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Resolutionary

Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2016

Dave!Happiest of New Years to you!

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I'm pretty boring because I have the exact same New Year's resolutions every year. The same five goals going on for heaven only knows how long. This year is no different, so here we go...

  • Try a Pop-Tart flavor I've never had before. DONE! Frosted Sugar-Cookie and Brown Sugar Cinnamon (I don't think it's new... but I had never tried it before).
  • Travel somewhere I've never been before. DONE! I was too buried in work to do much personal travel this year, but still made it to Whittier and Prince William Sound in Alaska, a place I've long wanted to visit for glacier-watching.
  • Visit a Hard Rock Cafe I haven't seen before. DONE! Added the new cafe in Memphis, the new casino in Vancouver, the new hotel in Lake Tahoe, and the new cafe in Anchorage to my checklist.
  • Drink a beer I've never drank before. DONE! My favorite new beer I tried last year was Alaskan Brewing Company's Polar White.
  • Get another Apple product. DONE! In addition to a fourth-generation AppleTV, I also got a beautiful iMac 5K Retina Display for work.

I'm not sure what 2016 holds for me. Some pretty big changes are happening in my life, so I may need to focus on things other than Pop Tarts, Travel, Hard Rocks, Beer, and Apple stuff. Or maybe I need to focus more on them? I dunno. New challenges await!

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THRICE 15.1

Posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Dave!Just in time to start your New Year right, there's a brand-spanking-new (and FREE!) issue of Thrice Fiction out today!

As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding. Okay? Okay!

This issue was a bit strange for the way it came together so very quickly... and then proceeded to fall apart with equal rapidity.

And throughout the entire ordeal of trying to get our latest issue out the door before the end of December, I kept thinking what an incredible honor it is for writers to trust us with their works... and how mind-bogglingly easy it would be to drop the ball and have have that trust be misplaced. Which is why every time we run into a new problem, I keep saying to myself "Better late than crappy!" and that somehow gets me through.

The biggest challenge I faced was my grandmother's sudden illness and eventual passing. Time spent with her became more precious to me than anything else on earth, including everyone's favorite fiction magazine. A big part of who I am was formed by her example, and dedicating Issue No. 15 to her memory seems only fitting as I... and by extension the magazine... wouldn't be here without her.

Alrighty then.

One of the last problems to face me was also the biggest... what to do about the cover. I had lined up an artist which I had been trying to work with for over a year now, but things fell apart at zero hour. Looking back at the last several covers of our past issues, they all had a "cold" look to them, so I was trying to come up with a "warm" color idea to break things up. That's when I remembered a beautiful "fiery" piece that frequent contributor Chad Roseburg had shown to me. I didn't know if he'd be willing to let me butcher it with a new crop for the cover, but it didn't hurt to ask. Lucky for all of us, he was happy to let me use it, and this was the amazing result...

Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 15

Chad says "That painting was one of those combinations of pure luck and a tight deadline. I never paint as confidently and fluidly as this painting might suggest. Usually I over-think and over-paint." Which sounds like a stressful process, but you can't argue with the results! The left half of the piece was cut off, which was a truly interesting bit, so I placed it opposite RW's notes for the issue...

Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 15 Artwork

And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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THRICE 15.2

Posted on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Dave!Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!

If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.

And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our August 2015 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!

Thrice Fiction No. 15

Alrighty then...

It's a forgone conclusion that not all writers are going to be happy with the art that gets paired with their work. And while the idea of such a thing is upsetting to me, I've pretty much made my peace with it. Artwork is highly subjective to begin with, and then you've got to take into account all the possible pitfalls that come with trying to interpret the written word for a visual representation. And it doesn't seem to matter how much detail the writer puts into their story. On the contrary, the more specific the writer is, the more difficult it can be to meet expectations. "I said the main character had a big nose... but I didn't mean THAT big!"

But if the alternative to sometimes getting it wrong from the author's perspective is to have no artwork at all, I think it's a risk worth taking.

Because I can't imagine THRICE Fiction without the art.

And, on that note... on with the show...

   

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Bullet Sunday 456

Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2016

Dave!A new year, 52 new opportunities for bullets, because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• STRANGE! As a huge, huge, massively huge devotee of the Marvel Studios films, I'm ecstatic that The Powers The Be are finally getting around to exploring the mystical, magical side of the Marvel Universe. I've long been a fan of Doctor Strange, and everything we've been teased with shows that they're doing it right. Starting with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch...

Doctor Strange Movie

Will be very interested to see how they integrate magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's going to be a delicate line to walk.

   
• ARETHA! Watching Carole King's reaction is almost as entertaining as watching Aretha Franklin flawlessly belt out her song at age 73. Almost.

Talent like that don't come along every day.

   
• WEESA GONNA DIIIIE! I loathe the Star Wars prequels with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. And then there's this...

Not that it would make me hate Jar Jar Binks any less, but it would certainly make me feel better about his presence in those shitty films.

   
• Grapes! "I sold Star Wars to white slavers?" Really? Sour grapes are sour. Geroge Lucas is just pissed that people loathe his shitty prequel movies with a passion reserved for explosive diarrhea while JJ Abrams unleashed the Star Wars film everybody wanted. The Force Awakens is on target to becoming the most successful movie in the history of the universe, and that's gotta hurt. Though I'm sure the billions of dollars Lucas got for selling off Lucasfilm to the "White Slavers" at Disney is some small consolation. Time to go count your money and shut the fuck up, George.

   
• ZONE! I'm the mayor of The Friend Zone...

It's funny because it's true.

   
Thanks, internet, I needed that.

   

Things I Bought Week: Part 1

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Dave!Welcome to the first installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

First up? The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens...


The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cover

   
I liked The Force Awakens okay, and will review the film in another couple weeks (once I'm sure most of the people who want to see it have seen it). If you are one of the billions of people who has already seen the film and also enjoyed it, the Art Of... book is worth a look.

Like all of these type books, it's a compilation of a shit-ton of pre-production art that was used when developing the look of the movie. What makes this one a little different is that it's not organized into sections (locations, characters, props, vehicles, etc.) but is instead presented chronologically. This is very cool in the case of Force Awakens, where the story, concepts, and characters changed quite a lot as the movie what coming together. Seeing how things evolved in relations to each other is fascinating, and it's interesting to learn how changes in one part of the film influenced changes in another.

A lot of times, these books are only as good as the talented people creating the art and, since this is Lucasfilm, you're getting a great many people who are the absolute best in the industry being showcased. This would all be all for nothing if the images of their work were cut down to tiny sizes, but a lot of the time it's occupying full pages... and double-page spreads. And since the book is a nice size, you really get a good look at the painstaking detail that went into every piece.

Overall, this is a beautiful book with a lot of interesting information about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you're a fan of the film... or just a fan of the Star Wars universe in general, this is pretty much essential reading.

RATING: A • DAVE APPROVEDCurrently selling for $24 at Amazon.

   

Things I Bought Week: Part 2

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Dave!Welcome to the second installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? The Ring WiFi Doorbell


RING WiFi Doorbell

Call me anti-social, but there's two things I really don't like... 1) Talking to people on the phone, and 2) Having uninvited visitors drop by my home. And when the person calling or dropping by is a salesman or political organization or somebody wanting me to convert religions? That's even more annoying.

When it comes to the phone, I just don't answer it when the caller ID is somebody I don't want to talk to or the identity is blocked. But what can you do when it's somebody ringing your doorbell? My door has a glass panel on it... it's not like I can sneak up and see who's disturbing my peace.

Enter Ring.

Ring is a "smart" doorbell with a camera, a microphone/speaker, and a motion sensor... all wrapped up in a package that's connected to the internet.

This means that you can get an alert on your phone when somebody approaches your door... see who it is... then talk to them to find out what in the hell they want. And you can do that whether you're in your living room... or around the world. Couple Ring with a connected door lock, and you can also let them in your home if you want...

The main reason I got Ring was because of UPS deliveries. They say your package is out for delivery and will be delivered by 5:30 so you wait until 6:00 just to be safe... then leave because you've got better things to do than wait for a package that never showed up... only to have it ultimately be delivered at 6:45 when you're not there. And then you've got a package sitting on your doorstep that could get stolen before you even realize it's been dropped off. With Ring I can be alerted when UPS approaches the door, see that they've rand my doorbell and run off, and know that I've got to run home and get it before somebody steals it. Neat, huh?

And, for that purpose, Ring works exactly as advertised.

Where you run into problems is when you want to interact with somebody. I called a neighbor and asked them to go ring my doorbell so I could see what happens when somebody presses it. Since I had motion detection enabled, I knew they were approaching before they even pressed the doorbell, then received another alert once they did. Problem was that the alerts were not instantaneous like it is with my INSTEON and Nest devices. The first time I was playing around with Ring, the delay was so long that I wondered if I had set it up wrong. My worry is that somebody will ring your doorbell then leave before you are alerted they were there. Subsequent tests were a mixed bag. Many times it was pretty quick... other times it was a bit slower. I don't know if it's the doorbell, my internet, or Ring's messaging service that's the problem, but it could be problematic if you have an impatient caller. Not a deal-breaker for me, but something to be aware of.

And now for a run-down...

Camera: When it comes to optics, Ring isn't bad at all. The 180° wide-angle lens gives you a clear view of everything happening around it in 720p resolution (1280 x 720). Even better, it has night vision so you can see in the dark. For $30 a year, any video your Ring captures is stored in the cloud. This way if somebody steals your UPS delivery off your doorstep, you can retrieve a video for the police. Ironically, this also allows you to have footage of somebody stealing your Ring, in which case they mail you a replacement for free. One pitfall that surprised me is that you can't access the camera whenever you want just to take a look outside your door. In order to see what's going on, Ring has to detect motion or sense a press of the doorbell button before the camera activates. I guess this is to save battery, but it seems a no-brainer of a feature to have, and should be up to the purchaser what's a good use of battery power.

Microphone/Speaker: Works pretty much as you'd expect for a Voice Over Internet application. I was able to hear them. They were able to hear me. They advertise "active noise cancellation," but I didn't have any noise going on to test that.

Motion Detector: Surprisingly sensitive. My doorbell is off to the side (not facing the street), yet it was still alerting me to cars driving by. Fortunately, you can reign in the sensitivity and choose which areas to monitor, so this isn't a problem at all. As mentioned above, the only issue I've run across is that there can be a bit of a delay between when motion is detected and I get an alert.

Cloud: As mentinoed, Ring records video every time it detects motion or somebody presses the doorbell button. This video is then uploaded to the cloud as it's shot so you can retrieve it from your phone whenever you want. I believe I read somewhere that they store 6 months of footage. You get a 30 day free trial with purchase, then have to pay $3 a month or $30 a year to keep using it. A small price to pay given how handy it can be to have access to your video events.

Power: Ring has batteries inside of it that can be charged over USB. This means you can stick your Ring wherever you want. Unfortunately, you have to remove the unit from your house and let it charge overnight every time it runs out. According to Ring (the company) the battery can last up to a year. Reviewers were saying it was a lot less, depending on how much activity your doorbell experiences. This wasn't an issue for me, however, as I used the power from the wiring of my old doorbell to power my Ring.

Installation: Attaching it to my home wasn't a big deal (drill bit, screws*, and screwdriver included!), and setting up the device with my iPhone was fairly painless. If you get stuck, there are step-by-step videos available for everything.

Doorbell: As expected, Ring passes a signal to your doorbell chime when somebody presses it. If you don't have a chime, you can purchase a WiFi chime that plugs into an outlet and connects with Ring to give you one.

   
And that's pretty much it. Except to say that it comes with a 1-year warranty.

Ring has solved a problem I knew I had... solved other problems I didn't know I had ... and increased the security of my home. If I could rely on the notification delivery speed and had the ability to view a live feed from the camera whenever I wanted, this would be a solid "A" product.

RATING: B+ • DAVE APPROVEDCurrently selling for $199 at Amazon.

   
* Helpful hint... the screws they give you are shit. Very soft metal that broke on three of the four screws when I attempted to drive them into the siding of my home... AFTER I HAD DRILLED PILOT HOLES! Do yourself a favor and pick up some good-quality wood screws when you pick up your Ring so you don't have to make another trip to Home Depot like I did.

   

Things I Bought Week: Part 3

Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Dave! Welcome to the third installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theater System Speakers.


Energy 5.1 Speakers

When watching movies at home, there's really no substitute for a good set of surround sound speakers. Without them, everything is forced into two channels (left and right) which means all the dialogue, audio effects, ambient noise, and other sounds are fighting each other as they travel to your ears. This results in you having to turn the volume up and down and up and down as you try to hear what people are saying in quiet moments, but don't want to have the volume blow you out of your chair the minute something loud happens.

As that weren't bad enough, when you have only two speakers... whether they be in your television or outside of it... the sound is blasting towards you in one direction rather than being the immersive experience it was designed to be.

Enter surround sound.

A typical 5.1 Surround Sound speaker setup works like this...

CENTER CHANNEL: This is where all the main spoken dialogue comes from. Sound engineers separate out people talking because (in most cases) it's the most critical audio in the film, and they want to be sure it's not trampled over by other sounds in the scene. It's critical that the center speaker be put as close to your television as possible so that voices seem to be coming from the mouths of the people speaking it.

LEFT & RIGHT FRONT CHANNEL: Most everything happening in the camera that's not dialogue (plus all sounds recorded to the sides of the camera's view) comes from these speakers. If you watch a car zoom past the screen from left to right, the sound should start in the left speaker, then travel to the right speaker.

LEFT & RIGHT REAR CHANNEL: These are the speakers that provide sound for what's going on behind the camera, and are critical for an immersive audio experience. When you're watching Star Wars and a TIE fighter screams into the scene, you hear it coming from behind you before you see it, then the sound moves to the front channels as it becomes visible.

SUBWOOFER: That deep, rumbling bass that accompanies sounds from explosions, thunder, and other massive-volume audio is supposed to be something you feel when you hear it. A subwoofer is built to do just that. And since low frequencies like this are non-directional, you can put the subwoofer anywhere you like... though placement next to objects can affect the sound, so it's always good to experiment when choosing a spot.

There's also 7.1 Surround Sound, which adds two additional channels to the rear of the room to further distinguish audio cues that are placed behind you. It's nice if you've got the space for it, but not essential if you don't. Other sound setups which add additional channels for high sounds and side sounds are also out there, but you need a pretty high-end room with space to spare in order to best make use of them.

As if all that weren't enough, companies have developed even more sophisticated sound technologies (such as Dolby Atmos) which do away with the channel model altogether and have the ability to create spatial sounds within a matrix of specially-designed speakers in a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 configuration (definitely a topic for another time).

Anyway...

This surround sound stuff is all well and good... but if you have a smaller room (like I do), where are you going to fit all those speakers? Using typical stereo speakers would not only be overkill in my 11-1/2' square living room... but they would take up a considerable chunk of space. Smaller speakers that are worth a crap tend to be very, very expensive... so what to do?

Enter Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theater System Speakers. Small speakers engineered to have big sound for smaller spaces at a great price.

And boy howdy are they nice.

After I took the time to get everything balanced and optimized the levels on my amp, I'm getting pretty remarkable sound out of these babies. All five speakers are the same size (despite the center channel having a different enclosure) and provide clear, crisp sound that's perfect for a terrific surround experience. The subwoofer has really good low-frequency response and pushes bass you can feel with minimal distortion.

Surprisingly powerful for their size, the Energy speakers have no problem filling my small room, and can even fill my entire home at higher volumes. I bought this set to replace my faithful Pioneer speakers that I've had for decades after I decided they were just too big for the space available. Even though they are a tiny fraction of the size, I honestly don't feel I've sacrificed anything. If anything, I've gained quality by going from stereo to 5.1 surround.

The speakers come with a screw-hook mount to hang them against a wall, but it's really recommended that you buy speaker stands so they can breath a bit (I like the Atlantic Satellite stands). The plugs are nice enough... don't know that they're gold at this price, but they do have pop-outs if you use banana plugs like I do. I wish they weren't angled weird and were a little more spaced apart so my stand brackets weren't so tight between them, but these aren't deal-breakers.

If I have a complaint it wouldn't be anything related to the sound... but the look. The speakers are enclosed in high-gloss black cases that attract dust like a magnet and show every smudge and fingerprint. It's really tough to keep them looking their best, and I really wish there was a textured matte option for people who don't want to dust their speakers every day.

Overall, a good set of speakers for a home theater system that will also do a decent job with music if space is at a premium. Fairly priced too.

RATING: B+ • DAVE APPROVEDCurrently selling for $316 at Amazon.

   

Things I Bought Week: Part 4

Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2016

Dave! Welcome to the fourth installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? The Hunter 1.2 gal. Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier


Denone AVRS910W

I needed a new humidifier. I wanted one that didn't use heat and had a large water reservoir. I saw this one at Home Depot for a reasonable $30 and bought two of them.

It's a hard-working, easy to maintain product and does a good job of adding moisture to the air. I'd rate it an "A" if not for one thing... IT'S A HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS TO FILL BECAUSE THE THREADS ON THE SCREW FOR THE CAP ON THE RESERVOIR ARE JACKED UP FOR NO GOOD REASON...

Good Screw border=

WHY DO THIS?!? Every other humidifier I've used knows how to thread a screw...

Good Screw border=

Sometime the cap for the Hunter unit goes on easy. Other times it takes try after try after try to get it to screw the cap on. AND IT DRIVES ME FRICKIN' INSANE!!! There's been more than one occasion when I've very nearly grabbed a hammer and beat the shit out of this stupid, stupid design.

If you don't mind having to fight a fucking screw cap every time you fill the damn thing, this could be the humidifier for you. It's cheap and works well.

But I would never purchase another one of these.

RATING: D+ • Currently selling for $30 at Home Depot.

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Things I Bought Week: Part 5

Posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Dave!Welcome to the fifth installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? The Denon AVR-S910W Dolby 7.2 Channel 4K Receiver.


Denone AVR-S910W

I loathe having to buy new stereo equipment.

But receivers are handling a heck of a lot more than just audio now-a-days... receivers are the hub for both audio and video. So whenever video standards change, your equipment has to change with it. When we went from RCA jack video to composite video and optical sound? New receiver. When we got S-Video? New receiver. When we went to HDMI? New receiver. And now that HDMI has been improved with a new version 2 at 4K and shitty fucking copy protection has been unimproved with HDCP 2.2? New receiver.

I mean, sure, you can always use old inputs on an old receiver... I've been doing that for years and living with the lower quality picture... but it's time to upgrade.

I've been a huge fan of Pioneer equipment over the years, but they don't seem to be pushing the envelope now-a-days. My next favorite brand is Sony, but it was a more expensive option for what I wanted. So I spent days researching which receivers were getting good marks now-a-days and settled on Denon. The have a number of different models, but the AVR-S910W was on sale for a great price and did more than I needed, so here we are.

Aesthetically, the unit could easily be confused with dozens of other receivers since they're all looking the same now-a-days... though this line seems to be a bit more minimalistic, which I like. It has a fraction of the buttons of the old Pioneer it's replacing. Since most HDMI electronics can talk to each other via CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), you rarely need to press anything anyway. Turn on your AppleTV and CEC switches the receiver for you. It's mostly automatic and entirely awesome. What's crazy, however, is that the buttons you most need for non-HDMI devices (because they can't be automatically controlled) ARE MISSING. Want to switch the audio source to Bluetooth so you can play music off your iPhone? Hope you have the remote handy, because there's no button for that on the receiver itself.

And speaking of the remote... it's yet another button nightmare where you have to go hunting for what you want. Which sucks to be sure (why is it only Apple can minimize crap on remotes?) but it is fairly well organized, so there's that.

In addition to the afore-mentioned HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compliance on all 8 of its HDMI ports (nice!), the 910 can also handle the forthcoming HDR picture spec and upscale signal from your old video equipment to full 4K. It's this last feature that sold me on the 910 over the cheaper 710, as I have old 8mm decks that will benefit from the upscaling technology. Since the 910 has an $80 instant rebate in effect, the price difference was $0, which is money well-spent.

For gamers out there worried about video processing lag, I couldn't detect any. But, then again, I'm playing everything on a Wii U now-a-days, which isn't quite so demanding compared to next-gen consoles by Sony and Microsoft. I'm assuming it won't be a problem, as the 910 has plenty of processing power to get the job done.

But enough about the video... what's going on with the audio?

Since I prefer to listen to music in headphones, the primary function of my new Denon receiver will be for home theater surround sound. Support for 7.1 surround is a given, but the unit can also handle new 3D spatial sound technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X... which seems a cool idea, but there's nothing really available in the consumer space encoded with those technologies yet and it requires adding more speakers than I want in my small living room. Still... nice for future-proofing the unit, I suppose. Surprisingly, you can run two subwoofers off this receiver, which I didn't even know was a thing. Since low frequencies are non-directional, I thought this was a one-and-done, but apparently two subwoofers provide a richer bass experience.

The sound itself seems very good. I'm no audiophile, but everything I've listened to is well-defined and separated out perfectly on my speaker system. Since my setup is small and fairly undemanding, the 910 is massive overkill in the power department, but it's nice to know I've got the ability to run some serious speakers at 185w per channel if I ever need to.

Denon has its own proprietary system for wireless speakers called "HEOS" which is meant to be direct competition with SONOS. If I could afford a wireless speaker system, I'd bypass HEOS because it has to share your WiFi network instead of creating a separate mesh network like SONOS does. This is a serious deal breaker, because most WiFi networks are close to saturated given all the crap we keep connected to the internet in these modern times. So while HEOS support is nice, I supposed, I have a feeling most people won't bother with it.

If you sacrifice 2 channels from a 7.1 system and can live with a 5.1 surround setup, you can repurpose those two channels as a different speaker "zone" which can be placed in another room and play from a completely different audio source. I honestly think this is kind of silly, but I guess there are some scenarios where it might be useful.

Like most receivers today, the Denon has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi for live streaming. It has support for Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM on-deck, and can also interface with Apple Airplay-enabled devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs. There's also support for internet radio, but the "stations" are kind of clubky to access, so I probably wouldn't. Thanks to Denon's apps for mobile devices, you can control the receiver with your iOS and Android devices. It seem capable, but also overly complex and cluttered. Still, it does easily allow you to control functions and tie into media servers as sources fairly easily, so worth the free-fitty-free pricetag.

When it comes to set-up, the AVR-S910W is dead-simple. You can use your iPhone to grab all the WiFi settings via Airplay which is super-sweet (no WiFi? Ethernet is also available). Then it's just a matter of following the on-screen instructions displayed on your TV to match your speaker setup. Thanks to the Audyssey Bronze calibration system being built-in, you can optimize your levels with ease. Just place the included microphone on a tripod in the middle of the room and the 910 will play tones to measure your speakers. The system them creates a custom profile based on room acoustics to give you optimal sound at every volume level. I know this reeks of silly gadgetry that usually ends up being useless... but can honestly say I noticed an immediate quality improvement after running through the Audyssey program. Pretty cool.

The on-screen user interface is serviceable enough, but kind of pathetic by today's standards. Mostly a bunch of text staring at you, it looks badly dated. Why Denon would invest money in all the latest bells and whistles only to choose to saddle it with a 1990's wrapper is more than a little inexplicable.

Something I've never seen before is Denon's "Eco Mode" which attempts to save electricity by restricting power to each channel based on the volume you've set. I notice no difference on my tiny speakers with Eco Mode on, so I've just left it there.

If there's a flaw to be found with the AVR-S910W, it's this... THERE IS NO SWITCHED POWER OUTLET ON THE BACK! Which means your subwoofer gets to be powered on all the time unless you want to get up, walk across the room, and manually cycle the power off when you aren't using it. Which begs the question... WHO FUCKING DOES THIS?!? Seriously, what idiotic excuse could they have for leaving off a switched outlet for your subwoofer from the feature list? Every fucking receiver I've ever owned has had a switched power outlet until now. It's senseless bullshit like this that takes great products and sabotages them utterly. This is such a moronic oversight that I am compelled to drop a grade from my score even though the unit is otherwise perfect. I just naturally assumed I'd have my outlet and was dumbfounded when I went to plug in my subwoofer and saw there wasn't one. Somebody at Denon needs to pull their head out of their ass on this one, because it makes the company look like complete idiots. Had I known about this inexcusable flaw, I don't know if I would have purchased it. But probably. There's just so many great things about it compared to the competition in this price range.

RATING: B • RELUCTANTLY DAVE APPROVEDCurrently selling for $479 at Amazon.

   

Bullet Sunday 457

Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Dave!Your cold, boring January day is about to get better, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• AUTOMANIMAL! If you're a child of the 80's like I am, you're a massive fan of Glen A. Larson's two epic masterpieces of cheesy television perfection... Automan and Manimal... NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!

Automan and Manimal

Really cool that these shows are available again. Something tells me that they won't hold up... but that just makes them all the more perfect.

   
• CLOSED! Macy's has announced that they're closing 40 stores. Our local Macy's isn't on the "close" list... thankfully... but there's two Macy's on the list I'll be sad to have go. Downtown Spokane, which has been open since 1947 (94 people losing their jobs) and Downtown Pittsburgh, which has been open since 1946 (170 people losing their jobs). Shopped at both of them. The Spokane location had an amazing men's department... the Pittsburgh location had a great sports shop... and I will miss them both.

   
• COLBERT! While I am not a fan of the music that Jon Batiste and Stay Human blast through commercial breaks over at The Late Show, their opening credits song is probably my favorite late-night theme ever. Melodic, playful... beautiful, really... it fit the tone of the show perfectly. As if that wasn't awesome enough, the opening credit visuals by Fernando Livschitz are amazing. Lucky for us, they released a "director's cut" with tons more footage for our viewing pleasure...

Wonderful.

   
• JUSTICE? Well isn't that cute. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is overruling the Supreme Court. Um... yeah... me no think that works like you think it works. How small of a penis do you have to have in order to be waving your gavel around with this kind of delusion of grandeur? I mean, clearly he's compensating for SOMETHING. I dunno. Maybe he's scared to death that marriage equality will be too tempting and he's going to end up marrying the pool boy? The mind boggles.

   
• POOL! I have to say... this is looking very faithful to the comics...

In many ways, I'm glad that Deadpool is not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is stuck over at 20th Century Fox. That way he gets to be his insane self in a contained environment.

   
Annnnd... time to go play in the snow.

   

Bowie

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2016

Dave!A very sad goodbye to one of my favorite musical artists...


Lil' Dave Bowie and Bowie Monkey

   

David Bowie's album Let's Dance was an amazing pop reinvention that I've played to death...


   

But my favorite Bowie is from his work on the film Labyrinth in which he managed to turn in incredible performances for both acting and music... including the song As The World Falls Down, which is about as good as it gets...

So many amazing works. You will be very much missed.

Tags: ,
Categories: Movies 2016, Music 2016Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bathroom?

Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Dave!Virginia Delegate Mark Cole has filed legislation which requires schools to be certain that kids are using the bathroom which corresponds to their "correct anatomical sex."

Sounds legit...


Pervy Virginia Delgate Mark Cole

...IF YOU'RE A CHILD-MOLESTING PERVERT!

I can only guess that Mark Cole will also be volunteering at schools to take a look at a child's genitals before allowing them to enter a restroom? What a disgusting piece of work.

Note to dumbass politicians... we all know that there is some fucked up shit going on in your bathrooms... which is why you're always getting caught there with prostitutes or doing cocaine or soliciting for a blow job or whatever... but you can't apply your personal shit to the general populace. Most normal people go to the bathroom TO GO TO THE FUCKING BATHROOM. It doesn't mater what their sex or how they identify, they don't equate going to the bathroom with anything sexual... they just want to piss or take a shit, (hopefully) wash their hands, then trip the fuck out the door. Which means the only perverted person in this scenario is PEOPLE LIKE DELEGATE MARK COLE.

You know what law I want to see on the books? A law banning these fucking idiots from using public restrooms. Their obsession over what's between my legs is bordering on psychotic, and I don't feel comfortable being trapped in closed quarters with transphobic, homophobic, bigoted assholes who are more interested in my junk than TAKING CARE OF ACTUAL FUCKING PROBLEMS!

Just when you think we're making progress, there's always some troglodyte crawling out of the ooze to be a dick.

   

Carpool

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Dave!I'm not a big fan of Adele's music... but I am a seriously huge fan of Adele herself.

Every time she appears on a talk show or gets interviewed, she's so genuinely charming, funny, smart, beautiful, and down-to-earth that you can't help but love her.

And now she's joined James Cordon for an episode of Carpool Karaoke, and it's everything you could ever want...

I really liked her James Bond theme, Skyfall... and there's some tracks on her new album that I do enjoy... so maybe I'm finally coming around to becoming an Adele fan?

Maybe.

   

Rickman

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Dave!And so one of my favorite actors has died. And so soon after one of my favorite musicians.

Alan Rickman is probably best known for his role of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies... or for his awesome performance as Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard... but there are three roles which I will forever associate with him that, in my mind, defined his genius...

Metatron from Dogma.
It only makes sense that Kevin Smith would cast Rickman and his golden voice to play The Voice of God in Dogma. As the angel Metatron, Rickman was at his snarky, sarcastic best, and most all of the reasons I like the film are because he's in it...

Alan Rickman in Dogma

   
Marvin (voice) from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Like anybody else could have given life to the terminally depressed robot, Marvin. The movie adaptation of one of my favorite books of all time wasn't all I was hoping for, but one thing is for sure... Rickman did not disappoint...

Alan Rickman in HGTTG

   
Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus from Galaxy Quest
By a wide, wide margin, my favorite Alan Rickman role is his brilliantly hilarious turn as classically-trained actor Alexander Dane who has to endure life inhabiting his most famous part... Dr. Lazarus from the cheesy television series Galaxy Quest. The level of disdain and self-loathing that Rickman has to generate for this character is beyond what any other actor could dream of achieving. And yet, he has to dig even deeper than that for one of the most touching scenes ever found in a science fiction or comedy film...

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest

You can't watch Galaxy Quest and not become a huge Alan Rickman fan...

Truly, he will be missed.

And now I'm off to watch Galaxy Quest for the hundredth time.

Tags:
Categories: Movies 2016Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Anomalisa

Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2016

Dave!Huh.

I like to think that I'm pretty well informed as to what's coming down the animation pipeline, but this trailer for Anomalisa came out of nowhere.

And it looks amazing...

Something new to look forward to!

Tags: ,
Categories: Movies 2016Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Voting

Posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Dave!Huh.

I really had no plans to vote Bernie Sanders into The White House, but this is such a compelling argument as to why I should that I may just have to reconsider...


   
Bill O'Reilly gone? Will he take his dipshit show to Ireland with him?

Yeah, that's totally worth becoming a socialist.

   

Bullet Sunday 458

Posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Dave!Don't shovel that driveway just yet, because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• ALIAS! Much to my relief, Marvel's Jessica Jones is getting a second season on Netflix. The show is more than a little groundbreaking in the superhero genre, and it will be very interesting to see where the showrunners go with such a fascinating and multi-faceted character. And dare we hope to see Patsy Walker, Hellcat next time around?

   
• ISTANBUL! Kindness to animals is such a noble virtue. I love stories like this...

Cats are a revered animal in Islam, and strays are everywhere in Istanbul, so it's nice to see some of them get shelter from the cold...

Kitteh!

Awwwww.

   
• AXE! Finally. A commercial for the rest of us...

Though drenching myself in Axe is not something I see in my immediate future.

   
• X! Ha! Jimmy Kimmel had a flawless parody of the upcoming The X-Files revival...

Reeeally looking forward to The X-Files when it returns at long last on next Sunday!

   
• Betty! But before I go... a very happy birthday to Better White!

Betty!

Still amazing at 94 years old!

   
Annnnnd... I'm empty.

   

Simple

Posted on Monday, January 18th, 2016

Dave!Turns out MadTV had a handle on the current state of the Republican Party all along.

Not bad for a show airing twenty years ago...


   
Preach it, sister!

And, seriously, this wasn't written as parody yesterday... it's from nearly twenty years ago...




Darlene McBride really needs to come out of retirement.

Of course, we've already got Mike Huckabee, so she's almost redundant... but still...

   

Suicide

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Dave!Nobody wants DC to succeed with their movie efforts more than I do. I love superheroes. I really love superhero films. And it would be great if DC could churn out movies for their characters that are on-par with the amazing stuff that Marvel's been doing.

But their record has been utter shit. With the exception of the Nolan Bat-films, there's been too much terrible lately. Green Lantern was gut-wrenchingly awful. Man of Steel was one of the worst comic book films I've ever seen... and I'm including turds like Jonah Hex and Catwoman (also DC character films, by the way). For whatever reason, DC just can't seem to get their shit together. Even though they've got some fantastic characters to play with.

And then there's Suicide Squad. Which finally got a full trailer. And it looks like total shit...

Ugh.

And don't even get me started on what they've done to The Joker.

Tags: ,
Categories: Movies 2016Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Hello

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Dave!I'm not a huge fan of Adele's music, but changed my mind when I ended up really liking her James Bond theme for Skyfall. Then she released her latest album with the amazing single Hello and I began thinking I was on my way towards becoming an Adele fan.

And now comes this reggae version of the track by Rosie Delmah and Conkarah...

Pretty great.

Tags:
Categories: Music 2016Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Done

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Dave!Okay then. Done!


Reza Farazmand Poorly Drawn Lines

   

More of Reza Farazmand's amazing toons can be found over at Poorly Drawn Lines.

   

   

Super!

Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Dave!Ooh!

New Pet Shop Boys in April!


Pet Shop Boys SUPER

It's pretty amazing how quick the albumas have been coming...

  • Yes - 2009
  • Elysium - 2012
  • Electric - 2013
  • Super - 2016

That's four albums in eight years. Super!

Tags: ,
Categories: Music 2016Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Endorsed

Posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Dave!Every time Sarah Palin shows her stupid ass in public, I pray that it will be such an epic disaster that it will entice Tina Fey to make a return appearance on Saturday Night Live.

So when Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump came along, which is pretty much the definition of "epic disaster," I was counting the minutes until Saturday.

I was not disappointed...

What's amazing is that Tina Fey didn't really have to embellish the sheer lunacy that is Sarah Palin in order to capture the hilarity of somebody this idiotic being popular enough to endorse a presidential candidate and have people pay attention.

Such is 'Murica.

   

Bullet Sunday 459

Posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Dave!You haven't struck gold... but you're getting the next best thing, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Boss! One of the funniest things to come out of Saturday Night Live in a while was Undercover Boss: Kylo Ren with Adam Driver reprising his role from Star Wars: The Force Awakens...

And now they've released some behind the scenes clips...

   
• Vax? So this is what it takes.

   
• J-Law! I'm obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence... and her appearance on Graham Norton takes it up a notch...

   
• GHOST! BUSTERS! LEGO Dimensions is the gift that keeps on giving... thanks to new Level Pack releases that take the game in entirely new directions. The latest? Ghostbusters!...

Looks epic. Can't wait until I have time to play it.

   
• Blake! Nothing quite like "discovering" a new song you like... eight years after it was released...

Apparently Blake Lewis was an American Idol winner. Since I don't watch that show, I never knew he existed until my Amazon Echo played one of his songs a couple days ago.

   
And... that's a wrap.

   

Strike 1

Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Strike 2

Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Strike 3

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Strike 4

Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Strike 5

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Strike 6

Posted on Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Dave!


Dave On Strike!

   

   

Banana Sunday 460

Posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Dave!Blogography may be on strike, but your day isn't ruined, because Banana Sunday starts... now...

   
• Banana!

Banana!

   
• Banana!

Banana!

   
• Banana!

Banana!

   
• Banana!

Banana!

   
• Banana!

Banana!

   
Hope that was as good for you as it was for me.

   

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