today was a perfect day for adventuring, with the return of warmer weather and the notification from client S that the code i uploaded yesterday was ready to ship out. however, since there isn't much naturing to be had this time of the year, there really wasn't any good places for me to go. instead, i went to the galleria mall (first time in over 4 months) to play with some new macs at the apple store (i'm thinking about getting the 15" mac book) and across the street to petco to see if they had any good aquatic plants. next i went to the newbury comics at fresh pond to cash out some vintage 2001 christmas gift certificates. there was nothing there i really wanted; either it was something i could easily download or i could find the exact same thing online at a cheaper price. i browsed for about an hour before finally deciding on a domokun coin bank and a magazine. since the gift certificates were so old, the cashier couldn't offer me any cash back so instead i had the remainder put onto a gift card. $60 worth of potential grocery money will now have to spent at newbury comics buying more stuff i don't really need.
in the evening i went to porter square to rendenzvous with julie at the station. it's been a long time since i've ridden the MBTA (once again, at least 4 months) and i was surprised at what i found at the station. tokens are no longer sold apparently, replaced by automated vending machines that spit out these new magnetic strip charlie cards. the turnstyles are gone as well, replaced by futuristic translucent panels that slide apart as you walk through them. inside the station, i waited at the end of the platform. after several trains had already gone by, i finally saw julie in the last cabin. she got me some gifts from southeast asia, including a beautiful (but dead) green beetle, a packet of khao soy chili paste, and a mysterious tool that looks like some sort of homemade tattoo device. we got off at downtown crossing and walked to chinatown to have dinner at pho hoa. i was so hungry i seriously considered ordering two entrees but decided to get the hue noodle instead while julie got the pad thai.
feeling sleepy, julie decided to bail out from the movie while i went to the boston common theatre to meet up with joel and sara. the line to see the advance screening of stranger than fiction was the longest i've ever seen it, and i was told that probably half of the people waiting would be turned away. the movie showcases the serious acting chops of will ferrell as he tries out roles other than straight comedy, along the same line as jim carrey or bill murray, comics turned serious thespians. it's still a comedy, but there's a deeper metaphysical message, when IRS auditor harold crick (ferrell) starts hearing a voice narrating the details of his life, almost like he's a character in a book, which turns out to be true. the author turns out to be kay eiffel (emma thompson), famous for her books where the hero always dies in the end. dustin hoffman plays a literature professor who helps harold make sense of the unfolding narrative, and maggie gyllenhaal plays harold's love interest, whom he first meets when he visits her bakery to audit her. the whole IRS storyline hits a little close to home in light of my own audit earlier this week. i didn't buy into the romance between gyllenhaal and ferrell because of the apparent age difference (although in reality, they're only 10 years apart, but she just seems more youthful). queen latifah has a small role as well, as kay eiffel's assistant. she's one of those actors that i have a hard time seeing them disappear into their role, but instead i keep on thinking, "hey, that's queen latifah!" about 10 minutes before the movie ended the projector ran out of film and the theatre lights automatically went on. a few dozen people (the geniuses) thought the movie was over and left, while everybody else waited patiently as sara went outside to complain. moments later the movie started back again where we left off. stranger than fiction is a quirky little film. fans of anchorman's style of humor might be disappointed with ferrell's fairly straight humor portrayal of harold crick, but the movie makes you think, and it's one of the rare films where ferrell doesn't show off his ass (which is a plus in my book).
i walked to park street and grabbed the train back to cambridge. seeing all the different people riding the T, i still haven't gotten used to how mixed the population is. folks of all shapes, sizes, and colors - makes for much better people watching compared to a homogenous population like china.