Harris Gray at Nerd Nite!



Nerd NiteNerd Nite in Denver is a riot. It’s a TED talk for nerds. Nerds who like to drink, and demand informative entertainment. We are excited to be one of those info-tainers on Thursday night, November 19. And we want you there! (you don’t have to be a nerd to come) (but you clearly are a nerd if you do) (and that’s okay, these days it’s a label of honor)

The name of our talk is Google or Go? Romania plays a prominent role in the upcoming Book 3 in our Vampire Vic trilogy. To research our story, half of Harris Gray traveled to the land of Nadia Comaneci (and Transylvania), while the other half traveled the Information Superhighway. We’re going to tell you which path is best.

Tickets are a measly $5 and can be purchased at http://denver.nerdnite.com/. Nerd Nite, Oriental TheaterThe venue, the Oriental Theater, is a classic old-timey theather in a very cool northwest Denver neighborhood, filled with restaurants, bars and sweet little shops (including the BookBar, honestly the best bookshop we have ever had the pleasure to visit). Come join us!


The Golf Shot


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Have you ever had a dream like this? This is my recurring dream. I can’t call it a nightmare, although it’s worse than frightening. This dream leaves me unfulfilled.

All systems go

All systems go

I’m golfing. The dream picks up in the middle of a round, and I’m feeling great. Strong and supple. There are people watching, and I am fearless, because I know my game is on, and my stroke is…you know, strong and supple. It’s my turn to tee off.

I address the ball, surveying the beautiful fairway. Which is a little narrow, but that’s fine, I’m going to boom this thing, no one will care whether I end up in the rough. I start my backswing, and the ball falls off the tee.

I replace the ball, but now I realize the tee is a little high. I push the tee deeper into the ground—which has turned into one of those rubber driving range mats. Instead of a tee, I have to use a flexible built-in rubber tube.

No problem. But now when I stand up, there is a tree in the way. I mean right in the way, pretty much in my face. Crap, I’m going to have to play safe and hit around the wide trunk, not going to be able to let the big dog eat. At least not until the next shot. I shift my stance to aim right and pull the club back, but the tree branches won’t let me get any kind of backswing.

I’m frustrated, as are my playing partners, the group behind us, and the spectators. And now it turns out I have to hit through a window. Not a “tight window” but a real one, because my ball is actually sitting on a counter in a kitchen. I have to play through a house, just like Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, except there is no helpful homeowner offering me a fat stogie-doobie and cannonball chaser.

The countertop is waist-high. I’m choked up on the club, willing to take my best shot, but now the refrigerator is partially obstructing the window, and I’m going to have to hit left-handed with the rounded backside of the club, with a restricted backswing to avoid breaking a hanging light. And when I look down, the ball has become nestled into an egg carton sprouting greasy black chicken heads. The awful chicks might even still be alive. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a club for that.

Everyone else is now done with the hole. “For crying out loud,” says someone (probably Jason), “just pick it up.” I do, feeling absolutely awful.

So, is that a classic golfer’s nightmare? Or is there deeper meaning, the unsuccessful golf swing just a metaphor for a failure to launch? I’d like to know if anyone else has a similar dream, where they are ready and willing to take the shot, golf or otherwise, but just can’t pull the trigger.


Foreign Joy


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Flying Austrian Air to Vienna and then Bucharest. It’s time travel—not to a different time, but in one. We just finished a full free dinner. There will also be free breakfast.

Our tickets were $1300 per person. For all I know we paid an extra $100 per ticket for these meals. And we are delighted.

“I could go home now,” I told my wife as we polished off chicken and mashed potatoes, and she knew what I meant. The dinner was blissful. We were complete. We felt loved, by emotionless, attentive flight attendants. We felt valued.austrian-airlines-logo

This is not a plea to the U.S. carriers. There is no way they will ever go back to this model – they’ve gone too far. On the leg to Dulles, a dour (not to be confused with emotionless) United Airlines attendant was asked for a blanket by a sweet skinny older lady, and with absolutely no compassion or apology told her that blankets were removed in the cost-cutting frenzy after 9-11 and the subsequent run-up in fuel prices. “That many blankets are heavy, and they decided they could save fuel by eliminating them.”

Back in our seats my wife said, “Couldn’t they have kept ten blankets? That would be enough.”

There is a joylessness in the airlines’ quest for profitability. In every interview about their atrocious customer service ratings, Frontier will say they’re doing exactly what their customers want, and that once they get really good at it, their ratings will rise.

So we’re 37,000 feet up and just south of Greenland, 10 hours into our trip, and feeling joyful as we follow Austrian Airline’s onscreen seat exercises to avoid dying by blood clot.