After the easy Theme Thursday last week, I suppose it's no accident that this week's theme is a bit more difficult. I mean, what do you shoot for cliché? This time I almost surrendered and took a look at the TT web site so I could see how other photographers were tackling it, but I consider that "cheating," and decided to tough it out. That's when it occurred to me that I live amongst the tree-lined streets of small-town America... a cliché unto itself...
All we need to complete the picture are children running down the sidewalks playing, but I suppose they are all inside staring at the television and rotting their minds with video games... and who can blame them? The weather is just too beautiful to spend any time outside today.
What's the one thing above all others that drives you insane... that one dreaded event that causes you to completely lose your composure and want to kick, scream, and beat something with a big stick? Inconsiderate people will do it every time. You know... neighbors who slam their doors and play loud music at all hours... people who don't pay attention while driving... people who cut in line... things like that.
Is that all? Surely there is something else that will cause you to freak out! Here's your chance to vent and list a few other things that make you go nuts... Sadly, there are so many. Hotels that don't have high-speed internet access. People who don't mind their kids and just let them run amok. Restaurants that don't have meatless items on the menu. Idiots who drive in the passing lane when they are not passing anybody. Morons that scream into their mobile phones in public places. Asshats who don't turn their mobile ringer off in restaurants or theaters. Lazy people who don't get their work done. Stupid people who can't think for themselves. Annoying people who think they are the center of the universe and everything revolves around them. People who lie. People who use violence to solve their problems. Rednecks who feel their way is the only way, and everybody should think the way they do. Microsoft Windows. Chicken broth. Anything made by Panasonic. Censorship. Network television executives who cancel brilliant shows. Traffic. Rush Limbaugh. Animal cruelty. Stores that don't carry Yoo-Hoo. Indifference. Ignorance. Intollerance. Incompetence. I could go on and on...
When you've been driven crazy by something or someone... and are barely containing your frustration... is there anything you can do to calm down, dispell the rage, and be happy again? A motorcycle ride will make me forget about even the worst offenses.
FQ DARE: Admit it, you're not perfect... what is something you do that drives other people crazy? When I am focused on something, it is very hard for me to tear my attention away from what I'm doing, and I know it drives people insane when I ignore them like that. It's nothing personal, just don't bug me when I'm busy.
You too can vent your frustrations with the FridayQ!
A last minute trip to Beaverton, Oregon where the weather isn't nearly as nice as back home. I finished my work here way early but, due to the holiday weekend, can't get a flight back for 6 hours. So here I sit on standby. Beaverton is just outside of Portland, and is considered the "technical corridor" of the state. It's also home to Nike, though I don't think they actually make anything here in the USA anymore, so it must just be corporate offices or something?
It's a sad story how companies like Nike can spend millions on advertising and endorsements, yet won't spend a dime to manufacture here so local people can have jobs. It's a pity too, because I love my Nike boots, and have owned the same pair for nearly a decade. It's probably about time I get something new, but this time perhaps I'll look at a company like Chippewa or Schnee.
Sigh. According to MapQuest, I could drive home in just 5 hours if I had a car...
I think I want a donut.
UPDATE: I managed to get on an earlier flight out of Portland after all because I paid full-price for my ticket! Security at PDX is pretty stupid though, and nearly caused me to miss my flight. The line almost crosses the entire airport, which is ludicrous considering only half the inspection lanes were opened. Any time it takes over 30 minutes to get through security, there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
My Saturday-morning ritual of taking a complete run through my blogroll turned up a meme that's just too good to pass up! Over at Kazza's blog, she's discovered The Glovebox Project (from Mushroom & Rooster's pen) whereas you list a complete inventory of what's contained therein. I have no idea what could be lurking in there, as it is a black hole storage space where I place things I never expect to see again. Let's go have a look shall we?
It's worse than I thought.
Wow. That's a lot of crap, yet not a pair of gloves to be found! Oh well, this was just the excuse I needed to finally clean out my glovebox. Would somebody please start a "What's in Your Trunk" project? I can't imagine what's been stuffed in the boot of my car over the years.
It's the hope of what this country can one day be that makes it all worthwhile...
Happy Independence Day. Everybody take care and come back safe.
It's about time. I've been waiting twenty-four long years for a comic book movie to approach the greatness that was Superman & Superman II, and finally Sam Raimi delivers in spades with the wonderment that is Spider-Man 2. I was a comic book geek that was beginning to lose hope, but now salvation is at hand...
This is not to say that other movies haven't come close... the original Batman was pretty good... Daredevil was better than most people gave it credit for... Hellboy and Blade were serious contenders... even the first Spider-Man flick was a step in the right direction. But it wasn't until Spidey 2 that everything came full circle and you could believe (if just for a moment) that comic books could be real. Not only that, but director Raimi also gives his fans a few inside jokes and is having a bit more fun this time around (Bruce Campbell? Chain-saws? I want another Evil Dead movie now!).
But forget about all that... do you know why this movie works? It's not a big secret: THEY RESPECTED THE SOURCE MATERIAL!! If the huge box-office continues, Spider-Man 2 will be the biggest movie in history, which is why I am all the more puzzled at films like the new Catwoman fiasco that in no way resembles the source material and is sure to be a complete bomb because, HELLO, IT'S NOT CATWOMAN!!
Spider-Man is successful as a fictional character because he's a good fictional character. His history has been refined and built-up for decades... there's no need to f#@% with it, and Raimi understands this. If only we could get him to direct the next X-Men film as well. Hell, if only we could get him to direct all super-hero movies! But, talented as he is, Raimi can't be everywhere at once, which is why I offer Dave's Top Five Tips on How NOT to f#@%-Up a Comic Book Movie in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Back again to Salt Lake City. Today I managed to squeeze in an hour in-between jobs so I could visit Temple Square and play around with my new wide-angle lens for a while. Having such a lens certainly makes it easy to fit large structures in the frame. Unfortunately, I forgot my polarizing filter back at the hotel, so stray light on a bright day like today has a tendency to wash things out somewhat. Playing with curves in Photoshop helped to get a bit of the contrast back...
My previous photos of the Assembly Hall barely managed to fit the building in the shot, but now I have the option of adding a little scenery around it to better place the structure in context. The building itself is a beautiful example of gothic architecture, so it's a bit of a shame that it's obstructed by so many trees, but it does make for a peaceful setting...
Unfortunately, the lens does have a few pitfalls... shooting really wide causes some freaky distortion (especially at the corners), and there seems to be a bit of a lens flare problem that creeps in from time to time (even when the included lens hood is attached). I suppose you could look at the bright side and consider that you can use these "features" to your advantage and get some interesting shots out of it...
I can't wait to head south this weekend, because I'd imagine this lens will do astoundingly well with the scenery there!
One of the benefits of working a 36 hour "day" is that you are sure to get a good night's sleep afterwards! Just four hours left to go...
This is the first Theme Thursday that I have actively planned for, which is kind of cool. Given the theme of wings, I made an effort to be sure that each of my three flights on Monday were seated next to the window, behind the wings of the plane. Since I had my new wide-angle lens with me, it was pretty easy to ensure that the wings were in every shot along my journey.
Leaving the small airport at Wenatchee, Washington...
Passing Mt. Rainier on the way to Seattle (Mt. St. Helens is in the back on the right... and perhaps that is Mt. Adams back on the left?)...
Leaving Seattle, and passing over Mercer Island after a plane change...
Leaving Boise, Idaho after another plane change (and asking for a seat on the opposite side of the plane)...
And approaching my destination of Salt Lake City, Utah (where six years of drought seem to be taking its toll)...
Usually, I would not have to take three flights... I can get a direct flight out of Seattle to Salt Lake City. But, because of the Independence Day holiday, flights were full and it was far cheaper to make a quick stop in Boise (which is along the way anyway).
Suggest something to read, something to watch... I just re-read Lightning by Dean Koontz and enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time (it's not his usual "horror genre" fare, but more of a science fiction tale with a nifty twist). If you want something to read right now, then head over to Belly Button Window which is a blog that captivated me for hours, and is as entertaining as a good book in many places. As for what to watch, if you have Showtime I highly recommend Dead Like Me which is starting its new season any day now.
Suggest someone to admire, someone to stare at... After wathing Spider-Man 2, I really admire movie director Sam Raimi, who has worked his way from cult favorite (with the Evil Dead films) to mainstream (with the Spider-Man films) and has managed not to sell out to moronic studio executives along the way. I can only imagine the stupid crap that was thrust upon him ("I know, let's make Spider-Man a Japanese school girl that turns into a real spider and spins a web over Tokyo and Brad Pitt plays a secret government agent sent to capture her!!"). I admire his courage in holding true to the source material because it gives me hope that future comic book adaptations might follow his lead and actually be worth watching! For someone to stare at, I can only suggest Elizabeth Hurley, who is completely stare-worthy.
Suggest someplace to go, someplace to avoid... Having just spent an amazing couple of days in Moab, Utah and the surrounding area, I would highly recommend it as a place to go. As for someplace to avoid, I will never again use the parking garage in the casino adjacent the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls, Canada... which is hands-down the most stupid, stupid, stupid parking garage on the face of the planet.FQ PROJECT: Suggest an itinerary for somebody visiting your city by listing the five must-see attractions of the area. I live in a very small town with not very much to do, but there are a few attractions worth mentioning:
You too can be suggestive at the FridayQ!
After my work had finished in Salt Lake City, I rented a car and took a 4 hour drive south to the city of Moab, which is famous for its spectacular location among three parks that contain some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever find: Arches National Park, which preserves numerous naturally occurring archways that have been eroded into their present shape over millions of years. Dead Horse Point State Park, with one of the most incredible scenic vistas I have ever beheld... rivaling even the Grand Canyon. And Canyonlands National Park, which picks up where Dead Horse Point leaves off, a features even more spectacular scenic overlooks.
If you are a photographer, the entire area is a dream come true! Just a few shots from yesterday and today...
Boy, having a wide-angle lens and a polarizing filter came in handy this trip!
And, lastly, before I forget... for anybody visiting the area, a company called "Canyonlands by Night & Day" gets my highest possible recommendation if you are looking for excursions into the beautiful countryside. I took both their "Land Before Time" 4-wheel drive tour and their "Where the Wild River Runs" jet boat tour and found them to be exemplary in every respect. When visiting these kinds of places, it's often difficult to know which company to choose, because there are so many and all of them advertise being "the best" (and sometimes end up being complete crap) but I got very, very lucky in finding this one. My only regret since I got here is that I don't have more time so I can sample some of the other adventures they offer (or do the two I've already done all over again).
The wonderful thing about having a digital camera is that there's no film to waste, so you can shoot absolutely everything and sort it all out later. Usually, I keep only a quarter of the shots (or less) that I take and trash the rest. But Southern Utah is proving to be an exception. I took 552 shots in Moab and kept 170, which is about a third. I guess having a good subject gives you a better ratio of keepers.
Today, after a long drive to the other side of the state, I stood in awe of the miracle that is Bryce Canyon National Park and shot 232 photos in under 4 hours. Now that I sit here looking through them, I can only find 17 shots to toss out. Sure many of them look the same but, thanks to a lucky break, there was a layer of clouds out today that caused nifty tricks with the light... so it seems everything I shot turned out amazing. I mean, how in the heck can I possibly delete cool stuff like this:
Obviously I can't. Every blasted one of them looks like a bloody postcard. I have found a photographer's Nirvana.
I have to travel a lot (as you might guess if you stop by this blog even rarely), and more and more I am growing to despise it. Not because I miss my motorcycle (though that's a part of it), but because of the frightening number of dumbasses that are out there traveling. Stupid, inconsiderate asshats that feel the entire world revolves around them, and everybody else in the world is just window dressing for the drama that is their life.
On my recent boat trip, one woman kept bitching constantly that she "wasn't seeing anything good" because she was on the "wrong side of the boat." After two full hours of her whining, the boat turned around for the journey back, and she was still complaining that "all the interesting sights are on the other side." I was sorely tempted to ask this incredibly stupid bitch if she realized that she was looking at the exact same view she was complaining about not seeing for the ride up.
On a recent flight, I had just settled into my window seat, hoping to catch up on some sleep when an obnoxious woman next to me pretty much demanded I trade seats with her because she "wasn't comfortable in a center seat." When I politely refused, she actually called a flight attendant to complain that I was being difficult!! Fortunately, she was relocated away from me, because she was desperately in need of being punched in the face, and I was quickly getting to the point of "helping her out."
There are dozens of other examples I could cite from my recent travels, and I am at a total loss as to why people are becoming more self-centered, rude, and selfish every day. All I know is that I am getting really weary of having to deal with them because travel is already tough enough.
I am home for four glorious days before taking off again, and plan on fully appreciating every minute.
So I answer the phone and hear "VEGAS BABY!!" It would seem a group of friends is getting together for a cheap three-day excursion to sin city on Sunday, and I'm invited. Ordinarily, this would be great, but I'm already flying out for a work trip on Sunday to Wisconsin. Yes, you heard that right... I am going to Wisconsin while everybody else is partying down in Vegas. How is this fair again?
I had a bit of a long post I was constructing for today, but never felt like wrapping it up, so I decided to just grab the first Tuesday meme I could find to get an entry up today. Oddly enough, the meme that came my way is from "Chick Chat" and this week's questionnaire is entitled "Bad Girls!!!" How in the heck do I get myself into these things?
Have You Ever Been Arrested? Personally arrested? No. Part of a group that was not so much "arrested" but "detained," yes. (that probably sounds more interesting than it actually was).
How many Tattoo's do You Have? None. But I have wanted one for a very long time. One day.
What's the Most Bad-Ass thing You've Ever Done? I am probably the least "bad-ass" person you will ever meet, but there have been moments. Kicking a guy in his kneecap when he pulled a knife on me is pretty bad-ass isn't it? (let's not mention that he was drunk and not much of a threat at the time okay?).
How Many Times Have You Been Pulled Over? Six that I can think of. Only two of those resulted in a ticket, but that was many, many years ago.
Have You Ever Lied To Get Your Way? Any guy who has ever been in a relationship with a woman would be lying if he didn't answer "yes." Because if it weren't for an occasional lie, we would never get our way on anything ("no honey, those jeans do not make you look fat, want to make out?"). Of course, women in a relationship lie for no particular reason, not just to get their way, so it's hard for me to feel too bad about it. It's just such a shame that women are so much better at it than we are.
Damn, I'd make a good chick!
A while back I had participated in The Glovebox Project, and found a 32MB memory card that came with my tiny Canon PowerShot camera. I couldn't fit very many photos on it, so I immediately purchased a much larger card to replace it. Today I finally decided to see what photos (if any) were on the old card, and discovered just two, both shot by me of me in a mirror...
This is me in Reykjavik, Iceland on September 27, 2003. I have no idea why I took it. I think I was jet lagged and, in my delusional state, was thinking I would start participating in The Mirror Project, but never did. Oh well.
The photo would have been far more interesting had I taken it three days later after I had busted my chin open while having entirely too much fun in Stockholm.
Betty White has been nominated in the "Best Guest Appearance in a Drama" category for her role of nasty Catherine Piper on The Practice. Obviously, I think she deserves to win, but she's in competition with Marlee Matlin (who actually was pretty good on Law & Order: SVU) and Sharon Stone (also guesting on The Practice, but nowhere close to Betty's performance) so her odds are probably not that great. For those unfamiliar with my Betty White psychosis...
Yes, I will say it again: Betty White kicks ass. After Elizabeth Hurley, she's about the only big Hollywood star I have any interest in meeting.
What the-? This week's subject is cotton?!? I haven't a clue. I suppose that I could take a photograph of a bunch of Q-Tips or my underwear or something. I'd run out into a cotton field, but I don't think they grow any of that around here. I guess a shot of my boxer shorts it is! Unless... how about something cotton-like instead? Like clouds perhaps?
Ah, now that's kind of nice isn't it?
Admit it, sometimes you are not the sharpest tool in the shed. What's something stupid you've done recently? (The FridayQ doesn't count!) I purchased an XboX and a bunch of games to go with it, knowing full well I'd never have time to play it. Sure enough, I've turned it on exactly once, and so there it sits gathering dust. Sigh. Perhaps once winter comes around I'll find time to play it?
Children do idiotic things all the time because they just can't seem to help it. What's something stupid you did as a kid? I once road my bicycle full-speed into the back of a car because a super-hero "Batman" mask I crafted out of a garbage bag started to come apart and completely covered my eyes. It never occurred to me to stop the freakin' bike once I couldn't see, which is pretty stupid.
Sometimes, being a bit of an idiot is required (or fun!). What's something stupid you will be doing in the future? Paying somebody to change the oil in my motorcycle because I haven't bothered to learn how to do it myself yet.
FQ OBSERVER: People are morons. Without naming names, what's something stupid you've seen somebody else do? I see people do stupid things all the time, but every once in a while I see an act of stupidity that defies my ability to comprehend. Last month while I was standing in line to Universal Studios Florida, I overheard the people ahead of me scheming how they were going to purchase their tickets. Here, to the best of my recollection, is what I had to listen to (names changed to protect the clueless):
Man: How much cash do you have?
Woman: I've only got five bucks!
Man: What the hell? How are we going to get in?
Woman: I think we've got enough on the VISA to get you and Timmy a ticket, and there's probably room on the other card for me and Billy.
Man: Cool. What are we going to do for dinner?
Woman: Eh, there's crap for the kids to eat in the car. We can just split a burger or something.
The conversation only went downhill from there and, once you notice that their kids are wearing dirty clothes that are all torn up and filled with holes... well, you kind of have to ask yourself what kind of morons these people are to be spending a couple hundred dollars to visit a theme park when they've got hungry kids that are desperately in need of some decent clothing. I can think of nothing more stupid than sacrificing the health and comfort of your own kids because you want to ride a roller coaster.
My days of drunk and disorderly conduct are long since over. Until, that is, I fall under the bad influence of my evil friends. I shudder to think how much I had to drink last night.
When you travel as often as I do, things are bound to go wrong from time to time. I've long since learned to accept this, and find it pointless to get angry or upset when disaster strikes. Today, en-route to Milwaukee, my connection in Detroit was missed due to a severe weather problem. It's unfortunate, but hey, there's not much you can do about it -- so while other people were standing in line bitching and screaming, I just quietly waited my turn to be re-booked.
So now I am flying out of Detroit in the morning and am stuck here for the night with no access to my luggage (fortunately, I always have a pair of clean underwear and assorted toiletries in my carry-on bag for just such an occasion). And, since I obviously won't be needing my reservation at the Holiday Inn at the Milwaukee airport this evening, I called to cancel it along with my rental car. It turns out that canceling the car was no problem at all, but the hotel reservation was another story.
They refused to cancel it because I booked the room over the internet.
It didn't matter that it is not my fault I cannot be at the hotel and have to cancel. It didn't matter that I placed the reservation directly on their web site (instead of some third-party site like Orbitz or Expedia). It didn't matter that I was going to re-book at another Holiday Inn property here in Detroit. It didn't matter that I am a Priority Club member. It didn't matter that I have stayed at this hotel dozens of times before... they "can't cancel or refund my deposit because it is 35 minutes past the cancellation deadline."
What a bunch of dumbasses.
I measure a company not based on things going right... that's what's supposed to happen. Instead, I measure a company by how they help you out when things go wrong. And so now I know. When shit happens, don't expect Holiday Inn Milwaukee Airport to give a crap. And that's fine. Lesson learned. I will never stay at their f#@%ing piece of shit hotel ever again. Furthermore, with the exception of reservations I've already got booked, I am going to start taking my business to other hotel chains (which is kind of sad, because I like Holiday Inn, and many of them are independently owned... meaning a lot of Holiday Inns are losing my business through no fault of their own).
It's tough having to travel all the time. When things go wrong, it's even worse. When companies you like and trust screw you over because of some idiotic technicality, well, you've pretty much reached rock bottom... and you're down there alone and far from home. The last thing you want is for the Holiday Inn Milwaukee Airport to start shitting all over you as you try to climb out of the mess you're in, but they apparently have no problem with it. Thanks so much.
So here I am in Milwaukee, finally. I figured since the Holiday Inn Milwaukee Airport is charging me for the room I never got to use, I might as well stop by, have a shower, catch up with my e-mail, take a nap, and get into some clean clothes before heading off to work. It's a shame I will never be staying at this hotel again, because it's pretty sweet.
All in all, this trip has really sucked so far. And while you might think that being stuck in Detroit without my luggage would be the worst part, you would be wrong. The worst part is being stuck next to a woman on a plane who does not know how to shut up for five hours. They won't let you take a gun on board a plane, so I wonder how else you could get rid of somebody annoying?
I dunno... do they let you take "pet" anacondas on a plane? I see people bringing their yappy little dogs with them on the plane all the time, so perhaps an anaconda would be okay?
It's not that I am anti-social or anything... really, I do like people. But some people need to understand that it is not necessary to talk continuously for hours on end to complete strangers (especially when said stranger is not allowed to be part of the conversation). This woman was insane. Even the most simple question requiring a yes or no answer would take five to ten minutes for her to reply. A perfect example:
Flight Attendant: Would you like a glass of water?
Noisy Woman: I brought water with me but it's gotten warm. Is that water cold? It is? Well then I would love to have a glass of water. Oh my gawd, I drink SOOOOO much water! Ha ha! I drink so much water that people must think I am part camel! But I love a glass of cool water! Doesn't everybody love a cool glass of water? Most people would rather have soda or coffee or something, but not me! Oh my gawd, it's water water water water for me! So once you've finished getting everybody else a glass, be sure to stop back by me because I'll be wanting more water! Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa!
Flight Attendant: Uh. Okay.
It never fails. The universal laws of airline travel demand that once things go wrong, they will continue to go wrong. First I get to Milwaukee a day-and-a-half late because my flight ran into weather problems. Now I am trying to get home, and the odds are not looking so good.
At Milwaukee this morning, three flights in a row were cancelled or delayed due to mechanical difficulties. That sure makes you feel safe when entrusting your life to Northwest Airlines! THREE FLIGHTS... including my own to Minneapolis.
After my flight was delayed indefinitely (hydraulics problems), they re-booked me on a different flight to Minneapolis. The connecting flight to Seattle is very tight (just 15 minutes) but they tell me I should be able to make it. Well, I probably could have except we had a small problem landing...
Apparently, there was another plane on the runway, and the pilot didn't feel like landing on top of him, so we almost landed, then took off again. I sure hope the dumbass traffic control moron was fired for that. Even with the additional 10 minutes required to circle back around the airport, I still had a shot of getting to my Seattle flight on time...
By the time we finally got to the gate, my chances were very slim, but it was still possible... until they couldn't get the jetway to move to the door, wasting yet another precious five minutes!!
What the hell? Not only does Northwest have problems keeping a schedule, but all their planes are breaking down, nearly running into each other on the runway and, assuming you ever get to where you are going, you can't get off the plane because the jetways are busted (this is the third time that's happened)?!? As if the security, tiny seating areas, and overcrowding weren't sucky enough?
So now I am stuck in Minneapolis. I may get out at 5:17... perhaps 7:18... or maybe not at all today. This is not the first time that Northwest Airlines has completely screwed up a trip, and probably won't be the last. Oh well, it's still better than my luck with United.
Next time I'm flying Hooters! That way, when things go wrong it won't suck as bad because at least you will have Hooter Girls to entertain you.
Since I was too tired to drive the 2-1/2 hours home after arriving in Seattle late last night, I just grabbed a hotel and fell into a coma. Now I wake up and all I can do is think about how I will be leaving the country in three days, and there is no way I am going to get everything done that needs doing before I go. Uh oh... I think I am having a panic attack. I'd dial the front desk and ask them to send up some oxygen and a couple of Valium to room 621, but I don't think that this is That Kind Of Hotel (now if I were in L.A., it would be an different matter entirely).
Hmmm. Sounds like a good time to get a haircut.
And now, 40 minutes and $75 later, I'm back. There's something liberating about sitting in a chair at Gene Juarez and saying "cut it all off."
Problem is that I still don't feel like driving 2-1/2 hours to get home. Bleh.
Even worse, I am missing out on the 13th Annual Ride to Work Day. Of course, when I am home and the weather is nice, every day is ride your motorcycle to work day.
Happiness is returning from nearly four weeks of traveling and being able to ride your motorcycle again Sadness is only getting to ride it for three days before having to put it back into storage for even more traveling. Sadness is knowing that very soon I will be missing the view from behind my grips...
Everything with me comes back to my motorcycle doesn't it? I suppose to some people, that's a bit of sadness right there. It does, however, make me feel a little better knowing that I am leaving for vacation rather than work this time.
Eh, that's a lie. It wouldn't matter if I were sipping champagne with Elizabeth Hurley in the south of France after a weekend of sweet lovin', I would still be a little sad if my motorcycle weren't there.
Crack Potatoes: Why in the hell is it impossible for me to pass by Taco Bell without driving through and ordering up a bowl of Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes? I think I'm addicted or something. What do they put in them, crack? I know I've blogged about this before, but damn.
Emmy Fraud: Sitting here watching the Scrubs Marathon on television, I am convinced that the Emmy Awards are a complete and total fraud. The episode "My Screw-Up" should have been nominated for both Best Drama and Best Comedy... not to mention Brendan Fraser's stunning performance being Emmy-worthy for both Best Guest Star in a Drama and Comedy. It's inconceivable that the crapfest known asWill & Grace (where every episode is exactly the same) gets nominated over the brilliance that is Scrubs.
Go-Go Know: How in the heck is it that when the song Head Over Heels by The Go-Go's comes on a television commercial, I know all the words? Even more puzzling, I've started buying more and more rap and hip-hop off of the iTunes Music Store... I'm a 38 year-old middle-class white guy, and yet DMX, Dr. Dre, and Nate Dogg are suddenly something that I enjoy listening to? I blame my nephew.
Moab Soundtrack: The entire time I was in Moab, I was thinking of the movie Thelma & Louise, because the film was shot there and Ridley Scott knows how to make an impression with scenery. When I got back I ordered the soundtrack, and it arrived today. Though I loathe country music, I love this CD because it makes me relive scenic memories like this:
Wireless Nirvana: Apple's "Airport Express" is absolutely everything I had hoped it would be. God save the Mac!
Book Smarts: This last trip I started reading The Vanished Man (by Jeffery Deaver) because everybody tells me how great the Lincoln Rhyme novels are (the most famous being The Bone Collector). Sorry, but I just don't get it. While I think the idea of a quadriplegic criminal investigator is interesting, I find Deaver's dialogue to be horrible. Every word feels contrived and forced, which makes conversations between characters just awful. I don't think I'll be reading another any time soon.
Film Threat: And from the good character dialogue department: Please somebody tell me that Quentin Tarantino is working on a new movie really soon now. I think my DVD player is starting to burn a hole through Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, and of course Kill Bill.
Designer Challenge: I'm getting tired of the same old art posters decorating my apartment. Since the "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy" team aren't available for design tips, I think I'll turn to the FridayQ to get some ideas. Shameless, I know!
It seems like every other day some "industry insider" is writing some lame-ass article about how Apple should just give it up and quit making Macs. Since Apple's demise has been greatly exaggerated for years, it's been pretty easy to ignore this crap. But now you have the former design head of Apple, Don Norman, saying " Apple should quit the mainstream PC market and concentrate instead on multimedia production and entertainment."
Of course, Norman is working for Microsoft now, so when he says dumbass things like "the world wants compatibility now. It wants to communicate, and this means one brand dominating," I can't help but laugh my ass off. Can this idiot actually be this clueless? I guess when the Borg assimilated him, they did a thorough job of it!
ATTENTION DON NORMAN: YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD, SO SHUT THE f#@% UP YOU MORONIC MICROSOFT PUPPET!!
Bravado like this makes Microsoft look like frightened little pussies that have to constantly verbally attack the Mac or Linux because they don't have a superior product that can speak for itself. When are they going to realize that actions speak louder than words, and they should put up or shut up? Will the Mac always be new OS hotness while Windows will remain old and busted... doomed to forever trying to catch up? Go ahead and prove me wrong, but talk like this just makes me even more confident that "Longhorn" is going to be yet another inferior Mac clone. Well no thanks, I'll stick with the superior original.
Gee I love it when arrogant Microsoft idiots like Don Norman presume to speak for the world. It just makes them look all the more laughable and irrelevant to where the world is actually heading (not to mention giving me something to rant about here in my blog).
How have you decorated the walls of your living space (photos, posters, works of art, etc.)? Most walls in my apartment (and office at work) have prints by Robert Lyn Nelson on them. For quite a while during/after college, I was making annual vacations to Maui with my friends, and purchased a new Nelson print each trip. I think I have about seven of them scattered around. Other than that, I have a print of "The Flower Bearer" by Diego Rivera, which is one of my favorite paintings. In my bedroom I have movie posters from Pulp Fiction, Strange Days, and Field of Dreams.
How have you decorated your body, both intentionally (piercings, tattoos, etc.) and unintentionally (wounds, scars, etc.)? I had my ear pierced for many years, but finally removed it a while back for a wedding I was in. I don't have any tattoos, but have wanted one for a long time... so one day that will happen. I have a few assorted scars from my adventures, including one on my left thumb (where I attempted to saw it off, accidentally).
How have you decorated your computer's "desktop"? Post a snapshot if you want. I have my desktop display a random travel photo that recycles every hour or so. Of course, with all the Konfabulator gadgets I've got cluttering my desktop, you sometimes can't even see the photo, but it's under there somewhere! Oooh. Right now it's a shot of the most excellent Hard Rock Hotel and Beach Club from Bali...
FQ PROJECT: Decorate your blog today! Create some art with an online Etch-a-Sketch (like the one here) and post a snapshot of your efforts (or, if you're not an Etch-a-Sketch fan, draw us a picture using whatever you want). Wow. This was a lot tougher than I thought. I spent quite a lot of time getting the hang of the controls before I managed to squeeze out this instant masterpiece:
Whoa. I never thought it was possible for my beautiful motorcycle to look that bad.
Well crap! In preparation for my impending vacation holiday, I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back. It hurts to walk. It hurts to type this. It hurts to breathe. I can't figure out what I did. Just all of a sudden, wham, welcome to the house of pain. About an hour later I met up with some friends to go see The Bourne Supremacy, and think I made things worse by sitting in a cramped theater seat for two hours instead of staying home and laying down flat.
Fortunately, the movie was pretty darn good. Fast paced, with an entertaining (if fairly straight-forward) plot and a serviceable performance by Matt Damon and Franka Potente (from Run Lola Run fame). I think I liked it even better than the first one. Kind of sweet that we get yet another excellent sequel (like Spider-Man 2!) since they are usually pretty lame the second time around. Here's hoping that the film is a success so we can see a big-screen treatment of The Bourne Ultimatum!
I like the Robert Ludlum novels I've read, but haven't yet taken a look at the Bourne books, so I'll have to give them a try. It will give me something to do instead of lying here in bed moaning in agony.
So long suckers! I'm off to meet up with some friends in the U.K., and then I'm off to Germany (and the Netherlands) with a fellow Hard Rock fanatic for a run through a good chunk of Europe's Hard Rock Cafes. After months of non-stop work and business travel, I am pretty happy to finally be getting a bit of a vacation...
I will be blogging the run daily but, since I am not sure if I will actually have internet access each day, posting to Blogography may be infrequent for the next couple of weeks.
Back to London. It may be the fact that I am here on vacation instead of work, but I really love this place. The best part is that since I've been here a half-dozen times before, I've already got all the touristy crap out of the way. Those long lines for the Tower of London I saw as I came into the city proper can be safely ignored. Nope, this time I can just happily wander the city, visit with friends, and take in a museum or two. No Big Ben. No London Eye. No Buckingham Palace. No Tower Bridge. No Westminster Abbey. No Harrods (okay, maybe Harrods). No Changing of the Guard...
Sure the weather could be a little nicer, but there's always lunch at Pret.
Shop. Surprisingly enough, the rather nice London hotel I'm staying at has just about everything (including complimentary copies of "OK!," "Time Out," and "Hello" magazines so that I can keep up with the latest exploits of Posh & Becks)... everything except a bloody clock. Since I do not wear a watch, there's a sense of timelessness happening in my hotel room that's a bit disconcerting. So my first official purchase of my first official day of vacation is a small alarm clock from Dixons. Not that I actually plan to set the alarm on it mind you.
Pricey. Boy London is expensive! To muffle the shock of how much I am paying for everything, I simply imagine myself paying in US dollars instead of British pounds. That way, I am not thrown into fits of terror over having just paid $9.50 for a cheap-ass clock, and instead find serenity in the illusion of having paid a much more reasonable $5.00. No matter where I go now-a-days, the US dollar is in the toilet (heck, you don't have to leave the USA to figure that out!). Who can I blame for this?
Pret. In asking the doorman (wow, it's been a while since I've stayed at a hotel with a doorman!) where the nearest Pret was, he was very much amused. Turns out Neil is right... Prets in London are like Starbucks in Seattle (well, not just Seattle anymore, those things are everywhere). This is good though, because I really want a Pret Egg Sandwich for breakfast.
Bike. The first thing I see when I step outside the hotel is my motorcycle... same make, same model, same color. Except some guy I don't know is riding it and there is a license plate the size of your head attached to the back. England should really get more stylish (and smaller) plates... these big-ass yellow things mess up the streamline look of my the bike!
Eat. Dinner with my friend was nice. Until some woman at the next table decided to take out her mobile phone and chat loudly for the next twenty minutes. This is apparently a universal rudeness problem that crosses international borders without mercy.
Snack. I could spend hours wandering through little shops to see the new varieties of candy bars and crisps (chips to us Yanks) that have come out. Compared to the Brits, we Americans are positively boring with our snack choices. I passed on the "Lamb & Mint" flavored potato crisps, but enjoyed the "Sour Cream & Sweet Pepper" flavor I tried. As far as candy bars go, the "Mars Delight" is my new best favorite... a sugar-cookie wafer roll, drenched in caramel, then covered in milk chocolate. Incredible. I'll be taking a case of these home with me (odds are we will never see them in the States... I am still waiting for the Aero bar).
Git. Apprently, I am not in London as I thought. I am making it all up. Yet another e-mail from the guy who thinks that the travels I document here are complete fiction. I suppose that I could take a photograph of myself with today's paper while standing in the top of a double-decker bus that's parked in front of Big Ben with Her Majesty the Queen standing next to me... but you'd probably think I Photoshopped it wouldn't you? Wow. In today's age of technological wizardry, how do you prove you are anywhere? I continue to find it utterly bizarre as to why I would lie about something like this. Why read anything I write if you honestly think it's all a bunch of fabrications? And the next time you decide to tell me I'm lying, could you just post a comment instead of bothering me via e-mail?
Wasted. My hotel's terrific West End location is completely wasted on me because I don't much enjoy the theater. However, there is something intriguing about a production called Jerry Springer: The Opera, which has been getting rave reviews. Life just keeps getting stranger.
Sleep. I don't really get jet-lag... never have. I'd imagine it's even less of a factor when you consider that I don't sleep much anymore. But spending 14 hours on three flights today has pretty much wiped me out and my hotel is blissfully quiet, so I am hoping to sleep very well this evening. My back could use the time to heal.
Robbed. Hmmm... typical charge for an internet connection at a hotel back home: US $6.95 (or free!). Price here in my London hotel: US $27.50. Holy crap!! Good night from the most expensive public internet access I have ever purchased!
I have had this "One Hundred Things About Me" entry stored on my computer for ages now, but never posted it because I wasn't entirely convinced I was interesting enough for the hundred things to be worth publishing. This morning I got an e-mail asking me why I hadn't done it yet, and decided to go ahead and put it up in an extended entry. You have been warned...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
News: Today's complimentary copy of The Guardian was found hanging in a plastic bag on my door handle this morning. The top story making front-page? A legal battle for the patent of a breath mint. They look like Life Savers candies (with a hole in the middle) but here they are called Polos, and their manufacturer is trying to patent their unique shape. I figure that if breath mints are front page news, I can skip everything else, assume that all is well in London, and head out into the city.
Breakfast: Was at Pret, of course. They make the food I wish I could make if I had any cooking talents at all.
Hasselhoff: While riding the London Underground (subway) this morning, I saw something even more disturbing than yesterday's mention of Jerry Springer: The Opera. A poster advertising that David Hasselhoff is headlining the production of Chicago here. Frightening.
Lunch: The absolute coolest thing about having a blog is that you sometimes get to meet the people who read it in real life. Today I was treated to a wonderful lunch in South Kensington by a new blog-acquainted friend, and was given the most charming compliment I think I've ever received: "You are like a cartoon character come to life! I want to poke you to make sure you're real." (after which she poked me in the arm with her finger). Of course, everything sounds charming when delivered in an English accent, so it certainly seemed like a compliment. In any event, it's always nice when somebody validates your existence (especially in lieu of the accusation I received telling me I am lying about being here in London). After lunch we wandered through the neighborhood where she pointed out this amazing old tile building that's called "The Michelin Building." Sure enough, there's the Michelin Man on the front! Heaven only knows what he's doing, however:
Has he constructed a martini out of motor oil? You're guess is as good as mine. Hmmm... after a Google search, I found this page, which explains the Michelin slogan at the time was "These tyres drink up obstacles." Pretty slick.
Nothing: With touristy activities removed from my schedule, I planned to do as much "nothing" this afternoon as possible. Most of my "nothing" was spent wandering aimlessly through the surrounding areas of my hotel. I ended up taking a photo of Big Ben after all because, well, it's Big Ben and is an incredibly beautiful structure...
But my favorite sight of the day was that of a young boy with a bright red ball enjoying the sunshine on the lawn outside of Westminster. His happy playtime fun was an interesting contrast to the war protesters just a block away. Ah the wisdom and innocence of youth. Perhaps if adults made room for playtime every once in a while, this world wouldn't be in quite the mess it is now...
My motorcycle is pretty popular here, as I keep seeing it around the city. Here is one that's actually parked, so you can see what I mean about the enormous license plate that riders are forced to hang off the back of their ride...
If I knew how to hot-wire a motorcycle, I'd undoubtedly be rotting away in a London prison just now.
This evening was my first time without plans since I arrived, so I decided to explore a bit by night and get some dinner. London, like any large city, is abuzz with activity at all hours. Here in the West End, most of that has to do with people heading off to the theater... Hasselhoff is in town, after all.
I took a few photographs to see how my new lens does at night, and ended up with a freaky set of images, where the sky looks completely drained of color, while objects in front of it appear normal. I have no idea if this is an effect of the lens, the camera, the scene, or a factor of all three. To me, the result looks a bit fake, like the sky was desaturated in Photoshop or something, but it wasn't... what you see is exactly what I got:
I cannot decide if I like this rather odd-looking effect or not. I think I will take my other lens out tomorrow night and see if things look more "normal."
Telly: One of my favorite things about Britain is their wonderful television programs. I'm completely addicted to shows like Red Dwarf, Coupling, Monarch of the Glen, Nevermind the Buzzcocks, etc. Last night I was watching a documentary about how the police deal with growing alcohol-related problems in club districts. It was absolutely fascinating, made even more intriguing by the fact that it was completely uncensored. Every curse word (and there were a lot of them being screamed by belligerent drunks) was fully audible, with no "bleeping" whatsoever. Afterwards, I was treated to such programs as "World Sex Records" and "When Sex Goes Wrong." Both of which were amusing anecdotes masquerading as soft-core porn. Yet, back in the States, Janet flashes a titty, and the world is ending? What a bunch of uptight asses we Americans are.
Help: On my morning pilgrimage to Pret for an Egg & Fire Roasted Tomato breakfast sandwich, I walked by an armored bank van that was sounding an alarm while a recorded message from a very proper English lady was calmly speaking: "Help. This car is under attack. Please call the police. -- Help. This car is under attack. Please call the police." Nobody paid a bit of attention to it, which makes me wonder if the van really were under attack, would the security couriers inside actually expect any assistance to be forthcoming? Nobody pays attention to a calm voice... they need to hire some frantic woman screaming "AAAAHHH! CALL THE COPPERS YOU BLOODY IDIOTS... WE'RE BEING ATTACKED!!! AAAAAAAHHHH!!! HELP US FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!! And instead of an alarm, why not use recorded gunshots? That would get people's attention.
Addiction: On my way back to Pret for a second Egg & Fire Roasted Tomato breakfast sandwich, I accepted the fact that I have a serious problem. But honestly, until you've had one of these things, you simply have absolutely no idea. It's probably best that they stop serving them after breakfast or else I would probably have another two for lunch. Pret bastards... I already had my hands full with my Cheesy Fiesta Potato addiction back home.
Gallery: Spent most of my day today wandering through London's fine art galleries (one of the best reasons to come to the city really). My favorite is always the Turner Collection at the Tate Britain, and I never tire of viewing it. His beautiful works span the gamut from historic to surreal...
Map: Every single time I come to London, I forget to bring along my pocket city map, and end up purchasing a new one. I've got quite a collection of them brewing back home. It's not like I need the map to find common places around town, but every once in a while I end up wandering too far and like to know that I have some help handy.
There's a restaurant in Piccadilly Circus (here in London) that I like called Biagio Ristorante Pizzeria (on Rupert). Sure it's got great authentic Italian food and the atmosphere is top-notch, but the real reason I eat there is because it reminds me of the infamous Kirstie Alley "Bellisima" sketch from Saturday Night Live.
Waiter: "You like-a the small salad with-a you pizza no?"
Dave: "Um, no thanks."
Waiter: "It's-a very very good the small salad."
Dave: "I'm fine thanks."
Waiter: "I bring-a you the small salad!"
Dave: "Uh, okay."
Waiter: (Here is where I expect him to say...) "Bellissima seniore!" (and then lick my face).
Naturally, he doesn't, but I brace myself just in case!
Of course, if you haven't seen the SNL sketch, all of the above makes absolutely no sense to you. If you have seen the sketch, you will understand the supreme effort it takes to keep from laughing while placing my order at this restaurant (if you are really wanting to know what I am talking about, rent the The Best of Adam Sandler: Saturday Night Live DVD and you can see it for yourself).
As I am on vacation, I don't want to be found, I am quite happy to be lost. However, while organizing my photographs last night, I found something interesting in one of the shots. Apparently, I have a lucky knack for capturing things flying through a scene (like this on a previous Theme Thursday). This time, it would seem I have managed to photography a falling star and never even noticed (it's in the upper-left as I zoom in)...
Since there's no vapor trail, I'm assuming it's not a plane. Unless... you don't think... hmmm. Let's zoom in a bit closer and enhance the image...
Holy cats! The Robinsons from Lost in Space have finally found their way home!!
After the raging tragedy of metal and plastic that is the Hard Rock Belfast (which looks like a slick sports bar masquerading as a Hard Rock), I was a little bit nervous about visiting the new Hard Rock Dublin. Turns out I needn't have worried. The Dublin location is quite nice, returning to the classic design formula that we know and love.
The exterior is a bit boring, but acceptable, and fits in nicely with other classic properties of the chain...
Though the dominate materials are the lush dark woods that define a Hard Rock, there's still a few modern touches, like the glass and brushed aluminum area dividers. As you can see, the memorabilia is a bit sparse, and there is no massive "museum wall" anywhere that makes up for it, which is about the only real downside here...
The interior looks quite intimate and small until you realize that you're only seeing half the cafe. A small bar and larger seating area is downstairs, extending underneath a nicely appointed merch shop that, unfortunately, suffers a bit from traffic congestion near the counter area...
Oddly enough, the architect has chosen to not repeat the glass and metal in the lower dining room. Everything here is classic Hard Rock, though the memorabilia is still lacking...
The staff is eclectic, hard working, and very friendly (much like the city itself!), and I very much enjoyed my dinner here. It would be nice if they could cram in a bit more "stuff" but, other than that, I wouldn't change much. I can only hope that one day Belfast will have a cafe more like this one so that the Emerald Isle will have two good cafes, both in Northern Ireland up north and the Republic of Ireland in the south.
Lovely: I'm going to start saying "lovely" a lot so that I might fit in with the English natives a bit better. This general-purpose word is used for just about any occasion, and I've heard it in the oddest of places. Everything is lovely. Get a new job? That's lovely! Spill your tea? That's lovely (in a sarcastic kind of way). Aliens invade Trafalgar Square? Lovely! I would not be at all surprised to overhear a conversations like this:
Woman: Excuse me sir, do you realize that your head is on fire?
Man: Lovely. I'll just nip over to that fountain and douse it out. Cheers.
Woman: Cheers then.
Cheers: The one word that should never be adopted by visiting American tourists is yet another general purpose word: "cheers," which can mean everything from "thanks" to "excuse me" to "good bye." This morning as I was having breakfast, I overheard some (probably) Americans trying their best to fit in by injecting "chee-erz" in their conversation. They sounded like complete asses because there is no "ee" or "r" in the English "cheers." I think you need a British accent to pull this off, because anything else just sounds silly.
Trippin': For my flight over to Dublin this morning, I took a shockingly cheap RyanAir flight out of Luton Airport (which my friend Perry informs me is pronounced "Looton" and not "Lutton" as one would expect). It's amazing how all of Europe is so easily accessible at such reasonable prices... fares are advertised as low as .99 Euros ($1.20) excluding taxes and fees, which bring the total up to around 17 Euros ($20) each way. Can you imagine flying from Seattle to L.A. for $20? Heck, can you imagine flying ANYWHERE within the States for so little?
Whiskey: I started my day walking down the shopping district of Grafton Street, continuing on along the River Liffey until I got to the "Old Jameson Distillery" which provides an in-depth and informative tour. These people take Irish Whiskey very, very seriously.
Whiffey: Speaking of the River Liffey, we're at low tide and it smells like a sewer. I'd imagine it can best be described much like somebody who ate curries and lager all night, then shat on your carpet the next morning before your dog came along and vomited on top of it. Not the most pleasant scent to remember from your Dublin visit...
Guiness: My second alcohol-related activity of the day was a visit to the Guiness factory & storehouse. The self-guided tour was pricey (13.50 Euro with a free pint at the end!) but interesting. Is there a bar in all of Ireland that doesn't serve Guiness?
Brogue: I need to start speaking with an Irish accent, because everybody here sounds cool. I'll bet I'd be twice as interesting a person with an Irish brogue.
If you could steal something and be assured of getting away with it, what would you take? That's a really tough choice. I want a Ducati SuperSport 800, a BMW R1200-C Montauk, and Harley-Davidson V-Rod motorcycle... I suppose if I could only steal one, I'd take the Harley. I'd probably kill myself on the Ducati, and I've already got a BMW.
If you could vandalize something without fear of being caught, what object would you deface? Vandalizing something is kind of petty, so I'd at least try to be creative about it. Perhaps painting a giant image of Ralph Wiggum (from The Simpsons) on the front of Trump Tower? Every time The Donald is in public talking himself up with that gigantic ego of his, I picture Ralph for some reason. That being said, Trump was pretty good on Saturday Night Live, and it's nice to know that even a egotistical billionaire has no problem poking fun at himself. Since Ralph is my favorite of all characters on the show, this is actually kind of a compliment now that I think about it.
If you could trespass someplace where you were not allowed and nobody would find out, where would it be? That's easy. I'd love to sneak into Jonathan Ive's lab (he's the lead designer at Apple Computer). How cool would it be to know what amazing products Apple's going to release next?
FQ REDEMPTION: Time to redeem yourself for the above stated criminal activities! If you were allowed to write a new law, what law would you create? No talking on your mobile phone is allowed while driving. I do this all the time, and certainly most people are capable of doing this while still being a good driver. But unfortunately, there are morons out there who are simply not capable of doing two things at once. I've nearly been creamed twice on my motorcycle by idiots who are incapable of talking and driving at the same time. It's sad that the majority of us who are responsible mobile users would have to suffer because of a stupid minority, but I'd feel a lot safer while riding my motorcycle knowing that these dumbasses have one less thing distracting them.
Get criminal at the FridayQ.
In the immortal words of Vincent Vega: "It's the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it's just, just there it's a little different."
I have long maintained that the good old USA has no culture of its own and, with the exception of fast food, baseball, Hollywood movies, and handguns, I still believe it to be true. Any cultural identity we might have is a patchwork of other nationalities that American immigrants bring with them and adapt to our rather unique society. Keeping that in mind, nothing fascinates me more than how what little culture America does have seems to be migrating to other countries.
This all hit me at lunch today. A friend had recommended that since I am a huge Johnny Rockets fan, I should try the Irish equivalent which is called Eddie Rockets. So there I sit in a diner that is so American I can almost forget I'm in Ireland when I look up and see a sign advertising "chilli." For a reason I cannot fathom, there is an extra "l" in there. Whether this is unique to the Irish, or something all Euro English-speaking nations have adopted, I'm not certain (dammit, if you're going to steal our native cuisine, at least spell it properly!). Anyway, all illusions I have of being back home have just been shattered, and I start to think about the many other small differences I've noticed over the past few days...
Cold. When you order something "cold" in the US, it arrives cold... ice cold. When you order something "cold" in Europe it arrives un-hot, which is to say that it's not very cold at all. Even the ice here doesn't seem as cold as it does back home.
Walk. Europeans walk everywhere, all the time, at great distances. This is quite a contrast to lazy-ass Americans who will pull the car out of the garage if the distance they need to travel is over four blocks. If it weren't for those who exercise, I wonder if Americans would bother to walk anywhere at all?
Smoke. All Europeans smoke... just not all at the same time (though, often enough, it may seem that way). If you see a European who is not smoking, it's because they have run out of cigarettes, run out of matches, or are under the age of 5. This morning I was nearly run over by what I swear was a 10-year old smoker on a skateboard.
Funny. Americans used to have a terrific sense of humor, but then the Age of Lawyers descended and now everything has to be "politically correct" (aka "boring"). Fortunately, that doesn't seem to have happened over here... yet.
Goth. I pretty much think that anybody dressing up as a goth looks ridiculous. For reasons that escape me, the Irish goths seem to be able to pull it off.
ATM: The cash machines over here are queued a minimum of five deep at any given time. If there's an ATM without a line in front, it must be broken.
Fat: It used to be when you ran across an overweight person walking down the streets of Europe, you could safely assume one of two things: A) It's an American tourist... or... B) It's a Japanese sumo wrestler. This is no longer the case. Thanks to the importation of the American diet of McDonalds, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, the person in question may very well be a native. I've never been so proud. GO AMERICA!!
Music: In walking down Grafton Street this afternoon, I noticed that 100% of the street musicians here are more talented than 50% of the "musicians" on America's top 100 Pop Charts.
I woke up today in the mood to do absolutely nothing. If it weren't for the fact that I had to get up and take my laundry down to the concierge, I probably would have stayed in bed all day. I suppose that I could have just come right back up to my room and watched television, but then guilt started to settle in. Here I am in Dublin, where I'm sure many people would love to visit, and I would just be wasting the opportunity.
My morning started with the best shower I've ever had. Seriously. Apparently Dublin has no water shortage problems, nor do they have a concept of what a "water flow restriction device" is. The water pressure was so great that I nearly buckled under it. They should post a sign warning that small children and pregnant women should not use the shower. I think my skull has been dented, that's how fabulous it was...
Then I had to work for three hours. Working while on vacation sucks ass.
After lunch, I decided to wander up O'Connell Street, which I never bothered to do on my previous visit. It was then that I saw the Dublin Spire. Other than being really tall, I just don't get it. I mean, come on... "Look! It's a great big pole!" is about the limits as to what can be said about it. Apparently, it was the winning entry in an architectural contest. If this was the winner, I am very curious as to what the losers must have been like...
On my way back to Grafton Street for some non-shopping, I passed by Trinity College, home to the "Book of Kells." All I knew about it was that it was a very old book that monks had drawn on dead cow hides a long time ago. Out of curiosity and boredom, I decided to stop in and take a look. I nearly took a pass when I saw that it was 7.50 Euros ($9) to get in, but oh well.
Absolutely stunning. 61.20 Euros ($77) later, I had purchased a book, lots of postcards, and a CD-Rom about the Book of Kells because it was so amazing. The CD-Rom is particularly good, and packed with loads of cool material (including the entire contents of the manuscript). You should go order a copy right now and, if you're ever in Dublin, seeing it in person is a must.
The trailer for Trey & Matt's new movie Team America: World Police is up (in Quicktime, thankfully). If it's even half as good as South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, I will be very, very happy. The hard part is having to wait until October to see it... I want to see it now. "Putting the "F" back in Freedom" indeed.
Pub: Around 11pm last night I decided to run through the local pub scene for a few hours and found it to be even crazier than I had imagined. Nobody, it would seem, parties like the Irish on a Friday night. On Grafton Street there are quite a few rickshaw-type carts that you can hire to haul your drunk ass from one end of the road to the other (it being far too crowded in the daylight hours for them to operate). The highlight of my evening was watching two drunken blokes who had stolen a cart evade both the police and its owner as they escaped to St. Stephens Green. "Get the fook out of the way! We'll fookin' run yeh down!" It was all in good fun, but I'd hate to have their hangovers this morning.
Tomb: I had fully intended to do as little as possible, enjoying my last day before the imminent Hard Rock Run Europe 2004, but one look out the window changed all of that. Unlike the previous two days, the sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. After yet another escape into the Best Shower in the Universe®, I headed down to the concierge to see what interesting diversion might be available in the seven hours I had left. Since I had already taken a run through Wicklow in a previous trip, he suggested a trip to Newgrange. It is here you can tour an ancient tomb that predates even Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids (dated at around 5000 years old). It was an interesting diversion for a few hours while I waited for my flight...
(No, the Teletubbies were not at home)
Busted: While waiting in line at the Dublin airport to head back to London, some irate guy behind me decided to start yelling because there was only one check-in window available. He'd run up to the poor bloke at the counter and start screaming in his face "GET ORGANIZED! YOU'VE GOT FIFTY PEOPLE IN LINE WAITING!" and then walk back to his embarrassed wife and daughter. The second time he ran up and started screaming "OPEN ANOTHER WINDOW YOU BLOODY IRISH!!" and then walked back again.
This time, he was overheard by a pretty customer service agent who came over to see what all the trouble was about. It was at this point the idiot went too far... he started screaming at the poor girl, and then grabbed her. There was an audible gasp from the crowd, and several people (including myself) were heading over to get him off of her when his wife and daughter stepped up and started pleading with the enraged moron to let the girl go.
Which he did, thankfully.
But then he turned and slapped his daughter across the face. Hard. "Oooooooooh!" went the crowd that was now in a state of total shock. By this time, the police arrived and eventually arrested the freak as the crowd started applauding. As he was drug off in hand-cuffs, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of wait he has ahead of him to get on that flight now. If he had just shut up and stood in line, he would have had his boarding pass quite a while before. I do feel sorry for his wife and daughter, not only because they have to put up with his childish and violent behavior, but also because they're now pretty much stranded on the trip alone (or maybe that's a good thing?).