Thursday, January 31, 2008
Last year, my brother gave me big poofy slippers with gorillas on them. They are very warm. However, our cat is afraid of the poofy gorillas on the slippers and kind of goes into freak-out mode whenever I walk near him. Because I like to mess with the cat, I am having fun with this. Who knew walking could be so much fun?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I don't know why I just thought of that, but there you go. Actually, company cheese sounds pretty good right now, and that's a good sign, because it means my cold is receding and I'm getting my appetite back.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Oh, a good movie to go see is The Savages. It's sad (and I heard someone describe it as "indie," which apparently means that it does not have a happy ending), but it's a good story, and the acting is good, I think. I'm not sure I can always tell good acting, though I can tell bad acting, and this definitely wasn't bad. Oh, and on the way into the theatre, you can take a look at the movie poster, which was drawn by Chris Ware (of Jimmy Corrigan fame, although "fame" might not be the best word here). One thing that bugged me about the movie, though, was that a character said that he was going to drive up to Buffalo from New York City so that he could spend the afternoon with another character. See, a lot of people think that Buffalo is relatively close to New York City, when it fact it's a good seven or eight hour drive (depending on which route you take, because the fast route isn't direct, and the direct route is most certainly not fast, and I know, because I've been a passenger on the trip from Buffalo to just north of New York City many times). So this movie does nothing to dispel the common notion that Buffalo and New York City are close. I don't know, it just bugged me. You don't drive up from NYC to Buffalo for an afternoon. Actually, the opposite might be more appealing, but still, it's not a drive you make to spend an afternoon. Yeah, I get bothered by the little things. But other than that, good flick!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The 20 minutes of trailers for what looked like bad movies sort of pissed me off, but the movie started off well, what with Rainn Wilson as the clerk in a convenience store and all. I know Dwight Schrute is just a character he plays, but I'm sorry, to me, he's always that character and therefore very funny. He's funny anyway, but especially so when I start thinking hey, that's Dwight working at the Circle K!
But then it got sort of...eh. Not bad, definitely good, and I'm glad I saw it, but I guess after all of those rave reviews, I was expecting to be blown away with some morality tale or something. I liked it, but ultimately it was a movie about a teenager who gets pregnant and has to deal with it. I've read a lot of reviews praising the language of the film for getting the teenage lexicon and inflection so dead on, but it all sounded a little forced and scripted to me. Not bad, again, but way too literate. The teenagers I know (and I know quite a few) don't have such good vocabularies. And instead of saying cool, the characters in the movie said "wizard." What the hell does that mean? It felt like the writers were trying to get a new buzzword going. I hope it doesn't get picked up, because it's just really stupid.
I'm not saying to skip the movie, because I did like it. It's worth seeing for the opening credits alone, a three-minute montage of photocopied stop-motion brilliance that I had heard about a few months ago, even before I had really heard of the film itself. And the two lead actors are excellent; the girl who played Juno is good enough to carry the movie, and Michael Cera's awkward sheepishness really works for him. And that silly little Moldy Peaches song that's in the soundtrack a few times is actually kind of enjoyable. It's a good movie. But just don't be surprised if it doesn't live up to the hype. All the hype.
Okay, now I have some letters to write.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
And to go along with it, I made some rice and beans. Not a big deal, I know, but rice and beans, or arroz y habichuelas, comes with every meal, much like meals in American restaurants come with your choice of potato. Anyway, the rice is short grain pearly rice, which I was able to get in the interational aisle of our local supermegamart. And the beans were usually flavored with onion, cilantro, lime, and pork. I skipped the pork (for health reasons, and because I really ate a lot of pig when we were down there), but I love cilantro and beans, so that sort of made up for it.
And I made some quick garlic bread, which we got at just about every restaurant we went to. I'm not sure how or why garlic bread is so common in Puerto Rico, but every time we sat down to eat somewhere, someone brought us a basket of soft bread slathered in butter and garlic. I always figured it was an Italian thing, but I guess everyone loves garlic bread. Or a lot of people do, anyway.
It's hard to explain what was different about the food down there. I guess it was just the inclusion and exclusion of little ingredients that made the difference -- things like short grain instead of long grain rice, different bread, plantains instead of potatoes, odd fruit flavorings, and so on. And of course, the pina colada I had with just about every meal made everything taste good!
I think that's about all I want to say about our trip. It was just a great time, and honestly, I'm a little sad to be back. Not distraught or anything, but we just had such a great time, and the weather was so perfect, and it was so nice to get away that being back seems a little less fun. Plus, it's hard to wake up to cold and snow when there were palm trees out our window for ten days. So I'm maybe feeling a little like Jack in last season's Lost finale, because I just really want to go back to the island. Maybe next year.
Friday, January 11, 2008
We also took a half-day excursion to the El Yunque rainforest, though it turned out to be more like three-quarters of a day, but that's fine. When we were planning our trip, I learned that there was a rainforest in Puerto Rico, which I never knew. Anyway, we did a bus tour, and our tour guide was this really nice Puerto Rican man who said "okay" a lot and kept referring to everyone on the tour as "friends." Anyway, the rainforest is pretty well maintained, so it's not like you're just out in the wild with monkeys swinging and bugs swarming. In fact, there were hardly any animals at all, which surprised me. We did one of the trails, but again, it was well maintained and paved, so we weren't trodding through mud or anything like that. There were some great waterfalls, too. People were swimming in one of them, and I wanted to go in, but I didn't want to be in this little waterfall with all those people, so we walked along a little bit more and found another waterfall area. No one was in that one, so we took off our shoes and went in up to our knees. Not a full immersion, no, but the water was a little cold, and the ground was rocky and slippery, so we thought we should maybe take it easy.
Yeah, there's more. I'll get to it.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
When we got to Puerto Rico the day after Christmas, we noticed a few things immediately. First of all, it's hot. I guess that's no big surprise, but it's something you can feel as soon as you get off the plane, even through no one actually steps off a jet into the outside air. You can feel it through the jetway thing that you have to walk down. It was a sensation I remember from way back when we used to visit my grandparents in Florida during the winter -- as soon as you step off the plane, you notice the difference immediately. Also, it's humid there, which I guess is also no big surprise when you consider that it's a small island surrounded by tropical waters. The humidity was great for our dry skin and our winter-sore noses, but let's just say I didn't have one good hair day when we were there. (Though I swear my hair started to get used to the humidity and got somewhat better toward the end of our stay. Maybe I was just imagining things, though, because it is not like my hair to behave.)
We also noticed that people there are very friendly. Not suspiciously so, but graciously so. Even people who aren't in the hospitality and service industries (which I guess is a nice way of saying people who work at the hotel and in restaurants) were friendly, as Paul noted. It's one thing for people who are paid to be friendly to in fact be friendly, but everyone was friendly. People smile and seem unstressed, and a few days into our vacation I caught myself walking slower and smiling at people I didn't know. It was actually really nice. And not surprisingly, this attitude seemed to affect the driving and road conditions. I don't think people in any congested city are particularly good drivers, and we did see some close calls on the roads, but no one really honked their horn or got pissed off at other drivers or pedestrians.
We stayed in the Isla Verde area just east of San Juan, but we did get into the city five different times, and we liked how colorful it was. Most of the homes we saw, both in the city and outside of the city, were painted in bright, fun colors that looked great against the blue sky. These homes are in Old San Juan, and are fairly typical of what you'd see down there. (Though sadly, it was overcast on the day I took this photo, so you cannot see the blue sky.) Also, the bricks on the streets of Old San Juan are blue. Yeah, blue, and not red. It's amazing how subtle that difference can appear, and I think we didn't even notice it the first time we walked around the city, but the tour leader on our rainforest excursion (more on that in a day or two) told us about the blue bricks, and then we couldn't not notice them. In fact, we told a few other people about the blue bricks, and they hadn't noticed them either. So it was kind of like we were helping out fellow tourists.
There's so much more to tell, including, yes, our day at the rainforest, the beach, the forts, Casa Bacardi (yeah!), and all the delicious local food. Oh, with the exception of one thing: I bought a tin of guava paste to take back with us. We opened it just a little while ago and gave it a taste. It was unfortunately gross. Oh well. I was hopeful. More tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
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