Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another single from the upcoming new Josh Ritter album

In an earlier post, I mentioned Ritter's new album, Sermon on the Rocks, and pointed to a single from it.  Today, Sarah tipped me off to another song from this upcoming release.  This one, "Where the Night Goes," is even better than the previous one.  You can give it a listen here.

Enjoy--and preorder this album.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The bored Holden

Holden was without several of his people last week, so he made his bored displeasure known.

He began with your basic boredom pose.

Click an image to see a larger version.

He then took it to the next level with this classic image of doggie ennui.

Whatever is a dog to do?

Fortunately, his people are around again, and all is back to normal--at least until I leave for DragonCon next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

40 years later, Born to Run is still the greatest rock album ever

I don't expect you all to agree with me, but I expect I will always feel this way, because the album is a stunning piece of work.  Eight tracks, less than 40 minutes, and absolute magic.

Side 1:
"Thunder Road"
"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"

Side 2:
"Born to Run"
"She's the One"
"Meeting Across the River"

Every song is strong on its own, and two, "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" are absolutely brilliant, but together they paint a portrait of youth and dreams and fragile hopes that I've never seen equalled.
Consider just the opening lines of those two songs:

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again 
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin' out over the line
Oh-oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run 
Maybe you never felt like those songs, but oh, I did, every day of my youth and so many many days since then.  Gray-haired and white-bearded, I still do, almost every day.

The music was just as good, soulful at times, insanely powerful at other times, and always gripping.  The bridge in the middle of "Born to Run" and the moment after it when Bruce shouts "1 2 3 4" and then sings

"The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive"

ranks as one of the greatest sequences in any song.

Call me a fool.  Call me an old man.  Whatever.  This truth I know:  this album, these songs, these emotions--my heart, my hopes, my dreams, always and forever.

Monday, August 24, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 6

Well, that trip sucked.

After a very restless night of poor sleep, I was in the shower at six a.m. so I could begin the long, three-flight journey home.  Checking out of the hotel and turning in the rental car went smoothly, but from then on nothing was fun.

I have TSA PreChek.  In Spokane, that doesn't matter, or at least it didn't today, so going through security was long and slow.

TSA decided to search my checked bag but couldn't open it; their key stopped working.  Really.  A gate agent called me over to give them my suitcase lock's password.  I did.  They still couldn't open it, so the gate agent called me again.  I had to go back out to the check-in area, open the suitcase, and then wind my way through the security line again.

The flight out of Spokane was late, so I had to rush to my connection in Seattle, which meant a dry Starbucks sandwich for my later lunch.

The flight from Seattle to Charlotte kept me on the plane for over five hours.  For all but about half an hour of that time, two babies took turns crying, shrieking, and yelling in incoherent anger.  I was supposed to take off work today, but I worked the whole flight (and more later) in the hopes that the focus would help me block out the baby sounds.  (It did, a little.)  From what I could hear of the discussion of the two sets of parents, both felt their babies would cry/yell themselves out.  The babies did not.

The short flight from Charlotte to Raleigh featured no leg room and multiple knocks in the shoulder by rushing attendants.

When I finally reached RDU, I learned the airlines had lost my checked luggage.  The representatives at the baggage claim area were hopeful they would find and return my luggage.  I share their hope.

I am very glad to be home.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 5

After a reasonable amount of sleep, my day began with a panel on the future of computing.  The discussion ran down some interesting paths, the audience stayed engaged, and overall it went reasonably well.

After chatting with friends for a bit, we grabbed a tasty sushi lunch at a Sushi dot com restaurant.  Nothing was exceptional, but all of it was reasonable.

We next saw the other opening film that intrigued me, American Ultra.  I may write more about it later, but I enjoyed it well enough.

After some non-PT work and some rest, a few of us walked to Wild Sage for dinner.  The food was quite good, complex but not overly elaborate, flavorful, and well plated.  I'd go back there if I lived around here.

Tomorrow, I have to get up in before six to begin a very long day of travel home.  I never enjoy those, but so it goes; the cost of attending the con includes this sort of travel.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 4

Getting up in the eights is cruel punishment.  Doing so on a Saturday is cruel and unusual.  Doing so at a convention on a Saturday is just downright mean, but it's how my day began, thanks to a ten o'clock panel on SF comics.

The panel drew a surprisingly large crowd, but I have to say that I did a pretty bad job of it.  Comics writer Kurt Busiek, who definitely knew the most about the topic of the panelists, deservedly dominated the discussion, and I contributed rarely.

From there I looked around the dealers' room a bit and then headed to my reading, which to my surprise had an audience of over a dozen people, not all of whom I knew.  I read the opening from "All That's Left," my story in Onward, Drake!, as well as the afterword, and we talked a bit about the story.

A group of us walked to the Satellite Diner for breakfast/lunch.  My omelet, the "Meatyorite," was quite tasty, and everyone enjoyed their dishes.  For my money, though, the star of the show was Jerry's "The Cheese Bomb," which the menu describes as follows:

Parmesan encrusted bread, melted provolone and cheddar cheese.  Deep fried mozzarella cheese sticks nestled right there between more melted cheese. It's cheese on cheese served with cheese. it's da BOMB!
The sandwich looks as insane as it sounds.

Click the image to see a larger version.

We were prepared to call in medics should his arteries explode on the spot, but he survived the incident unscathed.

As we were waiting for the end of the reading before mine, a woman in a Slanted Jack shirt (and whose name I did not get) told me I should go to a local artisanal ice cream shop.  After a refreshing nap--what a treat!--we drove to that very place, the Brain Freeze Creamery.  The ice cream was excellent, and I am in that woman's debt.  (If you're reading this blog entry, thank you!)

I did a little work and then set out for the Hugo awards.  David Gerrold and Tananarive Due hosted the event, and they did a fine job of it, keeping the evening moving and being funny when appropriate.  A lot of controversy surrounded this year's Hugo's, but I've refrained thus far from commenting on any of it, and I'm not going to break that streak now.  My congratulations to the winners, and my condolences to those who went home empty-handed.

After a quick dinner in the hotel bar (the only late-night option readily available), I spent time at some parties and then crashed.  A long but generally good day at WorldCon.

Friday, August 21, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 3

I slept until noon today and awoke not fully rested but feeling much better.  After some email and a shower, I grabbed lunch at Fire Artisan Pizza.  Though so hipster it hurt, the restaurant served quite good pizza, so I'd eat there again.

Rather than hit the con in the afternoon, I decided to go see Hitman: Agent 47 at the nearby cinema multiplex.  In a pleasant surprise, a sign on the door to the mall explained the fake flowers I had seen in the park earlier.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I'm sorry that festival isn't happening while I'm in town.

We had time before the film, so we enjoyed small cups of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  An afternoon film and ice cream makes for a pretty great day.

I may write more about the movie later, but suffice for now to say that it was exactly the sort of big, dumb fun I was in the mood for.

Afterward, it was time to head to the convention center to watch the masquerade.  The air outside is so heavy with dust that the entire day possessed an eerie post-apocalyptic vibe.

The picture doesn't convey how gray and brown the air was, nor how nasty it smelled or tasted.  Going outside in Spokane today was like diving into a tent that was on fire.  Not good, not good at all.

The masquerade was a large show with something like 46 contestants, many of them novices.  I enjoyed it, and the theater in which they held the event was lovely.

After dinner with friends at a local PF Chang's (open late and reliable), I spent a bit more time hanging with friends and then caught up on email.

Tomorrow, a panel and a reading await me.


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