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Sunday, June 24, 2018

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (let’s call it July 2018)

With so much time spent fostering garbage takes on food, perhaps many of you missed Tom Breihan’s “A History of Violence” series, which kicked off in 2016 with a celebration of Bullitt:

When you talk about the history of action movies, you sort of have to define what an action movie is first. As with any movie genre, lines blur, and movies can be multiple things at once. Action—fights, chases, bodies forced into extreme circumstances—has been a part of narrative cinema since narrative cinema became a thing. If you wanted to be ultra-pedantic, you could say that the 1903 silent film The Great Train Robbery was the first action movie, though it would take a whole lot of work to draw a historical line between that and John Wick.

For the purposes of this column, action movies didn’t arrive in their modern and fully-formed state until the late ’60s. There were other genres of movies that supplied the kinds of thrills that action movies would later provide: Westerns, war movies, crime thrillers. (All those genres will appear, in hybridized forms, in this column later on. We’re also going to stay away from things like superhero movies, sci-fi, fantasy, and Oscar bait, except in the rare instances when those genres cross over fully with the action genre.) And there were movies that could be considered proto-action movies: John Sturges’ 1955 Bad Day At Black Rock, Hitchcock’s 1959 North By Northwest, all the early movies in the Bond series.

I should also add that the whole goal of this column is to pick the most important action movie of every year, not necessarily the best or most beloved. (Most of the time, though, it probably will be the best or most beloved action movie of its year, partly because bullshit usually doesn’t leave that deep of an impact and partly because I have no desire to rewatch a bunch of bullshit.)

 

Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: June 24, 2018 at 06:43 PM | 939 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: movies, music, off-topic, television, whatever else belongs under the rubric of 'popular culture'

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   601. BDC Posted: July 21, 2018 at 07:30 PM (#5713578)
dim sum in Glasgow

Heh, I also had spaghetti carbonara in Stockholm, ragù in Lund, and in a Copenhagen suburb we went out with in-laws & kids to a Running Sushi buffet. I do not remember seeing one of those before: the sushi comes by on little dim sum dishes carried by a conveyor belt, and you grab what you want. The kids grabbed mostly french fries. Which was a smart concept for kids. Most sushi places don't offer a lot of french fries.

My Danish in-laws are mainly meat-and-potatoes folks. One night my brother-in-law cooked and along with the inevitable potatoes, La D. told me (I thought) that we were going to have Pilze - which in German would be mushrooms. Come to find it was Pølse, which in Danish is sausage. Very nice with mustard.
   602. Lassus Posted: July 21, 2018 at 07:31 PM (#5713580)
FLIP

...and each one was the best steak I've ever eaten.

I'm not enough of a real foodie to know where this would be for me, but it does make me wonder now. Probably Dylan Prime, now in the great steakhouse in the sky.


Although, during reading, I couldn't help but be a little bit sad in knowing that this might end up being Stephenson's last great novel, as everything he's written after Anathem is so mediocre.


Hmmm... fair. Maybe. But I doubt it. There was enough good in both REAMDE and D.O.D.O. to keep me optimistic.
   603. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2018 at 08:35 PM (#5713594)
a Running Sushi buffet. I do not remember seeing one of those before: the sushi comes by on little dim sum dishes carried by a conveyor belt, and you grab what you want


To tie this all together, I used to frequent a conveyer belt sushi joint in ... Edinburgh.
   604. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2018 at 08:42 PM (#5713598)
...and each one was the best steak I've ever eaten.


I had a "steak" at Per Se in NYC, the 3-Michelin star "temple of gastronomy," as such places tend to be called, that might have been the best thing I've ever eaten. It was only about 2 ounces, and this was 15 years ago, before I became a professional beef preparer, so I have no idea if I would feel the same way again. I think it was Wagyu, probably one of the ultra-ultra marbelled ones that looks just like genuine Kobe, which I've never eaten.

Otherwise, I'm not a big steakhouse guy. I totally get the appeal, but I can cook perfect steaks at home, and I can even make perfect creamed spinach at home, and a steak tastes better to me in my backyard on a picnic table than in a voluptuous burgundy dining room surrounded by expense accounters.

I did a huge smoked ribeye a couple years ago - rubbed in salt, sugar, cayenne, maybe some other spices, hot smoked until an internal temp of 110 or so, finished in the broiler - that's been haunting my dreams ever since. That may well have been the best steak I've ever eaten. Not complicated, anyone could do it.
   605. Brian White Posted: July 21, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5713602)
Hmmm... fair. Maybe. But I doubt it. There was enough good in both REAMDE and D.O.D.O. to keep me optimistic.


Huh, I found absolutely nothing of lasting value in Reamde. I enjoyed the read, but felt it was totally insubstantial - the literary equivalent of a twinkie. I haven't read D.O.D.O., and perhaps I should, but I'm inherently skeptical of book with multiple authors, as I find they tend to lack cohesive direction.

I should have also qualified my statement in that the first two thirds of Seveneves was excellent, although the last part ruined the book for me.
   606. BDC Posted: July 21, 2018 at 09:08 PM (#5713610)
I ate at Dylan Prime once. I don't remember much about it. I am not much for steaks, and never cook them myself. Taking me to a multi-star steakhouse would be like taking my cat to the Louvre.
   607. phredbird Posted: July 21, 2018 at 09:29 PM (#5713629)
L.A. Times pulitzer prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold is dead at 57. he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this month. man, what a blow. i used to buy the LA Weekly just for his reviews. he had a great radio show on KCRW in recent years. this is such a bummer ...

actually it wasn't his show, he guested regularly on Evan Kleiman's 'Good Food' ...
   608. Omineca Greg Posted: July 21, 2018 at 09:29 PM (#5713630)
To tie this all together, I used to frequent a conveyer belt sushi joint in ... Edinburgh.


Was it this one?

We went there after one of the Queen's minions gave us the 'ole "I'm sorry, sir, but it seems you're not on the guest list..." at the Hollyrood gates.

8000 people at The Tea Party, and no room for me or the missus. I'm sure it was just an oversight, so don't worry, I'm still a loyal subject, I understand that sometimes clerical mistakes happen, and even I have to admit my service to The Empire might have slipped in the last year and there might have been more worthy constituents. It's OK, I've seen her twice in person, once as a lad in Vancouver, and once when she came to the Omineca to open Circumpolar U. We owe her a lot, the Omineca air used to be heavy with mosquitoes, but the last thing we wanted was Her Majesty swatting away bugs while giving her speech, so we sprayed like ############# that year...and it worked! The population of mosquitoes has never really bounced back, and as a bonus, eggshells here are to this day exceedingly thin...making an omelette is a snap!

Anyway, after we were rejected at Holyrood, we went up to the castle, but her grandson (the one that looks like his Dad and who's getting to be King one day) was recognising 100 years of the RAF or something, so what a ####### zoo that was.

So we ended up at YO! It was OK, it was the first time I've had sushi on that side of the Atlantic, and I think they did a great job considering how little variety of fish there was on the menu. Quite creative. Pretty damaging to the sporran though.

I have a confession to make though, and I'll wrap it up in a piece of advice...never, never, and I mean NEVER eat salmon with a British Columbian. Because no matter how good you think your salmon is, we will insist on telling you how it is the shittiest salmon ever, and how embarrassed you should be to even think of serving that "salmon" to us. You'll say, "You're from BC, so I made you salmon!" and we'll be rude and condescending to your face, and even ruder and more condescending on our drive home once you're out of earshot. It's a total jerk move...but it is the way of our people.

So, to our waitress at YO!, I want to apologise. I'm sorry for every time I did airquotes when I ordered "salmon". And when I said that Scots should quit smoking salmon and stick to what they know, like getting hammered and re-living wars that happened hundreds of years ago, it wasn't personal, it's just the way we are.

We're salmon dicks.
   609. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 21, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5713653)
L.A. Times pulitzer prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold is dead at 57. he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this month. man, what a blow. i used to buy the LA Weekly just for his reviews. he had a great radio show on KCRW in recent years. this is such a bummer ...


Holy crap, that really sucks, his column in the Weekly was a must read. I didn't even know he had gotten diagnosed.

He absolutely deserved that Pulitzer.
   610. phredbird Posted: July 21, 2018 at 10:22 PM (#5713663)
'Counter Intelligence' will go down as one of the great food criticism books. his review of The Grill on the Alley was priceless.
   611. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 21, 2018 at 10:31 PM (#5713671)
In general I can't stand John Lithgow, but boy was that first season hilarious.


The over-the-air network LAFF just picked up 3rd Rock from the Sun, with Lithgow running amok in the early episodes.

Best steaks I've had that were cooked by a professional were on Amtrak's Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle.
   612. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 21, 2018 at 10:46 PM (#5713686)
Gold's LA Times obit, well worth the read if you're unfamiliar with him..

Now this, I didn't know about him:




At UCLA, he studied art and music. After college, he had a number of jobs — information operator, music booker, proofreader at a downtown law journal — and then began working for L.A. Weekly, where he wrote about music, art, theater, movies and food while freelancing for publications that included Spin, Rolling Stone and The Times.

A classically trained musician who grew up listening to classical at home, Gold formed the punk rock bands Overman and Tank Burial, playing the cello.

“Oh, my God, they were so bad,” Mark Gold recalled.

Although he would become famous for his food criticism, he was an equally gifted music writer. Gold covered hip-hop, grunge and the rise of gangsta rap in the 1980s, spending days in the studio with Eazy-E and the rest of the iconic group N.W.A and earning the nickname “Nervous Cuz” from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

“One of the things I used to love to do is just take as much time as someone would give me,” he said in a Q&A with Lucky Peach in 2012. “I’d show up to the studio and everybody’s nervous about being interviewed, so I’d just kind of hang out all day. Then you just come back the next day and you’re in the studio like it’s no big deal. And eventually, they’re talking to you.”

Even early in his career, he demonstrated an innate gift for language: During a photo shoot one day in 1989, Eazy-E “reappears with a heavy-canvas duffel bag and empties weaponry onto the grass like a Little League coach pouring out bats and balls,” Gold wrote in L.A. Weekly.

“Nine-millimeter repeating pistols and 12-gauge shotguns and a couple of small-bore rifles and a .38 and a mean-looking sawed-off, clips, sights, scopes and boxes of ammunition, an arsenal bigger than Sergeant Samuel K. Doe needed to overthrow Liberia. But no AKs. Not at Mom’s house.”


   613. phredbird Posted: July 21, 2018 at 10:49 PM (#5713689)
Gold's brother was a well respected marine conservationist. they used to have good natured -- or maybe not always good natured -- arguments about how much Jonathan liked to eat certain seafood that was being over harvested.
   614. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 21, 2018 at 11:17 PM (#5713696)
That's it, I'm going to smoke a Ribeye tomorrow afternoon. I've been talking about it lately.
   615. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2018 at 12:09 AM (#5713703)

Was it this one?


Yep!
   616. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2018 at 12:24 AM (#5713706)
A real shame about Jonathan Gold. I opened 3 restaurants in Los Angeles and have had the privilege to #### my pants watching him eat my food. He was the rare critic that chefs didn't just respect but actually loved. Unlike other critics he didn't pretend to be anonymous, and, contrary to the stereotype, he seemed very down-to-earth, more interested in boosting an unheralded chef than in tearing down an overrated one. Gold was best known for unearthing cheap ethnic food in the city. Los Angeles has a marvelous abundance of it.

I'm fairly sure that he first came across my radar due to his review of Jitlada, an apparently boring Thai restaurant in Thai Town (which wonderfully overlaps with Little Armenia) that had a "secret" menu, printed only in Thai, of rare local Southern Thai specialties. Obsessives from Chowhound.com found the menu and had it translated and began ordering off of it. Usually the story is that the owner will refuse to make the good stuff for white people out of, I don't know, a conviction that no matter what they say they really just want Americanized Pad Thai, and no, they don't really want anything really spicy. The Jitlada owners, however, understood what was happening and embraced it, and began printing the English translation of their own menu that had circulated online. The place has been a site of pilgrimage ever since. It's probably not as special as it used to be - just in the last decade there has been an explosion of quirky and specialist and hip Thai restaurants, but it wasn't long ago that almost every Thai restaurant in the nation seemed to have an identical menu. Anyway, I think Gold was on the case before any other media source and helped the restaurant explode. There are probably dozens of stories like this from his archives.
   617. BDC Posted: July 22, 2018 at 07:49 AM (#5713721)
In general I can't stand John Lithgow

Lithgow is another performer, like James Earl Jones, who has had a substantial film/TV career but is far more celebrated as a stage actor (two Tony Awards in six nominations). I have never seen him on stage, but Lithgow bothers me on screen because he is "stagy": perfect elocution, exaggerated physical gestures. He's just not subtle enough to be a great film actor. Of course, those traits made him popular in Third Rock, so he shows an interesting range. Being able to go from Harry and the Hendersons on film to M Butterfly on stage within a few months is not a typical career path.
   618. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 23, 2018 at 08:15 AM (#5713958)
Best steaks I've had that were cooked by a professional were on Amtrak's Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle.


My ex is going on their first vacation in a while, hopping on the Empire builder to Seattle (in Mpls), riding the train to the end, walking around a bit and then hopping on board for the ride back home. Just some train time. They LOVE trains (I like them, but my liking pales in comparison).

Hey, whatever works.
   619. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5713965)
Never been to cut so I can't tell you it sucked. Never really fine dined in Vegas. I've only stayed overnight or more once and the one steak meal I had was at my hotel in the Excalibur. Which was not good but rather expensive for what you got.

We're actually going to Keens after the softball game in August. Haven't had meat there yet.
   620. manchestermets Posted: July 23, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5714049)
Anyway, after we were rejected at Holyrood, we went up to the castle, but her grandson (the one that looks like his Dad and who's getting to be King one day) was recognising 100 years of the RAF or something, so what a ####### zoo that was.


You should have gone to the zoo. It's a good zoo, Edinburgh. Although last time I was there, the pandas were off show because they thought one of them might be pregnant. It wasn't.
   621. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5714069)
On the culinary front...

Beyond occasionally grilling up steaky fish like tuna or salmon, I usually steer clear of cooking seafood because I suck at it and end up with rubber.

However, yesterday - I am happy to report that for a little get together, I managed not to screw up a seafood stew that drew raves. I wish I had been more careful in documenting my recipe and steps - I started with a white wine and tomato base with potatoes and peppers in a slow cooker, then just a very quick couple minutes saute of the shrimp, scallops and mahi - not enough to cook fully, but just to be sure I didn't poison everyone before giving them about half an hour in the pot.

This, I am sure, is no great achievement... but it's the first time ever I've prepared scallops that didn't come out as flattened super balls, the shrimp were light and fluffy, and the mahi maintained perfectly consistency. I am quite proud of myself.
   622. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:21 AM (#5714073)
My ex is going on their first vacation in a while, hopping on the Empire builder to Seattle (in Mpls), riding the train to the end, walking around a bit and then hopping on board for the ride back home. Just some train time. They LOVE trains (I like them, but my liking pales in comparison).
Taking a long train trip is definitely on my bucket list. The Empire Builder would be a leading contender. From Seattle I think I'd like to go up to Vancouver. Unfortunately I'm not in a business where you can take two weeks off, pretty much ever. Making an exception for the honeymoon this year to Portugal/Spain, but even then we're doing it over Thanksgiving.
   623. BDC Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5714086)
I enjoy the price and convenience of day trains in Europe, but two of the worst nights of my life were spent on trains traveling Florence-Calais and Copenhagen-Munich. Things may have changed since the last time (2010), but the choice used to be sitting bolt upright crammed in a tiny compartment with five other people, or lying supine in a "couchette" about the size of a morgue drawer.

The longest train trip I ever took in North America was Trenton to Chicago and back. That was in 1983, and it was fine; tan airplane-type seat you could (ahem) recline a little, and doze off. I reckon long American and Canadian train journeys are still about the same.
   624. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:49 AM (#5714099)
OK, just got back from Yellowstone (wish I could have stayed longer, first time there) and on the way back the kid watched season 1 of B5 up through Grail. I advised him to skip "TKO", which he did. So far his comments are mostly "Ivanova is pretty wooden" and "they read NEWSPAPERS?!?!?". Also "this CGI sucks". But he's sucked in, which bodes well for future seasons.

He keeps asking, and I keep not answering, if the alien races are "good" or "bad". Wait 'til he gets to season 2 :)

Side note: B5 doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere; borrowed physical DVDs from the library. A scratch ended "And The Sky Full of Stars" just before Sinclair's final memory. How's THAT for annoying. He Googled it and found the Lurker's Guide site, from which he read the synopsis and then I had to forbid him from poking around further. I'd forgotten how full of info that site is, and how prodigiously JMS commented on the series.

Side note 2: It's weird listening to the show but not having video (DVD player is in the back, and I was driving).
   625. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5714112)
OK, just got back from Yellowstone (wish I could have stayed longer, first time there


How was the visit? My folks who live in the area say its been quite busy this summer. (note: its always busy in the summer, I guess its been noticeably busier).
   626. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5714114)
The longest train trip I ever took in North America was Trenton to Chicago and back. That was in 1983, and it was fine; tan airplane-type seat you could (ahem) recline a little, and doze off. I reckon long American and Canadian train journeys are still about the same.
Well, if it's anything whatsoever like airplane seating, it's off my list. I would be looking for something with a comfortable seat for someone my height (6'2"), and some degree of privacy to enjoy the scenery, etc. Would I have to pay a ton for first class to get that?
   627. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5714117)
Well, if it's anything whatsoever like airplane seating, it's off my list. I would be looking for something with a comfortable seat for someone my height (6'2"), and some degree of privacy to enjoy the scenery, etc. Would I have to pay a ton for first class to get that?


Paging Captain Steuben....
   628. BDC Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5714118)
No train seats I've been on in are as close together as airplane seats. So the hardest thing for me (legroom) is usually not an issue on trains, aside from the aforementioned Night Train to Munich.
   629. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5714121)
Taking a long train trip is definitely on my bucket list. The Empire Builder would be a leading contender. From Seattle I think I'd like to go up to Vancouver. Unfortunately I'm not in a business where you can take two weeks off, pretty much ever. Making an exception for the honeymoon this year to Portugal/Spain, but even then we're doing it over Thanksgiving.

I forget the name of the Amtrak line but about 10 years ago I did the New York to Chicago trip at around Christmas time. I was just a poor student at the time and the trip was something like 200 dollars cheaper than a flight. So I thought what the hell. Lucky for me I did that because a snowstorm hit canceled flights from at least the Midwest to the East for several days. I remember I had to take one train to Syracuse or Albany and then take that train to Chicago. Hiawatha line or something like that. Anyway in Albany or Syracuse to board we had to go out in the elements to board the train. The snow was at least 18 inches deep and falling hard while doing that. Then while on the train it was impossible to get my feet dry and warm. Plus with the weather being bad the train had to go slower and it took something like 27 hours to make the trip. The dining car was nothing but microwaved hot items and packaged goods. I will say that at the time the actual experience in the seat blew away plane travel. Very big seats that reclined a good deal and outlets for every seat. If they could have somehow had consistently priced themselves significantly cheaper than plane travel I probably would have done it more often but generally tickets were only 20 to 50 dollars cheaper than plane tickets.
   630. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:13 PM (#5714129)
In terms of meat I once again cooked off a bone in ribeye this weekend. Alas my wife's sister prefers a medium plus to medium well steak so the heart of the steak had to be about medium to get her that on the ends while I generally prefer a rare to medium rare heart. The wife really like fried breaded onion rings so I've been using my electrical wok for that but it is a bit cumbersome and uses a good amount of oil. Might have to dip my toe back into a home fryer even though they usually disappoint me. But I am loving my Weber enameled cast iron griddle. It took me a few months to warm up to it, mostly because I thought it would be a pain in the butt to clean (and it is) but that sucker can hold a temp and give a great char on a steak in minutes. It has made me change how I cook steaks on a grill. In the old days between the combination of a weak grill and a smallish cast iron pan I couldn't get a consistently high heat so I had to leave a steak on one side for 5 to 7 minutes to get an okay char and then flip it over and cook until desired temp which would generally give me a weak char on that side. Now I get a crispy crunchy char on both sides in minutes and then pull it off the griddle and put it on the grill at a much reduced temp to finish cooking it.
   631. dlf Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5714133)
Well, if it's anything whatsoever like airplane seating, it's off my list. I would be looking for something with a comfortable seat for someone my height (6'2"), and some degree of privacy to enjoy the scenery, etc. Would I have to pay a ton for first class to get that?


We did NYC to ATL on Amtrak two years ago. I'm 6'3" and pretty wide across the shoulders (and, unfortunately around the belt). The seats were plenty wide and even reclined I couldn't reach the seat in front of me with my legs. The cost was about half the price of an airline ticket, but it took ~20 hours with an unscheduled delay somewhere around DC. I think that they frown on it, but we brought a couple of bottles of wine on board. The bar/dining car was OK, but just OK. A roomette would have increased the cost significantly, but not ridiculously so.

I'm not sure I'd ever do it, but I enjoyed reading Calcaterra's write-up of a multi-day cross-country trip on Amtrak he posted a year or two ago. But if I ever had a couple of weeks free, I'd love an unlimited on-off pass to hope around the country spending a day or two at a number of stops along the way.
   632. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5714141)
How was the visit?
Pretty successful, considering the background. We'd just camped for five days at our usual Lake Chelan in Washington State, then drove over to YNP, spent three days there, and drove back. Way too short a time at such a huge, interesting place, and the two boys were whiny about the long car ride and being away from their online lives.

But the features of the place are pretty amazing. I could have spent a lot longer at just about every mini-site, but there was a lot to do. Funny how by day three you drive by a bison or fumarole about eight feet off the road and think, "eh" - you just get sort of accustomed to them. But the sheer volume and variety is overwhelming.

Honestly, based on what I'd heard going in, the crowds weren't too bad. Sure, there were people clogging up the boardwalks, but that's what you expect. Get out onto a trail and it was mostly empty.

All the usual Top Ten things were cool; if you go, don't miss the Dragon Mouth's Spring at the Mud Volcano area.
   633. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5714153)
I'm not sure I'd ever do it, but I enjoyed reading Calcaterra's write-up of a multi-day cross-country trip on Amtrak he posted a year or two ago. But if I ever had a couple of weeks free, I'd love an unlimited on-off pass to hope around the country spending a day or two at a number of stops along the way.

My aunt and uncle about 12 years ago did a train trip from Milwaukee to Seattle because she had a fear of a plane crash killing her family and I think they always wanted to try it. Took a couple of days and money was no object so they had sleeping berths. I recall them liking it.
   634. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5714154)
As long as we're sharing weekend cooking stories, we had a couple people over on Saturday for the first "stuff from our garden" dinner of the year. One of my absolute favorite things in the world to do - cooking with stuff you just brought in an hour before. First course was aguachile (kind of like ceviche but with shrimp, cured in a mixture of lime juice, jalapeno, red onion and just-harvested cucumber). Then snapper (the fish, not the historical monster) with pesto made from sorrel, chives and (of course) basil from the garden, with just-dug new potatoes and sage. For dessert, our guests brought a no-flour chocolate cake, which we had with raspberries from our bushes. Just a great, fresh meal. We're very lucky to be able to do that while living in the middle of the city.
   635. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 01:24 PM (#5714189)
I kind of documented by gardening last year but I found I found it a bit amusing to cook food from my garden. Wasn't really a production garden so I got enough peas and carrots to do one or two servings, same with beans. A tomato here a tomato there. I believe I tried to do melons but between squirrels and moving didn't get a chance to try any.

Didn't do a garden this year beyond a couple of planter boxes of herbs because I moved into a new home and I wanted the grass to take root plus get a chance to see how the yard drains and where the sun hits the yard. The good news is my herbs haven taken off under my covered patio. Bad news is I don't know if I want to tear up my backyard to put in a large enough garden that I can get more than one meal out of whatever I plant. Plus I think the squirrel situation in this backyard is just as bad or worse than it was in my previous place.
   636. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 01:31 PM (#5714195)
Plus I think the squirrel situation in this backyard is just as bad or worse than it was in my previous place.
Get yourself a BB gun. Squirrel for the main, veggies for the side.
   637. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 01:52 PM (#5714208)
The wife will not allow that. Hell, I tried to get one of those salt guns for flies and bees and she vetoed that as well.

This spring I discovered carpenter bees for the first time. Living down here in the South only relatively recently I've seen quite some time carpenter bee traps and never really paid any attention to them. They're on sale everywhere down here. Anyway this spring we had a fence put in and there are carpenter bees buzzing around. I paid them no mind and generally told my wife to calm down when she would freak out when she saw one. Then one day I notice a dime size hole in my fence. She's like, yeah, that what they do. Why didn't you tell me! So now I have like three holes from bees that I've sprayed and have to fill.
   638. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: July 23, 2018 at 02:03 PM (#5714214)
We'd just camped for five days at our usual Lake Chelan in Washington State


Did you get the heat wave or the offshore flow week? Imagine it might have been fairly cool if it was the latter. We did Cascade Pass last year, what an amazing part of the world. Even for the PNW the N. Cascades stand out. We wanted to overnight at the glacier but I guess permits have a 3-4 month wait list at any given time for a weekend. Weekdays aren't much better and usually require showing up at the ranger's station at 5am and hoping you're first in line.

We've (about 5 of my hiking friends and myself) applied for an Enchantment's permit the last few years, none of us has ever gotten one. Like Cascade Pass a limited number of permits are issued daily, but again require showing up at the ass crack of dawn and hoping you're 1st in line.

It's been kinda an odd summer here, alternating between heat waves and off shore flow. Not too much of our usual 78 and sunny so far.
   639. Mike A Posted: July 23, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5714232)
Honestly, based on what I'd heard going in, the crowds weren't too bad. Sure, there were people clogging up the boardwalks, but that's what you expect. Get out onto a trail and it was mostly empty.

Just got back from Yellowstone (and Moab, etc) and had a hard time dealing with the crowds. Waiting 30 minutes for a parking spot at Grand Prismatic Spring was kinda rough. I much prefer traveling in the offseason if at all possible. But you're right, you can escape by going off-trail since most people just do the boardwalks and Old Faithful. Still, having been to almost 40 National Parks, Yellowstone is probably the toughest to deal with crowd-wise (see also Yosemite).

In stark contrast, we hit Congaree National Park (SC) earlier in the summer and there were maybe a couple dozen people there. To go along with 4.3 billion mosquitoes.

As a side, I'm not sure who recommended the Kansas City WW1 Museum in a BTF thread I can't find now, but I want to thank them. It made for a nice stop during the long drive cross-country.
   640. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5714238)
As a side, I'm not sure who recommended the Kansas City WW1 Museum in a BTF thread I can't find now, but I want to thank them. It made for a nice stop during the long drive cross-country.


Well, it wasn't me, but I'll take this space to pimp for the National Museum of the Pacific War, in Fredericksburg, Texas; if you're ever in Austin or Houston, it's worth the drive for the visit, especially if you're hankering for a good schnitzel on the side ...

National Museum of the Pacific War


ADMIRAL NIMITZ MUSEUM

This is the flagship of the Museum Complex, where the original Pacific War Museum was located before our facilities expanded to include three museums on a 6-acre campus. A landmark in Fredericksburg since the late 1800's, the building was the old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, owned and operated by Admiral Nimitz's grandfather Charles Henry Nimitz Sr. and is where Chester W. Nimitz spent his early childhood.


Neat town, neat museum(s).
   641. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 23, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5714244)
Waiting 30 minutes for a parking spot at Grand Prismatic Spring was kinda rough.
Got pretty lucky on this; our longest wait was maybe 10-15 minutes at Norris. At many of the parking lots we had great success jumping past the first few people waiting at the entrance; there were usually a dozen openings at the far end that the big clog never sees because they're terrified of losing a spot at the near end. Granted at some parking lots this technique doesn't work.
   642. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 03:33 PM (#5714292)
Another good eulogy for Jonathan Gold:


Every native Angeleno who has read Gold has their favorite siren song, the one review that made them drop everything and assemble an army. For me, it was his review of Bludso’s, a tiny barbecue shack in Compton. In time, I, too, would feel the deep satisfaction of describing the elementality of barbecue and its ritualistic process, but as a novice, Gold’s lurid prose appealed to my teenage gluttony on a visceral level: “At Bludso’s there is only bloodlust, smoke and salt, the need to pry the dripping brisket out of the heat-warped foam container, to feel the meat and the juice and the ribbons of fat slide down your throat like liquid, each slice generating the desire for the next, until the container is empty and you feel a bit like an anaconda that has unwisely decided to engulf a pangolin,” he wrote. My friends and I couldn’t get into a car fast enough.

We jammed ourselves into a ’90s Mercedes-Benz and headed south on the 710. We listened to Lil Wayne and Frank Sinatra. We parked in the gravelly lot and greeted a few of the workers out on break sitting in padded office chairs in the shade. The 500-gallon offset smoker was branded with a Dallas Cowboys decal. We walked in and greeted Kevin Bludso, whose barbecue recipes are generations old, brought westward from his family in Corsicana, Texas. We ordered the Texas Sampler, which had a little bit of everything—chicken, pork ribs, brisket, sausage, rib tips—which was entirely too much. Collard greens, mac and cheese, banana pudding with Nilla wafers, we wanted all of it, and it was all better than we could’ve hoped for. There were only three functional stools in the shop, so we opted to eat in the car with the air conditioning on. We were catatonic by the time we realized the car wouldn’t start up again. We popped the hood; the employees on break got up from their office chairs and walked toward us. “Y’all need a jump?” one asked. “Should’ve gotten a Toyota,” another chimed in, with a thick drawl that squeezed the syllables in Toyota to rhyme with coyote. “Them things last forever.” We laughed, they laughed. We thanked them profusely, and vowed to return soon. We made another run not two weeks later.

I think about our meal at Bludso’s from time to time. I think about my friend who sat beside me in the Mercedes, and how the hospitality we’d received in the Bludso’s parking lot had snapped his ambitions into focus. He’s a cook now, too, trying his best to pay it forward in his community. Gold often talked about a “hospitality gene” that is triggered in dining settings, where social dynamics are inherently nurturing and lines of communication are more open than they would be in other situations. Cooking is a form of storytelling. It’s one thing to understand that; it’s another to actually venture out and take in the stories that are waiting to be told. Gold was both the gateway and the gatekeeper; he offered a push in the right direction and a vote of confidence. For many Angelenos, that’s all we needed to dive headlong into the rabbit holes of the city ourselves.

Jonathan Gold was our Robin Hood in suspenders, ensuring the multifaceted stories of immigrant culture were never buried beneath Los Angeles’s dominant narrative. His words have changed countless lives and preserved aspects of cuisine that would have been threatened had he not shone a light. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are thousands upon thousands of food establishments within L.A.’s city limits that will never get the opportunity to be seen through the prism of Gold’s discernment. But at the same time, his authoritative standing as the Belly of Los Angeles was never really the point. The vision of Gold’s true L.A. doesn’t belong to any one person. In our collective memory are thousands of artifacts he’s bestowed to the city over the span of four decades. He’s given us all we need to move forward.


The Ringer

   643. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 23, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5714297)
Did you get the heat wave or the offshore flow week?
Heh - we were talking about that. One day was stifling, the rest were perfect. It's weird - it's not a humidity thing, exactly, not like the east coast, anyway, but there's a wide variety of what 93 degrees feels like depending on which way the nominal wind is "blowing".

Also interesting that 80 degrees or so, at 8000 feet, is a lot more energy-zapping than 95 degrees at 1000 feet. At least in my family.
--------------

An another note, having been "stuck" in the NW most of my life, Yellowstone was a great time. Most outdoor experiences around here are of the hiking-and-landscape ilk, which is fine for me but not of interest to the teens. YNP with its more Nature's Theme Park Attractions layout was much more palatable to the young'uns. I'm imagining that they wouldn't care for Yosemite, thinking "this is a lot like what we see at home, waterfalls and mountains, big deal". Or Redwoods, "a bunch of trees".

One would hope they'll come around and appreciate those types of parks eventually, but for the moment, what other National Parks feature a similar-to-Yellowstone vibe? Grand Canyon can hardly fail to inspire, but I'm wondering where else I can knock their socks off. Scenic hikes aren't going to suffice at this particular point in time.
   644. Baldrick Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:22 PM (#5714343)
Side note: B5 doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere; borrowed physical DVDs from the library. A scratch ended "And The Sky Full of Stars" just before Sinclair's final memory. How's THAT for annoying. He Googled it and found the Lurker's Guide site, from which he read the synopsis and then I had to forbid him from poking around further. I'd forgotten how full of info that site is, and how prodigiously JMS commented on the series.

It was on go90 for a long time, but they recently took it off (and also are canceling the whole service in a few days), but now is only available through Prime video, I think.

I have been rewatching and writing out comments for each episode to share with my friend, but paused for a while only to discover it was no longer streaming. I have the first three seasons on DVD but not the 4th, which is where I'm at in the process, so I guess I'll need to complete the DVD set.
   645. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5714349)
One last episode of season 3 to go for the wire. Forgot the killed off stringer that early. I also wrongly recalled presb losing his job because of handling a riot. If I recall correctly next up is schools, elections, and the media
   646. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5714352)
2>4>3>1>5

[edit] demarcations are not to scale ...
   647. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:39 PM (#5714358)
Depending on ability to travel 'off season', I've found the ice caves (Apostle Islands in WI /Lake Superior) spectacular, and frankly caves in general seem to stimulate older kids (10-18) more than the more predictable, hike/canyon/mountain/forest.

One very underrated experience on a tourist note, is the Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico (early October). I was amazed by it, to be down there on the ground around all of these massive hot air balloons during the mass ascension. Probably the only other time where tens of thousands of people are up that early for the same recreational reason is opening day of gun deer season in WI.
   648. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:39 PM (#5714360)
I've always been intrigued by descriptions of the Trans-Siberian railway, which sounds both magical and horrifying. One detail I recall is that the thing runs on Moscow time, no matter where it is, so when you're on the east coast of Eurasia, dinner is served something like 9 hours before you think it ought to be. That sounds like a made up fact, so I'm not going to google it, and don't disabuse me of it. Thinking about this more logically, it seems likely that the official time is Moscow but the daily routine is adjusted to the position of the sun, so that dinner might be served at "noon" or whatever but in the area it's actually 7pm. Forget I said anything.

There's also a train that runs clear across Australia, north to south, which sounds more comfortable. For some reason spending days chugging across a blasted wasteland appeals to me. Give me a window seat, kangaroo jerky, cold beer and a pile of books. Take it all the way up to the tropical, Melanesian north coast. That's a trip!

The cross-American train ride doesn't have much romanticism for me. I mean, I get it, but it's not near the top of my bucket list. America is a driving country. Driving on the blue highways is the way to do it. It's, like, one of the best things about our country. Train travel is one of the worst.
   649. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:44 PM (#5714362)
443. PreservedFish Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5707634)
What's the best really long book you've read? I don't know if any yarn can touch The Count of Monte Cristo, which has a breathless page-turning climax that lasts about 400 pages.

Mine is the story of a Man with a Plan.

And that Man’s name is John Galt.
   650. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5714365)
I've always been intrigued by descriptions of the Trans-Siberian railway, which sounds both magical and horrifying. One detail I recall is that the thing runs on Moscow time, no matter where it is, so when you're on the east coast of Eurasia, dinner is served something like 9 hours before you think it ought to be. That sounds like a made up fact, so I'm not going to google it, and don't disabuse me of it.


It's not made up, I read that fact in one of The Guardian's football writers' blog during this summer's World Cup when he took the train from Moscow to Yekaterinburg ...

Seems so ... Soviet.
   651. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:49 PM (#5714367)
390. Lassus Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:42 PM (#5706399)
The POPPIEST of POP CULTURE: a revision and addition to the Marvel listing:

Actually they’re all terrible. Duh. Your first clue should have been that they are 21st century Hollywood movies.
   652. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5714369)
Am I saying that all modern Hollywood movies are terrible. No. Certainly not.

But I’m thinking it very loudly.
   653. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:53 PM (#5714371)
The cross-American train ride doesn't have much romanticism for me. I mean, I get it, but it's not near the top of my bucket list. America is a driving country. Driving on the blue highways is the way to do it.


The national interstate system predates my birth by a good generation, but I have to say that I've always wanted to drive the old Route 66. I actually advanced as far as planning it for one summer in college - but the financial feasibility of both affording it and affording a couple weeks of not working made it a no go.

Driving the US via interstates is soooooo boring. The only reason I'll drive/prefer it is either roadtrips with a good group of friends/family, or, the rare instances where I don't want to be tied to specific flights.

I like driving when it means something more than I-whatever to I-whatever, but other than that? Pass.

Occasionally for day trips (say, 400 miles or so) - I'll make a whole day of it and skip the interstates, sticking with more out of the way roads, though.
   654. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2018 at 04:56 PM (#5714375)
Am I saying that all modern Hollywood movies are terrible. No. Certainly not.

But I’m thinking it very loudly.


I am intrigued by your opinions and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

But only if it's printed via mimeograph and hand delivered by the USPS ...
   655. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:01 PM (#5714377)
I think the interstate system is exceptional. I drove 1,000 miles in a day once - would that be possible in any other country? (Australia?) But they're not designed for tourism, for meandering, for getting lost and serendipitously finding a cafe with amazing pie.
   656. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:06 PM (#5714381)
I think the interstate system is exceptional. I drove 1,000 miles in a day once - would that be possible in any other country? (Australia?) But they're not designed for tourism, for meandering, for getting lost and serendipitously finding a cafe with amazing pie.


Sure. They're exceptional for getting from point A to point B via a wholly self-selected departure/arrival schedule as quickly as possible.

Still booooorrrrring.
   657. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5714383)
Some of them do go through impressive scenery - like 70 through Colorado - but yeah, they're boring.

There's also something about them that makes boring scenery even worse. I'm delighted to drive on any lonely road through New Mexico ... as I said, blasted wasteland has its charms, and when you're the only car on the road there's something fun about the isolation. But I-40, jockeying with the big rigs on an endless straight line? Ugh.
   658. dlf Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:12 PM (#5714385)
I made the 2,200 mile drive from San Diego to Atlanta (I-8 to 10 to 20) over two days last December. Going through the Tecate Mountains around sunrise on the first day was pretty, but that was it. After that, it was flat and featureless with occasional stops for gas, fast food, and a short stay in a national chain hotel in Midland, TX. Efficient, but not enjoyable.
I would enjoy doing it again, but stretching it out over 2-3 weeks and not see the interstates.
   659. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5714391)
I made the 2,200 mile drive from San Diego to Atlanta (I-8 to 10 to 20) over two days last December.


That's impressive. My big drive was from Oklahoma City to Needles, CA, and although I stopped at a reasonable 11pm or so, it was aided by the fact that I entered two new time zones. I remember listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot several times. I was also in something of a hurry, but in the days previous I lingered in Tennessee, for BBQ and music, a mini focused roadtrip for myself.
   660. jmurph Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5714392)
The stretch of 90 from some point in North Dakota until roughly Spokane is mostly pretty great, especially the western half. And that's a good long day and a half or two days of driving if I'm remembering correctly. 80 (or is that 70?) through Nebraska/Iowa, on the other hand, requires like 2 turns, it gets a little monotonous.
   661. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:21 PM (#5714393)
Occasionally for day trips (say, 400 miles or so) - I'll make a whole day of it and skip the interstates, sticking with more out of the way roads, though.
I'm going to my cousin's wedding in Columbus, OH over Labor Day weekend. Right now my wife and I are trying to decide whether to fly (1 hour, 10 mins, roughly $450 all-in for both of us), or drive (5 hours, 20 mins from Chicago via the interstates). Maybe making a bit of a day out of it and hiding on the backstreets is a better alternative. Then again, is there anything particularly charming between Chicago and Columbus? Lotta rural Indiana.
   662. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:23 PM (#5714395)
The biggest I've done is basically Las Vegas to South Bend (roughly 1900 miles)- but I've done it twice (two round trips).

Going either direction - about midway through Nebraska - I suddenly begin to understand Charles Starkweather and his motivations.
   663. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5714400)
I think rural environments are almost always charming, unless we're talking about the endless flat monocultured prairieland megafarms. But hilly areas with tractor tire stains on the road, decrepit red barns, adorable little general stores with old codgers sitting by the front door? Never get bored of that.

The biggest I've done is basically Las Vegas to South Bend (roughly 1900 miles)- but I've done it twice (two round trips).

In one day?
   664. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:30 PM (#5714402)
I think rural environments are almost always charming, unless we're talking about the endless flat monocultured prairieland megafarms. But hilly areas with tractor tire stains on the road, decrepit red barns, adorable little general stores with old codgers sitting on the front porch? Never get bored of that.
I've done the drive between Chicago and Champaign about eleventy million times, so I've kind of had my fill of the rural flatlands. IIRC eastern Indiana is at least a little more rolling, though.
   665. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:30 PM (#5714403)

The biggest I've done is basically Las Vegas to South Bend (roughly 1900 miles)- but I've done it twice (two round trips).

In one day?


Oh - no, two days... though - no hotel, just napping in the vehicle at a rest stop for a few hours.

Door to door - it was something like 30 hours.

   666. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:44 PM (#5714407)
I think rural environments are almost always charming, unless we're talking about the endless flat monocultured prairieland megafarms. But hilly areas with tractor tire stains on the road, decrepit red barns, adorable little general stores with old codgers sitting on the front porch? Never get bored of that.

I've done the drive between Chicago and Champaign about eleventy million times, so I've kind of had my fill of the rural flatlands. IIRC eastern Indiana is at least a little more rolling, though.


Meh.

The path from Chicago to Columbus - made the trip a good dozen times when my cousin was in Ohio - isn't a great one... Probably a matter of growing up there, but I think northern Indiana is decidedly more boring than southern Indiana.

The non-interstate route would be US 30, IIRC - and actually, I think it's actually fewer miles than the interstate route, though slower. A few nice little burgs... the area around Warsaw is nice. North/a bit off US 30 - you've got Amish country.

Frankly, the straighter shot non-Interstate route probably wouldn't cost you more than hour extra at most (probably less than that), so why not take US 30 there and if it sucks, there's always I-70 to I-65 to I-94 back.
   667. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5714408)
Driving through Indiana and Ohio is extremely boring. Pennsylvania can be okay but the mountains can also be rather frightening. The PCH is probably the most scenic highway followed by the Taconic State Parkway. But by and large East, Midwest, and Southern highways are pretty boring. I can usually only drive for about 2 hours by myself on a highway before I have to pull over and walk around for a bit to get the blood moving again.

I've done Chicago to Dallas and back. Chicago to Hudson Valley and Chicago to Philadelphia and Chicago to DC plenty of times. Did Chicago to the Ozarks a few times in terms of Route 66. Did the Chicago to Atlanta and DC to Atlanta as well in terms of long regional drives. Never found one to be fun.
   668. Zonk is One Individual Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:49 PM (#5714409)
Did Chicago to the Ozarks a few times in terms of Route 66.


Thoughts on it?

My intention should I ever get around to doing it would be less point A to point B, just lazy amusing drives, stopping when I pleased...
   669. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 06:12 PM (#5714420)
I went through Winslow, Arizona the last time I was in Route 66 area, and they have a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at a statue of Glenn Frey.
   670. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 06:19 PM (#5714426)
McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5714408)
Never found one to be fun.


Shocker
   671. manchestermets Posted: July 23, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5714438)
I did the Empire Builder in 2003 from Chicago to Seattle, stopping off in Milwaukee, and from Portland in the other direction stopping off in Minneapolis. It was great, and I'd recommend it to anyone. The variety of scenery is terrific. I read a couple of years ago that the Empire Builder is the last Amtrak service to have a full food service, with all meals freshly cooked from scratch so that would account for the disappointing food mentioned in #631 by dlf.

I've just booked flights from the UK to Toronto for next June, and my original plan was just to do Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal but I'm now considering a long train trip - probably not all the way to Vancouver though, as that's three nights, which is taking up a bit too much of the two weeks I've got planned. Plenty of time to decide of course.
   672. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 23, 2018 at 07:00 PM (#5714448)
I've always been intrigued by descriptions of the Trans-Siberian railway, which sounds both magical and horrifying. One detail I recall is that the thing runs on Moscow time, no matter where it is, so when you're on the east coast of Eurasia, dinner is served something like 9 hours before you think it ought to be.
This was not the case, or at least wasn't in late April of 1992, when I took the Trans-Siberian from Beijing to Moscow. Dinner was served around local sunset. It was always a choice of either a quarter of a chicken or beef stroganoff. You could purchase either vodka or champagne for US$3 a bottle.

This was during the CIS, and of the approximately 300 passengers on the train, at least 200 were engaged in organized efforts to sell knockoff Levis, leather jackets, track suits, and similar items throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. Groups of guys would bring as many duffels as could fit into a compartment - literally: under the first bunk, in layers between the bunks, and on the top bunk, leaving only a tiny space at the top they could roll into and sleep on top of. These goods were sold out of the train windows at every stop, even when we were six hours behind schedule at 2AM in the middle of Siberia, to dozens or even hundreds of locals. Whatever was left when we got to Moscow was sold on the streets or onward to Prague or Warsaw or wherever. These guys would fly to Beijing, spend a week buying stuff, a week on the train, a week selling stuff, a week off, repeat.

12 Westerners on each train were organized by an outfit in Hong Kong called Monkey Business that organized our visas and travel to Beijing and had us in adjacent compartments. About the fourth day we met up with a couple westerners who were on their own elsewhere in the train, they had a much more immersive experience than I did :). I was the only American among our 12; there was a 75-yo Canadian backpacker, a young couple from Germany, a Dane, a Londoner... fun times.

I believe the official schedule of when we were supposed to arrive and depart each station was posted as Moscow time, but the mealtimes were localized by the sun :)
   673. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 23, 2018 at 07:30 PM (#5714461)
If you ride the Empire Builder through North Dakota this time of year, there's mile after mile of sunflowers planted.
   674. Morty Causa Posted: July 23, 2018 at 07:41 PM (#5714464)
Hey, that's really interesting stuff, PepTech.
   675. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2018 at 08:11 PM (#5714478)
Yes, great story. What a bizarre experience.
   676. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: July 23, 2018 at 08:48 PM (#5714503)
Heh - we were talking about that. One day was stifling, the rest were perfect. It's weird - it's not a humidity thing, exactly, not like the east coast, anyway, but there's a wide variety of what 93 degrees feels like depending on which way the nominal wind is "blowing".


Not much humidity out here in the summer compared to the midwest and east, thank God.

What did you do at the lake and where did you stay? When we did Cascade Pass we stopped for water at the pass and overheard a guide from a tour group talking about walking 12 miles down Stehekin Valley (which we were overlooking) to the north end of the lake. What an awesome backpack that would be. Maybe one day.
   677. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2018 at 09:07 PM (#5714529)
Re 668. It was back in the 90's. You'd see some historical markers in the road and a few gas stops would do the nostalgia thing but at the end of the day you're still driving on a major freeway which means you're whizzing by at 70 mph out in the middle of nowhere and you're stopping at a McDonald's or gas station every 200 odd miles.
   678. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 24, 2018 at 08:00 AM (#5714691)
I just plain love travel. This weekend was a disc golf road trip with three friends. We drove to southern MN, over to south west Wisconsin, and then up the Mississippi back home - left Friday, got back Sunday, and played 6 different courses.

We spend so much time BSing while driving that the scenery doesn't matter much honestly, but the drive along the river was pretty. We found one cool little Mexican place, but other than that the food was a bit disappointing, nowhere close to the food on our DG trip to Kansas City a while back. that food was fabulous.
   679. BDC Posted: July 24, 2018 at 08:00 AM (#5714692)
I greatly prefer US highways to interstates. Often you lose no time, because although the interstates are faster and theoretically involve no stopping, the traffic can be very heavy and stressful. Depends on the part of the country you're in, of course. Oklahoma, for example, via interstate, is pretty damn boring; via US and state highways, it is beautiful and fascinating (including extant sections of the old Rte. 66).
   680. McCoy Posted: July 24, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5714723)
Apparently Chick-fil-a is dipping their toes into the home meal kit market out here in Atlanta. Didn't know that was something they needed to get into or that their food would be able to crossover to do it yourself type fare. It sort of makes sense in that a lot of Chick-fil-as out here have sizable catering revenue and if you've already got the space and people it is probably just pure profit to put flour in a bag and charge 20 bucks.
   681. Lassus Posted: July 24, 2018 at 09:40 AM (#5714730)
I'm at work but I've taken the train from Shanghai to Moscow (and then Poland) . There are two lines, the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-Mongolian. I took the latter.

I've also done multiple cross-countries on the Greyhound, one from Seattle to Miami. (Only one via Amtrak). I traveled on the ground from Bangkok to Warsaw. (and the plan was to go all the way to Lisbon, but I ran out of money.) I love ground travel.
   682. McCoy Posted: July 24, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5714733)
I believe DC to Pittsburgh was my longest bus ride. Did it for the grand total of something like 3 dollars for the round trip. Was not a bad ride for $3.

The problem with bus rides is that when something goes wrong in the system you're stranded out in the middle of the nowhere far more often than you are with a train or a plane. I mean with a plane you can obviously crash but if the crews have run out of time they don't take off. Whereas with a bus you can have a driver who is taking you on a 4 hour bus ride and 2 hours into it call up the dispatcher and say they are tired or that their time is maxed out and then you're stuck on the side of the road until they can find someone to drive the bus and get them out there.
   683. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5714734)
Oklahoma, for example, via interstate, is pretty damn boring

It sure is, but I have a few interesting associations with I-40 in that area. As usual they have to do with cheap ethnic food, my constant hobby.

Once, 15 years ago, I drove through and stopped for a meal in Amarillo, TX. I rolled by a strip mall that was strangely dominated by Thai nightclubs. This was unexpected. I went into one of them and ate dinner - it wasn't very good, as I recall, but I had just spent 6 months in Thailand and I can tell you that it remains the single most authentic Thai place I've been to in the US. The menu, the right condiments on the table, the karaoke projected on a screen, the ubiquitous whisky & soda. Obviously there's a Thai enclave there of some sort.

The last time I was on 40 I stopped at a truck stop somewhere in eastern New Mexico or Texas. It was snowing. The truck stop catered to Indian truck drivers, apparently exclusively. There was a buffet with curries and chapatis and such, so #### it, we dug in, sitting in a booth, surrounded by lonely Indian truck drivers, a Bollywood musical on the little tv in the corner. The shop had both truck driver things and Indian grocery things, an odd blend. Again the food wasn't very good but I just love unexpected cross-cultural situations.

I also stopped in Oklahoma City and went to 3 hip new restaurants just to see if even Oklahoma City has hip new restaurants. It does. Full of hipsters.
   684. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5714735)
I'm at work but I've taken the train from Shanghai to Moscow (and then Poland) . There are two lines, the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-Mongolian. I took the latter.


Story??

Mongolia is near the top of my list of places to go ... photos of yurts and sheep foraging the endless green pastures just make my heart leap.

Also images of the Great Wall out in the West where it is crumbling and empty. Love it! One day, I'll be there.


I traveled on the ground from Bangkok to Warsaw.


I am sincerely impressed. That's awesome.
   685. Lassus Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5714749)
Well, the preface was meant to preclude the story, for the moment. I'm at work, still learning the internet protocols at new job, so none of these stories are being done on my phone. Later, hopefully.
   686. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:08 AM (#5714753)
Cool. Looking forward to it. I've read most of Paul Theroux's travel books, which tend to follow epic train journeys like the one you took. I like him because he's intelligent, judgmental and misanthropic.
   687. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5714756)
My two longest drives (numbers per the internet) came on the same vacation marathon back in probably late May/early June 1982 -- 1,900 miles from Phoenix to Hillsdale, Michigan, then a couple of weeks later 1,934 miles from Cullowhee, N.C. to Phoenix. Add in the 600 or so from Hillsdale to Cullowhee & a trip from the latter to & from Knoxville for the World's Fair, & the grand total came to around 4,700 miles. That's assuming we traveled the most direct routes, which wasn't necessarily the case, particularly when my then-mother-in-law had the wheel.

   688. Lassus Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5714758)
I'm certainly no Bourdain or Theroux. My stories are not super-wacky, but I'll attempt to be slightly entertaining.
   689. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:20 AM (#5714764)
gef: Do tell
   690. jmurph Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5714775)
My longest one day drive was Iowa City to suburban Atlanta. It looks like about 880ish miles the way I did it. It was definitely too long for one day but I had just been unceremoniously broken up with so I wasn't about to spend a night alone in a depressing roadside motel.
   691. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5714785)
I had just been unceremoniously broken up with
Would a ceremony really have made it better?
   692. jmurph Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5714786)
Would a ceremony really have made it better?

At least some sort of medal, come on. I had driven all the way from Seattle to see her!
   693. McCoy Posted: July 24, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5714790)
My wife doesn't like to do long car rides in one trip so she wants to stop and stayover which is anathema to me. I think 17 hours in one day was the longest I had to do which was Chicago to Dallas and vice versa but my DC to Atlanta trip and my Chicago to Atlanta were broken up over two days. Taking a break does have its benefits as we stayed over the weekend in Myrtle Beach on our trip down from DC and we stayed the night in Louisville on our trip down from Chicago. Myrtle Beach was a good time. Louisville was a bit of a dud as I have already been there several times and we were only spending a few hours there awake.
   694. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 24, 2018 at 11:30 AM (#5714830)
I think the interstate system is exceptional. I drove 1,000 miles in a day once - would that be possible in any other country? (Australia?) But they're not designed for tourism, for meandering, for getting lost and serendipitously finding a cafe with amazing pie.


Ahem.
   695. dlf Posted: July 24, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5714835)
Longest one-day solo drive was 1,300 miles from Hamilton NY to Mobile AL, everything but the first hour on the interstate. I-81 is, for an interstate, a fairly scenic drive skirting national forests and running alongside the Smokies. Unfortunately, the prettiest parts of the drive were at night. I left after finals ended and, still pretty wound up - plus young and dumb - didn't really get tired until around when the sun came up somewhere near Chattanooga. I'm a little surprised that there weren't little bits and pieces of my 1983 Dodge Omni scattered on the highway right-of-way somewhere in the last couple of hundred miles.

Longest one-day solo drive as a (purported) adult was doing Atlanta to Jacksonville and back, about 750 miles, about a year ago. I had family commitments at home but had to get to a funeral in Florida and couldn't make flights work. Long day.

Driving, when you can take time to stop and enjoy the sights, can be fun. Long drives just to get to a destination suck.
   696. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 24, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5714836)
Lassus, when did you go? I don't remember, any more, why I chose the Siberian over the Mongolian route. It seems there was a third option up the coast through Vladivostok that would have added a day or so, but I ended up with the one through Harbin.

I was originally intending a more epic journey, and slightly regret not following the original plan. I had taught English in Japan for a few years and decided to go home the long way around. Took ferries from Osaka to Okinawa to Taipei, spend a few days there, then over to Macau/Hong Kong (for a week), then via trains to Beijing (overnight), Moscow (ten days), and Prague (long weekend). Flew to Israel to hang out with another friend for a couple weeks, including Egypt and a terrifying overnight bus trip from Cairo to Luxor. Was thinking I'd fly back to Prague and Eurail Pass around for the summer, including the Barcelona Olympics, but instead flew from Tel Aviv back to Japan. A woman may have been involved in that decision.

Other random recollections from the Trans-Siberian - since the first day was almost entirely the rolling wheat fields of northern China, there wasn't much to do. At the time I had a pretty good capacity for alcohol as long as I didn't mix, so several bottles of $3 Chinese vodka were consumed, much to the initial amusement and eventual respect of some of the Russians who hadn't passed out. Well, I think it was respect - I had a nickname for the rest of the trip, пьяница, which was chanted (much like "Norm!!" when I entered the dining car. The leader of their group invited me to dinner (ironically, Chinese food) once we got back to Moscow, and it wasn't until my sponsor there filled me in that I understood how connected my new friend must have been in organized crime. In retrospect it should have been obvious - he had the only BMW in a sea of Ladas, and he was spectacularly unconcerned about leaving it in the parking lot of the restaurant. But whatever, we had bonded over about twelve bottles of vodka and had a great time on the train.

Other key memories include a five hour layover at the Chinese border while each train car was lifted on a crane and the wheels swapped out. Russia has (had?) a different gauge of track - some kind of invasion paranoia I suppose :) - and we were able to get out and play frisbee under the watchful eye of very serious soldiers with rifles. Then most of a day along the shore of a frozen Lake Baikal, with sled tracks leading off to the North across the expanse every hour or so. The windows were not well sealed - you'd accumulate a quarter-inch of coal dust on your bunk over the course of a day, even with it shut. There was always a porter tending the samovar at the entrance to every car. The toilets were simply holes through which you could see the track speeding by, which was a little unnerving. My roommates were a Dane, a Dutch, and a Brit; it was a co-ed compartment. No livestock, unlike the 36-hour ride from HK to Beijing (a goat) or that Egyptian bus ride (chickens). We stopped a few times a day at various stations; for a few rubles you could get hardboiled eggs, pirogies, and some sort of Fanta equivalent that appeared to have a picture of a pineapple on it. Like I mentioned before, it was remarkable how patient the locals were, because we were laughably off schedule, but there were always folks two or three deep clamoring at the windows of the train for those "Levis" and track suits. I traded a pair of my own (actual) Levis for an authentic rabbit-fur hat with a Soviet army badge, and a kind of awesome (and working!) paratrooper watch just like this one.

All in all a great experience, and one I'd recommend for anyone with the time and inclination. The total cost was right around $500, and that included a night in a Beijing hotel, visa fees for both China and Russia (not trivial processes), and all your food on the train (but not the booze :)). Of course, that was then... Apparently the Monkey Business guys are still around (that's the same logo, anyway), and the price is up to about a thousand euros, but what the hell; it's over a week of room and board :), and you legitimately get to see the world. Granted, a thin slice of it, but still.

Amusingly, 20 years later my then-employer sent me to Novosibirsk for some training, and I was the first employee they'd ever had who'd been there before. I didn't handle the alcohol quite so well the second time through, I do remember that...
   697. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 24, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5714850)
As far as car trips, last Sunday drove from Yellowstone to just outside Seattle, which put a little over 800 miles on the car over 12.5 hours, nearly 700 miles of it along I-90. Family was in the car, but I drove the whole way. Longest trip was a with a buddy, we drove from Seattle to Hollywood in about 18 hours, with only one stray into the median that I was responsible for. Someday I'd like to do the I-90/I-95/I-10/I-5 loop, but I haven't been a car I'd be comfortable enough to do it in yet. As per dlf, I'd much rather take time and stop for random crap here and there, as opposed to racing through the thing, so I have no idea how long to budget for something like that.
   698. BDC Posted: July 24, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5714859)
My longest trip is Dallas to Albany and return, about 3,400 miles. I have done that several times (and several slightly shorter versions thereof), but I've never driven more than 800 miles in a day.
   699. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5714889)
Like I mentioned before, it was remarkable how patient the locals were, because we were laughably off schedule


Major generalization here, but people outside of the Westernized World can have a remarkable resignedness concerning the vicissitudes of life. This can result in both an admirable flexibility and equanimity in the face of hard circumstances, and an occasionally insane embrace of events that are supposedly out of one's control, for instance, whether there will be a car approaching when you decide to pass another car on a blind turn.
   700. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 24, 2018 at 12:23 PM (#5714897)
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