the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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This Week In Misc. Goodness

After working eleven days straight, the weekend--a weekend, any weekend--is almost in sight. Hip-hip-fucking-huzzah!!

In brief: Valentine's Day. We. Owned. It. Oh, baby, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh! After a year's worth of fear, worry, and despair, it turned out that two or three weeks of frantic last-minute preparation paid off, and we sailed through our biggest day of the year, while all major competition--including Hallmark, who had paid presumably incomparable bills to IBM to pimp out their website--were crushed and left in little flaming piles by the side of the road. By mid-morning, when we started to see that we were going to hold up just fine, the shouts arose among the geeky rabble, testing the patience of the Fates--BRING! IT! ON! For the rest of the week, we of Technology were hailed as kings among men, celebrated with passing cheers and mass-emailed barbaric YAWPS from our senior management. For once, it is a very good week to be me.

Thus, I have been able to really enjoy this week's belated Valentine's dinner at Parallax, which is truly a culinary delight. Polite company might term it "Asian food in French style meets French food in Asian style." Trendy company might simply refer to it as "fusion." After a parade of wines, sushi, appetizers, salads, and entrees, I cannot describe it as anything other than this: FUCKING AMAZING. I apologize if the strong language burns your eyes or makes the Baby Jesus cry, but, honestly, this is the kind of place that can't be expressed without HBO-level warning labels.

Some would call the sushi menu limited, but it is simply focused, and what is offered is without flaw; I haven't tasted its equal since our trips to Vancouver or San Francisco. The spicy tuna was especially marvelous. Also consumed were massive appetizer plates of calamari (yum!) and smoked salmon (double-yum!); a salad of seared scallops, bacon, baby greens, and tomatoes, with a light cream sauce; Alaskan black cod with a miso glace; and, one of the evening's specials, a crispy half-duck in a Szechuan glaze, served with a bed of perfect sushi rice.

On the alcohol front, we sampled a tasty non-vintage bubbly (to celebrate), an Austrian Gruner Veltliner (round and delicious, like the best parts of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc), a German Gewüztraminer, a French Chenin Blanc, a lovely and very well-balanced New Zealand Pinot Noir, and--star of the show--cold, unfiltered sake!! Ever since our first encounter with this marvelous creature at a Berkeley sushi joint last summer, finding cold, unfiltered sake has been like a Grail quest for us. Most places have never heard of such a thing, and those that have are afraid to serve it because it is so unlike what most people consider sake to be. Thankfully, Parallax serves a bottle of the stuff that is damn near perfect, and a real blessing to behold in conjunction with the well-executed menu.

The service was very good throughout our meal; our waiter (a Champagne transplant) very quickly figured out our relaxed, try a bit of everything approach to dinner, and we never felt rushed--even after we closed out the main dining area, he was still puckishly tempting us with dessert.

So, to sum up... If you enjoy food, if you enjoy wine, if you enjoy the two together, Parallax should go immediately to the top of your to-do list.

Tomorrow, after an endless stream of pseudo-Thursdays, it is finally Friday, and the celebration continues with early-birthday treats: a trip to Chicago for One Man Lord of the Rings and the tasting menu at Topolobampo.

It's good to be the [info]exilejedi.... :-)


PS: Valentine says hello from her perch on my lap. Meow!

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Cat Hole, Rings, Rezzies, MirrorMask

[info]aquamindy and I (okay, mostly [info]aquamindy, but I helped) installed a cat hole on our laundry room door this week!


Julia beholds the glory


Valentine enjoys the new opening


Julia through the arch


In thoroughly unrelated news, we have tickets to see One Man Lord of the Rings in Chicago in February!! My bounces of excitement and joy cannot be tamed!! To round out our little jaunt, [info]aquamindy scored dinner rezzies at Topolobampo, which looks like it will pretty much blow my mind. (The chef, Rick Bayless, was a recent combatant on Iron Chef America.)

Even more unrelated, Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman's MirrorMask has its first review from Sundance. I am so completely and totally stoked to see this film! It can't get to a theatre near me soon enough.

Having completed my official son-in-law tech support duties for the evening, I can now wrap this up and hit the mighty POST button. Cheers, and enjoy your Friday!

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Wish It Was Sunday

Apparently, today is the single day of the year that is in most dire need of listening to the Bangles' "Manic Monday" until your head explodes with nostalgic, new-wave cheer. That's right, today is officially the most depressing day of the year.

To cheer you all up, here's a nice little follow-up to last time's Darth Tater link... One of the better Fark Photoshop contests of the last few weeks.

There, doesn't that feel better?

In other news, my copy of the one-volume 50th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings finally arrived today, along with the 2005 calendars that had been holding up my order. It's a really, really nice set, and well deserving of the high praise that has been heaped upon it (besides, of course, being Lord of the Rings, which rather goes without saying). And there was much rejoicing...

Similar amounts of celebration arose from my astoundingly productive work day, during which time I managed to catch up on the work I had planned to do on Saturday, and still polish off everything that was on today's to-do list. It just goes to show what I can do with a fully-charged iPod and no meetings to get in my way. w00t!

Taking a bold step into 1999 (or perhaps 2000), I finally got around to setting up a Photoshop droplet to automatically batch process photos to be uploaded/attached to entries in my wine notes wiki. This should give my iMac something to do while I tinker on other things, and it'll get me one step closer to computing nirvana (or something).

Finally, and thankfully, the kittens graced us with the easiest and least-fussy claw-trimming session so far. If only all "claw nights" could be so--what's the word I'm looking for? Injury-free!

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Lately

Two bottles of not-so-tasty wine on Friday night eventually led to one that was happy, which ended up paired with grilled brats and Return of the King.

Slept in far past our originally planned time, then discovered that our lack of hot water on Friday morning was not a fluke, as the shower would only briefly flirt with being mildly tepid before producing nothing but ice water. Showered very, very quickly. It turns out that some of the collection of random wires which the electrician did not attach to the new electrical box were the circuit for the water heater. Whoops! So I think he and our general contractor will be having a little conversation at some point soon...

Dealing with the water took up much of the afternoon. Liz had a bit of a nap, then we were off to the pseudo-going-away festivities (I say "pseudo" because it was a fairly laid-back affair of casual conversation and good times that never really even touched on [info]ayb2's departure). The meal was tasty, and a good time was had by all--save, of course, for Ronald Reagan and Smarty Jones, who appear to have both had a jolly rotten day.

Zipped on down to the theatres at Valley View for Harry Potter, which was much better than the first two films. Lots of subplots and details got dropped in order to service the taut main storyline, but I was okay with most of the omissions. The end credit sequence was also quite fun and worth paying attention to. I'm very glad to see the films improve as the books did (though the second one is still my least favorite, in either medium).

Hung out at Champp's after the movie for a bit to nosh and have a drink and chatter some more. Saw the end of the hockey game. Whee, hockey. Realized that I'm really going to miss Angie, but that I'm still overflowing with happiness for her. Whee, life.

The photos from Thursday's Food Forum outing to Carrie Cerino's are now online; mad props to Joel for his excellent work, and for allowing me to host them for him.

Hmf. It is way, way too late for me to be awake if I am serious about doing some work on Sunday. I wonder if I'm really that serious. Hmf. Perhaps mildly. I'll have to see how I feel after some much-deserved sleeeeeeeeeeep.

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Return of the Brain-Melting Friday Afternoons

Somewhere, someone has flipped the switch, and Cleveland has suddenly lurched out of its long, dreary season into one of sunshine, flowers, and warming temperatures. Of course, there's always a day or two of delay before the climate control in the office adjusts to the change, so it's currently just shy of fifty million degrees in my cube, and what's left of my motivation has thoroughly evaporated. I can't even say that "all I can think about" is getting out of here to go enjoy the weekend, because I apparently can't even be bothered to form such a thing into a single, coherent thought.

Yup, it's definitely spring. Hard-core.

In other news... Um. Let's see.

  • Instead of finishing KoTOR last night, Liz and I went furniture shopping. We didn't have any luck with what we had been looking to purchase (an armoire suitable for holding a TV and associated stuff that would match, or at least get along with, the pine furniture in our bedroom)... But true to form, we ended up finding a dining room set that will go fabulously with the kitchen once the new cabinets are in. Of course, a dining room set is approximately an order of magnitude (or so) more expensive than a single piece of furniture, because life just wouldn't work any other way. I really like the dining room set, though; the chairs are really comfortable, and they look beautiful.
  • Remember when I saw One Man Star Wars? Well! Liz informs me that the same guy will soon be doing One Man Lord of the Rings! Rock!!
  • Looking forward to a weekend of fun as part of Brent's bachelor party... Thankfully the paintball plans were scrapped (not only could I not make it at the time, I am still hurting from my own bachelor party paintball session back in 2000!).
  • Only two and a half days until our kitchen goes buh-bye! I plan on posting pictures daily, so stay tuned...
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The Ring's the Thing

Egads, but it's been far too long since I've posted anything here. I guess I'd better write about this weekend while it's still fresh.

Sometime last fall, I bouncily reported to my wife that the Columbus Orchestra would be performing Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus in March, and would she at all be interested in possibly maybe going. At the time, she shrugged and said sure, and I ordered tickets online just as lickety-split quick as I could.

Fast forward to this weekend. It turned out that Columbus would have the honor of hosting the US premiere of the symphony. Oh, excitement!

We both took Friday off from work so that we could sleep in, pack some overnight things, and have a leisurely drive down to Columbus. Stopped briefly along the way to feed my addiction for Mephisto shoes (damn comfy, and a good outlet for a portion of my bonus), then got settled in at the Capitol Square Hyatt for a brief rest.

We got appropriately spiffed-up and embarked on our journey.

Dinner was a handful of blocks away at Mitchell's Steakhouse, which is located in a former bank. An enormous space, with huge, ornately decorated ceilings, it still manages to feel intimate. The food was delicious, the wine we selected Langtry's 1998 Meritage) was a fabulous match, and the service was great (I was amazed by the fact that our waitress took the vastly over-charred creme brulee off of our bill even though we'd eaten almost all of it, and hadn't asked for it to be sent back or anything).

Our destination for the performance was the Ohio Theatre, conveniently located right next to the Hyatt. It's truly a beautiful location, absolutely lovely at every square inch. I was somewhat alarmed as we were shown to our seats; I remembered I had purchased loge tickets all those months and months ago, but I'd never actually bothered to work out where we'd be sitting. Well. Surprise! We were in the very first row of the loge, just a few seats to the right of center. I honestly could not have asked for a better location. Wow! And, hey, I asked, what might be the deal with the three screens with the tengwar glyphs on them? I hadn't heard about any kind of video accompaniment. Double wow! As the musicians (three choirs and a full orchestra!) started to file in and warm up, I started to really geek out with anticipation.

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved the performance. Shore's Rings music has a way of completely captivating me. And, I'll be honest, there are certain places in the score so achingly beautiful that I can't help but get quite teary-eyed. All the while, music was matched with projected video of sketches by artist John Howe, which in themselves were stunning. The video was fairly straightforward, with lots of "Ken Burns Effect," but quite powerful with the music, really tapping directly into the imagination. The balrog and the destruction of Mordor were particularly powerful sequences when paired with the video. It was really a tremendous, amazing honor to be present; the audience's standing ovation at the end went on and on and on and on... Shore seemed quite overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and appreciation. (I half expected him to good-naturedly shoo us out as I've seen John Williams do, but it didn't happen; I don't think he's quite so used to this kind of "rock star" treatment yet.)

Okay, so there were a couple of nits that I'll pick. The soloist from the children's choir was decent, but not quite up to snuff, and certainly no Edward Ross, so the vocal portion of "The Breaking of the Fellowship" was not quite as exquisite as I would have liked it. On the other hand, I was impressed by the female soloist who sang in the movements from The Two Towers and The Return of the King--she had a LOT of different material to cover, and acquitted herself quite well. (She had to sing the Emiliana Torrini "Gollum's Song," had to try to fill Annie Lennox's shoes for "Into the West," had all of Ben Del Maestro's material from both Towers and King... Impressive!)

My only other nit is just from the perspective of wishing certain things hadn't been cut in order to fit the symphony into a comfortable length of time. For the most part, I had no problems with what was omitted, or how transitions were constructed, but I really wanted to hear the "Shelob's Lair" music, because I love how much of a tripped-out Bernard Herrman homage it is, all kinds of creepy and wild and tumultuous and perfect for Shelob.

But, like I said, it was a tremendous evening, and I loved it.

In case you were really curious, here's what makes up the symphony:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring
    Movement One

    • The Prophecy
    • Concerning Hobbits
    • The Shadow of the Past
    • A Short Cut to Mushrooms
    • The Old Forest
    • A Knife in the Dark
  • Movement Two

    • Many Meetings
    • The Ring Goes South
    • A Journey in the Dark
    • The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
    • Lothlórien
    • Gandalf's Lament
    • Farewell to Lórien
    • The Great River
    • The Breaking of the Fellowship
  • Intermission
  • The Two Towers
    Movement Three

    • Foundations of Stone
    • The Taming of Smeagol
    • The Riders of Rohan
    • The Black Gate is Closed
    • Evenstar
    • The White Rider
    • Treebeard
    • The Forbidden Pool
  • Movement Four

    • The Hornburg
    • Forth Eorlingas
    • Isengard Unleashed
    • Gollum's Song
  • The Return of the King
    Movement Five

    • Hope and Memory
    • The White Tree
    • The Steward of Gondor
    • Cirith Ungol
    • Anduril
  • Movement Six

    • The End of All Things
    • The Return of the King
    • The Grey Havens
    • Into the West

Today we had some quickie errands to take care of in Columbus, had lunch at The Ocean Club, another of Cameron Mitchell's restaurants. The food was delightful and I must now publicly declare my passionate love for the decor! Every inch is organic, elegant, underwater, cool! I will definitely be back, and you should check it out too.

Along the way back home, we also stopped at Grandpa's Cheese Barn, because, well, with a name like "Cheese Barn," it has to be worth checking out. It made a nice excuse to get out of the car for a bit, and didn't disappoint. The cheese and other things out for sampling were quite tasty. Grandpa's also features a deli, various meats and smoked dead things, über-quaint kitchy gifts, home made ice cream, and fudge. We escaped with minimal damages, only a block of cranberry cheese, the best seventy-five-cent chocolate chip cookie in the universe, and a bottle of water. (The whiskey cheese was also tempting, but I was able to resist it.)

And thus we are returned, grateful for the journey, but glad to be home.

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Spaceboy, You're Sleepy Now

This meant to be several posts over the past few days, but I've been too occupied with them to actually get around to posting. So, it's recap time!

Bowie
Wednesday night was the David Bowie concert. Originally, [info]aquamindy was supposed to go with me (especially since she'd had the foresight to buy tickets for us), but at the last minute discovered that she had to go out of town for work. I ended up giving [info]gieves the second ticket as a much-belated birthday present and combination "hey-we-never-do-anything-anymore" excuse to get together. After a quick bite at Panera, it was off to the CSU Convocation Center for the show.

Macy Gray opened the show; I must confess I'd never heard any of her music, and wasn't expecting a whole lot. To my surprise and overall joy, I dug pretty much everything. She had a sort of psychadelic-funk-groove-motown thing going on, and was definitely a great live performance. I especially enjoyed her shameless repurposing of the Beatles' "Come Together", liberal use of the word "fuck," exhortations for "only the sexy people" to sing along, and the polka about masturbation. I will admit, though, that it took me at least a few minutes to stop chuckling at the way her hair made her look like a giant hunk of broccoli in a fetching lavender dress; it was really quite uncanny. All in all, definitely one of the best opening acts I've ever seen.

It took about half an hour to get the set changed out for Bowie, and then things went pretty crazy. He played for a couple of hours and was generally hitting more upbeat things; evidently having a good time on the evening before his birthday. It's hard to believe that a guy can simultaneously rock so much, look surprisingly healthy, and be turning 57. I mean, damn, this is one spry little Brit!

The overall experience of being at a David Bowie concert (at least for me) was one of thorough sensory overload. Awesome (and awesomely loud) music, crazy visuals going on the giant video wall, different close-ups on the overhead video screens, fantastic lighting, thousands of screaming fans... The only major down side was the pair of drunken crap sacks in front of me who would jump to their feet at oddly inappropriate moments in order to better rock out by waving a fist in the air and clutching tightly to overpriced swill beer with the other, all the while managing to completely block my view. I mean, I would stand up and rock out too, only these were the only two people in our section--heck, the only two people in three or four sections--who were standing. It didn't seem right for me to block the people behind me if there were only the two of these yahoos on their feet. Admittedly, I did take some amusement from their desperate battle to maintain equilibrium, as they wobbled dangerously in their efforts to rock even one gazillionth as well as David Bowie.

Bowie played quite the charming host, breaking away from the plans to give us obscure literary jokes, self-acknowledged cheap plays for cheers (announcing his birthday), rants about how much commercial American radio is a giant pile of shit that never plays anything good anymore, to introduce us to his band, to ask us our names (how polite!), to shut the fuck up while he played a quiet song, and so forth.

As for the music, it was either things that I knew by heart and was thrilled to hear, or things that I had literally never heard before but that the rest of the audience knew. We're talking things that are staples of classic Bowiedom, things that I am truly embarassed to have never heard before. Like "Ziggy Stardust"--I'd never heard it before Wednesday night. You can beat me up now for being a complete loser.

Definitely, one of the best concerts I've been too, ranking among the likes of Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, and the first time I saw the Moody Blues. And by the next day, I could even hear again! Hurrah!

Work
Work remains busy, and I remain undermotivated. I suspect that I'll manage to get it together sometime this week, as I have a lot of stuff to get done before the Valentine's freeze if we are going to have any hope of surviving it. Bleah.

Champagne Happy Hour
Friday afternoon is champagne happy hour at Varietals, a concept whose time has truly arrived. A gaggle of us assembled there after work to belatedly celebrate [info]aquamindy's birthday in the best way possible--by drinking together! In attendance were such luminaries as [info]gieves and her mother, [info]oogby (who prefers pineapple juice to booze, and there's nothing wrong with that), [info]reasie, and some of Liz's current and former coworkers. I had the champagne flight, which consists of a nicely balanced German sparkler, two progressively drier French champagnes, and an exuberantly sweet Italian asti. Munchies included baked brie, the ever-ordered an thoroughly irresistible olive tapenade, bruschetta, sweet Georgia browns, and nummy cheese fondue. I had a glass of one of their French Rhones as well, and that made me pretty happy.

The Weather...
...has been completely, thoroughly cold and yucky. Downright miserable, in fact. Frigid. Arctic. Face-rippingly brutal. I really want to get my car washed, since I'm sure that all the salt is doing bad things to it, but it hasn't been above freezing all week, so car washing is pretty much out for the foreseeable future. Bleah.

The Weekend
This has been a delightfully lazy and mostly useless weekend. We've slept late both days, which I had really missed this past week with work and all. Saturday we did a double feature of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and, since it's Short Round's only other major role, and since Liz doubted that S ean "Samwise" Astin was little Mikey, we watched The Goonies. If only Return of the King was out on DVD, it would have made the perfect segue. As it was, The Two Towers is on Starz nearly constantly now, so we were able to pick up a few minutes of that before sleepytime. I had also thought of The Beatles' Help! as a great follow-up to Temple of Doom, since it's all about sacrificing Ringo to Kali (oh, those wacky, wacky Kali-worshippers!), but alas, Borders was sold out, so it was not to be.

Today was Geek Day for me. I installed MySQL, Zope, and the zMySQLDA connector, and got all of these things set up and chatting happily with one another. I've started to play with some database designs, and will start building things over the next few weeks as something to keep me busy and distracted from buying DVD's and suchlike. The eventual goal is to produce three database-driven web applications, to track our CD's, DVD's, and lastly, but not least, our wine collection and tasting journey. The sad thing is that the umpteen hours of work that this will entail all spring from the fact that it's getting damnably frustrating trying to remove and preserve labels from wine bottles we've had, and wouldn't it be easier to just have digital photos, and wouldn't it be nice to organize them, and wouldn't it be nice to keep track of what we've had, and how it tasted, and and and... And that's how things get crazy.

On the food front, Liz made a barbeque shredded beef dish yesterday that was just to die for. It simmered all afternoon in her new Dutch oven, and came out utterly fabulous. Today we did leftovers of the beef for lunch, and lamb chops with grilled bell peppers and leftover risotto for dinner. Yum!

And now it's getting late, and it's time for me to get back to snuggling with Liz and watching The Two Towers (again) on Starz. Tra la!

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Your Favorite Darth Vader Line Here

Here's how I spent (wasted?) the end of 2003.

I finally built my LEGO Star Destroyer. While listening to the BBC Lord of the Rings series.

It took the better part of two days.

The third day, December 31, last day of 2003, was spent producing this:

The small version is the least painful download, but the text (especially the credits) is nigh-unreadable. The sound kind of sucks on the small version too. I put it all together with iMovie, which I really hadn't had a decent excuse to play with thus far. I am a little disappointed with certain aspects of the software (hard to get decent-quality output that's a reasonable size to post online; "centered" titles are anything but; scrolling blocks of text have no limit on input but will only actually render so many characters of output; and things sometimes preview differently than they are actually rendered, like the rolling credits that all line up nicely in the preview and look like garbage once rendered...), but it's free, and it served its purpose of letting me be a complete and utter geek, and in the end, I guess that's what's important. I suppose by the time Liz and I start having kids, I'll need to get FinalCut Pro or something a little more prime-time.

If you'd rather not spend your days downloading huge, self-indulgent QuickTime movies, here are some highlights:

My thumbs still kind of hurt.

I think I will be taking a break from LEGOs for a while.

Yeah.

Probably a good idea.

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Trilogy Tuesday: Fragments and Impressions

Okay, this will be my last Trilogy Tuesday post, I think. I want to just try to record some of the impressions, moments, and little things that I will want to be able to remember long, long into the future, the little things that really added flavor to the day.

I think list-style is the way to go, as it will reflect the little bits-and-pieces better. Be forewarned that thar be spoilers here, matey!

  • As the day approached, I started to stress about the weather, thinking that it would be pretty miserable to have to dig the car out of a day's worth of snow at 2 AM. The day turned out to be balmy instead, much to the delight of all.
  • Few things get me out of bed in the morning like Trilogy Tuesday. Damn, but I was perky, much earlier in the day than I had any right to be.
  • I had to turn driving duties over to Liz, as I was having a hard time concentrating on little things like, oh, the road, other cars, finding the right exit, that sort of stuff.
  • We spent the day with Patricia Leebove and her assorted motley crew. Truly, great company for the day, fine people to share the experience with. We picked up Patricia and everyone else met us there.
  • Arrived at the theatre around nine o'clock, three hours before seating began, and were only 30th or so in line. I would have expected more people to have arrived super-early...
  • I also would have expected more people to dress up. Sure, there were a couple of Gandalfs, at least three or four Aragorns, two decent Galadriels, some miscellaneous elves, and a lady in a "Haldir LIVES!" T-shirt, but I again would have expected more from people. I don't think I saw anyone as Gollum... But then again, it was December in Cleveland, and that doesn't mix with the tattered loincloth look.
  • Some people playing four-way chess. Some people with a laptop playing a movie trivia game. A couple of people watching various Rings-related things on portable DVD players. Chatting happily with random strangers in line.
  • The energy in the air, the anticipation... Palpable. Wild. You could tell that everyone knew what kind of a rare occasion this was.
  • Very impressed by how the event was run, overall. I really liked that your seat was your seat for the whole day (enforced with a seating chart, even).
  • Great seats--we were just about where I like to sit. And comfy, too, which was a big plus.
  • Great Audience Moment #1: Before Fellowship began, the theatre ran a MPAA-sponsored anti-movie-piracy ad, about how internet piracy is taking food away from hard-working film crew members. When the title "Help Stop Piracy" appeared on screen, the entire audience let loose their loudest, cheesiest, most piratical "D'Y'ARR!!" Everyone. It was a thing of beauty, and it assured me that the audience was going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
  • Great Audience Moment(s) #2: Any time the New Line logo appeared at the start of a film, the entire house would cheer boisterously. Moments later, replaced by the Wingnut Films title, the audience erupted in a chorus of "Sssh!", followed seconds later by subdued giggles as people quietly shushing their neighbors, whilst being shushed themselves. Like some sort of cosmic joke that required over 550 people to properly tell.
  • I ran into Julie Kleinhenz between Fellowship and Towers, pretty much completely out of nowhere. Hadn't seen her since graduation in 1999. She's at NASA Glenn and working on a PhD, and apparently has become an anime nut in the intervening years since I'd last spoken with her. We didn't spend a whole lot of time catching up, but it was extremely cool to cross paths again, as she was one of the first people I met at Case as a freshman.
  • Small, crappy, but free sandwiches were served between Fellowship and Towers, but Liz and I opted for PB&J; sandwiches snuck inside in her purse. Yum, peanut butter spiked with habenero pepper! Nothing like a mouthful of "dear sweet GOD that's HOT!" to keep you awake during an 11-hour movie marathon.
  • Ate a cheap lukewarm pizza between Towers and King, not because I really wanted to, but because if I didn't, I knew I wouldn't make it through the end of the night.
  • Great Audience Moment #3: Since we'd already seen all of the between-film slides several times, it was pretty obvious which bottled carbonated Coke product would win the little rat-race, despite Cherry Coke having a tendency to pull ahead. Oh yes, it would be Sprite, Sprite would win the race! And thus began the cheers. Five hundred and fifty of us, all shouting variations on "Go, Sprite! Come on, Sprite! You can do it! Sprite! Sprite Sprite!" And oh, there was much rejoicing when Sprite pulled through and delivered the goods. Huzzah!
  • Great Audience Moment(s) #4: Trailers. There were a few that they couldn't separate from King, so we had to watch them. Most were forgettable, though Spider-Man 2 got a little applause. The big winner was Hidalgo, Viggo "Aragorn" Mortensen's next picture, which got some cheers, especially from the ladies. The big loser was The Mask 2, which has giant CG crapfest written all over it. At first there was a stunned silence as a computer-animated baby jumped out of its crib and started dancing; as soon as the film's title appeared, the entire audience booed derisively, as loud as possible, for the remainder of the trailer. With a rep from the responsible film studio in the theatre. Now, if close to 600 people had just done that to a film trailer, I would reconsider even releasing it to video, let alone to theatres. More people should publicly boo such dreck; it was incredibly satisfying.
  • Return of the King was greeted with the same cheers and shushing as it began, and then, for the next three and a half hours, we were almost completely silent. It was pretty clear that none of us wanted to be distracted, that we felt guilty about having to blink every so often. Brief cheers and applause for the really big hero moments, like Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli's arrival at Osgiliath with the army of the dead, at Eowyn's "I am no man" slaying of the Witch-King, at Sam's wedding to Rosie Cotton. Sniffles at all the right places. Stunned silences at the right places. Five hundred people simultaneously drawing a sharp, terrified breath as Frodo turned toward the tower of Cirith Ungol, unaware of the menace that was about to strike him. Lots of sniffles at the end. (And at the end. And at the end. And at the end. And at the end...)
  • I was basically in tears from the arrival at Mount Doom until the end of the thing, even through the credits. Liz asked me if I was okay, and I nodded mutely; she asked me what was wrong, and all I could do was shake my head and soak in the bittersweet beauty of it all. I reacted much the same way to the end of the book, so I wasn't surprised... Just incredibly, indescribably pleased.
  • As we filed out, the New Line rep presented us each with a collectible plaque containing a random frame from each movie of the trilogy. They were created specifically for Trilogy Tuesday participants, and aren't for sale (except on eBay). So that's awfully decent of them. And pretty cool, too. Liz's has one frame of Aragorn from the battle at Helm's Deep where he's showing off his scary, scary teeth. It makes me laugh.

In all, a profoundly exciting, moving, and memorable day. The kind of day that I think will be looked back on in a "where were you when..." sort of way, except that it'll be one of the happier variety, the kind that we seem to be woefully short of these last years.

If you, dear reader, are one of the Trilogy Tuesday survivors, I hope you had a good time too; it was a h ell of a party here in Cleveland.

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There And Back Again

Well, I'm back.

More later, probably... Return of the King is still sinking in. It will take some time.

The short version?

WOW. Jaw on floor, tears in eyes, heart-pounding, serious, hard-core WOW.

And seeing the entire trilogy one after the next is mind-blowingly perfect. If ever the opportunity for a marathon screening presents itself, it would be a true must for any film geek... Most certainly the most amazing film experience of my lifetime.

I mean... WOW.

Peter Jackson, you're my hero.

That's all for now; these little hobbitses need to sleep, if they can.

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