- Never wake a man when he is having his A-Team dream. I had my face man, I had some muscle. I had just souped up the van and got it all ready when boom! my brilliant plan was out the window because I had to get up and make breakfast for the baby.
- Don't order a plain cake donut at the donut shop. It's like going all the way to Vegas to play some chess.
We're crossing the parking lot and up ahead, two gentlemen in their 70s or 80s are approaching the ticket window. We slow down, half out of respect, half because it means less Army and Sprite commercials to watch inside.
It's our third movie in a movie theater that we've seen in 14 months. Fiona is wonderful and life-changing, but I do miss seeing movies. We have very few opportunities to see a film when someone is watching her.
My first thought is what on earth are they doing at a movie theater at 11:30 AM in July? It's nothing but blockbusters, superheroes, and comedies this time of year. These men look distinguished, almost certainly war veterans. The Greatest Generation. World War Two movies ended months ago.
We're seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 2 only because the first one was so brilliant and light and enjoyable. When you see one new movie every six months, it's tough to pick exactly which one. Superman was out because it started later and overlapped with some meetings. I haven't heard rave reviews for anything else. I haven't even heard of half the movies.
The men seem upbeat. As they're taking the curb, one pauses for the other as he carefully places his cane and ascends the step. We've still got 15 minutes so we trail behind, watching.
I heard the average price to make a movie in Hollywood is now $96 million. I remember the uproar a decade or so ago when Waterworld was the first film to crest $100 million. Spiderman 3 is supposed to run $300 million. A third of a billion dollars? For a movie? And a sequel no less?
They're at the ticket window. They're joking around with the teen girl behind the glass. At 11:30 AM on a weekday, the cost of matinee tickets and senior tickets is identical, but I overhear one insisting on buying a matinee, not senior ticket. The other laughs.
I have a feeling Pirates isn't going to be quite as good. The first one only worked because I had no expectations. I loved Oceans 11 for the same reason and it had the same wonderfully fun upbeat style I could rewatch a thousand times but its own sequel was crap. It tried too hard to duplicate the first. It was desperate. Maybe lightning can strike twice here with Pirates, but I doubt it.
We're right behind the guys at the window and it's taking a while. I'm scanning the choices, trying to figure out their purchase. Devil Wears Prada is probably the most serious or dignified choice and it's still a comedy. Perhaps they're Superman fans from reading comics during the Depression? Maybe they're former executives from an automobile company ready to enjoy Cars? I'm leaning towards them, straining to hear what their choice will be.
I remember our first summer in Oregon, three years ago, when we didn't have air conditioning in our rental apartment. When the thermometer passed 100, we'd be here, watching 2 hours of fluff but enjoying the relief. Maybe that's what these guys are here for, but all the nearby retirement communities seem to be modern enough to be comfortable in the summer.
The joking has subsided. They've got their money out and they're ready to pay. After tailing them for several minutes, I'm dying to hear what brought them out on such a hot day at such an odd hour during this weird time of year for film.
"Two for Little Man."
Ever since Floyd Landis won the Tour de France yesterday, I've been happy to see all the mentions of his current hometown of Murrieta, California in the press. During my senior year of high school in Orange County, CA, my parents bought a house in Murrieta and moved there back when there wasn't a single traffic signal for miles. I eventually moved in and joined them for my first few years of college, spending most of my time working 2 jobs trying to pay for tuition.
It was an hour from everything, which made it the center of nothing. No one had ever heard of it. I had this set of rules in my head for answering the question of where I lived:
Where do you live?
- if the asker was from outside of California and beyond, I'd say "near San Diego" which usually did the trick. Even vacationing Germans have heard of San Diego.
- if the asker was from California, I'd say "near Riverside" since it was a major Inland Empire city that was about 25 miles north and was slightly more precise.
- if the asker was from Southern California, I'd say "Temecula" since that was the next town over and featured a big wine growing industry that people were familiar with and probably went tasting at.
- if the asker was from Riverside County, I'd say "Murrieta, near Temecula" and most would require further explanation and I'd have to say "Murrieta Hot Springs" which was an ancient resort there.
It gives me a little thrill every time I hear "Murrieta" on TV or in a major news story since it's clear from my experiences that no one aside from nearby residents has ever heard of it. The funny thing is I currently live about an hour from Portland, an hour from the Pacific Ocean, in a small suburb town no one has ever heard of and I have to go through the same process to answer the question.
The other day I mentioned something that got a lot of feedback over email, the gist of which can be boiled down to:
- It's a Shell executive saying biofuels are bad because they want to sell more fossil fuels
- We already make enough food to feed the world, it's a distribution problem getting food to everyone
and yeah, I understand those points, but I was thinking 50 years out when most fuel we use isn't fossil fuels, but biofuels and how we might have to make tough choices at that point. But then I realized we make those tough choices already, today.
Speaking of biofuels, I'd heard that super VC Vinod Khosla's Google talk "Biofuels: think outside the barrel" on ethanol was worth watching and will convert anyone into a backer of ethanol. I've always heard corn-based ethanol took too much fossil fuel to produce (in the form of fertilizer and pest control) and was so energy intensive that the benefits were small.
I listened to Vinod's entire talk today while taking a long drive and I have to say he makes some compelling arguments. Vinod describes how even with corn-based ethanol, we can make some improvements in terms of lower cost gas, less pollution, and less use of crude oil. If we move to prairie grasses we can make some serious improvements to all those plus help restore the Midwestern US to more native plants while at the same time getting good animal feed as a by-product. After seeing this, I would love to see E85 pumps gain some traction and flex-fuel cars become the norm. It's win-win-win, but the oil companies seem to stand in the way.
Don't take my word for it, I encourage you to watch it yourself. I'll drop the Google Video code here, but you can also check out the page on it where you can download versions to play on your iPod or desktop.
I've long been a fan of alternate fuels and doing something to challenge car manufacturers to think of new ways to transport us without having to use oil, but this recent story on Treehugger kind of threw me for a loop:
Royal Dutch Shell, the world's top marketer of biofuels, considers using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate" as long as there are people in the world who are starving, an executive said Thursday.
I'm not the biggest fan of ethanol but that and many alternate fuels are certainly based on crops that would otherwise be in the food chain. I've never thought about the point the executive brings up and it's certainly a good one. In a post fossil fuel world, we'll be making a lot of hard choices about how to balance keeping everyone fed and keeping everyone moving.