Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Break: Day 2 - Palmdale

We don't go very far for spring break. Nothing as extensive as back to Orlando for Walt Disney World, or to New York City, or any other locales in the east. I only want to visit every presidential library in the nation, and I'll get to that some day. I still have a lot of time and a lot of life left.

I've got no complaints about little travel. Where we go is usually interesting enough. Monday was Ventura, and it was nice to sit on that bench again, but this time not tired out from Galaga, and just with a book in hand, waiting for Mom and Meridith to get what they wanted from that trinket shop, and reading.

The plan for Friday is Simi Valley, because of Famous Dave's BBQ. My dad wants to go there again. Plus, it also benefits me, because I can see "Arthur", most likely at the Regal Simi Valley Civic Center Stadium 16 & IMAX. That's the first of many movies coming up that I want to see. Later this month, because of stupid Netflix's deal with Universal in having "new releases" a month after they've been released, I'm renting "Somewhere" from Amazon. I didn't want to have to watch it on this computer, but I didn't have a choice. I've waited so long to see it already, about a year, and was ticked when it didn't come to either theater in the Santa Clarita Valley. So I've waited. And I'm not waiting anymore.

May brings the fourth "Pirates" movie, and July has "Larry Crowne," starring, directed, and co-written by Tom Hanks (with Nia Vardalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), which looks like a genial comedy, with an impressive cast, including Julia Roberts who has easily thrown herself into this one with happy abandon. Who wouldn't with Tom Hanks involved?

Yesterday, we went to Palmdale. It's not quite where shopping centers go to die, since the Wal-Mart is always well-populated, and Buffalo Wild Wings was crowded last night because of 45-cent wings, but it is godforsaken territory. Las Vegas knows how to use the desert to its many advantages. Palmdale has more desert than anything else, because who the hell would want to do anything else here but eat at Sonic and shop at Wal-Mart? Yeah, it's not exactly well-loved, because there's not a whole lot to love. There's no serenity around, no moment of peace to be had in some empty field near the train tracks. It's almost like it's bothered by you being there and how about leaving sooner than later so it can finally have some goddamn peace? My former editor and friend John Boston always took every opportunity to make fun of Palmdale in his columns and he might be right. There is nothing, nothing, nothing. No reason to be there longer than you have to, no one around to defend it because there's nothing to defend, and those who might make Palmdale their home, well, they're hardier than I am. They see something there that I never will.

But now, our reasons for being there. Sonic was the main objective, since Meridith loves it and would easily order everything off the menu. I stood by a chicken wrap, a small order of chili cheese fries, and a bottled water, and later, a banana malt. They finally had bananas this time. They didn't the last time, and Meridith said that all they had to do was go across the street to Wal-Mart and get a few dozen, since Wal-Mart is right there.

We didn't go to Wal-Mart this time. No reason to go, and I thought about seeing what books they had there, but lately, Wal-Mart stocks crap. Not that I'd want to buy any there, since I already buy enough books elsewhere, but I live for those moments when a book sparks something in me. I didn't get that feeling later in the day at Tuesday Morning, where the only book that looked marginally interesting was a thick companion book to the PBS documentary, "Make 'Em Laugh." I didn't buy it. No spark.

We also went to Petco and PetSmart. Mom's still curious, still wondering if there's another bird for us. We looked at the birds at both places and at PetSmart, there was one finch that looks just like our Mr. Chips that took the end of a huge stick of millet and tried to drag it to its nest at the top of the cage. It was fun to watch, but our Mr. Chips is the equivalent of three finches. He hops around, he tweets, he gets pissed at his rings whenever he doesn't easily hop through them, and he snaps at them. He always watches TV. What other bird could we want when we already have Mr. Chips?

Still, Mom keeps looking, keeps considering. Three again, or is two good enough? I'm not concerned by the outcome. My stock in trade is in books and what comes out of those through my own writings. The birds are just one part of my life, and cleaning two cages, three, vacuuming, I've done it before. No problem there.

I'm not sure what today will bring, if we're going back to Palmdale so Mom can see that bird again, or if we're just going to bum around Santa Clarita on various errands. I don't mind. The mail came very early today (10:14 a.m. is incredibly early when it usually comes around late 2 to early 3 p.m.), and a slew of books arrived.

From Amazon: "Please Look After Mom" by Kyung-Sook Shin, and "Bossypants" by Tina Fey.

From Daedalus Books, one of my favorite discount book websites: "At Fault" by Kate Chopin, "The Invention of Everything Else" by Samantha Hunt, "Windy City" by Scott Simon, and "Schulz and Peanuts" by David Michaelis, in thick paperback.

Also from Amazon is "With Honors", which I like. I've always liked Joe Pesci, and someone living in a library has always appealed to me. Plus the dialogue is a lot of fun to listen to. You can see Patrick Dempsey be brilliant, before he became so self-conscious.

I'm still reading "Ask the Pilot" by Patrick Smith, and I pulled "The Poorhouse Fair" by John Updike out of my library bag. I bought Updike's "Memories of the Ford Administration" a few weeks ago and it fascinated me how it was published in 1992, and everyone was thinking about the election, and Bill Clinton, and here was Updike, thinking about the Ford Administration. That's my kind of author, but I want to see if that extends through his work. His powers of description are remarkable.

But even so, here's "Bossypants." I read excerpts in The New Yorker and I loved it. It's probably time to love it even more.

Even if we don't do anything really fun until Friday, well, that's fun of a different sort. I'm good until Friday with all these books, and then I'm itching to see "Arthur." I can't wait for that.