Saturday, August 29, 2015

The most pleasant Highway Patrol encounter I've had

Earlier tonight, on my way home from dinner, a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer pulled me over.  All in all, it was an amazingly pleasant experience, the best I've ever had.

When the cop lights went on, I was surprised.  I wasn't speeding and had the cruise control set, so I was at first puzzled as to why they were stopping me.  The trooper who approached my car explained that I had been frequently changing lanes, so he was worried that I might be in trouble.  (What he was really worried about was whether I was drunk, but he sold his concern well.)  He also said I was the first Tesla he had pulled over, and I praised the car, as I tend to do.

I had indeed been changing lanes often.  I do that when I am tired and sometimes even when I'm not, because it breaks the boredom on a long drive and is a good way to avoid eye fatigue.  It is also apparently a good way to attract the attention of a trooper.

I had my license ready when he wanted to see it.  He asked if I had been drinking.  I told the truth:  no, and I don't drink, haven't since I was 17.  He made me follow one finger with my eyes, pronounced me sober (I was), and sent me on my way.

When I was 17, I would not have believed I could have a nice encounter when being pulled over, but I'm happy to report that tonight, to my surprise, I did.

Friday, August 28, 2015

American Ultra

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I caught this action/comedy flick while in Spokane for the WorldCon.  The movie is a member of a sub-genre I've always enjoyed:  the sleeper agent who's suddenly activated.  The first Bourne movie is the best recent example of this type, and American Ultra is not going to challenge that film's standing.  What American Ultra has going for it, though, is the intriguing conceit that the sleeper agent has become a stoner.

Jesse Eisenberg does a very good job in the lead role, sticking consistently to character as a hapless, concerned, caring stoner.  At first, it's fun to watch his reactions to his own violence, but that thrill wears thin quickly.  Kristen Stewart also excels at the job of being his girlfriend; this is the first time I've ever really liked a performance of hers.

Despite the good performances and interesting conceit, American Ultra never manages to become more than simply entertaining for two reasons:  it spends too much time on the stoner side of the characters, and even more than most movies of this type, absolutely nothing about its plot makes sense.  To enjoy this one, you absolutely must suspend every shred of your logic and disbelief.

Fortunately, I'm good at doing that, so I had a fine time at the film and generally enjoyed it.  If you can bring the same attitude to this flick, I suspect you'll also have a good time.  Otherwise, though, you might want to save this one for DVD/Blu-Ray/Netflix/Amazon/whatever way you get movies to come to your home.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another single from the upcoming new Josh Ritter album

In an earlier post, I mentioned Ritter's new album, Sermon on the Rocks, and pointed to a single from it.  Today, Sarah tipped me off to another song from this upcoming release.  This one, "Where the Night Goes," is even better than the previous one.  You can give it a listen here.

Enjoy--and preorder this album.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The bored Holden

Holden was without several of his people last week, so he made his bored displeasure known.

He began with your basic boredom pose.

Click an image to see a larger version.

He then took it to the next level with this classic image of doggie ennui.

Whatever is a dog to do?

Fortunately, his people are around again, and all is back to normal--at least until I leave for DragonCon next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

40 years later, Born to Run is still the greatest rock album ever

I don't expect you all to agree with me, but I expect I will always feel this way, because the album is a stunning piece of work.  Eight tracks, less than 40 minutes, and absolute magic.

Side 1:
"Thunder Road"
"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"

Side 2:
"Born to Run"
"She's the One"
"Meeting Across the River"

Every song is strong on its own, and two, "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" are absolutely brilliant, but together they paint a portrait of youth and dreams and fragile hopes that I've never seen equalled.
Consider just the opening lines of those two songs:

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again 
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin' out over the line
Oh-oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run 
Maybe you never felt like those songs, but oh, I did, every day of my youth and so many many days since then.  Gray-haired and white-bearded, I still do, almost every day.

The music was just as good, soulful at times, insanely powerful at other times, and always gripping.  The bridge in the middle of "Born to Run" and the moment after it when Bruce shouts "1 2 3 4" and then sings

"The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive"

ranks as one of the greatest sequences in any song.

Call me a fool.  Call me an old man.  Whatever.  This truth I know:  this album, these songs, these emotions--my heart, my hopes, my dreams, always and forever.

Monday, August 24, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 6

Well, that trip sucked.

After a very restless night of poor sleep, I was in the shower at six a.m. so I could begin the long, three-flight journey home.  Checking out of the hotel and turning in the rental car went smoothly, but from then on nothing was fun.

I have TSA PreChek.  In Spokane, that doesn't matter, or at least it didn't today, so going through security was long and slow.

TSA decided to search my checked bag but couldn't open it; their key stopped working.  Really.  A gate agent called me over to give them my suitcase lock's password.  I did.  They still couldn't open it, so the gate agent called me again.  I had to go back out to the check-in area, open the suitcase, and then wind my way through the security line again.

The flight out of Spokane was late, so I had to rush to my connection in Seattle, which meant a dry Starbucks sandwich for my later lunch.

The flight from Seattle to Charlotte kept me on the plane for over five hours.  For all but about half an hour of that time, two babies took turns crying, shrieking, and yelling in incoherent anger.  I was supposed to take off work today, but I worked the whole flight (and more later) in the hopes that the focus would help me block out the baby sounds.  (It did, a little.)  From what I could hear of the discussion of the two sets of parents, both felt their babies would cry/yell themselves out.  The babies did not.

The short flight from Charlotte to Raleigh featured no leg room and multiple knocks in the shoulder by rushing attendants.

When I finally reached RDU, I learned the airlines had lost my checked luggage.  The representatives at the baggage claim area were hopeful they would find and return my luggage.  I share their hope.

I am very glad to be home.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On the road again: Sasquan, Spokane, day 5

After a reasonable amount of sleep, my day began with a panel on the future of computing.  The discussion ran down some interesting paths, the audience stayed engaged, and overall it went reasonably well.

After chatting with friends for a bit, we grabbed a tasty sushi lunch at a Sushi dot com restaurant.  Nothing was exceptional, but all of it was reasonable.

We next saw the other opening film that intrigued me, American Ultra.  I may write more about it later, but I enjoyed it well enough.

After some non-PT work and some rest, a few of us walked to Wild Sage for dinner.  The food was quite good, complex but not overly elaborate, flavorful, and well plated.  I'd go back there if I lived around here.

Tomorrow, I have to get up in before six to begin a very long day of travel home.  I never enjoy those, but so it goes; the cost of attending the con includes this sort of travel.


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