Star Wars And A Beer

Phillip and I had no plans for today, until Phillip asked me if I wanted to go see The Last Jedi. I appreciated that. I know I’m more of a Star Wars fan than he is.

We went the AMC 10, in the U District. It’s the place that used to be The Sundance. So far, they haven’t gotten rid of either the kitchen or the liquor, although they’ve taken down the menu signs and replaced them with hand-written paper sheets announcing the price of drinks and referring people to the hand-held menus. The lobby signs saying “AMC Dine-In” look pretty permanent, however.

When we used to go to The Sundance, I would order a beer, just because I could. Now, when we go to the AMC 10, I always order a beer, just because I still can.

I ordered a “Left Coast Philly” to go with my beer this afternoon.

Movie Dinner

We saw The Last Jedi in 3D.

I wish the present-day Star Wars films would drop the nostalgia, and the cameos, and move forward with the story. (I liked what Rogue One did with creating a whole new self-contained story, and tying it into the saga only at the very end.) That said, I liked The Last Jedi a lot.

It had great visuals. (I loved Snoke’s throne room as an opera set!)

I recently watched a video from Mimei Land, in which Mimei and Duncan went to go see The Last Jedi. After the movie, Mimei remarked that she loved all the Pokémon. I think that’s both funny and apt. I loved all the critters in this movie.

I’ve tried to stay away from reviews and spoiler before seeing this movie. It’s been tough to do. One thing I have heard is the movie described as “divisive”. Fans either love it or hate it. That’s actually one of the main reasons I’ve wanted to see it.

If a movie gets mostly good reviews, I’ll probably want to go see it. If it gets mostly bad reviews, I’ll probably want to stay away.

But, if a movie gets very good reviews and very bad reviews, if it’s “divisive”, I definitely want to see it – right away. This is a movie that takes chances, that breaks the mold, and creates something we haven’t seen before. That’s how I felt about The Last Jedi. It wasn’t perfect, but it took chances, and I enjoyed it.

The Last Jedi is a movie worth seeing in 3D, with a beer.

Different Commutes

Today was the 10th anniversary of the Seattle Streetcar. In celebration, both streetcar lines were free all day. This didn’t mean a whole lot to me, since my employer pays the full cost of my ORCA card, so technically, the streetcars are always free for me (unless you factor in the cost of the labor I put in to get that ORCA card – which I don’t). Still, I love our streetcars, and I thought this was pretty cool.

It’s been too long since I last rode the First Hill Streetcar, and a whole long longer since I’ve had the opportunity to ride the South Lake Union Streetcar.

I left work this evening and walked down to Jackson Street, getting stopped by “Don’t Walk” signs the whole way. (I was in no hurry. As always, I’m a fan of the slow commute.) I got to Jackson just as a streetcar was pulling into the stop. (Oh well, I’ll wait for the next one.)

I stepped onto the platform as the streetcar was loading passengers. I reached the back of the streetcar as the “Doors Closing” signal started sounding. (Oh well.) But the doors stayed open. It seemed that the driver was waiting for me. I quickened my pace and stepped into the streetcar. (Thanks, driver!)

I wanted to snap a photo or two on my commute home, but I had no waiting time on the platform, it was too crowded inside the streetcar to get a photo without someone’s face in it, and it was too dark outside to get a reflection-free photo out the window. (There were empty seats here and there, but many people seemed to prefer standing.)

It was a quick ride home, but with the walk down to Jackson, I got home a little later than usual. (It was not one of the more direct ways home.)

Yesterday, Phillip and I met up at Pacific Place after work, to see a movie. I rode a Link train from Pioneer Square Station to Westlake Station. Then I went up through Nordstrom, and over the sky bridge to Pacific Place, where I found Phillip waiting for me.

It was an hour until the movie started, so we had dinner at Johnny Rockets.

Cristina met us at the theater, early enough that we could have waited dinner for her, but we didn’t know when she’d arrive. (Sorry, Cristina.) The three of us hung out in the lobby and had a nice chat.

Michael found us after we’d found seats in the theater.

The movie, by the way, was Coco. It was wonderful. I highly recommend it. I’d love to own the DVD someday. I’m pretty sure all four of us were crying by the end. (There’s a little more to the crying, which I may, or may not, expand on later.)

After the movie, we all said goodbye, and Phillip and I walked over the bus stop near The Paramount, where, we learned, Hilary Clinton was speaking. We just missed a 49 bus, and had a 13 minute wait for the next one. (It was a pleasant night out, so it was a nice wait.) Then we walked home from Broadway.

And, of course, last Friday I rode home via the U District on the 74 bus.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll have a more typical commute home.

Returning Discs

Phillip had a NorWesCon meeting today. He’d planned on taking the car.

Season Two of Supergirl was due back at Scarecrow Video today. At first, that seemed like a logistics problem. But, I figured, there are buses in the area. I could get reasonably close to Scarecrow. Or, I could get lucky and find a car2go or ReachNow in the neighborhood. (I keep forgetting about Zipcar!)

I looked into it, and discovered that the combination of Link light rail and route 67 would work perfectly.

Meanwhile, Phillip discovered how bad traffic was predicted to be this weekend, and decided to take Link. That freed up the car for me. But I decided to still take public transit, enjoy the scenery, and maybe spend some time exploring the U District on my own.

This morning, Phillip left to walk up to Capitol Hill Station and ride Link and RapidRide A to the meeting. I took a shower and walked up the hill a little later.

Along the way to Capitol Hill Station, I dropped a DVD into the mailbox to return it to Netflix. The film was Dark Horse. We watched it last night.

Dark Horse is a wonderful, delightful documentary about a group of people in an ex-mining town in Wales who form an alliance, paying £10 per week, to breed and race a horse they name Dream Alliance. They go into this project knowing they have no hope of winning a single race. Professional horse racing is not a sport for the working poor. They don’t even have enough money to breed a horse from a quality lineage. But they try it anyway.

The story of Dark Horse is told to us by the people who were involved in the crazy project.

I got to Capitol Hill Station and had a 4 minute wait for a train to University of Washington Station.

Campus SignI exited University of Washington Station and walked over the bridge into campus. The bus stop was close by. According to my research, the 67 runs every 15 or 20 minutes. OneBusAway told me the next 67 would arrive in 11 minutes. I was in no hurry. Less than a minute later, a 67 bus arrived.

The 67 got me a block and a half from Scarecrow Video. I arrived at Scarecrow at 10:54. Scarecrow Video opened at 11:00. It hadn’t occurred to me to check their hours before I left home. Because it was a multi-disc set, Season Two of Supergirl wouldn’t fit though the “Night Drop” slot. So I read some more of Norwegian Wood on my phone while I waited outside.

At 11:00, Scarecrow Video opened, and I returned Supergirl. I browsed around a bit, and then I walked over to the bus stop on Roosevelt and 50th. OneBusAway told me a 67 was due NOW. I looked up the street, and there was a 67 a half-block away.

My plan was to exit on Campus Parkway and explore the U District for a while. Then I noticed that our 67 had turned into a 65. I decided to stay on a while, and see where the 65 goes.

I still don’t understand the reasoning behind a bus changing its route number in the middle of a route. I did some internet searching a while back, and I have yet to find a transit system in another major city that has this feature. It is a mystery.

I discovered that routes 65 and 67 are essentially one route. Having skipped the U District, I exited at University of Washington Station and rode Link back to Capitol Hill.

Here’s how the 65/67 works: Route 65 starts in Jackson Park and continues south through Lake City, through some neighborhood named Wedgwood, and into the University of Washington. At some point on the UW campus, it changes into a 67 and continues through the U District, north along 11th, and then Roosevelt, to Northgate. Then the 67 goes back south along Roosevelt, changing into a 65 somewhere in the U District, and continues on to Jackson Park. (Why is this not one route? Is there any city besides Seattle that does this? The mystery continues.) If I had studied Metro Transit’s map more closely before I left home, I wouldn’t have been surprised by this, but I’d planned by trip with Google Maps, and used Metro’s web site just to check the frequency of the 67.

I exited Capitol Hill Station and decided to have some traditional “Phillip’s at a NorWesCon meeting” phở on Broadway. I came to a new restaurant named Poke & Sushi, however, and decided to give it a try. I didn’t actually know what poke is, but the guy behind the counter was helpful and friendly.

I had tuna and white rice, with traditional poke sauce, with green onions, tofu, and edamame. I had a Fat Tire beer to go with it. It was tasty. I’d go back there.

Things Japanese

Yesterday, right before I left for work, I downloaded Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami (author of 1Q84) onto my phone. I don’t have a lot of time for reading during my commute, but I’ve found that I enjoy reading a few pages along the way, and that I also enjoy reading on my phone.

The Seattle Public Library has a good selection of eBooks by Haruki Murakami, and I’d learned a little bit about his work from reviews on YouTube. I picked Norwegian Wood because it was available for immediate download.

Yesterday, at work, while listening to YouTube videos, I clicked on a “Recommended for you” video about a tiny apartment in Japan. That apartment was rented by an Australian named Emma, who goes by “Tokidoki Traveler”, who’s living in Tokyo. That lead me to Tokidoki Traveller’s channel. I watched (mostly listened to) a few of her videos. Along the way, I learned that there’s a whole genre of “ex-pats living in Japan” YouTube channels out there. My favorites, so far, are “Tokidoki Traveller” and “Rachel and Jun”. (I really miss “Texan in Tokyo“!) I’m sure there are channels by ex-pats living in countries other than Japan, but I haven’t yet figured out how to find them.

I came home from work, intending to write a blog post about my eBook download and the YouTube channel I’d discovered, but I got into Cities: Skylines and didn’t get around to blogging. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get around to blogging yesterday, because last night, Phillip and I watched the latest in our Netflix queue: a Japanese anime named Tekkonkinkreet.

The film was gorgeous to look at. I wanted most of the background as a piece of artwork. Unfortunately, neither one of us liked the film. But, at least, it filled out a Japan-themed day quite nicely.

Twenty-One Dollar Movie Tickets

Last night, Phillip and I watched a film named A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It was the latest from our Netfix DVD queue. I loved it a lot. It’s about a vampire, but I wouldn’t call it a vampire movie. It takes place in a fictional Iranian town named Bad City. Everyone speaks Persian. It was filmed in California, and shot in gorgeous black & white. One main character is known only as the girl. She’s the vampire. The other main character is a rockabilly loner named Arash. The girl and Arash have a platonic romance going, but I wouldn’t call it a romantic movie.

Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t describe the film any better than I did:

Today, Phillip and I rode light rail to Downtown, to watch the movie Atomic Blonde. We’d planned on watching it in 2D. Because of the Seafair parade, we planned on getting there early, and just hanging around a bit.

We arrived at the theater ten minutes before the 4DX showing of Atomic Blonde would start. We decided to experience what 4DX is all about. Our tickets cost $21 each.


4DX is this new gimmick that supposedly immerses you in the whole movie experience. Your big living room style moves, rolls, and shakes with what’s going on in the movie. Air and water mist blow on you at appropriate times. Strobe lights flash.

Atomic Blonde was a great, action-packed movie. The 4DX experience wasn’t so impressive.

Midway through the movie, Phillip whispered to me: “Never again”. I agree. It was a unique experience, but not worth twenty-one bucks.

There were a few times when the 4DX worked well. A character is surprised by a sudden gunshot, and I felt air whiz past my ear. It added to the shock. During a fight scene, my chair jerked around, and punched me in the back. It was quite effective. Most of the time, however, it felt unnecessary. When a car in driving along a road, it didn’t add to anything to feel my chair vibrating.

After the movie, Phillip and I walked over to Target and did some shopping.

Then we stopped into Steak n Shake for lunch. We’d never been there before. It lived up to the hype.

Steak n Shake

Then we walked over to University Street Station, and caught light rail to International District/Chinatown Station. From there, we rode the streetcar to Capitol Hill.


On Capitol Hill, we stopped into Phoenix Comics and Games, long enough for me to buy Volume Four of Saga.

Then we stopped into Rocket Fizz to stock up on weird candy and soda.

Then we walked home.

It’s been a fun day.

Two People In The Peloponnese

Last night, we watched the final part of the Before trilogy. I didn’t write about it last night, and I’m not sure what to write about it now. I’m stunned. Before Midnight was excellent. I loved it. It’s just that it wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s a good thing – it’s a continuation, not a rehash. I’m just not sure how I feel about how things turned out.

Before Midnight starts in an airport. Jesse is sending his son home to his mother (Jesse’s ex-wife). Jesse is over-controlling his son, making sure his understands about the flight transfer, and telling him to let the airline personnel take him to the proper gate.

The airport is in Greece. Céline is waiting by the car outside. Jesse gets in, and drives them back to the writer’s house, where they have been guests, while their twin nine-year-old girls sleep in the back seat.

Over dinner, couples of various ages talk about love and marriage. We learn that one couple has arranged to watch the girls, and have paid for a hotel room, as a gift, so that Céline and Jesse can have some time alone.

It’s nine years after Jesse and Céline took that walk in Paris, in Before Sunset, and eighteen years after Jesse persuaded Céline to get off the train in Vienna, in Before Sunrise. This time, there is no time constraint, no train to catch, no plane to catch. Céline and Jesse are together. They have all the time in the world.

Jesse is a successful author, working on his next book, which, for a change, will not be about two people meeting at random every nine years. Céline is deciding on her next career move, having taken time off to raise twin girls.

Like the previous two films, Before Midnight features those wonderful, long take, conversations. The drive from the airport, for instance, consists of a static camera mounted to the hood of the car, while Jesse and Céline talk. It’s filmed up close, so we don’t get to see much of the Peloponnese scenery. It’s just them talking. Once again, it’s the acting skills of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy that carry this film, and make it wonderful.

But, Before Midnight is not like the previous two films. The awkwardness of two people getting to know each other has given way to an established couple who know each other all too well. Those conversations have turned from discovery to debate.

There are many surprises in Before Midnight.

This is an amazing trilogy. All three films are masterpieces.

Two People In Paris

I went to Writers’ Group today, having written nothing. I read a couple of book reviews from my blog. Those seem to be popular.

On my walk home, I stopped into the library and picked up a book for the Reading Challenge. Poor Atlantis trilogy.

Tonight, Phillip and I watched the second film in the Before trilogy: Before Sunset. Phillip has admitted to me that he didn’t love the first film, Before Sunrise, as much as I did. I think we both loved this one, however.

It’s nine years later, and Jesse and Célene meet accidentally (maybe?) in Paris. Jesse is on a book tour, promoting a novel he’d written about two people who spend a night in Vienna. He has a little more than a hour before he has to leave for the airport, to catch a plane back to America. So, they go get coffee, and then go take a walk.

First off, is the question: Did either one of them show up at the train station, six months after that night?

Before Sunset is an hour and twenty minutes long. The story is told in real time. There are amazing, beautiful, long, unbroken shots of Jesse and Célene walking through Paris, talking. I suspect that if technology had allowed him to, Richard Linklater would have made the entire film as one continuous shot.

Jesse and Célene have both grown older. They’ve moved on with their lives. The feelings are obviously there, however. Célene keeps reminding Jesse that he has a plane to catch. Jesse keeps finding something else for them to do together, and Célene agrees.

There is love, reality, and hurt going on between those two in that trip through Paris.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy did masterful acting, again.

Before Sunrise ended with an unanswered question. Before Sunset does, too.

This second film is even better than the first. It is amazing.


Poor Atlantis

The Atlantis trilogy, A. G. Riddle, got lost in my rush through the 2017 Reading Challenge. I’ve tried to find a way to fit them into one of the Categories, but I can’t. They’re very good books. All three have been stacked on the coffee table since the beginning of the year. Kelly gave the third book, The Atlantis World, for Christmas, over four months ago, and I haven’t even read the first page.

Last night, I found myself without a book to read. I returned Asleep yesterday, and the next Challenge book is In Transit. I opened The Atlantis Plague, the second book, and picked up where I’d left off, three-fourths of the way through the 400-page book. It was surprisingly easy to pick up the story.

Unfortunately for it, The Atlantis Plague will be set aside again when the library book arrives.

This morning, Phillip started reading the first book, The Atlantis Gene.

This afternoon, Phillip and I boarded a 49 bus and rode to the U-District for a 3:50 movie at Sundance Cinemas. Somehow, I’d overestimated how long it would take us to get ready and walk up the hill. We must have caught an earlier bus than planned, because we stepped off the bus at 2:38. We’d bought our tickets online, so we spent some time hanging around in Trader Joe’s, and in the upper lounge of the theater.

We saw Personal Shopper, with Cristina, Michael, and Craig.

I loved this movie – I loved it a lot. It reminded me, somewhat, of the book I’d just finished reading: Asleep, by Banana Yoshimoto. Personal Shopper is a ghost story, but not in a scary way. It’s also much more than that. It was character-driven. It was also enigmatic – very enigmatic.

Craig walked out during the movie – it wasn’t to his taste. After the movie, Michael, Cristina, Phillip, and I walked up to The Ave, discussing the movie as we walked. It was that kind of movie – one that needs to be discussed if you’re going to understand it.

At The Ave, Michael had to say goodbye. Then Cristina and Phillip and I had dinner at CaliBurger, where we continued to discuss the movie.

Then Phillip and I rode a 49 home.

Two People In Vienna

Recently, Phillip and I saw two very good movies in the theater: Get Out (An interracial couple spend a weekend with her rich liberal parents. It’s basically a horror movie, but it’s also something so much more.) and Life (An alien creature gets loose aboard the International Space Station and kills the crew members. It’s basically an Alien rip-off, but it’s very well made.)

We recently watched a good movie on our Netflix queue: La Vie en Rose, a biography of Édith Piaf. Phillip found this one. I enjoyed it, even though I’m annoyed by non-linear biographies. (It’s been done too many times. I no longer see the point. Just tell the story.)

We recently saw two very bad, awful, terrible movies on our Netflix queue: Wolfcop and Cabin Fever. We found both of these movies in trailers preceding other movies. In both cases, they looked like mindless, so-bad-it’s-fun entertainment. In both cases, they were just bad.

Last night, though, we watched the most amazing, wonderful film I’ve seen in years. I’ve been reading about 1995’s Before Sunrise, in film lists of masterpiece films, for years. I’ve been wanting to see it. I slipped it into our Netflix queue, along with the second and third film in the trilogy, without telling Phillip. (We both do that, from time to time.) It arrived in our mailbox on Tuesday.

I can’t stop thinking about Before Sunrise.

Two strangers strike up a conversation on a train in Europe. They bond to each other right away. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is an American tourist. His vacation hasn’t gone as planned, so he’s been spending his remaining days riding around on trains. He’s heading for Vienna, where he’ll catch a flight back to the United States in the morning. He doesn’t have enough money left for a hotel room, so he’ll spend the night walking around Vienna. Céline (Julie Delpy) is a French college student. She’s returning to Paris, after having visited her grandmother in Budapest.

The train arrives in Vienna. Jesse persuades Céline to get off the train with him. She does, and they spend the night walking around Vienna together. And that’s the film: One hour and 40 minutes of two people talking.

They start off as strangers in an unfamiliar city. What should they talk about, and what should they see? They wander, they sightsee, and they talk. They have their first kiss, and their first argument. And they talk some more. They fall in love, knowing that, when the morning comes, they’ll go their separate ways and, most likely, never see each other again.

The power of this simple film comes from its subtly. It relies solely on the acting skills of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They display great chemistry together.

There’s this wonderful scene, in particular, early in the night. They’re in a listening booth in a record store. Jesse is staring admiringly at Céline, who is looking off into the distance. Nothing is being said – they’re just listening to a record. Céline turns to stare admiringly at Jesse, who then looks off into the distance, as if he hadn’t been staring at her. She turns her gaze away, and he returns to staring at her. This continues for a while, with each person staring at the other in turn, but never looking at each other. It’s obvious that they both know they’re being admired, and they’re both enjoying it, but they both feel it’s too early in their relationship to actually stare into each other’s eyes. The whole scene is told through facial expressions.

Before Sunrise is, indeed, a masterpiece.

Before Sunrise was followed, nine years later, by Before Sunset, and, nine years after that, by Before Midnight.

The only downside of Before Sunset is that it made me realize that one of my favorite films, Lost In Translation, isn’t as original as I’d once thought.