WHAT THE WEEKEND WAS ALL ABOUT
Actually, I don't have an easy answer for that. But I'll bullet-point it for maximum impact.
• On Friday we went out to dinner with a friend of ours who just got accepted into a pre-med master's program (which is good news and band rolled into one.)
•• Saturday morning we went to see an advance screening of Cars. It's good, but kind of shockingly for Pixar, not great. Maybe near-great's the right phrase. The first half-hour is fast without being all that sharp and unfortunately, for lack of a better term, attitudinal. (Think Dreamworks.) But once it reveals—or figures out, whichever—what it's all about it just keeps getting better. Just stay patient until you hit the Randy Newman song, which is heartbreaking even though it's sung by James Taylor. Also, if Paul Newman wasn't born to play a wise old race car, he's grown into the part. And kudos for using Richard Petty as the soon-to-retire champ.
•• Saturday night we went out to celebrate the (some would say long-overdue) engagement of some friends at a Chicago restaurant called Block 44, which continued the good-but-not great theme of the evening. The company was delightful and the food mostly good, but my pork chop was underdone in parts and overdone in others. How does that happen? I told Stevie that I wouldn't be in a hurry to go back there which she rightly pointed out has become a stock comment for me when we eat at an expensive restaurant. I think she thinks I'm being cheap, but I'm pretty sure it's because once I pass a certain price-point for my meal, I want something where the effort shows. That mostly means my taste runs to some of the more fusion-y places in town (the Indian-meets-LVermilionllion, the French-meets-Vietnamese of Yoshi). So maybe it's not that I'm cheap so much as that I'm kind of a hick.
• Sunday was shopping and the Sopranos finale with Scott and Ali. The episode's gotten mixed reaction, but I'd put it in with the show's best, if only for the sequence where Chris and Nurse Hathaway watch Vertigo. Alan Sepinwall points out the thematic connection to that movie, with Chris, however unconsciously, trying to turn his new girlfriend into Adrianna. That hoccurredccured to me (although it makes sense). But for me the scene was the way it played out in slow motion, juxtaposing a happy image of courtship over their drug use, refusing to prioritize one image over the other while Bernard Herrman music, with its circular sound and pre-existing associations, made it clear that they were both stuck in a place they wouldn't be leaving soon. Some people always end up crashing the same car. And the end was so brilliant, and pretty much set up from the first episode. It's a beautiful home but it's all a lie. And it's about to come down in the last eight episodes. At this point, who doesn't have a sword hanging above his or her head?
• Also, not weekend-related, but eMusic has officially become my source for those albums I've always meant to get around to buying but never did. Purchased today: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto, and the second Swell Maps album.