Thursday, July 31, 2008

June Round-Up

June June June. A lot went down in June.

Movies Seen: Fourteen with two in a theater. Those two were "Iron Man" and "Wall-e." "Iron Man" I saw the same weekend I saw "Sex and the City," and I came to the realization, as I was watching Robert Downey Jr. try on that Iron Man suit, that I much preferred watching Sarah Jessica Parker try on wedding dresses in "SATC." I'm a nerd, but I'm a girl first.

"Wall-E" was just fan-fucking-tastic. Perhaps not the best wording of praise for a children's film, but it really was. I don't think it's necessarily a compliment to say this, but it is an accomplishment that for most of the film I kind of forgot I was watching something animated; everything on that rotting earth had such a tactile quality to it, it was really quite amazing. I think my love of the film also had a lot to do with the fact that I am a complete and total sucker for slapstick, and since you're dealing with characters who basically don't talk, most of the comedy has to come in the form of action and not words. Also? It made me cry like a baby. At the end, it was so sad and painful I had to look at the wall of the theater because I couldn't take it anymore, much like I did at the end of the "King Kong" remake. And that's not really a spoiler. It's a Disney movie. No one dies at the end. (Deaths in Disney movies come at the beginning.)

As for DVDs, my faves were "Persepolis," a totally different kind of animated film, and "In Bruges," which was very funny, dark, and clever. I really liked how almost everything--characters, locations, dialogue--in the movie comes up at least twice. That probably doesn't make a lick of sense, but see the movie and you'll understand.

Books Read: When "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris was released, I had to go to a Border's that week and buy it, especially since I had a 40% off coupon. So that was breaking my no-new-books rule. While I was in the store I saw a copy of "The Complete Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi as part of their buy 2 get 1 free deal, so I jumped on that because I had been wanting to read it for a while. And since I HAD to get a second book for the free deal, I got "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" by Sloane Crosley because I had heard it was good. So basically, every book I read in June was a new purchase, so shame on me.

And especially shame on me for that "Cake" book. It really wasn't that great. I think I laughed once or twice. The Sedaris book was, on the other hand, hilarious, but that's no surprise. I tend to avoid reading the stuff he does for various magazines because I know it's all going to be collected into book form one day, and I prefer to read them that way, so I didn't have the complaint that a lot of readers seeemd to have, namely that there wasn't enough "new material." "Persepolis" was also really good, and was soon followed by a viewing of the movie (see above).

Fancy Dinners Out: Four. First was at Bar Bambino, which was quite tasty, but be warned: it is a "small plate" place. Do not order pasta thinking you're going to get a huge bowl of it. The second was Rue Saint Jacques, a French place a few blocks from my house. A friend and I took advantage of a brief return of "Dine About Town" and got the prix fixe meal. Except I can't for the life of me remember what I got. Probably meat. The third was One Market, which I had never been to before. I think it's the first restaurant I've been to that gave out a complimentary "amuse bouche" in between the appetizer and the main course. It was seared tuna with a bit of cavir on top and something kinda sweet, maybe figs? I think I had a three course meal that began with shrimp. but I can't remember the main course or the dessert! That's not a good sign. And lastly, I had another night at Izzy's for some yummeh roast beast.

Live Shows Seen: One, Liz Phair performing "Exile in Guyville" live at the Fillmore for the album's fifteenth anniversary. Wow. Fifteen years. That album probably got the most play of any album of my 20s, and I didn't even have it on CD. I just had a personally recorded cassette that I'd play over and over on my Walkman and home stereo. It was a pivotal piece of music for me, and it was great but also kind of weird hearing her play it all these years later. I took my sixteen-year-old cousin in the hopes that it might influence her to stop listening to CRAP, but I don't think it worked. She had a good time, but she wasn't asking me to make her a copy of the CD or anything after the show. Oh well. Maybe it's for the best that she doesn't have a song like "Flower" to listen to over and over on her iPod...

Shoes Bought: None. But I did buy a new car. Which is kind of like a really, really expensive, huge shoe. And really, just half a shoe because it was a split purchase between me and my parents. Buying a new car is more doable when you get to split the payments and insurance, let me tell you what. Since I don't have a place to park a car, and would basically never really need to use it during the week, it's kind of like an exclusive car sharing situation. It's working out pretty well so far, but the buying part. HOO BOY. Prepare thyself for a saga.

Buying a new car is not fun. I decided to go the online route, via CarsDirect, in the hopes that it would limit the exposure I'd have with car salesman, but all it really means is you're dealing with that same kind of crap, it's just over the phone. It took a while to narrow down the choice of make and model; we were basically looking at the cheapest, most fuel efficient cars out there, with the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa being the top choices. After doing some test drives via Zipcar (which I had a membership to; another way to avoid dealing with car salesmen) we went with the Versa sedan, mainly because it had a sunroof option. You'd think the hard part would be over. But NO. Just because you know the exact car you want does not mean that car is actually available. Thus began a lot of back and forth about what was and wasn't available. Like, they'd have the color I wanted, but it didn't have a sunroof, or vice versa (ha! I made a punny!). And getting a sunroof also meant getting a bunch of other stuff we didn't care about, because you need to get the sunroof "package," which jacked up the price. The worst part was when I decided to check a local dealer, just in case. They got back to me and told me they had exactly what I wanted on the lot. So after confirming, more than once, that they indeed had to car there, we rented a car to drive to Oakland and look at it, and lo and behold, when we got there, the car had magically disappeared! So, if you learn anything from reading this it's this: Avoid Bay Bridge Nissan like the plague. They are some shady bastards.

So. We finally found the car we wanted through CarsDirect, but there was one catch. It had 300 miles on it. No idea why. But since it was, apparently, the ONLY model that matched our wants in the entire state, we decided to take it, with the only discount being an extended warranty at cost. Fine. So the car is supposed to be delivered two days later, and I'm waiting at home patiently when I get a call from the dealer the car was coming from saying that there was a problem. There was a small paint chip on the front bumper. I could either take delivery of the car that day and take it back to the Antioch dealer to have it painted whenever I wanted, or they could have it painted and deliver it to me a few days later.

Here's where I realty started to lose it. This was during the first few days of July. The car had technically been sold to me on the 30th because that was the last day to qualify for a special low interest rate (1.9%). So no changes to the cost of the car could be made, which meant I couldn't get any kind of discount on this car that had both a lot of miles on it and now some paint work. Who wants to bet they knew full well there was a paint chip on the bumper when they sold me the car, but they chose to wait to tell me after the first of July so they wouldn't have to give me a discount? I was livid, but they had me by the proverbial balls. It was the car we wanted, exactly, there were no others available, and we had a great interest rate that wasn't being offered anymore. But there was no way I was driving back to Antioch to get it painted, so I told them to take care of it and deliver it to me two days later.

So, basically, I ended up falling into a lot of car salesman traps even though I had done my best to avoid it. I'm still really happy with the car, though. It did a great job driving me and two friends down to Palm Springs, it's really comfortable, and it's nice actually owning a new car, something we've never had in my family. Yeah, I see the irony in buying a car just as gas prices have reached an all time high, but I was ending up spending over 100 bucks a month on Zipcar, and my car payment isn't much more than that. Plus, like I said, I don't use it that much, so it's not THAT economically ridiculous. Really. Everything's going to be fine. Obama will be President and gas will be free, as will cake, and love will prevail, and ohmygod I can't wait until Bush is finally GONE.

But yeah. Car gets about 30 MPG highway, which is pretty good.

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