Thursday, January 25, 2018

50 for 50: 32 - Learn Something with Merete

Yeah, this was one of those open to interpretation.  It was actually, "Teach me something or learn something with me."  I don't know what I was expecting.  Maybe we'd take a tap class with Janet Miller or something.

Merete suggested we either learn Reiki or go to a lecture at JPL.  We looked into Reiki (it seemed more outside my wheelhouse, so I was curious about experiencing something different) but it wasn't really something we could do together.  Which led us right back to the sciencey thing.

The lecture was at JPL at 7:00.  Now, Merete's husband wouldn't be able to watch her kids until 6:00, so that would give her an hour to drive to Pasadena, find parking, meet me, grab some dinner, and make our way to the auditorium.  Also, there were no assigned seats (or even reservations) so we'd probably want to get there earlyish.  Logistics were presenting a problem until Merete pointed out that they also live-stream these things on the internet.

This sounded a LOT better -- we could watch from my living room, while enjoying some carry out.  I signed up for this plan immediately.

(And then had to make all sort of disclaimers and apologies, because, OMG, the house hasn't been cleaned in two weeks, and is COVERED with cat fur.)

Merete (who has two small children, so probably does not live in the world's most pristine environment) insisted that she was down with that.

So, that's what happened.  On the way home, I picked up some eats at the kebab place, then took an objective look at the living room and figured that I should defur at least half of the sofa.  And, yes, dust those paw-prints off the coffee table.  I cranked up YouTube on the TV and got the NASA-JPL streaming channel all hooked up and was just about ready for Merete when I heard the dulcet tones of my cat barfing up her dinner.

Seriously?  I'm trying to get the worst of the fur cleaned up and now there's about a 50/50 chance that my guest will ring my doorbell when I'm holding a bag of fresh cat puke?  I quickly dispose of the evidence before Merete pulls up, which itself occurs about a minute before the livestream starts.  We have just enough time to open a couple bottles of cider and plop down in front of the TV with our food.

The presentation was "Explorer 1 and Sixty Years of Space Science."  It was basically a two-parter.  The Explorer 1 bit was a quick intro to how the US got its very firstest satellite in the sky (from a team I politely referred to as "Nazis and Nerds"), and what that satellite discovered ("Hey, that nerd is named Van Allen.  Wonder if that's who the Van Allen Belts are named-- Ohhhh").  It was also nifty to learn that satellites were originally contemplated as simply a military tool, and how the purpose of gathering scientific information came to be a goal.

The second presentation was about what currently orbiting satellites are telling us now about how the planet is doing.  (Hint:  words like "climate change" and "unprecedented" featured prominently.  Words like "Holy crap!" followed from my sofa.)

The presenter for the historical bit was a man; the presenters for the current data bit were women.  It was fun watching smart female scientists discuss their data-gathering and what it tells us about the planet's future.  But we also couldn't help but notice that the first part was about a lot of white men launching their phallic symbol into the sky to conquer the heavens and put them Russkies in their place, while the second part was the nice ladies talking about protecting Mother Earth.

At the end of the presentation, they took questions from the audience.  And a lot of people left before the questions.  A LOT.  We didn't know why everyone was leaving until the questions started.  The first "question" was really some guy telling us his life story.  The presenters kind of thanked him and applauded him and HE STILL KEPT TALKING.  At around this point, I started watching a woman who was on camera slightly to the side of the mic where the questioners stood.  She was trying not to laugh, and failing miserably.  The next questioner got up there and started off dangerously close to mansplaining climate change to the two climate change scientist ladies ("I hear people talk about climate change a lot, but the one piece of data nobody every talks about is...") but then it just veered off into him wanting to confirm everything they were saying by pointing to his own personal favorite data point.  By now, Merete and I were wondering if anyone would ask an actual question.  (One of the scientists sounded Russian, but she mentioned that she grew up in Panama.  I still thought she sounded Russian, though.  Whenever someone would come to the mic with a non-question question, Merete and I yelled for them to "ask where her parents are from!")  Partway through Frustrating Non-Question Time, I see that Laughing Woman in the audience say something to her companion, and you can very clearly read her lips saying, "Let's go."  The camera cuts to the panel, and when it goes back to the questioners, there is now an empty seat where she used to be.  Merete and I pretty much lose it at this point.  (And then, the one time someone in line asks an ACTUAL QUESTION, the panel gives a non-answer answer.)


Also, Merete did not believe my house had been as messy as I'd represented.  To prove I was not exaggerating, I left one couch cushion untouched.  Here ya go.

One of the scientists had majored in Theoretical Math and then went into Physics when she'd figured out the applications of Theoretical Math are ... minimal.  I'd taken the Law path at a similar point, and the whole thing got Merete and I talking about college and learning and transferring skills from one topic to another.  I mentioned I was annoyed by how many people think learning even basic Algebra is a waste, because they don't use it.  (I figure that if more people knew how to compound interest, they wouldn't be suckered into getting mortgages they can't afford.)  But, I mean, even if you don't use Algebra, you were learning how to learn.  Merete thinks you were learning how to think objectively, and analyze data in an unbiased manner.  I think that sounds better.

The lecture very briefly touched on the National Defense Education Act -- where, following the launch of Sputnik and Explorer 1, the U.S. poured money into math and science education so that we'd be competitive with the Russians.  And I got a little depressed when I think of those in politics who would never do such a thing, because they think science is the enemy of religion, or their economic agenda.  The idea that 60 years ago, increasing math and science education was considered a matter of national defense-- just DAMN.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

50 for 50: 31 -- Surprise Me, with Dinh

Yeah.  I put a "Dealer's Choice" option on my 50 for 50 list.  Dinh picked it.  After we had a couple of false starts with scheduling, we ended up going to the Downtown L.A. Art Walk.

This was actually pretty cool as Art Walk has been happening regularly for something like 13 years, and neither one of us has ever gone.  Even though it goes down pretty near our office.  (More on this later.)

Dinh is one of those friends whom I can't entirely remember how we met.  (I mean, at work, obviously.  But I don't recall being introduced, or going through the usual sets of questions you cover when you're first meeting someone.  We'd just kind of been in the same circle, and somehow I ended up at a Clinton Fundraiser/Debate Watching Party at her house.  And whenever we talk, we discover we have even more things in common.  I've had a few friendships like this -- where you pretty much start out in the middle of the friendship -- they're very convenient.)

We decided to start with a little pre-Art Walk Happy Hour at a bottle shop/bar down the street.  We had selected this one because they had hard cider -- although I actually couldn't pass up the hard grape soda.  Tasty.  And the first of several Bad Food Choices I'd make all night.  Here's the pre-walk selfie!

Suitably lubricated, we headed out to properly walk amongst the art. 

We knew there were lots of galleries and stuff, but we hadn't anticipated all the little craft tables lining the streets.  It was the sort of thing you get every day in Times Square -- but, apparently, only once a month in downtown L.A.

Art Walk has an information space set up in The Last Bookstore, which seemed a good place for us to start.  Dinh was surprised I'd never been there.  It's a pretty nifty space.  The bookstore part has actual photo ops in it.  Here's one.

The Last Bookstore also has some art space in it -- a few shops/gallery spaces, ending with a particularly wacky one which was steampunk surrealism.  Along the way, Dinh and I were both taken with a series of paintings which were beautiful at first glace, but disturbing at second.

We picked up our Art Walk maps.  We had looked at the Art Walk website which told us the Food Trucks were two blocks further down the street, and the maps didn't tell us anything different, so we figured we'd head down to the food trucks and stop at some galleries on the way.

The food trucks weren't there.  I know what food trucks look like, and they were clearly not there.  (Well, one lone taco truck.  But we'd been promised trucks.  Plural.)

On the other hand, we DID see a restaurant serving all kinds of french fries, so decided that this would be a fine Bad Food Choice for the day.  We split some gyro fries (tasty, but a little spicy).  Actually, the place was more memorable for the restroom.  To your left, a sink.  To your right, a urinal.  In front of you, a toilet.  When you then stand in front of the sink to wash your hands, you notice two things:  (1)  the world's tiniest mirror over the sink (seriously, it's like someone took the mirror off a make-up compact and mounted it over the sink); and (2)  the urinal has a sensor which is activated by your presence, and it flushes behind you.  Somehow, this seemed the total right bathroom to experience as part of Art Walk.

We went another block and checked out three galleries of very different quality.  The one in the middle had some really nifty stuff in it, which we appreciated in the "this is really cool art" way, and not the "yeah, let me get out my checkbook" way.  There was one room of sculptures an artist did, sort of mixed media stuff that was part tribal and part modern and just really feminine and powerful -- and then she also had gorgeous pictures of people wearing the very same wearable sculptures.  And I had this (very unusual, for me) moment where I was digging the fact that I was seeing and appreciating this with another woman.  I usually don't pay much ... any ... attention to who I'm with when I'm seeing art or enjoying theatre or what have you.  But this art was particularly female, and when Dinh and I made appreciative noises over it, it felt like we were "ooooh"ing over the same qualities in the imagery, without having to say anything, because we were coming at it from the same place.

And then we went for dessert.  (Bad Food Choice The Third.)  A waffle joint -- Dinh had fruit and whipped cream on hers; I had fruit and ice cream on mine.  Red velvet ice cream.  Onna waffle.  That, my friends, is art.

As we walked back toward the office, pushing past crowds looking at the craft tables, past the guys offering free hugs, past more dessert places and coffee places and restaurants I didn't know were there-- through all of that, I was just marvelling at how this existed.  Most nights, the neighborhood is a little creepy and deserted after work, but somehow, once a month, there's all this life out here.  This is what OTHER major cities have at night, but Los Angeles hadn't really managed.  On our doorstep.

Oh, sonofabitch, on our ACTUAL doorstep.  Right there -- right across the street from the office -- a corner parking lot full of food trucks.  Big ass trucks.  High class stuff -- many with flat-screen monitors advertising their treats.  And live music.  And more craft tables.  Forget the art, they got the Lobster Roll truck!  And the Grilled Cheese truck!  It's a freakin' street party, on a Thursday in January, a half-block from where we park.

Dinh and I aren't sure if we'll ever do Art Walk again, but we are totally in for the Food Truck fest next month.

Friday, December 15, 2017

50 for 50: 29 (part two) -- See a Star Wars Movie on Opening Day with Ric and Lisa

After my visit to the Star Wars line on Saturday, I came back for the main event tonight -- the (what the hell was it called?) Opening Night Fan Event at the Chinese.  Here, I have a pass on a lanyard, so you know it's legit.

I left work early, because Doors Open at 4:00.  I left at 3:00 (because Driving To Hollywood).  Partway there, Google Maps told me there was a road closure ahead and kept trying to reroute me.  But I really couldn't see what road was actually closed.  I kept flicking the screen -- everything between me and Hollywood & Highland looked clear.  Although ... wait ... it looked like the block in front of the theater itself was closed, at least in one direction.  OK, fine.  I took a small detour to come 'round the back into the parking, walked out to Hollywood Boulevard and... Oh.  There's an Imperial Walker in the middle of the street.  Got it.  

No time for that, though; I was trying to find Ric & Lisa in the crowd in front of the Chinese.  Right as I got there, they were sending everyone OUT of the courtyard in front of the theater, to actually line up on the sidewalk.  (Not sure why, but someone was filming the "line.")  I watch everyone pour out of the courtyard and while I don't immediately see Ric & Lisa, I do see Val, so I pretend to wait in line with Val and her guests for a bit.  We text Ric and find him in the front of the line, so I run up to be a "plus one" with my actual hosts.

Ric looks a little like George Lucas.  Of course, Lucas is 73.  And would not be waiting in line to get in to a fan screening at the Chinese.  (Also, not a regular kilt-wearer.)  None of this stops some dude from taking a selfie with Ric, thinking he's Lucas.  A bunch of us have a laugh over this, but Ric says it happens quite a bit.

We are eventually let in the theater.  (We pass through security.  Weapons not allowed.  Lightsabers ok.)

There are people from Sideshow giving away Star Wars collectibles.  It isn't going well.  They've put stickers under random seats for the winners, but nobody is in their seats.  Lots of people sitting vaguely near the marked seats are walking off with the goodies.  I think half the audience is still in the lobby, or in front of the theater, taking pictures or something.  

They miss the "special guest" giving away one of the collectibles.  Rian freakin' Johnson.  I'm pretty sure the winner of that one was happier to get the handshake and selfie with Rian Johnson than whatever thingy he happened to win.  (While Johnson is saying the standard things about how the mega-fans are the bestest audiences ever, I hear some people walk in from the lobby and say, "Is that--?  No WAY!")  

It gets closer to 6:00 and I get my (free) popcorn and settle in for the movie.  First, there is a moment of silence for Carrie Fisher.  People hold their lightsabers in the air in tribute.  It's beautiful.  It reminds of the crowds at Universal raising their wands in tribute to Alan Rickman.  (This, I guess, is what my people do.)

The curtain opens and we get the first movie preview.  And the second.  And the third.  And fourth.  I'm watching the audience more than the previews.  We've run out of patience pretty much after the second one.  There's a groan when the next, "This following preview is approved for all audiences" comes on screen (and someone yells for "Star Wars"), but the annoyance is instantly replaced by cheers when we realize the preview is for something we want to see.  Man, this crowd is amped up... and we'll turn on a dime.

We've been told Disney has a little something for us to watch pre-movie.  We don't know what it is.  It's a little featurette (I assume it will be a DVD extra someday) about John Williams scoring these things for 40 years.  It's a good choice; everybody loves John Williams, and it's fun watching the old clips next to the new ones.

And finally, the movie.  We cheer the beginning (of course) and then get down the serious business of watching.  

A few scenes in, I realize I am going back and forth between being utterly sucked into this film and observing the opening night crowd o' fans respond to it.  We laugh; we applaud; we cheer; we see shit coming the MOMENT we're supposed to see it coming and react in anticipation.  We even miss stuff we're supposed to miss, and react audibly when we catch on.  I don't know how this will play on video in your living room; I don't even know how it will play to a bored audience a couple weeks in -- but it played fantastically well to us.  If Rian Johnson stuck around, he would have been gratified to see his audience of mega-fans respond exactly as his movie wanted us to.  

In the interests of telling you how good this movie is, without anything particularly spoilery, I will say two things:  1.  There is an explanation of the Force in which the word "midichlorians" gloriously fails to appear.  2.  (And this one is intentionally vague.)  There was a lot I didn't like about "Force Awakens," and this fixed the absolute worst of them.  I'm not sure what sort of hopes I had for this movie -- but it certainly exceeded expectations in that regard.

When it was over, we took our little wristbands and headed over the Lining Up post-movie party.  (Soooo many pizzas.)  It was about 50% the Line People celebrating their Job Well Done and 50% saying goodbye until the next line.  And some dudes brought an R2-D2 and a BB-8 which they were (somewhat subtly) operating remotely.  We took a picture with the R2 and I said my own goodbyes, thinking I'd definitely sign up to be a full-fledged part of this group the next time ( permitting).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

50 for 50: 30 - Brunch with Mimi and Debbie

After I'd done a bunch of the 50 for 50 trips, I had a party where a bunch of my friends were invited to bring their calendars and sign up for the more local 50 for 50 things.  With some of the things, I had some vague guesses as to who might like them.  (For others, I had no clue at all.)  Most of the time, I was wrong anyway.

Not gonna lie, "brunch" is an easy one.  I didn't really think of anyone as NOT a brunch person, but I'd sort of expected one of my gay friends to pick this one up. 

(Thank you, internet.)

So, going against stereotype, Mimi picked this one.  (Debbie came along, too -- although, technically, her 50 for 50 was the Snooty Movie Theater.)  Yes!  Straight women can have brunch too!  Brunch equality!

Mimi's husband's friend (orientation unknown) recommended the place, which was just a couple blocks from work and I'd never heard of it.  But we were able to park at the office and just walk it.  (Even *I* thought it was within walking distance, and I have a VERY narrow definition of walking distance.)  Redbird.  It's located inside what was once a cathedral (and is now an event space), and it is really just lovely.  The building feels historic but the decor and menu feel very modern.  Menu ventured into occasional things I didn't understand, but I sure as hell understood Waffle With Creme Fraiche and Apple Compote (and the universe owed me a waffle after I was very good and took a pass on the waffle dessert after dinner last night).  Warm and carby, sweet and tart -- a good choice.

We're work friends -- although that's going to change in a number of days, as Debbie is inches from retirement.  I'm a single-digit number of years away; Mimi is far enough that she hasn't even counted.  Conversation settled on aging -- whether our parents, our bosses, or ourselves.  Getting the right care, and getting the right timing for it, are big, life-changing decisions you don't want to screw up (or see people you care about screw them up). 

'course it wasn't all Depressing Brunch Chat.  We talked about puppies and kitties and how they affect the eternal Shoes On Or Off In The House debate.  (I am a Shoes On person; my cat is a slob.  Mimi is Shoes Off, but she has nicer floors.)

I actually didn't want to leave.  The restaurant was a little oasis in the middle of downtown; and although I was with so-called "work friends," brunch had nothing to do with work.  It was like we'd taken a break from life outside the door, and I was in no hurry to go back to it.

Almost forgot to take the picture.  Debbie had to remind me, and then I thought, "But, once we take the picture, we'll have to leave."

And back to reality.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

50 for 50: 29 (part one) -- The Star Wars Line with Ric & Lisa


I was just about 9 when "Star Wars" came out.  We waited in line to see it, because that was the only way to get in.  Pre-buying tickets was unheard of.  And reserved seats?  No sir.  You're lining your ass up pretty early if you want a decent seat.

I was a kid; I went with my parents.  They liked the movie well enough, but were not overwhelmed.  "I don't get what the big deal is," my mom said, "It was just like the serials we had growing up."

Yeah, mom.  But this one was OURS.

I was prime movie-going age for the original trilogy.  By the time "Return of the Jedi" came out, I was pushing 15.  This time, I waited in line without my parents.  (But my mom will ALWAYS get points for taking me out of school for that "orthodontist appointment" and then dropping me off at the mall to meet my friend in line.)

I couldn't tell you how many times I saw those movies.  And when I wasn't watching them, my friends and I were obsessing over them.  We did a scene from "Star Wars" in Drama class.  (I made an exceptional trash compactor monster.)  I wrote an erudite paper on how "Star Wars" was really about the power of an individual to bring down a tyrannical government.  (A common theme in science fiction, to be sure, but I supported my thesis with parallel quotes from "A New Hope" and Machiavelli's "The Prince."  In retrospect, my High School Social Institutions teacher put up with a lot.)  When my friends and I passed notes in class, they were generally Star Wars quizzes where the answers would be quotes from the movies.  It was our thing.  Our shared language.  Our inside jokes.   ("I'm a sadist, not a mathematician."  Anyone?)  It was dominant in our lives.  

When the movies were re-released in 1997, I was an adult.  I waited in line.  Partly out of respect to the originals, partly out of nostalgia, and partly because, by then, I'd discovered that an opening night audience makes any movie better.  The crowd is involved -- the jokes get bigger laughs; the tense bits are ... well, it's pretty cool holding your breath with 600 other people just as caught up in the moment as you are.  (Groupthink can be a good thing.)  So, yeah, I lined up for the re-releases.

But, 20 years on, something had changed.  I wasn't the 9-year-old any more; there was a new crop of 9-year-olds.  People were bringing their kids to introduce them to OUR movies.  And we were excited to share with them.  We kept telling the kids how lucky they were to be experiencing these movies for the first time -- thinking about how cool it had been for us, but also initiating them into the club.  If pop culture is my generation's culture, taking kids to Star Wars is sitting around the campfire and telling the next generation the myths of our people.  Look, we'd had VHS for a decade by then -- and I'm sure we all had copies of the trilogy on tape -- but people felt duty-bound to bring their kids to see Star Wars in a theater as a rite of passage.  It isn't enough just to watch Star Wars on your living room TV, you have to see it with the community if you're really going to be part of our club.

Skip ahead past some years (I'm still in denial about Jar Jar Binks) and I'm invited to a Halloween party by Val, who, at this point, I barely know.  When guests ask me how I know her, I mumble something about "Internet message board" because I'm too embarrassed to actually say, "Doctor Who message board."  When I ask how they know her, most people respond, "The Line."  As if I know what that means.

I do not know what that means.

I finally ask someone what that means.

They had lined up for the Star Wars prequels.  ("Oh thank goodness," I thought happily, "they're geeks!")

Most of them are younger than I am.  The prequels were their only chance to get the lining up experience with a newly released Star Wars movie.  I get that.  (And I also feel a little bad that they didn't have better movies at the end of their wait.)  They REALLY lined up, though.  Sleeping-on-the-street lined up.  They didn't just bond over the Star Wars line experience; they survived shared adversity.  Of course they've remained friends.  I understood THAT immediately.

And then ... "The Force Awakens."  Now you don't need to line up at all.  Now you prebook your ticket on the internet and pick your seat in advance like civilized people.  (If you have any sense, you still go as close to the opening as possible, because you want to be in a crowd that lets out a huge cheer when the Lucasfilm logo comes up.  And a massive one when the main title theme starts.)  But it's not the same -- getting excited about the movie in the comfort of your living room, when you wait for the day to arrive.  

So "The Line" gang lines up anyway.  They raise money for charity.  The theater is happy they're there -- and is now supportive of the line.  (They can use the restrooms in the theater, validate their parking....)  The tickets have been prebooked for the group -- the line is now ONLY about the  EXPERIENCE -- the shared excitement about the movie, the reconnecting with friends, the passing it on to their kids. -- check it out.

I put it on my 50 for 50 list.


The takers are Ric and Lisa.  Part of the Halloween party crowd -- although I got to know them, and their then-infant daughter, when a group of us would get together to watch "Doctor Who," back when you'd have to *cough* use technology *cough* if you wanted to watch the new episodes shortly after they came out in Britain.  We'd get together at Matt & Val's every two weeks and bring food and watch the episodes and talk sci fi and-- crap, all of that was gone once BBC America got its shit together and started airing "Doctor Who" promptly on THIS side of the Atlantic and we'd all just watch it at our respective homes.  Sumbitch, it's the same damn thing.  Communal viewing as a basis of friendship -- and it utterly went away when the viewing became easier.

Kept up with Ric and Lisa on Facebook, though.  Nice peeps.  And I love how they're raising Eliza.  She's, like, nine now.  (The time, it flies.)  She likes hockey and dancing and STEM and Lego and BB-8 and hiking and "Mythbusters" and Girl Scouts.  She's a girl who isn't just being TOLD that girls can do anything, she's LIVING it.  She's a good kid.  I know this because she told her parents that she didn't want to miss school for the movie next week.  (Lisa said the note is going to say that she has to go to a "family event."  Which is actually, y'know, true.)

I planned to meet them at the line at around 2:00 -- but driving to Hollywood is more art than science, so we were both quite late. 

I get there maybe 2:20.  The line is in the forecourt at the Chinese theater.  That's a tourist attraction, which means that, to get there, I have to walk through some loud people carrying "Repent!" signs and being very pushy with the Jesus pamphlets.  There is also someone selling bottled water, with a recording endlessly playing a little song, the chorus of which is "Ice cold water, for just one dollar."  That may be the verse, too.  It isn't a very creative tune.  But catchy.  Wayyyy too catchy.  "Ice cold water, for just one dollar."  (My non-SoCal friends may be unaware that it was over 80 degrees today.)

I enter the forecourt -- it's where all the handprints are.  The line itself is more of a small crowd (in non-linear form) off in a corner.  There are rules about letting the tourists access the handprints -- so the line has their sleeping bags and suitcases all piled up off to the side.  It isn't a large group.  The line has a minimal time commitment (6 hours gets you the ability to buy two tickets) and you can do your hours at any time over the week of the line.  (Stay longer and you get better seats.)  It isn't really standing in a LINE and holding a place in it; it's just about BEING THERE for your hours.  So there aren't a ton of people there when I get there.

I know some of them.  There are several others I don't know.  A handful I put in the category of "don't know if I know them or not."  (Were they at Val's Halloween parties?)  It literally does not matter.  I drop Ric's name at the sign-in table and am welcomed.  I talk to strangers, knowing that we have, at least, THIS in common.  Someone gives me a chair.  We talk.  Every so often, someone starts quietly singing along to "Ice cold water, for just one dollar."  I'm not even sure they're aware of it. 

We are sitting in a tourist attraction.  The "Repent" people cross by every hour or so.  A parade of, say, 40 Santas goes by.  A drunk female Santa in a (very) mini-skirt leans down into a set of handprints and I'm pretty sure she's going to throw up on someone's signature, but she's trying to take a sexy picture.  She leans forward and gives the assembled an accidental show. 

I'm told the line is actually the first group allowed to camp in the forecourt -- they have to be packed up in the mornings, but they get to spread out and sleep on the handprints.  One woman jokes, "I woke up on a rock hard Jack Nicholson."  I concede that this is an added bonus to the whole line thing which I had not considered.  (Which is good, because "Ice cold water, for just one dollar" is definitely an unanticipated downside.)

Ric and Lisa (and Eliza, and grandma) arrive.  More sitting, more talking.  Lisa is an English teacher; she's brought papers to grade.  The whole thing is very laid back.  Someone made little headbands with Leia buns and hands them out to a bunch of the women and girls there.  Super cute.  Someone else put together giant saran wrap balls full of Star Wars trinkets and groups play the unwrap-the-saran-wrap-ball game.  (She has one for kids and one for adults.  The adults are just as happy to win little toys as the kids were.)  As it gets dark, a light saber duel breaks out.  It looks really cool in front of the lit-up theater.

The theater does a light show on its walls at night.  My first reaction is a cynical one, but I realize the people around me are all appreciating the light, the colors, the artistry.  I am reminded of the first time I enjoyed fireworks as an adult -- I'd spent so much time in grumpy teenager mode responding with an underwhelmed "Ooo.  Ahh.  Wow." that I'd actually forgotten I genuinely like fireworks.  I go with the groupthink and enjoy the light show.  "This is important," I think, "This is who the Line people really are."  Optimistic.  Unabashedly enjoying life's experiences.  Indeed, the Line is one they sought out.

I start feeling thirsty.  Perhaps there is a reason for this. 

"Ice cold water, for just one dollar."

Ric, Lisa and Eliza log out of the line and we go over to Johnny Rockets for dinner.  I realize I've sat in the line for half the time it would've taken me the earn the right to buy a pair of tickets myself.  It was easy and fun -- just hanging out on a beautiful December day with a nice bunch of people. 

We come back to the theater and they log back in.  I pick up my T-shirt (proceeds go to charity -- Starlight Children's Foundation), take advantage of the line's access to the lovely restrooms inside the theater, and head off home, leaving the campers to sleep on their movie stars.

To be continued next Thursday.

Friday, November 10, 2017

50 for 50: 28 - See a Movie at the Snooty Theater with Debbie and Caroline

(Looks like I had two of the Watch Something And Stuff My Face things in a row.)

Debbie and Caroline picked today (a good choice, since it's a day off, at least for some of us) for the movie, without knowing what we'd see.  Earlier this week, we looked at the list of flicks playing the local snooty theater, and chose "Blade Runner 2049."

We exchanged a few more emails about parking and stuff, and then, just the other day, Caroline sends me and Debbie an email about parking which accidentally attaches the thread between the two of them where they're talking about treating me to the movie.

(My rule on 50 for 50 stuff is that I assume we pay for ourselves.  Gifts are not expected, but are gratefully accepted.  Debbie and Caroline had read the rules, because they're lawyers and stuff, so had been discussing details.  And accidentally sent it to me.)

This ... kind of made my day.  Everyone makes the mistake of sending someone an email they didn't mean to send, and, conveniently, this one happened to contain NICE info I wasn't supposed to see.  I start running through possibilities for a snarky response.  But, I mean, these are my FRIENDS and they're talking about TAKING ME OUT for my BIRTHDAY.  I decide to (shockingly) take the high road on this one and just pretend I never read it.  (I start rehearsing, "You guys?!  Are you sure?  That's so generous.  Thank you so much!")

Caroline meets me at my house and we drive over the movie place; Debbie is meeting us there.  We're just about pulling in the parking lot when she mentions the email snafu, assuming I read it.  Like, there is zero possibility that I didn't read it.  (I shelve my Academy Award performance.)  She and Debbie had been waiting for my snarky response, and were surprised they didn't get one.

We are already laughing about this when we get to the theater.  We meet Debbie in the lounge, enjoy pre-movie drinks, and laugh about all the amusing things we could have emailed each other yesterday.

The iPic theater in Pasadena is super snooty.  The seats are big, comfy suede recliners.  With pillows and blankies.  And a nice usher/server type who gives everyone a bag of warm popcorn, then takes food orders and brings you dinner during the movie.  Caroline likened it to flying first class.  "Blade Runner 2049" was so damn long, I was pretty sure we'd landed in New York by the time it was over.

We had a blast.  Caroline ordered some chicken strips and I ordered some fish and chips.  It wasn't until we'd each finished an entire strip of deep fried goodness that we realized we'd been served each other's plate.  Much laughter.  We got dessert (a big cookie) which we had to run back and forth between our two rows to share it amongst the three of us.  More laughter.  Once the movie ended, we tried to take our selfie and ended up with Worst Photo Ever.  (I had to promise to not put it up here, but, trust me, so much more laughter.)  We tried again outside the theater, and that one failed, too.  A nice couple walking by offered to take one for us if we'd take one for them, which finally resulted in this.

Which was not what we were hoping for and didn't even include the theater's marquee, but if you think I was overstating things about the failed selfie attempts, about the ONLY thing that came out right in this one WAS the marquee.

Which is somehow just a perfect representation of the whole thing.  Nothing seemed to go exactly according to plan, but that just made us laugh harder.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

50 for 50: 27 - Pizza and Binge-Watch a Show with Rusty

When I did the massive 50 for 50 sign-ups (with the list of things and the big open calendar), Rusty picked today for the binge, because there would be TONS of stuff available to watch.

A week or so ago, we talked about options and made our selection.  Because it would take pretty much all day, we agreed Rusty would arrive at 10:00 in the morning.

I want to be clear on this:  just the other day, I wasn't 100% positive we'd said 10:00.  We confirmed; it was totally 10:00.

Last night, I set the alarm for 8:30.  That would give me enough time to shower and be ready and still have some time to crap around with the cat on my lap.

So, the alarm goes off at 8:30 as planned.  I take a few minutes to get up.  Alexa gives me the news.  I get up.  It's now, like, 8:45.  Rather than shower first, I choose to start with the "crap around with the cat on my lap" part of the morning.  Sit on the sofa, cat comes in for a snuggle, and I start posting on Facebook about the "Thor" movie.  About 5 minutes in to this, I see Rusty walk up my walk.

It isn't even 9:00.

I go to turn off the alarm and let Rusty in, preparing to be pissed off about his massive earliness.  The alarm panel clock catches my eye.  It says 9:51.  It says WHAT?  I find another clock.  It is, in fact, just about 10:00.  Except in my bedroom, where my new clock is certain it's just 9:00.

Oh... fuck.  I have the date wrong on the bedroom clock, don't I?  (Click calendar button.)  Yep, it thinks it's tomorrow.  And it apparently changes automatically for Daylight Savings.

So, Rusty steps out for a bit while I shower, and we actually get started on the binging at 11:00.

Rusty is solidly prepared for a binge-fest.  He's brought muffins and snacks and beverages and popcorn.  And cozy bathrobes and bunny slippers.

Which explains why, about 10 hours later, we can proudly display this:

Oh yeah.  "Stranger Things," Season Two, accomplished in its entirety, with only pizza and potty breaks.

It wasn't quite as enthralling as the first season, but I enjoyed it.  Particularly all the brilliant 1980s details.  (About an hour in, I commented that I need to rethink all of my high school wardrobe choices.)  And I continue to appreciate the good acting they get out of the young cast.

A bit disappointed that there was so much Nancy in this thing.  Honestly, I'm pretty sure we all liked Barb so much last season because we all WERE Barb -- nobody was Nancy.  Well, I mean, I'm sure SOMEONE was Nancy; the popular girls who made bad choices probably grew up and got jobs and watch Netflix like everyone else.  But, surely, "Stranger Things" wasn't made for them; it was made for the nerds, the outsiders, the people who didn't know what the hell they were supposed to do at the party.  That's the Barbs and Dustins, not the Nancys.  Nancy was in the first season largely as the older sister while we watched her little brother and his friends do most of the heavy-lifting.  Season Two gave as much, or more, time to the teenagers.  And I honestly don't think "Stranger Things" would have been the pop culture phenomenon it was if it had come off as just another teen horror movie (albeit one amusingly set in the 80s).  It was special because it captured the kids-against-the-world-that-doesn't-believe-them ethos of movies like "Goonies," and there was none of that this season.

And FFS, when you put Sean Astin in this thing, and then send him off alone to save the day in a super-scary situation, give the man an asthma inhaler.

But, yeah, it was fun, and a good binge.

And I have the bunny slippers as a souvenir!