austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Happy as squirrels in the ol' gum tree

We had pretty loose objectives for Friday. About the biggest thing was a gathering of a movie club to which bunny_hugger belongs --- some online meet-up mechanism that my brain can barely comprehend but which she finds a lot of fun --- which would allow them all to meet me and prove that there was too a ``New Jersey boyfriend'' out there that they just happened to have missed all this time. I don't expect they seriously doubted my existence, but, you never know.

Before setting out we did go to a bookstore, one where she sometimes works for a little extra financing, in part because we really like bookstores and in part to see if we could catch other friends who'd never seen me (we had been there in June, and saw a few, but not everyone), and in part as I wanted to get something suitable and local to give my mother as a birthday present. Books are always a reliable gift for my mother, if you need to get her something, although my trying to limit it to something Michigan-connected contorted the shopping possibilities some. What I found eventually was a true-crime book about a local horror a century in the past, which may not sound like a traditional way for a son to show affection for his mother, but it is the sort of thing she's interested in. (A thriller would have been a better fit, but they didn't have any in the local interest section.) It happened that it was an author-autographed copy, for an extra bit of localization, although it was pre-signed rather than all that customized.

And we did more poking around; that bookstore has, particularly, a great Mathematics section based on its volume and depth --- usually the mathematics-connected books are a half-shelf or so filed indifferently around Science, or maybe less in Science And Nature --- and I was sorely tempted by several of the offerings but I've really got plenty of books to read for right now. We also did a fair amount of looking at the puppets over in the Children's departments, and other toys there; after all, my first Christmas as an uncle was still scheduled to come up soon. (It turns out that two-and-a-half is an awkward age for toy-buying, as these things go. Much opens up when the child is safely in the three-plus age range.)

It was also in the children's section that I found a book of ``animal buddies'', showing various not at all staged pictures of improbable pairs of animals touching one another. Near the back of the book was ... a rabbit and a coati. bunny_hugger was awestruck; I was amazed by the fact myself. I can't say for certain that they were really buddies, animalishly speaking. One could argue, from the pictures, that the coati was pressing its head down on a rabbit who wasn't sure whether it was better to play along and let it lose interest and then flee, for example. It can be hard to tell satisfaction from getting-ready-to-run in a still picture. It's still a wonderfully improbable thing to come across and have right there.

The movie theater we went to was the one we'd seen Up at, and so offered most appealing properties such as free drink refills, Coke Zero being regularly available, and powdered flavor agents to sprinkle on popcorn and add varieties of sweet to the bucket. Oh, and also there was the chance to meet up with eight or nine people from the larger group of folks who sometimes get together for movies in the Lansing area.

The movie we went to was The Fantastic Mister Fox, which you should certainly have seen whether in 3-D or not. I hadn't read the Roald Dahl story it was based on, or if I had read it I did so such a long time ago I'd forgotten it entirely, so I wasn't distracted by what was changed between book and movie. As best as I can determine from reading Wikipedia's description of the book, the movie simplified Mister Fox's family and then added some stuff on to the conclusion of the book, although it ended the movie in thematically rather close to the same place the book did. Although the parts added to the book's plot felt pretty inevitable given what had gone before, so that both bunny_hugger and I were left feeling that the new ending was still, really, not a stable conclusion to events.

A little distracting was the presence of distinctly North American animals in a setting that was, at least roughly, trying to be England, although this bothered bunny_hugger more than it did me. Still, the movie was beautiful to watch and the fair number of jaggedly unresolved plot points combined to give the story a compelling feeling of being something which just happened rather than being designed to be a story. It had something of the cragginess of real events. It deserved to do much better.

After the movie we actually got refills of soda and gathered in this elevated niche in the movie theater to chat with those of the movie meet-up group who didn't have to dash off. This gave them their first really good look at me, and we got to talking a bit about the movie, a bit more about amusement parks --- some were in bunny_hugger's roller coaster club, and my proximity to Great Adventure came up naturally --- and about the web site used to schedule these meet-ups, and future movies people were planning to see (already Avatar was being talked up), and so on, through several refills in total. I think I came off well, and I'm looking forward to the next time I'm over and can attend something.

I believe it was only after the movie, when we used some of the leftovers from Thanksgiving for a new yet no less tasty meal, that we realized we had forgotten to serve the cranberry sauce.

Trivia: In 1782 John Jay reported that Spain's ambassador to France, the Count d'Arada, believed the border of Spain's Louisiana claims to be --- as they saw it --- from a lake ``east of the Flint River to the confluence of the Kanawa with the Ohio [ Note: what is now Point Pleasant, West Virginia ], thence round the western shores of Lakes Erie and Huron and thence around Lake Michigan''. Source: The Fabric of America: How Our Borders And Boundaries Shaped The Country And Forged Our National Identity, Andro Linklater.

Currently Reading: The Fallen Colossus: The Great Crash Of The Penn Central, Robert Sobel.


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