Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekend Update, F for Fake, Life of Pi, Babies

Hey!  Hope everyone had a nice weekend.  The parking lots, shopping centers, and grocery stores seem pretty darn busy as things accelerate in the lead up to the holidays, but hopefully everyone is staying jolly and merry as the frenzy builds!
Our weekend was good.  On Friday Amy joined me for one of the big, courthouse-wide holiday parties that's thrown by one of the local defense attorneys.  It was a nice shindig.  Good food, free drinks, and a chance to get together and socialize with some work people without having to talk too much about work.  It was a pleasant event, and I got a chance to introduce Amy to a few more friendly folks from the courthouse and the office.

(F for Fake rocks the Hotel
After the party I went out to see F for Fake, a band that my friend Charlie is in, at a place on East 6th called Hotel Vegas.  For Fake put on a good show, as usual.  They were pretty tight for a band that doesn't play out on a super regular basis, and they played with a subdued, controlled energy.  They played a few songs that I had only heard on their album, The New Heiroglyphic, and it was cool to hear how those songs sounded live (the album tracks sound good, but they've got a little more shine and polish to them).  I like F for Fake.  I wish they played out more often.  Given that I'm in a band that only plays out a handful of times a year, though, I guess I won't be throwing too many stones.
As a side not, when I was looking up Hotel Vegas on Yelp in order to figure out the address, I was sort of discouraged to see that the place had been pretty viciously panned by a lot of the reviewers.  I walked into the place with very low expectations, but it turned out to be a completely serviceable music club and bar.  It was basically a big, empty room with a small stage, a PA, and a bar.  Out back there were picnic tables and another bar.  There are a lot of new places along East 6th Street, and it's definitely an interesting,  up-and-coming drink, food, and entertainment scene.  The place is crawling with hipsters, though, and hipsters love to get themselves onto the internet and hyperanalyze the sheeyat out of anything new.  Hotel Vegas was a healthy reminder that it's not always good to believe everything you hear- especially when it comes to internet reviews.
So that was Friday.  Nice evening.

(and suddenly I have a commuter
Saturday went by pretty fast.  On Wednesday I had bought some new tires for my bike, so I put them on.  They're Forte Gothams, and they're commuter tires that are skinnier and meant to grip the street a little better than my old offroad tires.  It's a total bike geek thing to be excited about, but I've been having fun with them.  They aren't magic (sadly, they don't increase my speed when going up hills), but they roll a bit easier than my old mountain bike tires on level ground or when going downhill.  So I put the tires on, readjusted my bike computer, put some tire slime in the tubes to help avoid pinprick blowouts, and put a tube protector in on my back tire (which has the most problems because it bears more of the weight).  We went to the store and did some shopping, and then I went for a medium long bike ride while Amy went to a party where she decorated Christmas cookies with friends.
When Amy got home we went to the movies
We went to see Life of Pi, and I really enjoyed it.  Life of Pi is a movie by Ang Lee about a boy who ends up trapped in a lifeboat with a tiger, struggling to survive after a calamity at sea (admittedly the plot sounds a little far fetched, but it really does make more sense once you've seen the film).  From a standpoint of art direction and cinematography, Life of Pi is just a beautiful movie to watch.  It also has solid acting performances, a compelling story, and themes of spirituality and religion, the last of which kept me thinking about the multiple layers of meaning in the film long after I left the theater.  I didn't really know much about Life of Pi before going to see it, but Amy had read the book and recommended the movie, and I'm really glad that she did.  The movie was a bit of a rarity for our contemporary market- making excellent use of computer imaging and digital technology to tell a good story that never involved aliens, monsters, or superheroes (I like me some aliens and superheroes, but it felt good to step outside of a familiar genre) .  I would recommend Life of Pi, and if you are considering watching it, I would recommend seeing it on the big screen.  It's a visually stunning movie.
On Sunday we went to church.  Afterwards we joined some friends, Jessie (who works with Amy) and Jason, for lunch at Central Market.  Unbeknownst to us, it was Hannukah celebration day at Central Market, so we chatted and ate to the sounds of traditional Jewish music while the band and a medium sized collection of dancers bounced festively up and down.
In the afternoon I took another bike ride.  I raked a few leaves.
Eric, Reed, and Jim came over for band practice around five.  We had an acoustic practice, which is always both fun and a challenge for a band that's used to distorted amps and boost pedals.  We mostly managed to keep the feedback in check, and I think we had moments that sounded really good.
After practice the guys left and Amy and I had dinner.  Amy made chicken masala, and it was really, really good.  Sometimes I'm a little gun shy about Indian food, but the chicken masala was really delicious.  I know that it takes a bit of effort to make, but I hope it reappears in the not-so-distant future.  I am lucky to live with someone who not only enjoys cooking, but who's really good at it.
After dinner we watched BabiesBabies is a two hour documentary style film about, well, babies.  When Amy first told me that she ordered Babies from Netflix I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical.  After a bike ride, band practice, two beers, and the aforementioned chicken masala, though, relaxing beside the Christmas tree while watching Babies sounded okay by me.
And you know what?  Babies was pretty entertaining!
It follows four different babies in four different parts of the world- San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia, and Namibia- and tracks various events in their development as they move from birth to walking and talking.  There's almost no dialogue in the film, and some of the cinematography is pretty incredible.  The kids are, of course, very cute, and it's pretty fascinating to watch these children go through similar developmental stages, albeit in the context of strikingly different environments and cultures.  As simple as Babies is, it still makes an interesting statement about how we're all born into an early life that shares certain common events (e.g., learning to eat, becoming more aware of the world around us, learning to manipulate our environment and interact with it, becoming aware of the people around us, etc.), but these events, fo course, play out in different ways depending on the particular culture and surroundings that we find ourselves in.  Babies is far from heavy handed, but it still has something to say about universal aspects of human nature versus the environmental and societal differences that shape us from our earliest moments.
Also, those kids are cute.  Especially when viewed following a good dinner, with Amy next to you,  Cassidy snoozing nearby, and a glowing Christmas tree to keep things festive.
That's it for now.
Hope you're finding some peace in your holiday season!      

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