Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
I am not entirely surprised by the news, but I am a bit saddened. For the longest time during my childhood, Sears was the place to shop in our valley. There wasn't much competition, and the internet wasn't a Thing yet, so you went to Sears. My first computer, an Atari 800, was bought at that Sears. All the software I saved my allowance to buy came from Sears (mostly INFOCOM games like Zork). Appliances and tools all came from Sears. Clothing came from Sears too. And if there was something Sears didn't have that you needed, you could order it from their catalog.
So yeah, I have fond memories of Sears and it seems strange to think about it closing.
I haven't shopped there in years, of course.
The last thing I bought at Sears was a Kenmore washer and dryer... or maybe it was some Craftsman tools... but that was at least a decade ago. I feel bad about that, but they just don't have anything I want to buy. Not any more...
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!
And now I think I'll have a beer and reminisce about the good ol' days when I was a kid and the Sears Christmas Catalog was my world.
Much like Apple.com is now.
Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Today was hot. Next week the forecast looks to be very hot.
It seems like Spring has already gone, and Summer has magically appeared. Meanwhile, one of the mountain passes was closed because of heavy snow. I don't even have an opinion on that.
The good news is that all the flowers are popping up, which makes for a nice distraction as you're walking down the street...
The bad news is that my allergies have started up and are trying to kill me.
Here's to two weeks of watering eyes and a runny nose.
Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2013
One of the nice things about having a blog that's been around a while is that you have a record of what you were doing in years past. In my case, it's a record that spans ten years, which is pretty good.
Except not always. I was a sporadic blogger in the beginning and sometimes weeks passed between entries. So, in the beginning at least, there are stretches which are entirely unknown. Later years are better, however...
Of course, that's just the stuff I decided I could write about. Who knows what was going on between the lines.
Probably stuff I'm better off forgetting anyway.
Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2013
Happy Star Wars Day!
Which would be a lot more fun if I had internet. Oh well.
Darth Monkey would say "May the Fourth be with you"... but they don't do that on the Dark Side.
Posted on Sunday, May 5th, 2013
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Hopefully you're somewhere drinking way too much while having the time of your life. Meanwhile I'm sitting on my couch working while the internet keeps fading in and out.
It's a real party.
Or could be, if I had some tequila...
In any event, NO BULLET SUNDAY FOR YOU! It'll have to wait until tomorrow when (hopefully) I'll have my internet fixed.
Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2013
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...
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.
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.
Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
When I was a kid, I wanted a model train. I loved trains.
For one reason of another, I never got one. And this actually ends up being a good thing, because I've gotten to the point now where I absolutely fucking hate... HATE... trains. And I really don't want any fond childhood memories of them.
BECAUSE TRAINS ARE STUPID NOISY AND THEY'RE ALWAYS GETTING IN THE WAY!
I've lost count of the number of times I've been just on the verge of falling asleep... only to have a train blow through town with its whistle blowing every ten seconds. GAH!
Then yesterday I had an errand to run. I took the first left to cross the railroad tracks only to have a train blocking me. It kept going slower and slower until it just stopped on the tracks. Not waiting to wait, I unleash a slew of curse-words, back-tracked, then headed back down the street... where I took the second left onto 9th Street. Only to have another train (or maybe it was the same one) blocking my path. For the second time, it kept going slower and slower until it just stopped on the tracks... WITH ONLY THREE FUCKING CARS LEFT TO GO! Which meant I had to BACKTRACK AGAIN after unleashing an even bigger slew of curse-words. Fortunately, 5th Street has an underpass, so I didn't get screwed again, but still... this is pretty stupid...
And I thought just waiting on a train was a pain in the ass. Nothing like taking a 20 minute trip and turning it into 40 minutes. GAH!
Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Most every single thing I do for my job is with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. These are the apps I need to do whatever it is I do, and my work would be very difficult indeed without them.
Not to say that there aren't alternatives... there are plenty... but when it comes to the feature-rich tools I know best, and the ability to work together in the way I need them to, Adobe is the only game in town.
It used to be that Adobe apps were purchased like most any software... you buy them. Well, not "buy" per-se, it's more like a "one-time permanent lease payment"... and once you pay your money you can use them for as long as they work for you. This "Creative Suite" can then be upgraded every year or two when Adobe finishes up a new version.
Last year Adobe introduced a new way of using their products... renting. They call it "Creative Cloud" and for fifty bucks a month, they're all yours to use as much as you want...
The good news is that, so long as you keep paying, your apps are always up-to-date. You always have the latest features, and Adobe rolls them out when they're ready rather than making you wait for the next release. That much is really sweet.
I had already moved to Creative Cloud last year, so this doesn't really affect me. But what if it does?!?
This could be bad.
Because what if Adobe discontinues an app?
As unlikely as it may be, let's say that Adobe kills off Illustrator in a couple years. You can't rent it any more. It's gone. And since you aren't able to buy it, you can't access any of your files created with it. You can't open them. You can't print them. You can't export them for use with another program. All your years of hard work essentially vanishes overnight. Everything you've created in Adobe Illustrator has to be recreated from scratch in a different program. Unless some other app comes along that reads the format.
But that's not all though. There's all kinds of doomsday scenarios that come to mind. What if Adobe doesn't kill an app... but instead raises the price of using it to $1000 a month? Pretty much the same thing, isn't it? You're trapped. You pay what Adobe wants or else you lose everything. Or maybe they don't raise the price... but all of a sudden your financial situation changes and you can't afford the rent? Again, pretty much the same thing. You're locked out and all your stuff is inaccessible.
So I guess this is bad.
And right now I'm more than a little worried.
Adobe needs to do two things to make me feel a bit better about this New World Order...
Release free "reader" programs for all their apps that at least let you look at your work. And print it. And possibly convert it to an open format so you could take it elsewhere if something happened that you couldn't use Creative Cloud any more. Knowing that I could at least see my work... and ideally export it somehow... would go a long way towards easing my mind and helping me to accept our Adobe Overlords.
Create smaller bundles of apps. As I said, I use three apps from Creative Cloud. THREE OUT OF WHAT... THIRTY?!? Give or take (some of these are services, not apps, that I won't use)...
It feels like a complete rip-off that I have to pay for development of huge bunches of crap I will never (or rarely) use. Even if it were to only save me $10 a month... perhaps by renting a "designer bundle" with only the "Big Three" that I need or something... well... I would feel much better about my rent. As it is, I think it's absurd that I am forced to pay for shit like "Flash Builder Premium" that I would sooner light on fire than ever load onto my computer. This is like the cable company all over again, and it's not a good thing.
Realistically, Number Two will probably never happen. But Number One pretty much has to. If it doesn't... if there's a risk that all my work could become inaccessible tomorrow (for whatever reason)... well... is that a risk I can really afford to take?
Perhaps it's time to start exploring some of those other options?
Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Tomorrow I'm heading to the East Coast for one day.
Well, technically, it's three days... one to get there... one to work... then one to get back.
Or I suppose I am actually flying to the East Coast for two hours, which is about how long my work will take me. After that, I'm just goofing off to kill time.
In any event, there are some things that emails, video chats, and overnight delivery can't fix, so off I go...
And there goes my weekend.
Posted on Friday, May 10th, 2013
I always love watching lightning crash outside an airplane window.
But not as much as I love thunderstorms causing a landing delay.
Okay... I'm totally lying. I don't love either of those things. But that's just part of the travel game, and it does happen from time to time. All you can do is hope that you've drank enough alcohol that you don't mind so much. Otherwise? Not fun. Well, it is fun to track your flight path after you've landed and see what crazy loop-de-do holding pattern your flight took...
Flight tracking map courtesy of FlightAware!
And so now it's 12:40am after one long-ass day of travel and all I want to do is go to bed.
But my internal clock is still on West Coast time and there are people screaming outside my hotel room, so I guess you really don't always get what you want.
And speaking of that...
Guess it's a good thing I brought a raincoat.
Posted on Saturday, May 11th, 2013
And so tragedy strikes... my MagSafe ver. 1 to MagSafe ver. 2 adapter has gone missing somewhere between Seattle and here.
Which means I don't have a way of charging my Mac Book.
Which means a recap of my way-too-short adventures in Washington, D.C. will have to wait until tomorrow given that my battery is at 4% and falling.
Not to mention that I have to get up in five hours so I can fly back home.
Assuming the assholes making noise outside my hotel room shut the hell up real soon now, I may actually get a couple hours sleep.
Posted on Sunday, May 12th, 2013
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...
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...
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...
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...
And I could never get tired of looking at the original 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...
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...
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...
• 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...
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...
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)...
• 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...
And, of course, the view from the top of the steps is pretty special...
Even if the 2011 earthquake has busted the Washington Monument to shit and it's all covered in scaffolding now...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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!
Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2013
My 6:00am flight out of Baltimore meant that I had to get up at 3:45am. This gave me 30 minutes to pack, shower, put on pants, brush my teeth, check out of my hotel, and catch the shuttle to arrive at BWI at 4:30am. Getting up at 3:45am is no fun at all. Especially when your internal clock is three hours earlier than that.
What was fun was using iPhone's Passbook...
This very cool bit of tech puts stuff like tickets, boarding passes, loyalty cards, membership accounts, and other things all at one place. Buy an Amtrak ticket? It goes to Passbook. Check in for your flight? Your boarding pass goes to Passbook. Check in at your hotel? Open up Passbook for your loyalty card.
And it's always handy.
When I arrived at the train station, my ticket was on my lock screen.
When I got to the airport, my boarding pass was on my lock screen too. One swipe, and it magically appears...
So cool. As somebody who travels a lot, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes my life easier.
The problem is that not enough companies are using it. Many airlines I fly, like Alaska Air, aren't using it. Most of the hotels I stay at, like Hilton, aren't using it. And it would be nice one day if credit cards could be added, because that would lighten my wallet considerably.
I think that Apple made the right move with Passbook because it doesn't require companies to install new equipment for NFC (or whatever)... everybody can use the scanners they already have.
It's just a question as to when (if?) these companies will return the favor and give their customers the convenience of implementing it.
Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
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.
Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Despite what you may have read, this is not the best Iron Man movie ever made.
The best Iron Man movie ever made is The Avengers. And that's because, so far as comic book super-hero films go, that movie was insane. Finally... finally we got to see all-out super-hero action taken to the degree it's at in the comics, and Iron Man was a huge part of that.
So I guess that Iron Man 3 would be the second-best Iron Man film ever made.
More or less...
Co-written and directed by Shane Black, the writer genius behind Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight, Iron Man 3 is a very good film in a surprising number of ways. Even if you were take Iron Man out of the equation. Which the movie does... a lot... because Tony Stark is the star of this show. Iron Man is relegated to a supporting player (albeit an important one).
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark so flawlessly that you're always left wanting more... on the other... well, you're going to an Iron Man movie to see Iron Man.
Putting all that aside, the film feels very Shane Black. Which is mostly a good thing.
There be spoilers from here on out, so don't click through to the extended entry unless you've already seen Iron Man 3...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Spanky the Cat finally went to the vet and got a clean bill of health. And a sex change. Turns out that it's a "he" instead of a "she." Oh well. He's in good shape, which is all that matters.
Much to the relief of everybody in the neighborhood, who's glad he's still hanging around...
The trip must have been exhausting, as Spanky fell asleep shortly after he got back.
Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2013
The cost of a trip to the supermarket has reached such epic heights that I've developed a genuine fear of grocery shopping. The panic sets in the minute I enter the parking lot, and all I can think of is how I am not escaping for less than $50 no matter how little I have on my list. This is especially scary when you consider that I'm vegetarian, don't eat a lot, actively look for sale items, and buy the cheapest option whenever I can.
I have no clue how large families can afford to feed themselves now-a-days.
Guess I'm going to have to start buying in bulk, look into buying a FoodSaver, and start freezing everything.
Or start a garden.
Or beg for food in the streets.
For the past seven months I've been saving for a new camera and I finally ordered it today. It arrives tomorrow. But after my latest trip to the grocery store, I'm starting to wonder if I should have kept the money in savings so I can eat.
Priorities and all that.
Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2013
Fred Armisen and Bill Hader will be sorely missed now that they are departing from Saturday Night Live. And, given their incredible body of work and the dozens of characters they inhabited, it's hard to see anybody stepping into their shoes any time soon.
But the real damage in Armisen and Hader leaving comes from the astounding number of imperessions they contributed. According to the SNL Archives, Armisen had 98 celebrities in his arsenal, and Hader added another 82. That kind of versatility is tough to come by and a part of me wonders how the current cast is going to fill the massive hole left now that they're off the show.
On the plus-side, appearances by Hader's "Stefon" will hopefully be rare from here on out...
I fucking hate Stefon.
Every time he appears, it's the SAME DAMN SKIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN! Maybe I found it mildly amusing when he appeared the first time, but each subsequent appearance was awful.
And yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, I know people who just love Stefon. To each their own, I guess... but I just don't get it.
Of course, Armisen and Hader aren't the only members of the cast moving on.
Odds are running high that Jason Sudekis won't be returning. That's going to really hurt.
And come next January, Seth Meyers will leave to replace Jimmy Fallon on Late Night when Jimmy replaces Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. It's going to be really interesting to see who takes over the SNL News desk when that happens. There's a peculiar kind of talent needed to pull it off, and I'm not seeing that in anybody left.
In other words, it's not looking very good for Saturday Night Live. Kenan Thompson is the only long-time player left and, while I like some of the newer people, you kinda have to wonder how much longer the show will go on if something big doesn't break soon.
Like Eddie Murphy coming back.
Anyway, farewell to Mr. Armisen and Mr. Hader.
And thanks for the laughs.
Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2013
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.
Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2013
So saddened to hear of the horrendous losses torn out of Oklahoma today.
The devastation is soul-crushing, and my heart goes out to those still searching for friends and loved ones amongst the ruins.
This includes pets and animals, whose suffering is all too often overlooked...
Photo by Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
Oklahoma City's Pet Food Pantry is donating food and supplies to anybody with pets in need. If you'd like to support their efforts, I'm sure they would appreciate your donation.
UPDATE: Well this is frightening...
Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
Ever since I returned from my "Wild Africa Trek" back in September, I've been saving up for a new camera. I love my Nikon D90, but it's like a boat anchor hanging around my neck when I'm leaning over cliffs, hiking on rope bridges, and otherwise actively goofing off. It's bulky and heavy and has lenses that are equally bulky and heavy, so I find myself leaving it at home more often than not. My iPhone may not take "great" photos, but it's certainly good enough (and at least it doesn't get in my way).
But what camera to buy? I already have a pocket camera, which is okay, but hardly the quality I'm looking for. A next-generation "mirrorless" camera seemed like the way to go. They're much smaller than a DSLR, but produce similar quality photos. At first I was looking at Nikon and Canon, since those were the brands I was familiar with. But the reviews of Nikon's N-1 were less than stellar... and when I played with Canon's EOS-M it was a piece of crap.
Enter the Sony NEX-7. A serious photographer friend of mine has one and won't shut up about how much he loves the thing. I borrowed it for a couple hours and was suitably impressed. Right then and there I knew that Sony was the camera for me. Though I did bypass the NEX-7 for the newer (and slightly less expensive) NEX-6. It just seemed like a better fit for me...
My "review" and random thoughts on the NEX-6 can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
One of the few things that will make me set aside my laptop and actually concentrate on a singular event? The Daily Show.
John Stewart is at his best when he's ripping somebody apart for their blatant hypocrisy, and his take-down of Peggy Noonan tonight is among his best efforts...
I wonder if she feels even a modicum of shame for being such a shining example of the very definition of hypocritical asshole
I'm guessing not.
Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
I am not a big fan of bugs. It's not like I faint when I see them or anything... it's just that I prefer not to be around them. Unless I am at a zoo. And there is glass between me and the bugs.
So you can imagine my horror at having to research bugs when I need to draw them. And it happens more often than you'd think... most recently for issues of THRICE Fiction magazine. At first I'm always my usual squeamish self but, after looking at a few hundred photos of the little devils close-up, I start to appreciate their beauty. Often times they have features unlike anything else you can find on earth and it's not hard to appreciate this kind of artistry on such a small scale.
But I digress.
We've reached the time that a bizarre insect known as the cicada starts making one of their rare appearances. After seventeen years underground, they dig their way to the surface where they molt, eat, mate, then die... by the bazillions. We don't have cicadas here in my little corner of Washington State, but I've seen a cicada bloom before. It's pretty much "bugageddon," and the things are crawling everywhere... all while making crazy levels of noise. It's pretty creepy even if you aren't afraid of bugs. Fortunately it only lasts a couple weeks.
When my writer-friend (and frequent THRICE Fiction contributor) Susan Tepper mentioned that she was sweeping them off her home, a "Cicada Challenge" was born, and I had to draw her a picture of one.
I always thought that a poor cicada who spends seventeen years underground waiting for sex would be a little mental when it's finally time to dig his way out, so I gave him crazy eyes...
Along with the drawing, I also wrote this poem for Susan...
Fifteen years and two I'm sleeping
Dreaming of the day I'm leaping
Now it's time to start the humping
But before I get to jumping
I dig, I molt, I eat, I'm singing
Looking for a date I'm springing
Now I'm dead my shell is crushing
Susan's broom and deadly brushing
All those years of patient waiting
Biding time 'til I start mating
No chance now for happy screwing
A lust for love was my undoing
I should have stayed in bed
And now I can put cicadas behind me. Well, for seventeen years anyway.
Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2013
Summer is really here!
And tonight I decided to cut off all my hair again so I look feel cool. It's not so much an act of liberation, but one of convenience. And comfort. I just can't take having a sweaty mess on my head when the weather goes from hot to unbearably hot. Especially when I'm traveling.
Giving myself a haircut was the highlight of my day. All I did outside of that was work.
And wish I was anywhere but here. Perhaps here...
There are certainly worse places to be than Mt. Haleakala at sunrise.
Posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2013
The big news of the day? I'm out of paper towels.
Ordinarily, paper towels are not something I tend to think about. But when you don't have any... and then you run into a situation where having a paper towel would be really handy... well, all of a sudden you become a huge paper towel fan and all you can think about is how horrible your life has just become without them...
Granted, if you're going to have a problem in life... running out of paper towels is probably the best you could hope for. But isn't whining about inconsequential crap what the internet was made for? I hope so, because that's a lot more fun than going to the store and buying more paper towels.
Posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2013
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...
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...
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?
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.
Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2013
Hope everybody is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend.
When I was in Tunisia my tour group consisted mostly of Americans, so the guide was kind enough to drive us through the North Africa American Cemetery where soldiers from World War II are buried. As it was 9-11, the flag was flying at half-mast...
It's very difficult not to think of these fallen heroes far from home when Memorial Day comes to pass.
To all those who paid the ultimate price for our country, I thank you. Your sacrifice and courage will not be forgotten.
Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Do you remember in You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown where Charlie Brown won Pro Bowl tickets in a bike race but it ended up they couldn't afford to give him the Pro Bowl tickets, so they instead gave him a certificate for five free haircuts? And then Charlie Brown laments that even when he wins he loses because his dad's a barber and he hardly has any hair to cut anyway? Remember that?
That pretty much sums up my entire day.
It got so bad that, on my way back from running errands in town, I swerved off the road to the movie theater just so I could be distracted for a couple hours. I didn't even care what I watched.
Much to my delight, the next film playing was Star Trek Into Darkness. I was planning on waiting to see it in IMAX but, at this point, I just didn't care...
Overall, I thought the movie was excellent. It was action-packed and oh-so-beautiful to look at. This is the first time I can remember watching an effects-laden film where half my brain wasn't analyzing the special effects shots. They were all executed so flawlessly that there was nothing to really analyze. That went a long ways to taking the edge off of some story points that bothered me, and pushed my love of the film to an A rating.
It's impossible to discuss the finer points of Star Trek Into Darkness without spoilers, so I've put my thoughts in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Today I had to run some errands to the "Barbarian Village" of Leavenworth, Washington.
Well, actually it's billed as the "Bavarian Village" because it's a themed town meant to look like something out of the German Alps, but when the crowds of tourists arrive, it rapidly degenerates into something much more savage.
Anyway, I couldn't very well leave without some German food, so off I went for a bratwurst. Well, a veggie brat, but still... the best part is figuring out which mustard you want, because there's always at least a dozen on-hand...
I went with a more traditional "sweet & sour" because half the stuff is difficult to decipher (what the hell is "Backyard Brat" about?)...
Of course no faux-German sausage garden would be complete without freaky murals to keep you company while you eat...
And since one good thing leads to another, I could not resist stopping by the Danish Bakery for one of their glorious almond custard pastries...
After than I stopped at a chocolate shop because, ya know, it was there. Then I decided to head home while I still had insulin levels that were somewhat respectable.
All I'm missing now to make my day complete is some lederhosen.
Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2013
And so here I sit at SeaTac International Airport waiting for my redeye flight eastward.
Half the people here are coughing their heads off... and many of those are kids who, not surprisingly, don't cover their mouths when they cough because parents don't seem to teach them to. Apparently they don't give a flying fuck if their kids infect the world because that's somebody else's problem. Typical.
The half that's not hacking away is either loudly slurping on coffee cups and looking like idiots... or falling asleep. Or dead to the world and snoring.
On the plus side, I spotted a lonely hat in one of SeaTac's privacy-free bathrooms...
And away I go...
Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2013
Thanks to some personal turmoil that keeps dropping on me like a ton of bricks lately, I came very close to canceling my trip to Pittsburgh. I have fond memories of the city, and it just didn't seem right to return with a shit-ton of baggage weighing on my brain.
But within five minutes of Becky picking me up at the airport, all my troubles melted away and I was glad I was here. By the end of the day I was ecstatic that I was here.
She kinda has that effect on people.
As witnessed by this photograph of the last time I saw Becky live and in-person four years ago at ConFab...
Photo by Ginger and, yes, I'm dressed as a pirate. Because I just can't help myself.
First stop was lunch at Nicky's Thai Kitchen, and it was glorious. Especially the Crispy Egg Rolls...
Don't you just love some good food porn on a Friday afternoon?
From there we wasted no time in tracking down delicious beer... at a brewery transplant from Munich called Hofbräuhaus. Becky asked for a beer the size of her head and got this...
THE HUMAN HEAD WEIGHS 8 POUNDS! Becky' beer weighs ten pounds.
Not wanting to be left out, I asked for a beer the size of MY head and got this...
HEY! THAT'S THE WRONG HEAD!!
Whoops... that's better...
Here's to good times. Tonight is kind of special...
Eventually we realized we needed Jägermeister backs for our beers...
Delicious! Is there no problem Jägermeister cannot solve?!?
Eventually Jared showed up to be our designated biker...
Switching to baby beers so as not to drop into beer comas.
After that, I was given a tour of areas of Pittsburgh I didn't even know existed, which is always fun. There's just no substitute for seeing a city through the eyes of locals.
By this time, beer and not sleeping for two days was finally taking its toll, so I reluctantly headed back to my hotel for some much-needed rest.
Though it's gonna be tough to sleep when I'm anticipating the awesomeness which awaits tomorrow.