Saturday, October 8, 2011

Real Steel

Our local paper's reviewer, who's no longer local and instead lives somewhere else in the parent company's empire, gave this one a D+. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is a sad 59%. So, you might reasonably ask, why did I go to see it?

It's SF.

Hugh Jackman stars.

I could watch Evangeline Lilly all day.

Rock 'em sock 'em robots!

I walked out of the theater having enjoyed the movie. Others liked it less.

After discussion, I came to believe that the key to whether you'll have a good time at this film is the degree to which sappiness and a clear formula bother you that day.

I'm a sucker for father-son films. I was in a mood to be entertained, so the formulaic nature of the movie--and make no mistake, this one marches to an entirely familiar drum beat--didn't bother me. Plus, I had a good time watching big, loud robot fights.

Of course, if I think hard about the movie, the silliness of the plot, the completely cardboard and unbelievable nature of Evangeline Lilly's character, the inconsistency of the tech, the...well, you get the idea--the essential weakness of it all becomes hard to ignore.

On this Saturday night, though, sitting in the dark, staring at the magic screen, I suspended all those judgmental faculties and had a good time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

On the road again: I can't tell you, day 3

I didn't kill anyone during today's travels. I didn't even hit anyone.

But, man, I had some close calls.

On the first flight, a regional commuter prop plane, I had the aisle seat. Next to me was a small guy, maybe 5'3" and a buck thirty. I was in place when he arrived, so I got up and let him in. He put his bag on my seat and kept it there while he got comfortable--leaving me blocking all the other people trying to board. When I asked him to move it, he said he would when he was ready.

That should have been my cue to toss him off the plane headfirst onto the tarmac.

Eventually, he put the bag under the seat in front of him, and I sat. He immediately put his arm on the armrest and elbowed me in the side.

I shot him a dirty look.

He pulled back the elbow until I faced front. Then, he elbowed me again.

This continued for two hours. When I couldn't take it, I'd put my arm on the armrest and push back until I shoved his out of the way. I'd then look at him, look at the armrest, and pull my arm to my side.

He'd immediately elbow me again.

After fifteen minutes of this, I honestly did not trust myself to speak. I was so angry that I was afraid of what I would do if I opened the gates to my rage even the tiniest bit. If you don't have PTSD, maybe this level of anger doesn't make sense to you, but it's completely normal in my world.

On the way off the plane, a blond woman blocked the doorway to the airport terminal as she brushed her hair.

I asked her to move. Many of the people behind me murmured assent.

She said she'd move when she was done, which she did.

As I entered the terminal, I stepped to the side and over to a wall so I could regain self-control.

A brunette woman shoved her rolling bag into my shins and said, "Move back so I have room."

I don't know what expression crossed my face, but I do know that when she glanced up at me, she turned white and almost ran away.

On the way up some stairs, a thickset blond woman stopped short, causing me to have to do the same, then looked over her shoulders and swung her hard-shell bag into my legs. "Don't crowd me!" she said.

I walked to the nearest stretch of open wall, stood, and worked to control my breathing.

Many people live in a different world than I do. They live in a world where they can hit others without consequence, where their rudeness goes unpunished. I'm glad that's their world, because it means they haven't experienced the violence I have.

Sometimes, though, times like today, I wish they could for a moment understand that there is another world, that some of us live in that world, and that in this far darker world they pick the wrong person to abuse and that person hits back, probably harder than is necessary.

I'm glad I didn't expose them to that world today, but maintaining self-control was both a higher cost than I wish I'd had to pay and a greater risk for them than they knew they were taking.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On the road again: I can't tell you, day 2

As I noted in the title of today's entry and in yesterday's I can't tell you where I am or what I'm doing. I can say I met with some folks, and I had a great time. In case any of them read this, I wanted them to know that they were a lot of fun to work with, I had an excellent time, and I thank them for having me.

A lot of folks have asked me for my thoughts on Steve Jobs' death. Despite all my years in the computer industry, I never met him. I have nothing personal to add to the waves of remembrances crashing over the Internet.

Because of the nature of my day job, I try to avoid commenting on computer products here. That said, I must note that I admired Jobs' intense vision, his commitment to getting even fine details right, and, most of all, his ability to ignite people and the press with that vision. The combination of technical skill and showmanship is something this industry is unlikely to see again soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the road again: I can't tell you, day 1

I really can't. I'm not trying to be coy or cute; it's the nature of the gig that I can't write about it. I don't think I will ever be able to.

So, I'm not home, I spent time on planes, I'm in a nice hotel, I had a good dinner, and I can't tell you about any of it.

I'd love it if I were holding back something exciting, maybe some big Hollywood movie deal, but it's nothing like that. I am interested in what I'm doing, or I wouldn't be here, but I'm not even sure most people would care.

Not that I can ask them.

So, that leaves me with remarkably little to say about today beyond what I've already written.

Tomorrow will be the interesting day...but I won't be able to talk about it, of course.

Perhaps I'll give you a movie review or two tomorrow. That might be just the ticket.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On the radio

I've been remiss in not mentioning something that crept without announcement onto my Appearances page: This summer, courtesy of Publisher Toni, I did a radio tour in support of the paperback of Children No More.

Here are all the places my voice went (I did the interviews from a variety of locations by phone): WOCA-AM, 17 June, 201 WDRC-AM, 23 June, 2011 WNAV-AM, 29 June, 2011 WOGL-FM, 7/5/11 KCBR/KCMN-AM, 7/6/11 WNTN-AM, 7/8/11 Lifestyle Talk Radio Network, 7/11/11 Issues Today Radio Network, 7/13/11 Cable Radio Network, 7/26/11 Chuck Wilder

I'd like to be able to say that all of the interviews are online, but I don't honestly know. If you want to listen to them, I think you'll have to check each station's site.

I have to grade my performances as ranging from meh to pretty good. I was not prepared for how short some of the interviews were, so I didn't maximize the value of my time on all of them. If I do this sort of thing again, I'm confident I'll do a better job.

If you find some of these online, drop me a note with the URLs to them, and I'll update the site.

Monday, October 3, 2011

One more

Yeah, we need one more Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers song. He opened with this one, and I think it's worth a listen. Strike that: it is worth a listen.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The most fun live music show I've seen so far this year

Last night, I was at the Cat's Cradle for what proved to be the most fun live music show I've caught so far this year. Given all the great bands I've had the privilege to see, a list that includes Mumford & Sons, Josh Ritter, and The Hold Steady, that's saying a lot, but it's true.

What's sad is that the house was never even half full.

The opening act was someone I didn't know: Jon McLaughlin and his band. As soon as they finished their set, I bought both of their CDs that were available at the merch table.

He sang some sweet, folky songs, like this one. (He and his band are indeed from Indiana.)

Near the end of the set, he called up the main band, and they joined him onstage for a rousing version of this fun number. (Sorry about the dead space after the music stops, but this was the best example I could find.)

I've never heard of McLaughlin before, but now I feel privileged to have gotten the chance to see him live.

After the set change, the headliners took the stage: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Frequent readers will know that I love these guys' music, but I've never seen them live.

I'm so glad I had that chance. Their love of performing and of music was palpable. For ninety minutes the audience and the band united in that love with a power and a joy that is sheer magic on those rare moments when it happens.

They played some new songs from their upcoming Gift Horse album, and they played a lot of old favorites. They came into the audience, climbed on milk crates, and did an acoustic version of "Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts," which I've linked to before but which you can never hear too many times.

They played the single, "Gravity," from the new album.

They also played this song.

We all have the times this song discusses, those moments when you question your own self worth, when you wonder if anyone loves you, if there's any point in going on. If you're in one of those periods now, give this one a listen, and remember that there is always someone who sees you differently, sees a better you than you can see, and that person is often right.


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