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Monday, October 31, 2005

I Love Halloween

Best Holiday Ever Created. Yup.

I sit at my desk today in an impromptu pirate costume. I stumbled on a cute pirate hat and decided I had to have it, not knowing when I'd ever be dressed as a pirate. Thanks to my magical costume closet of holding, I'm a pirate today. My magic costume closet has treated me very well for the last 10 days. Each time a costume event has come up, sometime in the hours preceding the event, I've gone to the closet and asked it to provide. Each time, I've walked away dressed very successfully. I've been a goth replete with black bustled skirt, lace blouse, PVC bodice, and jeweled neclace for the Waltz Macabre. For Gaskells, I pulled out a white lace dress, a veil, and a tiara with intentions to be a dead bride, but then couldn't find my white face makeup (or a sufficient bouquet of dead flowers), so ended up as a pretty pretty princess instead. Last night at bedtime, Rick and I dug through to find the various accoutrements of a pirate. With his old wrist braces, his flouncy white shirt, my black and red striped stockings, a piece of blue silk to tie round my head, an old faire belt, cup, and knife, and some wide legged house pants, I'm ready for a short and merry life at the sweet trade. Or at least a couple dozen HelpSU requests.

We had a potluck at work today, and after being out late carving pumpkins, I utterly flailed on pulling together a dish. So I stopped at KFC on the way in. Waiting for my bucket of chicken, a Honda Odyssey pulled up, and out stepped Colonel Sanders. Or, at least a very fine Halloween replica, complete with white suit, ribbon tie, white hair, beard and goatee. He gave me a little salute on his way in. I sat there with a big ol' grin, and then he came out, about the same time as the employee came out with my chicken. Turns out, he didn't work there like I'd assumed at first. He was just picking up the requisite chicken to take to wherever he was headed for the day. Priceless. Did I mention I love Halloween? Oh yeah. And on my way to work, I listened to the start of the 10@10 set on KFOG, all Halloween themed, including Thriller, Dead Man's Party, This is Halloween, and Werewolves of London. Wheee!

Tonight I will pretend to be an adult and hand out candy to trick or treaters on my street. I figure it should be interesting to try once. Depending on the quantity of trick or treaters, next year will either be more elaborate, or back to the old tradition on Halloween caroling.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Weird Day at Stanford

It's been an odd day.

I won a copy of Microsoft Money at the IT Open House. I never win raffles. This was totally bizarre.

Then, I saw my first actual bicycle crash on campus. Two bicycles head on. Both parties were okay, but after seeing so many near misses, I was just taken aback by seeing two crazy students actually smash into each other.

Just now as I'm working the HelpSU queue, a student writes in about chaging the grading basis for a course. I exclaim to my roomie, "Holy crap! We teach Beginning Zulu?!" Yes, in African & Middle Eastern language studies. Go figure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This American Life

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but This American Life is a truly fabulous show. Tonight, while working late-ish in order to finish up the prep for the Course Maintenance class on Thursday, I listened to "Godless America", originally broadcast in June. It has a really fantastic exploration of religion, god, and the U.S. Constitution. The second half is from Julia Sweeney, talking about reading the Bible in her Bible study class. She had pretty much the same reaction I did to the Bible, only I never got around to reading Revelations because I was just too pissed off by then, and well, we ran out of time in my "Bible as Literature" class. Guess I should go back and do that sometime. Anyway, people who say they believe in everything in the Bible should be locked up promptly, especially if they're a female. It's full of truly horrifying stories, many of which justify or encourage rape and murder and put a whole new spin on the phrase "family values". Anyway, it's a great hour of radio, and you can listen to it for free online, or download it for just $3.95 from Audible.com.

Christmas Carols on Halloween?

Well, I've decided not to go caroling this year. Instead, I'm going to try the time honored tradition of handing out candy to strangers from my doorstep. I know, I know, I'm lame. But all of the folks expressing interest seemed to be in the East Bay, and so dragging them to my neighborhood seemed cruel, and trying to get to Alameda or Berkeley on Halloween evening with all the other parents rushing home to get their kids ready for trick or treating sounded too painful. So, I'll light my home, carve some squash, and give out lots of tooth rotting treats. (God but I do feel old!)

Anyway, for those of you what were or are interested, I've got two carol books with text sized for when it's dim out - one for
all carols (or at least all the favorites and most requested) and one for all the non-Christ oriented carols (because after four or five of those in a row one year, someone said, "I feel like I'm proselytizing for a religion I don't practice."). I also have some candy canes and a lovely green basket with red velvet lining and jingle bells just for the occassion if anyone wants me to loan it to them. I'll be at Gaskells on Saturday and can hand it off. I recommend dressing in either Victorian or your best wooly coat and scarf and gloves. Make it look like it's winter in Boston or London. This gives the best, most confounding effect.

So here's how it goes:
Knock on the door. The door opens and start singing immediately. Hand the door opener a candy cane. Finish the song and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Common reactions:
Laughter.
Lots of laughter and falling over doubled with laughter.
Calling of other residents from other rooms.
Blank stares.
"Why are you doing this?" (an appropriate answer is "Only 54 shopping days left until Christmas!" in a serenely cheerful voice)
"Aren't you guys a little early?" (see previous appropriate answer)

Uncommon reactions:
Cash donations.
Requests for additional songs.
Closing the door on you.
"No, thanks." to the candy cane offer.
Freezing, with cap guns drawn and hunkered down, completely dumbfounded and perplexed until the song finishes and you slide a candy cane in the end of the guns. (no, really, this actually did happen once.)

Remember, kids go trick or treating as soon as it is dark, and are usually done by 8pm. Start early for the best reactions. And in general, the policy is to not accept candy from those you carol to, unless they completely insist.

After caroling, I recommend dinner out, or a good monster movie back at the base.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Charity Auction Winner

I just won a charity auction for a conversation with John Billingsly, the chap who played Dr. Phlox on Enterprise. I originally bid out of curiosity. Then stayed in the bidding at the end because the chap I was bidding against had the handle of "spasticjackass". I thought, "I can't possibly inflict a spastic jackass on this poor actor who so generously offered to participate in this charity auction." I had a hard limit of dollars in my head, and came just $4.50 shy of that limit. But, I saved John Billingsly from the spastic jackass. Now I have to live up to my honor. So if anyone has any suggestions for what to ask of/discuss with John Billingsly, pipe up now. The last thing I want is to be left floundering for questions, making a complete spastic jackass of myself.

Bad Drivers

There are many varieties of bad drivers on the road, but on my morning commute, one is particularly prevalent: the pushy fast-lane driver. At some point in California history, the fast-lane became the rules be damned lane. I'm not sure when this was, as it was well before I got my license. I accept this to a large degree, so long as people aren't being total pricks. On 280 in the mornings, traffic usually maintains a certain level of sanity until about Foothill Boulevard, and then inexplicably, those in the fast lane get really pushy. This involves roaring up on a driver travelling above the speed limit and tailgating him or her with less than a car length of space until that driver moves out of the lane. Sometimes this takes on even more insidious forms, like today when there was enough traffic that the driver being pushed couldn't just move into the next lane because there was another car travelling there, yet the pushy driver kept up the pressure and started flashing his lights. I thought, "Geez man, try some decaf." But he wasn't the only one. After that little scenario broke apart with the pushy driver swerving across two lanes and then squeaking back into the fast lane in front of the original driver, narrowly missing another car in the next lane, and making me cringe and hover with my foot over the brake, just waiting to avoid the almost certain accident. Finally, the original driver managed to get out of the fast lane, but the fun didn't stop there. He managed to get out of the fast lane just in time to get in front of someone else who was trying to bust a move around another pair of drivers in the fast lane behind him. One of those drivers was doing a mere 70, and one person was already tailgating, so the third pushy driver decided the best policy was just to speed around them both, only to be forced to slam on his brakes when faced with the other guy trying to get out of the fast-lane maniacs' way. What's worse, all of this was taking place between Lawrence and Foothill, miles before the usual insanity started.

I have no qualms with the far left lane being the fast lane. I have no qualms with people in it doing more than the speed limit (at their own risk of being ticketed). But being beligerant to other drivers who are doing over the speed limit and are going faster than the traffic to their right is really unacceptable. And risking the lives of those around them just because they want to break the law even more than those they're following is absurd. Sure, let the car in front of you know you exist, and would like to pass. Then BACK OFF and let them deal with the scenario. I for one don't feel comfortable doing the checking and looking necessary to change lanes when someone is following me with less than a car length of distance at 70+ miles an hour. I'm funny like that. And for Pete's sake, just chill out in the morning. How can you possibly be that agro that early? I'm still wiping sleep from my eyes, and other folks look like they've just come off of playing an hour of Rush.

As for me, I've just learned to stay in the second or third lane on my way to work. Those people are crazy and they scare me. A lot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Halloween Carols?

I've been doing my best to keep the tradition of Halloween carols alive for the past four or five years, stepping off from Frederik's house in Union City. But this year, Fred has moved, and I'm not sure where a good neighborhood to do it would be. We could conceiveably do it near my neighborhood, but I'd recommend heading over to Naglee Park first (about five blocks, over the creek). So that's an option. Another option is passing the baton to someone else to maintain this fine tradition. Any suggestions?

Remember, few things are scarier on All Hallows Eve than being handed a candy cane and informed that there's only 54 shopping days left until Christmas!

Day In Pictures

I just love this shot from the SFGate's Day in Pictures.

Disneyland

So last week I survived the Grad Admissions class, and promptly left for Disneyland. A little "Hey, we should go to Disneyland together..." mentioned to Michelle and Kerry expanded first with an invitation to Malaya and Fred as passholders, and then included Shauna and Sherman (also passholders) and surprisingly, everybody was in and the 8 of us tromped through Disneyland. I think my favorite part was lunch at the Blue Bayou on Saturday. Spirited conversation was had, and the hustle and bustle of the park was left behind. The eight of us around a table clearly meant for six, all cozied up having a lovely meal in a perfect setting complete with a jolly dessert - baked apple with caramel sauce. I ate so much at 2 that I wasn't ready for dinner until 10:30, and even then, I could've skipped it if everyone else hadn't been ready to faint dead away. Also, the Haunted Mansion shone in its festive holiday decor, the Astro Blasters were as much fun as before, we got a 2 for 1 ride on the Matterhorn, dragged both Fred and Malaya on to the Tower of Terror, got to experience Turtle Talk with Crush, and a kept bumping into a fun cast member named Fany who seemed to have a great sense of humor even though she was working late at Indy on Saturday and was back the next morning to work Big Thunder Mountain.

And then we drove home on Monday. The drive took far longer than it ever has before, due in large part to the deadly combination of poor drivers and bad weather. First, there was the overturned fuel tanker crashed on I-5. Then there was the gauntlet between Valencia and Grapevine where we saw 7 or 8 accidents, 2 overturned vehicles, and drove through the start of a flash flood. The road was closed shortly after we made it through because the flash flood became a mudslide. It was pretty amazing. At the 37 party, Scott had asked for tales of weather. Perhaps that question was still hanging in the air, because boy do we have new tales to tell. Coming out of the mountains where the lightning flash and the thunderclap seemed almost simultaneous, the storm broke away to reveal a beautiful sunset, full of rich red hues dappled by wispy white clouds.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wells Fargo Bill Pay Online

Can I just talk for a second about how cool Wells Fargo Bill Pay online is? It's very very cool. I have it set up to automatically pay my SBC bill, which is phone and DSL. It's set up to pay it every month, unless the bill is more than $50, in which case it should email me and see what I want to do. So this worked, perfectly, today. I checked my morning email and there was a note saying my phone bill was $61. I was surprised. Turns out they'd increased the cost of my DSL service from $24.95 to $49.95 after my 1 year contract ran out. So I called SBC and said, "Do I need to shop for a new DSL provider?" and they said, oh this is normal, and would you like to sign up for another 12 months at $19.95? Yes, I guess I would. And didn't you get our mailing, or the email or whatever? And I said no. Turns out they sent the email to some SBC created account which I don't even know the password for, and I never got any snail mail. But WFB Bill Pay Online caught it for me. And this is only the hundred and tenth time that it's saved me money, time, or trouble. I love that when a payee misses a bill, I can check and say, "Nope, WFB sent it to you on this day. Sounds like you need to work it out with them." And then I go la la la on my merry way. I don't have to buy stamps or argue about whether the check got there. It's a whole big case of "Oh, see how this isn't my problem?" Yeah. I love my free online bill pay with Wells Fargo. Best thing ever.

And for all the hoo-rah advertising of Washington Mutual, I have been almost equally impressed with the lack of decent web support or customer service from WAMU. Not to mention the snafu Fred and Malaya went through when they set up an account at Washington Mutual, and WAMU sent them someone else's account information, including his social security number. They stink. I'm staying with WFB. I know they've messed up badly for plenty of other folks, but they've been great for me for ten years now.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sometimes it's worthwhile

I survived teaching Graduate Admissions. Tuesday everything came together. I met with the business owner and reviewed the content of the class and she said, "So what do you need me for? Looks like you've got it all covered." This was reassuring considering I'd really only started looking at this less than a month ago when I found out I'd be teaching the class since Anh was leaving the team. Since then, I've fully revised the manual, created the classroom slides from scratch, created all new classroom exercises, tested it all, and finally gotten sign off from the business owner. It's been a long time since I've gotten to do anything so comprehensive and from such a position of total ignorance. It's a nice reminder that this is what I am good at. Yesterday all I had to do was put together folders. I've left work at a reasonable hour for 2 days running. And today I taught the class to 7 eager students. We finished the course in just the right amount of time, having taken two nice 10 minute breaks. All of the course evaluations were positive, and one wrote:
Ammy was a very good instructor, especially for her first time teaching this. I enjoyed the class and learned a lot.

Aw! And this concludes my latest foray into too long work weeks with too much to do. Well, for a little while anyway. The funny thing is that I kind of made all this work for myself. I could've just used the manual as it was, but I've got this funky idealism that wanted the materials to be accurate, updated, useful, and well-designed. I've got that now for this class, and I'm kind of proud of it. So it was a few extra nights in front of the ol' computer. It was totally worth it, not because it's appreciated by the campus as a whole, or the university leadership, or the campus clients, but for just for me. I like to do good work rather than just skating by. And I think Pixel will forgive me eventually. There may be some shrimp treats as a bribe. He's a sucker for those.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tired...

So I've been working a lot lately. There was the quarter to midnight thing last Monday, followed by the 10pm departure the next day, followed by a short day (to go to the theater in the city), followed by another til midnight day, followed by working til just after ten before running to Friday night waltz. Yesterday I got in a few minutes after 10 and left a few minutes after 10. It was almost exactly 12 hours because I was listening to 10@10 on KFOG on my way in, and got to hear the rest of the set on my way home.

Then today I go to my staff meeting and am told that things will be changing. We have to change how we're working and produce more for less money and work with our off-shore partner and unify our business processes because our clients think our quality of work is poor and that our service is too expensive and that we have no discipline. Somehow after a 55 hour work week and a 12 hour day, that's a little hard to hear. I've been on the change wagon train for the past four years, and I keep helping to push that wagon over the hills and there's just more hills out there as far as the eye can see, and those riding in the wagon aren't getting any happier and I'm getting awfully tired.

But I'm so close to being ready for my Graduate Admissions course on Thursday. Maybe tonight I'll get to go home at a reasonable hour. Better not jinx it though.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Weekend Warriors

Well this may come as a shock to no one, but we had a very busy, fun, and interesting weekend, with an interesting pothole.

I started the weekend by working far too late, but getting a revised draft off to the business owner at 10pm on Friday. Then I headed on to Friday Night Waltz. Dancing was great. I really enjoyed the closing Bronwyn with Bob, Tracey, and Sam, followed by mad polka-ness when Joan wasn't standing close enough to the player to stop it before it played the next track.

I came home to find leftovers from The Vegetarian House and an Auntie Alex curled up in the guest room. She and Rick had had a lazy evening of Tivo and Firefly. Auntie was our test case at Serenity, confirming that yes, it was a good movie regardless of never having watched Firefly. And now she was curious about the rest of the story. So we all headed off to bed and rose the next morning to grab breakfast at Hobee's and go see The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Wallace and Gromit are every bit as much of a total joy as they've ever been, and all the little bunnies said, "Wheeeeee!" Anyway, it was great. Since late September, it's been a smorgasboard of fabulous-for-me movies - Corpse Bride, Serenity, MirrorMask, and now Wallace & Gromit. Coming soon is Rent. Can't wait!

Anyway, after that we headed on to the "I'm not old; I'm 37!" party at Fred's parent's place. Rick, Fred, and Shauna are all 37 this year, so it was sort of a joint birthday party. There was a mountain of food, a warm gathering of good friends, and Scott got us all rolling with a couple of perfect party questions. His first was "What's your most interesting weather experience?" An hour or so later we had all told amazing stories of crazy weather while I sat roasting my back by the fire. We kept on with other questions and adventures and all in all, it was just a practically perfect party.

We talked Auntie into spending the night again, and slept a few hours and roused ourselves for Second Sunday brunch at Kevin's place. Just before we left, our power went out at home. We figured it'd be on when we got back. Many of the same faces returned to gather round a square table to sip mimosas, gnosh on bagels, savor quiche made by Rachel, and basque in the glory of an October day in Sunnyvale. We were even treated to a fly-by by a flock of green parrots. We returned home between five and six to find we still had now power. We figured it would certainly be on before we got back from the Swank Farms maze.

So we headed to Hollister, making it in an easy 45 minute drive, and I must say, it's really worth the drive. Everything about it was a blast. There was the little pedal carts, the pumpkin slingshots, the wonderfully complicated maze, and the Conover Mystery Ranch haunted attraction. For $15 a head, we spent over 3 hours and could've easily played for another hour or two, but it was getting late, and we hadn't had dinner beforehand. Dick and Bonnie are just about the nicest couple you can imagine. We spent two hours finding our way through the maze, assisted by my suprisingly skillful map reading skills. And then there was the mystery ranch, which has a corn maze of its own, but has several buildings along the way. What makes this better than most haunted attractions is that the staff really wants to make it an interactive experience. There was a group just behind us with a scaredy-cat named Christina. The line ghouls scared her senseless, and her friends said things like "Oh Christina's scared, ha ha." And then the ghouls knew her name. When we came into the smokehouse room with a butcher's shop up front, written on the "Today's Specials" board was "Christina". It was priceless. The haunt was non-gory and tasteful while still delivering some really good scares. The staff work hard to make it great experience, and the layout allows for them to really give you plenty of room to run away without blowing through pieces of the attraction. And yes, you will run.

So we headed home, thinking we'd have a light snack for supper and hit the hay. Only when we got home, the power was still out. A call to PG&E yielding little more than, "Yes, we're aware. We have a crew working on it." After 11 hours, I was looking for a little more information. We headed out again to see if we could verify that there was a crew working because we hadn't seen one on our way in. We found them over on San Fernando and 26th. The guy with the sign said it had been something related to a pair of birds, and that they thought they had it fixed at 8:30, but then it all blew out again. We also knew there was a big accident at 24th and William earlier that may have been the cause or the result. Either way, I'll be contacting my city council woman to discuss all the power outages that keep happening at that corner. So, we headed toward home, and called Christyn and Brian en route to ask if we could borrow some freezer space. Luckily they weren't home yet and so I wasn't waking them up. Our street is a little funny in that the grid ends two doors down from our house, so people two houses over had lights, but not us. As we were driving home from the lit direction, the street looked like it just fell away into a black hole. It was eerie. We pulled into the driveway, ready to mount a battle to decide what to save and what to give up on in the fridge when Rick said, "What is that?" One of the street lamps was glowing red. Then the neightbors porch light started to flicker. Then our porch light started to flicker. Then the street slowly glowed back to life, faltering momentarily, and then glowing again. We headed inside and sure enough, everything was back up and running. So we settled in, grabbed a bite to eat, and watched the partial episode of West Wing that had recorded thanks to the UPS on the Tivo. It was late, and it had been a mighty long day, but it was nice to have a few minutes of at home time on the sofa with Pixel happily purring on either one of us from moment to moment.

And now I really need a day off to recover from my weekend.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cancer Vaccine!!!

Oh this so rocks. Merck has been testing a HPV vaccine for a while, and it's proving effective not only against the HPV, but the cervical cancer it causes. This rules. It's nice to see a strictly women's health issue getting real attention. This could really change things for the next generation of women. Imagine a world where the annual PAP smear wasn't necessary...

Dance Partners of Doooooom

Just finished my second Blues class with Richard Powers. I do so dearly love his teaching style. It's casual and friendly and non-threatening. I've been taking his classes for four years or so now so a lot of what he's teaching is familiar or just one step off of something else I already know. Then the only hurdle is getting my brain wrapped around the tiny difference. We were doing a triple hesitation step tonight and I flubbed it a couple of times, stepping forward with the wrong foot, and my partner took it as his cue to start helping teach me. Young pup, didn't have the heart to tell him any instruction from him wouldn't help a lick, it's just my old lady brain having an argument with my legs, and durned if his inability to lead wasn't making it MUCH worse. I finally did give him a clue that his lead was inaccurate and misleading, sometime after he suggested to me that it was easy and I'll get it, just try this. When I finally made it back to the arms of my first partner, I did the step without thinking about it because Sam can lead.

Few things are more annoying in a dance class than those who think they know what they're doing (but really don't) trying to assist the teacher. I'm sure I was this sort of sophomore at some point, but after more than a dozen years of partnered dance, it just makes me want to say unkind things to the little whipper-snappers.

Serenity on your computer

The international marketing campaign for Serenity has released the first 9 minutes of the movie online. If you've been waffling, well, maybe it'll spark your interest. Of course, I'd say, just get out there and see it. It's a good film, and it's really grown on me over the intervening five months since I first saw it.

Happy Anniversary

So Rick and I have been dating er, seeing each other? um, a couple (or whatever) for seven years now.

We're headed to Hollister on Sunday evening for our traditional recreation of our first date - a tromp through a maize maze. The Swank Farms maze looks like a particularly impressive corn maze, combining a Haunted House and a corn maze in one.

But last night we went to see Rain at the Curran theater. I noticed the review last Friday, and searching for tickets found seats in the front row of the balcony for last night. I suggested going to Rick, and he said okay, so tickets were purchased and off we went. He suggested that since it was our anniversary, maybe we could treat ourselves to a night in the city. So we stayed at the King George around the corner from the theater. It's a cute little hotel that reminds me of Europe. The rooms are small but well appointed. Our only disappointment was in having the room that was too close to the elevator. But, we'd cheerfully stay there again, just being sure to specify any room but the one that shares a wall with the elevator. So, I drove up to the city from work, went to the hotel and showered and changed, then headed to the theater. After the show we went to dinner at Cafe Mason. They have a delicious gnocchi dish with red pepper gnocchi in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce. Yummy. Then we went back to to the hotel and Rick played with his new camera, so now there's some nice pictures of me in my blue dress. And then off to sleep to get up and drive to work in the morning. It was a nice anniversary treat.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More Serenity

Okay, so the SF Chronicle review was great, but this is just fun to read. Who knew real writers ever worked as movie reviewers?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WTF?

Okay, so usually, when you're appointed to one of the most prestigious, influential, and enduring jobs in the world, you have some impressive credentials and years of experience. But Bush appoints his friend Harriet who has no experience as a judge, no scholarship to speak of in the field, and a resume that leaves a lot to be desired. I don't get it. Did he learn nothing from the FEMA snafu with dear old Brownie? Sigh. Again and again, it's not what you know (or how bright you are), but who you know. And that's no basis for running a country. Well, not a super-power anyway. It's more the realm of the backwater third world governments we laughed about in my youth. I'm not laughing now.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tired Now

It doesn't happen often, and when it does, it's usually for a very good reason, but this is one of those nights. It's quarter to midnight, and I'm just leaving the office. But, the grad admissions manual is thoroughly revised save for one module that had to be put on hold til Thursday for a report revision. Woo and hoo, I do say.

Now to home, to sleep, to return by 10 for a meeting, to teach a class at 1, and to meet with the grad admissions reporting specialist at 4. Busy day, which is good because otherwise I'd probably fall asleep at my desk.

Serenity Numbers

Well I had a great time at dinner and Serenity on Friday, but looking at the gross numbers, it's proof positive again that what I like is rarely what the average person will be interested in. Okie dokie. Also note that MirrorMask did well for the screens it was on. We went to see it last night, and the story is predictable, but it's just so darned pretty! And I do so love the sphinx characters. The riddling spinx near the giants was the most amusing. Anyway, on a $4 million dollar budget, I was seriously impressed with the visuals. If you get a chance, go see MirrorMask before it disappears, or rent it if you have a nice big screen tv. And as for Serenity, I hope next weekend shows sustained numbers. I guess stars really do bring in the cash, because Flightplan sounds utterly uninteresting to me, yet it beat Serenity. Go figure.