Thursday, December 31, 2009

As every winter really sets in, my movie watching spikes. I'm catching up on all the good stuff I missed while I was riding my bike, fishing, and getting married.

Everyone that saw (500) Days of Summer told me is was a warm, sweet, charming , and surprisingly deep and insightful story of love and relationships. I genuinely hold these people in high regard when it comes to movies. I was excited to see this at Blockbuster the other day and scooped it up without a pause. Usually I drift down the entire wall of new releases before deciding on a new flick to grab. Not this time. It was at the beginning of the alphabetized wall and I did not hesitate. After watching it, it was...ok. I enjoyed it, and the actors are very charming and perfectly cast. The movie has so much going for it and none of it is bad, though in the end it felt like a creatively organized flavor of a solid romantic comedy. I am told by those that recommended it that I am dead wrong on this. I wonder if I would have loved it much more if I wasn't married? Maybe if hipsters didn't grate on me as much as they sometimes do? Maybe I am just getting older and more cynical? I have always loved Say Anything... and probably always will, but man do I see the cracks in that when I watch it these days. Perhaps you need to see certain things at the right time in your life and just reconnect with those memories in order to enjoy subsequent viewings? I suspect many people would not love The Catcher in the Rye if they waited till their 30's to read it, though I read it in high school and always find those warm feelings drifting back each time I reread it. (500) Days of Summer is not bad, but not the great thesis on modern or hipster love. She doesn't like you. Get over it.

I initially thought Rushmore was a tight little masterpiece and The Royal Tenenbaums came up short, yet with a more audacious reach. I loved them both, but preferred Rushmore. I remember vividly seeing Rushmore on the mag mile in Chicago with Melissa, Jess, and the entire crew. We walked out of the movie giddy with the enjoyment of having seen something truly original and enjoyable. After a handful of Rushmore viewings quite a few years ago I sort of set the movie aside in my mind. It's great, let's let it happily sit in that trophy case. I kept digesting The Royal Tenenbaums and the layers of that onion expanded unceasingly. I was wrong. It had not failed in anything it reached for at all. Like Scorsese or Kubrick, Wes' work really needs a few screenings to unfold. We watched Rushmore again last night and while I still laughed non stop, I saw little cracks here and there. I always thought of Bottle Rocket as the learning experience that produced the perfection in Rushmore. Maybe they both were a big warm up for RT's? I still love Mr. Littlejeans.

I'm planning on seeing A Serious Man this weekend. That is supposed to be excellent. And World's Greatest Dad is on dvd now. Time to catch up.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Texting Fun

I don't often get random texts from unknown numbers, but when I do I try to play ball. Last night around 9:30 I received one from a 907 (Alaska) area code, couldn't find the name in Becky's phone, and therefore decided to respond. The whole back and forth took under 5 minutes.

?:Hey chris...r u and Becky in town for the holidays?

Is it a coworker from my former job planning a New Years party? There are all kinds of people up here that have their families elsewhere. We are a sort of pack of strays up here so parties seem to develop more randomly. I did leave my number with former workers before my last day. Ok, my money is on party. We're in.

Me: Yep. We're here in Anchorage.

?:Cool. I have banana bread.

?:Sorry for the late txt. didn't realize the time in my baking frenzy!!

?:Oh and if u don't like b bread I have mini cheesecakes too.

No party, but man do I like cheesecake.

Me:They both sound very good. Cheesecake is a fav of mine though.

?:Cheesecake it is!!

At this point asking whom it is may be a little late. Cheesecake is coming, though I'm not sure from where or how I will get it. But cheesecake is coming. The details are an uptown problem.

I woke up today not sure where it could be coming from. Hmmm... At this point I don't have the guts to mail back. Let the ball stay in their court.

The doorbell rang at 3 pm and there stood my realtor from a year or so ago. She was great -- just beyond great. And she was now holding 2 cheesecakes. "I'm parked illegally so Merry Christmas!," she smiled and shuffled away. Perfect.


About 6 months ago I had some similar fun, albeit without cheesecake.

?: R u going to kerrys?

Me:Yep. For sure.

?: Kewl. When are you leaving?

Me: In a bit.

?:Who is this?

Me:Kris. Who is this?

?:Anna. How old r u?

Me:How old r u?


Game Over. Phone down. Becky and I stopped laughing and let those texts slip into the ether.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I liked my job here in Anchorage plenty, but work there was drying up. A few months ago they told us it would be wise to look for a new job while also promising to hold on to us as long as possible. They had every hope that something would happen and contracts would be signed guaranteeing work for another year at least. They also promised that if anyone was let go they would be given 30 days notice. Given the economy, that's a very ethical promise. It seems that the east coast branches are doing gangbusters, but the Alaska location (which started the company) is not doing as well. The DoD prefers to do business locally. I guess I can see that. Regardless, the last few months have seen a careful polishing of my resume, a hope that a contract might pop out of the ether, and a careful attitude about dollars being spent. And Hawaii was put on the back burner. Through a priceless recommendation and a few successful interviews I was able to land at a new gig doing the same software engineering I have always done, yet with clients local to the state. It's more stable and the future there looks much brighter. I am very thankful to have avoided an interruption in income and the honeymoon is being booked any day now. Given the economy, I anticipated being out of work a lot longer. I really dodged a bullet and I know I am much luckier than most these days. Sounds like I owe a few Novenas.

A funny epilogue is that after my final day at the old gig I attended the Christmas party that night at Sullivan's steakhouse. Today, the following Friday, I will be attending the new company's Christmas party. Do I know how to time it or what?


I bid on things on ebay all the time, mostly in a completely dismissive way. "If if stays this cheap and I win, then great. If the bidding increases, I lose." I lose all the time, and don't really care. I rarely win anything with this approach, an approach which is really more of a constant litmus test on the weekly price of Mordheim or Necromunda miniatures. Minimum bids do not stand, until this past week that is. I guess everyone is burned out on Christmas shopping because I ended up being on the hook for a pile of great stuff this past week.

Talisman game and Reaper expansion for half price? Check.
1980 Dungeons and Dragons Electronic game for $10? Sure.
Dungeonquest? Yep.
That random, hard to find AD&D solo adventure I had been hunting down? Gotcha.

All at great prices and sure to fill the random holes in my Dungeons and Dragons collection. But man did they all come at once. It's never bad to have gaming stuff show up in the mail like presents though.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I've never had pink eye, though I've seen it in plenty of other folks. Last Wednesday I woke up with one eye sealed shut with gunk and the other full of plenty of gunk as well. After rinsing it all down with a damp cloth I noticed that both eyes were completely bloodshot. The night before only one eye was mildly irritated -- this sucker moved fast. At work that morning I read about pink eye and most of what I read said that treatment mainly masks the symptoms and keeping your hands clean was really the key. You ride it out. So I had somewhat decided to just tough it out before I came upon the nagging fact that it could permanently damage your eye in rare cases. Fine, off to urgent care I went.

At a glance he looked in my eye and told me that I certainly had an infection, but also that it was not pink eye. So they tested me for everything under the winter season banner of possibilities. Negative on strep throat, H1N1, pink eye, etc. I walked out with a Rx for some antibiotic drops and a promise to come back for the results of the eye gunk culture in a week. The eye drops then zapped it within 24 hours.

Well, it looks like it was strep after all, though it never made it to my throat. A round of antibiotic pills should kill it for sure.

I always try to not touch my face when I'm at the gym, and I do often wash my hands after leaving the weight room. It has to have been from one of the plethora of people there that use the barbells.

I got off light -- Becky's the one that had swine flu. No complaints here.


Is Maui the best island to hang around for a week? Are any of the islands really bad? I doubt it. We'll be fulfilling a typical Alaskan lifestyle trait by heading "outside" to our 50th state this winter.


I am currently knee deep in the final 2 seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street. I had plowed through the first 4 back in Madison after getting my wisdom teeth yanked, then put the last few season sets aside just to avoid burning out. The years have passed and the snow is here and everytime I head to Blockbuster I think about grabbing the first season of The Wire. I've never seen it and I'm told it will change my life. I want in. However, the little voice in the back of my head keeps reminding me that I need to finish the other, precursor Baltimore cop show that I have already paid good money for. Fair enough. I love Homicide and I really see a lot of Chicago (and any other decaying, northern, industrial city) in its depiction of Charm City. Homicide may seem a necessary stop off on the journey to the Elysian Fields of The Wire, though it is a perfect destination all on its own.