Thursday, May 25, 2006

Two dates in two nights!

I took my friend Jennifer out for an alfresco (we Chicagoans love to eat outside! even if it’s too damn cold!) birthday dinner, over which we shared some scandalous gossip about people we know. Then we wandered over to our friendly neighborhood multiplex, where we took in a rather late showing of The Da Vinci Code. Which I really liked.

While I love anything that lampoons the ridiculousness of organized religion, both the book and the movie of The Da Vinci Code serve up equally heaping piles of counterridiculousness. But I’m always fascinated by stories involving ancient secrets bubbling up in the present, and TDVC’s settings are right out of the Jake Gushes Shamelessly Over Anything European Handbook, so I’m willing to overlook a lot of silly for the sake of enjoying what is essentially a fabulous story.

When I read the book last month, I had a hard time overlooking Dan Brown’s hackneyed writing, though. The man loves his adjectives—more than most people writing junior-high term papers do. Thankfully, there’s no place for endless strings of hyperdescriptive adjective-noun clusters in a screenplay, so the movie spares us all his “massive table” and “soaring ceiling” and “furrowed brow” speedbumps.

(This week’s New Yorker movie review also lashes into Brown’s adjective habit, pointing out that the book can't even get past its first sentence without tumbling into the Well of Clumsiness: “Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.”)

In any case, I definitely loved the movie more than the book. It manages to squeeze in a good 90% of the book’s intricate plot, which should keep the purists happy. The cinematography mixes a palette of inky colors into a swirl of interesting camera angles and crane shots. The flashback sequences are told with nuance and efficiency. And I didn’t even hate Tom Hanks’ hair.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with my opinion. But since I am the Keeper Of All Empirical Truth, it doesn’t really matter what these people have to say:

I’ve kinda bonded with a guy in my marathon training group. Since our first Saturday run almost a month ago, he and I have been cracking each other up with the funny-only-to-us stuff that spills out of our mouths faster than OxyContin on a bumpy train ride with Rush Limbaugh. After he (my friend, not the crack whore with the radio show) joined my visiting friends and me last weekend for our Shameless Tourist Adventures Through Chicago, he and I discovered we share a lot more than a twisted sense of humor. Given the recent events in our lives, in fact, it’s almost uncanny that we met each other at this moment in time.

So he came over last night to join me in what the AIDS Marathon people call a “maintenance run,” which is really just a fancy name for a run that occurs on a weeknight without the rest of the pace group. We pounded out five miles in beautiful weather (even though my new running shoes gave me some wicked bad ankle pain for the first two miles) and then retired to my house, where I cooked us homemade beef and vegetable soup, raspberry-lettuce salad, and broiled garlic cheese bread with a hint of freezer burn.

Then we sat and talked for a good three hours about everything and nothing ... and about how much we enjoyed each other’s friendship. And—freezer burn notwithstanding—I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

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