Chicago – 1

So, I’m back. Like my last post didn’t give you a hint that I was going somewhere. And the title of this post ought to tell you where I went.

Why Chicago?

Well, I’d never been there before (changing planes at O’Hare doesn’t count). They’ve got a great science museum, a great art museum, and they’re home to two baseball teams. So why not? I’ll have plenty of things to see and do. Continue reading

Vacation Anxiety

For the first time in over three years, I will be actually going someplace for a real vacation. Not a day trip, not a weekend getaway, but an actual “Book a flight and hotel and activities” vacation.

And I’m nervous as all heck about it.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable about flying or going to a place I’ve never been before; I can handle that. And I can read a map and use mass transit. It’s that I’m still an “old school” guy, and I want paper tickets for everything. I can cope with getting a QR or bar code to be scanned in, but did I remember to get them all? Where did I store them on my smartphone? Why do I have to get them separately from my reservation? Can’t you send them to me automatically – like you do with my purchase confirmation?

Then there’s packing. I always bring an extra pair of socks and underwear – but how many shoes will I need? What special personal care products should I bring? I’ll make a list, of course, but will I leave something off it? Does my bank have any ATMs in the area around my hotel? How much cash should I bring? How much cash should I reserve for the trip back? All those little things…..

Speaking of coming back, what do I need to take care of at home before I leave? Grocery shopping? Take out the garbage? Clean the bathroom? I should point out that I share an apartment with a guy who cannot be trusted to do any basic cleaning…. I’m not worried about mail or even e-mail; I’m not involved in anything important where I can’t be away from it for a week. Though there are a few things I need to do almost as soon as I get back.

Then there’s work. I’m not sure I can trust my co-workers to NOT leave me piles of crap on my desk. I have a lot of little responsibilities that they can easily ignore for a few days. Some of them, though, involve the maintenance of office equipment like the postage meter. Whenever there’s even a tiny hiccup, they come to me to deal with it rather than figure it out themselves. So, since I’m a nice guy, I want to make sure that everything is in good shape before I go…..

All these little, nagging things. I almost need a vacation from my vacation.

Movies I’d Like to See – The Sci-Fi Series

From James Bond to Game of Thrones, successful book series are huge sources of ideas for moviemakers. You get a reasonably guaranteed audience for several films. Done right, they can be cash cows for a studio.

There’s one series that I think could make for decent movies: Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” science fiction novels.

Continue reading

On the 2022 All Star Game

Well, that was BORING. All the excitement happened in the first few innings.

I know you can’t expect much from an exhibition game, or even a regular game in an era when pitching is so dominant. But seeing so little going on had me flipping the channel to the Cartoon Network quite often.

FOX did itself no favors. Nor Baseball, for that matter. It can be fun to have players wearing microphones so you can chat with them during the game, but it should never take precedence over the game itself – especially when you’re going to ask the same stupid question (“What’s it like being here?”) every time. The absolute worst instance was when they had David Ortiz goofing around in the AL dugout while ALL TIME GREAT Miguel Cabrera was at bat for his only appearance in the game. If the purpose of the game is to promote the game’s best players, then PROMOTE THE PLAYERS. Tell us when a new player comes into the game; tell us something about them and what they did to earn the spot on the roster….

Continue reading

Movie Review: Sugar Hill (1974)

Langston (Larry B. Johnson). and his fiancee Diane “Sugar” Hill (Marki Bey) are running a decent little nightclub somewhere down in bajou country. The club’s been doing well enough to attract the attention of local mob boss Morgan (Robert Quarry), who has been pressuring Langston to sell. “Peaceful” negotiations haven’t worked, so Morgan sends his goons to rough up Langston one night after closing time. Well, they rough him up a bit too much, and he dies of his injuries. There were no witnesses, and nothing in the way of evidence, so even though it’s pretty certain Morgan was behind it, there’s nothing the local police can do.

Being a smart businessman, Langston had a will – and left the club to Sugar. Morgan thinks it will be easier to get her to sell the club, what with her being a woman and all – but she’s got plans for revenge. Plans that involve getting some help from beyond the grave…. Continue reading

A Better Medicine?

A new word that’s coming into widespread use is “doomscrolling”. It’s the bad habit of constantly checking the news to see what depressing thing has taken over the headlines this time. The reasons behind this, quite naturally, are seeing a lot of people becoming depressed or at least “down in the dumps”.

Now I’m not a professional – and if you seriously are depressed, you should seek out some professional help after you’re done reading this essay – but it seems to me that humans have been devising ways to chase away gloom for thousands of years…..

This famous musical, for example, is based largely on the plays of Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE), and it really does capture the look of daily life in Republican Rome:

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A Modest All-Star Game Proposal

Despite being the “Midsummer Classic” and featuring the best players in the game, baseball’s All-Star Game has been rather dull of late. In addition to the “very little action happens” that the game as a whole is suffering, the game itself is structured so that the superstar players – the ones baseball wants to showcase – leave the game after a few innings and aren’t around in the later innings when the game is on the line. They’re both fine players, but who really wants to see Josh Hader face Ty France (for example) when the game is tied in the 8th inning?

Needless to say, I’ve got an idea. Continue reading

Not a Very Good Time

Things haven’t been that great the past couple of weeks.

Although the January 6 Committee has begun its public hearings, making it abundantly clear just how big a SORE LOSER the previous president was, there are still far too many people who believe the lies he’s spewing and see nothing wrong with the coup and insurrection. And even as more and more details come out, there’s still the dreadful possibility that not a single one of the plotters will ever face any punishment for it.

Then, the highest court in the land, the one that is supposed to be above partisanship and consider all of Law as its purview, revealed conclusively that it has been taken over by partisan hacks who decided – without any basis in law or sense or rationality – to simply ignore any laws that weren’t at least around one hundred and fifty years old. Evidently nothing of any real importance happened after 1860. To make it worse, the issues of vital national interest were tossed back to the individual states with a casual “You guys figure it out.”

Meanwhile, the majority of the news media seems to be doing its darndest to preserve some sort of “impartiality” and “fairness” throughout all this. Even though one of the largest news networks in the country is the de facto propaganda arm for one of the political parties. Look, when someone in the kitchen is putting garbage in the soup, you’re supposed to tell everyone DO NOT EAT THE SOUP. Just saying “I recommend the salad” isn’t good enough.

To top it all off, most people aren’t able (for whatever reason) to see past their next paycheck and realize what is happening – and going to happen – to their country. There are enough short-term crises happening at the individual scale, and they need a quick fix to those matters right now, and if President Biden can’t make it all nice within the next week, well…..

So that’s why I’m not really excited for Independence Day this year.

Book Review: Reboots: Undead Can Dance

Reboots: Undead Can Dance
Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin
CAEZIK Sf & Fantasy
Copyright 2021 by the authors

Vampires, werewolves, and zombies exist. For that matter, so do a lot of other supernatural creatures from folklore, but not in anything near the same numbers. Now after the humans (“Norms” in the common slang) have decisively come out ahead in a global war against the “reboots” (i.e. zombies) and have attained clear domination over the “fangs” and “furs” et al., what do you do with all the millions upon millions of practically immortal beings hanging around?

Put them in cheap spaceships, and send them off to explore and colonize the galaxy, naturally!

That’s the basic premise behind this connected set of four novellas (some of which have been previously published).

Continue reading

On the Jan 6 Hearings

The January 6 Hearings are underway. Everyone is expecting some sort of “bombshell” to drop; something brand new that has never been revealed before.

As if it would matter.

If you’ve been paying attention – and cared – you’d know everything you need to know about what happened starting with the day Joe Biden was named the winner of the 2020 Election.

The General Public has pretty much already settled into two camps on the Insurrection; the hearings aren’t going to change anything noticeable there.

Where their effect really needs to be seen and felt is in the national news media. One political party has been taken over by a faction that condoned and allowed if not actively supported the Insurrection, and it is not violating any principle of “fairness” to point this out. Nor is it “biased” reporting to state that the faction is still present and active within the Party, and is working to turn the country into a theocratic, neofascist dictatorship.

Enough of the nonsense about “How inflation will hurt the Dems in the mid-terms”, and more of “How the Cult of Trump is destroying the United States”.