Monthly Archives: June 2010

Third time’s the charmer

So I took the Villa Villekulla clan to see Toy Story 3 the other day, and you’ll just have to deal with the fact that this is not going to be the space for any Armond White-style contrarianism about what deserves to be the most widely loved movie since E.T. waddled across the screen back in 1982. I didn’t much care for E.T. at the time, and I still think it’s a cold-eyed, manipulative, bombastic piece of junk.  But where Toy Story 3 is concerned, this blog is a contrarianism-free zone. The movie had me in the palm of its hand right from its opening, and during the final act — which begins at the moment Andy’s mother clutches up at the sight of his empty room — I was ready to do anything for the people at Pixar. Bring them coffee in the morning, drive them to work, wash their cars, babysit their kids — whatever.

My biggest problem with last summer’s Pixar entry, Up, was that the  silly action-blast finale was a disappointing step back from the deep chords of emotion sounded in the film’s opening. No such problem with Toy Story 3. The film is loaded with action sequences, satire, pop-culture jokes, and slapstick, but they all mesh perfectly with deeper character moments and poignant twists. There’s nary a misstep nor a cheap shot in any of its 90 or so minutes, and every one of its emotional beats is well earned indeed.

It’s been a good 15 years since that first Toy Story, and the Pixar crew have done more with that time than simply upgrade their computers. The story may feel light as air, but a lot of heavy thinking has gone into it. The thematic linkages between all three movies are dense and cleverly worked out, and Toy Story 3 pulls them into a  fine, tight knot.

I’m know  I’m going to see Toy Story 3 at least a few more times once it hits DVD, but even a single viewing gives me plenty to chew on.  The imaginary play that opened Toy Story is recapitulated at the start of Toy Story 3, only this time from within Andy’s mind. The villains in all three films have been guilty of misusing toys, whether by torturing them, putting them on display away from children, or deliberately leaving them vulnerable to abuse. Having shown us what should not be done with toys. Toy Story 3 concludes by showing us what should be done with toys. Without being at all heavy handed, the film argues for imaginative play as a means of moral and emotional development, and in its quiet way the conclusion of Toy Story 3 is one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen in a theater.

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Say hello to Glenn

After hearing multiple requests for espresso, I broke down and bought a Nespresso machine for the bookstore coffee station. The customers have been uniformly approving of the drinks. I have to admit I’m endlessly fascinated by the little coffee warheads that get fed into the machine. For some reason, I’m reminded of the Strange Change machine I had back in the day.

To complete the caffeine experience, I ordered a milk frother to go with the Nespresso, and it’s a wonderful gizmo in its own right. I’ve named it Glenn Beck — or, as we say down at the bookstore, just Glenn. Like its namesake, Glenn is a machine built to produce large amounts of froth at the mere touch of a button. Except the end product of the bookstore’s Glenn is much more palatable.

How about that! Just now, I happened to mention ACORN while using the frother and it produced twice as much foam as usual. Maybe I should have named it O’Reilly?

Spill, baby, spill

The Daily Show would be hard put to improve on this video. All that’s missing is some bought-and-paid-for creep suggesting the government (i.e., the taxpayers) should help pay the tab.

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A matter of tastes

After long consideration and deep thought, I have concluded that I simply don’t get the idea of bubble tea. I don’t get it at all.

Just so we understand each other, I’m talking about iced tea that comes in a plastic cup with little pearls of tapioca lying on the bottom. It comes with a very wide straw that allows the pearls to be sucked up along with the tea. So you’ll be enjoying your tea, and suddenly there will be this little blurtch of chewy pellets filling your mouth.

I mention this because I’ve been casting around for ways to sell bubble tea at the store, and it appears to be an expensive, labor-intensive product. On top of which, I don’t get it.

I like iced tea and I like tapioca pudding, but it never occurred to me to combine the two. The same goes for ice cream and Swedish meatballs, or single-malt whisky and Kombucha. As much as I like them, I feel no impulse to combine them. Quite the opposite, in fact. So there’s my closed mind.

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