Things to do in Denver when you're undead

It's entirely coincidental, but this is the third time since 2003 that I've been in the western United States during Halloween.  In 2003, I was camping in Zion National Park after weeks of Nevadan fieldwork, and my friend Alex and I had to burn her Merrell shoes in order to compete with the bonfires of the bonding fathers-and-sons who surrounded us.  Last year I was in Utah, and the SatNav in our Jesus Chrysler hire car managed to direct us into a Haunted Forest when we were trying to find Salt Lake City airport.  And this year I'm in Denver, for the Geological Society of America annual meeting. Why they felt the need to hold it over this weekend, I do not know, but it should mean there are plenty of things to do if you find yourself in a dull session of talks.

Having arrived last night to a time zone three-and-a-half hours behind the one I'm used to, and struggling with back-pain-related insomnia on top of that, I already feel zombified, so I might as well embrace this all-American hypefest of fear, death and invisibility.  Tonight, I shall be attending my first ever NHL ice hockey match, as the Colorado Avalanche host the Columbus Blue Jackets.  I don't know if people dress up for a Halloween hockey game, but I will do my utmost to fit in, buying a giant foam hand and a cauldron of popcorn if that is what's required.

I flew to Denver via Newark with Continental, and though they were more reliable than I was led to expect, the onboard facilities were basic to say the least.  On the first flight, of about 3 hours, refreshments came in the form of soft drinks and two tiny biscuits, and there was no in-flight entertainment (if you discount the camp steward).  On the second, a journey of over 4 hours, there were tiny pretzels instead of the tiny biscuits, but no further nourishment (unless you wanted to pay for it).  There were television screens and, with nothing better to do, I decided to watch the film.

The screen was tiny, of course, and the sound quality pitiful, but that acts as almost no mitigation.  Grown Ups was one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  The plot was thinner than Bobby Charlton's hair, the jokes lamer than my old three-legged dog, the characters almost universally unlikeable, and the dialogue as trite and shallow as an interview with Fearne Cotton.  I know we shouldn't expect much from Adam Sandler, but this was something else.  I would describe it as two hours of my life I won't get back, but I chose to watch it all the way to the end, so it's my own fault.  Thankfully, when I disembarked and finally made it to my hotel room, I turned on the television to find Newsnight and Jezza Paxo being broadcast on PBS, so was able to exorcise some of the Sandlerian demons.

And now the sun has risen on what looks to be a promising day in Denver, so I'd best head out and see what teratological delights I can find...
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