Ocean's Three


-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --

I had a relatively eventful weekend, but as often happens when I don't post any regular journal entries on a Saturday or Sunday, I'm blanking on what the hell I did Friday evening.

I remember Ivan worked that evening, so I saw very little of him -- only a bit after he got home from work, after Shobhit and I did the New York Times crossword. He told us how he was going to call in sick on Saturday, right before talking about how short staffed they always are. "So you're going to contribute to their being short staffed?" I asked. "That's not my problem!" was his reply -- he characterizes them as incompetent on that front, but then, what person who doesn't like their job doesn't do that? I have mixed feelings about this, because he's a nurse, and we're talking about the care of real human beings here. Then again, it's entirely possible that large companies like the one he works for counts on that notion as a means for taking advantage of their workforce. What do I know? I don't actually work there. Still, my primary concern in his position would be the welfare of the people who are supposed to be being assisted in the assisted living home. Or so I would like to think. Again, I can't say for sure because I've never been a nurse and I've never worked in a nursing home.

The closest I got was when I went to apply for a job at a nursing home where my friend Angela -- literally the one friend I ever made in high school -- worked when I was maybe a Sophomore. It's easy to see why I didn't get that job. I was filling out an application at a table in the place's dining room and an old lady came up to talk to me. I had no idea what to say to her and was petrified. I don't think I responded much at all. Surely someone took one look at me and thought something like, That guy's not cut out for this.

Oh! That's right: Shobhit and I watched The Jungle Book streaming on HBO Go. Shobhit acted like he wasn't that interested, and put on his headphones to watch political shows on his laptop. I knew the movie would catch his attention early on, though, and I was right. It's very much his kind of movie -- and, for the kind of movie it is, it's very good. The special effects are fantastic, but the storytelling is nearly seamless.

And Shobhit is in it! Barely: he worked one day as an extra, for the one scene with multiple human characters, all of them (except Mowgli) just silhouettes behind a bonfire. I totally missed him when I saw the movie in the theatre because I was far too engrossed in the story. This time, we caught sight of him -- his nose is unmistakable in profile -- and I backed it up to see again. It's kind of a blink-and-you'll miss it kind of thing. The camera pans up at an angle, and he's on screen for little more than a single second. I tried to pause it to get a still I could get a picture of, but couldn't get it to stop on any frame that was clear enough to see that it's him.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --

Saturday was the one notable day of socializing. Both Laney and Shobhit get Social Review points for that day; I spent by far the most time with Laney. I got the feeling I probably would have watched a movie with Ivan that day otherwise, but I already had plans with Laney. And although there was technically time to watch that Russian movie Ivan wants me to watch with him in the evening, three movies in one day was enough. Ivan wound up taking a backpack and going off somewhere mysterious for pretty much the entirety of the evening anyway.

Laney and I had an Oceans marathon: we watched Ocean's Eleven (2001), Ocean's Twelve (2004), and Ocean's Thirteen (2007), all in one day. We broke for lunch between the second and third movies.

When we first planned this, I gave Laney options: single movies on three separate days? That would have to be weirdly sporadic because of annoying rules for our theatre: they don't allow consecutive day reservations, so we couldn't do it, say, three days in a row on a Friday through Saturday; nor do they allow consecutive weeks on the same day of the week, or even consecutive months on the same day of the month. There are understandable reasons for this, as otherwise people clog up the calendar with recurring reservations, but I think this goes a little far. Other option: marathon of all three movies in one day -- which I actually didn't think Laney was likely to go for -- and in that case, my suggestion was to start early.

And Laney did opt for the marathon option, and for starting at 10 a.m., so we could watch two movies before breaking for lunch.

To my surprise, someone actually had the kitchen -- which we have to walk through to get to the theatre room -- reserved from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Usually I look up whether the kitchen is reserved and email the person in whose name the reservation has been made, to warn them that I'll be having to walk through their party, but I wasn't counting on the kitchen reservation being so early. I guess it was for a small, afternoon party; when I first went down there, the only thing underway was the baking of what looked like hors d'oeuvres. There wasn't even anyone in there when I walked through.

There was later, though, when Laney and I used the bathroom between Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve. Laney used the bathroom first, and she was like, "Okay, I guess I'll do this" -- meaning, interrupt these other people's party. It's always awkward. And it was especially so when I was returning from my trip to the bathroom. I was walking through the kitchen, the party apparently winding down as there were only four or five people in there at that time, but there was a guy who turned right in front of me without seeing me, and I slightly startled him and I had to say "Excuse me" before scrambling back into the theatre room. Thankfully they were all done and gone by the time the second movie ended.

So. About the movies. Laney had only seen Ocean's Eleven once before, many years ago; she barely remembered it. I'm pretty sure this was my third time seeing it, but it had also been years for me. I saw it the first time ages ago, and just thought it was okay; I was much more impressed with it when I watched both the first two before going ahead and seeing the surprisingly well-reviewed Ocean's Thirteen when it came out in 2007. This time, Laney and I were both really impressed with Ocean's Eleven: it's by far the best of the three movies, the second two ranging between okay (Ocean's Twelve) and good (Ocean's Thirteen) but still both of them pale imitations of the first one, which, on its own terms and within its genre, was nearly perfect in construction -- and has some really well written dialogue. I even commented aloud, after Danny Ocean meets his estranged wife Tess at a restaurant table, "That was a really well written exchange." Laney agreed.

I was a little delighted to be reminded that Danny Ocean's wife, played by Julia Roberts (an excellent performance by her, by the way, in the first film), was named Tess -- which was the name Gabriel's daughter chose for herself when she came out as transgender. I immediately thought of Gabriel, as Ocean's Eleven is one of his all-time favorite movies. He's a big fan of the whole series, as I recall, and any other year I would have invited him to join us for this marathon -- which, realistically, he probably would not have been available for anyway. But, I had to text him: Danny Ocean's wife's name is Tess! His response? Duh. No need to get snotty, now! (To be fair, I had a bad habit of being way snottier to him than I ever needed to be for the better part of twenty years -- just because I felt like I could get away with it with him specifically, which I think is kind of coming back to bite me in ass in the long run -- so, I'll let it go.) Apparently it was the second thing he told her after she told him her new name, which is unsurprising. In fact, Gabriel almost certainly told me that when he first told me Tess's new name and I just forgot, because I can't fucking remember anything. I wonder what was the first thing he told her? I bet he told me that at the time too. It was probably "I love it!" or something to that effect.

I have no written record of it, in any case. I went and found my first mention of Tess's new name -- on June 16, 2015 -- and naturally in that entry I brought the focus back on myself (perfectly reasonable, though, in my own journal!): because Gabriel had been asked if Tess might have turned out to be trans because she knew me. Ha! I had forgotten about that. It cracked me up, yet again. This did make me realize, though, that I first met Tess as Tess at Trans Pride that year. It was only two years ago! It feels like it's been way, way longer. Maybe because Tess had really been Tess all along.

But I digress. Even Laney agreed that Ocean's Twelve was "the lesser" (as she put it) of the three movies. When I saw that one for the first time, I actively disliked it -- I enjoyed it okay this time, maybe because it could no longer disappoint. The whole thing with Julia Roberts playing Tess pretending to be Julia Roberts -- it was kind of funny, but still dumb, in a way the first film never was. And the entire concept hinging around a competition between Ocean's gang and some French guy who wanted to prove he's the best thief? To say that stretches plausibility is an understatement. Granted, all of these movies stretch plausibility, but suspension of disbelief is easiest -- by a wide margin -- in the first one.

It was around 2:00 when we broke for lunch, and Laney and I walked the two blocks down to eat at Manao Thai Street Eats. My pineapple fried rice with tofu was slightly burnt. Although it did not overpower the rest of the flavor, "burnt" is still not the best note to have in your meal.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --


-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --

Shobhit actually joined us only a few minutes after we started Ocean's Thirteen -- even though he apparently watched it streaming somewhere not long ago. But, he wanted to get a Social Review point out of it. He's clearly playing the system, but in that case he was still playing by my rules, so he'll get what he wants for that one. He stayed for the whole movie, after all. He didn't even go upstairs first. He still had his keys with him, which he kept shaking in his hand, until Laney took them away from him.

Some slight irony for these movies: when I saw Ocean's Thirteen for the first time, and it was the first of the series I saw after I started posting reviews, I gave it a pretty glowing, B+ review. I was clearly delighted by the movie in 2007 in a way I wasn't quite when watching it now, ten years later. I mean, I still enjoyed it, but I'd give it closer to a solid B now. I actually think it suffers slightly from the absence of Julia Roberts, although considering the plot -- and the reasonable explanation of "This isn't their fight," which is better than writing her out by saying Tess and Danny were no longer together -- I don't know how they could have shoehorned her in there in any reasonable way.

That said, the movie suffers from the absence of any well-rounded female character with strength or even multiple dimensions. I don't think any one of these movies passes the Bechdel Test, but at least the first one has a memorable, major female character. The second one does too, with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Wait! Ocean's Twelve does pass the Bechdel Test -- I just remembered when Catherine Zeta-Jones confronts Julia Roberts in the museum, when Tess is impersonating Julia Roberts. That's what the confrontation is about, which means two named female characters talk to each other about something other than a man. It's too bad the worst of the three movies is the only one that -- memorably, at least, in case I'm technically wrong about either of the others -- passes that test.

Anyway, the one major female role in Ocean's Thirteen is played by the otherwise wonderful Ellen Barkin, but she literally plays a ditzy blonde. And who needs that? In the end, after seeing all three movies in one day, I left feeling like, even though Thirteen is still an objective improvement over Twelve (which even Laney called "a little scattered"), those two are much closer to each other in quality than being anywhere near the first film, which has easily the best script and benefits from having a plot that is the least complicated (or convoluted, as the case may be).

I spent the rest of the day on Saturday reading my library book -- now Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by the incomparable David Sedaris -- but also, I did watch a couple episodes of The Golden Girls. Going through that entire series in chronological order, we were surprised to finish season 2 and discover that season had 26 episodes, which is a lot. But, I see now why when they run them in syndication, some of the episodes get little to no rotation, because they had some duds. Their "memories" episodes never quite worked that well, and the season 2 finale, bizarrely, focuses almost exclusively on barely-connected characters side from the ladies themselves. I found it very odd.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --

So how about Sunday, then? Shobhit worked again, this time two shifts, starting very early; he was home for just a few hours in the middle.

I saw a little bit of Ivan before he left to go to work that day; he slept in until way after 11 a.m., which was much later than he had on Saturday. "I took a marijuana tablet and it knocked me the fuck out," he said, after I told him I was beginning to wonder if he was going to get up at all. I had spent most of the morning just sitting in the living room and reading my book, while Shobhit was working. Ivan uses these marijuana sleeping aids he gets at Uncle Ike's, apparently. Anyway, he was off to work by around 1:30.

I liked it a lot better when he had a more predictable and regular schedule, which changed drastically when he put in his notice and switched to being on call. This actually resulted us seeing a lot more of him on average, which I don't mind at all per se; but, it's also nice to have a regular schedule in which evenings Shobhit and I have to ourselves are known. I guess that won't happen again until Ivan finds a new job with its own (hopefully) set schedule. I haven't watched last night's Game of Thrones yet, for two reasons: 1) Shobhit got home too late and needed to be in bed early for yet another early shift today; and 2) I told Ivan I would watch it with him the next day he has off, which is tomorrow night. I don't like having to wait that long, but I'm also not sure I need to see the episode twice. Otherwise I could have just watched it on my own yesterday evening. It may happen that way yet, if Shobhit chooses to watch it tonight. And if I have to watch it twice, I don't think I'll mind that so much. It's just not my first choice.

"That's just how it is with a crazy schedule," Ivan had said. At least I do know beforehand that Shobhit and I have the evening to ourselves tonight; I have no other plans. Shobhit and I are seeing Dunkirk tomorrow because as AT&T customers we can get 2-for-1 tickets on Tuesdays.

Anyway, yesterday I left a little more than an hour before Shobhit left for his evening shift, to take myself to see A Ghost Story. I wasn't even going to see that one, but Sara W at work asked me if I was interested, and when I saw how good the reviews were I changed my mind. But, it's playing at the Egyptian, which I never expect Sara to want to go to, because it's too far from her neighborhood. She had said she might join me over the weekend, which would have been a first.

She told me to contact her again beforehand, though, so I did, and sent a confirmation text on Sunday morning. A couple of hours later she wrote back that her day was getting away from her and she couldn't make it. She felt so bad about bailing that she literally called me on the phone -- what is this, 1995? -- to apologize, which was appreciated yet completely unnecessary. I chose to go on my own anyway. I wanted to go to a movie, and the other two I'll see this week (Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) are both movies I know Shobhit will be interested in, so I'm seeing them on days he can join me.

A Ghost Story was different in the range of emotional reactions I had to it. I found its tediousness very difficult to deal with in its first half, and then in its second half it almost magically won me over. I might have still resisted going if I had remembered Casey Affleck was in it, but I totally forgot about that. Whatever. I decided to let that go and regard the movie on its own terms. It seems to have a lot of its own terms, and it's a lot to take in. I found a lot of it very frustrating. Then, I found it eminently fascinating. I don't think a lot of people I know would like it. It would have been torturous for Shobhit. I think Gabriel would like it. Are you reading this, Gabriel? Put A Ghost Story on your list.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --

Last night I made myself veggie chicken nuggets for dinner. Instead of putting cheese and veggie ham and tartar sauce on them as usual, this time I used two leftover half-packets of sweet & sour sauce from packages of spring rolls (for which I never use all of the provided sweet & sour sauce), and that was it. Just veggie chicken nuggets glazed with sweet & sour sauce. It was awesome. One of the highlights of my weekend.

Shall I continue telling you about the food I'm eating? Let's do that! I had a "VeganToona"-fish sandwich for lunch today. Every once in a while I have this just because I miss the tunafish sandwiches I had occasionally before becoming a vegetarian. The can of "meat free seafood" on its own looks -- and even tastes -- pretty horrible, but after adding a sufficient amount of vegenaise, mustard, relish, and pepper, it comes to a vague approximation of tuna fish. This understandably horrifies meat eaters and lifelong vegetarians alike, but is a sort of comfort food for people like me who grew up on meat products before converting to vegetarianism. And vegetarian meat substitutes are literally what made becoming a vegetarian possible for me. Honestly none of Sophie's Choice veggie seafoods are great, but they're the best anyone's got available right now.

Anyway, I looked for it when we last went shopping at PCC, thinking we had once added it to our system -- but we never did; I just got samples from a broker. But yesterday I went to see if by chance they carry it at Central Co-op, and they do! One can, which for me yields two sandwiches, costs five bucks, but whatever. I wanted it, and I love sandwiches, which I don't eat (of any kind) very often.

When I bought the VeganToona at Central Co-op yesterday, there was a lady behind me with a Beyond Meat product among her items, and she asked me how the VeganToona is. I replied honestly: "It's all right." And then I gave her a brief approximation of what I explained above. She didn't seem much swayed either way, nor did she need to be.

-- चार हजार एक सौ पच्चीस --