Once again, looking at cruise ship reviews. Big mistake. Always something there to annoy me. You say: yes, because cruises are a mistake; who wants to be a enormous barge with loudmouth drunks with uncontrollable diarrhea? Well, when you put it that way. If you have had such an experience and do not wish to repeat a week at sea dealing with intoxicated boors who are hopping from one leg to the others they queue at the public loos, and fall over from time to time, the force of the drop causing them to lose control, I can see where you would prefer a nice trip on a bus, where your only worries are the baby that cries between 2:47 AM and 5:45 AM, and the tubercular drifter in the back whose wet, raspy hacks almost form a counterpoint the snores of the man in the next seat.

But, as you know, I like cruises. I like everything about them except people who complain about them, and take to the message boards to unload. Some ships deserve castigation, no doubt. Some cruises don’t go well. In 2012 I was on a ship whose crew was on the brink of mass murder, because they had two Code Reds on a transatlantic crossing right before, which means that everyone on staff had to replace their blood with bleach, and spend all day washing everything and standing around holding 42-gallon drums of Purell for everyone to use. Then rough seas meant they couldn’t go to the island the line owned, where they would have some R&R. There was nothing specifically wrong with the trip, but the psychic accumulations of the crew could be felt as surely as the thrum of the engines.

So yes, there was something to complain about. When isn’t there? At work today I was watching the shovels dig a pile of debris, and I was fascinated by the way the operator was clawing out the very pile on which his machinery rested. I sat there with camera in hand for ten minutes expecting him to tumble over, and he didn’t. WASTE OF MY TIME. THANKS MAN for all the competence.

Always something there to annoy me. So last night I was looking at a site for a cruise line; lovely design. Very clean. Blue hue, there’s a surprise. Impossible navigation. Let me just say that “poor navigation” is not a phrase you want to think about when considering ships. The excursions were all bad for this voyage.


Translation: you are bused around until you get somewhere, then you get off and eat some local delicacy and have ten minutes to look at scarves and T-shirts while a bored and annoyed clerk deals with the people who are buying things; she couldn’t care less and frankly it’s a bother, all these customers.


Explore the storied isle of Achros, fabled home of the Greek legend of Acheron, who slew the Majortaur. Your motor coach will take you to the Palace of the Aunts, built by the Turks in the 19th century as a home for the Sultan’s wive’s sisters, then continue on through the colorful town of Kritos, where an uprising in 1873 changed the course of an empire. You will wind up the roads past rich groves to a village, where you will have time to relax and sample the local delicacies, known the world over as “olives.” Difficulty: you will be expected to be able to use the steps getting on and off the bus. Duration: seventeen hours

The truth:

Before you even set foot in the town, let alone stroll off the dock to make your way past hectoring taxi drivers who want to charge ten euros to get you into the city which is about half a mile away, you will be ushered into a bus indistinguishable from the one you took in Rome, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Barcelona, but hell, it’s a sweet bus. You will drive past the Palace of the Aunts, but you won’t stop; that’s why this tour is $69, not $119 like the one that had “Palace Tours” in the title. The tour guide will describe the structure in heavily accented English which sounds like someone feeding a Wikipedia entry into a sink disposal unit that is also filled with glass and small mice.

You will visit Kritos, an irrelevant hamlet; the driver will slow so you may see the pockmarked facade which still bears the marks of the bullets from the uprising. (To be honest, these were added in 1956 to attract cruise ships.) You may be allowed to get off and take pictures, if the fellow who runs the Ouza shop paid his percentage to the tour group managers this month. After a trip up the hill you will get off at a small town where everything looks like it does in the brochures, and samples of olives will encourage you to buy more olives, because for God’s sake there’s just no way you can get olives back home, no these are fargin’ GREEK olives from actual GREECE, and as you try some, you will have the opportunity to look through the binoculars at the clean white beaches below, where people in their 20s are gamboling about without heed for their future, and the reasonable expectation of sex with a stranger later in the evening.

After the stop at the small village, your bus wil take you back through the main square, where you will have the chance to look out the window at things as they pass.

The subsequent retelling to your friends:

Oh, we loved Achros, did you do Achros? The secret is to take the bus up to the top, because the cabs will just rip you off - really, ten euros? C’mon. There’s this little place up in the hills, amaaaaaazing olives, if you’re into those. You know, that’s where Homer said the Majortour lived. It’s really something. You feel the presence of history everywhere.

The Cruise Critic website review:

It was okay. Bus was a little hot at first but then the driver adjusted the A/C and then it was too cold. My husband is interested in insects and was disappointed we did not stop at the Palace of the Ants. There was a stop at a place to take some pictures, and you could buy a drink of Uzi but we passed. At the top of the hill there’s another town with nice olives on toast but Harold can’t eat them. There was a nice view of the beach tho and you can use the binoculars to observe much younger people and I stood there for a while trying to reconcile the advantages of wealth and experience against the pleasures of the flesh now denied to me, but I realized that the denial was my own doing, that I had not succumbed to time but run into its dry, brittle embrace, feeling from the vagaries of passion to the rote expectations of comfort and routine.

On the way back someone was sick in the lab.


My takeaway, after reading all the possibilities of one trip and one ship: Wow. To stand on the shore. To say: I’m in FARGIN’ GREECE.

Which would be cool.

Unless the eggs in the breakfast buffet are watery and you have to ask for an omelette to get anything good. SCREW. THAT.

Don’t even START about how half the tables are missing the salt shakers at 10:45 AM because they’re refilling them for lunch.

Bioshock Infinite update: You may ask if I’m playing the expansion packs; you may not because such things are of no importance to you, and you cannot imagine why anyone would presume they were. FINE, be that way. I just wanted to note some wall art. It may seem familiar.

It made me think of this, a monument in North Korea dedicated to the founding of the Party. But instead of showing the pillars of the society, it shows what the Noble Individual in this society rejects: collectivism, religion, and patriotism.

It’s just a detail you walk past, but that’s what makes for convincing worlds.



This sounds like fun.

As usual, the re-Cap! Hah! Get it? Never get tired of that. As usual, he's pretty darn happy about the way things are going, even though last week it seemed as if he was stuck in the oil plant when it blew up.

Captain America escaped from the sabotage of Henley's Techni-Gas Oil Plant by running out the door before it blew up. He managed to confine the damage to one building, so Henley wasn't ruined.

Unbelievable, says Moalarodor aka the Scarab; Henley refuses to pay me money, but has gone to the District Attorney twice, and been saved by Captain America. Conclusion: The man has powerful allies - so let’s take another run at him.

Why? Because if Henley goes free, no one in the expedition will fear the Scarab. I have no idea what Maldor is up to, really; revenge or money, it’s hard to say. Why he’s not living off the loot he accumulated in the first few episodes I don’t know, but he seems determined to bring the DA and Captain America into his schemes on a daily basis. Because it’s working so well so far.

Solution? Kill Henley! Yep, that’s a plot development. But how? By using a blow dart, wielded by an expert from the deepest jungle of . . . .Blowdartia, I guess. Anyway, Henley is tired of living at the DA’s office like some kept man; he has important work to do at the office! (Telephones had not been invented.) The DA says okay, you can go, and this means work for the Blow Dart Killer.

He’s shooting at a neck 10 stories down.

Lucky for Henley, he’s a bad shot. He misses. Unlucky for Blow Dart Man, the DA is better:

Because when you see someone on the roof and you think he’s blowing a poison dart at you, the natural response of a District Attorney is to pull out a gat and shoot the guy.

Well, back at Scarab HQ, the world’s most ineffectual and dissatisfied Master Criminal wonders why the hell he gets the paper these days:

Ah well. He notes that there’s only one person in the world who could trace the blow-gun to Maldor, and that’s Professor Grayson, who’s been dead two years. Whew! Grins of relief all around the Lair.

The DA does the natural thing, as you would expect an officer of the court who just shot a man: he takes the blow-dart to Maldor, thinking he might identify it. (Remember, there are only 10 - 15 people in the world in any serial.) Outside Maldor’s place:

The Casual Residential Neighborhood Overaged Shoe-Shine Boy. And this time, he gets a customer! The DA’s best gal secretary arrives in a car, following a line written down in the plot, and tells the DA that if they fly to Northridge, they might interview Professor Grayson’s son, who is ALSO an expert. What a break! But:

So the shifty far-too-old shoeshine boy tells Maldor that they’re planning to go to the airport. You know, the big airport for this bustling town:

The henches go to the airport to put a bomb in his plane, which will be piloted by the secretary. Who is a pilot. I won’t tell you how the DA finds out, but once he knows there’s skullduggery afoot:


Annnnd fistfight! Curse those strategically placed boxes:


Took me a second look to realize the floors weren’t greased.


Well, she's dead. Too bad. No way out of that one. It's not as if they edited out the part where Captain District Attorney calls her on the radio and tells her to put on the parachute we never saw and jump out of the plane.

Next week: more joy.

Don't miss it! I won't.

New additions to the Gallery of Regrettable Food. It never ends. See you around!



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