IMR: 1999: July: 23 —  Friday, 9:55 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

[ Jump Around ]Our neighbor Tina invited us to her daughter's seventh birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese yesterday.

Jen wrapped the "Ocean Fun" Kira (that's Barbie's brunette friend to the uninitiated) that we bought at K·B, Katie took an extra long nap, and as we drove out to `Aina Haina, I took deep breaths and wished to death I'd brought some asprin.

I truly, truly admire the people who dare to work at Chuck E. Cheese, or Gymboree, or any place specifically designed to be crawling with kids. I suspect a good three-quarters of their new hires don't survive the first day. It takes someone special to scoop up a glob of spit up pizza with one hand, serve cake to an angry mob with the other, and say "happy birthday from Chucky!" instead of "let go of my leg you little punk!"

That's not to say all the Chucksketeers were beaming, cheerful purveyors of fun. I have no doubt some of the employees entertain a homicidal thought or two. And during last night's festivities, the kiddie line dance was delayed for five minutes because the guy in the Chuck E. Cheese suit was — in the words of one of his frustrated coworkers — "busy macking on another of his bitches."

I'm not sure what disturbed me more. The fact that someone was picking up girls at a Chuck E. Cheese, or that he was apparently having some success at it, despite being in a huge mouse suit.

[ Beep ]Still, the evening was filled with priceless memories, from Katie tackling an entire slice of pepperoni pizza by herself to her getting so addicted to the toddler ball pen that she would whimper and go completely limp every time we tried to pull her out. She even played a couple of games, and vastly enjoyed watching me kick Jen's butt at skeeball.

I got some great shots for Katie's picture page, which — as Jen's parents reported with consternation — hadn't been updated since the last time we were at a Chuck E. Cheese.

It's amazing how much children can change in the span of just three months.

Jen and I got out last Saturday to see Kubrick's last film, "Eyes Wide Shut." The ultimate verdict (which, surprisingly, we agreed on for once) could be quickly distilled from the first thing Jen uttered as we shuffled out of the theater: "Now there's three hours of our lives that we'll never get back."

That is to say, it didn't totally suck weenies, but it certainly came close. And I really hate to say so, because I am a devoted fan of Kubrick's other eclectic works, and I truly think he was a visionary filmmaker. With "Eyes Wide Shut" billed as his "final masterpiece," I haven't wanted to be blown away by a movie this badly for a long time.

But it was bad. While I can understand why most prominent film critics fell over themselves to give one last toast to Kubrick, I simply can't do it. It was a worse example of overhyped pretention than "The English Patient."

Part of it is that neither Tom Cruise nor Nicole Kidman successfully cleared away the cloud of awkward insincerity that always looms over married co-stars. (And they're not exactly great actors in the first place.) Of course the widely publicized flap over the nudity and sex didn't help, making the infamous scenes seem gratuitous, even though they weren't. And nothing infuriates me more than a movie in which The Point — the moral, the supposedly subtle, all-important message — is blatantly spelled out with a smirk in the final scene.

But the biggest problem? It was three hours long! And it so didn't have to be. I mean, this is literally how the entire movie went:

Knowing Old Man: What if [five-second pause] I told you [five-second pause] that everything that happened [five-second-pause] — everything you saw there last night [five-second pause] — was just a charade.

Tom: [after a ten-second pause] A charade?

Knowing Old Man: [pausing to stir his drink once, slowly] A charade.

Tom: You're telling me [five-second pause] that all that [five-second pause] was a charade?

Knowing Old Man: [after a twenty-second pause] A charade.

Tom: [with a stylish grimace] Charade?

[ Six minutes pass. Someone, somewhere, pounds randomly on a single piano key with an iron railroad spike. ]

Tom: A [five-second pause] charade.

It was ridiculous. Every time anyone said something, a thoughtful pause would land with a thud, then someone else would invariably repeat it with just a little more drama, a little more style. Jen and I were doing impressions for most of the film, and as I heard continents grinding against eachother outside, I couldn't stop thinking how the movie could've been cut to a third of its length if they'd only cut that crap out.

I'm sorry Stan. I promise I'll rent "A Clockwork Orange" next week.

It's a crazy time, this season is. With little advance notice, Jen's brother got married today to a girl no one else in the family has even met. I've been helping Wayne with his resume, as he suddenly left his job in Taipei last week and will be returning to Hawai`i on Aug. 1. (And his sister is getting married a couple of weeks after that.) And I still haven't gotten used to the fact that William is in Japan.

Of course, it's been hard to find time to marvel at it all, with all the insanity going on at work.

After going back and forth on it for months, we decided to go ahead with the office expansion, and the demolition on the empty suite next door begins tomorrow. We've hired one new full-time staff person (though we're still looking for someone to fill the spot for which we ran the infamous ad), and a number of part-time freelancers, including a former Ka Leo coworker who, incidentally, is due in September. This week alone, seven separate major projects went to the printer (after we marked up dozens of $300 color proofs). We bought even more new computers (I love Dell's online store!) and I'm in the middle of installing and configuring them. All this while our big boss is away at a corporate retreat in California, and assorted coworkers are taking short sporadic vacations.

We're still scrambling to find more interns (though now that we're going to start paying them, it might not be too bad), and everyone is swamped, myself included. With our New Zealand meeting about five weeks away, and our major conference in March drawing ever closer, I have no doubt we'll be constantly running in high gear for the next several months.

In fact, I've actually expressed mild frustration in front of my coworkers, for which I feel a little guilty. But everyone's there majorly vents now and then, so they're taking it in stride.

More and more I'm feeling like a part of the main team, rather than the scruffy geek they just happened to pick up. For better or worse, I'm being given more and more responsibility, and more and more authority to make calls that affect many things. I love my job and the people I work with, and I want to show them I'm capable and committed.

So now I'm wavering on remaining enrolled in both the classes I've got lined up this Fall.

I mean, I already work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and still don't have enough time to finish everything... and things only get busier from here.

I just don't know how I'll be able to fit in two upper-division, writing-intensive journalism courses, especially since both will require a lot of work outside the classroom. I don't know how I'll miss two weeks in September and still keep up. I already spend too little time with my wife and daughter, and they are always the ones that give when the rest of my life takes.

On the other hand, when "school versus work" came up before, everyone at the office was emphatic that I stick with it and finish as soon as possible. "Your education and your family always come first," they said. "Do what you have to do," they said. They wouldn't just be saying those things, would they?

And I just got that raise...

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 23 July 1999 · Last Modified: 08 July 1999