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2008-07-22 - 12:16 p.m.

We went and saw the new Batman movie on Sunday. Our trip up to the Senator came at the end of Artscape weekend, which is good and long and tiring and a little drunk. It was hot all weekend, real hot. We wanted to sit in some conditioned air for a while, more than anything. And the girlfriend wanted nachos. The movie was pretty good but what struck me most, sitting in the sold out big theater, waiting for the show to start, was the sheer humanity of the place. You ever get that feeling--for me it comes about once every six months--where you can't believe the people around you aren't tackling each other and taking their food? The feeling that civility is tenuous?

We were crowded in close. They had to turn people away it was so crowded, and so by the time we found two seats together, there are all kinds of people roaming up and down the aisles, pointing at open seats and gesturing, trying to find a place to sit. People are eating popcorn and drinking the huge Cokes and teenagers are running to hug their friends and black dudes behind me are text messaging on elaborate telephones while middle-aged Jewish couples are leaning in close to each other, talking, looking sweaty. And everyone's sweaty and you can tell that that precise place has been arrived at where the industrial-sized air-conditioning machines are rubbing up against quantities of body heat and that the body heat's winning. It's not quite 97 degrees in the theater, like it is outside, but it's not exactly cool, either. You can smell armpits and fake popcorn butter and thighs and socks if they're wearing them and a little of the wine they're selling for five bucks in the lobby. And sitting there, getting big round smells of the chubby, tattooed guy next to me, watching all this low buzzing of a thousand people go all around, I had a strong feeling of the miraculousness of it all, of cities, of common purposes, pursuits, of the beauty of an 85-degree movie theater, packed utterly fully, watching a big loud movie we'd all paid nine dollars to see.

I think maybe the smell of so many bodies, each one with its own deep smell, really does something. I think maybe that's the trigger there.

Finally watched Atonement this weekend and it's just as sad as the book. In the commentary that comes along with the DVD, the guy who plays Robbie called the story "upsetting." And it is, in the most basic way: a shot at something good cut short by a mistake. It's a really beautiful movie and I especially liked the score, the thunk-tap-thunk of the typewriter keys striking the cylinder. I keep having flashes of Keira Knightley's face and of the blond girl running through overgrown, weedy English hollows. The first half of the movie is green and soft. The second part is brown and dirty. I remember reading the book and feeling thirsty when the main guy was thirsty.

Just finished Bill Bryson's memoir about growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. It took me a while to get past the embellishments and cornball exaggerations, but in the end I laughed, as I always do with his books. More importantly, Bill Bryson brought me to the following. I was messing around on the internet, reading about Bryson (I always do this when I finish a book or a movie I like), when I came upon his general-science-here's-a-little-of-everything book. I clicked on a link and was taken to the following Wikipedia article, which is probably the best title for any kind of web page I've ever seen:

Ultimate fate of the universe

Really bored at work, as usual, but trying to focus on things that make me happy. I like looking at photos on flickr. I like hearing the news, which I got last night, that my younger brother was offered a full-time job at a little college outside Pittsburgh, which means that they'll definitely be leaving southwest Kansas, which makes me feel good about the world. He also has a decent shot of being named the number two coach at Purdue University, which would be a big deal for a guy of his age. He works harder than I ever have. I remember after my third year of college, which was after his second, we both got a job doing catering at a little hotel in Frostburg. I was always, eternally, five minutes late. It drove him crazy. I like sweating down my back on the drive home and then the feeling of it cooling off, drying out, getting back to normal.

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