"I think she likes you."
"I think she's kind of annoying."
"Mark finds a girl annoying? Wow, that's a first."
~ ~ ~
The problem is, I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not.
Movie Log: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Holy crap that was good. Better than Being John Malkovich? Yup. Better than Adaptation? Hmm hmm. Better than Confessions of a Dangerous Mind? Er, not a fair comparison.
Anyway, this was a wonderful film in every respect possible. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet were great, and Elijah Wood was both creepy and hilarious. The hand of Michel Gondry wasn't obvious through the first two-thirds of the film, but towards the end (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it), the direction became comfortably familiar. (Minor spoiler ahead.) While many of the effects were quite cool, the crumbling of the Joel's last memories at the beach house were particularly understated and amazing. Even better, like all special effects in the movie, they actually played a role in the plot.
There's not much else I can say about the movie without giving away significant parts of it, so I'll just end by saying it'll probably end up being one of the best movies of the year. 9/10.
~ ~ ~
Full disclosure: Diana saw the movie with me and found it to be emotionally manipulative. While I don't necessarily disagree with that, I didn't have a problem with it.
"Hello, this is Mark. Sorry, I can't come to the phone right now. If you're calling about the '91 Saab, it has been sold. Otherwise, please name your name, number, and reason for calling, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks."
"Hi Mark. Uh, this is me, Dave. I was calling about the, uh, Saab you have for sale. Please call me back as soon as possible. Please? Bye."
Of course, I have no idea who Dave is. Star-7, message deleted.
~ ~ ~
It had been a long day, and the last meeting was almost over.
"I really like that idea," I said, "but we have to be careful moving foward. We're kind of throwing a huge chunk of sodium into the fishbowl here."
Silence from everyone else in the room. Then, "What, would that kill all the fish?"
Note to self: Chemistry metaphors do not work.
Movie Log: The Fog Of War
Errol Morris' documentary of "11 Lessons From the Life of Robert McNamara" is one incredibly disjointed film, although that's not to say it's sloppy, nor, for that matter, bad. It's more like a house without a framework, a huge mess of thoughts and ideas that need to be assembled by the viewer, as opposed to by a director or subject who'd usually do it for you. Considering how artful some of the moments are put together, I have to assume this was completely intentional. And, in context, it's a decision that makes sense: One of the main points of the film is it's impossible for rational people to think, feel and observe properly in the context of war or conflict, and that truths and realities can often be clear only in hindsight.
And, as you might expect, it's a film best appreciated after day or so of thought. 7/10.
~ ~ ~
Speaking of context, a couple who looked to be in their mid-50s sat a few rows ahead of me at the Lagoon. She was in a nice dress, he in a suit and tie. They stood and watched the screen as the credits rolled.
"Well," she said of McNamara, "he's still an arrogant prick."
He pondered her comment for a while. "Yeah, you've got that right."
I don't have the benefit of their experience, of course, but by this afternoon I'd come to a completely different conclusion.
As of this evening I've received 33 new calls on the Saab.
~ ~ ~
A bit of a tangent for the evening. While I'm amused as anyone about the undead beating the Risen at the box office, I have a problem with the marketing for Dawn of the Dead. The movie's site introduces the story as being set in the suburban city of Everett, Wisconsin, population 750,000. Of course, it's a fictional story, so it's okay that Everett, Wisconsin doesn't actually exist, but population 750,000? Please. There are only eight states in the Union with cities larger than 750,000, and Wisconsin isn't one of them. On top of that, a city with 750,000 residents would be the 14th largest city in the nation, larger than Boston, Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, Miami or Atlanta.
Basic geography, people. Sheesh.
Today has been a very frustrating day on the car front. The '91 Saab is gone, sure, but today is the day the new ads for it went live in the StarTribune and Pioneer Press. I wasn't expecting much: The past ads in those papers, as well as a number of ads online, netted me a total of only four calls, and only one of those resulted in someone actually looking at the car.
Well, it's 3:20 in the afternoon now, and guess how many calls I've gotten on the Saab today. That's right, 18. If this had happened a month ago I'm sure I would've been able to sell it.
I really don't understand why things always seem to work out this way.
The '91 Saab is gone. Now the search for a new car can begin in earnest.
~ ~ ~
Interesting evening in St. Anthony. One moment people are comparing Apache Plaza to Stonehenge and the pyramids, the next they're labeling Wal-Mart and Cub Foods as liabilities. Strangely enough, they were justified in both accounts.
More on this later.
A friend at work has agreed to take the dead Saab off my hands. He's mechanically inclined and knows what he's getting into, so I'm comfortable giving it to him. I won't be getting any money out of the deal, but I will have an incredible pain permanently removed from my life.
Good freakin' riddance.
When it was built in 1961, Apache Plaza was the second enclosed mall in Minnesota and by many indications the sixth such mall in the country. As such it holds a strange place in history, original enough to be relevant, but too new to be protected. This weekend a fundraiser will celebrate its history, and then early next week the bulldozers will move in. In many ways, its death has already begun.
The last few days of any building can strange, and Apache Plaza is no exception. When I visited it a few weeks ago to take photos, one thing struck me more than anything else. Despite the devastation throughout much of the building, despite the boarded-up hallways, the locked doors, the shuttered storefronts, despite everything that seemed to tell people to go away, Apache Plaza still had mall walkers. While most of the interior had been closed off to visitors, there was still a narrow strip open along the two remaining stores, a local furniture outlet and a Herberger's. It was in this area, maybe 80 yards in length, that three separate visitors went about their daily routines, walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. In a way they seemed reminiscent of fish stranded by a retreating river, their shallow puddles slowly drying up. How long had they been walking there? Where would they go when the mall was gone? In retrospect, I wish I'd asked.
Regardless, they won't be able to walk there much longer. This Saturday, time's up.
The saga of the '91 Saab ends this week. I'll be donating it to whatever charitable organization is willing to take it off my hands. The reason for not continuing to try to sell it is simple: It's really quite difficult to sell a car THAT DOESN'T FUCKING RUN.
Yes, that's right.
It broke down.
One day after I spent over $120 for new ads in the StarTribune, Pioneer Press, and Cars.com.
So, let's see. The car took me $3200 to buy, $6000 to attempt to fix, and $300 to try to sell. I'm out almost $10,000 and have absolutely nothing to show for it.
~ ~ ~
On a related note, the last time I had a mechanical problem with my old Saab, i.e. the one I've been driving since the new Saab first broke down on June 30th of last year, was on June 12th of last year. It was the June 12th breakdown that convinced me I had to get a new car, a decision that eventually led to me aquiring that moldering piece of crap referenced above.
I've always had an appreciation for irony, but this is ridiculous.
I should be in Austin.
~ ~ ~
"I'm selling my iPod."
"What!?" He sounded like I'd said something sacrilegious.
"I'm selling my iPod."
"Why on Earth would you do that?"
"I'm not happy with its playback. I'm getting a Rio Karma instead."
"A Rio what?"
"What's wrong with the iPod? I couldn't live without mine."
"Well, the iPod doesn't handle albums well. It completely screws up tracks that are supposed to blend into each other. You know, there are those half second or second-long gaps between the songs."
"I know... But is that really a big deal?"
"Well, I think so. Those gaps can be very annoying... They completely destroy a couple of my favorite albums. I still carry around some of my electronica CDs because I can't stand to listen to them on the iPod."
"Well, I don't listen to techno, so I guess I never really noticed."
"Thanks. Also, the Karma supports Ogg Vorbis, which natively supports gapless tracks, and FLAC files, so you can get CD-quality sound on it."
"Ogg Vorbis. It's a open-source music format."
"But how much music can you hold on it?"
"The Karma has a 20-gigabyte drive."
"Oh." Pause. "But it probably doesn't look as cool as an iPod."
"No, no it doesn't."
South By Southwest 2004 starts this Saturday. I've gone four years in a row, but won't be heading down to Austin this year. There are a number of reasons for not making the trip—finances, work... other things—but as the date nears I find myself feeling a bit regretful about sticking in Minnesota.
Hmmm. I wonder what airfare would be...
~ ~ ~
Round-trip airfare to Austin, Texas, leaving Friday, returning Wednesday: $650 to $4165, depending on departure time and number of stops.
$4165!? Why do Orbitz and Expedia even bother listing a price like that? (Cue business traveler: "That's why we book through American Express."(2)) Upon further review, the high-fare trip to Austin is equivalent to three round-trip fares to London for the same time period. Wow.
It's a very rough draft, but a new version of my resume is now up at mdanielson.com.
It was an unusual question to hear from her. "So, if you were going to describe the year so far in 20 words or less, what would you say?"
"20 words or less?"
"I dunno. Because it's fun?"
"Okay, how about five to 20 words?"
"What, you want me to repeat 'boring' five times?"
~ ~ ~
In other news, for no reason other than I felt like it, this design now validates XHTML 1.0 Strict.
"You ready for the bus strike?"
"My girlfriend is going to drive me to work tomorrow morning."
"And in the evening?"
"Then I'm fucked. You still in Minneapolis?"
"Yeah, I can give you a ride."
~ ~ ~
Now, granted, I completely understand why some people are expecting a minor bit of transportation armageddon tomorrow morning. While the number of people using buses in the Twin Cities is relatively small, the percentages change dramatically when you look at just the downtown areas. Over 40% of those heading into downtown Minneapolis each day take the bus, the vast majority of them using services provided by Metro Transit. Remove the buses and suddenly there may not be enough lanes on the freeways nor enough parking spaces in the downtown ramps.
But it may not be that bad. If those who usually use the buses plan ahead and carpool or even work from home, traffic during the bus strike may flow better than it does when the buses are in use. While buses are a great resource for moving people, they tend to move slower than other traffic on the freeways, and on city streets even the best bus drivers can leave the tails of their vehicles hanging out in traffic during a stop. Remove those obstructions without significantly increasing the traffic volume and there could be clear sailing ahead.
Of course, such honeymoon could be short lived. Carpooling is great if you can arrange your schedule around it, but much of what we'll see tomorrow will be out of necessity rather than convenience. It may work for a week or two, but at some point reality and people's regular schedules will have to take over. If the buses aren't up and running before that happens, the metro area may have a very serious problem on its hands.
~ ~ ~
"Hey, is that _____ and _____?"
"What are they doing here? Are they... Are they sharing a piece of cake?"
"It would seem so."
"But both of them are married."
"So, uh, you watch the Oscars Sunday?"
Well, it looks like Kerry's going to get the nomination. I can live with that. Edwards for Vice President, Wes Clark for Secretary of Defense, Dean for Health & Human Services. Heck, let's give Colin Powell another four years as Secretary of State and make Tommy Thompson Secretary of Transportation. And let's prosecute Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes. Whoo hoo!
Okay, that's not going to happen. Well, maybe the Kerry/Edwards thing, but not anything else.
~ ~ ~
I'm feeling kind of guilty about not going out to caucus this evening. Maybe next time.
Items Noted Elsewhere: Dean Finally Wins Edition
A new month, a new design. As it turned out, no one really cared for last month's design. Comments like "ugly," "boring," and "that's really white, Mark" were not uncommon. I'm OK with all of that, though, as I think this design turned out better than the last one. It was easier to code, too: If it hadn't been for one really annoying disagreement between Safari and IE, I probably would've coded the entire template in less than an hour.
Comments are still welcome, of course.
~ ~ ~
I've been quite busy the past few days. The car situation remains somewhat static—still no buyers for the '91 yet—but I've gone ahead and started looking for a new car anyway. For the most part, I've been checking out used cars under five years of age, most with less than 50,000 miles on them. Needless to say, it's completely new territory for me. I'm still struggling with the idea of owing money on an automobile, but I'm sure I'll get past that before I actually buy a car. Besides, from a practical standpoint, I already owe money on the cars I have now: Remnants of the last set of repairs to the '91 won't be completely paid off until my next paycheck.
And my '89? As expected, its decline is rapidly accelerating. No clear need for repairs yet, but I want to get rid of it before anything surfaces.
Anyway, the car search: I briefly looked at some Civics, but decided they were too small. Same deal with the Focuses (Foci?), although in retrospect I'm not sure what I was doing looking at Fords anyway. The Camrys and Accords were predictably boring, and while there were plenty of Sentras, there were no SE-Rs to be seen. I briefly looked at some Oldsmobiles—I've had Intrigues as rentals and liked them a lot—but for whatever reason most of them seemed to be trashed. (Granted, Olds only offered automatic transmissions on Intrigues, so, again I'm not sure what I was doing looking at them.) I looked at some Chevys and Subarus as well, but in the end didn't find anything I'd want to spend 15 hours a week in.
And so the field has been narrowed to the Saturn L-Series, a couple of Volvo wagons and, yes, a few Saab 9000s and 9-5s. Despite a couple of friends threatening to hurt me if I buy another Saab, I'll probably go that route if I find something decent.
~ ~ ~
In other news, I've also spent some time working on the housing situation. I'm not going to make any moves until I have a better idea about where my job is going, of course, but as I'm only three months away from the lease-renewal deadline on my apartment I'm trying to be proactive. If I do stay in the Twin Cities I'll probably have to head back to the 'burbs. I really love Minneapolis, but I just can't afford anything here(1).