Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

is by far the craziest, most full-tilt-boogie action film in ages.  With a consistent--and insane--vision that informs every shot, from the broadest sweeping takes on his weird future to the most intimate close-ups, filmmaker George Miller has created a compelling velocity exercise that you can't stop watching.  It's no wonder that its Rotten Tomatoes ratings sit at 98% critics and 93% audience as of this writing.

The real star of this movie is neither Tom Hardy nor Charlize Theron; it's Miller, with his incredibule pacing and his consistent--and consistently disturbing--post-apocalyptic future.  That said, Hardy and Theron do fine with their roles, though most of what Hardy does amounts to looking intense and grunting.  Theron delivers a more interesting performance and is always in character.  Nicholas Hoult, portraying one of the rough boys of the big bad guy, steals almost every scene he's in.

None of this is to say that this latest Mad Max is a film without flaw; it has many.  It just drives right through them, intent on sustaining its speed no matter what.

If you want two hours of non-stop, bat-shit-crazy action, Mad Max:  Fury Road is the film for you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 4

Though I'm very happy for Austin that this week supplied it with a great deal of much-needed rain, I can't say I enjoyed driving in that rain.  Today's trip from the hotel to the airport proved to be particularly harrowing, because no one seemed inclined to slow in the slightest.  Giant trucks going 90 miles an hour in an 80-mile-per-hour speed zone are scary enough normally, but when you're in a POS Nissan Versa that could hit 80 only when going downhill, those trucks are terrifying.

Still, I made the trip safely, got soaked again walking into the terminal, and found no joy at check-in:  no chance of upgrades today.

I did, though, enjoy a delicious lunch of brisket and sausage.  I love the Austin airport.

My first flight ran about 40 minutes late, so our plane didn't even touch down in DFW until after my flight to Raleigh was due to start boarding.  I can't complain too much, though, because I boarded the RDU-bound plane three minutes before they closed the door.

My row mate was a complete jerk who elbowed me in the side, looked at me, and said, "You'll have to lean into the aisle, because I have to type, and I need my arms wide to type."

An unpleasant discussion ensued.  I, also, needed to work.

We compromised a bit, but I spent the entire flight with his right elbow in my left side.

As my notebook was booting, the guy in front of me completely reclined his seat.  I then had to recline mine to have enough space to open my notebook.  Even with my seat reclined, my space was so limited that I spent the entire flight propping open my notebook on its spine and typing down into it.  The bruise on my forearm is still fading.

Because I reclined, the woman in the seat behind me hit my seat repeatedly.  I apologized to her but explained that I really did have to work.  She didn't care, and so for the rest of the flight she smacked the back of my seat every few minutes.

I am very happy to be home.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 3

Another very long day, with work running from about six a.m. to about one a.m.  Wow, these are tiring days--days full of interesting stuff, but tiring nonetheless.

Dinner tonight was a classic steak-house meal at a local Fleming's with a client and friend.  The steak was good, but the real star of the show was, as my companion had told me it would be, the Thai green beans.  I would go back there just for those beans--which is a statement you won't hear often from me.

Tomorrow, I fly home!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 2

This time of year, Austin is usually already baking hot.  Instead, I'm enjoying the very cool weather--but feeling far less appreciative of the almost constant rain.  That said, Austin has been in a drought for so long that I have to be grateful that it's now getting so much rain.

Today was a very long day that went entirely to work.  Both my meals were with clients who are also friends.

Dinner was a very tasty treat from a relatively new French place, laV.  A side dish, the leek spaetzle mac and cheese, was a particularly tasty concoction. 

Yes, I know you can't tell how delicious it was from its appearance, so you'll have to trust me.

For dessert, we adjourned to an Amy's down the road.  When in Austin, eat Amy's.

Tomorrow, more work!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 1

Some people who've read about my many odd travel companions have declared me cursed, but I hold with a different opinion:  if you travel as much as I do, weird shit is bound to happen to you.

As it did today.

The first leg of the trip passed splendidly.  I received an upgrade to first class.  My row mate was a pleasant professional gentleman who kept almost entirely to himself and who was interesting when he chose to make conversation.  The pasta on the lunch tray resembled guts spilling from a zombie on The Walking Dead, but the salad was fresh and tasty, so I ate it and left the pasta to find its own fate. 

The second flight began reasonably well, because I had an exit-row seat--a window one on the two-seat side of the plane, but in the exit row.

Then my row mate sat down. 

Every bit of six-four and at least three hundred pounds, wearing pink shorts and a blue-striped polo shirt, with a huge reddish mountain-man beard, he was something to behold.  His head never stopped bopping to the music from his ear buds.  As soon as he had buckled his seat belt, in the process forcing me to lean halfway against the wall of the plane, he pulled out a tin of chewing tobacco and put a huge chaw in his left cheek--the cheek nearer to me.  He then pulled a half empty Diet Coke bottle out of his pack, unscrewed its top, and held it in his left hand--the hand nearer to me.  I then learned, from sight and smell, that the bottle contained no Diet Coke; it was half full of his spit.  For the rest of the flight, he chewed and spit, never closing the bottle, never stopping bopping.  He did pause when the flight attendants offered drinks, but only so that he could order three bottles of Jim Beam whiskey, all of which he consumed in under a minute.  He never took out his chaw.

You won't be surprised to read that I was very, very happy to get off that plane.

A heavy rain soaked me on the short walk to my rental car, so I spent the next hour driving and checking in while slowly drying from my own body heat. 

Dinner followed my first night in Austin tradition:  a meal with a friend and colleague at the County Line On the Lake, followed by desert at the Arboretum Amy's

I devoted the rest of my waking hours to work.

Quite a day.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mind dancing in the graveyards

One of Delta Rae's biggest hits, and a particular favorite of mine, is "Dancing in the Graveyards."  As much as I like the song, I may love even more this video for it.

As the band did the first time I saw them live, they closed Saturday night's show with a rousing rendition of this tune.  Watching them perform and listening raptly to the music, I thought of all the people I cared about who now are dead.  Mom and Ed came quickly to mind, but many more immediately followed them.  I would so very much like to see each of them again.

And so, each time I listen to this song, I think not only of how lovely it is, but also of those I've lost.  We can all do worse than from time to time to pay tribute with our thoughts and love to those who have died before us.  Someday, their memories, like the memories of all of humanity, will fade and vanish, but until that day, they are alive in our minds and hearts, and that is a wonderful way to honor them and to love them.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weirdest gift wrapping yet? Or clever reuse?

For the past many years, Rana has constructed reusable gift wrapping from bits of blankets and other pieces of cloth.  This year, we presented Scott with a present in a particularly intriguing creation of hers.  Rather than attempt to describe it, I'll let you see it.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Yes, that is a complete pocket assembly from a pair of cargo shorts, the type of pants Scott most prefers.  The main pocket is a perfect fit for one video game, and the small outer pocket will hold folded money--two of Scott's favorite gifts.

Now, the question before the house is this:  Is this an extremely clever reuse of an existing item, or is this the weirdest wrapping creation yet?  Or both?

You decide.


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