The Intermittent Kevin

As rarely and randomly updated as most blogs

A few notes on driving in Ireland

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The Irish people, in all their wily self-sufficiency, are able to do without that which we spoiled and obese Americans might consider essential. For example, you might consider it a necessity in a motorized country for there to be roads wide enough for the cars to actually drive on. Not so, say our Irish brethren. Except they’ve been drinking, so it comes out like “Nae suh!” and then they buy you a Guinness.

Apparently a legal thoroughfare.

In fairness, the roads are usually at least one lane wide, though not always. When possible, they’re stretched to one-and-a-half or one-and-three-quarters lanes, thus allowing I and my fellow driver to gently brush mirrors as our cars scooch by each other—I at two miles per hour, he at 35.

Then there’s street signs. Don’t need em. Doesn’t matter, since the name of the street is liable to change three times in half a kilometer anyway. Hell, for all I know, they’ve changed the name of the street outside since this morning. As a result, navigating around the twisted roads of Cork involves a lot of landmark sighting—and, more often, blind dumb luck.

And constant, constant self-reminders that I’m supposed to drive on the left side of the road. The actual driving you get used to; for some reason it’s realizing which ways to look as you cross the road. My brain just shuts down and I simply swing my head back and forth like an idiot as my car creeps into harm’s way.

But there’s an upside to all this anarchy. Irish people are seemingly never in a hurry to get anywhere. If another driver makes a crazy looping turn through an intersection, they just stand by. If someone pulls over and mounts the curb, they just swing around. Though I did see one fender bender, I would imagine that major wrecks are much less common when everyone is constantly on their guard.

And they’re so friendly about the situation that we Texans are put to shame. On one occasion there was genuine gridlock on a tiny road in front of us, with cars stopped head-to-head; I witnessed the three cars in front of me all cheerily place themselves in reverse, back themselves out of the block, and wave as the opposing traffic passed through. Amazing.

Which is not to say the Irish are lacking in driving nuttery:

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Written by Kevin Miller

July 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

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Ireland: Pics from Days 1-2

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Yes this WILL be your new desktop picture.

For those of you not following on Twitter or Facebook (hint hint), here’s our best pictures from the first couple days:

(For some reason some pics are showing as question marks right now. Refresh the page if you see that.)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/happywaffle/sets/72157624461530277/

Written by Kevin Miller

July 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

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Ireland, Part 2: Kevin Passes Out

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But not in the way you think.

Our flights between Dallas and Cork, by way of Chicago and London, were pleasantly uneventful. Biggest downer for the first half was a sleeveless-T-wearing douche-canoe, behind Mary Beth on the leg to O’Hare, who reacted somewhat violently to the notion of her seat reclining.

To have a fighting chance against jet lag, we knew we’d need to sleep as much as possible on the seven-hour flight between Chicago and London. So upon reaching cruising altitude, we ordered alcoholic drinks, and then MB offered me a tablet of Buspar, which she promised would knock me pleasantly out for the duration.

(I would also like to mention that the meds were taken along with a full meal, and that MB took *two* of the happy pills with no ill effects. Don’t tell me what I can’t do!)

Anyhoo, after eating my sleeping pill, my American Airlines Reheated Beefy Goodness™ and drinking a small bottle of water, I donned my eyemask and started drifting off to sleep.

Less than half an hour later, I opened my eyes. I was feeling rather queasy. It wasn’t a definite danger-will-robinson moment, but I also couldn’t find a barf bag in my seat pocket, and I have a brief history with trans-oceanic airplane sickness (cf: Melbourne-to-LAX, September 2007). So out of an abundance of caution, I walked back and stood in line for the bathroom.

*WHUMP*

“Sir? Sir, are you okay? Are you okay, sir?”

I became aware that someone was talking. Then I realized someone was tapping my hand. Then I realized, confusedly, that I was sitting on the floor with my eyes closed. Looking up, I saw the entire rear section of the flight staring at me with great interest.

I’d passed out.

I still felt rather groggy, but of course was equal parts embarrassed. I apologized to the flight attendant, might have attempted to make a self-deprecating joke, and said something about just needing to make it to the bathroom. So I stood up, took one and a half steps, and

*WHUMP*
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Written by Kevin Miller

July 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

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Ireland, Part 1: The Mission

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Only with no Ice T.

Quick intro, for those not in the loop: I’m visiting our work call center in Cork, Ireland for two weeks as part of a big call-center-agent-training project that I’m kinda responsible for. Yes, I have indeed earned the ire of many coworkers who discovered I got a free trip to Ireland just to *observe* training. Mary Beth, immediately upon hearing of my trip, announced she was coming along too.

K: “Well, you know I’m just going to be working all day, right?”
MB: [cheerful] “Oh that’s okay!”

So we’ll see how many euros she spends on Guinness- and potato-themed trinkets during my workday.

'You know we can get these at home, dear.'


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Written by Kevin Miller

July 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm

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Figuring Out This MJ Character

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I’m watching “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” the documentary cobbled together out of rehearsal footage from Michael’s farewell concert series (which, of course, was cancelled due to a sudden onset of death).

Michael's replacement kept trying to eat the choreographer.

I could spend this whole post describing the strange contradiction that Michael represented. He was a certified weirdo, made even weirder by an unlimited spending account; a freakish and very public example of body dysmorphic disorder; and if not a pedophile, certainly a man who didn’t have a typical notion of how to behave around kids.

And yet. And yet! Watching him prance around onstage, in his skinny pants and oddball jackets, I was involuntarily sucked into the performance. Michael had infinite stage presence and wrote timeless pop songs that were totally unlike anyone else’s. As Chris Rock so elegantly put it:

“How much do we love Michael Jackson? We love Michael so much, we let the first kid SLIDE!”

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Written by Kevin Miller

June 18, 2010 at 10:47 pm

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Why We Still Love “Back to the Future”

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What's with the life preserver?

On Sunday morning, myself and a few friends drove to the Alamo Drafthouse for one of their famous “feasts”—expensive, multiple-course menus paired with a movie marathon. This time it was the Back to the Future trilogy, for which they pulled out quite a few of the stops. Three shiny DeLoreans were parked out front. BTTF-themed collectibles were raffled off. And in the best part of the day, Christopher Lloyd himself made a surprise appearance for a Q&A—he very rarely does these.

He's the Doc Brown-looking guy in the middle.

Prior to the show, one of the Alamo employes warmed up the crowd briefly and pointed out how, on a weekend where we could see remakes of The Karate Kid and The A-Team back-to-back, the notion of a modern Hollywood remake of Back to the Future is all but inconceivable. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try, of course, but his point remains valid. What’s so special about the time-travel movie?

Besides the kick-ass time machine, that is.


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Written by Kevin Miller

June 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm

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Hour 41 of the 41-hour improv marathon

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(Just visiting? That’s cool; see the bottom of this post for my favorite quotes from the show.)

This weekend, from Friday afternoon until early Sunday morning, a group of eight hardy improvisers at my spiritual home, the Hideout Theatre, performed 41 continuous hours of improv comedy, with miniscule breaks in between and help from a wide range of fellow improvisers who brought a new format each hour.

Check out the full schedule for an idea of how it went down. I’d heard from last year that the final hours were the ones to see, so I set my alarm for 5:00 this morning and turned up for the final three hours. That’s right, I wanted to see improvised 1960s Batman, and oh boy was it worth the early wakeup.

The final hour saw eight haggard individuals, miraculously upright, ready to do one final long-form narrative. And maybe the audience’s own sleeplessness helped somewhat, but oh, it was one of the finest hours of improv I’ve ever seen.
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Written by Kevin Miller

June 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

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