i rode the train this morning with a pack of german shepards, seeing eye dogs in training. they were very obedient, lying down quietly on the floor beneath the seats. a pair of cops entered the picture, didn't quite catch on as to the true nature of these canines, and after some suspicious looks, finally asked one of the handlers, "what's with the dogs?" "oh, they're seeing eye dogs in training," he told the police officer. "oh! you see, i didn't know what was going on, i just saw a pack of dogs, and figured i should investigate," he cop laughed with some relief. the trainers and the cop then had a lively conversation for the next few stops. apparently the people who train these dogs also breed them. "when they retire, they can come work for the police department," the officer remarked, thinking it'd be a good idea. "oh no, they wouldn't make good police dogs," one of the woman said, grimacing over the image of a seeing eye dog being used as an attack dog, or vice versa. "they must be expensive, huh?" continued the police officer, "we got 17 dogs of our own on our squad, we import them from germany, $6000/piece. we use them for all sorts of things, sniffing for drugs, for bombs."

not much to report from work, i'm just happy friday is tomorrow and it's going to be a three day weekend. several people in the office are taking an extra day off, so they can get the super long four day weekend. maybe i should do that since there isn't very much for me to do, but i rather save my personal days for when it really counts, like a nice summer day that i can sneak away and go to the beach. i'd been entrusted with the task of taking photos of people working for the promo cd, everyone was willing go along with it except one person who shall remain nameless. around noontime kristine asked if i wanted to go running, which i said yes, although originally i'd planned on having lunch by myself at the taiwan cafe. it was perfect weather for running, one of those not too hot not too cold kind of days, with temperature in the 60's but it felt a little warmer than that. when we came back, i ordered some smelly tofu. i had my $5.55 all ready when i got to the restaurant, but apparently they had just increased the price of certain dishes, smelly tofu being one of them, 25¢ more.

after work i took the c train from park street to coolidge corner in brookline, for the advance screening of hero, a film by zhang yimou, who was presenting the movie and taking questions afterwards. right when i got off the train (6:45), my godmother's son alex called me, asking me if i could save him a seat, since through pure coincidence he was also attending the screening as well. reluctantly i said yes, even though i don't like saving seats for sold out events. at the theatre, there was already a long line snaking around the the building. i got in line and called joel, who was looking for a place to park his jeep. soon after he showed up, dan got there as well, having taken the 66 bus from harvard square. i liked the idea of the three of us taking three different mode of transportation to get here, train, bus, and car.

just as i thought, the theatre was packed, and there was no good 4 seats together, so we took a 3 seats together and i saved a single aisle seat directly in front of me (using my bag as a placeholder). for the next 30 minutes i did nothing but to defend that saved seat from a barrage of people trying to take it. finally, 7:40, with the movie about to start, i gave up that seat, figuring alex would be arriving so late that he wouldn't be able to find me or maybe he already find a single seat somewhere else. as soon as i did that though, alex shows us. he ended up fending for himself.

clinton mcclung came out to introduce somebody he kept calling "johnny mo." i turned to dan and mouthed "who?" did we come to the wrong movie? i then made the connection that "johnny mo" was just clinton's pronounciation of zhang yimou, the director. zhang came out in a buzz cut hairstyle, along with a local translator. he had a deep pleasant voice as he spoken mandarin, and i imagined even if you didn't understand what he was saying, it still sounded important and thoughtful. zhang left to applause, as the theatre darkened, the curtains parted, and hero started.

hero takes place during the period of warring states, when the qin emperor tried to unify all of china. jet li plays a nameless warrior who has been given the honor of meeting the emperor after he successfully defeated three skilled assassins. he enters the emperor's residence, with its vast courtyard filled with palace officials and guards, welcoming the nameless warrior. before meeting the emperor, the warrior is strip searched and warned about approaching too closely or otherwise he'll be killed immediately. when he finally meets the emperor (at a safe distance away), the emperor asks the warrior how he killed the three assassins: long sky (donnie yen), broken sword (tony leung), and flying snow (maggie cheung). the movie then takes us through a series of flashbacks (and sometimes flashback within a flashback) to tell the story. each sequence is filmed in a different color: grey, red, yellow, blue, white, green. it's probably the most visually appealing movie you'll see all year. scenes have a choreographed perfection, like watching a color postcard come to life. i didn't think the fight scenes were anything i haven't seen before, your standard kung-fu action, with the addition of more slow-speed flying and matrix-style camera work. i personally think the fighting in crouching tiger, hidden dragon was better, and compared to movies i've seen recently, the fight scenes in troy beat them all in supposed authenticity and ferocity. perhaps that's not the point though, sometimes the fights seem like a beautiful dance, with billowing robes, the swirling of winds, the streaksplash of water. my favorite fight scene is when broken sword storms the emperor's palace and fights with the emperor himself, pale green curtains suspended from above, blades slicing fabric, and when its all over, the curtains slowly fall down, revealing the two men. zhang ziyi is in this film as well, i know there are a lot of fans of hers from CTHD, and i'm happy to report that she reprises her role as "cute girl who knows kung fu but not well enough to beat the master." i was lukewarm about the movie after seeing it, but after digesting it for a few hours in my mind, i'd recommend it, it's worth seeing. dare i say it, the most visually beautiful martial movie that's ever been made, it's not so much a movie as it's a piece of poetry using colors to convey emotions.

after the credits finished rolling, "johnny mo" came out again with the translator to take questions. the non-chinese translator had a near perfect command of mandarin (you could hardly pick out her accent) but her translations were sometimes off, and occasionally there'd be scattered shouts of corrections from some of the more vocal chinese speaking audience members. i had the unfortunate pleasure of sitting behind a chinese boy dressed like michael jackson with a cane, who carried with him that sort of annoying nerdiness that instinctively makes others to want to give him a beat down. he'd laugh at zhang yimou's anecdotes before the translator had a chance to translate, and had a tendency to shout out answers even though nobody asked him. i tried ducking, so anyone who turned around to see who was making unwanted comments wouldn't finger me as the culprit. the questions that were asked from the audience were for the most part lengthy and convoluted, a question within a question within a question. zhang, himself with a lot to say, would try to answer to the best of his ability through the translator, who instead of translating in real time would wait until the answer or question was finished before translating, sometimes losing pieces of the translation. there were a few questions from chinese audience members who were seemingly unsympathetic to the fact that not everyone can speak chinese, and would have to be reminded to speak in english as well so everyone can understand.

the show was finally over and we left the theatre. i talked with alex for a brief minute before he left. while joel went to get money, dan and i went across the street to get some takeout from macdonalds. there were a few tables of elderly brookline residents who eyed us suspiciously (you'd think they'd be used to the freaks by now, with the coolidge corner theatre next door). we followed joel to boca grande where he got a burrito before we all climbed aboard his jeep and headed up to cambridgeport in central square, to elias' house, where he was hosting poker night.

the boys were huddled around a polygon poker table set up in the kitchen. bob was the big winner tonight, as indicated by the tall stacks of chips in front of him. rob house, who was unstoppable the last time i saw him, appeared more mortal this evening. while they gambled, joel and i stood around and watched for a little bit, before i left with joel and got a ride back to my place, 11:30.

5am, going to bed!