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November 21, 1998

A Bug's Life

Woke up late, as planned. Nearly 11 a.m. when I finished a simple breakfast that included fresh carrot juice, walnut and dried cherry bread, and some cantelope. Mom and Dad were about to have lunch when John and I decided to go to the beach for the early part of the afternoon, we weren't leaving for L.A. until 3:30, so we had a few hours to wander about in the sun and salt breezes.

Of course, after that breakfast, we immediately headed for In and Out Burgers, bought ourselves burgers and fries and headed directly for Pacific Beach, found fringe parking and then settled on the sand to eat. Seagulls had flocked to a man feeding them fairly near by, and then they started to surround us. It is difficult to eat when there are several dozen hungry gazes just staring at me and coming closer and closer and...

A blonde kid would, occasionally, come running by, trying to catch the gulls that were crowding closer. That helped give us enough room to finish nearly all of our food quickly. The last of the fries were scattered onto the sand and a screaming pile of birds descended quickly. John tossed a few stray fries in other directions and the pile of feathered, screaming bodies followed them. That was half scary.

We then strolled down the beach, further and further and I realized that, compared to the last time we'd walked down this beach my knee was in much, much, much better shape. It wasn't at all tired by the time we'd even gotten out of sight of where our car was parked, and by the time we got back I could have still gone on a bit further. That was neat to know. I was still bothered by a lack of sunglasses, though, so we bought a pair on the broadwalk, on the way back, and I resolved to just leave 'em at my parents' house for the next visit.

We went back to the house, and as I got in, before John, I found Kathy and Dad in the Kitchen with a big Happy Birthday! banner set up over the kitchen table, a pile of A Bug's Life party goodies, and a pile of gifts for John. That was really cool of Kathy. So we all yelled, "Surprise!"

They got him really cool birthday stuff, a few PlayStation CD's including the Bandicoot III and Monster Rancher. Kathy bought him a tiny Pokeman Pikachu electronic pet that counts steps, effectively, to create watts to feed to the electric mouse. It's really cute and made me giggle a lot as Sephar is essentially an electric mouse. John immediately stuck the Bandicoot III CD into the player and was off and running, as we had a little time before we had to leave. The graphics on it are astonishing, and it's a blend of II's neater game play with the cool imaginations behind I's settings, lovely, gorgeous, dangerous settings.

We had to drag him away when it came time to go.

The drive up to LA took a while, and as we rode, I saw the layer of smog over the city. Ook. Kathy and John slept while Dad drove and Mom rode. We arrived in Montery Park at about 5:30 and got to the restaurant before 6 p.m., so they weren't very busy, yet. That was good. No wait, and the food was out almost immediately after we ordered it.

Da Bing, a green onion layered yeast dough round about as big as a dinner plate and a good two inches thick. Eel with white Chinese chives, a lamb with green onion dish, stir-fried spinach with a touch of garlic, vegetables wrapped in tofu skins, and a white fish under a crisped red soy bean topping. All very good, very hot, and quick with okay restaurant tea and ice water. Yum.

Short drive to the El Capitan, then, and a short walk to the theater, where we found it would still be an hour before we'd be let into the theater. So we walked over to the Chinese Mann and looked at the footprints and hand prints. John's matched up with Clark Gable. Mine matched up with more male stars then female ones, which amused me. We wandered about aimlessly, and then Mom got a bit cold, so went into some of the tourist shops. I found this lovely pair of black leather shorts with Mickey Mouse in a cowboy outfit embroidered on the side of one leg. Sadly, none of them had a size sticker on 'em, so I had no idea if they could fit.

We wandered through place after place dedicated to pictures of the stars and other oddities and finally found Kathy's friends out on the sidewalk getting a penny pressed for Lamont's mom. Three moms, a dad, five kids. That was kinda cool.

We then got in line for the movie entrance, and eventually made our way in, were given plastic buckets of popcorn, free pop or water and then settled in our reserved seats before the stampede of the non-VIP ticket folks.

Suffice it to say A Bug's Life is *fun* and good. The animation is better than in Toy Story, and it's so good, the natural environment actually *looks* natural, and is no longer evident as a thing to be marveled at, in some ways. In Toy Story there were moments when I lost track of the plot because I was staring at the scars and smudges and marks on a door at foot level rather than watching the characters. In A Bug's Life the animation is so good, the background scenes so realistic that there isn't that sense of 'wow that's good animation', instead, it really does just sink into the background.

Conversely, there really isn't all that much character development to A Bug's Life, entirely unlike the solid character development that happened in Toy Story. It's a tale, and it's a fun one, but the characters aren't changed by it very much.

One thing, though. If you do watch A Bug's Life, stay through the ending credits. Yes, the first several shots have boring-looking calm-lifes of the set, but stick with it and stay in your seat. It's worth the extra little wait.

After that, we went to the Bug House next door, which had all the play areas and game that were set to the Bug theme. There was also a store for all the Bugs Life paraphenalia, and upstairs was a tiny movie theater where they showed Pixar's "Geri's Game", which was a marvelous short about an old man playing chess with himself in the park. It's really, really good. They then showed "Behind the Scenes at Pixar" and how the animation was done, which was pretty cool. That being most of the big people's stuff in the area, we left after seeing that.

I drove back to San Diego. I wanted to. Missed the road trips John and I used to take, missed the driving. Dad's Acura was smooth and powerful enough to be as smooth at 80 MPH as at 60, so I could just drive along with the traffic speeds and keep up and not get in anyone's way. That was good. It brought up a lot of memories to just glide through traffic again, keeping up with some of the faster cars, letting the real speeders bomb through at 90 or 100+. One car rushing by was a black coupe with windows so dark they seemed the same black as the car. All kinds of cool memories as the landscape flowed by, the lights streaming in a heart's pace of pulses.

It was also fast enough to make the drive not too long for my knee. Barely.

When we made it home, it took three or four steps before my knee unlocked, and my legs were sore, but Dad complimented me on my driving and John murmured about missing road trips and knowing it now. Kathy still had to drive home, so was glad of the phase-shifting we'd done the night before.

We got in, I brushed my teeth, finding that my jaw ached. I might have been clenching my teeth while I drove, I finally realized. I was also coughing mildly, my throat sore, and I was sure that I was coming down with a cold.

When I finally fell into bed, I fell asleep solidly.

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