Thursday, June 2, 2011

Conversations with Strangers

After a very troubling 48 hours, I've come back to the blog to cope. So tonight I will write about some bright spots in an otherwise rather terrible couple of days.

I've been spending most of my free time either running in place (gym) or surfing the Al Gore invention for trip ideas. Arizona really pulled a number on me. I absolutely loved the Great Smoky Mountains during spring break, and after my somewhat spontaneous, way-too-brief visit to Arizona a couple of weeks ago, I've been in travel bug mode ever since. After a euphoric week ogling photos from the phenomenal road trip, I've now entered the "post afterglow" stage of traveling. Strangely, it feels like the five stages of dying. Can denial manifest itself as web browsing? It would appear so.

Usually, I start with New Zealand. It has always been the country I've wanted to visit most. I thought the Lord of the Rings films were overrated, but the scenery was spectacular. It seems rather unfathomable that there are places on this planet so stunning, even though my own country is full of them. So I spent a couple of hours looking at photos of Fiordland National Park, Mitre Peak, Routeburn Track, Fox Glacier, Kepler Track, etc. Then I looked at plane tickets. Guess I'll have to move on (for now).

Then I move on to Switzerland. Ah, the Alps. So beautiful, so peaceful, so expensive.

Then Norway. Oh, Oslo, you don't have a lot of letters, but you require a lot of green.

Right now, it's Iceland. Had to watch a TV show shot in Iceland this evening. Some clips of the Ring Road. What a gorgeously desolate, strangely alluring country. I can't pronounce basically any natural attraction, but I'd photograph the hell out of them.

Iceland is pricey, but definitely the tamest of places I've seen so far.

Thing is, I'm going to Canada next month, and probably Mallorca this fall, and maybe Mexico in January. Shouldn't this satisfy me?

No, a traveler is never satisfied. "Don't tell me what a man knows. Don't tell me what a man says. Tell me where he has traveled." Hopefully, soon, I won't be afraid of these words.


It occurs to me that television is about to get very exciting. White Collar returns in a week, Burn Notice later this month, and No Reservations and Breaking Bad in July. After a spectacular second season of Justified and third season of Parks and Recreation, these shows have much to live up to. (Not to mention the glorious final episodes of Community in its very fine second season.) On the other hand, Supernatural had its worst season, and House has become a total disaster. The season finale of House was astonishingly bad -- unforgivable, actually. I'm not sure I'm sticking around for Season 8. Fortunately, Margo Martindale redeemed everything, and made Justified a contender for my favorite drama right now -- at least Mad Men level quality.

Television is constantly panned by people who don't have a clue. Right now, it is infinitely better than film. More reliable, more thought-provoking, more intelligent, more daring. Writers, directors, and actors at the top of their game, giving performances of their lives. All you have to do is click the remote, and do a little research. There's more out there than American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. What is popular is commonly not what is good...


The soundtrack to Solaris (2002) by Cliff Martinez is finally available on YouTube. A strange, ambient, quiet, beautiful set of pieces that make the movie far better than it deserves to be. I absolutely love this soundtrack, particularly "First Sleep", "Is That What Everybody Wants?", and "Will She Come Back?" A travesty that such an interesting work is overlooked in the movie music industry.


It was 101 on 1 June where I live. Why is this a positive thing? Well, my air conditioner works. Never mind. All negative.


Tomorrow is Friday, and I'm having ham, egg, cheese, and a croissant. That's good enough.