Saturday, May 9, 2009

Because if you can't remember feeling this way

then you need to take a nap, clear your head, and reconnect with your young self, when the fire still burned and your heart ached with every beat.

If you do remember, you're set--and never let go of those feelings.



Now, enjoy this bit of pop-rock truth from The Academy Is' wonderful CD, Fast Times At Barrington High.

(Sorry about the particular video; I didn't spot an official music video for it.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Airport travelers need to buy a clue

If one more person in an airport barrels into me while texting and focusing solely on his phone, I'm afraid I might indulge my inner demon and help accelerate his eventual face-first collision with the floor.

I mean, seriously folks, how hard is it to be a courteous and clueful walker in an airport?

Apparently, too damn hard for a great many people.

I think we need to help these inconsiderate wastes of space learn how to navigate by foot in a crowded area. Maybe printing and distributing rules will help. Here are three basic guidelines we could use to start:

We're in America. Walk on the right.
This one shouldn't be too tough to learn. These same folks already drive on the right side of the road. I'm willing to cut foreigners some slack; I made a fool of myself driving in Australia and New Zealand, so I appreciate their troubles. Americans, though, have no excuse.

No texting while walking. Period.
No, you're not that much cleverer than everyone else. When you text, you at least sometimes look down. When you look down, you're not watching where you're walking. When you're not watching where you're walking, you might walk into me--or into some poor fool so past his temper limit from other people hitting him that he finally snaps, steps to the side, grabs your hair, trips you, and grinds your face into the floor while screaming, "Watch where you're going, you fucking idiot!"

Not that I'd ever do that, of course. Not me.
Don't block entrances.
You might think this one would be obvious, but apparently it isn't. We all appreciate how very important it is that you and your completely disinterested spouse discuss Great Aunt Glinda's tumor surgery, but take the discussion to the side and stop blocking me from entering the rest room!

If you fail to heed this rule, you might prevent the wrong person from going to the bathroom, the kind of person who might snap, grab your hair, trip you, and--you know the rest.

That wouldn't be me, of course. Never me.

On the road again: Seattle, day 5

Tip 1 for traveling to Seattle: Don’t rent from Dollar. I’d never heard this bit of advice, and to save money we routinely rent from Dollar, so that’s what we did this trip. Dollar, as it turns out, is the one major car rental company that doesn’t let you return cars to the SeaTac airport. (I think it may also be the only one that doesn’t let you pick them up there, but I’m less sure of this claim.) So, we followed the rental car return signs through the airport, to the garage, through the garage, and back out of the airport again. Fortunately, the guard at the exit gate took pity on us and told us how to find the Dollar return lot; I got the impression we’re not the only people to make this mistake.

Coming home from the West Coast is always an exercise in moving that consumes almost the entire day: get up early, shower, pack the dop kit, check out, drive to airport and rental car return, (today) drive again to real rental car return, ride shuttle to airport, walk to check-in, check in, walk to security, go through security, walk to gate, wait, get on plane, and so on and on and on. It’s hard to do much productive, which as you might imagine I find frustrating, but I work as much as the situation allows and read the rest of the time.

By the way, Wi-Fi at SeaTac, at least in the American Airlines end of the airport, sucks. I was able to connect to AT&T’s Wi-Fi service, the only option available, just long enough for AT&T to take my $7.99, and then the connection failed. I could never synchronize my email. Very frustrating.

After three lovely and formal dinners in Seattle, tonight’s repast was something a bit different: a Chicago dog from a strange little man with almost no English and a determination to pile everything possible onto the dog. Fortunately, I love hot dogs, so it was a fine meal.

Now, though, I’m back, and glad to be here. Any trip home that ends with me home safely is definitionally a successful one.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the road again: Seattle, day 4

I would find it very hard to live here. I like rain, I really do. I love hearing it splatter onto the roof over my head. I love snuggling up in a warm bed on a chill, damp, gray day. I like standing out in storms and watching the lightning show.

I just don’t like it rain to be falling constantly.

I know this is a rainy season, and to be fair we’ve had multiple hours without rain, but it seems like every time I have to walk to my car or want to walk anywhere, it’s raining.

One positive result, of course, is a lush, green, vibrant countryside, with natural beauty almost everywhere you look. It really is lovely up here.

Dinner this evening was at a Seattle restaurant, Crush, that we located by tracking Beard nominees. Named for the mutual feeling Chef Jason Wilson and his now wife, then landlord, Nicole Wilson, had for each other, this lovely place occupies a restored 1902 house in a neighborhood that weaves residences and businesses in no immediately apparent pattern. We opted for the tasting menu, which is expensive but well worth the cost. The preparation was at least very good and usually excellent, the tastes wonderful, and the servers friendly and well-informed, if occasionally a bit slow. The only weak course was dessert, which was pleasant enough but simply not up to the standard the rest of the meal had set.

If you live in Seattle and want a lovely evening out—and don’t mind paying for this kind of meal—I heartily recommend Crush. I certainly hope to eat there again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On the road again: Seattle, day 3

My name is Larry, so I think I'll call myself, Studly LaFontaine. It has kind of a French-Canadian ring to it, doncha think?
This, the line of the day, came from a barrista-in-training at the Panera Bread in Redmond where I was grabbing some free (okay, not free: I bought a bottle of water) bandwidth in a desperate attempt to catch up on email in a break between meetings. The folks at this particular Panera were so happy, so enthusiastic about their work, that just being around them made me smile and feel better.

You know I can't talk about the work stuff, so don't ask.

Dinner tonight was a very good meal at Pearl Bar and Dining, a place I can recommend. Our large and, as the evening wore on, somewhat loud group ate a decent variety of dishes, and no one had any complaints--always a good sign.

This is my 700th blog post, a fact that means nothing, really, but that somehow seems significant, like a glance from a stranger that lasts a beat too long before she fades into the crowd on the other side of the street.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On the road again: Seattle, day 2

This hotel room is generally great, but it has two strange and unpleasant elements.

The first is its desk, which is a triangular piece of wood attached to the wall with a fixed return at right angles to it. The triangular piece is too high for comfortable work and too narrow for my notebook PC to fit in front of the outlets except right next to the wall. The return is a bit lower than ideal but still a pretty good height for work--but it has fixed shelves, so if you try to sit close enough to use it, you bonk your knees. A simple, regular desk would have been so much better.

The second and far more annoying flaw is the world's worst bathroom sink. Oh, it looks lovely, seducing you until you turn on the water. When you do, out of a spout designed no doubt with ecological goodness in mind come falling slowly downward a sad little collection of eight (or so) miniature streams of water. You can fill a water glass from it, but don't be in a hurry. If you want hot water, bring a book, because the water resists heating as if afraid it will burn.

Fortunately, the shower is wonderful, with a rainfall head, quite good water pressure, and water that turns hot almost instantly. Too bad the people who chose the shower didn't talk to those who selected the sink.

Dinner tonight was at Lola, a place near Pike Place Market. We tried a great many Greek dishes, and each and every one was good. I definitely recommend Lola.

Scheduling oddities found us in downtown Seattle with a little over an hour free, so we checked out the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame. The SF Museum was in many ways like the field itself: flashy on the outside, thanks to the wonderful Frank O. Gehry design, which was worth the trip on its own; an odd blend of movies and books; and a bit low-rent on the inside. Still, as a lifelong SF fan, I both loved the visit and felt a vague sense of vindication by this application of Paul Allen's money, as if the fact that we now had a museum somehow made things better. If you're in the area, definitely visit this place.

Monday, May 4, 2009

On the road again: Seattle, day 1

The trip took about 14 hours from door to door, but I made it, and I'm happy to be in a hotel with a bed awaiting me. A three-hour layover was quite pleasant thanks to the free wireless and free Diet Coke at the Admiral's Club in O'Hare, and I accomplished a great deal on the planes.

I hate doing work travel on weekends, but it does have one great consequence: a higher probability of airline seat upgrades. Today, American upgraded us on both legs, which made the flight a great deal better than I had feared.

Dinner included two of us sharing both pork belly and fried pig ear, the latter a first for me. The pork belly was a B+, with the perfect outside but the interior not quite succulent enough to earn an A. The pig ear, though, was underwhelming--a statement that a decade ago I would never have anticipated writing. The ear had very little taste of its own, and even its potentially odd texture was overwhelmed by the entirely too heavy fried batter. Still, on balance the meal was good.

Now, though, I plan to finish my work and crash for what I sincerely hope will be a good night's sleep. I hope yours is good, also.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I'm a huge X-Men fan and have been since I was a boy. I was in the mood for an action flick. I enter most theaters hoping for the best and willing, almost eager to take each film for what it's trying to be.

So, I enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The story didn't follow the comics, and it's definitely not a great film or one even likely to end up as a cult classic, but I had a good time watching it.

Most of the folks in our group of eight, maybe all of them, also enjoyed it to varying degrees, but several felt it was "eh" in quality and found themselves questioning character motivations or spotting CGI glitches or just generally feeling the movie was hollow at its core.

All of those concerns are to some degree warranted, alas, which perhaps is why the film is only a passing small pleasure, not anything one could savor over time.

Kyle and I had been talking earlier today (while playing Halo; I know, two grown men discussing an X-Men movie while waiting for videogames to start), and he commented that the studio had made the director recut the film as PG-13 in the wake of Watchmen not delivering anywhere near the studio's box-office expectations. So, maybe, just maybe, an unrated, longer, director's cut of the film would elevate it above what I saw and into a truly good film.

I honestly doubt it, because in this movie as in so many others the lack of investment in quality writing was clear, but I will buy that DVD if it becomes available.

Again, though, I had a good time, and I suspect you will, too--as long as you don't set your expectations very high.


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