Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thwarted expectations for NYE + a movie review

Dan and I both decided we like odd numbered years better than even numbered years, probably based on the fact that we were born on odd days in odd years (11/21 for him, 5/17 for me). Our birth years are also odd numbers. Additionally, we're optimists (most days), and so believe that this new year will be better than last year. Although that's not fair. 2016 was a good year for us personally--we went to Spain, Luke successfully started 8th grade, I got four stories published, I started a new job at Rutgers, the dog turned two and is healthy (only one fatty benign tumor), no one I loved died (except for Mike's dog, Kipper, and for that, I am sad, though also happy because we got to see him at the beach house one last time as Chaplin tormented him into limping), we finished the kitchen renovation of my mom's house was completed, and Dan got temporary work at Penn with some very nice people. I like my job, I like the people I work with, I don't mind the commute, and I wrote every day for National Novel Writing Month for the first time ever. The only blot is the dark hole of DT--and even that has some bright side, namely, that it has made me more politicized and energized to give back to the organizations that matter to me.  But it's still like we endured some partial lunar eclipse that won't fade, not for a long time.  I was listening to an Obama interview last night, and the fact that he speaks in complete, intelligent sentences is startling when compared to Trump-speak. Trump-speak is somewhere in the range of Dr. Seuss, except he doesn't have the sophistication to rhyme. It's all paranoia and meanness and untruths.  I keep being surprised by the level of inanity and hatred he constantly spews, including his happy new year tweet that mentions his "enemies." Outside of an action film character based on a comic book, what real adult person speaks of other adults as his enemies? One project that would be interesting to start would be to post tweets by eleven year old boys and compare them to DT and see if a reader can tell the difference.

Since neither Dan and I drink alcohol, we didn't plan a crazy New Years Eve, but rather dinner and a movie. The plan and the execution of the plan didn't quite go as we thought. Dinner was at Chamber's Walk, a place we've been to before and liked. Dan ordered the duck; I ordered the crab pasta, of course. Neither one of us liked the meal, as Dan found his duck to taste like rubber and fat, and I remembered I don't like seafood in my pasta. But our waitress was nice. She had two long French braids that fell all the way past her waist. We finished our meal in record time--less than one hour and then had an hour to kill before the movie I picked, Arrival with Amy Adams. We didn't get dessert at Chamber's Walk and so went cruising for an ice cream shop. We landed on 5 Guys, a burger and shake shack near the movie theater.  The restaurant was filled with mostly dorky teenage boys, and we both ordered shakes. Delicious shakes with Oreos in them. When we got to the movie theater, Arrival had sold out. Actually, it just vanished from the marquee as if it had never existed. I asked the ticket lady what happened and she said there were five seats left. Her co-worker gave her a glare and she said, I mean, it's sold out. We bought tickets to the next available movie, Fences. Neither one of us had a clue about its plot or characters. We went in, irritated some people who had thrown their jackets over two empty seats, and watched a bunch of previews. Have you heard of the movie? It took me about ten minutes to figure out that it was based on a play, one I vaguely recalled from being a temporary theater major in college. The reason I realized it was a play was because the first scene was about thirty minutes long and took place in a backyard. For those of you who haven't heard of the movie, it stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and is a family drama about a man whose struggling with the suburban life he's chosen and his regrets about not having become a professional baseball player. I mean, that's the barest surface of the story. I found it to be compelling and dull at varying moments. It seemed clear that a staged version of the play would be riveting, but a filmed version of the same was much less electrifying and so I wondered why this play was adapted--what was it about the film genre that would make the material more compelling or even as compelling as a live play? Aside from the fact that's a gorgeously written play about the human struggle, nothing was added by the genre. I suppose you could argue that watching Washington and Davis perform is reason enough, but it didn't work for me because I kept imagining how much more impactful it would be as a live performance, with all the inherent tension that a live version brings. Maybe it should be enough that by making it into a movie, more people will be exposed to August Wilson's work, and yet, it never didn't seem like a play to me--I didn't get lost in it, perhaps because I couldn't stop thinking how much more I would like it in person (both Washington and Davis were in the Broadway production in 2010). And lastly, the character of the brother who has brain damage and is played for mostly comic relief seemed like something from another time, even though the play was written in 1983. But go see it, or rent it, I suppose. Or look for the reprisal somewhere.

That was our New Years Eve, and I thought it was the perfect start to the new year, because it didn't work out like we'd thought. We'd been talking earlier in the day about how you can make plans and have expectations about the future, but that things most often don't happen the way you imagined. The night proved that theory. We went to dinner at a place we liked, but didn't enjoy the food. We went to a fast food restaurant and loved the shake. The film we thought we were going to see was sold out, so we went to another one we most likely never would have chosen. We sat next to a lady who was slightly put off by having to move her coat, but she did it anyway. We liked some of the film, and were bored by other moments. Impermanence and numerology--those are our areas of focus for 2017.

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