Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 3, Part 1 of a Four-Week Pleasure Cruise

The Burbank Town Center Mall and its outlying areas, including IKEA and Barnes & Noble, are built for a maximum shopping experience and nothing more than that. There is no sense of community to be found there because people from all over visit, including Mom, Meridith and I last Sunday while Dad talked with the CEO and one of the other influential bigwigs from K12, which is all about online education. He arranged to pick them up from Burbank Airport after they dropped off their rental car, hours before their flight out, and take them to see Universal CityWalk, then drive them back to the airport for their flight. Dad had to meet them at 3, so we had plenty of time beforehand and therefore left the house at 11, on our way to Fry's in Burbank, where I constantly hope to meet Bill Prady, the co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, after learning months ago from his Twitter account that he shops at this Fry's.

Mom and Meridith wanted to look at waffle makers, and it was finally time for me to get a DVD binder. I'd researched a few online, and seen what Target offered in Case Logic binders, which I didn't buy because I don't like the stitching. It looks like it could come loose within a few months of heavy use. (I later learned from an acquaintance on Facebook who knows his DVD binders that he has a Case Logic binder. Still doesn't convince me.)

A visit to Fry's means a look at DVDs I can't find in Best Buy, what they won't sell because residents in my area aren't that willing to explore. I love that I can find The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Peter Facinelli (which I own), as well as The Pajama Game (which I also own). Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are also there (I've got them too). I also spotted The X-Files: I Want to Believe, but not DVD sets of the TV series, which makes me wonder where Fry's priorities are, because that movie was garbage, and we finally deserve an epic alien conspiracy chapter in movie form. I also say this because I was hoping to find maybe one season set cheap enough, preferably the first season, and that's when I found that urgh-inducing sequel.

Whenever I'm at Fry's, and it's been a long time since the last time I was at Fry's, I always end up buying DVDs, but always ones that hew to one of my many interests. I nearly bought the Ethan Hawke Hamlet because I received in the mail the Kenneth Branagh epic version and it sparked my interest in other versions of Hamlet. But even for just $6, I didn't want to get it because if I didn't like it, I'm out 6 bucks. That doesn't square with my ordering books from that I've never read before, yet I spend money on those, but most don't go above $4. $3.95 with free shipping, though it's generally $1 for the book and the $2.95 for shipping is folded in, so the shipping technically isn't free. I'm still paying for it, but I don't mind. A movie demands time. A book lets you have as much time as you want. Something like that.

Then I found the new Patrick Stewart version from the Royal Shakespeare Company which was produced by the BBC, and even though it was $14 for a 3-hour DVD, I still wasn't sure. This is why I can't wait to have a local library again, when there's the chance of finding not only these versions of Hamlet, but adaptations of Shakespeare's other plays. I've never seen any version of King Lear, and I've heard intense things about that one. Shakespeare is not my favorite playwright, nor will I join in on that argument about whether he's the greatest playwright who ever lived thereby ruining it for future playwrights, but he does know how to wring the most drama out of any situation.

Walking through the aisles of DVDs, I checked the concert DVDs for Phil Collins and Sade, and found nothing of Sade, and of Phil Collins, his Finally! The First Farewell Tour and Serious Hits...Live!. Both over $20 and neither really worth it to me, since I love the energy of his Live and Loose in Paris concert that I proudly own on DVD. I checked out Serious Hits...Live! from the Valencia library many years ago, and didn't think much of it. Good for the songs, but not to watch again.

I also kept in mind Dragnet, anything about Las Vegas, and any movies I like and want on DVD. That was the case when I found the double-disc set of Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. I like the first one, Dad likes the second one, always watches it whenever it's on one of the cable channels. So he can have what he likes whenever he wants, and I can have what I like, though I'm keeping both in my DVD collection.

In the TV DVDs, I found Dragnet for $3.99, four episodes from the 1950s series, these episodes from 1953. I was hoping for more Dragnet than that, but I'll take what I can get because I like Jack Webb. His writing is no-nonsense, but there's a kind of clear-eyed urban poetry to it, and his business-like narration gives it an interesting air of authority. He can be understanding, but you wouldn't want to mess with him if you were any kind of criminal on that show. He knows Los Angeles intimately, and the research he did for the series served him very well. I keep meaning to listen to the Dragnet radio show from the late '40s, and now that I'm spending more time on the computer doing research for my second book, I should and I will.

In the drama section, I found The Time of Your Life starring James Cagney for $3.99, from Alpha Video, the same company that put out the Dragnet DVD I found (That also reminds me that I still have the 1954 Dragnet feature film on the living room Tivo). I'd bought it once at the 99-Cents Only store, but didn't watch it and eventually got rid of it because I had too many DVDs, this being years before I only just recently figured out that a DVD binder is the best solution.

I like that The Time of Your Life takes place in a bar, yet another self-contained world that, in this case, can't reach out to anyone or anywhere else. And there's a pinball machine in the movie. It doesn't take much to get me interested in a movie. For example, I will follow director Joseph Kosinski anywhere because of the creatively inspiring dystopian visuals in Tron: Legacy. When his next movie comes out, I'm there.

This time, I will watch The Time of Your Life, considering that it was a passion project for Cagney and his brother William. Plus, the little I saw of it a few years ago I really liked because Cagney is the center of that world.

I nearly passed by the small documentary section, stopped and went right there. I found a DVD containing footage of flying over Florida, past Walt Disney World, and thought I might like it, but the DVD rattled inside the case, which meant it was loose, and I didn't want to spend $10 on a DVD that could be scratched up. Plus it was a sign that even though I could still fondly remember what I loved about Florida, I needed to fully concentrate on my future home. Not that I haven't, but there's nothing in Florida anymore for me. Too many years have passed. It was right then that I found Vegas: The City the Mob Made, a 10-episode documentary acreoss two discs. No DVD was loose inside the case, and what better way to learn much more about the history of Las Vegas? After we finally move to Henderson, I'm ransacking the Nevada history sections of the Clark County and Henderson library systems, but for now, this will do along with the Las Vegas books I've already bought.

After spending over 45 minutes in these DVD sections, I went to where Mom, Dad and Meridith were, among the binders I needed. There was a TekNMotion binder that looked sturdy enough, held 400 DVDs, and was $35. I needed a binder already and this was it. I bought it, of course, along with the DVDs, and spent the next day putting nearly all my DVDs into that binder. I have to buy another binder to fit the 100 or so DVDs that are left.

It always seems to me that IKEA exists for those massive changes you want to make in your lifestyle. You don't like how your house is decorated, so you decide to spend hours at IKEA to see what might fit you. And if you do go to IKEA for little things, you don't spend as much time because you know exactly what you need. The little things for me are Swedish meatballs, and after Dad dropped us off at the sidewalk in front of IKEA, we went right to them. Three trays on a cart piled with three dishes of Swedish meatballs with gravy and lingonberry sauce, with one side of mashed potatoes and two sides of macaroni and cheese, one side of spinach-and-cheese crepes (for me), one side of french fries (mostly for me), a slice of Swedish apple cake (for me), one separate side of macaroni and cheese (for Meridith), and little paper cups filled with ranch dressing and mustard. Whenever Meridith and I see those dispensers, we always get overenthusiastic. She filled 6 cups with ranch dressing for her, and 6 cups with mustard for me. And there was also three slices of garlic bread, one for me, one for Mom, and one for Meridith. It's great garlic bread, with the garlic an even flavor.

We found that the best table was one that Mom originally wanted to avoid because it was right next to where people stand in line, if the line gets that long. But sitting there, you don't have to weave past other tables to get to yours, you don't have to wait when others get up before you can get to your table, you can just do whatever you need to when you want to, including going back to the drink dispensers to refill glasses with "lingonberry drink," as IKEA calls it.

Those Swedish meatballs are pure heaven. IKEA isn't working to try anything fancy with what it serves. It knows what works and it sticks with it. I like it for that reason, that I can go there and know that the spinach and cheese crepes are going to be exactly how I like them. They changed cakes since last time, introducing this Swedish apple cake which was not as good as the chocolate cake they had last time. I'm hoping for a new one when we go next.

After dinner, Mom looked at a few things, I got a bag of individually wrapped milk chocolates with butterscotch pieces inside (I love butterscotch and always seek out anything that has it), we got ice cream from the counter near the exit, and then went to Burbank Town Center Mall. It's a nicely-designed mall with three floors, and it has to be because it can't muck about. You dither with your business and you're gone, just like Steve & Barry's, which used to be on the top floor of the parking garage, next to those parking spaces, above Barnes & Noble, but that t-shirt emporium is gone and that space is still empty. Partly the economy, but mostly byzantine business practices that I'm sure are still trying to be figured out by those involved in it, even with the business long gone.

If you want clothes, there's plenty of clothing stores. Need lotion, there's Bath & Body Works. Just want to walk around, there's a lot to look at. This is one mall that actually meets needs. It's not trying things internally that ultimately make no sense to customers. What you want, they've got it. For me, that was All Amusement, which sounded like video games, which don't rapidly interest me unless it's Galaga, and pinball, which always does. I had to wait for Mom, Dad and Meridith to come out of Bath & Body Works, and it was an adventure all its own in trying to find a bench since all of them were taken, and when I sensed someone was getting up, I rushed to that bench, but the person I thought was getting up wasn't getting up so quickly. I still waited, and then as soon as they got up and cleared it, I grabbed it. Turns out I didn't need it since not 30 seconds later, there they were outside of Bath & Body Works. No matter, since we went down the escalator to the second floor, spotted Macy's, walked toward that, and there was All Amusement. Glorious, joyous All Amusement. Everything I could want in one arcade. There was a Pac-Man/Galaga arcade machine, Lord of the Rings and The Simpsons pinball (That would be so cool if it was one machine, but it was two), and air hockey for me and Meridith.

(I didn't think I'd need a part 2 for this entry, but I do. More book research calls. The rest of this tomorrow.)