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Katamari Damacy Is Not A Seafood Dish

Nor is Chicken Run a popular fast food restaurant in the metro DC area; that would be Chicken Out. Yet one of my coworkers unwittingly provided two doses of humor in a single day, proclaiming after I mentioned that I wanted to pick up Katamari Damacy after work, that Chinese sounded good to her too; and announcing that she prefers Wendy's, after I said "I really love Chicken Run." It's these unwitting and unironic moments that make life worth living, don't you think?

Speaking of Chicken Run, I was checking out Alex's recent list of purchased DVD's, and realized that I am sorely behind in my 2004 film viewing. When I became single last December, every DVD I had stayed with the "evil ex," so I had to start my collection from scratch, and I realized after I had accumulated dozens of movies that most of the ones I chose to begin the new collection were what I call "comfort movies." You know, the ones that we can watch over and over again that still delight us, like a cup of cocoa on a wintry December morning, or the embrace of a loved one after a long day of work. I am going to hold off on publishing my lists of favorite music, films, and books for another time; instead, I am going to give you my short list of wonderful entertainment that wraps itself around me like a woolen mitten, and would love to hear from others about the things that make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Spirited Away - I confess to not being an Anime enthusiast, although I certainly admire the beauty of the art form's best works. This film, however, never fails to impress me for its delicious pacing, fearless exploration of silence, and the way it embraces the absurd so wholly that everything feels quite normal. Moment of brilliance: Chihiro faces the looming descent of the staircase that leads to the boiler room. Timidly, she takes a few tiny steps, until a stair cracks under her feet, and she runs screaming to the bottom - and smack into a wall. Thanks to carolynmichelle for recommending a film that I may have missed otherwise.

The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving's most brilliant novel is actually The World According to Garp, but the eclectic Berry family is closest to my heart amongst Irving's unusual creations. Yet, as wonderful as I feel when I open my dog-eared copy, Hotel explores some fairly heavy-handed subject matter: rape, revenge, prostitution, incest, suicide, taxidermy - all explored with equal fascination and an odd, compelling mix of affection and indifference.

Phantom Moon - Duncan Sheik's fantastic, multilayered 2001 album is haunting and unforgettable, and I consider it to be the soundtrack of my life, in so many wonderful ways. As richly textured most of the record is, it's still the track "Mouth On Fire" that moves me most: "Brought my heart to feed, but my mouth was fire; Brought the earth my seed, but it would not flower." And later, "Brought my voice, just noise to poor on Silence; A clanging toy, a clanging toy, empty, strident." This is an album everyone should hear, and the one I turn to when I feel angry, depressed, joyous, lonely - whenever I feel, this is the album that accompanies the emotion.

Rollercoaster Tycoon - Addictive and charming, Chris Sawyer's timesink has given me more pleasure than almost any other game ever created. Whether it be building up coasters only to have them be largely ignored for their high intensity, decorating plots of land with endless seas of tulips, or changing balloon prices so that the park can be full of ebulliant color, playing RTC is the gaming equivalent of putting your feet up on the coffee table and leaning back with a martini.

Of course, there is plenty more in the way of entertainment that warms the cockles of my heart, but these are amongst the best examples of old stand-by's, the things that I turn to that ease me through the pain and joy of everyday existence. Tell me about your own "comfort entertainment," and perhaps we can share that hot cocoa.