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Bullet Sunday 310

Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Dave!Yes. Yes I know that it's Tuesday. But I always have to juggle the last Bullet Sunday of the year around so I don't mess up my year-end Best Lists. But don't despair... because a special New Year's Bullet Sunday (on Tuesday) starts now...

   
• Resolute! My New Year's Resolutions are the same every year. 2012 was a piece of cake...

   
And what am I looking forward to this year?

   
• Travel! Where am I going in 2013? No clue. I want so badly to return to Australia so I can visit the Southern half of the country and New Zealand. I have yet to visit India, someplace I have been longing to see. I have tentative plans to return to Singapore, but don't know if I'll make it this year. Antarctica has got to be checked off my list one of these days. Hopefully, no matter where I go, it will be someplace interesting.

   
• Movies! So many potentially awesome movies to look forward to in 2013. Star Trek: Heart of Darkness, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Oblivion, Despicable Me 2, Pacific Rim, The World’s End, and lots more. So many promises of amazing movie experiences.

   
• Music! Macintosh Braun's album never came, so I guess that's dropping this year now. Depeche Mode, Adam Ant, Johnny Marr, and OMD have new releases planned for 2013... and I think Foster the People might be planning something... just to name a few.

   
• Fiction! Despite the odds stacked against new publications, Thrice Fiction Magazine continues to forge ahead. Really looking forward to what RW is going to find for our three new issues this year (our third!). Hoping to get another B&W Annual out in the Spring.

   
• Comics! Thanks to Comixology, I'm discovering and buying more comics than ever. I'm very excited to see what Snyder & Capullo have planned for Batman. Am dying to know what's going to happen in Invincible #100. Hoping to see something new from George Pérez and Arthur Adams this year.

   
• Apple! And, of course, there's whatever my fruit-adorned computer company has planned this year. What's next? Will the Apple Television finally appear? Will they finally get off their asses and let people delete shit from their iTunes download queue without having to send in a support request? Who knows. All I know is that I'm waiting...

   
I know a lot of people who did not have a good 2012. Mine was okay, as I thought it probably would be. This year? Not a clue. 2013 is the Big Unknown for me. I suppose that's just as it should be.

Hope yours is a good one.

   

Bullet Sunday 311

Posted on Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Dave!Pretty tough to write a Bullet Sunday when hardly anything has happened all week.

But there's a blog questionnaire that somebody tagged me for a couple months ago, so don't you fear... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

  • What eye color do you find sexiest? Brown.
  • White, milk, or dark chocolate mocha? I don't drink coffee. But, if I did, milk chocolate.
  • If you could get a Sharpie tattoo on your back, what would it be? A pirate ship full of monkeys.
  • Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it? Small town. It was okay.
  • Your favorite adult as a child? (and not your parents, if they were your favorite) Captain Kangaroo.
  • What kind of smoothie sounds really good right now? Pineapple-Orange-Guava
  • Most embarrassing moment from your elementary school years? Any time I had to perform in a school play.
  • Most embarrassing moment from your middle school years? Having a false start at a track meet and not realizing it.
  • Most embarrassing moment from your high school years? Pretty much every moment of every day.
  • Pirates or ninjas? Why? Pirates. Because they're pirates.
  • Have you ever climbed a tree more than twenty feet off the ground? Yes.
  • Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing set? There were no video games back then, so I guess so. Now-a-days? Not so much, no.
  • If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get? German Shepherd puppy.
  • What's your most favorite part of your body? My brain.
  • What's your most favorite part of your personality? My sense of humor.
  • Madonna or Lady Gaga? Neither? Both? Who cares? Seriously, who cares. But, yeah, Madonna all the way.
  • Have you ever watched the Superbowl all the way through? No.
  • Have you ever watched any major sporting event drunk? That's about the only way I've watched them.
  • What's the most delicious food you've ever eaten in your life? Fettucini Alfredo at Ristorante Alfredo alla Scrofa in Rome.
  • Margarine or butter? Which did you grow up with? I prefer butter, but mostly eat margarine (which I was raised on).
  • Whole, skim, 1%, or 2% milk? (Did you know they make 1 1/2% milk?) I don't drink much milk any more, but when I do it's skim.
  • Which continents have you been on? Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Australia. All I've got left is Antarctica.
  • Do you get motion sickness? Any horror stories? No. Not really.
  • Backpacks or satchels? Backpack.
  • Would you wear a rainbow jacket? A neon yellow sweater? Checkered pants? None of those.
  • What was your favorite cartoon growing up? Top Cat.
  • If you had to have a cow or a pig, which would you take? Why? I'd rather have the cow, but a pig is probably cheaper to feed, so I'd take the pig.
  • If you had to look at one city skyline for the rest of your life, which would it be? Seattle.
  • Longest plane ride you've ever been on? 15 hours... Los Angeles to Sydney.
  • The latest you've ever slept? Around noon, I'd imagine.
  • Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it you for free? No. Probably if I had nothing else clean to wear.
  • Do you pick at scabs? Not that I'm aware.
  • Favorite kind of bean? Kidney? Black? Pinto? Black.
  • How far can you throw a baseball? About as far as a ten-year-old girl.
  • If you had to move to another country, where would you move? Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Vietnamese? Korean? Nepalese? How was it? I've eaten all of those. They were all fine, but I'd loathe to eat them on a regular basis. Since I'm a vegetarian, my options are usually limited.
  • Small, liberal arts school or public university? Why? It wouldn't really matter. Wherever I needed to go to learn what I wanted to learn.
  • A relationship with love or one with sex? A little of both would be nice... but sexual relationships are usually less complicated, so if forced to choose...
  • Do you eat enough vegetables? Not even.
  • Do you like horror movies? How about thrillers? I like most any kind of movie except musicals.
  • Would you scratch a crotch itch in public? If I had to.
  • Do you swear in front of your parents? Fuck yeah. They're old enough to take it.
  • Coolest thing you've ever been for Halloween? Hologram Rimmer.
  • If you could change your natural hair color, would you? To what? Back to Black.
  • Do you want to get married? Have kids? Not any more.
  • Do you use a reusable water bottle? If not, you should. I have a reusable cup that I use at work's water fountain. I have reusable glassware I use with my Brita water filter at home. No bottle except when I travel, and then it's not reusable because I wouldn't know where to fill it half the time, and don't really need something else to carry.
  • City or nature person? City. Mostly.
  • Have you ever used something other than "makeup" as makeup? (Like paint? Markers?) No.
  • Can you walk well in high heels? Even if you're a guy? I've never tried. I'd imagine I could.
  • Post 5 awesome things about yourself. BRAG AWAY! 1) I can draw a monkey. 2) I still blog every day even though blogging is dead. 3) I can drive a manual transmission. 4) . 5) I have a skull tattoo.

And... that's too many bullets. See you next week.

   

Bullet Sunday 312

Posted on Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Dave!Stop staring at those Golden Globes... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Good. If you have a passing interest in astronomy... or even if you just like staring at beautiful stuff... then you have got to check out Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog over at Slate. I've been a fan of his for years when he was at Discovery, but he's really been be posting some amazing images lately...

Space Ribbon
You'll probably want to look at the Big Picture over at Bad Astronomy.

Glittery Galaxy
No shit, go check out the hi-res on this one. Mindblowing.

And in-between, Mr. Plait is still dishing up fascinating facts about the universe... and cool stuff worth knowing about our home back here on earth. Be sure to check it out.

   
• Cookies. Look, if a site requires me to enable cookies in order to use their shopping cart, that's fine. If I want to shop there bad enough I'll enable the stupid cookies, even though I don't want to. However... I am NOT going to be forced into enabling cookies just for looking at your website. And if you go to Target.com, that's exactly what they do ON PAGE ONE...

Target Cookies Required

All I wanted to do was to find a local Target store at a given address. Why in the hell does that require cookies? Stupid. Stupid. STUPID!

   
• Backlog. Being a man and talking about rape and violence against women can be a tricky situation... even if you are condemning these reprehensible acts of brutality and cruelty. I've learned the hard way how just one misinterpreted word can get you verbally eviscerated, regardless of your good intentions. Even trying to be sympathetic can sometimes get you smacked down. Ultimately, it all comes down to one thing... "You're a man. You'll never know what it's like."

And women are, of course, correct. Men can't know what it's like for a woman to deal with rape... or even the fear that comes from the threat of rape.

So this is a subject I shy away from, even though I have strong feelings about it. Namely, that rape is an unforgivable criminal act which should result in the rapist being evicted from humanity. Permanently.

But, back to reality...

Certainly preventing rape should be goal #1. But if rape occurs, then making sure the rapist pays for his crime and ensuring he can't rape again is imperative. Thanks to a post over at SueBob's blog, I've learned that there exists a massive backlog of rape-kit evidence that has yet to be processed. Meaning there are rapists out there who are free to rape again since the evidence of their crime is sitting in a room somewhere instead of getting them convicted. If this makes you as angry as it does me, there's a site called End the Backlog you should take a look at.

And if you're looking for a place to donate some money, Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation "helps survivors of sexual assault heal their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives," and is deserving of your support.

   
• Accused. Of course, being a man, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that being falsely accused of rape can have consequences every bit as horrendous. You. Can. Lose. Everything. Your family. Your wife. Your children. Your friends. Your neighbors. Your job. Your livelihood. Your life. And, even if the truth eventually comes out, your life will never be the same because the original accusation never goes away. People may learn that you're innocent, but you'll always be that guy who somebody accused of rape. And don't get me started on how damaging false accusations are to actual rape victims trying to build cases against the bastard who violated them. Every lie that comes to light makes it that much harder to prove a truth.

So, yeah. If you are a rapist, you deserve everything you get. And more. But if you're innocent? That's the stuff of every man's worst nightmare. Case in point? Nancy Grace's relentless, ruthless public persecution of the Duke Lacrosse Team for gang rape. Day after day she poured on the outrage, pronouncing them GUILTY despite the three accused players' repeated denials (not to mention inconsistencies from the accuser). And when the guys were found innocent? Not even an apology from that fucking publicity whore, Nancy Grace (may she burn in hell for all eternity).

All I'm saying is that the consequences of falsely accusing somebody of rape should be so severe that it's not a viable option when a woman wants to deal damage to a man. Or when she wants to escape the consequences of a consensual act. Or for any reason, really. But it's a scary area to tread because you don't want to make it so that women who have been raped are afraid to come forward. I don't pretend to know what the answer is here, but when working to make sure rapists are punished, I'd hope that the accused innocent will be considered in the conversation.

   
• Guilt. "A New Hampshire lawyer who works with a virulently anti-gay Christian-right organization has been found guilty of child pornography charges after videotaping her own daughter having sex with two men on multiple occasions."Salon

I am done being shocked by fucked-up news like this. These assholes ruthlessly vilify consenting adults over their sexuality... and it always seems like those who yell the loudest are the most guilty of doing horrendous shit...

A Fucking Piece Of Shit
"My favorite book is The Bible!"

This piece of crap worked overtime to persecute and deny equality to innocent people... but then spent her off-hours forcing her FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER to repeatedly have sex with TWO MEN while she filmed it. Apparently she felt her professional life was somehow "compensating" for the fucking atrocious stuff she did behind closed doors. Which begs the question... what's going on with all these other anti-gay bigots who are screaming to the rafters with their less-than-righteous fury? I am sickened at the possibilities. But no longer surprised when it shows up in my newsfeed. How sad is that?

   
And... I really, really wish I had another day in this weekend.

   

Bullet Sunday 313

Posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Dave!There's a grave disturbance in The Force, but never fear... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Rancor! My love of all things LEGO Star Wars is well documented. But LEGO has stepped it up a notch by releasing a new version of the cool Gamorrean Guards that I'm only just now seeing. As ugly as the old version was, this new version is cute as hell..

LEGO Gamorrean Guard
Photo from Warehouse 19, Sweden

Awwwww! You can get one in the "Rancor Pit" set, which conveniently interlocks with the Jabba's Palace set (how sweet is that?)...

Rancor Pit LEGO

Now that Disney owns Star Wars, I don't know how worried I should be about the license that LEGO had with LucasFilm to make awesome sets, video games, toys, and such. Since most of the cool stuff that's happening with Star Wars is coming from LEGO now-a-days, I hope that Disney is smart enough to keep a good thing going.

   
• Infinity! Speaking of Disney... they unveiled their mysterious "Project Toy Box" gaming universe at long last. And it's not anything quite like anybody expected. Called Disney Infinity, it copies the whole Skylanders concept from Activision where players collect real-life toys and play with them inside a video game. The result is somewhat... muddy. In order to have characters from all kinds of different animated styles plus live-action characters be able to interact with any semblance of sanity, a brand new common "Disney Aesthetic" has been created. In some cases it's very good (characters from The Incredibles look great)... in some cases it's a pleasant surprise (characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean films look pretty cool in their animated form)... and in some cases it's pretty bad (my beloved Sully from Monsters. Inc. looks like shit). Overall, I guess I'm just "meh" over the whole idea...

Disney Infinity Toys
©Disney and ©Disney/Pixar

Disney Infinity Screen Cap
©Disney and ©Disney/Pixar

Where things may become interesting is when Disney starts leveraging more of their vast array of properties and licenses. They've got LucasFilm, which means you could theoretically have Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker playing along with Captain Jack Sparrow and Perry the Platypus. They also have Marvel Comics, which means Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and the entire Marvel Universe may eventually drop in. They've got all the various Disney Channel properties available... which means we could finally get that Hannah Montana vs. Darth Vader deathmatch battle we've all been dreaming about...

Darth Vader VS Hannah Montana

And don't forget all the Buena Vista movie characters and ABC Television characters that Disney has in their pocket. With that in mind, you can see where Disney's gaming universe might become something monstrous and huge.

I'm not sure that it's something I'm going to buy into... especially since Mickey Mouse isn't even available yet... but I will be following Disney Infinity with no small amount of interest.

   
• Ads! I hate television commercials. Partly because they interrupt the shows I'm watching... but mostly because they're all annoying, stupid, and just plain suck. Which is why when a GOOD television commercial comes along, I nearly die of shock. It's so rare that this happens... especially outside of the Super Bowl... that I feel compelled to congratulate the people responsible. The latest commercial I'm loving is this very clever ad from TD Ameritrade...

Clever. And smart. And effective, if theirs is a service you're looking for.

   
• LIES! I really hate Subway® because of their Subway® Sandwich SpokesWhore, Jared Fogle®. And now I find out that they LIE about the size of their shitty sandwiches! It's probably been happening for years, but somebody finally called them on it...

Not So Foot Long
Footlong® Photo by Matt Corby

And Subway's® lame response? "With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong®, 'SUBWAY FOOTLONG®' is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway® Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length." This is despite the fact that in their annoying commercials there are people holding their hands up to indicate that a "Footlong®" is INDEED a unit of measure that's a foot long (as noted by BuzzFeed)...

Footlong is indeed advertised as being a Foot Long

I wish there was some way that Jared Fogle could be blamed for this scandal so he could be brought to trial and sentenced to death. Justice has been denied us long enough!

   
• Stream! I don't know how it is that I've never heard of "Can I Stream.it?" before, but what a frickin' amazing service! You type in a movie or TV show, and it will tell you if you can rent it, buy it, stream it, or otherwise get it over the internet from a variety of services (including the iTunes Store and Amazon)... or even purchase it on DVD or Blu-Ray. As if that weren't enough? If it's not available, Can I Stream.it? will even notify you when it's released in the format you choose...

Can I Stream It? Search

Can I Stream It? Results

How handy is that? If you're looking to fill in your digital library or find out if something you want to see is available for rental, "Can I Stream.it?" is worth checking out!

   
And that's all she wrote for Bullet Sunday. This week. Don't worry... Bullet Sunday will be back next week. I promise. So don't leave angry comments... or threatening comments... or weepy comments... Bullet Sunday is still going strong, never fear! See you at next week's Bullet Sunday for sure. Totally.

   

Bullet Sunday 314

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Dave!Don't pop that viagra just yet... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Credit! I pay for everything with my credit cards, because both my VISA and American Express earn me air miles and travel perks. So long as I pay my credit cards off at the end of each month, it's a winning scenario. At least is was until now. Because now stores are allowed to pass along the credit card fees they pay on to their customers. Which means any store not willing to absorb the fees are going to be adding 1.5% to 3% onto the total of your bill. Pile $25,000 onto your card for the miles each year and that could reach $750 annually. Suddenly those "free" air miles just got really expensive. So expensive that it's not longer worth it. If a "free" roundtrip domestic ticket is 25,000 miles (which cost $750 in fees), it's cheaper to just pay the $250-$400 it would cost to buy it outright. This really sucks, but I guess we need to wait and see how many companies start charging a fee before we know how bad it sucks.

   
• Sin of the City. The horrific nightclub fire in Brazil which killed at least 233 people is a sad reminder of how life can imitate art which is imitating life. Duran Duran's incredible "Wedding Album" features a song called Sin of the City which pretty much spells it out...

Kind of makes you wonder if you're taking your life in your own hands when you go out for a night on the town. Safety code violations are so commonplace and so rarely enforced in many places on this earth that it can be like playing Russian roulette. Eventually the tragedy will strike... it's just sheer chance that it will be on the day you are the one experiencing it.

   
• Asteroids! All this talk about companies wanting to send ships into space to mine asteroids makes my mind zero-in on one thing every time...

Atari Asteroids

Of course, now that Atari is in bankruptcy and finally set to die once and for all, I suppose I should stop clinging to the past and look to the future...

Millenium Falcon Asteroids

I wonder if these companies remember that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720 to 1?

   
• WTF?! I guess marriage equality opponents are finally starting to realize that more and more people want their gay friends, family, and neighbors to be able to have the same right to get hitched as everybody else. This has resulted in some of them abandoning their absurdly ridiculous arguments against same-sex marriage... for even more absurdly ridiculous arguments?!? You know, I honestly try and respect views and opinions that are different from mine... but this has to be the stupidest fucking thing I've heard in ages: Only straight couples should be allowed to marry because only they can have a child unexpectedly, where gay couples have to plan for it? Seriously? THIS is what passes for a logical argument now-a-days? It's witnessing this level of idiocy that is eventually going to be the death of me. My brain simply cannot process this fucked-up shit, and one day it's going to hemorrhage... just you wait. When the blog entries stop, that's when you'll know I've finally had too much.

   
• WTF?! Part Two You know that you've been blogging too long when you get an email criticizing you for using a split infinitive. What fascinates me most here is not that somebody decided to go all grammar nazi on me, but that they thought I was unaware of what I had done. As if it were impossible for somebody to intentionally ignore a grammar rule that they feel is stupid (see what I did there?). I suppose that I could invite them to kindly go fuck themselves, but I wouldn't want to mistakenly cause their brain to forcibly hemorrhage. I can so relate.

   
Annnnd... tomorrow is going to be a long day, so I am going to regretfully take my leave of you now.

   

Bullet Sunday 315

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Dave!Cancel your post-Super-Bowl plans... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Poop! On March 1st, one of the greatest innovations in toilet technology ever conceived will finally be available... THE DIGITAL 2-IN-1 POTTY WITH ACTIVITY SEAT FOR iPAD! Or, as I like to call this stunning testament to genius... the iPotty...

The IPotty

Why this isn't available in adult sizes, I will never know. If you want to order one, Amazon is accepting pre-orders!

   
• Bowl! I really don't give a crap about football in general, and the Super Bowl in particular, but my love of a good television commercial definitely have me looking forward to the big game. Or, since I don't watch the thing, I guess I should say after the big game... where I rush to see all the ads that aired.

This year was a massive disappointment. Most of the ads sucked ass (that idiotic GoDaddy ad was just fucking gross), and there was only one... ONE commercial that I felt was Super Bowl worthy...

And even that was a bit manipulative and predictable.

What happened to the epic Super Bowl commercials of yesteryear?

   
• Closing! One of my favorite guilty pleasures is searching the internet for "The World's Most Dangerous Airport Landings." There are several really good lists, and a number of scary videos... all glorifying those airports that are insanely difficult to land at. Later this month, one of those airports... Ecuador’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito... is due to close. I am very familiar with it, because it's appeared on a number of those "Most Dangerous" lists I love, and for good reason. It's right in the middle of a big city, is surrounded by mountains, is plagued by nasty cross-winds, and is at a high altitude...

Quito Airport

Having trouble finding it? Yeah... that's just one of the problems...

Quito Airport Outlined
Photo was uncredited, but I got it from Flying Magazine.

I always thought it would be cool to have bragging rights to have landed at one of these crazy airports. Guess there's one less chance of that happening now. Though I'll bet the people whose homes are surrounding Mariscal Sucre aren't sorry about that.

   
• Trek! The Lone Ranger, Man of Steel, Oblivion, Monsters University, A Good Day to Die Hard, Gravity, World War Z, Elysium, Despicable Me 2, Thor: The Dark World , Oldboy, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D.... the list of awesome-looking movies coming out this year is nearly endless. But there are two that I am looking forward to above all others. This is the first...

Talk about boldly going where no Star Trek has gone before... Into Darkness looks amazing.

   
• Metal! And, numero dos... the ramp-up to Iron Man 3 is going to be excruciating. The new Super Bowl ad seems to indicate that the film will hit all the right notes...

Of course, after this installment, I'm just going to be pining away for Iron Man 4, so I guess it's always something.

   
And... time to take my busted body to bed.

   

Bullet Sunday 316

Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Dave!You Northeasterners can put down that snow-shovel... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• SNAKE! Happy Chinese New Year! This is the "Year of the Snake" or, to be more accurate, the "Year of the Water Snake." Water snakes are mostly poisonous and deadly, so I can tell already this is going to be a rough year...

Year of the Snake

   
• Nemo! Speaking of rough years... I've been watching the northeast winter storm coverage with more than a passing interest. All the snow they're getting on the other side of the country is snow we're not getting here in Washington State. Heck, I gave up wearing a coat two weeks ago because it's been so warm. And while I'm happy on the outside that the winter was mild and relatively short, it's worrisome that we could end up in a drought this summer. I guess the best we can hope for is that we at least get another couple snow dumps in the mountains over the next month before Spring is really here.

   
• Archer! One of my favorite television pastimes is Archer, which is a kind of an animated James Bond spoof gone terribly wrong. The result is almost always hilarious, and I find myself watching the episodes multiple times. If you're a fan like I am, there's a fascinating look at the real-life people who inspired the look of the characters on the show...

Archer is Archer

Totally worth checking out, which you can do by clicking here.

   
• Rejected! LEGO has finally released an awesome MiniFig of one of my favorite super-heroes after Batman, it's AQUAMAN...

LEGO Aquaman

And the minute I got my hands on him, I wanted a LEGO Aquaman keychain. And so I wrote to LEGO Customer Service to beg for one...

Dear David,
   
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
   
I’m sorry, but even though I think your Aquaman key chain would make a brilliant LEGO® set, we can't accept your suggestion. I know this might be disappointing to hear, but we have a team of experts in Denmark whose job it is to dream up new LEGO sets, themes and toys. They tell me it takes years to plan everything. They need to test all the new ideas, talk to the factory about how to make them, work out what sort of box is needed and then deliver the new sets to all the shops in 130 countries! This means that there's a good chance they could already be working on something similar to your idea.

Yeah, right. It takes years of planning to take a MiniFig they already have and shove a metal loop in his head that they already have to make a keychain. AND THE KEYCHAINS AREN'T SOLD IN BOXES... they don't have any packaging at all! Obviously a form letter reply, but whatever. Maybe I'll have to buy a few Aquamem and experiment with turning them into keychains myself.

   
• iCrap! Dear Apple. How long is it going to take before you fix all the busted shit in your iCloud syncing? I am so fucking sick and tired of not being able to sync my keychains... LIKE I COULD WITH MOBILE-ME BEFORE YOU REPLACED IT WITH THIS iCLOUD CRAP. And why do you make it so difficult for third party apps to sync their settings and shit? It's just sad that I have to keep a DropBox account to sync all the shit that your half-baked "solution" can't handle.

   
• iCrap! Dear Apple. Why in the hell do you force your iCloud customers to download videos before we can watch them? You stream to AppleTV, why won't you stream to my Mac or my iPhone or my iPad? Why? If you can't figure the shit out, why don't you talk to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Redbox, Vudu, CinemaNow, or any of the other dozens of services that are streaming all the time. Because this is fucking bullshit.

   
• iCrap! Dear Apple. Seriously, how fucking embarrassing and pathetic is it that you've had almost TWO YEARS now to get this iCloud crap sorted out, and you're still sitting on your asses? You're sitting on BILLIONS of dollars... FIX THIS SHIT!

   
And... time to pack...

   

Bullet Sunday 317

Posted on Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Dave!Don't worry about five awesome days of crazy keeping me down... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Grohl! After seeing former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighter front-man Dave Grohl interviewed on The Colbert Report, I was compelled to check out his new documentary film, Sound City...

Sound City Poster

It's brilliant. A total love letter to old-school music production by some big names in the business... including Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Lars Ulrich, and more. If you love music, this is a documentary that's well worth checking out.

   
• Cruise! The media has been in a frenzy over the horrors that plagued Carnival's cruise ship Triumph. And the stories were pretty nasty. I mean, once you're pooping in a bag and standing in line for four hours to get a ketchup sandwich, you're pretty much having the worst vacation ever...

Carnival Triumph
Photo by Scott L./Wikimedia

Now, I've never been on a cruise where I had to poop in a plastic bag and eat ketchup sandwiches... the cruises I've been on have been perfectly lovely. So when I hear the public outcry from people vowing to NEVER EVER GO ON A CRUISE because of this misfortunate incident... well, it sounds like a pretty big overreaction. For every cruise disaster blown up by the media, there are thousands upon thousands of cruises that go off without a hitch. Including all six I've been on. And while it's not my most favorite way to vacation, I will absolutely go on more cruises in the future. The advantages of travel via cruising are just too numerous to ignore. But, of course, the media won't be covering that.

   
• Jelly! I'd much rather post my own stuff than repost things from others, but I just can't help myself this time around. This cartoon from Cyanide and Happiness is one of the funniest things I've ever seen...

Jellyfish Love

Seriously. I can't look at this without busting up.

   
• The Bay! I have no idea how many times I've been to San Francisco, but it's a lot. I love the city. But more than that, I love the fact that I've been to the city so many times that I don't have to play tourist. I can actually spend my time enjoying it without having to rush from attraction to attraction... I've pretty much done them all.

San Francisco by Air

About the only thing I have to do is buy fortune cookies from The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. Five bags of those will keep me happy for a month or so.

   
• Water! As I had mentioned last Bullet Sunday, I have a real worry about the lack of snow this year bringing drought come Summer. After flying over the mountains the other day, I think my fears are justified...

Empty Mountains

It's the middle of February. Now take a look at a photo I took of the same area back in APRIL of 2011...

Snowy Mountains

By April of this year, I fear we'll have nothing left in the mountains. Hope we get plenty of rain.

   
And, on that somber note, I guess it's time to catch up on some sleep.

   

Bullet Sunday 318

Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Dave!Another boring February Sunday got you down? Don't despair... because and even MORE boring Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Oscars! Meh.

   
• Over! By this time next week, Tiwlight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two will have been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. And then it's over, right? I mean, it's the final shitty movie of the shitty Twilight movies based on the shitty Twilight books, isn't it? I won't have to be subjected to any more of this crap... right?

   
• Overer! And speaking of over... the three internet trends I am so over with this month are...

   
• Hook! I have to admit that I haven't seen a single episode of Once Upon a Time. I'm not into fables and fairy tales, so the show is not my cup of tea. But I keep seeing these television promos which feature a surprising element...

Captain Hook!

That's Colin O'Donoghue, who apparently plays Captain Hook. But I don't care about that. I mean, yeah, I guess he's a good-looking guy and all... and I'm sure he's a decent actor and everything... but I'm talking about something more important than any of that...

Captain Eye Liner

EYELINER! Or, as I like to call it, "Captain Jack Sparrow Guyliner"...

Captain Jack Sparrow

Apparently it's impossible to be a pirate now-a-days unless you've got eyeliner on. I approve completely. Mostly because I can totally rock the guyliner look...

Dave Liner

But also because I'm totally a pirate at heart. The day this goes mainstream, I am so there.

   
• Suck! I am one of those rare people who believes in paying for the stuff I want. If there's a game I want, I buy it. If there's a movie I want, I buy it. If there's a television series I want, I buy it. If there's a song I want, I buy it. Thanks to Apple's iTunes, most any media I want to own can be purchased quickly and easily, so I pay the price. Until now. I went to purchase the latest season of Archer only to find that FX Network has placed ads in each episode. That's right, I'M PAYING FOR ADS! Well fuck this shit. FX Network is out of the damn minds if they think that I am going to pay for advertising when there are alternatives for getting Archer ad-free.

   
And now... time to call it a night. Tomorrow promises to be a long, long day.

   

Bullet Sunday 319

Posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Dave!This whole "Sequester" bullshit got you down? Well that's only the tip of the iceberg... because and even MORE boring Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Artisan! The craftsmanship that went into the album cover for John Mayer's Born and Raised is pretty spectacular. And the behind-the-scenes look at how it happened is absolutely worth your valuable time...

In a day and age when computers are rapidly redefining art, it's wonderful to see that there are people keeping old-school craftsmanship like this alive... even when using a computer. If only I had skills like that.

   
• RoboHepburn! And speaking of computers redefining things... the estate of Audrey Hepburn has authorized her computer-generated likeness for use in a chocolate commercial...

Audrey Hepburn Galaxy Chocolate

Audrey Hepburn Galaxy Chocolate

Audrey Hepburn Galaxy Chocolate

More than a little creepy... what with her being dead and all. It doesn't help that the video has a kind of "painterly" feel that seems to only add to the unreality of it. Still, it was kind of charming, and you can't really blame Galaxy Chocolate from wanting her in their advertisement...

Audrey Hepburn

I guess it's only a matter of time before actors just have to literally phone in their lines.

   
• Mashup! Usually I find music mash-ups to suck copious amounts of ass. They're lazy and/or stupid and rarely prove a point. Until now. Somebody named "pomDeter" has mashed up Nine Inch Nail's brilliant Head Like a Hole with Carly Rae Jepsen's vapid pop anthem Call Me Maybe to create Call Me a Hole...

Yeah. Genius. That's gonna be stuck in my head for a while. What makes it even better? The mashup was suggested by Ms. Jepsen herself!

   
• Supreme! Just when you think Ellen DeGeneres couldn't possibly be a more remarkable person...

Ellen DeGeneres

...this happens. Ellen has a way of calling people fucking stupid and paranoid in the nicest possible way. Hopefully The Supreme Court will see that American citizens are rapidly moving past homophobic bigotry and will follow suit.

   
And... my website is down. Guess I won't be posting Bullet Sunday on Sunday then.

   

Bullet Sunday 320

Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Dave!Extended winter weather got you down? Well don't despair because a toasty warm flurry of bullets is headed your way! An all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Neighbors! I got back from seeing The Book of Mormon around 10:45pm. Taking account that stupid-ass Daylight Saving Time was going to be screwing with the clocks again, it's actually more like 11:45pm, since I'd be losing an hour's sleep. But a mere 15 minutes after my head hit the pillow, some kind of impromptu midnight party started up in the hallway. Unable to get any sleep with all the racket, I wrote my blog entry in the hopes things would settle down after I was done. No such luck. The noise went on until 3:30am, despite signs like this being posted...

Repect Your Neighbors!

Not even a kind reminder does any good, because these assholes don't give a shit if there are people trying to sleep. They only care about themselves. It bugs the crap out of me but, unfortunately, there's no ramifications for for their behavior so nothing is likely to change. A call to the front desk quieted them down for about 15-20 minutes, but then it started right back up again.

Well, things need to change. There needs to be ramifications for this kind of behavior. I don't know if it's a punch to the face or somebody getting their dick kicked in, but I am sick and tired of paying big money to get a good night's rest when I travel only to have to put up with this bullshit.

   
• Sanity! And speaking of stupid fucking Daylight Saving Time... there's an official petition being presented to The White House that needs your signature. As a reminder of just how utterly stupid DST has become, I once again present the genius of CGP Grey...

   
• Cake! When I landed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport last Thursday, I bemoaned the fact that nobody was waiting to greet me with cake and balloons...

Face Book Ohare Update

But then today when I went to RW's house to discuss the upcoming issue of THRICE Fiction and other related business, not only did I get a delicious plate of cacio e pepe for lunch... but also, at long last, my cake!

Lynne Cake

Bob's wife, Lynne, didn't stop there... oh no. Inside? CHOCOLATE PUDDING!

Lynne Cake Pudding Filling

AND WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR LUNCH THAT WAS SO GREAT?

   
• DOL! What's one of the things I hate most in life? Renewing my driver's license at the dreaded Department of Licensing. I fucking loathe that time-sucking vortex of joyless horror. Which is why I was happy... positively thrilled, actually... to find out I could renew my license online this year. Seriously one of the best days of 2013 so far... if not one of the best days of my entire life.

   
• No Go! The official airport shuttle for Chicago O'Hare is called "Go Express." For a fairly reasonable rate, they offer door-to-door service to and from the airport. But there's a problem. Here's what they tell you the van will look like on their website...

Go Express Fantasy

But here is what it really looks like...

Go Express Reality

The only place it says "Go Express" is on a tiny panel on the very front of the sign-board that's on top, everything else is advertising. So if you don't see them as they pull into your hotel, and all you have to look for is the side of the van... how in the fuck are you supposed to know that this van is from Go Express? Well, you don't. Which causes all kinds of unnecessary confusion for people who just want to go to the airport. Apparently a few advertising dollars is more important to this company than consideration for their customers. I mean, seriously, can't they even slap a "Go Express" magnetic sign on the door or something? Does anybody care about their customers any more?

   
• Paint! I've fallen in love with encaustic painting, which is a technique where pigment-infused wax is melted and painted onto a surface, then fused in place. It's very beautiful, and receptive to all kinds of interesting artistic manipulations. Unfortunately, the tools and supplies to create encaustic works are really expensive. Too expensive to be buying a bunch of stuff just so I could goof around and try it out.

Well imagine my surprise this morning when I found out that there is an encaustic studio in Seattle which offers classes! Unfortunately, the 2-Day course I would want to take is THIS WEEKEND, but I am definitely going to sign up for a future introductory class when I get a chance. If anybody is interested in signing up with me, please let me know, and I'll email you when I get the dates!

   
• w00t! And, lastly, now is the time on Blogography where we dance!

Monkey Dancing

Wow. Looks like we had a seven-shooter this Bullet Sunday. Time to pack up my suitcase for a return home in the morning.

   

Bullet Sunday 321

Posted on Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Dave!Put down that St. Patrick's Day bottle of Guinness... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Metroland! One of my all-time favorite bands, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), will be releasing yet another glorious album come APRIL 9th! Titled English Electric, they just released a video for the first single, Metroland...

Beautiful, as I knew it would be. I cannot wait to see them in concert come April. The last time I saw them live was fantastic, so it's sure to be a good show.

   
• Kicked! Earlier in the week I mentioned the Veronica Mars movie project over at Kickstarter. I had pledged a chunk of money which came with a reward to attend the Los Angeles premiere. I received a "congratulations" notice from the Kickstarter website. Then I received a receipt from Amazon Payments confirming my donation. But a couple days later when I went to view my account, I saw that my pledge was missing. So I contacted Customer Service to ask why... only to learn that it was rejected because that reward level had "sold out." This is a load of crap. Apparently I was just supposed to ignore the two confirmations I got, since I received NOTHING telling me there was a problem. And, obviously, I had no idea there WAS a problem. Otherwise I would have pledged to attend one of the other premieres. Which, of course, have sold out. So now I am left with nothing because Kickstarter has a stupid-ass website that is incapable of reserving a reward properly. Oh well, guess this is the universe telling me I couldn't afford it anyway. Stupid universe.

   
• Enraged! I saw a video from an airport in China a while back which showed a man going apeshit because he wandered off for breakfast and missed his boarding time. Apparently he wanted them to call back the plane or something and, when they wouldn't, he started tearing the place apart...

As somebody who has spent their share of time in airports, I can say that I've never seen it get this bad in person... but I have seen travelers rip into airline employees for something that was actually their fault. My favorite being a girl who was late for her flight to Hawaii because she was sick, and was somehow convinced that this was not her fault. This resulted in a phone call to daddy telling him to make this mean person let her on the plane. Never mind that it had left 20 minutes ago... logic need not apply. Just like when a person arrives at the airport 10 minutes before a flight and gets pissed off because the security line is moving so slow. THEN they expect you to let them cut ahead in line so they don't miss their flight. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on for hours. I wonder what it is about going to airports which makes people leave their brains (and courtesy) at home? This has me really excited to be flying out tomorrow.

   
• This is CNN? Two students RAPE a girl, and what does CNN do? Heap pity on THE RAPISTS for the difficult life ahead of THEM?!? Oh how terrible that THEIR "promising future" has been destroyed just because they RAPED somebody...

Are you fucking kidding me? But of course FOX "News" has to prove that nobody is a bigger piece of shit than them when it comes to ruining people's lives... they decided that the 16-YEAR-OLD RAPE VICTIM isn't deserving of any kind of privacy, AND AIRED HER FULL NAME. Fuck integrity! We just want to make the news exciting for our viewers so we can keep that advertising money coming in! This is such a sick, fucked-up, sad society we live in. I don't even know what to say any more.

   
I really don't.

   

Bullet Sunday 323

Posted on Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Dave!Don't think the Easter Bunny can stop the power of the blog... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• The Bible! Whether you believe in The Bible or not, you have to admit there are some really good stories in there. And, while the good book has been plundered for entertainment fodder many, many times over the years... somebody is always thinking they can do a better job. This time it's Survivor creator Mark Burnett and his wife, Touched by an Angel actress Roma Downey (who cast herself as the Virgin Mary, natch). This ten-part mini-series airing on The History Channel is called The Bible, and I have to say that it's pretty darn good. The stories are relatively true to the source material, are easy to follow, are shot beautifully with good special effects, and features a capable cast. Including Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus...

The Bible Jesus

And President Barack Obama as Satan...

The Bible Satan

No... wait a second... that's a guy named Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, who "just happens" to bear a resemblance to President Obama. Everybody involved is saying it's just a crazy coincidence but, considering Ouazanni has fairly pale skin and looks quite different in real life (based on Google Image Search results I've found), that may be a bit of a stretch.

Oh well. As I said, overall I enjoyed the series, and the finale which aired tonight was darn fine television. If I had a bone to pick, it's that I think some very interesting points from these Bible stories were glossed over or changed so they could focus on amping up the stuff they considered to be "more dramatic." That's kind of a shame, because they didn't really need to do that... The Bible has plenty of good drama without going over the top. For example, Matthew (one of my favorite characters in The Bible) was severely short-changed. The guy was a tax collector that had all kinds of wealth and power, yet he gave it all up without so much as a blink for a life of poverty just because Jesus asked him to! That's pretty ballsy, and they really should have given the guy more screen time... or at least made you feel the sacrifice he made while taking a literal leap of faith.

I dunno... I've studied The Bible extensively but, since I'm not a Christian, perhaps my viewpoint on things wouldn't have been the best approach. I just think the show would have been better served if they spent a little more time on important details instead of dozens of shots of Roma Downey's face either in shock or crying. Anyway... I highly recommend The Bible for both it's excellent production and entertainment values... even if you're a non-believer like me.

   
• Do It! Today is World Backup Day!

World BackUp Day!

Have you made sure your data is backed up and your restores are working? No? Well, you should probably do that soon. Data is a terrible thing to waste.

   
• Delta! I'm about as big a fan of Depeche Mode as it gets... but, anymore, I don't even know what I'm listening to. I can appreciate that a band needs to grow and change, but I don't like their latest album, Delta Machine, because it's simply not the band I know...

Delta Machine Album Cover

Everything they released up through Songs of Faith and Devotion was genius. Ultra was a bit of a misstep, but still excellent. Then things went terribly wrong. Exciter was truly awful. Then the band kinda redeemed themselves with Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe because I could actually enjoy the music on them (for the most part). Now they've gone completely off the rails again. I have a feeling that what comes next will be the breaking point for me. Kind of scary for a band I've loved for over 30 years now.

   
• iCloud! For the most part, I am a total Apple Whore who loves everything the company puts out with a fiery passion. Unfortunately, there are lapses in my faith from time to time. One of the biggest? It's the massive failure that is Apple's "iCloud" service. It is truly a pile of shit that does not work very well. As if that weren't bad enough, it is LESS CAPABLE than the service it replaced, "MobileMe," because it can't even sync your frickin' keychain data. With each passing day I despise it more, and pray to Steve Jobs that they will finally fix the steamer. So far nothing. And it's getting so bad that even Apple developers are staying away. This article has an excellent summary of just how bad the situation it.

   
And now? I need a chocolate bunny. Happy Easter to all who celebrate the holiday.

   

Bullet Sunday 324

Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Dave!Don't go going off all half-cocked... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Cheese! April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and grilled cheese sandiwches just happens to be one of my favorite foods on earth. Sadly, most people seem to think that a grilled cheese consists of a slice of cheese melted between two slices of bread in a skillet. Not even close. Great grilled cheese sandwiches are creative culinary delights that are a little more interesting...

Dave's Cheese Sandwich

I've already blogged about my "Death By Cheese Sandwich," which is one of my favorite recipes... but lately I've been experimenting with shredded cheese recipes (which melt so very, very beautifully) and adding things like sliced green apples or tomatoes to my sandwiches. The last batch I made had Feta Cheese mixed in, which was mind-blowing. Next up I'm going to try a recipe which is made with potato chips. The varieties of grilled cheese deliciousness are endless. Which is why I want to encourage everybody to take National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month by the balls and seek out a few of the more inventive ways of cooking one of the world's most classic foods. Go! Go! Go!

   
• Hannibal! Let's just get this out of the way... I feel that Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is one of the most inspired performances in all of cinematic history. It is one of the few times I can use the adjective "flawless" when describing what actors do. With that in mind, I put my expectations into low-gear when tuning into NBC's efforts to turn the character into a Dexter-style television series...

Hannibal Series Poster

So imagine my surprise when I start watching the premiere episode of Hannibal only to find that creator genius Bryan Fuller wisely decided to sidestep a failed attempt at mimicking the Anthony Hopkins movies. I was riveted as I watched a much more flawed and interesting version of investigator Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) rope me into one of the best homicide dramas in recent memory. As the show continued to play out, I found myself excited at the prospect that this might actually work out.

But then Hannibal Lecter showed up and everything went sideways.

No offense to Mads Mikkelsen, who is a fine actor (he was really good in Casino Royale)... but the guy is horribly miscast as Hannibal Lecter. For reasons that escape me, he's playing the part as about as flat and uninteresting as it gets. I certainly wasn't expecting Sir Anthony Hopkins, but I was expecting to see some of the sparkle and charm that makes Hannibal such a compelling character. Well, there's none of that here. It's the idea is that Lecter is so charming and fascinating that you don't want him to be evil. The fact that he IS a psychotic serial killer is what makes him so terrifying. With Mads Mikkelsen being so eerily lacking in charm, he comes off as exactly what he shouldn't... a psychotic serial killer! I dunno. I'm going to keep watching in the hopes that Hannibal grows on me because Will Graham is so beautifully realized here... but, unfortunately, I can see a day when Lecter's half of the coin pushes me over the edge.

   
• Bridegroom! "It's not a gay thing. It's not a straight thing. It's a human thing." — I was really happy this Kickstarter project got funded, and I can't wait to see what Linda Bloodworth-Thompson has done with a story that everybody needs to see...

   
• NIK! When Google bought out NIK Software, I was gutted. They obviously bought the company to get their hands on Snapseed, and I worried that the rest of their brilliant apps would be tossed aside. That may yet come true but, in the meanwhile, Google has dropped the price of NIK's plugin suite to a astounding $149! If you're a photographer who uses Photoshop, scrape together the $149 and RUN, don't walk, to their website and snap it up before Google changes their mind. Color Efex and Silver Efex are sheer magic for punching up your images, and all the rest of the tools are just gravy. If 70% off and my praise doesn't compel you to jump onboard, they have a 15-day free trial available.

   
• WTF? Seriously. I wants to die now.

   
• Mini! More and more I have been uploading double-sized photos to my blog, then manually down-sizing the dimensions in the HTML. This makes it so that readers with a Retina Display get a much better quality photo to look at...

Retina Blogography Image
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right

The problem is that readers without a Retina Display (or equivalent) are downloading a bigger image file, only to have their browser throw out every other pixel. Kinda a waste of time and bandwidth but, sorry, one day all displays will be "Retina" in quality, and I'm trying to future-proof my images here. To make this as painless as possible, I am using a tool called JPEGmini to reduce the size of my large images (small images don't net much of a savings). So far, it's worked surprisingly well, and my largest images are being reduced as much as half. Yes. Half. But the best part? The image quality is maintained! Looking as hard as I can, I can't spot any difference between the original and the JPEGmini version! It's been working so well that I've taken to compress my camera libraries as well. If you're looking to save some space with your JPEGs, I highly recommend giving JPEGmini a try (there's a free version to check it out, so what are you waiting for?).

   
• Veronica! If you loved me, you'd donate one measly dollar to the Veronica Mars movie project so it can become the most backer backed project in Kickstarter history. If you don't love me, then you can still donate a dollar and pretend to love me... I'm perfectly fine with that. Just five days left...

   
And now... TIME TO MAKE FRESH BREAD FOR MORE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES!

   

Outback

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013

Dave!Back to reality. For a few days anyway.

While hanging out at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on layover yesterday, I ran across a couple who were on their way to Australia so they could hike around the Outback for two weeks. I thought this sounded like a great vacation... assuming I could ever get used to all the bugs...

Outback

It's certainly beautiful enough to lure me back.

And now I suppose I should unpack my suitcase so I can get it packed up again on Sunday.

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Bullet Sunday 325

Posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Dave!Am I doing the smart thing and packing my suitcase right now? No. Instead I'm here blogging... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Awarded! I pretty much think that all award shows are crap, but the MTV Movie Awards at least show stuff you want to see. Not just with the nominees, but also in the commercials, which featured looks at upcoming hot movies... including two I'm dying to see: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I think I've rewound and rewatched both spots on my DVR at least a half-dozen times now. Here's hoping they live up to the hype.

   
• Beebus! I know Justin Bieber is young and all... but holy shit...

Bieber at Anne Frank House

I've been to the Anne Frank House. It is a very somber and emotional ordeal to experience how her family was forced to live and what they went through to survive. Once you've seen Anne's hopes and dreams on display throughout the museum, you're reminded that she ultimately didn't survive, and it's like a punch in the gut. You feel it.

But all Bieber seemed to take away from the experience was how cool it would be if she were alive today so she could be his fan. I honestly don't know if I should chime in on what a fucking moron he is... or just feel sorry for the little wanker being so blissfully clueless about anything except his own ego.

   
• Graze! In the UK they have a service which delivers healthy snacks directly to your mailbox once a week called "Graze." They're kind of famous for their olives, but they've got a pretty big assortment of nifty treats. Not so long ago, they launched here in the US, and I've been a member for the past twelve weeks. To make a long story short, it's probably not the greatest value for your money, as the four portions you get for $5 (delivered) are pretty small. That being said, I do like the variety and convenience...

Graze Box

Recently Graze sent out paper doll bunnies to their members(?!?). I have no idea why, as it seemed like a huge fucking waste of money. I would have been happier to get a dollar off my next box or something useful like that, but oh well.

About the only thing I don't like so far are their "flapjacks," which are a slimy granola bar of some kind. Other than that, everything is pretty decent. For some reason we Americans are denied the olives, but hopefully they'll be added at a later time. I think the service is still in beta, so signing up is limited to invite codes... but they should be launching for reals any time now. Might be worth checking out when they do.

   
• Coachella! Tonight OMD played Coachella and YouTube was streaming it live. While not quite the same experience as being there, I was really happy to see the show from the comfort of my living room...

OMD at Coachella

Oh how I love this band. If you wanna take a look, YouTube may still have it up.

   
• Opener! Speaking of OMD, their opening act was a guy calling himself Diamond Rings. Surprisingly, his band exceeded my expectations in just about every way. Most of his music is inspired directly from 80's acts, and Marty and I spent his entire set tossing out which bands were the template for the song he was playing. I ended up buying his latest album off iTunes, as it has some good tracks...

   

If you're into 80's pop and looking for something new, Diamond Rings is worth a listen.

   
And... now I suppose I should pack that suitcase.

   

Disneyland: Day Two!

Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Dave!Today I actually got to spend a little time in the parks, which was fun. The weather consisted of flawless blue skies with a nice breeze to take the edge off the heat.

And now some quick comments on the rides I got to see as I rushed around The House of the Mouse...

DISNEYLAND!

  • Jungle Cruise. This ride needs a major overhaul, as it just isn't aging well. Making it be self-aware and "funny" (when it used to be narrated seriously) hasn't helped much.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure. A bumpy, jumpy jeep ride through vaguely Indiana-Jones-esque settings. I always thought this ride was kinda disappointing because it doesn't seem very immersive (even if the queue is beautifully themed). With the exception of three appearances of animatronic Indiana Jones robots, it could be anything.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme park ride to end all theme park rides and my all-time favorite. Unlike Indy, this attraction is sublimely immersive. It helps that the Disneyland original is 16 minutes long when all the clones in other Disney parks are half that.
  • Haunted Mansion. While still a nice attraction with some great effects, it sure seems like they could upgrade this older ride with some amazing new technology. Oh well. Still a classic.
  • Tarzan's Treehouse. I can't really figure out why the Disneyland treehouse was re-themed for Tarzan when the Disney World version is still "Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse." I do like the Tarzan version better... but wish the character sculptures were animated.
  • Splash Mountain. Closed for temporary ride break-down.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Compared to the Disney World Pooh attraction, this is lame. Compared to the Tokyo Disneyland Pooh attraction, it's complete shit. Why Japan put the money into a great Winnie the Pooh ride when the US versions are cheap and crappy remains a mystery.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. I used to think this shooting attraction was pretty amazing... until "Toy Story Midway Mania" hit the scene. It's still fun, just not as cool as an experience as the later shooting rides are.
  • Space Mountain. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I have mixed feelings on this. The "Nemo" parts are great... even if they are dark and hard to see. But everything else, which is most of the ride, if so painfully boring because nothing is happening. They really need to refresh this so it's all Nemo all the time.
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The original ride was great, but the update that happened back in 2011 made it remarkable. Even though I've ridden the Disney World version a dozen times to see all the random scenarios play out, this was the first time I got to see "hologram Yoda," which was very cool.
  • Disney Railroad, Main Street. Closed for temporary ride break-down.

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!

  • California Screamin'. While not the most exciting coaster in the world, it's such a long, smooth, beautiful ride that it is nevertheless one of my favorites.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! One of the best new Disney rides to come along in years. It's a brilliant take on video games that only Disney/Pixar could imagine.
  • Grizzly River Run. A really fun (and wet!) attraction that simulates turbulent river rafting. A vastly superior ride than its bastard twin sister, Kali River Rapids, over at Disney World.
  • Soarin' Over California. Closed for refurbishment.
  • Radiator Springs Racers. I thought this was a nicer, smarter, cuter take on the technology from Epcot's "Test Track"... but it's hardly worth the 90+ minute wait to get in.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. While not as immersive and interesting as the superior Disney World version, it's still a fun "faster than gravity" fall ride.

If you're thinking "Holy crap that's a lot of closed rides! you'd be right. And the horrible thing is that they're mostly the big "E-Ticket" rides that people most want to see... Splash Mountain, Space Mountan, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Soarin', Dinseyland Railroad... so it's a major bummer. Especially Space Mountain and Soarin', which are only closed because (apparently) Disney stupidly ignored OSHA warnings that were given last year. Oh well. I've riden them all before... many times... but it makes me sad for all the people who came all the way to Disneyland to experience them, only to be told "no."

Anyway...

After dinner I stopped by to see Abigail for a few minutes and get a new wallet, so that was a nice end to my day.

Now it's off to sleep before another busy day tomorrow...

   

Bullet Sunday 326

Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Dave!Trying not to let a truly crappy week of bad news keep me down... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Czech! I know I shouldn't have been shocked when Twitter exploded with morons wanting to bomb "Czechoslovakia" as retaliation for the Boston bombings... but I admit that I honestly was. Partly because "Czechoslovakia" ceased to exist in 1992 after splitting into two countries (Czech Republic and Slovakia). But mostly because the Czech ambassador had to make a public statement explaining that the Czech Republic and Chechnya (where the bombers originated) ARE TWO SEPARATE COUNTRIES. The level of idiocy at work here just boggles my mind. I mean, if you're going to stupidly advocate bombing an entire country, shouldn't you at least make sure you have the right one? I'd hate to lose Prague, one of my favorite cities on earth, because "Czech" sounds suspiciously like "Chechnya" (as if blaming all Chechens for the act of two men with only remote ties to the country wasn't idiotic enough to begin with). If only ignorance was fatal, this country might actually stand a chance.

   
• OMNI! In what I can only describe as "wonderful," The Internet Archive has now put every episode of OMNI Magazine online, and they're free to access for everyone!

OMNI Magazine

This groundbreaking magazine was something I treasured, and the copious number of talented writers who contributed to it are like a laundry list of genius. Absolutely worth your time to check out.

   
• CISPA! Why politicians keep dragging the CISPA "cyber security bill" back from the dead is a complete mystery to me. No American citizen in their right mind would want corporations and the government to have this kind of invasive power over their privacy, and yet here we go again. And what's even more horrific than the bill itself, is how many dumbfuck politicians voted for it to pass The House. TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT to ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN? SERIOUSLY?!? President Obama has promised to veto this shit if it somehow passes The Senate, but I'm disgusted beyond reason that it's gotten this far. How. Much. Longer? How much longer are American citizens going to put up with this?

   
• Sequestration! And so it begins. I would once again like to take this opportunity to offer a big FUCK YOU to our government for being so astoundingly incompetent. Again. I'm sure that crippling the airline industry will get our economy right back on track. Seriously, how much longer are American citizens going to put up with this?

   
• Gaudi! Having been to Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece, The Sagrada Familia Basílica three times now, I can say without hesitation that it is one of the most remarkable architectural achievements I have ever seen. Even if it still isn't completed. I could wander around for hours and never get bored just looking at it...

LaFamilia Ceiling
An absolutely magnificent photo of the ceiling taken by SBA73

Which is why I was happy to see an article at The Verge concerning completion of the structure pop up in my feed reader. Apparently 2026 is the date... I hope I'm around to visit one last time so I can see it completed.

   
Annnnnd... midnight is approaching. I suppose I should at least pretend to get some sleep.

   

Bullet Sunday 327

Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013

Dave!You'd think I'd be tired of blogging after ten years, but obviously I'm a glutton for punishment... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Blogiversary! And it really has been ten years since this iteration of Blogography began. I bought the domain in March of 2002 and farted around with a hand-coded blog for a year. But then I ended up deleting it and starting over on April 28th, 2003. I managed to salvage a few old entries so, technically, Blogography began on April 18th, but I prefer thinking of the 28th as my blogiversary because that's when Apple's iTunes Music Store debuted as well. In any event, I should probably be celebrating that I made it this long...

Dave Tenth Blogiversary Celebration

Or committing myself to an insane asylum for keeping with it for this long. One or the other. Maybe both.

   
• Pot! Google's auto-complete is sure revealing. Guess it's a good thing it's legal here now...

Where To...

   
• Chase! And so I bought the latest LEGO video game for Nintendo 3DS. It's called LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins...

LEGO City Undercover Chase Begins

It's frickin' adorable.

It's also one of the most frustrating pieces of shit excuses for a video game I've ever played.

Billed as a prequel to the police-themed LEGO City Undercover for the Wii U system, this is a scaled-down version of the massive "sandbox" world of the original, but squeezed to fit in a 3DS. Even so, it's still a huge world filled with puzzles to solve and nifty stuff to collect. Along the way you have missions to accomplish which move you through the story and introduce you to the various areas of LEGO City. All of which are beautifully rendered, and yours to explore as your alter-ego, undercover cop Chase McCain. In an effort to mix things up a bit, McCain can adopt different undercover "disguises," each of which grants him new and unique abilities. It's all very clever and can be a lot of fun... when you're not screaming curse words at the game for being so horrendously frustrating.

I've been playing LEGO video games for years. And there's one thing they can never get right... vehicle control. Any time you have to drive ANYTHING in ANY LEGO game, you're assured of shitty, frustrating, worthless controls. Forget trying to actually accomplish something, you're lucky just to keep the damn car on the road. And there's a lot of driving in LEGO City Undercover. As if that weren't bad enough, certain scenarios require precision acrobatics that are beyond frustrating and pretty much destroy the game. It's astounding how the game can be so forgiving in some areas, but ruthlessly unforgiving in others, and it's enough to drive you insane.

Ultimately, there's enough humor, fun, and surprises to make me glad I bought LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins, but I sure wish that somebody would tell developer Traveler's Tales that frustrating does not equal fun. FIX THE FUCKING DRIVING CONTROLS NEXT TIME, ASSHOLES!

   
• Repugnant! Some people are such huge pieces of hypocritical garbage that they're pretty much irredeemable. Despite my defending her in the past, Sarah Palin has totally crossed that line. She probably crossed it a long time ago, but this latest round of bullcrap is what got me to take serious notice. What a fucking useless shit-stain on the fabric of society.

   
• Fugly! Wondering for the hundredth time why in the hell the United States has some of the ugliest fucking money on the planet. Seriously, Yes, I've harped on this before, but the latest release for the $100 bill is the worst yet and near vomit-inducing...

Hundred Front

Hundred Back

I know that rampant counterfeiting has made it so that certain design compromises have to be made to implement security measures... but this is fucking ridiculous. As if it weren't bad enough that our currency isn't worth a shit, we have to be embarrassed with this ugly, amateurish excuse for "design" that looks like shit too. Why can't they hire an actual graphic designer for important stuff like this instead of letting somebody's kid at the US Mint slap it together in Microsoft Word. Your (hideous) tax dollars at work, people!

   
And now I'm going to go contemplate whether I can survive ten more years of blogging.

   

Bullet Sunday 328

Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2013

Dave!Don't get confused that bullets are flying on a Monday... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Downey Jr.! Marvel's box office streak continues. Iron Man 3 had the second biggest domestic opening of all time ($175.3 million), second only to Marvel's The Avengers (which bowed last summer with $207.4 million). This is a continuing, shining example of how staying faithful to the source material with popular characters will result in popular movies...

Iron Man 3 Poster

I can't wait to see it! I just have no idea when I'll have time to.

   
• Gates! Look, I understand that Bill Gates has to continue to support Microsoft even though he's not running the place any more. I get it. The company made him billions upon billions of dollars, and he's obligated to say fantastic things about it no matter what happens. Anything less would be ungrateful.

But really?

Really?

Look, if I am going to be doing a lot of data entry or typing a lot of text, I'm going to use a computer. But for surfing the web, taking notes, checking and writing email, reading books and comics, and dozens upon dozens of other everyday tasks? I grab for my iPad. It's not the best tool for typing, of course, but it's really comfortable and useful for a lot of the stuff I do on a regular basis. So, no, Bill... I am not a frustrated iPad user. What I WAS was a frustrated Windows 8 user. So frustrated that I took your new piece-of-shit operating system and tossed it in the garbage after downgrading to Windows 7, which was at least tolerable. So... Bill... before dumping all over iPad with your pathetic whining, you might want to take a look at the turd that you're claiming is such a superior experience. Because it's not. It so totally and absolutely is not.

   
• Rollins! I just tuned into Hawaii Five-0 tonight only to see that it's guest-starring Henry Rollins and Mare Winningham as child kidnappers! Yes... THE Henry Rollins!

As a big fan for a very long time, it was cool to see Henry Rollins playing a bad guy on TV. His performance was pretty darn good given that he didn't have a lot to do... however... there was a problem.
      << SPOILER ALERT >>
At one point, Henry's character has been caught. But he refuses to talk, so the cops decide not to be cops and beat the shit out of him to get the info they need. The first thing to enter my head was "Well this is going to be hilarious!," because the idea of two Hollywood actors beating up Henry frickin' Rollins is absurd. Even if he was handcuffed. But then the camera turns away, which means that the people making the episode also thought the idea of two Hollywood actors beating up Henry frickin' Rollins was absurd. And that made it even more hilarious.

   
• Restless! So... turns out that "Restless Legs Syndrome" is not the load of bullshit I always thought it was. I've had leg pains for as long as I can remember, but it's always been fairly mild and ignorable. Over the past year, I've been having increasingly odd and un-ignorable "rolling pains" that move up and down my legs. It kind of feels like electricity on the inside that will give me mild shocks in random places, then tingle and go dead. But it only seems to be a problem late in the day when I've been sitting at work... or sitting on the couch... or sitting on a plane... or laying down in bed. But when I move my legs, the weird feeling subsides. This means I am constantly shifting my legs, often-times without even realizing it. So it looks like I now have a neurological disorder. Which makes me wonder yet again "What's going to go to shit on my body next?"

   
• Riker! HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE THIS?!?

So... bad back... or lifestyle choice?

   
And... no internet. Again. This is getting silly.

   

Bullet Sunday 329

Posted on Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Dave!Pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America... because a Very Special Washington, D.C. Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Pret! I headed into the city early for work because I knew that Union Station DC had a Pret shop inside. As I have said many times, my all-time favorite breakfast is a Pret Egg and Fire-Roasted Tomato Sandwich, so missing out was not an option...

Pret Egg Sandwich

As expected, it was frickin' amazing... and a fantastic start to my day.

   
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum! One of the best museums I've ever had the pleasure of visiting is the World War I Museum in Kansas City. The design of the exhibit space is just exceptional, and a commenter told me the same guy (Ralph Applebaum) also designed The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. So, naturally I was curious. Add to that the fact that my very good blog friend, Mr. Shiny, is married to one of the curators, and I was compelled to pay a visit...

US Holocaust Memorial Museum DC

Not surprisingly, the museum is stunning. As expected, the exhibit spaces are wonderfully orchestrated to tell the story of one of this planets' greatest atrocities... and it's done so well that you feel it. I had planned on spending a half-hour wandering around, but was here nearly two hours. Deeply moving and extremely popular (get there early!), the museum gets my highest possible recommendation.

   
National Air and Space Museum! This trip to DC, I decided to put aside my usual stops and visit some of the places I haven't been to in a while. Like the Smithsonian's Air and Spaaaaaaace Museum...

Air and Space Museum Lobby

I swear... everything looks the exact same as when I was first there in 1996! They aren't too big on updating the main exhibits, I guess... which is a shame. But, still, some cool stuff...

Aldrin Space Suit

And I could never get tired of looking at the original USS Enterprise model...

USS Enterprise Model

   
• Crapital! Why oh why do they have to put up garbage in front of beautiful buildings like the US Capital? There's a tent, some kind of screens, and other crap junking up the place, which is just wrong. When visitors walk by, they shouldn't have all the obstructions and distractions...

Capital Building

Because, seriously, if you came all the way to the US Capital, would you want THIS to be the photo you show all your friends when you get back?

   
National Gallery of Art! I've been here most every single time I've come to DC... which is why I was going to avoid it this time. But I just couldn't do it. The place is packed with treasures and FREE! So I took a half-hour to wander a bit, which is when I found this beautiful table that I don't remember seeing before...

National Museum Table

It's just like the chess table on the Millenium Falcon!

   
National Archives The line was really short as I walked by, so I decided to drop in to the National Archives and see if we still had a Constitution. Between the Tea Party Right wanting to strip everybody of all individual rights except guns... and the Extreme Left wanting to eliminate individuality entirely, sometimes I have a hard time remembering. Turns out we DO! Though it's badly faded and hard to see. Just like real life... and just like this scan of the Declaration of Independence...

National Museum Table

   
Vietnam Memorial! By the time I got to The Wall, it was pouring down rain. This made the sculptures for the Vietnam Soldier's Memorial and the Vietnam Women's Memorial look even more beautiful than they usually do...

Vietnam Memorial Soldiers

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Ever since my first visit to The Wall, I've returned every time I'm in Washington, D.C. to pay my respects to Roderick L. Mayer, a MIA/POW whose memorial bracelet I've been wearing for the past 17 years...

Roderick L. Mayer on The Wall

And since every time I post about my dedication to MIA/POW issues I get hate-comments from people telling me that this is all a big myth, I'm just going to post a clickable copy of a letter to Roderick Mayer's parents, then tell any detractors they can go fuck themselves (John McCain and John Kerry included)...

Mayer POW Letter

   
Korean War Memorial! A hauntingly beautiful memorial, and one of my world favorites. I found this documentary video which explains the thought that went into it...

It really has to be seen in person to get the full experience... and, if you're ever in DC, I highly recommend it.

   
• Lincoln! Another memorial monument that I absolutely love is Abraham Lincoln's. Visiting is akin to a spiritual experience...

Lincoln Memorial

And, of course, the view from the top of the steps is pretty special...

Washington Monument Reflection

Even if the 2011 earthquake has busted the Washington Monument to shit and it's all covered in scaffolding now...

Washington Monument Repairs

At some point, you have to ask yourself if it isn't worth knocking the thing down and building a new one from scratch. Yeah... yeah... yell at me all you want, but I'm sick of having busted shit in my photos. Historical conservation aside, it's kind of bullshit to visit a place and have nothing but photos of scaffolding or construction crews (like last time) to show for it. Apparently they're going to finish with the restoration sometime next year. Hopefully the wait will be worth it, and the monument won't fall to pieces again two years later.

   
National World War II Memorial! I'm just going to come right out and say it... I have never liked this installation, and wish that they had come up with something more meaningful and thoughtful than this lame excuse for a memorial...

WWII Memorial Fountain

It's just so boring, repetitive and tacky. And I don't "get" how it honors World War II vets... if anything, it looks more like it's some kind of monument to US states and territories...

WWII Memorial Columns

Compare it to the Korean and Vietnam memorials, and it's just so forgettable and unimpressive... even though it's so big. Probably because it's so big? I dunno. All I do know is that those who fought and died in World War II deserve something better than this.

   
• Shiny! Tired and soaking wet, I was pretty much done with Washington, D.C. when 5:00 rolled around. Fortunately, Mr. Shiny (who you should know from his most excellent co-hosting duties on the Hey! That's My Hummus! podcast) rescued me from my day and whisked me off to dinner with his family. But before we got there, he took me to see the Peeps & Co. Store in National Harbor and a really cool statue called "The Awakening" that's across the street...

Peeps & Co. Store

The Awakening Statue

Poor guy looks to me like he's drowning in sand.

Dinner with the Shinies was a lot of fun... until they brought the hummus...

Hey That's My Hummus!

Just because he has a podcast called "Hey! That's My Hummus!" doesn't mean he gets to eat it all. I love hummus! I guess I should be thankful that Faiqa wasn't there, or else I would have had to fight off two people! Fortunately, my delicious black bean burger had hummus on it, so I was totally taken care of in the chickpea department.

And, just like that, my one funtabulous day in Washington, D.C. was over. Hopefully next time I'll get to stay a while.

   
• WTF?! And jut because I can't end Bullet Sunday on such a happy note... Holy. Fucking. Shit. Not only is Newt Gingrich confounded as to what to call a "smartphone"... he seems genuinely perplexed by multi-functional modern technology. And this is a guy who could have been elected President of the United States of America!

"This pencil also erases. It has an eraser right on the top of it. So it's not a pencil. It's not an eraser. It's something new. A new technology that's only beginning. And we here at Gingrich Productions have spent weeks trying to figure out what to call it..."

I'm horrified that this kind of absurd cluelessness completely defines our country's government. Legislators are making laws about things they don't understand and are too lazy to actually take the time to educate themselves about. This is exactly how idiotic shit like ACTA happens, and we all pay the price for our political leaders being intentionally uninformed morons.

   
And... it's late. Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

   

Stalingrad

Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Dave!I have never been a fan of war movies.

Probably because the war movies I was most familiar with growing up were the John Wayne war glorification films that put a heroic gloss on war that made it seem like some kind of desirable activity... instead of the horrific failure of the human condition that it really is. There were exceptions, of course (Grave of the Fireflies comes immediately to mind), but the vast majority of films I saw were whitewashed pro-war propaganda.

But then war films started changing.

And the turning point for me was Saving Private Ryan.

Here was a film that was showing us heroism amongst the brutality of war, and it was achieved by being honest about just how horrible and terrifying it is for everybody involved. No glossing over the death and destruction with lame-ass "ACK! You got me, you dirty Nazi!" style casualties... Saving Private Ryan blew people apart with bloody abandon, illustrating that just surviving a war with your sanity in tact was a heroic effort.

Then came A Very Long Engagement and The Hurt Locker and Band of Brothers and Letters from Iwo Jima and Defiance and Zero Dark Thirty and even Inglourious Basterds... and numerous other movies which, while not entirely propaganda-free, at least tried to be more honest in their depiction of war. But, most important of all, they were simply very good films.

Which all leading to (what is now) one of my most anticipated films of 2013, and it finally has an international trailer...

I fully admit that when I first read about the film being made, I was intrigued. Stalingrad is one of the most brutal battles in world history, and getting a modern film on the subject made by actual Russians could make for a very interesting flick. But then I heard it was going the Titanic-love-story-against-disaster route and I lost interest. And then I heard it was being filmed in 3-D and really lost interest.

But now this cinematic and stylish trailer has arrived, and I can't wait to see this film.

I can only hope that the story and acting lives up to the promise of the visuals.

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Bullet Sunday 330

Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Dave!Don't put down that remote... because a Very Special Television Preview Edition of Bullet Sunday (filled with the top five shows I'm looking forward to in the coming season) starts now...

   
• Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wait... Agent Coulson is alive? Yeah, like I could possibly pass this one up. Joss Whedon is executive producing this spin-off from The Avengers (AND directing the pilot episode!) which makes it must-see TV...

   
• The Blacklist. And here we have a Silence of the Lambs homage. Sounds like a complete waste of time, right? Except... James Spader is the one playing the psycho criminal who's partnering up with a young female FBI agent. How can I say no to that?

   
• Almost Human. Okay, I'm a total sucker for Holmes & Yoyo for the 21st century. The fact that it stars Karl Urban is just icing on the cake...

   
• Dracula. It's Carnivale meets Downton Abbey... LITERALLY... as two of the people responsible for those shows team up for this ten-part series based on everybody's favorite blood-sucker. If nothing else, it looks to have really nice production values, so I'll be tuning in...

   
• Intelligence. Former Lost heartthrob Josh Holloway stars as some kind of secret agent with a microchip in his head that lets him access the internet and know anything. I'm guessing this is supposed to be a retread of Chuck with a less whiny character? I dunno, but the whole "Six Million Dollar Man for the Information Age" angle has me intrigued, so I'll give it a shot...

   
That's five. There will be more to follow, I'm sure. But if the rest of the up-fronts being touted are any indication, it's probably not going to be very much more.

I mean, Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring as a father/daughter team in a new show by David E. Kelley? Seriously? And here I thought that Michael J. Fox poking fun at his Parkinson's disease in his new series was over the top. And then there's John frickin' Malkovich playing a modern-day pirate, which looks utterly bizarre. But, hey, at least these are original shows. Most everything else is either a remake of a foreign series, or a copy of what's come before...

Heroes is reborn as The Tomorrow People?
Twin Peaks is ripped off for Wayward Pines?
Roswell is transformed into Star-Crossed?
About a Boy reincarnated as a television series?
Blair Underwood takes on Raymond Burr's Ironside?

It just goes on and on. But hopefully the majority of it won't be as gut-wrenchingly horrible as this shit...

Ye gads. Kind of makes me want to swear off television forever.

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Bullet Sunday 331

Posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Dave!Better switch to decaffeinated... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Gamer. I am most definitely not what you would call a "hard core gamer." I just like to play an occasional video game when I can find time, and am just as likely to be playing LEGO Batman as I am Call of Duty: Black Ops. That being said, I do own The Big Three consoles (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360) along with a Nintendo 3DS-XL, so maybe "casual gamer" isn't the best description for me either. In any event, both Sony and Microsoft have now unveiled their next generation console plans with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively...

PS4 vs. Xbox One

Right now, I'm probably a bit more excited for the new PS4. Probably because it doesn't try to add on all the computing and multimedia bullshit, and has Sony solely focusing on the gaming experience. Microsoft, on the other hand, feels distracted by trying to sell you television shows and making you dick around with Windows 8 (which I loathe). And then there's Nintendo's Wii-U, which I just can't seem to get excited about. So I guess time will tell which direction I end up going. Though a part of me wonders if I'm just done with console gaming, so maybe I won't invest in any of them.

   
• Arrested! Netflix has unleashed the much-anticipated Season 4 of Arrested Development, seven years after it was canceled by FOX. I enjoyed the original episodes, even though they often-times seemed quirky for quirky's sake, but had mixed feelings about the show being resurrected...

Arrested Development

The first two episodes were pretty unremarkable. But the third was better... and I just started the fourth, which is better still. So who knows? By the time I get to episode fifteen, maybe it will surpass everything that came before. All I do know is that watching the revival has me now wanting to re-watch the original, which I haven't done in years.

   
• Square! Square brought affordable, convenient credit card transactions to the masses. Now they're taking on PayPal with Square Cash, which allows you to send funds via email. It's currently in beta and "invitation only," but you can bet your ass I'll be signing up the minute it's available. I fucking hate PayPal after they STOLE MY MONEY with absolutely no explanation, and if there's any company that has a hope of breaking PayPal's monopoly on online payments, it's Square. It's about time.

   
• Assemble? I was pretty excited that Marvel had new cartoon coming out called Avengers Assemble! After the absolute genius that was Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, it was bound to be awesome, right?

Avengers Assemble Cartoon!

Meh. Not so much. They released a "sneak preview" of the show before its July 7th debut and I was not impressed. The writing feels flat, the look of the show is kind of sketchy and, with the exception of Chi McBride as Nick Fury, the character voices don't seem right. I'm probably just spoiled by DC's amazing cartoons (such as Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited), but boy was I hoping for something more. Guess I'll just have to wait for Whedon to finish The Avengers 2.

   
• Scouts. And so the Boy Scouts have finally taken a step in the right direction and are no longer kicking out their members just because they're gay. I always thought it was shitty how a kid can join Scouting when he's too young to even know what "sexuality" is... only to be kicked out on his ass once he grows up and discovers he's gay. Yeah, private organizations can have whatever bigoted policies they want, but this kind of discrimination towards kids is pretty douchey. Especially when the BSA gets support from public funds, which they shouldn't be if they're being exclusionary anyway.

   
Annnnnd... I'm spent.

   

Bullet Sunday 332

Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Dave!Thanks to the non-stop excitement of four days in Pittsburgh, it was going to be a Bullet-Sunday-On-Monday kind of situation. But there was so much Pittsburgh that it's ended up being a Bullet-Sunday-On-Wednesday situation. So hold on to your hats... because a special ALL RANT EDITION of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• AT&T Assholes. I'm not the kind of guy who jumps on the lawsuit bandwagon because, often-times, I think the lawyers are the only ones who really benefit. But if AT&T gets sued because they PROMISE high-speeds, but then LIMIT the speed on your device, then SCREW THAT. I'd join that lawsuit in a hot minute. What assholes.

   
• Apple Bullshit. Remember when buying Apple was a guarantee of quality that was a step above what you'd get from other tech companies? For the most part, it's still true. But for an increasing number of things... particularly with Mac OS X... it's not true. And their "Messages" app is a perfect example. The app has been a pile of shit since day one. It's supposed to sync messaging between your iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac... but it doesn't. At least not very well. Messages go missing. Messages get lost. Messages display out of sequence. It's complete bullshit, but that's where Apple is at now.

But then, miracle of miracles, AFTER NEARLY A YEAR OF WAITING, Apple has released a bug fix for the out-of-sequence messages problem. Yes, I was pissed that it took them so damn long but, hey, at least we finally had a fix, right? Well, so far so good. Or not. Because they've introduced a new bug. The badge counter doesn't zero out, even if you've read all the messages in Messages...

Apple Messages Messages Stuck

Look, Apple is sitting on =literally= billions of dollars. With all that money, can't they fucking afford to beta test their shit? This is amateur hour. This is Microsoft. This is everything Apple is not. And if it keeps up, Apple's going to eventually lose to a company that's more like Apple was than what Apple is now. And they would totally deserve it. STOP DICKING AROUND AND FIX YOUR SHIT, APPLE!

   
• Trader Joe's Disgust. I am a huge, huge fan of Trader Joe's. I would go so far as to say that I adore their vegetarian food selections. Most everything I've ever tried has been high-quality and delicious. Which is why it sucks so hard when you buy something with high expectations and get burned. Namely, their "Fettuccine Alfredo"

When I saw the "IMPORTED FROM ITALY" line on the bag, I assumed I would be buying the flavorful pasta that I get when I'm actually visiting Italy instead of the boring cream-based shit we call "Alfredo Sauce" here in the states. So imagine my disgust when it ended up being that same bland, tasteless, watery, slop I can get out of a frickin' box. So very sad. Even sadder that I bought three bags of the crap.

   
• getEQUAL Rudeness. One of the current news items making me much angrier than usual comes from a Michele Obama fundraiser. The First Lady was speaking when all of a sudden some asshole decides to heckle her over government contractors discriminating against gays and lesbians. And whenever something like this happens, the first thing that flashes through my mind is what an incredibly huge douche the heckler is for disrupting EVERYBODY ELSE'S PEACE. I don't give a shit how important your message is... or even how much I might agree with it... it's just fucking rude. Well, Mary Elizabeth Williams has written a brilliant short article on the subject that I consider critical reading and the final word on the matter. Well worth your time. And, as a side-note, congratulations to Mrs. Obama for being one heck of a class act.

   
• Peter LaBarbera Hilarity. No gay man I know obsesses about gay sex as much as anti-gay crusader "Porno Pete" LaBarbera. The guy regularly goes to gay events so he can "document" the "disgusting and immoral behavior" he finds there. But, odds are, he just likes to look at half-naked men and add them to his private video collection.

Today he decided to speak out against homosexuality in front of The Human Rights Campaign's headquarters. It was yet another embarrassing "press conference" that nobody gives a shit about, because this kind of bigotry and hatred just isn't playing well in 2013. I used to find LaBarbera's antics funny and a little pathetic. But it's getting old, and is obviously a sham to cover his obsession with penises. How I wish all these bigoted assholes would just shut the fuck up already so we doesn't have to deal with their obvious overcompensation.

   
And... breathe...

   

Bullet Sunday 333

Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Dave!Time to find your happy place... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Blackhawks!!! And so it's the Blackhawks vs. the Bruins for the Stanley Cup...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave in a Blackhawks Jersey

GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!!

   
• Hart. Hart to Hart was a staple of my television viewing habits when I was a kid. Not only was it entertaining, but Stefanie Powers and her massive pile of feathered hair was almost too good to be true. Now Adam Scott and Amy Poehler have done a shot-for-shot remake of the opening credits.

And it's absolute genius...

If they were to ever do a retro made-for-television movie I would watch the shit out of it. The idea of a remake is just too brilliant to pass up.

   
• Crapper First Cracker Jack had die-cast metal toy prizes. Eventually those were replaced with plastic toy prizes. Then they ditched the toys altogether and switched to stupid stickers. And now? They don't even bother with the damn sticker. You get an "online prize" of some kind that you redeem with your phone. Well, unless you have an iPhone...

Cracker Jack Sucks

This blows. Why do they even bother?

   
• Photoshop! Every once in a while something goes viral on the internet that I actually like. "Photoshop Live"is one of those rare events...

I hope they do more of these... it's such a great idea.

   
• Miley! Since I hadn't heard anything music-related from Miley Cyrus in quite a while, I naturally assumed she now runs a gas station and mini-mart in Pittsburgh after I saw this...

Miley's Gas & Sip

But then lo and behold, this track is waiting for me when I get home...

I'm diggin' it! I can't stop! And I just don't care!

   
Early to bed... Early to have the alarm wake your ass up at the crack of dawn so you can drive three hours to work.

   

Bullet Sunday 334

Posted on Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Dave!Get over your post-Bean-Town-blues... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Happy Father's Day! To all the dads out there... but especially mine, hope your day was a happy one.

Davy and Dad

   
• America! And here's how you deal with dumbass racist bigots...

And then? You get right back up again.

This kid says more about the American spirit and the ideals of this country than any number of morons who proclaim to be patriots, but don't have the first clue about what the USA is all about.

   
• Ferb! Okay then. Today in mind-blowing news...

Thomas Brodie-Sangster Roles

Thomas Brodie-Sangster is Sam from "Love Actually" who is also Jojen on "Game of Thrones" WHO IS ALSO THE VOICE OF FERB ON PHINNEAS AND FERB! HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?

   
• DOMA! I don't care what your religious or philosophical beliefs are. Anybody who would want to keep a law in place which causes such needless sadness and suffering is a sadistic asshole. There is simply no justification for this. None.

And yet there are piece of shit politicians who can look at this and still disagree. Like Senator Marco Rubio who continues to double down on inequality and misery by being a homophobic bigot that refuses to support immigration reform which includes gay couples... but then has the balls to turn around and say "Our faith has always been about compassion and it compels you to do something. If you took compassion or the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it would be in tatters because it's all over the place." Hypocritical bullshit like this makes me want to vomit. What a complete and total douche.

   
And... I've been up since 1:30am, so I'm spent. No more bullets for you!

   

Bullet Sunday 335

Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Dave!Don't go getting yourself blinded by the Super Moon... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Animal! I've been too busy to spend much time playing it, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released for the Nintendo 3DS. It's pretty much the exact same game as Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Animal Crossing: City Folk. Basically you run around catching fish, hunting bugs, harvesting fruit, collecting seashells, and other tasks... all so you can earn money to buy cool stuff for you and your house. Except this time the little character you take control of is mistaken for the mayor, so you have other responsibilities as well. It's fun and all... but if you've played any of the other games in the series, you've pretty much played this one...

Animal Crossing New Leaf

That being said, it's still an entertaining way to kill some time each day. And the 3-D effects are done very well, which makes it visually interesting as well. If you've never played Animal Crossing before, this would be a good place to start. If you have? Well, if you didn't tire of it before, you probably won't mind playing it again.

   
• Twikies! And so Hostess has a new owner and is going to start distributing their snack-cakes once again come mid-July. This will mean nothing to me... unless they decide to at least try to have the appearance of healthy ingredients by eliminating the LARD from their products...

Twinkies Comeback!

A switch to vegetable oil would mean that I can start eating Ding Dongs again after 23 years of avoiding them like the plague. And it might give them a fighting chance of surviving in a slightly more health conscience world where parents are not wanting to feed their kids LARD.

   
• Devious! I could never get into Desperate Housewives because it didn't really go anywhere and wasn't a very entertaining ride. Now creator Marc Cherry has come up with his next television distraction... Devious Maids. The cast is really good, so I had high hopes that this time it would be worth watching...

Devious Maids Poster

Sadly, after watching the first episode, it seems as though it's just going to be more of the same. Somebody's been murdered and everybody has secrets. I'm guessing they're just going to dance around everything for years until the show is so senseless and boring that they get canceled and have to slop together some answers. Again. No thanks.

   
• Equality! Here's hoping that the highest court in the land remembers what America is all about in the weeks ahead...

Lil' Dave Equality

If nothing else, we could finally tell the equality opponents to take their ridiculous "arguments" against freedom and just shut up already. Though the parodies of their faux pain over something that doesn't even affect them are almost too good to give up...

Yeah, definitely going to miss that.

   
• Shiiiiiiiiit! I don't even know what to say about this...

Canyon Walk Madness

People be crazy. People be crazy.

   
Annnnd... it's going to be a long week.

   

Bullet Sunday 336

Posted on Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Dave!Time to pick up that mint julep... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Gone! For my first bullet, I'd like to thank Google for the big "fuck you" they drop tomorrow when they kill off Google Reader. It's great how you blow into town with some essential tool and dominate the entire market after killing off the competition... then abandon that market when you can't exploit it for millions of dollars. Way to be "not evil." Next up... Feed Burner?

   
• Gone Too! Just to show that Google doesn't have a monopoly in killing off services... Yahoo! is killing off a dozen products, including Alta Vista on July 8th, which was my go-to search engine back in the 1990's. Yahoo! says that you should now "Please visit Yahoo Search for all of your searching needs"... but my guess is that this will actually mean more search traffic for Google. Oh well. Another piece of internet history to be gone and forgotten.

   
• Schadenfreude! I try to be respectful of other people's beliefs and opinions... honestly I do. But the outpouring of hand-wringing over the repeal of DOMA and striking down of Prop 8 is just too delicious to ignore. Because, seriously, if you don't accept same-sex marriage, THEN DON'T MARRY SOMEBODY OF THE SAME SEX! There's really nothing more to be said on the matter, BECAUSE WHETHER OR NOT OTHER PEOPLE GET MARRIED DOESN'T AFFECT YOU! Apparently Justice Kennedy agrees, having denied an application to halt marriages in California.

DAVETOON: NO H8

The people yelling the loudest seem to be the people who make money from fighting against equality, which isn't really surprising. When you fail utterly in your job... bigoted as it may be... I suppose you have cause to be upset.

   
• Haunted! As a huge fan of visionary musician Trent Reznor (aka Nine Inch Nails) and visionary director David Lynch, the idea of them teaming up for a music video seems too good to be true. And now, after having seen their effort for Come Back Haunted, I know it was too good to be true. What a boring, predictable, and sadly expected video. Rather than looking like something cutting-edge and new, it reeks of all the "nihilistic" videos that were unleashed after the amazing opening credits for the movie SE7EN happened. This is made all the more sad when you consider that the song used in those opening credits was Closer... by Trent Reznor. So I just don't know. Was this meant to be some kind of homage? A parody perhaps? Some kind of commentary on all those who think intermixing shaky camera moves with disturbing images is still edgy? Lynch had a real opportunity here to take us in a new direction, and we get something that would have looked dated ten years ago. Maybe in another ten years he'll go techno-speed-nihilistic and give us a parody of the US credits from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

   
• Here! And now we're to the part of Bullet Sunday where I offer up this bit of 80's Thompson Twins genius, courtesy of Sixteen Candles, just because it's there...

They don't make teen angst movies like that anymore.

   
• Rest in Peace. As somebody who lives in a fire zone and has been threatened by wildfires more than once, my heart goes out to the friends and family of the "Granite Mountain Hotshots," 19 of whom perished in a horrific fire northwest of Phoenix...

Granite Mountain Hotshots

UPDATE: The Free Republic has an article remembering this elite team of firefighters.

   
And... back to work. I think I can still get in another two or three hours before I pass out.

   

Bullet Sunday 337

Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Dave!I'm in an 80's state of mind... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Sadness. My thoughts are with those affected by the Bodh Gaya Temple bombing in India... including Buddhists around the world. This most holy site is said to be the place that Buddha obtained enlightenment, and is a hugely important pilgrimage spot I have long wanted to visit. Why somebody would wish to destroy a place of importance to a people whose entire belief system revolves around non-violence and inner-peace is beyond me, but here we are.

   
• Heat! Was very pleasantly surprised by The Heat. From the trailers I couldn't tell if it was going to be funny-funny or funny-stupid. Sure, it dips into funny-stupid a few times... usually when Melissa McCarthy is allowed to improvise for too long a stretch... or Sandra Bullock tries too hard to be awkward and uptight... but it always gets back on track. Basically, Bullock plays an FBI Agent that ends up in Boston to track down a very, very bad man. While there she runs afoul of local cop McCarthy but, as so often happens, ends up teaming up with her. The supporting cast is pure gold, with appearances by Jane Curtin, Michael Rapaport, Taran Killam, Thomas F. Wilson (Biff!), Nate Corddry, Joey McIntyre, Zach Woods, Marlon Wayans... and probably a lot more I don't remember.

The Heat Poster

It's worth a matinee price to see in theaters, and definitely worth a rental.

   
• Concert! The Chateau Ste. Michelle is a winery over in Woodinville that has an amphitheater which gets some pretty decent musical talent to play. It's a beautiful venue, but the lawn seating is mostly obstructed and not laid out very well. This means it's not the best place for a concert, but it's okay. Except when you have to watch a drunken train wreck pee her pants.

Anyway, tonight it was Pat Benatar headlining with Terri Nunn and Berlin opening up. Benatar was a little rough vocally, but entertaining. Berlin was amazing. They have a new album coming out, and the taste they gave us at the concert will definitely have me checking it out.

   
• Faced! I've often wondered about what kind of mentality it takes for somebody to think that people would like to see their giant face plastered all over a bus. Whatever it is, I'm seeing more and more of it, so it must be pretty common. This one I saw on my way to The Coast on Friday was particularly clever, because they had to position afore-mentioned giant head between obstacles...

Flynn's Bus

   
• Woman! There's a video of Dustin Hoffman discussing his role of Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie which has been burning up the internets. It's a pretty powerful piece, and the epiphany he had about "interesting women" being dismissed because of their looks comes from a perspective most men will never have...

Not surprisingly, not everybody can appreciate what Mr.. Hoffman is trying to say. Some of the comments I've read are positively awful. But that's the internet for you.

   
No more bullets... but tomorrow is another day...

   

Bullet Sunday 338

Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Dave!Don't let invading Kaiju keep you down... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Rim! Okay, I am having trouble deciding if Pacific Rim is so bad it's good... or so bad it's bad. The concept of giant robots fighting giant alien monsters is fantastic. But the story they came up with around that concept was shockingly bad and hugely inconsistent (IT TAKES TWO PILOTS TO OPERATE A JAEGER ROBOT... UNLESS IT DOESN"T!). The acting was, with one exception, awful. And it didn't help that they were being given groan-inducing, cheesy dialogue to work with. That being said, I am still glad I saw the movie in a really good theater because the special effects and battle sequences were mind-blowing...

Pacific Rim Poster

All in all, a bit of a misstep for brilliant director Guillermo del Toro... but an entertaining one. If you have time to kill, it's worth watching on the big screen. Just keep your expectations in check.

   
• Acting! The one exception to the really bad acting in Pacific Rim I was talking about? Mana Ashida's performance as young Mako. Absolutely riveting. You could feel her terror in every frame, and it was almost enough to believe that she was actually being chased by a Godzilla-sized monster. She should get some kind of award for that...

Mana Ashida
I'm guessing this photo came from Warner Bros. and/or Legendary Pictures.

It will be very interesting to see where Mana's considerable talent takes her as an actor.

   
• Idris! Yeah, okay... if I'm being honest here, Idris Elba was pretty brilliant playing Stacker Pentecost considering the genuinely awful lines he had to deliver.

   
• Stereotypical! One last comment about Pacific Rim... thanks to everybody involved for once again giving us genius scientists that act so damn stupid and geeky that it's impossible to believe that they are, in fact, genus scientists. Burn Gorman and Charlie Day, both of whom I like as actors, were completely wasted in their roles, being used as some idiotic attempt at comic relief that only served to disrupt the film. Badly. Can we please give up on this overused, stereotypical crutch that never ends up as hysterical as was intended? (see: Brent Spiner in Independence Day or any number of other flicks in genre entertainment where genius scientists appear for "humor value" in a script).

   
And in another direction entirely...

   
• Verdict. Well, I wish I could say I'm surprised, but the not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman was hardly shocking. I'm not going to pretend I have all the answers here, but there's a few things I feel I have to get off my chest...

  • "Are you following him?" — "Yeah." — "Okay, we don't need you to do that." The operative word in the phrase "Neighborhood Watch" is that you are there to watch what's happening, then report anything suspicious to the authorities. Not to hop out of the Batmobile and track down a potential "suspect" whom, by the way, you didn't see commit any criminal act whatsoever. That's for everybody's safety. NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF ZIMMERMAN HADN'T THOUGHT OF HIMSELF AS FUCKING BATMAN OUT TO FIGHT CRIME. You're in the neighborhood watch, not the police force... so, yes, this is all Zimmerman's fault, regardless of his intent, and I don't care what some jury says. Because being followed by a uniformed officer of the law is a completely different situation that being followed by some random creepy guy watching you from his truck, and Treyvon's reaction would have undoubtedly been very different in that confrontation. If he had confronted the police officer at all.
  • The way people have dredged up every conceivable infraction that Trayvon Martin ever had in order to paint him as a villain who was somehow deserving of death disgusts me to my very core. People grow and change every day. Who a person was a year ago... a month ago... ten minutes ago... none of that is who they are right now. And it sure as hell doesn't have to be who they will be in the future. And there's the big picture. Nobody knows what Trayvon would have done with his life. And now we'll never know. So paint him however you want if that's what helps you sleep at night. But the simple fact is that George Zimmerman didn't know shit about Trayvon Martin's past when he stalked him into the night. All he did know was that Trayvon was walking while black, which was apparently all he needed to know.
  • Zimmerman's illustrious past which, unlike Trayvon Martin's, is completely relevant when considering his actions.
  • The one bit of testimony during the trial that I just can't let go of is the analysis of George Zimmerman's injuries. It is the story of the defense that Trayvon had jumped Martin and started bashing his head into the concrete over and over again. Then Zimmerman says that Martin told him "You're going to die tonight" after his gun was exposed. Fearing for his life, Zimmerman says that he grabbed the gun first and shot Martin in self-defense. But here's the deal... under expert analysis, Zimmerman's injuries were deemed superficial. The testimony of the expert witness was that the injuries could have come from a single blow. She also implied that the blow could have been self-inflicted. So where is the evidence to support Zimmerman's story if his injuries are not sufficient and, indeed, even questionable? An unarmed 17-year old kid was apparently bludgeoning the shit out of an adult male while covering his mouth while going for his gun... completely overwhelming him to the point that he thought the kid was going to kill him. And yet... no injuries were sustained that even remotely back that up. Hell, didn't somebody testify that Zimmerman refused go to the hospital? After the kind of beating he says he took? Somebody bashes your skull into concrete repeatedly, and you just say "Nah!" when they want to take you to the hospital to get checked out? How in the hell was this not enough to discredit the defense? Maybe it's just Zimmerman trying to exaggerate so that he can support his "self defense" claim, but WTF?
  • And, I'm sorry, but if your excuse for stalking somebody is "I wanted to find a street sign so I could tell where he was going"... when you are part of a neighborhood watch in a neighborhood that has only three fucking streets... which you then explain away by saying that you have a "bad memory?" Really? Exactly how fucking stupid do you think people are that they are going to believe that load of bullshit? Oh... apologies... apparently they did believe it. Just another piece of Zimmerman's story that doesn't add up for me.
  • My takeaway is essentially this: Zimmerman spots a black kid in a hoodie walking through his neighborhood at night. Racial profiling deems this suspicious and so he decides to get out of his vehicle to track the kid down while calling the police. And why not? He's the Neighborhood Fucking Watch and he's got a gun! Zimmerman eventually stops pursuit for whatever reason, returns to his vehicle, then is surprised when Martin shows up to confront him. A scuffle ensues. Martin lands at least one punch, at which point Zimmerman takes out his gun and shoots him dead. Zimmerman then lies about some events and exaggerates others to fabricate a claim of self-defense to cover up the fact that he just shot an unarmed kid he had been stalking. The unarmed kid with his bag of Skittles and fruit drink is painted as a violent thug deserving of death. Zimmerman deemed not guilty. Case closed. Justice is served.
  • But probably not.

Zimmerman's story is, at the very least, exaggerated and not entirely supported by facts in evidence. And because of Zimmerman's actions and poor judgement, a 17-year-old kid is dead. Hopefully some lessons will be learned from this tragic situation. But the verdict has me worried that people will take away the wrong lesson.

Heaven help us.

As always, Faiqa has written up a response that's far better than anything I could come up with, so I leave you with a link to her blog.

   

Take care of each other out there.

   

Bullet Sunday 339

Posted on Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Dave!Take off your wooden shoes and relax... because a special DUTCHYLAND TRAVEL edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Schiphol! Amsterdam's International Airport is named Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and it's easily one of my favorite airports in the world. It's incredibly well organized, navigation signs are everywhere, and I've never seen extremely long lines for anything. Today I was flying Business Class, and it was literally ten minutes between when the DutchBitch dropped me off and I had gone through bag drop-off and security to be sitting in the KLM Lounge drinking a Coke and one of Dutchy's delicious cheese sandwiches. As if that weren't enough, every employee I have ever encountered at Schiphol has been exceedingly friendly and helpful. One of the cool things they do that seems to be increasingly common outside the USA is to have a monitor to tell you when luggage from your flight has hit the baggage carousel. Schiphol goes one step further and provides an estimate as to when the bag will be unloaded...

Schiphol Luggage Info

Never mind that it's almost always wrong (my suitcase was "expected" at 8:48, but it's 8:54 in this photo and it still hasn't shown up), at least they're trying to keep passengers informed!

   
• KLM! The major airline for the Netherlands is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. When flying KLM, Business Class travelers are treated exceptionally well. But it's my memories of flying the airline when I was a coach passenger with little travel status that makes me love the company. As an example, way back in 2002 my Northwest Airlines flight arrived late at Schiphol and I missed my connecting KLM flight to London. When I explained that I was now going to miss my train to Edinburgh, the transfer agent asked if they could change my ticket from London to Edinburgh at no charge so I wouldn't delay my vacation. I very nearly went into shock. This just isn't done in the airline industry... especially when something is another airline's fault. But Northwest was a partner company and there was room on the next flight to Edinburgh, so KLM didn't give it a second thought. I probably had "Silver" status back then, but I don't think they even bothered to check before they made the offer. This not only saved me the cost of a train ticket, but actually ended up putting me ahead of schedule for my trip. And that's just one example. KLM has bent over backwards to help me out like that more than once, and is one of the few airlines I honestly have -zero- complaints about.

   
• Food! Another perk of flying KLM? The food. Yes. The food... on an airline! First of all, I can't recall a time that there wasn't a vegetarian option. Whether it be a simple sandwich or full meal service, they always seem to have a meat-free selection. Second of all, I can't recall ever having a bad meal. Tonight I wasn't hungry, but I couldn't say no when they offered dinner service... on my two-hour flight to Helsinki. Now-a-days, you'd be lucky to get a free snack on a flight that short, but here's KLM's idea of service...

KLM Meal

That's cheese gnocchi pasta pillows over spinach, a mozzarella and tomato salad with lemon olive oil dressing, a dinner roll with butter, and a chocolate-praline mousse pudding with cookie topping for dessert. ON A TWO-HOUR FLIGHT! Even on an hour hop, I've been served everything from delicious cheese sandwiches to pizza. It's unreal. I don't just like flying KLM, I thrill to flying KLM, and the wonderful food is a big part of that.

   
• Trains! In the Western USA, we don't have a very good train network at all. As an example... if I want to take the train to Seattle, I first have to drive 20 minutes to Wenatchee, then catch the one train that goes to Seattle every day... at 5:35am. This is pretty much useless, so I never take the train. Contrast that with the train network in the Netherlands...

Netherlands Rail Network
Image grabbed from the internet... source unknown.

For a rather small country, the rail coverage is astounding. You can go just about anywhere on clean, comfortable, fast trains with schedules that are actually useful. I long for this kind of service where I live.

   
• S.T.E.P. The US Department of State has a program called "STEP" which is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. US citizens traveling or living abroad can register their trip so that if they run into a problem it's easier for them to get help from local embassies since they'll already have your information. It also lets the embassy know that you are in the area in case something seriously bad happens... like a violent uprising, government takeover, invasion, or Justin Bieber concert. I'm guessing if something like that were to happen, they could track down everybody registered in STEP and make sure they're safe. Or, I suppose they could also be hacked by terrorists so that it's easier to find potential hostages and/or victims. Regardless, given the world we now live in, I've decided to risk it and have gotten in the habit of entering my trips abroad into STEP. Whether you decide to do that or not, it's still worth your time to see what the program offers, so here's a link to the Bureau of Consular Affairs and STEP.

   
And on that note, I must say... Tot ziens! Vaarwel! Dag!

   

Bullet Sunday 340

Posted on Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Dave!Better renew that passport... because another special TRAVEL edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• George! For anybody outside the UK wondering if theirs was the only country obsessing over a new royal baby in Britain, the answer is no. I saw it everywhere I went, and I think every single newspaper in Helsinki announced the birth while I was there...

Royal Baby Announcement

Not quite sure why it's Great Britain's monarchy that gets people so obsessed when there are plenty of other royals in other countries of the world, but there you have it.

   
• McBathroom! Much like all forms of DRM, this ridiculous protection racket that the McDonald's near my hotel used to keep their bathroom "for customers only" was grossly ineffective...

McBathroom

As I sat eating my fries and McFlurry, I saw person after person hold the door while exiting so that people could go in without having to use the code. Which makes me wonder why McDonald's bothered at all.

   
• Frommers! My go-to travel guides have always been Frommers. And when I started transitioning from printed books to online guides, it was always Frommers.com that I went to first. Their information was so professional, informative, and trustworthy, that I didn't feel the need to go anywhere else. But not any more. Just about everything there is badly out of date. As an example, I almost skipped going to Estonia because Frommers had this to say...

Arranging a visa for a visit to Estonia, across the water, is time-consuming and requires planning prior to your arrival in Helsinki. But once you're there, the rich, once-forbidden majesty of this capital of the Baltic republic opens before you, at prices, at least for souvenir goods, that you'll find surprisingly low.

And, in another section, this...

Don't think you can jump on a ferryboat for a spontaneous excursion to Estonia. At press time, despite the fact that Estonia is a semiautonomous nation, visas were mandatory and required applications submitted days or even weeks in advance, preferably from the Estonian embassy or consulate in your home nation.

Well, their "press time" must have been before December 2007... six years ago... because that's when Estonia became a Schengen Country, which means no visa is required for countries mentioned in the agreement (like the USA). Not only did I not need a visa for a visit of up to 90 days, nobody on either side of my excursion to Tallinn bothered to even look at my passport.

Even more embarrassing for Frommers? They don't even have the currency right...

Currency -- The national currency is called the kroon, abbreviated as EEK, and is made up of 100 sents. The kroon is pegged to the German mark, 1DEM = 8EEK. The rate of exchange at press time was $1 = 17.03 kroons.

It's been two-and-a-half years since Estonia adopted the Euro. Do they not even have a single person employed at Frommers to keep track of major events like this so at least the travel basics are correct in their online guides? Apparently not, which means that Frommers is essentially useless for travel planning. Kind of sad that this once-great bastion of travel advice has fallen so low.

   
• Beer! The Tallink ferry I used to get from Helsinki to Estonia has a duty-free supermarket onboard. Yes, supermarket. I was a little surprised to see such a huge alcohol section there... especially for beer, which was stacked in cases on pallets. Well, it turns out that the reason they have so much beer is that they sell so much beer. Everywhere I went onboard people had cases and cases of the stuff with them. Even the elderly lady sitting next to me in the lounge was not immune...

Beer Caddy

Give that I saw people with shopping carts hauling dozens of cases of beer off the ship, I'd say her two cases of Beck's was rather restrained.

   
• Chair! Just because I can't help myself... here are the chairs in the waiting lounge at Helsinki's West Terminal...

Helsinki Harbor West Terminal Chairs

Surprisingly comfortable!

   
• Finnish! I've seen a lot of foreign languages in my travels, but Finnish is the most perplexing yet. Just look at this dialogue box that popped up at my hotel when connecting to the internet...

Finnish!

Those are some really, really long and complicated words!

   
• Machine! And speaking of dialogue boxes, this idiotic crap kept popping up on my Mac while I was away...

Time Machine Backup Error

Well, dumbass, the reason you haven't backed up is because my Time Capsule is 4700 miles away! Can't you look at what IP address you're using and figure that out so I don't have to be interrupted by your stupid shit? I swear, for everything Apple does that's amazingly smart and convenient, there's at least one other thing that's hugely stupid and inconvenient. The thing I (usually) love about Apple is the tiny details they handle that takes crap out of your way. Why they can't apply a little of that logic here is a mystery.

   
Annnnd... that's a wrap. Please put your tray tables up and make sure your seat back is in an upright position for landing...

   

Bullet Sunday 341

Posted on Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Dave!Smoke 'em if you got 'em... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Hoarders! I was recently asked if I had any tips for getting the most out of frequent flier programs, loyalty programs, and reward programs. My answer was... make sure your points don't expire, then don't spend them! Rather than blowing your rewards on low-value items (which is what they expect), save them for something special. That's what I do, and every three or four years I have enough for a trip to Europe!

As an example, my trip to the Netherlands, Finland, and Estonia last month? Pretty much FREE. I cashed in Air Miles for all my flights. My lodging was paid for with reward points (or I stayed with friends). Souvenirs, food, and extras were paid from a cash-back rebate on one of my credit cards. The only expense for the entire trip was $167.30 in "tax and carrier fees" for my Helsinki flight and a few meals where I couldn't use my credit card rebate. As thrilling as going on vacation is, it's doubly so when your flight confirmation arrives with this...

Free Ticket!

Now, granted, I travel a lot more than most people so my points build faster... but the principle still holds. Accumulate your points for something special. Don't waste them on a free toaster or other crap consolation prize they throw at you. And it doesn't have to be Europe... save up miles for seven years and go to Hawaii if that's what works better for you. The point is to make your rewards mean something when you cash them in. All the work you put in will have a much sweeter pay-off.

   
• Doctor! And so we have a new "Dr. Who"... Peter Capaldi. He's an actor I'm only marginally familiar with (thanks to his appearances on the Dr. Who spinoff, Torchwood), but his credentials seem impressive enough. Most important of all, he managed to impress show-runner Steven Moffat, which is all that really matters...

Doctor Who?
This photo is everywhere, but I can never find a credit for it?

Of all his incarnations, David Tennant is my favorite Doctor hands-down. When he was replaced by goofy Matt Smith, I was mortified. But the guy eventually grew on me, and ended up creating some of my favorite episodes of all time. Something tells me I'll have a far less difficult time adapting to Capaldi if, for no other reason, he feels like he'll be a step back towards the David Tennant "feel." Time (ha ha ha) will tell.

   
• Electric! One of my all-time favorite bands is The Pet Shop Boys. They may not always be consistent in creating music I like... but, when they do, it's the most amazing experience I could hope for. Their triumphant comeback in 2009 with the album Yes blew me away thanks to the stunning track The Way It Used To Be, which is the Pet Shop Boys at their absolute best. Then came Elysium, which didn't quite reach the heights of Yes, but was a very good album (enough to be my favorite of 2012). And now they've come out with Electric...

Pet Shop Boys Electric Album Cover

Not really my thing. It's as if they tried to create an apology for all the critics who wanted something more "danceable" out of Elysium, but went entirely too far to do so. Yes, there are hints of Pet Shop to be found if you listen... Love is a Bourgeois Construct and The Last to Die are perfectly nice songs. Other tracks like Bolshy, Vocal, and Thursday are definitely "Pet Shoppy" on first blush, but seem a bit lacking after repeated listening. And then there's dance electronica disasters like Shouting in the Evening which sound like something any DJ with mediocre talent could whip out in ten minutes... not something crafted by brilliant pop gods Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. So... I'm not sure where I stand. I am happy to have a new Pet Shop Boys album and tour, but wish they hadn't strayed so far from what makes their music so amazing to me. But, who can say? It may grow on me after a while.

In other thoughts... nine tracks? Really? That's all we're going to get? Nine tracks?

   
• S.H.I.E.L.D! Am I the only one who is getting more and more nervous the more they hear about ABC television's show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Because right now it sounds entirely too good to be true... from the cast right up to the Joss Whedon approved scripts...

Agents of SHIELD

I dunno. The better this thing sounds, the more I feel it's probably going to be canceled in three episodes. ABC is very quick to pull the trigger on under-performing shows, and this seems about as geek-centric and outside the mainstream as it gets. Yes, The Avengers took in record-making profits at the box office, but when has that ever been a guaranteed success when translated to the small screen? I hope I'm wrong. I really do. But this has Firefly written all over it.

   
And... back to work.

   

Bullet Sunday 342

Posted on Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Dave!Everybody place your bets... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Welcome! What always fascinates me about Las Vegas, Nevada is this: What people think of when they think of Las Vegas is not actually Las Vegas at all. Unless you are thinking of "Old Las Vegas" and Fairmont Street... or perhaps The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino... both of which actually are in Las Vegas. But most everything else... including all the big popular casino hotels on "The Strip" south of Sahara Avenue, are actually in Paradise, Nevada (unincorporated). Indeed, even McCarran International Airport is not in Las Vegas, despite what the sign says when you arrive there...

Vegas Welcome Sign at McCarran Airport

But I suppose it's easier to just lump everything together under the name "Las Vegas" that everybody knows... which, apparently, is what the US Postal Service does anyway.

   
• Service! One of the worst things about visiting "Las Vegas" if you are an AT&T mobile customer is that your cellular service is for shit. Even if you turn off LTE...

AT&T Vegas Fucking Sucks Ass

Actually, it's worse than shit, because a lot of the time there's no service at all. And I'm not talking about when you're buried in a casino somewhere... I'm talking about when you're walking around outside...

AT&T Vegas Fucking Sucks Ass

It has been like this for as long as I've been with AT&T and visiting Las Vegas. Even when you can start a call, odds are it will drop off before you can complete it. And I just don't get it. Yes, I'm sure putting up cellular towers is no easy process with the regulations and permits and all that... but this has been going on for years. Is AT&T EVER going to get their shit together in this city?

   
• Goo! If ever there was a reminder of why I won't be visiting porn theaters in this lifetime, this would be it...

Goo Gone - THEATER

A Goo Gone bottle, almost empty, with "Theater" written across it? Sign me up.

   
• Venice! Las Vegas is much like Walt Disney World's EPCOT in that they try to recreate exotic locations from around the world so Americans not wanting to leave the country can leave the country.

But not really.

The truth is that you can't visit Venice without actually visiting Venice. Try as they might, these fabrications can't even give you a taste of what the real thing is like. And yet, not everybody is lucky enough to be able to fly off to Venice, so this is as close as they're going to get. And, in that respect, I suppose something is better than nothing...

St. Mark's Square at The Venetian
Could be better than the real St. Mark's Square... which is always covered in scaffolding and pigeons.

Gondolas at The Venetian
Gondola rides in Vegas are much, much, much cheaper than in Venice.

Gelato at The Venetian
What's a visit to Italy without some stracciatella gelato?

My hope is that anybody intrigued by fake Venice or fake Paris or fake Oslo or fake anywhere would want to save their pennies to visit the real thing. But there's usually no slot machines filling every available bit of floor space, so maybe that's asking too much.

   
• &! Something I have always wanted to do on my many trips to Las Vegas was to see Penn & Teller's show at the Rio. Thanks to a kind act of generosity, I finally managed it this trip...

Penn & Teller

It was absolutely great. I wish there was a little more magic and a little less politics... but I guess that wouldn't be Penn & Teller, would it? Still... worth seeing if you're in the neighborhood.

   
Back to reality...

   

Bullet Sunday 343

Posted on Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Dave!Get on the dance floor... Get on the dance floor and DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Cuusoo! My love of all things LEGO is well documented. I especially love the licensed properties like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Batman and Indiana Jones, to name a few. The cool thing about LEGO is that they are always curious to know what ideas their fans have for new sets, so they developed a site called Cuusoo to collect them. If an idea gets 10,000 votes, LEGO will review the idea and possibly create the set! The latest one they created was the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine...

Cuusoo Back To The Future

It's a little clunky-looking, but I still had to have it. The problem is that I've had the thing for a week but have been too busy to put it together. It's deceptively complicated...

LEGO BTTF Set Pieces Cuusoo

And, as an added bonus to getting a great new LEGO set... the designer, Masashi Togami, will donate his royalties to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research! Very cool! If you'd like to buy your own set before they're all gone, here's where you can get one! And, in related news... how cool would a Back to the Future Trilogy video game be?

   
• Cuusoo Two! And speaking of Cuusoo, here are the sets I'm currently supporting...

Scooby-Doo! (GO HERE TO VOTE!)...

Cuusoo Scooby Doo Set

Ghostbusters! (GO HERE TO VOTE!)...

Cuusoo Ghostbusters Set

Adventure Time!(GO HERE TO VOTE!)...

Cuusoo Adventure Time

   
• Zero G! As somebody who has dreamed of being an astronaut since I was old enough to know what an astronaut was, I've long accepted that my odds of going into space are pretty much nil. But there's a company who can give you the next best thing... the experience of ZERO GRAVITY! For a mere $5250, Zero Gravity Corporation will arrange a ride on their "vomit comet" aircraft which can simulate various stages of weightlessness with stomach-churning parabolas arcs across the sky...

Zero G

I paid off my upcoming vacation back in April, and have been saving for my next vacation ever since. A part of me wants Zero G to be that trip. Except... I fear my car is going to die any day now... and, assuming it doesn't, there are plenty of places I'm still wanting to explore on earth. But... wow. Definitely on my bucket list for one day.

   
• Electronic Devices! At last, some serious answers to a question I have every time I fly...

Bwah ha haaaa!

   
Enjoy what's left of your Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 344

Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013

Dave!Bullet Sunday on Friday? YOU DRUNK, BLOGOGRAPHY! GO HOME! Except I was too traumatized from nearly getting ran over this past Sunday to blog, so prepare yourself... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Dog! I just gotta get this out of the way before I forget... Chicago Veggie Dog? Awesome. Chicago Veggie Dog in San Francisco? Not so much...

Veggie Chicago Dog in San Francisco

Not that is was bad... but, just like bagels outside of New York, it just wasn't the same. Of course, now I want nothing more than to fly to Chicago and get a real Chicago Veggie Dog, which is a tough craving to get out of your head.

   
• Closure! Usually, the drive from San Francisco to Oakland is a breezy 15 minutes over the Bay Bridge. But since the bridge is under construction over Labor Day weekend, getting from one side of the Bay to the other is a bit more of a challenge. Whether you go north over the Golden Gate then on to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge... or you go south over the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge... you've got an hour drive ahead of you...

SF to OAK

But the good news is that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is still running. So if you don't mind public transportation, you can park at a station and go by rail. The interesting thing about that is having a lot of people who don't normally ride public transportation riding public transportation. The entertainment value is pretty high, but so is the frustration level. The line to get tickets is long, and people not accustomed to the machines take forever. You have people walking on the wrong train, then then blocking you from entering because they're trying to get turned around and escape after somebody tells them it won't take them where they need to go. It goes on and on. Usually I love BART, but this trip it's been driving me crazy. People need to stay home... or maybe I should have.

And in other news... Google Maps is aware of the Bay Bridge closure, and routes you accordingly. Microsoft Bing Maps, however, is not so smart...

Bing Maps WRONG

But (and here's the kicker) Apple Maps DOES re-route you...

Apple Maps RIGHT

Which begs the question... how bad does your mapping service have to be in order to be considered a worse option than Apple Maps? And, can I just say, both Google and Bing could learn something from Apple here... map labels are so much more useful WHEN THEY ARE LARGE ENOUGH THAT PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY READ THEM!

   
• Phoneless! This morning I did the unthinkable... I forgot my iPhone in my room because I was late for work and rushing around without my head attached. After my meeting, a co-worker was kind enough to drop by my hotel so I could grab my phone on the way to running some errands. I was incredibly grateful, because not having my iPhone feels like a part of me is missing. As we were speeding away, I noticed that my battery was at 5%, despite the fact that it had been plugged in all night and I just took it off the charger. So before heading back to work I had to drop by my hotel room AGAIN so I could plug it in AGAIN. Which is when I found out the power outlet on the desk was dead. I don't know why the world was conspiring against me having an iPhone today, but I do not like it. You never realize just how dependent you are on something until it's taken away, and today I found out I don't even know how to EXIST without my iPhone. As I told my co-worker, I had forgotten that before mobile tech happened everybody just kind of stumbled around in the dark banging rocks together to communicate. And it sucks.

   
• Cookies! Saying "I had to stop for fortune cookies" is a totes legit reason for being late to a meeting... amiright?

Golden Gate Fortune Cookies

Sorry... but even more important than visiting my tattoo artist when I'm in San Francisco is stopping by Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company when I'm in town. I've been doing it on every trip to the Bay Area for nearly two decades, and it simply cannot be missed.

   
• Sports! Jester and I wandered to The Castro after dinner so we could drop in on a goodbye party for Justin. Like most bars in The Castro, it's a gay bar. Unlike most gay bars in the world, it's a sports bar called Hi Tops (home of cold pitchers and hot catchers!). This is not a big deal for me. I ended up in many a gay-bar when the brother of a girl I dated in Portland would invite us out to go bar-hopping with him and his partner. Except... one visit to the Hi Tops Facebook page told me that I had been fairly sheltered in gay bar world, because I ain't seen nothing like this...

Hi Tops Sports Bar San Francisco

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't think shots should be served with a side of hairy ass.

Fortunately (unfortunately?), guys in jock straps serving free shots only happens on Thursdays, which meant I got to spend a great evening out sans hairy asses. Seeing homo-erectus-erectus (the Common American Gay) in their native habitat is always fun, and Hi Tops ended up being a really nice place with a terrific crowd of friendly people. That being said, this sports bar was a bit... different... from other sports bars. For one thing, the sports being played on the televisions include golf and women's tennis. For another, the music is awesome. One thing is for sure though, any sports bar I end up at from here on out is going to be pretty boring by comparison.

   
• Quotable! And now, for your reading pleasure, the TOP FIVE QUOTES from my night at a gay sports bar...

  1. ME: "Most guys would be pretty upset if another guy grabbed their ass. I'm just glad to know I have options."
  2. ME: "Could be he's into straight guys, but I'm not even straight-acting."
  3. JESTER: (Pointing to two guys making out) "Well that's something you won't see at a regular sports bar."ME: "You were obviously not in Chicago when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup."
  4. ME: (Looking around at dozens of guys who look like they've stepped out of GQ) "I really need to start dressing better."
  5. ME: "I'd say I'm glad that all these incredibly good-looking guys are out of the hetero dating pool... but none of the hot women they'd end up with would give me the time of day anyway."

And... that's a wrap for a completely misnamed Bullet Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 345

Posted on Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Dave!Turn it up to 11... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Return! The flight home from San Francisco was blissfully uneventful... until we landed... "SIR! I NEED YOU TO SIT DOWN AND FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT UNTIL WE ARE AT THE GATE. SIR? YES, YOU SIR... THE ONE WHO IS STANDING. SIR, YOU NEED TO SIT DOWN NOW. YES... I AM TALKING TO YOU. YES, YOU. YES, PLEASE SIT DOWN WITH YOUR SEATBELT FASTENED UNTIL WE REACH THE GATE. THANK YOU FOR SITTING DOWN, SIR!" And this... this is why I could never be a flight attendant, because this is how I would have handled it... "HEY ASSHOLE! YOU NEED TO SIT THE FUCK DOWN RIGHT NOW OR I'M GOING TO COME BACK THERE AND BREAK MY FOOT OFF IN YOUR ASS!" Because, seriously, there's only so much shit I'm willing to take from stupid people, and all my patience would be used up on Day One of working the cabin at an airline.

   
• Fraud! I've lost track of the number of times Pat Robertson has "spoken to God" and made predictions that turned out to be bullshit. And yet, here we go...

Hypocrisy. It's what's for dinner. In this case, I suggest that his viewers take his advice and leave his congregation.

   
• Miyazaki! As I have mentioned on this blog many, many, many times, I am a monumental fan of Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The stuff he's churned out during his career is among the best ever seen, and I'm including giants the like of Disney, Pixar, and Bluth. In addition to seeing his films multiple times, buying his "making of" books, visiting his museum, and flying to L.A. for a rare US appearance... I've studied his work for decades. His latest film, The Wind Rises, has been quite controversial, but I am dying to see it anyway. Regardless of subject matter, it's bound to at least look amazing...

And now it's been announced that this will indeed be Miyazaki's final feature film. This has been threatened before, but was confirmed at the Venice Film Festival, so it's likely official this time. All I can hope is that Miyazaki-san will still release short films and books to satisfy his legions of fans. Including this one.

   
• Sundance! I like the new Sundance Channel show called The Writers' Room. Each episode has Jim Rash interviewing television screenwriters from such shows as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. It's fairly interesting and worth your valuable time if you like television. But there's one problem. During the series they have "Pop-Up Video" style tidbits that show up, which would usually be a good thing. Except you can't frickin' read them because they're in tiny black type on a blue background! It's style over readability, and it sucks. Compare what happens if the people in charge of the show actually gave a shit about people being able to read what they're being shown...

Sundance The Writers' Room Readability

Not as pretty? I'd agree. But at least you can READ the shit.

   
Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! Bullets are done.

   

Bullet Sunday 346

Posted on Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Dave!Don't touch that dial... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Nanny! I'm what could be considered "middle-of-the-road" when it comes to politics. Yes, I think that there's some things the government should be doing to look after us and keep us safe... like making sure the water supply isn't going to kill us... but, for the most part, I feel our government should stay the fuck out of our lives when it comes to personal freedoms. Like being able to marry the person you fall in love with... regardless of whether or not you have the same genitalia. And being able to buy a Super Big Gulp if you feel thirsty enough to consume 40oz. of fizzy sugar-water. AND GETTING A TATTOO WHEN YOU FUCKING FEEL LIKE IT. But here we go again... Washington, DC is contemplating a mandatory "tattoo waiting period" to minimize the risk of somebody getting a tattoo they'll regret... by making them wait 24 hours. Which is just a nice way of saying "people are too stupid to make their own decisions." Which is 100% true. Except it should be their stupid decision to make! Now, granted, my first tattoo had a waiting period of 26 years before I would commit... and my subsequent tattoos have a waiting period of weeks because my artist is 700 miles away... but if I wake up and decide I want a new tattoo right now, I think it is categorically absurd that there are people who feel I should be legally denied it. Getting a tattoo affects nobody but myself. And if I make a mistake, I'm the only one who has to live with it. Just as it should be. So if our politicians feel that they should start regulating stupidity, I'd encourage them to start with themselves.

   
• Katy! When it comes to music, Katy Perry is kinda hit-and-miss with me. I like some of her stuff okay... and thought her tour-movie Part of Me was great... but I never became a huge fan. Until the video for the first single off her new album was released...

Pretty amazing, actually. And the song ain't bad either. This is a Katy Perry I can't wait to see more of.

   
• FARTPOP! In contrast to the beautiful pop treasure that is Katy Perry, we now turn to Lady Gaga. I never much cared for her music... and positively loathe the first single off her forthcoming ARTPOP album, Applause (currently blasting from my TV in KIA Soul commercials). But I thought I'd give her the benefit of the doubt to see if she could win me over with her new material. Then came her iTunes Music Festival appearance (currently streaming for free in iTunes)...

Lady Gaga Fart Pop Shit

Holy crap what a boat-load of shit. She should have stuck to ripping off Madonna. Her tedious "music" takes a back-seat to her "art," which couldn't be less edgy or relevant. And just when I thought things could possibly get worse, she comes out in a rhinestone-encrusted pig mask to sing Swine. Hopefully with this disaster, Gaga's 15 minutes will be up. Maybe then she'll get over all this laughably absurd "artist" persona and start making actual music. Which I honestly think she has the talent for if she'd focus on it. In the meanwhile, I'm preparing myself for an onslaught of FARTPOP idiocy come November.

   
• Reeves! And speaking of actual edgy and relevant musical artists... the song He'll Have to Go by Jim Reeves popped up as I was searching through YouTube earlier this week, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing...

This guy is totally bad ass! He's calling up the woman he's stalking and tells her to have her boyfriend get the fuck out so they can have phone sex. Ah, the good ol' days when something like this didn't result in a restraining order! On top of that, the guy's got an awesome singing voice!

   
• Blasphemy! One of the Worst People on Earth, televangelist Pat Robertson, is the subject of a new documentary detailing how his "Operation Blessing" program is more of a money-making scam than a charity... taking credit for work done by others, including my favorite charity: Doctors Without Borders. All so he could bail out his diamond mining operation...

It's Crazy Pat!
And now God is telling me... that you should send me more money!

Disgusting. But he's denying it, of course.

Is it too much to hope that he finally ends up in jail? Or, at the very least, his supporters will finally realize that he follows much more closely in the footsteps of the Antichrist than Jesus Christ?

   
And... it's now 9:00, but feels a lot more like 11:00, so I may have to think about packing it up for the night.

   

Bullet Sunday 347

Posted on Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Dave!Time to put your Wiener back in your mayoral candidate pants... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Dumbosity! I am still trying to figure out how Anthony Weiner went from being a politician I actually respected... to somebody I loathe with such fervor that I want to kick in my television every single time his stupid face shows up on it. In other words, just like every other politician out there. I should have known better. Is it too much to hope that this is the very last we will ever see or hear of him?

   
• Dumbsuckery! I hate CAPTCHAs. I'm not alone. Everybody I know hates them too. Which is why running across this particular CAPTCHA pretty much summed the whole situation up nicely...

Fhckd!

But hey, at least you could actually read the characters.

   
• Dumbassery! Just when you think Microsoft couldn't possibly be more of an embarrassment to itself, they find a way to prove you wrong. First came this tweet from now-Microsoft-owned Nokia...

I'm willing to guess that Apple would agree... as would any other company in the history of the world who has made different-color products ever...

Apple Agrees!

   

Apple Agrees!

I'm sorry, but when it comes to "imitation being a form of flattery," Microsoft has had had their mouth permanently attached to Apple's dick in an imitation-induced frenzy since around 1984. Which is not to say that Microsoft hasn't been innovating... but you'd never know it from their advertising, which is constantly painting them as a pathetic, lame, whiny bitch who is having to play catch-up to Apple. It's like they're their own worst enemy, and just when you think they couldn't possibly beat themselves up any worse than they already have, they proceed to do just that.

   
• Dumbfuckery! I am at a complete loss for words. This wouldn't be so terrible if these were three random assholes just pretending to be representing the United States... but they are actual US Representatives! I am so fucking embarrassed right now that I don't even... I don't know... I don't... I just don't...

I mean, holy shit! People actually elected these fucking idiots.

   
• Dumbholery! And if you thought that was bad... never underestimate the agenda-ramming mouthpieces at FOX "News"...

They don't even try to hide it. Yet, they're the "Fair and Balanced" network. And people keeeeeeep watching. Any bets on how much longer it'll be until Andrea Shea King is added to the FOX "News" team? If anybody could put a new and interesting negative spin on First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to keep America hydrated, it's her.

   
And, I'm about as disgusted as I'm going to get tonight. Kind of pointless to continue now.

   

Bullet Sunday 348

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Dave!Pledge allegiance to YouTube... because a special All-Video Bullet Sunday on Wednesday starts now...

   
• Guinness! Really good advertising is exceedingly rare. Especially on television. Most television ads are irritating as shit, and something you can't wait to end so you can get back to watching the show you tuned in for. I loathe television ads so much that I rarely watch "live" television any more. I record everything on my DVR so I can fast-forward through that shit. However... there are times that truly good ads happen. Then, not only do I not mind watching them, I actually find myself rewinding my DVR so I can watch them again and again. This miraculous ad from Guinness is just such an ad...

Beautiful. Maybe even poetic. And most certainly one of my favorite ads ever. I've lost track of how many times I've watched it just for the sheer joy of seeing something hopeful and good. If all advertisements were this thoughtful and smart, I'd have to start watching "live" TV again.

   
• I DO! Everyone on the internet has seen this already, but I want it on my blog anyway because I love it. I can't fathom the person who watches this video and experiences anything but happiness for these people...

If that isn't enough for you, Spencer and Dustin talk about the video on Ellen here. Best of luck, guys!

   
• BRAINS! When it comes to zombie stories, "touching" and "heart-warming" are not terms you'd generally use to describe them. But this... this... is well worth your time to watch, because it's exactly that...

Put these guys in charge of the new Walking Dead spin-off.

   
• Orchestra! This kinda made my week. It's Tom & Jerry as you've never heard it before...

So many of the cartoons from my childhood had brilliant scores that could easily be deserving of this treatment. Brilliant.

   
• D*CK! Never underestimate the power of a Kiwi accent...

What is it with these squirrels hanging out on my d*ick?!?

   
And... no more video bullets for you.

   

Bullet Sunday 349

Posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Dave!Say hello, wave goodbye... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Bad! I've been dreading the impending final episode of Breaking Bad for months. I love the show, didn't want it to end, and was worried sick that the writers would build everything up to a shitty, "artistic," non-ending ending like The Sopranos. Or, more recently, a shitty, shitty, non-ending ending like Dexter... both of which sucked ass. But, surprise, Vince Gilligan and the rest of the Breaking Bad crew actually pulled it off...

Breaking Bad Ending

If the show had to end, this was a great way to do it.

   
• Go Martha! Heaven only knows I am no Martha Stewart fan... there are times I downright despise the woman... but her taking a stand against patent trolls has me cheering her on. If only we could get rid of these do-nothing, innovation-killing shit-bags for good.

   
• So Long! If somebody were to unfriend me for supporting my friends or family, then they were never my friend to begin with, and wouldn't be missed...

People who live in the past should be left there. If they remove themselves from the game, so much the better.

   
• Delicious! For those of you keeping up with my love/hate relationship with Earl of Sandwich, THE PHILADELPHIA AIRPORT LOCATION STILL HAS THE EARL VEGGIE ON THE MENU!!

Earl of Sandwich Veggie at PHL

A little saltier than I remember (I think they over-did the salt/pepper/spice mix) but still oh so delicious.

   
• High Society! Betty Who's "Somebody Loves You" is getting a lot of attention... but my favorite track off of her her "The Movement" EP is called "High Society." And seeing her perform it live in this video has now made seeing her in concert a priority for me...

If you haven't picked it up yet, The Movement EP is worth a listen.

   
And, I guess it's goodbye!

   

Bullet Sunday 350

Posted on Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Dave!Good evening, Vietnam! Please put your seat in the upright position and stow your tray tables... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Flight! Long-haul flights are nothing new to me but, as I mentioned yesterday, twenty hours of travel over 7,425 miles can really wear you down no matter how seasoned a traveler you are. Putting that aside, I was surprised how efficient my trip was given that I had a layover in Seoul. The total route is almost a perfect arc when plotted out by the Great Circle Mapper...

Great Circle Map SEA->SGN

   
• Korean! And speaking of my flight... once again had a great trip with Korean Air thanks to the wonderful crew. Asian-based airlines always go above and beyond, and Korean is a solid choice for crossing The Pacific. Leg room in economy is surprisingly decent, making for a more comfortable trip than you'd expect. And the little details... like these stickers that let the flight attendants know if they should disturb your sleep or leave you alone... are a nice consideration...

Wake Me Stickers

Food is also pretty decent... especially for an airline... though they aren't big on snacks. You get a tiny bag of peanuts with your drink service which is immediately followed by a departure dinner on the way up, or arrival dinner service on the way down. A light meal or even a bag of cookies would have been much appreciated at the half-way point...

Half-Way Point Korean Airlines

Fortunately, I never travel without my own snacks, but still. Oh well. Still an excellent airline.

   
• Movies! The selection of movies on my flight were pretty good, and watching a bunch of them back-to-back makes the time fly by. I re-watched Man of Steel, which is a film I downright hated (despite a fantastic cast), hoping that I would like it more on second viewing. I didn't. If anything, I hated it even more. Then I watched The Lone Ranger, which was disappointing yet entertaining, and deserves a little more credit than it got from the critics. But the highlight was finally, finally, being able to watch 42, which I had wanted badly to see in the theater but never got around to...

42 Movie Poster

What a great film! I'd recommend it, even if you're not a baseball fan. The movie focuses on Jackie Robinson's struggle for acceptance as he becomes the first African-American to play for the major leagues. In that respect, it really does the job, and the casting is flawless. Chadwick Boseman, who I've never heard of before, plays Robinson with an enthusiasm and dignity that is essential to the character, and his performance anchored the movie beautifully. The biggest surprise to me was Harrison Ford's role as Dodgers President and GM Branch Rickey, which is probably one of the best performances of his career. Maybe it's because I fully expected John Goodman to get the part, but I honestly didn't think Ford was going to work as well as he did. No less shocking to me was seeing Alan Tudyk (my favorite actor from Firefly) as racist Phillies manager, Ben Chapman, and I have to give him credit for taking on a part that is the polar opposite of the lovable roles his fans love him for. If I have one bit of criticism, I wish the film had dug even a little deeper into Robinson's life outside of the game. Yeah, I know that's not the focus of the film, but I can't help but feel it would have been a much stronger movie if they had added more dimension to Robinson's personal life. Still, a film worth seeing. And I'd be remiss if I passed up an opportunity to plug The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, which is an essential look at baseball, and a fantastic precursor to Robinson's history-making career.

   
• Incheon! Transfers at Incheon International at Seoul are always easy and efficient, and the airport is laid out very well. The weather was pretty good as I said farewell to the plane that had become my home for the past 11 hours...

Layover in Incheon Seoul International

A beautiful evening in Korea... which almost makes me wish I was sticking around for a while.

   
• Hosed! Before leaving Seattle, I used the Ask Dave! app to see if I would have a good flight...

Ask Dave! Lil' Dave says

Now, given the terrific experience I just had flying from Seattle to Seoul, I was beginning to think that Lil' Dave was dead-wrong. But then came the flight from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh City... which was pretty much unbearable. There was turbulence over the Yellow Sea and again over China that was a bit rocky, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was the HIDEOUS FUCKING BITCH sitting across the aisle to the right of me who was having a conversation with a second HIDEOUS FUCKING BITCH that was behind and to the left of me. Never mind that there were TWO PEOPLE between her and the person she was talking to, she was screaming non-stop for three of the five-and-a-half hours I was stuck on the plane (stopping only to take a nap half-way through). She. Did. Not. Stop. Talking. And if there was a cabin announcement or somebody else was trying to talk... she would just screech even louder. So loud that even blasting music in my headphones at full volume was not enough to get rid of her. At one point, I think the guy behind me asked if she'd like to trade places so she could sit next to her chat buddy, but HIDEOUS FUCKING BITCH NUMBER ONE refused because she had an empty seat next to her. Or something. Holy shit was it awful. There was more than one time I had to restrain myself from telling her to shut the fuck up... or just punch her repeatedly in her stupid fucking face. I cannot fathom how incredibly fucking rude some people can be. Maybe... maybe... if this was a daytime flight, I could have overlooked it as a cultural thing... but a late night flight where people are trying to sleep? Sorry, that makes you a rude asshole in any culture. Seriously one of the most miserable flights I have ever had.

   
• Dong! I am part of a tour group that's arriving on different flights. This necessitated hanging around Tan Son Nhat International Airport much, much longer than I wanted. But, since I didn't want to abandon the people I'll be spending the next two weeks with, I decided to hang around waiting instead of doing a peace-out and grabbing a taxi. One of the things I did to kill time was get some Vietnamese currency from an airport cash machine so I could buy some fries from Burger King. Now, usually I am prepared for international travel and know what the exchange rate is. But this time I never looked into it, and I couldn't get data service on my iPhone to check it out. So I just rolled the dice and told the ATM that I want 50,000 dong (Vietnamese dollars) because it was the middle option of the quick-cash amounts displayed. Much to my horror, the machine spit out 200,000 dong instead of the 50,000 I wanted, and I was standing there worried that I had just stuck myself with $200 worth of money I probably wouldn't spend. But then I got to Burger King and saw that an order of fries was 33,000 dong which I hoped didn't translate to $33.00, so I thought I was probably okay. When I got to my hotel, the first thing I did was look at my bank account online and saw that the 200,000 dong amounted to $10.38 US being taken from my account. Guess I should have gotten more dong when I had the chance.

And... I am completely trashed, so I guess it's time for sleeping and no more bullets.

   

Day Three – Củ Chi

Posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Dave!Originally named "Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes" but also known as "The US War Crimes Museum," a popular attraction documenting the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese was renamed "War Remnants Museum" when trade relations were re-opened with the United States.

Overall, it's an interesting (albeit decidedly one-sided) look at the war that can get fairly graphic at times, but is entirely more effective because of it...

Vietnam War Remnants Museum

Displays are fairly straightforward and stark, but well-presented...

Remnants Museum Exhibits

Some of the exhibits are obvious propaganda, and leave out huge chunks of the story, but at least the museum isn't hiding their agenda. Unlike shit-bag organizations that claim to be "fair and balanced" yet are anything but, the War Remnants Museum doesn't lie about their intentions as you make your way through the exhibits...

Requiem - The photo collection of the US aggressive war in Japan

Other sections of the museum include such topics such as "Aggression War Crimes" and "Historic Truths," and are certainly open for debate, but one area of the museum draws conclusions that most anyone can agree with... Agent Orange was some heinous shit that ruined lives on both sides. It was chemical warfare on an epic scale that had both immediate and long-term affects on health and development that are still affecting people today...

Remnants Museum on Agent Orange

Seeing the horrific images and reading heart-wrenching stories about the tragedies of war is not easy, no matter which side is telling the story. Regardless of how you feel about the Vietnam War... whether it's America's stance of playing "World Police" and saving the planet from "communism"... or large segments of the Vietnamese population being forced to accept a government they did not want... or an entire class of peasants being decimated when they just wanted to be left alone... or wealthy corporations encouraging war so they could make money... or indigenous Degar/Montagnard minority persons being overrun because they didn't fit in with the Vietnam majority culturally... or the American CIA and the French battling it out using the Vietnamese people for the fight... or the involvement of Korea (North and South) and Australia to serve their own interests... or any number of factors that made this such a highly complicated and confusing conflict for everybody involved... I think everybody can agree that war sucks.

Which is why, despite my personal feelings and obvious bias, this museum (hence Vietnam's official position over what they went through) has my deepest sympathies.

At least they did until I got to the gift shop and saw this...

Remnants Museum American Dog Tag Souvenirs?

At first I thought that these dog-tag "souvenirs" were war trophies being sold, and I was absolutely horrified. But one of the guys in our tour group who actually served in Vietnam said that they were not real, as American dog-tags had different information on them. Even so, they are clearly meant to be American dog-tag replicas when they feature names like "Matthew Johnson" on them. And the fact that they've been aged and dirtied up to look like war trophies is almost as bad as selling the real thing. This is incredibly disrespectful and disgusting regardless of the circumstances, and I had a very different feeling leaving the museum after seeing this than I would have had I not seen them at all.

Though, to be fair, you could say the same thing about American museums selling Indian artifacts and replicas like they do, so I guess we're no better.

Anyway...

From the museum we took a bus north to the Củ Chi district, once again zipping through traffic with horn blaring...

Củ Chi Bus Drive

How we managed to reach our destination without an accident remains a mystery.

The area we visited is famous for the Củ Chi Underground Tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong to very effectively infiltrate hostile territory and wreck havoc with their enemies. Now the tunnels are part of a sort of "outdoor museum" where you can learn about how they were made and used. Our tour guide gave a very effective demonstration of how everything works by popping in and out of the tunnels using secret doors that were invisible on the forest floor...

Củ Chi Tunnel Surprise

The tunnels themselves are small. Tiny. Impossibly miniscule. And looking at them makes you wonder how people managed to survive in such claustrophobic conditions. It also makes you respect the people who were so dedicated to their cause that they were willing to endure such conditions. Surprisingly, the tunnels for tourists have actually been ENLARGED so that we can fit into them. And they are still horrifically small. Three people in our group decided to give the first tunnel a try, and it was a bit nerve-wracking to get through even though it was a short distance...

Củ Chi Tunnel

The woman I followed above was smaller than I am. I am so tall that there was no way I could just hunch over and fit... oh no... I had to squat down and shuffle my way through. Not at all easy, but I made it...

I Escape from the Củ Chi Tunnel!

Turns out that trying to breath was the most difficult part of going through the tunnel... which is good, I suppose, since it takes your mind off of the crushing claustrophobia that you feel.

After looking at tunnels and learning about how the Viet Cong used tricks and traps to attack their enemies, we got to see a fashion show of Viet Cong jungle apparel...

Củ Chi Fashion Show

I don't know how Tim Gunn would feel about that little ensemble, but I think she is totally pulling it off!

And, with that fashion moment, my visit to Củ Chi came to an end, and we were off to the airport.

BUT NOT BEFORE IT WAS TIME TO COLLECT MY DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

And how in the hell is Disney going to turn a day filled with war and death into a fun-time activity for kids, you may ask? Well here you go...

D3 Disney Pin

Baloo the Bear and The Jungle Book makes any activity a fun one! Even after you've watched somebody explain how a pit filled with spikes can mean an agonizing death for somebody unfortunate enough to fall into one.

   

Day Four – Hội An

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Dave!Last night we arrived in the city of Da Nang, where we were quickly transported to a resort in the UNESCO Heritage city of Hội An. The city is kind of conflicted, trying to both retain the culture and heritage which makes it unique, yet service the throngs of tourists showing up to play on their beaches. It's a delicate balance, and not everybody is convinced that it can work. Development is rapidly encroaching on the city, and "progress" (if you can call it that) is winning out.

Hội An is said to have beautiful sunsets, so I woke up at some ungodly hour so I could walk down to the beach and take a look. Unfortunately, there was a haze out, so it didn't look like much...

 Hoi An Sunrise

Given that this is an Adventure by Disney, they don't just want to drag you from place to place and give you an overview of the highlights... they work hard to tell a story of where you are and the people who live there. Today that began with a trip to the Hội An market led by a local chef who could explain everything. It was a really great walk...

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Market

I stopped buying souvenirs years ago because I just don't have the space. But I saw this tree carving hanging up, and thought it was pretty cool...

Hoi An Tree Carving

Much to my surprise, when I took a look at it, the name "DAVID" was carved on the top! I guess fate was telling me to buy it, but I was not tempted. What would I do with it when I got home? How would I get it home in one piece?

After the market, we took a boat back to "Brother's Cafe" where our chef works so we could get lessons in how to cook Vietnamese food...

Hoi An Cruise

Hoi An Cooking Class

Hoi An Cooking Class

My Spring Rolls didn't turn out that pretty, but they were sure tasty...

Hoi An Cooking Class

I had better luck with the eggplant and tomato dish, but that didn't stop me from accepting help when offered...

Hoi An Cooking Class

Hoi An Cooking Class

After cooking school, everybody went to a local tailor to be fitted for custom clothing. I ordered two shirts for the bargain-basement price of $70 total, and they were waiting for me when I returned to the hotel this evening. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. After having your measurements taken, you had free time to wander around town...

Hoi An Walkabout

Hoi An Walkabout

And then it was time for... LANTERN-MAKING!!

Yes, Disney arranged for everybody to go to a lantern factory so we could learn how to make the beautiful lanterns that are hanging all over the city...

Hoi An Lantern Factory

You start out with a bamboo frame, then glue on strips of fabric to create the lantern...

Hoi An Lantern-Making

At least that was the plan. I'll spare you from having to look at the glue-soaked mess that I ended up with.

The good news is that you could buy beautifully hand-made lanterns to take home with you, so I did just that. Though there's little hope that my living room is going to end up looking as cool as Hội An at night...

Hội An at Night!

Hội An at Night!

Ah well. It makes for a beautiful memory.

And now it's time for THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

D4 Disney Pin

Chip and Dale would be a mess in the kitchen. What do squirrels know about cooking? They should have used Remy from Ratatouille! Given the influence of the French here in Vietnam, it would have been totally appropriate!

Ah well. It was another fantastic day in Vietnam, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

   

Day Five – Hội An (Part One)

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2013

Dave!This was a long, long day... so I'm breaking it up into a two-part blog entry. This is Part One.

Today is what Adventures by Disney calls "A Day On Your Own," meaning that they don't have anything scheduled, and it's up to you to figure out what you want to do. Except... not really... because they're still around and eager to help you get the most out of your day.

A friend had recommended taking a Hội An Photo Tour, which she had done two years ago and raved about. Anxious to step outside the Disney Protection Bubble where everything is sanitized for your protection, I was happy to sign up and get out into the "real" Vietnam for a day. Lucky for me, I was able to convince three people from my tour group to go as well.

Pick-up was at 5:00am, where we were quickly whisked off to a small cafe near a ferry dock. There we were introduced to our guide and photography instructor, Pieter, who got us situated and went over some camera settings. It was pouring rain, but the forecast said things would clear up shortly, so we braved the wet and headed out to a small ferry that would take us across to the fishing village of Duy Hải...

Morning Ferry

The village fish market was an amazing wash of activity, with fishermen pulling into vịnh Cửa Đại (Cửa Đại Bay) where guys in round rafts float out to meet the boats, gather up the catch, and head to shore so the ladies there can negotiate, yell, and fight their way to the best price. It's fish fish fish everywhere...

Fish Market

Fish Market Washing Fish

Vietnam Loading Fish on a Bike

Fish Washing in Hoi An, Vietnam

The rain didn't let up, and became a deluge around lunch time. My feet were soaking wet in no time, and my shoes were made up of water more than anything else in short order...

Raining in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hiding out from the rain, we darted from cover to cover where all kinds of interesting things were to be found... including a man making an anchor from scrap metal...

Hoi An Vietnam Welder

After a delicious Vietnamese-style veggie sandwich for lunch, we were off to a fish sauce factory where we could practice taking photos in different lighting conditions.

The smell was bloody awful.

But the rain stopped, and that's something.

Fish sauce is made by salting fish in a giant barrel and letting it rot for six months to a year. The rotted fish is then strained through cloth to produce sauce...

Making Fish Sauce in Vietnam

Workers at the factory get fresh fish sauce, right from the tap. I don't think the puppy hanging around looking for food got any though...

Fish Sauce Workers Having Lunch in Vietnam

The village was filled with busy people, but those who weren't working were quite friendly and willing to pose for photos. This little boy made quite an impression on our group, and I don't think there was a single one of us who didn't want to take him home...

Father and Son in Vietnam

But, alas, the lucky little bugger had a dad who loved him and could spend his days pants-free, so why would he want to leave home?

Father and Son in Vietnam

The father and son were waiting at the local barber shop for a haircut. The barber there was doing a masterful job with his client, which made me wish I hadn't cut all my hair off before I left for Vietnam...

Barber in Vietnam

Vietnamese children are a special flavor of adorable, and this little one found us more interesting to look at than grandma trying to feed them rice...

Lunch with Grandma in Vietnam

Most everyone seemed content to go about their business while people were snapping photos. This little girl was probably used to the attention, given that she is featured on the Hội An Photo Tour brochure...

Girl Washing Dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam

Girl Washing Dishes in Hoi An, Vietnam

DUCKS!!!

Ducks in a Row in Vietnam

Eventually we passed by a couple kids putting in a hard day's work at the sewing machine. The young man had some nice ink across his back...

Young Vietnamese Sewing Workers

Young Vietnamese Sewing Worker

And, just like that, the tour was coming to a close. I had already taken hundreds of pictures, but that didn't stop me from taking dozens more as we headed back to the ferry dock. There were some cute mangy puppies we ran across along the way that broke my heart. It doesn't seem as though animals are treated very well in Vietnam...

Vietnam Doggies

Cows seem to fare much better...

Vietnam Cow

If only the sunshine had been around earlier in the day. The bay is quite nice...

Boats in the Water Near Hoi An, Vietnam

Dock in Hoi An, Vietnam

The last thing to see before heading "home" was a shipyard where boats come to be repaired...

Vietnam Shipyard Repairs

Vietnam Shipyard Repairs

One last doggie...

Puppy in Hoi An, Vietnam

And the tour was over. But not my day. But you'll have to wait for Part Two for that.

In the meanwhile... if you're ever in Hội An, I give the Hội An Photo Tour my highest recommendation!

   

Day Six – Hanoi

Posted on Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Dave!As much as I would have loved to lounge around the resort at Hội An for a day, this morning was an early wake-up so our group could fly to the Vietnam capital of Hanoi (or Hà Nội, as it it known to the locals).

Our first stop in the city was lunch at a restaurant called KOTO. This is a pretty special place, as KOTO stands for "Know One, Teach One" and is built around a working cooking school started by an Australian Vietnamese man named Jimmy Pham to help disadvantaged kids build a career. As if that weren't enough, the food was incredible, and the place is hugely popular. If you're ever in Hanoi, KOTO has my highest recommendation...

KOTO Restaurant

Our next stop was to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, which explains the various cultures and peoples of Vietnam. It has numerous displays, like this one about how the popular conical hats are made...

Conical Hat-Making!

But the real gem of the museum is the outdoor displays of many of the various house and building styles of Vietnam. You've got a tall house... a long house (where each time the family expands, then just knock out the back and add more room)... and an interesting crypt-type building...

Tall Vietnam Building

Long Vietnam Building

Vietnam Crypt

The crypt is interesting, because it features symbols of rebirth around the edges...

Vietnam Museum

Vietnam Museum

As this is Disney, the day wouldn't be complete without some kind of cool activity. This time it was Vietnamese mask-making...

Vietnamese Masks

I made a red dog...

My Red Dog Vietnamese Mask

My Red Dog Vietnamese Mask

Pretty sweet!

After leaving the museum, we passed by an interesting set of buildings...

Skinny Buildings

The width of the building there is about 4 meters... 13 feet. Apparently when the city government decided to turn the two-lane street into a four-lane street, they took the land on either side of the road, leaving the owners with just a tiny strip from what they once had. Not ones to let valuable land go to waste, they constructed impossibly thin buildings to fit on it. I would love to see inside. I'm guessing there's a spiral staircase at one end to move between floors, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out they came up with something more ingenious than that.

Our group ended up staying at the premiere hotel in Hanoi, the Sofitel Legend Metropole. It is heavily influenced by the French (as many things are here), having been constructed by them in 1901. Everything has a very European feel, including the staff, who address everyone as "madame" and "monsieur." The rooms are beautifully appointed, and the grounds of the hotel are worth a look...

Sofitel Legend Metropole

Sofitel Legend Metropole

Sofitel Legend Metropole

That last photo is of the Bamboo Bar. And just in front of the Bamboo Bar is a staircase leading down to the bomb shelter that was left over from the Vietnam War (or, the American War, as it's known here). If you're lucky, you can make your way onto a list to take a tour...

Sofitel Legend Metropole Bunker

Sofitel Legend Metropole Bunker

The hotel itself is home to a lot of history and has been host to many, many famous people from around the world. Joan Baez recorded the song Where Are You Now, My Son? during the bombings that took place around Christmas of 1972 after spending some time in the bunker. And Jane Fonda stayed here on the second floor during her infamous "tour" of Vietnam during the war. Which isn't exactly something I'm excited about, because I still think she is a total asshole for having done it, regardless of her regrets or how many times she apologizes. Opposing the war is one thing... I totally get that... but Fonda worked non-stop to make life hell for American kids fighting and dying far from home by opposing them, and that's unforgivable. As if the guys drafted into service wanted to be there. Unlike Jane Fonda, they didn't have money or privilege, so buying their way out of a war they didn't ask for wasn't exactly an option.

Dinner was at an Italian restaurant called "Angelina"... and can you guess which famous guest inspired the name?

Sofitel Legend Metropole Angelena Restaurant Bar

The pizza and pasta I had were okay... not great... but the ambience can't be beat. At the end of your meal you get a tiny juice drink that has a splash of incredibly pricey Remy Martin's Louis Tres cognac. That's about as good as it gets right there.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for... it's time for the DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

D6 Disney Pin

No offense to Mickey Mouse, but my mask is way more awesome than his.

   

Day Seven – Hanoi

Posted on Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Dave!After another night at the amazing Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, it was time for an early wake up call so we could go... do tai chi?

Yes. Apparently this special form of martial arts exercise is as popular here in Vietnam as it is in China (where it originated).

This being Disney, they don't just send you out in street clothes... oh no... they provide you with a badass tai-chi uniform. Here is me striking a "snake" pose with our tai chi master instructor...

Tai Chi Master

And then it was time for a ride around the busy streets of Hanoi... not in a tour bus looking down on everything, but in an electric mini-bus that puts you at street-level. It was a pretty cool experience, and I took hundreds of photos as we zipped around the city. Here are just a couple shots from the beginning of the trip...

Hanoi Streets

Hanoi Streets

Hanoi Streets

Hanoi Streets

And, of course, no visit to Hanoi would be complete without a visit to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum! Unfortunately "Uncle Ho," as the locals call him, is in for some annual restoration work, so we couldn't go inside to say "hello"... but we did get to walk around the building, which is quite impressive...

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

You can also visit Ho Chi Minh's former residence, which includes three of the cars he used...

Ho Chi Minh Cars

On our way to our next destination, I was once again amazed at what an efficient use of space the Vietnamese have. Land is very expensive, so they build up instead of out...

Skinny Buildings of Hanoi

At last we arrived at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, which is a beautiful spot in the city dedicated to Confucious...

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature Souvenirs

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Out of respect for General Vo Nguyen Giap's funeral yesterday (he died at age 102), all official flags in Vietnam were tied with a black ribbon. General Giap was a genius military officer who many consider to be the mastermind behind the defeat of both the French and the Americans in Vietnam. Today, since the funeral was over, all the black bands were removed from the flags, and we lucky enough to see that happening here at the Temple of Literature...

General Giap Flag Ceremony

General Giap Flag Ceremony

And then we were off to the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," which is the name given to Hỏa Lò Prison by American POW's who were unfortunate enough to be incarcerated there. Of the inmates, the most notable would probably be Senator John McCain, who spent part of his five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war here. The prison itself was mostly demolished in 1997, but a chunk of it was saved to become a museum. It's interesting to note that the prison itself was titled "Maison Centrale"... or "Central House" in French... assumably because it sounded more pleasant that having "PRISON" painted on a building in your neighborhood...

Hanoi Hilton Entrance Maison Centrale

Unsurprisingly, this is not a very pleasant place, even when sanitized for consumption by the general public...

Hanoi Hilton

The interior has several rooms explaining the history of the prison from it's early days when it was used for Vietnamese prisoners... to the later years where American/foreign prisoners of war were put there. The displays, naturally, say what a terrific place that Hỏa Lò Prison was to be a prisoner and how well inmates were treated... which is not quite the story former prisoners have told when they were finally released.

What was formerly the back-side of the prison, is now a courtyard with a mural and a 20-story building...

Hanoi Hilton Courtyard

The final stop for the day was a visit to a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show... which was utterly bizarre... but really entertaining...

Hanoi Water Puppets Theater

Somebody was kind enough to upload a short video compilation to YouTube, if you're interested in seeing what it's all about.

And, yes, before I go... it's time for THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

D7 Disney Pin

It's Shere Khan! One of my favorite character's from Disney's The Jungle Book!

Dang. That just makes me want to watch the movie again!

   

Day Eight – Luang Prabang

Posted on Monday, October 14th, 2013

Dave!And so today we left Hanoi and Vietnam to fly to Luang Prabang in Laos.

Despite a haze off in the distance obstructing the mountains, the area is incredibly beautiful. The airport is pretty much an airstrip on the outskirts of town, and walking across the tarmac lets you soak in the scenery...

Luang Prabang Airport

Disney wasted no time in getting things rolling by leaving the airport and driving directly to the Luang Prabang National Museum, which was formerly the Royal Palce...

National Museum Luang Prabang

A new temple is being built to house the Golden Buddha of the Royal Palace. Since the Buddha is not there yet, photography was permitted inside...

National Museum Luang Prabang

National Museum Luang Prabang

National Museum Luang Prabang

Unfortunately, photos were forbidden in the palace itself...

Royal Palace Shoes!

Lunch was at the Coconut Garden, which was a fantastic restaurant with some beautiful decorations hanging around the courtyards (that made me regret that we weren't returning there for dinner to see it at night)...

Coconut Garden Restaurant Luan Prabang Laos

Coconut Garden Coke

Coconut Garden Restaurant Luan Prabang Laos

After a delicious lunch, we were off to visit a couple of temples. The first of which had me more than a little worried about an electrical fire starting...

Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Outside, some novice monks were making arts and crafts in spectacular colors...

Novice Monks at a Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Novice Monks at a Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Then we were off to yet another one... the Vatxiengthongratsavoravihanh Temple (say that three times fast!).

A Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

The sun was setting behind a Buddha on one side...

A Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

While shining on an incredible golden building on the other side...

A Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Temple elephant break!

A Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

In what I can only consider to be a huge stroke of luck, the tour was running late, which meant we got to see the monks being called to prayer. The chanting was mind-bogglingly beautiful...

Monks Call to Prayer at a Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Monks Call to Prayer at a Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Eventually a dog fight broke out during prayers, so one of the young novices was tasked with getting them out of the temple. Much like herding cats, the pour guy had his hands full...

Monks Call to Prayer at a Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

And... dinner time.

But not before we received THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

D8 Disney Pin

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but I do like Huey, Dewey, and Louie, so there's that.

Tomorrow is absolutely packed, and requires a 4:30am wake-up, so I suppose it's best to turn in early.

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Day Nine – Luang Prabang

Posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Dave!

UPDATE: I've arrived safely in Cambodia. Thanks for the kind emails and messages concerning the Lao Airlines plane crash that took place outside of Pakse... I was on a different Lao Airlines flight that connected through there. Internet has been dodgy ever since leaving Vietnam, so that's why I am behind in posting. So sad to hear about the 49 people who lost their lives in this tragedy.

Given the limited time we have in Laos, the schedule for the tour group was jam-packed today. We started out by heading to old town early in the morning to offer alms to the local monks. Every morning after prayers, the 250 or so monks in the area leave their temples and walk down the streets to receive their food for the day. As they walk past, people drop small clumps of sticky rice into their bowls. This is collected and shared for the two meals they get in the morning and afternoon.

I know it sounds easy, but offering rice is no easy task. First of all, they walk kinda fast. Second, it is disrespectful to look up at the monks, so you have to keep your head down. Third, you are not supposed to touch their bowls when depositing the rice... especially if you are a woman. And lastly, sticky rice is sticky, and it's hard to pull out the tiny portions required so you don't run out. Still, it's a humbling experience, and one I very much enjoyed...

Morning Alms to the Monks

Morning Alms to the Monks

Morning Alms to the Monks

Believe it or not, the monks don't even get to keep the small amount of rice they are given. If a poor person holds out a bowl along their path, the monks will give part of their rice back.

Above the city is a hill with a number of temples and Buddhas on it. After making our rice offerings to the monks, we climbed to the top so we could watch the sunrise...

Temple Climb

Temple Climb

Temple Climb

Temple Climb

Temple Climb

And, yes, it was pretty spectacular... despite the clouds obstructing the mountains...

Temple Climb Sunrise

Though I was more interested in the cats that were hanging around...

Temple Climb Kitty

The walk down was a lot easier...

Temple Climb

Temple Climb

At the bottom of the hill, there were people making beautiful little flower pots. I think they must be used as offerings like candles in churches, because you see them everywhere...

Temple Climb

Tree Offering

After our trek, we got to head back to our hotel for breakfast before heading out again. This time, out into the countryside to a rice farm so we could see and experience how this very important crop in Southeast Asia is cultivated...

Country Roads Cat

Living Land Rice Farm in Laos

Living Land Rice Farm in Laos

Living Land Rice Farm in Laos

Living Land Rice Farm in Laos

Living Land Rice Farm in Laos Rice Snacks

Then it was time for a picnic lunch next to beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall...

Waterfall

Waterfall

Then off to a bear rescue sanctuary...

Bear Rescue Trail

Bear Rescue Bears

And then to a school for deaf and disabled kids. This was a bit of an odd side-trip, as I didn't see how it fit into the "story" that Disney was telling here. Disney isn't sponsoring the school, so it's not like they were telling us "See what some of the profits from your trip are doing?... so I guess it was some kind of misguided attempt at guilt-trip humanitarianism, which is not so cool.

In any event, the visit was a real eye-opener. These kids are collected from the Luang Prabang area, as most of their parents don't know how to handle their disabilities or don't want to deal with them. At the school they are cared for and educated, and are welcome to stay until they find a job and can support themselves... they aren't kicked out once they reach a certain age, which was unexpected.

All of the kids were adorable, friendly, and extremely well-behaved. We got to spend a little time with them asking questions and such, which was fun...

School Kids

School Kids

Our local guides gave us an address where we can send stuff to them for the kids, which I was quite happy about. Yes, there are places like this around the world that are all in need of help, and the situation seems overwhelming, but knowing you can do something about it... even something small... is a good thing.

Once we returned to the hotel to get cleaned up, we hit the local night market, which is huge, colorful, and entertaining...

Night Market

Night Market

I ran out of room for souvenirs a long time ago, but even just looking was fun.

And then, after a tuk-tuk ride back "home," it was time for THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY...

D9 Disney Pin

Meh. I don't like Goofy at all, so this is not a favorite... but at least I have a keepsake from working at the rice farm earlier today.

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Day Ten – Angkor

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Dave!Well, thanks to there being no useable internet in my room here at the beautiful Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, who knows when this will ever get posted. Sorry, but I'm just too tired to head out to the lobby at the end of the day.

Anyway...

Whatever I say here today is going to be under the shadow of a tragic plane crash that occurred outside of Pakse, Laos... mere hours after my flight from Luang Prabang landed in Pakse for a transfer to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Lao Airlines flight 301 was apparently caught by high winds that blew in shortly after my flight took off. This gives the snapshots I took on the runway a rather sad and ominous feeling, as disaster was just around the corner...

Pakse Airport

Pakse Airport

I didn't even know about the crash until 3:30am when I was awakened by a text message from a friend who was wondering if I was safe.

As my flight was landing in Pakse, I was looking outside my window at all the flooding that had occurred the past week... and keeping an eye out for the giant gold Buddha which you can see as you land...

Pakse Flooding

Pakse Gold Buddha

Luckily, my flight in and out of Pakse was without incident, and I arrived in Siem Reap in the Angkor Region of Cambodia an hour later...

Siem Reap Airport

There wasn't a lot of time left in the day once we arrived at the hotel, but Disney took advantage of the impending sunset for a wonderful gondola ride through the Angkor Wat moat... complete with a bar on a boat that would keep your drinks filled as you drifted along...

Angkor Gondola Ride

Angkor Gondola Ride Bar Boat

Angkor Gondola Ride

Angkor Gondola Ride

Angkor Gondola Ride

And that was that.

Well, except for THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY...

D10 Disney Pin

Given my love of all things Donald Duck, I was pretty happy with this one.

   

Day Eleven – Angkor

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Dave!And today, at long last, I got to check something off my bucket list that has been sitting there for decades... I got to visit Angkor Wat here in Cambodia.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The day started when we were informed that our tour group would be competing in an "Amazing Race" kind of competition. We'd get an envelope with a clue which would lead us to a location for the next envelope. The clues were in the form of photos that had been cut up which you have to glue together in a sticky mess so you could tell your tuk-tuk driver where to go.

Now, apparently tuk-tuk driving is a game for the young, but my driver was having none of that. Despite his advancing years, he was pretty skilled at navigating the crazy traffic around the area...

Tuk Tuk Driver

Tuk Tuk Driver

I ended up liking him so much that I hired him to be my driver tomorrow.

But before the race begins, we were off to my dream destination of Angkor Wat. After crossing the moat that we had our gondola ride on last night, you enter the outer gate where you immediately run into a statue of Shiva...

Angkor Wat Shiva

Originally, this statue was at the center of the temple since Angkor Wat was built to be a Hindu place of worship... but when the Buddhists took over, he was moved to the outer gate. Once you pass through, the main temple is in sight...

Angkor Wat Approach

Angkor Wat

I had always thought that the building itself was fairly plain compared to other temples, but that's not the case at all. As you look closer, there are hundreds or ornate carvings covering the walls and columns...

Angkor Wat Carvings

At the center of Angkor wat, you can wander around the ruins for some pretty spectacular views...

Inside Angkor Wat

Possibility of Visit

Inside Angkor Wat

I would have loved to stay here for a couple hours, but there was a "treasure hunt" to get to, so we left Angkor Wat behind...

Angkor Wat Kid

Disney's "Amazing Race Cambodia" ended up taking us to two temples. Bayon, with carved faces everywhere...

Bayon Temple Angkor

And Ta Prohm, famous for the jungle overgrowth that's taken over...

Ta Prohm Temple Angkor

There was hardly any time at all to wander around and take photos at either stop... so I guess I'll have to get around to that tomorrow.

After a beautiful lunch at the Foreign Correspondents Club, we had an hour to freshen up at the hotel before... ELEPHANT RIDES!

Elephant Ride on Chitham

Elephant Ride on Chitham

I have mixed feelings about animal slave labor, as I think the elephants should be free to wander around in the wild... but, since elephants are being hunted to the brink of extinction for their ivory, maybe this is how they're going to survive as a species? In any event, the elephants are treated very well by their "drivers." My elephant (named Chitham) was more interested in eating and pooping than anything else, but her handler never punished her for it. When she wanted to eat, she was allowed to stop and eat. Fortunately, she didn't have to stop to poop, or it would have been a very long trip...

Elephant Ride on Chitham

Chitham did not make for a very smooth ride, but she was an entertaining one.

On the way back to the hotel, I passed a motorcycle with five people on it. This does not break the record of six people I saw in Vietnam, but at least I managed to get a photo this time...

Motorcycle Family

And, just like that, my Disney Travel Adventure was over.

Kinda.

They had a really nice dinner complete with music, dancing, and a slide-show presentation of the trip...

Disney Farewell Dinner

Oh... and of course they had THE DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

D11 Disney Pin

Ha! "Angkors Away!" get it?

And since tomorrow promises to be a very full day of visiting temples and seeing the sights, I'm off to bed.

   

Day Twelve – Angkor

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2013

Dave!The twelfth day of my Adventures by Disney tour is not really a tour day at all. It's just that most flights out of Siem Reap happen very late at night, so Disney goes ahead and adds this as a "Day on Your Own" to their itinerary. Which means that if you do happen to find an early morning flight out, you're not even getting a twelve-day tour as advertised. This is kind of odd and misleading, but okay. I knew that I would be wanting a full day to explore Angkor, so I added a bonus day to my itinerary, which Disney is happy to sell you.

Anyway...

It had poured rain in the night and early morning. The forecast said it would be a wet day. And it was, off and on, which is nice because storm clouds always make more interesting photos... plus it would be much cooler than traipsing around in a full-sun heat.

At 5:45am, my tuk-tuk driver from yesterday picked me up from my hotel, and away we went. My first stop was supposed to be Bayon Temple but, in a bizarre twist, he stopped before we got there. He pointed up a hill and said "Very pretty. See Angkor Wat. Is pretty up there." I had my heart set on Bayon, but didn't want to be rude, so up I went.

And went. And went. And went.

The climb took much longer than I anticipated, and I began to wonder if I was being sent into the forest to be raped, robbed, or both. As if that wasn't enough, I had to watch out for elephants...

Phnom Bakheng

When I got to the top I was pretty disappointed. Everything was under construction, and the temple up there was kinda crappy. And, yes, you could see Angkor Wat from a little platform they set up if you zoomed in tight, but it was hardly the breathtaking experience I was expecting...

Phnom Bakheng Angkor Wat View

And then I noticed some stairs erected through the construction on the side of the temple. Thinking perhaps the view was better up there, I made the climb to the top...

Phnom Bakheng

And, holy crap...

Phnom Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng

Very pretty indeed. Well played, mister tuk-tuk driver. Well played.

And then we were off to Bayon Temple.

Except we weren't, because my tuk-tuk driver went right past the entrance marked for Bayon. It was all I could do to keep from screaming "YOU MISSED THE TURN, YOU MORON!" but, again, I didn't want to be rude, so I sat and watched as Bayon Temple flew by.

Eventually he made a turn. Then another. Then we stopped at which I'm guessing is the back side of Bayon Temple. WHICH WAS FLOODED! Crap!

My driver hopped off, pointed at the temple and said "Look! Bayon and Bayon in the water! Two Bayon!" And, sure enough, thanks to the flooding, there was a gorgeous reflection of Bayon Temple in the water...

Bayon Temple

Well played, mister tuk-tuk driver. Well played. Guess I'll just shut up and trust that you know what you're doing from here on out. And plan on giving you a huge tip for this brilliant advice you're dishing out.

Prasat Bayon is a massive temple complex where faces are carved into most of the surfaces. Everywhere you look there are faces looking back at you...

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

After a hundred photos were taken, we were off to Baphoun Temple which looked promising at first thanks to a beautiful stone pathway leading up to it...

Baphoun Temple

Once you get up to the ruins, however, you find that absolutely everything is closed for restoration. Not only that, but the list of restrictions are more absurd here than anywhere else...

Baphoun Temple NO NO NO NO!!!

No filming. No smoking. No touching. No littering. No kids under 12. No puking(?). No sitting. No shorts. No skirts. No tank tops or halter tops. No pregnant women. No talking. No eating. No dogs. No umbrellas. No canes. How in the hell all this is necessary when you can't even get near the temple in the first place is mind-boggling. You can't even walk all the way around, so I just snapped a photo and continued on...

Baphoun Temple

And that's when things get much, much better. A secondary temple not only can be climbed, but the ruins are spectacular to look at...

Baphoun Temple

Baphoun Temple

From Baphoun, you can continue to the Terrace of Elephants, which is kind of boring... and then on to the Terrace of the Leper King, which is fantastic. Hundreds of figures line every surface...

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King

After a full morning of exploring, I returned to the hotel for a nap and some lunch.

And then, my tuk-tuk driver came back at 2:00pm for part two. Beginning with Ta Prohm Temple, made famous by Angelina Jolie and her Tomb Raider movie. Probably because it hasn't been fully reclaimed from the jungle, making it a bit more beautiful and exotic...

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Then off to Banteay Kdei...

Banteay Kdei

And the stunning man-made lake of Srah Srang...

Srah Srang

Then Pre Rup Temple...

Pre Rup

And East Mebon Temple...

East Mebon

Then Ta Som Temple...

Ta Som

There was a still a little sunset left as we were passing by Angkor Wat, so I had my driver stop so I could get that picture-postcard shot that you see whenever you look for photos of the structure...

Angkor Wat Sunset

And then...

THEN...

Something pretty amazing happened.

Heat lightning started blasting over Angkor Wat! It was incredibly difficult to capture in a photo, but I got a couple that turned out pretty cool...

Angkor Wat Lightning

I shot video of it all, but I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. My fingers are crossed that I managed to capture it, because the whole spectacle was pretty cool.

And there it was, my one very full day of exploring a handful of the many temples at Angkor.

But before I go...

Since Disney counts this as a day in their tour... last night I got my final DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY for it...

D12 Disney Pin

That would be Minnie Mouse saying good-bye... and me as well.

Until tomorrow, that is...

   

Bullet Sunday 351 – P!NK EDITION

Posted on Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Dave!Prepare yourself for the Truth About Love... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Homeward! My journey home began with a five-hour flight from Siem Reap to Incheon/Seoul at 11:30pm last night. After arriving in Seoul at 6:00am this morning, I was going to spend my TWELVE HOUR LAYOVER wandering around some of my favorite parts of the city. Instead I took my aching head and exhausted body to Incheon's handy Transit Hotel for some sleeping pills and a ten-hour nap. Then it was time for my nine-and-a-half-hour flight home on Korean Air's "SkyTeam" livery plane...

Seoul SkyTeam Plane Going Home

That's one long-ass day of travel. But it wasn't really horrible... lucky for me.

   
• P!NK! After getting to Seattle, then waiting a half-hour for a ride to my car, then driving a half-hour up into the city, then waiting two hours for a room, then taking a two-hour nap... it was time for P!nk at Seattle's Key Arena...

P!NK in Concert!

As you can see, her fans were ready!

   
• P!NK! As expected, P!nk's jaw-dropping show was a beautiful spectacle from the minute the curtain went up...

P!ink in Concert!

P!ink in Concert!

   
• P!NK! The truth about the Truth About Love is that P!nk is so mind-bogglingly talented that she doesn't really need a crazy stage show... it's just the icing on the cake...

P!ink in Concert!

Doesn't hurt that she's beautiful to look at as well.

   
• P!NK! What I don't get is how P!nk isn't dead yet from the insane circus-style tricks she packs into her concerts. Here she is, flying high above Key Arena WHILE SINGING...

P!ink in Concert!

If I were to speed around at such dizzying heights, I would be puking all over the audience.

   
• P!NK! And, all too soon, one of the best stage shows I've ever seen was over. But not before P!nk was wrapped in fabric, drenched in water, and sent spinning above the stage...

P!ink in Concert!

Yeah... not a show you want to pass up if P!nk heads to your neck of the woods.

   
Annnnnd... scene. Tomorrow I drive home and back to Real Life.

   

Bullet Sunday 352

Posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Dave!No need to be Sleepless in Seattle... because a boring, coma-inducing Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• SALTALAMACCHIA! Well this is bad. You can candy-coat it all you want, but an error in judgement by one of my favorite players, Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, pretty much cost the Red Sox the third game of the World Series last night. At first I didn't even understand what happened... and even after they walked through it, I'm not entirely convinced it was the right call to make... but there's no denying that this is not going to bode well for Salty. The last couple games have not been good for him and, considering they're World Series games, it's tough to see what the upshot might be. I'd be heartbroken if this was the factor that resulted in him leaving the team, but it's not like Boston would be without cause. The good news is that the Red Sox came back in tonight's game to tie things up 2 games to 2... albeit without Saltalamacchia behind home plate... and I guess that's the thing I should be focusing on. But... damn...

   
• DIMENSION! I've said it many times before... but I loves me a great television advertisement!

Considering how badly most TV ads suck, it's always great to see somebody put effort into creating one that people are actually going to want to watch. With the cost of a national ad campaign being so hideously expensive, I remain shocked that more companies aren't more clever with their money. Especially given the advent of DVRs, where being able to fast-forward through commercials is commonplace. Well played, Honda.

   
• CURFEW! I used to watch the ending to the Danny Boyle film Millions whenever I needed to crawl my way out of depression. Now I find myself watching Curfew, which feels so much bigger than the little short film it is...

Curfew Movie Poster

Surprising how something so dark can manage to be so uplifting, but here it is. Totally deserving of the dozens of awards it's racked up... including an Academy Award for Best Short Film. But the best news? You can get it for just $2.99 at the iTunes Store! I can't wait to see what writer/director/actor Shawn Christensen is up to next after "Grandma's Not a Toaster."

   
• VELVET! I was never a big fan of Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed, but it's tough to deny his influence when it comes to music. Perhaps this was best expressed by Brian Eno who had this to say about The Velvet Underground's first album selling only 30,000 copies... "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!" Keeping that in mind, it was pretty tough to hear that Mr. Reed as died at age 71. He was still making music, and undoubtedly had a lot more to say with his work. Rest in peace, sir, your influence will live on.

   
• WALLACE! And, ending things on another down note, I was sad to learn that actor Marcia Wallace had died at age 70. Probably best-known for playing Bob's acerbic receptionist on The Bob Newhart Show, she went on to make dozens of appearances... including a reoccurring role on The Simpsons as 4th grade teacher Mrs. Krabappel. It had to be tough coming up with a character that could be so well-liked while also being an adversary for Bart Simpson, but Marcia Wallace was a big part of what made it work. Her many flirtations in early Simpsons episodes was a staple of the show, and I was always upset that they ended up marrying Mrs. K to Ned Flanders... but there's no denying Marcia Wallace maintained her character's appeal despite it all. You will very much be missed.

   
Annnnd... I'm spent.

   

Bullet Sunday 353 – Movie Edition!

Posted on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Dave!With nothing but work to write about, I've decided to take a look at some films I've seen recently.

So grab your popcorn... because a Special All Movie Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

Movie Review Posters

   
The Way Way Back (B+). Every once in a while you tune into a movie on a long plane ride simply because it's the least unappealing option out of the crap you haven't seen. In this case, I picked The Way Way Back because the cast included Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Steve Carell, and the amazing Sam Rockwell. Turns out it's a really good "coming of age" story about an awkward kid named Duncan who is forced to accompany his mom, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's spoiled daughter to a summer resort town. There he meets the slacker manager of the local Water Wizz theme park, learns what life is really about, and has his life forever changed. Yeah, it sounds like a movie you've seen a hundred times before, but it's surprisingly fresh (despite the ending, which falls back to more familiar territory). The great cast and smart performances were just the icing on the cake.

Now You See Me (D+). Holy crap what a stupid, stupid film. The movie begins as four D-list magicians are recruited by a mystery man to band together to become the hottest magic act in the world, "The Four Horsemen." Of course, absolutely no explanation is given as to how they actually become the hottest magic act in the world... all of a sudden they just are. With their fame escalating, they perform their biggest show yet (or one would assume, since you don't see a single magic trick before the finale), where they proceed to "magically" rob a bank. Thus begins a tedious game of cat and mouse between The Four Horsemen and a special investigator (Mark Ruffalo), his Interpol collaborator (Mélanie Laurent), and a famous magician de-bunker (Morgan Freeman). With each new show the foursome become inexplicably more famous... and understandably more wanted by the law for the crimes they perform on stage. Along the way they perform elaborate but unnecessary magic tricks which make -zero- sense to the plot (why in the hell pretend to rob a vault and come back later for the money when you can just JUST TAKE THE FUCKING MONEY IN THE FIRST PLACE?!). And that's the problem... nothing here really makes sense. Even the things that might make sense go unexplained, which doesn't make sense. Regardless of whether or not the magicians get away with their crimes... they're still going to be wanted by the law. And for what? To join some secret society that nobody gives a shit about except them? And the ending is about as stupid as it gets... the nonsensical "trap" set for one of the characters can be defeated in five minutes if the character calls a lawyer... or ANYBODY... to explain who set the trap and what happened. Dumb. SO dumb. I'm embarrassed for everyone involved.

Monsters University (B). Make no mistake, Monsters, Inc. is my favorite Pixar film by far, and the idea of getting to revisit that world had my expectations running high. And I wasn't let down. Mike and Sully were just as funny and appealing as ever, and Pixar's attention to detail was shining through stronger than I've seen in years. So why did this feel like a sorry retread of Revenge of the Nerds via a made-for-TV animated special? Probably because it didn't really break any new ground. Since it's a prequel to Monsters, Inc., characterization actually takes a big step backwards so you can start from the beginning. Not that it wasn't cute to see a young Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan pal around, but I'd rather see what they're doing now instead of looking back at where they were. Still, the story isn't all bad. After starting out as rivals, Mike and Sully team up with the nerds of a forgotten Monsters University fraternity to prove they have what it takes to become "scarers" at Monsters Inc. Except they don't, which means the entire premise of the story was moot. Oh well. It had funny moments and was beautifully imagined... that alone from Pixar is better than most movies you'll see.

World War Z (B-). Anybody expecting that this film will in any way resemble the brilliant novel by Max Brooks (or the even more brilliant audiobook of the same novel) is in for severe disappointment. This is an action flick which just happens to share a name with the afore-mentioned book, and that's all. However... if you are able to put that behind you, it's a pretty good action flick. Gone are the lumbering zombies of old, these zombies are shockingly fast and virtually unstoppable. Lucky for us, Brad Pitt arrives on the scene to save us all as a United Nations investigator intent on scouring the globe for a cure. What ensues is an intense and dark thriller that relies on really good special effects and some surprisingly good acting talent. At times the combo proves lethal, sucking you in and suffocating you with a plague that never seems anything less than overwhelming. It's for this reason that I enjoyed the film so much, despite fully expecting to hate it. As if that weren't delicious enough, there are scenes that won't leave your head any time soon, and I can't offer bigger praise than that.

Enough Said (C). I went into this film with high hopes given the 95% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It was painted as a romantic comedy, which I generally hate, but the previews featuring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis Dreyfus looked as though it was a rom-com that was thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, the exact opposite proved to be true. This movie is so far inside the box that it simply didn't work for me. I go to movies to escape my boring life, and Enough Said was so pedestrian that it had me longing for the more exciting things I experience every day... like sitting on the toilet. What's worse is that the big "twist" at the center of the story (Julia Louis Dreyfus finds out that she is dating the man her new best friend divorced) is something right out of a bad Seinfeld plot, but not as funny. Not even a little bit. It's actually painful to watch, and the predictable outcome is so unsurprising that you'll wonder what the point of the movie was in the first place. From what I can tell, it was to prove that James Gandolfini is a gifted actor who has unexpected range. And he does. He's easily the most enjoyable part of the film, and about the only thing I enjoyed in it. Which makes his passing all that more painful.

Man of Steel (F-). When I first saw the latest Superman re-re-boot, I loathed the film so much that I didn't even want to think about reviewing it. Instead I decided to wait until it hit video so that I could look at it with fresh eyes and see if I would revise my opinion. Nope! If anything, I hate the movie even more upon second viewing. This is incredibly painful to type given that I love the character of Superman, felt the cast assembled was top-notch, and had such high hopes for the film. Instead I was disappointed at every turn. I hated just about everything to do with Man of Steel, and am horrified that this abomination is the cinematic future direction for the character. The is not Superman. Not the Superman I know, anyway. This imitation origin story begins on planet Krypton where scientist Jor-El is predicting doom and gloom for the planet, and decides to salvage the legacy of his people by stealing "The Codex"... a wholly unnecessary plot device masquerading as some kind of genetic program that breeds Kryptonians. This raises the ire of General Zod, though who knows why. Anyway, Zod is exiled to the Phantom Zone, Krypton goes boom, and baby Kal-El is rocketed to earth where he is raised as human Clark Kent by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane (easily the two best things about the film). The death of his father results in Clark wandering the earth... saving lives and trying to find his place in the world. Meanwhile intrepid reporter Lois Lane tries to track down this "mystery man" and stumbles upon one of the worst-kept secrets ever. But that's not Clark's only problem, as General Zod has escaped and returned to Earth to reclaim The Codex and remake our planet into a new Krypton... destroying everything in the process. Loads and loads of laughable super-battles and disaster porn ensues. None of it even remotely worth watching. The controversial moment in the film comes when Superman chooses to kill General Zod because humans are too fucking stupid to run away when somebody is trying to vaporize them with heat vision, at which point I didn't give a shit if Superman, Lois Lane, Perry White, or any other idiotic characters in the film lived or died. And why should I? The people behind this atrocity aren't writing about Superman and don't give a flying fuck about maintaining the integrity of the characters. Next up? Imitation Superman vs. Ben Affleck Batman. Oh how thrilling. Praise be to Odin's raven that Marvel's new Thor and Captain America films are coming to rescue us.

And now it's time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance Scorecard" as follows...

The Amazing Spider-Man... B-
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Kick-Ass 2... C
Man of Steel... F+
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
R.I.P.D.... C-
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B

   

Bullet Sunday 354

Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Dave!Stop pondering how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Chicken McNugget... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Blacklisted. As a James Spader fan, it was a no-brainer to add his latest television effort, The Blacklist to my DVR. But the previews and ads for the show kind of led me to believe that it was a bad Silence of the Lambs rip-off with Spader as a poor man's Hannibal Lecter, so I kept putting it off (there's already a television version of that running). Well, yesterday I finally got around to watching it... and am completely hooked. Yes, there are familiar elements here, but the show itself is so much more...

The Blacklist Poster

But the highlight is Spader, of course. Very few people could pull off this role in a way that's so darkly entertaining yet somehow likable. This... this... is everything the Hannibal television show should have been, but doesn't quite reach. Highest recommendation. If you've been missing it, the iTunes Music Store currently has a Season Pass for the show on sale for $35 so you can start from the beginning (and I recommend you do).

   
• Lion. If you haven't yet read about the lion cub that was rescued by two guys from the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, here you go!

Lion Hug

The TED Talk by the Modisa Wildlife Project's Mikkel Legarth is also worth a look.

   
• Faith. I... do not... have the... words... God exists, and he's working at Taco Bell...

Taco Bell Cinnabon Bites

I'll be trying these bad boys post-haste!

   
• Visits. Most "States I've Visited" maps are a binary "yes or no" type affair. Jeremy Nixon has come up with an alternative that provides a much better picture...

Defocus Visits Map

Red states are those you've barely visited. Orange states you know a little better. Blue states you've spent quite a lot of time in. Green states are those you know extremely well. Cool, huh? You can make your own map over at Jeremy's Defocus Blog.

   
• Dyslexic. I was very lucky that I was diagnosed early and got help when I was young enough to make a difference in my life. I'm also fortunate that my form of dyslexia is mild and I was able to train my brain to cope with it relatively easily. Still, dyslexia is something I have to deal with every day, so I was really happy to see this amazing project on Kickstarter called "I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic" which features a book that attempts to illustrate what it's like to struggle with reading. They've reached their funding goal, but such a beautiful and educational book deserves to be seen by everybody, so here you go!

More information can be found on Kickstarter.

   
• Storm. My thoughts are with everybody in The Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region this past week. The devastation looks horrendous, and they are estimating the dead could top 10,000 people across the country. As I type this, the storm has landed in Vietnam, and is expected to cause heavy rains and flooding in the northern part of the country... including Hanoi, where I was visiting just last month...

NOAA Haiyan Map
Haiyan chart image taken from NOAA.

As if these storms aren't frightening enough, scientists are projecting that things are only going to get worse. Severe storms are going to form more frequently and be stronger than ever before. If science is right, life on this planet is going to have to change quite dramatically over the next century. Whether we like it or not.

   
See you in seven days.

   

Bullet Sunday 355

Posted on Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Dave!Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Disaster. First a typhoon in The Philippines, now tornadoes in the USA Midwest outside Peoria. Again, my heart goes out to everybody affected by these tragic events.

   
• Cornetto. After thuroughly enjoying the first two movies of the "Cornetto Trilogy" (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) I was really looking forward to seeing the final film of the trilogy, The World's End. And I wasn't disappointed. It may very well be the best of the lot...

The World's End Poster

Alcoholic loser Gary King sets out to recapture the heady days of his youth by assembling his old schoolmates for a trip back to the town they grew up in. There he wants to complete "The Golden Mile," which means drinking a pint at all twelve pubs in the town. His mates reluctantly agree and everything is going fine... until they discover that the town has been taken over by space robots. Hilarity ensues. What really surprised me with the film is how great the visual effects were. Not once was I taken out of the story by some random shot where the effects were off. Everything was seamless, which was a pleasant surprise. In the end, the movie was almost too good... it left me wanting a fourth movie in the Cornetto Trilogy.

   
• Frank. I wasn't terribly impressed with the Warren Ellis comic Red when it debuted back in 2003. So imagine my surprise when I ended up really enjoying the movie that was inspired by it starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman. It was a smart, funny, action-packed film with an impeccable cast and a really good script. Willis plays Retired Extremely Dangerous ex-black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses. One day somebody decides they want him dead. Hilarity ensues. Three years later, and here comes Red 2...

Red2 Poster

It's pretty much more of the same... but bogged down by some unnecessary complications and an astounding body count that makes it less fun than the original. And yet, it's still a really good film and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The movie picks up where the first left off, as Frank Moses is trying to lead a normal life with girlfriend Sarah. Unfortunately for them, Frank is framed as a participant in a secret op called "Nightshade." Because of this, a lot of people want him dead. Hilarity ensues. Kinda. It's not as funny as the first one. But Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones have joined up this time around, and that counts for something (but it's still Mirren and Malkovich that steal the show). If you liked the first one, the sequel is worth checking out on video.

   
• Gondola. Venice is one of those cities that really leaves an impression. There's simply no confusing it with any other city on earth, and exploring it has been a highlight of my travels. Which is why I was very happy to learn that Google has gone above and beyond their "Street View" technology to create "Canal View" for the floating city of Venice...

Google Venice

So now, thanks to Google Maps, not only can I walk the crazy maze-like route from the Rialto Bridge to the hotel I usually stay at... I can also explore the city as seen from the canals. It's pretty nifty, and I don't even have to leave the comfort of my own home... or put on pants. If you want to have a little web holiday in Venice, Google has an info hub that's a good place to start.

   
• Coin! Ever since I started carrying a wallet again, I've been looking for ways to make it slimmer. But no matter which brand I buy and how thin the wallet may be, it's the stack of cards I have to carry that thicken the thing back up again. A big part of that is the four credit/debit cards I carry. Now a company has come along with a product that may be able to help. Introducing Coin...

If you'd like to get a Coin at 50% off the $100 retail price, just follow this link they gave me and pre-order your own for $50! They aren't shipping until next summer, but it looks like they'll be worth the wait!

   
Annnnnnd...scene. Take care of yourself out there.

   

Bullet Sunday 356

Posted on Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Dave!Don't give another thought to your impending doom... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Einstein. You know how somebody comes out with a product you just love, so you buy and buy and buy... fully expecting to get sick of it, but all that happens is you end up loving it more? That was me when it came to Kraft "Bagel-fuls." These delicious bits of amazing are pre-cooked bagels wrapped around cream cheese (and other fillings) then frozen. You keep them in your refrigerator, then pop them in your toaster when you have a bagel craving. The brilliant part? The outside is deliciously crispy while the cream cheese stays cool. Truly an amazing product, and I ate them constantly...

Bagel-fuls

Until they were discontinued. I couldn't find them anywhere.

Then, like a miracle, Bagel-fuls mysteriously reappeared in my grocer's freezer... but now they're branded as coming from Einstein Bros. Bagels. Regardless, they're the same thing and taste as amazing as ever. Now everybody needs to go to their local grocery store and buy every box so that they don't get discontinued again. Thanks!

   
• LEGO. At long last, the follow-up to LEGO Batman 2 has arrived... LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes!

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

If you've played any of the LEGO video games before, this is pretty much more of the same... but with some nice upgrades in play mechanics and graphics. For the most part, it's an amazing game that's just as good as Batman 2... featuring the same easy puzzles, massive list of playable characters, adorable story-lines, clever cut-scenes (that now TALK!), and open-world play. All is not perfect though. LEGO still has shitty flying and targeting controls, and it drives me nuts from time to time when the pressure's on. Still... the Xbox 360 version I bought is an awesome and fun game that even an adult can play. Highly recommended.

IMPORTANT... I should note that the reviews for the Nintendo 3DS version of LEGO Marvel Superheroes are really bad. I bought a copy because I love LEGO on the go gaming... but I returned it unopened the minute the reviews started pouring in. This is really sad given the quality of other 3DS LEGO games (save Lord of the Rungs, which is a rare exception), and I wonder how something like this happens given how great Batman 2 was. Oh well. Money saved and all that.

   
• Kermit. I admit that I am not a big fan of the post-Henson Muppets... but holy cow does this look like fun...

Count me in!

   
• LAIKA. Speaking of fun... the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman was on sale for Halloween and I had heard good things about it, so I grabbed it. For reasons unknown, I only got around to watching it now. It's absolutely beautiful. Between this and films like Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, stop-motion-animation just keeps blowing me away. Bravo LAIKA Studios...

Interestingly enough, this cartoon was considered "controversial" when it was released because one of the lead characters ends up being gay. I kept waiting for the kid-inappropriate graphic gay sex scene, but it never came. All I saw was one quick throw-away joke about a character's sexuality at the end, and that was it. So, apparently, just the fact that gay people are acknowledged to exist in a cartoon is enough to spark controversy. The only thing controversial to me is that idiots who find this controversial n the year 2013.

   
• Hunger. And, while we're on the subject of movies... THIS has to be the funniest movie review I've ever seen...

The Onion strikes again! When it comes to The Funny, they consistently knock it out of the park.

   
And... another Bullet Sunday slides into the sweet abyss.

   

Bullet Sunday 357

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Dave!Time to strike up the band and pour the champaign... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Walker. I was sad to learn that Paul Walker died yesterday. Not so much for his movies (because I'm not that familiar with them outside of the "Fast and Furious" franchise) but because he was a really decent human being whose humanitarian work helped a lot of people. His Reach Out World Wide is a wonderful organization, and I would hope he gets some recognition for all the amazing work he did in founding it.

Paul Walker
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one.
Why don't people credit their photos?

Rest in peace, sir. You did good.

   
• Comics. I don't read many comics any more... I just don't have the time... but Comixology had a sale on some "Avengers vs. X-Men" titles I've been wanting to read, so I went for it. And ran across this...

Wolverine and Cyclops Want It!

Now THAT'S some sparkling dialog right there! I know not every comic book can be Watchmen or Dark Knight or whatever... but this kind of blew my mind.

   
• Maps. My love of maps is well-documented here at Blogography. Over at Buzzfeed they made me love maps even more when they had Brits label American states on a map. The results are fantastic...

US States Map

You can see the big version of this one (and many more) by following this link. And, because fair is fair, here's an even more fantastic look at Americans trying to name European countries on a map.

   
• iTunes Fail. I have numerous issues with iTunes. The biggest one being that I can't stream my movie purchases and am forced to download them if I want to watch... when every other company in the digital movie business allows streaming. Incredibly backwards and stupid, but Apple says "no." But even putting crap that iTunes can't do aside, iTunes is frustrating because it has so many problems with what it can do.

I have a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's display capabilities are beyond HD. Way beyond HD. And yet, I still get this ridiculous error message form time to time when trying to purchase HD content...

iTunes FAIL!

But even more shocking than that is iTunes occasionally telling me it doesn't support QuickTime... the fundamental video system of every Macintosh computer since video has been on Macs...

iTunes FAIL!

Stupid shit like drives me insane. Partly because it's so random, and you never know what's going to cause it... but mostly because it's Apple, and there's no way you can just call them up and have it fixed. Yes, they have "proper channels" you can go through to report problems, but I have never had a problem solved going that route. Hell, I've reported mistakes in Apple's "Maps" application that have gone completely ignored for months (years maybe?). Oh well. It's Apple.

   
• Nigella. I'm a massive fan of celebrity English foodie Nigella Lawson. She's bright, funny, smart, a heck of a cook, and drop-dead beautiful...

Nigella Lawson
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one. Again.
Why don't people credit their photos?

Lately she's been in the news for some not-so-pleasant things, and it's got me wondering where my breaking point is when it comes to famous people I admire (a more popular American example being Alex Baldwin's recent homophobic rant). Do I care? Should I care? Is it even true? So what if it is? I have the answers to none of those questions. It probably depends on what the issues are and how they affect things I care about. But that doesn't stop the "news" from telling me how I should feel about it. Which is everything "journalistic integrity" is not, but that's where we are now. It's what we erroneously call "being judged by the court of public opinion" when it is, in fact, the media which leads the public to their opinion. And you can be pretty sure that their judgement is going to be on the side of whichever option sells more papers (or whatever). I don't know how we got to this point, but it's been driving me crazy lately because I can't see anything else when stories like Ms. Lawson's hit the newswire. I guess all I can do is grit my teeth, wish Ms. Lawson the best of luck, and hope that she bounces back like Martha Stewart instead of crashing and burning like Paula Deen. I guess. Since all my information comes from the news media on all these people, what do I know?

   
Alas yon bullets now go gentle into that good night...

   

Bullet Sunday 358

Posted on Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Dave!Don't be alarmed by what transpires below... because a Very Special PORTLANDIA edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Outage. I awoke at 4:30am to get some work done, only to have the power go out a half-hour later. Turns out that twenty square blocks lost power in Downtown Portland, and though they said they would have it on at 10:30am, it never happened. Sure it made taking a shower and using the toilet a challenge because there was no light... but I made it out alive, so I guess it's all good.

   
• Brunch. I am amazed at how many tiny restaurants there are in this city... and they all seem incapable of serving bad food. Vahid and Sarah took me to a frickin' TEA HOUSE where I had some of the best falafel ever... perfectly seasoned and flawlessly cooked. Kudos to Tea Zone for a quality that many much bigger restaurants can't touch. I also had Black Monkey Tea, which is pretty darn fine tea, despite not tasting anything like a monkey. Thanks to Vahid and Sarah for taking time out of your busy Sunday to hang out... and buy me donuts!

   
• Outage. Back to the hotel and still no power. Luckily, they got the back-up generator running so there are hall-lights and elevators and hot water... but still no light in the rooms, which makes peeing in darkness a bit hazardous. So, turning to The Fifth Element as inspiration, I used a clever arrangement of mirrors to reflect light from the window into the bathroom so that I no longer have to pee in complete darkness. "AZIZ, LIGHT!"*

   
• Engage! The main reason I detoured through Portland on the way home was so I could stop in at the wedding celebration for The Spirit of Saint Lewis and Blair's Corner... two long-time friends from my earliest days of blogging. They've been together for sixteen years and, thanks to Washington's surprisingly progressive views on marriage equality, can now... at long last... make honest men out of each other!

Blair's Corner and The Spirit of Saint Lewis!

Seriously two of my favorite people! Thanks so much for letting me share in your celebration!

   
• Tri-Met. For the first time in my life, I wrote a letter (via email) to a public transportation company. Portland's Tri-Met has long been one of my favorites but, on my bus-ride back downtown, the driver we had went above and beyond when he assisted a woman in a wheelchair who had some difficulties communicating. He was exceedingly patient, kind, and respectful while assisting her, and it's rare to see this kind of caring now-a-days. I thought Tri-Met should know how much it's appreciated. Not only by the people their employees help out... but the people they inspire to do likewise.

   
• Powell's. I went to the amazing Powell's City of Books so I could buy the latest Jasper Fforde novel... only to find out he didn't release a new novel in 2013! What cheek! So I ended up buying Leviathan Wakes, which is the first book in a sci-fi space opera known as "The Expanse" novels. This was originally meant to be a trilogy, but now I've learned that not only are Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (a.k.a. "James S. A. Corey") writing new "Expanse" books... they have also agreed to have it brought to television! I've heard good things about the series, so I want to get in on it before everything explodes...

Leviathan Wakes Poster

So far, I'm kinda digging it. I just wish I had more time to read.

   
• Houses. Vahid mentioned that The Benson hotel puts out a gingerbread house display every year, so I stopped by to see it on my way back from Powell's...

Gengerbread Houses

Pretty impressive! They say that it took 500 hours of work to create.

   
• Restored. Power finally came back on while I was goofing around at Powell's. My room was toasty warm when I returned, and I was able to get all my various electronic devices fully charged for my trip home tomorrow. Thanks, PGE!

   
• Flaming. Years ago I got a little lost heading back to my hotel from Powell's, and ended up running across a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant called "Santeria." The music was thrashin' punk rock played at high volume, and I was served up a massively delicious, very spicy vegetarian burrito the size of your head. As if that weren't enough, their restroom is shared with the strip club next door, so going to the toilet comes with a side-order of naked ladies. Add it all up and, needless to say, I immediately fell in love with the place. After screaming with my server for a bit, I found out that the restaurant had been open less than a year. Which led me to think that a place this "unique" probably wouldn't last another six months. That was back in 2010. This being Portland where "unique" little places like this tend to thrive, it turns out I was (happily) dead-wrong, and Santeria is still around today. And since it is just a couple blocks from my hotel, I decided to pay a visit for dinner. This time I had the enchiladas, which were (as expected) very spicy-hot and delicious...

Enchiladas are Spicy

Just for fun, I tried a little bit of their "hot hot" sauce, which had delicious flavor... but makes you feel like your face is melting off. It also makes you worry that if you fart, the seat of your jeans is going to catch fire and blow out. But in a good way. So... if you're looking for excellent Mexican food with a little heat and a lot of noise while visiting Portland, this is the place.

   
And now, time for a long winter's nap in my warm hotel bed on a cold Portland night.

   

*Just to be clear, there is no young Egyptian boy named Aziz here watching me pee... I was just quoting a relevant passage from the film.**

   
**LEELOO DALLAS MULTI-PASS!

   

Bullet Sunday 359

Posted on Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Dave!Oh my stars and garters! Hold on to your shorts... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Pass. This Saturday & Sunday was declared "SteetPass Weekend" by Nintendo. "StreetPass" allows you to have limited interaction with other Nintendo 3DS users you happen to pass on the street when you both have your 3DS sleeping in your pocket. But you can also interact with users via "StreetPass Relay Points." Visit a Relay Point (at places like McDonalds and Starbucks) and you can have limited interaction with the last six users to have been there. However... during "Street Pass Weekend" the six users you interact with are randomly pulled from Relay Points around the world! This is kind of nifty, because you'll get the chance to meet Mii characters you'd likely otherwise never meet. Very cool, and I tried my best to make the most of it. Sadly, countries in South America (plus Mexico!) I got don't have maps in my 3DS, which is kind of crappy. Why is that? I'll have to see if there's a way to download them.

   
• Theft? My first stop on a dreaded shopping run today was at Costco to pick up some things for my grandmother. Once I had unloaded her purchases into my trunk, I wheeled my cart across the parking lot to return it. As I was walking back to my car... I SAW A WOMAN TRYING TO BUMP MY TRUNK OPEN! It took me a second to process what I was seeing, but I finally managed to say "HEY! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CAR BEFORE YOU GET FUCKING SHOT!" (it's an easy threat to make here in Redneckistan, because most people are packing). She said "Oh! I thought this was my car!" and awkwardly scrambled off. Which was so, so stupid. It was painfully obvious that she watched me load my trunk, then tried to break in and steal stuff the minute I walked away. I'm not shocked that there are people out there breaking into cars... it's just how brazen they are about it. I was right there!

   
• Mickey Dees. I stopped at McDonalds for "StreetPass Weekend" and to get some fries and a Hi-C Orange Drink. After I got my food and was headed to a table, I ran across a group of people talking in the aisle, completely blocking it. I said "excuse me" and tried to get by, only to have them completely ignore me... THEN MOVE TO BLOCK ME FURTHER. Which was apparently high-larious to them. Rather than unleash a string of expletives in the middle of a kid-friendly restaurant, I decided to backtrack and go around them. What IS it with people? These were not some punk kids... these were adults! Adults still living in high school, apparently. I weep for the future.

   
• Starbucks. Another "StreetPass Weekend" stop... and this time I decided to order up some yummy peppermint cocoa, since I don't drink coffee. I ordered a "medium" and got a "grande" which looks like it's actually a large? What I apparently wanted was a "tall" which is a step up from a "small" and two steps down from a "venti." But since the "small" is not actually on the menu, everything shifts up a size. Starbucks is confusing. I think they up-size their sizes so they can trick unsuspecting people into paying big money for more beverage than they need. My cocoa cost FOUR DOLLARS!! Which is crazy. I can get blown for that kind of money! I guess now I know why Starbucks racks up billions in profits every year. I would have been happier with a 20¢ packet of Swiss Miss and a cup of boiling water from my microwave.

   
• StarBIGbucks. SERIOUSLY?!? FOUR DOLLARS for a cup of cocoa?

   
• Home Despot. Before I left for Wenatchee, I checked the hours of all the stores I needed to visit so I could form a plan of attack. Home Depot had the latest closing time of 8:00, so I put it last on my list because I have to return an item. I arrived in plenty of time, walking up to their front doors at 6:05pm. Only to find it wouldn't open. I doubled-checked the hours on the door and, sure enough, they don't close until 8:00. So I try pushing on the door to see if it will open... it refused to budge. So I triple-check the hours. And then... then... I happen to notice another sign all the way across the door from the hours...

Home DepotClosed Trickery

Home DepotClosed Trickery

This one says "Fuck you... but we're closing at 6:00 today! Sorry for the inconvenience! Oh... and Happy Holidays, SUCKER!" Except, no, they're not really sorry or else they would have put it on their website so their customers wouldn't waste their time. As I was taking the above photos, a woman came up to the door and I had to tell her the bad news. "But... I came all the way from Quincy!" Yikes. That's a 45-minute drive. If I had traveled all that way, I would have burned the mutha down. I can only hope that the reason they closed early was for something important... and not some kind of lame company Christmas party or something.

   
• Ten. The latest meme? "10 Books That Have Stayed with You." Not the "best books you've ever read'... but instead books that have stuck with you for one reason or another. Interesting. That's a very different thing then, isn't it? My picks...

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (life... In 127 pages)
  • Illusions by Richard Bach (living... in 192 pages)
  • Noble House by James Clavell (how fictional history should be written)
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (funny sci-fi classic)
  • Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams (endangered animals funny? yes)
  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (ultimate sci-fi yarn)
  • Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs (ultimate adventure yarn)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (flawless science fiction world-building)
  • Lightning by Dean Koontz (one of the quickest reads I've ever had)
  • Watchmen by Moore & Gibbons (visual storytelling at its best)

Bah! Just as I finished this list, a dozen more books popped into my head. I guess I love books way too much.

   
• MIKE HUCKABEE: AGENT OF SATAN!!! And so there I was, running through my Facebook timeline, enjoying all the funtime activities of my friends, when I run across an ad for Governor Mike Huckabee's FREE Bible Story Cartoons DVD! I love Bible stories! I love cartoons! I even love DVDs (even though I buy everything digital now-a-days)! So I was absolutely going to claim my freebie! And then, just as I was going to comment my appreciation to the Governor, I saw that the number of comments left before me was 666... THE MARK OF THE BEAST!

Huckabee is Satan?

ZOMG! CLEARLY THIS IS A SIGN FROM GOD WARNING ME THAT MIKE HUCKABEE IS AN AGENT OF SATAN! S-A-T-A-N-!!! Mike Huckabee must be indoctrinating children into the devil's army with these DVDs! And clearly he is an agent of SATAN since he charges $5 shipping and handling for this "free" DVD... and, as if that weren't proof enough of his allegiance to Hell, anybody ordering the "free" DVD is automatically enrolled in a subscription for even more devil-indocrinating DVDs... at $12 plus $5 shipping and handling! Praise be that I saw the sign that God provided me and was able to steer clear of this evil, EVIL minion of The Dark Lord!

Oh... wait a second... I've actually READ THE BIBLE! And The Bible clearly states that interpreting something as a "sign from God" is AN ABOMINATION TO THE LORD! It says so right there in Deuteronomy! And Leviticus! And a dozen other places in scripture! What was I thinking? I guess I must just get caught up in all these evil sorcerers like PAT ROBERTSON and MICHELE BACHMANN who are constantly seeing "signs from God" that support their evil, godless plans to tempt people into the service of SATAN!

So, my apologies, Governor. Turns out you're just an unscrupulous businessman who tricks people into buying your shitty DVDs. You're not an agent of SATAN after all! OR ARE YOU?!? Using "free" DVDs to scam people into buying your crap certainly SOUNDS like something the devil would orchestrate... hmmm?

   
Annnnd... I'm shootin' blanks. Until next week!

   

Bullet Sunday 360

Posted on Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Dave!Times to put down that snow shovel and grab a mug of delicious hot chocolate... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thrice Nine. I am very happy to announce that today we have released the ninth issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine, featuring a bevy of talented writers and artists all wrapped up in this stunning cover by the amazingly talented Katelin Kinney...

Thrice FictionIssue No. 9

Do yourself a favor and go download a FREE copy at the THRICE Fiction website... you'll be glad you did!

   
• Light. If I ever come up lacking blog fodder, all I have to do is drive down Wenatchee Avenue (the main drag running the entire length of the city of Wenatchee). Today I nearly ran over a guy crossing the street against the light while hauling a filled body bag! Filled with what, I have no idea. But that's not all, as I also saw... two white guys poppin' and lockin' on a street corner... a woman in a motorized wheelchair dragging a wagon filled with Christmas presents... a little girl twirling like she just don't care in front of an Indian restaurant... Santa Claus... a guy in shorts and a fur parka sitting on the trunk of his(?) car smoking a cigarette and drinking from a giant coffee mug... AND this...

Light of the Turd

It says "CHURCH THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"... but they drew a streaming pile of shit in the middle of it? Which is covering the secondary brake light, rendering it useless. Oh... and if you think that I managed to get into Denny's at 2:30 on the Sunday before Christmas? NO! No I did not! Which makes me sad, because that Hobbit Specialty Menu ain't gonna last forever.

   
• Mango! I'm a Kool-Aid kid. I would rather have a cold glass of Kool-Aid than soda pop any day. Tropical Punch is my favorite flavor, but I try to shake things up by making classic flavors like Orange, Grape, Lemon-Lime, and Watermelon. I also have tried specialty flavors that pop up from time to time like Purplesaurus Rex, Arctic Green Apple, and Sharkleberry Fin. And then this week I found Mango, which I almost skipped because I worried it would be too weird like the Pineapple flavor I tried last month. But, sanity prevailed, and I thought I'd give it a try...

Mango Kool-Aid

Delicious! Really good color, aroma, and flavor! If you like mango, then this is absolutely worth a shot.

   
• Reel. I've mentioned a couple times how I'm really stoked to see the Russian film Stalingrad, which takes place during World War II in the middle of one of the bloodiest battles in world history. The trailer looks absolutely amazing, even though I'm not a big fan of war movies. And now they've released a special effects real showing how they were rendered for 3-D. It's pretty mind-blowing...

Needless to say, I want to see the movie now more than ever. I guess it's in limited release, because I haven't seen it playing anywhere yet. It'll be a pretty big bummer if it leaves theaters before I can see it.

   
• Bittersweet. On one hand, New Mexico and Utah have joined the marriage equality bandwagon...

Equality Wins

On the other hand, Uganda has passed an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" which mandates life in prison for anybody having gay sex. I suppose we should all be thankful that the punishment wasn't set to "death," which was their original idea for a sentence. But I'm too busy being absolutely horrified. Even more so because anti-gay abominations of humanity here in the USA played a part in it. The very ideal of "The United States of America" is one of a beacon of freedom and hope known throughout the world. What in the hell happened? Our government is spying on its own people. We're passing horrific laws allowing the indefinite unlawful detention of American citizens. Our politicians are bought and paid for by Special Interest money with no consideration given to the people they profess to serve. Our media so thoroughly polarizes us that we've become a country hopelessly divided in venom and hate. And now? Now? We have assholes so filled with blind hatred and homophobia that they're exporting it to other countries because their efforts are finally failing here at home. Hardly a new concept, to be sure, but still fucking abhorrent given that these people are professing to be spreading hate in the name of religion. God bless America.

Because somebody has to.

   
• Pass. And lastly, in what I can only describe as a Christmas miracle come early, BARRY EFFIN' GIBB actually made an effin' appearance on The Barry Gibb Talk Show on last night's surprisingly funny Saturday Night Live...

Ordinarily, I wouldn't spoil the surprise like this, but... 1) he's right there on the video frame, and 2) The show featured guest host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake... was there any question that The Barry Gibb Talk Show wasn't going to make an appearance? Not the best installment of the long-running sketch, but certainly one of the most eventful! And a sad reminder that Robin Gibb is no longer with us, having died May last year.

   
And... time to make some holiday magic happen, people...

   

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