Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Carcass In The Mist

I am the only child of an only child, and during my childhood, both of my mother figures (bio- and step-) tended to go insane during scheduled "happy" times such as the holiday season. My friends all had siblings and Norman Rockwell-type families and so were all booked up over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so I spent a lot of time upstairs in my room listening to one or both of my parents loudly barfing up their migraine medication and moaning. On Christmas day, after the obligatory chunks blowing session and Martha Stewart-level full-dress breakfast and while opening gifts, my step-mom would force my dad and me to make blow-by-blow "thank you" tape recordings for the grandparents, which despite how bad that might sound, was actually much worse. Also, it was during a Christmas trip when I was eight that my parents decided it was an excellent time to pull the car over to let me know that our recently divorced family friend was now my mother, and that my "real" mom was going to bugger off up a nearby trailhead to go camping by herself and that I wouldn't be seeing her again any time soon. Really. So, the holidays have never really been my favorite time of year.

Something had to be done.

• • •

Some years after I left my deadbeat (and abusive) husband to join the ranks of single parent-dom, and when Boy/Girl Kid were a little older, we developed a Thanksgiving tradition that I happen to love--we cash out our change bowl and go to a movie (or two) and then eat Asian food. See, lots of Asian-y type restaurants are open over the holidays, for reasons religious or otherwise. Since we are neither Christians or patriotic, this is a great way to celebrate a day off work. This year we netted $47 from Mr. Change Bowl, and Girl Kid had to work (ah, the sad trials of the movie theater employee), so Boy Kid and I did the selfish thing by going to a horror movie and getting Indian food. Here's how it went down:

The Mist, Or "Hey, That's Some Heavy Fog Doncha Know"

We'd already seen the hotly anticipated Beowulf (300 but with only one Spartan, review to come later) and No Country for Old Men (ditto), so there was really only one option, and that was an adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist starring the grossly under-appreciated Mr. The Punisher, Thomas Jane. Now, I'm on record as preferring thin armed, sallow chested Steve Buscemi types over the burly men, but I may have to make an exception for Mr. Jane, who has a seriously nice butt which we get to see from several angles (not naked though). That man can wear the heck out of a pair of jeans is what I'm saying. Patricia Arquette is one lucky woman. I'm also not usually a huge fan of the horror genre, but I have to say, this movie was fun--with just enough camp to keep things lively and enough great acting to make you believe. I did shriek just a little bit at one point, and I'm a fairly jaded movie goer. To please your average Saw XIV demographic, the movie wastes no time getting to the juicy bits--establishing scenes of cute family to save, get the main players into a convenient and cheap-to-film location (in this case, a grocery store), cue fog, enter tentacles, slam, bam, eat you mam (or dude). The tentacles were very Ed Wood, which was part of the fun. The tenacles were big rubbery, slimy things with fangs and little munching mouths, all of which was both effective and probably super cheap on the ol' F/X budget. Later we are presented with 1) Giant Flying Bugs, 2) Death by Giant Spiders' Tiny Babies, and 3) Something Large, Snarly and Stomp-y Out There In The Dark. It was kind of hard to see this last thing, what with all the fog and such--again, cheap on the budget. Also, apparently bags of dog food are really good for blocking big glass store front windows, especially if you leave the doorway completely uncovered. I wouldn't have thought that this technique would have a fart's chance at a farting convention of making an effective barrier against giant monsters, but then I am probably a moron. Also, the townspeople of this tiny and conveniently remote locale sure must have a lot of dogs.

The main point of the movie is that thanks to the evil machinations of our "I'm a War President" government and of religious extremists, the now sufficiently malleable public will rapidly retreat to a primal state if given half a chance and a few shovels (pretty neat they were trapped in a grocery store, huh? "Writing!"). Marsha Gay Hayden plays the religious zealot with delusions of godhood who stirs the paranoia stew with gleeful abandon. When she gets her final and definite comeuppance, the audience actually cheered. There's also an annoying child who won't stop crying, but he's integral to the "shocker" ending, so I guess he was necessary. I actually saw the ending coming, and I was really happy that the director Mr. Shawshank Redemption Frank Darabont (slumming hard), actually went for it. No happy endings here (except for Mr. Jane's butt), and it works. I had fun. Recommended, but only for people who like either like gore or camp or both.

• • •

And then we went to eat:

The Curried Carcass of Doom

After the movie, we tried out a restaurant for which I'd recently created an ad, Bengal Tiger in Seattle's Roosevelt neighborhood. The ad copy stated that the place has a "totally remodeled dining room", but seeing it I had to wonder, remodeled from what? A hole in the ground? A bomb shelter? The place has your standard high school cafeteria ambiance, but with gold cloth on the tables and big acrylic paintings of tigers on the walls. Nevertheless, the staff was very friendly and open, and the food smelled good. For Thanksgiving they were doing a Prix Fix buffet featuring okra in some sort of yummy sauce, butter chicken, things with lentils, something with balls of something in coconut milk, perfectly perky samosas, the obligatory naan bread, and....a huge whole curried turkey on a platter. The turkey gave me complete pause--the word "carcass" should not drift up into your brainpan when presented with a fine dining option. Maybe it was a carry over from the movie, but "very scary, dead, orange and slightly oozing thing on a plate" is not what I wanted to eat, so I steered clear of that "Thanksgiving" tradition in favor of the okra and other "lower carb" options, and while it was all pretty good, I think I'll have to try this place again for my usual benchmark dish saag paneer before I render my final judgment. Boy Kid sure loved his samosas though.

• • •

Oh God, Why Do We Have So Much Crap?

The moving process is not going well. I have fantasies of putting a notice up on Craig's List: "Just come and take it all away", but I suppose that's a bad idea. So much crap to shift, so little time. My quest to go monastic and get rid of everything is not working out so well. Boy Kid, for one, is having a very hard time letting go of his collections of role playing detritus, magazines, puzzles, clumps of magnets, and other odds and bobs. He has already packed something like four big boxes of Magic card collections. Oh well.

And on that note, it's time to face up to my responsibilities and go face the packing. Oh god, I need a drink. Until next time, think of me fondly, send me your kind thoughts, and if you live in Seattle, let me know if you want a recumbent exercise bike, a huge box of stuffed animals, a crappy purple dresser, or an enormous drawing of a dragon in a slightly-too-small IKEA frame. Everything must go.

Your Mistress

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why I Am a Bad Girl And Some Quick Movie Reviews

As you can see, I've been not posting again, but this sad state of affairs (to two people) will be rectified, I promise. Today's post is only to let you know, that like Arnold, "I'll be back." This weekend I post, I swear on a dead squirrel. Or something.

Here's what's been going on:
1) We're moving on December 8th, into a two bedroom apartment. Your mistress will be sleeping on the living room floor for a year until the kiddies are off on their own, and then I'll be moving again. Pity me. So, we're trying to go buddhist and purge all our belongings, with, to-date, limited success. Instead, our house looks like a thrift store blew up in it, which is pretty much the case.

2) I've been HELLA busy at work. I'm finishing the production on a guide book right now, and before and after that there is much pressing on me to get done. This is both the joy and burden of being the sole graphic designer for a medium-sized company. But, I still have a job, so that's one thing.

And, 3) items one and two have left me feeling less than humorous. Murderous, maybe. Not funny. But, I need humor back in my life soon, or something bad is going to happen. I'm not promising anything, but whatever I do will make the news, and we don't want that, now do we?

And until I can take more time to post something lucid and hopefully amusing, here's some movie recommendations in one minute or less:

Until The Devil Knows You're Dead
Avoid at all costs. I know, I know, Philip Seymour Hoffman is usually worth it, and while he's good here, the movie is so painful that for once I have to say, save your money. The only thing that is any fun at all in this dreadful pain in the ass of a movie is that Marisa Tomei spends at least a third of the movie almost completely naked, and damn, for a 43-year old dame, she's one hot chick. And you get Philip completely naked at the movie's open, and while I love him, his flabby flopping butt cheeks are not exactly ready for prime time just now. Sorry. Even though we didn't have to pay for this movie, it was still a waste of time. Don't bother, unless you like to poke your eyes out with sticks on purpose (as there is no accounting for some people's tastes).

Michael Clayton
Go see it. Really. Right now. It's good.

Gone Baby Gone
Also highly recommended. Ben Affleck may not be the greatest actor in the wide world, but he's proven here that he can direct like crazy. And his brother Casey Affleck (the star of this movie), can act, and like how. Plus, I think Casey's a lot cuter as well.

Thirty Days of Night
Um, I lived in the Yukon for four years, and I'm telling you, the sun goes away for a lot longer than thirty days dudes. I know this was based on a comic book, but come on, do your research. Vampires would indeed love it up there during the winter, especially because people are so liquored up over the winter months that they'd probably taste like those little holiday booze-filled chocolates you see in Mr. Liquor Store starting around this time of year. Also, people up north don't all freak out and run for the southern states the minute the sun slips behind the ridge for the last time until spring--they do that when the sun finally appears again in March. Everyone's all, "Hey! The Sun! I forgot about sun! Let's go to Hawaii!" I''m serious--they all drink through the winter (over-proof hot rum toddies anyone?), and am-scray for hotter climates in the spring.

This is a stupid movie, and the vampires are not even that much fun. Don't waste your previous cash dollars on this one.

Dan in Real Life
Most people will like this movie, but I found it a bit too emotionally manipulative. But, it is a documentary about the family of my friend Becka, so there's that. I've stood in that kitchen, but it's not in Rhode Island, it's up a mountain by Fall City.

You can take your mother to this film, she'll probably like it.

Into the Wild
This is a movie about what happens when young men have too much testosterone in their systems. (Spoiler alert--they die.) The only surprising thing is that this kid didn't kill himself earlier. It's also a movie about me at 18 years old, if I'd been a dude and therefore not had any sense at all. My trek to the Yukon had much a similar story, but at least I found a place to live with some other people around who could help me not starve to death or eat poisonous plants. What a 'tard that guy was. Still, it's not a bad movie, and the scenery is very nice. So, you can go to this one. I'll let you. Well, there is that one scene where Emile Hirsch whips his hair around under the shower, water droplets going everywhere while Emile's pecs ripple which made me spew Coke out my nose laughing, but I can let this pass. Still, all the Emile porn made me think that Sean Penn might be gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's possible Robin Wright Penn is a guy.

Now, back to work. Aargh.