To the Hobbit and Back

Still recovering from that early morning showing of the Hobbit. Two observations:

1) Thank God Elijah Wood had only a glorified cameo appearance in this one.

2) If Andy Serkis doesn’t win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Gollum, the voting was rigged.

Weird Quote of the Day

From Weird Al: The Book, by Nathan Rabin (with Al Yankovic):

Al was an unabashed pop-culture obsessive before it was cool. He was a geek before it was cool. He was uncool before being uncool became cool.

Things We Hate About Air Travel

The first idea was to title this post “Things I Hate About Air Travel,” but that seems too limited. Here are a few of my “hates” about the horrors of modern TSA-dominated air travel. Readers are invited to share their own in comments.

Check-in: Theoretically this has gotten easier in the past few years as we’re given the option of auto-check-in. But that only applies if you aren’t checking any luggage and I find that the machines frequently do not work very well. It’s always fun to come in on a tight schedule, head to the machines to beat the half-hour cut-off and have to find some way to muscle back into line quick when they don’t work.

Checking baggage: This used to be awful but has gotten much worse. Now they charge you extra for the privilege of manhandling and losing your luggage, and extending your stay in the airport by a good half-hour. Best bet is to find some way, practically any way, to avoid this.

Screening: They always find ingenious ways to make this one worse. X-Rays and metal detectors were not enough. Now we have to take off our shoes and laptops, walk through rapiscans, face patdowns, keep all of our liquids in baggies, etc. It never ends.

Airport announcements: I apologize to whoever it is who was walking by me at Sea-Tac Sunday for the swears when the TSA cut into a beautiful piece of music by (I think) the Gothard Sisters to remind us that if we “see something,” we should “say something” or some other routine warning.

Crew-member instructions: Most of these pre-date the modern security state and I have a little, teeny bit of patience for them, because I fly a great deal but many people don’t. But, seriously, we have to be told how to fasten our seatbelts by “fitting the metal tip into the buckle” and see that demonstrated? It’s just insulting to our intelligence and our freedoms.

Two Computers, $1,000 and a Trip to DC Later…

… I am back, only a little worse for the wear.

I Really Need to Start Blogging Again

Probably should have put up a “gone fishin” sign so, sorry about that folks. The elections ground me down to the point that I needed to take a break.

It wasn’t so much the result that got me as the whole political ordeal. My God I hate politics, even as I find it fascinating. I hate how much time politics takes up. I hate what politics does to people. I hate how it warps our perceptions of truth and justice and even art.

So this is necessarily going to be a less political blog for a bit, even as I occasionally link to my political pieces here. Hard to say exactly what form this will take but it will probably involve a bit more about my first love, books.

Wah Wah Wah Economy

I don’t know why so many people are complaining about President Obama’s management of the economy. According to our best available indicators, America’s black market is booming. What more do you want, bank accounts, credit, 30-year mortgages? I mean, really people! Aren’t those pretty much the things that got us into this mess in the first place? What a bunch of ingrates!


That was my attempt to mix talk radio with chic ironic bitterness. How’d it go down for you? More seriously, I did a piece for Politix last week arguing that the informal economy (what I would call the black market, but there are other terms for it) is growing by leaps and bounds. Do please give it a read, even if you didn’t like my experiment above.

Who Is James Bond?

That’s the question your diarist poses in this new Splice Today piece. The answer Ian Fleming’s books suggest is that there are really two James Bonds: the Bond of Casino Royale and the more popularized Bond of the rest of the series and most of the movies.

Daniel Craig’s turn as Bond, the piece argues, is a return to a less comic book, more interesting Bond. To help make that point, it quotes the opening of Fleming’s first novel, which has to rank as one of the better set-ups of all time:

The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by gambling—a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension—becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.

James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired.