Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2015
Happy May Day, everybody!
Dance into the fire! That fatal kiss is all we need...
Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...
• Reno! I have been to Reno exactly once, years ago. It looks much the same. Except the Planet Hollywood restaurant is gone. That cool sign is still there though...
Too bad I'm not much of a gambler.
• Avengers! Well...
Not that I didn't have fun. I had a great time. It's a comic book geek's dream come true. Except it wasn't quite the movie I was hoping for. But I'll get to that on Wednesday. Probably.
• Rand. Was very sad to learn that the lovely Grace Lee Whitney has died...
So many Star Trek alums are passing on. And suddenly I feel very old.
• Supremes! Food for thought while The Supreme Court battles it out over marriage equality...
Same sex marriage isn't gay privilege. It's equal rights. Privilege would be something like gay people not paying tax. Like churches don't.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 29, 2015
When churches get involved in politics, they should have their tax-exempt status revoked. Never seems to happen though, and they're more active than ever before.
• Chocolate! The flight attendant for my Reno trip was sweet to give me a chocolate bar snack. They often do this when you're an Alaska Air elite flyer and the plane doesn't have a First Class section. I guess it's supposed to make you forget you're in coach? In any event, it's such a nice gesture and is always appreciated. The interesting thing about this bar was the flavor...
Agave Quinoa Sesame Chocolate? Isn't that about the most hipster flavor you can imagine? Turns out it's quite tasty though. Interesting texture and a pleasing taste. And then there's the inside of the wrapper...
Chocolate plus a donation... with a Side of butt-shot? So weird.
• Mime Time! And, lastly, here's something to end your Sunday on a high note. Kinda.
And here... we... go...
Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015
"What's the bare minimum amount of money and effort we can sink into this thing and get away with calling it a Hard Rock?" —Warner Hospitality
Or so I assume.
The property currently known as the "Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe" began as "Del Webb's Sahara Tahoe" and was a pretty big deal back in the early 70's because Elvis performed here regularly...
Eventually the property was rebranded as the "Horizon Resort" before ultimately becoming a Hard Rock in January of this year. As it's not part of the "authentic" Hard Rock portfolio owned by the Seminoles, I was prepared for it to be underwhelming. Because they usually are.
But this one didn't even reach that far for me.
Not that it's not a nice hotel... it totally is... but the complete lack of excessiveness and rock-n-roll theming that defines a "Hard Rock" is just not here. And it starts from when you first pull up to this rather boring building...
If it weren't for the signs, you'd never guess this was a Hard Rock at all. Things are slightly better on the other side, where at least there's a giant guitar...
Inside isn't much better. The reception desk is boring as hell. No effort whatsoever was put into making your first contact with the property be special. No guitars. No cymbals. No art. No nothing. Just blank walls to stare at...
I mean, seriously, what the hell?
There are some nice showcases on the back wall, but it's just not enough...
At the far end is my favorite piece, a passport belonging to Johnny Cash...
About the only attempt at making the lobby feel in any way special is a display for one of Michael Jackson's gloves. Which is nice, but it does nothing to pull you away from all those blank walls behind it...
And then there's the rooms. Again, nice... but where's the "Hard Rock" here? An orange wall, a teddy bear, and a couple of prints is all we get?
At least the bathroom has something rock-related. Even if it is just a tiny guitar print...
Seriously... this could be any mid-range hotel anywhere in the USA. There is absolutely nothing about it that makes you feel like you're in a Hard Rock except when you look closely at the water bottle tag, the shampoos, and the guest services book. About the only unique thing about it is the fire sprinkler in the closet...
I guess they have a real problem with guest's clothes spontaneously combusting or something.
Oh... and thank God I paid the extra money for a "lake view" room. I would have hated to have missed this beautiful view of... the parking lot?!?
I mean, yeah, there's a lake way back there... but I'd hardly call this a "lake view" room. When I booked it, I was expecting to look out my window and see something like this...
...which is a shot I took when I pulled off the road on the drive here.
Oh well. The casino isn't much better. Absolutely nothing on the casino floor. Just a couple of cabinets scattered at the entrances...
And some guitars scattered without presentation down a random boring hallway you have no reason to visit...
The pool is total shit... though there are signs everywhere about a fantastic new pool area that will be debuting this summer, so maybe it'll improve...
Overall, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe is a massive disappointment for Hard Rock fans. There's just not much here to see. If you don't care about the Hard Rock, it's a nice enough hotel, sure... but for those who do care, it's hardly destination-worthy unless you're a hard-core completist.
Which, unfortunately, is me.
UPDATE 5/5/15: You know, it may not sound like it, but I was trying to stay positive here. But when I went to check out everything kind of came to a boiling point in my head. First of all is the idiotic "resort fee" I had to pay... $22 ($26 with tax) which basically got me internet. It's not like I could go lie by the pool or anything (given there's no furniture). But even worse was the service. When I checked in, you're supposed to get complimentary valet parking, but the ONE guy tending the drive was too busy talking to somebody to bother and, after I had to interrupt to find out what the fuck I do with my car, he positioned valet parking as a "well, if you really want to..." situation, so I ended up self-parking. THEN, when I went to leave in the morning, I asked the guy at the reception desk if they had a postbox. No. Can you put my postcard with your outgoing mail? No. Now that's service! They wouldn't even mail a damn postcard. Seriously, fuck this place. I wish I had never come. A complete stain on the Hard Rock brand if there ever was one.
Contrast and compare to the positively gorgeous "authentic" Hard Rock Cafe next door at Harvey's Casino. It's an absolutely mesmerizing property that's got a "Tahoe Ski Lodge" aesthetic going on. And it's packed to the rafters with fantastic rock-n-roll memorabilia and classic theming. So much love went into this place...
Now THAT'S Hard Rock! That's a destination-worthy property. That's why I am a Hard Rock fan.
Before driving to Lake Tahoe, I got to have lunch with the Blogger Formerly Known as Floating Princess, so the day wasn't a total loss. We had most excellent pizza at Pirate's Pizza in Reno... it is, in fact, the best pizza in the whole world...
Dinner tonight was another excellent meal... across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe at the Lucky Beaver...
I like the place very much... excellent service and a cozy atmosphere. But the food is way pricey... $12 for a burger and tots! Though their black bean veggie option is really good, so I guess it was worth the money.
And that's my day. Time to walk back to the Hard Rock and see if I can get some sleep.
I'm not much of a gambler, but I was compelled to put money in the "Ellen DeGeneres Show Slot Machine" until something happened. Five dollars later and...
If you win something special, cartoon-body Ellen dances across the screen and she talks to you. Cute.
Tomorrow? The journey back home.
Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
A much nicer day today than yesterday.
Probably because I had to leave this morning!
Since my "lakeview" room at the Hard Rock didn't have a view of the actual lake, I stopped off at a "viewpoint" along the way to see if I could get a photo of Lake Tahoe. Sure enough...
And here's a pano of the whole schebang...
But before I drove back to Reno, I returned to the Lucky Beaver for a fried egg and avocado breakfast sammy... which was amazing. Even though I had to get up at 7:00am to get one...
The drive was fairly uneventful. Though I did run across somebody who loves A) Scotland... and B) Clifford the Big Red Dog... very, very much...
Much to my surprise, I ran across a Back to the Future slot machine at the airport. I refused to waste more than $10 on the thing, so I didn't get to see much... but it was very cool just the same...
What are you lookin' at, butt-head?!
Annnnnd... so much for my trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe.
Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
Oh good Lord.
STOP GIVING THE WACHOWSKIS MONEY TO MAKE SHITTY FILMS! Everything since The Matrix has been utter crap, and Jupiter Ascending is no different. Granted, it's one of the most beautiful disasters I've ever seen, but...
...by the time we get to the genetically-spliced human-slash-elephant spaceship pilot trumpeting before engaging thrusters, I found myself longing for the good ol' days of George Lucas burp and fart jokes.
It's just that bad...
And yet... as I said, this is one gorgeous film. The art direction, design, and special effects are stunning.
A shame it was all wasted on such a convoluted pile of shit.
Mila Kunis, the most beautiful toilet-scrubbing maid ever, discovers that she's the genetic inheritor of the entire earth after aliens try to kill her. Luckily Channing Tatum (a half-dog-slash-half-man space warrior) drops in on his magical flying boots to save her. Then we get dragged from pretty action sequence to pretty action sequence while investigating such thrilling concepts as "bureaucracy" and "rules of succession."
The only bright spots in this heinous mess outside of the visuals are Mila Kunis (obviously) and a welcome appearance by Sean Bean as a half-honey-bee-half-man space warrior (yes, really).
Guess I'll go rekindle my faith in sci-fi cinema by watching The Fifth Element for the hundredth time.
Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Realistically, there are three routes I can take to get home from my office. Two of them are in town and take about 5 minutes each on average. The last one involves jumping on the highway and takes about 7 minutes on average. So, all things considered, ridiculously easy commutes.
Except for yesterday.
I was already on the highway, so I took the "long" way home. Only to find that the route was blocked by a jackknifed semi on the bridge that crosses back across the river. This meant I had to cruise 15 minutes out of my way in order to get turned around so I could take Option No. 2.
Which was also blocked because a semi had tried making a U-turn (or something) and drove off the road. This time I took a photo because I could barely believe it myself...
Police were redirecting traffic on both sides, so no joy there. This time it was ten minutes out of my way to get back to Option No. 3.
Which was also blocked.
Somebody backing their motorhome across both lanes of traffic and not truly understanding how to steer when moving in a direction that's not forward.
As I was sitting there waiting, my mind was trying to come up with yet another route that would get me home. But before I managed to wrap my brain around it, the motorhome driver miraculously figured out that left backs left and the road was open for business once again.
I left work at 5:05.
I pulled into my driveway at 5:32.
Which works out to twenty-seven minutes to drive 1.3 miles.
The next time somebody tells me that I'm "so lucky" to live in a small town where I don't have a difficult commute gets punched in the dick.
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2015
Back in the good ol' days where blogging actually mattered, I refused many an offer to host ads on Blogography (I still do... on those rare occasions somebody actually bothers to ask now-a-days). Not that I was turning down any massive dollar amounts or anything... I would have earned well under $100 a month... but the money wasn't the point. I simply did not want to have my entire blogging life revolve around driving clicks to my website.
Which is what you have to do in order to make ads worth it. Just ask the fine folks at TVBlend...
In order to find out the answer to their burning question, you have to click through to their website.
Whereas Super Hero Hype has a different, arguably less douchey approach...
Super Hero Hype doesn't make you click through to get the answer, they try to create a post that will have you wanting to click through to get more than just "the answer." Kind of a big difference, though the end result is the same... if you're a fan of Constantine, you'll be clicking through to the site in order to get the deets about the fate of the show.
And while I prefer the Super Hero Hype approach which doesn't hold a gun to my head for a click-through, TV Blend's tactics don't bother me enough to stop following their newsfeed... I just don't click through as much as I would if they were a bit more creative in how they go about initiating it.
But lest you think Super Hero Hype isn't above allowing others to put douchey clickbait ads on their site. Well...
ZOMFG! WHAT DID SANDRA BULLOCK LIE ABOUT?!??
Who the hell cares?
A lot of people, apparently. Because this kind of clickbait is rampant on the internet. You can't escape it. Everywhere you look there's something UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING that will LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS... but it requires a click-through to reveal what it is.
In some cases it's more than figurative... you literally can't escape it. Because an increasing number of websites... "ZergNet" for example... spawn infinite new windows with every click so you never leave their site. You're trapped in a maze of clickbait from which few break free.
Until you fall asleep at the computer.
Or close your browser window.
Which is the only true escape from clickbait once you're on the internet.
Which reminds me... DID YOU KNOW THAT THESE COMMON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS COULD KILL YOU?!?
Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2015
I wrote up my thoughts about Avengers: Age of Ultron immediately after having seen the film last Sunday while I was in Reno. Originally, I was going to post everything Monday, but ultimately decided I'd "sit on it" for a couple days in case I had new thoughts upon further reflection. "Days" turned into a "week" because new information kept leaking out about the film. Information that had direct bearing on my comments.
And so now there are a couple comments on my comments.
Which makes me wish I had just posted everything last Monday as originally planned, because that would have been a lot less work.
I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A Marvel movie has topped my list of favorite films every year since I started making lists... Iron Man 2 in 2010, Captain America and Thor in 2011, The Avengers in 2012, Iron Man 3 in 2013, and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. My guess is that Iron Man would have topped my list in 2008 (if I had one back then), and it seems inevitable that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (or possibly Ant Man) will top it this year. These films are a dream come true for a long-time comic book geek like me, and Marvel seems incapable of making a misstep with their various franchises.
At least from the "big-picture" perspective. But I'll get to that in a minute.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a mind-bogglingly huge film that defies a quick description, so I'm not even going to try. Instead, I'll just reprint the official description thusly: "When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans."
(UPDATE COMMENT: And the result is going to end up being one of the most successful movies of all time)...
And, for the most part, I loved it.
It's a highly entertaining effort that has some of the most ambitious and mid-blowing action sequences ever put to film.
But it's not without its problems.
Which I get into in an extended entry. Needless to say, spoilers will ensue...
Before I begin, I feel compelled to mention that the title of the film is taken from a comic book maxi-series by Brian Michael Bendis from 2013. And yet it's an entirely different story that bears no resemblance to the source material. This is probably a good thing, because I found the comic book a bit uneven. In some places it felt rushed and oddly incomplete... in others it was plodding, bordering on tedious with an ending you could see from miles away. As if that weren't reason enough to go in a different direction, many of the key characters (like Wolverine) aren't available to Marvel Studios, having been licensed away to other companies.
And off we go...
As the movie begins, Earth's Mightiest Heroes are hell-bent on retrieving Loki's magical scepter (from the first Avengers film) and track it down to a HYDRA base in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia. It's much too powerful and dangerous to be left in the hands of mere mortals, so Thor is quite serious about getting it off the earth.
Unfortunately for the Avengers, their efforts are hampered by the evil Baron Strucker, who has been infusing people with energy from the scepter to give them super-powers. His only(?) success story is with "The Twins"... Pietro and Wanda Maximoff... who volunteered for experimentation after their parents were killed by Stark weaponry. Pietro (AKA Quicksilver) has super-speed and Wanda (AKA Scarlet Witch) has the ability to manipulate energy in the form of physical blasts or telekinesis. She also has limited telepathy and the ability to manipulate minds by clouding them with a person's darkest fears.
AN ASIDE: I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this depiction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is quite different than what you get in the comic books. In the source material, Pietro and Wanda are mutants... the next evolution of humanity, and developed their powers naturally (UPDATE COMMENT: Except not any more, as it turns out). But since 20th Century Fox owns all rights to the X-Men and, by extension, mutants, writer/director Joss Whedon had to take a different approach. He chose to tie their origin to previous Marvel Cinematic Universe events, and I think his solution was a very good one. Though I sure wish Wanda's powers weren't so deus ex machina to the plot, the whole "mental manipulation" stuff conveniently coming from nowhere because Joss needed a story beat.
Despite Scarlet Witch using her powers to enchant Black Widow, Iron Man, and Thor, The Avengers prevail and recover the scepter... only because Wanda determines that Tony (whom she hates for making the weapons that orphaned her) will destroy himself with it. Sure enough, Stark then convinces Thor to let him run some test on the artifact, which results in him finding out that the gemstone powering the scepter contains a highly advanced artificial intelligence. Thinking this might be the key to powering his plans for a global "Ultron" defense network, he convinces Bruce Banner to help him download the AI. Chaos ensues when Ultron overtakes Tony's J.A.R.V.I.S. AI (which has been much loved since he first appeared way back in the first Iron Man) and decides (rightly) he needs to inhabit one of Stark's robots and eliminate all of humanity to save the planet. To do so, he steals the scepter and takes over Iron Man's "Iron Legion" manufacturing equipment so he can create scores of Ultron Drones to do his bidding.
So far as plots go, so far so good. Whedon got James Spader to voice Ultron, which is about all he needed to do. Spader can read the frickin' phone book and make it sound compelling, so the hard part of defining the movie's "villain" was done. The only thing that rubs me the wrong way is the utter stupidity of, once again, having totally alien technology somehow being compatible with earth-based computers (shades of Independence Day, Batman!). It's a plot point that never works well because it makes so little sense.
And then things kind of went off the rails for me.
Ultron ends up convincing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to work with him to destroy The Avengers. Which seems utterly bizarre. Even given the context of a sci-fi/fantasy epic like Age of Ultron, who in their right mind thinks that teaming up with a giant evil robot ends well? I guess an argument could be made that their lives in Sokovia kept them sheltered from every evil robot book/movie ever made, but it still seems a huge stretch that Pietro and Wanda would ignore something as obvious as "never trust an evil robot," even as a tool for revenge.
But trust him they do, so off they go to Africa so they can purchase a ship-load of vibranium from arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to make an invulnerable body from which Ultron can rule the planet. Vibranium also being the metal from which Captain America's indestructible shield is made.
AN ASIDE: Here is where Marvel brings Black Panther, super-hero ruler of Wakanda, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe... even if they don't show him directly. It also sets things up for super-villain "Klaw" (as "Klaue") and his sonic-powers to eventually show up. And while Whedon did it with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, I still think it ultimately worked. Even if it was a tad distracting from the story.
When the Avengers inevitably show up to stop Ultron, Scarlet Witch turns her powers on The Hulk, which causes him to flee and then tear apart Johannesburg. An awesome battle with a Hulk-Buster Iron Man suit ensues. As does one of the best action sequences of the film. An action sequence so destructive that it makes the world turn against The Avengers. Thinking they need to lie low for a while, Hawkeye flies everybody to his safe house (a farm in the countryside)... which comes complete with a wife and kids. This is a really nice turn for Jeremy Renner, whose character spent almost the entirety of the first Avengers movie being a mind-controlled stooge (which Hawkeye acknowledges earlier in a beautiful Whedonesque moment).
And it's at this point that the movie shits the bed.
Though it's probably not Joss Whedon's fault.
In order to set up future Marvel Films... primary of which is the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, the Infinity Gems are finally named by name. Which is not a bad thing except for how they did it: Thor flies off and convinces Erik Selvig to watch him take a bath. Yes, you read that right, a frickin' bath! Granted, it was a bath in magical waters that somehow allow Thor to access the visions he had while enchanted by Scarlet Witch, but come on! A magic bath? Really? This idiocy was shoehorned into the film so badly that one has to wonder if Joss Whedon was forced to do it at gun-point (UPDATE COMMENT: Sure enough, he was).
More copious amounts of bed-shitting were had as we watch Black Widow share a tender moment with Bruce Banner, who's now her boyfriend... I guess (no clue where this leaves Bruce Banner's long-time girlfriend in the comics, Betty Ross). Which has no real purpose for the story except to set-up even more future Marvel films by taking The Hulk out of the picture later on. But no worries... I'm sure he'll be back in Avengers: The Infinity War. Or perhaps a Planet Hulk film, which would be awesome.
Eventually Nick Fury shows up to give a pep-talk and pull the team together. Which is a good thing, because Ultron has now globe-hopped to Seoul so he can use the scepter to compel The Avengers' personal doctor, Helen Cho, to use her tissue-creation technology to make him that dreamy indestructible vibranium body he's always wanted (assumably so he can survive the end of the world?). As if that weren't enough balls in the air, meanwhile-meanwhile we have Tony Stark jetting off to some secret "heart of the internet" access point called "NEXUS" to find out what's preventing Ultron from gaining access to the world's nuclear arsenal and simply blowing up the earth to eliminate all mankind.
SPOILER ALERT: Turns out it's the J.A.R.V.I.S. AI that's keeping Ultron away from the nukes. Which means Ultron is just going to have to find another way to end it all.
But Ultron will have a hard time doing so without his cool new indestructible bio-mechanical body, so The Avengers make plans to steal it before he can upload his consciousness to it. Which is kinda hokey, but it gives Black Widow some awesome screen-time, so I try to be forgiving. Especially since she succeeds in stealing it so beautifully. Alas, she's captured in the process, but them's the breaks.
And now we go from "off the rails" to "off the continent" as Tony Stark decides to put Helen Cho's empty android body to good use... by uploading Jarvis into it. This does not sit well at all with the rest of The Avengers... especially Captain America... who worry that one insane homicidal all-powerful killer robot is enough. They don't need Tony making a second one. But the decision is taken out of their hands when Thor comes back from his magic bath and uses his magic hammer to create magic lightning to magically bring the J.A.R.V.I.S.-infused android shell to life (Shades of Frankenstein, Batman!). Thus we end up with something not-quite Ultron, not-quite-J.A.R.V.I.S., but something all new... Thor's magic bath vision becomes THE VISION! And one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones bonds to his forehead.
AN ASIDE: The Vision is my favorite Avenger in the comic books. His Pinocchio-inspired "I want to be a real-live boy" story arc (long before Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation) when paired with his super-cool density-manipulating properties, his awesome abilities, his relationship with Scarlet Witch, and his amazing design... well, he's the complete super-hero package. He has it all. Over the years many of my favorite Avengers stories center around The Vision or have him as a major factor. He has links to so many pieces of the Avengers puzzle that he could arguably be considered the key component to the entire team from the moment he debuted. Needless to say I was thrilled that he was being added to the Cinematic Avengers. But a little less than thrilled with his cape, which looks like some kind of nebulous CGI blob. It's so distracting that it sabotages this otherwise cool interpretation of the character.
The Vision is so pure of form that he has no problem lifting Thor's hammer... a test of worthiness that conveniently makes him trusted by the team and an instant Avenger...
AN ASIDE: A scene of all the various Avengers attempting to lift Thor's hammer earlier in the film... but being found unworthy thus unable... is a favorite moment of the movie for me. Captain America was slightly able to budge it (much to the horror of Thor!), which had me convinced Steve Rogers would be wielding Mjolnir against Ultron at the climatic end-battle of the film once all else failed (which would been a much better ending than we got, but oh well).
The Black Widow manages to get an S.O.S. to Hawkeye during her captivity, which leads the entire team back to where the movie began: Sokovia. It's then that they discover how Ultron plans to destroy all humanity since he couldn't get ahold of any nukes... he's going to go all "asteroid killed the dinosaurs" and use the vibranium to elevate a massive chunk of Sokovia high above the planet, then let it fall back to earth... causing an extinction-level event.
Kind of a convoluted plan for somebody as smart as Ultron, but it leads to the best line in the movie when Hawkeye says "The city is flying, and all I've got is a bow and arrow"... so why not?
This is the part of the movie where Ultron distracts the team by sending an endless onslaught of drones against them. Which would be pretty cool... except there was so much going on that it was tough to take in everything you were seeing. Maybe subsequent viewings will make it easier to digest, but I feel this was a bit of a problem for the movie. The action felt more abstract than personal. Something Joss must have felt as well, because he decided to do what he always does to up the stakes... kill somebody off. Which, in this case, was Quicksilver. He died in a hail of bullets while saving Hawkeye who was saving a child during a massive evacuation of Flying Sokovia (courtesy of Nick Fury and a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier).
It was a Whedon move that didn't really have any impact at all. Partly because it is just so damn predictable of him... but mostly because nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Unlike when he killed off Coulson in the first film, Pietro had so little screen time that the audience barely knew who he was. All we did know was that he's fast... so fast he can grab Ulysses Klaue's pistol, unload all the bullets, and line them up on a table in the blink of an eye. Which makes you think that evading a hail of bullets would be a piece of cake for him, but Whedon wanted him dead, so internal logic goes out the window.
UPDATE COMMENT: Apparently I was wrong in thinking nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Some people cared so deeply that Joss Whedon got death threats for offing him. Stay classy, internet!
Eventually The Avengers save all the people on Floating Sokovia and figure out a way of destroying the land mass before it can destroy the world. The Vision then tracks down Ultron's last remaining body and evaporates him. So, yay, I guess. It was all so anticlimactic to me that I had a hard time really caring.
Then the team kind of breaks up. The Hulk didn't want to make Black Widow be a fugitive, so he flies off in a Quinjet. Thor's visions have him needing to return to Asgard. Tony Stark leaves to focus on bigger things. Hawkeye goes home to his family.
Which means it's time for a new team of Avengers to assemble... Captain America and Black Widow join The Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, and The Falcon to form Avengers 2.0 (with the help of Erik Selvig, Helen Cho, and (of course) Nick Fury (and probably Maria Hill as well). Roll credits.
Not that Avengers: Infinity War needed any more setting up, but a mid-credits sequence has Thanos putting on The Infinity Gauntlet so he can (finally) "do it himself." Which I'm guessing means collect all the Infinity Gems and destroy the universe so he can impress Death, whom he has a major crush on.
Like I said, in the "big picture" sense, I loved the film... despite its many problems. It just hit so many geeky buttons in me that I couldn't help but love it.
Though three overreaching problems I haven't addressed yet made it more difficult for me than it should have been...
1) Ultron is not scary or very threatening.
In the comics, Ultron is a terrifying presence. He's whacked out of his artificial mind, and the death and destruction that comes from his insanity-driven rage is a horrifying part of his character. The movie version was positively tame by comparison. Sure he wanted to destroy all humanity, but it never felt as though the Avengers were in much danger stopping him. James Spader was flawless casting, but his Ultron needed more heinous things to do to live up to his legacy.
2) The movie was all over the place.
And I mean that literally. It hops all over the globe at such a breakneck pace that you're left wondering if The Avengers and Ultron have access to some kind of secret teleportation technology we don't see. Even with Tony Stark's advanced transportation, it would take many hours to get from place to place... yet it always seems instantaneous. I like the idea of Earth's Mightiest Heroes actually spanning the entire earth, but it got a bit ridiculous.
3) Too little time for too much stuff.
In the first film, everybody had a role to play, and that's what made it such genius. For the sequel, I have a hard time recollecting exactly what Thor and Captain America had to contribute other than non-stop fighting. The Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver were all introduced, but had so little screen time that they were pretty much reduced to cameos. And speaking of cameos... was anybody not in this movie? Oh yeah... Jane Foster and Pepper Potts... except they got screen time without actually appearing. Couple the massive cast with the abundance of time wasted setting up future films and there was barely time enough for this film. Had things been stripped down a bit and more screen time was devoted to the task at hand instead of what's coming next, it would have been a much better movie.
Next up, Captain America: Civil War, which is already promising to have a cast that equals or exceeds The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In addition to The Avengers 2.0 team (Cap, Widow, Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and War Machine), we're also getting Iron Man, Black Panther, Ant Man, Winter Soldier, Agent Thirteen, General Thunderbolt Ross(!), Crossbones, Baron Zemo, and... wait for it... the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Spider-Man. PLUS Martin Freeman just signed on for some unspecified role as well. I can only guess Agent Carter, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury will be shoehorned in as well. How are they going to fit an actual story in there?
I honestly dunno. But I can't wait to find out.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... A
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B
Posted on Sunday, May 10th, 2015
Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...
• Love! Yeah. Uh huh.
• Carter! ABC has given Agent Carter a second season!
They also renewed Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which would be exciting if the show wasn't so awful. Who knows... maybe they'll actually do something with it this Fall to make it worth my valuable time. But somehow I doubt it.
• Dawson! In other terrific Marvel news, Rosario Dawson has been confirmed for Season Two of Daredevil... plus other Netflix Marvel projects! In the comics, she's kinda an important piece of the Luke Cage puzzle, so it will be interesting to see how they work that into his series...
One of my few regrets for Season One of Daredevil was that Rosario didn't have more screen time. Hopefully that will be rectified next year.
• Remember? I didn't read into Age of Ultron the anti-feminist viewpoint that has some people up in arms over how Black Widow was written. I save my rage for crap like this...
Remember the scene where Black Widow drops out of the jet on the motorcycle? Well fuck you the toy is Captain America pic.twitter.com/juefiCqlX8— Zac Shipley (@zacshipley) May 8, 2015
I'm guessing this is a case of "manwashing" the character of Black Widow so it will better appeal to young boys. Meanwhile, young girls that are into comics and super-hero movies get shitted on. Not that they can't enjoy a Captain America toy too... but come on.
• Lucifer! UPDATE: This doesn't look like it's going to be a faithful adaptation of the comic book of the same name, but I'm excited to see it nevertheless...
I don't suppose it's too much to hope that we get an appearance of Constantine in this series now that his own series has been canceled? It's a natural fit.
And... so much for bullets this week...
Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015
McDonald's has revived the Hamburglar as a full-on creeper.
As if having a frickin' hideous clown wasn't bad enough? Why would any parent expose their kid to this kind of horror.
UPDATE: Oh gawd. It's worse than I thought...
Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Ended up with some kind of permissions problem for posting. Again.
The quick fix that's worked every other time didn't work this time.
My ambition for tracking down what's wrong and repairing it is hovering somewhere near non-existent.
No blog for you.
Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
This is the meme I was GOING to do yesterday... before I found out I couldn't get my blog editor to work after updating WordPress. Again.
It asks the same questions multiple times, but what're you gonna do?
Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2015
This has been a long, difficult week.
Lucky for me, fellow blogger Christopher (of Not-So-Random-Musings fame) was passing through town... which was an excellent excuse to blow off work and head to the "Bavarian Village" of Leavenworth for a delicious veggie wurst...
Nice day for it!
Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2015
If you've ever bought a new camera, this video from Norway really puts things in perspective...
The video is for a classified ads site, Finn.no, and is one of a series of hysterical spots for people who buy new stuff with grand ambitions only to end up... err... falling a bit short...
The cat mascot for the site is ten buckets of awesome, and appears in videos of his own...
And, yes, SexyPus.no is a real site, but not so interactive as we were led to believe.
Posted on Saturday, May 16th, 2015
The little photos that accompany each entry on this blog are 15 years old today! Thanks to my friend Meagan for creating the custom-made photo booth that made it all possible.
I should probably update them one of these days, but I can never seem to bring myself to get rid of something that's been a part of Blogography since it began in 2003...
There were originally 25 shots. I whittled them down to 17 for my blog. An 18th image was added of me flipping the bird in late 2003 when I found out I desperately needed one...
Last week when I realized that the 15th anniversary of Meagan's photos was coming up, I pulled all the photos of me posted to this blog and arranged them in ascending date order.
A whole lot of Dave can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2015
Rainy days and Sundays shouldn't get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Carson! This clip is SO good. Makes me realize how much I miss Carson... and how much I'm going to miss Letterman...
As much as I'm looking forward to seeing what Stephen Colbert is going to do in late-night space, I am gutted at the prospect of Letterman closing out The Late Show. I may not be a consistent viewer, but I go on Letterman binges that make me very glad he's around. Until he won't be.
• Slider! Before I became a vegetarian, I was a fan of White Castle and their infamous mini hamburgers, better known as "sliders." There's no White Castle near me... I only got to eat there when I went to the coast, so it was a rare treat. After I became a vegetarian, White Castle (and my beloved In-N-Out Burger) were off the menu. Earlier this year White Castle did the unthinkable... they released a VEGETARIAN SLIDER! And I was beyond thrilled. Until I went to actually order one. Instead of a mini vegetarian burger topped with onions and a pickle like a real slider, you got a vegetable patty packed with carrots and peas and shit topped with your choice of honey mustard, ranch or Thai sauce. WHAT THE FUCK, WHITE CASTLE?!? I don't want that vegetable shit with salad dressing... I want a damn WHITE CASTLE SLIDER! To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. Once again a restaurant tries to do a good thing badly by grossly misreading what vegetarians want. We don't want a vegetable version of what everybody else is getting... we want what everybody else is getting without having to kill an animal to get it. McDonalds totally nailed it with their "McVeggie Deluxe," but White Castle... like Burger King before them... failed utterly with their vegetable-infused monstrosity. Enter Gardein's "The Ultimate Beefless Sliders"...
They're perfect. And delicious. Add some lightly grilled onions and a pickle and it's the slider I've been wanting all along. Except... holy crap are they expensive. $6.00 a box! That's $1.50 a slider! Isn't a White Castle slider like 50¢ or something? All those government subsidies for America's toxic beef industry must be nice.
• Kingsman! I had rather high expectations after viewing the trailers for Kingsman: The Secret Service... and Michael Vaughn blew past every one of them...
Such a great movie! It's a smart, funny, action-packed spy thriller with a cast to die for, a really good story, and violence so over the top it verges on comedic.
Following in his father's footsteps, Eggsy Unwin trains to be an elite agent in Britain's premiere secret spy organization: Kingsman. And it's a good thing too... evil internet billionaire Valentine (played to the hilt by Samuel L. Jackson) has plans to wipe out the human race! Features epic appearances by Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Mark Hammill, Jack Davenport, and Michael Caine... along with strong breakout performances by Sofia Boutella and Taron Egerton. The film did some major box office action, so I'm hoping for a sequel. If you've read the comic book version, this is considerably different, but not in a bad way at all.
• Seventh Son! Unfortunately, another movie I had been looking forward to did not fare so well...
Despite a really good cast, Seventh Son ended up being a complete and total turd. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore are great actors that defy all expectations by turning in truly awful performances. And while the story (based on a series of books) had huge potential (an 18th century evil spirit hunter learning his trade), it was utterly wasted in this mess of a film. Fortunately, like Jupiter Ascending, it bombed at the box office so we'll be spared any sequels. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
• Super! When I saw the extended "First Look" for the new Supergirl series, I was pleasantly surprised...
Looks like the team behind Arrow and The Flash have done it again! And then I watched the first actual trailer... only to discover that, apparently, we're getting "Team Supergirl." Which sucks ass. "Team Arrow" I get... it was core to the concept of the show's take on the character. But "Team Flash" is just unnecessary layers of shit, as Barry would have been much more interesting figuring out everything on his own. And "Team Supergirl" is an even worse idea. Why in the hell can't super-heroes exist on their own without some kind of stupid "team" there to constantly steal their thunder? Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are clearly out of ideas here, and I wish that they would stop being called in to rehash their same tired concepts over and over again on new super-hero shows.
• Toys! Ending things on a down-note... I was sad to learn that F.A.O. Schwarz will be closing their doors come July. This iconic toy store is probably best remembered for it's part in the movie Big, but I'll better remember it as "that one place I visit every single time I'm in New York."
On one hand, I get it... online shopping is rapidly displacing retail shops for things like toys, so profits can't keep up with the cost of rent... but it's still sad that such a special part of New York City is going to evaporate. I mean, damn, 145 years?
And... back to my rainy Sunday...
Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2015
Why is it whenever I get yet another letter saying "Our systems have been breached and your personal information may have been accessed by attackers..." it is always... always... prefaced by "We were the target of a sophisticated cyberattack?" Sophisticated? Is that supposed to make me feel better? Like I'm sitting here thinking "Boy, I WAS going to be outraged that this company was so careless with my personal information... but since it was a sophisticated attack, I guess there's nothing that could have been done, so I'm totally okay with it!"
I'm guessing they think that putting "sophisticated" in there (usually multiple times) makes them not sound like the incompetent fucking morons they are. But all it does is make me even more outraged that they're trying to whitewash their gross negligence by playing the victim. The company isn't the victim here, it's their customers who trusted them with their personal shit that are the actual victims.
But that's not even the worst part.
At no point in any of these letters do you ever get an actual apology, statement of liability, or admission of negligence.
All you get is worthless promises to do better in the future and possibly a membership in a credit fraud monitoring company for a year or two. In other words, there are zero consequences for a company completely fucking you over by failing to protect your privacy.
Not counting the billions of dollars that insurance company lobbyists pay our politicians to look the other way, of course.
Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
Every once in a blue moon...
...I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to write in this blog. Today was a crappy day and just when I thought it couldn't get any crappier, IT DID. Then it was crap on crap on crap, which meant I had to spend most all of my time trying to dig my way out of shit.
Perhaps on days like today I should just skip blogging entirely.
But I don't want to kill that streak I've got going on just yet, so here you are having to read about crap.
Which is to say it's just another day at Blogography.
Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Another meme. It's like 2004 all over again up in here.
Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2015
"Red Nose Day" is a British charity telethon event from Comic Relief that has been going on for years. If you're ever in the UK during the middle of March, there's quite a big deal made about it. The country's most famous comedians and celebrities perform sketches, parodies, and informational spots all in the name of soliciting donations from viewers. In addition, retailers sell Red Nose Day merchandise with proceeds going towards the charity.
All in all, it's a fairly entertaining event for a good cause...
It was only a matter of time before the USA imported the idea (don't all British television shows make it here eventually?), and I was looking forward to seeing how the American version would up the ante.
Except they didn't.
The show was total crap. Seth Meyers, who has a stellar history as a presenter, was inexplicably awful (he spent most of his opening denigrating the UK Red Nose Day efforts in a way that was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but felt mean-spirited to me). Sketches were just plain bad (all your favorite celebrities have funny voices and their movies are dubbed!). The only thing that was even remotely funny was a Billy on the Street bit, but it was sabotaged by Martin Short being Martin Short.
After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably more like 40 minutes) I couldn't take it any more and turned the channel.
So... I guess this is yet another case of American television ruining a British import.
How sadly typical.
Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Trying to find the motivation to get out of bed each morning has been a real challenge lately...
At least it's raining today...
Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
As we being our Memorial Day Weekend, it's a good idea to remember why it's a holiday we celebrate.
And lest we forget that all too many of those who served this country and survived aren't faring as well as they should...
Countless numbers of soldiers return from service only to end up sick, homeless, and abandoned.
And every day 22+ Veterans take their own lives because of it.
We're not doing nearly enough to serve those who served for us. It's disgusting, it's wrong, and it's got to stop.
Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2015
I can see Russia from my hotel room... because Bullet Sunday from the great state of Alaska starts... now...
• Double Daylight! "In Anchorage, visitors from more southerly latitudes are often surprised to see the sun set at 11:41 p.m. on the summer solstice, but the actual 'solar time' is 9:41 p.m. This is because at 150° W, Anchorage is a full solar hour behind the legal time zone and observes daylight saving time as well. Some local residents refer to this phenomenon as "double daylight time." — Wikipedia.
Which explains my panic when I awoke after dozing off thinking it was 9:30am instead of 9:30pm and I had slept through two alarms. As I write this now at 10:45pm, there's still daylight out there...
I can't fathom how insane it must be to visit Nome, which is still in the Alaskan time zone with Anchorage, but technically two hours in actual time zones further back. Their sunset is after midnight!
• Rock! The purpose for my Memorial Day weekend excursion is, of course, to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up last year here in Anchorage. This is Hard Rock No. 166 for me, and (finally) gets me caught up with all the North American properties again...
There's an upstairs with a second stage and bar...
Overall it's a nice property with a great staff and a terrific location... right in the touristy section of town... but the decor is lacking. Memorabilia is stretched a bit thin throughout, and there's a Rock Shop and massive stairwell that's devoid of any artifacts at all...
This is a massive oversight which is unimaginable to longtime Hard Rock fans who remember when the cafes used to be packed with so much stuff that you could spend hours looking around and keep coming back to see stuff you missed. I mean, holy crap... look at this shot of the old Salt Lake City cafe where you can barely see the walls...
That's what a Hard Rock is supposed to look like, and Anchorage falls way short. Putting in the effort to visit a new property is supposed to be an overwhelming experience... but more and more I find myself saying "I traveled all that way... for this?!? I dunno. Maybe they'll eventually add more cool stuff to give Anchorage the Hard Rock it deserves, but right now it's hardly destination-worthy.
• Burger Me! On the plus side, the food was pretty good...
Even if I had to build my own to avoid all the crazy shit that the Hard Rock usually puts on their veggie burgers.
• Market? I was told by my airport shuttle driver that the Anchorage Summer Weekend Market was going on and I should take a look if I had a chance. It was supposed to be open until 6:00, but most everything was torn down by 5:20...
Bummer, I guess.
• Murder! Much like Starbucks locations in Seattle, fur shops in Anchorage are on every street corner...
I'm vehemently anti-fur, but might change my mind if I could walk in a shop and pick up something that was personally slaughtered by Sarah Palin. Like I'm guessing this poor bear was...
By Grabthar's Hammer I will avenge you, bear!
• Drop! Holy shitballs do I wish Apple would get off their fucking asses and get crap fixed that's been broken for ages. Like AirDrop, their miraculous file-sharing technology that's been a steaming pile since day one. When I sent the first photo looking out my hotel window from my iPhone to my Mac, it was no problem. AirDrop found my MacBook immediately. But when I tried to send the next shot (below) 45 minutes later? I just spent 10 minutes trying to get my iPhone to see my Mac, but it absolutely won't do it. And yet... my Mac can see my iPhone just fine? WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?!?
Why don't you use some of the BILLIONS OF FUCKING DOLLARS that people have paid you because of the promise of things like AirDrop TO FIX ALL THE CRAP THAT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK?! Every time I turn around now-a-days I'm having to deal with Apple's busted shit and I'm just sick of it.
Annnnd... I suppose I should get some sleep seeing as how it's now 11:30pm and the sun is finally going down and all...
Posted on Monday, May 25th, 2015
My Memorial Day was spent taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Whittier so I could take a glacier cruise. Something I've already done before in Glacier Bay, but that was on a cruise ship. This time I'd be on a smaller boat which can get closer to the action.
The train ride was fairly uneventful... except there were loads of noisy, obnoxious people on it, so it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for...
My cruise included a vegetarian option lunch, but I've gone down this road too many times to think it's going to be something I actually want to eat. Fortunately, the train had a really good cheese pizza onboard, so I went for it as a precaution...
In order to not lose my sanity from having to endure screaming kids and people in general, I mostly hung out in the gap between cars where I could take photos without any glass to obscure the scenery.
And it's some pretty nice scenery. Mud flats, forests, mountain views... it's all going on...
Just before you arrive in Whittier, you go through a couple of tunnels, the second of which is the longest railroad tunnel in North America. It has a set schedule for train and car traffic that switched direction every half-hour. The second tunnel is so long that takes about 5 minutes to get through... but when you look out the side of the train it seems much shorter because you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's because it's dug so straight that there's never any obstruction...
Arriving in the city of Whittier, there was no time to waste. The boat was already mostly loaded by people who drove a car instead of taking the train (which is slower)...
We were definitely not the biggest boat on the water. Princess Cruises has spent millions creating a port in Whittier from which their ships can explore Alaska...
As expected, the lunch was not my cup of tea. For one thing, it had mushrooms on it, of which I am allergic. And since I'm not a coleslaw person, that was also off the menu. The pudding wasn't chocolate, as one would hope, but instead some kind of runny rice pudding...
Fairly quickly we ran across some porpoises (or dolphins, I'm not sure which) swimming at the bow...
Not quite as exciting as my dolphin experience in Fiji, but pretty cool just the same.
Next up was a whale playing around on the shore line...
And just when you think you've seen the last of cool wildlife for the day, some bumps in the water appear...
But what we're really here for is the glaciers, so Captain Carl wasted no time rolling right up to one...
Being Memorial Day, the boat was at capacity, but it was never a problem. People were pretty good about taking turns getting their photos, and Captain Carl made slow sweeping turns at all the stops so everybody on both sides of the boat could take a look...
I never once had trouble getting to the rail to get some terrific glacier photos, which was nice...
All in all, the cruise I took advertised "26 glaciers in one day"... but most of them must have been off in the distance, because I only recall seeing about a dozen of them.
I could bore you with the hundreds of glacier shots I got, but they all start to look the same after a while so I'll spare you. Suffice to say I had a great time getting lots of beautiful photos.
You end the glacial tour with a stop at a trio of glaciers in one shot...
The trip back was pretty good too, because the scenery is so great. Waterfalls are everywhere...
And, if you look at the bottom of that photo, you'll see I got more than just a waterfall in the shot...
Just chillin' for a bit. Thank heavens I bought my massively expensive zoom lens!
The weird thing about Prince William Sound is how the weather changes -literally- minute to minute. You can go from overcast and dreary to sunshine and vivd in the blink of an eye...
Captain Carl had one last surprise before pulling back into Whittier...
Is that spotty rocks, or...
Thousands of them.
And that was that. The boat docked at Whittier and my cruise was over. I had a few minutes before I had to board the return-train, so I walked through the town for a bit. Not a lot to see, but it's a beautiful place...
For the train ride home, the less expensive "B Car" was almost completely empty, so I gladly gave up my pricey dome car seat for some peace and quiet in the cheap seats. Usually, I would expect beautiful sunset views this time of day. But since the sun doesn't start setting here until 11:30, I had the same trip back that I had coming...
And that's a wrap.
Not a bad way to spend Memorial Day, I must say.
Hats off to Captain Carl and the crew of Klondike Express for a great five-hour tour! If you'd like to take your own "26 Glacier Tour" from Phillips Cruises, you can get more information here.
Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
My plan for today was to do nothing. It's rare that I actually have the opportunity to do nothing, so it seemed like the right thing to do.
Or not to do, as it were.
But then I felt bad about squandering an opportunity that I might not get again, so I decided to do one thing. And since the #1 attraction on TripAdvisor's list is the Anchorage Museum, I decided that would be the thing I do...
The building is very cool-looking from the outside. It's got these mirrored strips running up and down, so it kind of blends into its surroundings.
The price of admission is FIFTEEN DOLLARS, which seems a bit excessive. But I had walked all this way, and so...
The first display I saw was on graphic arts in Anchorage. THey included T-shirts and beer cans, so I was already pretty impressed...
From there I wandered into a cool cartography display that showed how the city has changed over the years...
The grand atrium in the middle of the museum is massively huge. Which is impressive, I suppose, but it seems like such a waste of space...
And then it was time to visit the Anchorage gallery which had all kinds of exhibits about the region. My favorite was a look at local homes through the ages that had full reproductions on-site...
What was so cool is that if you walk around to the other side, they had cut into the structures to show you how they looked on the inside...
And in case you didn't know what dead animals look like, they've got that covered...
As I walked over to the other wing of the museum, I couldn't help but feel a bit cheated. Sure the exhibits were nice and all, but it just didn't seem worth the $15 I had paid. Things looked up a little bit when I got to a photo gallery featuring beautiful images of the arctic...
...but I still wasn't feeling as though I got my money's worth.
Until I walked into the next room and bathed in the majesty that is the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.
This mind-bogglingly beautiful space is filled with artfully-constructed showcases featuring artifacts from the indigenous peoples of the arctic...
It's such an amazing display. I loved it so much that I spent a full hour absorbing every last piece of information they were sharing.
In all seriousness, no photos could ever do the exhibit justice. This one section of the museum is worth the cost of admission all by itself and well worth your valuable time to visit. If you're ever in Anchorage, just hand over the $15 and see it.
The third floor of the museum has temporary exhibits that change from time to time. When I visited today, it was Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage. And it was utterly fascinating...
Most of what I know about Captain Cook comes from my visits to Hawaii, as he's kind of a big deal there. Turns out that what I know about the man is just a tiny fraction of his fascinating story. Captain Cook's legendary explorations completely revolutionized how we look at the world, and this fascinating exhibit focuses on his search for a "Northwest Passage," a sea route through the Arctic Ocean. I was so impressed with the displays and artifacts that I'm a little saddened they're only temporary. And I'm a lot saddened that no photography was permitted on this level, because now when it's gone come September it's gone for good.
Next up on the exhibit calendar? Van Gogh Alive... where the museum will display his epic masterworks at larger-than-life sizes! If it's even half as brilliant as the Captain Cook exhibit, it's going to be amazing...
It's only running October 9th through January 10th. Such a short window but, given that Van Gogh is one of my most favorite painters, perhaps it will be worth a return visit this Fall? I can dream, can't I?
The top floor of the museum has an observation window...
And a surprise exhibit focusing on baseball Alaska that was pretty sweet...
All in all? A great day at the museum. Despite my initial reservations, it exceeded my every expectation and should be on a short list of must-see places when visiting Anchorage.
On the walk back to my hotel, I passed one of Wyland's Whaling Walls (a series of 100 massive paintings created by the marine artist Wyland in order to raise awareness about our oceans and the creatures who live there)...
Not one of my favorites, but still pretty impressive.
And that's a wrap! Tomorrow my Memorial Day holiday is over and I'm flying back home. Many thanks to the city of Anchorage for the fine hospitality.
Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
When you are an "MVP Gold" member, Alaska Airlines allows you to change to an earlier/later flight with a confirmed seat at 10:00pm the day before your flight at no charge (subject to availability, of course). If you're not and MVP Gold member, you can still confirm an earlier/later flight but only six hours before and with a $25 fee...
Which means that even though I purchased a flight that got me home at midnight so I could save a chunk of money, I ended up switching to a flight that got me home at a much more decent 5:00pm instead... At no charge.
And my flights home were terrific too.
So happy Alaska Air is my local airline.
Posted on Thursday, May 28th, 2015
Sweet! My presidential election dreams just came true.
Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum has entered the race...
Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum or this lump of coal... which is smarter?
The entertainment factor for the Republican side of the race just increased by a factor of ten. What idiotic, bigoted, racist, homophobic, bat-shit crazy insane things will he say this time around? Who knows? I can't wait to find out though.
Now if only Trump would make a real run for the White House...
"My campaign would be the smartest, classiest, most beautiful campaign in the history of the world."
When it comes to sheer entertainment value, he would eclipse all other candidates combined. And a part of me is dying to know what four years of "President Trump" would look like. He thinks he's more infallible than The Pope and has balls the size of boulders... it would either lead to the Best President Ever... or World
Originally spotted at Meme Generator.
Let the insanity begin continue...
Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2015
Fortunately there was a delicious salad with apples, aged cheddar, plus candied walnuts & pecans to take the edge off my day...
My new comfort food, I guess.
Posted on Saturday, May 30th, 2015
Say what you like about Miley Cyrus and her dipshit antics, but the girl can definitely sing.
And she's generous. She created the Happy Hippie Foundation to raise funds and awareness for homeless youth. To support the organization, she's had some fairly impressive guest stars join her for a series of "Backyard Sessions" to drum up publicity for the organization.
Sadly, it's not for sale anywhere I can find.
So in case you too decide to "acquire" it off YouTube and need some cover art for your MP3, here you go...
And if you want to kick a few buck to Happy Hippies to support the very worthwhile work they do, that would be good too.
Posted on Sunday, May 31st, 2015
Don't dream it's over... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Selfie! As somebody who narrowly avoided getting smacked by somebody unable to control their selfie-stick this past week, I applaud Pizza Hut for their PSA...
When I have completed my bid for world domination, possession of a "selfie stick" will be punishable by death. If somebody ever smacks me with one of these things, that stick is going straight up their ass.
• Wha-?!? CatDuck!
• Reality? The Briefcase, a new "reality TV" show on CBS, is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen on television... and that's saying something. "Let's exploit people with financial troubles for entertainment value!" — Holy shit. THIS is where we're at? Really?
The concept of the show is that a struggling family is given a briefcase full of money and introduced to another struggling family. They then have to decide how much of the money to keep and how much to give to the other family. BUT LITTLE DO THEY KNOW... the other family was given a briefcase full of cash too! Oh the drama!
You just KNOW that eventually one family is going to keep all the money while the other family will give all the money, creating a briefcase super-villain family that will be absolutely crucified by social media. As if keeping free money you desperately need is some kind of pure evil. I bet this show does gangbuster ratings. Human beings are the absolute worst. Fuck CBS for this disgusting, horrific exploitation of the poor.
• Wait! New music just dropped from one of my favorite bands, Postiljonen...
Beautiful, as always. Can't wait for a new album to hit!
•Giddy! Twelve. More. Days.
YOU CAN PLAY AS A LEGO DINOSAUR, PEOPLE!
And that's all the bullets we have today... move along, there's nothing to see here...