Friday, May 6, 2016

I Spend Too Much Time Leaving

Travelling for work is strange.  Especially once you get into a job where you travel regularly.  The romance of travel fades away, and, air travel, in particular, becomes a series of repetitive, boring, sometimes risky events.

"Have you been to Atlanta?" people will now ask me.  "Yes.  Twice," I'll say.  "What did you see?" they'll ask.  "A hotel, a conference room and a hotel bar.  And another bar that served cheeseburgers."  And they always look disappointed.  Because for reasonable reasons people assume it's a grand romantic trip to America's Peach Land! or however people think of Georgia when you're travelling.  But it's not.  It's a series of steps you're taking, all of which you want to go as smoothly as possible.  You don't want a story.  You don't want an adventure.  You want to just do your conference, talk with work pals, get a reasonable amount of sleep, get home without any fuss.

What struck me on this go-round is how much time I spend leaving.

Maybe Shane had the right idea.  Just saddle up and bail.

Friday morning I woke up at 6:00 Central Time to get ready for my day (I never bothered to adjust to East Coast time), as well as pack up, and do that triple-check of the room you kind of have to do so you don't leave your power supply or vital cord behind (or ditty bag with your toothbrush and all that, which I did last summer).  Then I have to check-out (virtually, this time, from my phone).  Then find a bell station to check my bags.  Then go to my conference, then make my good-byes.  Then putter around the hotel looking for a functioning ATM.  Then find a store to buy gum so I can get change and I don't have to tip the bellhop $20 for 2 minutes of work.  Then I get a cab.  Then I fear for my life in the cab.  Then the cabby gets mad because I want to use a credit card instead of paying cash (this was entirely new in Atlanta, and a dick move.  What business traveler doesn't need a receipt?).  Then the kiosk and bag check at the airport.  Then whatever adventure awaits you in security.  Then the train ride you take in the Atlanta airport.  Then finding your gate.  Then sitting.  Then boarding.  Then sitting.  Then flying.  Then sitting.  Then de-planing (and all the shenanigans people get up to seemingly as if they've never gotten off a plane before).  Then baggage claim.  Then the shuttle.  Then my car.  Then the booth where I pay to leave parking.  Then I drive home.  Then I'm home.  Then I have to unpack.

If I'm driving, yeah, it's a drive, but it's so many fewer steps, and so much more is under my direct control.  Plus, audiobooks and scenery.  And a lack of annoying seatmates.  And way, way more legroom.

There absolutely was a time when I liked being A Guy On The Move.  But, the romance of air travel died in the 1970's, and airports somehow became just places where snackfoods have a 250% markup.  They're dull and depressing, and no one has ever invented a comfortable airport seat.

In short, I'm a bit over it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Happy Star Wars Day!

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Last Star Wars Day, I kind of shrugged.  16 years or so of ambivalence regarding Star Wars had drained me of any enthusiasm for the movies.  At most, I think, I mustered a picture of Princess Leia.

On Monday, I hung a print of the above X-Wing image in my office at work.  That's how I roll.

But, hey, The Force Awakens brought me back in to the Star Wars fold, something I, frankly, thought impossible.  I figured that even if I liked it, it'd still feel like something of an echo of something else I used to like.  But, instead, I'm as excited about Star Wars now as I was in college.

So, here's to a Star Wars day I can feel is mine, too!  And to celebrate, here's some artwork promoting the movie!  And, heck, here's to Rogue One, coming soon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Noir City Austin 2016 - Schedule is Up - Come join us for a show!

Noir City returns to Austin at The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Austin's famed 6th Street!  Dates are May 20, 21 and 22.

I'm going to a bunch of the shows, but I fully expect to be worn out only attending a portion of the full program as each showing is a double-bill.

To see which shows are available, check out the calendar at The Alamo Ritz website.

Right now I have tickets to a whole bunch of the showings, which you can see in the calendar on this site.

I'd spend more time coordinating with you fine people to see who wants to go, but I'm flying out for Atlanta for a conference tomorrow.

I have tickets for Row 3, Seat 20 (and 19 for some screenings so I don't leave Jamie alone all weekend).    

I don't know too many of these movies, which is something I'm pretty excited about.  Always fun to see new things.

Come on down and join us/ me!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Aliens Watch: Aliens (1986) - Director's Cut

It's been a long, long time since I'd watched the Director's Cut of Aliens (1986).  In fact, when I put in my DVD - one of the first DVD's I ever purchased back in The Gay 90's* - I was genuinely surprised to find this was the cut of the film that had been collecting dust on my shelf for...  a while.

It's not that I haven't seen Aliens during that time.  I know I've seen it at least once at the Paramount (with Simon), and it seems like I've seen it at The Alamo in the last decade, so the need to give my disk a spin has not been extraordinarily high, I guess.  It seems like I've watched it at least in parts on cable.

Before the directors cut came out, I had a pretty good idea of what might be in it as I'd read the novelization of the movie back in middle school, and, indeed, meeting Newt's family is in there, but the domestic scene of the novel doesn't play out the same way in the movie - leaving you without that pain point of "here is who we lost".

Frankly, I think the final cut works better than the Director's Cut.  That family that's lost works out better as whatever your imagination conjures rather than a fairly forgettable bunch of folks from central casting.  The themes of motherhood and protecting your brood are crammed down your throat a bit less in the theatrical cut, that product feeling more organic, and the theatrical cut just feels stripped down and sleeker.  Seeing the colony with the same eyes as the Colonial Marines - an unknown place that was filled with unknown people, and something awful clearly happened here - just works better for me than seeing what happened before.  And makes the Aliens, in their way, all that more scary.

But, whatever, that's just my take.  As per the movie, if you've seen it, you have your opinions.  If you haven't seen it and you're over the age of, oh, 13... get on it.

*that's what I'm calling it.  The 1890's don't get all the fun.