Decades of Nerds Should Sleep Soundly

Star Wars is awesome and you can go home again. Forget what Thomas Wolfe said.

Good, evil, and the sounds of Lucasfilm. It was the movie that everyone wanted, the legendary 1977 weird masterpiece of princesses, aliens, spaceships and laser guns. Jar Jar Abrams did what I hope was what everyone wanted and he did it beautifully. It was the exact same film that hit theaters 40 years ago though I am sure that many people were quite rankled we didn’t get some 21st century, exploding Michael Bay turd betraying an entire generation.

Thank you for not making a hollow, overproduced remake or retooling the story as to make it more palatable for the new millennium age.

(It is widely accepted that there is only one relevant Millennium, anyhow.)


China Diary: Hutong of Beijing

The hutong in Beijing is an amazing array of old buildings built side by side down narrow streets that used to be residential neighborhoods but now largely house retail shops and a stunning selection of unique eateries.

An ancient maze now met with youth and cutting edge design, buildings hundreds of years old are now gleaming with electronics and pop music blares from the intricate wood structures. The crowds of people are shoulder to shoulder, mixed with foreigners and Chinese, from morning to dark all strolling and gawking, it was truly an endless parade of shoppers, schleppers and tourists who never stop.

The rarity of these neighborhoods is apparent as the destruction of them gives way to the construction of larger roads and buildings though they are being preserved best as possible as one can see. But in a city as ancient as Beijing, it’s impossible not to see something old being razed for something new every day in every neighborhood.

Such is a legacy. Such is progress.

Game of Thorns

These two talking about Game of Thrones and spewing about who’s dying and who’s screwing and what-the-what and I’m thinking, man, I haven’t been able to physically watch the damn show since the ex-girlfriend, so would you both kindly stop talking and ruining things I’m still unable to sit in front of? Can you not see this by the look on my horrified face and the way I’m saying “la la la la la la,” while you’re yakking spoilers all over the place? God!

VN Jan 20, 2013

Assigned to a seat listening to Australians snicker at the fact that Americans are frighteningly ethnocentric and me trying to make up for 300 million of us.

Arrived in Hue after a rollicking and seemingly endless 14 hour train ride.

It’s 80 degrees here and a wonderful change of pace from Hanoi’s bustling, narrow-street crowds of traffic and vendors. Hue is quiet and elegant, clean and stunningly beautiful. The food is (believe it or not) tastier and less expensive. The river is named “Perfume” and the women here exhibit a certain style and grace that transcends description.

Woo hoo.

Picture This

I take pictures. I write stuff. None of it can be considered groundbreaking but it’s apparent that I have a slight knack for both so I have as much fun as I can.

Let’s get one thing clear: in the United States of America it is NOT against the law to photograph anyone who is in a public space, i.e. a park, sidewalk, street or shopping mall. Regardless of age, gender, race or profession, if you’re going about your business and as long as it’s not in a restroom, dressing room or hospital room, you may be subject to being photographed by a person like me. When you’re out of your house, there is NO legal infringement if someone takes your (or your child’s/spouse’s/grandmother’s) picture whether you want them to or not.

Shooting people is always best when they don’t realize they’re being photographed, candid moments are rich in spontaneity and realism. Unless it’s portraiture or a studio shoot, catching people in natural environments usually yield the most interesting images.

I almost explained all of this to the lady who pooped her pants in front of me after I took a picture of her small child while he was playing on the sidewalk but thought better of it.

She demanded that I ask permission before taking pictures of her kid and part of me understood her paranoia/fear/lack of appreciating artistry because I’ve watched television and seen people like Nancy Grace. I’ve read horror stories about…blah blah blah. But to approach me and make me feel as though I had done some terrible disservice to her child’s privacy, well, that’s just wrong. I can make an absurd list of things I could have done wrong in front of her child but shooting a photograph would not have been one of them. But she didn’t know me from anyone she sees on Law and Order so I let her rant while I held my tongue until I apologized.

She’ll get over it and will likely forget the whole exchange ever happened. I, on the other hand, will always have this picture that’s worth at least a thousand privacy violations.

Lascivious For Cheese

Predating modern history, one of my favorite things on earth has no agreed upon origin, no real geographical birthplace, probably a couple of stone age stoners who happened upon the milk of their livestock after it had separated, curdled and soured into something that they just had to taste. Luckily, some of it was remarkable and delicious. 

Cheese is some of the best food on this big, blue marble. I absolutely love it to the point of dreams and nightmares.

Light bodied and sweet like a Robiola Bosina or a sultry, stinky, cave-aged Camebert, I love ’em. What’s a better sheep’s cheese than Manchego? Etorki. Though some would say Pecorino or Roncal. I love ’em all. Goat, Cow, Buffalo, Rat, if rats made cheese, I’d probably eat it. And so would you if it tasted good. Apparently a 1997 Sangiovese will make anything desirable. Back to cheese. I’ve even been known to eat a Kraft Single slice once. Or twice. Laughing Cow wheels, Tillamook baby loaves, those big mozzarella balls, cheese is cheese is cheese. Good, bad, it’s like pizza or sex, even when it’s not very good, it’s still kind of ok. I’ve packed bleu cheese crumbles into my lip like a big chaw of toe-backy, I once sat and inhaled a large slab of black wax Gouda while watching a Farelly Brothers movie. Easily.

I believe my love affair with cheese started as a small child with the ooh-la-la la vache qui rit. Middle school was the sickening discovery of 7-11 nacho cheese but it was in high school when a girl showed me the filthiest, most trailer park sandwich I’d ever witnessed in creation. It was two pieces of white bread slathered in mayonnaise, sliced cheddar in the middle, wrapped in a paper towel and thrown into the microwave for about 45 seconds. It was so gross but so melty good and I’ve made plenty of them since.

Package it however you want, fancy in wax and a washed rind or humble like a peel-apart string cheese wrapper, or even a moist and freshly nuked paper towel, it doesn’t matter. Because what’s inside just tastes so good.  

It gives me tremendous pleasure to be a human among other humans enjoying wonderful and fun things, varied and interesting things, small things and grandiose things. Cheese is all of that and more but most importantly, it just tastes so stupid good.

note: Thanks to dude at the local trendy deli for hipping me to some international cheese. Unsurprisingly, he had little sense of humor when he heard about my microwaved white trash sandwich.