i left for harvard square at noon, meeting julie (traveling via bike) at the harvard square theatre to go see the matinee showing of american splendor. julie wrote down the names of some of the trailers we saw on a piece of napkin, including lost in translation, this cool bill murray movie set in tokyo. i thought american splendor was an interesting movie but not the level of praise being written by critics. the movie reads more like an autobiographical documentary than just a film, since comic book writer harvey pekar himself stars in the movie besides providing the narration (paul giamatti plays harvey in all the dramatic reenactments, and comic stills and animations round the rest pekar's on-screen personification). the one thing i found really interesting was how he used basic everyday observations about life as the stories for his comics, which i saw as a parallel to writing a weblog. this is the second matinee i saw this week (the other one being the secret lifes of dentists at kendall), and the second movie with hope davis, an actress that up to this point didn't really register on my celebrity radar. i read something comparing american splendor with ghost world, dark films about the lives of misfits. i had lukewarm fondness for ghost world, and the same goes with american splendor.
after we came out of the theatre, we both checked our cellphones for messages (i remember a time when we didn't have cellphones, the good old days). julie stood in the doorway of the theatre underneath her jacket making a phone to mark hickey. we went to SBI above the harvard square staples to find film for julie's 8mm video camera. the cost of the film plus development was $30, but to have it transferred over to videotape (not even dvd) was $70, so it'd cost $100 just to get a roll made so people could see it. i told her she should just get a digital video camera for the cost of a few 8mm developments & transfers. we sneered at the sudden september influx of students then made a quick stop at finangle a bagel then the body shop before we went back to our respective homes.
i fluttered around at home, briefly meeting mike who was doing some organizing in his bedroom before he left to go register for classes. i talked to amy briefly, who told me she released her monarch butterfly in her science classroom, which was a big hit with all the kids. a smattering of work was done as well as the dishes and a load of laundry before mandy came over. the plan was she'd park by my place, go to her yoga class in porter square, then come back, where we'd go have dinner in chinatown followed by jacque's to see some drag queens performing. i was surprised when mandy came back soon after she left. she had decided to not go to yoga because it was just too hectic, and had actually came back and rang the doorbell earlier but i didn't hear it, so she sat on the steps then took a walk around my neighborhood, before coming back again. that's when i finally noticed her hair color, she had dyed it brown, but it still seemed blonde to me, just a darker blonde.
we got dressed and took the t into chinatown. i gave mandy a list of possible cuisine for tonight: vietnamese, taiwanese, malaysian, chinese, japanese, or korean. she picked korean, or more specifically, korean bbq. we went to apollo, where we were the only customers in the restaurant. we ordered a plate of bulgogi and a plate of kalbi, and sat back as our miso soup, our assortment of korean side dishes, and our rice were served to us. the waitress had some problem lighting the tabletop grill, despite the fact that both mandy and i suggested on several occasions that we wouldn't mind moving to another table. eventually she got it to light after the assistance of another waitress. when our plates of raw meat arrived, it was time to barbecue, slices of marinated beef sizzling on the metal heating plate, occasionally splattering hot oil onto our forearms as we used tongs to turn the meat. it was very delicious, but we probably ordered too much meat. the second half of the meal was more a case of forced digestion, since it'd be impossible for us to take home the stuff.
after dinner we walked down to jacque's in the theatre district. since it was still an hour and half before the show started ("is there a performance tonight?" i asked the doorman discreetly), we decided to go for a walk, despite mandy wearing her "fall down" shoes. i showed her boston's miniature version of time square, and we looked into the windows of foo foo boston restaurants. we came back to jacque's, where after paying the $6 cover charge, we got some seats at the bar and ordered drinks, i went with my standard coke (a dentist rinse cup sized container for $2) while mandy had the bartender fix her up a special drink that tasted like chocolate, for her upset stomach (it was all that meat we had). it was pretty empty when we got there, just a few regular looking patrons crowding around the alcohol counter, a few guys playing pool, a couple of transvestites talking with fellows (the usual). as the evening drew closer to showtime, we took up position by the main stage area, the cushioned seatings against the mirrored walls (who knows when the last time those filthy cushions were cleaned), near the spotlight platform. theatre lights on the ceiling, shiny streamer stage curtain, black naugahyde chairs, flyers on the table advertising thursday night's performance.
in all my past jacque's experience (twice, this was my third time, i'm starting to become an old pro at this), the drag queens come in threes, always of varying ethnicity. tonight was two black women and a white girl (the last time was three asian chicks). one black woman (the hostess) had a preference for slow songs, ella fitzgerald, dionne warwick, which kind of put the audience in a non-giving mood. besides mandy and i, there was a trio of lipstick lesbians in the crowd, 3 straight guys and a girl, 2 chicks (friends of the deejay), and several tables of gay boys dancing in their seats. there was also a gathering of out of drag drag queens, perhaps their night off from performing, they knew all the girls on stage, and would even performance in sync with them from the sideline of the bar. off in the distance i could see the flickering of the red sox game, too far away to ascertain the score. besides the stage area, there seemed to be a lot of activity down by the bar despite the wednesday night crowd. about the 2/3 of the people were regular looking folks, while the rest were women who were probably men. when the performance got a little boring, i'd occasionally watch the roaming transvestites, some of them, i'll be honest, it'd be impossible to tell the difference. a night at jacque's always leaves me confused. the second drag queen performer was a white girl with an affinity for country music, starting things off with some shania twain ("i feel like a woman," "that don't impress me much"). the third performer of the evening, a statuesque black woman named misery, came out in this horrible 80's patterned inspired bodysuit that looked more like astronaut padding than anything remotely sexy. she'd rectify her bad sense of fashion later in the evening with an ass-shaking rendition of destiny's child's "bootylicious". mandy and i threw dollar bills at the drag queens all evening, depleting our supply of $1. sometimes the illusion would be broken when a performer would whisper "thank you" in a deep husky man voice.
the show drew to a close at midnight. by then, besides us, only the deejay's friends were still in the audience, everyone else having already left. we walked to park street, where we caught the red line back into porter square. mandy and i sneered at the college crowd with seething contempt. there was a slight drizzle walking back from the train station. mandy gathered up her stuff from the house and drove back to her sister's place in watertown.