Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ask and you shall receive...

I know, I know, St. Patrick's Day was almost two weeks ago and I am just now getting the pictures up from the Bus of Destiny. So, here you go, complete with captions for your enjoyment.

This fine group of ladies and me were enjoying some beers. Those of you who have had a beer with me in the past know how many beers I drink before I start flashing the devil horns. Let's just say more than 6 and less than 100.

Here I am aboard the bus, just like you remember from 3rd grade. Except on this bus, the driver wasn't the only one drinking.

This is what happens when a nice Irish Midget meets a fine German lady and marries her. The traditions get mixed together. In honor of Mrs. Angry Midget, we went to the Huber House, a local German beer hall, and ordered up several of these fine giant beers to pass around. I'm pretty sure that's I got herpes that night.

Here I am with another good friend drinking a Smithwicks at O'Connor's Bar in the Old Market. Great place.

As you can see, we rode on bus 20 that night. All apologies to the children who had to ride Bus 20 the following Monday.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gonzales v. Truth

Alberto Gonzales says "You're Fired."

Just a brief note on the currently brewing fight in Washington about Our Most Favoritest Attorney General Ever, Alberto Gonzales, his puppet-master Karl Rove, and their odds of testifying before Congress. For those of you living in a cave, or in Texas (where the news is limited to rodeo results and terror threat level updates), there is currently a controversey brewing over the firing of 8 U. S. Attorneys. Every reasonable person with any knowledge of the facts surrounding these firings has come to the conclusion that they were politically-motivated. If anyone wants to dispute me, cite the U. S. Attorney in question and I will respond, in the comments, with his or her CV, job reviews, and career highlights. I will also put you in a rhetorical headlock, give you debate noogies, and make you cry argument uncle. And then I'll strip you naked, paint you blue and throw you in the girls' locker room.

Anyway, not surprisingly, people who aren't big fans of corrupt government, nepotism and the placing of incompetent horse judges in places of power (paging Brownie.....) have taken exception to the firing of a number of good civil servants. And those people (read: Democrats) have asked the AG and the White House to explain why 8 good public servants have just been pink slipped. The White House has responded that it is happy to make Albie and King Karl available to give "testimony" to Congress, but only (1) in private, away from television cameras that might create an irrefutable record about what was said, and (2) not under oath.

Okay, take another second and read that last sentence again. Why doesn't Bush just tattoo the words "We're going to lie" on Albie and Karl's forehead and send them out into the world? Even the room-temperature-IQ crowd who voted for Bush the first time (49%, at any rate) and the second time (50.5%, including misrecorded votes in Ohio) should be capable of discerning that THE ONLY REASON ONE WOULD ASK TO TESTIFY IN PRIVATE AND NOT UNDER OATH IS IF ONE WERE GOING TO LIE HIS FREAKING ASS OFF.

I worked for 2 years at the U. S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis, so I know that these people are political appointees who are subject to being dismissed for any reason at any time. Just like me, Bling, the Midge, and every single one of you who doesn't belong to a union. That being said, that's not really how it works. Good USAs can expect continuing employment. Just like me, Bling, etc. What we have here, instead, are people who were brave enough to stand up to Bush/Rove, and have lost their jobs as a result. Someone should answer for this. Under oath. In front of the cameras. And if the Administration had a good reason for what it did, it would be willing to do so. The fact that it is not is telling.

By the way, one of Albie's assistants is going to take the 5th at a hearing he has been compelled to attend. Constitutional niceties aside, let me note that everyone who can spell their name consistently knows that the 5th Amendment's text reads "I am guilty as shit, and am therefore not going to answer that question because I hear they anally rape WASP Republican lawyers in prison." Stay tuned for more details. Hopefully, we can reunite Albie and Rumsfeld in the near future.

Name Changing

For those of you who keep emailing me about pics from the bus, they're coming. Until then....

A co-worker of mine brought this article to my attention. It seems that some number (I use this generic quantifier, because it's likely there are only a few idiots out there making a big deal about this) of men are taking their wife's name instead of the usual practice. While I am certain there are people out there who are bothered by this, I can't say that I care.

What I think is stupid is that it was worth having US Today pay someone to write about it. These people could change their names to Hugh G. Rection and (say it fast 3 times) Mike Hunt, and I wouldn't care.

There is no law that says a person can't change their name. Women have been keeping their own names and hyphenating after marriage since we started letting them go to college. And furthermore, how is it less sexist for the man to take the woman's name than the traditional way? Last time I checked, a woman didn't have to change her name when she got married, which means she made a choice to do that. All of this put together means that if you're a dude and you're taking your wife's name to make some kind of statement about sexism, you're only making the same statement in reverse, and you're the one being oppressed.

I guess if this were some sort of patriarchal nightmare society, where women were forced to take their husband's names without choice, this might be more interesting, but really it's just stupid. Why not change your name to Bobby My-wife-controls-every-aspect-of-my-life-sky or Steve My-life-is-so-boring-that-taking-my-wifes-last-name-is-the-most-subversive-act-i-could-think-of-son. Go protest something really harmful to women like the government or cheerleading or me when I was in college.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

David Lynch's 'Inland Empire'

This year, Dallas hosted its first annual AFI International Film Festival, and my employer was one of the contributors, so I got to go to a screening of the new David Lynch film, 'Inland Empire.' I was able to briefly meet the man himself, and get a picture with him:

I also got him to sign my Region 2 import DVD of 'Eraserhead' too, although he wasn't too happy about it (I was told before I met him that he rarely, if ever, signs things for people). When I handed it to him, he frowned, but I mentioned that I'd bought it years ago, long before it was available here, and it was one of the main reasons why I got a region-free DVD player. He signed it, so either he bought my story, or he just wanted to shut me up.

So, the movie. I'm glad I met him before I saw it, because I honestly don't know what I would've said to him afterwards. I'm a big fan of his other films. 'Eraserhead' is a classic, as is 'Blue Velvet,' and more recently, 'Mulholland Drive.' However, 'Inland Empire' doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as any of those other films. In fact, the kindest thing I can say about it is that Lynch has successfully brought a living nightmare to the screen. Unfortunately, the nightmare is all ours, and the only way to wake from it is to fall asleep.

This film is truly 'Lynch untethered.' If you're a film buff, think about those words for a minute. And heaven forbid, but if you thought 'Mulholland Drive' didn't make any sense (and it took a couple of viewings and some web research for me), I'll bet dollars to donuts you won't make it through the first 60 minutes. Just the first hour alone was like watching a four-year old try to play Tetris. Once in a while, a couple of pieces may seem to fit together, but it'll be more by accident than anything else. Then you have hour two. Then, hour three.

The most upsetting thing about this film is that he's covering old territory, and not just of other directors (you'll see some not-so-subtle nods to Stanley Kubrick, Oliver Stone, Japanese horror, etc.), but of his own material. In a nutshell, 'Inland Empire' is another 'Fuck You' to mainstream Hollywood, but he did it a few years ago with 'Mulholland Drive,' and much better. He gave us a small amount of narrative, a character to root for, and even when the film seemed to go off the rails in the last 30 minutes, there were good reasons for it. With this film, it's not only off the rails, there were no rails in the first place. In fact, there's barely a train at all. I'm not one who complains when a film doesn't follow the three-act structure, but this film had about 50 or 60 acts. This is also why it felt like it had 20 endings, and yet felt like it never ended, even after the credits rolled. Talk about unsatisfying. Lynch makes one tiny effort to 'throw us a bone,' but it comes at about the 2:30 mark, and it adds more confusion than anything else, and by this time, I'd stopped trying long ago.

There are a couple of positives to take away, however. Laura Dern's performance is strong, but it may have felt that way because everyone else in the film acted like they were overdosing on Vicodin. Also, the score was very effective, and unsettling at just the right times. But these things aren't enough for me to even consider recommending this film to even the biggest Lynch diehards. Unless you like spending your free time putting together jigsaw puzzles of blurry pictures, and that have half of the pieces missing, stay far away from this one.

I was told that Lynch's original cut of this film was 11 hours long. If it were 30 minutes, it would still be too long. At 11 hours, there's only one way you would get me to watch it:

I like some abstract movies ('Begotten,' anyone?), but no matter what, a film has to make me care about something or someone in it. In this respect, 'Inland Empire' is a complete disaster. It may end up being my pick for Worst Film of the Year. I don't know if I've ever felt more disappointed while walking out of a theater, and I didn't read a single review beforehand (I saw that Ebert's website editor gave it four stars, but that's it), so my expectations were squarely on Mr. Lynch's shoulders. I appreciate when a filmmaker has the courage to take risks, but at least one of them has to pay off for it to make a difference for me. I don't want Lynch's next film to be Mission:Impossible 4, but I don't want it to bore me as much as this film did either.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Writing Letters by Hand is A Waste of Time

I'm on the road right now in Washington, D.C., doing my annual reacharound and pat on the back with the Nebraska Congressional delegation. In the Omaha airport this morning, I heard something that annoyed me. Now, I will in turn annoy you as well. That's how it works. Didn't you see that Pay It Forward movie? I thought since they killed Haley Joe Bob Osment at the end of that movie, it was pretty good.

ANYWAY, ff you ever need to find an elderly person, the Omaha airport is like Geriatri-Mart. This morning, there were flocks of them. While I was standing in the security line behind people who could have been George Burns's great grandparents, I overheard the following old-person cliche, which made me long for assisted suicide:

Old man that smells like he lives in the sewer "There's nothing like getting a hand-written letter. Getting an email isn't the same thing. If someone writes you a letter by hand, it shows that they really care. Kids don't understand that."

Elder McStinky then turns to look at me, shakes his head and says -
"I bet you've never even written a letter by hand."

It was early in the morning, but I immediately started compiling a list of thing this guy has never done, such as wiping his own ass or passing a test on multiplication. I just smiled, and didn't say anything, which I know those of you who know me are thinking "Yeah right, that'd be a first." But, really I did.

I wanted to say "So, if someone uses available technology to drive to visit you, instead of say riding a horse, does that make their visit less meaningful?" The irony that he was standing in line for an airplane and how that might affect the sincerity of the visit was completely lost on him.

Sentiments like this piss me off because writing makes my hand hurt. And because I'm left-handed, my hand gets all kinds of messy as I drag the fat part of my hand over everything I write. The idea that somehow writing by hand is superior to other available technology is absurd. The fact that someone takes the time to contact you, I think is the important feature. Not how they do it. Taken to its logical extreme, expressing yourself on stone tablets or by writing crude symbols on someone's wall is the ultimate act of consideration. If you're going to do it any other way, why bother?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Conversations with Drunk People

I'm sure many of you are wondering about the bus last night, and I am going to do my best to get pictures of the festivities sufficiently de-identified, so that they may be posted here for your review.

In the meantime, I can tell you that a fun time was had by nearly 30 friends and even some strangers and we consumed what can only be described as an asinine quantity of booze. The night ended without anyone puking on the bus, which frankly surprised me. However, another one of this blog's co-writers only made it 10 feet off the bus and into my neighbor's yard before dialing up our good friend Ralph. Here's to you Lepto.

What dawned on me last night was that there are certain topics of conversation that absolutely only occur when you're talking with either drunk people or small children, both situations lacking any entertainment value if you are sober. If I had started keeping track of these conversations in college, I could have written a book. Instead, I will highligh three of my favorites. Feel free to add more under comments.

The first example is best expressed by the following graph:

This might be an explanation why you hear a bunch of drunk people singing "Love on the Rocks" at the top of their lungs. I had no fewer than 3 conversations about how rad Neil Diamond is on Saturday night. Unless you're drunk, people don't talk about how much they love Neil Diamond.

My second example of a topic that people only discuss when they're boozed is application and management of sex toys. I would say a good number of people that I call my friends have some sort of sex toy. I only know this about the people I drink with, because otherwise, people don't discuss it. Give my friends and acquantainces a few beers and all that talk about sales figures and litigation and grant funding turns into butt plugs, dildos and butt beads. I think it's great that people use these things, but I find it interesting it only comes up when people consume a bottle of Jamison and two tall boys of the High Life.

The final example I will give is related to what people actually think of your girlfriend / spouse. Like any example of conversations had with drunk people, the lack of inhibition provided by Mormon Demon Water can steer the topic of conversation towards good things (see # 2 above) or bad things that create hard feelings. The bus crawl was not without an example of this sort of conversation either. While my lovely wife was telling her entire extended family what she really thought of her cousin's wife, another bus rider was getting read the riot act because his girlfriend had elected to stay home.

If the involved parties had been sober, the conversation might have started something like this:
"Oh, you have a girlfriend? What is she doing on this fine evening?"
What actually was said on the bus:
"Your girlfriend is a bitch for not coming on the bus with us. What is she too cool? Your relationship is doomed."

I wish I were making that up. Feel free to add your favorites under comments.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday, Stylized

This, gentle reader, is an account of my day of Friday last, submitted for your consideration and stylistic approval.

On Friday, I dressed and ventured forth from my apartment at my customary time and, boarding the nearby trolley-cart, travelled the broad avenues of California Street to the Financial District. I stopped, as has become my habit, at the shoppe of the local frozen fruit smoothie purveyor. After exchanging pleasantries with the counter-man, I paid and exited the establishment with my breakfast in hand.

Arriving at the office of the firm where I have been, for almost the last full year, employed in the very agreeable trade of barrister, I greeted our lady receptionist. "Good morning, Ms. M----," I said, "how does this fine morn find you?" "Why, sir," she replied, "it is indeed a good morn, and I am quite well and happy to be here." We briefly exchanged further pleasantries before I retreated to my office for my day's activities.

I toiled much of the day on the matter of our firm's client, one Mr. F-----, whom, it would seem, had become embroiled in a fairly significant and hotly contested matter with a local gentleman of some esteem. Being a man of significant means himself, and this being a controversy of great importance to his business in general, and his business in this area in particular, Mr. F---- had instructed us to spare no reasonable expense in the prosecution of his case. Thus it was that I came to strive on his behalf, busying myself for most of the day, as I have said, on various matters which required my immediate attention.

Shortly after noon, another barrister, one Mr. V----- of my office approached me and inquired whether I would be interested in joining him for lunch. I have always found Mr. V----'s company to be quite enjoyable, and in recent weeks he, like me, had been greatly busy, thus denying either of us the pleasure of the other's company. Therefore, seeing an opportunity to spend some time with the good fellow, I agreed to accompany him.

Another fellow, Mr. H---, who had only recently joined the firm, accompanied us as well. As we were departing, I observed Mr. H-- typing busily at his Blackberry Pearl, a rather slim and somewhat feminine cellular telephone and personal data assistant. I remarked that I had seen a number of people with such a phone as his, but that many of those phones were fuchsia, rather than black, as his was, and I inquired whether he might prefer a fuchsia phone. Mr. H--- replied that my experience with fuchsia phones was likely due to my habit of shopping for phones at Somewhat confused, I told Mr. H--- that I was unfamiliar with that particular website, although I did recall seeing it bookmarked in his computer. Mr. V--- found the entire tet a tet quite amusing, and we continued our riposte through the course of lunch.

Returning to my office both well fed and well rested, I parted company with Mr. V-- and Mr. H--- and returned to laboring on behalf of the good Mr. F--. Later that afternoon, I met with Mr. L---, who was a senior barrister at my firm, and with whom I had been working on another matter for another of the firm's clients. We discussed that matter at length in an attempt to determine precisely the course of action which we thought best to recommend to our client. This being a matter of some sensitivity, and the gravamen of this particular decision being significant, we spent long minutes discussing what the right, or, more accurately, best, move might be. After significant consultation, we arrived upon a course of action which, we both thought, allowed the greatest chance of the greatest success, while simultaneously admitting of the least chance of the greatest catastrophe, and also increasing, in like manner, the chances of lesser, but still favorable, results, and likewise (rationally) decreasing the chances of unfavorable, but not cataclysmic, results.

This matter attended to, and the hour of the day drawing late, I bade my fellows a good day, and returned home by a reversal of the same course outlined above. Finding my goodly wife already at home, and well on her way to the creation of a wonderful evening's repast, I settled in for what can fairly be described as a quiet and restful night.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's a keg of beer helping that nice young lad off of that school bus. What does this terribly arranged photo collage mean?

The Bus of Destiny. When the stars align and St. Patrick's Day meets my favorite day of the week (Saturday, for those of you without a calendar), there's only one thing to do - Rent a school bus, invite 50 of your closest friends, and hit the bars with authority.

If you're in Omaha on St. Patrick's day, post it under comments, and I'll send you a bus invite.

Photos will be posted here on Sunday or whenever I get out of jail.

Busy busy busy

I've been out of pocket a lot lately, so you haven't heard from me in a while. My job has gotten twice as busy (literally), and I've travelled for work, and as soon as I got back, I got a sinus infection. Anyway, a lot has happened in the world since my last writing, and yet, all I want to do is post THIS:

$70 million on opening weekend? I guess I wasn't the only one who liked that trailer.

I'll try to get inspired enough to write an actual post this weekend, but I assume that the Midget will have something better coming real soon. After all, Saturday is St. Paddy's Day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ryan the Angry Midget Cancer Diet

One thing that makes me really angry is when a group of people use their credentials to prey on people's fears. Like Dr. Phil, who is not a physician (not even in Mexico would they let that guy be a physician), but still feels the need to call himself "Dr. Phil" and give advice that would be considered practicing medicine if he didn't do it in front of a TV camera. A friend of mine at work recently told me about another example, a book called the China Study, which essentially tells people that our diets are very unhealthy and that we all need to become vegans to avoid lots of chronic health problems.

In this book, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell Part II make the claim that becoming a vegan will decrease the likelihood that you will get cancer. His claim is based on "research" in his book that looked at a number of factors in diets of people and their rates of cancer. Despite the fact that Dr. Campbell has his Ph.D., he must have skipped the classes where they explained that correlation is not causation.

There are numerous examples that jump out, but one of the most interesting is where he claims that children in the Phillipines with high protien diets have higher rates of liver cancer. Was there a control group? Nope. Were his results of sufficient scientific rigor to be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal? Negative. Probably because he didn't look at the children's exposure to pesiticides, lead or other risk factors for childhood cancer or genetics. That would have been a lot of work and research.

The sad part is that the jury is still out on how diet interacts with cancer. People who have cancer or who worry about getting cancer will do anything to get better or avoid cancer. This book has sold a lot of copies because of that. On the other hand, one recent study from Key, Appleby and Rosell (2006) from a little place called Oxford University concluded that "Studies of cancer have not shown clear differences in cancer rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. More data are needed, particularly on the health of vegans and on the possible impacts on health of low intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and vitamin B(12)"

That means that not only does a vegetarian diet not differ from a non-vegetarian diet, but also there are health risks with becoming a vegetarian related to not getting all the nutrients you need. If you're a vegetarian for moral reasons or because you don't like meat, that's fine. Just don't become a vegetarian because you think it's reducing your likelihood of getting cancer or because two guys who can't get published in an actual journal wrote a book to scare you into thinking you're going to get cancer. If eating meat caused cancer, the city of Omaha would be one gigantic tumor. Some argue that it is.

Those sharp front teeth aren't the only reason that we were meant to eat meat. The Angry Midget Diet tells us that we eat healthy foods we like, excercise, and drink lots of beer. If drinking beer is bad for you, I don't want to be good. Follow the Angry Midget Diet and you still might get cancer, but you'll be happy that you didn't become a vegan, since the jury is still out about whether or not vegans are allowed to perform oral sex.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My Happy Joy Joy Trip to Houston

Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege to take a 2-day business trip to Houston. The following account describes why I will never go to Houston again in life.

The Flight Out

I flew on Continental. This was the first time I flew on Continental. At the time of my trip, Continental was the only major U. S. airline I had never flow on. Flights from San Francisco to Houston are surprisingly long (4 hours). Plus, you lose 2 hours on the way out. So, I had booked a flight leaving at 2:00 and ariving at 8:00. Except, of course, that the flight didn't leave at 2:00. The flight left at 4:30.

More on the details of the flight in a second. First, let me note my current working theory about how airlines determine arrival and departure times. As you and I and every sentinent being knows, there are literally hundreds of variables that can affect whether a flight makes it from point A to point B in a given amount of time. Winds, weather, equipment problems, slow ground crew, drunk pilots---all of these things can make flights late. For this reason, you can imagine that the process of determining flight arrival and departure times can be a very complicated process. I have now determined that the airlines have come up with a very scientific method for calculating arrival and departure times to publish to us, the flying public. The airline analyzes all of the variables, determines the effect the variables might have on the timeliness of the flight, and then ask this question: "If absolutely everything worked out exactly right, when would this flight arrive and depart?" And once they figure out the answer to that question, they publish those times.

Now, back to the flight. Thankfully, I had an aisle seat and there was no passenger in the middle seat. I remember the good old days, where people who were 6'4" could reliably count on getting exit row seats, provided we showed up an hour before the flight left and politely asked. Now, of course, airlines have decided that the better thing to do is to sell these seats for $15 each, more or less. Tall? Athletic? Too fucking bad. Anyone who believes the airline industry gives a leper shit about customer service has not flown in the last 6 years.

Sitting on the window in my row was an Asian man somewhere between 40 and 55 years old. For the first half of the flight, he was an ideal flying partner: didn't try to talk to me, didn't go to the bathroom, just sat there. Then, about 2 hours into the flight, I was listening to some Todd Barry (great comedian), and I suddenly smelled something......odd. Sour. Pungent. I couldn't quite place it. Then, like a punch with the meaty fist of the bridge troll, I was assaulted by aromas of fried sweaty ball sack, pig intestines baking in the sun, and sheep piss mixed with cat shit. My eyes watered. I threw up a little in my mouth. And I immediately looked around to determine if someone had thrown feces at me. And I noticed my Asian travelling companion staring, quite hard, out the window. Now, it was 7:00 at night in the timezone we were currently over, it was pitch-black outside, and we were flying over 100% cloud cover. If you want to replicate the view my companion was studying so hard, wait until nightfall, lock yourself in a windowless closet, put on a blindfold, and close your eyes. This is what was captivating the Asian gentlemen, who had apparently just instigated a biological attack on the 3 surrounding rows.

Now, I'll be the first to say that I, too, have farted in the past. And, on occasion, the result has been quite unpleasant. And, on a very few instances, I have test-ballooned a fart while in public, and discovered that it was not ready for prime time. I think we have all done this. And when a mushroom cloud emerges from your ass, you know not to continue down this path of destruction. And so, I presumed that I had smelled my last from my travelling companion. Perhaps he would excuse himself and pollute the bathroom. Perhaps he would suffer. But, certainly, obviously, he wouldn't fart again. Right?

Wrong, asshole. For the 2 remaining hours of the flight, the Asian gentleman proceeded to crack the top of another fresh bottle of eau de dumpster scum and hobo toejam just about every 10 minutes. After the first half-hour of this, I found myself in a real quandry. Most people who have met me know that I don't care much about what total strangers think about me. Fuck 'em. But everyone has their limits, and there was no way I was going to have the people in the adjoining aisles thinking that I was the source of this horror. So, how do you communicate to those nearby "Look, I smell that as well, and I want you to know that it absolutely isn't me"? After several solid minutes of pondering, I came up with this solution. Every time I detected a fresh assault, I swore. Out loud. Not screaming, mind you, but in a normal volume. "God damn!" "Jesus!" "Son of a bitch!" Etc. And I shook my head, as if to say "What nasty bastard would keep farting in the middle of an airplane?" The entire time, the Asian gentleman kept staring out the airplane window as though he was conducting a cartographic study. Or painting a picture, entitled "black cat sleeping on coal pile at midnight."

My Hotel

Finally, the flight landed, I collected my bags, caught a cab, and headed out into the vast nothingness/somethingness that is Houston. The nearest hotel to my meeting place was a Marriott Residence Inn, so that's where I was staying. I got to the hotel at 10:30. I was pleased to discover that there was a BBQ restaurant in the parking lot of the hotel. This was a nice surprise for 3 reasons: (1) there are few BBQ places in SF; (2) Houston, like LA and all of Texas, is city-planned in order to ensure that nothing is within walking distance of anything else, and I had no car; (3) I was hungry. The desk clerk informed me that the restaurant closed at 10:00. I actually responded like people do in badly-written TV shows: "What? I think I misheard you. When does it close?" I then managed to leave the front desk without saying "You've got to be fucking kidding me." Which, I think, demonstrates a lot of self-restraint.

Now, it may be that living in SF has spoiled me. But I want to go on record that the only people who would believe that 10:00 is a good time to close a restaurant are semi-retarded half-apes who have spent too much time huffing gold spray paint behind the Golden Corral. Or Bush voters. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Thus defeated, I retired to my room. And made another discovery: because this is a Residence Inn, there is no room service. But there was a fireplace. In a hotel. In Houston.

My Cab Ride

The next day, having successfully completed day 1 of my meeting, I called a cab (Yellow Cab Cooperative of Houston) to pick me up and transport me the 2 miles back to my hotel. I then waited for 55 minutes for the cab to arrive. For a 10 minute trip. The people at the cab dispatch office believed this was not an issue. They had a hard time believing that I was displeased. Obviously, I was some kind of perfectionist asshole. Welcome to Texas! :)

The cab driver proceeded to seranade me during my cab trip back. Well, not really. But he did sing along to the radio the whole way back. Well, not exactly. It was more like yodelling. But not as good. Think about the way Canadians say "eh?" Take that sound. "Eh." Now, imagine just keeping up that sound, "eeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhh" while a song is playing on the radio, and varying the pitch to sorta-kinda-not really even closely match the pitch on the radio. For 10 minutes. 3 songs. I was actually starting to envy deaf people.

My Flight Back to the First World

I say this about Houston: the air is blue. No, not that blue. It's blue in exactly the way that diesel exhaust is blue. Exactly the way that diesel exhaust is blue. Mmmmmmmmm. Carcenigenorific!

By some absolute miracle, Continental managed to take off and land nearish to the times they said they would. But, my adventure was not quite over. I had changed my flight home. And, for some reason, the Continental website would not recognize my reservation, so I couldn't chose my own seat. By the time I arrived at the airport to sort it out, the only seat I could get was a window seat. My condition improved, because once again, there was no one in the middle. On the aisle, there was an Asian woman, between 30 and 40. I should have recognized that this was a bad omen. But I was exhausted, and not paying attention.

With about 45 mintues left in the flight, I smelled something.....odd. Sharp. Tangy. The Asian woman had thrown up. Now, thankfully, she had done so in the little bag the airline provided. No problem. Or so I thought. I soon discovered that, apparently, the insides of those bags are lined with a thin, perfumed film that dissolves when wet. To mask the smell of vomit, I guess. The problem is that the aroma they chose was bubblegum. The result was that it now smelled like someone had puked bubblegum. Bad call. I carefully breathed through my mouth for the next half-hour and hoped for no encore. I got lucky, got out of the plane, into a cab (no wait) and home.

I propose a truce. I will not mess with Houston, and I ask that Houston not mess with me. I will not visit Houston, and I ask those who live in Houston not to come to SF. We're just from separate worlds. It's better this way.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movie Review: '300'

I was able to get into a screening of the movie '300' last night. The experience beforehand was weird enough to where it could be its own post (there was a talent contest on stage beforehand to win free stuff from a radio station, and UFC light-heavyweight champion 'The Iceman' Chuck Liddell showed up and answered questions for some odd reason), but that's for another post.

In my almost 32 years, I've seen many, many films (over 1,600 by my last count). I've seen most of the American classics, and I've seen many of the foreign classics as well. And yet, I can say that none of the films I've ever seen are quite as bad-ass as '300'. In fact, this may be the most bad-ass film ever made. The whole attitude of the film can't be summed up any other way. It talks the talk early on, and it walks the walk throughout the rest of the film.

Fans of the graphic novel will be ecstatic. If any liberties were taken with the story, they were extremely minor, and I'm going to have to go back and read it again to remember them. If anything, there may not have been enough blood (although there's plenty of carnage). For all the arrows and spears being run through people, there's a distinct lack of blood (other than some spurts in a couple of well-staged slo-mo scenes). All of the decapitations are clean, cauterized cuts. However, this is probably due to it needing an R rating. Why less blood would matter is pretty stupid, but there's a history of that, so I accepted it. I think most people will too.

Basically, when you see this on March 9th or later, you will see a beautiful film. Beautiful in the CGI backgrounds. Beautiful in the performers (who all seem to be carved out of silicon). Beautiful in the choreography of the violence. And, beautiful in the story, which gives you more than you might be expecting.

In fact, if I have but one complaint, it's the pacing. There are essentially two stories going on: The physical war at the Hot Gates (led by the king), and the political war at home (led by the queen). The build-up to the war at the Hot Gates is very intense, so once it comes, you're more than ready for it. Then, they cut to the war at home, to show more of how the queen is fighting for Sparta to send their entire army in defense of its land. It's a worthwile plotline, especially once it's over (the denouement got the loudest applause from the audience). However, you're worked up for the battle scenes, you get some, and then ... we're sent back to Sparta. It's quite a cocktease, and some aren't going to like it while it's happening, but trust me when I say that you'll get a good release from it. And I'm sorry, but this entire film is one gigantic sexual metaphor, so I think I can be excused just this once. Let's just say that fans of flesh (male or female) won't be disappointed.

Long story short? It's completely worth your eight bucks. My complaints are very minor, and my praise is very strong. Go see it on March 9th. Just don't bring the young children. It's one of the hardest 'R' rated films I've seen in years.