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Sunday, August 06, 2006 
clerks ii and the bosphorus istanbul cafe
i had a pleasant, relaxing birthday yesterday. i decided that we should start the day by going up to clearwater crossing to see clerks ii. i saw the original clerks in the theatre twice (back in '94, when the irving was a movie theatre), and have generally liked kevin smith's subsequent work. (jersey girl was a real snoozer, though.)

when we saw superman returns at the amc clearwater crossing earlier this summer, we were surprised when we were charged $8 per ticket for a matinee showing. this is steep in indiana, where movie matinees are usually around 6 bucks. (even at the fancy new landmark theatre, matinees are only $6.50.)

apparently, AMC now charges different matinee prices, depending on when your chosen movie was released. they've always had a "no passes" policy, where customers aren't allowed to use free passes for new releases. now, amc apparently has a "no discounts whatsoever" policy, so if you want to see a movie that just came out, amc will charge you full price even if it's 10 a.m. discount matinees are reserved only for movies that have been out for a few weeks. (and these days, if a movie bombs during its opening weekend, it will likely be pulled from theatres immediately.)

this sounds like a bum deal to me, especially compared to the competition. normally, i wouldn't want to support a business that treats its customers in this fashion. however, clerks ii is already on its way out of theatres, so we had few options. luckily, i realized that i still had two free amc passes in my wallet, which coincidentally i had received from my former employer for my birthday last year, so we got to see the movie for free.

what can i say about clerks ii? the funny bits are as funny as ever. kevin smith has an ear for dialogue, and he knows the hearts of these characters well. unfortunately, the slow bits in between the funny bits are slower and longer than ever. the plot—dante must choose between two women—is so similar to the first that randal comments how unbelievable it is. but, this time around, that storyline is a bit too central to the film, to the point where it feels like a "romantic comedy" rather than a film about a bunch of slackers who happen to have sex. maybe that's because this time around we're supposed to cheer for the "new girl who really gets me" versus the "beautiful fiance who doesn't understand me at all", and we've seen this same angle in countless movies starring the likes of j.lo or julia roberts. for whatever reason, significant chunks of clerks ii fall flat, but along the way are lotsa laughs, including a couple scenes that are simply brilliant. (the "trolls" scene is one i won't soon forget.)

after the movie, we stepped out into the fullness of summer sunlight and i was disoriented for a good 45 seconds or more, but eventually regained my vision enough to drive us back to virago's apartment until dinnertime.

for dinner, virago had suggested we try the bosphorus istanbul cafe, indianapolis's only turkish restaurant, which came highly recommended by one of virago's iupui co-workers. (apparently a recent visitor from the state dept, who has travelled all over the world, declared that bosphorus had the best hummus he'd ever eaten.) i remembered seeing glowing reviews at indy ethnic food, so i was eager to check it out after our last few disappointing attempts to eat middle eastern food in indy. (first we had an inferior meal at the greek islands. then we went to khoury's, whose "magic chicken" i had loved a few years back, but this time it was dry, and the waitress seemed indifferent. then we went to aesop's table, which is a good restaurant but doesn't serve anything you'd expect from a restaurant billed as "greek".)

bosphorus is inside a refurbished house, in between eli lilly headquarters and fountain square. as such, it was easy to find, but the only parking we saw available is streetside. we were facing the wrong way, and i didn't want to park on the opposite side of the busy street, so i tried to find a place to turn around, got stuck on a one-way road, and ended up looping all the way through fountain square and back to downtown. finally, we figured out a way to park and headed inside the bright purple house-aurant for dinner.

i love a good hummus, so after the glowing recommendation from virago's associate, i had to order some. i wasn't disappointed. the flavor was rich and yet mild; the texture was soft and consistent. the accompanying pita was hot and fresh. simply put, it was excellent. it didn't have enough garlic for virago, but i don't think she really cares for "plain" hummus; she once told me she didn't much care for hummus, though i later turned her on to garlic-flavored hummus.

for entrees, i had the beyti kebab, which sort of looks like a burrito covered with tomato sauce. it was pretty tasty, but if i had realized that "wrapped with lavash bread" meant "it looks like a burrito", i might have ordered something else. virago wisely ordered the kofte, which i think was pretty much what i got minus the burrito-like format. she seemed to enjoy it, and i sampled a bite, which tasted pretty good. both meals were served with rice (and it's difficult to mess up rice, but this rice was better than average), green beans (which i didn't eat, so i can't vouch for them), and some kind of cold potato salad (also good).

baklava is one of virago's absolute favorite desserts, so much like we needed to try the hummus, we also had little choice but to try the baklava. after all, this was a birthday celebration, not just any old meal.

most baklava i've had was served cold, or room temperature at the warmest, and very crisp and crunchy. maybe it was a fluke of timing, but the baklava we were served at bosphorus was warm, fresh, and gooey, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. it was delightful. this was the first time i've ever been wowed by baklava.

after our lovely meal, we headed back to virago's apartment, where we played civ iv: warlords for awhile, handily defeating the "alexander the great" scenario, before settling down to watch chappelle's show on dvd.

virago had bought me chappelle's show: the lost episodes on dvd. this dvd includes all the sketches dave chappelle had filmed before he freaked out & left the show. i'd been a little disappointed with the episodes that comedy central aired. while those episodes had a few really strong sketches, overall you could tell why dave had been uncomforable with the new season: there was a lot of material about dave struggling to adjust to his new stardom and riches, and many of the other sketches just weren't as good as the show was during the peak of the second season. furthermore, this material was filmed in 2004 and 2005, so humor that should be topical was already dated by the time it was aired (it's a bit odd to be watching "dean scream" jokes in summer 2006... even the wingnuts gave up on that months ago). but after watching some of the unaired sketches and deleted scenes from the dvd, i have a more favorable opinion. some of the unaired material was as strong or stronger than the sketches that made the cut. i guess they didn't think they had enough material for four episodes, but had too much for three.

other notable gifts: my parents, in addition to giving me some cash, looked at my amazon wishlist and ordered flow my tears, the policeman said and strangers with candy - the complete series. how cool is that? thank you, amazon, for enabling my parents to buy me subversive comedy without me having to explain to them what it is. (though i think i did mention at the dinner table that we had seen the strangers with candy movie last month.) and thanks to everyone who got me a gift, hasn't gotten me one yet but will, or simply sent their birthday wishes.


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