I’m surprised I get anything done at conferences because I seem to spend all my time walking back and forth between the coffee urn and toilets.

I’m only ever eating in the hotel bar from now on

After Larry Ellison’s keynote wrapped up last night, I got smart and rather than get up with the rush, I sat where I was and worked on my article until a voice on the PA threw us out a few minutes later. I ran into a couple of former colleagues in the lobby and walked with them partway back to my hotel.

The hotel is the Hyatt Regency on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, a glorious old pile from the 70s that still looks original. You can see what it looks like if you watch “High Anxiety” with Mel Brooks, or “Time and Again,” with Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, which you should absolutely do because they are excellent movies. The hotel features in “The Towering Inferno,” too, which is not a good movie but it is a spectacular example of the 70s disaster movie genre, with plenty of 70s kitsch for those of us who love that kind of thing.

As you know because you are reading this, I love 70s kitsch, so I am very happy in the Hyatt Regency.

Because I had my story partly written, and I was hungry, I decided to eat at the bar rather than ordering room service. I hunched over and stuck my head in my phone but I kept my ears open.

A few seats down, a loud, friendly drunk guy held court. He was chatting up the woman bartender. I honestly do not believe that he was flirting with her, I think he was just being loud and boisterous and friendly and drunk. She was new, a trainee. He gave her tips. He told her he knew a joke that every one of her male customers would like.

He tells the joke. It is a rape joke.

I said to myself, no, it is not a rape joke. It can’t be. But yes it is.

I, for one, am one of the bartender’s male customers, and I do not find the joke funny. I find it somewhat appalling. I keep my head down in my phone. Because I do not want him to tell me the joke, because I do not want to face the choice of pretending to laugh at the joke vs. being the cartoon of a humorless liberal who scolds him for telling the joke.

But then I think, if he tells me the joke I will pretend not to understand it. And I will continue to pretend not to understand it just to see where that goes.

So now I’m kind of hoping he tells me the joke just to see where that will go. But he does not.

Then an attractive older blonde woman sits down two chairs away from me. I peek over from my phone just long enough to see that she is attractive and older. I do not look any longer than that, and I certainly do not speak with her, because I am a married man in a hotel alone on a business trip and conversations with unattached women in hotel bars are not going to end well at all.

The friendly drunk guy notices her and announces he wants to send over ….

What’s that you say? He sends over a drink?

That would be too predictable! That shows you do not have Game.

He sends over a bowl of potato chips and dip. She does not thank him for it.

At some point I finish my dinner and ask to see a dessert menu. The dessert menu is produced. I order a bread pudding. Honesty, it is very disappointing bread pudding, possibly the worst I’ve ever had. But even the worst bread pudding I’ve ever had is not bad, so I eat it with ice cream, after some discussion of whether it comes with ice cream (it does. I had to educate the bartender to this fact).

The man asks the woman if she is with Oracle. She is. So is he by gosh! He decides to come over and sit with her, along with his friend, so I don’t know whether she’s being hit on or not. Probably yes. I say, “I’ll be out of your way momentarily,” and get up to settle the check. The woman tells me the bread pudding smelled delicious. I say it was. I leave them all to their Oracle conversation and potato chips.

Rereading Stephen King’s “Different Seasons”

The Great Stephen King Reread: Different Seasons (Grady Hendrix/Tor.com):

… if King has written anything that should be part of the American literary canon, it’s probably “The Body” which gives us a beautifully detailed flip-side version of the 1950’s, scored to a bevy of nostalgic rock n’roll tunes, and suffused with a genuine sense of anger and loss. King was a kid in the 50’s, and he grew up poor, so instead of showing us a swank and sexy vision of upwardly mobile America he writes about the blue collar types who were left behind in this country’s great leap forward.

The essential Stephen King: a guide to the best of the horror master

Excellent guide to getting your Stephen King on. I might move “The Stand” from the “extra credit” list to the “essentials list,” and vice-versa for the entire “Dark Tower” series. But I have no major arguments with this list.

I’ve read most of these books and I may well reread them, and in this order too. Starting with “The Shining,” then “Salem’s Lot,” “The Dead Zone,” and so on.

(Aja Romano/Vox)