Saturday, December 1, 2007


Greetings from sunless Germany!

I´m in an internet-cafe in the fatherland, which is as close to heaven as I can imagine... smoking permitted, beers available for a whopping €0.80, and it´s €1.50 per hour to let all you wonderful semi-hypothetical folks know what´s doing.

Aside from the fact that they feel the need to put the z and y in alternate places on the keyboard, and shuffle around the rest of the symbols, all is just swell.

After a seventeen hour total travel time, I got here, but not before many things swam past the porthole, so to speak.

Checking into security at JFK, I got through the metal detector with no trouble, and was then waved into a strange bulletproof box, where my arm sling was carefully examined by hand. For about five minutes, this innocuous piece of fabric was examined... I have to ask, what would I have had of a non-metallic nature hidden in there that would not have just as easily been hidden in my jacket? Could not any able-bodied passenger also bring, say, a dangerous plastic spork or bendable knife in with them and evade the vaunted metal detection? No matter, though...

So I get on the plane, and the Italian couple next to me feverishly watches for whole empty rows. They find one! Right on, thinks I, I´m going to have the whole three seater to myself! Slide over to the window to watch the takeoff, and when I turn back to move back to the aisle, someone has taken up residence. I asked whether he planned on staying, and the answer was a definite yes. He immediately fell asleep, and did not stop an earth-shaking snoring for the whole flight. Except for meals. Joy. (I did end up talking to him for a bit on the approach to London Heathrow, and he was actually quite nice, so I am a total asshole for thinking awful thoughts about him the whole time, but I didn´t know that at the time, so leave me alone.

Why, WHY do people feel the need to sit down, ram their seat all the way back, and then build a nest of pillows on planes? Why not, I don´t know... just leave the seat up, as you have about the same position? Can someone who happens to be an idiot write me and let me know, as I´m completely goddamned baffled.

Seat-pillow-nest-builder also was in the habit of sitting forward and violently ramming backward every few seconds, which would have been less of a problem but for the fact that the nice people at British Airways put lovely individual monitors in the seatbacks for us all to sit and stare at. So, the picture would grow larger and smaller, jolting up and down every few moments as I tried to watch...

VOD. Yes, Video on Demand has come to airplanes, and while the rest of you globetrotting, walking business class ads may be totally desensitized to it, I was like a child in a puppies, ice-cream and plush toys stuffed with fireworks store.

I want VOD on my toaster.

I want VOD installed in my shoes.

VOD has come, and it is good. It is what we do with it that makes us good or evil.

Which brings me to:

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer

For one, it´s always awesome watching a scene of unbelievable destruction that happens to take place somewhere you´re about to go... "Wow! Is that the London Eye? Being blown up? Is that the Thames? Being drained into the core of the Earth? Awesome!"

For another, it´s a total piece of crap. Angry Comic Book People hated the first one, which I thought was lamentable, but moderately adequate "I saw it on cable without paying for it" fare. If you hated the first one, really really, do not go near this thing.

It´s got more to do with "humorous" issues surrounding the marriage between the stretching one and the invisible chick. Drollness!

At least the first one tried to be mainly a superhero movie, which isn´t saying that much, but it´s still more than deserves to be said for this one.

As an aside: ladies, you are all wonderful, and are all god´s gift etc. etc., but mark my words... if even Jessica Alba looks dopey with color contact lenses, how on earth do you think the rest of you might be getting away with it??

Speaking of which, are we really supposed to believe that a character who looks like Jessica Alba is really going to get involved with a dude who is (to my heterosexual male mind) not to confused with Brad Pitt? Is it perhaps that he spices things up by being completely distant, and the relationship is fuelled by a complete lack of chemistry? Am I overthinking? Probably.

Also, anytime anyone says "It´s not a game." in a movie, you are in for a world of suffering, pain and eyeball clawing.

Jesus, Andre "Frank Pembleton" Braugher, did you really need the money THAT badly? You can actually act. What did your parents not do for you as a child that made you run with a bad crowd like this?

If you disregard all the warnings I´m trying to give you, and you do end up sitting down to this "experience", take note of the fact that the super-duper spaceship that shows up at a certain point, is a Dodge. The spectacularly unobvious product placement is demonstrated and affirmed by the following exchange:
Human Torch: "Hemi?"
Mr. Incredible: "Of course!"

Now, let´s leave aside that the stretching dude supposedly "invented" this thing... as in, why the nameplate... did he get seed money from Dodge?

On the order of an analysis of the physics of the Death Star, what good would a V8 do in a lifting body sort of air travel vehicle? It operates stupidly on so many levels!

Guys, take a tip from überwhore George Lucas: keep the product placement subtle, don´t talk about it, and make your dirty money outside the theater, not inside. Thanks.

Also, when crashing into Times Square in said airship, how is it possible that the only things hurt are a few bicycles and the inevitable cardboard box type paraphernalia? Does Hollywood think that destruction is only acceptable when no one gets hurt aside from people with speaking parts? I´d personally have a lot of respect for popcorn-movie mavens if they had a couple of innocent victims stumble burning from the wreckage in a situation that calls for it out loud, plaintively.

Then again, who am I to criticize... they all got paid to make the movie. I watched this piece of shit for free. I want my two hours back.

Also saw "The Flying Scotsman". Now kids, I love cycling, and I admire the records of Mr. Graeme Obree, as the Hour Record is nothing to sneeze at, but I also recognize that the kind of suffering cycling entails doesn´t really work that well on screen. I watch the Tour de France and all, but even severely condensed I get as much satisfaction from just reading the summary of the daz´s ride. It´s really mind-bending how rough the sport is, but it just doesn´t make great TV. Too much happens, it´s too spread out, and profound suffering doesn´t look that much different that somewhat profound suffering. That, and it´s impossible to see how steep the grade is without perspective, from a motorcycle or helicopter shot.

So, upon arrival, I ended up waiting for my connecting flight at London´s lovely Heathrow Airport.

I have one question: why is it that every other airport can tell you what gate you need to get to when you check in, but at Heathrow, you stand around, get into a three-point stance in the terminal center, and wait until at most fifteen minutes before departure to find out where you need to be? It´s insanely stressful, people.

Perhaps it´s to encourage impulse purchases of such necessities as $7,000 pens (Cartier, naturally) or perhaps a lovely $11,600 watch (Porsche Design, naturally)? I can dig on impulse purchases, but someone for whom either of those figures counts as an impulse purchase is probably flying in a jet that they own personally, and doesn´t spend too much time waiting around in terminals smelling like ass and unbrushed teeth (I put my toothbrush in my checked baggage, as I am very VERY smart.)

Then, arriving at the gate, we found that the jetway was busted, and we weren´t leaving anywhere near on time anyhow, so SETTLE IN, PEOPLE! Why is it that the English not only seem positively gleeful when they have to wait on meaningless lines, but seem tremendously relaxed and happy when they are working for an organization that is soundly ballsing up whatever it is it´s supposed to do?

Speaking of which, when you think of a Ham and Cheese sandwich, what condiments come to mind? Perhaps I´m being the absolute Ugly American, but what I do not think of is ham, on a roll, with little fragments of cheese embedded in a veritable dike of butter. Ack. Yes, I know it was airline food, but I don´t blame that for it, I just can´t help but blame the general culinary culture. Mustard, people, you have the technology, it´s not dangerous to utilize it. I like a little mayo, personally, but that can be a polarizing condiment. How about a packet of each, and we can each make our own little personalized Ham N Cheese?

Got into Düsseldorf, and couldn´t use my credit card in the train ticket machine. Got cash, went back up to the airtrain station, couldn´t use a €50 bill, went back down, went to the FX kiosk and got change. The gentleman there roundly told me he was sick of making change for people who used the ATM. I offered to go elsewhere, but he said no, he would make me change, but was just really tired of doing it.

One final thought, from taking the train: Germans, if any of the world´s peoples could be, are very happy imposing the collective will on the individual and letting it be imposed upon them, yet even they are okay with having a smoking area on a train platform. It may be twice the size of my couch, but it´s there, with a yellow border painted around it. Hey America, what´s so bad about that? Not judging, and as a smoker I can dig on being polite, but nothing makes a train come faster like a lit cigarette that one has barely started working on. Would that be so hard?

Just saying. Or "just sazing" as this kezboard would have me write it.

More soon on Phamily Phun, the strangely yogurt-like smell of infant feces, aging, Schrebergärten, mulled wine, and prodigious rain.

It´s good to be back...

Oh, and the dioxins have been cleaned up at the playround! Time marches on...

"I got in a car accident on the way home from work. I rear-ended someone. Guy gets out of his car; I get out of mine. He's a dwarf. We're sitting there waiting for the police to arrive and he goes, `I'm not happy.´ I said, `so which one are you?´" --Someone Who Goes By @Hemi (since I don´t know them that´s all the attribution they´re going to get...)

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