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9:19 am - Thurs 12/30/04
On The Front Burner

On The Front Burner

Weds 12/29/04 (11:35 p.m.)

In the "Everything In The World Is Somehow About Me" File–Since the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia, with a level of destruction it's hard to wrap my mind around, I've been thinking about how I just happen to live in a coastal city, in a state famous for, amongst other things, its earthquakes.

I was also thinking this might be an excellent time to make a small charitable contribution to the Red Cross, for tsunami relief (I can't afford a lot, obviously, but I can afford something).

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Mark and Jane's Xmas package came in yesterday's mail.

There was:

1. peanut brittle (Using all the willpower at my disposal, I ate it in two sittings)
2. pistachios (I never gave it that much thought before, but pistachios are really the tastiest of all unadorned nuts).
3. A $100 Target gift card (Haven't decided how I'll spend it yet, but I know part of it will go towards a folding clothesline-thing).
4. A self-help book with the amusing title Your Owner's Manual.
5. A "bookmark dictionary"
6. A Spiderman action figure.

My assessment? With this stuff, and the washer, they kind of went a little nuts on me this Xmas...and I really appreciate it (The Spiderman figure has a pretty cool feature–His feet have little magnets on them, so he can stick to a billboard that came in the package).

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A nice surprise this evening–I got a call from Garrett P, another Michigan transplant (We worked together at Schuler Books, back in Okemos), inviting me to a New Year's Eve party!

(I told him it would be a nice change from my usual New Year's Eve routine, which is to sit in my darkened apartment, weeping over everything I've done wrong in the past year.)

This is sort of funny...I recently watched, for the first time, two episodes of The OC (Since my normal "stories" were re-runs), and a repeat of their holiday episode from last season kind of pissed me off: A running line in the episode involved one character telling another, regarding New Year's Eve (And whether to go to a party or not), "How you spend New Year's Eve is how you'll spend the whole year..." (i.e. you'll either be with someone, or else you'll be alone).

So even though I had a few anxious moments after I accepted the invitation (I assume Garrett will be the only person I'll know at this party), I'm glad that, at least according to the wit and wisdom of The OC, I at least have a shot at the year not being a complete write-off from the get-go.

(Having now seen a couple episodes of this show, I'm struck once again by how teenagers on most tv shows don't sound much like real teenagers at all, but more like 30-year-old writers. And shows that do portray teens realistically–My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks come to mind–don't last too long.)

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Okay, for the record, here are my favorite movies of the past year:

1. Shaun Of The Dead
Funny, gory, and genuinely exciting, with a great underacheiving hero (You're almost glad he finally has an occasion to rise to).
2. Garden State (Which also has a great soundtrack)
I know it's wrong and it would never work out, but I love Natalie Portman. And unlike a lot of people I've talked to, I was quite happy with the ending. A funny, sweet movie.
3. Sideways
Maybe my favorite movie this year. I was very amused by the relationship, and couldn't help but relate to Paul Giamatti's character (Even though I wouldn't know the difference between Pinot Noir and Mad Dog 20-20). With American Splendor and now this, Paul Giamatti has become my newest acting hero. And it's become a goal of mine to be in an Alexander Payne movie, because so far, I've really enjoyed his entire oeuvre (He also directed Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt).
4. The Incredibles. Loved the message (Don't hide your superpowered light under a bushel), the image of a family coming together under adversity, and loved that, like Shaun Of The Dead, it manages to be both funny and genuinely exciting (And if you liked this movie, go back and rent The Iron Giant, which is a great animated film that no one saw a couple years back, also directed by Brad Bird)
5. Collateral. I went for Tom Cruise as a bad guy (And I thought he was great), but I stayed for Jamie Foxx's underacheiving cabbie who picks up the worst fare ever. Great looking movie.
6. Million Dollar Baby. When Hillary Swank, as a boxing hopeful, says "Don't tell me I'm too old, cause if I don't have this, I don't have anything", there was one middle-aged, struggling actor in the audience with a giant lump in his throat. Great performances from Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Ms Swank (As an actor, I'm happy she's once again gotten the chance to show people just what she can do).
7. Hero. The most beautiful martial arts movie I've ever seen. Fights that are like ballet, and a color palette that can only be described as "lush". With a romantic, tragic image towards the end that will stay with me forever.
8. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Officially the trippiest romantic movie I've seen, and one of the more throught-provoking (Given the chance, would you erase your bad memories? Knowing how a relationship ends, would you go into it anyway?). I'm struck by how we're at a point in cinematic history where anything you can imagine can be put on screen. My favorite thing I've seen Kate Winslett in. And while I don't care if I ever see Jim Carrey do his "Jim Carrey thing" in a movie again, I'd definitely be up for more stuff like this (Unfortunately, like pretty much every other time he's tried to "go outside the box", the audience didn't go with him).
9. Before Sunset
Funny, sad, sweet. Made me want to see Paris. Made me think about mistakes made, paths not taken. And I thought it made smart conversation look pretty damned appealing. And I agree with the critic who said he'd be up for seeing where these two people are in another ten years (And if you like this movie, see Waking Life, the director's animated effort).
10. Maria Full Of Grace
Didn't think I was all that interested in the plight of Colombian drug "mules", but when I finally rented this movie on video, I thought it was great. It's a side of things I'd never really seen before.

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My next dentist appointment is on the 19th (To get a more permanent filling for this latest root canal).

After that, I guess we'll be going into the process of getting braces.

I'm more than a little nervous about it, mostly to do with coming up with the money. But it feels like the right thing to do, so I'm just going to do it, and have faith that the money will come (And not just that this money will come, but that this money, and enough money to get me out of working at Borders, will come).

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Well, I'm having one of my "I could do this all day" feelings, but I've gotta shower and get out of the house (If for no other reason than to get my bike from work. We had a pretty big thunderstorm Tuesday night, and I got a ride home from Katie, leaving my bike in the backroom).

Hope you're all well. I plan on sneaking in at least one more entry before the new year, but if I don't, Happy New Year, one and all.

Let's make it a great one, shall we?

 

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