Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
So the Academy Awards have come and gone. Now, number 235 on my own personal 'You Know You're A Parent If...' list is, "You don't recognize half the movies nominated for Oscars."
I distinctly remember seeing commercials for most of the films, of course, and Jen and I frequently turned to eachother and said, "We've got to see that!" But save for the few that have finally come out on video, 1998 was a bust.
So, unlike last year, I don't know if so-and-so deserved this award, or if what's-his-name was robbed. I guess "Shakespeare In Love" must have been something else, 'cause I was sure Kathy Bates was a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actress after "Primary Colors." I was glad to see Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel get a tip of the hat, and Gwyneth Paltrow's acceptance speech will probably be in every Oscar-night montage for the next decade.
What was with that French guy? He wants to make love to what?
But Katie quickly developed a mind of her own, and that mind absolutely refused to let mommy out of her sight for the next seven months. It wasn't long before the folks at Diamond Head Video knew us on a first-name basis, and half the time we'd never see the movies we picked up anyway, because Katie decided to squirm and wriggle until nearly midnight.
(Dateline's doing a piece on film flubs in Oscar winning flicks right now. Like no one's ever heard of the IMDB?)
Now, of course, Katie is a real trooper. When we visit mom, she climbs the steps to the second floor dozens of times, a baby-sized workout that would wipe out a lesser toddler. She's just aching to walk unassisted, and arranges her toys and flips through books like it's nothing. She hits the button on her Fisher Price radio, and actually does a little dance. You can see in her eyes that she's now convinced she rules the universe.
With our daughter seemingly on the brink of demanding the car keys, we decided to give the big screen another shot last week. While she was halfway up mom's steps, Jen and I ducked out and headed to the Town Center to see "Analyze This." (With such outings so rare, we suppressed our sense of adventure and went with something safe.)
True to form, Jen fretted the whole way there over whether Katie was okay. While we sat in the theater playing "spot the typo" with the NCN movie-screen ads, she occasionally swore she could hear Katie crying.
Fortunately, she was strong, and we got to enjoy Robert DeNiro actually holding his own in a risky comedic role. (Billy Crystal and Lisa Kudrow, on the other hand, sadly demonstrated how little range they have.) I really enjoyed it, even though I haven't seen most of the mob-genre classics from which some of the gags were drawn.
We laughed, sighed, then darted out, not even waiting for the first credit to scroll off the screen. As we drove back to mom's place, Jen already had pangs of regret over leaving Katie for something so selfish, so fun. Even I wondered if we'd come home to find Katie beet-red and furious.
Mom and Katie were waiting in the driveway. "Uh oh," I said.
When we got out of the car, though, Katie just smiled and raised her hand in greeting. Jen and I called her name, but she seemed more interested in tugging at mom's necklace. Handing her over, mom cheerfully reported that, until that moment, Katie apparently didn't even notice we were gone.
"Oh she played, and climed the steps, and played some more," mom said. "She had fun!"
Great. So now we trade one neurosis for another.
Saturday was a colorful day.
After sleeping in, we headed out into the rain to St. Patrick's Church on Wai`alae Avenue for Charlie's wedding. Given the fabulous weather we'd been having all month, I shook my head to think Mother Nature decided to get grumpy on that particular day.
It was small and sweet, a generally by-the-book Catholic affair, except for the minister who apparently missed his calling as a comedian. "You are gaining a beautiful, beautiful daughter, and you are gaining another mouth to feed." Yuk yuk yuk.
Even though it was modest, I kept marveling at the look on Jen's face. I knew she was seeing the kind of ceremony she'd always envisioned since she was a little girl, with the pipe organ playing "Here Comes the Bride," the scripture readings, the wine and those weird little wafers.
Although I still look back on our weekday courthouse wedding with a smile, I can see where Jen especially now, as a revived Catholic might wish there was a little more. Though I think a "renewal of vows" is still a few years off, maybe we should look into a church "convalidation" (an after-the-fact stamp of approval) after all.
Anyway, Katie was generally well behaved, though after a while she wasn't crazy about sitting still in a pew. Jen and I took turns walking her in back of the church, and I kept her quiet by teaching her to wave at the fancy statues of Jesus and Mary (replete with puka-shell leis).
Eventually the I Dos were done, the bells pealed and everyone filed out to find a sudden, convenient break in the rain. We quickly made our way to the reception at the Hawaii Yacht Club, a place I knew nothing about besides the fact that it wasn't the Waikiki Yacht Club.
It was a nice place, out on the water, and they had a solo slack-key performer and a buffet of simple pupus set up. We sat out on the lanai, shooting the breeze with Charlie's classmates, and trying to ignore the slightly inebriated relatives at the next table, cracking the dumbest jokes about Hawaiian culture.
Having missed her afternoon nap, Katie unfortunately started getting grumpy. Although Jen had secretly harbored the hope that she could just come with me and crash the "TIM Night" event at the Convention Center, it became clear both she and Katie would be best served by going home.
We conveyed our best wishes to the happy couple and came back to the apartment. I tried in vain to grab a ten-minute snooze before trudging out the door and driving down to the Convention Center. After wandering the empty halls for a while, I finally found my way to the gala.
And I realized I really should have read the invitation.
This was a serious affair. The theme was "Swingin' with the Mob 'til Don," and they were going all the way. There were play-money casino tables set up and a live swing band shaking the walls. More impressively, everyone was dressed to the nines in '30s and '40s mobster attire suits with tails, fedoras, feather boas, wingtips, black stockings and lace garters, the works.
And there I was in a faded blue dress shirt and simple black slacks. I literally hid in the corner, clutching my digital camera, hoping everyone would just think I was hired help.
Boy was I happy when my coworkers David and Steve also showed up, similarly dressed.
Eventually we were shooed out of the casino and into the main ballroom, which was where the real Big Stuff was taking place. It was here the TIM students, the KCC culinary arts students and all the other trade students were going to show off everything they'd learned. And the whole time, my coworkers and I were taking notes. Not on the students, though, but on the facility.
Cynics that we were, we concentrated on the negative. The ceiling was impractically high. There was no house sound system. The chairs were disappointingly low end. The mix of fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures was distracting.
Eventually, though, we ran out of complaints and settled back to take in the program. Mixed between each of the exotic-sounding dishes on the menu, there were half a dozen dance numbers, a magic show and a "Stomp!" takeoff. In the mean time, video monitors played clips from "The Godfather" series (I had more than a few flashbacks to "Analyze This"), and the sound crew played a tape that apparently had only three songs on it: "The Godfather Theme," "That's Amoré," and "Sing, Sing, Sing."
Three songs. Over and over and over again. Believe me, it was agonizing.
The food, fortunately, was fabulous. Modest portions, but definitely cutting-edge dishes. I couldn't begin to guess at what they were called, but suffice it to say I was further convinced that Jen's dream to become a famous chef (beginning with the KCC program) deserved serious support.
The floor show also had its highlights. Sure, the magic show seemed straight out of the standard-issue Fun Factory bag, and the "Stomp!" tribute flopped with a properly resounding thud, but the stars of the evening were the swing dancers, accompanied by the aforementioned swing band, and they kept things rolling.
I practically choked on my designer dessert when I read the program and discovered Esther Izuo an old friend who, by neccessity, had to become an adversary during my best-forgotten separation from Jen was the choreographer.
I was glad to see she hadn't lost her touch. I wouldn't be surprised if she's the star of the program these days. (She's always front-and-center in the campus posters, at least.)
It was neat, really, seeing students studying every aspect of conventioneering and cuisine putting their knowledge to the test. Everyone was getting a first taste of what they'd be doing for the rest of their lives, from the people at the registration desk, to the chefs and servers (our waitress was a nervous Chinese girl whose hands shook every time she leaned in to pour a drink), to the light-and-sound crew, to the ushers, to the people backstage setting up the next performance.
I'd give them a passing grade, without a doubt. I only hope the local hotel bigwigs in attendance felt the same way.
Okay, I confess. I prodded Jen into seeing "Analyze This" only because I'd read in the paper that it was one of the films that came with the new "Star Wars: Episode I" trailer.
I'd already downloaded the QuickTime version from the website of course with the highest resolution and best sound, thanks to the decent net connection at my office but I really wanted to see it on the big screen. Jen thought I was being ridiculous, and was really looking forward to "Shakespeare In Love," but eventually caved in to my begging.
It serves me right, then, that not only was the "Star Wars" trailer absent from the preview line-up at the Mililani five-plex, but Jen got to drool over the trailer for "The Matrix" the latest Keanu Reeves project.
Ech. Thank god the website is too dense for her poor computer.