Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
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!
Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
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.
Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2015
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.
Posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2015
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 5th, 2015
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!
Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2015
Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
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...
Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
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.
Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2015
Not much going on but work.
Guess it's meme time...
Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015
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.
Posted on Saturday, April 11th, 2015
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 12th, 2015
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!
Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2015
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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
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...
Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
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.
Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2015
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.
Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015
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.
Posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2015
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2015
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...
Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015
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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
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.
Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
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.
Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Not a good day to be Dave, so I'm calling in sick.
I'll have my mom write you a note tomorrow.
Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2015
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.
Posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2015
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015
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.
Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2015
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...
Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
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...
Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
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.
Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015
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.