Recapping last week's trip. Last Tuesday I wrote:

I am at the San Diego Hacienda Plaza Suites Courtyard Et Cetera. Late afternoon sun has lit up the jocanda flowers (I made that up; don’t know what they are) and I’m thinking: nap. Just finished the rehearsal for the Rifftrax over at Mike’s office. Brutal. It’s one thing to sit through Spider-Man 3 for a week writing the script; it’s another to sit through it again, reading the script. It’s been a long day –

Oh, BITCH AND MOAN, fer heaven’s sake, I’m in San Diego, comped into a hotel room, working on a project with Mike Freakin’ Nelson. I'm here:



Boo and or hoo. But it has been a long day. Couldn’t sleep, since I had to get up early for the flight; I kept waking up and returning to strange dreams. I was staying in an abandoned school, because of the zombie plague. The zombies were mostly in the basement, and they stayed there, but we could hear them moaning. Every so often you’d find one on the grounds in a lucid state, and engage them in conversation; one of them, an ugly squat young man dressed like the AC/DC guitarist, was smoking a cigarette and complaining that he’d never kiss a girl again. Then I woke and checked the clock: 5:35. Ugh. The flight was quick, but the guys behind me were middle-aged wastrel boozetards who spoke entirely in Bill Murray movie references, and regarded this as the height of cleverness; they were accompanied by the obligatory weathered blondes with smoker’s laughs and an unfortunate tendancy to find everything amusing. I read a little, watched some TV, and tried not to fall asleep. The airport was a mess – under construction, as they all are – and for some reason it’s called the Lindbergh airport, just like Minneapolis; wonder if he franchised his name in the old days. MAybe there’s a Hauptmann terminal. Accessible only by ladder.

Well, I’m going to walk around now and wear myself out before the nap. I have Old Town to explore, and it looks like my meal options are Mexican, Mexican, Mexican, and Tex-Mex, except without the Mex part. Later.

That was pleasant enough. It’s a cool night, and it feels like the off season. Presuming there’s an on season, I suppose. I walked down to the local gougeteria for some fruit and newspapers, then strolled into the Old Town Park, which appears to be a haphazardly preserved original townsite or a poorly maintained re-creation. The stores sold lots of Mexican-themed krep, and one booth had an entire section devoted to Che. Because he’s so crucial to the history of California and Mexico, I guess. I stopped off at a cigar store that smelled like smoky holy heaven, and examined a selection of Zippos for sale. I found one I liked, which is rare; usually most Zippos you find in stores are rather crude. You could sum them up with an eagle wearing Playboy bunny ears driving a Chevy, perhaps. The owner, who was wearing a kilt, noted I was carrying some newspapers and asked what was in the news today.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Haven’t read them. The usual panic, I guess.”

“And the real news is on page 16,” he said.

I wandered some more, took some pictures. Sunset cast long cool shadows, and it didn’t feel like Spring. Or Fall. Some new California variant, perhaps, invented in a lab to sell a new season of clothing. I decided to find a place to eat, and chose the first place that wasn’t Mexican. (Had it for lunch and will have it tomorrow.) It was called O’Hungry’s, which seemed Simpsonian enough. There was one waiter and he was as busy as a sole waiter in an Old Town restaurant called O’Hungry’s. Seriously: the fellow deserves his own analogy. I ordered something chickeny and opened the papers.

The papers suck. Pardon the language, but for heaven’s sake, the papers sucked. The papers sucked hard enough to pull Jupiter out of orbit. I had gotten used to the underwhelmingly ordinary Arizona paper, but the LA Times and the San Diego paper were a new level of sucktitudinousness. The SD paper was like a slab of Sominex pounded into thin folded sheets, and I don’t know if it was the lead story – “Sweeping Regulatory Powers Sought,” or something equally deadly – or the cookie-cutter design, but man, that thing was dull; when I finished I felt like I’d put 50 cents into a soda machine, got nothing, and realized I didn’t really want any soda anyway. On to the LA Times, which surprised me – I have almost no experience with the paper, except its reputation, which surely was exaggerated. Well. I blew through it quickly, and when I was finished the only impression it left was astonishment that a market that large had such a weightless, arid, aimless paper. It has the typeface of a better paper, but that’s about it. I finished both before I was halfway through my Ironed Chicken Sandwich – really, it was so thin, that’s probably how they cooked it – and I spent the rest of my time reading the internet on my iPhone.

I wandered down the street to a coffee shop, had some ice cream, and finished my news reading on the iPhone.

If I’d never had one of those “you know, newspaper might be in trouble” moments, that would have been it. Actually, that morning I’d spent a solid half hour at the airport with the Wall Street Journal, which was and is a great paper. Why? Four things: Diversity of subject matter, a focus on subjects not easily given to ideological slants, quantity of stories, and lively writing. So lively, in fact, that when they called my flight I kept reading, working in my pockets for my boarding pass –

Which I didn’t have.

I’d had it just a few minutes ago. Checked every pocket. Nowhere. Checked the pile of papers, the carry-on bag. Nope. And I had to board now, because this was Southwestern, where you chose your own seat, and I wanted an aisle. Well, I plan ahead; I always print two and store one in my carry-on. But it didn’t have the tell-tape TSA squiggle. Well, I had to chance it. I handed it over, expecting to be in plastic cuffs in a windowless room in minutes, but it was beeped without incident. I later discovered I’d put the pass in a pocket I did not know the jacket even HAD.

Off to bed. Have to get up and be Tom Servo tomorrow.  Some shots of my locale:

The cafe where I had good coffee and some ice cream. Typical Old Town, it seems, although this could be anywhere. Since I had a wireless connection, it was anywhere.

Sunset in the park: chairs at the bandstand.


In case you need to go medieval on anyone's butt:


The Rifftrax project, incidentally, is here. Buy it! Cheap at twice the price, and if I don't screw up their sales too badly, I get to do another one. In case you don't know what it's all about, well, it's a Mystery Science Theater 3000-type snarky commentary track for Spider-Man 3. You pop the movie in your computer, start the Rifftrax audio file, and voila: MST3K-style comments on a big-budget, heavily copyrighted movie. I'll talk about the process and the actual recording session tomorrow.

New comics; I’ll see you at