Monday, October 31, 2005

Kinky for Governor!

No, not here in Virginia, alas. Although he'd surely be better than any of the candidates currently running. Down in Texas, where Willie Nelson hosted a fundraiser for the Kinky Friedman campaign. Running as an independent, Friedman would surely make a better governor than some of Texas's recent ones. Better song-writer, too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Where does a 25-foot tall gorilla sleep?

Why, anywhere he wants to, of course.

And if he should happen to want to sleep inside a movie theater, it would appear that he can sleep for 3 hours at a time. That's the current length of Peter Jackson's version of King Kong. And Universal is getting a little worried. A movie theater can show a 3-hour movie about half as many times during a day as it could a 1 1/2-hour movie, and since they'd charge the same admission price for each, they'd end up with half the revenue. And since movie studios now try to have huge opening weekends - aiming for half their total ticket sales on the opening weekend - cutting the number of showings in half will go against that strategy.

Still, if anyone can successfully make a long, special-effects movie that people will want to go see long after the opening weekend, you'd think Peter Jackson would be the one. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was certainly no slouch at the box office.

And for comparison, the 1933 version (with Fay Wray) ran 100 minutes, and the 1976 version (the one with, yeah, I can't remember either) ran 134 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Under the weather.

I seem to have been visited - and possibly possessed - by spirits of my former cats.

I've had a cold for the past week. Usually, colds live in my sinuses for about four days and then move to my chest for two weeks. Not this one: this cold started out in my sinuses for about a day and moved directly into my chest, pausing only to give a heck of a sore throat in the process.

But the real difference has been the feline symptoms. I'll sleep for 10 hours at a time, get up and read my email, and go back to bed for a nap. I'll turn up my nose at perfectly good food. I'll cough up really rude stuff - not hairballs, as one might expect, but (trust me!) other matter that's at least as bad.

But the best symptom is what it's done to my voice, which is now somewhat gravelly and lower in pitch, and I feel like I'm doing a Barry White imitation. Well, not a good one. But the cat connection is that if I sigh and it goes through my vocal cords, I can produce that cat noise that is halfway between a growl and a purr. The noise that a cat makes if she's unhappy with you but wants you to keep petting her anyway. Which is about how I feel, waiting for this cold to run its course.

Well, I see I've been out of bed for about an hour. Time to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

When it rains.

Saturday was the day for the Tour of Hope bike ride, and Friday afternoon, I dutifully drove up to the DC area with my bike so I could ride in it. Bright and early – or possibly so early that it didn't really qualify as “bright” – I hopped into the car and drove over to Glen Echo, where the ride would start.

Imagine my surprise to see that there were only 5 cars in the parking lot (left). Great big field, clearly set up as a staging area to add those of us who were taking part in a shorter, less strenuous version of the ride. (The longer ride was not only 40 miles longer, it had a minimum speed limit of 17 mph. As I have difficulties keeping it at 15 mph for half the distance of the longer ride, I decided the shorter ride was going to be more appropriate this year.) 200 riders were going to start here, joining the 1300 who had started up near Columbia, Maryland. Plus the 26 who had just ridden cross-county, plus Lance Armstrong and a couple of other Tour dignitaries.

I tracked down the folks from the organizing committee – they were easy to spot, as they were the only people around. It turns out that the event had been cancelled. It had been raining hard in the area for 48 hours – thanks to a visit from the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy – and there were a number of places along the route where the roads had been flooded. So, in the interests of safety, they reluctantly decided to cancel.

You understand, when I drove over to the starting point, I had my camera with me but not my bicycle. It was raining, and reasonably hard with no sign of letting up. And I don't ride my bike in the rain. (I've had enough bike accidents and broken enough body parts that I truly have no need to tempt fate.) But there are enough lunatics out there who happily ride in dangerous conditions that I figured that there would still be three or five hundred riders, and I wanted to get some shots of that crowd.

They also cancelled the outdoor festivities to take place at the finishing line, at the Ellipse. Also not that hard a choice, as most of the Ellipse was under 4 or 6 inches of standing water. But they still wanted to hold the welcoming celebration for the cross-country riders and the enthusiastic talks by Lance and other folks, so they moved that inside one of the hotels near the Ellipse. One of the goals of this year’s Tour of Hope was to raise awareness and acceptance of clinical trials, without which it is difficult to get new treatments. Lance made a point of thanking those who had taken part in clinical trials 25 years ago, trials which led to the drug treatments he took for his cancer nine years ago. And he noted that some of those in those trials are still around today.

I still think it'd be fun to do this ride, especially in a large group. And in nice weather.

There's always next year.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Today's Sign of the Apocalypse.

Available at my local grocery store. A power saw for carving pumpkins. 'Cause it's just too darn hard to cut into a pumpkin with a non-powered knife.

Perhaps they'll also have a powered device for de-gooping the interior of the pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The return of Spaceman Spiff.

Well, not so much "return" as "visit." The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is being published, a three-volume, 1500-page art book, containing every Calvin and Hobbes comic strip ever published.

Wonderful comic strip. It's difficult to realize that it's been ten years since Calvin and Hobbes last got onto their sled to go out and explore the world.