Sunday, April 01, 2007

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...

It was an opium-induced nap that allowed Coleridge his fleeting vision of Kubla Khan's pleasure dome in Xanadu. We of North Phoenix have something more substantial: the Desert Ridge.

The Desert Ridge is a shopping center at Tatum Boulevard and the 101. To call it a shopping center, though, and to leave it at that would be misleading. At the entrance are stone columns topped with bowls of burning fire. The very air of the parking lot resounds with Sheryl Crow and more recent pop artists. Within are leaping jets of water for children to play in. The pavement curves around buildings, gently concealing from the expectant shopper the stores just up ahead. The elements have been mastered to produce a unique consumer experience.

For me this kind of place normally causes total sensory overload and induces mild depression. But I've been there twice this weekend. Allow me to explain.

Friday afternoon found us at the Yardhouse. I had heard of this restaurant from my both my mother and the son-in-law of my father-in-law's new wife (who happened to go to high school with me — the son-in-law, that is, and not the new wife). Incredible things were being reported: 130 beers on tap and a happy hour with half-priced appetizers that might serve as a meal in themselves. For a family of three without dinner plans this sounded like Shangri-La.

I was not disappointed. Two stouts priced at $3.50 apiece equals one happy Hanson. Stella dined like a princess if a princess eats nothing but french fries and tartar sauce. Even the redoubtable wife seemed pleased with her Moo-Shu something.

After dinner Stella visited the fountains. Though her little limbs were like ice, she played in the water and had a grand time. She was impressed and encouraged by the older girl who could continue to read a book in the middle of the water jets. O sublime obliviousness! she thought. It came to an end when the security guard told us that diapers alone aren't sufficient coverage at the Ridge. Here kid's nether parts need at least a thin layer of cotton or nylon. Liability, rather than prudery, I think.

The next day, Saturday, we took Stella to see Meet the Robinsons at the Desert Ridge's AMC megaplex. Two incidents indicate the quality of the movie.

After the film, when I told her that I would blog about the movie, my wife said, "Make sure they know we didn't pay for it." We were both glad we had used a gift certificate rather than spent good US currency.

During the film, the most exciting event was not on the screen. Stella, being restless, looked on the floor and found gum. Only a few chews and nothing that Listerine couldn't fix. But I'll leave you with a more general reflection.

Human nature: picking up harmful crap from the ground even in the midst of an earthly Paradise.

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