Last Weekend Today with Shobhit Agarwal


-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --

Friday was spent with Laney mostly, actually -- this was my second viewing of Blade Runner 2049, after seeing it first with Danielle six days prior. Danielle was not exactly bored by it, but neither did it excite her in any way, and Laney was quite the opposite. Given that the impact of that movie is significantly lessened by its second viewing, I kind of wish Laney could have seen it with me the first time; we would have been much more equivalent in our excitement talking about it.

I still stand by my B+ grade and everything I said about it, mind you -- I still think that any sequel with this level of expectation could not possibly have been any better. That said, I feel even more strongly after the second viewing that any critic with the mystifying urge to declare it "one of the best science fiction films ever made" is clearly deluding themselves. Multiple viewings do have their rewards, but revealing itself to be some kind of masterpiece is not one of them. It's very good, and it offers a lot of food for thought and invites discussion, and that's it.

As such, Laney and I talked about it plenty on our way home from the movie. As per usual, we took Light Rail, as the Capitol Hill Station is right in the center between her place and mine -- we always part ways after getting off the train there, and then we both walk roughly half a mile home. And that's where we met before the movie as well: the showing was at 7:00 so we agreed to meet at the station at 6:15. I was kind of astonished by how quickly we got to the theatre. I was going to bring a Zevia Soda from home, the only reason I brought my bag, and then I managed to forget to grab one. So when we got out of the Westlake Station, we stopped at Bartell Drugs on 5th Avenue so I could buy some m&m's and a can of San Pellegrino. Laney told me after we left that she saw a security guy skulking around us to make sure I wasn't going to sneak anything into my bag, something that amused me for two reasons: 1) I am so clueless that I didn't even know there was any guy following us around at all; and 2) once, years ago, I walked right out the doors of that very Bartells onto the sidewalk with a bottle of Coke in my hands before I realized I hadn't paid for it. I realized it when I was maybe three feet out the door, turned around, and went inside to pay. But no one in the store had any clue at all, and I could quite easily have just walked off with it. I guess the lesson here is, if you're going to shoplift, be brazen and don't even have a bag, carrying the product right in your hand! Well, and also be white. As I noted to Laney, if I had been a black guy doing that, they would have been all over me in a nanosecond.

Anyway! To my point. Even with the brief detour into Bartell Drugs, we walked the two and a half blocks from there to Cinerama, and it still took us only 15 minutes between getting on Light Rail on Capitol Hill and arriving at the theatre: we got there at 6:30. I was somewhat astounded. But, happy to get there early, and have time to settle in and chat before the movie.

Cinerama has this new thing where they show a Looney Tunes cartoon before each movie, rather than a whole bunch of trailers. There was another one before the original Blade Runner when Laney and I saw that there on October 1. After that, there's only time for one trailer for another film before the one we're there to see starts. Works for me!

-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --

After Friday, though, the rest of the weekend was very Shobhit-focused. Ivan left for his weekend trip to Portland on Friday and gets back today, so Shobhit and I had the place to ourselves. It was perfect timing for the last weekend before Shobhit leaves for India -- the first leg of his trip, the flight from Seattle to Amsterdam, takes off at 6:00 this evening.

The Shobhit focus kind of started as soon as I got home from the movie on Friday night, actually. I deliberately had no alcohol before or during the movie, knowing it would put me to sleep -- but, I had one when I got home around 10:30. I was much more awake than normal for that time because of the lively conversation I'd been having with Laney and then the walk home from Light Rail. I was even up for going dancing, which Shobhit had suggested in the past but we haven't done in a long time. This time, it was Shobhit who was too snug in his blanket on the couch, and he didn't want to go out.

So we watched a few episodes of TV, and I was actually up until around 1 a.m. that night -- extremely unusual for me.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --


-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --

Saturday and Sunday were more characterized by chores and errands: laundry in the morning, which was good timing for Shobhit packing two large suitcases for his 25-day trip. We also went to Costco, and on our way home Shobhit wanted to stop somewhere cheap for lunch so he could get a Social Review point for the day. He was originally suggesting Denny's just because they're so cheap -- I'm never excited about going to Denny's -- and there's even one right there on 4th Avenue just a quarter mile or so north of Costco. But, at the very last minute he suggested we go somewhere on Capitol Hill instead.

So then I suggested Aviv Hummus Bar, a new place right next door to Bakery Nouveau on 15th, from which Ivan presented us with their menu just a couple of weeks ago, telling us it's really good. I was kind of excited about it because I love falafel and it's great to find a place offering falafel so close to our place now.

So, even though they are literally only blocks away from our condo, we still drove there and parked on the street nearby to have lunch there. Shobhit, true to form, was just like, "The place in West Hollywood was better." Actually I don't even remember what place in West Hollywood he's talking about. I thought the food at Aviv was uniformly fantastic and will enthusiastically go again, for either the falafel-stuffed pita or the mushroom hummus dish. They even had unusually good fries, cooked to a perfect crisp, which restaurants rarely get right.

I loved the mural on their wall that read Hummus Where the Heart Is, and when I posted it with the note that we were trying a great new hummus place, Shobhit couldn't help himself and had to comment, "it needed a touch more salt." Yeah, well, guess what? He's likely alone in that sentiment. He thinks fucking everything needs more salt. He'll salt food before even tasting it. And I am convinced this is tied to my contention that his taste buds are fried from a lifetime of eating mouth-searingly spicy food. Unless it's Indian food (to his credit, he can make samosas that are not at all spicy and still explode with flavor), he doesn't recognize flavor even when it slaps him in the face -- unless it's spicy. There are occasional exceptions to this, I'll admit. He did really like the gnocchi we had at that Italian restaurant on Beacon Hill.

Anyway we came home from that and after a couple of hours I took myself downtown to see The Foreigner, starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. Solid-B movie, which is good enough for me. Shobhit already got his Social Review point out of lunch so he didn't join me, but I still think he should have -- he really would have enjoyed it, I'm convinced.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --

But then, he did go to the movie with me last night. This was the first of three movies in the Seattle Queer Film Festival I'm going to this year -- all of them free, because Shobhit and I both won tickets at a price wheel at the Three Dollar Bill Cinema booth at Pride back in June. They are each good for two tickets, and actually, the promo code the tickets offered were all the same and I could easily have just used it over and over to get free tickets to virtually every night of the festival. I just didn't want to spend that much time on it, and as when SIFF is going on, I also have regular-release movies I want to see in the meantime.

I long ago stopped bothering much with what was once called the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival -- the last time I went was when I saw three of their films during the 2008 festival. That included Were the World Mine, which I truly loved, but that was sort of the exception that proved the rule: historically, gay-themed movies at SIFF outshine the average quality of movies at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, so I stopped bothering much with the latter. I just did some scouring through archives and I saw several movies that year that I liked quite a lot -- and this took me some time to figure out, and now I finally remember: I saw a bunch of movies at the festival that year, and I believe it was because I got a festival pass as a Contributing Writer to 'mo Magazine. And of course, since that magazine folded years ago, those days are long gone. I think I got passes a couple of years that way, but after 2008, I haven't bothered with the festival since -- always assuming that the best movies that might be at this festival, I'd likely see at SIFF anyway.

I guess the festival changed their name to "TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival" just last year.

And now I'm back at it, not seeing quite as many of the movies but with free tickets again. I saw 15 of the movies in the 2008 festival and three of them in the 2007 festival (so, 2008 must have been the only full-festival pass I got for press); this year, almost a decade later, I'm back to three screenings.

In any case, last night's movie, Saturday Church, really exceeded my expectations. I expected it to be fine; I did not expect to be so deeply moved by it. I was surprised by how much I cried while watching it, more often than not just because of how beautiful and joyful I found it. As I noted in my review, it doesn't shy away at all from the harsh realities of homeless trans experience, but when it came to the character achieving self-actualization, I was just so happy that tears were running down my cheeks. It was to such a degree that I was a little self-conscious about it, trying not to spend too much time wiping tears during parts that someone might wonder what the hell was wrong with me that I'm crying at that particular moment. All I can say is, I guess, I'm a lot more in touch with my emotions than perhaps I have been in the past. Still, I had zero expectation that I would be moved so profoundly.

Now, the movie has definite flaws, but they are minor. Shobhit and I pretty much agreed on all these points. (The most significant of these is that the bigoted Christian Aunt Rose was far too one-note of a character.) Shobhit saw on before the show started that the lead actor, teenage Luka Cain, won the Grand Jury award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film at this year's L.A. Outfest, and that alone increased his expectation -- and he was a little mystified by the award afterward. If this movie deserves any award, it's for writing; many of the supporting characters were amazing, not least of which the several trans women of color actually playing trans women of color (a sticking point for many in the trans community when it comes to television and film representation); and Luka Cain was pretty good as the lead, but hard to be seen as the best. His singing voice was merely serviceable in a sea of supporting characters with stellar singing voices, in fact. I would say, though, that aside from the singing voice (and I suppose it does say something that he was in musical productions on Broadway as a young child), his performance was indeed one of the most tender and nuanced in the film. Shobhit and I just had a hard time imagining it being the best in an entire film festival, is all. What I can imagine is a lot of attention being paid just because of the unique and vital nature of the story itself.

I struggled a little with the language in my writing of the review once we got home last night, but I think I did okay.

I nearly forgot we were even going to that movie. I don't have any idea why. Shobhit and I had done more errands earlier in the day, coming to the office to print some documents for him; going to a Queen Anne coffee shop to get Chai Tea Lattes using a 2-for-1 Chinook Book coupon; stopping at Walgreens and Bartell Drugs so Shobhit could buy cosmetics for his mom and sister. We came home and watched some episodes of The Golden Girls and it wasn't until an episode ended at 6:15 and Shobhit said, "I have to pee and then we can go." And I was like, Oh right -- we're going to a movie! How could I, of all people, forget that? Weird.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --

In other news I woke up this morning tipping the scale for the first time in literally years at 150 lbs. It's time to get serious and get my shit together about this, and get back to some real portion control and reign in the between-meal snacking. I was down to 139 lbs not that long ago. I need to get back there again. Seeing that number this morning was a real wake-up call. And honestly, Shobhit leaving today for nearly a month is likely to help. He won't be eating stuff that tempts me while I'm at home. The bigger trick, of course, will be resisting food that's constantly around me at work. But, I've done it before and I can do it again.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और अस्सी --