On beginnings and endings

I went to see the movie Sideways tonight at the soon-to-be closed El Rey theater in downtown Chico. The theater is due to be closed on Thursday to make way for its transformation into an office-retail complex with perhaps more importantly public parking in the rear of the building.

Being my first, and probably last, time in this theater, I’ve naturally got a few mixed feelings. I’ve grown up in an era with multiplexes. The one or two one-screen theaters I saw films in quickly fell by the wayside. Although seeing movies like Harry Potter at The Pic in Hancock was a joy, it was a rare occasion that brought me there.

In Chico, the old theater’s glory seems to be as faded as some of its interior murals and montages. Some portions of the mural seemed to have been ravaged by the intrusion of water. Still, there’s no denying the grandeur of the large bowl that constitutes the house. The walls are surrounded by what appears to be dancing water nymphs across a pale blue forest. I imagine such lurid depictions would be passe in these times of “outrage.”

There was some stadium-style seating that apparently was there before it became vogue in movie theaters. The seats in the center aisles were replaced with newer models that don’t seem to replicate the big, springy goodness of the older seats that still haunt the fringes. I noticed that most people tended to stay in the newer seats.

So what role does a gigantic, one-screen theater play in a world that has endless entertainment options available 24/7 without even the discomfort of leaving your own rocker-recliner? I’m not sure, but it would’ve been nice to see at least one more film in the old Majestic (its former name).

The thing that these old, one-screen theaters provided is a sense of community on a large scale. As we slowly lose that sensation to evolution and destruction, I hope there’s something that define who we are in the modern era.

Color me surprised

I guess you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet. In yesterday’s post, I lamented the fact that Comcast apparently didn’t offer high-speed cable Internet in the middle of a college town. All of that changed when I phoned Comcast’s Chico office earlier today.

To cut a not-so-long story short, the customer service woman informed me that cable Internet services _are_ available for my apartment.

That does complicate the situation a bit because I don’t know if Comcast offers everything I need. Looking at the other services available, I don’t know if SBC, Dish Networks, whoever offers everything I need.

The hunt continues.

Fun with numbers

Just looking up some possible phone numbers on the SBC Web site (BTW, SBC, what was wrong with names like PacTel or Ameritech (or Pacific Bell or Michigan Bell, for that matter)? And why do you have to hide your former name “Southwestern Bell Company” with a silly acronym?)

Anywho, they’ve presented me with several interesting options. A quick check to PhoneSpelling.com presents some funny names by using the letters matched with each number on the keypad.

For 345-3285, it comes back such great “FILE-AT-5” (perhaps a newspaper reference?), “DIKE-AT-5” (if only I was a lesbian… oh wait, “dike” means levee.) “345-FAT-5” (perhaps reminding me to diet), “FILE-CULL” (definitely a newspaper reference), “FILE-BULK” (definitely a reference to my tendency to be a packrat).

Since that’s the most interesting number (in terms of spellings), that’ll probably be the one I’ll choose. Although “TWIN-HULL” does sound intriguing…

A darn shame

CHICO, Calif. — Finally getting settled into an apartment after hotel hopping for a week. It’s amazing, but the constantly deflating air mattress I slept on last night seems more comfortable than the hotel beds I’ve been in.

My apartment is very much a blank canvas seeing as it’s completely unfurnished and having more rooms than I know what to deal with (two of them remain vacant to be leased out later). Hopefully I can fill the empty space in the heart of my apartment over the next few months (and an Ikea run or two). It’s almost like getting married, without the whole pesky bride. I’ll need something borrowed, something new, something … something and something blue.

I’m slightly disappointed reading on the Comcast Web site that it doesn’t offer cable Internet services in my neighborhood. It’s especially sad because of the fact that nearly all of the rooms in this apartment have cable hook-ups.

For more than six years, I’ve used cable Internet services (Cox and Charter) and I’ve had an extremely positive experience. So much so that I’ve never thought to stray to other services such as DSL (for Internet access) and digital satellite (for TV).

So after calling the local Comcast office on Monday, I’ll officially be in the hunt for services elsewhere. I just need to keep reminding myself that I don’t own a TV right now.

While I’m thinking about it, why is it so hard finding the local phone packages on the SBC Web site? No, I don’t want Caller ID, voice messaging or acupuncture. I just want an affordable package offering just local phone service (and maybe DSL). Is that so hard? It shouldn’t be.

My new address, by the way, is:

717 Hazel St.
Apt. 4
Chico, CA 95928

Go wild with the snail mail.

Home, sort of

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — I’m just about to leave SLC after spending the night at my Uyeda grandparents’ place. It’s been four years since I’ve visited my family in Utah and I’m just amazed about how much has changed while some stuff remains the same.

These changes include family, as well as other landmarks. Grandma and Grandpa look pretty good although we’re all older than when we were last together. At the same time, the family is growing up and times change. People are getting married, having children or passing on. Still, talking with my grandparents for an extended period was interesting. Yes, we talked about politics for a spell, but I liked talking about the family, the family’s history and Utah sports (and the 2002 Olympics) a lot more.

I’m at th Kinko’s at the corner of 700 East and 2300 South, which is just a few blocks from my grandparents’ old home. The traffic seems a lot crazier than I remember it and everything is just so built up. Many of the old landmarks are gone or merely tranfigured into something new. Old stores and buildings are gone or surrounded by new buildings. Some of the landmarks looks the same — there’s an old mansion-style building across from the Nibley Park Golf Course that looks the same.

Driving along 2100 South, I noticed the old, bunker-esque Mountain Bell building (the beige, window-less monolith that it is) has been transformed into a Qwest building. I guess it makes sense — there’s only so much they could do with a switching station.

Anywho, I wish I could spend a lot more time in SLC, but I’ve got to press on towards California.

Closing the door

this is an audio post - click to play

HANCOCK, Mich. — One last spin around my old apartment before checking out for good. The audio post deals with my “closing the door” on that wonderful, eclectic apartment.

I’ll miss my apartment, my home for the past four years. It was a steal at $200 per month, and it had a lot of what I would describe as character (Olivia and others would just point at the clashing green living room carpet and the garish red, orange and grey striped kitchen carpet and laugh). The apartment, set in the back of a converted market, had massive dining room, smaller living room and upstairs bedroom and a bath. Just a bath. I’m actually looking forward to showers again.

It’s been an emotional past couple of days. Seeing Olivia and my friends one last time before heading out West was a lot of fun. The weather alternated back and forth over the last few days. Today encapsulated the best of Copper Country winters with blue, sunny skies during the day before clouding over and giving the whole region a frosting of powdery snow.

I have to admit to tearing up a couple of times during the past two days during my last rounds at the bar, my last visit with my friends and just in the middle of packing.

So, I’m finishing up this post at the new library at MTU. In a minute, I’ll get back into my seriously overpacked car. I’ll be passing the bridge, The Daily Mining Gazette and the bright lights of downtown Houghton, all freshly decked with a dusting of lake-effect snow.

Sometimes the winters are tough in the Copper Country, but no one ever said they weren’t pretty.

As I leave one home for a new one, I hope I never forget my experiences in the region. Thanks to everyone who made it such a terrific experience. Farewell.

Happiness is…

… enjoying the sunshine and warmth during a warm snap.
… having a final snowfall greet you. One last kiss of winter before saying farewell.
… when the sno-go finally comes by and cuts down the snowdrift in front of your house. The dumptruck carries away much of the winter’s accumulation.
… having your best friend visit while getting ready to move.
… socializing with friends and colleagues at the old watering holes ranging from the crowded snowmobiler habitats of The Downtowner in Houghton and the Upper Deck in Hancock, the sports bar of The Bleachers and the laid back lounge at Nutini’s Supper Club. Of course, there’s the Doghouse and The Library and the Keweenaw Brewing Company. There’s just too many bars in this area.
… singing karaoke. Last Saturday, Garrett and I were pretty much the only singers at The Bleachers’ V-Day party. I didn’t do very well, but I hope everyone had a good time.
… and, of course, saying “See you later” is happy, yet bittersweet.

Fitting tribute

Ray Charles is the big winner at last night’s Grammy Awards winning 8 awards. I think it’s a great memorial to the man who brought so much music and joy into the world. It would’ve been nice to have him here to see it.

I saw Ray Charles perform at San Diego’s Street Scene a few years ago. Although he was definitely older, he still had a lot of energy and the audience certainly enjoyed his performance.

Tying up loose ends

Just packing some things around the house. I’m surprised about how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the past four years. I kinda wonder if I need all these books and DVDs, especially when I think about the cost. At the same time, I do get a lot of value out of them, but I shouldn’t spend so much anymore (and I don’t).

At the same time, I’ve had to go through my newspapers and magazines. Not the Gazettes, which I’ve already culled from four massively tall stacks to one manageable box. Unfortunately, I’m dumping nearly all the newspapers I’ve picked up in my travels over the past four years. I just don’t have any space although I wish I could take pieces of Tuscaloosa, Toronto, Windsor, New York, DC, Syracuse, etc.

I’m also averse to throwing periodicals away, especially unread ones. I view them like books or videos — I don’t want to throw them away after buying them. Obviously I can’t be such a pack rat in the future.