Weekend of major events. First, the annual Friday night visit to Haunted Birch Aquarium, which has become a tradition with Mary, Paul and Joy. Always a lot of fun, starting with "Dark Picnic" in the courtyard and culminating in glow-in-the-dark squid. This year, we were joined by my friend Re from Seattle, plus her husband, Brian, and their daughter, Cadence. It was great to have them along.
Saturday night was the Black Tie Gala for the San Diego Asian Film Festival. It's not typical for us to be hobnobbing at an event that's $200 a head, but David's company, CineForm, is a sponsor of SDAFF this year (not to mention that David is working his ass off trying to prevent the overheated films from blowing up at the screenings.)
Readers, here's my assessment of the gala, and probably all galas: they are crapcake. I don't see what there is to recommend them, unless maybe I was getting a Golden Globe, or my date was, or I'd had a lot of Xanax. Here is a partial list of the ways it made me cranky:
1. I spent two hours getting ready. TWO HOURS. This was not the Oscars. I needed a stretcher to get to the car afterward. Plus, my dress, which was a bit of a commitment to start with (floor-length, several pounds of voluminous taffeta) was freakishly, horribly TIGHT in one spot around my ribs and had me wanting to claw it off in shreds an hour later.
2. Our tickets were free, but we had to pay eight dollars to park the car. Without a valet. Or stretcher.
3. The "passed hors-d'ouevres" meant one very wet chicken quesadilla bite for each person, impossible to eat with one's fingers and not gloop all over one's aforementioned taffeta dress. Luckily, the complimentary Side Cars were useful for swilling it down.
4. We were at Table 57. Doesn't mean anything to you? Hint: there were 57 tables. So guess where ours was? Sandwiched between two emergency exits in the nether regions of the ballroom. Someone was trying to send us a message, and I think that message was "You didn't donate anything, did you?" David and I were seated with Grace and Julianna, and also joined by two KPBS personalities (they were nice, but spent most of their time texting) and the rest of the table was alternately empty or occupied by random passerby. One woman stood in the corner murmuring into her phone until everyone was eating--I'm fairly certain she just happened to pass the room and was feeling peckish. None of these people acknowledged us, so it was like being at a wedding where the bride has really blown it on the seating chart.
5. The video screens displayed the events at the same ratio they appeared on the distant stage, several miles away. Ergo, there were now three opportunities for us to not be able to see what was happening. I think there were some nonlinear video clips, some muffled patter, and some symphonic Lady Gaga medleys. Couldn't tell you much more.
6. We watched about 500 people get their dinner before us, and when we were served, around 9 p.m. the choice was chicken with Balsamic Jello molded on top, or a huge, tough steak accompanied by a butter knife. Grace sawed and sawed for several minutes without results, finally giving up. I was less decorous and eventually just gripped the fork in my fist like a caveman. "Did they surgically extract the flavor from these carrots?" I wondered aloud.
7. Since we couldn't see anyway, I suggested we retreat early to the "after-party" in the courtyard, which featured two roaring fire pits and the cutest set-up for "make your own s'mores." We got a nice table to ourselves and speared some marshmallows, not realizing the pokers had antenna-like action until we'd already singed our bangs. We held those marshmallows in the fire for a half-hour, and while they were happy to grow black and shriveled, their core temperature never dropped below cool and chewy. We decided they were left-over rations from the war, in storage until this event. And the graham crackers had a peculiar smell, like "Eau de Olde Cosco Box." It began to rain as we were gnawing on our treats. "I think the theme of the evening is 'Gelatinous Foods,' announced Julianna. A band called "Crunchy Sandwich" started up right around the time we were ready to bail.
8. Oh, we did catch glimpses of Daniel Dae Kim from Lost (who seemed to be getting an award for his abs), Danny Pudi (from Community) and John Cho (from Star Trek) though Julianna's heart was ready to break that we missed Harry Shum, Jr. from Glee because of my clever s'mores idea.
Sunday we spent the day at Sea World with Re and her family. The weather was perfect and there was trick-or-treating for the kids at various "stations" around the park. The last time David and I were at Sea World we had a stroller and a diaper bag, so it's been a while. We did have a really nice day, though a bit too short since Re and Co. had to catch a plane.
Because Jarrah was too small the last time, David and I had never been on any of the rides that Sea World has added in recent years, and this time we did them all. Now we've learned the theme of all Sea World rides: YOU WILL GET WET. Not splish-splashed like you do at Knotts and D-land, but SOAKED TO THE SKIN. See video below, which really is rather funny (and amazing video quality, I think!) On Shipwreck Rapids, a wave sloshed over my lap and I had a sopping wet bum for the rest of the day. Later, Journey to Atlantis took care of any remaining dry parts, adding a brisk chlorine facial that drenched my hair and removed all my makeup. Jarrah and I got hit so hard we were both spluttering for air. Lesson for future: wear a bathing suit and flip-flops on those rides, and maybe a cover-up of insta-dry camping fabric. But were they fun? Shipwrecked: yes. Loved it. Atlantis: no. Too steep for me. I like wind-y rollercoasters--ones that go straight down make me feel very, very weird. Not sick-weird. Just unpleasant weird.
Got to see the latest incarnations of the Shamu show (which I was skeevy about due to the recent fatal accident in Florida) and the Dolphin show, which had changed for the first time in like 25 years. And I ask you: whither the shlocky Catskills tummeling of my youth? I miss the bad puns, the fake "tourists" who fall in the water, the repetitive jokes about what Shamu really thinks of you. Now it's all soaring, inspirational strings, and perplexing videos where little boys grow up to be Seaworld trainers. The Dolphin show no longer seems to have dolphins, though I did really enjoy the aerobatic Cirque de Soleil performers dressed as parrots. "So, why is the parrot eating the dolphin?" David asked, when a colorful winged creature hauled a gray-clad swimmer out of the pool. "It's symbolic of the connection between heaven and sea," I rhapsodized. Maybe I can help write their brochures.