Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coraline in 3D: Definitely worth it

Tonight, a small group of us tried a new Raleigh restaurant, Coquette, that occupies what until now has been one of the restaurant spots of the damned: every establishment that fills the space dies quickly. I'm thinking this one may finally beat the curse. It bills itself as a French brasserie, and though its look isn't as authentic as it might be, the appearance is close enough, and the food is closer. With the exceptions of the ratatouille and the duck liver pate, both of which were pleasant but no more, everything we ate was delicious. We'll be going back.

We then walked across the mall's courtyard to see Coraline in 3D. I liked the Neil Gaiman novel but did not love it, but I'm happy to support his work, stop-motion animation, and 3D, so I had multiple reasons for wanting to see the movie. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though like the book I did not love it. What I did love was the 3D look, which was easily the best I've ever seen and which kept me interested almost all the time. I definitely recommend seeing this film in 3D if you still can.

In writing news, I'm now hopeful that I'm within a month of starting to lay text on Children No More, but I am already worried that its darkness will put off readers. This book, though, is one I have to write the way it is in my head, so I'll just have to pray folks like it. So what's new, right? Well, all I can say is, wait until you see this one.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yikes! He's talking again.

Yes, I am, over at the Intel Software Network video site again. This time, they've posted three interviews with me, all on various tech-geek topics: parallel programming, manageability, and the future of graphics.

I can't bear to watch my fat self, so if any of you do check these out, please let me know how they are.

Here's the inside scoop on how these went. Gina and I showed up at the appointed time, and Jerry and Amy, Intel folks and friends, led us to a covered walkway they thought offered a nice background. (I agreed with them, because it's much nicer to look at trees than the usual corporate spaces.) A cameraman was waiting there. They told me the plan--talk on three topics--and then we picked a spot where the light was good. We did all three in one straight take, no redos, no review of questions, no preparation; Amy asked questions, and I answered them. I enjoy doing these talks, because I have to make up my answers on the spot, but I'm pretty sure I'm way stiffer and more uncomfortable looking than I should be. I'm hoping to get better at this sort of thing.

I also have to hope I sound at least moderately competent, somewhat interesting, and not too unprepared. Maybe someday I'll get around to watching them and find out...or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 6

I'm home after a direct, non-stop flight that I can barely remember, probably because I spent most of it trying to find ways to keep pressure off my gut and to avoid dehyrdating while consuming the smallest possible amount of water. I do seem to be healing, but this has been a miserable attack of the stomach crud.

As we walked through our hotel/casino and others, we all frequently commented that every few feet in Las Vegas you see something that back home you would photograph and discuss with your friends. The sheer opulence and the extreme weirdness of Las Vegas, however, is too overwhelming for that sort of thing to work; you'd never make it out of your hotel, much less eat a meal or see a show.

Illness made the trip far less than the perfect short vacation I had hoped it would be, but on balance we still had a good time, and with luck it will prove to be a trip that both Sarah and Scott--the people I most wanted to enjoy it--will remember more with fondness than anything else.

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 5

A long time ago, a series of unlikely events led to me becoming the Editorial Director of Windows Sources, a Ziff-Davis computer magazine. My assignments related to the magazine were many, but the most immediate was to do a major redesign--something that usually takes nine months--in four months. We accomplished this goal, though doing so cost me an enormous amount physically and mentally. For the launch party, I took all the staff members and columnists to see Blue Man Group do Tubes/Rewired at the Astor Place Theatre, the off-Broadway house where the production had started, and then to the Rainbow Room for dinner. I loved the show, jammed and crammed though it was into the tiny theater.

Tonight, we went to see the Vegas version of the show, which carries the title, Bluephoria/Live at The Venetian – Las Vegas.

I'm happy to report that though much has changed and it's definitely a Vegas extravaganza, the essential spirit of the production remains intact, and we all had a fun time watching it. I'd definitely recommend it above Criss Angel: Believe.

On the bad news front, the stomach crud that has claimed most of the others today got me. I'm sick as a dog and in constant gut pain, so I'm going to stop now. Tomorrow, we travel home; here's hoping for a relatively pain-free flight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 4

Tonight's show was Love, my favorite of all the Cirque creations I've seen. I loved it once again and found it as full of joy this time as the first, though tonight some sadness tinged the happiness because two of our party had to leave early due to illness of one of them and another had to miss the show due to sickness. This trip, though generally good, has been tough on several folks due to illness, and I've found myself again and again feeling the failure because I could not deliver the perfect time I had hoped to provide. I know that's an irrational reaction, but that knowledge doesn't stop my feelings.

As I watched Love, I realized yet again the powerful effect rock and roll has had on my life. I remember grown-ups telling me I'd outgrow rock and roll, yet I feel today as strongly about it as I did as a young child: I can't imagine ever stopping playing it. The first album I ever bought was Beatles 65, and to my embarrassment my heart still fills with young boy crush love at the sound of "Eight Days a Week." Love, combining as it does the sorcery of Cirque and the magic of the Beatles, is thus tailor-made for me. As with O, I wish I could take everyone I know to it. If you haven't seen it, I hope one day you do. I'm terribly sorry that any of our party had to miss it tonight, but at least they have all seen it before. I am very glad of that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 3

We saw Cirque du Soleil's O tonight, and it took me only a few minutes to be able to formulate the essential difference between it and last night's show, Criss Angel: Believe:

Criss Angel tried to do magic.

O is magic.

O fills my heart with magic each time I see it. If I'm ever filthy rich (not damn likely), I'd like to buy out a show and let all my friends (and anyone who's bought all my books) attend for free. I'd love to be able to share this with everyone.

Our seats, which were the best I could manage, were near the very top of the hall, by all normal standards the worst seats I've ever had for O. Despite that fact, however, all of us greatly enjoyed the view, because it was so different from being close to the stage. From our height, we could appreciate more fully the show's design, the interplay of the various parts, and the sheer amount of activity all over the amazing stage. I'm glad I saw it from this angle.

In unrelated news, despite skipping breakfast, I believe I'm consuming roughly 14 trillion calories a day. My weight is currently about 1,317.75 pounds and climbing. I expect to need to fly to Raleigh as cargo in a FedEx jumbo jet.

Perhaps it's time to cut down a bit on the food.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 2

I slept eleven hours, and though I woke up many times, the effect was still quite refreshing. I felt more energetic than I have in a long time. I'm increasingly convinced that if I could sleep about eighteen hours a day for a week straight, I'd be good. That's not going to happen, but hey, a guy can dream.

Tonight, we went to see Cirque du Soleil's Criss Angel: Believe. I enjoyed the show overall, but I didn't love it, and I usually do love Cirque shows. I think the essential problem is that, as Kyle commented, Criss Angel is a douche bag. Okay, I'm being unfair, because I don't know the guy. So, let me narrow the statement a bit more: Criss Angel comes off as a douche bag. Believe does feature some good magic tricks and some wonderful Cirque performers, and I don't regret going, but I also don't plan to see it again.

The people watching in Las Vegas remains as good as ever, with sights you just won't see in most places. One of my favorites today was a short young man with a bushy fro wearing a skintight sleeveless shirt, large sunglasses (indoors in a dim shop), baggy pants, and bright silver boots. The boots really made the outfit.

If you ever catch me in those silver boots, lock me in a padded room and send healthy meals through a slot in the door. I'll recover eventually.


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