For Saturday we had a notion of perhaps taking in a movie. We've had good success in our getting-together of there being movies we'd be interested in seeing opening just for us, and this streak carried on.
We started out with lunch at Jersey Mike's, a place I don't eat at often enough, I suppose since with my dieting going on I don't need the large-sized sandwiches they offer nearly so much. But splitting a cheese hoagie (or as their menu views it, the vegetarian special) with bunny_hugger, that's just right. It took nearly the whole meal for me to realize the reason that the audio reporting of the baseball game didn't seem to match what was happening on-screen was that the TV set with the audio turned on was watching the Yankees game, while the one in my line of sight, and muted, was on college baseball. I was distracted.
We went to the movie theater near Freehold Raceway mall, which would give her the chance to use a theater chain free-ticket and free-snacks coupon which were useless back home because the relevant chain's theaters near her are awful. It would also give us the chance to ride the mall's carousel, which we've done a few times --- we're pretty sure we've been on both the lower and upper level --- but after all it's not like we're overdosing on that one. They've been making little changes around the carousel and its concession stand, in what look like moves to make it more professional. They've also roped off the part of the food court behind the carousel's entrance, for vague reasons --- I suppose to keep people from hopping the fence and getting on the ride free, but also blocking many views of the ride --- and started giving out loyalty cards for frequent riders, who after ten rides will be rewarded with ... a ride.
We also had time to wander around the mall, taking in attractions like the ceramics shop. I'm not sure what to call it exactly, but it's one of those where you pick out the base statue they have, and paint it, and they provide the firing and glazing services. This swiftly leapt onto the list of things we could see doing, particularly once we noticed they had statues of Popeye and of various bunnies. They also had more practical stuff like egg serving trays or mugs that might have a specific use other than as something to paint together.
And then there was wandering around the stores I never get to on my own, such as jewelry or Yankee Candle. It turns out they have a lot of really elaborate yet fantastic-smelling candles out there. If my parents' home didn't have three cats of various levels of spastic activity and curiosity mixed with obliviousness I might have picked something up. (The electronic vapourizers or those candleless wick things remain possibilities.)
We also spent quite some time in Borders, evaluating the Summer Reading books for the standards of readability by actual humans. I've made this point before, sometimes in other forums, but: boy, summer reading lists are getting more heavily weighted in favor of books normal people might actually like reading. It's almost as though the image of cruel English teachers seeking out the dullest tomes ever compiled to demand students read is a weird parody unrelated to the real world. Also we noticed what a high percentage of the books were science fiction or fantasy, sometimes by hallowed tradition (eg, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), sometimes by any reasonable person's definition (eg, Childhood's End). You'd think English teachers were trying to push science fiction on the young now.
Our movie was Toy Story 3, which we saw without going for the 3-D version, which bunny_hugger's coupon wouldn't have been good for anyway. This was a relatively early showing and was pretty well packed with kids, and further, the ``entertainment'' advertising before the trailers began was the heavily kid-oriented feed.
The movie was, well, you know Pixar movies and probably have had all the really relevant thoughts I could possibly write about it by now, unless you're somehow trying to avoid all possible spoilers, in which case I'll say at the end of the hand-holding scene I burst out with that combination of laughing and crying at relief and the utter ... sense that it made as a way out of a situation I couldn't foresee any non-contrived path out of.
Still, and despite incredible moments like that, I was left feeling the movie was a bit ... well, it was ingenious and occasionally touching, but I felt like something was missing, and I can't quite pin down what. I think there's something ... well, put it this way: stories about imaginary friends map really naturally to stories about parents accepting that their kids will someday leave home. The parent-child relationship is the only one that comes to mind where it's regarded as normal for the intimacy of the relationship to appreciably fade in time, and for one partner in it to need the other less. A child's need for his imaginary friends correlates with that well, and I think the movie was starting to get at that, rather cleanly, by having the action of Andy's ultimate separation from his toys coincide with his leaving for college. But then there's considerable action and adventure, which is fun but not as meaty a story as, say, in the first one how Buzz came to re-evaluate his place in the toy society. Maybe I'm wholly off-base, but I ended up feeling like the film was more cleverly crafted than inspired.
Something I didn't realize until an Onion AV Club commenter pointed out: each of the Toy Story trilogy has a scene evoking something from the corresponding (original) Star Wars trilogy --- in the first, interrogation about the Rebel Base; in the second, an I Am Your Father moment; in this, Vader's overthrowing the Emperor. Maybe it's coincidence --- avoiding Star Wars references in a nerd-oriented medium is almost as hard as avoiding The Wizard of Oz riffs in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode --- but it's a slick touch anyway.
Trivia: The original proposal for the Sherman and Mister Peabody cartoons was proposed by cartoonist Ted Key, and in early forms was tentatively named ``Danny Day-Dream''. Source: The Moose That Roared: The Story Of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, Keith Scott.
Currently Reading: The Paradise Game, Brian N Stableford.