Friday, July 28, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's First Line:

In the Mood by Glenn Miller

Composed by Joseph C. Garland and Andy Razaf, the main theme of the song appeared in the late 1920's as the Tar Paper Stomp. Miller's recording of the song reached #1 in 1940 and remained in the top spot for 13 weeks. After a bit of research, I learned that a few differing versions of the lyrics were recorded, just like the one recorded by The Andrews Sisters.



This week's FLF didn't occur to me until I sat at my desk this morning, listening to K-CRW on my iTunes. The soft voice and simple guitar floated through the tiny speakers, and I found myself humming along.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...


This might be a toughie, as I think more people are familiar with the theme than with the lyrics. It appeared in a seminal film of the 1970s and also became the theme song to its corresponding, long-running TV show. In 1988, the song won an ASCAP for "Most Performed Feature Film Standards."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Weekend Reviews in Brief

I had hoped to post this yesterday, but with meetings, a book group, and season 3 of Project Runway, the time to post anything quickly disappeared. So I intend to recap the events of the past weekend because my boyfriend and I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of that cultural stuff in between blasts of humidity.

Friday Evening

After my three-and-a-half hour session with the ophthalmologist and an intense 5 hours at the office, I sped to the boyfriend's apartment. Thanks to a couple bowing out of their season tickets, we scored two orchestra seats to the latest production of Rent at the Pantages. We met the boyfriend's friends outside the theater and enjoyed some small talk and joking around -- one of them actually thought that Hezbollah was a character in Wicked -- before entering. The show...the show. My fourth time seeing it, and before going into this evening, I thought that I would never tire of it. How wrong I was! The cast missed many cues. The stage band often overshadowed the voices. Some sound effects failed to work (i.e., the ringing phone). Speakers blocked a portion of the stage so I missed a bit of the acting. The audience, while being enthusiastic, constantly reminded me with their cheering and nervous excitement before a song that I was sitting in a theater. They seemed to treat the show as more of a concert, and during the I'll Cover You (reprise) after Angel's death, I expected to see cigarette lighters waving from the balcony.

Saturday

Sweat dripped down our foreheads and backs without even setting foot outside. The heat and humidity dulled our senses so we couldn't decide what to do and wound up spending quite a bit of time at Borders browsing and buying books. We sat in his living room reading for the remainder of the day, and I managed to finish The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. I hope to never have to read another one of her books.

Sunday

More heat and unbearable humidity with which to contend. And with my boyfriend on a liquid diet for the entire day due to an impending visit to his gastro-enterologist, we desperately needed something air-conditioned to occupy our time. We both agreed that a movie was in order and opted for Superman Returns. I was reluctant to see this one, but with the promise of two-and-a-half hours hiding from the humidity, I followed my boyfriend into the theater. SR wasn't as bad as I anticipated, but it didn't wow me, either. Nice special effects, and a fairly good storyline. Not much delving into the characters. The director must have told Brandon Routh only to look pretty and to flex occasionally because his Superman kept his mouth shut for most of the film. Kate Bosworth gave an unlikable performance as Lois Lane; I felt that she really didn't deserve either Superman or Richard. Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey were under utilized as Lex Luthor and his moll Kitty Kowalski. The use of John Williams's score from the previous Superman films surprisingly disappointed me, reminding me too much of the Christopher Reeve's films. I kept expecting Céline Dion to burst into the fim at any moment singing Can You Read My Mind? We returned to the apartment wonderfully refreshed for a few moments until the oppressive heat almost knocked us out.

Monday

First activity of the day was to offer moral support while my sweetie experienced a flexible sigmoidoscopy. Memories from my full colon search over a year ago re-affirmed not allowing him to go to the doctor alone. Fortunately, he was in and out within 15 minutes; unfortunately, he remained awake during the procedure. And the doctor didn't even offer to buy him breakfast!! We stopped for a large meal at Polly's Pies -- turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes for him; an avacado-bacon-cheese omelette for me -- then a brief stop through Target just for the heck of it. We both felt a bit restless after returning to his apartment so we scanned the papers for a movie and decided on Monster House in 3-D. Find a theater showing this film in 3-D if you can! It made the movie much more enjoyable -- not because of silly screen tricks, but because it added so much depth to the visual aspect fo the film. A great story that touches on the humor and mystery of being a child. Wonderful effects. Loved all the voices -- even Kathleen Turner as the house! An absolutely fantastic film!

Though my boyfriend mentioned as we ate a chocolate chip calzone from Claim Jumper that the movie made the fat person out to be the villain and that no people of color were the main characters. Personally, I think he was just moody from having a camera shoved up his ass.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tell Me More About My Eyes

Friday morning began with what I had hoped would be a quick appointment with an ophthalmologist: check my eye to figure out why it continued to tear up after two months and numerous antibiotics. I sank into a seat in the waiting room at 9 AM (for a 9:15 appointment), filled out some extra paperwork and settled into my book. At 10:30, the nurse finally called my name, and I followed her to a long, thin room with a white vinyl chair hidden behind some equipment that may have appear in a Tim Burton movie. She performed a quick vision test, verified the prescription of my new glasses and said that the doctor would be with me shortly. I thought of reading a bit more in my book, but my eyes were already tired from the last 40 pages read while in the waiting room. I wouldn't have had time, anyway, as the doctor appeared a few minutes after the nurse. He checked my vision with and without the glasses and started writing notes in my file. As he wrote, he tried to sell my on Lasik, that I would be a great candidate because my eyes were just the right shape, I wouldn't rely on glasses any longer, isn't that what I always wanted. My eyes focused on the Snellen chart directly over his right shoulder, and I allowed him to jabber on while I went over the reports waiting for me at the office.

When I thought he'd finished, I halfheartedly told him that I would think about it. He seemed pleased with that so we moved on to checking the teary eye. He added a yellow dye to each eye then glared at the lenses, lids and lashes under a magnifying glass. "Blepharitis, just as I thought." I mentioned that the optometrist said the same thing and had even prescribed an antibiotic ointment that didn't do anything. "It doesn't really go away. You have to constantly clean your eyes with like a capfull of baby shampoo diluted in water. Use a Q-tip to brush it across the lash line." He grabbed another bottle with a dropper as he talked and told me to lean back. I blinked the drops around my eyes and asked what those were for, thinking they were to help with the blepharitis. "To dilate your pupils so I can take a look at the retinas." He lead me back to the waiting room and said he would return in about 15-20 minutes, when my eyes would be ready.

I checked my watch after he disappeared around the corner with another file in his hands. 11:15 AM. And here I thought this would only take an hour, an hour-and-a-half at most. Get back to the office with enough time to finish my reports, write and send a newsletter to our clients, prep the office for the weekend. That was all shot to Hell so with nothing else to do, I picked up where I'd stopped in the book and read until my near vision began to blur, the letters growing unstable and melting into one another. 30 minutes later, I followed the nurse to another room, sat in the chair and waited.

Eventually, he re-appeared and focused a blinding white light into both eyes. Apparently, both my eyes have cups surrounding where the optic nerve attaches to the eye -- a possible early sign of glaucoma. "Your eye pressure is normal, and there doesn't appear to any unnatural curvature to the eyes. The cups could be naturally occurring, but I want to know for certain." He ordered a series of retinal photographs and scheduled a second appointment on Thurdsay for some field vision tests.

The nurse at the front desk squeezed me into the appointment book then handed me a roll of some reflective gray material to fit over my eyes until the pupils returned to normal size. I asked if my new sunglass clip-ons would be sufficient; she almost laughed me out of the waiting room. I finally left the doctor's office at 12:15 PM, resembling something freakish with that protective covering behind my glasses.

Friday, July 21, 2006

First Line Friday

To recap last week's First Line, this song, released in 1981, reached the top spot on the U.S. charts and was one of 8 Number One singles from this pop-soul duo.

Private Eyes from Hall & Oates




Back in 1981, I was still in elementary school!!! I still remember the video playing in constant rotation on MTV: Hall & Oates, along with their band, dressed in suits reminiscent of a 1940s film noir, standing in a small pyramid in front of the camera. They never left that formation, and the camera never left them. Fairly boring by today's music video standards, but back then, I think videos were more about the music and the artist, rather than the special effects.

Moving along to the latest First Line Friday, I've decided to go even farther back in time. This song first topped the U.S. music charts in 1940 -- one of the defining songs of the big band swing sound. The Andrews Sisters recorded a very popular vocals version, and years later, in 1973, Bette Midler included the song -- with re-worked lyrics -- on her Grammy-winning debut album. The original First Lines are:

Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size


Another song with "eyes" in it. I think I sense a trend somehow. Now, get away from your computers and enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bathroom Etiquette

While seated comfortably on one of the porcelain thrones, the door to the restroom creaked open, followed by a rather loud voice chatting away on his cell phone. The call sounded important as he asked for figures, who else was in the meeting, etc. etc. A few moments later, his undid his zipper and urinated -- at least I gathered as much from the faint tinkling I barely discerned through his loud conversation. I finished my business, fluhsed, and as I stepped through the stall door, the man turned from the urinal, phone clenched in the crook of his neck and shoulder to continue the conversation while his hands zipped up his fly, and walked out the door. He didn't flush. He didn't was his hands.

I'm sure the party on the other end of the call enjoyed the waterworks and the loud roar of flushing from my toilet -- which I had to do twice because the plumbing in my office building pre-dates landing on the Moon. Would it have been too much trouble to say, "I'll call you right back?" Was the phone call that urgent? And what's with the no flush and no wash? Ew!

I soaped and washed my hands under the hot water and grabbed the door handle through a thick layer of paper towels.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Those Canaan Days

In June, I asked my Dad what he would like to do for Fathers Day. He thought for a moment, and I imagined seeing images of Fathers Days past with barbecue tools, ties, DVDs and VHS tapes flashing across his face. He finally relied that he didn't know, that I should surprise him. Taking a tip from seeing Grease with my mom, I decided to surprise him the same way, and this past Sunday, the two of us saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I parked roughly three blocks from the Orange County Performing Arts Center so as to take advantage of the free parking structure. My Dad didn't seem to mind the brief walk, even though his right foot seemed to lag behind a bit. (He underwent a hip replacement last year, and from what I've read, the "heavy foot" is a very common side effect. So we took our time, enjoying the trees and the architecture.) What did concern about the show was the seating. My Dad's eyesight isn't what it used to be, and I tried to purchase two tickets in the Orchestra section. With them being sold out, the next best seats -- according to the attendant -- were located on the Second Tier in the Box Seats. My confused look prompted him to bring out the seating chart, and he pointed to the seats: located high in the theater but aligned almost dead center with the stage. No seats blocking the view so my Dad would be able to see all the action, the dancing, the singing. I liked them but wasn't sure how Dad would react to being so close to the ceiling.

I prepped him as we walked, but he waved my concerns away saying that it would be fine. Just as long as he could check out some headphones. We made the headphone kiosk our first stop once inside the theater then casually rode the elevator to the Second tier. The height turned out to be not as bad as I thought; the steepness of the steps, however, made me just a tad bit dizzy. My Dad and I both slowly, carefully worked our way along the rails, into our seats. And what a view! Dead center, with a perfect view of the entire stage and somewhat into the orchestra pit -- just as the man said. We settled in and within a few minutes, the show began.

The story comes directly from The Bible in the Book of Genesis, relating how Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers because of his multi-hued coat and of his wondrous dreams. His uncanny ability to interpret dreams eventually makes him the Second-in-Command (sort of) of the Pharaoh. When a great famine strikes the land, his brothers travel to Egypt to beg for food from the Pharaoh, not recognizing Joseph who puts them through a test to see if they've changed their ways. The musical version is full over colorful costumes, exhausting and upbeat dance routines, and touches on various musical styles (Country/Western, calypso, French cabaret, Elvis). And a man wearing nothing more than a cloth about his waist.

In this particular production, Patrick Cassidy played Joseph, complete with the rock-hard, six-pack abs. Oh, and a strong voice. Amy Adams, a finalist from one of the seasons of American idol, belted her way through as The Narrator. A local youth choir performed as the group of children listening to the story, which I thought to be a neat idea. But Todd DuBail stole the show as Pharaoh -- channeling Elvis. He appeared on stage sporting the thick, black mutton chops, a white cape with golden lining, and white, patent leather boots/sandals, rhinestoned sunglasses, and swiveling his hips and acting all shook up. The audience went nuts! (During the curtain call, he received the largest amount of applause.)

One thing neither of us expected was the Joseph MegaMix at the very end of the show. For those who haven't seen it, this song highlights the main songs and dances via a remix from the early 1990's. Very energetic, with blinding, multi-colored lights dropping from the ceiling, tons of stage smoke, and Joseph wearing his dreamcoat decked out in mirrored squares with a spotlight shining behind him. Quite the Hollywood flashy ending.

After the show, we dined at the Hamburger Mary's. I convinced him to order the Cheeseburger Caesar Salad because I knew my Mom would want to know that he was eating healthy. So when she asked what he ate, he could say with all confidence: "A salad."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Here, Thar Be Pyrates!

Saturday afternoon. Blazing sun. Heat wafting up in clouds from the sidewalks and pavement. The portable fans work admirably to try keeping us cool. Neither of us actually desires to set foot outside the apartment, but the distant clatter of swords and a faint hornpipe call to us like a Siren. We brace ourselves and dash through the outdoor oven, open the car doors and stand outside as the heat pours from the seats and dashboard, then quickly hop in and turn on the air-conditioner full blast. Even the cool air is no real match for the heat so we drive as quickly as possible to the theater, hoping to spend as little time waiting in the sun for tickets. Thankfully, only one or two people are buying tickets, and within moments, we stand inside, allowing the cool waves to wash over us.

Forgive me for that overly dramatic bit of writing. Sometimes, verbosity takes hold and, well, I just have to spew. And the above is the result. I was seriously tempted to try writing something in the style of pirate talk from back then, but with so many apostrophes and archaic words, I thought better of it. Plus, I can't tell my fo'c's'le from my aft so why bother? At any rate, my boyfriend and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Saturday afternoon. What a ride! Tons of action (loved the three-way sword fight on the water wheel); great special effects -- Davey Jones' face, his crew, the Crakken, the Flying Dutchman; a good sense of humor; more in-jokes about the ride in Disneyland; and fine acting. I honestly didn't realize that two and a half hours had passed, and can't wait for the third installment next May.

Afterwards, the Sun had not quite set, but the temperature dropped a few degrees, a cooler breeze brushing across our faces. We walked to a nice little Mexican restaurant overlooking the harbor then browsed through the music and DVDs at Tower Records. I listened to the score from the film, and thought Klaus Badelt composed it as it resembled the score from the first film: the same bombastic drums and brass only with a gentler song mixed in for the locket Davey Jones keeps. Hans Zimmer actually wrote the score for this one, seeming to borrow quite a bit from Badelt. I added it to my Wish List, and then we headed back to his apartment.

Friday, July 14, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's First Line:

Over the Moon from the musical Rent. Idina Menzel originated the role of Maureen on stage and in the movie version. Click here to view a brief clip of her performing the song. Little did I know how portentious my selection for last week was going to be: next Friday, my Sweetie and I will attend yet another performance of the show at The Pantages. That makes 4 times for me. I own the DVD, too. And the Broadway cast recording.

And the movie soundtrack.


I think it's time to leave the realm of showtunes and head for the Wayback Machine. With all the hassle over my eyes, this week's First Line also has something to do with eyes:

I see you, and you see me
But you're blowin' the lines
When you're making a scene


This song, originally released in 1981, made it all the way to the #1 spot on the Billboard Chart and was just one of the eight chart-topping singles from the pop-soul duo's 30-year career. It's also the title track from their multi-platinum album that featured four Top Twenty singles -- two of which reached the top spot consecutively.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"It does not hurt weak eyes to look into beautiful eyes never so long."

Ralph Waldo Emerson must not have been thinking of my eyes when he penned that sentence.

For the past two months, my left eye fills with tears for no reason, sometimes causing a mild pain along the sinuses. Most mornings, that eye feels completely dehydrated, eyelashes littered with a fine crusty stuff, a little goopiness filling the corner by the nose. The teary sensation usually begins at the office and lasts throughout the day, diminshing on the drive home; both eyes remain clear during the weekends. My first visit to the doctor, I walked away with a diagnosis of mild conjunctivitis and a tiny bottle of vigamox drops. Nothing changed. The optometrist suggested blepharitis and prescribed an antibiotic ointment along with a regimen of eye cleansing, massages and hydration. Again, nothing changed. Some days, my eye would overflow with the tears, stinging and red, and squinting as if I stared directly into the sun; every weekend, it would return to normal.

So I visited my doctor again yesterday evening. He wasn't sure what to tell me, though my sinuses showed minor signs of inflammation. If the eye problem were allergies, then both eyes should react instead of just the one. Pink Eye would have already affected my right eye rather than leave it untouched for two months. He suggested seeing an ophthalmologist and gave me a few names and numbers.

I haven't picked up the phone yet. Deep inside, I'm hoping that this will just resolve on its own, though reality tells me to stop being an idiot and make the call.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Andy Rooney Moment

[rant]
4th of July. Carefully poking my car's front into the street to check for oncoming cars because I can't see around the 4 SUVs that overtook the last remaining free parking space in Huntington Beach. My head brushes against the windshield then back against the headrest. No cars so I slowly urge the car forward, turn left onto the street then stop at the Stop sign. The slight slope to my left and more tightly packed cars obscure any oncoming traffic so I start to enter the intersection only to slam on my brakes thanks to the punk on his bicycle racing through, disregarding the Stop sign. He flips me off, and I resist the forceful urge to run him over.

Bicyclists in my neighborhood don't obey traffic signs. They race through stop-signed intersections without a care in the world, not noticing the cars that screech to a halt so as not to cause an accident. They jovially ignore oncoming cars, swerve into the middle of the street and lazily peddle along or jabber on cell phones. They block cars behind them as groups of five or six span the width of the two-lane streets, moving just faster than a blowing leaf.

Did I miss the memo where it exempted bicyclists from the authority of the Stop sign? If I were to drive through the intersection without stopping, car horns would honk, pedestrians would yell and shake their fists, and undoubtedly someone would call the police.
[/rant]

Monday, July 10, 2006

30/90

One movie that my boyfriend wanted to see this Summer was only playing in two theaters throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. So with us already scheduled to see a play later that evening, we headed for Los Angeles early Saturday afternoon to catch a screening of Strangers with Candy at the Laemmele's on Sunset Boulevard.

Adapted from the Comedy Central TV show of the same name, Strangers follows the misadventures of Jerri Blank, who, after being released from a 32-year prison term, decides to return to high school with the hope of reviving her Daddy from a coma. She wants to make him proud, and the only way to do that is by winning the school's science fair. Much of the original cast recreates their roles for the big screen, including Stephen Colbert as Chuck Noblet, the science teacher who has found God; Paul Dinello as Geoffrey Jellineck, the art teacher who's been having an affair with Chuck; Greg Hollimon as Principal Onyx Blackman; and Amy Sedaris as Jerri Blank, the ex-con with an overbite. Joining the cast are Matthew Broderick as Chuck Noblet's nemesis Roger; Sarah Jessica Parker as Peggy Callas, the grief counselor; and Allison Janney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the science fair judges. In a world where everyone takes things too seriously, we laughed our asses off at the politically incorrect and totally hysterical spoof of those ABC After School specials or Lifetime Movies of the Week.

We ate a late lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, watching all the hard bodies taking the escalators or the elevators to the Crunch gym then spent quality time shopping at the Virgin Megastore before heading to the theater.

We drove behind The Coronet theater, hoping to find a place to park amongst the houses, but disappointed thanks to all the Parking by Permit Only signs. So we circled back to the valet and allowed them to whisk the car away. I picked up our tickets then, with time to kill before CS and our other two friends arrived, we walked to the Beverly Center. I'd never before been inside and thought it might be neat to check things out, to see where the rich folk shop. The building rose eight stories at the intersection of La Cienega and San Vicente, but the majority of that was parking -- almost 5 stories of it. The top three floors contained all the shops, crammed into a small, dark space. No natural lighting. Expensive and overpriced clothing or electronics at every turn. And white walls and floors. I felt as if I were in a Beverly Hills sanatorium.

After using the bathroom, we made our way back to the theater and found CS and friends waiting. A few quick introductions and then into the theater for a production of Jonathan Larson's tick,tick...BOOM!.

tick, tick...BOOM! follows the story of Jonathan Larson as he prepares his first show for a workshop while trying to figure out what to do with his life as he approaches his 30th birthday within a few days. He had hoped to have a play running on Broadway, to be making a living doing what he loved, to have a family. But as the clock ticks down, all his worries and his dreams collide, forcing him to review his life and what he wants. Fantastic music, with much foreshadowing of what was to be in Rent, full of verbal trickery, contemporary music and even a parody of a Stephen Sondheim song. Superb performances from Andrew Samonsky as Jonathan, Wilson Cruz as his best friend Michael, and Tami Tappan Damiano as Jonathan's girlfriend Susan (whose incredible solo of Come To Your Senses blew the audience away). Heartwarming, funny and incredibly entertaining. After 90 minutes of singing and acting their hearts out without an intermission, we gave the performers a much-deserved standing ovation.

We couldn't have asked for a better end to the day and listened to the show's soundtrack all the way home.

Friday, July 07, 2006

First Line Friday

Congratulations to Matt over at A Guy's Moleskine Notebook for being the first to figure out last week's patriotic First Line: Irving Berlin's Oh! How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning. Berlin wrote this song for a musical revue while still in the Army. The show -- Yip Yip Yaphank -- was a tribute to Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, where he was stationed. Another song he wrote for the show but decided against using at the time: God Bless America.


This next one should be easier. In honor of the show that my Sweetie, my friend CS and I will attend tomorrow night, thanks to a recommendation by Jaymes from our Men's Reading Group at Equal Writes, the First Line for this Friday comes from the Tony and Pulitzer-prize winning musical of 1996 and spoofed in the movie Team America: World Police. (Just so you know, we are not seeing that particular show, but the one written before that.)

Last night I had a dream. I found myself in a desert called Cyberland. It was hot.

Perhaps it's almost too easy....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More Movies Than You Can Shake a Stick At

Over the past few weeks, I've seen a few movies and normally post about them the following day. I admit that lately I've been remiss, what with the too-hot weather, flying across the country, the glut of live theater performances and trying to catch up on my reading. Well, today is the day for a re-cap of movies seen but not reviewed!!

Over the Hedge A con artist of a raccoon tricks some unsuspecting woodland creatures into gathering food from the suburbs to replace a bear's food -- which he destroyed. Taken from Michael Fry and T. Lewis's comic strip and featuring the voice talents of Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, William Shatner, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes and Nick Nolte, this is one of the funniest movies I've seen this year. A great sense of humor that both adults and kids will enjoy. Steve Carell's hyped-up squirrel, Hammy, steals the entire film. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Date Movie I desperately wanted to see this in the theater, as I loved the Scary Movie series, but my boyfriend wasn't keen on the idea. Now, I know why. I had the misfortune to watch the first 15 minutes of the film while trapped on a return flight from Boston, MA. By far one of the most offensive and un-funny movies created, I switched channels and watched the last 45 minutes of "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel instead.

The DaVinci Code My friend CS and I saw this, and I enjoyed it for the most part. The mystery/treasure hunt actually turns out to be quite interesting although, each time the characters take a break, the audience is treated to a history lecture. I almost reached into my backpack to pull out a spiral-bound notebook and a pen, then remembered that I finished college in 1992. Sir Ian McKellen livened things up quite well, especially during his tête-à-tête with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou regarding the images in The Last Supper. And Paul Bettany most certainly creeped me out with his portrayal of Silas. Good acting, good story, but a marginal film.

Cars Pixar created another masterpiece, with stunning animation, a heartwarming story and fine casting for the voices (Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy, etc.). I admit to being leary at first; the original trailer I saw sometime last year didn't exactly instill a "must-see" desire in me. CS and friends watched it at the El Capitan in Los Angeles and declared it one of the best films he'd seen. Plus, being a Disney fan, I felt it was my duty to see the film so I grabbed the boyfriend and off we went. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.

X-Men: The Last Stand My boyfriend and I saw this yesterday, in an attempt to save ourselves from the heat and humidity. I managed to sit directly beneath the air conditioning unit, and by the time the movie ended, my fingers felt like frozen fish sticks. Not a bad movie, but I felt it was very little story and quite a lot of action and special effects. The creators seemed to take for granted the fact that moviegoers had either seen the first two films or read all the supporting comic books so many of the newer characters lacked any kind of back story. I understood how gay audiences have taken to the message of the film: if there were a cure, would you take it? That message seemed to be forcefed to the audience throughout the entire film yet the personal implications only lightly touched upon by the character Rogue; I wished the writer's had spent a bit more time on that part of the story. I did enjoy the film if only for the action and special effects. My one gripe: why was Phoenix able to destroy buildings and people at almost the molecular level, but when Wolverine fought his way toward her and his body started disintegrating and replenishing, his leatherette pants remained unaffected? I mean, for crying out loud, she destroyed his shirt completely!! What about the pants!?!?!?!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

9 AM and it already feels like a convection oven outside with the Sun beating down through a cloudless sky. The 102nd Annual parade begins shortly, with Mrs. Partridge as our Grand Marshall, and parking is already at a premium -- even for residents. Many will watch the 3-1/2 hour event; others will head directly to the beach to bake on whatever section of the white-hot sands they can find. Surfers have more than likely claimed their spots in the cool, salty water while some tourists idly watch them from the pier. Downtown has been closed to vehicular traffic and is crammed with a sea of people enjoying the street fair. The main fireworks show, according to the schedule, starts at 9 PM from a barge just off the Pier, though the unofficial displays have been launching since Friday last. Summer has officially begun!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Walking the Dog

While heading toward The Pike in downtown Long Beach, we waited at a crosswalk for the light to change. A man dressed in black jeans, a dark blue t-shirt and sunglasses stepped into the crosswalk, leading a tiny dog on a red leash. The cropped-cut lhasa apso merrily romped onto the pavement, happily following its owner until about halfway across, where it plopped down in the street, flopped onto its back and wriggled left and right as if trying to either scratch an unreachable itch or covering itself with some smell from the paving. The owner tugged gently on the leash. The dog grudgingly rolled onto its feet but refused to move. The traffic light changed to yellow. The owner pulled and pulled, pleading with the dog to hurry the rest of the way before the light changed. The dog relented, gently trotting toward the curb, tail wagging all the while, but soon plopped into the gutter and started the wriggling all over again.