Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Ouch. What a mess of a movie. Not good enough to deserve serious critical analysis, not bad in enough of the good ways to be a good bad movie, and yet not so downright terrible that I'm willing to dismiss it entirely, Dylan Dog was a movie that could never commit.

It went for comedy, action, romance, noir, and special effects, and it delivered just enough of each to make you hope it might finally get its act together--but it never did.

Brandon Routh was more wooden by far here than in Chuck, where his guest-starring role often appeared to be largely to look pretty (which he does well). Anita Briem is now a name I will watch for, as in, if she's in it, I'll consider skipping it. The other actors were better, all aiming for over the top rather than serious performances.

The film lacked logic and consistency, which good fantasy of any sort, urban or otherwise, should have.

The special effects were at times worse than some Syfy originals.

Despite all of that, I don't regret seeing the movie. I enjoyed enough of it that I won't hate myself for wasting the two hours, though at times I will doubt my sanity.

I won't, though, encourage anyone else to see it or even to pick up the DVD.

Friday, May 6, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 5

After my usual business trip luxurious sleep (about three and a half hours last night), I woke with a start this morning two minutes late. The hotel had forgotten to make my wake-up call, but I've developed the skill of waking myself within five minutes of it anyway. That skill served me well today.

Work, shower, and then checking out with a brain-trust that made what is normally a simple process look like defusing a three-trigger bomb while blindfolded. My blood was boiling but I managed to smile and say as little as possible.

The flights were the usual fun times, with no bandwidth or upgrades today. I did get to enjoy some Red Mango in DFW, which is always a treat.

Today's bit of flying weirdness occurred on the long leg from DFW to RDU. A small Hispanic woman occupied the window seat next to me. She had almost no English, and her English was better than my Spanish. She kept elbowing me in the ribs as she took the whole armrest and then spilled into my space. I kept pushing back with my body, at which point she would say something I could not understand. I would point at my body, at the armrest, etc., but nothing worked.

Finally, I took a pen out of my backpack, drew a line down the middle of the armrest, pointed at her half and then at her, and did the same with my half. She nodded agreement, and we flew the rest of the way in peace.

If you ever get on an American Airlines plane, are in row 16, and spot the line down the armrest, that's my work.

Now, to unpack and do some more work.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 4

These Austin days and nights are perfect, with warm sunlight and light breezes, then cool but not cold evenings. Absolutely lovely.

Dinner tonight was at Hudson's on the Bend. We ate the tasting menu on the covered patio, which is strung with white lights, and it was a very nice meal. The weakest dish was the red meat (a Texas antelope chop), and it was still tasty.

My days here are long and exhausting, work claiming all but the food and shower hours and a few restless ones in bed, so I'm going to keep this short and get back to it.

Tomorrow, I fly home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 3

Client meetings and work controlled almost all of the hours today, including dinner. That meal featured excellent work conversation.

The food, though, was basic, overly salted, and, per expectations, not more than okay. (I didn't pick the restaurant, because as frequent readers know I tend toward high-end places on such occasions, so I won't name it, but I will note that its name rhymes with "dead mobster.")

As a treat after some more evening work, we ran out for small cups of ice cream at Amy's. They were, also per expectations, excellent.

Now, back to work, but of a different type.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 2

As is usually the case for these business trips, the days are incredibly long, and I can't talk about most of what I do in them. Sorry about that.

The weather here is absolutely gorgeous, and I feel quite lucky to be able to enjoy it. May in Austin is transition time, when you might get high heat or rather moderate temperatures, and this trip I've been enjoying the latter.

Dinner tonight was perhaps the best Mexican meal I've ever had, courtesy of the well-reviewed (and deservedly so) Fonda San Miguel. We sampled a house speciality appetizer, Angels on Horseback, which featured three perfectly grilled shrimp with white cheese, jalapeno, and a bacon wrap. Wow, were they good. We also tried a benchmark starter, the Chile con Queso, and it was excellent. My main course, which you can see below, was tonight's special entree, a poblano stuffed with pork pecadillo and covered with a walnut cream sauce and pomegranates.

(As always with my images, click on any of them to see a larger version.)
It was excellent, mixing spicy and sweet flavors with both soft and crunchy textures. I meant to stop halfway through the course, but I ended up eating it all.

To finish the meal, we had to try two more benchmark dishes: the tres leches cake, and the flan. Both were superb.

Something most folks don't know about me is that I am for no good reason a huge fan of trees wrapped in lights. The folks at Fonda San Miguel wrapped their trees in blue lights, which is both unusual and awesome, as you can see in these two pictures.

Magic is indeed everywhere.

An essay by me as a guest blog entry

Back at the Cary Public Library event I attended in the fall, I met another local writer, Suzanne Adair. She writes in historical settings and was nice enough to take an interest in what I was doing with Children No More. She invited me to do a guest blog entry on child soldiers and the history of their use, and I happily accepted.

Of course, I then put this essay on the rather long writing queue, and months passed. Fortunately, Suzanne kept at me and used that ultimate tool for getting a writer to turn in a piece: she set a deadline.

You can now read the essay on her blog. I have to confess that I spent less time on history than I originally intended, but the essay took on its own life.

I'm also following in a tradition of Suzanne's and offering a free, signed, first edition of the Children No More hardcover to the person who posts the most interesting comment on her blog. She's the judge, so she's your audience.

I hope you enjoy the essay.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 1

Nothing makes me happier than getting up early after very little sleep to begin a long day of travel.

Actually, most things make me happier than that, but nonetheless, today began that way.

Many aspects of the two flights were excellent: I was able to get upgrades to first class. The planes had bandwidth on offer. The flight attendants brought me plenty of water and Diet Coke (no Coke Zero yet on American Airlines planes). I plowed through a great deal of work.

For timing and other reasons, to reach Austin I ended up flying through Chicago, which is rarely a great plan. The weather there was mildly turbulent, but what made us quite a bit late leaving O'Hare was the plane's door. After all the passengers had boarded, they closed the door, which definitely looked closed, and a warning light said it was not fully sealed. The pilot followed procedure, delayed the take-off, and brought maintenance on board to fix this problem.

I applaud that choice. Make me as late as you need if the alternative is ascending to thirty-five thousand feet and then having the door come off the aircraft.

To my amazement, however, not all my fellow passengers agreed with the pilot's decision. Several said that if the door looked closed, it probably was.

I never want to rely on any of those people.

Fortunately, the pilot held to his rule book, the maintenance people did their jobs, and then we took off for Austin.

Our landing there was a bit of an adventure, with turbulence bad enough that many people around me were clearly having a lot of trouble handling it. Plane turbulence rarely bothers me, so I noticed it only when I realized our cabin had gone suddenly quiet and many around me were staring upward, eyes closed, mouths moving silently.

We landed without incident, however, and after collecting my checked bag--which TSA searched again; they really love my stuff--I headed for the rental car.

What a POS. A Hyundai Sonata with over 25K miles, stains on the back seat, and stuck in multiple places on its body little red stickers indicating damage, the car amazingly managed to look better than it drove. A constant drizzle--what is it with me and bad weather in Austin?--had left the streets slick, so even touching the gas lightly so agitated the drive-train squirrels that the wheels couldn't hold. It didn't help that the tires were in bad shape. As were the brakes. And the alignment.

I don't care how hard they try to make a Hyundai look good on Burn Notice; I've never driven one that was worth a damn.

Dinner was in keeping with my Austin traditions: BBQ at The County Line On the Lake, followed by a small sampling of flavors at the Amy's at the Arboretum.

Fortified and with my brain power amplified by the healing power of BBQ, I headed back to my room for a long evening of work.

Which I shall now continue.

Tomorrow, client meetings!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fast Five

I know, I know: why did I go see this sure-to-be-stupid movie?

I have to confess to a simple, dumb reason: To have mindless fun. Well, that and to watch Vin Diesel and The Rock (yeah, I know, it's Dwayne Johnson, but he'll always be The Rock to me). Also, to enjoy the fast cars and the insane amounts of violence. Let's not forget the pleasure of dialog so dumb you have to laugh.

I expected all of those things, and Fast Five delivered them--at high speed and higher volume, with extra stupid and extra loud on top.

I had fun.

I could tell you the plot, but if you've seen a trailer, you already know it. If you liked any of the earlier films and are in the mood for some loud, violent, mindless entertainment, check it out.

Otherwise, stay home.


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