Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blue Skies on Black Friday

The following is a diary of my Day After Thanksgiving, which I pecked out on my Treo throughout my adventures downtown with my family.

8.40 am - Starbucks. Up and on the road by 8 am for downtown and the Macy's Holiday Parade. 20 minutes now in Starbucks order line – place is packed...guessing 15 more minutes until my latte. I count 18 people in the pick-up line ahead of me.

9.01 am - Starbucks. I counted the waiting orders - empty cups lined up for the Barista - to fill. 42. It’s nuts in here.

9.24 am - We are enjoying the parade, and my wife pointed out to me that enthusiasm for marching bands must be regional. Indeed, it has occurred to me that many of the bands here lack the snap and discipline of many of the marching bands in the Southeast. Then again, it’s been a long time since I was in a high school band.

10.58 am - Returned some overpriced merchandise to fye music and fought the crowds. Now off to Macy's.

Noon - Macy's is nuts.

1 pm - Appointment with Santa. Polly Pocket house, butterfly catch and Amazing Alison. What’s a butterfly catch?

2 pm – Enjoying a Ballycastle roll at Kell's Irish pub.

3.40 pm – More Christmas shopping.

5 pm - The tree lighting at Westlake Plaza was heavily attended, as the rain forecast for today never materialized.

7.10 pm – last stop – supper at a Thai restaurant near home. Exhausted. Will sleep well tonight.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dinner for Three

This year, considering that our Thanksgiving feast was prepared by my lovely wife for just the three of us, we held back on dishing up the usual Southern Thanksgiving feast. We decided to scale down this year. We even decided not to cook a turkey, and opt for my baked chicken recipe instead. But my daughter, at the supermarket on Sunday, decried such heresy, going so far as to engage a supermarket employee to ask, "Not having a turkey on Thanksgiving is just not right, is it?"

I yielded, and we reached a compromise with my daughter to allow a turkey breast (a cut breast with the skin on, not the pressed turkey breast loaf) instead of a chicken.

My wife prepared all but the pie, and the meal was excellent. Here is what we had:

turkey breast prepared with herbs in a crock pot
pumpkin-zucchini stuffing (a Rachel Ray recipe)
fresh green beans
creamed corn with tumeric and rosemary
Yorkshire pudding
two-layer pumpkin and cream cheese pie

My daughter asked to give thanks, and delivered an eloquent prayer from a five-year-old's heart that thanked Jesus most of all for her family.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

This is where I am nestled this Thanksgiving Day, at my coffee table in front of the fire.

I was watching the National Dog Show earlier, and J. Peterman, the host of the show, said, "The National Dog Show Presented by Purina is brought to you by..... Purina!"

I found that funny, but it does not read well.

Does anyone think that NBC's coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has become more NBC self-promotion and less parade?

I have to say, that Al Roker still cracks me up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

14 Hours, 5 Films and Panang Curry

For the second year in a row, my friend Mike and I spent the Saturday between our birthdays at the movies. Like last year, we were able to screen five films, among them a few surprises and a disappointment.

We started off the day at Seattle's Cinerama, and enjoyed the new James Bond film, Casino Royale on their mammoth screen with state-of-the-art sound. A fan of both the books and the films, I went into this movie with high hopes and somewhat low expectations. But seeing Paul Haggis listed in the writing credits (he wrote Million Dollar Baby and the phenomenal Crash) my expectations rose considerably and I was not disappointed. This Bond is raw, tight and breath-takingly exciting. So much so that it ranks now as my number two favorite in the franchise.

Transition now to the Uptown Theater and Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, which is not at all what we expected. At times I felt I was watching a David Lynch picture. Nicole Kidman's performance is fantastic in this impressionistic and sometimes surreal "invented" biopic of the famous photographer, and Robert Downey's turn as Arbus's muse (whose face is seen only at the end of the film) is rich and compelling. Mike and I spent the day trying to decide whether or not we actually liked the film, and I cannot recommend this one to everyone.

We followed fur with the latest Christopher Guest outing, For Your Consideration. He has taken on the theater, dog shows, and folk music in his unscripted films thus far, but turning his attention to Hollywood is uninspired and ultimately disappointing. Granted, his cast is good, and there are a number of genuine laughs, but the film remained the day's big disappointment.

Break for Panang Curry and rice at Phuket Thai on Queen Anne.

If there is anything wrong with the period piece Copying Beethoven it's the uneven script. But the performance by Ed Harris as the maestro during the final days leading up to the premiere of his ninth symphony is remarkable. The filmmakers took a chance with an extended sequence highlighting the performance of the symphony, but the composition itself is exquisite and Harris is mesmerizing as the deaf conductor, able to lead the orchestra only by receiving cues from his copyist, played by the lovely Diane Kruger. We left the auditorium raving not so much about the film as we were about Harris's performance and about the magnificent ninth symphony.

We finished off our day with The Prestige, in which Hugh Jackman joins Batman Begins alumni Michael Caine, Christian Bale and Director Christopher Nolan. Though we felt the film cheated us at the end. Nothing is as it seems in this film (which I guess, in a film about illusions, that is the point, right?), but we were thrilled and surprised and wildly entertained.

All in all, I would say it was a good day.