Happiest of New Years to you!
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I'm pretty boring because I have the exact same New Year's resolutions every year. The same five goals going on for heaven only knows how long. This year is no different, so here we go...
I should probably add "keep blogging" on there somewhere, but that's pretty much a given at this point.
And what am I looking forward to in 2015?
• Travel! It's going to be really difficult to top Africa, so I'm not even going to try. Where that leaves me for my Fall vacation I have no idea. Maybe if I try something a little less ambitious this year I'll be able to afford a trip to Antarctica or India next year?
• Movies! Well, new Star Wars: Episode VII is obviously topping my list of films I want to see this year. And lest we forget, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant Man are dropping in 2015 as well. And then there's the long delayed Jupiter Ascending that probably won't live up to my expectations, but I'm wanting to see it anyway. I don't know how to feel about Terminator: Genisys, but am onboard with Jurassic World. Also on my radar... Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mission Impossible 5, Ted 2, and Seventh Son. And then there's The Fantastic Four. Sony's already screwed up the property twice, so I'm holding out little hope that third time will be a charm... but who knows?
• Music! Topping my most anticipated list would be Macintosh Braun's Arcadia, which has been teased for far too long. Interested in seeing what Imagine Dragons come up with for Smoke + Mirrors. Rumor has it Duran Duran, Drake, and Garbage are going to released something this year, which would be welcome. As would a new album by Slayer, but talk seems to have died down as of late. Lastly, Ludacris is going to be dropping Ludaversal this year after a five year wait... definitely looking forward to that. Meanwhile, rumors that Depeche Mode were heading to the studio this year turned out to be false, which is sad because I so want them to redeem themselves to me after their disappointing past two releases. And finally, from the Hope Springs Eternal Dept., please, please, please, let Tom Bailey make a new album this year. His set of Thompson Twin calssics on the Retro Futura Tour was so mind-blowing that I'm dying for new material.
• Fiction! One of the definite highlights of the past four years has been working on THRICE Fiction. I can honestly say that neither RW nor I had any idea what this would become when it started, and we're so very grateful for the successes we've had. None of which wouldn't have been possible with the wonderful writers and artists who contribute to each issue. Big plans are afoot for 2015, and I couldn't be more excited for where we're headed. As always, you can download every issue for FREE on our website.
• Apple! Please oh please let this be the year we get Apple TV.
• Ink! Last year I got two new tattoos. This year will probably be the same. I am hoping to finally find time to get my upper-right arm worked on this year, as that's been a long time coming.
As always, wishing everybody only good things in 2015. Something tells me this is going to be another year to struggle for me, but hopefully not as awful as most of 2014 was.
Hey! Did you know there's a brand new issue of THRICE Fiction out?
Well, there is... and it's totally FREE! Click here to download a copy!
As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding.
All done? Then off we go...
This issue's beautiful cover was created by Allen Forrest. The guy has created a lot of covers for lit mags, and we're very lucky to have him gracing ours...
I try to make sure there's artistic variety in our collection of cover art, and am rather embarrassed that we didn't have any impressionistic pieces yet. To have that oversight rectified with such a great painting is icing on the cake. Thanks so much, Allen!
And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!
If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.
And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our December 2014 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!
Last issue I talked about how assembling an issue of THRICE Fiction is like putting together a puzzle. And how I moved things around over and over and over again before I'm happy with how everything fits together. But I glossed over exactly how that happens, which is like this...
After inputting the stories into Adobe InDesign, I print out half-size pages that I can then move around a big table until I'm happy. Sometimes, if things get too difficult to keep track of, I'll print a second round of pages with color-coding to keep stories and spreads together.
The finalized layout has never come together without a struggle. I change my mind at least a dozen times as I read through the complete magazine over and over trying to make sure that I have created a rhythm from one story to the next, and that everything looks good together. I'll then change my mind a couple more times as I try to figure out which artist would be a good fit for each piece.
This issue came together easier than most, but still took days of working and re-working until I was happy.
And that's how it's done. Low-tech, but effective!
Anyway... to read about the art in the second-half of issue No. 12, click onward to an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Time for a new beginning... because the first Bullet Sunday of 2015 starts... now...
• Back! Anybody who's a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy knows that it's the year 2015 that Marty travels to in the second film when he follows Doc Brown to do something about his kids. The result is a funky look at what the future has in store... as envisioned by filmmakers in 1989. Though, to be honest, I think they were more concerned with entertainment value than actually attempting to predict what was coming down the pipe in 25 years...
Newsweek interviewed some futurists to take a look at what Back to the Future II got right... and what they got wrong... and the result is worth a read.
• Snoopy! Usually, I'm dead-set against "improving" old animation techniques... especially with a property as beloved as Peanuts, but this looks amazing...
Nothing like what's come before, and yet oddly in-tune with the Peanuts aesthetic. I am hopeful that eventually there's a "making-of" which explains how they're achieving this perfect compromise of old and new.
• Remastered! Back before the original Star Wars hit theaters, Marvel Comics had an adaptation in the works... written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. It didn't even hit my radar until I saw Star Wars, at which time I was obsessive about tracking down anything and everything that even mentioned the film. Including Marvel's over-sized movie tie-in. Since it would be years before home video would happen, it was about as good as I could get in re-living the movie. Flash-forward to today, and the adaptation of Star Wars is being remastered for release as a hardcover graphic novel this March. The "remastering" is basically cleaning up the original pages and then recoloring them using today's computerized technology. The original looks something like this (which I've muddied a bit because the paper back then was far from white)...
And here's the new hotness...
Nice. I guess. I mean, the Death Star is no longer day-glo yellow and Darth Vader is no longer day-glo blue which is good. But I think they went a bit too far. The intro panel, for example, doesn't look much like the original Chaykin art... it's all coloring. They even colored over the text panel for crying out loud! While I like the idea of having an updated edition of these comics, I just wish they hadn't gone quite so over-the-top gradient air-brushy with everything. More flat colors and a little more respect for the original linework would have gone a long way towards a better looking updated book.
• Giving! Taylor Swift, who seems to have a genuine appreciation for her fans, decided to celebrate her hugely successful foray into pop music this year by sending presents to some of the people who made it possible...
It's a sweet video, and I would have thought that anybody seeing it would love Taylor just a little bit more. And most people did. Except, of course, her haters, which were quick to point out that the millionaire country/pop star spent a mere couple hundred dollars of her massive fortune on this obvious publicity stunt.
So I'd like to point out that even if you're this cynical, there is one thing you can't deny: Taylor Swift doesn't stop at a couple hundred dollars when it comes to giving back. In fact, she topped the "Most Charitable Celebrities" list for 2014... for the third year in a row. Say what you want about her music or how she interacts with her fans but, when it comes to charity in the world of celebrities, it would seem as though few people are doing more than Taylor Swift.
• Connectivity! When my Mac displayed an incoming call at work, I couldn't find my iPhone so I accepted the call through my Mac. After the call was over I tore my office apart trying to locate my mobile (which was obviously on silent mode) and couldn't find it. Finally I realized that my Mac was connecting to my iPhone out in my car. I parked close enough that Bluetooth could still reach. Wonderful and bizarre at the same time. Which is how new technology should be, but often isn't. Most of the times now it's just frustration. Like trying to get a file from my iPhone to my Mac using "AirDrop" only to find that it only works half the time. Why? FOR THE LOVE OF JOBS, WHY?!? WHY CAN'T IT WORK EVERY TIME? You got me. And, while I should be happy for the times that this stuff "just works," the fact that you can't count on it is enough me make me want to light my Mac on fire.
• Devil! Back when I was at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, I posted photos of insane people on the Zambia side of the Zambezi taking a dip in what's known as "The Devil's Pool"...
Yesterday I was searching YouTube for people who might have actually filmed the event, and was surprised to find all kinds of videos. Here's just two of them...
Given the opportunity, would I partake in this craziness? I really don't know.
And there you have it. Don't forget to use "2015" when you write the date!
And so... updating WordPress ended up being a very bad idea, because Blogography done broked real good last night.
Which happens from time to time, I know, but it's no less irritating. Usually I would just stop the world and re-install everything from scratch, but that's not an option right now. Maybe come the weekend...
Sorry if you're one of the thousands of people who can't start their day without a dose of Blogography. Guess you'll be taking the week off then?
This is the first post in a two-part entry that will be discussing digital photo storage. Not a topic that most people will be interested in, but I very much want to document my process just in case somebody else out there on the interwebs is in the same boat as I am.
But, before we begin, a disclaimer.
I am a huge, huge, massively huge Apple Aperture fan. When it comes to working on photos, it's lagged behind Adobe Lightroom for years... but, when it comes to cataloging photos, it's pretty much the cat's meow. And since it's the cataloging that's of primary importance to me and my tens of thousands of photos, that's where my heart has been since Aperture debuted back in 2005. I will never, ever forgive Apple for canceling the app, and consider it just one of several stupid moves for the company as of late. But anyway...
Apple did cancel Aperture, so I am forced to migrate elsewhere.
My choice ended up being Adobe Lightroom. I am still not convinced it was the best choice, but I do think it's the right choice... for me anyway. Yes, I preferred the way photos looked using the RAW import on Capture One Pro better than Lightroom... and there were features in Darktable (among others) that were appealing... but it just seemed easier all the way around to go with Adobe since I know they're not going anywhere. The last thing I want to do is to have to go through this crap all over again if another app closes up shop. On top of that, the tight integration with the Adobe apps I use every day (Photoshop and Illustrator in particular) is too alluring to ignore. As if that weren't enough, I get Lightroom as a part of my Adobe Creative Suite subscription at no extra charge. Sure I could wait and see what Apple's replacement app, Photos is all about, but it looks unlikely to include the professional features I need.
So here I am.
And now a little background so you know who that is...
I have been into photography for as long as I can remember, and I've loved it all that time. So when it came time for a high school graduation gift in the mid-80's, all I wanted was a professional camera. My parents got me a Canon A-1, which was the most advanced camera of its day. The "Killer Feature" being the first SLR camera to have a digital autoexposure controller. Something I took advantage of frequently as I was learning how to properly use shutter and aperture settings. The A-1 was both a joy and a revelation over the fifteen years I used it as my primary camera, and I shot as much film as I could afford to have developed.
Then in the mid-90's the digital age was upon us. I was an early adopter, buying an Apple QuickTake 1 the day it was released in 1994. By modern standards, it was a pretty shitty camera. 640x480 pixels max and, unless you had flawless lighting, the images were pretty terrible. But... it was new. And it was cool. And I kept investing in digital technology despite not taking it very seriously. Why should I when what I was getting from my film camera was so much better?
Then the year 2000 came along and I got a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-D700.
Suddenly, my digital photos were getting close to what I was getting on film, all without the pain (and expense) of developing the images. All summer long I went back and forth, testing and re-testing, contrasting and comparing. I was lugging around two cameras everywhere, not fully trusting the Sony after over a decade with my trusty Canon. But then the moment of truth arrived... in October I took a trip to Asia and the only camera I brought was my DSC-D700. The results were so encouraging I went ahead and did the same for a trip to Rome that December. By 2001, I was 99% digital, only dusting off my film camera when I had a project that required it.
Cataloging my photos in 2001 was a pretty simple affair. I stored all my photos on a Zip Drive, making two copies each on separate cartridges, one of which was kept in a bank safe. As image size kept climbing, I would eventually switch to Jaz Drive cartridges. Every project had a separate folder, which got a bit complicated after a while, so I then started creating Master Folders titled by year to sort them into. It worked just fine, and I didn't even think about the need for cataloging software until that infamous day in 2005 when I purchased Apple's Aperture.
And it was glorious. Especially during those heady early years when Apple was updating the thing. They added "Places" so you could tag all your photos with a location (if they didn't have one already). They added "Faces" so you could automate tagging the people appearing in your photos. And then there were the Vaults... dead-simple ways of backing up your catalogs and precious photo information which was quickly becoming every bit as important as the photos themselves. Everything in Aperture was so convenient, easy, and powerful. I quickly organized all my photos into Projects by year and Folders by project, since that mimicked the file structure I had been using for five years. Apple's amazing app made dealing with my huge library of images almost effortless.
Until they decided they didn't want to any more.
At first I thought the migration would be a piece of cake, because the Aperture import plugin I had been waiting for was finally released. It was a huge relief to know that all the hours/days/months of inputting photo data into Aperture wouldn't be lost. Except I could never get the plugin to work. It would hang after a while no matter what I did.
And so I gave up and decided I would just start over completely from scratch. The first step was to extract all my images from the Aperture catalog and convert them to "managed" files so I could access the individual, original photo files, which subsequently transferred to a spare 1TB drive I had laying around.
I then purchased a new 8TB Thunderbolt RAID unit from Western Digital which would give me 4TB of mirrored storage to work with. The old Aperture RAID drives were removed and popped into my bank safety deposit box just in case I ever need them.
And then the horrendous chore of importing all my images into Lightroom began.
The first years were easy. In the year 2000 I had a measly 250 photos, and they were all JPEG files that were either 2048×1360 or a tiny 1600×1200 pixels in size. NOTE TO YOUNGER SELF: Always shoot at the maximum resolution of your camera. I know that 1600×1200 seemed like a huge amount of pixels back in the day, but in the future that will be insanely inadequate for just about every purpose.
As we move forward in time, the number of photos increases considerably from year to year (especially when I decided to start bracketing most of my shots). And, because the size of the photos keeps going up as well (especially when I started shooting RAW), the storage space needed (hence the amount of time to import them into Lightroom) increases exponentially. NOTE TO YOUNGER SELF: Always shoot RAW. I know they're a lot bigger files, but if you could experience the pain of having to look back at your trip to the pyramids of Egypt with all that JPEG artifacting, you'd know the extra size is well worth it. And it's no small amount. In 2007 I shot one trip RAW. In 2008 I shot half of them RAW. In 2010 I was shooting all RAW all the time. Just look at what happens...
Now, to be honest, most of the photos I took in later years are not keepers. As memory cards kept getting bigger and cheaper, I was a lot less selective in what I shot... and I would shoot the same thing several times so I could pick the best image and delete the rest... except I never seem to delete anything. Perhaps one day I'll have the time to purge all the bad/redundant shots, but it ain't happening any time soon. Good thing hard drive space is getting so cheap!
Okay then. Now you know about me and what I shoot... I guess it's time to start importing everything into Lightroom!
Which I will be talking about in tomorrow's entry.
Yesterday I talked about my photos and how the death of Apple's Aperture has forced me to move to Adobe's Lightroom. This entry talks about how that all went down.
Since the Aperture import plugin didn't work and I was starting from scratch, there really was only four decisions to be made in building my Lightroom catalog and new photo library...
To DNG or not to DNG?
When you shoot RAW, odds are your camera is saving the "digital negative" in a proprietary format. My Nikon D90, for example, saves them as .NEF files, which is proprietary to Nikon. My Sony A7, for another example, saves them as .ARW, which is Sony's version of RAW. I shot on a Canon for a while, and they use .CR2 for their RAW format. I also have .RW2 files from a Panasonic underwater camera I used and .ORF from an Olympus that I borrowed. What a mess. Unlike JPEG which is standardized, RAW formats rarely are. Which is why Adobe created the .DNG format. But, unlike what's used by camera companies, it's not proprietary... it's open, and anybody anywhere can read the specs that Adobe provides for free. This does two very important things...
There are other advantages to .DNG as well... my favorite being that it doesn't use external EXIF sidecar files, but instead stores the information internally. The fact that the files are also validated by an internal checksum means that you can tell when bits of a file go missing or are corrupted. The list goes on and on (did I mention that .DNG files are also smaller?).
So, ultimately, I totally embraced .DNG and had all my RAW image files converted upon import. Yes, this adds significant time to your import, but the benefits are worth it.
Alas yon Preview, What Size Art Thou?
When my 8TB external hard drive is connected to my laptop, all my photos are available to me at full resolution. When it's disconnected and I'm half-a-world-away, however, my photos are not available, and all I have to look at is whatever preview Lightroom has available in the catalog of my local drive. Lightroom's "Standard Size" preview is 1024 pixels along the image's longest side. That's fairly decent for looking through your images and won't take up too much space. Except Lightroom stupidly doesn't default to "Standard" but instead renders "Minimal" previews which are pretty much worthless (so be sure to switch to "Standard" in the Catalog Preferences or else you'll have to re-render all new previews!). You also have the option for 1:1 previews, which will speed up your workflow and look great on-screen... assuming you have room on your hard drive. As for me? I compromised. I changed the "Standard" size preference from 1024 to 2048 pixels and left the quality on "Medium." That's double the size of what you usually get, but generally ends up smaller than 1:1. My reason for taking the hit to my hard drive is twofold... 1) I have a Retina Display, and larger images display better... and, 2) If my library drive AND both backups are lost for some reason, I can probably live with 2048 as my only image size, but would be devastated if all I had were 1024 images. In the end, it's up to you... but with display resolution climbing and hard drive sizes escalating, it seems as though the bigger you go the better off you'll be.
If Thee Be Smart, Where Be Your Brains?
A couple versions ago, Adobe came up with "Smart Previews" which opened the door to all kinds of cool things. Primary of which is that you can EDIT images with Smart Previews... even if you're not connected to your library (usually, you can't do this). Once your library gets connected, the edits will be written to the original photo file's dataset, and it's just as if you had changed the original all along. As if that weren't enough, Smart Previews can also be viewed and worked on with an iPad via Creative Cloud. Pretty cool stuff, right? Except... "Smart" Previews are not exactly "smart" in that you are still required to have "regular" previews as well. So, effectively, you've got an entire catalog of previews taking up valuable hard drive space... twice? Or at least that's how I understand it to work. I don't have that kind of space available on my laptop's SSD, so I skipped stupid "Smart Previews." Hopefully one day they'll make it so you are only required to have ONE preview per image. Until then, it's nice to know that I can build Smart Previews for those times I plan on editing photos on the go.
But Soft! In What Organization Through Yonder Library Breaks?
With Aperture I never had to worry about the physical organization of all my image files. I created projects and folders within the app and let Aperture worry about where the files went. With Lightroom this is not possible. So what I ended up doing was mimicking the structure I was used to... a folder for each year and a sub-folder for every event/trip/session that was preceded by a date. If you take a lot of photos, it's a pretty good idea. The drawback being that if you've visited Milwaukee twenty times and want that photo you took of the Milwaukee Art Museum, you have to know when you visited in order to track down the photo. If that's a concern for you, might be better to not organize by date... but to instead organize by subject. Regardless of how you choose to organize your images, it's critical to keep organizing the same way. Once you get tired of the effort and just start dumping your photos wherever, you never be able to find them unless you spend a lot of effort applying keywords to each image. That takes considerably more time than organizing from the get-go... though, if your import groups are small enough, you might be able to apply keywords when you import to save time. Still, given Lightroom's inability to manage your photo files, you really need to come up with something yourself and stick with it.
Now that I've made my decisions... we're ready to import.
Getting your photos into your local Lightroom catalog and writing out your .DNG files to your external library is pretty easy. You click the "import" button, choose what you want to import... choose where you want them to go... add your settings for previews, keywords, and such, and away you go.
Since I was converting to .DNG and rendering rather large previews, my later years took a very long time. Five hours or more. And the bad news is that there's no way to pause the import and resume it at a later time... at least not that I've found. Yes, you can cancel and then re-do the import (Lightroom will run through everything again and skip the images it's already worked on) but this is a far from ideal solution. Even worse, absolutely no estimate on how long the import will take is given. You get a progress bar and that's all. Thankfully, you'll (hopefully) only have to do massive library imports once in your life, but it would sure be nice if Adobe were to allow you to pause the process. My suggestion? Break your imports down into more manageable chunks. You can uncheck folders you've already imported to keep Lightroom from doubling up (though, inexplicably, Lightroom will still go through all your photos if you have "Don't Import Duplicates" selected... whether you've checked or unchecked the folder in question).
It took me five days to get everything cataloged/imported. Usually I would import a chunk before going to bed and find everything completed when I woke up.
So how am I liking it now that I'm a Lightroom guy?
To be honest, I'm not liking it at all.
Lightroom is a massively confusing program that makes practically no sense. Compared to the elegance and ease of Aperture, I'd go so far as to say that Lightroom is crap. I hate just about everything about it. The interface is a complete mess and takes up way too much of the screen. Even simple things are difficult. Want to zoom in on a photo? I still don't understand how it works. Click once you zoom. Click again and you don't zoom in further, you zoom back out to some totally random percentage? Crazy. Instead of an intuitive, fluid zoom tool that operates like every other zoom tool in every other program (including Adobe Photoshop!), with Lightroom you have to click on a drop-down menu and choose 1:4, 1:2, 1:1, 2:1, 4:1, etc. etc. in order to get closer to/further from an image. It's about the stupidest fucking thing I've ever seen. I'm trying to use gestures on my trackpad for zooming, but it's so clunky and spastic that I can never end up where I want to be. And that pretty much defines everything you do in this program... clunky and spastic. There are times I make adjustments to an image... increase the saturation or sharpening or whatever... and nothing happens, even though the sliders are showing I've made the adjustment. WTF? It's enough to drive me insane. There are times I have to step away from the program because I'm getting so frustrated and angry that it feels as if my head is going to explode.
I'm hoping that eventually I'll get used to the shitty way Lightroom works, but I sincerely doubt it. The program is a hot mess of epic proportions, and I simply don't understand how anybody manages to get anything done with it. Yes, it's usable and I can (eventually) figure out how to do what I need to do... but it has a long, long way to go before it's as beautifully intuitive as Aperture is. Was. Whatever.
But, thanks to Apple being complete assholes and canceling one of the most wonderful apps for organizing and working on photos ever made, this is where I'm forced to be.
Maybe there's a better solution out there... maybe I should take a second look at Capture One... but the thought of having to go through all this mess again makes me want to stick my head in an oven.
I'm probably better off not using a photo cataloging program at all. I'll just go back to files and folders on ZIP drives and call it a day.
So much for progress.
UPDATE: More problems popping up every day. The worst of which is that Lightroom crashes... a lot.
Yeah. Definitely don't understand how people are using this thing.
Every year for the past decade I've been sending in bunched of old photos to be scanned. I finished with my own photos after a couple years. My mom's photos took an additional four years. After that, I've been going through my grandmother's extensive photo collection, which will keep me paying for photo scanning services for years to come.
It's a lot of money.
But it's well worth it.
Mostly because there's hundreds of gorgeous shots of my mother when she was little that are more artistic than anything you'll find in any museum...
And by "artistic" I should say "accidentally artistic" since they were never intended to be art... they were just everyday snapshots that happened to turn out incredible.
Not everything is accidental art though.
Like this photo of me with my hand down my pants...
Some things never change.
Yesterday I mentioned that I've got another batch of family photos that are getting scanned.
This morning I started reviewing the scans in process at ScanCafe. As these are my grandmother's photos, I don't know most of the people that are showing up. I assume they're mostly images of my extended family, but they could be anybody.
All I really know for sure is that there's some crazy-interesting stuff popping up...
And it only gets stranger from here...
When Blogography broke down (again) on Monday, I was half-way tempted to just leave it broken.
This was just the excuse I needed to hang up blogging once and for all, as lately it seems more like a chore I have to do rather than an activity I want to do. But I've gone through rough patches like this before and have always cone around, so I thought it best to get things running again. If I'm going to quit, it should be a decision I make instead of a decision I'm forced into.
So here I am.
Guess there's no better reason to do a meme than that...
See you tomorrow, I guess.
No, this isn't shaping up to be the worst year ever... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rain! The best thing I've seen all week is this wonderful photo that was entered in the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. It doesn't get much more adorable than this...
Photo by Andrew Suryono for Sony World Photography Awards
One smart primate right there.
• People's Choice! I loved Betty White long before it was the cool thing to do. Moments like this are why...
I don't know what's better... Betty White accepting her award with such genuine surprise and appreciation... or the fact that Captain America himself, Chris Evans, escorted her to the stage.
• Vegetarian? I can't wait to try it!
• Back! In Thailand, male friends hold hands all the time. They think nothing of it, and they find it strange that people find it strange. The Thai people are amused by Western hang-ups that make something so innocent and natural be looked upon as scandalous. I, on the other hand, can't be amused, because I know in some areas this simple act could get a guy severely beaten or even killed... gay or not...
Insanity. This society we've build is just plain nuts.
• Carter! After the disaster that ended up being Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, I admit to being a bit pessimistic about Marvel's Agent Carter. Yes, it stars the divine Hayley Atwell and is being produced in the style of the brilliant Marvel One-Shot that was attached to the home-video release of Iron Man 3... but there was just so much going against it...
And then I watched it and it was wonderful in every way. It's beautiful to look at and the story means something. And it looks like it's going to be tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terrific ways. We're probably going to see the fallout between Howard Stark and Anton Venko... fathers of Tony (Iron Man) Stark and Ivan (Whiplash) Vanko, respectively. And I'm sure there's going to be an appearance by the Howling Commandos... maybe even Arnim Zola? (please! please! please!). If you're not watching, you should be...
And that's a wrap! Only seven days to go until your next Bullet Sunday fix...
I usually don't buy into the whole "MONDAYS SUCK" scenario, but this particular Monday was full-on absurd in just about every way.
And since I'm feeling particularly stabby about the situation, I'll just spare you an entry today...
Hope your Monday was better than mine.
It would seem the decades spent abusing my body are finally catching up to me.
Turns out that by not eating healthy, avoiding regular exercise, and forgoing critical concepts such as "sleep," I've set myself up for a serious reckoning later in life.
And here we are.
Last week I threw my back out setting my pack on the floor.
Yesterday I spent fifteen minutes trying to remember what I had for lunch when somebody asked three hours later. I still don't know.
Tonight I at a chocolate bar that put me in such gastrointestinal distress that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain.
So it's all downhill from here, I'm guessing.
2015 is not the year I was hoping for, and we're not even out of January yet.
I'm not much into health food.
Happy Betty Day!
That would be 93. She's 93 years old today...
I don't mind that it's a cold, wet, miserable day... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Super! I am not much of a Seahawks fan, but I suppose congratulations are in order even though I don't understand overtime rules. Looks like I've got two more weeks of insane 12th Man shenanigans to endure...
• Maroon! Not a fan of Adam Levine or Maroon 5, but have to say this was an awesome idea for a music video...
Apparently, the grooms were informed about the crash (the band had to get permission somehow, I'm guessing), but the brides were not. Clever.
• Turing! Necessary reading...
Setting The Record Straight For Alan Turing.
• Picture! A while back there was a terrific Instagram photo of a gay couple getting their daughters ready for school that went viral in all the right ways...
Now Nikon has gone and built a really great commercial around it...
A beautiful family. Lucky kids.
• Star-Lord! My totally obsessive man-crush on Chris Pratt continues. The more things like this surface, the more I think this is more than an act... he's a genuinely nice guy who is using his fame for something good. And he's married to Anna Faris...
This devotion to kindness deserves every success...
2017 and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 can't get here soon enough.
• TED! Everything you know is wrong.
The disturbing news being that chimps have a better understanding of the the world than most people... even if by accident. I, for one, welcome our new simian overlords.
• Trews! Russell Brand is a polarizing force of celebritydom whom most people either love or hate. I don't feel strongly enough about him to go to those extremes... and heaven only knows I don't always agree with the guy... but his "The Trews" podcast is essential listening. If nothing else, he's going to get people thinking about current events in a way that may challenge their perceptions. Which is the entire point...
And tomorrow is yet another day that people don't have to work. See you at work.
This morning I started out the same way I begin every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his beautiful I Have a Dream speech in its entirety.
And then I went to work.
As I do on every day that ends with a "Y"... holiday or not.
Then I celebrated by watching Animated Batman cartoons.
"We can't do that."
"There's nothing we can do."
"We can't help you with that."
Reasons I won't shop my local JC Penney ever again.
And, believe it or not, this was all while I was trying to PAY THEM MONEY on behalf of somebody who is no longer able to handle their finances for medical reasons. Very sad medical reasons. I even have a Power of Attorney document in my hand which allows me to take care of things like this when needed. Like now. But they don't give a shit. "YOU HAVE CALL THE NUMBER ON THE BACK OF THE CARD!!!"But I don't have the card. And they won't even go get me the number so I CAN call.
Needless to say, I'm fuming.
What kind of customer service is that? If your damn job is to help customers, then get off your ass and help the customer! Had somebody come to me with a horrible situation like this, I would have done everything I could to help them. Need to pay a bill for somebody who is medically unable? I'm sorry I can't help you with that... but let's go find somebody who can place a call for you. You drove all the way down here, so let's get this taken care of, okay?
I get sent away with literally nothing.
I tried web-chat at the JC Penney website, but they tell me billing issues must be handled by phone. Okay. At least the chat agent actually GIVES ME THE FRICKIN' PHONE NUMBER.
So then I try to call customer service. But you can't get through to a REAL PERSON without an account number or social security number for the card holder. Well, I don't have any of that, and the automated answering system provides no way to explain the situation. I kept saying "help" and "customer service" and pressing "0"... but the phone robot goes in a loop and insists that I give the information it wants. After eight minutes (I checked!) of trying every option available, I manage to confuse the system enough that an operator finally picked up.
Who treats a customer like this?
JC Penney, apparently.
I managed to keep my cool while explaining the situation to the very nice phone agent, but it's rough. The guy apologizes for all I've been though and seems sincere, so I pay the bill, thank him, then hang up the phone.
How in the hell has customer relations degraded to this sorry state?
I became a JC Penney fan when the company made a big effort to be inclusive in both their philosophy and advertising. Who can say no to Ellen DeGeneres? Not me. I started shopping at Penney's because I support companies who embrace diversity, treat all people with kindness, and want their customers to feel good about supporting them with their hard-earned money.
Now I don't give a shit if the local JC Penney burns to the ground.
Boy, it sure doesn't take much for a company to turn a good customer into a bitter enemy now-a-days, does it?
Oh well. It's not like there aren't other places to spend my money.
A week-and-a-half ago I was bending over to set my backpack down when something went "boink!" in my back. There was an odd tingling for a split second that was (assumably) some kind of warning that I was twisting wrong, but I wasn't able to twist back fast enough. I ended up pulling a muscle that made everything excruciating for the next five days.
Then my back, though tender, was healed enough that it didn't feel like a knife was lodged there. I aimed to keep it that way, so I started really babying myself for the next several days. Bending with extreme care... keeping twisting to a minimum... not lifting anything heavy... walking with minimal movement... that kind of thing.
It worked. My back got better day by day.
And then I slipped on some ice while walking to my car.
I was so concerned with wrenching my back again that I ended up straining against the fall. Which saved my back as planned... but ended up pulling something in my groin.
For the past four days I've been unable to raise my right leg.
This makes simple chores... like walking and climbing stairs... difficult. Slightly more complicated chores... like putting on clothes... became near impossible. The morning acrobatics required to wear pants necessitated careful planning and a working knowledge of elementary physics.
Driving a car was the worst. Just the act of getting in one was torture. I'd have to lay the seat all the way back in an attempt to keep my leg as straight as possible. "Uncomfortable" doesn't even begin to describe it. After 10 minutes behind the wheel it felt as though something was going to snap.
Fast-forward to tonight as I was sitting in the couch working on my laptop while The Flash was playing on TV. I pushed myself up to get a glass of water when something strange happened... I realized I wasn't in pain. Not even a little bit. Whatever I had done to mess up my leg had disappeared. Evaporated. Vanished as if it had never been.
I don't know what I did to fix it.
Maybe it fixed itself.
But without a trace of residual pain. It feels as if it never happened.
I took my pants off and put them back on just to be sure.
It suddenly occurs to me...
...every day is hump day at the Giza Plateau!
And... my back went out again, just as it was finally finished aching from last week.
This time not from something as stupid as setting down my backpack.
This time it was from lifting my backpack.
It's fairly obvious I need to get rid of this damn backpack.
My favorite television show of all time bounces between Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original, not the shitty 2009 remake) and Veronica Mars. Interestingly enough, they were both created by the same guy... Rob Thomas (not the singer from Matchbox Twenty).
Cupid has never been released on home video, so the only way I get to see it is to watch digital recordings I copied from VHS tape. Needless to say, "crappy" doesn't even begin to describe their quality (or lack thereof), so I am always on the watching for an officially release on iTunes or something.
It never comes.
The good news is that over the past decade we've seen a number of shows I've been waiting for finally get a release. Once I noticed the fantastic Now and Again was out last Fall, I decided to see what else was available...
And here's a list of shows I'm still waiting for...
And I don't get why they haven't been released. The process for converting old TV shows to digital video is undoubtedly fully automated by now. I can't imagine it costs very much to do... especially since you don't even have to press DVDs any more.
I dunno. Maybe television studios don't want the money?
Because I'd be happy to pay.
And so would a lot of other people, I'd imagine.
I hope all you East Coasters have dug your way out of the blizzard by now... because Bullet Sunday on Saturday starts... now...
• Blog! Turns out the reason my blog keeps failing is because database tables are being locked, rendering me unable to post anything. I don't know exactly how to keep it from happening... yet... but at least I know how to fix it without reinstalling everything.
• Burma Shave! A few people wrote and asked what's with the "Burma Shave" sign I posted. Since the concept pre-dates even me, here's a link to Wikipedia that explains it all...
If you want to take a look at some of the clever jingles Burma Shave came up with over the years, there's a repository for that.
• The Pox! It doesn't matter that the whole anti-vaccination movement is bullshit and the people who have been most vocal in claiming vaccinations are harmful are lying assholes... people are buying into it, which means dead diseases, like measles, coming back with a vengeance. There's loads of material online to support vaccination as a critical protection for all society... but Night of the Living Dad has one of my favorite takes on the subject. Here's another...
Too bad people can't get vaccinated against insanity.
• Lost? Lost was one of the best shows to hit television. For the first season or two. Then it became an idiotic mess of stupid shit that was piled on top of more stupid shit where nothing was resolved and nothing made sense. I maintained again and again that the writers had no clue what in the hell they were doing and that there could be no pay-off for such random idiotic bullshit. And now? Yep, yep, yep.
• Park! "Nara Dreamland," Japan's answer to Disneyland that opened in the 60's, was eventually closed in 2006. Probably because Japan ended up with an "authentic" Disneyland of their own. Since closing, Dreamland has been left abandoned. I was curious to know if anybody had managed to take photos of the empty park, and was surprised to find some incredible shots on a blog by photographer/writer Michael John Grist...
Well worth your time to visit, if you're into this kind of thing!
• SkyMall! As a frequent flier, I was very sad to learn that SkyMall has filed for bankruptcy. Not that I would ever buy their crazy, overprice crap... but it made for some much-needed entertainment on more than a couple flights...
After all, who wouldn't want a suitcase scooter?
And... I'm spent. New bullets in five days.
Enjoy a second helping of bullets... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Super! Not a good day for Seahawks fans...
Better luck net year, guys... and congratulations to the Patriots!
• Two! My disappointment that Mila Kunis is not in the sequel is equal to my excitement that Morgan Freeman is...
My guess is that they'll write her off in one line. As in "Hey Johnny, sorry that your wife died in a tragic liposuction accident!. How clever.
• Fantastic? Oh joy. Another looks like we're getting yet another comic book movie that shits all over the source material...
This may very well end up being a really good science fiction movie... but, from the looks of things, it has precious little hope of being a good Fantastic Four movie. I wish all the rights for Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four would revert back to Marvel where they belong. Sony and 20th Century Fox don't have the slightest frickin' clue what they're doing.
• Free the Music! Holy crap do I long for the day that music recording labels just die already so artists can sell the music they want to make directly to their fans... REGARDLESS OF WHERE THOSE FANS MAY LIVE ON THIS PLANET! I am so tired of having to pay astronomical amounts of money for pricey import albums simply because a label refuses to release the music in North America. In case you haven't heard, WE LIVE IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY, ASSHOLES! So instead of bitching and whining about music piracy, why don't you... oh... I dunno... SELL YOUR FUCKING MUSIC TO THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY IT SO THEY WON'T HAVE TO STEAL IT?
• Live! Even when the guest-host has been good, Saturday Night Live has been pretty sub-par this season. Then Blake Shelton came to visit and we get the funniest episode in ages...
Rumor has it that Eddie Murphy is going to make an appearance for the SNL40 celebration.If anything would get me to tune in... that would be it.
It's the end of the bullets as we know it... and I feel fine.
I hate buying produce in the winter.
Everything is bland and flavorless. Tomatoes being the absolute worst. I don't even bother buying tomatoes from October through April.
And then there's lettuce.
Today I bought a head of iceberg lettuce. I figured I was safe because it doesn't have much flavor anyway. After picking through the rusted, rancid mess... 80% of it had to be thrown in the garbage.
I'm done. For the next couple months I'm subsisting on potato chips and chocolate pudding.
You know it's the only vote that makes sense.
All I need is a couple of billion from the Koch Brothers and I'm on my way...
I would have bet one million dollars that the special interest lobbyist pig-fuckers representing AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and all the other internet provider assholes buying off our corrupt politicians would have killed net neutrality by now.
So imagine my surprise...
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: This Is How We Will Ensure Net Neutrality
Of course, this is not to say that internet freedom has been won... I'm sure pig-fucking lobbyists representing internet conglomerate assholes haven't even begun to explore new ways to buy control of the internet from our corrupt politicians.
Where there's billions of dollars, there's a way, after all.
In the meanwhile, however... surprisingly good news on the net neutrality front. A public utility it is. For now
Not surprisingly, there's still a bunch of politicians with their lips firmly planted on Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner/Cox cock that have escalated their hand-wringing about how net-neutrality is bad for the internet. Remedial Senator and All-Around Dumbass Ted Cruz went so far as to label it "ObamaCare for the Internet." I have no idea what the hell that's supposed to mean... but apparently it's bad.
Well... the arguments seem to go like this...
And now we come to the NET NEUTRALITY DOESN'T LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD... JUST THE OPPOSITE... IT MAKES IT MORE EXPENSIVE FOR SMALLER COMPANIES USING LESS BANDWIDTH THAN BIG COMPANIES LIKE NETFLIX AND FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE! part of our blog entry...
I saved this for last, because it's just so outrageously stupid. It costs me $12.70 a month to have this blog hosted on the internet. If I wanted to turn it into a business website, it would still cost me $12.70 a month to get it hosted. Yes, if it became a hugely successful business website that got tons of traffic, I'd have to pay more than $12.70 a month to get it hosted because a successful business costs more to run... such is the price of success, but still... $12.70 a month to start.
I assure you that Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube cost more than $12.70 a month to get hosted. But back to the point...
For $12.70 a month, I have a blog that's every bit as accessible to people on the internet as Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube.
And no matter how many billions of dollars Facebook has, net neutrality ensures that they can't use that money to shut me out. They can't pay to have Facebook load faster than Blogography. They can't pay to have Blogography be unaccessible. It doesn't matter how big of a threat to their bottom line Blogography is, Facebook can't use their massive bankroll to manipulate the internet to make me go away*.
If that's not a level playing field, I don't know what is.
Thanks to the internet and net neutrality, a small startup company can take on companies millions of times their size... starting out at $12.70 a month. And there's nothing those massive companies can do to stop them from being on the internet.
Seriously... if that's not a level playing field, what the fuck is?
I can't for the life of me understand how people like Iris Somberg can sit there with a straight face telling me that it's the opposite of a level playing field. Something tells me her lips must be firmly planted on Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner/Cox cock, because this is so obvious as to be painful.
Yet net neutrality became a reality anyway.
I know. It shocked the hell out of me too.
*Of course, if Facebook wanted to pay me millions of dollars directly to make Blogography go away... well... my email address is at the top of the sidebar on every page here.
What happens when you mix dinosaurs, LEGO, and videos games together?
Honestly don't know how I could be more excited. The LEGO video games are my absolute favorite distraction from life, and this is bound to be awesome. Especially if the rumors are true and you get to actually play levels as a dinosaur!
As if that weren't enough... looks like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is getting a sequel with The Avengers too!
From the LEGO press release...
LEGO Jurassic World™
Following the epic storylines of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, as well as the highly anticipated Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World is the first videogame where players will be able to relive and experience all four Jurassic films. The game will be available in June for the Xbox One, all-in-one games and entertainment system, the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system, the Wii U™ system from Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system, and Windows PC.
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Avengers Assemble! Experience the first console videogame featuring characters and storylines from the blockbuster film Marvel’s The Avengers and the much anticipated sequel Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and more. Play as the most powerful Super Heroes in their quest to save humanity. The game will be available in fall 2015 for the Xbox One, all-in-one games and entertainment system, the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system, the Wii U system from Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS hand-held system, and Windows PC.
LEGO Ninjago™: Shadow of Ronin™
The popular LEGO Ninjago franchise gets its most expansive adventure to date in LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin. The latest LEGO handheld game delivers an untold story of the LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV show. Using their Spinjitzu abilities, players can unleash their Ninja’s elemental power to smash their way through enemies and solve puzzles. Developed by TT Fusion, a subsidiary of TT Games, the game comes to the Nintendo 3DS handheld system and the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system on March 24, 2015.
Coming on the heels of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, it looks like 2015 is going to be a very good year for LEGO video games.
In what easily signifies the end of an era, Radio Shack has announced that they are filing for bankruptcy and shuttering the majority of their stores (franchise locations can keep operating, if they want to).
This hardly comes as a surprise... I haven't stepped foot in one of their stores for well over a decade.
But back in the 80's and 90's?
Radio Shack was like dreamland for a tech geek like me.
I built many an electronic project with Radio Shack parts. I bought every wire... every battery... every blank cassette tape from Radio Shack. I was an Atari computer fan and ignored their TSR-80 PC, but all my floppy disks and cables came from Radio Shack. My first mobile phone, the Motorola StarTAC, was purchased at Radio Shack.
But then geek culture shifted, and Radio Shack became less and less relevant.
They tried to reinvent themselves not so long ago, but it never really took hold... despite the awesome, awesome commercial they came up with to promote their new focus on mobile phone and finished electronic goods...
Yeah. Not difficult to see why that didn't work out.
"The Shack" was an important part of my life for a dozen years or so. Now that it's gone, I feel as though an entire culture I loved is gone as well.
I feel as though I need to go solder something.
Which is no problem... I still have my Radio Shack soldering iron along with a spool of Radio Shack solder sitting in a drawer somewhere.
Boy do I miss blogs.
I have an ongoing promise to myself that I won't go into work on the weekends until noon. Rarely do I keep that promise, because I'd rather intrude on my precious personal time than have to work until midnight on a a weekend.
This morning I actually managed to keep my promise to myself. And it's all Jack Fischl's fault. JACK is the reason that I didn't drag my sorry ass to work until 1:30...
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Back when blogging was a thing, I read a lot of blogs. Like seriously many. As in hundreds. At one point I was reading 362 blogs, 256 of which were personal blogs of interesting people with interesting things to say. I know this because I once mentioned it in a video...
A surprising number of these bloggers became friends that I still keep in contact with today... even though they have long-since given up on blogging. A few of them I manage to visit in person as I travel the earth. Most of them, however, I only manage to keep up with because of Twitter or Facebook or whatever.
It's not the same.
Twitter gives you 140 characters in which to express yourself. That's great for simple thoughts ("I went to the grocery store today"), but total shit for actual communication ("I went to the grocery store today and was attacked by a grizzly bear"). Wait, what? With blogging you'd probably get the whole grizzly bear story right down to the last detail. Now you get the bare minimum of details that always leave you hanging. If you're lucky, there might be a photo attached, but that's about it.
Facebook isn't much better. Sure you have more space to write, but most people don't use it. Twitter and text messaging has destroyed real personal storytelling forever. Instead you get meaningless updates about winning a trivia game or automated data dumps of how far somebody ran today or random links to random stuff... anything but the story of somebody's life.
Am I the only one who misses that?
This morning I was trying to come up with travel ideas that were off the beaten path yet affordable. Looking at my travel map, I noticed once again how Central and South America have barely been touched. This annoys me greatly, so I started poking around the internet for unique travel experiences in those regions. Eventually I landed on a site called Keteka, "Your gateway to authentic tours and activities in Latin America." And indeed they do have a variety of interesting "off the beaten path" tours that are reasonably priced.
After exploring the site for a bit, I happened to notice a section called "Stories from the Road" at the bottom of the page. The first link was "Jack's Blog."
And there went three hours of my life.
What a fascinating guy. He started a blog as a way to document his adventures in Panama with the Peace Corps, and his every entry is fantastic stuff. Entertaining stories about everything from daily life in the rainforest to battling bat poop. Suddenly I was sucked back into the world of blogs again, remembering how great it was to be an observer into somebody's life that's different from my own.
And that's the thing that makes blogging so wonderful... everybody has a life that's different from mine. Which means everybody's life is interesting to me, even though they may find it mundane.
Boy do I miss blogs.
Such a pity that telling your story and inviting people into your life is an artform that's dying out in favor of snippets of 140 characters or less.
Such is progress.
So, if you want an awesome read from the glory days of blogging, Jack Fischl is your guy.
I recommend starting at the last page, which is the first page chronologically. Then on each subsequent page, you have to scroll to the bottom and read entries in reverse in order to keep moving forward. Confusing, I know, but it's worth the effort.
Here's the last (first) page of Jack's Blog.
And don't hate me for making you miss blogging. I still do this crap every day.
Don't let the Grammys get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rescue! Here's the best thing I saw all week...
Heroes come in all shapes and size. Heroes are around us every day. Heroes inspire everybody to be heroes too. Heroes like this make the world a better place with their actions... no matter how small.
• Ravaging! Somebody finally said it...
Our thoughts are also with the measles-ravaged country America. I hope we are screening them before they come to Africa.— Elnathan John (@elnathan) February 1, 2015
LOL! ROTFL! LMFAO! I'm guessing this will be all the excuse ignorant morons (and FOX "News") need to restart their idiotic rants on quarantining Africa thanks to an ebola outbreak happening in a tiny piece of the continent.
• Super! Ever since I returned from safari in Africa, I've become a little obsessed with African wildlife photography. My favorite images yet come from Will Burrard-Lucas, who managed to get some of the most amazing shots you'll see...
He has a YouTube video up that shows some behind the scenes footage that's pretty great...
Will has a blog that is well worth checking out.
• Cuusoo! Two new LEGO sets I'll be adding to my collection...
• Bad! My entire weekend was made when a guy commented and told me that his kid's school lunch menu was recalled after it was discovered that somebody put a DaveToon of a gun-toting Bad Monkey on it...
Genius. And then it hit Reddit where a disturbing yet somehow beautiful insanity ensued.
• Sirens! When the show Sirens debuted on USA Network, I read that it was a shitty remake of a UK television series, so I didn't even bother tuning in. Then, every once in a while, somebody would mention how funny it was and how much they loved it, and I regretted not giving it a chance...
And then I noticed that it was recently added on Netflix.
Nothing groundbreaking... a situation comedy built around three EMTs in Chicago... but I actually find it kinda funny. So now I'm addicted to the show and binge-watching the ten episodes from the first season while adding the just-started second season to my DVR. If you're looking for a distraction from daily life, this might be worth a look (NSFW language included).
And... we're done. More bullets in a mere seven days.
Do you ever find yourself wondering... "Gee, is what I'm witnessing SHARK EXTREME... or merely ordinary extreme?
Well, thanks to the new TQ CERTIFIED SHARK EXTREME PROGRAM, wonder no more!
Thanks to this new branding initiative, highly train experts in SHARK EXTREME will now rank each incident on a case by case basis... only awarding the TQ CERTIFIED SHARK EXTREME mark to those products, events, or services that are truly SHARK EXTREME!
So... in case you were wondering...
Left Shark during Katy Perry's Super Bowl Halftime Show?
And now you know.
Today was most definitely not a good day.
Try as I might, I could not seem to get ahead... and having to deal with boatloads of crap from too many people didn't help matters.
When I finally had a moment to catch up with the internets and what's been going on in the world, I was shocked to find out all the stuff I've been missing.
As if all that was enough drama, new Matt & Kim...
Geez... can Kim cut a rug or what?
This happened last month but I'm just seeing it now. If you're a fan of David Tennant... and why wouldn't you be?... here he is being surprised with a rather prestigious award...
I really, really wish he'd return to Dr. Who.
Yesterday three people were murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
It's horrific to think that killings are so commonplace in this country that many people's reaction would be something along the lines of "So? People get murdered every day!"... and that's pretty much what the reaction has been. I don't watch a lot of news, but what little I've seen hasn't mentioned it. I don't have tons of time for social media, but my Twitter and Facebook feed has been mute. The mainstream print media? Nope.
And I guess that's understandable. If a murder happens in your local community, it'll most certainly make your local paper. But, with around 15,000 murders in the USA each year, it probably won't go national or enter the public consciousness unless there are extraordinary circumstances surrounding it.
Extraordinary circumstances like... ohhhhhh... let's say... it was a murder committed by somebody claiming to be a follower of Islam, for example.
If a family were to be murdered by a Muslim killer, that makes national news. You wouldn't be able to turn around without that story being broadcast out of every available outlet. Hell, FOX "News" would be hyping the heck out of a story like that every hour on the hour. On the half hour. Gotta keep the Muslim hate machine going, after all... gotta keep the fear running hot... and Muslims murdering innocent people (especially innocent white people) on US soil would be mana from heaven for FOX's non-stop "America-is-a-Christian-Nation-and-Everybody-Else-Should-Get-the-Hell-Out-of-Our-Country" agenda.
You can't promote your fictional "War on Christmas" propaganda outside of Christmas season, after all. You have to have something for the other six months of the year.
Okay then. Let's run a different sequence of events. Let's say it was an atheist who murdered an innocent family. What happens then? Well, that scenario isn't going to get FOX and Friends as much traction as a Muslim murderer... but, still... any time the murderer is a non-Christian, it's fuel for the agenda right? Any time you can spin non-Christians as immoral animals destroying this country is time well spent when you're FOX "News," right?
You'd think so, wouldn't you?
And you're probably right.
Except when the people who were murdered by the atheist are Muslim.
As is the case with the tragic events in Chapel Hill yesterday.
If you're FOX "News," providing sympathetic context for innocent Muslims being murdered is counter to the agenda that governs your very existence. And so... no twice-hourly news coverage of the murders then. A quick mention in the headlines to maintain the appearance of being "Fair and Balanced," perhaps, but that's as far as it goes.
But that's just FOX "News."
You expect something like that from FOX "News."
But what about the rest of the mainstream media? Where in the hell are they on this story?
I don't know.
Maybe Kim Kardashian got a new haircut or something?
Or perhaps the general feeling is that there are 15,000 murders in the USA each year, and three people getting murdered over a parking space just doesn't merit a national news story.
And yes, if you hadn't heard, the reason being given for a psychopath murdering three people next-door to him was a fight over a parking space. He was a violent man. He was filled with hatred for everybody and anybody. He had clashed with people over parking in the past. This was just a sad, but most likely inevitable, culmination of events which have been building for quite some time. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Or so we're supposed to believe, I'd imagine.
The very idea that the lack of coverage might be because the three dead people in Chapel Hill are Muslim and therefor don't matter because we've been conditioned to believe that all Muslims are terrorists and the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim... well, that would be a horrific reflection of American society... home of "freedom of religion."
Yes. Yes it would.
And yet... given the extraordinary circumstances surrounding these murders... circumstance which, if reversed, would cause a media firestorm that would blanket the nation with news cycle after news cycle of coverage... what other conclusion can be drawn?
Because, honestly, does anybody think this all seriously comes down to a parking space? Anybody?
Or does it come down to an angry person inundated by anti-Muslim sentiment day in and day out finally getting just the excuse he wanted to kill people. People who don't matter. People so vilified that they deserve to die. People whose murder might even end up making him a national hero. Somebody Judge Jeanine would be proud of...
To all my Muslim friends who want nothing more than to live their lives in peaceful coexistence with their fellow Americans and share in the freedoms this country was built upon... I am sorry.
I am sorry that a tiny fraction of the world's two billion Muslims who dedicate their lives to terror are made to define you.
I am sorry that every possible negative connection to your religion... no matter how tenuous... make the news where positive reflections of your faith rarely do.
I am sorry that you have been made into an object of fear and loathing by a systematic campaign of hate meant to dehumanize you, your families, and your friends.
I am sorry that our society fosters an environment where your community is marginalized and your contributions are dismissed.
I am sorry that you have to find a way of explaining to your children how their very existence is a catalyst for exclusion and hostility... not by your country's enemies or by religious radicals in a land half-a-world away... but by a frighteningly large segment of their fellow citizens right here at home.
But most of all... most of all... I'm sorry that nobody is asking the hard questions that need to be asked about what lead to the horrifying events in Chapel Hill yesterday.
Because three human beings gone too soon from this earth deserve more than to be reduced to a parking space.
My work commute is around five minutes. Five minutes I must drive in a car because I have loads of materials that have to accompany me back and forth.
You'd think that such a short amount of time would eliminate any possibility of drama or excitement.
You would be wrong.
Both coming and going, it's a drive I have begun to loathe with every fiber of my being. For whatever amount of time on the road now-a-days, there are simply too many idiots and assholes out there to escape it... driving is torture.
Will somebody please give me a billion dollars so I can afford to hire a car and driver?
Because the ten minutes I spend on the road is now responsible for over 50% of my rage each day.
Rage that would be much better spent hating the Yankees.
Oh the things you stumble upon on these here internets...
DO MY BIDDING, HUMAN!
And here we are again...
For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!
Don't let radical winter weather get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rescue! Am I the only one who thought that CHAPPiE was the sequel to Real Steel?
They're both robot movies starring Hugh Jackman. Since I never even saw Real Steel it took me a while before I even knew they were different films.
• SNL 40! Overall, the 40th Anniversary Celebration for Saturday Night Live was a winner. Plenty of famous SNL performers and guests and a look back at some truly amazing sketches that have come out of the show in its long history. And Betty White saying she'd guest-host again if she were asked. How could you not love that? EXCEPT... no new Eddie Murphy Sketch? What the hell? Maybe he refused to do something, but how fantastic would that have been? All we got was some kind of awkward speech that left me dying to have him host the show. Oh well. If you're an SNL fan, The Hollywood Reporter has a lot of cool stuff you should check out.
• Balls! ScreenCrush unleashed something I've been waiting decades to hear: Mel Brooks is Developing a Sequel to Spaceballs, Finally...
With John Candy and Joan Rivers gone, it's hard to know if they will be replaced... or if their characters are going to be dropped. All I know is that Sarah Silverman would make a killer Dot Matrix 2.0. And even though I'm not a big Josh Gads fan he'd make a pretty good offspring of Barf the mog. Really hoping this gets off the ground.
• Carter! I have been loving, loving, loving the Marvel's Agent Carter mini series. Everything about it has been beautifully crafted and highly entertaining...
I'm hoping quite badly that it gets picked up for another run in 2016.
If you're liking the show as much as I am, you may be interested in an article from The Mary Sue which investigates the real "Agent Carters" from history.
• Thanks! And here we go...
Guess that's the last word on that meme.
• UNCLE! After Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of the films I am most looking forward to is The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake...
Incredible stuff. Few people know retro classy like Guy Ritchie, and it looks like he's done a remarkable job. Kinda sad we have to wait until August 15th to see it though.
And away we go... stay cozy out there.
I just watched the SNL 40th Anniversary show for a second time and think it holds up. Sure, there was easily an hour that could have been cut for more sketches, but I guess we should feel lucky we got as many as we did.
Rolling Stone has a list of all SNL cast members throughout the history of the show ranked from best to worst. It's a good list that's surprisingly agreeable to me. There are notable exceptions, of course (Dennis Miller would drop from 34 to the low 80's for me since I never found him very funny)... but I'm onboard right up until the top 20, which Rolling Store ranks thusly...
Here's what my Top 20 would look like...
And that's a wrap. Here's hoping Eddie Murphy guest-hosts the show before too long.
It just occurred to me that I totally forgot about blogging today.
Guess that's bound to happen from time to time.
Here's a photo of me as a baby with a monkey...
There. Blogging done!
I love the Westminster Dog Show.
Congratulations Miss P for your Best of Show win!
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Beagles are great, but I'm a German Shepherd guy myself.
Tomorrow I fly to San Diego for Jester's 40th birthday party.
The odd thing is that the weather in Southern California is going to be overcast, cool, and rainy... whereas here in Central Washington it's clear, warm, and sunny skies.
I am having to dig out my coat, which is something I haven't had to wear here for weeks.
I am also updating my 11-inch MacBook Air, which is the best travel companion ever. Small, fast, light... if only my electric mixer was this easy to travel with.
Welcome to San Diego.
A Russian Restaurant!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Midnite!
It was all happening in San Diego today...
The Gaslamp Quarter!
Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration!
It was all happening in San Diego today...
Don't be sad that my trip to California delayed your favorite post of the week... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• Weekend! Had such an amazing time in San Diego for Jester's birthday weekend...
Thanks to Chuy for the Group Photo!
A nicer bunch of people you will not meet.
• Heart! Speaking of Jester... a song he wrote with Matthew Hayes is being performed by Kenyth Mogan in a clever Wizard of Oz inspired video... with a twist. Jester appears as Scarecrow, by the way...
And here's a behind the scenes making-of video for the video where Jester (Aaron) explains the origins of the song...
I love having talented friends!
• Horror! One of the biggest surprises from this past weekend was attending the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Ken Cinema...
Newspaper and squirt gun ready! Thanks to Jester for the Photo!
I haven't "done" the Rocky Horror in 25 years. I remember a lot of the audience participation lines... but I was surprised by how much everything has evolved. There were plenty of current pop culture references (Justin Bieber?) to be found, and a lot of stuff had been added. Hopefully it won't be 25 years before the next time... it was a lot of fun.
• Carrots! Best episode of Billy on the Street ever!
We have the coolest First Lady ever.
• Sausages! Whilst having Sunday Brunch at the marvelous Cafe 1134 yesterday, I was introduced to the fact that Soy Chorizo exists. It was absolutely wonderful in my breakfast burrito, and made an ordinarily boring egg and cheese entrée into something flavorful and amazing. Now I just gotta find it local.
• Spock! As I was flying home today, I learned the Leonard Nimoy has been hospitalized for chest pains. Wishing him the speediest of recoveries. Nothing would make me happier than having him make a third appearance in the Star Trek reboot.
And that's the end of the bullets, everybody!
Well done to the entire team behind Marvel's Agent Carter series, which was amazing from start to finish. Many thanks to ABC Television, Tara Butters, Kevin Feige, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Gabriel Beristain, Christopher Lennertz, Hayley Atwell, and the entire cast and crew who made the series possible. Agent Carter exceeded my every expectation (which were admittedly low after the disaster that is Agents of SHIELD), and I am hoping with everything I've got that we get another season...
...a season that preferably has more than a mere eight episodes.
Jon Stewart finally addressed his departure from The Daily Show and why he's hanging it up.
The 50 Fox News 'lies' in 6 seconds is examined lie by lie here.
Kudos to Stewart and Co. for limiting themselves to only fifty.
I love bats.
Watching videos of baby bats can totally make my day.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
I know somebody.
Who feels better about themselves.
By making others feel worse about themselves.
I don't know how they can sleep at night after causing such suffering, pain, and sadness to their fellow humans.
So today I asked.
Their answer is "Lunesta."
I really need to get me some of that.
Don't let the drone surveillance get you down... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• Vaccinate! Classic...
And yet... the measles epidemic rages on. Thanks, Jenny McCarthy!
You're a horrible, horrible person.
• MURICA! Because nothing says "freedom" better than being able to scream "YOU'RE FIRED, FAGGOT!" when you find out that one of your employees is gay, and being 100% within the law... Arkansas has passed an anti-non-discrimination bill SB 202...
I've heard of legislating morality... but legislating immorality? Way to go, Arkansas. There's some terrific things about your state, but this is a fucking embarrassment. Shame on everyone who had a hand in dragging "The Natural State" back to less enlightened times.
• Widow! The hype machine for Avengers: Age of Ultron is really amping up, with individual character posters being released this week. Could not possibly be more excited to see this film come May...
Looks like Black Widow may finally... finally be getting some tech that ups her game. They showed her using a built-in taser in the last Avengers film, but that's a far cry from the "Widow's Bite" blasters she sports in the comics. I certainly hope it comes to pass, because it seems completely illogical that Tony Stark wouldn't give her some advanced weaponry to make her a stronger part of the team.
• Laugh? The Matthew Perry version of The Odd Couple finally debuted and it's far, far worse than I imagined. Mostly because they're using a frickin' laugh track. This idiotic and antiquated method of attempting to make unfunny crap seem hilarious is just pathetic, and only serves to underline how funny something is not to modern audiences...
What kills me is how Matthew Perry can't seem to find a lead role in a vehicle that's worth his talent lately. He was essential viewing in Friends, he was a revelation as Joe Quincy on The West Wing, he was bordering on genius on Studio 60, and he was terrific on The Good Wife... I even liked his movies okay. But when it comes to finding a new show, he's been rolling in shit. Mr. Sunshine was abysmal. Go On was horrific. And now there's this hot mess? Sad. Just sad.
• MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA! Hot on the heels of Snicker's awesome Brady Bunch/Danny Trejo mashup comes this epic art installation...
I love it when companies create ad campaigns you actually want to see. In case you missed the original commercial, here you go...
The teaser ad was equally filled with awesome...
Yep. That's advertising done right, right there.
• Photographic! I used to carry a pocket camera with me everywhere I went to capture those unexpected moments that are begging for a picture to be taken. Then the iPhone 4 came along with its terrific built-in camera, and I started leaving my pocket camera at home more often than not. Why bother when I can get shots like this...
Then the iPhone 5 was released with an even better camera, and suddenly I found myself ditching the pocket camera completely. Now that I've got an iPhone 6 with its amazing camera, I've been doing something I never thought I'd do... go on some of my travels without taking my DSLR with me. It's a mind-boggling prospect, but the shots I can get out of a frickin' camera phone are so good that it's not a much of a sacrifice at all.
This week Apple finally realized what most of us already know... the iPhone is a really good camera. And they've started a nifty ad campaign to let everybody else know it too. They've also added an amazing "World Gallery" to their website...
Shot by Silke W. in Bali, Indonesia
A lot of people are carrying smart phone with them everywhere they go now-a-days. Which means a lot of people have a camera on them all the times. Which means a lot of photo opportunities that were once missed are being captured. It's an amazing time we live in.
And... I'm wrecked. See you next Sunday.
Spent most of my day hoping for a breakthrough that never came.
I'm just so tired. Bone-weary tired.
Not a good day to be on my bad side, I suppose.
The new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer is out.
And it's a good one...
May 15th can't get here fast enough.
It's Photoshop training day!
WHERE IS MY POWERPOINT PRESENTATION?!? HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY POWERPOINT PRESENTATION?!?
So there I was discussing upcoming movies when The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came up. I said that I was looking forward to the film, but had to question adding Americans to the largely British cast, saying "Do we really need Richard Gere in the sequel?" This caused someone to say "Ooh! I loved Richard Gere in Sommersby!... a film I had never heard of before.
Sommersby, as it turns out, is a 1993 romance/drama starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster. It's the story of a woman (Foster) married to a complete bastard named Sommersby who leaves her to fight in the Civil War. Years later, after being presumed dead, Sommersby (Gere) returns to town a changed man. As in, really changed. He is, in fact, not Sommersby... he's somebody who looks a little similar and assumed the identity of the original after he died in the war...
After reading the plot summary, the first thing that went through my head was "Wait a minute! Wasn't that the same thing that happened with Principal Skinner from The Simpsons?!?
So I Googled that and was taken right back to the same Wikipedia page on Sommersby that I had been looking at. If you scroll down there's a "Related Stories" section where the episode of The Simpsons was mentioned.
I was shocked to learn that this episode, called The Principal and the Pauper, was roundly hated by critics and fans alike. In fact, it's widely seen as the episode that signaled the end of the "Gold Age" of The Simpsons, where the quality of the show began a steep decline into mediocrity.
I thought I remembered the episode fairly well, and didn't recall thinking negatively about it at the time. On the contrary, I actually thought it was a clever way of keeping the show fresh... taking a character from the periphery that you thought you knew and completely changing things up... but not in a way that drastically alters the show. In fact, by the end of the show everything pretty much went back to the way it was, so the episode really didn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.
And then it suddenly struck me...
My moment of zen...
When I realized that Richard Gere had made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, that everything is connected, and all the world is one...
Kind of funny how that works.
Here we go again.
I'm probably going to link to this video every time the clocks change from here to eternity...
A reminder to all you presidential candidates out there... any candidate... any candidate... who promises to abolish the idiocy of Daylight Saving Time gets my vote. Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Communist? Nazi? Whatever... my vote is yours if you JUST MAKE THE MADNESS STOP!
You can stop being depressed that the end of Daylight Saving Time stole an hour of your life... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Saturday Night! How refreshing to watch an episode of SNL that doesn't have you fast-forwarding through the whole thing! The highlight of the episode, of course, was guest host Chris Hemsworth as Thor celebrating The Avengers' triumph over Ultron...
"Victory Party at Dave & Busters" is probably one of the best things to appear on Saturday Night Live in over a decade.
• Heroic! And speaking of Marvel comic book movie heroes named "Chris" doing amazing things... even though Chris Evans won his Super Bowl bet with Chris Pratt, he appeared at Seattle Children's Hospital in costume as Captain America anyway...
This is after he appeared with Pratt (who was in costume as Star Lord) at Boston's Christopher's Haven after winning the bet...
What a decent couple of guys. It would have been so easy to skip the effort involved in doing something so amazing... on top of raising $27,000 for these terrific children's charities... but they're using their fame and fortune exactly how it should be used, and that's the best kind of hero you can be.
• Super! Well, it's not as hideous as I feared... a little dark maybe... but the suit for the upcoming Supergirl television show has been revealed...
Costume designer Colleen Atwood has a pretty darn good track record with the costumes for Arrow and The Flash, and it looks like she's got another home run on her hands. Melissa Benoist is certainly looking super enough for the part, that's for sure.
• Presidential? HE'S offended?!? I don't know what offends ME more... that Rand Paul is a bigoted piece of shit... or that he's propagating anti-vax idiocy... or that his concept of foreign policy is so far removed from reality that he might as well live in Narnia... or that some of his domestic policy ideas are so impossibly naive that you have to wonder if he's switched bodies with his younger 13-year-old self like what happened in that Jennifer Garner movie 13 Going on 30... or... or... or... holy crap... he's probably going to run for president, isn't he?
• McCarthyism! If my name were associated with being a complete and total piece of shit who is responsible for children getting sick and even dying, I'd want to change it too.
She's just the absolute worst.
• Lonny! I have no clue how Next Time on Lonny escaped my notice... for two seasons... but catching up on the web series while working at work this fine Sunday was definitely the best part of my day. WARNING: Contains all matter of profanity, depravity, and violence... definitely NSFW...
Sure thing, Dog Moon! You can't just watch just one, because the insanity escalates with each new episode.
• Sausage! If Lonny wasn't enough to satisfy your comedy craving this fine Sunday, the guys at Nacho Punch have created a porn film "by Wes Anderson" that's beyond dead-accurate...
You know you're getting tired of the repetitive wackiness of Wes Anderson films when you can't tell the parodies from the real thing any more.
The end. I'd post more bullets, but with only 23 hours in the day, I haven't got the time.
JUST SPLIT THE DAMN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STANDARD TIME AND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME AND GET RID OF THIS STUPID SHIT!
The Monday after dicking around with the clocks is the worst.
I know I complain about this dumbassery every time we mess with the clocks, but come on. HOW IS THIS STILL A THING?
Few things can sum up Apple better than going to their website so you can watch the March 2015 Special Event Keynote and having to click on a link which says "Experience the keynote." You may watch a keynote with "lesser" companies... but with Apple, you experience a keynote.
The reason this sums up Apple so perfectly is that, in the end, it IS just a keynote... but Apple brands it as some kind of life-changing "experience" so they can inflate the hype around it. Which is exactly the direction they seem to be going with their products, so at least they're consistent.
So, yeah... on with this keynote thingy...
The show opened with a look at the absolutely stunning flagship Apple Store in West Lake, China...
I mean, holy crap... like so many Apple Stores I've visited, you don't need any hype... this jaw-dropping, magnificent, astounding architectural achievement IS something to be experienced. I hate shopping, but I'll go out of my way to visit an Apple Store... especially one that looks like this. ZOMG! THAT SECOND FLOOR IS DEFYING GRAVITY!
I had to laugh when Tim Cook said "This is the way we like to see our stores" while a photo of it completely packed with people pops up behind him. Apple stores are always packed. At least when you compare them to the shop that Microsoft has undoubtedly plopped down across the aisle at the mall, which is undoubtedly mostly empty.
No doubt, Apple's retail presence is impressive. And so very, very smart. People wander in to see what all the buzz is about... have a killer retail experience... get sucked into the Apple Reality Distortion Field... and end up leaving with an armload of Apple products. I still marvel at all the doomsayers that predicted Apple would fall flat on their face. "If Dell can't do it with their numbers, what chance does Apple have?"
A pretty good one, as it turns out. Apple used retail to build their brand and their customer base (120 million visitors last quarter!). And where is Dell? I rarely hear anything about them any more.
AppleTV is a product I actually like quite well. That being said, it is feeling a bit antiquated compared to the competition. I'm sure Apple is working on that but, in the meanwhile, Apple is lowering the price of the product to $69. Which may sound like a bargain... but you just know it's a precursor to releasing a better/faster/stronger product come the holidays.
The HBO Now announcement was long overdue. Having access to all of their award-winning content whenever you want it pretty special... I just don't know that it's $14.99 special compared to what you get from Netflix. I'll probably subscribe off and on as shows I want to watch arrive... but I can't see paying for it every month.
Never one to pass up an opportunity to plug the money-shot, Tim ran through some impressive numbers, confirming the massive success of iPhone 6 that everybody already suspected. Other than the larger size, which I still struggle with, I'm pretty happy with mine. Apple Pay is frickin' amazing, when you can use it. The camera is mind-boggling for a phone, and I prefer it over the "superior" cameras in their competitor's offering because they just look so much better... but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
All of this is pretty much "meh" until real-world applications I give a crap about start appearing. I love the idea of HomeKit... it's the next step in home automation... but where is it? Where are all the home-kit compatible doohickeys that fulfill the promise of the technology? On it's way, I'm sure. But until I can actually buy it, it means nothing to me.
Using a device you carry with you every day to contribute to medical research seems like a no-brainer. And heeeeeeeere's Apple with HealthKit. If this truly helps with research, then more power to them. Otherwise, more meh. EXCEPT... if anybody needed proof that Apple is working overtime to find new ways to get integrated into your life, TA DAAAAA! Add this to the rumor of Apple developing a car, and you can see how there's nowhere they won't go to inject themselves into every aspect of everything you do.
THE NEW MACBOOK
It's remarkably small and light. It's stunningly beautiful. It's everything you could want in a travel laptop...
And here's Jony Ive gushing over its every feature as only Jony Ive can...
Now... before I get to the part where I say "ZOMFG! I WANT ONE SO BAD!"... a rant...
FUCK ME SIDEWAYS... YET ANOTHER CONNECTOR I HAVE TO INVEST IN?!?
First it was Firewire, which Apple abandoned after pushing the entire industry to adopt it.
Then it was Thunderbolt, which Apple was all excited about for about two minutes... before, apparently, abandoning it for USB-C... which is the only port on the new MacBook, combining power, display, and peripheral connectors in one tiny connector.
Which means I now have to buy an adapter for my Thunderbolt periphreals, even though I just got them? Dick move, Apple. Dick move.
But, yeah... I want one pretty bad. It takes everything I love about my 11-inch MacBook Air and ups the game exponentially.
A nice idea, really. And Apple did it better than anyone who's tried before But, in the end, TOO THICK! TOO THICK! TOO THICK!
Seriously, it's too damn thick. If it were half as thick, I'd be placing my preorder right now. But having a giant dongle stacked on my arm? I just don't know. Some of the features are there... it's Dick Tracy come to life... but until I try one on, I'm just not convinced. Especially when the price of admission starts at $350.00
And yet... if somebody wants to buy me an Apple Watch Edition in gold, by all means, please drop the $10,000 to $17,000... and do so. I'd absolutely wear it from time to time!
When it comes to the Apple Watch features, I'm impressed/not impressed. Some of the interactivity with the iPhone looks truly helpful and worthwhile... the Apple Pay component is fantastic... but all the tactic crap? The "I'm sending you my heartbeat" and such? Who gives a shit? Being able to send a crappy, crude drawing? Might be fun the first two times you do it... but after that? Why?
Tim Cook made a good presentation for how Apple Watch will integrate into your life in meaningful ways... but is it enough? I'll let you know when I've tried one. Until then I remain skeptical yet optimistic to the possibilities.
And leaning towards the "Sport" edition in Space Gray with a Black Sport Band.
Or waiting for Apple Watch 2.0 which is a damn-sight thinner.
So I had the brilliant idea of making tacos for dinner tonight.
All the fixin's had been unloaded from the refrigerator. The rice was cooking in the microwave. The cheese and lettuce were grated. All I had to do was fry the taco shells and I was golden. So I fire up the burner and wait for the oil to heat up.
Then I made the mistake of turning on the range hood ventilation.
Something lurched in the fan and came loose. Which caused the vent screen to fall...
...into the hot oil.
Which splashed everywhere.
Including the burner where I had water boiling for potatoes.
Before I knew it, the range-top was engulfed in flames.
I immediately grabbed the box of Arm & Hammer from the refrigerator and doused the fire.
But the damage was done. Smoke was everywhere. Smoke detectors were screaming. Soot coated the entire vicinity of the stove. It smelled like the entire kitchen had burned down.
And so my evening was spent not eating delicious tacos... but airing out every room and scrubbing oil smoke from the kitchen walls.
I'm going to leave this bit of awesomeness right here...
Not enough for you? Whitney Avalon has you covered...
Adobe Photoshop 1.0 was released on February 19th, 1990 and I was there.
Lo those 25 years ago.
Well, not at the product launch, but I had a copy of the program after release which I received with a scanner I purchased in the Fall of 1990. I played around with it a few times on a Mac that was at my local library, but I was an Atari computer guy at the time, so it went largely ignored. I didn't really get into Photoshop until I first bought a Mac of my own in the Spring of 1993 (a Quadra 650). Photoshop 2.5 came bundled with a new scanner I purchased shortly thereafter, and I have been using the program ever since.
Almost daily ever since.
With the possible exception of Adobe Illustrator (which I have been using regularly since version 1.7... A.K.A. Illustrator 88), Photoshop is the single most important app in the existence of my universe. It has permeated both my personal and professional life, and I have serious trouble trying to imagine my world without it.
Which is why it's always fun to step back in time to experience Photoshop's humble beginnings. Which I do from time to time, as I have a library of old computers with their original software installed. It's even more fun to watch others give it a try... especially those who were not around at the beginning...
ONLY ONE UNDO?!?
Hah. Those were the days.
Happy 25th Anniversary, Adobe Photoshop!
I'll go first...
What kind of burger do you like best? How is it cooked?
As I'm a vegetarian, Boca Burger is my favorite... both in a restaurant and at home. I like them thawed then fried. On occasion I'll take a black bean burger.
What tops your favorite burger?
American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, raw onion, ketchup, and lots of mayonnaise. Maybe pickles if I'm in the mood. NO MUSTARD! Mustard is for hotdogs.
Where do you find your favorite burger?
Johnny Rockets (Streamliner Burger, no mustard, add American cheese), or 25 Degrees Chicago (Veggie with Cottonwood River Cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup, extra mayo), or EZ's Burger Deluxe Wenatchee (Classic Veggie Burger, extra mayo, add cheddar cheese). I also like the McVeggie Deluxe, which I've only ever seen at the Times Square McDonalds, New York City.
How do you like your favorite burger packaged to go... Paper Wrap, Foil Paper Wrap, Paper Bag, Foil Paper Bag, Paper Box, or Styrofoam Box?
Hands-down a foil paper bag. The only one I don't like on this list is the styrofoam... if you don't eat your burger right away it sweats and gets soggy.
When cooking burgers at home, do you make your own patties by hand or do you purchase pre-fabricated?
I've made veggie burgers from scratch a couple times, but vastly prefer buying them pre-made from the freezer section of my local grocery store.
Ideally, what accompanies your favorite burger?
Crinkle-cut fries (like those found at Culvers) and a Coke (or lemonade, if it's hot out).
How often do you eat a hamburger?
Probably once every two weeks or so when at home. Once or twice a week if I'm in a place that has good burgers.
All the world's troubles getting you down? Well, things are about to turn around... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRRRRRRRL! I don't know what's cooler... that they're resurrecting Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... or that they've tapped some amazing internet personalities for the leads. Daily Grace's Grace Helbig and My Drunk Kitchen's Hannah "Harto" Hart are (apparently) already filming the series...
Oh yeah! For the uninitiated, bask in the glory...
ELECTRA TRICKY! Can't wait.
• Gauntlet! I will never get tired of watching movie heroes being heroes in real life...
Robert Downey Jr.'s awesomeness really knows no bounds.
• John Lewis. And then there's real-life heroes. In case you missed it... so worth your time... so worth your time... so worth your time...
This terrific (albeit brief) interview from The Daily Show featured a mind-bogglingly good talk with Representative John Lewis, whose advocacy for civil rights is about as inspiring as anything you will ever find. As if THAT wasn't enough,.. John Stewart mentioned that Rep. Lewis had a couple of graphic novels out which presents his story in comic book form. And they are glorious. Fantastic art. Great story. Well worth your time to track down... and you can even purchase them digitally at Comixology... just $8 for Vol. One! Highest possible recommendation.
• Wonder? Where do I even start. Wonder Woman's new costume has to be one of the ugliest, most disorganized, least elegant, "toss in the kitchen sink" super-hero costumes ever. Just no...
The criticism has always been that Wonder Woman's costume shows too much skin to be taken seriously as a super-hero. Her costume is impractical. So, instead of tastefully updating her look to address these concerns, they just keep slapping more and more shit on her until now she looks like garbage.
And, as if that wasn't horrific enough, I give you the new Superman costume...
If that's what you can call it. More disturbing to me than this joke of a "costume" is that the artist has such a massively skewed idea of anatomy that Superman's legs are so long one has to wonder how he is able to sit in a chair. Who in the hell is running DC these days that total shit like this is seeing the light of day?
• Archie? Next up on the comic book makeover roster...
Now... this one I get. They're trying to shift Archie away from his 1940's comic strip roots and move him into modern comic book times. By creating a more "realistic" version of the character, they're obviously trying to keep the Archie gang relevant in the year 2015. I don't know if this will be a successful reimagining, but they certainly did a good job of it.
• LOL! Yep, this pretty much sums up my impression of the new MacBook... LMFAO! LOL! ROTFL! LTIP!
"That's an extra $79 accessory!"
It's only a matter of time...
• Lively! Murder. Uh huh. Genocide. Right. But is homosexuality worse than kicking a puppy? THAT'S what I want to know. I mean, come on, a little perspective here...
Disgusting. That people still listen to this bigoted piece of shit is just beyond my ability to comprehend. IT'S OVER, YOU STUPID FUCK! YOU LOST! SO JUST GO SIT IN THE CORNER WITH YOUR BIGOTRY AND BE THE PATHETIC LOSER YOU ARE!
Annnnnnd... Bullets, out!
I hated today.
Not because it was a Monday... Mondays have no meaning when you have to work through the weekend... but because it was a day of the week.
I'd elaborate, but I just don't have the energy to deal with the fallout from making a bad day even worse. No matter though. Vague constructs define the world we live in now, so you should be accustomed to having only a minimal amount of information available to you. Nobody wants to know how the sausage is made and all that.
As for me, I try not to think about it.
But I just can't help it. I'm a thinker.
I think about a lot of things throughout the day.
Which only ever seems to lead me into (more) trouble... and so most of what I think about now-a-days is how I can think less.
It's harder than you'd think.
Certainly harder than what I thought.
And so here we are.
Hating Monday and such.
Now that marriage equality is blowing across the country like a righteous wind of rainbows and glitter, it should come as no surprise that homophobic political bigots are devising new ways to be on the wrong side of history.
Take it away, Jon Stewart...
There's a lot of hypocritical idiocy on display here, but Tony Tinderholt is the cherry on top of the bigot sundae...
This piece of shit can get married as many times as he wants... FIVE times at current count... but it's the gays who are ruining the sanctity of the institution?
Amazing how somebody who lied about their employment history... committed insurance fraud... left children in the care of drug-abusers... and allowed a minor to be served alcohol, become intoxicated and then drive drunk... is in a position to dictate what people are and are not allowed to do with their personal lives.
It's only a matter of time until he's exposed for sleeping with an underage gay prostitute, busted for cocaine, or is caught strangling a puppy. These people can't seem to stop themselves. The rules don't apply to their lives, after all.
At least 19 people are dead, many of them tourists, after a terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
Back in 2010, two months before the Arab Spring revolts, I was a tourist at the Bardo Museum, so this tragic event gave me pause. I didn't spend much time in Tunisia, but it remains a highlight from a life of travel.
The most wonderful thing about Tunisia is its people. They are exceedingly generous and kind, and everywhere I went the locals were all too happy to welcome you to their homeland. They live in a beautiful country and are rightfully proud of it. They are also proud of their inclusive and tolerant nature, and I'll never forget how my guide made a point of stopping to show us how Muslims and Christians are able to coexist in peace... and how people of all faiths are welcome to visit his country.
This openness comes with a price, however, as there is a violent minority who rejects the democracy that Tunisians have fought so hard for.
It's profoundly sad for oh so many reasons.
Including one that's entirely selfish... the country is an absolutely destination-worthy travel experience.
The Bardo Museum that's in the news is one of the largest (if not the largest) collection of mosaic in the world. And it's a glorious site to behold. It's room after room of jaw-dropping artistic beauty...
And then there's the Medina and all its treasures...
And the incredible blue and white city of Sidi Bou Said...
And a short distance beyond the cities is the Sahara Desert, which is somewhere I've long wanted to visit. An excuse to return to Tunisia one day.
And one day I will.
My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless violence.
What a turd of a day!
The only thing that saved it from complete and total suckage was that a new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was released. And it's glorious...
How am I expected to wait until May 1st?
As I may have mentioned a few dozen times, I'm not a fan of Cirque du Soleil. The acrobatics are amazing, don't get me wrong... I love that stuff, but it's Cirque's packaging that drives me nuts.
LOOK AT US! WE'RE DRESSED IN WEIRD CLOTHES DOING WEIRD THINGS WITH WEIRD PROPS IN FRONT OF WEIRD SETS THAT MAKE NO SENSE WHATSOEVER! WE'RE WEEEEEIRRRD!!!
Yeah. We get it. Weird. Uh huh.
And tonight was more of the same as I went to Kurios: Cabinet des Curiosities with my sister...
Ultimately, I liked it better than The Beatles: Love (even though the music wasn't as good!) because there was more of a focus on the amazing talents of the performers rather than just doing weird shit for the sake of doing weird shit...
Though, no worries, Kurios had plenty of weird shit... including traveling scientists having a bad hair day, Moebius-inspired robots, fish people, finger puppets, and a guy acting like a cat. So if weird shit is your thing, you won't be disappointed.
As if that wasn't enough, they also had a Duncan Yo-Yo Master for some reason, just because, well... yo-yos, I guess.
This is a traveling show that wraps up here in Seattle this weekend... but they're continuing onward to Calgary, Denver, Chicago, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles... just in case you like watching mind-bogglingly talented performers doing mind-boggling stuff... while drenched in senseless weird shit.
And who wouldn't?
GAH! IT'S 3:00 IN THE MORNING! Boy I wish I could get a good night's sleep.
Tonight I was happy to attend University Sunrise Rotary's Debuts and Discoveries charity function with wines, brews, spirits, and food trucks...
The event was held at an old hangar in Magnusson Park at Sand Point, which used to be a Navy air station...
True to their word, there was an abundance of new alcohols to sample and buy...
Best of Show for me was Skunk Brothers, which had a very nice moonshine whiskey and a sublime Sweet Apple Pie spirit...
Interestingly enough, there was also cigar rollers in attendance...
The hangar itself is a terrific space for events like this...
I already had several shots of Jäegermeister before the event, which meant I was getting pretty trashed as we neared the end of the evening (I "sampled" all but two tables, and they had multiple products at most tables!). Not wanting to pass out on my friends, I decided to stop drinking and start shooting photos. I brought my miraculous Sony A7s camera, and Hangar 30 had plenty of opportunities to get sone nifty shots.
So there I was taking photos of cool stuff when I hear some asshole start mocking me with "LOOK AT THAT GUY TAKING A PICTURE OF A WALL!"
I am beyond sick and tired of people taking a shit on my happiness, but decided to let it go.
Or I would have if I hadn't been soaked in alcohol. Instead I said "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU CARE?" a bit too loudly.
Oh well. I may have been taking a PICTURE OF A WALL but, in my defense, it was a pretty interesting wall...
There were four food trucks and you got four sampling coupons to try each of them. Except the chicken truck didn't have a vegetarian option (boo Chick’n Fix!), so I skipped that one.
The first truck I ate at was Spicy Papaya, which had a delicious Pad Thai to try...
Next up was Wicked Pies, which must be run by some Twin Peaks fans...
But Best in Show for me was the El Cabrito truck, which was serving up an amazing "Beet & Pumpkin Seed Quesadilla" that rocked my world...
It was so good that I used my last ticket to pay a return visit...
El Cabrito can park their truck in my driveway any time! That quesadilla is absolutely worth a stop if you're ever in Seattle's International District.
And thus ends my last day in Seattle. Not too shabby!
Even if I did drop an F-bomb on an airplane hangar.
Don't step on my blue suede shoes... because Bullet Sunday from Memphis starts... now...
• HRC! The reason for my trip to Memphis is to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe here (they moved further down Beale Street to a much better location). It's also to get out of town on my birthday. Since I don't celebrate the date, it's just easier all the way around to skip town. I'm crafty like that.
• Hub! When Delta had a hub here in Memphis, it was relatively easy (and cheap!) to get here. After Delta pulled the hub, it's not so easy and pricey as hell. My Delta flight was $842, which I ended up paying with miles because $842 is insane. I believe Delta only runs flights through Atlanta or Minneapolis now. When I complained about the cost, my driver said that he picked up a guy that flew in from Dallas who paid over $1000. And thus begins my biggest fear for Seattle. Delta is playing serious hardball to push out Alaska Airlines and establish a hub in Seattle. But if they are successful, how long will it last? Five years down the line once they're the only major game left in town, will they pull out and destroy Seattle's air travel options like they did here in Memphis? Will it then cost me $1000 and require two or three stops to get anywhere? People should have serious pause in supporting Delta over Alaska Air considering what the future may bring.
• QDOBAAAAAA! I skipped breakfast this morning so I could use my two-for-one birthday coupon at Qdoba's SeaTac Airport on my way out. One egg & cheese breakfast burrito and one veggie burrito please!
I wish they'd let you come back for your freebie. I'm so full now that I think I may explode in mid-air if the cabin pressure goes sideways.
• Wheeee! They "changed equipment" for my flight, so my nice aisle seat was traded NOT for another aisle seat... but a middle seat. Other than a woman on one side bringing a seven course meal onboard and a woman on the other side not knowing what a damn Kleenex is, things could have been worse for the four hours and twenty minutes I was enroute, I suppose. Then... THEN I board my flight from Atlanta to Memphis only to find out my seat is broken. As in the seat keeps reclining and it's not fully bolted to the floor. A gentleman two rows up is in the same boat. They have somebody from Mechanical come onboard who decides that the two clearly broken seats are not, in fact, broken. The flight is full, but they manage to move me because I'm "not happy"(?!??)... only to then put somebody else in my broken-ass seat. Gotta maximize that revenue! Who cares if your passengers are miserable! JUST TAKE THEIR DAMN MONEY!!!
What time will you be checking out?
Thinking that my hotel status was allowing a late checkout I reply Is 2:00 okay?
Oh, then how about 1:00 then?
Well I give up then... why don't you tell me what time I'm checking out.
You have to check out at noon.
Okay then, noon. Why bother asking if you're just going to dictate the checkout time anyway?
Oh we're required to ask with this verbiage.
The stupid. It burns. If you have to ask, why not have "verbiage" which asks in a way that doesn't make your guest feel stupid? What's wrong with saying "Our checkout time is noon... do you know what time you'll be leaving us?" — or whatever. Because, seriously, who is the idiot who comes up with this crap? Obviously somebody who knows jack-shit about customer service. They also know jack-shit about serving up internet, as it continuously me off. So much for those four stars I paid for.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and get some sleep in this heartbreak hotel.
There have been three times in my travels where I have forgotten my camera.
The second was Austin, Texas, in 2002 where I was visiting the terrific Hard Rock Cafe that used to be on 6th Street. This was an especially painful mishap, because the cafe closed before I could get back and document this amazing property. I did manage to find a disposable camera at a local drug store, but all the photos turned out terrible.
The third was while visiting Osaka, Japan in 2003, where I managed to purchase a cheap plastic toy camera at the Universal Studios Osaka gift shop to get shots of the new Hard Rock Cafe there.
And the first time?
When I visited Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee way back in 1995. And, despite returns to Memphis over the years, I never went back.
So my grand plan today was to run out to Elvis's house... THIS TIME WITH MY CAMERA... and take some photos. Except when I got up this morning I realized that, when it comes to Graceland, once is enough for me... photos or no photos.
And so I was off to Hard Rock No. 163, bitches!
As always, I was prepared for the worst. Yet another ugly hipster Hard Rock with only a smattering of memorabilia. Which would be a real slap in the face for Memphis, because their previous cafe was so awesome. So imagine my surprise when I visited this new property and found that the new location is in a primo vintage building with plenty of history and character... and they had a decent amount of rock-n-roll memorabilia to make it actually worth your time to visit!
The Hard Rock is located at the head of famous Beale Street. The location is hopping at night, but fairly sedate in the daytime...
The one big tourist attraction in Memphis I haven't done yet was to visit Sun Records, which is the birthplace of rock-n-roll. And home to some very famous musicians. Like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many, many others...
Well worth a stop if you're ever in the Memphis area. The tour cost me $11.50 and lasted 40 minutes. Our guide was fantastic, and really made the place come alive.
And that's now I spent my only day in the city.
And now? I'm going to dinner at Faiqa's house and you're not!
UPDATE: Uh huh...
After an amazing visit and an even more amazing dinner with the amazing Faiqa and her amazing family last night, I decided to wander around Beale Street after dark... something I've never done before. And I have no idea why I've never done it before, because it's exactly the kind of thing I love to photograph.
Maybe I was waiting for the Sony A7s camera to exist, which does such an amazing job of capturing night scenes? I dunno. But with a press of a button I'm in "Vivid Color Mode" and shooting everything in sight...
And now I suppose I should pack my stuff and clean up before the hotel kicks me out... most possibly literally, knowing this place... so I can grab lunch and head to the airport.
Many thanks for the brief visit, Memphis. We shall meet again.
I am well aware of the atrocities going on in this sick, sad world.
And though I do my small part, I have no illusions that I am going to save the planet.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up on trying to help the person standing in front of me...
This is absolutely devastating. What is WRONG with people? There is no way... NO way... that I could walk by a freezing kid like this. TWO HOURS before somebody offered him a jacket or checked to make sure he's okay? I just don't get it.
I don't claim to be a saint or anything... far from it... but sainthood isn't required to buy gloves and a cheap sweatshirt or jacket or something before calling the police to get social services involved. I never thought it was a big deal to buy a hungry person some food or a cold person some clothing... but now I see that it's totally a huge deal because nobody else is doing it.
Well, not "nobody"... but not enough, certainly.
I set my DVR to record The Late Late Show with James Corden because the guy has been part of some pretty great stuff (including Gavin & Stacey, a long-time favorite Britcom). He seemed an odd choice for replacing Craig Ferguson, but I thought the same thing when Craig Ferguson replaced Craig Kilborn, so why not?
I have to admit... the show was more entertaining than I anticipated. Mostly because Tom Hanks stopped by for one of the best bits of late-night television in recent memory...
Guess I'll keep tuning in. Though I think my DVR is quickly reaching critical mass... I'm dangerously close to recording more shows than I can comfortably keep up with.
Not that it's ever stopped me before.
It happens all the time.
Find a band you like one minute and they drop off the face of the earth the next. I can find no word from Father Tiger since December (their website hasn't been updated in almost a year).
Kind of sad about that, as I thought for sure 2015 would be when we finally get a first full album out of the band...
Hopefully they're just busy in the studio and haven't had time to post updates?
In other music news... the best news I heard all day... Duran Duran has an album coming out in September through Warner Bros. Records that will reunite them with genius producer Nile Rodgers!
Few bands have remained as consistently good with their music than Duran Duran. Their last release (way back in 2010), All You Need is Now, was as amazing as anything they've ever released. If we'll be getting more of the same this time around, I'll be very happy to add them to my Best Of 2015 list.
Much to my shock and dismay, my faithful iMac died a horrible death for no apparent reason after a mere four(!) years. My guess is that the video card crapped out but, as you would expect from an all-in-one unit, it's not like I can rip into it and effect repairs. So I am now using a shiny new iMac with 5K Retina Display at work.
Since I have a Retina Display on my MacBook, which is admittedly very nice, I didn't think going full-Retina on my desktop would be a big deal.
I was so wrong. This display is the most glorious thing I've ever seen in my life.
The Sistine Chapel? Utter shit by comparison.
I don't want to look at anything else ever again unless it is displayed in this iMac...
I'm not sure how I managed to avoid sneaking into an Apple Store and taking a look at this jaw-dropping piece of Apple hotness over the past five months since release, but I'm kinda glad I didn't. Because firing up a 5K display and seeing just how amazing it looks is something you can only do once, and having it be on your own machine is priceless...
What's even more amazing than how it looks is what it costs. Or, more accurately, what it doesn't cost. To purchase a 5K display alone will cost you around $2,500. The iMac with Retina 5K Display starts at... wait for it... $2,500. And you can bet your ass that Apple's display is probably superior quality to boot. Which means the best 5K display on the market essentially comes with a pretty decent Mac attached for free.
To power such a massively beautiful display requires all kinds of technological advancements that Apple goes over in detail here. Sure it all sounds very impressive and everything... but there's simply no substitute for sitting in front of the machine and looking at some great quality photographs. Or reading small text. Or just looking at the icons in your Apps folder. Everything is so incredibly sharp... so mind-bogglingly vibrant... so orgasmically beautiful... that you have a hard time believing you're looking at a computer display. It's higher res than HD. It looks better than the best quality print you've ever seen. There's just no comparing it to, well, anything, really. The future is here, and it's stunning...
But what about that Mac part?
The computer itself tapers to a surprisingly thin 5mm on the edges and looks fantastic. I'm guessing there are fans in there but, if they ever turn on, I've not heard them. Overall its a gorgeous Mac that makes previous implementations look clunky and archaic by comparison.
I opted for the pricier 4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 chip, which is a pretty good performer. Sadly, it looks like this i7 is using the older "Haswell" architecture instead of the newer "Broadwell" chips that Intel has unleashed, but I don't know that the newer CPU would give me a terribly huge real-world advantage. Guess we'll just have to wait for the benchmarks when Apple catches up. In any event, it's plenty fast for the rather intensive applications I run, so there's no complaint there.
I also chose to upgrade the standard AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2GB GDDR5 to a full 4GB. I have no idea if the $250 price tag was a worthwhile investment, but I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry in case Photoshop needs the extra room when I have to work on massive-sized files.
Storage was a tough call for me. I have long-since given up on "regular" hard drives as boot drives, because once you've experienced the terrifying speeds of a Solid State Drive (SSD) you will never go back. But Apple has a technology called "Fusion Drive" which marries a 128GB SSD with a 1TB hard drive in a single volume. The system then optimizes your experience for fastest results by keeping commonly-used files (like the operating system) on the SSD and transferring seldom-used files to the HD. Probably because I haven't filled up my SSD section yet, but the disk access feels as fast as it ever was when using the SSD-only unit on my old Mac, so I'm happy.
Physical expansion is pretty much what you'd expect from a modern Mac... four USB-3 ports, a couple of Thunderbolt 2 ports, GB Ethernet, a headphone jack, and an SDXC card slot. No USB-C connector like on the brand new MacBook Pro, but that's no big deal for me, as I plan on sticking with Thunderbolt peripherals for the foreseeable future.
Everything else is pretty much current implementations of modern standards... including 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. This allows full AirDrop and Continuity support, which is much appreciated.
About the only thing you don't get is a CD SuperDrive, which is to be expected now-a-days. I can't tell you the last time I had to read or burn a CD, but it was knowing that I could do so if I needed to that added a bit of comfort to my previous iMac purchase. Oh well. Something tells me I won't be missing it.
And that's a wrap!
It's easy to recommend a Mac where the display alone is worth the cost of admission (both literally and figuratively)... even when that cost is $2,500. One look and you'll know it's worth every penny.
So don't look unless you have $2,500 burning a hole in your pocket.
Don't touch that back button... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Arthur! After a long, long wait in Swedish Doggy Quarantine... Arthur, the stray dog who joined an adventure racing team in Ecuador, has finally been released!
In case you're not up on this genuinely heartwarming story, here ya go...
Congrats to Arthur and Team Peak Performance!
• Clean Sheets! Doesn't everybody love them?
• TWO! In addition to the upcoming Clerks 3, Kevin Smith has unveiled plans for Mallrats 2, much to the surprise of just about everyone. Negotiations appear to be ongoing, but it seems as though the majority of the cast has signed on, including Smith, Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Ethan Suplee, Shannen Doherty, Stan Lee, Jason Mewes, Michael Rooker, and Renee Humphrey...
• Ninja! Well this is pretty epic...
Whatever this guy is making, he's underpaid.
• Freedom to Discriminate! Uh huh...
I'm guessing that's a "yes" then?
And there you have it... no more bullets for a week!
If you're lucky.
As a fan of the original Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, I didn't warm up to the Comedy Central version right away. They were funny, but the celebrities weren't of the same caliber and too many of the jokes relied on being crass rather than clever.
But after the third roast (Pamela Anderson, of all people) I warmed up to the modern incarnation of the show and have been sure to watch each new edition when it's released. The material has been hit-or-miss, but always entertaining.
Tonight was the latest episode of the show, this time roasting Justin Bieber...
As somebody who has never been a fan of Bieber's "music," I have always been indifferent to his crazy antics. He's young, obscenely wealthy, and acts pretty much as you would expect somebody young and wealthy to act. End of story.
Also as expected, the roast was absolutely brutal.
Much of the material went over my head (Bieber bought a monkey he abandoned in Germany?) but was otherwise predictable. Chris D'Elia (Bieber's favorite comedian?) summed up the night with "I'm proud of you. You have it all. You are literally a guy who has it all, except for respect, love, friends, good parents, and a Grammy." Toss in crude jokes about Bieber's sexuality and call it a night.
And Justin Bieber took it all in stride. He had to, as the roast was his idea (apparently he had been begging Comedy Central to roast him for years). Then he had his chance at the podium. And was pretty funny...
"What do you get when you give a teenager $200 million? A bunch of has-beens calling you a lesbian for two hours."
And then something UNexpected happened.
Bieber then took time to apologize to his fans for his behavior and promised that he'd do better. That's he'd strive to be somebody you could be proud of.
He seemed genuinely sincere, so I guess we'll see.
Full marks, young man. Full marks.
Most years I do a round-up of my favorite April Fools jokes running online.
This year everybody was eclipsed by the greatest prank of them all... Pac Man Mode on Google Maps! Now you can play Pac Man next to your house or on famous streets around the world!
Like Times Square...
Heaven only knows how long this will last, so get it while you can.
UPDATE: Though, I have to say, this was pretty darn amazing too...
LOVE YOU, BOB BARKER!
If I wanted lumpy, under-cooked potatoes, I would have made them myself instead of trusting a professional to do them up right...
If "Homestyle" means there's cold, hard lumps of un-mashed potatoes throughout the entire bowl, then I guess these are a success? Except it's kinda gross to eat them.
Which means I'm going to have to pull out the mixer and re-blend them.
NOT what I had in mind when I bought into Hormel's lie of convenience to satisfy my mashed potato craving.
The first time I had nachos was back in the late 70's. My family was invited to dinner at the house of one of my father's work colleagues and they were served as an appetizer.
But they were a far cry from what most people call "nachos" now-a-days.
Instead of tortilla chips swimming a massive glop of orange stuff with olives, tomatoes, onions, beef, beans, salsa, sour cream, peppers, and guacamole dumped on top, they were artfully constructed. Each chip was individually topped with a small cube of orange cheese next to a small cube of white cheese then finished with a small slice of jalapeño and heated until the cheese melted. They were sublime. And any nachos I've had since then have paled in comparison. Especially the awful, awful, "nachos" I had in Australia...
Or the even worse nachos I had in the Cayman Islands...
The reason I have nachos on the brain now (and every time I eat them, really) is because of something interesting I saw in the news this morning: Deep-Fried Nachos on a Stick at the Texas Renaissance Festival...
Photo By Texas Renaissance Festival
Apparently I have until October 24th to dust off my pirate costume and get me a plane ticket to Todd Mission, Texas.
Or more likely Houston. Something tells me that Todd Mission doesn't have direct flights from anywhere I'd want to be.
I am a massive Star Trek fan.
If you were to look up "trekkie" in the dictionary, there's a photo of me making the Vulcon hand-salute.
Alas, I never cared for what followed the original series. Star Trek: The Next Generation was okay, I guess, but future viewings revealed that it was my thirst for new Trek that allowed me to tolerate it in the beginning. Star Trek: Deep Space Nice was about the most boring show on earth, featuring a non-shape-changing shape changer and stories that rarely went anywhere. And don't get me started on Star Trek: Voyager, which was near-agonizing in its banality. I pretty much gave up on all the spin-offs after a season or so. Everything in the future of the Star Trek future was way too sanitized and not at all Trek-like.
And then came Star Trek: Enterprise...
I admit to having very high hopes for the show. Scott Bakula seemed the perfect choice for captain, and the idea of setting the show before the original Star Trek hinted at a more adventure-filled, gritty series. And, indeed, it did end up being leagues less clinical and sterile than the three incarnations that preceded it.
Also... Jolene Blalock as Vulcan Chief Science Officer T'Pol...
Enterprise started off okay, but quickly slid into utter stupidity with its overreaching "Temporal Cold War" plotline that shackled the show to shitty stories that over-complicated everything. I was ready to give up after the first season, but the second episode of the second season, Carbon Creek, was so great that I decided to hang on.
It didn't last. A few episodes later and I stopped watching completely. I gave Enterprise another try when it was renewed for a third season, but the whole Xindi/Expanse storyline was worse than the "Temporal Cold War" crap, so I bolted for good.
Fast forward to last month.
A friend mentioned that they had been re-watching Deep Space Nine and had finally made it to the evil "Mirror Universe" episode that was their favorite. Since I never got past the first season, I was intrigued. I loved the "Mirror Universe" episode of the original series, and didn't realize it had been revisited...
So I watched the episode. After which I watched the follow-up DS9 "Mirror Universe" episodes as well.
Then my friend gave me a list of other DS9 episodes he thought I'd like... including an amazing one called The Visitor. Turns out once you ditch the crap episodes there's some gold in them thar hills.
And then my friend dropped another bombshell... "Did you know there were "Mirror Universe" episodes of Enterprise as well?" No I did not. I never watched any of the fourth season. But I signed up for a free week of CBS Streaming so I could check it out.
Only to discover that the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise is pretty darn amazing. Absolutely some of the best Trek I've seen since the series began.
What in the hell happened?
From what I can tell, they ditched Rick Berman and Brannon Braga as show-runners and replaced them with somebody who wanted to get back to real Star Trek by acknowledging the best of what had preceded him, but without all the hideous baggage that Berman & Braga had piled on over the previous three Trek shows. His name is Manny Coto, and he completely salvaged the Trek Universe.
Only I never knew about it until now.
So here I am... watching terrific episode after terrific episode of Enterprise Season 4, enjoying Star Trek in a way I haven't experienced in years. It's got so many beautiful hooks to the original series that I'm in Trek heaven! Even when they work in stuff from the three spin-off series, it's in service to the original show! How cool is that? It's all such genius!
Until I get to the last episode of the fourth season and the final episode of the entire series titled "These are the Voyages...".
Absolutely everything that had been improved over the past 21 episodes to fix the show had been abandoned for something so awful that I wish I had never seen it. Not only did it senselessly kill off a main character for no good reason, it wasn't even an episode of Enterprise... it was yet another fucking pathetic episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation! William Riker and Deanna Troi are the focus of the episode with Enterprise taking place entirely within the holodeck. The whole damn mess was a complete and total "fuck you sideways" to the cast, crew, and everybody working on the show... not to mention all the fans who kept watching.
What in the hell happened?
THEY BROUGHT BACK RICK BERMAN AND BRANNON BRAGA!
Who the fuck were those two fucking in order to get the right to come back to Enterprise in its final minutes to utterly destroy it? I have no clue. But I'm now beyond incensed.
But happy to have seen some new Trek that didn't suck.
Well, it was new to me.
Put on your Easter bonnet... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Egg! Happy Easter!
• Trek! Happy First Contact Day!
• Seder! And... hope you had a happy Passover yesterday!
• Watch! Still not sold on Apple Watch, but have to admit the thought that went into creating it is pretty amazing.
Too thick. Too expensive. For me.
• Like! Yep.
Expectations inside the social media bubble.
• Burberry! When "To Serve and Protect" involves showing up to somebody's house by mistake and shooting their dog, something is very, very wrong...
Errr... more wrong.
• Pat! Jesus.
The fact that people continue to take this dipshit seriously... let alone send him their money... boggles my mind.
And... time for an egg salad sandwich!
Completely serious here.
This is essential viewing for every American...
This is what John Oliver does... distill complicated issues that nobody gives a shit about into something you may actually care for deeply.
Or at least have a laugh over.
And, while we're on the subject of John Oliver... holy shit...
Not angry enough? Alrighty then. Here you go...
Back in February I wrote about my 5-minute commute to work and how it is responsible for half of my rage each day because people are stupid. It just doesn't seem possible that such a tiny span of travel time could deal so much damage, but it's true.
And it's getting worse.
Most every day it seems as though nobody is paying attention and nobody is using their turn signals and nobody is going the speed limit and nobody knows how to frickin' drive.
So I've started chanting whenever I'm in the car now.
It's the only thing that keeps me from going insane...
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to work.
Wish me luck I don't light anything on fire.
Not much going on but work.
Guess it's meme time...
Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? Really?
Not shaping up to be the best of elections. Unless something drastic happens, you just know we're going to get stuck with the lowest common denominator...
Originally spotted at Meme Generator.
For the love of Pete, just make it stop.
For anybody not wanting to read my lengthy full review of Marvel's Daredevil, which is currently streaming its 13 episodes on Netflix, I'll just sum it up thusly...
Daredevil is a surprisingly violent show that's a very good adaptation of the Marvel comic book upon which it is based. Featuring some flawless casting with Charlie Cox as Hell's Kitchen lawyer by day and vigilante by night Matt Murdock... plus the ever-incredible Vincent D'Onofrio as brutal "Kingpin of Crime" Wilson Fisk... this series exceeded my every expectation and is well worth your time.
Assuming you can handle a show that's bloodier and more vicious than just about anything else out there.
Before we get on with things, I'm just going to put something out there because it's critical to understanding my appreciation of what Netflix has managed to do with Daredevil: I hate... HATE... Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure it has Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen in the cast (two actors I love to pieces), but everything else about it is total shit. The show's greatest sin is that it's boring as hell. Scenes which should be action-oriented where people are ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING are instead dumbed down to lengthy expositional dialogue. Apparently, the show-runners don't have the budget to film what they need to film so they resort to talking heads. Over and over and over again. Then draw out plot points that should last one or two episodes to a half-dozen or more. And I get it. Network television demands 22 episodes a season, and you have limited monetary resources to spend over all that time. So a show like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which demands expensive action shots to tell its story instead gets watered down to the point of pointlessness.
Then came Marvel's Agent Carter.
It was exceptional in every way S.H.I.E.L.D. is not. But it lasted only eight episodes.
And I think that's the key here.
Netflix spent a good chunk of money over a limited number of episodes instead of dragging things out to pointlessness. Sure, there's lengthy, dialogue-intensive scenes here, but they're not shoe-horned in with the intent of watering things down to meet a budget. They're critical to the overall narrative of the show. And that's the point... everything to do with Daredevil feels deliberate, planned, and (most important of all) necessary.
That's why it's so darn good.
So... minor spoilers, and all that...
Living amidst the violence and corruption of New York City's Hell's Kitchen, Matt Murdock's life is forever altered by two tragic events. The first is an accident which costs young Matt his sight (but enhances his other senses to super-human levels). The second is when his father "Battlin' Jack Murdock" (a boxer on the take) is murdered for not taking a fall.
Trained by the enigmatic "Stick" to be a stealthy ninja-like avenger, Matt hones his fighting skills to perfection and uses his gifts to become the ultimate crime-fighter.
Yada yada yada... Matt essentially becomes Batman.
Murdock is morally questionable in how he goes about his night-job that he could almost be considered a villain in his own right.
And speaking of...
When it comes to a "villain" for the series you have to use quotes around the word "villain" because Wilson Fisk is not your typical straight-forward comic book antagonist. In the comics, Kingpin is a (literally) larger-than-life criminal who masquerades as a legitimate businessman. In the Netflix show? It's more complex. Just like Matt Murdock, Fisk wants to make Hell's Kitchen a better place. But his approach is different in that he's willing to wade into the criminal underworld and do a lot of awful things to make it happen. And here's where it gets tricky. Unlike Matt Murdock (who admittedly likes pummeling evildoers in the name of justice), Fisk regrets having to get his hands dirty. In the beginning, anyways. As expected, Vincent D'Onofrio is excellent in the part, but he inexplicably plays all his dialogue with a hokey gruff voice (Holy Christian Bale, Batman!) which is distracting at times.
The supporting cast is pretty great. Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page is very good and adds an additional human element to the show that's much needed. Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson I'm not so fond of, but it's probably not the actor's fault. The character is borderline stupid at random moments for no good reason, and I just couldn't warm up to him. Two stand-out characters that caught me a little by surprise are Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Curtis-Hall (who I remember forever from a bit part in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America) is digging deep to flesh out his role. And it shows. Ben Ulrich is trapped in a profession that's rapidly disappearing and trying to hold on to his journalistic integrity on the way down. It's more than a little mesmerizing to watch. Rosario Dawson, who always seems more than capable in the roles she takes on, is at the top of her game in her limited screen-time as Claire (Holy Night Nurse, Batman!). Which is important because I'm assuming she's going to roll into Netflix's Luke Cage series down the road (she's an important part of his life in the comic books). Please please please let that be the case. And lastly, Scott Glenn's appearance as "Stick" was everything you knew it would be.
Moving on to the best character in the entire series... Hell's Kitchen, New York City. Daredevil is actually shot on location, and it adds a huge amount of atmosphere to the show. Partly because you can't fake NYC in the grand scheme of things, but mostly in the way that the city is shot. It's not quite noir, but it gets there from time to time and is always beautiful to behold. In the end, the authentic backdrop went a long ways towards selling the believability of the show.
Something that Daredevil surprised me with is having the balls to forgo yet another boring origin story in episode one. Instead, the details of how Matt Murdock became the titular character are artfully dispensed throughout the run of the series. His "powers," for example, are hinted at from the beginning... but aren't officially laid out until Episode 5. His training with "Stick" isn't revealed until Episode 7. To say I'm a fan of how it all played out is a massive understatement. Daredevil may not be as recognizable and well-known a character as Spider-Man (who got two frickin' origin movies!), but it doesn't matter. WE GET IT ALREADY! We've seen enough super-hero movies to know how the game is played. We know how super-powers work. There's no reason to spell it all out every dang time. Just jump into the action and reference back to how you got there... as needed... IF needed.
Another thing I like is the occasional nod back to the show's comic book origins. While at dinner, Wilson Fisk's date talks about "a tall man in a white suit and ascot" who once seduce her. A not-so subtle jab at his original appearance...
For all that Daredevil got right, there are a few things that they got wrong, however.
First of all, the show went to extreme lengths to distance itself from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which makes no sense at all. I was fully expecting them to at the very least reference the "Battle of New York" from the first Avengers movie (DAREDEVIL FRICKIN' TAKES PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY!!!), but it didn't surface. Or maybe it did and I missed it? I dunno I was working a lot as I was watching. All I do know is that they really should have made stronger ties to everything else "Marvel" out there. Instead all we got an off-hand remark about Captain America's helmet and a reference to Roxxon Oil. Lame. That's the shitty way DC Comics is handling their properties... Marvel's strength is that everything is connected. So it would be nice if that was acknowledged.
The other thing they got wrong with Daredevil was the costume. Matt Murdock started out in a Frank Miller/John Romita Jr. inspired "Man in Black" outfit, which I was begrudgingly okay with. Mostly because I kept assuming there would be a payoff when Daredevil actually becomes Daredevil in his classic red outfit. But when the moment came, the costume was hardly a payoff. And since Netflix has already plastered photos everywhere, I don't think I'm spoiling anything when I show it here...
While I think it's a bit over the top, I'm okay with the body armor. Whatever. But the mask?!? Awful. Just gut-wrenchingly awful. His eyes are practically recessed because they built it out so badly. Yes, Matt doesn't need eye holes to actually see, but it looks ridiculous. PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT DAREDEVIL IS BLIND, so isn't everybody thinking "How in the hell does he SEE out of that thing? I know I am. But what makes it go from "awful" to "tragic" is the stupid styling on it. Why in the hell are there those big triangular ridges above his eyes? Why is the forehead so flat? He looks like a frickin' neanderthal. It's just so horrible. Bash the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie all you like, but at least they knew how to make a Daredevil costume...
Ultimately Daredevil a very good effort that I really enjoyed and bodes well for the three remaining series in Netflix's contract. Next up is A.K.A. Jessica Jones with Kristin Ritter. After that is Luke Cage (YEAH!!!) with Mike Colter. And lastly, Iron Fist, which I don't think has been cast yet. Then all four series wrap up with a massive Defenders crossover that should be pretty great.
Especially if it features a guest-shot of Benedict Cumberbatch's Dr. Strange and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk... both of which were regulars in the comic book version of the team.
Don't let the crappy political landscape in these United State drive you to drink just yet... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Argh! While my politics are more inline with fiscal conservative ideals, I usually end up voting Democrat because I am a hardcore social progressive. Everybody's bought and paid for by lobbyists anyway, so what's the difference? That being said, I frickin' loathe Hillary Clinton and am absolutely gutted that she's almost certain to be the Democratic candidate for president. Not that I'm not ready for a woman in The White House... on the contrary, I totally am... it's just that I don't want this woman anywhere near the Commander in Chief's desk.
I just don't get it. Her foreign policy as Secretary of State was disastrous. Against all advice, she fucked up Libya so bad that the country may never recover. She's taken so much foreign money for her campaign that I find it laughable she could possibly have this country's best interests at heart. And anybody thinking liberal anti-war ideology factors into her thinking should take a look at the shit-loads of cash she's taken from defense contractors. You think the wars we're fighting are never-ending now? Wait until Hillary Clinton is running the show. And while you're at it, take a look at the piles of money she's taken from the banking industry cesspool... she's got funds from Goldman Fucking Sachs on the books! Much as she claims otherwise, the status quo for Washington politics and its filthy finances ain't changing one damn bit with her in office. Odds are, they'd only get worse.
But of course the idiot Republicans won't give us someone I can vote for. GOP candidates I could live with (like Jon Huntsman) are eviscerated by the party even though a progressive who embraces equality and diversity is the ONLY WAY they're going to take the White House. And so let's give it up for President Clinton!
The sequel, that is.
• Argh Redux. Case in point for the Republicans? So far we've got Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on the ticket. I'm sure Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie will be up next. No word from God as to whether he'll be asking Michelle Bachmann to run again. A sorrier lineup of assholes, bigots, and idiots you will not find.
Unless, of course, Sarah Palin decides to entertain us all with another run.
Shit. At this point, I'm actually missing Mitt Romney.
Not that he's any more a gem than the rest of the GOP freak show that seems intent to run unelectable candidates guaranteed to put Hillary Clinton in the Big Chair.
Meh. Guess I shouldn't be too torn up... in the end it doesn't seem to matter who gets into office anyway.
• Honesty. What we need is this guy...
At least then we'd know where we stand.
• Babe. Tell me something I don't know.
• Underline. A moment of silence for the passing of The Bold Italic... a San Francisco-centric web zine that quickly became one of my favorite things online. You will be missed.
• The Ant Man! Looking better and better with each new preview...
I had sincere reservations once Edgar Wright left the project, but it looks like Marvel has another terrific film under their belt.
• Fight! And speaking of Marvel Cinematic hits, this week we were treated to the longest look at the film yet...
And comic book geeks around the world just peed a little bit.
And then there's this...
Three weeks to go...
See you next week, True Believer!
Must. Not. Kill.
Everywhere you shop, eat, or visit now-a-days is filled with employees who have no desire whatsoever to actually provide any customer service, and I'm rapidly approaching my limit.
Take this recent visit to the McDonald's drive-up...
Do you have lemonade?
I'll have a large lemonade and an apple pie please.
FOUR MINUTES LATER...
Here's your order and here's drink.
I ordered a lemonade, what's this?
We ONLY serve frozen strawberry lemonade.
I can't at least get one without strawberry syrup?
Well fuck me sideways.
And if you visit the McDonald,s website, it's true... they only have Strawberry Lemonade on the menu. And apparently they are required by McThreat of McDeath to put strawberry syrup in it.
The only thing more disturbing is the marketing for this McAbomination...
Interesting that McDonald's sells Coke products but specifically omits Minute Maid Lemonade from their machines. Probably because they don't want competition for their pricier "McCafe" frozen lemonade crap.
I had a great idea for a post today, but had forgotten what it was by the time I sat down to actually write it.
If that's not an excuse for a meme, I don't know what is...
By all means.
Talk to me like I'm a child in the most condescending tone possible over something that was your problem not mine and a complete misrepresentation of events that transpired.
That always goes over well with me.
Especially when I've just gotten home from work.
I really need to get the hell out of here.
I am losing my ever-loving' mind here!
We have to wait until CHRISTMAS for this?
Please just put me into a coma after Avengers: Age of Ultron... wake me up for Ant Man... then drop me back into slumber until Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I just can't handle it.
This morning I couldn't find that little green piece of string you pull to open a roll of Butter Rum LifeSavers and realized that there hasn't been a little green piece of string to open the package in a long time. I've been using my thumbnail for ages. At some point in the past, the people who made Life Savers decided to eliminate it. Probably because it rarely worked. Most times you'd pull on it and it would either break or not tear the packaging where it needed to be torn. Nevertheless I'd always give it a shot. On those days it would actually open the roll, it would give me a lucky feeling that would last all day.
And what about the little red closure-tie that they used to put on a package of saltine crackers? Somewhere in the murky past Premium Brand decided to get rid of it. But since it was actually useful and worked as intended, I'm guessing it was a financial decision instead of a functionality decision? Oh well. Now-a-days I just twist the end of the package and hope it stays closed enough that my crackers stay somewhat fresh.
And then there's Grandma's Brand cookies. They used to be huge. You'd get two big cookies in a package and it was a hearty enough snack that you'd be filled up enough to get through the day until it was dinner time. But now? They're so small. They kept shrinking and shrinking and shrinking until one day you buy a package of cookies and realize you're getting half of what you used to get. At some point Frito Lay decided that it would be better to trim the size of Grandma's cookies instead of raising prices... destroying the reason you bought them in the first place... their large, satisfying size. Now that they're no bigger than regular cookies, I just buy a package of Chips Ahoy and pop a few of them in a baggie. Grandma's Brand is dead to me.
Every day little pieces of our lives are being diminished or taken away completely.
We rarely seem to notice.
Until one day we look at where we've landed and realize there's nothing left. No string-pull on our LifeSavers. No closure-tie on our crackers. Not enough cookie in our cookies.
Meanwhile, in all too many places in the world, somebody is starving and couldn't give a shit about my lament over the decline of snack-food convenience in America.
I should probably feel much worse about writing blog entries like this than I actually do.
My relationship with Star Wars is a complicated one.
The original film revolutionized cinematic sci-fi and cemented my love for the genre that originated with the original Star Trek series. After The Empire Strikes Back came along, I became obsessed with the Star Wars Universe and it felt as though my entire life was leading up to the premiere of Return of the Jedi.
At which time my faith in Star Wars was completely shattered. Jedi was more burp and fart jokes than sci-fi. More silly than serious. More an effort to sell toys than to close out the Holy Trilogy with the respect it deserved. If not for the lightsaber duel at the end (and one amazing space battle), the film would have been a complete loss.
Then, as if fucking up the final installment wasn't bad enough, George Lucas decided to go back and take a huge shit all over the two original films with his "Special Edition" insanity. Adding stupid shit that had no business being there and generally changing stuff for the worse.
So I moved on to bigger and better things.
Eventually the Star Wars prequels were unleashed.
After the travesty that was Return of the Jedi and the "Special Editions," I held out zero hope that any new Star Wars movies would be worth a crap, but secretly I hoped. Hoped in vain, as it turned out. The prequels were utter shit, and Star Wars became nothing more than a fond memory.
And now Star Wards: The Force Awakens is coming and I find myself excited about Star Wars again. Perhaps with George Lucas exiting the franchise there's reason to hope. JJ Abrams did okay with his take on Mission Impossible and Star Trek, after all.
But that's not until Christmas.
In the meanwhile, Disney/Lucasfilm has decided to finally release all six Star Wars films on digital.
Which would be reason to celebrate if not for a few things...
Nope. Nope. Nope.
There's only so much suffering a Star Wars fan can put up with.
No need to look for an excuse to go on living... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Raptor! Too many good movies on the way this year.
Jurassic World is one of them...
If he gets the lead in the Indiana Jones reboot as well, Chris Pratt is going to own the known universe.
• Movies! Speaking of movies to look forward to, where did this come from?
Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Homes off to solve one last case? Count me in.
• Farce! On the other hand...
This might very well be be a good movie. Not the Fantastic Four, however. Is it too much to hope that Marvel gets the rights back after this movie shits the bed? Worked for Spider-Man. Kinda.
And don't even get me started...
• George! He may have irreparably damaged the Star Wars franchise for an entire generation... but George Lucas isn't 100% evil. His epic plan to build affordable housing in Marin County.
• Blam! When did the National Rifle Association go from being an organization dedicated to gun safety to a political mouthpiece for bigoted assholes?
The NRA made a fundraising career out of terrifying people with "OBAMA'S GONNA TAKE YOUR GUNS!" Now that it all turned out to be a steaming pile of bullshit, I guess the NRA is moving on to "There ain't gonna be no more coloreds in The White House... and no bitches either!" rhetoric to bring in the donations.
Anxiously looking forward to the next round of NRA FUD designed to keep the country divided and their wallets filled.
• Awww! Trying to end things on a positive note for once, introducing... The Incredible Nursing Cat!
Until next we meet...
And so I'm leaving a place where recreational marijuana is legal to a place where it is illegal on 4/20. I'm guessing this is ironic. Except Alanis Morissette, though Canadian, doesn't actually live in Canada for me to ask (DOUBLE irony? I dunno).
The flight to Vancouver, BC was uneventful. What happened when I landed was anything but.
I'm getting ahead of myself though.
I've been to Canada many, many times. Mostly after driving across the border, which has never been a problem. I've also flown into Toronto a couple times without incident. But flying into Vancouver? I'm now four for four on getting completely screwed by immigration and customs.
After arriving at the border agent's podium, I got the usual round of questions. Why are you here? Have you been here before? Who are you meeting? Where are you going? What do you do for a living? Etc. Etc. Etc.
No matter how I answer, I always get routed to customs. Apparently a graphic designer who is a Hard Rock collector in town to visit a casino and have dinner with a friend is highly suspicious. It doesn't matter than I have a hotel reservation. It doesn't matter that the only thing I'm bringing into the country is a change of underwear, a fresh shirt, my laptop, and an iPhone. It doesn't matter than I have a return ticket for the next day. It doesn't even matter that my double-passport book is packed to the rafters with entry/exit stamps and a wad of visas marking me as a frequent traveler.
My entry card gets marked like this...
I have no idea what "682" means. I think it probably goes like this...
Or something like that.
And so off I go.
Despite a line of 17 people, there are only three desks open. The first is occupied by a guy from China who thought he could just show up in Canada and go to school. The officer in charge of his case makes it known in no uncertain terms that he is mistaken. "There's a right way to do this, and you've done everything wrong!" After some back in forth, the officer grows impatient and starts threatening the guy with a stay in their jail. Over an hour of questions and typing later, the Chinese man is released and allowed to spend the night in the city... but if he doesn't return by 11:00 to arrange his flight back home, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.
The third desk is occupied by a guy who apparently just wants to visit the province for a month. For this he ends up having to unpack his three large suitcases to the last sock and answer question after question after question for over an hour.
The second desk is the only one moving people through. Albeit very, very slowly.
On occasion a random officer will show up and pull somebody out of line that they consider an easy interview. This moves the line forward, but any progress is ruined by people showing up in a second line on the opposite side of the building and jumping in line ahead of people who have been waiting for 40 minutes or longer.
Eventually I was called out by a random officer... but only after an hour and fifteen minutes of waiting. I then had to explain my situation, again, and stand there for fifteen additional minutes while the officer went into another room and did whatever she had to do with my passport. It probably wouldn't have taken that long, but she had to joke around with other officers there about how long the line was. Nice.
All told, I was stuck in customs for just over and hour-and-a-half.
For an hour visit to a casino over a stay that's less than 22 hours.
I don't doubt the need for all of this drama. On the contrary, protecting your borders is a very important job that deserves a serious amount of care. The results could be catastrophic if you don't.
But the way it's handled is abysmal. Indeed, it's the worst of any country I have visited. Ever. Excessive wait times, gross understaffing for the volume of people, and unfair line-jumping is not the impression you should be making on your guests.
A 30-minute ride on the SkyTrain and I'm at my downtown hotel. An hour ride on the Expo Line followed by a bus transfer and I'm at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver that's actually not in Vancouver, it's in Coquitlam...
By joining their Players Club, I get $10 in free slots money. It's blown through in two minutes playing a slot machine I can really plug my hair into...
Time for pins at the Rock Shop (which is very nice, by the way...
The main bar is called "Asylum," which feels kinda forced, but looks pretty...
There's a surprising amount of memorabilia awaiting you. And it's some really good stuff too. The problem is that the casino is kinda big, so the artifacts are ultimately rather sparse. The clustered memorabilia in showcases is really cool though...
There is no Hard Rock Cafe on the property. The people responsible for the place only have a license for hotels and casinos West of the Mississippi. Because of that, your Hard Rock Rewards card/points are useless. They don't even give you an AAA/CAA discount. If you sign up for the player's club (Free!) you do get a 10% discount on everything, however, which is nice.
I ended up eating at their burger joint. The veggie burger I had was a bit bland, but perfectly edible. The fries, unfortunately, were undercooked and oversalted, which meant most of them ended up in the garbage.
On the hour-ride back to town I saw the old Expo 86 dome, which looks pretty much as it did back when the World's Fair was going on...
Here it is in 1986...
After arriving back in Vancouver proper, I stopped at Tim Hortons' for some Timbits and a Coke. Because no visit to Canada is complete without Timbits!
And that was that. I'll spend the rest of my evening working, then head back home in the morning.
Hard Rock No. 164 accomplished! It was probably mostly worth the trouble to visit.
I had such grand ambitions this morning... my flight didn't leave until 1:15pm, after all. Plenty of time to wake up early and wander around downtown Vancouver on this beautiful day.
But instead I worked in my hotel room right up until I had to leave for the airport.
Oh well. I had some leftover Timbits for breakfast in bed, so there's that.
Unlike the horrendous ordeal I had to endure getting into Canada, getting back to the US was a piece of cake. I pre-cleared customs before I even get on the plane in Vancouver. Which meant I could just stroll off the plane to the food court at SeaTac for some Qdoba before my connecting flight home.
Which was a piece of cake.
Back to the clinic for another trip under the knife...
Hopefully it'll be longer than six months before I have to go through this again.
And less painful.
Not a good day to be Dave, so I'm calling in sick.
I'll have my mom write you a note tomorrow.
I once again forgot about my blogiversary... Blogography turned 12 years old on the 18th.
Not that I blame me. Now that blogs are essentially dead, blogiversaries are not what they used to be. Back in the day when 50 comments on every entry was the norm and the blogging community was strong, I'd count down the days until my blogiversary and have week-long contests with fabulous prizes. Fun times ensued, and I'd energized enough about blogging to carry me through to the next year's celebration.
Those were the days.
A dozen years posting stupid shit to the internet.
Doctors Without Borders has eight teams on their way to Nepal, and they could sure use your help. When it comes to recommending charities, I don't do so lightly. Doctors Without Borders has an exceptional reputation and gets top ratings from sites like Charity Navigator.
My heart goes out to everybody affected by the tragic events in Nepal, a country I have long wanted to visit.
My eyes may be bruised and battered, but I'm glad to be alive... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thanks, Obama! The president's speech at this year's White House correspondents' dinner was literally laugh-out-loud funny. Probably the best CD speech I've ever heard. Self-deprecating in all the right ways... yet nicely vicious in the right ways too...
• Speech! And Cecily Strong did an amazing job too...
I'm guessing that's going to rub some people the wrong way...
• Mo! Oh shit! Did the Surgeon General's nurse just give Elmo autism?!?
Av ery good question indeed! Hmmm...
• Color! Man of Steel was a shitty movie that took a huge, steaming dump all over Superman... but this makeover would have gone a long way towards at least making it LOOK like a Superman movie...
Next up, Zach Snyder gets to drop a load all over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
• Joker Products! And speaking of taking a dump all over a beloved DC Comics character, here comes Suicide Squad...
I am interested in seeing what Jared Leto brings to the role, as he's an incredibly talented actor who seems a perfect fit. But this "look" they've got going for him seems more silly than scary. I'm trying to keep an open mind here, but Hipster Joker? Really?
• Relief. A massive earthquake has killed over 3000 people in Nepal, injured scores of others, and affected millions. As always, Doctors Without Borders is there. If you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, you can help them to help others by donating here.
And now it's time to put my aching eyes to bed. See you in seven days... same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.
Lucky you! There's a brand-spanking-new (and FREE!) issue of Thrice Fiction out today!
As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding.
All done? Then off we go...
Our Editor at Large, RW, has long been lobbying to add some comics to Thrice Fiction. On the surface, this sounds easy. But finding the right comics to include in our pages is easier said than done. My first choice was the brilliant stuff that Reza Farazmand is doing over at Poorly Drawn Lines. Not only because I'm a huge fan... but because his work seemed the perfect "fit" for what we're doing.
Not that I expected he would say "yes," of course. Surely he has better things to do than hang out in our little lit mag, right? But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I worked up some samples of how his work would be presented in Thrice and dashed off an email.
Much to my surprise and delight, Reza not only agreed to let us re-print some of his strips... he also agreed to re-work a panel from one of my favorite Poorly Drawn Lines comics as our cover! And that's how Small Cat came to end up fronting Issue No. 13...
Glorious, is it not?
And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!
If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.
And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our April 2015 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!
Putting together an issue of Thrice Fiction is no walk in the park. There's hours of work put into it from myself and others before it all comes together. Once all the art is in, I then get to assemble the Print PDF (for those wanting to purchase a printed copy at MagCloud), the Download PDFs (for those grabbing their FREE copy off our website), and the ePub/Kindle versions (for those who have an e-reader, also available FREE at our website). Then there's proofing, revising, and correcting... it goes on and on. Until it doesn't, then we're done.
There are times along the way where I ask myself "Is this really worth all the time and effort it takes to put this thing together?"
And then I take one look at the finished issue and the answer is always the same... yes, it most definitely is worth it. This issue was more difficult than usual, which made the finished magazine even more worth it.
And in four months we do it all again.
Now on with the second half of the art you'll find in our latest issue...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I've discovered a newfound love for Swiss cheese.
Never liked it before. Always found it to be rubbery, stinky, and possessing an "off" flavor. But then I had an Arby's sandwich (hold the beef) one day and found it quite tasty. The cheese on my sandwich? Swiss. And so I've been eating it on sandwiches every day for the past two weeks.
The food equivalent of binge-watching on Netflix, if you will.
Then this morning for breakfast I skipped the Captain Crunch and toast and went straight for a chunk of Swiss.
Such is the perils of having "an addictive personality."
Good thing I can't afford to try cocaine.
Just do it already.
From a historical perspective, we already look ridiculous...
No sense continuing to cater to the ever-increasing backwards fringe elements of society when most everybody else has moved on...
Oh well. At least the anti-equality brigade is keeping things entertaining as they go down in flames.
Happy May Day, everybody!
Dance into the fire! That fatal kiss is all we need...
Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...
• Reno! I have been to Reno exactly once, years ago. It looks much the same. Except the Planet Hollywood restaurant is gone. That cool sign is still there though...
Too bad I'm not much of a gambler.
• Avengers! Well...
Not that I didn't have fun. I had a great time. It's a comic book geek's dream come true. Except it wasn't quite the movie I was hoping for. But I'll get to that on Wednesday. Probably.
• Rand. Was very sad to learn that the lovely Grace Lee Whitney has died...
So many Star Trek alums are passing on. And suddenly I feel very old.
• Supremes! Food for thought while The Supreme Court battles it out over marriage equality...
Same sex marriage isn't gay privilege. It's equal rights. Privilege would be something like gay people not paying tax. Like churches don't.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 29, 2015
When churches get involved in politics, they should have their tax-exempt status revoked. Never seems to happen though, and they're more active than ever before.
• Chocolate! The flight attendant for my Reno trip was sweet to give me a chocolate bar snack. They often do this when you're an Alaska Air elite flyer and the plane doesn't have a First Class section. I guess it's supposed to make you forget you're in coach? In any event, it's such a nice gesture and is always appreciated. The interesting thing about this bar was the flavor...
Agave Quinoa Sesame Chocolate? Isn't that about the most hipster flavor you can imagine? Turns out it's quite tasty though. Interesting texture and a pleasing taste. And then there's the inside of the wrapper...
Chocolate plus a donation... with a Side of butt-shot? So weird.
• Mime Time! And, lastly, here's something to end your Sunday on a high note. Kinda.
And here... we... go...
"What's the bare minimum amount of money and effort we can sink into this thing and get away with calling it a Hard Rock?" —Warner Hospitality
Or so I assume.
The property currently known as the "Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe" began as "Del Webb's Sahara Tahoe" and was a pretty big deal back in the early 70's because Elvis performed here regularly...
Eventually the property was rebranded as the "Horizon Resort" before ultimately becoming a Hard Rock in January of this year. As it's not part of the "authentic" Hard Rock portfolio owned by the Seminoles, I was prepared for it to be underwhelming. Because they usually are.
But this one didn't even reach that far for me.
Not that it's not a nice hotel... it totally is... but the complete lack of excessiveness and rock-n-roll theming that defines a "Hard Rock" is just not here. And it starts from when you first pull up to this rather boring building...
If it weren't for the signs, you'd never guess this was a Hard Rock at all. Things are slightly better on the other side, where at least there's a giant guitar...
Inside isn't much better. The reception desk is boring as hell. No effort whatsoever was put into making your first contact with the property be special. No guitars. No cymbals. No art. No nothing. Just blank walls to stare at...
I mean, seriously, what the hell?
There are some nice showcases on the back wall, but it's just not enough...
At the far end is my favorite piece, a passport belonging to Johnny Cash...
About the only attempt at making the lobby feel in any way special is a display for one of Michael Jackson's gloves. Which is nice, but it does nothing to pull you away from all those blank walls behind it...
And then there's the rooms. Again, nice... but where's the "Hard Rock" here? An orange wall, a teddy bear, and a couple of prints is all we get?
At least the bathroom has something rock-related. Even if it is just a tiny guitar print...
Seriously... this could be any mid-range hotel anywhere in the USA. There is absolutely nothing about it that makes you feel like you're in a Hard Rock except when you look closely at the water bottle tag, the shampoos, and the guest services book. About the only unique thing about it is the fire sprinkler in the closet...
I guess they have a real problem with guest's clothes spontaneously combusting or something.
Oh... and thank God I paid the extra money for a "lake view" room. I would have hated to have missed this beautiful view of... the parking lot?!?
I mean, yeah, there's a lake way back there... but I'd hardly call this a "lake view" room. When I booked it, I was expecting to look out my window and see something like this...
...which is a shot I took when I pulled off the road on the drive here.
Oh well. The casino isn't much better. Absolutely nothing on the casino floor. Just a couple of cabinets scattered at the entrances...
And some guitars scattered without presentation down a random boring hallway you have no reason to visit...
The pool is total shit... though there are signs everywhere about a fantastic new pool area that will be debuting this summer, so maybe it'll improve...
Overall, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe is a massive disappointment for Hard Rock fans. There's just not much here to see. If you don't care about the Hard Rock, it's a nice enough hotel, sure... but for those who do care, it's hardly destination-worthy unless you're a hard-core completist.
Which, unfortunately, is me.
UPDATE 5/5/15: You know, it may not sound like it, but I was trying to stay positive here. But when I went to check out everything kind of came to a boiling point in my head. First of all is the idiotic "resort fee" I had to pay... $22 ($26 with tax) which basically got me internet. It's not like I could go lie by the pool or anything (given there's no furniture). But even worse was the service. When I checked in, you're supposed to get complimentary valet parking, but the ONE guy tending the drive was too busy talking to somebody to bother and, after I had to interrupt to find out what the fuck I do with my car, he positioned valet parking as a "well, if you really want to..." situation, so I ended up self-parking. THEN, when I went to leave in the morning, I asked the guy at the reception desk if they had a postbox. No. Can you put my postcard with your outgoing mail? No. Now that's service! They wouldn't even mail a damn postcard. Seriously, fuck this place. I wish I had never come. A complete stain on the Hard Rock brand if there ever was one.
Contrast and compare to the positively gorgeous "authentic" Hard Rock Cafe next door at Harvey's Casino. It's an absolutely mesmerizing property that's got a "Tahoe Ski Lodge" aesthetic going on. And it's packed to the rafters with fantastic rock-n-roll memorabilia and classic theming. So much love went into this place...
Now THAT'S Hard Rock! That's a destination-worthy property. That's why I am a Hard Rock fan.
Before driving to Lake Tahoe, I got to have lunch with the Blogger Formerly Known as Floating Princess, so the day wasn't a total loss. We had most excellent pizza at Pirate's Pizza in Reno... it is, in fact, the best pizza in the whole world...
Dinner tonight was another excellent meal... across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe at the Lucky Beaver...
I like the place very much... excellent service and a cozy atmosphere. But the food is way pricey... $12 for a burger and tots! Though their black bean veggie option is really good, so I guess it was worth the money.
And that's my day. Time to walk back to the Hard Rock and see if I can get some sleep.
I'm not much of a gambler, but I was compelled to put money in the "Ellen DeGeneres Show Slot Machine" until something happened. Five dollars later and...
If you win something special, cartoon-body Ellen dances across the screen and she talks to you. Cute.
Tomorrow? The journey back home.
A much nicer day today than yesterday.
Probably because I had to leave this morning!
Since my "lakeview" room at the Hard Rock didn't have a view of the actual lake, I stopped off at a "viewpoint" along the way to see if I could get a photo of Lake Tahoe. Sure enough...
And here's a pano of the whole schebang...
But before I drove back to Reno, I returned to the Lucky Beaver for a fried egg and avocado breakfast sammy... which was amazing. Even though I had to get up at 7:00am to get one...
The drive was fairly uneventful. Though I did run across somebody who loves A) Scotland... and B) Clifford the Big Red Dog... very, very much...
Much to my surprise, I ran across a Back to the Future slot machine at the airport. I refused to waste more than $10 on the thing, so I didn't get to see much... but it was very cool just the same...
What are you lookin' at, butt-head?!
Annnnnd... so much for my trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe.
Oh good Lord.
STOP GIVING THE WACHOWSKIS MONEY TO MAKE SHITTY FILMS! Everything since The Matrix has been utter crap, and Jupiter Ascending is no different. Granted, it's one of the most beautiful disasters I've ever seen, but...
...by the time we get to the genetically-spliced human-slash-elephant spaceship pilot trumpeting before engaging thrusters, I found myself longing for the good ol' days of George Lucas burp and fart jokes.
It's just that bad...
And yet... as I said, this is one gorgeous film. The art direction, design, and special effects are stunning.
A shame it was all wasted on such a convoluted pile of shit.
Mila Kunis, the most beautiful toilet-scrubbing maid ever, discovers that she's the genetic inheritor of the entire earth after aliens try to kill her. Luckily Channing Tatum (a half-dog-slash-half-man space warrior) drops in on his magical flying boots to save her. Then we get dragged from pretty action sequence to pretty action sequence while investigating such thrilling concepts as "bureaucracy" and "rules of succession."
The only bright spots in this heinous mess outside of the visuals are Mila Kunis (obviously) and a welcome appearance by Sean Bean as a half-honey-bee-half-man space warrior (yes, really).
Guess I'll go rekindle my faith in sci-fi cinema by watching The Fifth Element for the hundredth time.
Realistically, there are three routes I can take to get home from my office. Two of them are in town and take about 5 minutes each on average. The last one involves jumping on the highway and takes about 7 minutes on average. So, all things considered, ridiculously easy commutes.
Except for yesterday.
I was already on the highway, so I took the "long" way home. Only to find that the route was blocked by a jackknifed semi on the bridge that crosses back across the river. This meant I had to cruise 15 minutes out of my way in order to get turned around so I could take Option No. 2.
Which was also blocked because a semi had tried making a U-turn (or something) and drove off the road. This time I took a photo because I could barely believe it myself...
Police were redirecting traffic on both sides, so no joy there. This time it was ten minutes out of my way to get back to Option No. 3.
Which was also blocked.
Somebody backing their motorhome across both lanes of traffic and not truly understanding how to steer when moving in a direction that's not forward.
As I was sitting there waiting, my mind was trying to come up with yet another route that would get me home. But before I managed to wrap my brain around it, the motorhome driver miraculously figured out that left backs left and the road was open for business once again.
I left work at 5:05.
I pulled into my driveway at 5:32.
Which works out to twenty-seven minutes to drive 1.3 miles.
The next time somebody tells me that I'm "so lucky" to live in a small town where I don't have a difficult commute gets punched in the dick.
Back in the good ol' days where blogging actually mattered, I refused many an offer to host ads on Blogography (I still do... on those rare occasions somebody actually bothers to ask now-a-days). Not that I was turning down any massive dollar amounts or anything... I would have earned well under $100 a month... but the money wasn't the point. I simply did not want to have my entire blogging life revolve around driving clicks to my website.
Which is what you have to do in order to make ads worth it. Just ask the fine folks at TVBlend...
In order to find out the answer to their burning question, you have to click through to their website.
Whereas Super Hero Hype has a different, arguably less douchey approach...
Super Hero Hype doesn't make you click through to get the answer, they try to create a post that will have you wanting to click through to get more than just "the answer." Kind of a big difference, though the end result is the same... if you're a fan of Constantine, you'll be clicking through to the site in order to get the deets about the fate of the show.
And while I prefer the Super Hero Hype approach which doesn't hold a gun to my head for a click-through, TV Blend's tactics don't bother me enough to stop following their newsfeed... I just don't click through as much as I would if they were a bit more creative in how they go about initiating it.
But lest you think Super Hero Hype isn't above allowing others to put douchey clickbait ads on their site. Well...
ZOMFG! WHAT DID SANDRA BULLOCK LIE ABOUT?!??
Who the hell cares?
A lot of people, apparently. Because this kind of clickbait is rampant on the internet. You can't escape it. Everywhere you look there's something UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING that will LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS... but it requires a click-through to reveal what it is.
In some cases it's more than figurative... you literally can't escape it. Because an increasing number of websites... "ZergNet" for example... spawn infinite new windows with every click so you never leave their site. You're trapped in a maze of clickbait from which few break free.
Until you fall asleep at the computer.
Or close your browser window.
Which is the only true escape from clickbait once you're on the internet.
Which reminds me... DID YOU KNOW THAT THESE COMMON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS COULD KILL YOU?!?
I wrote up my thoughts about Avengers: Age of Ultron immediately after having seen the film last Sunday while I was in Reno. Originally, I was going to post everything Monday, but ultimately decided I'd "sit on it" for a couple days in case I had new thoughts upon further reflection. "Days" turned into a "week" because new information kept leaking out about the film. Information that had direct bearing on my comments.
And so now there are a couple comments on my comments.
Which makes me wish I had just posted everything last Monday as originally planned, because that would have been a lot less work.
I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A Marvel movie has topped my list of favorite films every year since I started making lists... Iron Man 2 in 2010, Captain America and Thor in 2011, The Avengers in 2012, Iron Man 3 in 2013, and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. My guess is that Iron Man would have topped my list in 2008 (if I had one back then), and it seems inevitable that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (or possibly Ant Man) will top it this year. These films are a dream come true for a long-time comic book geek like me, and Marvel seems incapable of making a misstep with their various franchises.
At least from the "big-picture" perspective. But I'll get to that in a minute.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a mind-bogglingly huge film that defies a quick description, so I'm not even going to try. Instead, I'll just reprint the official description thusly: "When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans."
(UPDATE COMMENT: And the result is going to end up being one of the most successful movies of all time)...
And, for the most part, I loved it.
It's a highly entertaining effort that has some of the most ambitious and mid-blowing action sequences ever put to film.
But it's not without its problems.
Which I get into in an extended entry. Needless to say, spoilers will ensue...<! --more-->
Before I begin, I feel compelled to mention that the title of the film is taken from a comic book maxi-series by Brian Michael Bendis from 2013. And yet it's an entirely different story that bears no resemblance to the source material. This is probably a good thing, because I found the comic book a bit uneven. In some places it felt rushed and oddly incomplete... in others it was plodding, bordering on tedious with an ending you could see from miles away. As if that weren't reason enough to go in a different direction, many of the key characters (like Wolverine) aren't available to Marvel Studios, having been licensed away to other companies.
And off we go...
As the movie begins, Earth's Mightiest Heroes are hell-bent on retrieving Loki's magical scepter (from the first Avengers film) and track it down to a HYDRA base in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia. It's much too powerful and dangerous to be left in the hands of mere mortals, so Thor is quite serious about getting it off the earth.
Unfortunately for the Avengers, their efforts are hampered by the evil Baron Strucker, who has been infusing people with energy from the scepter to give them super-powers. His only(?) success story is with "The Twins"... Pietro and Wanda Maximoff... who volunteered for experimentation after their parents were killed by Stark weaponry. Pietro (AKA Quicksilver) has super-speed and Wanda (AKA Scarlet Witch) has the ability to manipulate energy in the form of physical blasts or telekinesis. She also has limited telepathy and the ability to manipulate minds by clouding them with a person's darkest fears.
AN ASIDE: I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this depiction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is quite different than what you get in the comic books. In the source material, Pietro and Wanda are mutants... the next evolution of humanity, and developed their powers naturally (UPDATE COMMENT: Except not any more, as it turns out). But since 20th Century Fox owns all rights to the X-Men and, by extension, mutants, writer/director Joss Whedon had to take a different approach. He chose to tie their origin to previous Marvel Cinematic Universe events, and I think his solution was a very good one. Though I sure wish Wanda's powers weren't so deus ex machina to the plot, the whole "mental manipulation" stuff conveniently coming from nowhere because Joss needed a story beat.
Despite Scarlet Witch using her powers to enchant Black Widow, Iron Man, and Thor, The Avengers prevail and recover the scepter... only because Wanda determines that Tony (whom she hates for making the weapons that orphaned her) will destroy himself with it. Sure enough, Stark then convinces Thor to let him run some test on the artifact, which results in him finding out that the gemstone powering the scepter contains a highly advanced artificial intelligence. Thinking this might be the key to powering his plans for a global "Ultron" defense network, he convinces Bruce Banner to help him download the AI. Chaos ensues when Ultron overtakes Tony's J.A.R.V.I.S. AI (which has been much loved since he first appeared way back in the first Iron Man) and decides (rightly) he needs to inhabit one of Stark's robots and eliminate all of humanity to save the planet. To do so, he steals the scepter and takes over Iron Man's "Iron Legion" manufacturing equipment so he can create scores of Ultron Drones to do his bidding.
So far as plots go, so far so good. Whedon got James Spader to voice Ultron, which is about all he needed to do. Spader can read the frickin' phone book and make it sound compelling, so the hard part of defining the movie's "villain" was done. The only thing that rubs me the wrong way is the utter stupidity of, once again, having totally alien technology somehow being compatible with earth-based computers (shades of Independence Day, Batman!). It's a plot point that never works well because it makes so little sense.
And then things kind of went off the rails for me.
Ultron ends up convincing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to work with him to destroy The Avengers. Which seems utterly bizarre. Even given the context of a sci-fi/fantasy epic like Age of Ultron, who in their right mind thinks that teaming up with a giant evil robot ends well? I guess an argument could be made that their lives in Sokovia kept them sheltered from every evil robot book/movie ever made, but it still seems a huge stretch that Pietro and Wanda would ignore something as obvious as "never trust an evil robot," even as a tool for revenge.
But trust him they do, so off they go to Africa so they can purchase a ship-load of vibranium from arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to make an invulnerable body from which Ultron can rule the planet. Vibranium also being the metal from which Captain America's indestructible shield is made.
AN ASIDE: Here is where Marvel brings Black Panther, super-hero ruler of Wakanda, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe... even if they don't show him directly. It also sets things up for super-villain "Klaw" (as "Klaue") and his sonic-powers to eventually show up. And while Whedon did it with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, I still think it ultimately worked. Even if it was a tad distracting from the story.
When the Avengers inevitably show up to stop Ultron, Scarlet Witch turns her powers on The Hulk, which causes him to flee and then tear apart Johannesburg. An awesome battle with a Hulk-Buster Iron Man suit ensues. As does one of the best action sequences of the film. An action sequence so destructive that it makes the world turn against The Avengers. Thinking they need to lie low for a while, Hawkeye flies everybody to his safe house (a farm in the countryside)... which comes complete with a wife and kids. This is a really nice turn for Jeremy Renner, whose character spent almost the entirety of the first Avengers movie being a mind-controlled stooge (which Hawkeye acknowledges earlier in a beautiful Whedonesque moment).
And it's at this point that the movie shits the bed.
Though it's probably not Joss Whedon's fault.
In order to set up future Marvel Films... primary of which is the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, the Infinity Gems are finally named by name. Which is not a bad thing except for how they did it: Thor flies off and convinces Erik Selvig to watch him take a bath. Yes, you read that right, a frickin' bath! Granted, it was a bath in magical waters that somehow allow Thor to access the visions he had while enchanted by Scarlet Witch, but come on! A magic bath? Really? This idiocy was shoehorned into the film so badly that one has to wonder if Joss Whedon was forced to do it at gun-point (UPDATE COMMENT: Sure enough, he was).
More copious amounts of bed-shitting were had as we watch Black Widow share a tender moment with Bruce Banner, who's now her boyfriend... I guess (no clue where this leaves Bruce Banner's long-time girlfriend in the comics, Betty Ross). Which has no real purpose for the story except to set-up even more future Marvel films by taking The Hulk out of the picture later on. But no worries... I'm sure he'll be back in Avengers: The Infinity War. Or perhaps a Planet Hulk film, which would be awesome.
Eventually Nick Fury shows up to give a pep-talk and pull the team together. Which is a good thing, because Ultron has now globe-hopped to Seoul so he can use the scepter to compel The Avengers' personal doctor, Helen Cho, to use her tissue-creation technology to make him that dreamy indestructible vibranium body he's always wanted (assumably so he can survive the end of the world?). As if that weren't enough balls in the air, meanwhile-meanwhile we have Tony Stark jetting off to some secret "heart of the internet" access point called "NEXUS" to find out what's preventing Ultron from gaining access to the world's nuclear arsenal and simply blowing up the earth to eliminate all mankind.
SPOILER ALERT: Turns out it's the J.A.R.V.I.S. AI that's keeping Ultron away from the nukes. Which means Ultron is just going to have to find another way to end it all.
But Ultron will have a hard time doing so without his cool new indestructible bio-mechanical body, so The Avengers make plans to steal it before he can upload his consciousness to it. Which is kinda hokey, but it gives Black Widow some awesome screen-time, so I try to be forgiving. Especially since she succeeds in stealing it so beautifully. Alas, she's captured in the process, but them's the breaks.
And now we go from "off the rails" to "off the continent" as Tony Stark decides to put Helen Cho's empty android body to good use... by uploading Jarvis into it. This does not sit well at all with the rest of The Avengers... especially Captain America... who worry that one insane homicidal all-powerful killer robot is enough. They don't need Tony making a second one. But the decision is taken out of their hands when Thor comes back from his magic bath and uses his magic hammer to create magic lightning to magically bring the J.A.R.V.I.S.-infused android shell to life (Shades of Frankenstein, Batman!). Thus we end up with something not-quite Ultron, not-quite-J.A.R.V.I.S., but something all new... Thor's magic bath vision becomes THE VISION! And one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones bonds to his forehead.
AN ASIDE: The Vision is my favorite Avenger in the comic books. His Pinocchio-inspired "I want to be a real-live boy" story arc (long before Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation) when paired with his super-cool density-manipulating properties, his awesome abilities, his relationship with Scarlet Witch, and his amazing design... well, he's the complete super-hero package. He has it all. Over the years many of my favorite Avengers stories center around The Vision or have him as a major factor. He has links to so many pieces of the Avengers puzzle that he could arguably be considered the key component to the entire team from the moment he debuted. Needless to say I was thrilled that he was being added to the Cinematic Avengers. But a little less than thrilled with his cape, which looks like some kind of nebulous CGI blob. It's so distracting that it sabotages this otherwise cool interpretation of the character.
The Vision is so pure of form that he has no problem lifting Thor's hammer... a test of worthiness that conveniently makes him trusted by the team and an instant Avenger...
AN ASIDE: A scene of all the various Avengers attempting to lift Thor's hammer earlier in the film... but being found unworthy thus unable... is a favorite moment of the movie for me. Captain America was slightly able to budge it (much to the horror of Thor!), which had me convinced Steve Rogers would be wielding Mjolnir against Ultron at the climatic end-battle of the film once all else failed (which would been a much better ending than we got, but oh well).
The Black Widow manages to get an S.O.S. to Hawkeye during her captivity, which leads the entire team back to where the movie began: Sokovia. It's then that they discover how Ultron plans to destroy all humanity since he couldn't get ahold of any nukes... he's going to go all "asteroid killed the dinosaurs" and use the vibranium to elevate a massive chunk of Sokovia high above the planet, then let it fall back to earth... causing an extinction-level event.
Kind of a convoluted plan for somebody as smart as Ultron, but it leads to the best line in the movie when Hawkeye says "The city is flying, and all I've got is a bow and arrow"... so why not?
This is the part of the movie where Ultron distracts the team by sending an endless onslaught of drones against them. Which would be pretty cool... except there was so much going on that it was tough to take in everything you were seeing. Maybe subsequent viewings will make it easier to digest, but I feel this was a bit of a problem for the movie. The action felt more abstract than personal. Something Joss must have felt as well, because he decided to do what he always does to up the stakes... kill somebody off. Which, in this case, was Quicksilver. He died in a hail of bullets while saving Hawkeye who was saving a child during a massive evacuation of Flying Sokovia (courtesy of Nick Fury and a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier).
It was a Whedon move that didn't really have any impact at all. Partly because it is just so damn predictable of him... but mostly because nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Unlike when he killed off Coulson in the first film, Pietro had so little screen time that the audience barely knew who he was. All we did know was that he's fast... so fast he can grab Ulysses Klaue's pistol, unload all the bullets, and line them up on a table in the blink of an eye. Which makes you think that evading a hail of bullets would be a piece of cake for him, but Whedon wanted him dead, so internal logic goes out the window.
UPDATE COMMENT: Apparently I was wrong in thinking nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Some people cared so deeply that Joss Whedon got death threats for offing him. Stay classy, internet!
Eventually The Avengers save all the people on Floating Sokovia and figure out a way of destroying the land mass before it can destroy the world. The Vision then tracks down Ultron's last remaining body and evaporates him. So, yay, I guess. It was all so anticlimactic to me that I had a hard time really caring.
Then the team kind of breaks up. The Hulk didn't want to make Black Widow be a fugitive, so he flies off in a Quinjet. Thor's visions have him needing to return to Asgard. Tony Stark leaves to focus on bigger things. Hawkeye goes home to his family.
Which means it's time for a new team of Avengers to assemble... Captain America and Black Widow join The Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, and The Falcon to form Avengers 2.0 (with the help of Erik Selvig, Helen Cho, and (of course) Nick Fury (and probably Maria Hill as well). Roll credits.
Not that Avengers: Infinity War needed any more setting up, but a mid-credits sequence has Thanos putting on The Infinity Gauntlet so he can (finally) "do it himself." Which I'm guessing means collect all the Infinity Gems and destroy the universe so he can impress Death, whom he has a major crush on.
Like I said, in the "big picture" sense, I loved the film... despite its many problems. It just hit so many geeky buttons in me that I couldn't help but love it.
Though three overreaching problems I haven't addressed yet made it more difficult for me than it should have been...
1) Ultron is not scary or very threatening.
In the comics, Ultron is a terrifying presence. He's whacked out of his artificial mind, and the death and destruction that comes from his insanity-driven rage is a horrifying part of his character. The movie version was positively tame by comparison. Sure he wanted to destroy all humanity, but it never felt as though the Avengers were in much danger stopping him. James Spader was flawless casting, but his Ultron needed more heinous things to do to live up to his legacy.
2) The movie was all over the place.
And I mean that literally. It hops all over the globe at such a breakneck pace that you're left wondering if The Avengers and Ultron have access to some kind of secret teleportation technology we don't see. Even with Tony Stark's advanced transportation, it would take many hours to get from place to place... yet it always seems instantaneous. I like the idea of Earth's Mightiest Heroes actually spanning the entire earth, but it got a bit ridiculous.
3) Too little time for too much stuff.
In the first film, everybody had a role to play, and that's what made it such genius. For the sequel, I have a hard time recollecting exactly what Thor and Captain America had to contribute other than non-stop fighting. The Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver were all introduced, but had so little screen time that they were pretty much reduced to cameos. And speaking of cameos... was anybody not in this movie? Oh yeah... Jane Foster and Pepper Potts... except they got screen time without actually appearing. Couple the massive cast with the abundance of time wasted setting up future films and there was barely time enough for this film. Had things been stripped down a bit and more screen time was devoted to the task at hand instead of what's coming next, it would have been a much better movie.
Next up, Captain America: Civil War, which is already promising to have a cast that equals or exceeds The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In addition to The Avengers 2.0 team (Cap, Widow, Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and War Machine), we're also getting Iron Man, Black Panther, Ant Man, Winter Soldier, Agent Thirteen, General Thunderbolt Ross(!), Crossbones, Baron Zemo, and... wait for it... the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Spider-Man. PLUS Martin Freeman just signed on for some unspecified role as well. I can only guess Agent Carter, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury will be shoehorned in as well. How are they going to fit an actual story in there?
I honestly dunno. But I can't wait to find out.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B
Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...
• Love! Yeah. Uh huh.
• Carter! ABC has given Agent Carter a second season!
They also renewed Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which would be exciting if the show wasn't so awful. Who knows... maybe they'll actually do something with it this Fall to make it worth my valuable time. But somehow I doubt it.
• Dawson! In other terrific Marvel news, Rosario Dawson has been confirmed for Season Two of Daredevil... plus other Netflix Marvel projects! In the comics, she's kinda an important piece of the Luke Cage puzzle, so it will be interesting to see how they work that into his series...
One of my few regrets for Season One of Daredevil was that Rosario didn't have more screen time. Hopefully that will be rectified next year.
• Remember? I didn't read into Age of Ultron the anti-feminist viewpoint that has some people up in arms over how Black Widow was written. I save my rage for crap like this...
Remember the scene where Black Widow drops out of the jet on the motorcycle? Well fuck you the toy is Captain America pic.twitter.com/juefiCqlX8— Zac Shipley (@zacshipley) May 8, 2015
I'm guessing this is a case of "manwashing" the character of Black Widow so it will better appeal to young boys. Meanwhile, young girls that are into comics and super-hero movies get shitted on. Not that they can't enjoy a Captain America toy too... but come on.
• Lucifer! UPDATE: This doesn't look like it's going to be a faithful adaptation of the comic book of the same name, but I'm excited to see it nevertheless...
I don't suppose it's too much to hope that we get an appearance of Constantine in this series now that his own series has been canceled? It's a natural fit.
And... so much for bullets this week...
McDonald's has revived the Hamburglar as a full-on creeper.
As if having a frickin' hideous clown wasn't bad enough? Why would any parent expose their kid to this kind of horror.
UPDATE: Oh gawd. It's worse than I thought...
I’m dodging McD’s at every corner, keep tweeting #RobbleRobble, America! Time to grab more Sirloin burgers… https://t.co/61Lhd61ey6— McDonald's (@McDonalds) May 12, 2015
Ended up with some kind of permissions problem for posting. Again.
The quick fix that's worked every other time didn't work this time.
My ambition for tracking down what's wrong and repairing it is hovering somewhere near non-existent.
No blog for you.
This is the meme I was GOING to do yesterday... before I found out I couldn't get my blog editor to work after updating WordPress. Again.
It asks the same questions multiple times, but what're you gonna do?
This has been a long, difficult week.
Lucky for me, fellow blogger Christopher (of Not-So-Random-Musings fame) was passing through town... which was an excellent excuse to blow off work and head to the "Bavarian Village" of Leavenworth for a delicious veggie wurst...
Nice day for it!
If you've ever bought a new camera, this video from Norway really puts things in perspective...
The video is for a classified ads site, Finn.no, and is one of a series of hysterical spots for people who buy new stuff with grand ambitions only to end up... err... falling a bit short...
The cat mascot for the site is ten buckets of awesome, and appears in videos of his own...
And, yes, SexyPus.no is a real site, but not so interactive as we were led to believe.
The little photos that accompany each entry on this blog are 15 years old today! Thanks to my friend Meagan for creating the custom-made photo booth that made it all possible.
I should probably update them one of these days, but I can never seem to bring myself to get rid of something that's been a part of Blogography since it began in 2003...
There were originally 25 shots. I whittled them down to 17 for my blog. An 18th image was added of me flipping the bird in late 2003 when I found out I desperately needed one...
Last week when I realized that the 15th anniversary of Meagan's photos was coming up, I pulled all the photos of me posted to this blog and arranged them in ascending date order.
A whole lot of Dave can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Rainy days and Sundays shouldn't get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Carson! This clip is SO good. Makes me realize how much I miss Carson... and how much I'm going to miss Letterman...
As much as I'm looking forward to seeing what Stephen Colbert is going to do in late-night space, I am gutted at the prospect of Letterman closing out The Late Show. I may not be a consistent viewer, but I go on Letterman binges that make me very glad he's around. Until he won't be.
• Slider! Before I became a vegetarian, I was a fan of White Castle and their infamous mini hamburgers, better known as "sliders." There's no White Castle near me... I only got to eat there when I went to the coast, so it was a rare treat. After I became a vegetarian, White Castle (and my beloved In-N-Out Burger) were off the menu. Earlier this year White Castle did the unthinkable... they released a VEGETARIAN SLIDER! And I was beyond thrilled. Until I went to actually order one. Instead of a mini vegetarian burger topped with onions and a pickle like a real slider, you got a vegetable patty packed with carrots and peas and shit topped with your choice of honey mustard, ranch or Thai sauce. WHAT THE FUCK, WHITE CASTLE?!? I don't want that vegetable shit with salad dressing... I want a damn WHITE CASTLE SLIDER! To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. Once again a restaurant tries to do a good thing badly by grossly misreading what vegetarians want. We don't want a vegetable version of what everybody else is getting... we want what everybody else is getting without having to kill an animal to get it. McDonalds totally nailed it with their "McVeggie Deluxe," but White Castle... like Burger King before them... failed utterly with their vegetable-infused monstrosity. Enter Gardein's "The Ultimate Beefless Sliders"...
They're perfect. And delicious. Add some lightly grilled onions and a pickle and it's the slider I've been wanting all along. Except... holy crap are they expensive. $6.00 a box! That's $1.50 a slider! Isn't a White Castle slider like 50¢ or something? All those government subsidies for America's toxic beef industry must be nice.
• Kingsman! I had rather high expectations after viewing the trailers for Kingsman: The Secret Service... and Michael Vaughn blew past every one of them...
Such a great movie! It's a smart, funny, action-packed spy thriller with a cast to die for, a really good story, and violence so over the top it verges on comedic.
Following in his father's footsteps, Eggsy Unwin trains to be an elite agent in Britain's premiere secret spy organization: Kingsman. And it's a good thing too... evil internet billionaire Valentine (played to the hilt by Samuel L. Jackson) has plans to wipe out the human race! Features epic appearances by Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Mark Hammill, Jack Davenport, and Michael Caine... along with strong breakout performances by Sofia Boutella and Taron Egerton. The film did some major box office action, so I'm hoping for a sequel. If you've read the comic book version, this is considerably different, but not in a bad way at all.
• Seventh Son! Unfortunately, another movie I had been looking forward to did not fare so well...
Despite a really good cast, Seventh Son ended up being a complete and total turd. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore are great actors that defy all expectations by turning in truly awful performances. And while the story (based on a series of books) had huge potential (an 18th century evil spirit hunter learning his trade), it was utterly wasted in this mess of a film. Fortunately, like Jupiter Ascending, it bombed at the box office so we'll be spared any sequels. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
• Super! When I saw the extended "First Look" for the new Supergirl series, I was pleasantly surprised...
Looks like the team behind Arrow and The Flash have done it again! And then I watched the first actual trailer... only to discover that, apparently, we're getting "Team Supergirl." Which sucks ass. "Team Arrow" I get... it was core to the concept of the show's take on the character. But "Team Flash" is just unnecessary layers of shit, as Barry would have been much more interesting figuring out everything on his own. And "Team Supergirl" is an even worse idea. Why in the hell can't super-heroes exist on their own without some kind of stupid "team" there to constantly steal their thunder? Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are clearly out of ideas here, and I wish that they would stop being called in to rehash their same tired concepts over and over again on new super-hero shows.
• Toys! Ending things on a down-note... I was sad to learn that F.A.O. Schwarz will be closing their doors come July. This iconic toy store is probably best remembered for it's part in the movie Big, but I'll better remember it as "that one place I visit every single time I'm in New York."
On one hand, I get it... online shopping is rapidly displacing retail shops for things like toys, so profits can't keep up with the cost of rent... but it's still sad that such a special part of New York City is going to evaporate. I mean, damn, 145 years?
And... back to my rainy Sunday...
Why is it whenever I get yet another letter saying "Our systems have been breached and your personal information may have been accessed by attackers..." it is always... always... prefaced by "We were the target of a sophisticated cyberattack?" Sophisticated? Is that supposed to make me feel better? Like I'm sitting here thinking "Boy, I WAS going to be outraged that this company was so careless with my personal information... but since it was a sophisticated attack, I guess there's nothing that could have been done, so I'm totally okay with it!"
I'm guessing they think that putting "sophisticated" in there (usually multiple times) makes them not sound like the incompetent fucking morons they are. But all it does is make me even more outraged that they're trying to whitewash their gross negligence by playing the victim. The company isn't the victim here, it's their customers who trusted them with their personal shit that are the actual victims.
But that's not even the worst part.
At no point in any of these letters do you ever get an actual apology, statement of liability, or admission of negligence.
All you get is worthless promises to do better in the future and possibly a membership in a credit fraud monitoring company for a year or two. In other words, there are zero consequences for a company completely fucking you over by failing to protect your privacy.
Not counting the billions of dollars that insurance company lobbyists pay our politicians to look the other way, of course.
Every once in a blue moon...
...I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to write in this blog. Today was a crappy day and just when I thought it couldn't get any crappier, IT DID. Then it was crap on crap on crap, which meant I had to spend most all of my time trying to dig my way out of shit.
Perhaps on days like today I should just skip blogging entirely.
But I don't want to kill that streak I've got going on just yet, so here you are having to read about crap.
Which is to say it's just another day at Blogography.
Another meme. It's like 2004 all over again up in here.
"Red Nose Day" is a British charity telethon event from Comic Relief that has been going on for years. If you're ever in the UK during the middle of March, there's quite a big deal made about it. The country's most famous comedians and celebrities perform sketches, parodies, and informational spots all in the name of soliciting donations from viewers. In addition, retailers sell Red Nose Day merchandise with proceeds going towards the charity.
All in all, it's a fairly entertaining event for a good cause...
It was only a matter of time before the USA imported the idea (don't all British television shows make it here eventually?), and I was looking forward to seeing how the American version would up the ante.
Except they didn't.
The show was total crap. Seth Meyers, who has a stellar history as a presenter, was inexplicably awful (he spent most of his opening denigrating the UK Red Nose Day efforts in a way that was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but felt mean-spirited to me). Sketches were just plain bad (all your favorite celebrities have funny voices and their movies are dubbed!). The only thing that was even remotely funny was a Billy on the Street bit, but it was sabotaged by Martin Short being Martin Short.
After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably more like 40 minutes) I couldn't take it any more and turned the channel.
So... I guess this is yet another case of American television ruining a British import.
How sadly typical.
Trying to find the motivation to get out of bed each morning has been a real challenge lately...
At least it's raining today...
As we being our Memorial Day Weekend, it's a good idea to remember why it's a holiday we celebrate.
And lest we forget that all too many of those who served this country and survived aren't faring as well as they should...
Countless numbers of soldiers return from service only to end up sick, homeless, and abandoned.
And every day 22+ Veterans take their own lives because of it.
We're not doing nearly enough to serve those who served for us. It's disgusting, it's wrong, and it's got to stop.
I can see Russia from my hotel room... because Bullet Sunday from the great state of Alaska starts... now...
• Double Daylight! "In Anchorage, visitors from more southerly latitudes are often surprised to see the sun set at 11:41 p.m. on the summer solstice, but the actual 'solar time' is 9:41 p.m. This is because at 150° W, Anchorage is a full solar hour behind the legal time zone and observes daylight saving time as well. Some local residents refer to this phenomenon as "double daylight time." — Wikipedia.
Which explains my panic when I awoke after dozing off thinking it was 9:30am instead of 9:30pm and I had slept through two alarms. As I write this now at 10:45pm, there's still daylight out there...
I can't fathom how insane it must be to visit Nome, which is still in the Alaskan time zone with Anchorage, but technically two hours in actual time zones further back. Their sunset is after midnight!
• Rock! The purpose for my Memorial Day weekend excursion is, of course, to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up last year here in Anchorage. This is Hard Rock No. 166 for me, and (finally) gets me caught up with all the North American properties again...
There's an upstairs with a second stage and bar...
Overall it's a nice property with a great staff and a terrific location... right in the touristy section of town... but the decor is lacking. Memorabilia is stretched a bit thin throughout, and there's a Rock Shop and massive stairwell that's devoid of any artifacts at all...
This is a massive oversight which is unimaginable to longtime Hard Rock fans who remember when the cafes used to be packed with so much stuff that you could spend hours looking around and keep coming back to see stuff you missed. I mean, holy crap... look at this shot of the old Salt Lake City cafe where you can barely see the walls...
That's what a Hard Rock is supposed to look like, and Anchorage falls way short. Putting in the effort to visit a new property is supposed to be an overwhelming experience... but more and more I find myself saying "I traveled all that way... for this?!? I dunno. Maybe they'll eventually add more cool stuff to give Anchorage the Hard Rock it deserves, but right now it's hardly destination-worthy.
• Burger Me! On the plus side, the food was pretty good...
Even if I had to build my own to avoid all the crazy shit that the Hard Rock usually puts on their veggie burgers.
• Market? I was told by my airport shuttle driver that the Anchorage Summer Weekend Market was going on and I should take a look if I had a chance. It was supposed to be open until 6:00, but most everything was torn down by 5:20...
Bummer, I guess.
• Murder! Much like Starbucks locations in Seattle, fur shops in Anchorage are on every street corner...
I'm vehemently anti-fur, but might change my mind if I could walk in a shop and pick up something that was personally slaughtered by Sarah Palin. Like I'm guessing this poor bear was...
By Grabthar's Hammer I will avenge you, bear!
• Drop! Holy shitballs do I wish Apple would get off their fucking asses and get crap fixed that's been broken for ages. Like AirDrop, their miraculous file-sharing technology that's been a steaming pile since day one. When I sent the first photo looking out my hotel window from my iPhone to my Mac, it was no problem. AirDrop found my MacBook immediately. But when I tried to send the next shot (below) 45 minutes later? I just spent 10 minutes trying to get my iPhone to see my Mac, but it absolutely won't do it. And yet... my Mac can see my iPhone just fine? WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?!?
Why don't you use some of the BILLIONS OF FUCKING DOLLARS that people have paid you because of the promise of things like AirDrop TO FIX ALL THE CRAP THAT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK?! Every time I turn around now-a-days I'm having to deal with Apple's busted shit and I'm just sick of it.
Annnnd... I suppose I should get some sleep seeing as how it's now 11:30pm and the sun is finally going down and all...
My Memorial Day was spent taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Whittier so I could take a glacier cruise. Something I've already done before in Glacier Bay, but that was on a cruise ship. This time I'd be on a smaller boat which can get closer to the action.
The train ride was fairly uneventful... except there were loads of noisy, obnoxious people on it, so it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for...
My cruise included a vegetarian option lunch, but I've gone down this road too many times to think it's going to be something I actually want to eat. Fortunately, the train had a really good cheese pizza onboard, so I went for it as a precaution...
In order to not lose my sanity from having to endure screaming kids and people in general, I mostly hung out in the gap between cars where I could take photos without any glass to obscure the scenery.
And it's some pretty nice scenery. Mud flats, forests, mountain views... it's all going on...
Just before you arrive in Whittier, you go through a couple of tunnels, the second of which is the longest railroad tunnel in North America. It has a set schedule for train and car traffic that switched direction every half-hour. The second tunnel is so long that takes about 5 minutes to get through... but when you look out the side of the train it seems much shorter because you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's because it's dug so straight that there's never any obstruction...
Arriving in the city of Whittier, there was no time to waste. The boat was already mostly loaded by people who drove a car instead of taking the train (which is slower)...
We were definitely not the biggest boat on the water. Princess Cruises has spent millions creating a port in Whittier from which their ships can explore Alaska...
As expected, the lunch was not my cup of tea. For one thing, it had mushrooms on it, of which I am allergic. And since I'm not a coleslaw person, that was also off the menu. The pudding wasn't chocolate, as one would hope, but instead some kind of runny rice pudding...
Fairly quickly we ran across some porpoises (or dolphins, I'm not sure which) swimming at the bow...
Not quite as exciting as my dolphin experience in Fiji, but pretty cool just the same.
Next up was a whale playing around on the shore line...
And just when you think you've seen the last of cool wildlife for the day, some bumps in the water appear...
But what we're really here for is the glaciers, so Captain Carl wasted no time rolling right up to one...
Being Memorial Day, the boat was at capacity, but it was never a problem. People were pretty good about taking turns getting their photos, and Captain Carl made slow sweeping turns at all the stops so everybody on both sides of the boat could take a look...
I never once had trouble getting to the rail to get some terrific glacier photos, which was nice...
All in all, the cruise I took advertised "26 glaciers in one day"... but most of them must have been off in the distance, because I only recall seeing about a dozen of them.
I could bore you with the hundreds of glacier shots I got, but they all start to look the same after a while so I'll spare you. Suffice to say I had a great time getting lots of beautiful photos.
You end the glacial tour with a stop at a trio of glaciers in one shot...
The trip back was pretty good too, because the scenery is so great. Waterfalls are everywhere...
And, if you look at the bottom of that photo, you'll see I got more than just a waterfall in the shot...
Just chillin' for a bit. Thank heavens I bought my massively expensive zoom lens!
The weird thing about Prince William Sound is how the weather changes -literally- minute to minute. You can go from overcast and dreary to sunshine and vivd in the blink of an eye...
Captain Carl had one last surprise before pulling back into Whittier...
Is that spotty rocks, or...
Thousands of them.
And that was that. The boat docked at Whittier and my cruise was over. I had a few minutes before I had to board the return-train, so I walked through the town for a bit. Not a lot to see, but it's a beautiful place...
For the train ride home, the less expensive "B Car" was almost completely empty, so I gladly gave up my pricey dome car seat for some peace and quiet in the cheap seats. Usually, I would expect beautiful sunset views this time of day. But since the sun doesn't start setting here until 11:30, I had the same trip back that I had coming...
And that's a wrap.
Not a bad way to spend Memorial Day, I must say.
Hats off to Captain Carl and the crew of Klondike Express for a great five-hour tour! If you'd like to take your own "26 Glacier Tour" from Phillips Cruises, you can get more information here.
My plan for today was to do nothing. It's rare that I actually have the opportunity to do nothing, so it seemed like the right thing to do.
Or not to do, as it were.
But then I felt bad about squandering an opportunity that I might not get again, so I decided to do one thing. And since the #1 attraction on TripAdvisor's list is the Anchorage Museum, I decided that would be the thing I do...
The building is very cool-looking from the outside. It's got these mirrored strips running up and down, so it kind of blends into its surroundings.
The price of admission is FIFTEEN DOLLARS, which seems a bit excessive. But I had walked all this way, and so...
The first display I saw was on graphic arts in Anchorage. THey included T-shirts and beer cans, so I was already pretty impressed...
From there I wandered into a cool cartography display that showed how the city has changed over the years...
The grand atrium in the middle of the museum is massively huge. Which is impressive, I suppose, but it seems like such a waste of space...
And then it was time to visit the Anchorage gallery which had all kinds of exhibits about the region. My favorite was a look at local homes through the ages that had full reproductions on-site...
What was so cool is that if you walk around to the other side, they had cut into the structures to show you how they looked on the inside...
And in case you didn't know what dead animals look like, they've got that covered...
As I walked over to the other wing of the museum, I couldn't help but feel a bit cheated. Sure the exhibits were nice and all, but it just didn't seem worth the $15 I had paid. Things looked up a little bit when I got to a photo gallery featuring beautiful images of the arctic...
...but I still wasn't feeling as though I got my money's worth.
Until I walked into the next room and bathed in the majesty that is the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.
This mind-bogglingly beautiful space is filled with artfully-constructed showcases featuring artifacts from the indigenous peoples of the arctic...
It's such an amazing display. I loved it so much that I spent a full hour absorbing every last piece of information they were sharing.
In all seriousness, no photos could ever do the exhibit justice. This one section of the museum is worth the cost of admission all by itself and well worth your valuable time to visit. If you're ever in Anchorage, just hand over the $15 and see it.
The third floor of the museum has temporary exhibits that change from time to time. When I visited today, it was Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage. And it was utterly fascinating...
Most of what I know about Captain Cook comes from my visits to Hawaii, as he's kind of a big deal there. Turns out that what I know about the man is just a tiny fraction of his fascinating story. Captain Cook's legendary explorations completely revolutionized how we look at the world, and this fascinating exhibit focuses on his search for a "Northwest Passage," a sea route through the Arctic Ocean. I was so impressed with the displays and artifacts that I'm a little saddened they're only temporary. And I'm a lot saddened that no photography was permitted on this level, because now when it's gone come September it's gone for good.
Next up on the exhibit calendar? Van Gogh Alive... where the museum will display his epic masterworks at larger-than-life sizes! If it's even half as brilliant as the Captain Cook exhibit, it's going to be amazing...
It's only running October 9th through January 10th. Such a short window but, given that Van Gogh is one of my most favorite painters, perhaps it will be worth a return visit this Fall? I can dream, can't I?
The top floor of the museum has an observation window...
And a surprise exhibit focusing on baseball Alaska that was pretty sweet...
All in all? A great day at the museum. Despite my initial reservations, it exceeded my every expectation and should be on a short list of must-see places when visiting Anchorage.
On the walk back to my hotel, I passed one of Wyland's Whaling Walls (a series of 100 massive paintings created by the marine artist Wyland in order to raise awareness about our oceans and the creatures who live there)...
Not one of my favorites, but still pretty impressive.
And that's a wrap! Tomorrow my Memorial Day holiday is over and I'm flying back home. Many thanks to the city of Anchorage for the fine hospitality.
When you are an "MVP Gold" member, Alaska Airlines allows you to change to an earlier/later flight with a confirmed seat at 10:00pm the day before your flight at no charge (subject to availability, of course). If you're not and MVP Gold member, you can still confirm an earlier/later flight but only six hours before and with a $25 fee...
Which means that even though I purchased a flight that got me home at midnight so I could save a chunk of money, I ended up switching to a flight that got me home at a much more decent 5:00pm instead... At no charge.
And my flights home were terrific too.
So happy Alaska Air is my local airline.
Sweet! My presidential election dreams just came true.
Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum has entered the race...
Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum or this lump of coal... which is smarter?
The entertainment factor for the Republican side of the race just increased by a factor of ten. What idiotic, bigoted, racist, homophobic, bat-shit crazy insane things will he say this time around? Who knows? I can't wait to find out though.
Now if only Trump would make a real run for the White House...
"My campaign would be the smartest, classiest, most beautiful campaign in the history of the world."
When it comes to sheer entertainment value, he would eclipse all other candidates combined. And a part of me is dying to know what four years of "President Trump" would look like. He thinks he's more infallible than The Pope and has balls the size of boulders... it would either lead to the Best President Ever... or World
Originally spotted at Meme Generator.
Let the insanity begin continue...
Fortunately there was a delicious salad with apples, aged cheddar, plus candied walnuts & pecans to take the edge off my day...
My new comfort food, I guess.
Say what you like about Miley Cyrus and her dipshit antics, but the girl can definitely sing.
And she's generous. She created the Happy Hippie Foundation to raise funds and awareness for homeless youth. To support the organization, she's had some fairly impressive guest stars join her for a series of "Backyard Sessions" to drum up publicity for the organization.
The latest, a cover of Neil Finn's Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House... featuring Miley and Ariana Grande... is just beautiful. It's been my jam all week...
Sadly, it's not for sale anywhere I can find.
So in case you too decide to "acquire" it off YouTube and need some cover art for your MP3, here you go...
And if you want to kick a few buck to Happy Hippies to support the very worthwhile work they do, that would be good too.
Don't dream it's over... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Selfie! As somebody who narrowly avoided getting smacked by somebody unable to control their selfie-stick this past week, I applaud Pizza Hut for their PSA...
When I have completed my bid for world domination, possession of a "selfie stick" will be punishable by death. If somebody ever smacks me with one of these things, that stick is going straight up their ass.
• Wha-?!? CatDuck!
• Reality? The Briefcase, a new "reality TV" show on CBS, is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen on television... and that's saying something. "Let's exploit people with financial troubles for entertainment value!" — Holy shit. THIS is where we're at? Really?
The concept of the show is that a struggling family is given a briefcase full of money and introduced to another struggling family. They then have to decide how much of the money to keep and how much to give to the other family. BUT LITTLE DO THEY KNOW... the other family was given a briefcase full of cash too! Oh the drama!
You just KNOW that eventually one family is going to keep all the money while the other family will give all the money, creating a briefcase super-villain family that will be absolutely crucified by social media. As if keeping free money you desperately need is some kind of pure evil. I bet this show does gangbuster ratings. Human beings are the absolute worst. Fuck CBS for this disgusting, horrific exploitation of the poor.
• Wait! New music just dropped from one of my favorite bands, Postiljonen...
Beautiful, as always. Can't wait for a new album to hit!
•Giddy! Twelve. More. Days.
YOU CAN PLAY AS A LEGO DINOSAUR, PEOPLE!
And that's all the bullets we have today... move along, there's nothing to see here...
And so the interwebs are ablaze with former Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner's first public photos as a woman.
And, of course, a lot of people are freaking out over the whole situation... which just goes to show how utterly absurd American society's obsession over things which have -zero- effect on their lives is. If she is happy with her choices, then why should people give a shit? She had the money to get the breast augmentation and face restructuring she felt she needed, she looks great, and she's become a pretty big role model for a lot of transgender people, which is terrific...
Granted, being photographed by Annie Leibovitz goes a long way towards making you look good... but she seems content and happy, which is all that really matters.
So good luck to you, Caitlyn, I wish you only the best in your new life.
A lot of sports happened tonight.
My beloved Chicago Blackhawks sportsed the best and scored more points than the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning needed to stop the Blackhawks from scoring points while they themselves scored many points, but it didn't happen.
And so game-over, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.*
Congratulations to the Blackhawks for having the best strategy of scoring the most points, and best of luck when you return to sports more next season!
*Yes, it's only Game One... but I'm totally calling it!
This post has been a long time coming.
When it comes to book publishers, far and away my favorite is the house of Dorling-Kindersley.
I first became aware of them through their amazing Eyewitness Travel Guides. With the motto "We show you what others only tell you," they raised the bar so impossibly high that once I discovered them, I never purchased another brand of travel guide. And, indeed, once I stopped buying travel guides in favor of web research, I threw out over a hundred books... save for my impressive collection of DK guides, which I still have. They were simply too beautiful to trash...
Back in the day I was so addicted to Eyewitness Guides that I would even buy them after I visited places because they were the best possible souvenir of the region. Many times I ended up buying them for locations I had no intention of visiting because they were the next best thing to actually having been there. The sheer depth of visual information paired with clear, well-written text proved irresistible to my travel-nerd tendencies, and I ended up with close to fifty of them...
Even today if I ever find a DK guide on sale and it's one I don't have yet, I buy it. They are still one of the best resources for travel you can get... even though I rarely look at them to plan my travels.
As you can imagine, once I learned that DK was broadening their focus outside the travel arena, I was thrilled. They've created visual guides for all kinds of topics, and they're every bit as good as their travel books.
Most any topic you can think of, DK has a visual guide for it!
But far and away my very favorite of the DK visual guides? Star Wars. Especially Star Wars LEGO Universe books...
But they have an amazing selection of "regular" Star Wars books as well. I think I own just about all of them, but there are a few standouts. Like the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-sections books...
DK's latest Star Wars book has just been released, and it's pretty great.
The title is ULTIMATE STAR WARS! And they mean it. This book has an extensive guide to the characters & creatures, locations, technology, and vehicles of both the Original Trilogy and the crappy Prequel Trilogy. As if that wasn't enough, it seamlessly blends in the various canon animated series as well...
Most of the information has already been released in previous books, but this "Ultimate" guide attempts (and succeeds!) in blending a variety of updated sources into a kind of narrative you can follow. This is bad news for those wanting a more encyclopedic take on the information... but you get a full index for that, so I wasn't too bothered.
As expected, the quality of the book is amazing. All 320 pages are artfully constructed for both visual appeal and clarity. Major characters and locations get a beautiful double-page spread, while minor characters get space appropriate to their place in the grand scheme of things... Wedge Antilles, for example, gets a half-page... Biggs Darklighter gets a quarter... Jek Prokins gets an eighth. Even the lady shaver "Comlink" is given an eighth, which should tell you just how complete the material in this book is.
Now that new LucasFilm owner Disney has completely jettisoned the "Star Wars Expanded Universe" and redefined what's "canon" when it comes to all things Star Wars. this book presents a streamlined and surprisingly complete look at what's "official" when it comes to a universe far, far away. So if you're looking for a Star Wars companion to prepare you for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film coming this December, this is the book to get.
A warning, however... the information provided for all the characters, creatures, locations, technology, and vehicles is limited to only official canon sources... which, apparently, is what we know from the movies, novelizations, and animated series. Anything that was elaborated on in the "Expanded Universe" sources is gone, gone, gone as if it never happened. This is a bit sad for fans of the stories that have now gone missing, but I suppose it's for the best in the grand scheme of things now that Disney is revitalizing the franchise.
The retail price of the book is $40. Amazon is selling it for $25, which is a heck of a bargain. The problem being that Amazon doesn't give a shit about getting books to you in good condition anymore. They used to shrink-wrap them to cardboard so the cover wrap would stay pristine and the corners don't get banged up. Now they just toss the thing in a box and put a tiny air pillow on top. Your cover-wrap WILL get fucked up. Your corners WILL get dinged. Which is unfortunate, but that's what a $25 price tag gets you now-a-days.
In any event, as a massive Star Wars whore, I really can't help but give the book a coveted Dave Approved seal...
If you're even a passive Star Wars fan, this is $25 well-spent. Go get a copy.
What you want and what you need are not always the same thing.
But they can be, and when you're lucky enough to find something that special, you have to have the sense to grab hold of it with both hands and work your ass off to make it happen.
The work rarely being easy, of course, because nothing worthwhile ever is.
For six long months I've been struggling with my Magnificent Want, and I think I'm finally reaching the half-way point. By the end of June I'll have either persevered after too many long days and sleepless nights so the real work can begin... or I will have failed after having given it my best shot.
Whichever way it goes, I'm content with the knowledge that I did everything possible that could be done, and there will be no looking back with regret.
Well, maybe a little regret.
Decisions had to be made which were not without sacrifice, and I'll spend no small amount of time trying to decide if it was all worth it.
I certainly hope so.
Last year The New York Times ran an article about mapping out team loyalty when it comes to baseball. It looked pretty much as you'd expect. So I kinda glanced through it, nodded my head a few times, then moved on.
Which, as it turns out, was a mistake.
I was reading an article this morning where they were discussing how Facebook can be data-mined to ferret out all kinds of cool information. And the first example they gave? The NYT baseball borders map from last year...
And here is what I did not know... the Facebook data that's been mapped out is highly specific. The further you zoom in, the more it gets broken down. Here's a zoom into the county level where I live. And, guess what, THERE I AM...
But that's not all. If you zoom in even further, you can search out your zip code...
For all I know, all eight of those percents is me!
The interactive map is pretty great if you have any interest in baseball... take a look!
Don't let the impending heat of summer get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Charity! Before donating your hard-earned money to any organization... no matter how well-known or popular, RESEARCH THEM FIRST! That's what sites like Charity Navigator are for! Given how little charity money is available, it's critical that donations be spent somewhere where they'll be put to the best possible use instead of pissed away by people who either don't know what they're doing... or are corrupt.
• Balls! First of all, congratulations to Serena Williams for her 20th Grand Slam Singles Victory. But it was her sister Venus who was part of the best tennis-related video I saw this week...
So frickin' adorable.
• Aw! And speaking of dogs who steal your heart, pull out the box of tissues...
I admit to being perplexed at the ending... until the real ending appeared. If only all advertising were this moving... and effective.
• Fletch! WHY, LORD? WHY WAS THERE NO "FLETCH 3?" I loved both Fletch films so hard. I purchased them the minute iTunes Store had them in HD. Of course I have them both on DVD (and Fletch on Blu-Ray... I don't think they ever released Fletch Lives on Blu-Ray).
The first Fletch was probably a better film with a more interesting, complex story... but there were so many amazing funny moments in Fletch Lives (including everything by Cleavon Little!) that I ended up liking it equally.
Fletch Lives earned $40 million in box office on an $8 million budget. That's down from the $60 million box office and the same budget for Fletch, but it's still a respectable haul. Especially when you consider that millions more dollars were raked in from home video. So why in the hell was there no Fletch 3?!? I dunno. Maybe Chevy didn't want to make another one? I remember that Kevin Smith was supposed to be filming Fletch Won with Jason Lee a while back (awesome casting), but apparently nothing came of it. With Hollywood remaking everything in existence, I wonder why Fletch isn't making the grade? It's too funny to be stuck in development hell like this.
• Africa! Misconceptions about Africa here in the USA continue to baffle me. Mostly because people keep referring to "Africa" as a "country" instead of a "continent," but there's so much more...
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, visit Africa and leave your stereotypes and misconceptions behind.
If you are not so lucky as to visit Africa, for heaven's sake... educate yourself!
• Fields! Many congratulations to Maryam Mirzakhani for her historic win of the Fields Medal... one of the most prestigious honors that mathematicians can have bestowed upon them. She's the first woman to do so, and will hopefully break down a few more barriers for women in mathematics. Mirzakhani credits her brother for getting her interested in science. Unfortunately, many girls don't have such inspiration, and studies have shown over and over again that girls are actively discouraged from pursuing math and science when it comes to their education and career planning. This needs to change.
Annnnnnnd... DONE! See you next week!
I am starting to get annoyed at frozen food manufacturers who have no smarts when it comes to how people heat their food in the real world. Everybody knows that the ideal way of cooking something frozen is to use the MICROWAVE to mostly thaw the item... then switch to a CONVECTION OVEN to finish cooking the item because cooking it all the way in the microwave usually makes it taste like rubberized crap. So why do manufacturers ONLY give you cooking directions for microwave OR convection?
Fortunately, the answer for many items is to split the difference.
For example, Amy's amazing Mexican Bowls have instructions for 5 minutes in the microwave OR 40 minutes in the convection oven covered in foil followed by 10-15 minutes uncovered to crisp the top. But you can cut the cook time almost in half and still end up with optimal flavor by splitting the difference: 2½ minutes in the microwave followed by 20 minutes in the convection oven covered in foil followed by 10-15 minutes uncovered to crisp the top.
This is the strategy I use for cooking a lot of frozen foods... from veggie burgers to enchiladas. And I'm probably not alone. A lot of people are undoubtedly microwave-thawing then convection-cooking their freezer stuff to save time without ruining it.
Unfortunately, splitting the difference doesn't work for everything, and sometimes there are foods (like pizza, veggie corn dogs, and veggie breakfast sandwiches) which still get rubbery or end up under-cooked. So I end up having to spend a lot of time via trial-and-error attempting to find the right balance... usually cutting microwave time and/or increasing convection time until I get something fully-cooked but not rubberized.
But why should I have to figure all that out? Why aren't frozen food manufacturers doing the hard work for me? Isn't that their job? I can only hope that one of these days one of the big companies will pioneer an effort for providing Best Cooking Practices using BOTH microwaves (to thaw) and convection ovens (to cook) so the rest will follow. Until then... maybe I should start a website where people can post their cooking hacks for frozen food? Or maybe there already is one? With the internet, it's hard to tell sometimes.
And now I'm hungry. Way to go, internet.
And so yesterday was Apple's Word Wide Developers Conference 2015 Keynote.
I was underwhelmed. Mostly because the One Thing I wanted to hear more about was barely touched upon, and what was covered lacked any kind of "wow factor" for me.
I guess what follows here could be consider "spoilers" if you haven't seen it yet, so click here to watch Apple's Keynote if that's important to you.
On with the show...
A video featuring former SNL funnyman Bill Hader playing WWDC's "director" David LeGary opened the event. It was surprisingly funny. Even if you don't care about anything Apple, it's worth watching the start of the keynote just to see the intro.
Tim Cook Welcome.
Mr. Cook was his usual enthusiastic, entertaining self as he welcomed everybody to The Most Important Developer Conference on Earth. His most entertaining bit was when he brought up the Great Baseball Ransom Note. Last week Cleveland Indians' Brandon Moss hit the 100th home run of his career. The ball ended up landing in the Indian's dugout, which meant it was time for Brandon's teammates to write up a ransom note listing their demands in exchange for the ball. Interestingly enough, everybody's demands ended up being Apple products... iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, Apple watches, and the like...
Tim Cook was amused enough by this to have Apple pick up the tab for the demands, meaning Brandon gets his ball at no charge. Pretty sweet!
Mac OS X El Capitan
Craig Federighi, who has the best hair in tech, started things off by introducing us to the next version of Mac OS X, El Capitan...
Definitely evolutionary instead of revolutionary, El Cap's new features are kind of middle of the road. The new "Split View" feature which allows you to automatically size and position windows in the Finder has been something I've been doing with Moom for ages. OS X Search with "Spotlight" is already a loser to me because it's cluttered with too much shit that gets in the way of me actually finding stuff on my Mac. Well, guess what El Cap does for Spotlight? ADD EVEN MORE SHIT TO GET IN THE WAY! Yay! Craig touted more full-screen app features, but didn't mention THE ONE FUCKING THING THAT FULL-SCREEN APPS NEED... a way of permanently turning on the menu bar so you have access to critical information such as BATTERY LIFE REMAINING and THE TIME OF DAY without having to unhide the menu bar first. Lame! There are some nice new features in mail... but all I care about is if Mail has been made more reliable. Because right now Mail is utter shit, and adding more features doesn't fix shit. Note has been improved, but all I care about is whether or not Notes will sync properly now, which it hasn't done in ages. Safari is getting pinned tabs now, which is nice... but I'd sacrifice this nifty feature for better compatibility in a heartbeat. Maps is getting tansit directions at long last. And, lastly, Apple announced that Metal, their iOS graphics technology which is hugely powerful and efficient is coming to OS X. Oh happy day.
Siri is getting more better smarter, which is nice. Apple's getting more serious about publishing with their News app, which has me interested in seeing if it can be applied to THRICE Fiction. The Notes app is getting more powerful, which seems a little pointless considering that third-party apps have this space fairly well filled. Maps is getting improvements (including public transportation planning in some cities), which should be a no-brainer, but Apple has been dragging their heels for some reason. Wallet is replacing Passbook to better reflect where Apple is going with the app... the centerpiece being Apple Pay, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread, so that makes me happy.And, lastly, the iPad is getting multitasking, which is pretty smart considering Windows Surface has been eating Apple's lunch on this since they launched. The best news of all, however, is that iOS9 will run on every iPhone and iPad that iOS8 did, so nobody is getting left behind this time around.
The biggest news of the day did not end up being what I thought it would be... Apple hung that on their new streaming music service... Apple Music. It really isn't much different than Spotify or any other service, except that it looks better and appears to navigate easier. Apple is trying to up the ante by rolling in some features from their now-deceased Ping service in Connect, which allows artists to keep their fans up to date with what's going on. And then there's the new worldwide net-radio "experience" Beats 1, which seems insane to me... too many people have too many different musical tastes, so how can you plan a WORLDWIDE station that appeals to everyone? MTV (back when they actually played music) had to break up into pieces and have localized channels in different parts of the world... even that didn't work. Personally, none of this stuff appeals to me. I like to own the music I love. If I buy a digital track, it's mine to play forever. With streaming services, the music stops when the money runs out. Stop paying, stop playing. But, hey, Apple Music is going to have a free three-month trial, so who knows.
The main thing I was looking forward to at this conference was big news about Apple's HomeKit home automation technology which is (apparently) going to revolve around AppleTV. It was announced a year ago and has basically gone nowhere, so now was the time, right? All the WWDC propaganda had the AppleTV shape and the words "The Epicenter of Change" plastered on it, so what other conclusion could be drawn except finally HomeKit was getting its due?
And yet it didn't happen.
Maybe they were never planning on it. Maybe something changed. Maybe it wasn't ready. Who knows.
All I know is that nobody is better at shitting on Apple technologies than Apple themselves. Yes, new devices are being released for HomeKit. Yes, Apple took a whole minute of the WWDC keynote to tell us that HomeKit will be adding support for more than just lights and locks. But that's it. All that teasing for nothing.
And I just don't get it.
The longer Apple waits to stake their claim in the exploding home automation market, the less impact they're going to have. They need to be out there now!
I never thought I'd be saying this, but Apple needs to break apart as a company. Sure it's great to have everything under one roof, but when you can't focus enough to get shit done, maybe it's not the best fit. The slow death of HomeKit before its even released is a big wakeup call.
But oh well.
Maybe Apple will get their shit together and do a HomeKit "Special Event" by the end of the year and prove me wrong.
Otherwise, why did they even bother coming up with it?
I was sad to learn that Christopher Lee had died. He's had some great roles, and has elevated a number of films with his talents... including playing Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus in the shitty Star Wars prequels (seriously one of the few good things to come out of the pre-trilogy trilogy... who else could make a character called "Count Dooku be this cool?)...
He's had many, many other roles, of course. He actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, he's played so many parts.
Which brings me to something I've known for a while.
Fuck that Dos Equis guy, Christopher Lee is truly The Most Interesting Man in the World.
If you don't believe me, first of all he has two LEGO minifigs modeled after him...
And then, as if that weren't enough, there's something amazing you should read.
And so the hype machine is starting to ramp up for Ant-Man.
Nice to know that Marvel Studios isn't losing their touch...
"I think our first move should be calling The Avengers" — Ha!
Nice to know the film will be buying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's only fitting considering that in the comic books Ant-Man was a founding member...
Now I'm more excited for this movie than I thought I would be.
The Daily Show was on fire last night, opening with something that was clearly trying to be more educational than funny, but ended up being pretty funny as well.
Though where a piece of shit like Donald Rumsfeld is involved, you're pretty much assured of having a joke built right in...
Of course somebody like Rumsfeld isn't going to learn anything from past mistakes... learning is for elitist liberal fags, not patriotic REAL Americans.
It's utterly fascinating to me how this country is a democracy in name only, and has been that way for quite a while now. Control in the United States of America rests in the hands of precious few, and their interests are always self-serving. Everyday citizens never enter into the picture, and we're just pawns for keeping wealth and power in the hands of the wealthy and powerful.
But so long as we are content to keep the status quo, we get what we deserve.
Today I went to see Spy starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, and Jude Law. Since McCarthy films can be a bit hit-or-miss (Identity Thief and Tammy were pretty awful... whereas Paul Feig's Bridesmaids and The Heat were pretty great), I was planning on waiting until it hit video, but the jaw-dropping 95% score at Rotten Tomatoes and another outing with writer/director Paul Feig convinced me it might be theater-worthy.
And boy was it. As much as I liked The Heat, I'm thinking this is her best film yet.
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is CIA ops assistant who sits at a desk all day providing support for super-agent Bradley Fine (Law) in the field. But when a suitcase-sized nuclear weapon falls into the hands of Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) the daughter of one of the world's most dangerous criminals, Cooper gets to put her CIA training to the test in the real world. Along the way she's "helped" by rogue agent Rick Ford (Statham)... and her boss Director Crocker (Alison Janey) and fellow CIA assistant Nancy (Miranda Hart).
Except this is not just a comedy movie with espionage elements slapped on top... it's actually a really good spy movie that happens to be funny. And I think that's why I liked it so much. Melissa McCarthy isn't playing some bumbling idiot who does stupid crap for comedic effect, she's playing a highly capable agent that gets herself into situations that are funny. And, in a surprising twist, McCarthy's weight isn't written into the film as a comedic prop either. No idiotic bullshit like her not being able to fit through a door... or her breaking a chair when she sits on it... the tired old stereotypes are entirely unneeded here and joyously omitted. McCarthy's action scenes show her as a brutally effective spy in every way. As if that weren't enough, they let McCarthy be beautiful! She's a very pretty woman and, though she does go through some funny disguises, she also gets to be glamorous and sexy, which is almost unheard of for a woman her size in Hollywood movies. So thank you Paul Feig for making a film that's not only highly entertaining... but also showing the world that being heavy doesn't have to mean frumpy when it comes to the cinema.
So... all-in-all, a terrific summer movie. I'm really hoping it gets a sequel, because it would be cool to see Susan Cooper again. And since we wouldn't have to have the meek & mild character intro again, we'd be getting the all-out spy action/comedy film she deserves.
And before I go... a promo site for the movie let's you create your own Spy-Dentity...
Getting your own Spy-Dentity is just a click away...
Your life just got a little bit more complicated... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Married! I'm a huge fan of Murad Osmann and Natalia Zakharova's Instagram artistry. Osmann's series of photos featuring his girlfriend leading him all around the world is captivating...
And now they've gotten married!
There's plenty more of these amazing shots over at Instagram.
Congratulations to you both! I look forward to where you'll be taking us next.
• Dingbats! I was saddened to learn that Hermann Zapf, world-famous German typographer had died. He created some of the most beautiful typefaces ever crafted, and left a body of work that will be admired as long as we still communicate with letterforms. As noted in the article above, Zapf's favorite typeface he created is "Optima," which is one of my favorites as well. Most people probably know him best for Palatino and Zapf Dingbats, which are fonts that have been installed on a lot of computers over the years. Your artistry will be missed.
• Two Bits! Refusing to let a gay man to cut your hair is like refusing to let a Michelin Three Star Chef make you a sandwich. Sublimely stupid. But nobody can accuse homophobic bigots of being smart.
• Robertson! What a dumb fucking asshole...
With that logic, how can Pat Robertson be against abortion? Maybe abortion doctors are just an instrument of God who wants to stop the next Hitler from happening. Just die already, you heartless, vile, hypocritical, disgusting turd.
• GAH! Guess I'm going to be getting Alzheimer's any minute now: Poor sleep might be the mechanism that triggers Alzheimer’s memory loss.
• Moose! Probably the best thing I saw all week...
Hopefully more Alaskans will show some kindness for animals caught in the middle of record high temperatures.
So long, bullets.
THE BLACKHAWKS WIN THE STANLEY CUP! THE BLACKHAWKS WIN THE STANLEY CUP!
CHICAGOOOOOOO! Yeah. Pretty happy about that.
A disclaimer before we get down to it... I'm a big fan of Michael Jackson's music.
I have all his albums. His musical talent continues to amaze me even today. When The Way You Make Me Feel comes on my iTunes, I come very, very close to dancing. And I don't dance. He was The King of Pop and I think he earned that title a half-dozen times over.
And now about that Rachel Dolezal thing.
For anybody who's been living under a rock lately, Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who has been pretending to be Black in Spokane, Washington, three hours away from where I live. This alone wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary... a whole generation of white youth has been pretending to be Black ever since Rap & Hip-Hop took over the music industry. What makes Rachel Dolezal so unique is that she actually lied about being Black. Something she did so effectively that she became the NAACP Chapter President of Spokane.
To me, this is a clear case of appropriation, and all efforts to equate it to being transgender (as I keep seeing over and over) is categorically absurd.
I could write about this crazy-ass mess for days, but entirely too many people have already done that. One of my favorites being Larry Wilmore, who devoted an entire show to the topic...
No, the reason I am bringing this up at all is because I got sucked into a comment thread yesterday where somebody was claiming that Michael Jackson "dyeing his skin white" was no different than Rachel Dolezal lying about being Black.
When I attempted to explain that Michael Jackson never lied about being white, and the reason his skin appeared white is because he had a pigmentation-destroying disease called vitiligo which he concealed using makeup, I was told to "shut the fuck up" because I "don't know anything about it"... at which point the conversation went down a spiral of how Michael Jackson should have been using Black makeup instead of white makeup so he wouldn't be lying about his race.
Which is when I dropped out of the conversation.
Because, in fact, I actually know a hell of a lot about vitiligo.
The reason being that I have vitiligo, and didn't feel like battling it out with an asshole who clearly doesn't give a shit about the truth.
And, yes, I understand your disbelief. Mainly because if you've ever heard of the disease, you're picturing this...
Photo by James Heilman, taken from Wikimedia Commons
Which isn't me.
Vitiligo for me is a very different story because of two reasons...
Which is to say, if you were to meet me in person, it is extremely doubtful you would realize I have vitiligo even if you were staring right at it.
But I really do have it, and over the past three years it's started appearing on my hands too. It isn't terribly prominent yet but, if it follows the same progression as other parts of my body, eventually it will be more visible. But for now? It appears as white splotches on my fingers above the knuckle...
If I had a black light, you'd be able to really see it. But since I don't, all I can do is up the contrast on the above photo...
As I said, you probably wouldn't notice it if you were to see me in person (unless you were seeing me naked for some reason)... but there it is.
And, let me tell you, even if it doesn't show up on your skin very easily, you are still going to research the shit out of vitiligo when the splotches of white start appearing on you. So don't tell me I don't know anything about vitiligo when I assure you I've learned absolutely everything I can know about it.
Needless to say, my limited experience with the disease has fostered no small amount of sympathy for people who have a very different experience from mine. Yes, I have vitiligo, but it showed up very late in life and is (for now) so negligible on my appearance you could say it's not even a factor. For most people dealing with it, that's not the case at all...
In his early years, Michael Jackson had more Black skin than white, so he actually did use Black makeup to conceal his vitiligo. But eventually his case was so severe that he ended up with more white skin than Black, and it was easier to switch to white makeup than paint his entire body Black. And that's it.
So, yeah... vitiligo is not even remotely in the same fucking ballpark as some crazypants white lady lying about her race... for whatever reason she's been doing it.
And while there may be some room for debate on how to view Rachel Dolezal's appropriation (and other aspects of Michael Jackson's life)... you have fuck-none justification if you are stupid enough to drag how Michael Jackson dealt with his disease into the conversation.
That holds true whether you are a big fan of his music or not.
THE CAKE IS REAL!
I REPEAT, THE CAKE IS REAL!!!
It's like my entire life has been leading to this moment...
A mash-up of LEGO Batman and Portal?
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! TAKE ALL MY MONEY!!!
Sometimes things just come together as if by magic.
Or divine intervention.
You've probably seen this viral sensation of Dutch punk singer David Achter de Molen (from the band John Coffey) catching a beer in mid-air while crowd-walking...
But you might not have seen the video interview with the guy who hurled the beer, which is almost as good...
Buy that man a drink.
UPDATE: It's science, bitch!
“The confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him? We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing... al Qaeda, ISIS, they’re not shit compared to the damage we can do to ourselves on a regular basis.”
Why yes, we don't want an animal defending individuals from The Police State! That would be against our own best interests!
"All three times (he bit people), he was on his own property protecting his home and his owner," she said. "There were never any warrants for anyone to enter my home. It just seems unfair and stupid on these people's parts."
So... let me get this straight... somebody enters your property without permission, gets bit by your dog, and the dog gets put to death because somehow this is the DOG'S fault?!? What a complete load of shit.
I hope the government releases a list of State Approved Pets soon so I know what animals I'm allowed to have.
Time to make that annual call to daddy... because Bullet Sunday on Father's Day starts... now...
• Dad! Oh yeah... happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!
I love a clever ad campaign.
• Hobbes! I live for stories like this.
And now I am missing Calvin and Hobbes. Again. Still.
• JEB!, MUTHAFUCKER! And so Jeb! Bush unveiled the logo for his 2016 presidential campaign...
June 14, 2015
What kills me here... other than the fact that this is a shitty, shitty logo... is the lengths good ol' Jeb! is going to distance himself from his Bush legacy. Like everybody is going to forget that he's a Bush when they go to the voting booth and see John Ellis "Jeb" Bush on the ballot. But, hey, what do I know? People are so stupid that it just might work! In which case Hillary Clinton should have done this...
Which is only slightly less offensive than her actual logo.
Oh gawd... this is really happening...
Originally spotted at Meme Generator.
= bursts into tears =
• Gotcha! This New York Times Magazine story... all over the place. Answer the damn question, say you don't have an opinion, say you don't understand the question, say you need time to get an answer together, say you just don't know... whatever... just stop blaming the journalist because they are doing their job by asking the questions people want answers to. Escaping to "gotcha-land" is the last refuge of an idiot and a coward.
Illustration by Javier Jaén. Child: Michael Svoboda/iStock. Microphones: Picsfive/Shutterstock.
Though, in their defense, idiots and cowards seem to constitute the bulk of the political landscape. We're ass-deep in idiots and cowards.
• Kit? Apple shit the bed so hard with HomeKit that there's a gaping hole in their mattress where common sense once rested. This story is just nuts. HomeKit went from being a shining beacon of what home automation should be... to an incomprehensible nightmare for everybody involved. This is amateur hour at best. At least we know why HomeKit was dropped from the WWDC keynote... it's a confusing pile of crap that (technically) doesn't work yet, and even Apple developers don't know where the technology is going. Pathetic. GET IT TOGETHER, APPLE!
• Preach? Holy crap... who listens to these people?
no. don't do it. stop.
• And Speaking of Urine Stains... 93.7% of men pee like this...
So now you know.
Now I'm off to enjoy what's left of my Sunday... by going to work.
I'd write something today, but I'm entirely too obsessed with this video that was sent to me...
This is what the internet was made for.
The biggest drawback of watching Apple's latest wankfest of all the "insanely great" technologies they've got coming down the pipe is me sitting in front of the computer screaming "WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING FIX THE SHIT THAT'S BROKEN BEFORE ADDING MORE PROBLEMS FOR YOUR USERS?"
Because more and more, Apple's myriad of bugs and busted shit in OS X is giving me Microsoft Windows flashbacks. What's worse is that Apple seems to have little interest in fixing stuff. No response in the forums. No fixes in the updates. No acknowledgement of anything wrong, despite many, many users reporting the same problems.
Take for instance iTunes.
The program is utter crap. It has been for years. I could go on for ages about how stupid it is that you can't stream movies you buy, but are forced to download them. I could rage for days on how utterly insane it is that the iTunes Store doesn't let you know which movies you're already bought. Or how your movie purchases never show up in the "My Movies" tab unless you've downloaded all of them. It's just such a steaming load of bullshit. Yet it's been going on for years. And Apple doesn't care. And the way you can tell they don't care is that they never fix this moronic crap. But what's worse than helpful features being omitted are the legions of bugs that make using iTunes such a horrendous experience.
iTunes Match is FOREVER fucking up. Every damn time I fire up iTunes expecting to be able to play the music I purchased "in the cloud," iTunes just sits there spinning it's wheels. It doesn't matter which computer I'm on. It doesn't matter if I disabled all virus protection. It doesn't matter if I clear caches. It doesn't matter if I try all the idiotic work-arounds people come up with. It doesn't even matter where I'm at around the world. Sometimes, after 20 minutes or so, it will tell you there's a problem and tell you to logout and login again... which does work... but should I have to do that every fucking time I start iTunes? It's become almost automatic for me now, which is fucking bananas. Because, of course, if you logout you end up having to re-start Match which takes ages to get going again.
And I can't tell you how many times a day I have problems with iCloud. I'm consistently and constantly seeing this on my screen...
This is so stupid on so many levels. First of all, my Macs are all password protected. If I've got them password protected, nobody is accessing them but me... so why in the hell is iCloud logging me out? Even if I were to accept that this is a valid security concern, "periodically" to Apple means SEVERAL FUCKING TIMES A DAY. I have to login to iCloud to use iTunes. I have to login to iCloud to use iMessage. I have to login to iCloud to FaceTime. I have to login to iCloud to scratch my nuts. Once a month would be fine. But I am sick to fucking death of this CONSTANT need to have me login over and over and over and over AND OVER again. Shit... if I logout of iTunes to try and access my Match music, I'm forced to login to iCloud THREE GODDAMN TIMES before the nonsense stops. That alone causes me to go ballistic. Add in all the other times I have to deal with this shit and I'm in thermonuclear meltdown over Apple idiocy daily.
Who the fuck is in charge of fixing busted shit? ANYBODY?
But that's old news.
The latest boatload of crap coming out of Cupertino? This...
I click "Always Allow" of course.
But Apple must not know what the fuck "ALWAYS" means, because I keep getting this damn dialog box popping up all the time. Sometimes at random. Always when clearing my browser history. Does Apple give a shit? Of course not! NO response to those sick and tired of having to deal with whatever the fuck "PluginProcess" is. No patch to fix the problem. No acknowledgement a problem even exists, because if it goes unacknowledged, the problem isn't real to Apple! It's all in your imagination!
Apple used to have a motto of "It just works."
That hasn't been true in fucking ages.
Macintosh isn't superior to Windows any more. Sure it looks better and is more logical but, in the grand scheme of things, it's not better.
If you're not going to aspire to be better than your competition, just fucking close it down and concentrate on your iPhone or iPad or Apple Watch or Apple Music or whatever the fuck is your flavor of the moment. Anything less is just wasting everybody's damn time.
Any day now...
To my many friends who have waited so long... I look forward to your fabulous weddings...
So... marriage equality nation-wide then.
The decision handed down from the Supreme Court was both surprising (there is so much crazy sitting on that bench) and unsurprising at the same time. Unsurprising because marriage is not a religious institution in this country. You can get married by a Justice of the Peace in a completely non-religious ceremony if you want, so government has no fucking business banning it for two consenting adults with the same genitals just because some churches don't like that. Marriage predates Christianity and only has religious connotations if you want it to, so all religious-based arguments are invalid. Which means keeping marriage from an entire class of tax-paying citizens is discrimination plain and simple.
But, make no mistake, if it hadn't been for ever-escalating public support, the SCOTUS decision probably would have gone the other way. The people actually running this country do love the status quo, after all.
So how did we get here?
A couple years ago while I was working in Anaheim, the answer became abundantly clear to me. During a dinner break, one of my co-workers was talking about how she attended a conference where she noticed the elderly man working the coat-check line was wearing a button with the newly-minted Human Rights Campaign's marriage equality symbol on it. After she told him that she liked his button, someone behind her asked "Do you even know what that button means?" — as if they just liked it for the color or something. Before she could answer, the gentleman replied "It means that maybe one day my grandson can get married."
End of story.
Despite spending his formative years in a society conditioned to revile all things gay and growing up in a time where the very idea of same-sex marriage was taboo... perhaps even dangerous... this man loves and supports his grandson.
And that's the ticket, isn't it? Now-a-days most everybody has somebody they care about who's gay. And if you care about someone, you want them to have the same rights as everybody else. That means your family... your neighbors... your co-workers... your friends.
Which is why I have never shied away from voicing my support for marriage equality loudly and often, both here on Blogography and in Real Life. I couldn't look my friends in the face if I didn't. And after realizing how much society's acceptance can mean to kids who are struggling with their sexuality, I couldn't look myself in the face if I didn't.
And I'm not unique that way. In surprisingly short order, the majority of people in this country have come to support marriage equality. The majority of The Supreme Court among them.
So love wins.
As it should.
One big step in the right direction.
With many more left to follow.
And so summer has arrived... along with the fires...
Best of luck to friends and family here in the Wenatchee Valley... stay safe.
No, your calendar doesn't deceive you... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• Heat! On top of the fires that have been raging here in Central Washington, we've got this crazy heat wave assaulting us like a blast furnace. The outdoors are practically inhospitable at 110°, but at least this bear has found a way to beat the heat...
That's one happy bear.
• Beard! As I am not swimming in a box of women, clearly my beard is entirely inadequate. But a solution is at hand...
Of course, compared to this guy, ALL BEARDS ARE INADEQUATE, even with god-like beard oil in them, so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad.
• Station Agent! A moment of silence for Tama-chan...
Photo by Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images
One of many feel-good cat stories... you will be missed, Tama!
• CANADA! "UGH! GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL NOW? I'M MOVING TO CANADA!" — If that's you, there's probably something you should know...
• WAAAH!!! And, speaking of sour grapes... Mike Huckabee Set the Bar Really High for the Worst Reaction to the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling. What an asshole.
• Travel! I updated my travel map and was happy to learn that I've finally reached my goal of seeing 25% of the countries on this planet...
At one time I thought I'd strive for 50%, but it took over half my life just to get this far. so unless somebody has a couple million dollars for me so I can quit work and travel the world... I guess this will have to do.
And... back to this unrelenting heat wave...
FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, MARVEL... JUST GIVE BLACK WIDOW HER OWN MOVIE ALREADY!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding in all kinds of awesome directions... but no real "spy thriller" has hit yet. This is categorically absurd given that Black Widow and Nick Fury are freakin' made for this kind of movie. Build up some kind of amazing Mission: Impossible scenario, drop them in the middle of it, then watch them go.
Tell me people wouldn't pay good money to see that.
TAKE MY MONEY!
Funko is going to release a series of POP! figures from The Fifth Element. Needless to say, I am beside myself with happiness...
"LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS!!!"
"The Diva Plavalaguna!"
"You're a monster, Zorg..."
"We need to find the leader, Mangalores won't fight without the leader."
Now... for the question of the day... WHERE IN THE HELL IS RUBY RHOD?!?
Ruby is easily one of the most memorable things about The Fifth Element, and it is criminal that he doesn't get a Funko POP! figure! It would have also been nice if Father Vito Cornelius would get one, but Ruby? Essential.
UPDATE: Apparently there IS going to be a Ruby Rhod POP!... they just must be having trouble with the sculpt, because a rendering has been posted (see an image in the comments).
Well, gee, where do I start.
In summary: Apple Music is a poorly-executed, bug-ridden, embarrassing pile of crap that is sadly typical of the utter shit that permeates anything to do with iTunes. If you've already got Spotify, there is nothing to see here. I'd argue that Apple's execution of a streaming music service is actually worse than Spotify in just about every sense. After the three-month free trial is over, I'll be dumping Apple Music like the steaming turd it is.
Shall we begin?
I have no clue as to what's happening at Apple these days. More and more they just can't seem to get their shit together. Apple Music is just one more failure in a series of failures, and it's getting tiring.
I shouldn't have to work so hard to be an Apple fan.
Thirty years ago today, one of my favorite movies of all time was released... Back to the Future!
I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the film. Probably at least 30 times in the 30 years since release. It's just one of those movies you can watch over and over again and never tire of it. In celebration of this landmark anniversary, I'll be watching it again tonight...
Few films have had this kind of impact on me.
Seamlessly blending science fiction and time travel with a genuinely sweet romantic comedy, Back to the Future hits all the right notes, and is pretty much the perfect movie.
And then the sequels came along.
Back to the Future II very nearly eclipses the original film for me. I absolutely love the movie. The clever way they managed to go back into the original film continues to blow my mind to this day. Yes, it doesn't have the heart that made the original such a special film... but my mind can't separate them, so it's all the same to me. The "future" of The Future remains one of my favorite fictionalized takes on... errr... the future...
I wasn't quite so enamored with the third film since it lacked the deep connection to the original the second one had... but still enjoyed it a lot.
And then, just like that, The Future was over.
Except it wasn't.
Thanks to some brilliant minds at Universal Studios, the franchise lived on with Back to the Future: The Ride!
My favorite theme park attraction of all time, the ride fit flawlessly within the Back to the Future films and was so fantastically realized that it felt as though it were a part of the trilogy from the beginning rather than tacked on for a quick buck. Unfortunately, the ride eventually closed in 2007 when it was replaced with a ride based on The Simpsons. Fortunately, the footage was preserved and is up on YouTube...
Not the same experience you got from being jostled around in a motion-controlled 8-seater DeLorean, but better than nothing!
The end of the ride wasn't the end for Back to the Future though...
Most people don't seem to be aware that the Back to the Future trilogy didn't end with Part III.
TellTale Games released a series of five Back to the Future games back in 2010. Serving as a direct sequel to the original films, they pick up directly after BTTF III...
And here's the surprising part... the games are actually good. Very good. Especially the first three installments. You should check them out!
Even if you don't like video games, you can still enjoy the story that came out of them. There are several postings on YouTube that screen-capped the whole thing. Though, obviously, if you have plans to play the games, watching the following video with utterly ruin them for you...
I don't know if there are plans to make more video games, but the movies live on in all kinds of knick-knacks... puzzles... greeting cards... and the like. Oh... and lest we forget Back to the Future: The Slot Machine!
And next up for the future of The Future?
We already got a LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine set, which is fantastic...
So naturally I am beyond thrilled at the prospect of finally getting a BTTF title out of the amazing LEGO video game franchise.
And what's the future of The Future past LEGO Dimensions?
I dunno. Robert Zemeckis refuses to allow a remake while he and co-writer Bob Gale still alive, thank heavens... but given that the original films are still much-loved even today, I wouldn't rule out more Back to the Future in the future. More LEGO? More video games? Comics? Animation? Who knows?
The future is whatever you make it.
So make it a good one.
In celebration of The United States of America on the occasion of her birthday, I can think of nothing more fitting than quoting the immortal words of a real American and one of the preeminent thinkers of our time... here's Sarah Palin on Paul Revere.
"He who warned... uhhhh... the... the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms... uh... by ringing those bells and, um, making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."
Truth! Justice! Captain America!
You're a Wonder, Wonder Woman!
REAGAN, bitches! Trickle-Down America!
Jessiqa Pace... Land That I Love
Too... Much... America...
I Pledge Allegiance to America...
'MURICA! from USA News First!
Fuck the Pepsi Challenge... take The America Challenge!
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, COMMIES! And God Bless Holly Fisher
American Jesus (the ONLY Jesus)... Artist Unknown
America... One Nation Under God by McNaughton
BOSTON RED SOX AMERICA!... by Matt West, Boston Herald
AMERICA PIE TASTES LIKE FREEDOM by Max Faulkner, DFW.com
Stephen T. Colbert... The Spirit of America
"American Pride" (with Waffles the Cat) by Justin Schwab
Jordan Carver... God Bless America
Whew. That's a lot of America right there.
Which brings us back to...
Happy 239th Birthday to the United States of America... the best America ever!
Playtime is over and it's time to get down to business, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Victory! Congratulations to Carli Lloyd and the US Women's National Soccer Team in winning the World Cup! And yet... there's another victory left to be won...
You're looking at that correctly. The US Men's Team got paid 8 million dollars for getting knocked out of the tournament in the first round... whereas the Women's Team got 2 million for winning the whole enchilada. Now, look, I get it... women's sports don't attract the viewership or ad revenue that the men's sports get. The money isn't going to be as huge as the 35 million dollars Germany got for winning the Men's Cup. It's unfortunate, but that's the sexist world we live in right now. Except... WTF?!?? Being paid 400% more money TO LOSE isn't just a wage gap... it's absolute bat-shit crazy. And that's not even the worst of it. The Women's World Cup was made to be played on artificial turf, which is far hotter and more prone to injuries. The Men's World Cup, of course, plays on natural grass. FIFA, the disgustingly corrupt pile of shit that governs football (soccer) world-wide makes billions of dollars, but can't be bothered to spend a trivial amount of their massive wealth to ensure the safety of their female players? Seriously, Fuck FIFA. The whole organization needs to be completely gutted for this kind of insane bullshit... among other things...
A grotesque organization indeed. I have no clue what it's going to take to get FIFA overhauled, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
• Extinction! Kill them. Kill them all. Kill them all until poachers are an endangered species. Kill the all until poaching is extinct. And I'm saying that from a place of non-violence and love.
• Denali! Ayers Rock is actually Uluru. Victoria Falls is actually Mosi-oa-Tunya. Turns out many famous geological formations that already had names given them by the indigenous people living there were renamed by the people who "discovered" them. Errrr... rediscovered them. Add Mt. McKinley to the list...
Kind of ridiculous, really.
• Vaccinate! Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods... In Clallam County, Washington, a woman has died of complications from measles. This is the first U.S. death from measles since 2003.
Another preventable death on the books.
• Anchor! While cleaning out some junk, I ran across the first hard drive I ever owned... a massive boat-anchor of a drive that weighs a ton and clocks in at a whopping 10 GB... 8 GB of which is usable space... spread across two jumbo drives...
I wonder what's on it? Going to have to figure out how to take a look one of these days.
• Owl and the Pussycat! Probably the cutest thing you've seen all week...
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets for you!
Just goes to show... you can't have a debate over the Confederate Flag without dragging marriage equality into the mix!
Any bets on how long it'll be until this asshole is caught with an underage male prostitute in some seedy airport hotel?
Yeah. Definitely overcompensating for something.
Probably hates they idea of gay marriage because it's just so damn tempting to him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is waking up to the novel concept that UNLESS YOU'RE IN A SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DOESN'T FUCKING AFFECT YOU.
Unless, of course, you want to be happy for all your friends, co-workers, and family who can finally get married the same way every other tax-paying American can.
My long-standing loathing and contempt of Jared Fogle, the Subway Sandwich Whore™ is well-documented. I think the way he shills for Subway's shitty sandwiches borders on fraud, and the fact that he's gotten millions of dollars for it makes him a loathsome creature indeed.
"LETS COMPARE A 6-INCH SUBWAY SANDWICH WITH NO CHEESE, NO MAYO, NO FATTY ANYTHING, AND NO FLAVOR TO THIS BIG MAC! AS YOU CAN SEE, SUBWAY IS CLEARLY THE HEALTHY CHOICE!" — Except when it's not, because most people are going to go for the $5 foot-long fully loaded with fat plus the "Meal Deal" upgrade with fatty chips and a toxic cup of soda because that's "getting your money's worth." Turns out when you compare what people actually eat at Subway, the restaurant is no better than McDonalds... and quite possibly even worse. Way worse when you consider that the people ordering that shit have been brainwashed into thinking they've made a healthy choice.
For these reasons and plenty more, I've blasted Jared (and Subway) more times than I can count.
Take, for example, my reaction to Apple's introduction of the MacBook Air. All I could think about was how such a slim laptop would be perfect for decapitating Jared Fogle if you happened to run into him on the street. I even drew a Davetoon to illustrate how that would go...
Yeah, no love lost there.
So you can imagine my reaction when it was announced that Jared had been suspended from being Subway's spokeswhore after his house was raided during a child pornography investigation.
ZOMFG! NO MORE HAVING TO LOOK AT JARED ON TV COMMERCIALS AND BILLBOARDS!
Happy as I am about the prospect of Jared Fogle disappearing forever... I would have never wanted it to happen like this. Odds are, the investigation has everything to do with the arrest of the former head of The Jared Foundation... Fogle's charity which is fighting to stop child obesity... and absolutely nothing to do with Jared himself. Indeed, every indication is that Fogle is cooperating fully with the FBI, and he hasn't been charged or arrested for anything.
And I honestly hope he's innocent, because piece of shit sexual predators who prey on children are something we really need less of in this world.
No, if Jared has to go... let it be because people finally wise-up to his disgustingly deceptive ads where he takes millions of dollars for telling people they're eating healthier when, odds are, they're really not.
That would be something to celebrate.
Something as inexplicably bizarre as Donald Trump himself...
Though The Donald should be orange, not yellow.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go sob quietly in a corner over how somebody like this can be considered a serious contender for President of the United States. If this is where we're going, I'd rather have President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, (former porn star and five-time Ultimate Smackdown Wrestling Champion) as my leader...
Idiocracy. The gift that keeps on giving.
I've got my candidate...
Might as well. It's not like anybody else that's running is worth a crap.
One of my favorite animated series of all time is Invader Zim.
Created by Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon Animation Studio, the show was about as strange as a cartoon could get... with visuals and stories that have to be seen to be believed. Chronicling the never-ending schemes of Irken alien invader Zim (along with his faithful robot sidekick GIR) to conquer the earth, Invader Zim ran for a heartbreakingly short 27 episodes before being cancelled by the complete idiots at Nickelodeon.
But now, thanks to the magic of comic books and a return by Jhonen Vasquez, Zim is back...
And it is glorious.
If you are even a passing fan of the cartoon (and how could you not be?) it is well worth picking up at your local comic book shop... or online digitally via Comixology.
As a massively huge Batman fan, nobody wants Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to be a great film more than I do.
Problem is, it's a continuation of the crap-fest that was Zach Snyder's Man of Steel... a movie I hate so much that just typing Man of Steel is enough for me to to start going into an apoplectic fit of rage. Snyder took a gigantic dump all over Superman, and DC Comics didn't seem to care... despite the fact that it took in "only" $668 million (against a budget of $225 million). That may seem like a lot, but it pales in comparison to Nolan's The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (each earning in excess of 1 billion). And don't even start on The Avengers (1.5 billion). But whatever, it was a bad Superman movie because it wasn't Superman on the screen.
And now Zach Snyder is back at it with the afore-mentioned Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Which looks like utter shit...
Wait... was that... The Comedian?!?
From the trailer it looks like Snyder tried to make a present-day version of Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, but had no concept as to what made that book so great... Frank Miller stayed respectful to the source material.
Oh well. Luckily for everybody, Marvel continues to knock their super-hero films out of the park. Next up? Ant-Man! Which looks amazing, by the way...
What I wouldn't give to have Marvel take over DC's film franchises.
Don't mind this missing blog post, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Don't you love a good TV ad?
Given that almost every ad you see is complete shit and totally the interruption it is designed to be... it makes me fall hard for ads that are actually good.
Like this one, which is currently top of the heap for my favorite ad of 2015...
Barely edging out my previous favorite for 2015...
Perhaps I'll be adding it to this one, my favorite from 2014...
And this one, my favorite from 2013...
And, lastly, the 2010 commercial that made me start keeping track of my favorite commercials...
It's hard not to love anything that features Betty White.
Unlike in many other countries, train service in the USA is mostly crap. Partly because people here just loooooove their cars, but mostly because this country is just so big and connecting everything isn't really practical. Sure there are pockets of decent train service... the Northeast Corridor is pretty well-connected and has decent schedules. And, yeah, there are places that have pretty good local/regional train service (like the Chicagoland area). But, for the most part, trains can't be taken seriously.
Take for instance here in my neck of Redneckistan.
To get from Wenatchee to Spokane, there's exactly one train each day. At 8:42pm, arriving 12:45am. Coming back? Again, one train which leaves Spokane at 2:15am, getting back to Wenatchee at 5:25am.
So... pretty useless. Which is why I always end up driving it, high gas prices be damned.
But every once in a while... when the stars align and the conditions are right... that wacky schedule actually works for me.
I have been swamped with work. I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in a week. I can't afford to waste six hour on the road to Spokane and back. If I take the train, I can get a sleeper compartment, work until I fall asleep, then wake up in Spokane with time for a few hours more sleep. Perfect. And it's safer than being on the road in my sleep-deprived condition.
Which, of course means that my train is delayed by FIVE HOURS. Thanks, Amtrak!
Which means I'm driving over anyway.
So bring on the Five-Hour-Energy drinks and Coca-Cola, which was the only way I was able to survive the 3-hour drive over.
Which brings us to my hotel, which I originally booked thusly...
DAVE: I need to book a room for the 14th even though I won't be arriving until early on the 15th. So please don't think I'm a no-show and give away my room!
RESERVATIONS: We wouldn't do that!
DAVE: That's nice. You'd be surprised how often that happens to me. It's no fun looking for a hotel in the early morning. So... assuming I don't get raped and stabbed on the walk from the train station, I'll see you tomorrow at 1:00am.
RESERVATIONS: Oh goodness! You won't get raped or stabbed walking from the train station! You should be fine! You might get robbed or something, but you won't be raped and stabbed!
DAVE: Ah. Good to know. See you tomorrow.
But then I ended up driving, so no walking from the train station after all.
Except the parking lot was full at my hotel, so I had to risk getting robbed walking two blocks from the overflow parking.
And then risk getting harassed and shoved around as I made my way through Hipster Central on my way to the legendary Spokane institution... the Satellite Lounge. Which serves up deliciously greasy fare at a good price in a strip club atmosphere. But, alas, without the strippers.
Which is a pity, because I really could have done with something nice to look at after staring at the nothingness that is the Columbia Basin at night for three hours.
I have been a lot of places on this planet.
I have eaten a lot of pizza everywhere I go.
My favorite pizza on earth (so far) is the Da Vinci from David's Pizza in Spokane, Washington. It's red sauce, mozzarella, and feta with a swirl of pesto sauce that's topped with fresh tomatoes after baking. It is sublime. The sauce at David's has a rich and robust taste that doesn't rely on toppings to give their pizza it's flavor. The mix of feta and pesto is insanely good. It just doesn't get any better.
Which is why you can understand my utter devastation when I rolled up to David's Pizza to get a slice and was greeted by this...
The greatest pizza I have ever known was gone.
Sure David's Pizza kinda lived on inside of a bar called "Famous Ed's"... but it was never the same.
Fast forward four long years... and David's is back at a new location, and it's very nice...
The pizza profile seems closer to the original for me... but the crust is more "Famous Ed's" than "Original David's Pizza" in that it's missing a bit of the "snap" it used to have. It's slightly more chewy instead. Not necessarily a bad thing... just not as I remember it...
Still probably the best pizza on earth.
Believe it or not, the second best pizza I've ever had is 20 minutes away from me in Wenatchee at a place called "Third Generation Pizza N More." The sauce is so flavorful that just a plain cheese pizza packs plenty of delicious flavor, and their amazing crust is my favorite.
After that my pizza favorites get a bit murky. Maybe Pizano's Pizza in Chicago... could be Roberta's or Totonno’s or Grimaldi's in Brooklyn... could even be Tony's in San Francisco... the list goes on and on. And it's not limited to the US either... I may not care for Italian pizza, but I've had some pretty great pizza in several places in Europe... and even a couple spots in Japan!
Great pizza's all, but David's is on the top of my list. And I am oh so happy they're back in Spokane again.
The trip home was pretty awful, despite having a nice day for a drive...
The problem was that I was so tired by the time I got home that my brain was numb. Thanks again to Amtrak for their five hour delay that resulted in my having to make the drive in the first place.
And now... my last two slices of leftover Da Vinci are calling...
Every have one of those days you just want to pack up your shit and get the fuck out?
I usually don't. I get away to interesting places often enough that I'm content to be where I'm at... even on the bad days.
Yeah. I want to pack up my shit and get the fuck out in the worst possible way.
Money well-spent, again, I think.
The planet Pluto. Pluto's moon Charon. A size comparison of Pluto and Charon vs. the Earth.
And worth every penny...
Instead of cutting their budget even further, we should give NASA billions more dollars and see what cool stuff they come up with to spend it.
And now, following up on yesterday's post...
Obviously, our priorities are completely fucked.
Time to get all cinematic with your fine self, because a special MOVIE edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Terminated! When James Cameron released a statement saying that Terminator: Genisys was a fantastic film, I remember being relieved that finally... finally we were getting a Terminator sequel that was a worthy follow-up to T1 and T2. The trailer certainly made it look like we were getting a good film...
Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. This horrible mess of a movie actually had me fondly remembering Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (which I didn't much care for), and the epic McG directed disaster that was Terminator: Salvation (which I hated). First of all, nothing makes sense. The plot is complete shit and ruthlessly eviscerates any hope for future Terminator films. Arnold was at his absolute worst, which was surprising given his recent work in Maggie. Emilia Clarke, though a good actress, was woefully miscast as Sarah Connor. But the worst offense was casting Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, who was just awful... as in film-destroying, franchise-ending awful. I mean, I guess he kind of worked for that crappy Die Hard film, but here he is so lifeless... so horribly lacking in the charm needed to pull off this iconic role... that any other flaw in Genysis is rendered moot. Even the mind-bogglingly stupid storyline which involves Sarah Connor using a 1984 time machine(?) to go FORWARD in time to stop Skynet. Yes, FORWARD. The entire film is asinine, but the leap of logic needed to get over this idea is just too much to bear. Oh well. Maybe it's time that the Terminator films just die already. Because this one... like the two that preceded it, is seriously not worth your time. Possibly even on video. Holy crap what a disappointment.
DAVE RATING: ★☆☆☆☆
• Teddy! Seth McFarlane's follow-up to his shockingly rude and oh-so-good good Teddy Bear film, Ted
The biggest sin for Ted 2 is that it didn't have enough funny moments. There was an attempt to go ruder, cruder, and more outrageous, but it pretty much backfired. This made the film seem too long and too humorless compared to the original. And when a comedy that's hit-or-miss in the funny dept. feels like it mostly misses... well... let's just say I had hoped for much more.
DAVE RATING: ★★★☆☆
• Joy! I'm going to be completely honest... the concept for Pixar's Inside Out! didn't appeal to me at all, and I was seriously thinking that it was going to be a Cars 2 level disaster. The trailer did little to change my mind...
And then I saw it and it was kinda wonderful and a little magical and oh so beautiful and just about everything a Pixar film should be. Yes, it drags enough in places to lose a star, but overall a solid flick. And now I'm looking forward to seeing it on home video because I want to see it again. Can't ask for much more of an endorsement than that.
DAVE RATING: ★★★★☆
• Minions! And then there's Minions... a prequel of sort to Despicable Me. I fully admit to looking forward to this film, as the little yellow terrors are easily my favorite thing about both Despicable Me and it's lackluster sequel...
Problem is... it just doesn't work. Minions are cute when they're taken in small doses, but an entire film devoted to them turns out to be borderline annoying. Hopefully Despicable Me 3 will get back to what made the original movie such a success and allow me to love minions again, because this film didn't do it.
DAVE RATING: ★★☆☆☆
• Fury! Mad Max: Fury Road is dangerously close to being my favorite film of 2015 so far. It was brilliantly cast, amazingly written, and beautifully crafted. As if that weren't enough, it's got balls-out action that's wrapped around a George Romero love letter to Charlize Theron and feminism. Such a good film. And just when I think that it couldn't get any better, THIS comes along...
I am not a huge fan of black-and-white films that are black-and-white for art's sake... but this? Gorgeous. I would pay to see this in the theater in a heartbeat. Sadly, while it was once promised for home video release, now it looks as though the project is dead. Very sad about that. Still, even in glorious color, Mad Max: Fury Road is well worth your valuable time. Preferably seen in a theater on a big screen.
DAVE RATING: ★★★★★
Next up? Definitely Ant Man. And hopefully Trainwreck, which looks like it's entertaining enough for a theater visit...
Gotta love Amy Schumer.
Can't even attempt to sum up what a complete cluster-fuck my day was today.
If I were to try, it would probably go something like this...
I need a vacation.
Another difficult day.
Most of which was thinking about how I would give anything... anything... to be back in Africa just now. It's the travel experience that just won't leave me. And my new go-to place any time I dream of escaping life.
Not hard to see why when my memories are filled with this...
Here's hoping for a better tomorrow.
I was desperate enough, hungry enough, and lacking time enough to grab a decent dinner... so I made the huge mistake of eating at Subway tonight.
Thank heavens I just bought toilet paper...
Nothing quite like having to blog while on the toilet because of early onset diarrhea from a footlong cheese sandwich.
Eat Fresh, everybody.
I've written/deleted/rewritten a post about Sandra Bland a half dozen times since I saw her bullshit arrest video. I just can't wrap my head around it.
Yes, if she were nicer, the cop might have let her off with a warning for her traffic violation. But I am getting sick and tired of this notion that everybody should have to tiptoe around the police because you never know if the officer your dealing with is a psychotic asshole on a power trip that's going to escalate a minor infraction into an arrest just because he can.
Absolutely nothing Sandra Bland said made her deserving of the treatment she got. NOTHING. She was asked a question. She answered it. But even if she had told the officer to go blow himself, his only response should have been to either give her the damn ticket or let her go. There was no reason whatsoever for him to threaten to "light her up" or order her to extinguish her cigarette or even order her out of her car in the first place. If he's got a tiny penis and needs to aggressively order people around to feel like a big man, that's his fucking problem and he should leave that shit at home instead of forcing it on the people he's supposed to be serving and protecting.
I'm getting ready to explode all over again because of this never-ending cycle of out-of-control police brutality. But rather than erase yet another post, I'm just going to let Larry Wilmore take it from here...
Yes, yes, I know... most cops are good. Only a few cops are bad. Yadda yadda yadda.
But what does it matter when crap like this is even possible?
Make whatever excuse you want. Put all the blame on her you want. But ultimately Sandra Bland was jailed for three days and counting because she didn't kiss a police officer's ass enough.
And now she's dead because of it.
Where were those sworn to protect and serve her while she was in their care?
It's been reported that North Korea's dictator and fearless leader Kim Jong Un didn't like the design of his new Pyongyang International Airport so he had the architect executed.
It seems a bit extreme, to be certain, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand the sentiment.
Case in point...
When it comes to portable storage, the only brand I trust is Transcend's StorJet line of "Military Grade Shock Resistant" 2.5-inch hard drives. They're tough enough to travel the world with me, fairly speedy, and last forever. I am still using the very first drive I bought ages ago while other brands have long-since died.
So... great product. Well done, Transcend!
Since I'm hitting the road soon, I decided to pick up a new 1TB StorJet since all my current projects won't fit on the 750GB drive I'm using. I keep hoping that Transcend will add the option for a Thunderbolt or Lightning connector since you don't have to worry about which way you plug the cord into them, but all that's available is USB 3. I hate USB with a passion because I always seem to have the plugged turned the wrong way... but at least on the drive-side I know which way the plug goes in, which is half the battle.
At least it was half the battle...
On the left is my new drive. On the right is my old drive. Note that the USB plug is now upside-down from what it was.
Who is the sadistic fuck at Transcend that made THIS happen?
The years of conditioning I have as to which way the plug goes in the drive has just been sabotaged. And since it's so automatic that I don't even think about it, I have the plug backwards Every. Damn. Time. And it always takes a second before I realize what's wrong because my brain hasn't reached the point that I know to flip the plug.
I absolutely hate stupid crap like this.
They may make great portable drives, but they obviously don't give two shits about the small details that keep customers happy. It's like the assholes at LaCie who keep changing the power adapter plug on their Porsche drives every six months. After two years I ended up with seven drives and THREE different adapters to keep track of. It finally got so frustrating that I trashed all my LaCie drives and switched to Western Digital.
And now I'm seriously considering taking a look at other portable storage manufacturers so I can avoid the flip-flopping sadists at Transcend.
Now, I'm not saying that I want the engineer executed who made this dick move, but I will say that it's probably a good thing I'm not North America's dictator and fearless leader...
I honestly thought that yesterday's struggle with my new travel portable hard drive's reversed USB 3 port would be the worst thing that happened before I leave for my work trip on Monday.
I was wrong.
So very, very wrong.
Last night before leaving work I compiled all my work file folders into a new folder hierarchy so it would be easier to copy what I need for work on the road. Instead of having to sync dozens of folders, I would now only need to sync one. Pretty sweet, right?
Yeah. Not so much.
Before leaving I set ChronoSync to copy my new "master folder" to my new up-side-down portable drive.
This morning I come back to work only to find that ChronoSync reported a total transfer time of 2 seconds with zero files copied.
Turns out my new "master folder" was completely empty. All my files from the past two decades were nowhere to be found. Thinking that Mac OS X was just playing silly buggers with the "visibility" of my files, I ran Disk Warrior, which usually fixes things right up.
That didn't work so I ran Disk Warrior in "scavenger" mode.
That didn't work so I used the directory backup in TechTool Pro to see if I could recover my files.
That didn't work so I fired up Data Rescue 4 to see if that might work.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing Nothing. Nothing worked. For reasons completely unknown, all my files had been completely wiped from the drive with no option for recovery. And for the life of me, I have no idea why. The free space on my drive is huge because the files are truly missing. No diagnostic will reveal any clue as to what's gone wrong. It's as if everything I've ever worked on never existed.
As if that weren't bad enough, I've been particularly lax in keeping up with my local backups. My most current drive copy is five months old.
I'd be contemplating sticking my head in the over right now if not for the fact that I have everything continuously backed up into the Cloud with a service called BackBlaze. For $189, they'll ship me a new hard drive filled with all my missing files. I started using BackBlaze when Apple's Time Machine backups kept getting corrupted, and thank heavens.
So... no harm no foul... I guess.
One thing's for sure, I need a better local backup strategy.
=sigh= Something new to worry about.
And... I have no internet. And... I'll be traveling for a week. So this very special HEAVILY DELAYED edition of Bullet Sunday starts... eventually...
• Sisko! I have been totally addicted to the feral rescue project from TinyKittens.com. They've taken in a young feral kitteh named Sisko whom is very, very pregnant. Feral kittehs are a particular challenge in that they have no trust in humans whatsoever and have to be handled delicately. When they're pregnant, it's doubly so. You can drop by and watch her live here. Or relive past videos like this one...
Not a very comfortable-looking momma, that's for sure.
• Asshole! Just in case you need lessons...
I meet at least a half-dozen professional asshole drivers every day!
• Biblical! A very interesting look at "Your Deeply Held Religious Beliefs."
• Electra Woman! This is really happening...
• Pointless. Can I be honest with you? When celebrities completely miss the point on something and go all sanctimonious with their bullshit, it drives me crazy...
Listen, Harry Connick Jr., that's not what people are saying at all. When somebody says "better get a shotgun" because your daughter is of dating age... this has absolutely nothing to do with your daughter, her self-esteem, or her judgement. It has everything to do with the fact that horny teenage boys are going to be busting down your door trying to plan and scheme to date your daughter... or, more likely, have sex with your daughter. Your misunderstanding here is that only guys "of a certain caliber" are going to be attracted to her when, in fact, every heterosexual boy on earth is going to be attracted to her. Especially in today's highly-sexualized society. The metaphorical shotgun is so that you can fend off the bastards so your daughter has the opportunity to attract the guys of the caliber she deserves. So climb off your high horse and calm down before your inane rant makes you look like an idiot or something.
And, I'm out. Here's hoping this gets posted before next Bullet Sunday comes around...
Okay. I haven't traveled in a couple months, so I know I've been out of the loop for a while, but...
Wasn't it just $20 a few minutes ago?
And here's the thing... it's shitty forty dollar internet. I barely had a connection the entire time. Pages would rarely load completely... it's worse than dial-up used to be!
Guess this is what happens when you let a corrupt pile of shit company have a monopoly in the in-air internet game! Highway robbery! Errr... well... in the air. SKYWAY ROBBERY!!! I could get blown for this kind of bank!
I'll just try and appreciate that I can have internet while flying at all.
ZOMG! ANT-MAN WAS AWESOME!
Terrific movie. A Marvel Studios film in every sense of the word... albeit on a smaller scale. Which was part of what made it so much fun to watch...
And I do mean fun.
While it has serious moments, this is by far the lightest of the Marvel Studios Universe stable of films (and, yes, I'm including the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy).
I admit that I was pretty shaken up when former helmer Edgar Wright left the project, but it turns out the movie was in good hands. Peyton Reed put together a super-hero heist flick that was firing on all cylinders and ended up better than it had a right to be.
Master burglar Scott Lang (a flawlessly cast Paul Rudd) gets out of prison only to find that life ain't easy for an ex-con. He can't hold a job and is having a tough time trying to stay involved in his daughter's life now that his ex-wife is engaged to be married. But everything changes when he meets legendary inventor Hank Pym, whose revolutionary shrinking technology is threatening to destroy the world if Scott can't harness the power of The Ant-Man.
The story was very good, albeit a bit formulaic in spots. Probably because super-hero origin tales all seem to blend together after a while. Luckily, they took advantage of the one thing that makes Ant-Man so unique... his diminutive size. Oh... and his ability to talk to ants. In both regards, the special effects were pretty darn impressive. Not an easy thing to accomplish when you've got a tiny, tiny man riding a flying ant.
Casting was excellent. In addition to Paul Rudd, we also get the legendary Michael Douglas in perfect form as Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as his daughter Hope, Corey Stoll playing bad-guy Darren Cross, and a scene-stealing Michael Peña as Scott Lang's partner in crime, Luis (holy cats do I hope he makes future appearances in Marvel films).
From a comic book geek standpoint, it's hard to be disappointed in Ant-Man. If forced to try, I'd have to say not getting an appearance by The Wasp was somewhat disappointing. Sure, this is Ant-Man's story, but Hope Van Dyne not getting a slice of the super-hero spotlight this time around seems unfair given that Marvel's movie slate is so full that another Ant-Man movie is probably far off. If we ever get a sequel at all. My guess is that she'll be suited up for the next two The Avengers flicks once "The Infinity War" is in full force... but The Wasp getting any major screen time in stories already overflowing with super-heroes seems unlikely.
Ultimately, Ant-Man is well worth your valuable time on the big screen. I really liked it and actually do hope we end up getting a sequel.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B
I am so tired that I can barely function.
Work has been brutal, and it looks like I may break some kind of record for number of hours worked straight.
Luckily I have the memory of my delicious Maine Wild Blueberry Poundcake from yesterday to keep my hallucinations delicious...
Also... something I found out while chasing down an expense receipt for the HEINOUSLY EXPENSIVE INFLIGHT INTERNET I bought on Monday? You can pre-purchase internet directly from GoGo at LESS THAN HALF the cost! Just $16.00! So... if you're traveling and am going to be on a flight that has internet you'll want to be using, be sure to buy before you fly.
Hopefully that wasn't a hallucination, because... FORTY FRICKIN' DOLLARS?!??
Tonight I came the closest to death I've ever been.
Work was delayed ten hours and didn't start until around 11:30pm on Tuesday. I then worked all through Wednesday right up until Thursday until 10:30pm. So, basically, a 47-hour workday with only a three-hour nap in there somewhere.
And a six-pack of 5-Hour Energy.
To say I was tired and not looking forward to the 2-1/2 hour drive back to Boston this evening was an understatement. I considered grabbing a local hotel for a few hours, but have learned the hard way that I need to power through. So I picked up two bottles of Mountain Dew and away I went.
I was beyond exhausted, but the caffeinated fizzy water and constant stops at toll booths kept me going.
And then it happened.
At three minutes until midnight just before crossing the border from New Hampshire to Massachusetts... a car facing the wrong way, stopped dead in the middle of the highway. No lights. No blinkers. Just a dark automobile angled across the road, centered in the middle lane.
In my lane.
And here I am going 70 miles per hour under the cover of darkness.
In a Prius.
A Prius which would have been utterly destroyed if it had hit the car at that speed... probably taking me with it.
Fortunately, the full moon illuminated just enough of the car before my lights reached it that I saw... something. It was just enough warning to give me time to brake and swerve out of my lane... hard.
It felt like the Prius went up on two wheels.
I thought I was going to tip over.
I struggled to keep control of the car as I started skidding off the road. After what seemed like an eternity, I gained control and managed to stay on the highway.
My wits, however, went out the window back in New Hampshire.
Needless to say, I had no problem staying awake for the remained of my drive into Boston. The adrenaline rush was a bigger wake-up call than all the Mountain Dew on planet earth.
What if there hadn't been a full moon?
What if I was glancing at Google Maps on my phone instead of focusing on the road?
What if there was a car next to me and I couldn't get out of my lane?
The list goes on and on.
My guess is that somebody from the opposite direction fell asleep at the wheel, then tore through the median until they came to a stop on the opposite bank of oncoming lanes. So crazy.
And now I sit here in my hotel room where I had hoped to get four hours sleep before flying back home. Except, obviously, sleep is impossible now. Despite being so tired that my brain feels mooshy and I want to pass out, I won't be getting any sleep tonight.
So I ordered a sandwich from a local restaurant that delivers until 2:00am.
I went with the highly risky choice of egg salad, which I would usually avoid like the plague because nothing good can come from a delivery egg-salad sandwich at this hour. At least health-wise.
But clearly I am indestructible, so why not?
Boy I hope nobody behind me crashed into that car. I saw police cars headed to the scene, so hopefully everything will be alright.
NOTE: I have blog entries I've been writing all week... but I couldn't get them to send from the work site so I'll post them when I get back. None will be even remotely as exciting as this one, however.
UPDATE: Well, that was disgusting. If I don't end up with a scorching case of diarrhea, I will be very surprised. And now my hotel room smells like the entire city of Boston farted in here. Not one of my smarter moves, that egg salad monstrosity.
I'm mostly-dead right now. Fortunately my flight home was less eventful than my drive back to Boston last night.
And I didn't even get to the best part of the evening.
After coming closer to death than I'd ever planned on, I pulled into Boston in an attempt to find my airport hotel. But first... I wanted to fill up the rental car with gas so I wouldn't have to worry about it early this morning. Lucky for me, there was a gas station just one block from the Wyndham, and I pulled in to fuel up...
...only to find every pump occupied by police cars.
Seriously, an entire fleet waiting for me.
And since the last thing I wanted to do was to walk amongst the cops while wired on 5-Hour Energy and an adrenaline rush from almost dying, I immediately turned around and left.
Fully expecting that they would chase me down for my odd behavior and beat the shit out of me.
But, alas, I escaped with my life, made my flight, got home safely, and all is well.
I live to fly another day.
You would think after working 47 hours straight. Not being able to sleep for five hours. Then spending an entire day traveling to get home... I'd crash hard last night and finally be able to sleep.
And I did.
For four whole hours.
Which meant my Saturday was spent in a foggy haze of exhaustion that made getting caught up with work almost impossible.
Lucky for me I have time left to drink a 2-liter of Coke so I can stay up all night tonight and try to make some headway.
I can't even remember what my brain is supposed to feel like.
The final month of summer beings as another edition of Bullet Sunday starts... eventually...
• Sisko! The little feral kitten, Sisko, that I mentioned last week is till very very pregnant and... much to my surprise... hasn't had her babies yet. The poor thing looks even more confused, scared, and otherwise uncomfortable than last week, which is really saying something...
Hoping that she pops soon...
• 2oolander! At last... at long last... MUGATU SHALL HAVE HIS REVENGE!
At least I'm assuming as much since Will Ferrell is listed in the credits.
• Hippo! The San Diego Zoo has posted baby hippo photos to their Facebook page...
All baby animals are adorable. They just can't help it.
• Busters! When Kate McKinnon first appeared on SNL, I was not a fan. But I've slowly warmed up to her, and now fully expect her to be the standout in Ghostbusters. All the set pics have her looking more Egon than Egon...
As a remake of one of my favorite movies ever, I sure hope they manage to do the original justice.
• Honesty! It IS the best policy, after all...
No times for more bullets, Mr. Jones.
Still recovering from my sleep-deprived trip to Maine.
Last night I bought milk for cereal and had a surprise when I went to pour it. It wasn't milk... it was half & half! I didn't understand how this happened until I ran back to the store so I could have cereal for breakfast...
When the cartons are angled towards you, all you see is purple. Somebody at the store got confused and loaded the fat-free milk section with half & half. I didn't bother checking because I buy milk from the same spot week in and week out.
Pretty crappy of Darigold to not do color-coding right. If you're going to make two different items the same color, you should at least try to differentiate them design-wise. ON THE PART PEOPLE ACTUALLY SEE!
What does one do with half & half anyway? What is it even? Half milk and half fat? Scary.
Day. Ruined."After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, Miss Piggy made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship. We will continue to work together on television (“The Muppets”/Tuesdays 8pm this fall on ABC) and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter. Thank you for your understanding."
When I heard there was going to be a Netflix series based on the cult movie Wet Hot American Summer starring the original cast, I was intrigued. Firstly, many in the cast have become massively successful in the fourteen years since the original film (Bradley Cooper, for example, had just started with Alias then, whereas now he's a major movie star). Secondly, the movie was a massive failure. And lastly, it's not a sequel... it's a frickin' prequel. That's right, even though the actors have aged a decade and a half since they first had the roles, they're actually playing younger than they originally did...
The age-defying angle is pretty funny.
Which is a good thing, because otherwise First Day of Camp isn't quit as funny as I was hoping for.
But the show is entertaining. And it wisely aims to provide backstory for the film. Mostly making sense along the way... assuming you've seen the original movie. If you haven't, many of the jokes will be over your head.
Ultimately, I think First Day of Camp was worth my valuable time (Josh Charles as a three-pop-collar-wearing preppy douche is worth the price of admission) but I admit to being disappointed that I didn't have as much fun in watching it as the cast did in making it.
If you've got a Netflix subscription, you should check it out. The first episode isn't that good, but things pick up in the second and start gelling around the halfway point (episode four of eight).
Well that was... uhhh... horrible.
I had planned on doing a little serious analysis on the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate that went down this evening, but the whole thing was such a farce that there's nothing I can actually take seriously...
Photo from Getty Images
Though I would be hard-pressed to pick a "winner" for the evening, I think it's pretty safe to say that Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio were the stand-out candidates. Realistically, anyways. One could make an argument for Donald Trump (and they wouldn't be wrong... he definitel stood out) but he's just not a realistic option, and most of his time was spent reinforcing why he'd make a awful president. What a petty, useless, waste of a human being.
Picking a loser is far easier. Rand Paul is such an attention-grabbing dandy douchebag that he actually makes Trump look sane by comparison. I definitely get the appeal from a Constitutional standpoint. If you're into it, that's all he does. But the guy lives in Fantasyland, and his policy positions are so unrealistic in the world we live in that he's nothing more than a pathetic joke.
The big surprise for me was just how bad Jeb! Bush comes across. For the longest time now I've distilled this race down to Bush vs. Clinton 2016... but now I just don't know. Jeb! doesn't feel the least bit presidential. Not that it matters. His brother felt even less presidential... and he was the president. Putting Ron Paul aside, nobody had a worse night than Bush in my humble opinion.
Scott Walker needs to remember that he has to appeal to women voters. I hope he and his imaginary friend fetus are very happy together, because neither of them are going to The White House.
Ben Carson impressed... but not enough. I don't see anything in him that would ignite the Republican base to turn out in droves during the big election.
John Kasich was probably the most helped by the debates because he did okay and people actually knows who he is now. Problem is... he is grossly overshadowed by just about every other candidate in attention and recognition.
As for Huckabee, Cruz, and Christie? They can go fuck themselves. Like Rubio, I think they're all self-absorbed assholes who have no interest whatsoever in representing all Americans, and I don't give two shits about any of them. In other words, they're Trump without the cash. The difference being that at least Trump is honest about what he is.
So... Fiorina vs. Clinton?
I have no qualms... none whatsoever... about us getting a female president. On the contrary, I welcome the idea of a woman Commander in Chief with an enthusiasm that I can barely contain. But these women? Not on your life.
Fiorina ran HP into the ground on a bunch of shitty decisions that have me questioning her sanity... let alone her ability to run the country. On top of that, her tirades against Planned Parenthood and women's reproductive health have me seriously questioning her commitment to her own gender.
Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State was a massive failure and I've slowly come to loathe everything she stands for. Her meddling fucked up Libya beyond repair and is indebted to foreign interests and defense contractors up to her eyeballs. Despite all her proclamations, she is the very essence of the political establishment we need to be rid of.
Right now there isn't a Republican or Democrat in the running that I want anywhere near The White House.
Good thing the office of the president is growing more and more irrelevant as The Powers That Be who actually run this country let their money make all the decisions. That makes me less depressed that somebody entirely unworthy is going to win the election and pretend to run the country.
Or is that more depressed?
I can't really decide.
My obsession with monitoring the two pregnant cats over at Tiny Kittens has been pretty overwhelming. For over a week I've had their live camera feeds floating in the corner of my monitor all day... and displayed on my laptop all night so when I wake up I can check in on them.
Well, the kittens finally came.
The first to deliver was Tip. She was an abandoned kitty who "turned to a life of crime" when she started breaking into homes to find food. Having been around people, she was an easy cat for Shelly Roche to monitor and keep happy. She was sponsored by some nice people at Dreamworks Animation, and ended up with five babies. She's a fantastic mom...
I didn't get to see Tip give birth, but I did get to see Sisko deliver her kittens.
Sisko is feral, so she's been pretty stressed being trapped indoors. Her wild nature also makes it impossible for Shelly to help out much, but everything seemed to work out okay.
The poor thing ended up having a litter of eight kittens. And they pretty much came one right after the other, so she didn't get a break between them. Now the little cat is doing the best she can to stay sane while caring for entirely too many mouths to feed. She looks kind of overwhelmed and a little scared, but she's hanging in there...
Hopefully she'll relax a bit and get into the groove of motherhood.
If you want to help out Shelly and the amazing, amazing work she does at Tiny Kittens, I encourage you to donate to the cause.
The live cams are still up, so you can check in on the babies any time here...
My plan was to spend all day at the office so I could get caught up from time lost during my whirlwind week of working in Maine. Alas, instead I spent almost the entire day stuck in bed sick. My guess is that lack of sleep has finally compromised my health, and I ended up vulnerable to a bad case of food poisoning around 3:00am.
The bad news is that I managed to get zero work done.
The good news is that I stumbled across my Tumblr that I never use and had a bunch of questions waiting for me! Here are some of them...
What's the scariest thing you've ever done? I'm tempted to answer "skydiving," but I get more scared in tall buildings than I ever did skydiving and parachuting. Being in the middle of earthquakes in both Seattle and Tokyo were pretty scary. Getting held up at gun-point was definitely scary... but that wasn't something I did, so I honestly don't know. Blind dates are terrifying to me, so let's go with that.
What was the best sex you've ever had? Any sex I'm lucky enough to have is the best... but, if forced to choose? Cologne, Germany, February 2008. Came out of nowhere. Took me completely by surprise. Was the amazing culmination of an incredible day.
How do I get these numbers off my television? I am not familiar with your television, but the "DISPLAY" button usually takes care of that.
What sites do you use for travel advice? Where can I get the best airfare and the cheapest hotels? For specifics, I like TripAdvisor quite a lot, but you have to take some of the absurd reviews you see with a grain of salt. For general travel advice, Nomadic Mike is about as good as it gets (he has great tips for cheap airfare as well). Cheap hotels depend completely on where you're willing to say and what class you're comfortable staying at. I use Priceline a lot. When there's a specific hotel I want to stay at, I've saved money with Trivago. Surprisingly, I sometimes find huge savings by using my AAA card (and, as a bonus, all AAA rates seem to let you cancel them, unlike Priceline and other bidding sites which are non-refundable). My general advice for saving money is BE FLEXIBLE! Some times are cheaper than others. Some destinations are cheaper than others. So long as you are flexible, you'll be best able to take advantage of deals you can find around the internet (signing up for fare alerts from FareCompare and Airfare Watchdog is a good start, but you should sign up for everything you can find!).
Where do you draw the line? I try very hard to draw the line when my actions will negatively impact others.
Where did you go to art school and what advice would you give sombody wanting to have a career in art? I didn't go to art school and an entirely self-taught. When it comes to advice, I honestly don't know what to offer. Now-a-days, getting started in a profitable art career seems more about who you know and what connections you have over anything else. That being said, crazy-talented people always seem to find a way to make a living at it. Problem is, most people who think they're crazy-talented (sadly) are not. This is not to say that you can't make a living doing what you love, it's just that in a day and age where clip-art makes everybody think they're an artist and there are sites offering $5 logos and such... well... it can be difficult. That being said... keep working at it. Get yourself out there. Let your work be seen. Don't be discouraged by negative feedback but instead use that feedback to better your craft.
Why are you still blogging? I have no idea. Except... a lot of "unique visitors" drop by every day which means people are still reading it, so there's that. My guess is that it's become habit. I just do it without really thinking about it. And then there's nostalgia. I've met a lot of amazing people through blogging, so ditching it isn't that easy.
And... time to try and get more sleep...
Bullets be bullets cuz the bullets be here... and because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Daily? And so Jon Stewart has hung it up at The Daily Show. He will be missed. A lot. In so many ways he was a voice of reason in a world of utter madness, and the fact that it came from a comedy network tells you exactly how big a joke the media has become in this country.
I am having a difficult time imagining my life without Jon Stewart and The Daily Show in it.
And yet... there are others...
• Here it is... ...your moment of zen.
• Here it is... ...your moment of zen.
• Here it is... ...your moment of zen.
• Here it is... ...your moment of zen.
I'm all zenned out. Thank you for everything, Mr. Stewart.
See you in seven.
JUST MAKE IT STAAAAHHHHHP!
I want out.
Sometimes people give you a helping hand.
Sometimes it's your turn to help them back.
Now isn't that the cutest thing you've seen all day?
The file restore from my cloud backup after my catastrophic drive failure is taking much, much long than I had anticipated... or hoped. I started the restore July 25th and they're telling me they're not even half-way done collecting the files.
Needless to say, this makes everything I do take far longer than it should.
Partly because I haven't yet received the afore-mentioned backup yet and have to request files to be downloaded from the cloud multiple times for each project I'm working on.
But mostly because those older file on local backup I DO have available are trapped on Apple's "Time Machine" technology.
I used to really love Apple's approach to backup but, now that I am forced to use it for something other than an occasional "oops" moment, it's just so horribly bad. The goofy "space vortex" interface is absolute shit for serious recovery. I finally abandoned it and started restoring directly from the Time Machine file bundle, but this has its problems as well. So many times I get an "ALIAS BROKEN" error and can't even get at the original file. Even worse, every time I get the error, the Finder snaps my search window closed... so instead of choosing an alternative file to restore, I have to start my search all over from the beginning. Like I said... bad.
So... once I get up and running again, Time Machine will be completely abandoned in favor of a more traiditional technology that actually... well, you know... works.
Tomorrow I'm off to L.A. for a quick trip and I'm somehow grossly ill-prepared.
Maybe it's because I haven't been traveling much this year compared to the usual grind, but I just can't seem to get in the grove. Luckily my bags are still unpacked from my Maine trip two weeks ago or I'd be completely screwed. Swap out some clean underwear, fresh shirts, and a couple pairs of jeans... and... done!
Hopefully I still have toothpaste left in there somewhere.
Now I just need to work all through the night so I can get caught up enough to actually leave in the morning.
I wish I drank coffee.
Or maybe did cocaine.
Because I think 5-Hour Energy is losing its effectiveness on me. I really do.
Next year I turn fifty and, let me tell you, there's nothing like travel to make me feel like the crotchety old fart I'm becoming.
The morning started off with my being told that Seattle is experiencing weather delays and the flight in could be delayed by an hour or more. Which would be fine if this were one of my typical four hour layovers at SeaTac but, just my luck, I have a 46-minute layover this time. But, eh... what can you do? If it happens, it happens and I'll figure something else out, right?
See... I'm also mellowing in my old age,
But then I started getting irritated because people are just so damn irritating.
The actual flight to L.A. was fine. I was completely absorbed by watching Mad Max: Fury Road again because... well... ZOMG WHAT AN AMAZING FILM... and didn't pay much attention to anything going on around me.
After landing it was another story.
There I was getting my suitcase down from the overhead when I get bumped into by a small boy. He's irritated and squirmy because he has to go to the bathroom. I let the mother know that they will probably let him use the bathrooms if she wants, because we're at the back of the plane and it may take a while for people ahead of us to clear out. She thanks me, but says he's already gone to the bathroom several times and he's just using it as an excuse. I then goof around with the kid for a bit to try and take his mind of things, but it doesn't last long and he's back to squirming in no time. His mother tries her best to keep him in line and everything, but the guy is a handful.
Then it happens.
Some crusty older bitch in her hipster black turtleneck sees that the mother has tattoos and crazy colored hair and piercings and instantly comes to the conclusion that this surely must be a bad mother, and SHE knows better how to raise children than the mother does. And she tells the mother this.
Which infuriates me. It's not like the mother is letting the kid go apeshit all over the place like most parents do now-a-days... she's trying her level best to keep him in line. So I cut the bitch a glance and say "Give me a break... he's a kid!" Which should have been the end of it.
But of course it wasn't.
The self-entitled parenting expert of the year keeps at it. Telling the young mother everything she's doing wrong.
I was about to say something again when all of a sudden... the mother lets her have it.
"ARE YOU HIS MOTHER? DID I ASK FOR YOUR ADVICE? WHY DON'T YOU JUST SHUT YOUR MOUTH!"
Surely that would be the end of it, right?
The hipster Anne-Rice-Wannabe bitch proceeds to tell the mother that she had to sit in front of her and her kid the entire flight and it was horrible and maybe the mother should drive next time.
The mother loses it.
SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH! NOBODY ASKED YOU, SO JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!
And good for her. Probably wouldn't have cursed in front of the kid like that but, seriously, good for her.
As we're leaving, I feel the need to tell the mother that it's not her who should be driving... it's people who can't deal with being in public and are serious assholes about it. I hope it makes her feel better about the situation.
Sure I may like to talk about how people should be raising their kids... but never in a million years would I presume to actually tell a mother she's raising her kid wrong. Especially a mother who was trying to discipline her child and making them behave. What the fuck is that about?
And then I got to the car rental counter.
I can only guess the man causing a scene there was related to the asshole on the plane, because he sure acted like it. Apparently the car he wanted wasn't available, so he was just going off on the poor guys at the counter who were doing everything they could to placate the piece of shit. Like they have control over somebody not returning a vehicle on time or whatever. The asshole kept hammering away with "I'M A VERY GOOD CUSTOMER!" and "I'M GOING TO TAKE MY BUSINESS ELSEWHERE!" and "I'M NOT SPENDING MONEY WITH THIS COMPANY AGAIN!" and "AUF WIEDERSEHEN! GOOD BYE! GOOD RIDDANCE!" and "YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THAT!" and "I'M NOT WALKING ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE PARKING GARAGE! YOU NEED TO BRING THE CAR TO ME!"
As I stood over at the next counter filling out my paperwork I just couldn't take it any more and started screaming "WAH! WAH! WAAAAAAAH! THIS IS ALL ABOUT ME! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT ME?! ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! MEEEEEE!!!" Then I looked over at the dickhead, inviting him to take on somebody who didn't have to put up with his bullshit.
But of course it never came. Assholes like this are almost always complete cowards when they have to fight against somebody who can fight back.
The prick finally signed off with "This is supposed to be customer service? I've never been so disgusted!" Which is when I had to point out to the guy helping me that I save my disgust for things like extreme poverty and world hunger.
Look, I get it. I have blogged many times about how shitty it is to not get the car you reserved. It sucks. It's wrong. It shouldn't happen. It's upsetting. But to take it out on some poor guy who is trying their best to help you? I'm just not that big a dick.
Well, I am... but I save my big dickish behavior for those who deserve it.
Even though I would probably be better off not getting involved at all.
Except I just can't help myself, can I? I am well on my way to becoming a crotchety old fart and seriously don't give a shit anymore.
If I ever did.
And then there was traffic hell on the 405 to deal with...
Welcome to the City of Angels.
Los Angeles is a city of extremes to me. I both love and hate it, all the while acknowledging that there's nowhere on earth even remotely like it... even though I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Which means it's probably a little of both.
Every time I come back, I try to focus on the many, many positive experiences I've had here... but the soul-crushing negatives are always in the back of my head. For that reason, I can never just come to L.A. for relaxation and having fun. There's too many things haunting me to make that possible. But I do always manage to enjoy myself... assuming I don't think about the insane amount of time I spend in traffic too much.
Which would be easy if it weren't for all the time I spend in traffic.
Time for a very special Los Angeles bullets edition... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Getty. If forced to pick my favorite place in Los Angeles, it would probably be Disneyland. Outside of Disneyland the contenders get murky and I'm not entirely sure what my next pick would be. But The Getty Center would be near the top of the list. It's a gorgeous location above L.A. that's populated with beautiful galleries that are filled with amazing art. And it's all free for the viewing (though parking is $15, if you're driving up)...
• Frog. If you look closely in the first photo above, a work called "Boy with Frog" (by Charles Ray) is near the top of the steps...
This surprised me, because a version is also at the tip of the Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy...
Not sure what that's all about, but it was kinda cool.
• Art! As a huge Monet fan, I usually thrill to see new works... but those at The Getty are versions of a theme that I've already seen many times. Still great though...
The most popular painting at the museum is a nice irises pieces by Van Gogh...
Probably my favorite piece is one that has Baby Jesus loving GOLD, but... SUSPICIOUSLY...
And, of course, RICK JAMES, BITCH...
• Rude! Los Angeles is a weird city where lots of weird stuff happens. Like the public hanging of a Teddy Bear...
In all seriousness, WTF is wrong with people?!?
• Traffic? Something I had not seen on the most excellent navigation app, Waze, before is a traffic jam gauge. It tells you how long the current jam will last...
Interestingly enough, it was pretty darn accurate! Sweet! Modern technology at work.
• Traffic! You see the oddest things in L.A. traffic (my favorite being DOMO-KUN!), and today did not disappoint. The first thing I noticed was an abundance of handyman vans that seem to be in competition for most interesting paint job. Two I managed to photograph...
Rock n' Roll indeed... he had the heads of dozens of rock legends painted on the sides!
Truly... Stitt does happen!
Though L.A. traffic was best represented by somebody proclaiming their love of traffic...
So long leisure bullets... tomorrow it's time to get to work.
Originally I had two business meet-ups and a dinner meeting peppered throughout my trip to Los Angeles... plus a birthday party (happy 95th, grandpa!). After landing I ended up with another meeting, which meant I'd be working every day I'm in the city. This was a major bummer, so I arranged to push all my work to Monday (today!) so I could enjoy time with family and friends over the weekend.
Which was a fantastic idea.
Until I woke up this morning and realized I would be dragging my ass from one end of L.A. to the other. Which pretty much means an entire day stuck in traffic between meetings.
But there were bright spots along the way.
I had time to stop at Pink's for a Patt Morrison Baja Vegan Dog, one of my favorite things...
After an unexpected side-quest back to my hotel, I was off to Anaheim for one last meeting and a business dinner.
It was at my final meeting that something amazing happened.
We were discussing our impending dinner when somebody said "I'm surprised we're not going to eat at Earl of Sandwich since Dave's in town." I laughed and then broke the news that I don't eat at Earl of Sandwich anymore because they discontinued their veggie sandwich. A colleague then piped up with "Really? I just had one at Disneyland a couple weeks ago."
Uhhhh... come again?
So I look at their online menu and, sure enough, their veggie sandwich is listed. Thinking it surely has to be an outdated menu, I am nevertheless intrigued. This is my favorite sandwich on earth. For years I obsessed over Earl or Sandwich and moved heaven and earth to eat at their restaurants.
With no choice in the matter, I hop in my car and rush to Downtown Disney so I can check it out. As I walk up to the restaurant, I'm starting to hyperventilate...
Sure enough, their veggie sandwich IS back...
And it is just a glorious as it ever was.
So, even though it spoiled my dinner, a tremendous THANK YOU to Earl of Sandwich for bringing back one of my most favorite things to eat. Amazing. Delicious.
Since I was at Downtown Disney, I decided to use a Disney Dream Dollars gift card that's about to expire. I ended up getting a Disney 60th Anniversary pin and lithograph, which is pretty cool. Also cool? Now that Disney owns Star Wars, they are doing a super-sweet job of integrating their new property into the Disney parks...
BWAH HA HA HA!
The dinner meeting was short & sweet, and I was on my way back to my hotel at 7:00... arriving by 7:30... in bed at 8:00. Not a bad end to a pretty great day... especially food-wise.
And, just like that, my L.A. adventure is over. The flights back were relatively uneventful, so I guess I don't have any complaints.
Well... I do, of course... just not about this trip. So I guess I'll just be sitting here minding my own business...
This is my cat, Red. He does this often & I'm glad I was able to video him in action.Posted by Amy Audia Risi on Sunday, August 9, 2015
Jared Fogle, the Subway Sandwich Whore... whom I loathe, but tried to treat fairly when he was dragged to the police station for questions regarding child pornography (because, hey, innocent until proven guilty, right?) is, in fact, apparently going to plead guilty to not only possession of child pornography... but also of having sex with at least fourteen underage kids... THE SICK FUCK! What a piece of garbage. He used his millions in sandwich money to prey on innocent children... and continued to do so even after his best friend got caught producing kiddie porn for him? As much as I loathed him before, he has managed to sink even lower. Holy crap what a repugnant asshole. Fuck Jared for making me watch his idiotic commercials and listen to his pathetic lies all these years. Hope you like the sandwiches in prison, you disgusting pig.
Josh Duggar, the "Family Values" Douchebag... whom I loathe, but tried to treat fairly when he was crucified for having sexually molested five girls (including four of his sisters) as a teenager (because, hey, growing up in that dysfunctional shit-hole of a family was bound to screw him up, right?) is, in fact, not only a teen pedophile... but also an allegedly unfaithful husband who has been outed as a "Life is Short, Have an Affair" Ashley Madison member. That's right, all the while he was dictating morals to people on how they should live their lives... he was apparently living his life contrary to his own standards. Like the fucking pathetic hypocritical piece of shit he is. As much as I loathed him before, he has managed to sink even lower. Holy crap what a repugnant asshole. Fuck Josh Duggar for making me even be aware of his parents' idiotic clown car vagina reality show all these years. From the depths of your very own belief system, hope you enjoy rotting in hell, you disgusting pig.
George Zimmerman, the psychotic asshole that stalked and killed a kid for being Black "in the wrong neighborhood"... whom I loathe, but tried to treat fairly... as in "they-should-have-hanged-the-fucking-murdering-asshole-fairly" because HE WAS CLEARLY LYING AND GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY is, in fact...
Donald Trump, the misogynistic pile of shit (and hairspray)... whom I loathe, but tried to...
Pat Robertson, the bigoted...
I give up. I just give up. If I were to write up all the assholes, idiots, and clowns that are pissing me off today, I'd be here all week. Holy crap are there a lot of repugnant pieces of shit in my newsfeed lately. Some days I think I'd be much better off with my head stuck in the sand.
Knowing what's going on in the world isn't good for your sanity. Not anymore.
As anybody who has been reading Blogography for any length of time already knows, I am addicted to LEGO video games. It started with LEGO Star Wars, forged ahead into the massive triumph that was LEGO Batman, then wandered into amazing places with LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Lord of the Rungs, plus many more. And I've purchased every game that's been published.
Until the game came along I couldn't purchase... LEGO City Undercover...
The reason I couldn't buy it? The game was exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U gaming system, which I did not own. The closest I could get was the "prequel" to the game which was released for the Nintendo 3DS (and was awesome)...
While I owned a Wii and liked it quite a lot, the Wii U didn't seem to offer much additional that I considered investing in the system. So I bemoaned the fact that LEGO City Undercover would be the first LEGO game I'd not be able to play, then moved on with my life.
Fast forward a couple months... and, while visiting friends in Pittsburgh, I got to play with the Wii U up-close-and-personal. Much to my surprise, I found out I had grossly underestimated it. The system built upon the Wii with some intriguing upgrades in game play (and in graphics, which finally caught up to the competition with HD quality)...
After playing the majesty that is LEGO City Undercover for fifteen minutes, I knew I had to have it.
So when I got home, I called up a buddy that could hook me up with a Wii U and ordered LEGO City Undercover. They both arrived the following week... when I promptly stuffed them in a closet and forgot about them. Turns out I don't have much time for playing video games.
That was over two years ago.
Then LEGO Dimensions... which looks like it may very well be the greatest video game in the history of video games... became available for pre-order...
Of course I must have it.
But which system should I order it for? It's available for almost all of them.
Ultimately I decided to pre-order the Wii U version so that it would encourage me to get my console out and get some use out of it.
And so today was the day.
But I'll get to that... tomorrow.
Yesterday I mentioned how I've had a Nintendo Wii U sitting in my closet for over two years. Last night I pre-ordered all the LEGO Dimensions sets for it, which seemed incentive enough for me to finally unbox my Wii U and get it hooked up.
And so I did. And I've been goofing around with it ever since.
When compared to the PS4 and the XBOX One, the Wii U comes up short. The processing power... the graphics... all the specs, really... everything is a step down. A noticeable step down. But that's par for the course for Nintendo, who has always put the gaming experience above specs... doing far more than the competition with less. Even so, while you're never going to mistake a PS4 game for the Wii U equivalent, that's not saying Nintendo's graphics are ugly or the games are slow and dated... far from it. Everything I've looked at has been beautiful and fluid on the Wii U. Nintendo's programmers are absolutely getting the most out of what they have to work with.
So... if the Wii U can't compete with modern gaming consoles on specs, what does the hardware offer that's worth investing in?
Just like the Wii before it, the Wii U breaks some new ground in gameplay with its controllers. This time with their "Game Pad," which is a massive tablet-esque controller with standard game controls around the edges...
At approximately 5.25 x 1 x 10.25 inches, it's even bigger than I remember it being.
And yet... not entirely uncomfortable for me to hold (don't know about kids). Its lightweight, the buttons and sticks are well-placed, and the on-board touch-screen actually seems useful. The only big negatives are A) poor battery life is 3 hours max, and B) the screen is fairly low-resolution. After becoming accustomed to the Retina Display on my iPhone and iPad, it's almost painful to look at. Otherwise, pretty cool... assuming the game you're playing takes advantage of it.
Which it can in two ways. The first is that it can display supplemental information or additional controls past what you see on screen. The second is that most games actually let you transfer the display from your television to the Game Pad so you can play games while somebody else watches the television. This is nice... but only half as cool as it could be when you realize you have to stay in the same room and fairly close to the console in order for the Game Pad to maintain its connection. Bummer. I want to Wii U from bed.
The weird thing about the Game Pad is that you can't connect more than one to the system. Players 2-5 have to use Wii wand controllers or Wii nunchuck controllers or Wii U Pro Controllers (none of which are included). I guess I get it... streaming live video takes processing power and the console doesn't have a lot to spare, but still... I can't believe that you can't connect at least two Game Pads to a Wii U so that you can go head-to-head with somebody using the same controls.
Oh... one last word on the Game Pad... you can use it to control your television. Namely, use it to turn the thing off and on plus select the video source, meaning you don't have to go scrambling for the TV remote to play. Nice.
The system I got was the "pro" version that comes with a pathetic 32GB of storage... only 25GB of which is available. Which means I am almost out of space and all I have is two games and a demo onboard. I have no clue how those with the "non-pro" 8GB version manage at all. The solution is to purchase an external USB hard disk or thumb drive or something. There's an SD card slot, but that seems to be exclusively for backwards compatibility with Wii games, as I've found no way to access it from the Wii U side.
When it comes to actually navigating the system, I find it surprisingly similar to the Nintendo 3DS. You can run one application/game at a time, and that application/game goes into suspension so you can access system controls mid-game. It's not as elegant as the XBOX One and PS4 menuing system, but it's perfectly serviceable. About the only negative I've found so far? No universal in-game chat system, which is a pretty big oversight in modern gaming. For multiplayer online games, you just have to hope that the game has its own chat system built-in or else there will be no in-game chat for you.
I'm just going to get this out of the way... NINTENDO-DEVELOPED WII U GAMES DO NOT COME WITH INSTRUCTION BOOKLETS! Not even a single-page pamphlet to give you an overview of the controls! Nope, everything is done with the online help system, which works okay, but is pretty lame. Nothing like having to pause the game so you can look up something that should have been shared on a hardcopy.
Obviously I haven't had a chance to play with a lot of games yet, but here's a quick sampling of what I've been up to so far...
LEGO City Undercover... The game that made me purchase the Nintendo Wii U in the first place, this is one of the best LEGO minifig games to date. As police officer Chase McCain, you scour LEGO City for criminals using brilliant disguises that endow you with new abilities. In many ways, this is the LEGO version of Grand Theft Auto but in reverse. I absolutely love it, of course... despite some agonizingly long load times and no ability for multi-player (which is kind of a staple with these games). The sandbox you're in seems vast and affords a lot of freedom, but is ultimately part of a fairly linear gaming experience. Since the Wii U seems to be picking up steam, I'm hopeful we may get a sequel one day. I've barely begun playing, but already know I'm going to be wanting more.
Super Mario 3D World... As with all Nintendo gaming systems, I figure that the biggest development effort is always going to go into their signature Mario title, so I always buy it and have never been disappointed. Like Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Galaxy before it, the title is exceptionally imaginative and fun to play. In the few hours I've been playing it, I've seen all kinds of cool things... including Mario putting on a cat outfit so he has cat powers to play with. Epic.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham... I had already started this game on XBOX 360, but it was so cheap I decided to grab it for Wii U so I can have a consistent experience when LEGO Dimensions arrives in September. So far, it feels exactly the same. I think the XBOX 360 controller is a bit better for this title than Nintendo's Game Pad, but I'm not having any trouble. The game itself is amazing... though it doesn't reach the heights that LEGO Batman 2 did... feeling more confined and less open despite taking place on multiple planets in space. Still... LEGO Batman. UPDATE: Went to purchase some of the cool downloadable content for this game only to find out it isn't available for the Wii U... WTF Warner Interactive? Guess I go back to the XBOX 360.
Bayonetta 2... I bought this game for the specific purpose of seeing what a non-cutesy Nintendo and non-cutesy LEGO game would be like on the Wii U, and this one was the highest rated I could find. And for very good reason... it's utterly amazing. Far from being over-hyped, you just can't believe how beautiful, fluid, and fun it is to play. I had a really tough time putting it down long enough to write this blog entry. Basically, you play a witch with lethal fighting abilities... plus guns. She's kind of like Neo from The Matrix in that she can slow time and gain a distinct advantage over her enemies. As this is a Nintendo Wii U exclusive title, it's almost worth buying the system just to play it. Yes... it's that good.
I have to say... if these four titles are indicative of the quality that goes into Wii U titles, it's very easy to see how the system is one to be reckoned with. No, the visuals are not as tight as what you'll find on XBOX One or PS4, but Wii U excels in entertainment value, which is all that really matter, isn't it?
And that's the Wii U as I know it right now.
Kind of regretting that I waited two years to discover it.
What a repugnant piece of shit.
The more that comes to light about Subway Sandwich Whore and world-class pedophile Jared Fogle, the more I think he needs to have his dick cut off then be shot in the fucking head. I mean, seriously... just listen to this heinous crap.
If there's any justice, he'll die in prison.
Could not find a credit for this creepy-ass photo.
Don't touch that back button... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fighter. Before we get started... a huge thank you to the firefighters battling the very serious wildfires that have been plaguing us here in Central Washington State. The most serious being the Okanogan Complex fire, which is now the largest ever in state history (maps courtesy of the NIFC)...
Most of the smoke plaguing the valley where I live is from the Chelan fire, which is threatening a lot of people...
Three firefighters have already lost their lives. Hopefully these horrific fires will be contained before more lives are lost.
• Catastrophe! If you have Amazon Prime and don't mind a little adult-oriented humor, Catastrophe had me laughing all six episodes. When an American working in London accidentally gets an Irish woman pregnant, both their lives are turned up-side down...
The show's page is right here on Amazon.
• Naptime! Could the solution really be this easy?
Damn. Banned in Washington State!
• Noiseless? I've been a huge fan of the Imagenomic app called "Noiseware" which does a pretty darn good job of removing noise from photos. Now there's a new game in town... Macphun's "Noiseless"...
It seems to get me great results with little hassle. I don't know that it can completely replace Noiseware, but I'm sure glad to have it in my Photoshop toolbox. Here's an old photo of me, BEFORE and AFTER at 200%...
Yeah, it looks a little soft... but at 100% it's actually useable. Here's another...
Night shots don't fare quite as well as photos that have enough light... you get some clumping in solid areas... but still, pretty nice work for a one-click fix.
HELPFUL HINT: If you want to save 20% on Noiseless Pro, just put the app in your cart then abandon it. Eventually you'll get an email with a 20% off code. I got one... AFTER PURCHASING THE PROGRAM... which is kind of shitty, but my loss is your gain.
• In-App. Looks like I'm not the only one pissed off by all these apps having stupid-ass "in-app purchases"... Apple has been running ads featuring games with NO in-app purchase...
I wish there was a way to turn off apps with in-app purchase so they don't even appear in the iTunes Store. I never download them.
• Freedom. If I ever have the opportunity to kick the ever-loving shit out of Donald Trump, please look at it NOT as a heinous act of violence, but as me making America great again.
And... it's too hot for more bullets. BS out!
Just some random heads spotted while at an antique mall this past weekend.
SUPER CREEPY RANDOM MANNEQUIN HEADS!!!
AND A SUPER CREEPY CLOWN HEAD PHOTOBOMBING A BABY DOLL TOO!!!
And now you know what will be living in my head as I ty to sleep tonight...
This was an awful day in so many ways.
I don't even want to talk about it. Instead, here's a picture of a happy lizard I took while in Australia...
I need a vacation.
My day was consumed by work, as it has been since I returned from L.A. last week.
And yet... I still managed to get the August edition of Thrice Fiction out the door while it is still August. I'm pretty happy about that...
If you would like to get a FREE digital copy (and why wouldn't you?), just head over to our website and pick your poison... PDF or eBook. If you want to read from an actual physical copy with ink on paper, you can order up a printed copy from MagCloud for the ridiculously paltry sum of $9.80 (plus shipping).
As always, thanks to everybody for reading. RW and I continue to be grateful for how well Thrice has been received, and we couldn't keep doing what we're doing without your support.
In a day or so I'll take a look at the art that went into this terrific issue.
All eleventy thousand candidates letting you down?
Looking for a president you can believe in?
You know you want it.
Today's your lucky day! There's a brand-spanking-new (and FREE!) issue of Thrice Fiction out today!
As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding.
All done? Then... here... we... go...
Putting together the artwork for a non-profit magazine which relies solely on the generosity of its contributors is both a thrilling and frightening prospect. On one hand, you get to work with some amazingly talented people at the top of their game who regularly blow you away with their creativity and their kindness. On the other hand, people working for free can be an unreliable resource. And who can blame them? If a paying gig comes along that's going to take care of your rent and put food on your table, you drop everything and take the job. If you have an opportunity to do something that will advance your career as an artist, you drop everything and do it. Heck, even if it's something frivolous and fun that comes your way when the alternative is slaving away on something you're not getting paid for? Yeah, go for it. I get it. Honestly I do. And I try not to be upset when it happens, because that's just the way free work goes.
This month I had the grand ambition of letting our stable of "regulars" have an issue off. It's a busy summer for everybody, I've gotten plenty of new submissions for artwork, and it seemed a nice thing to do.
Except when all four of your new artists end up not working out. Then it's just plain folly.
Luckily for me, begging and pleading to Thrice Fiction staples Kyra, Katelin, and Chad were met with offers of help, or you'd be reading this is October. The fact that they not only took time out of their busy schedule to step up and bail me out... but that they did so at the last possible moment with a ridiculously short deadline is what I'm talking about when I say "amazingly talented people at the top of their game who regularly blow you away with their creativity and their kindness." Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thanks so much for your dedication to Thrice Fiction, which would be something entirely different if not for you.
And now for a look at the art that went into the first half of Issue No. 14...
This installment's cover was dreamed up by yours truly. It came about as I was reading an article about the increasingly horrific consequences of all the "space junk" humans are leaving in orbit with breakfast one morning. Then, as I was driving to work, I saw that somebody had tossed a sack of McDonald's garbage on the road, and it occurred to me that it's only a matter of time before that stuff like this ends up in orbit as well. Yadda yadda yadda... heeeere's our cover! Originally I used a photo of that same McDonald's garbage (which I stopped and picked up) for the elements on the cover. But it wasn't blowing my socks off, so I decided to use a metal Coke can instead of the McPaper Cup since it reflects light better... and a previous photo of McDonald's fries that was more interesting than what I got. The background image is a photo I shot out of an airplane which has been layered with a starry night photo I took in Africa. All thirteen parts of the finished illustration were independently textured, shaded, then composited Photoshop.
It turned out rather good, if I do say so myself. If nothing else, it has terrific visual impact and a good sense of "What the heck?!?" which is what I like for our covers in the hopes that it makes people curious enough to download the magazine.
And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!
If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.
And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our August 2015 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!
After our last issue was released, I received a comment from a friend who said "I like how you do such a good job of including so many women writers and artists." This kind of took me by surprise, because this is not something that ever entered my head. When it comes to the artwork, the women in our pages are not here because they're women, they're here because they are amazingly talented artists who are kind enough donate their time and wonderful works. There was no conscious effort on my part to make this happen, it just kind of worked out this way. If you bring your A-game, show me terrific stuff, and know how to compliment a story with your art... I couldn't care less what restroom you use, what ethnicity box you check, who you love, what you believe, or where you're from. I mean, sure I'd care if you were into kicking puppies or something equally heinous. I wouldn't want to support a puppy-kicker. But if you have a respect for puppies and make me want to have your work in our magazine, I'll be ringing your doorbell. Actually, I wouldn't do that... that's kind of creepy. But I would send you an email asking if I can send you some stories to look over.
And I can't imagine that things would be any different on the editorial side of Thrice. What makes RW so good at his job is that he literally doesn't care about anything except what he's reading. He made this quite clear in our submission guidelines when he says "Cover letters are a matter of complete indifference to us. So is your bio. We don’t care who you are or what you’ve done or where you have been published. We're happy to just let the work speak for itself." And those are not just empty words... that encapsulates everything Thrice Fiction is about.
And now that that's out of the way... if you think you've got what it takes to appear in our pages... we want to hear from you!
No matter who you are.
And now... back to Issue No. 14, already in progress...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Don't play with matches... because a smokey edition Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Horror! I was very sad to learn that famed "Horror Maestro," Wes Craven, passed away. While he was most famous for his Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series of films, I'll forever think of him as the director of Vampire in Brooklyn. This "so bad it's good" movie was supposed to be a comedy-horror film, but came up a bit short in both departments. Even so, I've watched it a half-dozen times because my love of all things Eddie Murphy has no shame. Well, that... and ANGELA BASSETT...
Rest in peace sir. Yours is a legacy that shall haunt the night for a very long time.
• Denali. At long last, North America's tallest mountain, Denali, has its name back. I'm sure President McKinley of Ohio was a great guy and everything, but it's categorically stupid that an entire mountain which he never visited and had nothing to do with him or his legacy could be renamed without permission from the native people living there. This goes for a lot of lands and landmarks around the world similarly appropriated, so it's kind of nice to see the right thing happen every once in a while. Despite objections, of course. As noted in Wikipedia: Ohio Congressman Mike Turner vowed to fight the change, commenting that "I’m certain [Obama] didn’t notify President McKinley’s descendants, who find this outrageous." Which, so far as statements go, is even more outrageous given that McKinley's two daughters died as children, thus leaving McKinley with no descendants to notify. Just another piece of shit lying politician trying to manipulate people with bullshit. What a fucking surprise.
• NEVER GIVE UP!. I cannot decide if this is good news or bad news.
• BETTY! This, on the other hand, is great news. Even if I'll have to watch the horrendously shitty show Bones to see it happen.
• Soap. Nurse Kathy is high again!
• Hypocrisy. For the handful of county clerks saying "I'D RATHER DIE THAN ISSUE A MARRIAGE LICENSE FOR GAY COUPLES"... you're not the heroes you think you are. You regularly grant licenses for divorced couples, atheist couples, and a myriad of other couples who are getting married against "Biblical principal," so you are, in fact, just a bunch of pathetic hypocrites and certified assholes refusing to do the work your job requires. If marriage equality is SO offensive that you can't bring yourself to do what you're paid to do... then quit and find something that won't go against your hypocrisy.
Or just fuck off and kill yourself so you can be the martyr you profess to be. Except I think we all know that, in reality, it's more likely you're just being an attention-whore drama queen whose words are as hollow as your true convictions. Or whatever. I dunno. Feel free to prove me wrong.
Whichever. Totally up to you. Just so long as I don't have to see your "religious liberty" bullshit hypocrisy being applied to a government job that's supposed to be independent of your faith. Something you knew when you signed up.
And... I can't see to post any more bullets because the air has gotten too smokey.
I've loathed Jared Fogle long before he was arrested for being a piece of shit pedophile and child rapist. It had nothing to do with him personally... just his idiotic Subway commercials where he'd whore out whatever exaggerations and lies he was paid to tell. You can't compare a Subway sandwich with no mayo, no cheese, and no flavor to a Big Mac and be taken seriously, yet this moron did crap like that all the time.
Of course, now that he's been exposed as a piece of shit pedophile and child rapist, my loathing for him has understandably increased. And this time it is personal. It's no secret that I think monsters like Jared Fogle need to have their dick cut off then be shot in the head. Not just because they've utterly destroyed the lives of the children they've abused... but because they've contributed to The Sad State of Modern Times, making it so that absolutely everybody has to be treated as if they were a potential child rapist. The consequences of not being suitably cautious are just too horrific to live otherwise.
And I fucking HATE The Sad State of Modern Times we live in.
About the only thing that makes it bearable is the unrelenting ridicule that these disgusting assholes get dragged through. Which is why Chris Hardwick's speech on @midnight a while back is so inspiring...
It's a good time to be a McDonald's fan.
Like me. I loves me the McDonald's!
First McFried McPies came back...
Now McDonald's is rolling out Mc24-hour McBreakfast starting October 6th...
Can it be that the McVeggie McBurger going nation-wide is next?
Oh how I McHope so.
I have to be up at 5:00am so I can drive three hours to be at my work-site. It just turned 9:00pm and I have at least three hours of work left to get through... probably closer to four. Add an hour spent trying to fall asleep. Which leaves three hours to actually sleep. Which would only make me too tired to drive. Which means I'll just skip getting any rest tonight.
Looking forward to the day I have time to be put into a medically-induced coma so I can get caught up on all this sleep I've been missing.
My decision to skip sleeping last night was probably the best decision I could have made. A meager three hours would only have only served to put me in a coma for my three-hour-fifteen-minute commute to work. A coma from which even 5-Hour Energy would not let me escape.
As an insomniac, I never get much sleep anyways. But no sleep makes me very stabby indeed...
Driving sleep-free was the least of my worries though.
The reason I always drive to Spokane at night is because driving it in the morning results in about two-and-a-half hours of staring into this...
I-90 runs due-East directly into the rising sun. And on a day like today, it obliterates everything on the road. I really need to get me a sun-shield one day, but until then all I had was some notecards and clothespins hanging from my visor to cut down the glare as much as I could. I also had sunglasses, but they don't really help when it's this bright.
Work was a brisk 50 minutes, at which time I should have turned around and headed back home.
But there was no way I was going to come all this way without having some of the Best Pizza on Earth courtesy of David's Pizza Spokane...
Waiting 25 minutes for them to open was torture, as I was totally falling asleep after finding a spot to park. I ended up setting the alarm on my iPhone to wake me up, which was probably the smartest thing I did all day.
David's Da Vinci pizza was amazeballs as always.
Then it was time for the three-hour-fifteen-minute drive back.
Which was awful, but at least I didn't have to spend the majority of it staring at a giant ball of flames on the horizon.
I stopped to pick up some crap at Costco on the way because I'm stupid that way. Then I drove to work because I'm incredibly stupid that way. Eventually I managed to get home... at which point I passed out for two hours.
Since waking up I've been wandering around in a haze, my mind still in a state of exhaustion from serious lack of sleep.
Which is why I decided it's the perfect time to post an entry to Blogography... this time I have an actually excuse as to why my incoherent ramblings are incoherent and rambling.
NOTE: To start the audio on a Vine video, you have to click on the little icon in the lower-right corner to turn mute off...
To stop a video from repeating after you've watched it... just click on it.
I won't be blogging today. I haven't got time because I had a day of power outage followed by a day of driving to Spokane and back followed by whatever the hell this shit is that I've got going on today.
Oh... and also because I'm catching up on the funniest damn thing I've seen on the internet in ages.
It all started when "How British People Shower" popped up on my Tumblr last weekend...
I've been laughing off and on all week just thinking about it.
Turns out the guy's name is Arthur, and he has a Vine channel that's comprised of screaming at traffic and hanging out with his daughter. Among other things. All of it hilariously funny. And usually hugely offensive.
And here's a follow-up to "How British People Shower"...
Arthur had a daughter a while ago, and she turns up in a lot of his more recent stuff...
Life lessons need to start early.
Arthur is an expert at childcare...
Arthur is a lorry driver (truck driver) and a lot of his earlier Vines involve being very cross about London traffic...
Very cross indeed...
Everyday life with Arthur is always interesting too...
And Arthur does love his fans...
But not as much as he loves his girlfriend...
And his mum, of course...
So... if you're not easily offended, be sure to check out the rest of Arthur's Vine feed.
Do companies stand behind their products any more?
I'm just asking because lately it's been like pulling teeth to get them to Do The Right Thing and either fix what needs to be fixed, replace what needs to be replaced, or refund when all hope is lost. I've got four such headaches brewing right now, and I'm at my wits end over how much time I've been wasting trying to get things settled. Everybody keeps dragging their heels or going non-responsive.
It's disappointing, to be sure.
But that's true of everything now-a-days, isn't it?
The news was on television while I was working this morning. They were running through all the presidential candidates and as each name was discussed, my disappointment grew. There is not a single candidate in the vast cess pool of presidential wannabes I would want within a hundred feet of the White House.
And it reminded me of that old internet meme "If Stalin ran for president as a Democrat and Hitler ran as a Republican, one of them would be president of the United States of America." And it's true. We have a two-party system which ends up with either the Democrat or Republican candidate in the Big Chair no matter how shitty a president they would make.
And since, in my humble opinion, everybody in the running right now would make a shitty president, well...
And so typically disappointing.