Around here, they also call it “severe weather” if the mercury dips into the 30s and 40s. Thoughts with those on the east coast as Sandy advances. When Ike struck, we weathered the storm just fine. It wasn’t until 24 hours later that the power went out, and some time after that the phones followed suit. Cell phone coverage was spotty because the power supplying the towers was also cut. We learned that coverage was best near the interstate and around the shopping mall and hospital, presumably because the backup power was better. We also discovered that sending text messages was more reliable. Texts take a small fraction of the bandwidth of a call, and they are queued up to be delivered if they can’t get through right away.
We voted on Saturday morning, at around 8:30. The polling station had been open since 7:00. We went fully anticipating long lines, but the first good sign was that there was plenty of parking available in the community association lot. Also, no line coming out the door. A poll worker out front advertised “ninja voting”—in and out in a few minutes—which was exactly our experience. We went straight up to the table to have our registration cards scanned and then straight over to the polling station. The machine is sort of a glorified iPad with a spin wheel you use to move from field to field. Since it was my first time voting, I handled the machine with care until I got the hang of it. I was afraid I might accidentally vote Republican straight ticket. Easy peasey. The cups of tea we left in the car didn’t have time to cool.
I started Double Feature by Owen King this weekend. It’s about a young man whose sole ambition in life is to make a movie based on the script he’s been developing for a while. His father, with whom he has a bad relationship, is semi-famous for starring in a raft of B movies in the 70s and 80s. There is some tension between literary and genre here, especially when the father offers some criticism of the script. The section where he actually makes the movie is told in one long paragraph that goes on for pages. This might seem like a turn-off, but it isn’t. I have no idea where the book will go now that he’s editing the footage, but I suspect is somewhat psychotic “assistant director” (a guy he made stand outside for a few days so they would know the instant the rain stopped) will play a major part. I could be wrong.
Did we see Red John at the end of this week’s The Mentalist? Episode #100 was cleverly titled “Red Dawn,” which plays with the nemesis’s name but is also in line with the fact that this is an “origin” episode. The tale of how Patrick Jane first met up with the folks at the CBI. They did a decent job of creating a story that accounts for how he became a consultant. But the guy with the suspiciously soft voice in the limo at the end: zounds! Does that mean he’s FBI, too? Or someone with a lot of political influence. A politician, maybe. It makes sense that the killer has to have a “day job”—that he’s not just a nutcase. Otherwise, why would people cover for him? If he were an important guy who happened to go off and kill someone every now and then, that would explain things better. Aside: I heard the guy who plays Rigsby talk in his natural voice for the first time. He’s Welsh and he has a really thick accent. Who knew?
We watched Wanderlust this weekend. I like Jennifer Aniston, but the trailer didn’t exactly thrill me. However, my wife thought it looked funny, so I was willing to give it a shot. It had its funny moments. A couple of laugh-out-loud funny moments. It was great seeing Alan Alda in a different kind of role, and the payoff for his character was neat. However, I found a lot of it painfully awkward. The scene when Paul Rudd was on the toilet and people were talking to him, for example. Or the scene where he is trying to psych himself up in front of the mirror. Painful. The funny thing is that I thought it was Justin Theroux playing Aniston’s husband, but he was actually Seth, the leader of the commune. I was surprised to see that it scored nearly 60% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience only gave it a 42%, which is more in line with my opinion.