Saturday, March 29, 2014


Seven of us watched a matinee showing today of this latest offering from aging and aged action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Three guys spread around the place as if afraid to be near each other; I was one of them.  Two male-female couples held down the edges of different upper rows.  Both women looked pissed to be there. 

I couldn't blame them.  With only a 21% critical rating on Rottentomatoes and a 39 on metacritic, the film was definitely a risk.  At the same time, the audience ratings on those services were 50 and 6.5, respectively, so the odds were good that if you liked this sort of movie, you'd probably have fun watching it. 

Predictably, I enjoyed myself.  Arnold delivered what is for him a nuanced performance, which is to say that in addition to grimacing and squinting, occasionally other parts of his face moved, mostly as if he meant them to.  Most of the supporting cast didn't have a ton to work with, but they did well with the material available.  Mireille Enos chewed the scenery in a role made for doing just that, but she did it so well that now I'm a fan and can't wait to see what she does next.

I've read multiple reviews that referred to odd plot twists, but I have to disagree with all of them.  The plot was straightforward from start to finish, always driven by Arnold's character and the personalities of his team.  So, I found it reasonably satisfying and had no issues with it.

If you like this sort of film, you'll probably have a good time at Sabotage.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Crawling into the cave

and pulling a big rock in front of it:  That's pretty much my plan for tonight and tomorrow. 

I look forward to emerging into a warm afternoon, but nothing beats a cool, dark cave for sleeping and continuing to heal.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Whatever happened to that sinus infection?

A few folks have asked how I was doing post-TED and whether my sinuses had cleared up.  Well, sadly, the answer is yes...and no. 

I did get healthier, almost back to normal, and then under the stress of long days and having flown home, I took a turn for the worse.  So, yesterday, I saw a doctor and am now on antibiotics for a sinus infection.  I seem to be responding well to them--the ice pick has stopped stabbing into my left ear like Norman Bates on a triple-espresso binge, and I can swallow with only the slightest of grimaces--so I look forward to healing fully.

I don't expect that to happen before Monday or Tuesday, but the return to full health is now in sight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A little tune with your allergy serum?

Long-time readers may recall that from time to time, I've had trouble with the folks at the office where I pick up my allergy serum.  For the last couple of years, though, my former nemesis and I have existed in a wary peace, both respecting the other, neither causing trouble for the other. 

Today, as I walked into the room to get the test shots that are a useless prerequisite to obtaining the serum, my former nemesis did what he always does at this point in the process:  He pulled the vials from their envelope and showed them to me so I could confirm my name was on them. 

This time, though, he pulled out the vials with his left hand and with his right pointed to himself and then spun around as in a sing-song tone he said, "Me me me."  He then pointed at the name on the vials and in a questioning version of the same sing-song sounds asked, "You you you?"

I could do only one thing.

I nodded, spun toward the chair, where I must sit to receive the test shots, and in a similar tone said, "Me me me!"

We were both still chuckling as he gave me the two shots.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Rock with hair

As Kyle pointed out to me, what's even weirder than having a second Hercules movie in the same year is having one that features Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson with a lot of hair--as in the flowing locks of mythological times.

Check it out.

Will I go?

Do you even need to ask?  Come on.  It's Hercules.  It's The Rock.

Of course I'll be there.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hotel maid wars: The Battle of the Whistler Blanket

It began innocently enough, there in my hotel in beautiful, snowy Whistler.  I pulled the spare blanket out of my hotel room's closet and spread it over my bed.  I was sick, so I wanted to stay extra warm while I slept.  I also took out the spare pillow and added it to the bed's pillows, because I'm a man who likes a lot of pillows.

When I came back the next day, the blanket was back in its plastic bag, as was the pillow. 

I again made the bed the way I wanted, and then I called housekeeping.  "To save time for both the room cleaners and me," I said, "would you please ask them to leave the blanket and extra pillow on the bed?" 

As one would expect in this sort of hotel, the woman on the other end of the line responded, "Certainly, Mr. Van Name."

I thought I had proposed an efficient solution in which everyone won.

Apparently, whichever maid--this is not a sexist assumption; all the people servicing rooms on my floor were women--responsible for cleaning my room did not agree.

The next day, when I returned to my room in a break in TEDActive, I found the blanket pulled so taut you could bounce coins on it and tucked so tightly I had to pull pretty darn hard to free the covers.  My five pillows sat in an artful but useless pyramid at the head of the bed.

Okay, I thought, they hated that idea, but I can live with this.  My blanket and pillow are indeed on the bed. 

When I sat at the room's desk to work, however, I discovered that the battlefield had spread.  I had customized the desk surface, as I do in hotel rooms, so it was just as I like it:  multi-charger top left, tablet to its right, phone charging area next to that, coasters for glasses to the front left, etc.  Before the Battle of the Blanket had started, the maid had left my arrangement intact. 

Now, nothing was where I had left it.  Hotel books and paper pads, which I had banished to a side table, were now back.  All my devices were in different spots in an arrangement whose virtues I could appreciate--I have to be fair--but which was sub-optimal. 

After restoring the desk to my original arrangement, I went to the bathroom to get a glass of water. 

My toiletries were no longer arranged as I had left them.  Most of the hotel's items were back in the hotel's original formation, but not all, and my toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, and deodorant were now in new formations.  Again, I could appreciate the intelligence behind this distribution, but it was not my own, and so it was sub-optimal.

I restored the bathroom to its proper state.

I hoped this would be the end of it.

Foolish me. 

The next day, when I first visited my room after its cleaning, the blanket was stretched even tighter, its threads straining to maintain its structure.  My pillows were now in two stacks of two, with the smallest hiding behind the others.  My desk was in yet another arrangement, as was the bathroom sink.  The new arrangements seemed best suited for a left-handed person and sported a pleasant whimsicality, with at least one item on each surface in a place that was attractive but that made absolutely no functional sense. 

I fixed both surfaces. 

The battle continued for the next couple of days.  Each time, the maid tried a new arrangement in each area.  Each time, I relentlessly returned the spaces to the setup I wanted for each. 

On the last day before checkout, I returned to the room to find the bed's pillow arrangement as I had left it and the blanket tucked reasonably, the desk as I had left it, and the bathroom almost--almost--as I had left it.  The sole exception was that my toothbrush stood upright in a glass in the center of the bathroom counter, a single finger showing me the maid's feelings. 

I decided I could live with that--but I still put the glass and toothbrush back where they should have been.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A short new article from me is now available

SF Signal has just posted a short piece on three authors I think deserve more recognition.  Blogger and bookseller and general SF-person-about-town Jessica Strider invited me to participate, and I was happy to do so.  I explain in the article the direction I went with the selections; check it out if you'd like to know more.

If you're not already reading the works of those three authors, by the way, you really should consider giving them a go.  I believe you'd find yourself happy that you did.


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