Monday, November 19, 2007

Random movies, parking tickets and fish robots

I have two things hanging over my head right now that are standing between me and getting drunk, overeating and taking a load off for Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. One is my 3,000-word project, which is going...OK. As Chris will attest, I'm fond of slamming football announcers for the use of the word "momentum" in a metaphysical manner. But the psychological inertia they're talking about is real, and it's stepped back into my life in a big fashion now that I'm writing again. Writing is hard in the first place, even if you sit down at the computer to talk about your day. But trying to slim down and especially structure a mound of information into something interesting to read -- or perhaps even, dare I say it, good -- is damn hard. When it goes well I'm sky high and when it doesn't I fell like I want to die. I'm not working on it right now, or thinking about its structure, so I feel fine.

But I did manage to enjoy myself a little, at no effort of my own. I was going to our graduate lounge to piddle some more when Lissa asked me if I wanted to go with her and her girlfriend to Gone Baby Gone. I almost didn't go, and that's the moment I realized that MIT is starting to get to me. I have an internal clock -- not for my own procreation, but rather I know I can only spend so much time away from work and still turn in something half-decent. In the past, I'd never stop and think about whether it was a good idea or not to go out with friends on a Friday. I'd just check to see if I had any money.

So that was nice. The movie was great -- much more than I was expecting from a film featuring two Afflecks. Plus Lissa and her friends recognized a lot of shots -- there's a point toward the end where they visit a bar called "Murphy's Law," where she's gotten drunk numerous time. Apparently, though, the filmmakers decided to cover up the Vietnamese signs in Dorchester with English ones -- Americans can't handle pluralism if it isn't absolutely central to the plot, like in Crash.

I went back to Ashdown to watch part of the Celtics game, just long enough to write a few paragraphs I needed for some other random assignment. I've never liked the NBA much, at least not since middle school. Basketball doesn't really appeal to me. I've tried to like college, and went to a couple Husker games, which was actually quite cool. But these days I just can't get around how badly they play, especially now that the best players stay in college for one arbitrary year. The talent difference to the NBA was just shocking, and I'm finally really noticing it now that I live in a city with a team and watch them occasionally. And I've blogged before about baseball and soccer, and how the success of pro sports is about a lot more than the game on the field. But stripped down, NBA basketball is pretty impressive. Watching Kevin Garnett the other night I had a reaction I hadn't had in while, one of purely being impressed with an individual athletic effort. He was just so much better than everyone else on the court, it was silly.

Thankfully, Grace pulled me away from that and down the Thirsty, the pub in our basement, where we, she and I and her friends, were the only table. So we poured back pitchers of Sam Winter Lager, and it was good.

The next day it was my task to drive the brunch committee for groceries, which was kind of cool. It was my first Zipcar trip, and my first time driving in Boston. It's a lot less intimidating that I thought, mostly because my passenger was telling me exactly where to go. If I'd had to navigate and drive simultaneously, it could've been disaster. It was good right up the last point: there are no actual public parking places at the Ashdown loading dock, so I just backed up to the door, as all we needed was to unload the groceries. Of course, in the five minutes we're inside we get a ticket for being in a handicapped spot. What am I supposed to do? Grumble grumble grumble....

Now tomorrow I just need to get a person or two to talk to me about fish robots. Then I can write a feature about fish robots, and relax. If I can't, I'll still write the feature, and relax, I'll just get yelled at after break for how it's incomplete and has all these holes in it. "Look, I tried, it's just that everybody who knows about fish robots is out of town! Take it up with them!"

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