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Much ado about travel

The tickets have been purchased and I'm ready to go. Now. Alas, I must wait until September.

I'm definitely going to Barcelona. Erin and I are landing at Gatwick Airport at the exact same time, and will be flying to Girona, Spain that same day. I'm so excited that she gets to go, too! I expect we'll stay in Girona for a night or two, as we'll be quite travel-weary. Then on to Barcelona. Erin leaves on the 15th, at which point I'll go... somewhere.

I won't know until I get there where I want to go. RyanAir had some plane tickets to Milan that were just silly cheap (€0.99 +tax), but I didn't buy them because I might not want to go to Milan this time around. I've been reading a lot about Spain, so I think I'll maybe head to the south, or to Toledo or wherever strikes my fancy. I'll probably try to spend some time in France, and then two or three nights in London before I return. Mostly, I don't want to go running all over the continent, but would rather spend good quality time in a few different places.

I like it that I have a plan now, and that the plan has huge open gaps in it, ready for me to fill in when I get there. I like that I can just show up at a train station on September 15 and hop on whatever train leaves next, if that's what I feel like doing. Or I could rent a car. Or a bike. Or just go take a nap somewhere.

I'm also excited about the opportunity to practice my Spanish -- I took four years in high school and college and have forgotten quite a bit. Still, hopefully I'll be competent enough in the basics to get rooms and food and whatnot.

I might not get in that much practice in Barcelona, as they primarly speak Catalonian (which is described as a mixture of French and Spanish). The Catalán region is known for being very proud of their independence, both culturally and politically. I just read a travel account of someone who was at a restaurant in Catalonia trying to order in Spanish, and the waiter wouldn't speak Spanish, but switched instead to English.

So much to do before I go! I've got lots of culture and customs to learn about, Spanish to practice, my passport to locate, bags to pack, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it*. I'm swamped.

*I'm not acutally murdering anybody -- it's a reference to The Princess Bride.

The crazy ending game

Something I haven't been doing much of lately, is write. You may have noticed the dearth of blog posts around here. My journal that you don't get to see has had one entry in the last six months. My folder of short creative writing is virtually empty. It's not because I don't think of stories. I think of the beginnings of 2-4 stories a day. I just haven't been making the time to write them down. Also, I've learned from experience that beginnings don't always turn into anything.

One of the things that makes me a good programmer is that I'm good at troubleshooting. I can look at a desired end-result and come up with a reasonable way to get there (usually). I've decided to attempt to combine this with writing in order to get my creative juices flowing.

That's where you come in. I need crazy endings. Then I can imagine some sort of logical (or illogical but amusing) path that led to a particular ending, and write the beginning of the story. The stories will be posted here, on the assumption that at least one person will be interested.

Here's a sample crazy ending: "So there Shiela was, running through the airport with an enormous stuffed giraffe tucked under one arm and the door from her glove box in the other. She had never been happier."

Hooker, or ninja? I can't tell.

Ninja?  Really?
Who the hell can do sneaky ninja stuff in those shoes?

I'm guessing this costume is on sale for a reason. What kind of ninja wears something like that? Clearly, I'm missing something. Clearly, the idea for Halloween is no longer to dress up so that you look like a recognizable character or wear a clever disguise. Now, apparently, the idea is to find a street corner and make a few extra bucks. (Unless, of course, you're a guy, and then you pretty much get to wear whatever you want.)

Apparently, the trend is pervasive, according to an article (subscription required) in the Fashion section of the New York Times.

"The trend is so pervasive it has been written about by college students in campus newspapers, and Carlos Mencia, the comedian, jokes that Halloween should now be called Dress-Like-a-Whore Day." (Emphasis mine.)

Fellas, I'm sure this is a trend that benefits you, and I've certainly worn short skirts on Halloween myself from time to time. But when we get to the point where women feel like they need killer abs to dress up like a ninja, it just seems less fun somehow.

Then again, it's only $28.99 for that costume. It'll pay for itself in no time.

Cinematic green card

From Howdy:
"I work with a Dutch guy who has a real green card, but I have occasionally taunted him about satisfying the requirements for a cinematic green card (i.e. the essential movie credentials that make one American). Robin and I already made him watch the Wizard of Oz. I'm soliciting suggestions for movies that should be watched to earn this cultural badge of honor."

Here were my suggestions, though I know I'm missing dozens upon dozens of movies here. Anything marked with an (x) is something I think just about everybody my age has seen, but probably sucks 25+ years after the fact.

Photo from Rebba's photostream.
  • The Princess Bride
  • Better Off Dead
  • The Jerk
  • E.T. (x)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • War Games
  • The Godfather
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th St.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Casablanca
  • Top Gun (x)
  • Bringing Up Baby

What movies would you require in order to earn a cinematic green card? The definition of "essential" is fairly debatable. But generally speaking, it would be "a list of movies you would expect someone roughly your age to have seen and understand references to," according to Howdy.

It is time for stormy weather

One of my favorite things about the world is stormy weather. I like rain, really dark ominous looking clouds, thunder, lightning, you name it. Wind gusts make me feel energetic, so long as I am not riding my bicycle directly into them. The downside is that my hands are the temperature of popsicles from October through June. The upside is that it makes me happy. Plus, listening to Morrissey always works better when it's rainy.

With that in mind, I had the notion to put together a CD mix with songs that reference stormy weather. Off the top of my head, I came up with three:

  • Stormy Weather by the Pixies
  • Sometimes (Lester Piggott) by James
  • Hot, Hot, Hot!!! by The Cure

I know I'm forgetting so many, but I inhaled a lot of paint fumes over the weekend, so I'm going to blame it on that. What other songs belong on the bad weather mix?

If you don't have any songs about intense weather patterns, tell me what you're listening to these days that you'd recommend. Lisa also asked for recommendations last week, so you'd be doing us both a favor.