Here are a few postcards from our trip:
At the beach end of our street there is a big, beautiful house. It’s the kind of house that, were I making a movie about beach living, would make a fabulous backdrop. It’s green-shingled, three-stories of what looks like generations of living on the beach, with turrets and arches, well maintained with a lushly landscaped perimeter. It’s got a pool on the beach side of it. The landscaping is meticulously maintained. How this guy gets such thick green grass with sand in such close proximity is, frankly, something the environmentalist in me doesn’t want to know about.
The guy’s a little crazy about his house. At some point, and I am not sure whether he got the city’s permission to do this, he removed the sidewalk in front of his house and replaced it with something more aesthetically in line with his property. There’s some concrete to the sidewalk there, but it is bordered by the same brick as his driveway. I suppose, having footed the expense for this upgrade, he has come to believe that the sidewalk is his. Over the years, I have seen him remove many a bike and wagon left there by public beachgoers, my own included.
On Saturday, I saw a woman unlocking her bike from the post on the sidewalk. I hesitated to speak, but I thought, in the spirit of community, I would warn her about how crazy the guy is about the sidewalk. I said carefully, and in a friendly way, “This guy here is a little crazy about the sidewalk. Just wanted to let you know in case he ever moves your bike. He doesn’t like people to leave them here.”
And she went crazy on me. Yelling about how it’s a public sidewalk, and he has no right to do that, he can call the cops, blah blah blah. All this crazy stuff, like I had been the one who moved her bike. I just wanted to get away from her, so I said, “Okay, you have a nice day,” and I took Ee in the stroller and quickly got away from her.
Then she caught up with me at the corner where we were waiting for the light, and she apologized, but the apology was this other long rant about how she’s just so sick of these people who come down here for the summer. She can’t wait for the summer to be over. She’s a full-time resident, and these people who come for the summer really get on her nerves. They act like they own the place because they own a summer place. These people crowd the town, they make more traffic, these people. And I was like…I’m one of these people. I don’t feel like I own the place, but what kind of apology is that? But then I noticed that she had three kids, and I knew how she felt about needing the summer to end. But that’s no reason to take her frustrations out on a total stranger. Can’t she do like I do and just yell at the kids?
Seriously, though. What’s wrong with people?
We were into the Olympics, at least the ones that were broadcast live, and the kids really enjoyed the gymnastics. Clooney kept doing his “floor exercises” on the beach, including repetition in “slow motion.” Thursday my in-laws came to visit, and we had lunch on the beach. While we were talking, I held the last bit of my sandwich in my hand, and I was on the outside of our circle. A seagull swooped down suddenly and grabbed it right out of my hand.
We went to the boardwalk. We visited Storybookland. Overall, a great week. Only three days of beach, weather permitting, left to the summer.
Today we are shopping for school shoes, which necessitates a trip to the mall for proper sizing. The mall closest to us is kind of sad. There’s a mom-and-pop shoe store that’s been there since I was being fitted for school shoes. But the rest of the mall, like I said, is kind of sad. There’s not even a Gap there. A mall without a Gap is only one bad holiday season away from being a mall with a wig store. And a mall where there’s a wig store, well, that’s the saddest kind of mall there is.
A Movie Review
Manfrengensen and I went to see Tropic Thunder last week. It was okay. Overall, uneven. There were some really funny parts, but many of the jokes fell flat. Much has been made of Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance, which was fine. But what really bothered me was Tom Cruise. I’m not a Tom Cruise basher. He’s fine, for what he is. My problem is that he’s always Tom Cruise. Even under 70 pounds of latex and acrylic hair, he’s still Tom Cruise, and you can tell that. I thought his performance was a caricature that was so cliche that it was annoying.
Another thing that kind of bothered me was the signature Dream Works use of music. I don’t know if it’s a Geffen requirement, but have you ever noticed that 90% of Dream Works films have a song in them that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie? It usually comes at the end, and one or more of the characters will dance to it like it’s supposed to be cute or funny, but in reality, it’s just a tie-in to sell the soundtrack. I hate that.
Another Movie Review
The best movie I have seen lately is one I happened to catch on cable. I’m not huge on sci-fi, but I really enjoyed Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. It’s about this crew that tries to reignite the dying sun, which sounds a little like you’ve seen it before, but you haven’t. Kind of a cross between Alien and 2001, it was visually stunning and had us on the edge of the sofa for much of the last forty minutes. No big name stars, unless you count Cillian Murphy, who was in 28 Days Later, and he also played The Scarecrow in Batman Begins. His performance was subtle, quiet, and quite brilliant. I have found myself haunted by the film for a week now. I just keep thinking, man, that was a good movie. And I don’t think that about movies often. Highly recommend.
And a Mystery
Last night Manfrengensen went to make himself some tea in his Mr. Tea Ice Tea Maker. He does this often, so we usually keep a spare pitcher handy in the back corner of the kitchen counter for him to collect water to pour into it. It’s opaque, made by Rubbermaid. So, last night, he had the pitcher in hand, and he asked me, “What’s this? Is this a joke?” I had no idea what he was talking about. He tipped the pitcher toward me and asked, “What’s this supposed to be? A bat?” So then, I was really confused. “A bat?” I asked. What the hell was he talking about? He said, “There’s a bat, or at least, I think it’s a bat, in this pitcher.” He continued to think I was trying to pull something over on him. We took the pitcher outside and poured its contents onto the patio where it landed with a hard, inanimate smack. It was, as it turned out, a dead bat.
How did a bat get into the house? And even more curious — how did it get into the kitchen, under the cabinets and down into the pitcher? How did it die? How long had it been there? Totally weird. And I think, a mystery that will remain unsolved.
p.s. – Clooney asked, “A bat? Is it an acrobat? Because, they can do tricks.”