Saturday's plan was to visit Ann Arbor, and spend the day wandering a really great college town. We'd been there a few times before, for the arts, and for another February visit a couple years ago, although that one had started late because of my natural tendency to sleep in until 5 pm on weekends. We got going a bit earlier this time, in hopes we could get to stores before they were closed.
We parked in a semi-public parking deck --- it's for offices weekdays, but weekends is a flat $2.00, or actually, $3.00 now, so bunny_hugger had a bit of amused grumbling to do about that. But it's very well-situated, right by the Michigan and the State Theaters and almost across the street from Abandoned Borders Number Zero and whatnot. We went to a bar --- I think it was named Ashley's --- for lunch. It has somewhere around 68,184 beers on tap, and I managed to fumble asking for any of them and settled for a Diet Coke and a sip of bunny_hugger's instead. We also had cheese fries, although to call them cheese fries is to understate them. They were served with melted Stilton and I'm still licking my lips from them.
We did a bit of wandering through the streets and across the University of Michigan campus, with bunny_hugger explaining various places, some of which were still there, some of which were gone to where all things from our youth go. Some of them weren't gone: there was a record store still there, standing firm against all the forms of modern music recording. It also held a number of cassette tapes, and I was a bit enchanted by the stacks of them. People of the right age feel an understandable longing of nostalgia for real record albums, but apart from the mix tape, does anyone long for the cassettes of their youth?
Since it was a place and bunny_hugger and I were there together we found a number of amusing things. One I spotted was a weird variant of a Kinks album, apparently printed in Spain, which just changed the title of the album and one song and didn't give any hint that it was actually some other album that a Kinks fan in Barcelona in 1982 might have already purchased using other, earlier money. And bunny_hugger, who as mentioned has been going through the heat of a Buggle fandom, went to find their first album (``The Age of Plastic'') which she was sure would be there in abundance. There weren't any. All she could find was their less-popular second album (``Adventures in Modern Recording''), which ... you know, she didn't have, on vinyl, anyway. So she was delighted with that.
I did wander into the DVD section and saw they had the one Film Crew DVD I didn't yet have. (The Film Crew is where Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy went to make fun of movies between Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax.) I was sold, but to make sure the right disc was in I opened the box and ... it was empty. Heartbreak. After thinking what to do I took the empty box to the cashier, to say they'd been shoplifted of this, at least. The cashier didn't seem to understand what I was talking about. In fact, I didn't understand how they worked things: all the DVDs on shelves were empty shells, with the actual discs kept behind the counter to prevent shoplifting. So we had a happy resolution to that.
Another shop we went into was --- I forget the name, but long ago back in the days it had been a head shop. Now it's moved more into novelty items, some jewelry, and greeting cards. Lots of greeting cards. We got pretty well lost in them, since bunny_hugger had to buy a card for her brother, and it's hard to stop reading greeting cards once you get started. Plus, at some point, squirrels took over the greeting card industry, and there's squirrel pictures or cartoons on about two-thirds of all greeting cards. I'm not sure what's going on there.
Another store visited had several layers of memory for bunny_hugger; it was a shop about evenly divided between cheap rubber novelty items with endearingly hand-made signs identifying them --- rats and wind-up hopping frogs and animal-sided dice and so on --- and miscellaneous nicknacks, including little animal figurines she used to collect. Might collect again, based on the advances in painting made on some of the figures. We'll see.
And we visited a comic book shop, one from which bunny_hugger had gotten a board game which she wanted to play with me, except it takes at minimum three people to play. It sounds interesting, anyway, and I'm sure we'll get around to it at some point. (Her father found the game to be staggeringly complicated, probably since there are a set of the rules which change mid-game and which change to different rule sets on different plays, which is a good standard for staggeringly complicated even if it comes to feel second nature when you're an experienced gamer.) Along the way we also ran across the first couple Peanuts comic books of the current run. bunny_hugger hadn't heard about them, but was a bit surprised that I wasn't among the enraged fanboys calling for the obliteration of the things. I'm a little surprised too, although I suppose if I could accept You're In The Super Bowl, Charlie Brown appropriately, by pretending it doesn't exist, I could put up with the comic books. (And the comic books do reprint some classic Peanuts Sunday strips, so it's not all bad. The original content is all right, from what I read, but not as tight as the actual Schulz stuff is.)
She did ask me about this huge book reprinting many Krazy Kat Sunday strips; it'd been up for consideration as a Christmas gift but she wasn't sure if I already had it. I didn't have it, and didn't realize that it was, literally, a huge book, running about seven feet on a side and weighing in at over three tons. It's part of a movement to reprint classic old Sunday strips at their original sizes, which is why there's also an old Gasoline Alley book in this line large enough to contain a neighborhood mechanic. The shop also, of course, had a long wall of old comic books in plastic bags, the most amusing of which were the many Silver Age Flash covers. I realize it's hard to judge this, but, was there any comic book more Silver Age Absurd than Flash? Maybe Humiliating Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane or Tormenting Jimmy Olsen were, but it's a very narrow difference.
We had wanted, among other things, to go to the Michigan theater's showing of the Oscar-nominated animated shorts. Unfortunately its only showing would be around 9 pm, late enough that we might never get back to home that night. At the State, though, was showing another movie we'd wanted to see, The Artist, which I'd been meaning to suggest as one we might see together (at the same theater or in parallel). So to the State it was. The State used to be a classic proper full-size 1940s movie theater, but long ago it was subdivided into four smaller theaters, and then less long ago the lower two theaters were converted into a clothing store. So there wasn't the original lobby anymore --- just a small box office --- and on the mezzanine level a snack stand was set up. It had what I consider the old-fashioned style popcorn popper, although that probably means it just dates to 1976. When the metal lid slid back, individual kernels were able to pop over the glass divider and scatter onto the floor. We got a small bag and some sodas.
The Artist, anyway, we both quite liked. It was really designed from the start for me to like it, since I've gotten into silent movies in a big way and the film does its best to look as much as possible like a late silent. And it's about the transition into talkies, which is one of those interesting technological shifts and makes anyone think of Singing In The Rain, which is a good thing to think about. I need to take an essay sometime and talk about it at greater length.
Afterwards we went to eat at a vegetarian restaurant, one which it happens is literally next door to a mutual friend. However, we didn't think to contact him before we'd set out, and we couldn't figure out which of the exceedingly many buttons on his front door might ring his apartment, so we figured we'd be content to later on taunt him about how we were peering in his window and he didn't even suspect. We forgot to do that, too. The food was good, and we were seated in a nice comfortable booth just a little away from a rambunctious crowd.
Since it was a place and bunny_hugger and I were there, we found some odd things happening. One was that I discovered a wooden box underneath my seat. Couldn't figure what it was for or why; it was too small and too un-padded to be a booster seat. Another was that we got the tab split down the middle, yet somehow ended up with one of us paying a penny more than the other, even though the original bill was an even number of dollars and cents. There's obviously something weird going on in the rounding somewhere along the lines, although we weren't interested enough in just what to figure that out.
We closed out the restaurant, as we do often seem to do. I should mention an odd bit of graffiti in the men's room, though: in the cracks between tiles people had taken to writing various words which end in -ile. Tile, Smile, While, and so on. Towards the end of this odd bit of play someone wrote a cuss word; I forget which, and it doesn't matter. The next word in the list was 'Hostile'. Well, it amused me.
We got back home from this magnificent, happy day at a reasonable time, and remembered to let bunny_hugger's rabbit out to romp around some. He's been shedding, rather a lot, to the point that he looked naturally like his fur had partially exploded, and there's been a lot of loose hair around. It was enough that bunny_hugger took a comb and brushed out enough fur to make a clump bigger than my hand. She joked that she didn't need her old rabbit anymore, she's made a new bunny. And then he shed about as much hair again. He's a large rabbit, but he's threatening to cover Lansing four inches deep in fluff.
Trivia: The ``International Aviation Contest'' held at Sheepshead Bay Race Track, Brooklyn, New York, in August 1910 offered prizes for (among others) greatest height; the fastest and slowest lap around the 1 3/8 mile course; the greatest distance covered in one flight; longest time in air; quickest start; and shortest distance covered before the machine left the ground. Source: Over Land And Sea: The Dramatic Story Of The Great Aviation Pioneer Glenn H Curtiss, Robert Scharff, Walter S Taylor.
Currently Reading: The Medieval Calendar Year, Bridget Ann Henisch.
Also, it turns out they do still make Eggos with chocolate chips. Who knew?