Today it reached 84° F
Tomorrow it's supposed to hit 86° F
And so I'm guessing this means Spring is over. Which is upsetting since it never really started until three weeks ago. So much for my favorite season.
As if that weren't horrible enough, THIS pretty much sums up my day...
The good news is that not all the links I needed were broken.
Most of them were just linking to the wrong page.
I'm not sure whether this is the case of us spending too many tax dollars... or too little. But it would be nice if Secretary of State John Kerry could get his shit fixed.
Why does that lady in the subway give Thor the wrong directions to Greenwich in his The Dark World movie?
The bullshit "three stops from Charing Cross Station" line bothered me when I first saw the film... and it really bothers me whenever I re-watch it on video. Like tonight. I can only imagine how badly it pisses off a Londoner. I mean, sure, it would have sucked to say "YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE, GOD OF THUNDER! YOU NEED TO TAKE THE DOCKLANDS LIGHT RAIL BY SWITCHING TO THE JUBILEE LINE!" or whatever (I think that's how I got there when I went). But wouldn't that be better than forever having the distinction of being known as a writer who didn't bother to take two minutes to look at a frickin' London tube map?
Don't make Thor angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
And angry is what he would be if he were to find out that he was lied to about how to get to Greenwich.
Next up? Where was Captain Britain when London was being torn to shit by the Dark Elves?
"Master, are you a god?" "No," he replied. "Are you a reincarnation of god?" "No," he replied."Are you a wizard, then?" "No." "Well, are you a man?" "No." "So what are you?" The priest asked. Buddha simply replied: "I am awake." — A very loose translation from the Dona Sutta.For the most part, Saturdays are nothing for me to get excited about. They haven't been for a very long time. Which is okay. Really it is. I don't mind having to work hard every day of the week, because that's how I afford to go on vacation twice a year. And, despite getting cracked ribs on my Springtime vacation, I am totally looking forward to my Fall vacation. Whatever that's going to be.
And yet, regardless of how much work I have to get through, Saturdays at least feel like they should somehow be special. This is probably a remnant of my childhood where I didn't have to go to school and didn't have to worry about going to school the next morning (as with Sunday).
With that in mind, anything that puts a wrench in my Saturday deals double damage. Or rather, I get doubly upset about crap when it happens on a Saturday.
And today it's because of this ignorant piece of shit, Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court...
And the story of his reprehensible behavior here: Alabama’s Chief Justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians.
I don't give a flying fuck if somebody wants to be a repugnant religious bigot and say stupid shit... zero fucks do I give... that's freedom of speech, even for dumbass Roy Moore. But if you're going to be an intolerant piece of shit, is it really too much to ask that you at least not be so grossly uninformed? You're a Chief Justice, for Christ's sake.
Buddha never claimed to "make" anybody. Nobody who practices Buddhism believes that Buddha "made" anybody. The Buddha was a teacher. A highly respected and revered teacher, but a teacher.
So when some redneck fringe Christian dumbfuck like Chief Justice Moore elevates Buddha to God, it's painfully obvious he has no fucking clue what he's talking about. Which obviously extends to his knowledge of The Bible, Christianity, The Constitution of the United States of America, US Law, State Law, the Treaty of Tripoli, and US History as a whole.
Yet at one point he was considering a run for the US Presidency.
And why not? People were stupid enough to elect this ignorant asshole into a State Supreme Court judge.
As with most positions of power in this country, smarts ain't required, yo.
I am so ready for Saturday to be over now.
Use the fourth, you... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Forced. It's Star Wars Day! "May the Fourth" be with you!
• Neutral. I have written about the importance of net neutrality many, many times (the latest is here), and it still completely boggles my mind how people just don't seem to care. The FCC, whose job it should be to ensure a free and open internet took a huge crap all over the American people when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler came out in support of abandoning true net neutrality. This is a horrendous fucking blow to the internet, and I am disgusted to my very core that President Obama, WHO CONSISTENTLY PROMISED TO DEFEND NET NEUTRALITY DURING HIS CAMPAIGN, remains silent on the matter. When are these politician assholes going to remember that THEY FUCKING WORK FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? Oh... that would be never. Because companies with deep pockets are throwing a fuck-ton of money at them to get what they want. Democrats, Republicans, or whatever... our politicians work for lobbyists and corporate greed, not US citizens, and anybody who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. So, yeah... go ahead and buy into the artificial wall of hate created to divide and distract everybody... that's exactly what the people who really control this country want. In the meanwhile, say goodbye to the internet as we know it.
• Magic. I don't know if this can be considered cruel or not... but dogs being fooled by close-up magic is sure funny...
The reactions are priceless. I'm kinda amazed at how many of the dogs grasp the effects of gravity enough to think the treat must have fallen to the floor. Here's part two.
• Burrito. BECAUSE I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF!"
Videos like this are what the internet was made for.
• Stacked. So... apparently competitive cup-stacking is a thing...
Kind of a really cool thing. A search on YouTube turns up all kinds of fascinating cup-foolery.
Now, if you'll excuse me, if I don't have those units in the south range repaired be midday, there'll be hell to pay!
The work assignment was not very glamorous, but it did include an opportunity to visit a new Hard Rock property, so I jumped at the chance to travel to Palm Springs.
I haven't been to the so-called "Golf Capital of the World" in years, but it's all seems pretty much the same. The only things to do here are eat, shop, golf, and hang out by the pool. Which would bore the crap out of me if I didn't have work going on... and explains why I get here so rarely. One day I need to come here with a group of friends, because something tells me that is the best way to experience the city.
Yesterday I flew into PSP on a quick 2-hour hop from Seattle. The airport here is one of my favorites because it features a terrific open courtyard in the middle...
PSP Map Courtesy of... GOOGLE MAPS!
It's also small, which makes it easy to get in and out of. Always a plus.
Yesterday I didn't have any work, so I spent my afternoon eating. I started at Hamburger Mary's which has a decent Veggie Burger. And Godzilla vs. Mothra playing on the television...
The restaurant is billed as "gay-themed and LGBT-friendly"... but, to me, it's just a funky place to eat with good food...
For dessert? GREAT SHAKES! The only milkshake joint I know that hangs a mini-cupcake on the super-straw...
I turned in around 8:00 last night because I had a very early wake-up this morning. And I wanted to catch up on television.
Which brings us to today...
Because of work, I ended up having a very late lunch. So when it came time for dinner, I wasn't very hungry. The plan was to go out and have a margarita and chips to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, then turn in early.
I ended up having four.
Then a burrito...
Then fried ice cream...
Cinco margaritas on Cinco de Mayo plus Way Too Much Food. What could possibly go wrong?
My hotel uses touch-cards for room entry. Since I my key was in my back pocket, I had the brilliant idea of touching my butt to the door to unlock. Since the lock-pad is higher up than my ass I had to jump up into it. Couldn't get it to work after three tries, so I decided to give up. Only to realize my room key was in my FRONT pocket all along. I seriously debated whether or not I should try grinding into the door to try to open it. Ultimately I figured that the people monitoring the security cameras already had enough fun for the night and decided against it.
Who says that alcohol dulls your thinking! Not me!
I did not set my expectations very high for The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. Even though it was a HR Corporate project, the website gave it the feel of a crappy quick-and-dirty "conversion property" like Tulsa and Albuquerque. Those lazy hotels where they just slap a few pieces of rock memorabilia on the walls, change a few door-handles to be guitar-shaped, hang a logo above the door, and call it a Hard Rock...
Nope, despite outside appearances, the Palm Springs hotel was actually really well done. Much more than just a coat of paint and some superficial decorations. The lobby was beautifully themed with rock instrument sculptures, a lot of music-themed details, and a surprising amount of memorabilia. The design is beautifully eclectic and authentic Hard Rock, featuring a full lobby bar, a restaurant, and a merch shop... all really well done.
The reception desk...
The very nice bar in the lobby area...
Lobby staircase and FUN...
Memorabilia case at the entrance...
But the biggest surprise? They actually put some effort into theming the rooms! Many times they don't even bother with a hotel conversion, but it looks as thought they gutted everything and made it be Hard Rock style...
The only disappointment in the conversion was the pool area. Not only is the pool tiny, there was no effort to make it look very Hard Rock. They half-heartedly spray-painted a few Banksy-inspired murals on a couple walls and that's about it...
Overall a pleasant surprise. This is a great hotel... and a great addition to the Hard Rock family. The staff was terrific. Everything is clean and impeccably-maintained. The location is fantastic, just one block off Palm Canyon Drive downtown. Even the pricing seems comparable with similarly-equipped hotels in the area (i.e. a bit expensive). I enjoyed my stay very much.
In keeping with the growing trend of screwing your guests, of course there's a fucking "resort fee" you have to pay at checkout. The Hard Rock Palm Springs charges $30 per day, which is definitely on the high-side. It includes the usual... local calls nobody will ever make because they have fucking mobile phones and don't know anybody local... access to the gym which nobody will bother with because they're on vacation... access to the pool, which you've been getting free at every hotel since the dawn of time... internet access, which should be included in the room cost anyway... basically, bullshit amenities that are valued a hell of a lot less the $30 a day. I'd give you a complete breakdown of what it includes but, of course, a complete breakdown cannot be found on the hotel website because they want to camouflage this fucking bullshit charge as much as possible. I dunno. Maybe it also includes parking, which helps justify the cost IF you have a car... but $30 a day still seems fucking insane.
I only stayed for one day and didn't have a car, but I did get a ride to the airport and use the internet, so I'm trying not to be sore about paying $30 for nothing (seriously, if you still charge for internet, you're a fucking nickel-and-diming douchebag of a hotel). I could not stay here longer than two days without feeling as though I were being seriously ripped off. I would not.
But this is how it works now. Hotels want to grab people with cheap-ass room rates on the discount sites, but don't actually want to give their customers a discount. Hence the "resort fee" bullshit.
If you're looking for a nice place to stay and don't mind being violated with a mandatory fee for shit you won't use, by all means give the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs a look.
And I've always liked flying through SFO before. It's great... until you have to change terminals.
Thanks to flights being late, my connection was NOT two doors down... but instead across the entire airport at the International Terminal. Which is fine. I've got the time. Kinda. EXCEPT YOU HAVE TO EXIT FRACKIN' TERMINAL SECURITY TO GET TO ANY OTHER TERMINAL! LIKE THIS IS THE FRACKIN' 1950's WHEN YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH AN INQUISITION TO GET THROUGH SECURITY.
But that's not all. There's a Japanese toy exhibit in Terminal 3 that ends TODAY! (Thanks to James for the heads-up). So now, because we're late AND I HAVE TO GO THROUGH SECURITY TWICE... I may very well miss my flight. But I just don't care.
So I rush through the toys, run my ass off to get to the International A Terminal Security, then get to the gate as they're boarding.
This would have been so easy in most other airports where exiting Security is not required to change terminals. But not here. YOU SUCK ASS, SFO!!!
Except... Toys! How cool is that?
Very cool indeed. Good Bye, Kitty.
My drive to work is only five minutes long.
Coming and going each day I see more ridiculous crap on the road than should be possible in such a short commute... and yet, every day I am reminded that nothing is "impossible." People wandering all over the road because they're busy talking on mobile phones. People driving off the road because they're texting. People driving at insane speeds for a residential area. People driving half the speed limit and not giving a shit that they're backing up traffic. It never ends.
And today I saw a woman KNITTING WHILE DRIVING.
I shit you not.
She was all "knit one, pearl two" with her hands and somehow steering using her forearms pressed against the wheel.
I need to get a mountable video camera and start a YouTube channel.
For the longest time I've been dismissive of those who say that Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs left us (praise be unto His name). As a Certified Apple Whore, I pretty much have to, right? And besides, as great as His Steveness was, Apple has always been more than just one man. Steve Jobs didn't do it all alone, and the people who helped to make Apple into such a remarkable company are still around. So, yeah, Apple isn't going to be the same... but it couldn't possibly be the horrific disaster that all the nay-sayers keep insisting: "APPLE IS OVER!" "APPLE CAN'T SURVIVE!" "POST-JOBS APPLE IS DOOMED!" What nonsense!
As time goes on and the user experience with Apple products degenerates to complete and total shit, my opinion has been changing.
Don't get me wrong... I firmly believe nobody is doing it better... but the detail-oriented Apple that made me commit my eternal servitude over the past decade simply doesn't exist any more.
Let's walk through an example, shall we?
I perfectly understand the need to prevent random people from walking up to my computer and charging a bunch of crap to my Apple ID. Really I do. But having to enter my password four times? What kind of sadistic fucking asshole made that happen? And how badly would Steve Jobs explode over what a shitty user experience that is? I'd rather just buy a physical book at Amazon with their One-Click shopping.
This problem goes much deeper than just inconveniencing customers to enter their password over and over and over and over again... it encourages people to pick simple, short, easy-to-remember, passwords. Which is pretty much the opposite of what you want, because those are the passwords that are easiest to crack. What you want is people using heinously complicated passwords that are very difficult to crack. But to get this to work, you have to make it so the password only has to be entered rarely. The password should be remembered by the system and auto-populate whenever you want to buy something. Of course you have to secure the system with a password... otherwise you're back to square one. But THAT is the kind of stuff Apple figures out so well. Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone, for example.
So where is it?
And since one example doesn't build a compelling case, here are a few more things off the top of my head that have been bugging the shit out of me with Apple's "User Experience"...
Holy crap... and that was just the stuff off the top of my head. Had I put some actual thought into this list, it would be ten times as long, I'm sure.
And there's my problem with Apple. In the past, I would expect that insane shit ruining the Apple experience would eventually be fixed. Now? I honestly don't know. There's obviously people in charge of these problem areas. But is Tim Cook obsessing over making sure these people are getting things to work exceptionally well like Steve Jobs was? Or is he being distracted by shiny things to buy with Apple's massive bank account? Early after his take-over, I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But now? We're going on three years and I'm starting to worry.
I want... need... Apple to be insanely great.
Anything less isn't Apple.
I'm not 100% sure where or what... but at least I know when.
1/3 of a year.
So close. Yet so very, very far away.
Time to put down that mommy... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Maternal! The happiest of Mother's Days to all the moms out there... including mine!
And if you're looking for an inspirational story for the holiday, look no further than this one.
• Chaz Darling. It has been increasingly difficult for me to accept the fact that The Colbert Report is ending this year. The show has some of the smartest commentary on on current events to be found anywhere, and it's been getting better and better as The End approaches. The May 8th episode was one of the best ever, and is well worth taking time to watch. If you don't have time for the full show, this interview will show you what you're missing...
Miss you already, Stephen T. Colbert. And congratulations to Larry Wilmore, whose new show "The Minority Report" will be filling the Colbert Report's shoes in January.
• Melting. Well, this is a conflict for somebody who loves cool art... yet finds all life sacred. Though, if they have to die, this is probably less cruel than gassing them or lighting them on fire?
Poor ants. But at least they didn't die in vain... those sculptures are pretty amazing.
• Hamster. Hot on the heels of last week's TINY HAMSTER EATING TINY BURRITOS comes TINY HAMSTER EATING TINY PIZZA!
I want Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Quiche to be next... but, in all honesty, I'd take a tiny hamster eating a tiny anything, really.
• Free? Freedom of religion. It was good while it lasted.
• CANCELED. Two shows I really enjoy... Community and Enlisted... have been cancelled. And it doesn't end there... The Crazy Ones, Suburgatory, Raising Hope, and Killer Women have also been axed.
What bums me out is not that something I liked watching is gone... it's that the networks will undoubtedly replace them with total shit. Or some idiotic new reality show, which is worse than total shit.
• PICKED UP. Along with the myriad of cancellation notices, there were two bright spots amidst the gloom...
First there's Constantine, based on the comic book Hellblazer, which actually looks pretty darn good. Obviously they're trying to cash in on the supernatural success of The Walking Dead, but it seems as though this show is going to have a tough time within the confines of major network television...
Then there's Gotham, which is the "before Batman" equivalent to Smallville. Not really my cup of tea, but it looks as though they're at least trying to be interesting with the material...
Yeah, I'll give them both a whirl. As a comic book fan, I pretty much have to.
Until next week...
As I've repeated many, many times... visiting Antarctica has been a dream trip of mine for decades.
So I'd really like to know why it is that any news that comes from there is bad news? And today it was the worst news of all.
Yeah, NASA is saying that it could be centuries before massive chunks start breaking off fast enough to cause sea level to rise significantly, but massive chunks always seem to be breaking off the seventh continent. And who knows... the news coming from Antarctica could be even worse tomorrow.
So I guess it really is time to shit or get off the pot.
Either I make it to Antarctica in the next year or two, or I risk having to remove it from my list completely.
Guess I'll be robbing a bank or selling a kidney one day soon.
Fun trip to the eye doctor today.
Apparently my astigmatism, which has been growing progressively worse over the past six years, has done gone missing. Evaporated. Disappeared. Since I totally blamed my worsening eyesight on society's indoctrination by The Gay Agenda™, I figured I'd be completely blind by now since Washington State (and a bunch of other states) passed marriage equality and Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL as its first openly gay player.
But instead... my eyesight actually improved after Washington State (and a bunch of other states) passed marriage equality and Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL as its first openly gay player. So I guess I had it all backwards. Once marriage equality goes nation-wide and an NFL player's sexuality isn't considered news... I fully expect to get Superman's X-ray vision. Or his heat his vision. Or his microscopic vision. Or his telescopic vision. One of those visions. Maybe all of those visions.
Wow, Superman sure has a shit-ton of super-visions!
I guess that's why he's Superman.
But putting aside the fucking insane people who belief that The Gays are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world... many happy congratulations to Michael Sam!
And his boyfriend, surely...
For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why two guys kissing caused a chunk of Americana to lose their fucking minds. Turn the channel and you've got people murdering each other... people abusing drugs... people having drunken sex... The Kardashians... and yet it's two guys kissing that makes people want to shoot their television and boycott ESPN?
"BUT, ZOMFG! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!"
Kids only think that something is a big deal if adults make it into a big deal for them. If your children are freaking out, it's because you're making it happen. Don't go all homophobic crazy, and Michael Sam's kiss is just another kiss in a parade of thousands of kisses that happen on television every day.
Maybe people will finally be able to see that with their super-vision once we finally get an openly gay president.
Blerrrrgh! I feel like crap.
It was a crazy day but none of it is really blogable, so I guess I'll finally answer this list of "Fifty Original Questions For You" that a reader sent to me... which they found at Liz From The Internet.
And here we go...
Travel costs, which have always been kinda expensive... but not prohibitively so... have been skyrocketing at a steady clip. Every time I turn around, the price for a trip goes up. Airfare keeps rising. Meals keep rising. Local transportation keeps rising. And hotels? Hotels are absolutely nuts. Even if you use Priceline and Hotwire to save money, lodging in most major cities is insanely pricey if you want to stay at a nice property in a decent location.
For my trip to Chicago today, I started adding things up and nearly passed out. Compared to six years ago, this trip will be almost double the cost. You read that right, double. Even the little things... like a bottle of Coke at the 7-11 (99¢ to $1.79) have gotten out of hand, and it all adds up...
I'm seriously starting to wonder if traveling for work is even worth it any more. If a huge chunk of the money you earn is pissed away on flights, hotels, and food... it seems a lot of effort for very little return.
And so I consider settling down and traveling less.
But then I happen upon the best fucking veggie burger I have ever had tonight, and begin to think that maybe it's worth it after all. I'd never be able to get something like this back home.
Or maybe I just need to move to Chicago.
Inflation, it's a bitch, yo.
My entire day was a build-up to returning to the restaurant I had eaten at last night to see if the veggie burger I had eaten was as good as I thought it had been.
Because when you've eaten the best burger you've ever had, you want to be sure, right?
Especially when you look back through your Facebook feed and see this...
And so, I went back for another late-supper veggie burger...
And it was indeed the best damn veggie burger I had ever eaten. Again.
I'm told that it's soy-based, but they add in roasted sweet red peppers, a bit of jalapeño peppers, and shredded beets (which makes the patty look blood-red when you bite into it). I still have no idea where the bun comes from... but it's got a texture that's amazing and a bit of sweetness to it.
Anyway... if you're ever in Chicago and have a hankering for a really good burger, 25 Degrees looks like it's the place! Though, fair warning, it gets really loud, as there's a bar in the middle of the room.
They also have locations in Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, and Bangkok.
But I have a feeling Chicago will always be my favorite.
What was supposed to be a "free day" ended up being a full-on work day from start to finish.
Which wasn't a terrible thing, because my seasonal allergies are back. The transition from Winter to Spring and Spring to Summer are always a miserable few weeks while my body adjusts to the changes. And I always seem to get nailed when I travel... I swear I could feel the assault on my eyes and sinuses the minute I stepped off the plane.
Thank heavens for Fluticasone, which at least makes it so that I can breathe.
And now, thanks to Wikipedia, I know how it's synthesized...
But still, better living through chemistry, I always say.
No more waiting for your ship to come in... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Blinded. This is a great story... it's short and awesome and worth your time and it has nice photos and you should read it. Sometimes things that seem irreparably broken just need a little TLC to make it through. That probably goes for people too...
• Blinded Deux. And I can't post that wonderful story without being reminded of this wonderful story...
Remarkable how animals can fall between the cracks like this. That probably goes for people too. Again.
• Movie! Just a happy reminder... The LEGO Movie will be available at the iTunes Store tomorrow...
Though I was not happy with the way they wrapped it up at the end, The LEGO Movie has still been one of the best movies this year so far.
• Thrice. Today was the annual board meeting for THRICE Fiction Magazine, so I packed up and headed west to the wilds of ChicagoLand Suburbia to meet with our intrepid Editor at Large, RW and his lovely wife. After much exciting talk about future plans for everybody's favorite literature magazine, we were off to Lynfred Winery for some remarkable Sangria Blanc. Which was followed by delicious possibilities for food porn at Restaurant 1913 in Roselle...
Insider Tip: The "Pizzettes" are to die for. I had the Spinach + Artichoke with Herbed Ricotta... heaven on a wooden serving board...
I dare say it's a dining experience worth the 45 minute train ride out of Chicago proper.
• Selfie! Alex Chacon has been living my dream... traveling the world on a motorcycle... for three years now. The video highlights he's released from his journey is the most epic selfie ever created...
You can find out a lot more about Alex's travels at his The Modern Motorcycle Diaries site.
And that's a wrap from beautiful Chicago!
Well today was pretty much a crap day.
In that it was a gorgeous day out and I had to stay inside working.
The only time I could escape was for a quick lunch downtown after making a trip to Dick Blick. Much to my surprise and delight, Chicago has been flooded by Pret A Manger, so I indulged in one of their Mediterranean Salad Wraps. Oh how I love Pret's fresh approach to fast food. They've only just arrived on the East Coast... but their move on Chicago has me hopeful that they'll reach Seattle eventually.
In other news that's unrelated entirely...
Is it just me... or is $50 a shockingly inadequate amount of money to pay for puking in somebody's taxi? It costs at least that much to take a taxi from O'Hare to the city once you add a tip! I mean, come on, if somebody puked in MY taxi? Ain't no way $50 is going to cover it. The smell alone would make me puke all over my own cab... so there's at least $100 in charges right there.
Vomiting in a Chicago taxi is such an incredible bargain so far as entertainment is concerned, that I'm almost tempted to try it. Here's hoping that if I'm drunk enough to puke in a taxi that I'm drunk enough not to feel any shame afterwards.
Because isn't that the real price you pay?
Today started out so badly, but ultimately ended up being a really good day.
Mostly because I got to go to a huge candy show with Jenny (of RunJenRun fame) and then drop into a sugar coma.
And because I got to make my own custom box of Tic Tacs...
I called mine GREEN PASSION... and it's a mix of Green Apple and Passion Fruit...
After work I went out for dinner and saw that Disney is pulling out all the stops to promote Angelie Jolie's Maleficent...
Trump Tower Chicago is such a pretty building. But I guess The Donald must have run out of money because only the "T" and the "R" are up on the building... and only the "R" has the lights on...
On the way back to my hotel, I spotted these two lonely Safety Men... guarding nothing...
But at least they have each other.
Which is nice, because then it started to rain.
Which made sleeping a bit of a challenge.
As if insomniacs didn't already have it bad enough.
My last day in Chicago.
A pity I had to spend my entire morning working.
Well, not my entire morning. I was able to take a minute to meet with the Hot Coffee Girl herself for a meet-up at Hancock Tower. They have a new attraction called TILT! where you get to stand against a window, then be tilted at a 45° angled off the side of the building...
Not so scary as if they laid you out at a 90° angle, but still very cool.
They don't let you use a camera or a phone to take pictures... apparently they are worried about the safety of the glass (WTF?!?), but this is kinda what you see if you look straight down...
A little heart-stopping but, again, still very cool.
After checking out of my hotel and returning to work for a while, it was time to head home (with The Spirit of St. Lewis working my flight!) on a new Alaska Airlines livery for me... the Portland Timbers plane!
Layover in Portland. Layover in Seattle. A quick flight to my local airport. Then a half-hour drive home. Well, it would have been a half-hour... if not for having to wait for a stupid train.
I hate trains.
They always end up blocking my route no matter what time I'm trying to get somewhere... even past midnight, like tonight...
And as if that wasn't bad enough, you have to listen to their stupid-ass train whistles at all hours of the day and night.
Oh well. At least I'm home in my own bed at last.
Wish I was tired enough to fall asleep.
All things considered, I'd rather be back in Chicago.
Even with all their thunder and lightning...
At least there I could get a decent veggie dog.
Remember how excited I was over the upcoming Ant Man movie by Edgar Wright?
So, yeah... that's no longer happening.
"Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on Ant-Man due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly."
That ugly bit of news was the cherry on the shit sundae of a day, and I'm not sure what this means for the film. Sure, it's still got Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in starring roles... but what made this such a highly anticipated event for me was that Edgar Wright writing and directing Ant Man. It was such a perfect pairing. I can only guess that Marvel wanted a more serious take on the material than Wright had planned. Which is bound to happen when it's occupying the same universe as such massively lucrative properties as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers.
Ant Man, after all, IS an Avenger, and that's a billion dollars in bank that I'm sure Marvel is nervous about jeopardizing.
But I have to wonder if Marvel's efforts will ultimately be wasted when people get tired of all their "Cinematic Universe" films becoming too much the same and stop going to see the films. Ant Man skewing a bit more funny and wacky was a good thing.
Alas, given Marvel's stellar track record in film adaptations, it's really hard for me to be too critical.
I just hope I can say the same thing after Ant Man is released.
And here's another one of those meme things.
They really dried up for a while, but now they keep getting sent to me. Lucky break, I guess, considering the only thing I did on this fine Saturday was work.
If you're in the USA, I hope you're in serviceable condition this three-day holiday weekend... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SOLAR. FREAKIN'. ROADWAYS! This project is so mind-bogglingly awesome that I really want to believe it's going to happen. Until I remember that all our fucking politicians are in the pocket of fucking oil industry billionaires who will undoubtedly stop at nothing to make sure it doesn't happen. No... our government will finally decide to allow something like this when we're finally OUT of oil, and there's no more Big Oil teat for them to suckle... at which point we won't have the energy to do it, but whatever...
The project has reached their funding goal... but you can still contribute and they can still put your money to good use. Click here to donate in the next six days.
UPDATE: An interesting look at why this idea is fantasy...
• The R-Word. And so this happened...
50 Senators Call On NFL To Change Redskins' Name.
Look, it doesn't matter what the intent is. It doesn't matter the context. It doesn't matter what legacy has been established. It doesn't matter how "respectful" you are. It doesn't matter what tradition and history mean to the team. "Redskins" is a historically hateful, dismissive, disrespectful, racist, and wholly offensive term for Native Americans. Period. It hasn't changed meaning. It hasn't been "taken back." It hasn't "moved past" its vile history. It is just as hurtful to those of Native American heritage today as it has always been. So why is this even a debate? Why has it taken THIS long? I mean, I KNOW this country's history of treatment for its Natives has been atrocious from the very beginning, but how can it ever be too late to start changing that? Despite our tragic history's best efforts, THESE PEOPLE EXIST! And there is no possible reason, context, intent, or excuse where "redskins" is an acceptable term to be used for anything. Then. Now. Forever. That there are people who can't even see how horrifically offensive this word is to an entire people and their culture only goes to show just how ugly it really is. And it needs to stop.
• Assholes. Hearing crazy shit from assholes like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh doesn't phase me any more. They say outrageous crap every day in order to shock people into paying attention to them, and I'm just done with it. But when it comes to everyday people? People who say outrageous crap for no other reason than being assholes towards their fellow human beings? That still freaks me the hell out...
Look, I've already written about the idea of people being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious convictions... but this is getting insane. Does nobody learn from history? Does any of this sound familiar? What's the next step? Do we just round up all the gays and the Jews so they don't accidentally offend somebody's religious sensibilities?? Seriously... what the fuck?!? I mean, THIS is the thinking of ignorant America now? I can't help but wonder how many surviving World War II vets are losing their ever-fucking minds right now. Exactly how far does this crap have to go before people wake up and just learn to live together?
• The Talk. Helpful video advice for parents...
I don't know what to say about this other than "genius." And holy shit.
• BIG! Well, since The Incredibles 2 has finally been announced, but is undoubtedly still years away, it seems like Marvel stepped up to the animation plate to fill the gap with little-known comic book property Big
Looks adorable. Baymax is the cutest thing to come to life since Schmoo.
And... unlike the rest of the known Universe (aka "The United States of America"), I have to work tomorrow, so until next week.
To all those who sacrificed their lives in service of their country... and to those who served and are still serving... many thanks from a grateful nation.
Last year I remember seeing on the local news how Seattle-native Capt. Will Swenson was the first Army officer to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. I was recently reminded of his service when this YouTube video started making the rounds again. Reminding us to remember those who've fallen...
And so we do.
The TWO HOURS of sleep I managed to get last night made for an agonizing day. By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I decided to have a cheese sandwich and take a short nap.
I woke up four hours later at 10:00.
Since I don't sleep but four or five hours a night, this has completely screwed up my sleep cycle. I'm still exhausted, but my body thinks that it has already slept for the day, so now I am going to be awake the rest of the night.
I am tempted to go buy a fifth of Jägermeister and drink until I pass out to get me back on track. But something tells me that trying to work with a hangover would be slightly worse than trying to work while sleep deprived, so I think I'll take a pass.
Instead I'll just look for a very big hammer.
How long have these V.A. Hospital scandals been screwing over our veterans? The first one I remember was laid at the feet of President George W. Bush back in 2007 when he somehow forgot that people get hurt in wars, and you have to prepare for that when you go to war. Then came President Obama with his flowery speeches from 2009 to 2012 at which time we were promised that he "will not be satisfied until we get this right."
And what happened then?
And all we've gotten... ALL we've gotten... have been lies and more scandals.
I don't know whether our politicians just don't give a shit about the men and women who risked their lives to serve their country, or if the problem is just so huge that nobody knows how to handle it.
Well, lucky for Congress and the President, I'm here to help.
Because, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!?
Politicians have no problem spending untold GAZILLIONS sending our troops to fight and die in their special-interest-sponsored wars... but come up short when it comes to their care. Injured soldiers are returning home to outrageously shitty health care doled out at a glacial pace which is provided under horrendous conditions in a situation so unfathomably bad that SOLDIERS WHO SURVIVE A WAR ARE KILLING THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET DECENT TREATMENT!
Fire the Veterans Affairs Secretary. Find somebody who can get the best value for the money and knows how to run a hospital network. THEN HAND HIM A BLANK CHECK AND GET THE JOB FUCKING DONE! I don't give a shit how much it costs. What's a few more billion on top of the millions of billions we've already spent on these wars? Is the health care of our veterans really where you want to skimp on budget? No. No it is not. This is one area where you want to back dump trucks filled with money up to the Veterans Affairs Office and just flood the fucking place with obscene amounts of cash. It's the price you pay for going to war. It's what you do when the people who put their lives on the line for you are hurting.
I'm sick and tired of the bullshit politics that have made this situation drag on for so absurdly long. I'm pretty sure that untold thousands of veterans are beyond sick and tired. Stop pointing fingers. Stop passing blame. Stop making speeches. Stop being such unbelievable pieces of shit to the Americans who least deserve it. Just stop it...
And so I flew to Tampa today.
But before I could catch my flights, I had to drive over the mountains, which was surprisingly un-cheery for this time of year...
Good news everyone... SeaTac International Airport has a Metsker Maps outlet! Cool!
I don't recall much about the flight to Cincinnati or my connecting flight to Tampa. I choose to believe this is a good thing. About all I remember was that it was a close connection. I landed (late) but my second flight was across the aisle, so I walked off one plane and directly on to the next.
I also remember arriving at Tampa to find a couple fighting about whether they were going to take a taxi or an airport shuttle. The wife didn't want to spend the money for a taxi. The husband didn't want to wait for the shuttle to show up. The wife announced that she doesn't like how he throws money away. The husband said that throwing money away on a trip to Florida was her idea, and he didn't complain about that.
The wife told her husband he was free to get back on the plane and go home.
Instead he made a growling noise, then hailed a taxi.
One of the few remaining bands on my 80's Must-See-List is The Smiths... but since that reunion probably isn't happening any time soon, getting to see Morrissey (whose early solo stuff I love) is the next best thing.
And since he wasn't coming anywhere near The Pacific Northwest and Seattle on the tour for his upcoming album World Peace Is None of Your Business, it meant I had to travel to see him. Off to Tampa I go.
I didn't eat much at all yesterday, so I woke up hungry this morning. I really wanted a falafel for lunch, but found out the mall across the street had a Grimaldi's, so my lunch plans were set.
But first... X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!
It's no secret that I think Bryan Singer's original two X-Men films were crappy and boring... and that Brett Ratner's third film, the horrendously shitty X-Men: Last Stand, is one of the worst comic movies of all time. Nor is it a secret that I loved the Matthew Vaughn prequel film X-Men: First Class, and was thrilled that the X-Men franchise was finally getting a decent movie.
Which is why I was mortified when Matthew Vaughn dropped out and Bryan Singer returned to direct the First Class sequel... X-Men: Days of Future Past. And the fact that Singer was not only dragging his original X-Men back into the franchise... but he was also going to take a dump on a classic and beloved story from the comics... well, the movie had "disaster" written all over it. And that's pretty much what we got. In typical Singer fashion, inexplicable shit happens that has no regard for the characters, the source material, nor movie continuity. But back to the film...
In the future, mutants are almost extinct thanks to giant robots called "Sentinels" which hunt them down. In a last-ditch effort to save both mutants and humans, Wolverine's mind is sent back in time to his younger self so he can change history and save the world. The way he does this is to have Singer pull a new super-power out of his ass for Kitty Pryde, which makes no fucking sense, but oh well. What follows is kinda boring in stretches, but has some really good action sequences, so all is not lost, I guess. The best thing about the film is amazing performances by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy... plus a killer sequence featuring the mutant Quicksilver (who looks fucking stupid, but is performed wonderfully). Overall, it's a decent flick that (wisely) abandons past continuity in an attempt to tell an entertaining story. I wish it was a better, tighter story which respected the source material more, but you can't have everything when it comes to an X-Men film, apparently. I give it a B-.
THEN it was time for pizza. I had them make a Da Vinci pie ala David's of Spokane... in a New York pizzeria... in Tampa... which was kind of strange. But it tasted great...
THEN, after working for the afternoon, it was time to make my way down to St. Petersburg for the show. Where I ran across this guy as I headed into town for a quick dinner...
The Morrissey concert, which was playing at the Mahaffey Theater, was worth the trip. Mostly. The opening act was Kristeen Young, who had moments of brilliance interrupted by ungodly screeching and instrument abuse. I can kinda describe her music thusly: Part Tori Amos. Part Pat Benetar. Part hog slaughterhouse. Part car wreck. Part piano being shot out of a cannon. All accompanied by drum and guitar pounding. I don't know what to make of it, actually. Not my thing I guess. She was followed by an interlude filled with all kinds of bizarre crap before Morrissey took the stage...
As for the main event? Moz sounded amazing, his band was very good, and he played a nice selection of songs. Sure, I wish he had done a lot more tracks from The Smiths and his earlier solo works, but even his later stuff sounds like classic Morrissey, so I enjoyed every minute...
All the way, Morrissey was Morrissey. He told us of his disgust that a sinkhole at LEGOland was more newsworthy than Syria or the death of Maya Angelou. Had a discussion with some people from the audience what they thought about it. And he accompanied Meat is Murder with a horrific, graphic, bloody video showing the atrocities that happen to poor animals in the meat and dairy industry. He also took time to give a thbpt/raspberry to the people in the audience who "weren't listening" after thanking those who did.
The crowd was a little dead, which explains why he played just 17 songs with a single encore compared to the 19-20 he's done in other cities. No matter... the show was well worth the trip and price of admission.
Now if only I can manage to see New Order in concert...
Today was a free day to hang out with The Certifiable Princess and her husband, which is the absolute best reason to visit Tampa.
They were nice enough to take me to lunch in Tarpon Springs at Rusty Bellies, home to my favorite potato salad on earth. And what's better than a bowl of the World's Best Potato Salad?
How about TWO bowls of the World's Best Potato Salad!
It's Mr. Rusty! Who is apparently into canibalism...
Who's got crabs?
Decided to try BIRTHDAY CAKE M&M's when we stopped at a drug store. They don't have cake in them or anything, it's more like cake flavoring added to regular ol' chocolate M&M's. Not horrible, but not very exciting either...
After an afternoon of big fun at CP's granddaughter's dance recital, it was off to Ybor City for dinner and good times...
Dinner was at a terrific restaurant called "Bernini's," which featured a beautiful pizza oven...
Across the street was a bar called... wait for it... BAD MONKEY!...
They even had giant Bad Monkey Jenga...
The Red Sox were trouncing Tampa Bay, which was nice...
Then it was time to wander down 7th Avenue to see what's happening on a Saturday night. Turns out it's quite a lot.
Mr. Empanada was hoppin'...
The Columbia Restaurant with its beautiful tiles was glowing...
The rest of the evening was spent walking around and doing some window shopping...
And... that's a wrap!
Now I should probably attempt to get some sleep, seeing as how I have to get up at 4:30am o I can get to the airport for my flight home.