May 9th, 2008


vroom. Also, vroom.

I picked the icon because I hadn't used it in a while, and I kind of like it. Also I had one car-related thing to say, or ramble to take my readers on. Then I realized there was another.

I'm tempted to do a bullet list, but no, I'll cast off that structure for this post and hopscotch from topic to topic. My less acrobatic readers may get winded.

So, Mother's Day is coming up. I'm fortunate that my folks are still around and live nearby. Near enough that they can come over in less than two hour's travel, not so near that they'll come over without calling ahead. When I was a kid, we lived across town from Grandma and Grampa on Dad's side. I suspect that was still far enough away, and close enough for the grandparents to take care of my sister and I when Mom and Dad needed some time away from us.

Anyway, so Mom and Dad are coming over to spend the weekend. We've got a tradition, and I like establishing family traditions, even if they have no connection to anybody else's family traditions. Our Mother's Day tradition is for Mom and Dad to come over either on Friday or Saturday prior to Mother's Day, and we all go out and do random gardening related tasks - weeding the flower garden, or hacking away at blackberries, or pruning trees. Occasionally, some mild home repair task gets tackled, like replacing a gutter, or painting my front door.

For a while, I expressed discomfort at celebrating Mother's Day by putting Mom to work doing stuff that I don't take the time to do myself during the rest of the year. Regardless of the discomfort, Mom keeps on insisting, so I've stopped objecting.

There will also be dinner out, and brunch on Sunday, and a night at the Theatre (which sounds fancier than it will be). So there's some part of the weekend that feels like an appropriate token of gratitude for Mom.

I bring all this up because another thing that I'm doing (sort of) for Mom is cleaning the house. I'd do it for anybody else that was coming over - the place degenerates to a danger zone of computer equipment, boardgames, and old mail. I take after Dad in that way, I suppose. But for guests, I like to clean the place up. I took today off, in part to have some time to clean up before Mom and Dad get here, in part to give myself a little bit of "me" time between the work week and the weekend. So, I've spent a few hours on moving stuff around, and I've brought out the vacuum, and things are looking better. Still several hours more work to be done, but it's progress.

Around noon, I decided to take a break from moving piles of stuff from one place to another and I went into town. I had a few tasks "in town" to do, of varying degrees of urgency. One thing that had been lingering for longer than I care to recall was to get some maintenance done on my car. There were some weird noises, and it was due for a periodic maintenance, and a periodic oil change, so I took it in to a local garage. "When do you need to pick it up?" Er, 3:00 would be OK. "Yeah, I don't know if we can get it done by then." Whatever, it's quarter after noon now, we'll see how it goes.

So, I had lunch, and went to see Speed Racer. At the door, the guy ripping tickets (who, by the way, is let's say 70 years old. As much as I like film, I don't want to rip tickets at a movie theater when I'm 70.) was turned away from the door. "Hi there!" says I to get his attention. [mumble mwrar] says he. "What's that?" "ONE. LEFT." Yes, fine, enunciating your words helps, sir. You also could use full sentences. Or say hello to me. Or not, that's fine. You don't tell me how to do my job. Perhaps you're very good at ripping tickets. Good thing I already know that screen number one is on the left, and your two words have sufficient context that I don't need to ask you for any more information.

About this time, my phone rings, and the garage tells me that they've looked over the car and, amongst other things, it needs a new wheel bearing. I don't know everything about cars, but I know that wheels are good things, and while my vehicle has four of them, plus that extra one in back for emergencies, I wouldn't want to do without any one of them. And, if I recall anything from Car Talk (and I'm not saying I do), wheel bearings are good things. So, in the interests of maintaining my wheels in a borne(?) state (beared? grizzly bear? Bering Straits? Dire Straits? dire wolf? Hungry Like the Wolf? Duran Duran... sorry.) I gave them the go-ahead to replace it.

And I sat down to watch the slides before the movie. Except there were no slides. It's OK, I know about the local real estate company, the local Ford dealership, the local Lawyer, the local vericose vein specialist, and so on. So I guess I didn't need any slides.

They showed a trailer for Clone Wars, which doesn't look too bad. As much as I was disgusted with episodes 1-3, I'll probably watch Clone Wars. I can't explain why, but making it an animated feature notches down my expectations in some way. Or at least makes it a different thing than the movies, and by making it separate, my expectations are set differently.

Also, a new (to me) trailer for Wall-E, which shows more of the storyline than the previous trailer I had seen. As much as I love Pixar, I occasionally have moments of hesitation, wondering if this next movie is going to be the one that's a huge flop. So far, they've exceeded my expectations consistently. (You'd think I'd adjust my expectations. But I like being pleasantly surprised.)

And then the movie started. I had some idea of what to expect from the visuals. Let me say three words, which I learned from discussions about clumsy User Interface design: "Angry Fruit Salad". Yikes, this was a colorful movie. It reminded me a lot of Dick Tracy, and occasionally of the Flintstones (I think I mean the Flintstones movie, but I may be referring to the TV cartoon). In Dick Tracy, the movie used saturated colors to evoke the old comic pages. Speed Racer did much the same thing to connect with the visual style of the animation style of the TV show. If you saw those garish colors in the ads and figured they were just for the race scenes, you would be wrong - the entire movie seems to have been painted with day-glo paint and dipped in lacquer. Also, possibly, LSD.

This is a movie that clearly tries to have a unique look, and while I can (try to) come up with clever ways to describe the look, it's really worth seeing just to take in the different approach to composing a frame. I'm sure that much of the decisions were based on the original show (which I've seen a few pieces of a few episodes, so I can't really comment on how authentic it is), but the way that these ideas were brought forward to integrate with computer graphics and live action was interesting.

I won't comment on the plot, acting, or casting. Not here, not without a cut, not without a spoiler warning. I may not have anything to say that needs a spoiler warning.

I will, however, say that the movie probably would have been more enjoyable if I could have subtracted out the family that came into the theater late, and sat down right behind me. Dad would occasionally say "that's his brother. I think that's his brother. Oh, that's Chim-chim. That was neat. Look at the colors." Sir, I suggest that DVD might be better suited for your family. Or some theaters have rooms where mothers with crying babies can watch movies away from non-baby-having audience members.

I got out of the theater and went back to the garage - I had said that I'd be done at 3, initially, and then along the way, said to try to be done by 4. And it was about 4 when I got to the garage (how long was the movie? Huh, IMDB says 135 minutes, I guess that's about right.) and the car was still up on the lift. So I went to get my hair cut, and I came back, and whoops, they still needed to do some alignment. Ok, fine. And they had several more things that they wanted to do (which was fine, the car's not getting younger, good to replace belts and fluids and whatnot), so even after a big chunk off my credit card today, there's more work to be done next week.

Two more quick Speed Racer comments: there's one character that kept reminding me of Al Gore. He could be an evil twin, but he'd have to grow a mustache. Also, kids are going to watch this movie and want to powerslide home. That's not how tires work in this world, kids. Sorry.