Annnnnd... I've just returned from a Pittsburgh Pirates game with Becky. It was a fantastic night out, even though the Pirates lost.
Fortunately, they weren't playing my beloved Boston Red Sox (who slaughtered the Yankees 11-1), so I was able to put on a Pirates jersey and cheer on the team against the dreaded Cincinnati Reds...
Say "Grilled Stickies!"
But I'm getting ahead of myself, because there was tailgating in the parking lot before the game...
There's a Pirates party up in here! Click photo to embiggen.
Becky's friend hand-made veggie burgers (that were some of the best I've ever tasted) for us civilized folk... but there was mmmmmeeeeeat for the savages too...
Fortunately, I was just sober enough to keep myself from licking the grill.
A good time was had by all...
When I've been drinking, I look the exact same in every photo... like I'm happily pooping my pants.
Then it was off to PNC Park...
Take me out to the ballgame... where no crackerjack was to be found.
Becky met up with her pimp along the way...
Pimpin' ain't easy... but with Becky as your ho it is!
My iPhone has said that Pittsburgh's weather was going to be thunderstorms since the minute I arrived. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single time I look, we're supposed to be in the middle of a raging storm...
And yet... it's been nothing but sun and blue skies. Which is nice, because PNC Park has to be one of the most beautiful ballparks ever...
Between innings you can watch the boats go by, which is pretty sweet...
Can't believe how nice the kit lens is for my new Sony NEX-6 camera.
After the game, they wheeled a stage and some giant speakers onto the field for a concert by =gasp!= Kool & The Gang! This helped make the Pirates' loss a little easier to take...
Celebrate good times! The sound system was surprisingly good for a ballpark!
And... the end. After waiting 35 minutes for my 20 minute train, I was back at the South End and ready for bed.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, because there was a Hard Rock Cafe pin-trading event before the tailgating and the game...
I've been collecting Hard Rock Cafe pins since I visited my first property 23 years ago. And even though I've amassed thousands of pins over those years, I've never once gone to a pin-trading event. Mostly because Seattle didn't have a cafe for most of those years and I could never manage to fit a pine event road trip into my schedule.
I was also a bit intimidated, because I'm more of a "casual collector" who just buys stuff I like and doesn't really know anything about the hobby. As I've found out from comic book collecting, most of the "pros" simply don't want to waste time with newbies, and past attempts to fit into that crowd were met with failure.
Enter the "Northeast Region Art of Rock Event 2013" which was being attended by seven Hard Rock cities (Baltimore, Boston, Foxwoods, Niagara Falls NY, Toronto, Washington D.C., and the host... Pittsburgh), so I put it on my calendar and was determined to attend.
And today was the day...
The event was well-attended... this was only a part of it.
I ended up having a great time!
The vast majority of the collectors who attended were kindhearted, encouraging, helpful people. I was shocked... shocked... to find that most all of them would trade for something you really wanted, even if they didn't find anything they were looking for in your pin bags. They seemed perfectly happy to just add a trade back into their trading pile if it meant helping you fill a hole in your collection.
That was wonderful and entirely unexpected. I picked up dozens of pins I needed to fill in my glassware collection of hurricanes, martinis, and shooters.
Needless to say, I'd very much like to get my pin collection better organized and attend more events.
So thank you to the terrific staff at Hard Rock Pittsburgh for inviting everybody to your cafe for a great meet-up!
Five minutes before they let the animals lined up outside come in for lunch.
It's now 2:00am. I have to be up in five hours. I should probably at least attempt to get some sleep.
Another morning where thunderstorms were forecast for the entire day.
Which, of course, never came to pass. I swear, whomever is in charge of predicting the weather in Pittsburgh needs to be smacked around a little bit, because this is getting ridiculous.
But the weather miscast was definitely something to be grateful for, because Becky managed to score tickets to today's Pirates game...
They close down the Roberto Clemente Bridge when there's a game, which makes for a nice walk.
This time our seats were on the "Club Level" which has restaurants, billiards, lounges, and ice cream!
But, most important of all, I found Cracker Jack this time!
The game was off to a very bad start, as the Reds scored four runs in the first inning. But the Pirates managed to battle their way back into the game... including a monster home-run hit by Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 8th that cleared the park and ended up in the Allegheny River!
The above video is worth checking out... it's a pretty impressive hit!
Mr. Jones! The little kit lens on my NEX-6 continues to blow my mind. This is from the 200 level... WITH A KIT LENS!
The Pirates eventually won, 4-5 after extra innings...
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the win... we had to leave early so we could make a concert...
Hold on to your crotch... it's
Now, I should preface this with two pieces of information...
This meant that I really didn't know what to expect. My plan was just to hang out with Becky and drink beer, which would have been a great time even if there wasn't a concert.
But there was a concert, and I totally admit that it ended up being ten times more than awesome.
As her set went on, things got a little weird...
Which was taken to an entirely new level when
Sparks went flying out of her vagina, which was apparently impossible to capture on iPhone. Sorry.
Then it was time to bring on the simulated inter-species beastiality where sports mascots started bumping, grinding, and swapping heads...
After all this freaky shit went down, even
Eventually we got a tiny car, blow-up legs, and a blow-up hippo as
During her set, Ke$ha was all about dishing out life advice ("Be Yourself! Always! Unapologetically!"), sharing her private thoughts and feelings ("I don't want a guy to talk to me, I want a guy to fuck me!"), and giving her fans ideas for after the show ("I want everybody to go home and fuck tonight!")... which just made her even more special to me. I was sad to see her go.
But the party didn't stop there... after a half-hour of DJ music by somebody called "Ump Smoker" it was time for Pitbull. I had no idea who he was, but once the music started I did realize that I knew of his music. Who knew? In any event, his show was pretty impressive.
Apparently, Pitbull was responsible for the Men in Black 3 theme song.
Even if you hated his music (which I didn't), the stage show is still entertaining.
Looks like Ke$ha isn't the only one who can unleash a glitter bomb.
All-in-all? A very good concert, and I had a great time. If you have the opportunity to see the tour, I highly recommend checking it out. Just be prepared to walk through a shit-ton of glitter in the parking lot after it's over...
And that was a wrap.
After an action-packed day of excitement like this, my "real life" is going to seem really, really boring.
Thanks a lot, Becky!!!
I didn't know what could possibly top the Ke$ha concert last night, but darn if we didn't try!
After packing up all my crap and stowing my luggage, Becky picked me up for a day of fun and excitement that only Pittsburgh can offer.
Breakfast was at a cool, old-fashioned diner and consisted of crepe-pancakes, scrambled eggs, and Lyonnaise potatoes. If you're hungry in the morning, then Pamela's Diner is the place to go...
You just know that if there's a pink door it's gotta be good, right?
I could have spent an hour wandering around looking at all the knick-knacks and photos that cover the walls...
There may be two packs of smokes on the counter, but you still can't smoke in the restaurant!
After stuffing our faces, we wandered around the corner to The Strip District, which is an eclectic neighborhood packed with lots of cool shops, restaurants, and other wonders...
Who can resist taking a photo of a building with a giant chicken on it? Not me!
Just about everything in The Strip is interesting in one way or another.
A remnant of a time when helping the poor was considered a good thing.
At Wholey's Market, which is much like Disneyland with it's animatronic cows and pigs and such.
Becky takes her life in her hands when she gets friendly with the ferocious Wholey's Market Bear!
Happy piñatas at the Mexican market want you to beat them with a stick until their guts fall out. Sick!
Becky searches for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Hat at the Mexican market.
As we were walking back to Becky's car, I was compelled to stop at a mini-donut shop. Like most people, I don't possess the will-power to resist a freshly-made, warm, mini-donut that's straight from the hot oil...
If forced to choose between peace, love, or mini-donuts, I'd take the fucking donut.
If I had this job, I would weigh 700 pounds and have oil for blood.
As punishment for giving in to mini-donut temptation, Becky thought I needed to go to Church...
Surprise! It's The Church Brew Works, built in an actual old church building!
Yes, they are totally brewing beer where the church's altar once stood.
Mmmmm... beer! Becky came up with this great shot idea, I just copied her.
Becky spotted this sleepy moth hanging on for dear life in a flower bed outside The Church. He's scary-cute.
From there Becky decided to run out to Randyland, which is so interesting on its own that I'm saving the details from THAT visit for tomorrow's entry...
It's pretty remarkable in a photo, but really needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
From here it was off to see Star Trek Into Darkness in IMAX OMNIMAX at the Carnegie Science Center.
Then it was time to get me out to the airport. But we simply couldn't say goodbye until we had one last beer. This time at Sharp Edge Creekhouse...
Yeah, that goose tap handle is pretty much the ultimate tap handle.
Earlier it was pointed out to me that I was hanging out with Princess Merida (from the Pixar movie Brave) all weekend. I had always thought of Becky as a QUEEN, but darn if it wasn't true...
And thus ends my perfect four days in Pittsburgh with the coolest of Disney's princesses.
Going back to Real Life ain't gonna be easy after this.
Back home, safe and sound.
Yesterday Becky took me to Randyland, which is a photographer's dream come true in Pittsburgh. From the minute I saw all the bright colors and craziness that is so beautifully splashed across everything, I knew I wanted to play around with some HDR photos to see what I could capture.
Welcome to Randy's head...
If you're ever in the Pittsburgh area, Randyland is well worth checking out!
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...
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.
I used to like my water room temperature. Drinking cold water was uncomfortable and made my mouth numb, which I did not like at all. Now-a-days, I prefer to drink water that's as close to freezing as possible and loaded with ice to keep it that way.
I used to dislike mustard. Or, to be more accurate, I positively hated the stuff. Wouldn't eat it on anything, and even the smell of it made me sick. Now-a-days I refuse to eat a hotdog without it. Honey mustard is even better, and I smear it on anything edible. I've even buy "Dijonnaise," which is mayonnaise with mustard blended in. That would have been unthinkable just ten years ago.
I used to hate my hair short. In high school it was a constant battle with my parents as to how long I was allowed to keep it. Anything less than shoulder-length was paramount to child abuse. Now-a-days, anytime my hair gets long enough to touch my ears, I want to scream. It's just a hot, angry mess on my head, and the sooner I can grab the clippers and shave it all off, the happier I am.
Sometimes in small ways like how you want your water, what you put on your hotdog, and which hairstyle you wear... but other times in life-changing ways that wake up the world.
Since same-sex marriage was legalized here in Washington State back on December 6th, more than 2,400 gay and lesbian couples have gotten married. And despite all the stupid-ass doom and gloom that equality opponents tried to dump all over same-sex couples who just wanted the same rights as everybody else... the earth didn't fall into the sun. A meteor didn't destroy Seattle. A plague of locusts didn't eat up the Columbia Basin. The Columbia River didn't dry up. Spokane wasn't consumed in a lake of fire. And so on.
Which is to say that, for most everybody living here, nothing has changed.
But for 2,400+ Washingtonian couples, everything has changed.
Congrats and best of luck to all of you!
And here's to hotdogs with mustard.
There was a time in the distant past when I looked forward to Fridays.
But that was back when the weekends were fun and mostly work-free. Something which hasn't been the case for years. There's always more work to do, and so I live my life in a state of perpetual Mondays.
Tomorrow is just another work day.
Fortunately, I get to escape from time to time, and so there are Saturdays on the horizon...
The road to the top of Mt. Haleakala on Maui, one glorious early morning.
Such as next Saturday, which means that next Friday will actually be something to look forward to.
And I am.
The nice thing about blowing all your hard-earned money on world travel is that you know places.
This can come in handy. Like when you're clicking through news stories and some random headline pops up about the Ajaccio Football Club getting a new coach. "I've been to Ajaccio!" you say to yourself. And then memories of your trip to Corsica come rushing back to you. So you search your blog to find out when that was, only to discover that it was just two-and-a-half years ago. Then you wonder why a photo of your strongest memory... pulling into port at sunrise under pink skies... isn't on your blog entry. "Oh crap, didn't I get a photo of that?!?" you wonder as you frantically double-click on your digital photo album. And... yes. Yes you did get a photo of that beautiful morning, so why didn't you post it?
According to Lighthouse Explorer, that would be "Ajaccio Citadelle Light."
"Oh well!" you say to yourself as you sigh in relief that you found something to blog about after a boring Saturday of nothing but work...
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...
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...
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...
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.
Alrighty then. As a Certified Apple Whore, it's required by law that I post my thoughts on all the stuff Apple talked about in the keynote speech of the 2013 World Wide Developer's Conference (watch it for yourself right here!).
So for all you Apple-haters, I apologize. Come back tomorrow and I promise to draw a monkey or something.
At Apple, our new visual design direction is lickable like it's 1998!
Apple's new iCEO, Tim Cook, is no Steve Jobs... but I really like the guy. He gives a good presentation, represents Apple well, and inspires confidence in his company, which is all that matters. Seeing Phil Schiller is always fun. The guy has a genuine enthusiasm about Apple that's hard to beat. It's good to see more from Eddy Cue, Apple's internet services guru too. But the real standout this time around? Craig Federighi, vice president of software engineering. The guy is funny as hell, and has a conversational tone when he's presenting that sucks you in and compels you love Apple and the things they do. Seriously, the keynote is totally worth watching just to see this guy at the top of his game.
MAC OS X!
It looks like most of the stuff going on here is under-the-hood improvements, which is fine. But there are a chunk of notable usability enhancements as well, so I'm hopeful that I won't have as many problems with Mavericks as I had with Mountain Lion. Unfortunately, the one thing... THE ONE THING I WANTED TO SEE... was not shown. And that's the option to keep the menu bar showing at all times with full-screen apps. I am so sick and fucking tired of dealing with the bouncing menu bar intruding when I don't want it... and having to go hunt for it when I do want it... WHICH IS ALL THE TIME!!! The clock is there. My battery status is there. My sound volume indicator is there. Just give me a check-box option to keep the menu bar showing always and I'll be fine. Anyway... on with the show...
I love my MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is unquestionably the best bit of tech I have ever owned, and the size, weight, features, and speed are amazing. That being said, there are times when I'm traveling where I would really appreciate having a much smaller machine to lug around. Basically, an iPad that's a fully-functional computer when I need it. The tiny 11-inch MacBook Air has always been so close to what I wanted. Now I think it's there. All I need is a thousand dollars and I'm golden.
"Can't innovate any more, my ass! — Phil Schiller, Vice President of World-Wide Marketing.
I honestly don't know where to go with this. I finally gave up on Apple ever releasing a new Mac Pro a year ago, and am now using an iMac that I'm quite happy with. That being said, I would much rather have a "pro" machine that can tear through the bigger projects I have to work on... especially when it comes to 3-D modeling and rendering... and video editing. And here it is. Except... it's not really a "pro" machine, is it? Sure it's got all kinds of killer pro features and looks fucking amazing... BUT EXTERNAL EXPANSION ONLY?!???? WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK?!?? One of the major differences between consumer machines and pro machines is that you can open the guts and configure the thing the way you need it for the kind of work you're going to be doing. But Apple has lived up to every criticism by choosing design over functionality, and it's a load of bullshit. Because it's BADLY DESIGNED! So you can rotate it to plug things in. That sounds cool, right? But what happens when you've got a ton of crap plugged into it? How does it rotate around when you've got a dozen cables anchoring it in place? I'm not debating whether innovations like the new "tri-core cooling technology" is cool... it's frickin' awesome... but this is not the machine pros are after, and it's a really shitty thing for Apple to do to those who have been waiting so damn long for a new Pro machine to come out. When I bought my iMac, I worried I was making a mistake, and a new Mac Pro would be released that would work so much better for my needs. Well all those worries are gone. If I had the choice even today between an iMac and a Mac "Pro"... I'd go with the iMac. This is the fucking Mac Cube all over again! Did NOBODY at Apple learn a damn thing from that fiasco?
Nobody is more convinced that the future of computing lies in The Cloud than I am. Having access to all your stuff wherever you are with whatever device you have is the future. The problem is that nobody is doing it very well... including Apple. But, to their credit, they do seem to be the most interested in figuring it all out. More and more cloud functionality is coming into place. Apple's cloud services are getting more reliable and robust every day. And things like iTunes Match are demonstrating the promise of what "cloud computing" is all about... have access to my entire music and movie/television library anywhere there's internet from my Mac, iPad, or iPhone? Yes please. It's all magic, right? Well... not really. Because Apple is constantly sabotaging themselves. Want to stream your purchased movies to your Mac or iDevice? Tough shit! Apple only allows streaming to AppleTV... anything else requires that you download the whole fucking file first. Never mind that Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and the rest of the known fucking universe allows video streaming, Apple doesn't. Will this be fixed with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks? Who the fuck knows? Will Apple fix the myriad of problems that prevent developers from integrating iCloud into their apps? Who the fuck knows? It goes on and on. The fact that Apple is working so hard on getting The Cloud done right is meaningless if they can't see the forest for the trees. YOU HAVE TO FUCKING COMPETE! Except Apple doesn't seem to care when the competition is trouncing all over them... they're Apple, so they don't have to! Except they really do. We finally get keychain syncing back, but it almost feels like too little too late when services like Dropbox and solutions like 1Password stepped up to the plate when Apple wouldn't for so damn long. And there's the crux of everything that's wrong at Apple... THEY decide what's important to their users rather than responding to what users find important and are actually doing. I love Apple and all, but I'm just so fucking sick of this.
Well, it looks a little more polished than Spotify or Pandora... and it looks a lot smarter, even if the details are sketchy (how many skips do you get an hour?). I will probably use it. I will probably discover new music. I will probably end up buying a shitload more music than I am now. So, mission accomplished, I guess. The fact that iTunes Match subscribers don't have to deal with ads is kind of a nice bonus.
Oh... so Apple hasn't killed iWork on the Mac after all! It's just so hard to tell, what with them NOT UPDATING IT FOREVER. Just like with Aperture, buying iWork almost immediately makes you feel like you've purchased abandonware. Sure they'll fix a big or add a little fluff every once in a while (NEW! Documents in The Cloud!)... but it's hard to have faith with Apple as a serious app developer when they don't maintain a consistent release schedule. Years can go by with no major release or update, so you just never know. And here we are at long last... iWork is getting updated. Or is it? Because the focus seems to be on competing with Google Docs with a browser-based solution. Well, I have to tell you, this has me worried. Very worried. And it all comes down to this... will future releases of iWork (the app) be limited by iWork (the web app)? Is an Apple software engineer going to say "Here's a great idea for iWork Numbers... won't it be cool to give our users this functionality?" Only to be greeted with "Oh shit, we can't add that feature... we'd never be able to implement that in a web browser!" Well, I just don't know. But that would suck. And it wouldn't be surprising from Apple. All that being said? How frickin' amazing was that demo of iWork in the Cloud?
Well, here it is... the moment the world has been waiting for... the next generation of Apple's iOS. The operating system which powers gazillions of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and whatever new iDevices Apple comes up with (iWatch?). I'll reserve comment on the new design visuals until I've actually seen them up-close-and-personal, but my initial reaction is mixed. I like the flatness of it all, which feels modern and forward-thinking. The typography and the stark, clean layouts are stellar. But the bright candy colors that I thought were banished with the old iMac aesthetic feel more "dated and tired" than "retro cool." Yet... Apple is nothing if not a trend-setter, so maybe it's a look that's making a comeback. I guess we'll find out this Fall. If I were to summarize, I'd say that I like most of what I'm seeing... but not everything. If nothing else, I think it's a consistent visual language that competitors lack will help keep Apple at the top of the heap.
Okay. There's one thing I saw in the keynote that has completely haunted me about the new design, and I love it more than sliced bread. The new iOS is multi-plane display capable...
This basically means that everything is set on three-dimensional layers, so as you move your phone around, the different planes move to communicate depth. Allowing you to "see around" stuff on upper layers as the camera is rotated. In video games and animation, this is called "parallax scrolling" (or something like that), and it's some visual trickery that really pays off. The idea of having such lush visuals on my frickin' PHONE is pretty spectacular. It's the little touches like this that makes Apple be Apple, and keeps Apple Whores such as myself in a constant state of geek heaven.
Annnnnnd... the end.
For now. As I get a better look at all this stuff, I'm sure I'll have more to say.
Seattle could certainly have a worse symbol representing the city.
Even though it was built in 1962, the Space Needle has aged very well. Still looks contemporary and modern, really.
Here's the monkey I promised.
The view from my hotel room, in glorious HDR...
The Pacific Science Center to the left and Experience Music Project on the right.
And... I'm here to work, not blog, so off I go...
I know I've bitched about them before... but, after driving through Seattle's horrendous traffic again today, I'm more enraged than ever at the money being spent for these ridiculous "Smart Signs" that are popping up everywhere. They're have got to be one of the stupidest fucking things I've ever seen.
The idea is that "Smart Signs" will slow traffic so that everything flows more smoothly during peak traffic times. But, in reality, the signs are always 10-20 miles per hour faster than the speed anybody can actually reach. This makes them effectively useless...
Here I am going 10 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone.
So what fucking difference does it make if, instead of paying for these very expensive digital signs, there were much cheaper traditional 60 MPH painted signs on the side of the road? I'll tell you what... NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE AT ALL! These "Smart Signs" aren't doing shit. Except costing taxpayers absurd amounts of money. Slow traffic is slow traffic and you'll go however fast the traffic allows. No magical signage is going to change that. End of story.
But the "Smart Signs" keep going up.
Not that smart, Seattle.
And so a Seattle-based band I like, The Local Strangers, played a Very Special sold-out show at The Triple Door tonight. It was Very Special because they were accompanied on some of their songs by the Passenger String Quartet.
Which is like taking Amazing, sprinkling it with Awesome, then deep-fat-frying it in Magic.
Such an amazing show, and I find myself filled with pity for those unfortunate souls who didn't get to experience it...
If you ever have a chance to catch them live, this is a band worth checking out. You can keep track of them on their Facebook page or sign up for The Local Strangers newsletter and get free music on their website.
When it comes to our inevitable arrival at a paperless, all-digital world, I'm a big supporter. I really hate having to cart around a stack of cards and bits of paper when traveling, because it's entirely too easy to forget something or, even worse, lose something important.
The problem is that I'm constantly being met with failure in my attempts to "go digital."
Like today, for instance, as I attempt to fly to Boston.
First I go to reserve parking. The place I like best, SeaTac Park, has long had online reservations that can be verified with your email address instead of having to print out a confirmation. It's a great system. When it works...
This really sucks, because you can't get the best rate unless you pre-book online. I've brought it up the last three times I've parked there, but it never gets fixed. I always have to remind them again when I leave so I can get the discount and, if I forget, then I'm shit-out-of-luck.
But the problems don't stop there.
When I go to use Alaska Airlines' new "Passbook" feature on their iPhone app because Passbook is a really great iPhone feature, it won't let me...
This pisses me off because not only do I already have a Mileage Plan number on my account... but I also think it's fucking stupid that you're required to have one in the first place. What the hell does a mileage plan have to do with checking in for a flight? People fly without mileage plans every damn day.
So off I go to Alaska Airlines' website so I can add my mileage number back on my account. Except, when I get there, it won't let me. Apparently my account is invalid...
And so I'm forced to call customer service.
Only to find out that my mileage plan expired due to inactivity. "Well, can you reactivate it? I ask. "Only if you want to pay $75!" the customer service agent replies. "My miles are on Delta... why in the heck would I want to pay $75 to reactivate an account I don't use?" I ask, ready to explode. "If you don't, then you'll have to sign up for a new account." she says. Apparently miles don't expire... only the account which holds them, which makes perfect fucking sense!
So much for convenience in this wonderful digital age.
Because more often than not, the shit doesn't work. And the steps towards making it work are more complicated and time consuming than carrying cards and bits of paper.
I thought it would be easier than this.
And I'm in Boston for one day so I could attend a party for a very good friend who had some extraordinary news that was worth celebrating. Yes, a day trip across the country probably seems odd to most people, but I make trips like this all the time for work, so it's old hat to me.
But before the party tonight, I had an entire day to goof off in Boston.
I started out in Boston Common because there's an Earl of Sandwich shop there. They discontinued The Greatest Sandwich on Earth... The Earl Veggie... but I was hoping to add/subtract ingredients on a boring Caprese sandwich to recreate it. Unfortunately, they didn't have half the stuff to do it, so my day began in failure. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day to walk around and see the monuments...
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Memorial for the Boston Massacre.
Then it was off to the Granary Burying Ground, which is my favorite of Boston's beautiful old cemeteries that's filled with beautiful tombstones (and home to many famous dead people like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere)...
Death being more common back then, some of the tombstones are kinda comical.
A lot of tattoo ideas to be found here!
I've been to Boston several times, so I wanted to find a museum I'd never been to before. That ended up being the Boston Athenæum, which is a beautiful private library that allows the public to look around. They also have a small exhibit of wonderful works that explain their part in the creation of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Pictures weren't allowed on the inside, but I did snap a photo of the entrance, which is equally cool...
From there I was off to a wonderful little shop called The Printing Office of Edes & Gill. They've got a terrific old letterpress that's still in operation. Every time I visit I buy a new souvenir piece, because there's nothing quite so beautiful as a letterpress print...
Seriously worth a stop if you're ever walking The Freedom Trail in Boston.
The print shop is located on the Paul Revere Mall, where his statue has been defaced with a dreaded Bruins jersey...
Rebel that he was, I like to think he would be a Blackhawks fan!
Since I didn't get my Earl of Sandwich, I headed to Mike's Famous Pastries for the next best thing... cannoli! Not only does it taste amazing, but I love the way they box it up with hand-tied string. You see a lot of these boxes carried by tourists as you wander around the city. Fortunately, the line was only out the door instead of down the block, so it was only a 20 minute wait...
That's a Crushed Caramel Pecan on the left and an Oreo Cookie on the right.
A lot of jealous looks from people when they see the box you'll be carrying!
And then it was time to head out to Somerville so I could meet up with Justin, an online buddy I was very glad to finally meet in person. He suggested an ice cream at J.P. Licks, which didn't take much convincing...
Pretty frickin' amazing ice cream, if we're being honest here.
Since my ride to the party missed their flight into Boston and was going to be late, I was left with a couple of hours to kill. Lucky me, my friend Dave just happened to be in from London! I haven't seen him since Davedon in 2009, so this was a happy (if not totally bizarre) coincidence. We decided to eat at Boston's premiere brick oven pizzeria since 1926, Regina's...
There was a line to get in, of course. But totally worth the wait.
Dave had The Giambotta, which has everything but the kitchen sink. I had mozzarella and feta cheese.
Still needing to kill some time, Dave and I decided to take a walk through the Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall. I love the place not only for the sheer variety of food, but for the decor. Each stall has it's own signage, and most of it is very well done...
So much nicer than the boring signs you usually see now-a-days.
Outside there was a juggler risking his life with some kind of show. He was capable (and funny!) if this is your thing, but I was hoping for chainsaws...
Probably not sharp knives, but you could still poke an eye out.
My friends finally landed, so it was time to say goodbye to Dave and head back to my hotel so I could get cleaned up. Along the way, I saw Boston's beautiful old State House building with a spot of sunset light on it...
Now that's a beautiful building! Though I've never been inside.
Boston is a city that's kinda a strange place for me to be right now. Yes, it's home to my beloved Red Sox baseball... but it's also home to Bruins hockey, which is currently battling it out with my beloved Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup (wearing my Blackhawks jersey is probably out of the question). The good news is that I managed to find a Jarod Saltalamacchia T-Shirt and a not-LEGO Lil' Salty action figure this trip...
Other than that, it was all good. The party was fantastic, I loved running into my friends, and my trip was a total success.
Until I realize that it's now close to midnight and I have a flight at 7:00am tomorrow morning. Blargh.
Good bye Boston.
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.
• 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 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!
This may very well be the greatest movie ever.
And now I can't wait for 2014...
Because... Morgan Freeman, for real?
I hope there's a video game released to go along with it.
It's not the chase that I love.It's me following you.
I've been working non-stop for the past couple weeks which makes for boring blog fodder.
Luckily, I went out for groceries today.
Suffice to say that a good time was had by all... from the second I arrived only to have a woman put her shopping cart in front of the parking space I wanted... to the minute I was leaving only to have a kid run me over with his skateboard... I couldn't have asked for a better end to my work day.
Then I got home and turned on the television. It was on the E! channel. I don't recall what was playing, but I do recall that they interrupted the show so they could announce that James Gandolfini was dead. I had read about the news earlier but, before I had a chance to be sad about it all over again, the announcer proceeded to say "For late breaking news on this story, be sure to visit E! Online!"
I am still trying to figure out what that means.
Gandolfini might end up more dead?
Gandolfini could come back from the dead?
Exactly what are they expecting to happen? Or is it such a habit to add ""For late breaking news on this story, be sure to visit E! Online!" to everything that they don't even realize they're doing it. Or how inappropriate it is.
Or maybe it's all about the web traffic and they just don't care.
But I have to leave open the possibility that aliens could steal James Gandolfini's body, in which case I will absolutely be tuning in to E! Online because they totally called that.
This image is floating all over the internet, but nobody credits the photographer. Sad.
I don't have to wax poetic about what a brilliant actor Mr. Gandolfini was. Any single episode of The Sopranos would testify to that. He had a presence on screen that was undeniable, and he made even a minor role feel larger than life. He was one of the most memorable parts of Get Shorty, but barely ranked a supporting character. His end scene in True Romance lingers still even though his screen time was small.
So many roles. I loved him in The Loop. His performance as a gay hit-man in The Mexican was genius. And who could forget his vocal talent as Carol in Where the Wild Things Are?
It's incredibly sad that he has left us at a time when he was finally breaking free of the mobster role in The Sopranos that made him a household name. There were so many great performances to come.
So there I was driving home from work when a shot rang out.
Not knowing if I was the one being shot at, I pulled over so I could scope out the situation.
But nothing seemed awry.
And then the smell of root beer filled the air. Was I dead? Was I dreaming?
No. A can of A&W just exploded in the back seat of my car...
So now I am driving the root-beer-mobile. There's root beer everywhere... soaking into the floor... splattered on the ceiling... covering the back of the seats... such a disaster.
And I just don't get it. The weather was overcast. It was not hot. There was no reason for the can to have exploded. I can only guess that they must be using really thin aluminum now-a-days to save on cost, and this is what happens when a can gets a little shook up in the back seat of your car.
Guess it's time to fulfill my dream of lighting my piece-of-shit car on fire and rolling it off a cliff... because that root beer smell ain't ever going away.
Though I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been a can of lutefisk that blew up my car.
Or Strawberry Fanta.
Adobe Creative Cloud has arrived.
Adobe software upgrades are usually a reason to celebrate, but their controversial decision to make a monthly Creative Cloud membership the only way to use such popular apps as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign has made a lot of people upset and angry. Sure you can still buy the old CS6 software, but any new stuff is members only. This kind of sucks, because if you aren't able to pay your monthly fee, any files saved in the newer CC format become useless. And, of course, to use the latest features you have to save in CC format. Catch-22.
Regardless, I thought I'd give a quick overview of the thing for anybody out there who's curious. And if you don't even know what Creative Cloud is? Hark! A promo video...
And now for this Creative Cloud business...
The bad news is that Adobe still doesn't beta test anything before release. Or, if they do, they do a really crappy job of it. Just as it's always been with their apps, I've found bugs and problems on my very first day. How the fuck Adobe can miss or overlook stuff that I run across after mere minutes of use is just beyond me. The only thing I can guess is that they know their users don't have any realistic alternative to their tools so they just don't give a shit.
Everything I cover will be on a Mac, because I honestly don't give a flying fuck about Windows anymore after Microsoft released the horrendous pile of shit known as "Windows 8." If you're using that hot mess of an OS, I apologize, but, damn.
The boat-load of apps that come with a Creative Cloud membership are now managed by a menu bar extension. I thought this was a lot nicer than the previous method of hunting down Adobe's Application Manager app, but the thing is (of course) buggy and defective, so it's a mixed bag. Never mind that it doesn't update itself after an app is installed (you have to restart your Mac for that), there is a much bigger problem. In that most times when you switch between Apple's virtual desktops (called "Spaces") the damn thing activates. That's right, it just opens up for no reason at all. And this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about when I question whether Adobe bothers to test their shit. I ran across this problem immediately after installation. How in the hell did Adobe's beta testers not notice it? Do they ignore basic Mac OS X features? This is fucking insane. And the fact that Adobe isn't embarrassed by things like this speaks volumes for what you're getting into when you sign up for their products.
But I digress. The menu extension looks like this...
It's nice that you're told if your app is up-to-date, even though it makes the menu window huge. Oddly enough, if an app is not up to date, Creative Cloud doesn't have the ability to update it. Instead it launches Adobe Updater, which is kind of crazy. Why have one tool that can handle multiple tasks when you can clutter up a hard drive with two? Or, more likely for Adobe, twenty?
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
If you are a professional, you'll want to install the new CC apps next to your old CS6 apps in case you run into some heinous bug that prevents you from getting work done. Thankfully, this is fully supported. But what if you're a rebel like me who only wants the new apps? Do you have the option of overwriting Photoshop CS6 with Photoshop CC? Of course you don't! That would be too fucking convenient, and Adobe has a reputation for shitty, inconvenient installers, so that's not going to happen.
Welcome to Adobe manual uninstallation! It's stupidly inconsistent, but that's the Adobe way!
Some apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat have uninstaller apps in their folders. That's not so bad, right? Well, sure... if they worked. The uninstaller for InDesign hanged and had to be force-quit. The unistaller for Acrobat said that Acrobat was an invalid application to uninstall. You get the picture. Though at least they have uninstallers. Apps like Bridge don't. Regardless of how much work you put into uninstalling (Mac App Cleaner helped a lot), you still end up with traces of crap scattered over your hard drive. I did a search to root out all things "Adobe" so I could trash them, but I'm sure pieces are still around somewhere. Guess reformatting my hard drive is the only way to truly clean out old Adobe apps?
After installation... which was surprisingly smooth and easy... I thought I'd just quit Creative Cloud since I wouldn't be needing it the rest of the day. But, surprise!, Creative Cloud doesn't like that because Creative Cloud doesn't fucking know if it's working on an installation or not!
I suppose it's possible that Creative Cloud hands off installation to yet another app but, if that were the case, why would quitting cancel the install app? Insanity.
In what I can only describe as some kind of bizarre tease, two of Creative Cloud's non-app functions... Cloud File Storage and Cloud Typekit Fonts... are "coming soon"...
The third non-app function is Adobe's acquisition of "Behance" which is an online portfolio you can share with people. I'm already using Deviant Art for my portfolio, but it's free so I went ahead and signed up. Eventually I might even put something there.
And that's pretty much it for Creative Cloud.
But what about the new CC apps? Are the new features in Photoshop any good? Does Illustrator have any cool new toys? Does InDesign finally have decent performance at long last? Tune in tomorrow and see!
UPDATE! And the hits just keep coming. Turns out that Creative Cloud saying an app is "up-to-date" is not always true...
Yesterday I took a look at Adobe's "Creative Cloud" app. Today I'm going to look at the "Big Three" apps within Creative Cloud... Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
But before I go there, I have to come clean and admit that most of Adobe's updates have pretty much been "fluff" to me. Yeah, it's cool to get time-savers like the "Spot Healing Brush" and cool extras like "Perspective Drawing Tools"... but, overall, the basic stuff you need to do the job have been around for a long time and everything else they keep adding is nothing more than fluff.
My problem is that I like the fluff.
I get giddy every time Adobe drops some new nifty feature that makes my job easier... or more fun.
Unfortunately, I think we're getting to the point where the fluff is starting to affect app performance, and that's a problem. Kinda. So let me get the worst out of the way first...
In a nutshell? Fucking horrendous. The program is practically unusable now.
Should you upgrade? Only if you enjoy excrutiating pain and endless frustration.
By the time Adobe bought out Aldus PageMaker in 1994, I had already moved on to QuarkXpress for page layout. The problem being that I hated Quark. So when Adobe came out with InDesign, I jumped... nay, I bolted to InDesign... and never looked back. Partly because I loathed Quark so badly... but mostly because I loved what Adobe had done with InDesign.
Fast forward to yesterday and I have to ask... what the fuck is Adobe doing with InDesign?
The previous CS6 update felt slower than CS5 and crashed quite a bit. But it's an absolute joy to use compared to InDesign CC, which is ungodly slow and clunky. The lag when typing text is agonizing. Moving objects is sheer torture because they... just... won't... move. Even hiding all the images and turning off every automated feature doesn't help speed things up much. I could go on, but it's pointless to do so because InDesign CC is pretty much unusable and worthless.
But before I go, a question... why the fuck hasn't Adobe gotten off their asses and hidden the temp files that have been shitting all over my hard drive since InDesign 1.0?
In a nutshell? Not a lot to see here, move along.
Should you upgrade? Sure. You get a few nice pieces of fluff and I haven't found a down-side.
Adobe Illustrator is my most favorite program ever. I love Illustrator. It's powerful. It's comfortable. It's friendly. And the pen tool I use constantly to draw stuff is sublime. It also doesn't hurt that I'm really, really good at it. Just so long as Adobe doesn't break something, I'm excited by any new feature they want to throw my way. This time I'm especially excited by the free-transform tool (which allows you to distort objects oh so easily, especially with a touch screen)... the "touch text" tool (which allows you to perform really slick adjustments to live text)... the smarter Smart Guides (which is much needed)... and the nifty stuff they've done with brushes (like automatically generating corners and allowing you to use images and brushes). Granted, that's not a lot. But Illustrator is so amazing it really doesn't have to be. Overall a minor, unobtrusive, and welcome upgrade.
In a nutshell? Pretty great fluff this time. No noticeable slowdown from the additional features.
Should you upgrade? Only if you have confirmed that any third-party plugins you need are compatible.
Photoshop is a stunning example of what people mean when they use words like "invaluable" and "essential." It is the irreplaceable tool I need to do my job. I use it most every single day and love it more than chocolate pudding. So how does Adobe make a great thing greater? Welllll... the show-stopper this time is "Shake Reduction" which is a really smart, mostly-automatic, all-new version of "Smart Sharpen." And the results are pretty impressive...
Oops. In my defense, my camera didn't have image stabilization. And I was drunk.
Yes. This. With just a press of a button. Is it magic? It's Photoshop.
And, speaking of Smart Sharpen, that's been improved too.
Next up? Camera Raw now only works as a filter now for quickly working on non-RAW images, but they've added some new toys too... like auto spot removal. And a cool little feature called "Automated Upright" which will allow you to more quickly and easily straighten buildings and stuff...
When enlarging photos... especially ones with well-defined edges... I usually use a third-party enlargement plugin that has edge detection or fractals or some method to preserve details in the image. Now Photoshop has a new enlargement method called "Preserve Details." And it works pretty well...
It's tough to tell at this small size, but the "Preserve Details" enlargement on the right is much better.
There are other new features, improvements, and a few tweaks... but the above three are the biggies. And I think they're worth the price of admission when taken in a lump sum. But there is a down-side. Some of my third-party plugins are not working. Most notably, Imagenomic Noiseware. Until you're sure that your essential plugins can work with Photoshop CC you might want to hold off upgrading.
And there you have it. A mixed bag. Mostly thanks to a jaw-droppingly shitty InDesign update.
But also because Adobe can't be bothered to make their apps work well with my Mac. Full-Screen support is broken. Still. And my Magic Mouse acts like a total spaz with accidental scrolls and crappy tracking even though it's been out for nearly four years... so I have to downgrade to my Mighty Mouse, which is much older, but does work for some reason. Yet Adobe did expand Mac Retina Display support, so what do I know?
Now that we're stuck in the Creative Cloud I'm already looking for sunnier weather. Because even though I love Adobe and their critical tools which allow me to to what I do... they simply cannot continue to unleash horrendous piles of shit like InDesign CC any more.
When you're responsible for something "invaluable" and "essential," you have to do better than that.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
People be crazy. People be crazy.
Annnnd... it's going to be a long week.
CONGRATULATIONS BLACKHAWKS ON YOUR STANLEY CUP WIN!!
I wish I was in Chicago right now.
Oh... wait a second... deja vu.
In my annual music wrap-up for last year, a musical duo called "Father Tiger" came out of nowhere to nab the number two spot for best album of 2012. My only disappointment was that some of my favorite singles from the band weren't on it.
This has been partially rectified with their EP release titled Vernal Equinox which had First Love as one of the tracks. It's a terrific song, and today they release a video for it...
And timely, given that we're nearing the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality in America...
So DOMA is gone and Prop 8 has been struck down.
Both Supreme Court rulings are very good news for equality and freedom in this country.
But, of course, the hand-wringing and whining from the anti-equality brigade has already begun in full force. Never mind that not a single person lost any rights today... some people just enjoy being able to deny rights to people they don't like, and now they're all upset because some of that power has been taken away.
Though the bigger picture may not be so bleak for the bigots among us.
Because yesterday SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights act.
So now States are completely free to disenfranchise voters as they see fit. Have a class of people you want to eliminate from the voting pool? No problem! Just find the way that they tend to vote and get rid of it! Do they tend to vote early? Get rid of early voting! Do they tend to have difficulty getting certain types of identification? Then require that kind of identification! Do they tend to vote at late hours? Close the polls early! Do they all tend to vote at the same time? Then limit the number of polling stations so they can't all get in to vote! Do they tend to have dark skin? Then require their complexion be lighter than a paper bag to qualify to vote! The possibilities are endless! With enough planning, you can get rid of All The Wrong People and make sure the only people able to vote are the people you feel are worthy of the privilege (i.e. they'll vote the way you want them to).
Okay, I exaggerate.
But not really.
Because it's already happening. Except now, thanks to our Supreme Court, the people doing the disenfranchising don't even have to be subtle about it. Texas waited less than two hours after the SCOTUS ruling to start implementing a redistricting measure for heaven's sake.
And a part of me now has to wonder if the DOMA/Prop 8 stuff even matters.
Because if The Right People can determine who gets to vote, then they can shape election results. And I'm pretty sure this will include making sure only The Right People get into office. Which in turn guarantees that only The Right People end up serving on the Supreme Court. Which means that The Right People win the ball game.
In which case The Wrong People lose.
And that probably includes you.
If not today, then probably tomorrow.
Nope. Not yet.
Kapgar was talking about the Stanley Cup's triumphant return to Chicago in his blog post today, and it got me to thinking back to how I became a Blackhawks fan. That, in turn, got me thinking about how I became a fan of all the league sports teams that I follow.
A blog post was born. Thanks, Kevin!
Boston Red Sox Baseball
Baseball is hands-down my favorite sport. It was the only game I liked playing as a kid (even though I really could't play) and I love watching it. Baseball just seems more intimate and personal for some reason, and it's easier to feel a relationship with the players than with any other sport. When your team loses, it hurts because you're invested with those nine players. The first pro team I rooted for was my "hometown" Seattle Mariners, which were enfranchised when I was 11 years old. That lasted until I was in my mid-teens and was given an brand new Orioles jersey as a gift (probably because somebody didn't want it). I didn't know a darn thing about the Orioles, but I liked the shirt a lot. That was apparently enough for me to become a fan, and it didn't hurt that the Orioles were an amazing team back in the early 80's. But, truth to be told, I was never really into professional baseball growing up. I'd rather watch a high school game than a League team, and I was a "fan" of the Mariners and Orioles only in the vaguest possible terms.
And then it happened.
While I was in college, I had to read the book Shoeless Joe for some class or another. It provided an insight into baseball and the love of the game that completely captivated me. A key story-point to the book was the "Black Sox" scandal that rocked the world of baseball in 1919. It was such a fascinating story that I became a little obsessed with it, and ended up reading a lot about the sport. Fortunately, there were no shortage of books about America's favorite pastime, and one book lead to another... then another... then another... until I landed on a Ted Williams biography. This lead to a run on Boston greats, starting with Cy Young, which lead to Smoky Joe Wood, which lead inevitably to Babe Ruth... and his infamous trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees, which caused a curse that plagued the team for over eight decades. This eventually led me to become interested in pro baseball, in general, and the Red Sox, in particular. Then the movie Field of Dreams (based on the novel Shoeless Joe) was unleashed, became my favorite movie of all time, and instilled a love of Major League baseball in me that I never had before... but felt as if it had been with me my entire life. I've been a die-hard Red Sox fan ever since. I love the team. I love the history. I love the fans. I love Boston. And I love Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (probably a little too much). SALTALAMACCHIA!!!
Chicago Blackhawks Hockey
Hockey is not a big sport where I live, so I never really "discovered" it until I started traveling to Milwaukee for work in the mid 90's. I went to a couple Admirals games and was instantly hooked. The problem being that the Admirals are not a NHL team, so they were kind of hard to follow when I was not in Wisconsin. Eventually my fandom traveled down the shore of Lake Michigan to the Blackhawks when I started traveling to Chicago for work in 1998. I've been a fan ever since. I don't really keep up the League standings, but I have news alerts set for the Hawks so I can watch games and keep up with the team. Hockey remains one of my favorite sports to watch, so a Stanley Cup win for Chicago is a big deal to me after following the team from afar for 15 years. GO HAWKS!
Seattle Sonics Basketball
Sonics mascot SQUATCH!! Photo credit unknown.
Basketball is another spectator sport I enjoy because, like hockey, it's fast-paced and action-packed. The only team I've ever rooted for is my "hometown" Seattle SuperSonics, and I have more than a couple fond memories of traveling to Seattle Center Coliseum (later named Key Arena) to cheer on the team. Of course we all know how that turned out. Our team was sold to Tulsa and basketball died in Seattle. I haven't bothered to find a new team to follow since. INTERESTING FACT: Seattle Center Coliseum has the dubious honor of being the only venue where a basketball game was rained out. Back in 1986 a rainstorm was so severe that water started pouring through the roof and the game was forfeited. It's also the venue where The Beatles played in their two tours of Seattle in 1964 and 1966.
New York Liberty Women's Basketball
I'm not going to candy-coat this... for the longest time, I had -zero- interest in women's sports, thinking that they would be a pale imitation of the real thing. That all changed when I was taken to a New York Liberty game in Newark. These ladies played their guts out, and I got to see a fantastic game that opened my eyes to the fact that women can bring it to the court every bit as dedicated as men. I am not an avid Liberty fan, but check in from time to time to see how they're doing and what's new with the roster. Since the Sonics are gone, I keep hoping I'll find time to take in some Seattle Storm WNBA games and maybe get interested in pro basketball again, but no luck so far.
Seattle Seahawks Gridiron Football
I find football kinda boring, so I'm not invested enough to have a team. If I were, it would be my "hometown" Seattle Seahawks. Probably because I was there in the beginning. Back in 1976 the NFL expansion granted Seattle a team, and it was an exciting time to be a Washingtonian. Seahawks were everywhere, and I remember collecting player posters from the backs of Lay's potato chips boxes (yes, potato chips used to come 2-small bags to a box back in the day). Players like quarterback Jim Zorn and wide receiver Steve Largent that were elevated to local heroes, and their charisma and enthusiasm for the team made it impossible not to root for the Seahawks. But, as I said, I'm not a big football fan, so any love I have for the team comes out of nostalgia more than anything else.
With apologies to my friends who are either Manchester United or Chelsea fans... Nick Hornby's novel, Fever Pitch, got me rooting for Arsenal first. The ultimate irony being that when the American movie version of Fever Pitch was made, the sports-obsessed character was a Boston Red Sox fan. Whenever I can find sports highlights for Arsenal, I'm sure to tune it, and I follow their stats every season.
Cronulla Sharks Australian Water Polo
When I was traveling around Australia, I saw a T-shirt for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Football Club. The logo was awesome (SHARK EXTREME!!!), but the shirt didn't come in my size, so I was bummed. When I got back to my hotel I Googled the team to see if there was a way to order a shit through the mail. Somehow, I ended up NOT on a Cronulla Sharks football page, but a Cronulla Sharks water polo page. Other than a vague recollection of water polo being an important Olympic sport, I didn't know much about the game and was curious. After some digging, I ran across internet video and was amazed. Water polo has to be one of the most difficult and grueling sports in existence. It's also a lot of fun to watch. And so I tune into water polo from time to time whenever I run across it on my television. I also keep up with both the Women's and Men's Cronulla Sharks teams because they were what started it all for me.
Sadly I haven't decided on a professional curling team to watch, so I guess that's the end?
I'm now mostly dead.
Which is understandable considering I just got finished with a seventeen-hour work day.
What I need now Is a vacation.
But that's a few weeks away yet. Darnit.
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.
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...
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.