Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Touring Tucson

Longtime readers of the Android's Dungeon will recall a previous visit to Kartchner Caverns. The caverns are still there, and they're pretty darn neat. Christina and I had a fine time last summer in the Australia (well, it was winter there, but you get the point) visiting the Jenolan Caves, so I thought she might enjoy Kartchner. She did. The formations are really spectacular, although the caves are not nearly as extensive as Jenolan. Kartchner is certainly one of the best preserved "show caves" in the world.

Not a lot has changed in the past 3 years. They do plan to open the "Big Room", but that keeps getting pushed back. Now they're hoping for November 2003. They tell visitors that rumors that the caves aren't doing so well aren't true. Still, I noticed that they take precautions I don't remember from before. A ranger trailed our group telling people what they couldn't take in or couldn't touch. And they explained their system for tagging things people have contaminated so they could be quickly restored before permanent damage ensued.

Today, we went off to the Tucson Museum of Art. First, however, we had lunch at El Charro, a Mexican restaurant that has been around Tucson for over 80 years. The food was great; the service was...goofy. At one point our waiter explained that he hadn't brought our drinks yet because of "printer trouble". The two tacos I ordered were available in hard or soft; when I asked for one of each, he said that wasn't possible. So I order the soft; he brought me hard tacos. Christina ordered two tacos; they brought her four. (At least that way, I got a soft taco.)

One of the reasons we went to the Tucson Museum of Art was that The New York Times Traveler's Guide to Art Museum Exhibitions 2003 listed an exhibit on Mexican nativity scenes. It turned out that the exhibit was a nativity scene put together by a local every year. It was interesting, but the rest of the museum was fortunately more substantial. They had a nice collection of pre-Colombian art, which Christina particularly enjoyed.

So we've had a nice visit out to my parents. (Hopefully the snow back East won't impede our return tomorrow.) We managed to see some neat things the past few days without spending as much time in the car as last time. (Flying into Tucson helped that.) I'm in Week 3 of my 4 time zones in 4 weeks tour; we'll see how I hold up next week...


My Big Fat Greek Disappointment

We watched the TV show My Big Fat Greek Life Monday night. (One fewer thing to clear off the TiVo when we get home.) Christina and I had seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding last summer, and we were looking forward to an inventive, entertaining TV show.

Yeesh. What a letdown. Afterwards, we found ourselves debating between "painfully bad" and "uncomfortably bad." I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong, beyond most of the jokes falling flat.

Well, I think another problem was the poor characterization. The movie worked mainly on the strength of the rich characters. On the TV show, the characters seemed reduced to sitcom stereotypes. Maybe we were supposed to carry over our memories of them from the movie. But if that was the case, why did the pilot revolve around a gag (her father buying them a house) that was repeated from the movie? Anybody who saw the movie could figure out what was going on.

Pilots generally don't work as well as later series episodes. Partly the actors and writers need time to get to know the characters. Partly the auidence needs to go through the same process. We'll give it another week; I just hope all the good stuff wasn't used up in the movie.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Tohono Chul Park

We had a nice Mexican lunch yesterday, so we thought we'd make today distinct by making today the one full day out here where we don't have Mexican food...well, other than the leftovers.

My parents have a neat map detailing Tucson-area attractions. There are around 40, and I've been to about a third. I picked one of the nearby ones, Tohono Chul Park. We headed out into a certain amount of rain...

I don't know what it is about rain. Two weeks ago, we helped break a drought in San Diego. After coming home to a massive blizzard, we left in a torrential downpour on Saturday. And now here we were with more rain. Fortunately, it cleared up and it was a lovely day once we got to the park.

It was a nice enough park. The part we saw mostly consisted of gardens. It was interesting seeing the regional plants, and they had some nice specimens of catcus. My one complaint is that there was really no clear organizing theme to the park -- the handout didn't even explain the history of the park or why it existed.

Still, we had a nice hour or so wandering around.


Sunday, February 23, 2003

Visiting My Parents in Arizona

Christina and I are out here in Greater Tucson visiting my parents, and we're giving the digital camera a workout.

One thing you have to be on the lookout for in my parents' neighborhood is golf carts.

You never know what kind of drivers you'll see...

My parents' lemon tree is bearing fruit...