starbucks, drinking coffee and waiting for showtime.

I loved X-Men 2! So good I just about needed a cigarette afterwards! Heh. The good thing (for me) is that I'm familiar enough with the source material that I can enjoy the character development and plot of the movie without the crippling geek affliction of knowing everything so well that the slightest deviation from the comic books (or novels or whatever a Geek Favorite movie is based on) ruins the geek's ability to just enjoy the movie. Thus, I was able to groove on the fact that the name Remy LeBeau flashes past on a computer screen (and say to myself, "Ooh, does this mean Gambit for X3?") and just go on back to enjoying the film. Hooray for me.

When I got back to Seattle, I curled up in bed, munched some White Cheddar Cheetos, listened to the Old School Rap station that my digital cable system provides, and did crossword puzzles until I was tired enough to fall asleep. Good, productive, fun day.

I will probably write more over the weekend on various topics ranging from my youthful obsession with Rick Springfield, my thoughts on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a movie, the childhood friends I've managed to reconnect with thanks to the internet, the book Jarhead, and why I've saved two books filled with angsty teen poetry that wasn't even written by me. But for now, Chick needs coffee.

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Went to see A Mighty Wind yesterday afternoon. I found it entertaining, and there were times in the theater where the audience was laughing so much that the follow-up lines were missed. The cast was excellent, but there were several times where I felt the pace didn't quite clip along in the same snappy way as Best in Show (which in turn was criticized for not being as snappy as This is Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman). Quite enjoyable nonetheless, and nice to see such a quirky, non-standard film in such wide release (it was on four screens at the theater I chose yesterday, and playing all over the rest of the city as well).

Grabbed a coffee after the movie and tried to dodge the panhandlers parked in front of every door to every venue and parking garage downtown. I'm not unsympathetic to the needs of the down and out! Far from it. But I am wary of being scammed by people who make a living standing on street corners, and I dislike being hassled for money on the rare occasions that I actually venture out of my house to enjoy the city.

Made good on my threat to call Ray, and sure enough, when we called he was all in favor of our dropping by. Christine was out with John Tynes at a birthday party/cooking class they'd been invited to, but the menu was quite seafood-heavy and since Mr. Ray is deathly allergic to seafood, he'd had to decline the invite while they went on without him. Chris and I took him down to The Ave instead, for some nice, safe sausages.

Walked over to Scarecrow Video to find something else fun to watch. Chris found a Hong Kong flick he'd been hoping to see, but it was Region 3 and our player at home is not one of those new-fangled Multi-Region players, so he gave it a pass. Ray came away with a delightfully awful vampire movie called The Vampire Lovers. Lesbian vampires, a goofy green-skinned man on a black horse, and Peter Cushing as "General von Spielsdorf" in a kick-ass flowery smoking jacket. What more could we ask? It was awful and delicious and I laughed my ass off.

Partway through The Vampire Lovers, John and Christine returned to the house and joined us in the home theater room for a while. Christine went off to bed before the movie's dramatic conclusion, but John stayed for the whole thing. I had a single cocktail (Chris was curious about this Japanese cocktail he'd been hearing about, so, ever the gracious host, Ray mixed up a few) and then headed home at a civilized hour in the hope that I'd have energy to mow the lawn this morning.

As morning is nearly over and I'm just now getting around to having coffee, lawn mowing will be waiting until afternoon.

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Shanghai Knights

It seems like it's getting more and more difficult to find family entertainment. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have pretty loose standards about what Kate is allowed to watch. She's seen plenty of Jackie Chan, she's seen lots of anime, she's even watched a couple of episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with us. We've watched PG-13 movies together and even a few R-rated movies. Fellowship of the Ring was no problem for her.

However, she's still a bit on the young side for things like The Recruit or How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, regardless of their PG-13 ratings. The Quiet American or Tears of the Sun are far in the future. While searching tonight for a movie to go see as a family, we considered Daredevil, but the savage reviews put me off. Shanghai Knights was just what the doctor ordered (having seen Shanghai Noon with Kate, she knew what to expect) and blessedly saved us from having to consider Kangaroo Jack or Jungle Book 2.

[Brief rant: Are we so creatively bankrupt that the only thing we can think to create for "child friendly" movies are so-called sequel movies to 50-year old "classic" cartoons? What is with the spate of re-hashed movies like Cinderella 2, Jungle Book 2, or worst of all 101 Dalmatians II (not to be confused with 102 Dalmatians, the live-action sequel to the live-action remake of the "classic" cartoon)?! Hello, Disney? Can't you even pretend to have an original thought by at least giving us "sequels" with somewhat evocative names like Cinderella and the Temple of Ultimate Evil, or Mowgli: the Parent Trap?! ARGH.]

Anyway, Shanghai Knights was bland, inoffensive entertainment for the whole family. There were a few chuckles, many groaners, and while some may complain that Jackie Chan wasn't doing his "Jackie Chan Thing" enough, I'll admit to being relieved that he's cut out some of the wild "stunts for stunts sake" craziness that has marred some of his other American films. I love Jackie Chan and I greatly feared that as he aged he would continue to push himself to do jaw-dropping stunts until it killed him. NO threat of that in this movie, and that's ok with me. Owen Wilson does his Owen Wilson patter. It's exactly what I expected it would be and it saved me from kid-movie hell. Woot!

If you're looking for a decent "kid movie" I can recommend The Wild Thornberrys Movie with a clear conscience. If only there were more quality movies like that out there for us!

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I used to be fascinated with the timing of seemingly random events, coincidence, synchronicity. Like when you're thinking of an old friend you haven't heard from in years only to receive a card or a phone call or an e-mail from them, or see their name in the paper. For a while in my twenties, after years of being very aware of the common thread running through an experience or feeling deja vu frequently, I stopped noticing. The mundane became truly mundane, synchronicity wasn't something popping into my consciousness as I went about my life.

Last night I watched Network on DVD. I hadn't seen the movie since I was a kid, too young to really "get" the film in any meaningful way. For those who aren't familiar with Network, it's a fantastic film and creepily close to what we see now with the advent of Reality TV, modern shock talk shows, and "extreme" everything. If you've every heard anyone quip, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" it comes from this movie. Several times over the coarse of the show, the mad prophet anchor tells people to get up, throw open their windows, stick their heads out, and scream that line or another in the same vein.

Anyway, the DVD ends and as I'm ejecting the disc, the last 5 minutes of whatever was on the Food Network pops up on the screen. Happens to be an episode of Good Eats with our favorite theater-major-turned-food-guru, Alton Brown. It was an episode I'd never seen before, something about coleslaw. The episode draws to a close, and one of the other actors (Good Eats uses a lot of skits and actors as hapless food buffoons to give Brown a stage from which to share his particular quirky brand of cooking savvy) asks if Alton has anything else he wants to say. Sleepily, I click to attention as I hear him say, "Well, yes. I want you all to go to your windows, throw them open, stick your heads out and yell [something something something... I think the cartoon sound of my head whipping around as I did my double take drowned out exactly what he was saying]... I want SLAW!"

A younger Nikchick would have been convinced this was a sign of *something* to come. The older Nikchick merely took note and delighted in the strange, entertaining event, and toddled off to bed.

I woke up to find that on the right hand, the Chair of an organization I volunteer for just made a major, last-moment decision to significantly alter an event in progress, and that decision is mightily unpopular with volunteers, administrators, and participants alike. Major shit-storm to ensue in T-minus 3, 2, 1. Hoorah.

On the left hand, I was asked to step into an Executive Committee position with another organization where I serve as a volunteer as the position is being vacated after (as near as I can tell) a series of rather unpleasant personal interactions between a member of the board and one or more of the organization's key staff members. Half of me feels that I should step up and help the organization in any way I can, the other half of me wants to scream that I've had enough of their stupid bickering and they can all go to hell in a hand basket for all I care. I have no doubt this situation will cause no end of chaos with the organization and it reminds me why I hate politics so deeply. Anyone wanting to enact even the most benign change, to pursue some ideal for the common good, is pulled down to roll around in the mud and suffer for their good intentions. It's enough to make a person want to pack it in, I swear.

Definitely looking forward to my "girls' weekend away" in San Diego at the end of this week.

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