I recently received an email from LtL. He decided that he needed a respite from the hustle and bustle for New York City; he needed to rejuvenate, renegotiate, and recreate himself. Like cars, we all need to pull off the freeway of life and refuel once in a while. Many of us have a special place where we can sit and let our batteries recharge (or refill the tank if you’d prefer I didn’t mix a metaphor—unless you have a hybrid). For some it’s going back to their childhood home, or a grandparent’s house. For others it’s communing with nature by hiking and camping. I prefer to go to London or Jerusalem. There is something about those two cities that I really like. A nice vacation in either city will allow me to come home and be able to deal with all the bullshit that is my daily life.
This is not so for LtL. He has decided that in order to fulfill his calling he must leave NYC, break up with his partner of a number of years, sell what he has, quite his job, and drive ½ way across the country to a state and city he’s never been to. His special refilling place is the American Southwest, and the desert. As such, he has decided to head out to New Mexico with no job prospects, no housing, not even any friends.
I think it’s insane. He’s not getting any younger, and still he’s willing to quit his job and seek out a new one with no prospects. I continued to think of all the things I’d say to him when we talked about this decision…like that I thought he was absolutely crazy and it was pretty much one of the dumbest things he’d come up with yet.
Then, in one of those rare moments of introspection that I have, I realized 2 things: 1) I still thought that he was absolutely insane for doing this, and 2) the only reason I was planning on being so disparaging was that I was in fact jealous. I wasn’t jealous of his decision to go to New Mexico in the hopes of working at Spaceport America, but rather, I was jealous of LtL’s courage. I know that he isn’t the type to make rash decisions, and if he did in fact decide to do this, then a lot of thought went into it. I was jealous that I’m not as brave or adventurous as I’d like to be. Every night I lay in bed with the Sabra, and we talk about moving to San Francisco or Boston or Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or London, and every morning when the alarm goes off, we both get out of bed and trudge back to jobs we hate.
But not LtL. He put is money where is mouth is, as the saying says, and got off his ass and did something about his unhappiness. Do I still think he’s crazy? Yep. But I also think that whether he finds what he’s looking for or not, he will be happier for having tried it. I wish him well. I support him to the fullest I can. I hope that his courage and conviction will inspire me to do more of what I want to do than my comfort level will allow.
His journey reminds of a great line from an otherwise mediocre song:
Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas
I need to get myself away from this place
I said yep what a concept
I could use a little fuel myself
And we could all use a little change
-- Smash Mouth
Wow. It occurs to me that a lot of shit has happened to me, and I have been remiss to post it here. I was going to go back and post it in the proper place, but LtL told me that that would be stupid, and I should just post it here as a new post and be done with it.
Ok, so here goes:
It all started back in August *screen ripples*
From August 23 – September 4, I was in the city of Denver, the Mile High City, in the state of Colorado, The Centennial State. From August 22 – 24, NASA had an exhibit, the Vision for Space Exploration Experience at the Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival in Chatfield State Park. I was invited to staff the exhibit, and as my boss was in a particularly good mood when I asked if I could go (oh, and as another office paid for my travel), I got to go out to Denver. What I wasn’t told, however, was that I had to be at the exhibit ass-early everyday. I had to be there at 6:30 in the morning. This wouldn’t be too bad, but some brainiac decided that it would be best if we stayed on the other side of town.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which was a great hotel. They had just finished renovating it, and everything was fancy and clean and working. Each morning, they provide guests with complimentary issues of USA Today and breakfast. At least that is what I was told…I left the hotel each morning long before I had a chance to partake in such frivolous luxuries. I was, fortunately, able to participate in the Manager’s Happy Hour in the evening where the liquor flowed free (as did the mixer to water it down). Ne’ertheless, I still had to get up at the ridiculous time of 4:30, and what with being so far above sea level, it was bone-chillingly cold at the crack of dawn. This would have been OK had I thought to ask about the temps—instead, I only packed summer attire. Likewise, I failed to recognize that a mile above the ocean the mosquitoes would be even fiercer. They have vampire skeeters there, and I was bitten up like a mofo!
The Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival was pretty cool. The closest I’d ever been to a hot air balloon before that was the “hot air balloon” my mom made for me to “ride” in when I played the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz in first grade. That was a laundry basket that she had cut the bottom out of and attached suspenders (à la the cartoons where the dude is naked and wearing a barrel). She also attached balloons on strings to simulate the sandbags, and somehow (my memory is foggy this many years removed) she hitched an oversized umbrella to make the balloon. (My mother is much more creative and resourceful than she has ever given herself credit for.) So, imagine my surprise when I learned a) they don’t use sandbags, b) balloons are really fucking big, and c) the baskets don’t have holes in the bottom!
Of course I wanted to go in one. I had just come off the rush of hang gliding (read all about it here: What I did on Saturday), and I wanted to tick off another thing on my Things to Do Before I Die list. I had no idea how to do this. Did one just walk up and ask? Did I have to pay? Was there any chance at all? I mean, what’s the insurance liability on that, and besides I was there to work. Well, the Hombre (our truck driver) has a special way with people, and he had befriended the organizer’s husband. Said husband had offered Hombre a ride, and his response was, “No Fucking Way!” He suggested that I go in his place, and the husband said that shouldn’t be a problem. I was a little concerned to ask my supervisor (and I use that term VERY loosely) if I could go, but it turned out that she had also scammed her way into a ride. Suddenly, the trip was worth the 4:30 wake-up calls and the killer skeeters…I was going to go for a ride in a balloon.
So, I get to the pilots’ tent around 6:00 the next morning, just like the dude told me to, and he looked around and randomly selected a pilot for me to go with. I have to be honest, I was a little apprehensive, not that he didn’t look like he was competent, but he didn’t look all that interested. Just as I finished shaking hands with the Captain who I would be trusting with my life, the morning announcements began, and as I didn’t want to lose site of the Captain, I stayed by his side. As the announcements were being made, they said something I didn’t understand. I must have made a face, for the Captain leaned in and explained. He seemed to have an air about him now that he was excited about having a ballooning virgin to take under his wing. After the announcements, we headed out to where his balloon was, and I ventured a few more questions. I had been mistaken. What I took for nonchalance now seemed more like lack of coffee or that he still needed to wake up a bit, for as we walked across the field, he became more animated and excited to fill me in on the goings-on of the ballooning world.
We finally arrived at his trailer, and I learned the name of the balloon that would be taking my virginity from me (it’s always nice to know her name as you never forget your first). I also met the rest of his crew. It never occurred to me that there would be so many people involved. Our balloon (yes, I said “Our”—I already was beginning to feel a sense of kinship) was a relatively small one, and the basket only held 3 people. But, there were still 6 crew. It took several people just to get the basket out of the trailer. Then you needed someone to drive the chase van, for you never really knew where you were going to land. In an ideal world, I learned, you land as close as possible to where you took off, but the winds don’t always cooperate, so you need to be prepared. Also, the envelope (balloon-speak for the balloon itself) weighs a freaking ton, so it, too, takes several people to haul it out of the truck or to stow it back in its place. The crew was busy pulling out the balloon and laying it out, situating the fan (another thing I learned…they “cold inflate” the “envelope” first with a large, high-powered fan before using hot air), and generally getting everything ready to go. We all had to sign a waver, of course, and I dutifully complied. I also took a ton of pictures of the balloon being inflated and getting ready to go.
Once the balloon was cold inflated, the person who assigns lift-offs walked around and did whatever needed to be done. Once we were ready, we could take off at our leisure. The Captain had just tipped the basket upright, and in so doing got the envelope to stand up, when the crew told me to jump in. Seconds before taking off, someone stuck a baseball cap on my head…it was a good thing. It gets freaking hot when the burner blows.
So, the question that is on everyone’s mind who has yet to go in a hot air balloon is, “how was it?” I’m not really sure how to answer it. Anticlimactic is the best I can do. Sure it was fun and I had a great time, but honestly, there was something missing. I think it didn’t have that adrenaline rush feel that you would think would come with being suspended in the air by nothing but a few ropes attached to a large balloon. By the time you get into the basket, the balloon is already filled with hot air and ready to go. As such, all that was needed once we were cleared for take-off was another blast. I was so busy looking around, I didn’t notice that the ground was receding. That, I think, was the problem: you don’t feel anything. It’s so incredibly gentle. Because balloons glide with the wind, you don’t feel the air. In fact, they say that you can light a match, and it won’t go out because there is no wind in the basket. The Captain’s wife (who was the third person in the basket with us) said that she loves to go flying because it is so calm, gentle, and serene. She is absolutely right. We were just sort of floating there in the air 1,000 feet above the ground, and at 7:30 in the morning, the world was calm, peaceful, and beautiful. Then, in an effort to keep that moment, the Captain switched the burners on.
Now, you need to understand that the Captain is firing the burners regularly. I didn’t realize that you have more control over the balloon than one might think. You use the wind and shifts in the wind to help you go up and stay aloft, but you also use the burners to get you up and down to find the wind currents. But you also use that to keep the air hot. Don’t forget that at 1,000 feet above the ground (and don’t forget the ground was already over 2,000 feet above sea level), the air gets cold, so it takes a lot of heat to keep the air inside the envelope hot enough to keep you in the air. So, as I said, the burner is going regularly. The upside is that you get to stay in the air. The downside is that it’s really f’ing loud, and you can’t really anything when they’re firing. Also, it’s crazy hot…and when you have a really bad sunburn on your face and arms…yea, not so pleasant.
We flew about a ½ hour to 45 minutes, and we climbed to about 1,200 feet but averaged about 1,000 feet.
We settled gently down in a field about 3ish miles from where we took off. We hung out in the basket waiting for the chase crew to come pick us up. Once they arrived, we laid the basket on its side, dropped the balloon, and started to pack it up. At this point, they put me to work to earn my ride. I was eager to help, and after they snapped a few pics of me “working,” they pushed me out of the way and got to work in earnest. We folded the balloon and put it back in its bag. In an effort to pack it in, we all grabbed a piece of the bag and lifted the outer edges, then we did it again, then we started to do it a 3rd time, and as we began to lift, everyone let go…everyone but the uninitiated, and that would be me. S’all good, though.
After getting back to the show site, I was informed by the crew that I needed to head back for initiation and breakfast (yes, don’t forget that the clock hadn’t even struck 9 am at this point). I was a little concerned because I still hadn’t reported for work, but neither had my friend (excuse me, my Supervisor). She reported to her balloon, and was told that it didn’t look like she was going to make it, but at the last minute, she was able to climb aboard and got to go as well.
I hung out at the exhibit for a few minutes, and then the Captain came to get me. We headed back over to where the balloonists’ trailers were now situated for tailgating, and I hung out while everyone got things ready for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of omelettes made in Ziploc® bags. They were pretty awesome. But before we could eat the omelettes, there was the matter of initiation. As I mentioned, I was a ballooning virgin, and as with most specialized communities, there are initiations for the neophyte.
I think that tradition and ritual are extremely important, and if you are going to do them, you really ought to do them right. As I said, the actual flight in the balloon was great, but was less thrilling than I had expected. I am so incredibly grateful that I had the captain and crew that I did because while I can talk about the actual flight as an independent experience, I really feel that the whole time I spent with the group is all part and parcel. As such, because they welcomed me to fly with them, because they took me in and invited me to their tailgating, and because they took the traditions so seriously, the overall experience was an incredible one, and I won’t soon forget it. After comparing notes with the Supervisor, I definitely had a better overall experience.
So, as most initiations are supposed to be a surprise to the initiate, I will not go into details. All I will say is that it included the history of ballooning, an explanation of why champagne is important to the hobby, and, of course, a champagne toast. If you want to know more, go in a hot air balloon, and you will get initiated. The initiation, like this post, ended with the Balloonists prayer:
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.
I’ve decided to give it a go, and here’s my first attempt:
The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
A wedding guest was cross
To hear the sailor’s dross
A tale of thirst
A gunshot burst
And the death of an albatross
I realize that I haven’t really posted in quite a while (well, to be honest, I’ve posted more recently than between other posts in the past). So, I’ve been hunting around for something to talk about. I recently completed Lynne Truss’s book, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. It was exactly what was to be expected. I find her writing engaging, inspiring, and refreshing. She writes (generally) how I strive to write: in a carefree, laid back, yet sometimes pedantic manner, but never losing sight of the fact that pop culture references are OK. Sadly, while I found myself at times laughing out loud and at others nodding my head emphatically in agreement, I found the book to be rather disappointing. Where Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation was educational and fun, Talk to the Hand was more of general ranting with little scholarship behind it (not that her intention was to be scholarly in any way—in fact she says in the beginning that it won’t be). In general, I find that comediennes tend to focus their humor on a) men/relationships, 2) being fat, and III) periods. While she didn’t really talk about any of these, there was still, at times, that feel of the safe fallback routines for women, if that makes any kind of sense.
Or, if I didn’t want to talk about that, I could discuss either or both of the other books I’m reading, Spunk & Bite, a book that I hope will help me to write in the aforementioned style, and Cursing in America: A Psycholinguistic Study of Dirty Language in the Courts, in the Movies, in the Schoolyards and on the Streets, which the title pretty much says it all. The former is really little more than bathroom reading at this point, and the latter is actually more engaging than I expected. The author’s not much of a writer, but the topic is interesting. I’m sure he picked it for no other reason than to be able to say such words as fuck, motherfucker, cocksucker, and cunt at academic conferences…but that’s just my guess. In case you are wondering, I just finished Bill Bryson’s book, Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, and in there he mentioned Cursing in America as one of the only books on the history of cursing, so I thought I’d pick it up. (Also, in case you’re wondering, I really didn’t like Made in America. I found the title misleading; it was more a brief history of America than anything to do with language. True, he did mention at the end of each section or chapter that words came out of whatever specific moment in time he was discussing, but it really wasn’t about the words as much as it was about the history of the United States.)
Then I thought about the book I’ve been neglecting. I started reading Gabriel García Márquez’ semi-fictional Love in the Time of Cholera, but I have to be honest, it’s not terribly exciting, and I’ve been reading other stuff in between pages. The Little Sabra bought me One Hundred Years of Solitude for my birthday, but I haven’t started it yet. I will, though, I promise.
Speaking of the Little Sabra, I could talk about her, but we haven’t done anything too terribly exciting since we got back from Boston. I think the most interesting thing we've done recently was go to Baltimore to meet my folks for snow balls.
There’s stuff going on in the news, but it who really cares that Paris Hilton got out of jail?
LtL and I are embarking on a new website, so that’s sort of got me jazzed, but as neither of us know anything about Drupal, the site is rather slow going. I don’t think I want to talk about it here, though.
What else? I joined the Smithsonian Institution a few weeks ago and just got my first issue of thier magazine. I started reading that, and there are some very interesting articles about very interesting people.
Finally, I should wrap this up with a general bitch about how there are so many people out there doing amazing and interesting things, and here I am sitting on my ass fantasizing about doing amazing things. How do they do it? Some kid (well, 23—gee, I’m feeling old calling a 23-year old a kid) just flew around the world in a plane he built, someone else is feeding the hungry, and still another citizen of the world is building mud huts in the middle of Africa, and here I sit on the 9th floor of NASA HQ, cooled by the A/C, typing away at my computer with little actual work to do, fantasizing about articles I could write, TV shows I could produce, non-profits I could start, websites I could develop, and still I sit while others do.
So the weekend went pretty well.
I took Friday off, and lounged around, cleaned a little, packed a little, and finally made my way to West Falls Church-VT/UVA Metro station. I hung out there doing a crossword for about ½ hour to 45 minutes before the Sabra arrived (she couldn’t get time off work). We boarded the Washington Flyer and headed to Dulles International Airport. All went smoothly until we got to security. Now, I have flown a lot in my life, and I’ve very rarely been searched; in fact, I am pretty sure that I do not fit any of the current profiles. On the other hand, there is the Sabra. True, her accent is Hebrew and not Arabic, but do you really think the Haitian, Dominican, or Ecuadorian TSA agent really knows the difference betwixt Hebrew and Arabic accents? I don’t think so. So, as you have guessed, the foreigner with the Middle Eastern accent was able to walk right on through without any problems.
So, yes, I—who is, I might add, 100% pure-blooded American—get stopped at security, and they require a baggage check of me. I expect that they are going to pull out my backpack, which was loaded with all kinds of electronic equipment, any of which could have been pieces of some unconventional weapon. But no, my computer, camera, lenses, cables, iPod, headphones, cell phone, blackberry, electric razor, adapters are all OK. What are these brainiacs who are protecting American skyways looking for in my bags? What weapon of mass destruction did they want to confiscate? Would you believe it wasn’t anything electronic, nor sharp, not even anything ticking. No, it was in fact my nearly empty tube of Crest. Admittedly, it WAS the new Pro-Health kind. They also took my nearly empty tube of shaving gel.
So, as I’m retying my shoes, and putting my tighty-whities and socks back into the suitcase, I was free to go and ponder this recent event. The first thing I thought was that if I actually knew how to take a plane down with nothing but an almost empty tube of toothpaste and an equally almost empty tube of shaving gel, I’d probably be a very wealthy man. Instead, I was in reality nothing more than an embarrassed average joe. Oh well.
We finally made it through security, found our gate, and just had time to get an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Our plane was a little delayed and moved to a different gate (one down) because of some problem with a flight completely unrelated to ours. Once we get onboard, we sit down, and meet a very nice guy who was on the last leg of his journey. He had been flying for 20something hours from Singapore. One row ahead and on the starboard side (we were on the port side) was a screaming baby. I was ready to kill, but the Sabra kept calming me down. We finally roll out to the tarmac and get in line to take off when we learn that there are major delay due to electrical storms somewhere over New York. We ended up sitting on the tarmac for over 2 hours. The pilot came on and said that they were considering returning to the gate, but then we would lose our place in line. Before he could make up his mind, we got the all clear, and off we went into the wild blue yonder. It really wasn’t so bad, we ended up getting in around 7 instead of 5.
The Little Sabra’s brother and sister-in-law met us at the airport, and off we went to dinner. As we drove from the airport to the restaurant, I got the rather entertaining tour of the town. Beside the fact that it was dark and I couldn’t see anything, I’m not so sure they really had their bearings, the Bro would say look to your left, and the sis-in-law would say no, that’s further down, and the Sabra would say “are you sure we didn’t just pass it?” Like I said, very entertaining. If they weren’t pointing out landmarks, we were all chatting and getting to know each other. They seem like fun people, and we spent most of the ride laughing.
Dinner was at a frou-frou Indian restaurant. I had, of course, a biryani. It was quite delish. Believe it or not, I couldn’t finish it. The Sabra also had biryani, but her’s was vegetarian (of course). We got doggie bags. After dinner, we walked over to an ice cream shop, but only the sis-in-law got anything. So, back into the car. I was offered a quick driving tour of town, and as I’ve never been to Beantown, I took them up on their offer. We drove past Cheers, and Boston Common, and over the Charles River, and other places until we finally got to the hotel. It was way late, and we went to bed.
Saturday morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and walked. We walked all over town. From Beacon Hill to Little Italy, and then over to some water and into a produce market (a la Machnay Yehuda in Jerusalem), and back to the hotel. I honestly have no idea where all we went, but there are pics on the Photoblog. We were out and about all day. It was so nice to be a tourist. We met some interesting people, some not so friendly people, and some just odd people.
We eventually made it back to the hotel, where we refreshed and met her kinfolk again for dinner. We went again to a frou-frou place, this time for sushi. I think we all really liked the restaurant: it had great atmosphere, the service was good, and the food came out in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, as is the case in the more expensive restaurants, it was rather over priced, and the portions were very small. Nevertheless, as I said, it was quite tasty, and I think we all enjoyed what we ordered. From the restaurant, we drove back to her sibling's apartment, left the car, and headed into their neighborhood, and proceed to drink. We were all pretty toasted, and the Sabra and I got a cab and headed back to the hotel to go to sleep.
Sunday arrived, and we set out for the retirement party that originally brought us to Boston in the first place. We took the T from the hotel to her brother’s apartment, and that was cool because I love subways. There was construction on the track, so we had to get off and get on a bus and get back on the trolley. We got back on the trolley at the wrong station and the guy tried to make us pay again. We didn’t. We finally got to her brother’s and we all set out to find the place where the event was. That, too, was a drama as he and his wife had no idea where we were headed, and we got sort of lost (sort of because they still basically knew where we were going).
So, once we got to the event, it was quite nice. Even though I didn’t know anyone, it was still pretty emotional. It wasn’t hard to see that at least 200 people showed up to wish this woman good-bye. She apparently built the organization and ran it for 15 years. The program was pretty good. Most of the people who spoke were entertaining. Her replacement spoke, and it truly boggled my mind that someone so bad at public speaking could be the one selected to take the reins. I don’t mean to imply that he was inarticulate; quite the contrary in fact, he seemed sharp as a tack, but he was clearly not comfortable speaking in front of that many people. They showed a video that someone had put together. I think if I knew even 1 person in the video it would have been good, but since I didn’t, I watched with a more technical eye, and could see that it was entirely too long. I understand that these projects are made with emotions running high, but even the folks who know everyone in the video were getting bored because it was running a tad too long.
We walked around a bit talking to some fascinating people. There was one professor who was married to another woman and their daughter seems to have some personal problems (imagine, with 2 professor, hippy, wacky moms, I’d be shocked if she DIDN’T have problems). There was another woman who was excited to tell us that she had taken her wife’s name. Then there was the woman who lives down the street from the Sabra, tried for the Sabra’s job, and runs a business not unlike one of my ideas. These were truly interesting characters, and I think someone like LtL could have found a mother lode of material for his writing.
We finally said our last good-byes and headed to the airport. We were running late, and time was of the essence. So, naturally, we hit mad, mad traffic. The long and short of it is that we missed our flight home, and after much debate, we decided that it was worth paying an extra $100 each and getting home Sunday night instead of getting a hotel and being back at that airport by 5 am on Monday.
We flew into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport around 7 that night and were back at my apartment before 9. Even with the strip search and delay and screaming kid and traffic, I had a great time meeting her brother and sister-in-law and seeing Boston and riding on the T and taking pictures. All in all, it was a fun weekend, and I do hope that we do more of these weekend excursions.
I got up wicked early today (especially given that it’s a Saturday) and headed over to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s “bike swap.” I took my old windtrainer and the bike LtL gave me. I sold the bike for $125. WABA took 15%, but that is ok because the money went to a good cause. I picked up a Marin hybrid for $95. I also bought a handlebar, just in case I want to swap out the one that came with the bike. The bar was $7, so I technically pocketed $1.50. I donated that to WABA. I went over to The Bicycle Place and picked up a computer for $41. I came home and put the computer on then went for a ride. There seems to be something funky going on with the chain, the brake levers are loose, and so are the brakes. I will probably give Simple Geek a call and see if he is interested in helping me. At the very least, he could probably tell me if the bike is good enough to invest getting it fixed. If not, then I think I will go to the next bike swap and try to get my money back.
brought to you by Procrastination.
I guess I should bring everyone up to speed on the graduate school front. Well, I spent all weekend (it was a long one thanks to Mr. Columbus) working on filling out the application in Adobe Elements to make it appear like I typed it. Alas, in the end it didn’t look good, so I’ve decided to neatly hand write the application. Since I have all the information already, I don’t expect it to take too long, and I plan on putting it in the mail on Saturday. I have finished the first draft of my proposal and now it needs to be vetted (assuming that everyone is willing to read it). I have already sent it to the ‘rents. A friend at work looked at it, and made some good suggestions. I will also ask the woman at the University of Manchester (she offered months ago), DC, Bobzilla, and perhaps DW. MO, the Greek, RC, and LtL have all already agreed to read it, so that is good news. So, I should have the whole application out of my hands by Saturday.
I haven’t done anything with the Royal Holloway application, but it’s all the same info, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Once I get the University of Manchester application in the mail, I will concentrate on the Royal Holloway one. Since Manchester is shaping up to be my first choice, I am focusing all my energy on that one.
On to Saturday night. I am not sure what time I awoke on Saturday, nor does it really matter. I did get up eventually. I ate, and cleaned and vacuumed my bedroom. And that was a major accomplishment!
Around 7 pm, I took a shower and got dressed and was out the door for the evening’s festivities. I met Shining Starr9 and Evl Redhead in College Park. We went to the Prince Cafe of College Park and had a pomegranate-flavored shisha. It was pretty neat, albeit unhealthy. The service sucked big time, but that seems to be part of the hookah bar experience. Also, as Shining Starr9 demanded that we sit in the only remaining booth, we had to sit right next to the speaker of the television, and listening to Arabic pop music ten decibels louder than it should be isn’t all that pleasant of an experience. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, and there were lots of attractive people to ogle, which can only heighten an experience, not detract from it (although I will prove this to be wrong shortly).
As the nargila cooled and the joint became increasingly packed with undergraduates, I could feel that twang of sadness that comes to me when I’m surrounded by such people as the denizens of this establishment. So, in an effort to nip it in the bud, I suggested that we move on. Evl Redhead suggested that we retire to her dorm as her roommates were gone for the weekend, but I figured that if I wasn’t keen on hanging out in a bar full of undergrads, I don’t think being in the dorm would be any better. Instead, we hung out in the parking lot for a while and chatted about nothing. Who knew that the most interesting and happening spot on a Saturday night in College Park would be at the parking lot of the strip mall?
Where to begin? Well, I could describe the young gentleman who amazed and impressed me with his potency and virility by peeling out of his parking space in his beat-up, crappy minivan. If that isn’t interesting, there was the scary Goth chick (I apologize to LtL who thinks that I’m a wimp because I think that the whole Goth thing is a little creapy) who had a hairdo reminiscent of Kid n’ Play. But she had it held up with a bandana wrapped around her ample locks. Throughout our time in the parking lot, there was a constant flow of frat boys entering the liquor store only to exit with a keg. There must have been one hell of a party on Frat Row.
But, I think that the award for best skit to be played out on the asphalt stage we were watching has to go to the incompetent little coed behind the wheel of a big ole SUV who couldn’t park the damn thing. She had to be guided into the space by two random guys who I think were only helping for fear of their car getting hit. Then she couldn’t get out of the space (bear in mind she never got out of the SUV). She would put the thing in reverse, look all around: behind her, in her mirrors, out her windows. Next she would turn the wheel to the stop and gun the engine only to slam the brakes on, throw it into drive and move an inch forward, returning roughly to her starting position. We had no idea what her problem was or what she was trying to accomplish. Finally, the car next to her pulled out and she moved ahead and in reverse several more times and finally was able to pull straight out between the two cars in front of her, and she finally drove away to a standing ovation from her adoring audience.
After that performance, I decided that there was nothing at all that could top it, and as I needed to be up early the next day, I decided to call it a night and went home to bed.
I finally got around to watching Suicide Kings last night. LtL gave me the DVD back when he was cleaning out his apartment (see busy weekend part 2) to head south. I had a quiet evening last night, just washing my clothes, so I decided to stick the disk in and see what it was all about.
I have to say that it was quite engaging. I was surprised with the double-twist ending. I thought that I had figured it out twice, but I didn't expect the revelation. Then at the end, when the twist came, I was quite surprised. Overall, I thought that it was a very tight script, and enjoyed all of the actors' performances (even Christopher Walken who gives me the creeps). In fact, Walken should be doubly commended for his performance; a good 95% of it was him duct-taped to a chair, so there is little physical acting. I also have to say, after watching the various possible endings for the movie, the final one is the best and truest to the overall feel and tone of the movie (I think that that is pretty much what the director said, but he liked the first version of the ending best).
There are one or two scenes that are a little slow, but are actually important for the story. Also, by the time you start waving your hand to hurry it along, the action has started up again, and you are pleasantly back to the action. Also, I had a little problem with the wobbly camera effects. I know that it's supposed to be "artistic," but it just makes me a little queazy. Fortunately, it wasn't throughout the entire movie.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this flick, and I give it a thumb and a pinky rating.