Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Boston, and whatnot.

Just a quick couple notes....

Shyam and I wandered to Boston.  Back in May, she asked if I'd like to go with her to see The Dresden Dolls in Boston.  Sure, I said.  Sounds fun.

She and I work like mad.  And 2016 has been a rough year.  We haven't seen as much of each other this summer as we usually do.  And when we do, one or both of us is within spitting distance of exhaustion.

Our time for a trip was shortened even more with her needing to do a long delivery early in the week, and my Dad having hip replacement as well.

We left Riceville on Thursday.  We Drove about eleven hours, until we reached Kutztown, Pennsylvania.  We'd been using Google Maps as our navigator.  I'd been aiming for somewhere around Wilkes-Barre for the night.  It wasn't until after we'd pulled off for the night at the world's skeeviest Super 8 that I realized that our route had recalculated away from I-81.  We didn't get murdered, and that's about the only positive thing I can say about our experience there.

I saw this Pringles vending machine at a rest stop on the New York Thruway.  Will wonders never cease?

Just a side note...those big service centers were a favorite of the ride to my grandparents' house.  Cheseapeake and Delaware House were cool stops.  New York and Massachusetts had good ones.

One stop shopping for a Boston Market dinner, slice of pizza, bottle of Gatorade, new sunglasses, cup of Dunkin' coffee and a chai latte from Starbucks for Shyam.  And a Pringles machine.  I appreciate the convenience.

As an aside, only slightly related?  I'd like to give a shout out to the Pilot truckstops, too.  The most reliably clean bathrooms along our route.

The next day took us into Boston.  We got a room at the Residence Inn near the Harbor, within walking distance of the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.  We had a beautiful night, and an easy walk to the show.  It was one Shyam had wanted to see since before the Dolls broke up.  There were only a couple choices, and Boston was the one she picked.

Can I recommend an opening act?  Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band is a fun little listen, and I suspect that their work will make its way into my writing mix.

The Dresden Dolls show itself was fun.  This is the third show involving Amanda Palmer that Shyam's taken me to.  And while the music isn't entirely my cup of tea, it is a great stage show.

Shyam thanked me a couple or three times for taking her.  Fact of the matter is, if the show had been on the Moon, I'd have done my damnedest to take her.

We spent the next morning walking around the harbor.  We toured the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.  Lot of interesting stuff, but the one I'll spend time looking into is Nalini Malani--her installation work presented there bordered on the nightmarish, for me.  Definitely worth revisiting.

We also wandered through the Boston Tea Party museum.
In the interactive tour, visitors are given identities of the Tea Party members .  I was given the identity of Joseph Lovering. 

I've probably hit a half-dozen of these type historical exhibits involving naval vessels.  No matter how many times I go, I'm always struck at the small size of the ships.  To think you'd wander across a frigging ocean in something the same square footage of my living room and kitchen, with a little more underside for bunks.  Amazing, to me.

After that, we wandered toward upstate New York, just to take a little different route home.  We were almost toward hitting the Pennsylvania border when we were taken by a pretty nice sunset.  We managed to hit a scenic turnoff at just the right time.

Twas a good one.  Taken near Port Jervis, New York.

This time, we just followed roads.  We stayed the night in Wilkes-Barre, and meandered home Sunday.  We got back to Riceville somewhere around 9:45 or so last night.

Over 4 days, we drove 2062 miles.  And while many wouldn't call that relaxing, it was the longest stretch we've gotten to spend with each other since the spring.  Maybe since our trip out to Fall Creek Falls in January.  

I love her.  I'm lucky to have my best friend be such an enjoyable travel companion.  I'm glad we got this opportunity.  I hope we get another, soon.

It's back to the grind tomorrow.  I go back mentally refreshed, though, reminded that I am fortunate indeed to have her in my life.  

Thanks for the adventure, Shyam.  I love you.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Been wandering in a little bit of a funk the past couple or three days.  I started vacation today, so it was a little weird.  Here lately, it's rare to have 2 days off in a row (I haven't had two days off in a row that weren't associated with vacation time since the spring).

I thought about it this morning that today's Southern Brewers Festival down in Chattanooga.

It used to be an annual event.  It'd be a day when a large-ish group of us would get together.  Enjoy an afternoon.  Have a beer or two.  Listen to some music.

Three or four years, we'd get a hotel room in downtown, so as not to have to worry about driving home tired and tipsy.

It was a good weekend.  Where we got to enjoy being with friends.  Got to enjoy not working for a day.  I looked forward to it.  It was a good day.   I can't remember ever having a bad time.

As we grew older, it changed.  Job demands made it difficult.  Some people had kids.  Priorities changed.  Also, the festival got more expensive, for both admission and beer.

A couple of years ago, the group got down to just Shyam and me.  Which was fun, but truth be told, we could find better ways to spend our time and money if it was just the two of us.

Still, I miss it.

I'll sour grape my way through the day.  It's hot.  It's crowded.  It's expensive.

But I miss it.  I don't get to see my friends much, anymore.  Even the nearby ones.  Plans fall through.  Kids.  Work.  You  know how it goes.

Maybe that's the funk, too.  Being a grownup sucks, sometimes.

Anyway.  A little mawkish, this morning.

You folks that are going, raise a glass for me.  Enjoy that time.  It's a good one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big Stupid (Stranger) Tommy

Monday, August 08, 2016

Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne

Shyam and I wandered to the Swingin' Midway Drive-In last night.  Neither of us had to work this morning, so we could afford to stay out until 1:30 or 2 watching a couple of movies under the stars.

Also?  Team No Kids, so we don't have a school year to get ready for.

It was her first time heading out there this year, my second.  It rained like mad here in Athens before we headed out, but petered out on our way toward Etowah.  The whole of the night, we watched lighting skirt the horizons to the south and west.  The last half of the twinbill had me watching the weather radar on the phone, where a line of thunderstorms was moving through Chattanooga, Cleveland and Calhoun.  It missed us, though....

2016 has been a weird, rough year for movies.  There hasn't been much I've been really looking forward to, and what I have has been largely disappointing.

Captain America: Civil War was pretty tight, and probably the best of the summer.  I enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse but acknowledge that it's something of a mess.  I also enjoyed Ghostbusters, which I hope makes bigger stars out of Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

I was really hoping for good things with both Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne.

Suicide Squad was disappointing.  I was really hoping for something more.  Something fun.  Warner and DC can't seem to get behind the idea that the characters are a big reason the Marvel flick have been successful.  The events in and of themselves are sometimes subpar over with their Marvel counterparts (I mean, how many times can we finish a movie fighting a battle up in the sky?).  But the character interplay, depending largely on the charisma of the individual actors (Robert Downey, Jr, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Pratt all come to mind) and the chemistry of their interplay  (Downey/Evans are great together, as are Evans/Johannson, Downey/Ruffalo, as well as the entire cast of Guardians).

Suicide Squad has strong performances.  Will Smith brings good stuff, as do Margot Robbie and Viola Davis.  The interplay between Smith and Robbie is interesting (though I hesitate to call it good--there just isn't enough of it).  There's wasted talent.  This movie needed more conflict between characters (Shyam wisely points out that a team of sociopaths should have had, at the very least, more surface conflict and abrasion between characters).  This movie need some interesting comic relief, and it had the perfect outlet in Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang.  Instead, Boomerang spends the bulk of the movie sulking in corners and repeatedly retrieving his pink stuffed unicorn.

I feel like this one ended up with too many cooks, despite David Ayer being credited as both writer and director.  This one had Studio ReWrite and Studio Re Edit all over it.  There are parts that are visually amazing, and there's a laugh or two.  On the whole, I walked away disappointed, and a little angry at myself for expecting anything different.

Jason Bourne was fun, and while I welcomed the return of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon back to the series.  It was fun, and satisfying in the ways I needed it to be.  Damon's good, Alicia Vikander is quite good.  Tommy Lee Jones continues his transition into a growling troll.  I can't say that Jason Bourne breaks any new ground, but I still found it satisfying.