Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Movies and museums

Well, it's back to work for me after a relaxing five-day vacation/weekend. Tuesday night there was an inkling to see a movie, but I spoiled that idea by going home with a dead cell phone and crashing for a few hours from exhaustion. Still, we made up for it on July 4 by driving through the pouring rain to Palisades Center and having a nice dinner at the food court, followed by a trip to Dave & Busters where I introduced my family to one of my favorite racing games, Daytona 500. Tara showed off her rusty 80s arcade skills on Donkey Kong Jr., Bug (all 5' 1" of her) was the only person to score a hoop in basketball, we played a little skee ball, and I narrowly bested Tara in a game of air hockey. It was the first time any of them had actually played games in a D&B's, which of course is a popular attraction in Houston (for lack of much else to do). It reminded me of the many times I've been in the past, playing skee ball with Pearl, racing with my old friends James and Candy, and yes, the fact that it was the place where I first kissed my ex-partner on New Year's Eve 1994.

After D&B's we went to the bookstore for everyone to reserve their Harry Potter books, then we went to see Ratatouille, which was marvelous. It's amazing how Pixar can make movies so good that each successive new one becomes your favorite until the next one comes out. After the movie we played more motorcycle racing games and Buffy cleared the road in an 18-wheeler simulation game. Buffy was clearly the queen of the night, having won every race she played, once beating me with less than a second remaining in the race. Oh well, there's always mini-golf...

Thursday morning I went to see my doctor for a referral to an allergist because I've been having more and more problems with my allergies. The rest of the day was spent running errands and just hanging out at home, but Friday morning Tara and I took Bee to a special morning yoga class and we went to the Montclair Art Museum which gratefully is free at lunchtime on Fridays. They have a special exhibit on comic book art that we would have loved to see, but it starts this week instead of last week. We did get to take a sneak peek of them putting it up though. The rest of the museum isn't much to drool over, although they have one very nice Asher Durand painting that is the highlight of their collection.

Next we went to the Montclair Book Center to browse for books while we waited for Bee to finish her class. I picked up a Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean graphic novel, Black Orchid, a book on Cognac and a beat-up little book called English Cricket that was originally published in 1947.

Once we picked up Bee we went to Fuddruckers for lunch, and wound up eating so much that we had to take a protracted break at my apartment to rest. I actually can't remember what happened after that, although I'm pretty sure we went swimming at some point in my apartment pool. It felt like one of those summer days from childhood where it feels like you have all the time in the world to bask in your indolence. In the evening there was an idea to go see another movie, but we realized in time that we were all pretty tired from the day and decided to hang out at home and watch the Yankees game instead.

Saturday we did finally go out and see the Transformers movie in the afternoon, and ugh! we spent most of the early part of the evening either talking about how bad it was, or trying to wipe out the memory that we'd actually wasted the time to watch it. It was a big disappointment for Tara, who had been looking forward to the movie since she was about 12 years old, and yet concluded that it was probably the worst movie she's ever seen. For myself, I was never a big Transformers fan, so to me, it was just another overbloated Michael Bay movie. His star sure has fallen since the days of The Rock and Armageddon.

In order to clear our minds from that movie (which henceforth shall not be named) we made a quick dash into the city to spend an hour at the Met before closing. We started in the Egyptian temple as we usually do, and took pictures there for the first time ever.

Egyptian temple

In the American wing we discovered an acoustical quirk in one of my favorite rooms, a 360-degree panoramic painting of the gardens at Versailles in France. Standing in this room and looking around, it feels like you are standing on the plaza behind the Palace at Versailles looking across the vast formal gardens stretching to the horizon. Because the walls are curved, we found that when we stood at opposite ends of the room, sounds and voices would follow along the curve of the wall so that even a whisper could be heard from 30 feet away, much like a parabolic dish focuses and directs waves. Pretty neat.

Panoramic painting of Versailles

We ended our quick tour in the new Greek and Roman galleries, visiting the second floor for the first time, where I snapped this shot of the main hallway from the back of the gallery.

Greek and Roman Gallery

Sunday we started winding down our vacation by running some errands during the day, including buying a new 37-inch LCD television monitor for my apartment because the old tube TV I got along with my embedded furniture is starting to discolor. After bringing that in and setting it up, we went for another quick swim to cool off, which unfortunately was just enough sun to cause my face to start breaking out in hives yet again. That was bothersome on Monday, but luckily they are gone today. Apparently I'm just going to have to hide from the sun like a vampire from now on, especially since it's routinely getting into the 90s up here now. Nothing compared to Arizona of course, but hot nonetheless.