IMR: 1999: October: 25 —  Monday, 9:02 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Tonight I'm righting a longstanding wrong in my decade-long life as a self-proclaimed journalist. We rented "All the President's Men."

Saying you bleed ink without having seen this movie is like... like saying you're a doctor without having ever flipped through a copy of Gray's Anatomy.

We're watching it now. At the moment, Deep Throat is lurking in the darkness of an empty parking garage, in what has to be one of the most parodied scenes in Hollywood history. It's nice to finally see the original.

Great. Hoffman and Redford are impeccable. The depiction of the trade makes me all misty-eyed (or would, if I wasn't two years old when this movie was made). Haggling over 'deep background,' pounding the pavement, taking illegible notes on cocktail napkins, getting buried under a pile telephone books from every state...

And it's so deliciously dated. Composing on manual typewriters? Photocopiers the size of cars? And I thought the brown-screened NEC 8086 terminals we started with at Ka Leo were ancient.

Like any good reporter flick, I love how the importance of documentation is stressed — the paper trail, the meat hidden in the gray lines of the most boring bureaucratic report. Professor Keever, I salute you.

It makes me wonder about the big scoops dug up in recent years, in the information age. Who's going to make a movie incorporating Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR), of a diligent journalist following currents and digital footprints in a mountain of innocuous binary data?

"I can't do the reporting for my reporters, which means I have to trust them," growls Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards). "And I hate trusting anybody."

This movie's great. Especially since I never really understood the Watergate mess until tonight. I should make it a permanent part of my collection, up on the shelf next to the more contemporary "The Paper."

And I'm hoping the 60 Minutes tobacco whistleblower movie due out next month, "The Insider," is also worthy. With Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher Plummer, it's got promise.

Speaking of movies, during a remarkably productive Saturday running about with mom, Jen and I managed to pop into the theaters at Pearlridge to catch "Three Kings." Mom and Katie, meanwhile, passed the time wandering the stores Uptown.

It was actually our second attempt at seeing "Three Kings," but it was too new a couple of weeks ago and Consolidated Theaters apparently started excluding GMT discount tickets from the most recent releases without telling anyone. I guess it makes sense, but when we were rebuffed at the box office after driving out to Kahala Mall, let me tell you, I was ready to go to war.

Turns out "Three Kings" would have been worth paying the full $7.50. I really enjoyed it. And Jen — who went in ready to hate it — ended up putting it at the top of her list of best movies of 1999.

Sure, I had my doubts. I mean, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube? It really could've gone either way. And the trailers and commercials didn't exactly sell the flick very well.

But it was good. Almost remarkably so, even with the already positive press out there. It's gritty, but in a stylish way, only on occassion a little overdone. It takes advantage of its star power but not distractingly so. And more importantly, it has a strong and disquieting message, and needles you with it throughout while you're busy being entertained.

It's unabashedly critical of America's role in the Gulf War. It takes a realistic view of the role of the media (a la "Wag the Dog"). And although euphemisms for Middle Eastern cultures fly left and right, the depictions of them are, for the most part, sympathetic. You see a few bumbling, cowardly Iraqi soldiers, but you also see real heroes, real victims, real people.

I won't go as far as saying "Three Kings" is so unconventional that it's surprising it came out of Hollywood (it reeks of it), or that it's surprising it's doing well (it's got Clooney, after all). Hell, it had an almost disappointingly happy ending.

But you'll definitely think twice the next time you see a gun on TV, or the next time the U.S. reaches out to save someone. And any movie that prompts thought is worth seeing.

What it makes you think is another matter, of course. During one climactic scene, a few of the more excitable members of the audience started whispering, "Shoot him, shoot him!" Which, if you'd been paying attention, is sort of not the moral of the story.

After the movie, we scoured the mall, then poked around Pearl Highlands, and finally drove out to Waikele in a spontaneous but vigorous search for Katie's first Halloween costume. It turns out the trip was worth it, as stuff at Waikele was priced at almost half of what we found at Pearlridge.

And the whole time, we knew what costume we were going to get: Po, of Teletubbies fame.

Frankly, Katie would accept nothing else. Even lost in the wall-to-wall jungles of vampires, Eric Cartmans, Blues and Pokemon (Pokemen?), she'd spot Po's little red face and coo "Po! A Po!" and grab and clutch the bag tight and giggle uncontrollably. Indeed, the intensity of this love is so great, I am still the only one with the strength to dare separate her from any retail indentured Po idol.

The Po jumpsuit we found at Waikele was the same one we saw on sale in a newspaper insert a few weeks ago, but further discounted to $17. Though it was a little less sturdy than the $50 specimen at the Spencer's in Pearlridge, Katie wasn't particular. The thing only has to last one day, after all.

Of course, we couldn't wait to put it on, and did so as soon as we got home.

Priceless. So adorable it hurt. Not so much that our little girl was dressed as Po — a character no less commercial or overdone than any other kids' show character these days — but more how Katie reacted when she saw herself in a mirror.

Wow! Magic! Suddenly, she was Po! Right down to the hoop on her head and the gray tele-square on her tummy. She kept looking down at herself, then up at the mirror, then back down again. She couldn't believe it, glee and astonishment fighting for control of her cute little face. Wherever I moved the mirror, from the floor to the couch to the next room, she sought it out to study herself even more.

And when she reached down and pushed firmly on the gray square (no doubt expecting some short video to play, or at least "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"), I nearly burst laughing.

Hoping to save most of the fun for Sunday night, we soon started extracting Katie from her fuzzy red skin. But erring on the side of caution, we slowly removed it part by part over the rest of the evening, steering clear of Po-related trauma. As much as I loved seeing her dressed up, I've heard more than a few horror stories about toddlers insisting on living for weeks in their costumes.

We've still got to decide exactly how we're going to spend Halloween, just hanging out at mom's giving out candy, leading Katie's first trick-or-treat expedition around Mililani, or doing the "safe" trick-or-treat dealie at Ala Moana Shopping Center just down the street.

Not to mention carving a pumpkin. Can you even get a pumpkin this late?

Ah. I swear to god, even if you were the most cynical little brat when you were a kid, all this holiday stuff becomes exciting and fun when you have a kid of your own... like it's the first holiday in the world ever.

Man, I can't wait for Christmas.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 25 October 1999 · Last Modified: 31 October 1999