I was stolen away for a family vacation, and while I don't plan on writing extensively about it, let's see if I can get away with an abridged version.
Friday: I flew from California to Texas, where it was about thirty degrees hotter. At night. As is traditional with family visits, I stayed up late playing video games with my brother (and by "with," I mean he watched me).
Saturday: I had breakfast with Ravi & Laura at the Allgood Cafe in Deep Ellum. Afterwards, we went to the mall and saw XF2 and had gelato that wasn't as good as the gelato I get here. Again, I played a lot of video games.
Sunday: We drove to Jackson, Mississippi, where my uncle lives. He has an awesome home theatre and a terabyte hard drive filled with downloaded movies. I successfully avoided ever answering my aunt's "mom question" of "What do you eat?" since the conversation kept branching out in digressions. When she eventually realized I had never answered the question, I said, "Yeah, isn't that cool?" Or something like that. The endpoint of the question, of course, was that if I wasn't eating right, I needed a wife to make me food. My aunt took me aside and told me that my mom had sort of freaked out when she learned about my Santa Cruz trip from my other aunt; my mom herself had told me at home that I should take it slow or whatever, but she hadn't seemed as upset as my aunt implied.
Monday: We went to the mall and did a lot of shopping. As is apparently tradition, we bought shoes (I got some really nice dress shoes for eight bucks). That night, we played a couple rounds of Apples to Apples, which was fun, although my mom took the game a little too seriously. I think my brother won the first game, and I won the second game.
Tuesday: We drove to Pensacola, Florida. This led to my brother and I continually saying, "Are you from Americola?" That's a Star Tropics reference, by the way. Our relationship relies heavily on video games.
Wednesday: I can barely remember a thing about Pensacola. I know we visited the beach, and it was nice, and I wrote "BAD WOLF" in the sand. Then we drove to Crestview. Unless we did that the next day. In any case, there was a lot of Social Visiting, which is all Indians do on vacation, really. Go and sit at your dad's dad's cousin's husband's sister's son's house or whatever. You think I'm exaggerating, but not so much. Extended family for Indians is...very extended, and hospitality is encouraged and a mark of pride. Except social visiting is really only for the parents, as the kids rarely even know who the people are, and they're just sort of there to be shown off. The parents field any questions about them. They should just sit there quietly and not be dressed like hooligans (A T-shirt?! With a DESIGN on it?!). I wondered whether and how I would put my kids through this.
Thursday: My brother and I went swimming in the hotel pool for a few minutes to please my dad, who had been irritated that we hadn't gone swimming the night before. Of course, there were no witnesses, so he didn't even believe us at first. Later, my siblings and I went on an adventure, "taking a walk" to Whataburger for lunch and then Arby's for curly fries. To my surprise, my dad saw through our ruse but wasn't really mad. We drove up to Destin to shop at the outlet mall. At Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, I had a frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate—the very last one, at that! My dad surprised me again by totally letting us have chicken on Thursday (my mom forbid us from eating meat on Thursday because it was the day of Dattatreya or...something; it was really arbitrary and I stopped adhering to it way back in college when it proved too much of an annoying inconvenience). We checked out the beach, which had beautiful, fine white sand. And little jellyfish. It was getting late, though, so we planned to come back the next day. On the way back, we did some more social visiting, this place being notable for the following anecdote: A laptop was displaying a slideshow of pictures from Costa Rica. There began what looked to be a series of pictures from a zoo, and the photographer was taking lots of pictures of birds. So my little sister and I were all, "The next one's a bird." And the next one was a bird. I would say, "The next one's not a bird," and, aha! it was of some people. Or my sister would point out a bird in the background. The next one's a bird. The next one's a bird. Then there were, like, three or four pictures of monkeys in a row. We finally caught on: "The next one's not a bird," said my sister. "The next one's a monkey," I said, one-upping her. The next one...WAS A BIRD.
Friday: For lunch, one of our relatives took us into Niceville (Isn't that a great name? It's like Happytown!), where we ate at the French Quarter Grill. My brother and I had incredibly good blackened chicken po' boys. The chicken was so well seasoned and tender. My little sister had some incredibly good bread rolls; we learned that the incredible goodness was because they were fried. We would drool over the fried bread for the rest of the trip. Back in Destin, we hit up the outlet mall again for more bargains, and then we hit the beach, where I punched the Gulf of Mexico in the face. Dirty bitch kept knocking me down!
Saturday: Social Visiting Extravaganza! We visited something like five or six different places on the way to Bremen, Georgia, hitting most of them in the Montgomery, Alabama area. They fed us a little too well, making dinner irrelevant. At one random place, the guy asked my mom for my Information—height, weight, education, etc.—so he could keep an eye out for a good girl for me. As if he knew anything at all about me. At least I had changed out of my hooligan shirt! I looked like a respectable member of society rather than a guy who listens to bands that don't even exist yet.
Sunday: To the Atlanta airport! Lots of shenanigans with my flight, but, hey, it wouldn't be a family vacation without that last conversation with my dad. This time, he told me that I needed to buy a new car, look for jobs in Texas, and find someone to marry before next Christmas, or it was off to the wife factory with me.
If my vacation doesn't sound all that vacation-y, that's because...it wasn't. But I got to spend a lot of time with my brother and sister, and that's what really mattered.
Wait, that's not what mattered! What mattered was all the new media I consumed. Because that's what you all care about.
Soul Calibur 4: My brother and I played a little bit of this because it was in the Xbox. It was, you know, a fighting game. Playing as Yoda was pretty fun.
Condemned: Criminal Origins: This was the game I played for hours and hours until I beat the damn thing. It's a first-person shooter that places a heavy emphasis on melee combat, so instead of running around with a rocket launcher, you're beating the shit out of people with axes and pipes and paper cutters and shit. And when I say people, of course I mean zombies. Basically. It's a creepy motherfucker of a game, especially because it's rare that enemies just jump out and surprise you. Instead, you see or hear a glimpse of them before they hide, so you know they're there, just waiting. There's also a lot of bullshit forensics that's kind of fun. Your character is a police officer voiced by Greg Grunberg, so it's like you're playing as Matt Parkman!
Grand Theft Auto IV: I played around on my brother's post-endgame save just to see what it was like, and he got me some codes so I could have even more fun. I liked blowing shit up. This one time, I blew a helicopter in half, you guys.
N/N+: Why had I not heard of this game before? It's so fun! You're a little ninja bouncing around solving puzzles! It's a nice, old-school game.
Pandemic/Pandemic 2: Paging cadhla! Paging cadhla! In this game, you get to play as a virus whose goal it is to EXTERMINATE HUMANITY. In the sequel, you can play as bacteria or parasite as well. You get "evolution points" as you infect more people, and it's so much fun to watch your infection spread across the world. You want to increase your infectivity while at the same time decreasing your visibility so countries don't shut down their borders and airports, keeping you from spreading. Once you have a worldwide presence, you can turn up your lethality and start watching the human population go down. Oh man. So simple, yet so fun!
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: We caught some of this one night. It was not very good. Also, for fuck's sake, just because it's a show about teen pregnancy does not mean it deserves to be compared with Juno. "7th Heaven meets Juno" would be Juno making fun of the Camdens.
The Food Network: My siblings are apparently big Food Network aficionados, so I watched a shitload of Food Network over the week. We watched The Next Food Network Star or whatever, and the person my sister didn't want to win won. Rachael Ray is cute but has a scratchy, irritating voice, and her abbreviations are cloying. But in her travel episode to Santa Fe, she totally showed the hotel and spa my company off-site was at! Robin Miller is attractive (redhead!) but has no personality. Food Detectives is like Mythbusters with food. What I want to Ask Aida is "Why are you so pretty?" Those Neelys sure are...down home. Bobby Flay always loses. Jim O'Connor on The Secret Life of... loves Threadless, and in the take-out episode, he wore both a shirt my brother had just worn and one I had just worn.
Project Runway: I had never actually seen any of this show, but I caught some substantial portions of episodes, and other than Heidi Klum's incessant repetition that one of you will be in and one of you will be out or whatever, it wasn't bad! I liked that it was really about fashion and why people designed what they did and how they worked with various materials and all that business. It wasn't all that backstabby cattiness you see in most reality shows. Or maybe I just didn't see enough; I mean, it is a competition, so I'm sure there's some of that as well.
Hannah Montana: Seriously, the premise of this show is that no one recognizes Hannah Montana because HER HAIR IS A DIFFERENT COLOR? The episode I saw had a monkey in a locker. And your typical Disney overacting. I enjoy a handful of Disney shows, but this one didn't seem to stand out very much. To be fair, I didn't see a lot of the adventures of Hannah Montana, just Miley (how creative!) in high school with a secret teddy bear.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe: Fight the Future had explosions and bees and excitement. This movie was lacking in all three. And various other things.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: So great!! Oh man. Someone described this as "noir screwball comedy," and that's an apt description. It's got a twisty mystery, a believable romance, offbeat hilarity, and a sprinkling of metahumor. Totally worth checking out.
Lucky Number Slevin: I thought it'd make a good double feature with the above. It was...okay. It think it's very clever, and it kind of is, but it's so...empty. It takes half an hour at the end to explain itself in a somewhat self-congratulatory fashion, but you don't really see what the point of it all was. Except to have Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley be in the same movie.
Timeline: Fun time-travel nonsense! And all throughout, I was wondering why that cute French chick looked so familiar, and then at the end, I learned it was Anna Friel. Duh!
There Will Be Blood: It was less boring than I expected, but it was still kind of slow, albeit intriguing to watch. The final scene, of course, was awesome. And I was amused by Jonny Greenwood's score, which seemed less like a musical score and more like a bystander commenting on the movie, getting all het up and excited at the appropriate points. But I liked No Country for Old Men more.
Doom: I was on a plane, you guys. And it was there, on TBS. And Rosamund Pike was pretty. The movie itself was pretty much a pointless, clichéd mess, but the part where the movie turns into a live-action FPS simulation is kind of hilarious. You even get a chainsaw!! But, seriously, what's the point of making a Doom movie if you turn it from being about demons from Hell to being about SCIENCE GONE AWRY OMG.