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hipstamirror

monthly dispatch: xmas to o'leven

DFW

DECEMBER was relatively uneventful. It had the usual office holiday party, in all of its afternoon potluck arts and crafts glory and white elephant. I can't remember when I became the host of that game show, but it's a duty that will probably follow me to the grave.

It was also a Narnia-heavy month. After one brunch we went into the big city to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was impossible for the film to live up to the book, but my affection for it carried it into being pretty enjoyable. I think that it was actually better that I didn't remember the plot. Otherwise, I'm sure that the added action & adventure melodrama might have been too annoying.

The next week, we filled a table at the Can-Can to hear Seattle singer-songwriter types singing original mostly charming songs inspired by the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My biggest disappointment was that the bar didn't stock any actual Turkish Delight (the subject of many a song), instead serving cheap beer with a shot of cheap whiskey in its place. Vaguely appropriate, given its role in the book, but less satisfying than the gummy confection. It was also interesting how so many of the songs focused on Edmund, though in retrospect it makes sense. He's really the only character that substantially develops during that book. At the end of the show, Santa appeared on stage to receive guests on his lap.

It wasn't the first Santa sighting of the month. Earlier in that weekend, he arrived in the middle of a performance by surf rock carolers Dancer and Prancer at Arabica. The small cafe was packed wall to wall; people passing by looked confused at the sight of so many people reveling to instrumental rock versions of traditional holiday music.

Somehow the midwest escaped the vicious, travel-snarling blizzards that crippled air travel on some coasts and my trip to Michigan was without incident. We did the usual things -- visiting the mall, having americanized chinese lunch, seeing a movie (the Fighter, prompting my sister and I to speculate on which of us corresponded to which boxing brother), walking around downtown in the candy cane lined park on xmas eve (where we saw some kids either assembling in a failed flash mob around the manger or playing an ill conceived prank). In a probably overdue change, xmas day festivities migrated to a new, roomier location that found everyone taking a turn at virtual hula hooping at the end of the night. Before returning to Seattle, we had a minor Table 15 gathering. Due to various sickly children, we relocated at the last minute to a restaurant in the tiny town of my high school, which was funny. I'm not sure when I'd been there last.

New Year's Eve was approximately quiet. It started with a late birthday brunch and concluded with a couple of parties at apartments ("house parties" seems to imply too much wildness given the tone of the actual events). After drinking champagne and listening to music we bundled ourselves for the roof deck and watched the space needle explode, on schedule. Then we returned and gathered around the DVD player to watch *HOUSE*, a Japanese movie that we decided was in the Psychedelic Candyland Horror genre. It was bizarre and hilarious. Because we'd started watching it much later in the evening than planned, I was ready to call it a year by the time it was over.

Aside from that, my main lesson of the evening was that drinking champagne in itself does not necessarily result in violent illness or crippling hangovers, given that it's of high enough quality and that I manage not to switch to other spirits over the course of the evening.

Day One of o'leven started like the last day of oh-ten. Brunch, this time at Del Rey. When that bar had to close early due to staff defections, we migrated to the upstairs clubhouse at Belltown Pub and spend the better part of the afternoon lounging, playing shuffleboard and cards, eating brussels sprouts, and other lazy day activites. Eventually we migrated to a big booth at the back of the Crocodile's recently-reclaimed back bar for pizzas.

There was also a reading party at the Sorrento. I'd wanted to go there forever; so that provided a good excuse to take another stab at the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and have a giant Manhattan. The book is getting better, but seems impossibly long, especially in electro-form. The party maintained its studious silence for the first hour, but by the hour and a half mark any semblance of staying quiet was abandoned. We followed up by visiting the new Vito's. It looks almost the same as the old Vito's (of my memory, at least), aside from this version being occupied more with artists and writers instead of an old pimp, his prostitutes, and Dave Matthews. I think that we should spend more time over there. It's pretty great.

Yesterday, I rented a Zipcar and spent the afternoon wandering through IKEAand amusing myself by watching all of the people trying to imagine their lives with different furniture. My main purpose there was to buy more lighting for my constantly dark office (happily, all of the fluorescents died long ago), but ended up buying many additional items. When the zombie apocalypse arrives, my closets will be well stocked with various odd-sized framing options.

Recent entertainments have included seeing True Grit (a Coen Brothers movie that I was surprised to both admire for its craftsmanship and still find emotionally engaging) and Somewhere (which I loved pretty much without reservation). I don't have to try too hard to imagine why some people wouldn't like it: it's essentially a film whose plot fits into a two minute trailer, yet its so well done that the two hour meditation is a really affecting pleasure to watch. As far as I'm concerned, Sofia Coppola can keep making movies about sad people in hotels for as long as she wants.

Of late, we've been spending a lot of time entertaining ourselves by zealously and collaboratively editing trip planning agendas Google Docs, most immediately for another return to the magical Orcas island at the end of the month.

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