movies and movies and stuff


-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --

I had a pretty eventful weekend. I watched a lot of movies -- five of them, to be precise; although I only went to the theatre to see two of them. Ivan won't get any Social Review points for this weekend, but he watched a movie with me at home on both Saturday and Sunday.

Friday evening was the one day of the weekend that was not at all about a movie. Shobhit and I wound up having dinner with Danielle, who drove up from Renton. She just wanted to hang out and I was happy to oblige. She often talks about how we should spend more time together with her kids around -- I'm not sure her kids really care one way or the other -- but we keep winding up hanging out when the kids are with Patrick. This still kind of makes sense, since it's a lot easier for her to travel without the kids with her. I guess this was technically her weekend with them but she and Patrick split the weekend for some reason, so they were with him on Friday.

Shobhit and I had already been thinking of going out for dinner that night -- at a nearby bar on Capitol Hill called Grim's, because Shobhit had a Groupon for that place he bought a few weeks ago: 57% off a grilled cheese meal for two. This is mostly just a bar so the menu is quite limited, but it works for us: the only entrees are a choice of three different kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches.

But here's the problem: we walked in, and it was completely dead -- not a single other patron. Granted, it was only about 6:30, after we had made ourselves drinks at home before leaving (scratch that: I had made us all drinks), but it still seemed like maybe a bit of a red flag. And then the bartender informed us their refrigerator was busted and would not be repaired for at least a couple of weeks, and as a result their kitchen was closed. Well, shit.

So, we walked outside and began to brainstorm ideas for where to eat instead. Finally we settled on a pizza place on Pike that Shobhit has long wanted to try: Via Tribulani. I spent way more there than I ever would have at Grim's -- and not just because I also had a cocktail there (which I accidentally elbowed off the table shortly after I got it; the server brought me another at no extra cost, thereby ensuring herself a pretty massive tip of nearly 30%). We all agreed it was totally worth it. We split two of their thin-crust pizzas between the three of us, which was the perfect amount. These pizzas were barley larger than a large dinner plate and they cost $17 and $18. Fairly pricey, but money well spent. I would definitely recommend this place, even though their sign hanging outside actually says "Vera Pizza," which is confusing. It does have Via Tribulani stenciled onto the window though.

We sat in the open air section next to the open wall exposed to the outside, and there was a scrappy little makeshift band playing with an accordion across the street. It was all very pleasant. Here's a bit of irony, though: I thought I recalled having eaten at this place before with Gabriel, and I was right -- I was last there on my Birth Week day with him in 2012, on May 6. In my entry that day, I wrote, I know Shobhit had looked at the menu once and didn't want to pay their prices. And so it goes with Shobhit: he balks and balks at prices until, for whatever reason, nothing more than his mood changes, and then he'll pay the very prices he once complained about. And when he's making less money than ever before while living in Seattle. He even agreed with our assessment that the pizza was excellent and worth the price.

My $10 cocktail was maybe not quite as worth it -- or at least it wasn't until I got it replaced for free after I knocked it off my table. A guy sitting at the table next to us, after I apologized, said, "You're not going to Zamboni that up?"

After dinner was over, Shobhit suggested we all go down to Madison Beach to take advantage of the nice weather for what amount of daylight we had left. We went home first so he could change into his swimsuit briefs, even though I told him the water was definitely going to be too cold. Actually we did see a few people swimming while we were down there. Shobhit took off his shorts (which he was wearing over the swimsuit) but not his shirt as we lay on the unfolded blanket tote, and after about ten minutes declared it too chilly now that the whole park was in shadow as the sun was setting, and put his shorts back on.

We were there for maybe an hour. Ivan, who seems to be doing this a great deal more than usual now that he's not working every day, had asked if maybe we could watch something that night. I said maybe, if we got back early enough. I would have watched something with him even as of 10:00, which was shortly after Danielle went home, but he'd evidently fallen asleep. He actually woke up right after I went to bed and, as he told me the next day, was awake until 2 a.m.

But, he woke up relatively early on Saturday morning too -- when Shobhit had a morning shift to work. I was reading my book when he got up, and I said, "We can watch something today if you want." I said I would watch either of the two Netflix DVDs he had at the moment; he chose 20th Century Women -- to my surprise, he even brought it out for me to put in right around 9 a.m., before he even got dressed. He sat and watched in his bathrobe. I even commented when the movie ended -- and that movie is excellent; if you haven't seen it you really should -- that he must have been into it, because not only did he never look at his phone during the movie like he usually does, constantly, but he didn't even have his phone with him! I saw that as a minor miracle.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --

Shobhit got off work at 1 p.m, and I decided to walk down there on Westlake Avenue and surprise him, and walk home with him. He was predictably delighted: clearly small gestures go a long way with him. He was a lot more pleasant that day than he had been for about the first hour after I got home on Friday, when he was pissed because the UPS driver once again refused to deliver his package -- with medicine in it -- because "name not on directory," which is indeed bullshit: he clearly never checked for both his first and last name; it is on the directory. Shobhit was so mad that he started asking Danielle if he had cause to sue (uh, doubtful), and I have to say -- Shobhit was once again acting like an overgrown baby, and Danielle was impressively skilled at talking to him in the midst of this without setting him off. She would just say, "I know it's frustrating." The thing is, it's clearly because she's well practiced at talking to children -- and I am not. My point would always be: is it really reasonable to expect me to handle my spouse with kid gloves? I get so tired of the way getting angry flips a switch inside his brain, causing him to toss all rational thinking aside. It's insane. He was so pissy that he literally got mad about me using the two new Moscow Mule copper mugs and putting his drink in the old one -- he'd wanted to use one of the new ones. "Do you really want me to dirty another cup to swap them out?" I asked. I couldn't just switch with him because his was the only one with a single shot of vodka in it -- and that was my logic when I was mixing them: that mug was slightly smaller than the other two, so in my mind it stood to reason to put that drink in the smaller mug. But, he wanted one of the new ones! When I said that, he paused, and actually said: "I compromise about everything." Oh, for fuck's sake! First of all, No you fucking don't. Secondly, I just said, "I'll switch them if you want," and he said he wanted me to. So I poured his drink into a third cup so I could pour mine into the old copper cup and re-pour his drink into one of the new copper cups, the latest in a long line of genuinely pointless things I do for him just to get him to shut the fuck up. We have such a healthy relationship! (Believe it or not, actually, most of the time we do. Just not when he's literally acting like a fucking four-year-old.)

After multiple phone calls, though, UPS ultimately paid another courier service to deliver his package later in the evening, and that made him feel better. That seemed to extend for the most part through the rest of the weekend. We had a genuinely pleasant walk home from his work on Saturday, and we then spent the afternoon watching my Netflix copy of the 1983 Matthew Broderick movie WarGames -- which, as it happens, holds up shockingly well, the obviously dated technology notwithstanding. It's a very gripping thriller, and I'd say it's still worth watching, even now. I don't remember at all why I'd added it to my Netflix queue -- I watch streaming stuff so much more often now, that when I get movies from the DVD queue, they were typically first added several years ago.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --


-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --

And then Shobhit joined Laney and me for a movie downtown that night, to see the truly wonderful The Big Sick. See that movie! It's easily one of the very best I have seen all year so far -- solid A. A truly original vison that is both touching and often very funny. No complaints.

Shobhit had initially resisted joining Laney and me for this movie, even though I was certain he would enjoy it -- in spite of the South Asian characters being Muslim, and his relative indifference to comedian, star and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani, of whom I have long been a big fan. I found a way to sway him, though: saving money! I follow Kumail Nanjiani on Twitter, and on Thursday he tweeted out a link to get free tickets over the weekend using a particular promo code, saying they were giving out 1000 tickets. I had no idea how legitimate this would be or if there would be some sort of catch, but given who the link was tweeted out from, I decided to try it.

There was no catch at all! Or, I suppose there almost was one: at first I followed the link and clicked 2 tickets, and then when I entered the promo code, it only discounted the amount for one ticket. So I started over and bought a single ticket, and to my delight, it worked -- and I didn't even get charged an online service fee. I literally had to pay nothing, and after signing in with Facebook, the ticket was mailed to my Gmail account.

At first I was going to email Laney the link and urge her to get her ticket quickly, telling her which seat number to get so she'd be next to mine. But then I realized I had no idea how busy she was at work and how long it might take her to get to it, so I tried another tack: figuring the system would not let me get multiple tickets signed in with the same account, I started over and took the other auto-sign-in option, signing in with Amazon -- which uses my Comcast account. This worked like a charm, and a ticket was emailed to my Comcast account.

So that took care of Laney and me -- after we had already made plans with the intention of actually paying for these tickets. So how about Shobhit, then? This time I signed up for a new account on the ticketing service (called Atom, which I had never heard of before but whatever, it worked), using my Hotmail account. Again, total smooth sailing -- and a third ticket was emailed to me there. I got seats in F11, F12 and F13. And after I emailed them both with the good news, Shobhit did not at all resist going to see the movie.

And guess what? He even commented on how much he could relate to Kumail Nanjiani's character, what with his struggle between Western and South Asian cultures, and parents with hardened expectations for finding their children mates through arranged marriages. When it comes to Muslims and Hindus in India, this is the thing: they easily think of themselves as radically different -- and indeed, there are major differences in the tenets of their respective religions. But when you compare them to Western culture and Western (or specifically American) values, they become far more alike than they are different -- particularly when it comes to culture rather than specific religion: familial pressures and expectations, particularly around romance and marriage, are very relatable to each other.

I did mention in my review how great it was to see an American mainstream film with several Muslim characters who were presented positively -- albeit still with acknowledgement of how they tend to be perceived by particularly white Americans: like the scene where people in a restaurant feel discomfort over an argument happening between Kumail and his brother, prompting him to say, "Sorry. We hate terrorists!" (This was funnier in context. And maybe the biggest laugh in the whole movie is Kumail's response when his white girlfriend's father -- played by Ray Romano -- asks for "his take" on 9/11. I won't ruin it, but it was fucking funny.)

I don't think Shobhit would ever even think to make the same observation: that it's great to see a movie like this with Muslim American representation that is actually multidimensional, and even presents one generation of them as just as American as any of us. (This also makes sense given the basic story is very autobiographical on Nanjiani's part.) He would likely continue to point out, though, that there is relevance to the context of Kumail's parents clearly being what we would think of as "moderate," reasonable Muslims -- that they are only seen that way from an insular, American perspective, and a majority of Mulsims around the rest of the world would not see them as moderates, but rather as not just liberal, but as radicals. There actually is data that bears out this idea.

My issue, just as an aside, is when people single out Islam as somehow separate, historically, from the countless atrocities perpetrated in the name of Christianity. People like to talk about how much more violent people are in the name of Islam today than they are in the name of Christianity, but my response to that is this: plenty of Western current government policies either ride on the coattails of past horrors, or still contribute in many indirect ways to the oppression and even deaths of countless people, and these policies still have their roots in Christian ideology. So the idea of Islam deserving more scrutiny and criticism than Christianity never sits well with me. As far as I am concerned, they are both scourges of the Earth -- as is essentially all of organized religion.

But I digress! Anyway, The Big Sick is a great movie. You should definitely see it. Even Shobhit really liked it!

-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --

Sunday, yesterday, was less eventful -- although I did go to another movie yesterday evening: the all-right The Little Hours. I went to see that while Shobhit was at the second of his two work shifts he did yesterday.

All three of us -- as in, including Ivan -- watched Okja streaming on Netflix in the afternoon, in between Shobhit's work shifts. Ivan had suggested several times that we watch that one, but I kept reminding him it only made sense to wait for Shobhit to see that one, as I knew he would enjoy it (especially after how much he injoyed recently watching The Host, which was by the same director), and he was the only one of the three of us who had not already seen it. I went to an advanced screening a couple of weeks ago and Ivan already watched it streaming, but said he wouldn't mind seeing it again.

This time, though, he was once again glued to his phone for I would estimate about 90% of the time the movie was on. I think maybe, in all his extra free time since he's now only on-call for his work, he just likes having the company. Shobhit joked at one point that it's too bad we don't have a remote to turn his phone off, but I didn't find it as annoying since I knew he'd already watched it. (Although for all I know, he also barely paid attention when he watched by himself the first time around. As a guy with Asperger's he's easily distractable -- he just got one of those fidget spinners in the mail the other day and he seems very much to like having it to fiddle with. That said, I'm starting to think perhaps he's already got a bit too much time on his hands: yesterday he said, "Matthew I want to show you my weird Internet purchases!" He proceeded to show me these shoe inserts that increase his height by two inches, making him seem 6'1"; and also a box of an an electronic stimulation abdominal belt, a product I immediately assumed to be bullshit that purports to help give you defined abs just by emitting electric pulses. (I'm not positive what I linked to was the exact product he has -- I kind of doubt he actually spent that much -- but if it's not, then it was something just like it.) He even put the thing on and used it for several minutes after I started Okja, and was groaning and laughing as he calibrated it because at first he put it on full blast and it was painful.

He told me there are actually studies showing the device works for people, and that it has lots of good reviews on Amazon. Whatever, whatever. I would say, consider something like this counter-point on

The biggest drawback to using one of the belts as opposed to doing abdominal exercises is that you don't get the other benefits of performing an exercise. When you perform various abdominal movements you are working different muscles and burning more calories because you use more than just your ab muscles. You also get the added benefit of working on your balance and coordination when you perform exercises as opposed to letting the abdominal belt do all of the work.

Another drawback to using the belt is that it doesn't activate all of your abdominal muscles. The abs run from the bottom of your ribs all the way to the top of your hip bone, while the belt only covers the middle of your belly. Performing full ab exercises, such as sit-ups, will activate the entire ab muscle, from top to bottom.

Now, to Ivan's credit, he does regularly work out at gyms, so he's not relying solely on this. But he'll never convince me this was a sensible purchase that will ever do for him what he's clearly hoping it will do. Of this much, I am certain: he won't have an actual six-pack until he's got a trainer and is working out far more often than he even does now. And who the fuck wants to do that anyway? He should just accept and learn to live with how beautiful he is already -- which is plenty. That's what I did! In any case, I reiterate: he's got too much time on his hands.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पन्द्रह --