Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whoa. Thank Cthulhu It's Monday!

Yeah. At least on Monday, all I really have to do is prep the kids for school and get them to the bus, handle laundry, cooking, and my writing and studying... then dash off about 1400 to grab a couple kids from school, drive into Launceston, teach a martial class at a school there, drive home again, prep dinner, get everyone through the evening, etc. Nothing too hairy there.

Weekends, though...

Okay. So Saturday, the stars aligned, and It Was Decided that the Flinthart family (most of it, anyhow) would make it's last sojourn to the unlamented Village Cinema in Launceston. You know the backstory there already: $20 for a ticket, a long drive either way, shitty popcorn, etc. But I'd promised the boys we's see The Avengers at the cinema. Further, we'd agreed to bring the Baggins sisters along for the ride, 'cos they're superhero/comics fans, and their parents aren't.

Of course, stuff like this doesn't go smoothly. First, Editormum mentioned how she'd love to see said film, but would have troubles doing so since her youngest -- Mister Rabies, we'll call him, age 2... not that he's rabid; I just need a nice covername 'cos he's not my kid and I haven't asked to include him by name in this space; and of course, he's as energetic and fierce as any two-year-old -- isn't really ready to sit through a whole film. Now, since Editormum's other two kids -- we'll call them Jack and Jill, for the hell of it -- are very friendly with the Flinthart offspring, and since Editormum herself is marvellously good company, I had a bit of a think.

I figured Natalie wouldn't want to see the film, and I was right. But I'd forgotten that young Jake was doing some scholarship tests that morning in Launceston. Ooh. Never mind. So the way it worked out was: Nat took Jake in early. Meanwhile, I did some shopping and some preparation. Then I loaded up with the other two kids, and young April Baggins (the other Baggins lass had to cancel, as did the friend who was also planning to come along...) and we headed in to the cinema.

Meanwhile, Editormum met with Natalie at the exam zone, and handed over young Mister Rabies, collecting Jake in exchange. Natalie immediately took off for home, because she had to be available for baby-delivering duty, if it became necessary, which wasn't too likely. So she looked after Mister Rabies while the rest of us went to the cinema.

That makes five kids, two adults, and the inbetween Ms Baggins. The Mau-Mau and Jill peeled off and sat together. Genghis and Jack sat in the row ahead of us, while Jake and April held up one end so they could argue comic stuff without annoying anyone else. And poor Editormum and I just kind of directed traffic. (Of which there was a lot. There was much requirement for bad popcorn. And it turns out young Jill has a TEENY TINY bladder, dammit. She climbed over us about four times during the film.)

Still, it was fun. The Avengers isn't quite classic Whedon, since he's working with other folks' properties and has to abide by the rules - but it was close. A Character (note the use of initial capitals) dies meaningfully. Lots of good lines crop up. The action is plentiful, and well-paced. The plot makes as much sense as it needs to, and all the main players get enough time at centre stage to give them a half-decent arc, which is pretty good going for a superhero flick.

So all up: fine, fun movie. Go and see it if you're a Whedon fan, or a fan of the comic-books, or if you're just looking for a lot of explodey superhero goodness onscreen. If I had a complaint, it would only be that yet again we don't get nearly enough of Scarlett Johanssen in the form-fitting Black Widow costume. Somebody, please: spin a movie off for her character, eh? And what the hell: could she have a secret identity who works as a lingerie model? Or am I asking too much, there?

There was one very nice surprise in the film: somebody finally looked comfortable playing 'The Hulk', and the big green guy actually did good stuff on screen. Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner with quiet restraint and real humour, and Joss Whedon knows exactly how to make the most of the angry green smash machine. The  Hulk, and various interactions involving him, provided the standout funny parts of the movie, and gave Captain America the opportunity to deliver what was, for my money, the best line of the film. ("...and you, Hulk -- smash!")

So we left the cinema on a high, and gathered ourselves for the evening.

My plan was simple. I was going to light up the firepit, bring out the steel pizza oven thing, and cook a lot of yummy woodfired pizzas. I had plenty of home-made dough. I had the sauce all made up, with garlic and herbs and tomato paste and a bit of red wine and pepper, yep. It was all going to go to plan, this time.

Well... it turned cold and windy. And we had another visitor -- a Kirghiz doctor that Natalie had invited. That's okay; I was looking forward to chatting with her, yep. But with the wind, I wasn't sure how well the pizza plan would go, cooking over an open fire, more or less. So I turned on the electric oven as well, just to be sure. And that's when things really went left.

The kids were all outside, climbing around the play area in the dark with a couple of electric torches, having the time of their lives. (Made me all nostalgic, actually. I flashed back on all those times in my own childhood that I spent running around outside in the dark of the evening, playing with friends. Nice.) But right at that moment, the lights started dimming, and the oven made weird noises.

Brownout? Weird. I phoned the electrickery mob, and heard there were big outages to the east of us, under emergency repairs. Ooops. That wind: the first big winds of autumn are always tricky down here, what with all the trees growing like bastards over spring and summer.

So: cooking pizza indoors turned out to be no go. The oven just couldn't handle it. We turned off computers and the fridge, but the lights stayed on -- though they were dim -- and oddly, the TV and DVD kept on playing Finding Nemo (three times through!) for Mister Rabies. That was unexpected.

Happily, the plan of cooking on the fire worked out. I kept fetching in yummy pizzas, which Natalie cut up and distributed, and in the end, I think everybody got fed. Probably. It was hard to tell, since I was continually running in and out to the firepit.

Of course, things couldn't keep going that smoothly. Roundabout 2000 or so, the power went out altogether.   Naturally, that provided Genghis with the opportunity to save the day courtesy of his recent forays into candlemaking. It was only a pity that he made most of them scented. Pretty soon, the house was full of the perfume of mint, jasmine, and (apparently) something called Dragons Blood. Yep. Mmm.

At this point, Editormum gathered up her brood and called it a night, and fair enough, too. Somehow, in all the chaos, she gathered up the Mau-Mau as well, and the youngest Flinthart went off to a sleepover with her chum Jill. Not much after that, our Kirghiz friend left ( and I barely had the chance to learn more than one new Russian swear-word from her!). Finally, young Ms Baggins' father showed up to collect her, and we were more or less back to vaguely normal, except without electricity.

But then the power came back -- so Natalie went to bed, and the boys and I stayed up to watch Trollhunter.  Turns out that's a fun little film too: a sort of pseudo-documentary approach to Trolls in Norway. Definitely worth renting at some point.

So, that kind of set the tone for the weekend. And on Sunday, we had to collect the Mau-Mau, meaning another trek to Launceston, but that was cool. We hung out at Birchall's; bought some graphic novels. Genghis picked up a remote control helicopter for which he'd been yearning. Then we completely failed to find wrist-straps for the Wii, and came home so I could barbecue the hell out of a couple of chickens. Yay.

Today? Well, today the kids are off at school, for the moment. But it's cold and grey out there. I'm desperately trying to catch up on stuff, but I'm way behind, and it's troublesome. Much work to be done, yep. But there's the class to teach this afternoon, and then I shall cook nasi goreng.

And in other news? Well. Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of the Rodney King riots in L.A - meaning that it was twenty years ago that I spent some very weird nights at a hostel in Venice Beach with a couple of my dearest friends. Strange times; strange too, that so much time has passed.

But that's not all. Nope. Today, as it happens, I have been married for eighteen years.

Frankly, I find that much more difficult to wrap my head around than the riots!