Saturday, August 20, 2005

Opening night at the movies

Went to our local multiplex last night with Dave and my friend Jill. We decided on a new comedy, on its opening night. I've forgotten what opening night in the summer was like -- busy and full of young people, no extra seats, everyone squished next to each other, teenage girls chattering and giggling, squealing, etc. throughout the entire movie.

Being old and boring, I am used to seeing a show several weeks after opening, with the theatre nearly empty except for the six of us who hadn't seen the flick yet. It's actually the way I prefer it... but even then I'll complain about spending $8 to watch pre-movie commercials.

Most often, I stay home and enjoy whatever Netflix has just delivered. I enjoy the comforting experience of the DVD on the big TV at home. And, I like that I can pause the movie to get some popcorn or take care of business. Plus, I don't have to listen to other folks' conversations or hear cell phones beep.

When you compare the two experiences... who would ever pick the cineplex over the livingroom?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

There's a reason why Midwesterners think the West Coast is loopy

So.... a couple weeks ago I returned from a business trip in L.A. -- Hollywood, specifically. I was pretty skeptical of the location, knowing that Hollywood has been a pretty skanky place.

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by the nicely refurbished and mod-looking Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. The service was great, the hotel nicely maintained and the immediate vicinity full of nice shopping and restaurants.

As usual, southern California had gorgeous weather -- sunny and 80 to 85 -- not a cloud in the sky and no oppressing humidity (which I had just left in Michigan). Simply gorgeous. The only thing that confused me were the locals' complaints about the hot weather. I couldn't have asked for better weather, and I wonder what they were used to normally. After all, they basically live next to the desert!

Sometimes, I think that you really do get soft skinned when you live in near-perfect conditions all the time.... you lose appreciation for how great you have it. (I sure wish it had been that nice in Madison, Wis. the following week.)

Anyway... that wasn't the loopy part of the trip. One of the nice features of the area was this outdoor shopping/plaza area full of nice restaurants, cool stores and entertainment options, including a wine tasting, live jazz and whatnot. It was a nice little area, and very fun.

In the middle of it all though, were these weird statues and "decorations" -- I really couldn't figure out the "theme," but figured that it might have been built for a movie at one time and they just left it up.

Babylon plaza tower in Hollywood, Calif. Pillar at Babylon plaza, Hollywood, Calif.

On my last day, I was glancing through the hotel guide when I noticed the name of the shopping plaza... it was called the Babylon Plaza! Now why anyone would want to associate a shopping plaza as the city of the infamous tower and the mad king, I cannot imagine. Perhaps they think that a war-torn, ancient Middle Eastern city is chic?

Thai ballroom dancers in the family?

I decided I'd look up my maiden surname in Google, to see if there were any references to my family in Thailand, none of whom I know but have been ever so curious about....

My dad was from Thailand and married my German-American mother then moved to the Midwest. Since then, we've had minimal contact with his numerous brothers and sisters. A friend of mine asked if I knew any of them, which, of course, I didn't. But, surely with the age of the Internet, there must be some records of cousins, second cousins or the like, who are lilsted on some type of Web site, perhaps at a university or something.

Doing the search brought up several of my old career press releases (I've been a PR contact/communications professional for the last 15 years), several 5K race results (my sister dated a marathon freak and was therefore into running for while) and a bazillion references to geek sites (my brother owns a computer store in Caro, Mich.).

I was starting to think I wasn't going to find a "Rungtranont" from Thailand until one lonely reference came up, to a young woman named Kanchana Rungtranont who was listed as a ballroom dancing competitor!

Unfortunately, I don't know who Kanchana is. More than likely she is the daughter of one of our uncles' children... But there wasn't much information about her, other than she competed twice and got last place each time. Oh, well!