You know, the next time I participate in a meme that requires using my iTunes library, somebody please remind me to delete Duran Duran's Love Voodoo. I like the song, but it's always popping up and screwing me on these meme things.
Or maybe not, because I actually have a really good voodoo story to tell. And, though you will probably not believe a word of it, I swear on my iPhone that it's all true.
Back in 1983, I won a regional high school DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) competition that sent me to the nationals competition in New Orleans. Unsupervised. This made for a very interesting trip. But, oddly enough, the most interesting thing to happen did not involve drinking, partying, or sex. It involved voodoo. Real voodoo.
It all happened while I was souvenir shopping on my last day with some friends I had made at the competition. One of the girls had found a shop advertising "love potions" and didn't want to visit alone, so I went with her. As we wandered the shop, I saw some cool writing on little scrolls that were tied to some tree bark. They looked like some kind of good luck charm or something, so I decided to buy one as a souvenir. When I asked the odd lady behind the shop counter about it, she asked me what I wanted it for. "Uhhh... what?" I queried. She rolled her eyes and said "for what you want... love, luck, protection, money... whatever you want!" I couldn't make up my mind, but then something occurred to me... "can you get rid of warts with one of those things?" The woman said "for ten dollars!" without batting an eye. That was pretty pricey for a souvenir back then, but it looked cool, authentic, and unique, so I said yes...
...mostly because I had spent the past dozen years struggling with a few warts between the fingers on my right hand. They had been frozen off, cut out, and medicated with everything the doctor could think of, but they always came back. I didn't believe in voodoo or witchcraft or whatever but, so long as I was buying a souvenir, the least I could do was curse my warts while doing so. After explaining the situation, the shop lady told me she needed some of my hair (which she cut a small bit off my head) and that I was to come back in one hour. I wasn't expecting a wait, but I agreed.
And when I returned sixty minutes later I was shown the "voodoo charm" (or whatever) she had made me, and it was wicked-cool. I was certainly going to get my $10 worth, and so I handed the money over with a smile. That's when the woman grabbed the piece she had made... AND LIT IT ON FIRE WITH A CANDLE! That's right... the souvenir I just bought was burning. Not knowing what to do, I just stood there for a minute as my ten bucks went up in smoke. Eventually the woman gave me a look that said "you're welcome!" so I left the shop dazed and confused.
The next afternoon I was shuttled to the airport so I could catch my flight home. As I was taking my seat, I happened to notice something strange about my hand. The never-ending warts were GONE! All of them. Overnight. No bullshit. No lie.
And I've been wart-free ever since. Believe it or not.
And now, since I need a photo I took for this meme, I present "Voodoo Man" from the delicious Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon...
And now I want a donut.
In other news, HAPPY CANADA DAY to my friends in the Great White North...
Hope everybody had a good one!
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "concern."
Right now, my main concern is that I will collapse of exhaustion before my projects are completed. There's only so many 18-hour days you can work before your brain starts to rebel. This afternoon I forgot how to double-click with my mouse. I'm pretty sure that hallucinations are just around the corner. This is a darn shame, because I've got another week of this torture before I can even think about getting back to my usual 12-hour work days.
But this is an image meme, so a run through my photos turned up this...
Which only elevates my concern that a lack of decent sleep will make me stabby.
And this would be very bad week for that...
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "mystery."
Mysteries don't interest me much. Sure I like an occasional film or book with mysterious elements... but when it comes to the grand scheme of things, there's no burning desire in me to seek out mysteries and solve them. This is unfortunate, because ancient mysteries seem to be a big tourist attraction no matter where I go. Over the years I've been to a lot of so-called "mysterious places," and appreciate them as interesting remnants of the past, but that's about it.
Places like Newgrange...
And, of course, the Egyptian Pyramids...
But the mysteries surrounding these places pale in comparison to a modern-day mystery that is going on right now... how in the hell can a film which has a romantic triangle involving a choice between necrophilia and bestiality be considered "romantic?" I've never understood the fervor surrounding all this Twilight bullshit, but the whole "Team Edward vs. Team Jacob" crap has me completely baffled...
Stupidest vampire and werewolf ever. Where's Professor Van Helsing when you need him?
In other news... I like the way that my iTunes "Genius Mixes" arranges Third Eye Blind's Blue on top of Eve6's Horrorscope in order to paint in the top of the manga babe's head... WITH FIRE!!
Bwah ha ha haaa! Sweet!
Hooray! It's a Bullet Sunday dedicated to three people I loathe on this Independence Day!
• Larry. One of the single worst interviewers on the planet, Larry King, has announced he's retiring. I have never, ever, understood his appeal. Every time I've seen one of his shows, I'm left wondering if he even knows who he's interviewing, since half the time he seems completely bewildered as to whom he's talking to. As if that wasn't enough, he's always looked like some kind of pervy alien to me...
Here's hoping that Larry's replacement is somebody who's worth a shit. If CNN is going to get all the interesting people to interview, it would be nice if the actual interviews weere worth watching.
• Night. If there were ever an example of somebody who started with a bang, then faded to ridiculousness with an even bigger bang, it would be M. Night Shyamalan. Even though I figured out the "twist" in The Sixth Sense well before the reveal, I still enjoyed the film... mostly because of the performances which were terrific all the way around (in particular Toni Collette, who totally sold her unsellable character). I didn't necessarily think Shyamalan was genius for it, but I did think there was some talent there. Then came Unbreakable, which was a film I loved. I loved the story. I loved the performances. Sure there were some spots that did their best to sabotage the ideals of a non-super-hero super-hero film, but it was a good movie, right up until that awesome reveal at the end that is dropped on you like a bomb by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson being all amazing and stuff...
Unfortunately, every single thing that M. Night Shyamalan has released after this film has been stupid as shit. Signs? Stupid, nonsensical shit. The Village? Stupid, predictable shit. Lady in the Water? Stupid, self-indulgent shit. The Happening? Stupid, stupid, STUPID shit. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson after The Village, but I keep going back for reasons even I don't understand.
Until now. Because Shyamalan's latest film is based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is one of my most favorite cartoons ever...
There is no way I am going to watch as something I care for so much is utterly destroyed by Night's hackery. And, not that I really needed to go there, but the pitiful 8% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes only confirms that it's yet another stupid as shit film in a chain of stupid as shit films. Netflix has the REAL Avatar on Watch-It-Now, so I'll just watch that instead. What is it going to take for movie studios to stop giving M. Night Shyamalan millions of dollars to crank out more crap films? Aren't there other filmmakers out there more deserving?
• Mel. I find it scary that Mel Gibson has turned into the very racists he made fun of while playing Riggs in Lethal
Unfortunately, I'm quite sure that racist tirades like Mel's recent N-word meltdown are anything but rare. Reprehensible stuff like this goes on all the time behind closed doors of all races, religions, and creeds. But Mel Gibson's celebrity status has made him somebody with influence, and this is not the kind of crap that deserves the spotlight. Hopefully these repeated offenses will be enough to bury the asshole back to obscurity.
• 20/20. Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "wrong."
Something that I've always thought is very wrong is when restaurants and butcher shops use happy animals to advertise their meats. Which basically means that the animals are inviting you to eat them... like in Restaurant as the End of the Universe. The cutest suicidal animals are in Asia...
And I don't think this needs any explanation...
And now, before I go, something mostly right...
Happy 234th Birthday, USA!
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "promises."
About the only promise I feel like making right now is that I will never, ever eat another Hot Pockets product again. Last night after eating their Three Cheese "Stuffed Crust Pizzeria" pockets for dinner, I ended up about as sick as I've ever been. It was if my insides decided to explode non-stop from both ends, with paralyzing cramping as a bonus. I felt like I was going to die which, given the agony I was enduring, would have been a blessing...
I was still not fully recovered this morning. So I guess what they say about Hot Pockets is true. So horrible.
Anyway... this is supposed to be a photo meme, so here you go...
This is a photo of Master Fortune Teller I visited in Hong Kong Central. I asked him how long it would be before I returned to Hong Kong, to which he promised "next year."
That was in 2005.
I haven't been back since.
So much for promises.
Which is a shame, because I really like Hong Kong, and would very much like to visit again. If, for no other reason, so I could eat buttery McCorn and FRIED McPies again...
Mmmmmm... FRIED McPies!
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "clocks."
Tonight I crossed a major milestone that left me with a vague sense of light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully by the end of the week my life will return to semi-normalcy. Until the next time. Which is pretty much what the past two weeks of my life have been about. Time. Mostly the lack of it as I struggle to have a life and still get all my work done.
Which brings us back to clocks. The first clock that comes to mind is, of course, Big Ben!
But I kind of fell in love with the Astronomical Clock in Prague...
Isn't she beautiful?
In other news, I am bitterly disappointed that Lindsay Lohan got away with a mere 90 days in jail and 90 days in rehab... and even more disappointed that she'll probably only serve a fraction of that time. I was really hoping for the death penalty, which is what you'd have thought she got when you see her reaction...
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY COCAINE?!?? ©2010 by Getty Images
I am sick and fucking tired of wealthy idiots and worthless whores continuously flaunting their many violations of the law and getting away with it. These morons live without consequence, which is grossly unfair to the public at large. I cannot fathom why society puts up with this bullshit and doesn't demand that the law apply equally to everybody.
Which is to say that I am horribly jealous I'm not one of these privileged persons.
Maybe one day...
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "move."
I spent most of my day moving... down the highway... so this was an easy one.
Usually, I drive over the day before I have work in Spokane, spend the night, then start fresh in the morning. But time is so scarce now-a-days that I couldn't afford to do that. So I drove three hours over. Worked for 25 minutes. Ate at David's Pizza for 20 minutes. Then drove three hours back home. All in one day. It's not an ideal situation, but the work is critical and must be performed in person, so whatcha gonna do?
I constructed a rig out of an old GPS window mount to hold my iPhone. I then use a photo app that lets me take a photo with a simple tap to the screen. This allows me to easily snap photos of my journey safely, since I don't need to look at the display to shoot. Occasionally I stop and relocate the mount to my side window just to mix things up. Most of the photos end up looking like crap, because they're not composed in any way, but I do end up with enough shots to tell a story of my day...
In other news... I finally got around to watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight...
Hands down one of the best films I've seen in quite a while.
And I'm including the awesome MacGruber, so you know I'm serious.
The Swedish film is actually called Män som hatar kvinnor ("Men who hate women" in English) but it's based on Stieg Larsson's 2005 book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In some ways, the movie title is more appropriate, because the story has some rather shocking violence in it. Fortunately, it's anything but gratuitous, and serves a very necessary purpose to the plot (a shamed journalist is hired to solve a 40-year-old murder where things aren't as they seem, and gets help from a remarkable and unexpected ally).
It also has one of the best revenge scenarios I've seen since Kill Bill.
What's amazing is that the two sequel novels in the "Millennium Trilogy"... The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007) have already been filmed. In fact, remarkably, all three books were filmed as a six-part mini-series for Swedish television and aired in 2009. Apparently, both sequels are coming to the USA this year as a theatrical release in bigger cities first, then on video at the end of the year. Sweet!
Due to the massive success of the books here, Hollywood is planning American adaptations, with actors like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney rumored as leads. It's an interesting idea (though central plot elements seem like they'd need changing if the story is relocated domestically), but the originals are so good that it seems a bit pointless. Unless you factor in American's hatred of reading subtitles, in which case it makes perfect sense. Oh well.
In any event, if you can handle a bit of violence and can read subtitles, the movie is worth a look. If you're a Netflix customer, you can even watch it instantly!
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "love."
And I decided to take it to heart and show some love to myself for a change. I made plans, made time, and made decisions that benefitted me today. Sure it's selfish, but I've been working so hard for so long that I think I've earned it.
It was a great two hours.
After that, I needed to think of something other than myself to love so I could post an appropriate photo.
I decided that I love breakfast. Mostly because I so rarely have the time to have a good one. Like this order of Banana-Macadamia French Toast I had in Maui a while back...
Or this fantastic Scrambled Egg Breakfast Burrito I ate for Carb Appreciation Day a few years ago...
Or these sweet Mickey Mouse Waffles I found at Walt Disney World...
Breakfast is awesome!
But tomorrow it will be a can of Coke as I rush out the door, as usual.
If I really loved me, I'd make time for breakfast.
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "many."
After this weekend, it's all over. I'll either complete my many projects before Monday's deadline and emerge victorious... or I will crash and burn horribly and be buried beneath the wreckage.
Except I'm mostly done, so victory is pretty much assured. I've been killing myself for the past three weeks, so victory had better be assured.
When thinking about what photos to use for today's word, I didn't even have to dig. A series of photos I took while in Shanghai immediately came to mind, as I remembered the many red ribbons decorating the city.
Most of the time they're in a wishing tree. People write their desires on a ribbon, tie it to a coin, then toss it into the tree as an offering to the nature spirit living there to grant their wish. My favorite was this beautiful golden tree at the Yuyuan Market Street...
But you can also find them tied around temples on statues, doors, trees, and such...
So many wishes.
I wonder how many of them come true?
In other news, I've decided to re-read James Clavell's Noble House for the millionth time once I'm caught up on Monday. I've been thinking about it ever since I posted that photo from Hong Kong four days ago, and posting photos from China today has only confirmed it. I never tire of reading the thing...
Ooh... time for cookies in bed!
Today's word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "chemistry."
Well, the valley is on fire. Again.
The blaze here near my town is mostly contained tonight, but the bigger fire up Swakane Canyon has reached 3,000 acres (and growing). And now there's a fire in Entiat as well. I can only guess somebody decided to play with leftover fireworks or something. What's worrisome is that we've still got two months of summer left, and the hottest days have yet to come. I can only hope that it doesn't get as bad as last time.
Anyway... "chemistry" was not an easy assignment, but eventually I figured out what to do...
NaCl is the chemical composition of... SALT!!
It's... The Bonneville Salt Flats!
Interestingly enough, I passed on visiting the flats once because I thought it would be terribly boring. But then I was on a road trip driving through the area back in 2001 when we decided to stop and take a look. It was surprisingly cool. I had big fun just running around on the brilliantly white surface and gazing out at sparkling salt for as far as the eye can see.
All I needed was Buckaroo Banzai's Jet Car, and my life would have been complete at that very moment.
Which raises the question: Buckaroo Banzai... great movie... or greatest movie?
Annnnnd... scene. It may have taken me a while longer than expected to finish up today, but I finally managed to get most everything completed before my deadline tomorrow. It has been a difficult three weeks, but I've somehow managed to survive. Barely. I don't think I have many bullets in me this Bullet Sunday, but here we go...
• hAx0rEd. After reading about a massive number of WordPress blogs being violated, I checked out the WordPress install at my other blog and found out that I was among them. After changing all my passwords, removing all the offending hacks, reinstalling all my system files, and running through my database looking for malicious code, I finally called it a night. Only to find myself hacked AGAIN five hours later. This resulted in me taking rather drastic measures to secure everything a second time but so-far, so-good.
• Realty. My new favorite show is Selling New York on HGTV. It's kind of a reality show about realty, where brokers show amazing properties that regularly cost millions of dollars. Along the way they have to deal with finicky clients, unrealistic expectations, and interesting situations that can only be found in New York City. As for me, I just like living vicariously through people who have such obscene amounts of money that they can even afford to look at real estate like that.
• 20/20. Today's (final) word in the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is "human." And nothing quite captures humanity quite like Michelangelo's breathtaking works...
The human emotion he can coax out of a piece of stone is pretty miraculous.
• Finale. Just in case there's anybody interested in which twenty random songs from my iTunes library were responsible for my meme assignments, here they are...
Annnnnnd... I'm spent. Looking forward to better days ahead.
At least they had better be.
I am not a big fan of the new "Dr. Who" as portrayed by Matt Smith, but when I saw that last week's episode was pretty much being billed as "Vincent van Gogh, Monster Slayer" I had no choice but to set my DVR to record it. Vincent is one of my most favorite artists, responsible for my favorite painting of all time, and the idea of seeing him doing cool stuff in Dr. Who was too much to resist.
I was not disappointed. SPOILERY STUFF AHEAD, if you haven't seen it yet!
Admittedly, my expectations were pretty low... mostly because I fully expected van Gogh to be treated as a novelty throw-away character who was done all wrong. Imagine my surprise when a real effort was made to portray him in a sympathetic and realistic manner. Kudos to writer Richard Curtis for a great script!
The episode did indeed end up being a monster hunt, but that was almost secondary to Vincent's real-life story of torment and unappreciated genius, which was the real focus of the story...
The casting was perfect, as they managed to not only find an actor (Tony Curran) who resembled Vincent van Gogh, but was also talented enough to play the more subtle intricacies of the tortured artist...
The production values were amazing, as they faithfully recreated the world that Vincent inhabited, including his room at Arles...
No detail was too small, as the set designers even added a few touches to make everything seem like Vincent actually could have lived there. Like occasional glimpses of the irises and sunflowers that inspired so many of Vincent's paintings...
And I thought it was utterly fantastic how they took the time to explain the wonderful way that Vincent sees the world. It was like an art appreciation moment...
But it was the ending that made the show so sublimely awesome.
The Doctor, feeling sad that Vincent lived a life of depression and pain in a time when his every effort as an artist was rejected, decided to show him a glimpse of the future. A quick trip in the TARDIS later, and van Gogh gets to see that one day he will be regarded as one of the world's greatest artists. It was a magical scene that righted a terrible wrong, and has to be my feel-good moment of the year so far...
And then came Vincent's moment of vindication when The Doctor arranged for him to overhear what people thought of his work...
Listening the museum curator (played by the ever-awesome Bill Nighy) talk about Vincent in a way that could have come from my own brain was an almost surreal experience...
"In a hundred words, where do you think van Gogh rates in the history of art?"
"To me, van Gogh is the finest painter in the world. Certainly the most popular great painter of all time. The most beloved. His command of color is magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray. But to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world... no-one had ever done it before. Perhaps no-one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist... but also one of the greatest men who ever lived."
Alas the ending was bittersweet but, where Vincent Van Gogh is concerned, it pretty much had to be...
The entire episode was like a love letter to Vincent van Gogh and his beautiful art, and I loved every minute. Even when he was fighting monsters. Highest possible recommendation. If you didn't catch it on BBC or BBC America, you can grab it on iTunes (well, in the US you can... other countries may vary).
Many thanks to Steven Moffat, Richard Curtis, Edward Thomas, Tony Slater Ling, and everybody else who had a hand in this wonderful episode.
Today I had an early start with a job in Seattle, so I drove over last night to avoid having to get up at 5:00am this morning. My thinking was that I could have a nice dinner, get a haircut, then check into a hotel and relax... getting to wake up at 7:30am instead.
It was a good plan.
Except this is me we're talking about. let's have a quick run-down of my previous five hotel visits...
And now last night?
I had just checked in and was exhausted from the drive. So I decided to take a quick nap before going out for a late dinner and retrieving my suitcase from the truck of my car. First thing I did was remove my pants so they wouldn't get wrinkled. Then I went to the bathroom.
Which is not something I would usually feel the need to share, except...
=BZZZZZZZ-CLICK= No power.
Fortunately I had dropped my iPhone on the bathroom counter, because my room was now pitch black. And peeing by the light of your iPhone beats peeing in the dark (there's an app for that). Once that was taken care of, I felt my way back to the bed and waited for the power to come back on. But it didn't. So I spent the next 20 minutes on my hands and knees using my iPhone as a flashlight to try and find my pants so I could leave.
Except I couldn't find my pants.
So for the next hour I occupied myself with my iPhone and a dying battery.
Finally, I heard people in the hallway and saw a light under the door. It was then that I did something I never thought I'd do... open the door in my underwear and ask a guy to shine his light in my room so I could find my pants.
Which were draped across the television for some reason.
Now that I had pants, I made my way out to my car so I could retrieve my suitcase. And the leftover Mrs. Fields' Cookies I bought to tide me over until dinner... which suddenly became my dinner, because it seemed way too late to go out to eat.
Then, just as I was falling asleep...
=BZZZZZZZ-CLICK= The power comes back on.
Along with every light in my room. Just try getting back to sleep after that.
After my morning appointment, I went back to the hotel so I could check out. As expected, there was no apology. No asking how my stay was. No sympathetic "sorry for the power outage last night." Nothing. Time was I'd have been offered some kind of compensation... like money off my bill... or a discount on my next stay... or a free meal coupon... or, at the very least, an apology. Because, for better or worse, even if it's not their fault, situations like this reflect poorly on the hotel and it's in their best interest to keep their customers happy.
Or at least it was.
Not so long ago.
Business travel is most decidedly not like it used to be.
But I did stop at IKEA for some fresh Cinnamon Buns and a new supply of Swedish Fish candies before driving home... so I guess my trip wasn't ALL bad.
I am nursing a massive headache this evening... probably from staring at a computer screen for entirely too long today. So I'll be keeping this brief.
After tweeting about Betty White guest-starring on the season premiere of Community this Fall, and saying how much I envy Joel McHale for getting to work with her, I was surprised to see that Joel responded with "Yeah!" Right after Vahid tweeted about an exciting new experience with his colon...
I've been a massively huge fan of Joel for years (I even had my DVR record his home shopping appearance!), so this was kind of cool. The fact that he'll be appearing with the incomparable Betty White in the most excellent Community is going to be like catching lightning in a bottle. Because two huge comedic talents in the same scene? Guaranteed electric...
The new Fall television season suddenly seems so far away.
Today I had a very difficult decision to make and, even though I believe I made the correct one, it's been haunting me all through my day. And, I'm guessing, my night. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to shy away from the tough decisions, but sometimes living with the consequences isn't easy, even when you're right. Especially when you're right. Because then somebody else is wrong.
And there's always another side. There's always another story. There's always another shoe on the other foot.
You just have to hope it doesn't come back to kick you in the ass.
Especially if the other shoe is a steel-toed work boot.
In any event, somebody's life is going to get easier. Somebody else's life is going to get considerably more difficult. MY life has decided to not think about it and go get chocolate-almond ice cream...
Well, I'll go tomorrow. Who eats ice cream at 11:00 at night?!?
Oh... that's right...
Tonight while watching television I fell asleep on the couch. Thinking that my body was finally willing to catch up on some much-needed sleep, I went and laid down in my bedroom around 8:30.
And promptly woke up at 10:17.
So now, on top of still being woefully behind in sleep, my internal clock is going to be messed up because I'm wide awake, and probably won't be getting any more sleep tonight. This is resoundingly bad news, because I start a series of back-to-back-to-back-to-back trips next week, and sleep even worse when I'm traveling. But no worries... I'm sure everything will be back to normal again by the end of August.
Just before I head to Europe and get all screwed up again.
Oh well. Insomnia is a great excuse to read through the incredible Wednesday Comics hardcover collection... again...
I sure hope that DC Comics does another series of Wednesday Comics... it's the most entertainment I've had with their characters in years. Many of the creators got really creative and experimental with their strips, and the payoff is a massive bucket of pure WIN! But even better than the uniqueness of it all is the FUN. So many of the stories are just plain fun which is exceedingly rare. I'd purchase every broadsheet edition plus the hardcover collection all over again just for Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner's Supergirl strip, where every panel is beautifully rendered... and funny...
If you love comics... or even if you used to love comics but haven't read them in years... here's your book. It originally ran for 12 consecutive Wednesdays with one page of each strip per issue (Batman, Deadman, Demon/Catwoman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Kamandi, Metal Men, Metamorpho, Sgt. Rock, Strange Adventures, Supergirl, Superman, Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman) all written and drawn by top industry talents. Amazon has it for $32, which is an absolute steal when you consider it's an over-sized 11x17" volume that runs 200 pages! Recommended!
Hooray! Today is Disneyland's 55th birthday!
When I was a kid growing up, Disneyland was the be-all, end-all of my existence. I wanted nothing more to visit the place since the first day I heard about it. When I finally got to go, it was everything I dreamed it would be. From the minute I walked through the gate, got my hands on that booklet of ride coupons, and gazed upon the majesty of the E-Ticket, I never wanted to leave. And, in my head at least, I never did.
Since then I've returned to the park many times. With each visit a little more of the magic wears off, but the memories of that first visit still bring the magic. Even though Disneyland seems so small compared to when I was a kid. Even though there's no more E-Tickets. Even though everything is over-commercialized to the point of nausea. Even though they got rid of The Country Bear Jamboree and Adventure to Inner Space. Even though the cost of entry now requires selling body parts to be able to afford going.
I was going through my old Disneyland photos this morning and saw so many changes. My first visit, there was a bucket "Skyway" ride that you could take from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland that ran right through The Matterhorn. In the 1990's the Skyway closed, but the cables remained. Today they're gone, and the holes have been camouflaged or closed...
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.
Tomorrowland has changed the most over the years. It used to be the "hard science of the future" that governed the look and feel of the land... but was changes to more of a "fantasy science of the future" in 1998. Some changes, like converting the NASA-inspired Rocket Jets to the more retro-futuristic Astro Orbiter were perfectly understandable. Other changes, like the covering over of Mary Blair's beautiful tile mural, were harder to take...
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.
Some things leave only to come back again. Like the Captain EO 3D Movie. I first saw it just months after it had opened in 1986. I last saw it just weeks before it closed in 1997. Now it's making a limited engagement return as Captain EO: TRIBUTE in honor of Michael Jackson's death. Something tells me it won't hold up very well, but I still hope to see it if I can squeeze a Disney trip into my schedule...
Inset photo from EndorExpress.
But change is what keeps Disneyland interesting, and lives up to Walt Disney's vision of the park never being finished. It also gives us great new adventures like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Tours and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage! I can't wait to see what comes next...
Happy birthday, Disneyland!
I am really too busy to blog, but if I don't rant about all the fake-ass crap that's been building up inside of me this week, I'll explode. So, apologies in advance...
• Faux Advertising. Am I the only one who thinks that the ads currently running for the new Kia Soul are stupid? I mean, once you get past the cuteness factor of hamsters rapping and driving around, what does it say about the car? That they're so small only hamsters can drive them?
What's odd is that the ad is being overplayed. Almost as if Kia is wanting people to get sick of it. I mean sure it's entertaining one or two times but, once the novelty wears off, it's useless. I'd argue it actually works against the brand, as the existence of this bullet would attest. But, then again, any publicity is good publicity. I guess.
• Faux HD. I was channel-surfing for some background noise yesterday while I worked, and ended up watching Kevin Smith's underrated Jersey Girl on the TBS's HD Channel. And ended up screaming the entire time because the movie was NOT presented in HD. They just took the butchered SD version and stretched it out to fit the HD width. Which is bullshit. Don't go calling yourself an "HD" station if you're not going to show movies in HD. This kind of crap drives me insane. To illustrate, here's a scene from the movie Lost in Translation where a critical conversation is reduced to lips talking...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
And another. This time made worse, because an entire character has been obliterated...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
Now, TBS is hardly the sole offender of butchering movies so stupidly, but they're one of the worst offenders. I wish the FCC would fine stations who misrepresent content. If you're an HD channel showing SD content, then don't distort the content in the hopes that nobody notices. Present it for the butchered bullshit it is...
• Faux Justice. On Monday, child-raping-piece-of-shit Roman Polanski officially got away with violating a 13-year-old girl when Swiss authorities refused to extradite the infamous sexual-predator director back to the US to face charges from 30 years ago. Ultimately, I'm upset that just because somebody directs a few critically-acclaimed films they can get away with rape... but it was a decision for the Swiss, they made their decision, and I understand that. What I don't understand is how a big chunk of Hollywood stood behind Polanski and advocated for his release. People like Natalie Portman. Penelope Cruz. Whoopie Goldberg. Darren Aronofsky. Wes Anderson. And loads more. It's just baffling. My feelings were pretty well summed-up by Chris Rock on Leno a while back when he said "IT'S RAPE! IT'S RAPE!!! in total disbelief. How in the hell do you defend that?
• Faux Hulk. Word dropped this week that Edward Norton, who played Bruce Banner in the last Incredible Hulk movie, was not going to be reprising the role in the forthcoming Avengers movie, even though he wanted to. This is monumentally stupid on so many levels. Mostly because the Hulk is a computer special effect, and Norton only appears when Bruce Banner is in the scene. And, let's face it, in an Avengers movie they're not going to spend a lot of time with Bruce Banner...
Marvel just wanted to save a few bucks, so they used some bullshit conflict with Norton from years ago so they could find a cheaper actor that will kiss their ass. You'd have thought they'd have learned something from the massive success of the Iron Man movie franchise... quality people make a quality product, and you get what you pay for. Not that I'm saying there aren't other actors out there that could do a good job, I just think it's incredibly lame that this is how Marvel has decided to approach the project. Fortunately, Edward Norton has managed to stay classy.
• Faux Righteousness. I've never understood how being Pro-Choice when it comes to abortion automatically removes you from the Pro-Life camp. I am most decidedly Pro-Life... it is the cornerstone of my beliefs. But I fully understand that this is the United States of America where people are allowed to have beliefs that are different from mine, so I am also Pro-Choice (which I explain in further detail here). Being Pro-Choice does not make me "Anti-Life" in any way, it simply makes me supportive of the ideals and freedoms upon which this country was based. And, while I don't in any way support suppressing free speech, I do feel that people should be able to make their choice free from persecution. Especially when the choice is one that's forced upon you and you're heartbroken about it.
Earlier this week, Aaron over at The Daddy Files blogged about having to take his wife to terminate their pregnancy because the baby had a rare birth defect which was causing it to slowly die inside of her. As they approached the clinic, idiotic protesters were there "doing God's work" of mercilessly abusing people by shouting things like "YOU'RE KILLING YOUR UNBORN BABY!!" Which is horrifying enough for a woman who is already scared and vulnerable... but for somebody who wants to have their baby, but can't? It's nothing less than torture. And Aaron decided to do something about it by confronting these monstrous people. I encourage you to read his story. Yes, I'm a Pro-Life-Pro-Choicer. And I am 100% for free speech. But this is not "free speech" it's harassment. It's abusive. It is literally torture. And I think it should be illegal to so ruthlessly persecute women who are already making what has to be a difficult decision THAT'S AFFORDED TO THEM LEGALLY UNDER THE LAW! These are not compassionate people of any God I know. They're evil, pure and simple.
• Faux Problem. What's surprising... but really not... is how most of the bitching about the iPhone 4 antenna problems come from people who don't own an iPhone 4, don't plan to buy an iPhone 4, and just enjoy mindlessly bashing everything Apple does because they're more fanatically obsessed with iPhone than even the people who own one. Of the dozen people I know that ran out and bought iPhone 4, not one has anything but raves for it. I would be one of those people, but Apple still hasn't released the iPhone 4 White, which is the one I want. With a lime green Bumper...
Not to belittle anybody who is having problems, but... If you don't want an iPhone 4, don't buy it. If you bought one and don't like it, bring it back. It's not rocket science.
• Faux Trust. I am more appreciative than anybody will ever know of the people who drop by here to read my crazy crap... then thank me for creating it. I write and draw and photograph things for Blogography pretty much for myself, but it's nice to know that other people like it too. The friends I've made from this website have been a true gift, and I never feel alone no matter where I end up because my online life is always there (AT&T willing). But, as swell as blogging has been to me, I admit to being afraid of it from time to time. More and more, people are treating personal blogs as if they were irreproachable news sources rather than the opinion-pieces they really are. Even here, everything you read is just one opinion with one view and one side of the story. Mine. And even though I've met dozens of people in-person and have been blogging here for years, the scary truth is that I could be a serial killer. Or one of those Russian spies. Or a pathelogical liar. Or an agent of the devil. Or anything.
The fact that I'm a genius who is always right may seem to be a reason to trust everything I do at Blogography... and I totally encourage blind trust and allegiance as a part of my quest for world domination... but I feel compelled to point out that no blog, including mine, will ever have the whole story. I would fervently hope that before acting upon or accepting anything I say or do here, people would attempt to be fully informed. It's not a matter of trust... but responsibility.
Well I certainly feel better now. Annnnd... back to work.
Technically, I shouldn't be here.
My genetic predisposition for poor eyesight should have rendered me helpless in the face of nature and eliminated me from the gene pool a long time ago. But the advent of civilized society (and contact lenses) made it possible for the physically challenged such as myself to not only survive in life... but excel.
The problem is that the same society which allows the ocularly-challenged to thrive, also allows the mentally-challenged to run for President of the United States of America... eventually...
Now, before I get lynched for playing sexist, partisan politics here, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I have actually defended Sarah Palin in the past. For the most part, I think she is treated unfairly by the press and those outside her fan-base. She is crucified for even the most innocent mistakes, which I think is pretty pathetic. Mostly because it distracts from bigger issues with respect to her deplorable politics, but that's just me. Yes, she's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she's made the most of what smarts and charisma she has, and gone farther than most people could ever dream of. That demands some measure of respect, regardless of how you feel about Sarah Palin, her history, her beliefs, or her political positions (assuming you can understand what they are this week).
Today was a typical example of exactly the type of ruthless douchbaggery that people unleash when Sarah Palin makes a minor mistake on Twitter...
Now, first of all, you have to remember that Twitter only gives her 140 characters to make her point. It's a restriction even the smartest person has to struggle with, and often results in bizarre grammar and stupid TXT-SPEAK style abbreviations. So when Sarah Palin was expressing her dismay at the idea of a mosque being built near Ground Zero, it's understandable that it's going to be questionably phrased. But it's the fact that she misspelled "repudiate" that caused most of the Twitterverse to lose their mind.
Not the fact that she apparently thinks all Muslims are responsible for 9/11 and would defile the ground with their mere presence. And, if you claim to be a peaceful Muslim, you'll agree with her.
But whatever. I'm a certified, MENSA-level genius, and I make an occasional spelling mistake on Twitter. It's easy to do when you're typing on a frickin' PHONE for heaven's sake! And even if she didn't know it was pronounced/spelled "repudiate," is it really worth such venom? People knew what she meant. I mean, jeez, give Sarah Palin a frickin' break! All she had to do was make a followup-Tweet once the error was pointed out to her and say "Oops, that should have been 'repudiate' in that last Tweet!" and it would have been all good.
Instead she deleted the Tweet and reposted it with entirely different phrasing. Fair enough. That happens all the time, I'm sure. But the Twitterverse wouldn't leave it alone. They kept making fun of her for using a non-word, and she finally decided to address it...
Annnnnd... there's no way for me to defend that flash of brilliance.
What a fucking idiot.
So, I guess what she's saying here is that when you are ignorant as to a word's spelling and/or meaning and/or existence... just make shit up. Because that's what Shakespeare did!*
Something tells me she won't be running as "The Education Candidate" come 2012.
Call me an elitist snob, but I feel our leaders should be trying to elevate language and encourage people to express themselves well. Not make shit up and be illiterate. Especially when you are advocating English as this country's "National Language," because anything less would make you a hypocritical douchebag.
But that's pretty much how I see Sarah Palin in a nutshell. Crap like this only confirms it.
I am totally ready for a woman to become president.
But please don't let it be this vapid joke.
*On the contrary, Shakespeare was a master of the English language, used the largest vocabulary of any English writer in history, and consistently penned his words in clever and exciting ways. When scholars of the Shakespearean Era did add words to the English language, they were built from linguistic roots in other languages (like Latin)... or otherwise crafted with some semblance of reason and intelligence. They didn't just pull a new word from their ass out of ignorance. Especially when there's already a word with that meaning in existence! To imply otherwise is just plain stupid. But you knew that already.
At some point, I lost the ability to swallow pills.
Don't ask me when, how, or why it happened... all I know is that in the past week I've ended up with a pill stuck in my throat every time I've attempted to swallow one. I then spend the next several hours eating bread and drinking water in a feeble attempt at forcing it down as it slowly disolves... leaving a godawful taste in the back of my mouth. I suppose my next step is to smash them up and mix them with apple sauce... or, better yet, vodka... to hopefully fool my body into not rejecting them.
Which pretty much regresses me to a small child.
Or a dog.
Perhaps I should hide the pill in peanut butter and put it on the end of my nose so I can lick it off. Dogs seem to love that.
I can only imagine that an inability to control when I poop will be next. Which is fine. They make diapers in adult sizes now, and I'm tired of having to get up and go to the bathroom anyway. All I need to do is find somebody to change me from time to time, and I'm good to go.
In other news nobody cares about, I unpacked my new desk lamp today! The springs in my old one had rendered it a floppy, useless mess, so I finally remembered to pick up a new one when I was at IKEA buying Swedish Fish candy last week. I went with good ol' TERTIAL because HUSVIK was too expensive and ANTIFONI was too small. The one I really wanted was MÖRKER, just because it had the coolest IKEA name ever, but it wasn't a swing lamp. I think I'll call my lamp "MÖRKER" anyway, just because I like the name. Now I wants me a GRÖNÖ to go with it.
Most of my evening was spent dutifully packing four separate bags for my FIVE upcoming back-to-back trips. I tried to get one night at home in-between all that, but the closest I could get was Seattle. So now I'll be flying back to the airport for an overnighter just long enough to swap luggage. How I'm going to manage criss-crossing the country for the next two weeks and still keep my sanity is a mystery at this point. I'm just too tired to fight it.
There's probably a pill for that, but I couldn't swallow it since I'm out of apple sauce and vodka.
The drive over to SeaTac was excruciating. It always is any more. I spend most of the trip screaming my head off because too many stupid people are doing too many stupid things and my rage goes into overload. Morons driving ten miles under the speed limit. Idiots wandering all over the road (probably texting). Dumbasses cutting in front of me. It goes on and on.
But the biggest offense, by far is fucktards driving in the passing lane, as I've mentioned a couple times before...
Exactly how difficult is it for dumbass motorists to comprehend signs like these...
I mean, it's pretty self-explanatory. If you are not passing anybody, DON'T FUCKING DRIVE IN THE LEFT-HAND PASSING LANE!! And yet every damn time I have to drive to Seattle, I inevitable run into idiots who either can't comprehend this, or just don't care. I am of the serious opinion that if you have to pass one of these fuckers on the right-hand side, you should be allowed to follow them home, firebomb their car, and then impale them... by shoving the sign pole up their stupid ass...
Seriously. If you won't obey the law and learn how to drive properly, then get the hell off the road.
And my travels have only just begun...
If this is only Day One and I'm this uptight, I can't imagine what I'm going to be like when I finally return home.
Probably homicidal. Certainly insane. And there's a 50-50 chance of an armageddon-level event along the way, I'm sure.
I got to the airport two hours early this morning because I wanted to have breakfast. Thanks to two screw-ups at the check-in counter* and outrageous waits at airport security**, I made it to the gate just as they started boarding. I didn't get to even so much as sniff breakfast, and ended up raiding the snack basket on the plane. If you can call Sun-Chips, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and a Twix bar breakfast, then I guess I had breakfast after all.
The flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City was fine. Pleasant even. But the flight from SLC to San Diego had such a dense concentration of self-important assholes in First Class that it never seemed to end. I will never, ever, get over the self-entitlement so many First Class passengers have... especially since 90% of them are getting their First Class seat as a FREE UPGRADE. They are not the least bit grateful for the nicer food, personal service, and extra legroom they got AT NO EXTRA CHARGE, all they do is make demands, be rude to the flight attendants, and bitch about everything. It is horrible and embarrassing, and I don't know how people working the flight can stand it... except it's their job and they have to.
A couple days ago I heard that the new Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood*** had finally opened up. This was important news, because it meant a quick drive up from San Diego would allow me to check another property off my list, putting my Hard Rock Total at 129. Never mind that I only had two hours of sleep and was near exhaustion... nothing brightens up your day and fills you with energy more than battling L.A. traffic for hours on end!
Other than a truck accident that halted traffic entirely on I-5 near Norwalk, and the usual gridlock on the 101 into Hollywood, the drive up wasn't bad at all. 2-1/2 hours, as expected. The Hard Rock Hollywood is one of the "new-style" (i.e. "boring") cafes with entirely too little rock memorabilia and waaayyy too much blank wall space, which sucks. But the staff was great... AND I got to have dinner with Amanda, which was awesome!
The drive BACK, however, was horrendous. I waited to leave until 6:30, hoping most of the southbound traffic would be over by then. For reasons I can't fathom, it still took me 3-1/2 hours to get back to San Diego. That's better than the 3 hours 52 minutes Google Maps was predicting, but still. Argh. Driving in SoCal is an exercise in patience and futility. When I was working here over a decade ago, I adapted to the rhythm and flow of SoCal traffic fairly easily. Mostly because you have to. If you don't, you go insane. Today I just can't adapt anymore. Even when you see funny-crazy-cool stuff on the road that only seems to happen in L.A. — IT'S DOMO-KUN!!!
One thing that never seems to change in SoCal driving is the speed. I love how I'll be cruising down the highway in a pack of cars, then run across some people driving too slow, forcing everybody to deaccellerate. That's when I start screaming "OH, COME ON!!!" and get all pissed off because traffic is slow, only to look down at the speedometer and see that the "slow" I'm now going is 80 miles per hour. It's bizarre how I seem to lose all sense of speed in SoCal... except when I'm forced to slow down.
Now I suppose I really should get some sleep. But first it's time to update my travel map (for people who asked, the greyed-out States are States I haven't been to yet)...
Tomorrow... Comic Con...
* NOTE TO AIRLINES... The whole point of a digital boarding pass is that there's no paper involved. Making your customers print out a paper boarding pass defeats the entire purpose, and is beyond stupid. If you're not going to deal with digital boarding passes... STOP OFFERING THEM!! Especially if you are going to make your customers stand in line twice to get something they shouldn't need in the first place.
** I am super serial here... any wait longer than 30 minutes to clear airport security is complete and total FAIL! Any wait over an hour is categorically absurd, and somebody needs to get fired.
*** The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood is actually the new Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard... not to be confused with the long-since-closed Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles in Beverly Hills or the still-open Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood in Universal City or the hotel and cafe in Hollywood, Florida. Yes. being a Hard Rock fan is not always easy.
And so here I am at Comic-Con International 2010 or, as I refer to it, "The Bastion of Cruelty."
Make no mistake, Comic Con is not fun. At least, not the kind of fun you're used to. It's fun in an entirely different way, where the suffering is what makes it fun. Because once you've endured the crowds, the endless lines, the expensive food, and the many opportunities for bitter disappointment... what you have left is fun that you've earned. Which makes it just that much sweeter, of course.
I wrote in-depth about my Comic-Con experience when I was here last time, and this year is more of the same, so I won't bore you with another extensive recap... just a few things I took away from my half-day at the event...
• As expected, AT&T's service was complete and total shit. A lot of the time I couldn't get even remotely useable bandwidth speeds, which was still better than the many times I couldn't get service at all. Never mind that 3G service was absent more often than not and I was kicked back to EDGE, a huge chunk of my battery was spent just trying to get something... anything I could work with so that I could TXT or make a call...
Now, granted, 150,000 people all in one spot is bound to overload a cellular network, but I wasn't expecting things to be this bad. I wonder if Verizon and T-Mobile were in the same boat? Probably.
• Just like last year, Comic-Con was drastically oversold. There's just entirely too many people, which means that even if you stand in a line for hours, you're still not guaranteed that there will be room for you in the venue. I sure wish that the people running this thing would find a way to make this more fair so you don't wait in line for nothing... though I suppose if they eliminated lines and went with tickets or something, then all the people in line would be clogging up the show floor, so maybe that's why they don't.
• While I am excited about a number of movies being promoted at the Con, including Scott Pilgrim, which is based on a comic I really like, it's TRON: Legacy that has me freaking out. I loved the original film, and the sequel looks like it will absolutely amazing. If nothing else, the new LightBikes are cool...
• Just like two years ago, I had three comics people I wanted to see on the dealer floor. Eric Shanower, Sergio Aragonés, and Brandon Peterson. Shanower was easy to find, still promoting Age of Bronze, his epic retelling of the Trojan War in comic book form. Aragonés, whose work in MAD Magazine I've loved since I was a kid, was signing his latest Groo The Wanderer collection...
Peterson I COULD NOT FIND! Not from the booth number he gave at his website (which, so far as I could tell), didn't exist. Nor from his description of the area he'd be at. He had a new artbook I wanted to get too. Bummer.
• Speaking of comic books... it truly shocks me when I walk by the booth of some titan of the industry and see that nobody is there to see them. They've long since been replaced by some hot new talent, and now they've been forgotten as if their work doesn't matter. I guess it's just a facet of the industry, like all industries, but it just doesn't seem right.
• The costumes this year were better than ever, though I'm ashamed to admit that my favorite costume I saw wasn't super-hero related. It was Dr. Rockzo from Metalocalypse! "MY NAME IS DR. ROCKZO! I DO COCAINE!!
It's more fun to see people dressed up outside the convention. Like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, walking down the street...
• After four hours, I had as much as I could take, and decided to get as far away from the crowds as possible. I hadn't been to the San Diego Zoo in decades, so that seemed like a good place. It's a remarkable zoo... probably the best I have ever seen... and it just keeps improving. The sheer volume of animals you can see it pretty impressive...
And lest we forget... they have THE BUCKETS OF DEATH available...
And that's pretty much it. I met up with quite a few friends and bloggers along the way, which was truly the highlight of my Comic-Con experience. I'd take that over meeting movie stars and comic book heroes any day.
All that's left is a redeye flight across the country, and my day is done...
When I arrived in Atlanta this morning after my redeye flight I was pretty dead. By the time I made it to my hotel I was mostly dead. The only part of me that wasn't dead was the part that was allergic to something in my room. Finally, after tossing in bed for a half-hour being all miserable with a sore throat and runny nose, I decided to take a bunch of antihistamines and see if I could catch up on some sleep.
I woke up five hours later at 2:00.
And by "wake up" I actually mean "sleepwalked," because it took at least an hour before I was able to function again.
After slapping myself into consciousness for a while, it was time for dinner with Muskrat, Whipstitch, and Val, where I drank too many of these...
It's a delicious "Watermelon Wheat" beer that was a special at The 5 Seasons. A fantastic way to take the edge off a hot Atlanta day!
And now, since I have to be up early for work tomorrow morning, I must bid you adieu.
My travel map for this trip now looks like this...
Here I am in the Peach State of Georgia, where it's time once again for Bullet Sunday. Apparently I'm now in an area which is not included in the "97% of Americans" that AT&T's cellular network professes to cover, so Bullet Sunday is about all I got! Thank heavens for WiFi.
• Weather! Hot with a chance of hot humidity and hot thunderstorms? Well, let's just say I don't plan on spending a lot of time outdoors while I'm here...
• Wheaton! While at Comic-Con, I posted a photo of Wil Wheaton to my Flickr stream. After responding to @Whall making a Stand By Me joke about it, I mentioned that I had met Wil Wheaton twice, and wasn't going to stand in line for two hours to meet him again. For this, I got called "bullshit" on by some random stranger, and was told that "Standing in line at a Star Trek convention for a two second autograph doesn't count as 'meeting Wil Wheaton'."
Well, whatever... while I do have an autographed photo of Wesley Crusher that I was happy to stand in line for, that's not what I was talking about. Where I "met" Wil Wheaton was while he was an evangelist touring with NewTek, and it was hardly a "two second autograph." In fact, all I did was talk to him, I didn't even get an autograph at all. Or a photo. Though Wheaton did appear in the background of one of the photos I took of Kiki Stockhammer...
Bazinga! I'd mention that I stood in the airport security line out of San Diego with Paul Sr. of West Coast Choppers (from the TV show American Chopper) yesterday, but you probably wouldn't believe that either. Apparently I have nothing better to do than sit around and invent stories of chance encounters with famous people.
• Waffles! There is not a single Waffle House in all of Washington State (the closest is in COLORADO!), which means the only time I get to eat at one is when I'm traveling. This sucks, but at least I have something to look forward to...
The food is (relatively) inexpensive, tastes good, and available 24 hours. What more could you ask for?
• Wobble! When I was at the San Diego Zoo the other day, I was wandering through the new Elephant exhibit and came across an elephant dancing to some music that was playing nearby (you can barely hear it in the background there, as my iPhone doesn't have the best microphone)...
Rock on, Tantor! Though a part of me is kind of sad at the idea that he might be wobbling around because he's bored in his cage and doesn't have anything better to do. San Diego Zoo is better than most at providing nice habitats for their animals to live in, but it's still a cage at the end of the day.
• Watch! They keep adding cool bits to the TRON: Legacy trailer, which only makes me want to see the film more than ever. December is so far away...
They've youthed Jeff Bridges! And did a really good job of it! I hope the movie lives up to even a fraction of the hype that's building around it.
• Web! I hope that Flash videos in my previous two bullets didn't crash on you! For anybody who says that Mac users who whine about Flash are stuck in the past, and Flash has been much improved and runs perfectly on the Mac, I beg to differ. It's still the bug-ridden pile of bloated FAIL! it's always been, and still crashes all the time, as I can testify to because it happened again just today...
Flash just can't die fast enough.
And now... I guess I really should get back to work.
When captured by the enemy, soldiers are advised to sleep and eat whenever they can because they never know when either (or both) might be denied them.
While I would never compare my job to being a prisoner of war, the above advice has come in handy from time to time with my work (See? Graphic designers have it rough, people!). Well, not the food part, but definitely the sleep deprivation. I don't sleep that much to begin with, but when you're on-call for 31 hours straight and are guaranteed to be called to the job site several times... well, even a little sleep is hard to come by. So I grab an hour here and 20 minutes there, and try to be sane and somewhat comprehensible when reporting for duty.
But the real trick is getting rested enough that you feel comfortable driving. It's one thing to be sleep-walking on the job... it's quite another to be sleep-driving in a car.
Especially when you're in rural Georgia where wild deer love prancing around the roadways.
Last night on the way to Waffle House for a midnight dinner, a deer was standing in the middle of a dark country road with a 55 MPH speed limit. Even though I was driving just under 50 MPH because it was so dark, this still necessitated my slamming on the brakes to avoid getting a venison hood ornament. The deer, however, wasn't impressed and wandered off at a leisurely pace (Darwinism takes a vacation!).
On the way back, I had slowed to 45 MPH "just in case" and nearly hit TWO deer crossing that same road. Quick braking and a hard swerve avoided tragedy, but left me with an adrenaline rush which made getting any kind of sleep impossible for the next several hours.
But don't worry. When my job finally ended this afternoon, I managed to get three whole hours sleep before hacking together this blog entry, so I guess I'm back to normal again. Or as normal as a person can be who is an insomniac that craves human blood.
I should totally be a vampire.
Or, more appropriately, a zombie vampire!
A zombie vampire that eats deer who stand in the road!
Guess I should pack my suitcase now, seeing as how I'm leaving early tomorrow morning and all...
Whee! I'm in Oklahoma!
In my effort to keep up with any new US & Canada Hard Rock properties as they open, I'm here to visit the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on my way back to Seattle. It's pretty much a raging disappointment, but that's probably my own fault for hanging on to Hard Rock memories of yesteryear instead of the reality of Hard Rock today.
All in all, a pretty crappy day to be me...
Time to update my travel map for this trip...
Ooh! Look at that! I've filled in a State I've never been to before! Just four more to go!
For anybody interested in my thoughts on the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa and the state of the Hard Rock chain in general, I've put that in an extended entry. For everybody else, good night!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
This morning my plan was to get up early, have a nice breakfast, gamble a little at the Hard Rock Casino Tulsa, head downtown to check out a museum or two, then walk around for a bit and have a late lunch/early dinner.
Instead I ended up in Kansas.
When looking at my map of "States I've Failed to Visit," it seemed crazy not to make a run for the Kansas border when it's just an hour away. So I made a decision to zip up I-75 to the little town of Caney, then head back. Wondering if there was anything worth seeing along the way, I consulted Roadside America and saw... THE FIRST SPACE MONKEY!?!
As anybody who has followed this blog for even a small amount of time knows, I have no small obsession with monkeys (in general) and monkeys in the space program (specifically), so this was a no-brainer. Besides, it was just 40 minutes farther than Caney in the city of Independence, Kansas!
But first I had to get out of Oklahoma alive.
I've been to a lot of places on this earth, and always considered Detroit, Michigan to be the world's most dangerous place to drive. Many people in Detroit drive very aggressively and very fast, which makes motoring anywhere near the city like a scene from Deathrace.
Tulsa has all that beat, because people here are just plain crazy drivers...
Keep in mind that all of the above happened within 30 minutes of leaving my hotel.
Anyway, I made it to the Kansas border without incident and was zipping past the town of Caney when I saw signs for... Little House on the Prairie? How could I not check out the actual place that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about for that crappy TV show? (No, seriously, don't skip that link... read this crap!) Turns out it's for real, with a reconstructed "little house" and everything...
To be honest, it was kind of a shithole (and filled with bees!). It wasn't really "Little House on the Prairie"... it's more like "Teeny-Tiny House on the Prairie." I have no idea how five people lived there. But, then again, it's not like I could build a house, so kudos to Pa Ingalls for his ingenuity.
Then, at long last, it was time for the Ralph Mitchell Zoo at Riverside Park in Independence, Kansas!
Right at the entrance of the park is "Monkey Island" which is where "Miss Able"... America's first Space Monkey to return to earth alive... was born. It kind of makes "Little House on the Prairie" look like a dream-house, but I'm guessing the monkeys don't mind it, since they were crawling all over the place...
And that was pretty much it. I wandered around for a while, then headed back to Oklahoma to catch my flight. The zoo itself is nice, though all the small cramped cages makes the place look downright barbaric compared to the San Diego Zoo I was at just five days ago. But it did have peacocks...
But the best news? My map now has another state filled in! Heaven only knows when those final three will be checked-off, but I'm making progress...
Annnnnnd Tulsa's airport makes you PAY for internet, so I guess this will have to post tomorrow when I get to Seattle. You know... SEATTLE... where airport internet is FREE just like God intended...
I'm not supposed to be in Chicago now. I'm supposed to be at home, having driven there after landing in Seattle last night. But plans change, so here I am for a couple days of work and one day of goofing off in the city (which sounds like a fair trade-off to me!).
Of course, I almost didn't make it into Seattle last night thanks to multiple lapses in stupidity by airlines, airports, and people, so there's always that.
It started off with the inbound flight to Tulsa being late. Which meant we boarded late. Which meant we took off very late because A) There was some confusion over a gate agent letting a baby onboard with their own seat assignment, and B) We sat on the tarmac forever for no good reason anybody could figure out.
So, there we were, arriving into Minneapolis a half-hour late. You would think that the airline would have a team of people ready to handle the incoming flight so that they could get people offloaded and onwards to their connecting flights as soon as possible.
But that's not what happened, of course. Not only did they not expedite a damn thing for our flight... they didn't send somebody down to operate the jetway! This meant we had to sit on the fucking place for an additional 15-20 minutes while somebody pulled their head out of their ass and made it possible for us to leave. Maybe.
Because we arrived allllll the waaaaayyy down at GATE A-14...
And, now that I'm running 45 minutes late to make my 1-hour connection, can you guess where my connecting gate was? Can you? Come on... take a guess!
Here it is!
GATE F-14. The furthest possible gate away in terms of both time and distance. And since the tram that runs the length of the airport is practically useless for getting to the F-gates in a hurry (unless you get there just as a train arrives), you're only shot is to RUN ACROSS THE ENTIRE FUCKING AIRPORT... WHICH I DID!!
And nearly died doing.
Such a joke. It was like a comedy errors at amateur hour in the airport.
But I made it (barely) just in time for them to close the doors...
...so we could then sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes.
Anyway... after landing, I dropped by my car at the parking lot just long enough to trade a suitcase full of dirty clothes for a suitcase full of clean clothes, then headed to my hotel for a blissful six whole hours before returning to the airport this morning.
Where my flight loaded on time. Left on time. And landed on time.
Don't ask me how. My tavel map now looks like this...
Last night I went to bed at midnight.
This morning I woke up at 4:30am so I could drive four hours to Southern Illinois for an appointment.
This has made for quite a long day. But the good news is that I saw something interesting. While driving through the town of Teutopolis, I noticed that the high school's team mascot is... "The Wooden Shoes." No, seriously, it totally is. This has to be the best school mascot I've seen since Astoria Oregon's "The Fighting Fisherman." Though I have to say if it were the "Fighting Wooden Shoes," it would be an order of magnitude higher in awesomeness.
Since I know nobody would believe me without proof, I took a picture...
My theory is that the town was founded by a bunch of crazy drunken Dutch persons.
Or perhaps one drunken DutchBitch...
Since I couldn't get a flight home today without paying a fortune, I'm flying home tomorrow on the cheap. I thought the whole "Saturday Night Stay" price-reduction scenario had died off in the airline industry, but apparently it's alive and well. Though it's not like I'm going to complain about having a free day in Chicago, which is one of my favorite places. Especially since the city is full of friends that I can hang with when last-minute travel plans drop in my lap.
My day pretty much went like this... work, take a shower, work, put on clothes, work, lunch and LEGO hunting in the city, work... movies.
The strange part here is the movies, because I so rarely have time to see them.
And I hate going to the theater.
Because going to the movies pretty much sucks ass anymore. People talking. People texting. People taking calls. People sneaking in noisy bags of Doritos and other distracting crap. People in general, really. Because people are stupid, rude, and suck ass.
But my hotel was near Muvico, which is supposedly a much better class of theater, and so I thought my problems were solved.
First I saw Angelina Jolie in the post-cold-war spy-thriller Salt, which I enjoyed quite a lot. It's kind of a cross between No Way Out and James Bond in a nicely stylized film that keeps the action moving. Sure there are entire sections that were downright silly in their implausibility, but overall I thought it held up pretty well. At the very least, it was entertaining, which is about all you can ask for in a movie.
I saw Salt in Muvico's "regular" theater. It's the same as most theaters, but the seats and views are a bit nicer. That didn't change the fact that I ended up staring at glowing mobile phone screens throughout the whole damn movie...
Next I saw Inception, which is a clever Christopher Nolan film that proves his previous successes with Memento and The Dark Knight were no fluke. And though I usually don't care for Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page more than compensated with their excellent performances. The story involves corporate espionage via "shared dreaming" which is an interesting concept to begin with, but Nolan (who both wrote and directed) took it to the next level by tossing in a nice dose of reality-bending twists. The result is both interesting and entertaining, which is a rare surprise. This is not to say that the film is flawless... there were more than a few problems with the internal logic of How Things Work, and Ellen Page's character was a laughable catch-all for any story exposition or filler that Nolan needed to keep things moving. But still... a solid effort, and well-worth your valuable time.
I saw Inception in Muvico's PREMIUM theater. Here you get a huge comfy seat and free popcorn for the bargain price of $20. Or at least it would be a bargain if it lived up to the hype. The problem is that the theater has other people in it...
And why do I go to movies in the theater again? Even the so-called "premium" experiences such ass.
Guess I'll just start waiting for Blu-Ray.