Inspired by the many helpful suggestions, I declared to Lisa (danea) and Rick (ellric) that I wanted to have sushi for dinner before seeing Cloverfield. And although they had just had sushi last night, they were more than happy to have it again. That is the power of sushi!
We went to Coach Sushi, where they were regulars. Rick surprised them by saying we were eating there, since they normally got take-out every Thursday.
The menu was full of helpful pictures, and Rick and Lisa guided me through the choices. I settled on a Hamachi Roll (yellowtail with green onion) and a Rock'N Roll (eel with avocado, inside-out) because rachelmanija had recommended yellowtail and eel (though I now see she said "sea eel," and I don't know whether that's different), I had to eat some Unagi in honor of Kyoshi Island, and how could I resist something called Rock'N Roll? Lisa was a fan of the Philadelphia Roll (
We ate some edamame as an appetizer while they looked for Lisa's sake box. They couldn't find it, so she got a new wooden box to drink sake out of. Also, Coach shook my hand.
First to come out were the regular sushi rolls. Rick showed me how to fill my dipping station with soy sauce, and I also grabbed some wasabi for my plate. I should note, since I wasn't clear before, that I have had vegetarian sushi before, so I am not completely unfamiliar with it. And vegetarian sushi is quite tasty. But this would be my first real sushi.
I picked up a piece of the yellowtail. I could see the little bit of fish inside. It certainly looked raw enough. I dipped it lightly in the soy sauce. I wasn't certain about the protocol, but Lisa confirmed that, yes, I just put the whole thing in my mouth.
So I did.
I began chewing. Rick and Lisa watched me, observing Sunil's First Sushi, and I couldn't help laughing mid-chew. It didn't help that I was making all kinds of funny faces as I was trying to suss out the raw fish in my mouth and isolate the texture and taste. The whole conglomeration rolled around in my mouth, and everything was sort of buried in the mush of rice, the true salient ingredient of sushi.
I swallowed. I had done it!
Rick had tried one of the eel rolls and liked it, to his surprise. After trying a bit of the yellowtail with some wasabi, I tackled the eel, which had much more flavor to it! There was of course the avocado, but the eel was cooked in some tasty sauce (Rick said it was BBQ-like). It took a little more chewing, and I wasn't sure at the end whether the last bit of toughness was the seaweed or the eel, but I tried not to think about it too much. Since the Caterpillar Roll was also avocado and eel, Rick encouraged me to try it, and I liked it as well.
Lisa had thought I'd like the Dynamaite Roll because the three fish were cut up into little tiny pieces so they were almost a paste. That one was very good, texture-wise and sauce-wise. The Philadelphia Roll was too overpowered with the cream cheese to really decipher the taste of salmon. And the Dancing Bonito was predictably good, as fried things so often are.
I returned to my yellowtail, saving the eel for last because I knew I liked it. I focused on the eating, at one point definitely realizing I was tearing at raw fish but still having no sense of what it tasted like. I wasn't sure why Rachel had recommended it to me. I think it would be good for a first-time eater of sushi, period, to acclimate him to the texture and taste, but it wasn't that different an experience from eating the vegetarian sushi. The eel, on the other hand, had the special sauce they don't bother to put on the cucumber rolls!
My first sushi experience was definitely favorable, but I don't know that I will ever become an addict because, just on principle, I hate paying so much money for so little food and still feeling hungry afterward! Rick and Lisa were happy to pay for my sushi indoctrination, however, so that was nice.
Besides, we had saved room for gelato! At Gelato Firenze, Lisa made me sample rice (which tasted like vanilla with bits of rice) and pumpkin pie (which tasted like...pumpkin pie!). I ordered a hazelnut/pistachio/chocolate mix, but the lady misheard and at first only put in pistachio and chocolate and then, when I thought I'd corrected her, took out the pistachio and replaced it with hazelnut rather than letting me have the triple-flavored gelato I so desired. Ah well. The chocolate was rich and fabulous. All the milk and cream helped fill my remaining hunger.
"And after all this, there's still a movie!" I exclaimed. It was a very good Friday night so far.
And it did not stop being good when we entered the Grand Lake Theatre and took our seats to the sounds of a man playing an organ. The one negative was that there was zero decline, and I sat behind someone with a big head that took a semicircular hole out of the screen for me.
After months and months of anticipation, it was time for Cloverfield!! Which was totally sweet. I thought it was very successful at being The Blair Godzilla Project, and its flaws are just part of the genre (thinly drawn characters whose actions sometimes leave you with a bit of the ol' WTF).
It does a great job of capturing the experience of what it might be like if a giant monster randomly started destroying New York. The way our civilian heroes don't know what the hell is going on (in a normal disaster movie, you'd be getting the military perspective too, but the style of the film forces a certain POV that works to restrict the audience's knowledge believably). The way you only see glimpses and parts of the monster for most of the movie (I've seen some criticism of the monster design when you finally see it, and while it may be a little odd, that's not the point: the movie is not about the monster; it's about our civilian heroes). The way most of the movie is spent running and hiding because they're not the ones fighting the damn thing; they're just trying to survive.
Props to Drew Goddard, though, for getting in some truly hilarious moments generally courtesy of Hud, the man behind the camera (who, of course, requires the most suspension of disbelief because OH MY GOD PUT DOWN THE FUCKING CAMERA).
The special effects are pretty fucking fabulous, too, and all the more impressive given the filming style. There's one attack scene where the camera is going every which way, and I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to properly track the effects in the scene so that however erratic the camera movement was, it still looked like it was filming something real; that is, the computer effects had a mapped placement in the real environment. I did notice some animatronics in the credits, so that would have helped. I described this scene as "fucking psychotic," and I wouldn't dream of spoiling anything about it for you.
The movie is extremely effective at drawing you in, as was clear from the audience reactions. There were gasps and shrieks and all that good stuff. I found myself reacting to things on screen, moving around in my seat. When the movie ended, there were some boos, but that just means they wanted more, right? I wanted more myself, but I also didn't care because what we had gotten was so effective at what it was doing. From the moment the monster attacks, you're in a state of constant tension. The movie actually clocks in at a mere 74 minutes, but I honestly did not notice: it felt long enough due to the extreme pacing.
When the credits for The Blair Witch Project rolled, I noticed that my right hand had gone numb because I had been gripping my wrist so tightly during the final sequence. When the credits for Cloverfield rolled, I realized I was still gripping my thigh and leaning back, tense. That doesn't sound as extreme, but that's because all the intensity of Blair Witch is packed into the last ten minutes. Imagine that lasting an hour, and you have Cloverfield.