Every visit, perhaps, takes on a motif of its own, and the motif for this trip was certainly static electricity. I was happy to touch bunny_hugger, and she me, but something about the circumstances of what we wore or how we moved or just whatever was in the air meant we were constantly delivering modest shocks of static electricity to one another. This was to us both wondrous and entertaining, except when the shocks were potent enough to actually hurt. We only got a few that were that intense, but it was hilarious how something as simple as taking two steps would produce enough spare electrons on one of us to get a visible arc again.
For Thursday, the first day of the New Year, bunny_hugger and I realized we hadn't actually set a time to meet after waking up, or a time to wake up. After the business and lateness of the previous two days we both slept in until past noon (admittedly not a challenge for either of us), but we were not too far out of synch despite the lack of organized plans. So we met up, and we electrically shocked each other, and we went out to find that curious mixture of breakfast and lunch that comes about when you start out late enough that you might end up around the time of an early dinner. For our first meal in the New Year we went to the diner where we'd first eaten together, a lovely place with a well-regarded French onion soup.
From the experience of our first visit together we'd realized that we don't really need to have anything special to do, and can just let things sort of happen. But we had some notions that it might be nice to see a movie together, and the obvious theater to go to for that was one next to the Freehold Raceway Mall. And as long as we were going there it'd be a shame if we weren't to go to the carousel in the mall, wasn't it? And to walk around the mall at large to see how it had changed in six months.
The major change in the six months was that the renovations which had done things like put a Borders book store in had finally wrapped up and so the bathrooms adjacent to the food court were open again. And we took the time to wander around the Borders, comparing it to the stores back at her home, and talking about our respective experiences as bookstore employees. My experiences are decades old, but much of the experiences are the same except that way back then it was an exceptionally rare customer who bought more than a hundred dollars' worth of books in one purchase. Someone who did was offered help taking all that back to the car. (We'd have helped any customer who asked and who hadn't been a jerk, but few people asked.) These days it's harder to find people who aren't buying a hundred dollars' worth at once, especially with the DVD sections to boost things.
On the carousel we tried riding the second storey this time. This has a smaller turning radius, which we'd somehow concluded would make for a less fun ride last time around. We were wrong in that regard: the second-storey, smaller-radius ride was at least as thrilling, maybe because we had enough extra height to be really able to see out the food court's outdoor-facing windows and so could get more efficiently dizzy if we gave it a try.
At the movies we chose to see The Tale of Desperaux, the book of which bunny_hugger had read. We had time before the movie started and searched for the amusements to be found in the theater without getting past the protective barrier of the ticket-taker. Some of this fun consisted of finding the movie posters and determining how many of them had tag lines that consisted of ``The End Begins'' or an equivalently meaningless phrase. When it fits just as well to Terminator: Yet Another Movie and Why Are The Werewolves Fighting Vampires Again? you know something's up. We also found to my horror that they went and let Will Ferrel make an awful Land Of The Lost movie, coming this May unless his demands are immediately met. Tucked away, almost understated, were posters for the upcoming Star Trek movie, although my first reaction to seeing the green-tinted portrait of a pointy-eared youth was to say that I hadn't realized Mister Spock was playing David Banner. Other parts of this fun consisted of studying the butter-inspired extrudable goo that can be used to make popcorn taste so much more popcorny. My local theater isn't as diverse and interesting in available gooey flavors as around bunny_hugger's place.
We spent time also trying to understand a large cardboard diorama dedicated to Ice Age: Number Whatever This is which we were finally able to make sense of when we determined that part of the Squrat's legs were not obscured by a weird choice of perspective but had in fact been torn off probably by earlier bored theater patrons. The movie also appears to be featuring a sabre-toothed natasha_nelson in some role, which was reinforced by the trailer once we got to the movie. Among video games the Star Trek: Voyager: Still More Borg game was running just fine the first time we passed it, but when we walked past again it was not just broken but turned off. Maybe it was all the static electricity.
Regarding The Tale of Desperaux, as noted I hadn't read the book, but I found the movie ... frustrating. Really frustrating. I think the core problem is that the movie has something like twelve protagonists, any one of whom could carry the story, including the title character who doesn't get in on things until about two days into the story. I suspect this reflects a failure to streamline the story in going from novel to movie versions: it's acceptable, even normal practice, in books to have several major characters with roughly equally important plot threads and the good organization of chapters keeps those threads clear. In the movie we kept moving from player-character to player-character.
Another nagging part of the story is that there's a heavy dependence on coincidence to get things to come out just right. Any story can, and usually does, have coincidences certainly, and a bit of luck at just the right moment can if it's presented right be a wonderful release from dramatic pressure. But the specific resolution to the movie depends on Desperaux doing something which prompts another major character to do something critical even though neither character was making a conscious choice about it, undercutting the dramatic value of its happenings. The other part depends on a truly unimaginably wild stroke of luck that pays off in the big climactic battle. I don't mind a bit of luck on the hero's side, in reasonable doses; but this was just a little too far.
Also one character appears to be killed, even though as far as bunny_hugger and I could tell there wasn't any reason that he should be more than a little bit inconvenienced. He's never seen again, though, and never mentioned either. It's a weird plot point to leave hanging.
To close the night, since it was getting past midnight, we went to the same diner again and had a meal full of sweetness and electric discharges. (I believe that I also ate a grilled cheese sandwich with knife and fork.) We experienced a lot of static electricity over the course of the week.
Trivia: The name ``Explorer'' was used for Army Air Service/National Geographic stratosphere balloons in the 1930s, long before its use for satellites. Source: Origins of NASA Names, Helen T Wells, Susan H Whiteley, Carrie Karegeannes. NASA SP-4402.
Currently Reading: Superdove: How The Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And The World, Courtney Humphries. Note that this is not the story of Steve Martin's comic-stunt-performing former roommate, but rather about the ubiquitous yet unpopular birds. It's quite well-written, though, and compassionate to the pigeon viewpoint. The only really disturbing thing is the cover shows art of a pigeon mixed with a muscle-man human's chest and forearms so that it looks really much too creepy.