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11 blocks from my door to your doorstep

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Dave!I wish I had a nickel for every time Jester redefined my love of music.

I'd blog about something, but the only thing in my head right now is the lyrics to this hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking song by Wrabel.


   
Probably the best lyrics video I've ever seen. Magical.

His Twitter feed is filled with magic too.

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50 Things To Do Before You Die… Again

Posted on Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Dave!

Back in September of 2004, I posted the BBC's Fifty Things To Do Before You Die List. For some reason it popped in my head this morning, so I thought I'd revisit it 12 years later and see how things have changed.

Boy howdy. I've been busy.

I marked the updated places in blue and added new comments in italics...

  1. Swim with dolphins (Done it!)... The dolphins I swam with were wild, so it was pretty special. — Though I feel kinda bad about having done it, I did swim with captive dolphins at Discovery Cove in Orlando as well.
  2. Scuba dive on Great Barrier Reef, Australia (Wanna do it!) (Done it!)... I would want to re-up my certification first (it's been a while), but I would absolutely do this. — Though the reef was badly damaged, I did manage to finally scuba dive it... for which I'm thankful, because it's pretty much completely dead now.
  3. Fly Concorde to New York, New York, USA (Probably not!)... Now that the Concorde has been grounded, this is impossible.
  4. Go whale-watching (Done it!)... From shore on Maui... no need to go buzzing around the poor things in a motorboat.
  5. Dive with sharks (Done it!)... For my certification graduation dive in Maui, there were reef sharks (fairly harmless) swimming around.
  6. Skydiving (Done it!)... A friend wanted to go tandem skydiving, and I loved it so much I went back and took parachuting classes.
  7. Fly in a hot air balloon (Done it!)... Just up and back down again... would have been nice to actually go someplace.
  8. Fly in a fighter jet (Probably not!)... And how, exactly, does one go about arranging this? I would do it, if it's possible.
  9. Go on safari (Probably not!) (Done it!)... This would be okay, so long as no animals were harmed in any way. — This ended up being one of the greatest experiences of my life.
  10. See the Northern Lights (Sorta did it!)... On occasion you can see the Northern Lights from Washington State, but they are nothing like the show you would get in Alaska. So, while I have done this, I don't think I'll count it until I've seen them "for real."
  11. Walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, Peru, South America (Wanna do it!)... My brother and I were going to do this, but he decided to get in an accident and nearly blow his face off instead. Oh well, maybe one day.
  12. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia (Wanna do it!) (Probably not!)... And when I finally end up making it to Australia, I probably will (despite my fear of heights!). — Finally made it to Australia. Saw what was involved. Noped out in the biggest possible way!
  13. Escape to a paradise island (Done it!)... Both Maui and Bali are candidates, and I love them both. — Should probably add Fiji to this list.
  14. Drive a Formula 1 car (Probably not!) (Kinda Done it!)... I've sat in a Formula 1 car, does that count? — I got to go to the "Richard Petty Driving Experience" in Disney World and drive a race car, which was close enough to a Formula 1 for me... probably more fun too.
  15. Go white-water rafting (Done it!)... Granted, this was a pretty tame run down the Columbia and not something spectacular like the Colorado or something.
  16. Walk the Great Wall of China (Wanna do it!) (Done it!)... Absolutely want to do this one. — Was first on my list when I visited Beijing.
  17. Bungee-jumping (Done it!)... Probably more frightening than skydiving for me.
  18. Ride the Rocky Mountaineer train, Canada (Probably not!)... I'm not ruling it out, but there are a lot of other things I'd rather do first.
  19. Drive along Route 66, USA (Done it!)... Well, not the entire thing, but I've driven parts outside of L.A., outside Chicago, and around St. Louis. Seems like it would be a great motorcycle trip to run the entire thing though.
  20. Fly in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, Nevada, USA (Done it!)... And I took my mom along for the ride.
  21. Take the Orient Express from Venice to London (Probably not!)... Okay, it's not that I am opposed to this, it's just that it's so incredibly expensive that I don't know how I could afford it.
  22. See elephants in the wild (Wanna do it!) (Done it!)... Since I'm sure the elephants at Disney's Animal Kingdom don't count, I do think it would be cool to go to Africa or India and do this one. — Saw multitudes of elephants in the wild when I was in Zimbabwe.
  23. Explore Antarctica (Probably not!) (Going to do it!)... Uh, why? I might consider it if they built an authentic Hard Rock Cafe but otherwise no. — I have a hard time believing that I felt this way at one time. It ultimately found its way at the top of my bucket list and I'm going next December.
  24. Ride a motorbike on the open road (Done it!)... Every chance I get!! — While I have done this... a lot... for health reasons I had to give up my motorcycle (insert frowny face).
  25. Have a go at cowboy ranching (Probably not!)... Not exactly my cup of tea considering that the object of ranching is to breed cattle for slaughter.
  26. Climb Mount Everest (Probably not!)... You've got to be kidding. Putting the extreme danger aside, can you imagine how much money it would cost to put such an expedition together? I'm guessing it would be a minimum of $10,000, which is ridiculous.
  27. Wonder at a waterfall (Done it!)... Kauai has some nice falls, as does the Big Island of Hawaii. — Beautiful as they are, Hawaiian waterfalls kind of pale in comparison to the wonder of seeing Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
  28. Travel into space (Probably not!)... Now this is just stupid. How many people are going to get the chance for this in their lifetimes?
  29. Explore the Galapagos Islands (Probably not!) (Wanna do it!)... This is a preserved area, and only scientists, researchers and such are given permission to visit. — I didn't know what I was talking about. There are all kinds of ways to visit the Galapagos Islands, and I would totally love to do it.
  30. Trek through a rainforest (Done it!)... Fortunately for me, my home state just happens to have a rain-forest available at Olympic National Park! — I've also been to the Costa Rican rainforest and the Daintree Rainforest in Australia... both of which are frickin' amazing too!
  31. Gallop a horse along a beach (Wanna do it!)... My riding skills are crap though.
  32. Ride a camel to the Pyramids, Egypt (Wanna do it!) (Probably not!)... Absolutely something on my list to do. — Ended up watching my mom ride a camel, but wasn't inclined to do it myself when I was there for some reason. Maybe because I had already ridden a camel before? I dunno.
  33. Take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok (Probably not!)... Whatever. I wouldn't pass it up, I suppose, but I'd think it would be a bit boring for a trip wouldn't it?
  34. Catch sunset over Uluru (Ayers Rock) , Northern Territories, Australia (Wanna do it!) (Done it!)... And, again, when I finally get to Australia I probably will. — And I totally did. Here's your sunset right here. Heck, here's a sunrise for you too!
  35. Go wing-walking (Done it!)... Part of parachuting is walking out on the wing strut to jump off, so I guess I've done this already.
  36. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa (Probably not!)... Gack! Again with the massively expensive expedition that only a handful of people on earth could even manage to afford!
  37. Fly over a volcano (Wanna do it!)... While on the Big Island of Hawaii, I walked over a volcano, which seems much more impressive, doesn't it?
  38. Drive a husky sled (Probably not!)... Sorry, but I am one of those people that thinks this is cruel to the sled dogs, and have no plans to ever try it.
  39. Hike up a glacier (Done it!)... My home state of Washington has glaciers as well. Nothing like Glacier Bay in Alaska, but still. — And when I made it to Alaska's glaciers, I took a helicopter ride up to one and hiked around it.
  40. Ride a rollercoaster (Done it!)... Who hasn't? The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Universal Studios Florida being my favorite.
  41. Fish for blue marlin (Probably not!)... I don't eat fish, nor would I kill them for sport, so this is something I have no plans of doing.
  42. Go paragliding (Done it!)... Well, parasailing, which is close enough in my book.
  43. Play a round of golf at Augusta, Georgia, USA (Probably not!)... Bah! If I were to play a round of golf anywhere, it would be in Scotland where the game was invented!
  44. Watch mountain gorillas (Wanna do it!)... Who wouldn't?
  45. See tigers in the wild (Wanna do it!)... But don't tigers EAT you in the wild?
  46. Do the Cresta Run, Switzerland (Wanna do it!)... Heck yeah I would do this! Probably die while trying, but what a way to go!
  47. Visit Walt Disney World, Florida, USA (Done it!)... I think I've been seven times, though it is not really a place I enjoy much.
  48. Visit Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (Done it!)... Hasn't everybody?
  49. See orang-utans in Borneo (Wanna do it!)... Why not? Boy, sure a lot of wild animal watching on this list!
  50. Go polar bear watching (Wanna do it!)... Why not? Boy, sure a lot of wild animal watching on this list!

Of everything left on this list... walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is probably the most likely after my Antarctica expedition has been checked off next year. Something I've always wanted to do... but it probably won't happen until after I've been to India.

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If You Never Hear From Me Again…

Posted on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Dave!Last night as I was loading my car trunk with some cardboard to recycle, I saw a gallon of milk sitting there. I must have missed it when I was unloading groceries four days ago. Don't ask me how.

I was going to dump it down the drain... but it's been cold out, it's non-fat, and milk is expensive, yo... so I decided to pop it in the refrigerator and give it a shot.

If you never hear from me again, please inform the coroner that it was the milk that did me in.

Now that they've gotten older, I am very fortunate that my cats sleep through the night. They crash downstairs around 7:30-8:00, then follow me up to my room when I retire for the evening. If I turn off the lights to go to sleep, they'll climb on the bed with me. If I leave lights on and work in bed, they'll climb into the kitty beds at the foot of my bed and fall asleep there.

Sounds great, right? Except when I have to get up and pee in the middle of the night. Jake and Jenny think this means I want to play. So when I go back to bed instead of playing with them, they are very, very unhappy I woke them up for nothing.

If you never hear from me again, please notify the police I was eaten by my cats.

Amazon's "Echo" device (called "Alexa") is tied in with my home automation system and controls everything. I can't remember the last time I physically touched a light switch in my home... I just ask Alexa to turn on/off the light I need. At first it was only when I had my hands full. But then... well...

The coolest thing about Alexa is that she can activate "scene" controls and perform numerous functions with a single command. For example... when I say "Alexa, Turn on Night Mode", the following happens:

  • Kitchen lights off.
  • Sink light off, leave porch lights on (all come on automatically at sunset).
  • Dining table lights dimmed to 10% (for the cats)
  • Living room lights dimmed to 25%
  • Thermostat down to 68 degrees.
  • Runner lights on.
  • Cat water fountain turns off.
  • Motion sensors turn on.

That kind of thing.

It's absolutely awesome, and I love having Alexa around. She's become so ingrained in my life that when the internet goes down (which Alexa requires to operate) I kind of forget how everything works. When you never use light switches, your head kind of fogs over what to do when you want the lights on. It takes me a minute. In another couple of years, I probably won't even know where my light switches are.

If you never hear from me again, it's either because I'm trapped in the dark in my house... or trapped on the toilet screaming for Alexa to wipe my ass because she does everything else around here and I've forgotten how. Please call 9-1-1.

The mindsets of foreign countries... particularly those in Asia... are radically different from ours. Relations between nations there can be based on cultural differences few Westerners could possibly understand... or on events that happened hundreds of years before the USA even existed. To not understand these circumstances when building foreign policy is to invite disaster. Even the slightest misstep can set events into motion which could have catastrophic consequences. Because of this, it is beyond critical that our leaders be well-advised by people deep into foreign mindsets before making even the smallest decision.

Unless you are President-Elect Trump. Then you just do whatever the fuck you want, no matter how idiotic or dangerous the consequences.

India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. They are also blood enemies. Keeping them from unleashing mass destruction upon each other is a balancing act that has the entire world on edge. So when Trump has a terrifyingly ill-advised phone call with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as if he's running Pakistan when, in fact, it's the military that is actually in control of the country... you can see how this could cause a frightening shift in the structure of Pakistan, which could ultimately lead to problems with India. You do not want that.

Then you have Trump accepting a call from the president of Taiwan... which is tantamount to the United States officially recognizing Taiwan's independence from China... which is something that will send China through the fucking roof. This one phone call could set into motion events that have China taking military action against Taiwan in order to make it clear they consider Taiwan to be a part of China. Not to mention making The United States an enemy of China. Which, needless to say, is also a nuclear power. All because Trump wants to build a hotel in Taiwan (or whatever), and he has no fucking clue what in the hell he is doing.

Trump's actions are rushing nuclear powers to conflict in a way he'll never comprehend, and he's not even in office yet.

Can you imagine what happens when he's actually president?

Trump doesn't seem to want to listen to anybody. He acts like a petulant child. He doesn't seem to give a shit what the consequences are for his actions. He is willfully ignorant when it comes to foreign relations and is seriously clueless as to how critical it is not to be making the mistakes he's been making. He is very obviously putting his personal interests ahead of this country. He is inflaming foreign nations with nuclear weapons.

We are all fucked.

And I'm not saying that to be funny or dramatic.

If you never hear from earth again, it's because President Trump destroyed the planet. Please tell any alien life with time travel capabilities to go back into the past and abort this abomination before he's even born.

   

Bullet Sunday 484

Posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Dave!Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!...

for behold! An all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Groot! There can be no greater news on the internet right now than the new teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn't open until May and I already want to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3...

   
• Less. Having a mortgage wouldn't be so bad if nothing would ever break down and require expensive repairs. But it does. About every two months. And just when you think everything that has broken down has broken down and been fixed? Along comes something new. Which is why a letter for my lender was cause for excitement...

LETTER: "Congratulations! Your mortgage payment has gone down!"
ME: "No way!"
LETTER: "Way!"
ME: "NO! WAY!"
LETTER: "YES WAY!"
ME: "Dude, sweet!"
LETTER: "We're deducting $4.15 from your payment starting next month."
ME: "Fuck you, Letter."

...or not.

   
• Fixed? I love the HGTV series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna's design aesthetic and rapport makes for a great show... especially if you're into home renovation like I am. And while I am able to mentally divide my entertainment personality's personal life from their work... it's really tough to watch the show knowing that they attend a church which would happily push conversion therapy on their four kids should any of them be gay. How can you support that?

Fixer Upper.

Even if the Gaines's don't advocate conversion therapy or aren't opposed to marriage equality... they (assumably) financially support a church that does. They are a part of the segment of society persecuting LGBT persons and, more specifically LGBT youth, just for being who they are. And it's this part of our society which is responsible for the toxicity behind the epidemic of suicides among our gay youth. They listen to the idiotic rhetoric of a church like this and think nobody... including God... will accept them as they are and see no way out. No amount of Texas charm or design sense can compensate for that.

   
• Our Dolphin. Here it is... the first book out of Thrice Fiction Magazine's Thrice Publishing. It is a wonderful, wonderful novella by Joel Allegretti that I'm incredibly proud to have had a small part in unleashing on the world...

Fixer Upper.

Order a copy for your holiday reading list... or order a dozen for gifts that are sure to be appreciated! Click here to get Our Dolphin at Amazon.

   
• Crazy. I don't know what's more shocking. That Fake Jake pounded into the catio at a full-on sprint across the back yard... or that Real Jake just sat there at the point of impact and watched it happen without even blinking...

Jenny is still scared of Fake Jake's crazy antics... but Jake is all "meh" about it now.

   
• DST. Global humiliation, domestic devastation, and the threat of nuclear war would all be worth it if President Trump abolishes clock changes and makes Daylight Savings Time permanent this coming Spring. Just sayin'.

   
Well, I guess that's it for bullets. Probably. I dunno. Maybe in an hour I'll come back and add ten more.

   

I Am Become Death, The Destroyer of Worlds

Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2016

Dave!President-Elect Trump's total ignorance when it comes to other nations (in general) and China (in particular) is catastrophic. But unlike J. Robert Oppenheimer (one of the creators of the atomic bomb), he doesn't possess the self-awareness to realize he has become Death, The Destroyer of Worlds.

Or does he?

As I said earlier, the Chinese mindset is completely different than ours. You cannot apply Western thinking and treat China as if they are another United States. Or, in Trump's self-felating head, a "lesser" United States. They are not. Not by a longshot, and this frighteningly inept "Twitter attitude" of his towards The Sleeping Dragon leads to nothing but ruin. Showing strength is one thing... strength is good. But if it doesn't come from a place of mutual respect and understanding, it's a strength that's going to be turned against you. And shouldn't The President of the United States be smarter than that? For heaven's sake, man... nuclear weapons are involved. Find an advisor who knows what the hell they are doing AND LISTEN TO THEM. Beg someone like Jon Huntsman to join your team so your first act as president isn't fending off conflict with a nuclear power.

Or is this exactly what the President-Elect wants?

I am flabbergasted that people don't seem to comprehend how serious this situation is. It's all "Oh... it's just Trump being Trump!" When, in reality, it's the next President of the United States actively looking for a fight he cannot possibly win... and dragging the rest of the world with him. Everybody knows he's a great deceiver. But maybe he is THE Great Deceiver? The Christian Antichrist come to destroy us all? The Christian's Bible says that the Antichrist will come from ancient Syria (which is parts of modern-day Syria, Lebanon and Turkey). But maybe that's not literal? Maybe it's that his policy will come from ancient Syria? Walid Phares is on his foreign policy advisor team, wouldn't this qualify? And there's a Trump Tower in Istanbul... just sayin'. Any Biblical scholars checking on this? Or maybe he's not the Antichrist at all. Maybe Trump is the lynch-pin which brings about the Antichrist? Who can say. I'm just assuming that the Antichrist is going to be involved in his presidency somewhere. It's just too perfect a fit.

Assuming that Trump isn't party to trying to bring about our total destruction, something needs to change. Immediately. He once said that "acting presidential is easy"... well he'd better damn-well start, because right now Trump's ignorance and stupidity is going to doom us. And don't think just in terms of nuclear war. China doesn't want that any more than we do. There are many scenarios, including economic collapse, that can doom us just as effectively as any bomb. The US is a part of a global community. We are inexorably tied to the rest of the world in complex and incalculable ways. You can't just be all "U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!" and think that will protect you from consequence. 60 years ago, maybe. But not now. Trump's belief that American exceptionalism allows him to strong-arm other countries is a tactic that may play at home, but he is in for a very rude awakening when he steps onto the world stage with that bullshit thinking.

We all are.

Because the end of the world as we know it may be nigh and people are too stupid to see it.

Not that this is surprising. It's the same kind of stupid that got Trump elected in the first place.

Best of luck, everybody.

   

Flight of the Unwilling

Posted on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Dave!Traveling for work is something that people who don't travel for work will never truly understand. It's not like going on vacation where you excitedly pack your bags and skip off the the airport looking forward to fun and adventure. It's more like a necessary evil that inconveniences your life as much as possible. A drudgery in repetition that you endure over and over and over until you're numb to the horrors that a life of travel dumps on you.

Something I had forgotten about. Probably because this past year I haven't been able to travel much, and had blocked it from memory.

And now I have cats.

Cats who can sense when I'm getting ready to leave, and decide that's the perfect time to go bonkers on me.

Knowing I had to get up this morning at 3:00am, I went to bed last night at 8:00. Usually the cats follow me up to my bedroom, pass out on me or the floor when I close my eyes, and that's the end of it. But not last night.

Earlier in the day Jenny had caught a bug out in the catio and brought it in the house. Not my favorite thing, but it makes her happy, so I resist my urge to go running up with a paper towel, put the bug out of its misery, and flush it down the toilet. She batted it around for five minutes or so, happy to have something new to do. At which point Jake came sauntering in the room and ate it.

Jenny did not take it well.

She cried because the bug was gone, then ran back out to the catio to catch another one...

Jenny the Bug Catcher

Alas, after over a half-hour of waiting, no bug came. So she decided to come in from the cold and cry about it. A lot. She cried as she laid on my lap to get warmed up. She cried as I got up to go to bed. She cried as we climbed the stairs. She cried as I crawled into bed. Then she sat next to me and cried as I turned off the lights to try and get some sleep...

Jenny Sans Bug

After I didn't cough up another bug for her to torture, she wandered off. Jake decided to take her spot since she kindly warmed it up for him. Thinking all the problems in Cat World were solved, I closed my eyes.

For all of twenty minutes.

So there I am in bed dozing off at 8:30 when all of a sudden BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING! Jenny has discovered one of the few door-stops left in the house. Apparently she decided if she didn't have a bug to play with, this would do. Jake hears it and goes running to investigate. Now they are taking turns BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING!

I think I finally managed to fall asleep around 10:00.

Five hours later I'm getting ready to head to the airport. Snow had been falling, so the drive was a bit more treacherous than usual. But I make it with plenty of time to spare. Here is my view at 5:00am from my seat on the plane...

Plane View

Exhilarating, is it not?

Once in Seattle, I have my morning Qdoba burrito and wait for my flight to Reagan National Airport in Washington DC. As we leave, I am thrilled to be parked next to the one plane I really want to fly on before I die... Alaska Air's Salmon Thirty Salmon!

Salmon Thirty Salmon!

The flight is okay, despite my ending up in a middle seat because I had to book with the plane mostly full.

While I have flown to Washington, D.C. many times, I have never changed planes there. Turns out that Reagan National Airport is just fine if that's your final destination. But a total pile of shit if it's not. In order to get from B Concourse to my next flight on C Concourse, I HAD TO EXIT SECURITY, WALK A MILE, THEN GO THROUGH A SECURITY CHECK ALL OVER AGAIN. Which is buckets full of stupid in a day and age when security procedures are such a major cluster-fuck. Come on, Reagan National, get your shit together.

And then... one additional plane-ride later... here I am in Portland, Maine.

Where it's cold.

And dark.

Which makes the fact that I am tired and hungry that much worse. But at least my luggage arrived this time. After getting to my hotel, I decide to eat at the restaurant there so I can have some fries and Maine blueberry pie before turning in. The waiter asks if I want my pie with my fries or after. I answer "Definitely after, thanks!"...

Fries and Pie!

I'm guessing this is indicative of how the rest of my trip will go?

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Down East Memoirs

Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Dave!How's Maine? Maine is cold.

I didn't have a car until noon, so I skipped breakfast at the hotel and decided to have pizza at Otto in downtown Portland. They make a Butternut Squash and Cranberry pie that is one of my favorite things. And it totally delivered...

Pizza at Otto

While eating I got to watch a woman let her baby stab the wood table repeatedly with a fork. When she noticed me watching, she took the fork away.

Then gave the baby a knife to stab the table with.

I don't know that it was an improvement, but okay.

On my way back to my car I saw two pumpkins on the sidewalk, assumably waiting to be tossed in the trash...

Snowy Pumpkins

I guess the magic of pumpkin spice has passed. They look to be in great shape, so somebody should totally save them and make pie.

The hour trip north was boring, which is the best you can hope for when driving in Maine during winter. After checking into my hotel, I look out to see that the Androscoggin River has once again closed down for the season.

Here was my view from last year, around this time...

Androscoggin River View

And here we are now...

Androscoggin River View

Exciting, I know.

Since there's not much to do while I wait for my job to start, I've been getting some work done and catching up on Facebook. It was while looking through the latter that I ran across a video of Christmas tree shearing. It's fascinating to watch. Relaxing even. Very zen...

Depending on size, these guys can shape 2,000-2,500 trees per day! They don't say how many ninjas they could slash their way through. Oh well.

As exhausted as I am, I suppose I should take a nap before starting work at midnight.

Or search YouTube for more Christmas tree shearing videos.

One of those two things.

   

Ruined in a Day

Posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Dave!When traveling for work in winter, I have to take precautions that I usually wouldn't when traveling in not-winter. Primary of which is arriving early and staying late.

You arrive early in case there are weather delays so you will still get to the job on time. You stay late in case work runs late and you don't miss your flight. It's a bummer because it means your travels are extended, but it beats the consequences when things go wrong. The consolation I have is that if the job finishes on-time (ha!) or early (ha! ha!) you can always catch an earlier flight.

Except when you can't.

Which is me today.

I'm done with work so I can fly home tomorrow. This is great news because I had been planning for it all along. The nice thing is that catching an earlier flight, which can be quite expensive for infrequent travelers, isn't such a big deal when you have status with the airline. But all of that means nothing if they can't find a flight to put you on. Since I've got three flights home this time, it just proved too difficult to get all of them lined up within a reasonable time. My best option had me leaving a day earlier, but arriving home only five hours earlier. Nineteen hours stuck in airports? No thank you.

And so now I'm majorly bummed that I can't go home. Usually I'd try to make the best of it, but I just don't feel like going out into the Christmas shopping crowds of Portland or driving anywhere in the snow. Maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow... but, in the meanwhile, it looks like I'm stuck.

< Insert Frowny Face Here >

Meanwhile, back at home...

The first thing I do when I get up each morning is check my security camera footage so I can see what the cats are up to. I have no idea how many other times during the day I check on my cats, but it's a lot. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I know that Jake and Jenny are still alive and haven't burned the house down. On the other hand, I miss them and am powerless to fix any problems that come up.

Like Jenny seemingly not being able to decide where to sleep last night. Usually, she sleeps with me. But since I'm not there, I have to watch her wander from spot to spot all around the house for hours. Eventually I thought she had settled on a donut bed I leave by the stereo...

Jenny in Bed

But she gave up on that too. Eventually, after more wandering, she headed upstairs. She must have found somewhere to sleep there, because she didn't come back downstairs all night.

And now she doesn't want to come back downstairs at all... even when the pet feeder activates. Jake heard it this morning and came bombing down to eat. Jenny peeks around the stairwell corner at the top, but doesn't come down. I set a motion alert, which texts me 40 minutes later that she's finally coming down. Except she doesn't. She stops at the bottom...

Jenny on the Stairs

Eventually she turns around and runs back upstairs.

Not knowing what's going on... I scrub back through all the security camera footage. Nothing. Then I check the exterior cameras to see if somebody is outside making noise. Indeed there is. The snow plows are running. And Jenny is apparently scared of the noise they make.

Tonight I checked at feeding time again, and it's the exact same story...

Jenny on the Stairs

She made it down an extra step, but still runs right back up before she hits the floor. The snowplows weren't running then, so I can only guess she's still scared from this morning.

I'm assuming eventually she'll get so hungry she overcomes her fears and makes it to the feeder.

Until then I'll spend my time being sad that I can't fly home tomorrow.

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So Wasted

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2016

Dave!I wish I could say that my ambition showed itself today but, alas... I still had no desire to drive anywhere or fight the Christmas shopping crowd, so most of my day was spent catching up on sleep and working. An entire waste, I know, but this was never a vacation trip.

I did venture out for lunch and again for dinner though. So I guess that's something. For the walk back to my hotel I had my camera with me, which is always fun...

Cold in Portland, Maine

Cold in Portland, Maine

Cold in Portland, Maine

Cold in Portland, Maine

And now... I pack. For tomorrow I take the long journey home.

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Home and the Unlucky Rabbit’s Foot

Posted on Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Dave!I didn't have to be at the airport until 12:30, which meant I could wait to pack my suitcase this morning and relax a bit before taking my three flights home.

It also meant that I had time to stop by The Maine Mall for lunch. Which would usually be at Johnny Rockets... but they changed their buns to these small crusty things (even when you ask them to ditch the shitty "healthy wheat" bun that now comes on their veggie burger)... so this time I ate at Qdoba. Never thought that would happen.

Anyway...

Flights were uneventful. Even if I did have a layover at shitty Washington Reagan National Airport, which makes you exit security to change concourses. Landed back home at 12:10, got my suitcase by 12:30, cleaned off my car by 12:45, was at my house by 1:20am.

Where my cats were happy to see me. So happy that I had to distract them with treats so they'd leave me alone long enough to unload the car.

Needless to say I was exhausted and decided to go straight to bed.

Which is where I stepped on this...

It's... a rabbit's foot?

It's... a rabbit foot?!

I rush back down to the guest room and, sure enough, this happened...

Dead vintage rabbit.

Okay then. The cats knocked one of my rabbits off the shelf. Sad... but nothing super-glue won't fix.

The question is... how?

How?

I was careful to not have any tall furniture near the shelves that the cats could climb up. The headboard is under the shelves, so they can't be using that. Or can they? Hell if I know. Obviously I don't have security cameras in my guest room... but I'm tempted to put one in there temporarily so I can see what in the hell they're doing in there.

Besides scratching up my new chair.

Welcome home, me.

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Bullet Sunday 485

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016

Dave!Don't go shovel that driveway just yet, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Does Whatever a Spider Can! I've always been more a Batman guy than a Spider-Man guy, but Marvel is looking to change that with their first Spidey film, Spider-Man: Homecoming...

I mean... seriously. Marvel seems incapable of fucking up a movie. They respect the source material and give fans exactly what they're dying to see. This is the complete opposite of what DC does, which is rewrite everything that makes the characters great and give fans what Zack Snyder wants to see... which is always a pile of shit. Couldn't be happier to be getting what looks like an amazing Spider-Man movie. The fact that Tony Stark is in there being Tony Stark just makes it too good to be true.

   
• The Artist Formerly Known As... If you're a Prince fan, GQ has a long, but highly entertaining look at his life from the perspective of people who knew him best. As if that wasn't enough... another genius, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, was interviewed over at Glixel. You're welcome!

   
• No Toys for Tots. After coming across this sorry story, I have concluded that it's probably the stupidest fucking thing I've read in a long time. A charity that collects toys for children won't accept toys raised by a tavern because they prayed on it and decided that toys coming from a bar is a bad thing? Who did this idiot pray to? I mean, she did read The Bible and know who Jesus hung out with, right? Yet another case of Faux Christians following in the footsteps of Jesus... just so long as those footsteps don't lead to conflict with their moral superiority and false virtue.

   
• Can I Be a Lesbian? This had me laughing out loud in the middle of the night at my hotel...

Fortunately, I must not have disturbed my neighbors because nobody beat the door down and strangled me.

   
• Kitty Homebody. Ever since I got back home in the early AM, the cats have been all over me. When I sat down tonight to work and watch Wedding Crashers, Jake came running in and attached himself to me then fell asleep...

Jake Asleep On Me

After a bit he ran to get a snack and I thought I was free... but then Jenny came running in and took his place...

Jenny While I Work

Then she ran to use the Litter-Robot and I figured that was the end of it... except Jake came running back to take her place...

Jenny While I Work

Eventually they must have decided I wasn't going anywhere tonight, and went back to life as usual. Until next time. As if I didn't already feel bad enough about having to leave them...

   
• Paranoia and Smoke Alarms. Just before my trip to Maine, I started getting paranoid about a fire in my garage. That's where my electrical panel is. That's where my furnace is. That's where my whole-home humidifier is. Any of those things could burst into flames and I wouldn't know about it until it burned through the walls and into the house. To set my mind at ease, I ordered another Nest Protect (smart smoke detector) to put in the garage. Now I'm wondering why smoke detectors in garages isn't a thing. Shouldn't they be? Sure it's $100 down the drain, but that's pretty cheap if my electrical panel caught fire while I was in Maine and unaware. Now my house will send me a text if the garage is on fire. So... yay? I suppose now I need to find out how to call a fire into my local fire department so I can actually do something about an alarm when I'm across the country and 9-1-1 won't connect me to the right place.

   
• A New History for Humanity. I whole-heartedly approve of this calendar. A simple change that adds loads of perspective...

Too many people think that all of humanity didn't begin until Jesus came along. This fixes the problem without completely disrupting everything. Until scientists decide that

   
• Trump Diplomacy. This pretty much sums it up...

Trump Being Trump

And anybody still calling me "alarmist" for posting end-of-days scenarios around President-Elect Trump's ignorance and stupidity can go read this and then go read this and fuck off now. You'll note that I linked to a FOX "News" story the second time since the people who love Trump and are not taking this shit seriously seem to think that FOX is the only "news" source that matters. Guess we don't have to give a shit about Trump cutting Social Security and Medicare since we're all probably going to be dead by the time he gets around to it. In the meanwhile... this is how Republicans are saving American jobs?

   
And... the bullets have flown. Until next week then.

   

Nothing, and All That It Entails

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016

Dave!I don't know that I got sick, per se... but the effects of all day travel just to go through all day work and then cap it off with another bout of all day travel has taken its toll.

This morning when I got to work I had trouble sitting at my desk. It always felt like I was about to fall over. So I caught up as best I could then ran home to sleep. But couldn't actually get to sleep, of course. That would be too easy.

Welcome to my day of doing nothing.

When I've so much to get done that doing nothing is the worst thing I could possibly do.

Great news for the cats though.

Jenny loves playing fetch. She'll grab a toy (her favorite being Pink Mouse) and drop it on me so I'll toss it out. Then she'll go pounce on it with all the fierceness she can muster and bring it right back...

Jenny Fetch

After about 20 minutes I accidentally threw Pink Mouse under the entertainment center where she couldn't get to it. I thought I was too lazy to go get it, but then Jenny started knawing on my wallet...

Jenny Fetch

Message received.

So I drag myself off the couch, move the furniture, retrieve Pink Mouse, put the furniture back, then give the toy back to Jenny...

Jenny Fetch

Who promptly falls asleep...

Jenny Fetch

Which is exactly what I've been wanting to do all along, the pooper.

Huh. Just noticed something.

Jenny spends a lot of time out in the catio where it's cold... and look at how fluffy her coat is getting! Now I just need to train her to fall asleep across my feet at night.

And, my day of nothing continues...

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It’s The Fall That’s Going to Kill You

Posted on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Dave!The situation in Syria has been terrifying for years, but the world has been turning a deaf ear. And, despite the horror of it all, I kinda understand why. It's an all-out civil war in the country, and trying to sort through the different factions vying for power is no easy chore. There's the Syrian government in alliance with Russia and Iran and supported by China and Iraq. There's anti-government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Then there's the Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) which is supported by the USA, the UK, France, Australia, and many of their allies.

Not to mention, surprise, there's also ISIL.

And that's not all. There are other groups and alliances stirring the pot as well. Which may sound odd considering the country is quickly becoming a massive wasteland of ruin and despair, but this brings us to the question of why Syria is such a complicated mess.

My guess is that oil has a lot to do with it.

Which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody because oil is responsible for fucking up a lot of things in this part of the world. Admittedly this is a grossly simplistic summation of all that's going on... there are religious conflicts, territorial conflicts, historical conflicts, and ruling families not wanting to lose power that need to be factored into the mix... but ultimately the continuation of the war itself likely comes down to outside intervention and the quest for oil, making this a proxy fight by nations like Russia, the USA, and China over the spoils.

This is not to say that I am minimizing the religious interests of countries like Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Quatar, and Lebanon which are also in the fray... or that I am dismissing the atrocities committed by President Bashar al-Assad's government forces who slaughter the civilians who protest against them... it's more complicated than just shouting "OIL IS TO BLAME!" and I know this.

But...

I find it impossible to believe that all countries everywhere can't agree on how best to help innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. It shouldn't matter how or why a nation supports one faction over the other. Surely we can all agree that children dying by the thousands is a horrific travesty that needs solving... independent of everything else that's going on... right?

Nope.

And how could that possibly be?

I guess nobody wants to risk offending their allies in the war. Because if their allies are the faction that comes out on top... well... oil.

And so we now face the fall of Aleppo where people there are sending out their final goodbyes... not knowing if they're going to be alive in the morning...

I don't pretend to be an expert on the Middle East or the violence that is ongoing there. All I know is that what should be a no-brainer for the entire world... active relief for the civilian population of Syria... isn't happening.

In the end, isn't that all you really need to know?

Aleppo is Burning
Photo from Amnesty International

Sadly, there's not a lot that can be done now. But Amnesty International has set up a page for signatures to demand action, and you never know.

   

Happy World Monkey Day

Posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Dave!Yes.

This is really a thing.


Jenny Fetch

   

Given the countless monkey lives given to science in the name of improving human lives... it's the least we can do, really.

   

Denial is Not Just a River in McCarthyism

Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Dave!It's gotten to the point where I should just be numb to the crazy-ass appointments that President-Elect Trump is making to his administration, advisory board, and transition team. But then one of them has to go and open their mouths, and I'm in full-reverse out of numb and back to despair at the horror of it all.

Like today when I saw this video of Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci making the rounds...

This follows Trump's McCarthy-esque demand to know all the Department of Energy scientists who work on climate change. Something that is already unthinkable and terrifying.

If this interview was meant to make people feel better about the Trump Administration's notably anti-science bias, Scaramucci did a shitty job of it. Not only is he in serious climate change denial despite the scientific evidence of it all... he's also a Young Earther who believes that the planet is only 5,500 years old.

These are the people who will be making decisions for this country.

I've said numerous times that we're all fucking doomed because of this bullshit. I mean it every time. Because when somebody is drunk and playing with matches while standing in a pool of gasoline, you have to say something.

Problem is that the people who can do something about it are apparently looking the other way.

   

From Lessons Unlearned

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2016

Dave!This morning I woke up in a coughing fit so severe that something... snapped?... inside of me and now I'm in horrible pain. Probably just pulled a muscle, but it feels as though I've been stabbed. Getting old sure does suck.

Something else that sucks?

A bunch of stupid fucking bigots are looking to pass anti-transgender "bathroom bill" legislation here in Washington State.

Putting aside the horrendous discrimination that's driving this bill, did none of the assholes who dreamt up this shit learn anything from what happened to North Carolina when they passed a similar bill? Apparently not.

Look, I don't know what kind of freaky shit that dumbass Representatives Taylor, Shea, McCaslin, Young, Klippert, Walsh, Haler, Short, Manweller, Hargrove, Pike, Holy, Rodne, and Buys do when they use the bathroom... but the vast majority of us just want to pee or take a shit, then (hopefully) wash our hands and get the fuck out. And the fact that transgender persons will be doing their business BEHIND A CLOSED STALL DOOR means that it doesn't really matter what the hell genitals they have. Unless you're some kind of pervert who will be looking under the stalls while people are using them... THEIR GENITALS DON'T AFFECT YOU! So pull your minds out of the gutter and stop dragging the rest of us into your fucked up shit.

In truth, I know precious few transgender persons. But when it comes the one I know best (and have talked about previously), I can't help but wonder what the hell she's going to do if this horrendous legislation passes. She may have been born with a penis, but you would not know that to look at her. All you see is A WOMAN, because that's who she is. If she were forced to use a men's bathroom, it would be a woman using a men's bathroom. And can you imagine how dangerous that is for her? Coming across some bigoted piece of trash in the wrong bathroom could end up with her beaten to death. All because she needs to pee.

You may not understand transgender people. You may not agree with who they are. But if you feel they need to die because they have to pee, you're a special kind of asshole. Obviously they are going to be using a stall, so you (or whomever you're concerned about) aren't going to be exposed to anything that might disturb your delicate sensibilities. Which means supporting this absurd legislation is nothing more than hating something for no good reason.

Which is not surprising. That's the way this country seems to work now-a-days.

What's doubly disappointing is that Representative Maureen Walsh, whom I've supported over the years because she's a progressive Republican who spoke so eloquently about marriage equality in my state, is one of the dumbasses supporting a bill THAT'S COMPLETE NONSENSE. Apparently she only gives a shit about equality when it affects her lesbian daughter. A pity she doesn't have a transgender child so she can "speak her heart and mind" and empathize what they go through...

Always amazed when state REPRESENTATIVES don't feel they have to REPRESENT all the people in their care.

You can learn more about how your tax dollars are being used to discriminate against your fellow citizens at Washington Won't Discriminate.

   

Caturday 9

Posted on Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Dave!My cats are weird, wonderful creatures. Which is to say that they are cats.

Personality-wise, they are very different. Jake is a sweet, lovable lump who eats too much and plows through life head-first. Jenny is a sweet, petite bundle of affection who is cautious and calculating. Both are curious to a fault, but Jake is the one who will inevitably let it lead him into trouble.

The most serious Jake will ever get is when he is pooping. It is a grave and somber affair which he gives profound consideration. The least serious Jenny will ever get is waiting for Jake to poop, then run up and smack him in the face right in the middle of it. Which she does often.

But that's not the only time Jenny will plan an attack. Ambushing Jake is her most favorite thing, and she'll happily take the opportunity any time she has the advantage. Like this morning when she was giving herself a bath and noticed Jake laying on the floor chomping on a toy mouse... while facing the other way...

Jenny Ambush

Jenny Ambush

Jenny Ambush

Jenny Ambush

Jenny Ambush

Jenny Ambush

Annnnnd... she pounced on him with happy abandon.

Jake never knew what hit him.

Jenny had a snack and then fell asleep in the window...

Jenny Ambush

Don't worry about Jake though. He somehow manages to muddle through...

Jake Naps

Happy Caturday!

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Bullet Sunday 486

Posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Dave!I'm dashing through the snow over the mountains... but fear not, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• No It's Not Equivalent. I swear... it's getting worse every day. Every time I see false equivalency being applied to an issue in the interest of being "fair and balanced," I want to punch somebody in the face. This time it's The Los Angeles Times unleashing this crap when they published letters saying that US internment of its citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II was justified. Clearly there is no "other side" to Japanese internment being totally unjustified and a horrendous blight on humanity (in general) and the USA (specifically). Unless you are a psychotic asshole. And yet here we are. Thanks, L.A. Times... I needed a reminder that psychotic assholes are everywhere!

   
• New DuckTales! I'd like to say that DuckTales was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid... but it didn't start airing until I was three years graduated high school, so that's not quite true. In any event, it's getting revived with a bit more star power than the original behind the voices...

You can bet I'll be watching. Let's face it, I still act like a kid.

   
• Sandcastles in the Sand. While I was never a fan of Growing Pains (Kirk Cameron was always a fucking asshole), I was a fan of Alan Thicke's Canadian talk show and his subsequent American talk show, Thicke of the Night. Which is why I was sad to see he had died this week. Later in life, he was cast as himself as often as he played characters, which is a testament to his effect on North American culture. One of my favorites was when he appeared as Robin Sparkles fictional dad in flashback videos of How I Met Your Mother...

You will be missed, sir.

   
• Emergency! Come Right Away! Another sad passing... Bernard Fox has left us. He'll forever be known as Dr. Bombay on Bewitched...

Here's hoping he's having cocktails with Uncle Arthur in the Great Beyond.

   
• Animal Welfare? Inhumane, cruel, and horrifying. But nobody will care and nothing will be done because everybody wants their 99¢ McChicken McNuggets...

If people want to eat meat, more power to you. But I can't fathom the person who doesn't care about the pain and suffering of those animals that end up on their plate. The health risks are just icing on the cake.

   
• Driven! I'd say that winter driving is the worst, but the unprecedented number of assholes on the road makes all driving "the worst." Winter just makes it even worse...

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Over the mountains I go...

   
Annnnd... wish me luck.

   

Nine Hours in San Diego

Posted on Monday, December 19th, 2016

Dave!Today I had to make a last-minute trip to San Diego for a quick work project happening tomorrow morning. I'll essentially be in San Diego for nine hours to do 15-20 minutes worth of work. But it's very important work which will end up benefitting people who could really use it, so I don't mind so much. I've gone much further for much less.

I took this as an opportunity to test the new "download" feature for Netflix, which allows you to view programs and movies without an internet connection. It works in that I could view downloaded content offline... but it's kind of flakey. Siri kept activating over and over and over again, even when I turned her off (iPhone just switches to Voice Command) and the video kept pausing randomly, even though I never touched my iPhone to make it happen. I have no idea if this is a problem with Netflix, or possibly my headphones somehow sending commands, but it was incredibly annoying.

Oh well.

I'd be beside myself if I didn't have anything to complain about while traveling, so I guess this is as good as anything.

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Boys Who Drive Passes

Posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Dave!And... I'm home.

Except I almost wasn't, because when my plane landed one of the mountain passes was a complete disaster with chains required and the other was closed. This would have meant adding 1 to 1-1/2 hours to my trip... except the pass miraculously opened up ten minutes before I reached the turn-off.

While there are many ways to get in and out of Redneckistan, there are only two that really make sense when heading to the coast are the two main mountain pass routes.

Stevens Pass (2-1/2 hours) is usually very well maintained in the winter because there's a big ski resort at the summit and they want people to be able to get to it. You're deposited quite a bit north of Seattle, but it's a quicker run so you can usually arrive in a similar time-frame. The major downer is that Highway 2 is a 2-lane affair with not a lot of opportunities to pass slower traffic. Get behind a truck driving 10 miles per hour under the speed limit and you'll be stuck for a while...

Mountain Passes of Redneckistan

   
Blewett and Snoqualmie Passes (2-1/4 hours) create my preferred route to Seattle. Once over Blewett (a 2-lane highway), you merge onto I-90, which has a 4+ lanes of traffic and a speed limit of 70mph...

Mountain Passes of Redneckistan

   
Quincy/Vantage/Snoqualmie (3-1/2 hours) is an alternate route you can take when Blewett Pass is closed (which happens surprisingly often). This was the route I was going to take today... until Blewett opened back up at the last minute...

Mountain Passes of Redneckistan

   
Portland/Central Basin (7-1/2 hours) is the grueling route you take when all hope of getting over the mountain passes is lost. Yes, there are White Pass (5-1/2 hours) and Crystal Mountain (4-1/2 hours) routes you can take, but the odds are very good they'll be either closed (or more trouble than it's worth) if the main passes are closed. I'd rather just bite the bullet and drive home free and clear if it seems that's a better option than waiting out the weather (you can read about one of my times traveling this route right here)...

Mountain Passes of Redneckistan

   
You can, of course, always fly in/out of Wenatchee (assuming the airport isn't closed) if you don't mind having to abandon your car in Seattle until you can find a way back to it. I've done this at least twice, because sometimes not driving at all is the best option.

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Lessons in Arabic

Posted on Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Dave!UPDATE: Delta Airlines has released a statement about the two guys who claim to have been kicked off the flight because they were speaking Arabic... "Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behaviour, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority."

Since this guy has a history of pranking airlines (and also lying about it), it's very likely that they were kicked off the flight for cause. Which is really too bad, because lying about being a victim of racism and bigotry only makes it harder for those who are actual victims of racism and bigotry to be believed. And heaven only knows we've seen enough of that in recent years.

Regardless as to whether they deserved to be kicked off... and, to be clear, if they were disrupting the flight they absolutely should have been... I can't help but wonder if they would have been treated differently (pranks and all) if they were white.

I was once on a post 9-11 flight out of LAX where some kind of evangelist dressed in a suit and tie was screaming about Jesus as he boarded the plane. While the flight took off, he was praying... loudly. He was asked more than once to lower his voice so he wasn't disturbing other passengers. Which lasted all of ten minutes before he started loudly preaching about Jesus again. Nothing happened to him. He was mostly left alone. He walked off the plane without incident. He was white. But if this had been a Middle-Eastern guy screaming about Allah and talking about Mohammed? He would have probably been restrained... at minimum. Then likely arrested upon landing. Assuming they didn't make an emergency landing and have him arrested before he even reached his destination.

So... food for thought.


Horrible racist, bigoted crap was happening before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America.

I'm betting it will be happening a lot more often now.

Two guys were kicked off a flight because one of them was speaking Arabic to his mom. Apparently it made a woman and her husband in the row ahead of him "nervous" and he was told he should be speaking English. In Trump's America, this kind of stupid, xenophobic bullshit is justification for swift action.

Action Delta Airlines was apparently happy to engage in...

If people speaking a different language upsets you... THEN DON'T GO OUT IN PUBLIC, ASSHOLE! If being around other people on a plane upsets you... THEN DON'T FLY, ASSHOLE! This is just the tip of the iceberg. If I were there and saw what happened, they'd end up kicking me off the fucking plane too.

Hope you're prepared for the day only people with blonde hair are allowed to fly.

In other Delta Airlines news, this landed in my in-box...

Delta partnership change
As of April 30, 2017, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will no longer be able to earn or redeem miles on Delta flights. Don't worry, though–thanks to our acquisition of Virgin America and ever-growing list of global partners, it's easy to get where you want to go.

I may die of un-shock.

Delta was never a true "partner" to Alaska Airlines. They shit all over Alaska every chance they got, then decided to set up camp in a Seattle hub in an attempt to force Alaska out of our airport. Interesting to note how they employed this same strategy in Memphis circa 2013... setting up a hub to drive other airlines out, then pulling the hub once the deed was done. After all went down getting in and out of Memphis became difficult and expensive, and the city still hasn't fully recovered from the damage Delta did.

And speaking of damage...

No word yet as to whether Delta is going to allow only English to be spoken on their flights.

   

That’s What I Want

Posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Dave!I've been thinking a lot about cooking lately.

Partly because it seems like a good creative outlet now that my woodworking has been suspended for the season... but mostly because I want to eat stuff that I can't buy the way I want it made.

For example... I bought a frozen apple crisp last week. It was terrible. Way too much spice and the apples were cut too large. I also didn't like the topping, which seemed more spongey than crispy. And so I've been researching recipes online, which is a bottomless pit of confusion. Apparently there are literally hundreds of ways to make the stuff, and everybody has an opinion as to what makes a perfect apple crisp. The only thing that makes it a little easier is that I can automatically discard the recipes which include raisins (WTF?!?).

My concern with trying to make stuff myself is that I always end up with more than what I can eat because recipes seem to feed a dozen people, on average... also the ingredients are usually expensive... and the actual cooking never seems to go as well as I hoped.

Like the time I tried to make potato salad...

Lil' Dave Eats Potato Salad

And yet...

I suppose I'll give it a shot after the holidays.

I'm thinking I'll cut the ingredients in half and hope that it won't affect the cooking time. I don't think I've ever burnt anything before, but there's always a first time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've narrowed my recipe choice down to eleven options and I've got to decide on nuts or no nuts in order to get to the next elimination round.

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Any Fucking Sense

Posted on Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Dave!"Sorry there's no gas station for 200 miles and you're running on fumes, but I don't sell to faggots because of my firmly-held religious beliefs... now get the hell off my property."

If the First Amendment Defense Act is turned into law, such a horrific statement will be a perfectly valid form of discrimination in Trump's America. Except something tells me that bigoted pieces of shit are not "sorry" about anything.

What bothers me most about this bullshit is not that a bunch of politician assholes are looking for ways to write discrimination against people they don't like into the law of the land. That's just par for the course. What bothers me is that they are presenting it as a way to make things "fair" for those businesses who want to discriminate.

Still haven't figured out how it's "fair" that a tax-paying citizen can have their hard-earned money go toward supporting such businesses with roads, utilities, fire and police protections, and such... only to have them be able to turn around and deny service to the people who made it possible... but, hey... it's not like bigotry ever makes any fucking sense.

To anybody who's not a bigot, anyway.

   

Travel’s End

Posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Dave!And... today is my last trip of the year.

I hope.

Let's get this show on the road...

Back Over the Mountains...

   
UPDATE: Roads were in terrific shape. Getting over the mountains was a piece of cake.

Happy holidays, everybody.

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Bullet Sunday 487

Posted on Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Dave!Hoping you're having a Happy Christmas if you're into that kind of thing, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Faith. I was saddened to hear that yet another of my pop artist favorites from the 80's had passed away... this time George Michael. As half of the duo WHAM!, and later a solo artist, he had an entire catalog of hits that influenced a generation of musical artists and pop culture at large...


   

   

Rest in peace, sir. Your music will live on and on.

   
• LIVE FROM NEW YORK! I've watched this behind-the-scenes video three times now. Absolutely fascinating how Saturday Night Live can time things down to the wire like this on a live show...

I wish SNL would release more of these. Sometimes, they would be more entertaining than the actual show.

   
• BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR! This is epic...

This guy should totally do audio books.

   
• IT'S NOT MINE! For those who think I'm paranoid for having two complete camera security systems at my house... I give you this IMGUR thread about a guy who found that somebody was living in his home while he was at work. Holy. Crap.

   
• The 1947. I always love behind-the-scenes videos of manufacturing processes and this one from my favorite ball-cap manufacturer, '47 Brand, is pretty slick...

A lot of work goes into creating a great cap!

   
• The 1975. And now, for the best Christmas present of all, here's The 1975's full concert from The O2 in London. Don't know how long they'll keep it posted, so enjoy it while it lasts...

Amazing. And the only contender for my favorite album of 2016.

   
Here's ho ho hoping Santa treats you kindly tonight.

   

Traffic Ruins Everything

Posted on Monday, December 26th, 2016

Dave!The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was check the mountain pass reports to find out if I will be able to get home. Much to my surprise, Stevens Pass was bare and wet, though the afternoon forecast was for snow. So I made plans to leave at 11:00, thinking that my drive back would be a piece of cake.

And it would have.

If the hundreds of people also wanting to get back over the mountains weren't all leaving at the same time to beat the snow.

Which meant that even though the roads were perfect, I still had an additional 40 minutes of travel time. Which was crappy, yes... but at least I didn't have to chain up.

And thus ends my last trip of the year.

When I finally got home the cats were ecstatic to see me. I was ecstatic to see a bathroom.

And speaking of cats...

And now? Bed.

"Alexa, play George Michael..."

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Look, Your Worshipfulness…

Posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Dave!To say that Princess Leia was a game-changer for me is an understatement of epic proportions.

Until having seen Star Wars, I can't recall a "movie princess" being little more than a set decoration in need of saving. Yes, Princess Leia started out that way... she was every bit the damsel in distress for the story's two male heroes (and a walking carpet) who set out to retrieve her from The Death Star... but once Princess Leia actually hit the screen, all that went out the window.

This princess wasn't taking any shit, and the fact that she could hold her own against Vader and Tarkin was pretty amazing. But the moment I totally fell in love with her was when the door on cell 2187 opened...

        What I was expecting: "Oh, thank goodness you've come to save me!"
        What I got: "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"

And Leia's sarcasm, strength, and wit didn't end there. As anybody who's seen the Star Wars films (which would be everybody, I'm guessing), Princess Leia was kick-ass whenever she made an appearance.

A great deal of this can be laid on the doorstop of George Lucas who first wrote her that way.

But it was Carrie Fisher who made her that way.

And now Carrie Fisher gone.

Princess Dave Organa

   
Despite some incredible contributions to writing and cinema that went well beyond Princess Leia (she wrote Postcards from the Edge and was a highly-in-demand "script doctor" for a surprising number of films), it's this legendary fictional character to which she will be forever remembered.

My guess is she made her peace with it. Even those times she was wrapped in chains and wearing a metal bikini... something she had strong feelings about.

For which I'm grateful. Because she'll always be royalty to me.

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Categories: Movies 2016Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Video16

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Dave!And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.

Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of movies I saw that came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of movies I never saw that would have probably ended up on my list (we'll get to that later). And here we go...

   
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.

Best Movies 2015 Part 1

#1 Captain America: Civil War
Shocker. My love of comic books was rewarded in two fantastic Marvel films, and it was really tough to decide what should come out on top. I ultimately went with Cap because the movie was just so damn good at giving comic book fans everything they dream about in a film. Hero angst? Check. Cap and Iron Man draw the line over a super-hero registration act that leads them inexorably to conflict. Fresh characters? Check. Not only do we get the debut of one of the most awesome characters in the Marvel Universe, Black Panther, we also get a brand new Spider-Man that's more faithful to the concept than anything that's come before. Super-battles? Check. In what has to be the single best super-hero fight ever committed to film, Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man was flawlessly realized. Having a massive surprise come from Ant-Man in the middle of it all was just icing on the best-tasting cake ever. Granted, the plot was a bit flimsy and filled with coincidence and inexplicable story beats... but I just didn't care. I watched Civil War three times in the theater and another half-dozen on video. I cannot fathom how The Russo Brothers could possibly top this in Avengers: Infinity War, but I'm dying to find out. You can read my review of this epic blockbuster right here.

#2 Doctor Strange
After Black Panther, my favorite Marvel comic book hero is probably Doctor Strange. This year I got to see them both on the big screen, and I was not disappointed. This film is an origin story, yes, but it's not like it could have been anything else. Unlike Batman or Spider-Man whose origin has been told to death, Strange is a bit unknown to the general movie-going public. Fortunately, what we get is anything but Yet Another Formulaic Pile of Origin Garbage. Stephen Strange is compelling in all the right ways before he becomes Master of the Mystic Arts. And he's even more compelling before he becomes Sorcerer Supreme. On top of that, we get some mind-boggling special effects that makes Doctor Strange fresh, exciting, and new compared to all the Marvel films that came before it. Yes, I too am a bit flustered by the whitewashing of The Ancient One as a Celtic white woman (deftly played by Tilda Swinton), but I get why. Yes, I am disappointed that the location was shifted from Tibet, but I get why. Avoiding stereotypes and having to be mindful of global box office means that there will be compromises when putting a ton of money into a film of this magnitude. That Marvel did so without completely destroying it is admirable in the face of realities they had to confront. Much of what they got right has to do with the flawless casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange... whom Marvel wisely postponed filming to get. He had absolutely everything the character needed to succeed in a movie, and Cumberbatch held nothing back. Doctor Strange will be appearing in future Marvel films (including Infinity War) but I want a new solo flick that's unfettered from an origin story. Badly. Here's my review of Doctor Strange.

#3 Deadpool
Given how utterly shitty 20th Century Fox treated the character of Deadpool in the utterly shitty X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I fully admit that I was skeptical when it was announced a new solo movie was on the way. But when Ryan Reynolds (who was "Deadpool in Origins as well) promised that we'd be seeing something faithful to the outrageous character we knew from the comics, I became hopeful. It was a hope that paid off in spades. This is the fast-talking "merc with a mouth" that every Deadpool fan who suffered though Origins deserved. Mercenary Wade Wilson is diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer after finally finding the love of his life... and agrees to experiments meant to unleash super-powered abilities that will cure him. Unfortunately, things go terribly wrong, and the rest of the movie is Wilson trying to get a cure for the cure while also exacting revenge on the guy responsible. Absolute hilarity and fantastic action sequences ensue. Even in its quiet moments, Deadpool delivers... featuring perfect secondary characters played by TJ Miller and Leslie Uggams(!!!). Rated R for a reason... many reasons... but totally worth your time.

#4 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
It's a Star Wars film. It has mind-boggling special effects. It has a return of characters you love and a new character that's destined to be a classic (new favorite droid K-2SO!). It features a plot that doesn't suck. The story is rough... even boring in parts... but serviceable. And, yes, I agree it's the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. So if you're a Star Wars fan, it's a foregone conclusion this movie is going to be on your "Best of 2016" list. That's why it's on mine.

#5 Kubo and the Two Strings
My love of animation embraces all its forms... hand-drawn... computer generated... cut-out... whatever. But the form that consistently blows me away is stop-motion animation, and Kubo is probably the most mind-bogglingly beautiful expression of it yet. Every frame is gorgeously orchestrated for scenes that are a dream to watch. It's just a bonus that there's a really great story behind it all. I will do you the favor of not disclosing anything about the plot. It's enough to know that this film is sheer magic and a must-see. Preferably on the big-screen (and, believe it or not, in 3D)... but if you missed it, home video will have to suffice.

#6 Star Trek Beyond
Rebooting the Star Trek franchise has been met with mixed feelings, and true fans either seem to love it or hate it. I absolutely love it. From the casting, which is a note-perfect nod to the original cast, to the beautiful special-effects, the films soar even when there is a misstep (of which Star Trek Into Darkness probably qualifies). Star Trek Beyond is yet another entertaining entry in the series, this time with an over-abundance of action filling the screen. But there's some real character moments scattered in there too, which is what makes the film work so well. Sadly, Anton Yelchin passed away after filming, which means this is the last time we'll see his perfect take on Pavel Chekov.

Best Movies 2015 Part 2

#7 Arrival
Color me shocked. Smart, cerebral, original sci-fi getting green-lit for a feature film? Whatever is Hollywood coming to? Oddly enough, I had read the original short fiction on which this film is based, Story of Your Life, and was not expecting that it would translate well to film given the time-bending aspects of the story. I was pleasantly surprised that they managed to get it right. Or... as close to "right" as they probably could. When aliens land on earth, world governments race to communicate with them so that they can unlock their secrets before other governments get a technological edge. The movie focuses on the American team (of course) lead by genius linguist Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) and fellow scientist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner). As Banks gets closer and closer to deciphering the language of the alien visitors, she finds that her perception of time is being altered. An ambitious adventure in cinema follows that's a true treat for sci-fi fans.

#8 Finding Dory
Revisiting the Finding Nemo universe was a risky gambit. But Pixar completely nailed it. I hesitate to say that it's a better film than the original... but Dory is a jaw-dropping, beautiful, overall joyful effort that will not disappoint Nemo fans. Having Sigourney Weaver drop in (as herself!) on the flawless voice cast was just perfection on perfection. If you love Pixar animation, here's your film.

#9 The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge)
Gorgeous animation from Studio Ghibli that's a warm blanket in visual form. The story is a gripping tale of survival that unfolds like a classic fairytale... but ends up being so much more. I truly hope that this overlooked gem makes a return to theaters after the festival circuit so people can see it as it was meant to be seen.

#10 The Nice Guys
Where in the hell did this come from? I completely missed it in the theater, but caught it on a boring cross-country flight. Boy was I glad to have discovered it, because The Nice Guys everything you love in a Shane Black film. And then some. Russell Crowe hasn't been this compelling since Gladiator. Ryan Gosling hasn't been this compelling ever. If you want to see a smart, funny, sophisticated 70's buddy flick that won't bore you (except when it does)... here you go.

#11 Moana
Walt Disney Pictures has been on a roll lately, and Moana is probably my favorite film of theirs since Lilo and Stitch (though Big Hero Six deserves a mention here). The film tells the story of a young woman, Moana, who sets sail on a mission to save her people. Along the way she meets the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and a fantastical adventure follows. The action is bold, beautiful, and larger than life... all animated to stunning effect with lush, sweeping visuals... but it's so much more than just a pretty flick. It's got great music, plenty of magic, and characters with actual depth. If you love computer animation, you owe it to yourself to see Moana on the big screen.

#12 The Jungle Book.
If you had told me that a live-action remake of Disney classic The Jungle Book would hit my "best of..." list for 2016, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are. Filled with incredible CG visuals that bring the story to life like never before... and featuring one of the best "young actors" ever to appear in a movie, The Jungle Book is incomprehensibly great. And the voice cast! Bill Murray as Baloo? Ben Kingsley as Bagheera? Idris Elba as Shere Khan? It never ends. I cannot fathom how Jon Favreau managed to pull off such a feat, but I was completely engrossed in the film and truly didn't want it to end. If you skipped it because you were skeptical, now you know.

   
HONORABLE MENTIONS...

Best Movies 2015 Part 2

Zootopia
This is the film that ranked very high on a lot of critic's lists... and it's easy to see why. The characters are beautifully crafted and the world they inhabit feels fully realized. Everything is wonderfully animated and the voice cast is flawless. As if that wasn't enough greatness, it has a real story filled with humor and heart that's brilliantly told. I loved the film... a lot... but it just didn't have that sweeping, all-encompassing wonder that I got while watching Finding Dory and Moana. I struggled as to whether Zootopia or Jungle Book belongs in the final spot of my list, but settled on the latter because it was such a big surprise.

Bad Moms
I was a bit let down by the ending, but everything up to that is funny enough that I didn't care. Surprisingly original with perfect casting.

The Handmaiden
This is why people go to the movies... a beautiful story that looks stunning and has a dynamite cast. Yes, there were problems along the way and the ending could have used some work, but this sexy, violent gem gets so much right that it's easy to overlook its flaws.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
YES, I LIKED IT! A remake of the Sid and Marty Krofft live-action Batman spoof featuring YouTube stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. It's a funny distraction that respects the source material, but is fresh and new at the same time.

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping
A complete take-down of the Justin Bieber stereotype that somehow manages to be funny and entertaining. There were some parts that didn't work which kept it from being a new This is Spinal Tap, but is overall a terrific effort.

Ghostbusters
Was it as good as the original? Oh hell no. It's not even as good as Ghostbusters 2. But it had some funny moments and excellent special effects to make that made it watchable.

   
DIDN'T SEE, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...

Jackie
Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy? Sign me up.

Sausage Party
Naughty and animated. A great combination I never got around to seeing.

Moonlight
This is the movie that has been most-recommended to me this year. Can't wait to finally see it.

The Edge of Seventeen
Completely off my radar, but I've heard amazing things.

Passengers
A film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence? Can't help but be worth watching.

Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater's follow-up to Boyhood. Who wouldn't want to see that?

   
NOT AS BAD AS THEY SAY...

Gods of Egypt
Yes, they whitewashed the cast. Yes, the special effects were all over the place. Yes, the story was a mess. But at least they tried to do something different. And for that alone, I was entertained. There were some big ideas here that were actually kind of cool and fun to watch... things just didn't come together in a way to make this compelling cinema.

   
THE WORST...

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I don't even know where to start. This shitty, blasphemous, idiotic take on two of the most beloved super-heroes in the world was a continuation of Zack Snyder's horrendous Man of Steel. But since it fucked up Batman, it was probably an even worse movie. And while SvB's greatest sin is that it is just no fun (I was bored to tears despite the action beats, which were confusing and senseless)... we did get Wonder Woman on the big screen at last. Gal Godot was perfectly cast and they gave her a look that was amazing. Sadly, she wasn't enough to save this awful, awful mess.

Suicide Squad
This unbelievably tedious movie featured a forgettable assortment of villains forced to be heroes that fight an endless horde of magical zombies. In-between all that is some of the most boring, shitty dialogue you'll find. And, as if that weren't bad enough, Jared Leto's "Joker" was a fucking embarrassment.

Independence Day: Resurgence
Clearly a case of "We're making a sequel to a popular movie, but we haven't a fucking clue what to do, so... SPECIAL EFFECTS IT!" This would probably be the stupidest, blandest, dullest, most unbelievable shitty film of any year... lucky for Roland Emmerich, Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad stepped in to take the punches. I'd discuss the story, but not one bit of it was worth remembering, so I can't.

   

Tube16

Posted on Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Dave!And now is that special entry where I wrap up MY FAVORITE TV SHOWS OF 2016!

Which was kinda difficult to narrow down because alternate programming from studios like Netflix and HBO are changing the game.

   
THE TWELVE BEST...

Dave Best TV 2016 PART 1

#1 No Tomorrow (The CW)
Girl falls for boy. Boy believes the world ends in eight months. They learn to live like there's no tomorrow while falling in love. Easily my favorite show currently on television, it's not just the central romance that's worth watching. The secondary characters are all fully-realized and equally interesting.

#2 Luke Cage (Netflix)
Sweet Christmas! After the genius of Netflix's take on Marvel's Daredevil and Jessica Jones, I was expecting that Luke Cage would be good. But not this good! It's just so wonderfully fresh and different... largely in part to the strong presence of its Harlem location and a jazz-appropriate soundtrack. And don't get me started on the flawless casting... Mike Colter IS Luke Cage! Adding Alfre Woodard to the mix is just gravy.

#3 Stranger Things (Netflix)
I ignored this show when it first appeared... until everybody and their dog started telling me I should watch it. The fact that it's so 80's nostalgia perfect would be reason enough for me to love it, but the story is actually pretty darn entertaining... kind of a cross between ET and The Goonies with spooky overtones. How the Duffer Brothers managed to get a team of young actors this good is almost a bigger mystery than the show. Then they added Winona Rider, which is all you really need to know.

#4 The Good Place (NBC)
I fully admit that I did not warm to this show quickly. But I stuck with it because Kristen Bell is a national treasure and everything she does is entertaining. Then the show found its footing and I fell in love with it. The humor of Kristen Bell's character ending up in "heaven" when she really should have gone to "hell" is fluid... almost ethereal in spots... but then it turns a corner and it's punching you in the face. And that's what makes the show so special. No show made me laugh in 2016 more than this one.

#5 Atlanta (FX)
Is there nothing that Donald Glover can't do? I didn't really understand what the show was about, but tuned in just to see what Glover was up to (he was half of my favorite thing in Community). So glad I did. Atlanta is seriously good television that has some of the most amazing, depth-filled characters you'll find. It's got humor to it, but it's a stabbing kind of funny that doesn't detract from the story. If you haven't given the show a try, just watch that first episode and try not to get hooked.

#6 Westworld (HBO)
When I found out that Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris were attached to HBO's Westworld remake, I was intrigued. Actors of this caliber do not tend to gravitate towards shit. Then I saw that other terrific talents such as Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Tessa Thompson were onboard as well. What was going on here? I had to know. Turns out that HBO got a fantastic, mind-bending, thought-provoking story that is worth watching. Beautifully shot and having true depth to it, Westworld opens the discussion about whether man can be destroyed by his own creation... and whether that's actually a bad thing. But then adds enough twists to insure you'll never quite know the answer.

Dave Best TV 2016 PART 2

#7 Black Mirror (Netflix)
Kind of a Twilight Zone for a modern era, Black Mirror is a collection of thought-provoking stories of the near-future. If you take my advice to watch, I have a suggestion. Start with Episode 2 of Season 1 (skipping Episode 1), watch the remainder of Season 1, THEN watch that first episode before proceeding to Season 2. The reason is that the first episode is so freaky and "out there" that you will probably get the wrong idea of what the show is capable of. But once you've seen the other episodes, you'll be able to appreciate the first one for what it is in the grand scheme of things.

#8 The Night Manager (AMC)
A John le Carré adaptation that is firing on all cylinders. If you're into spy thrillers, this is a mini-series that's worth a look.

#9 The Crown (Netflix)
As a royalphile who's fascinated by the British Royal Family, I often find myself watching documentaries and series that are informative but boring. This is something different entirely. Following the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown is a beautiful mini series that will be broken down into six series of ten episodes each. If successive seasons are as terrific as this one, I'm set for the next five years.

#10 Lucifer (FOX)
I'd call this show a guilty pleasure," but I'm not feeling much guilt for being a fan. Especially with this latest season where "Mom" comes to town, which has been some of the best fun you can have with a television show.

#11 The Americans (FX)
This is a show that flows in and out of my "Best Of..." list, but is consistently great television and is always worth watching. The opening of Season 4 this year blew the roof off the show (again) and upped the intensity to a whole new level. Given its complexity, I don't know that I would advise jumping in the middle... you really need to start at the beginning... but it's such a great show that you'll be glad you did.

#12 London Spy (BBC America)
And now for something completely different! When Danny has a random encounter with Alex, it's love at first sight. But then things start to go terribly wrong when Alex turns up dead and it's revealed that he wasn't who he claimed to be. This plunges Danny into a rabbit hole of espionage as he tries to find out the truth about what's happened. The resulting story is a slow-burn thriller that is entertaining despite its flaws (of which there are many). In the end I don't know that the show was particularly great, but it was memorable in a way most shows in this genre are not. This is most likely due to the haunting talents of Ben Whishaw.

   
FIVE MORE WORTH WATCHING...

Preacher (AMC)
As a fan on the comic book of the same name, I didn't have much confidence that Seth Rogan would do it justice as a television show. He was the one who screwed up The Green Hornet, after all. So imagine my surprise when the adaptation turned out to be pretty darn good! Dominic Cooper has a handle on Jesse Custer, which was essential... but Joseph Gilgun and Ruth Negga as Cassidy and Tulip O'Hare is what pushes the show to the next level. Disturbingly funny with just enough horror to keep things interesting, Preacher should appeal to even non-fans of the book.

Wrecked (TBS)
Spoofing the epic shit-show that Lost turned out to be seems like it would be an easy chore. In reality... not so much. But then comes along Wrecked, a comedy centered around a group of plane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island... and it kinda works. By no means a "smart" comedy, it relies on easy laughs and situations that are far from brilliant, but the characters manage to make it worth watching. Especially Todd (Will Greenberg) whose selfish and eccentric nature are gold.

Game of Thrones (HBO)
This past year is kind of wearing me out on the whole show, but it's still incredibly compelling television. Apparently it wraps up in two more seasons, which will be a welcome alternative to things being drawn out to tedium, but it's anybody's guess as to whether we're going to get a satisfying conclusion. Will it all be worth it in the end? The series of books are still far, far from being finished, so we're heading into unknown territory.

Elementary
This modern take on Sherlock Holmes is still going strong. Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu still have amazing chemistry. The mysteries are still well-written. And, if anything, this latest season has been one of the best yet... stripping away distraction to focus on what makes the series so good. Could have easily made my top-twelve if there wasn't so much excellent fresh programming being released.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)
To be honest, I'm not sure if I liked this series or not. It's quite different from the Douglas Adams books, and not always in a good way. Still, it's bizarre, fresh, and overall interesting enough that I'm glad I watched it. And it was rather smart how it all came together at the end, which is always a good thing. If "regular" television is boring you, this might be the ticket.

   
ANIMATION WORTH YOUR TIME...

Archer
The show that never disappoints. The fact that we only get three more seasons before Adam Reed packs it in is terrifying.

Bojack Horseman
Hands down the most bizarre mix of comedy and tragedy you will ever see, the third season of BoJack was its most ambitious yet.

   
CANCELLED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN...

Limitless (CBS)
My favorite show from last year started the second half of its first season strong. Indeed, Stop Me Before I Hug Again (airing in January) is one of the best episodes of the entire series. But then things went terribly, inexplicably wrong. A trip to Russia started a spy arc that disappointed. We got more of Brian's stupid, stupid family. And then the writers lost their minds completely when they had NZT (or a knockoff of it) go public in the last two shows. How in the hell they planned on recovering from that serious misstep we will never know, because CBS performed a mercy killing and cancelled it. From how things ended up, I'm not sure this was a bad move... but I will still miss the show. When it was good, it was the best thing on television.

   
MY MOST OVERRATED...

The OA (Netflix)
Holy shit what a disaster. After a non-stop barrage of people telling me to watch, I finally relented. And hated most everything about it. From the plodding, never-ending boredom that stretches out over eight long, grueling episodes (seriously, they could have done this in three) to the wacky interpretive-dance insanity that injects itself into the tedium, I slogged through every episode while wishing death would take me. Any time I complained about the show, people were telling me "you just don't understand its genius" which is code for "don't question this incomprehensible bullshit." Yeah, I get what they were attempting to do... and kudos for trying to put an original spin on a show that was far better (Stranger Things), but no thanks.

Fleabag (Amazon)
A critical darling that is firmly cemented in the top five of most every critic in the known universe, I just could not get into this show. I don't like any of the characters and didn't find the humor to be all that entertaining.

This is Us (NBC)
There is nobody I know who isn't head over heels in love with this show. I just don't get the appeal.

South Park (Comedy Central)
A show that's been on my "Best Of..." list since I've been making "Best Of..." lists completely shit the bed this year. Rather than concentrate the funny on individual episodes, this year we got an inexplicably crappy multi-part epic centering around internet trolling, Denmark, and the presidential election. Of course there were funny moments (this is South Park, after all), but this entire season has been a horrific disaster that never seemed to crawl out of the wreckage.

   
UTTER SHIT...

MacGyver (CBS)
What a total and complete pile of shit. The original show was a romp of ingenuity that was held together by the charms of Richard Dean Anderson. The revamp is a dumbed-down wankfest headed by a character so unlikeable that I can't fathom how I am expected to root for him. On the contrary, I spent the entire show hoping MacGyver would die so the supporting cast could be the focus.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
After bitching endlessly about how unremarkable and dull this show is when it has potential to be slaying week after week, I was given renewed hope when it was announced that Ghost Rider would be making an appearance this season. Didn't help. Still mired in talking-heads-we-have-no-budget-for-what-counts tedium that has me racing to fast-forward through the bulk of each episode. Just give it up already. I'd rather have Coulson back in the movies where he was far better utilized.

   

Audio16

Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2016

Dave!My favorite song of 2016 is Somebody Else by The 1975. My second favorite song is Eleven Blocks by Wrabel. And had this song been on an album, it would have made my "Best Of..." list for 2016 even if the rest of the album was shit.

That's how awesome a song it is...

Anyway... here's my list of favorite albums from this past year...

   
THE TWELVE BEST...

#1 I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it by The 1975
This should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, as I've been raving about it this whole year. Just as I raved about The 1975's previous album non-stop since I first heard it. This is easily my favorite band going now, and seeing their live show last December made them a serious contender for one of my favorite bands ever. I just can't stop listening to their music, and their latest album dropped a slew of new songs that made that a truth throughout 2016. Hands-down my favorite is Somebody Else, which is a beautiful, haunting tune that has permanent residence in my head. I'm also loving Change of Heart, which is a direct song-sequel to The City. Rounding out my favorites are Paris and This Must Be My Dream.

   

   

#2 Reverie by Postiljonen
More haunting magic from the Swedish overlords of dream-pop. I love every song on this album but, if forced to pick, Blood Flow is a song that feels like a romantic warm blanket enveloping you, and it's tough to top that. If that song grabs you, Wait has a slightly more ethereal edge and is worth a listen. And if you want something a little more pop-forward, give Are You Thinking of Me a spin.

   
   

   

#3 E•MO•TION: Side B (EP) by Carly Rae Jepson
The original E•MO•TION (released 2015) should have ended up in my top five last year, but inexplicably didn't make my list at all. In an effort to rectify this, I'm putting Carly Rae Jepson's EP of songs that didn't make the cut as my No. 3 pick (thanks, Howard!). Given how these tracks are every bit as good as what did end up making the cut, you have to wonder if she's capable of making a bad song.

   

#4 Super by Pet Shop Boys
One of my favorite bands of all time, Pet Shop Boys has been releasing new music at a frantic clip, and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Good, because it's more PSB music. Bad, because the best tracks from the past three albums would have made one of the best PSB albums of all time. Still, if your favorite PSB songs are their infectious dance tracks, Super has a lot to offer. Oddly enough, my favorite song is not one of those tracks, but the flawlessly-constructed The Dictator Decides, which sports some terrific lyrics over electro-pop accented tones of despair. Equally haunting is Sad Robot World, which is a track that drags you through a slow-moving tale of desolation... exactly the kind of thing Pet Shop Boys excel at.

   

   

#5 DNCE by DNCE
No, I have no clue how I ended up liking an album from a group headed up by one of the Jonas Brothers, but here we are. A great deal of my liking this album has to do with their breakout hit, Cake By The Ocean, which is pop genius (and originated when a friend of the band couldn't remember the phrase "sex on the beach"). They followed that with a video for Toothbrush (starring ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM!) and I was hooked. Then DNCE dropped a video for the infectious Body Moves and suddenly I was a fan of Joe Jonas & Company.

   
   

   

#6 Oh My My by OneRepublic
OneRepublic often feels like a band that's been spinning its wheels. Their songs (and albums) just kind of blend together in a homogenous blob. Except... what a great blob it is to listen to. Yes, Oh My My is more of the same, but that's not always a bad thing because it keeps me loving the band. A standout track is Kids, which has a kind of M83-infused hook to it. Note that the video for Wherever I Go is one of my favorites of 2016.

   

   

#7 Blackstar by David Bowie
For me, Bowie will forever be enshrined in an alter devoted to his 1983 album Let's Dance. Anything outside of that can be appreciated, but my love was reserved for that one album (come on, it's perfect!). Which means I've largely been ignoring his work for 33 years. Then Blackstar drops and my love of all things Bowie is renewed in a huge way. Two days later, Bowie dies and the world starts falling apart. I am convinced this is not a coincidence. Recorded as he was battling liver cancer, Blackstar is yet another example of Bowie being ahead of the pack, the album sounding like some kind of experimental leap of brilliance we're not going to hear again any time soon.

   

#8 Moth by Chairlift
In my humble opinion, Chairlift's best song is Bruises. It's lyrical, smart, and fun, and nothing else that's come out of the band has reached that height. It hasn't kept them from trying. Moth is another nicely subdued pop release that, unfortunately, will assumably be the band's last since they recently announced a breakup.

And now, just because I love it so much, here's Bruises...

   

#9 Junk by M83
Much like OneReublic, M83 just keeps slogging through more of the same. And, just like OneRepublic, I find myself being secretly grateful so I don't end up discouraged when a band I like heads in the wrong direction (see: Depeche Mode). Junk doesn't stray to far from formula, but it's a listen I enjoy just the same.

   

#10 Run the Jewels 3 by Run The Jewels
My being a fan of Run the Jewels confuses a lot of people. Probably because my love of music fits nicely into the pop genre (with emphasis on synth-pop and the 80's) and that's what I'm listening to 95% of the time. But then... then... there are times I need something else. There are times I need metal. There are times I need electronica. And, yes, there are times I need rap. And when that time comes, there's something about Run the Jewels that hits the spot. Their past two albums were fantastic... this third one was released early just last week, so I haven't quite settled into it yet... but I love what I'm hearing.

   

#11 Version Of Me by Melanie C
My favorite Spice Girl was Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham). My favorite singer of the Spice Girls was Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell). But lurking in my consciousness was always Mel C, who has been just plain solid both in and out of Spice World. Version of Me isn't breaking any new ground, but it's eminently listenable and one of those "in the background albums" I play often while working. That may not seem like a glowing endorsement, and maybe it's not, but the album gets played enough to earn a spot on my list for 2016.

   

#12 Perfume by Cosmic Explorer
My interest in J-Pop is firmly planted in the past, but every once in a while something new comes along to sink me into that world once again. Perfume was just such a ticket. Something about having Cosmic Explorer's sweet melodies and heavy synth playing at full volume while driving provides a calming effect... even though my grasp of the Japanese language has long-since faded.

   

And, that's a wrap for 2016! As always, I'm sure I missed something. If I think of it in these coming weeks, I'll be sure to add it here.

Tags: ,
Categories: Music 2016Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Dave16

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

I suppose I should preface this year's entry with a disclaimer that 2016 was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. The reasons are personal and I can't go into them here, so you'll just have to trust me. Suffice to say that any other year where I thought I was having a bad year only goes to know that I had no clue what a "bad year" really was.

And now I do.

   


JANUARY

• Had something terrible happen, then went on a blog strike...

Dave On Strike!

   


FEBRUARY

• Had something terrible happen, then adopted my Jake and Jenny (two feral rescue kittens) in an attempt to cheer myself up. Pretty much the only awesome thing to happen all year...

Jenny & Jake

Kittens!

   

• Had something even more terrible happen, but having two amazing kitties to care for kept me from killing myself...

KITTENS!

KITTENS!

KITTENS!

   


MARCH

• Terrible continued to happen, so I bought a new camera and a new lens to distract myself from the shambles my life was quickly becoming...

Sony 90mm MACRO

Sony 90mm MACRO

   

• Had something terrible happen (I turned 50), but was strangely okay with it because: kittens...

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

   


APRIL

• Thought my life was improving, then had something terrible happen, then decided to remodel my guest room so I wouldn't keep dwelling on just how gut-wrenchingly awful things were...

Guest Room Remodel Project

It was a big job, but I had plenty of help...

Guest Room Remodel Project

   


MAY

• Didn't think things could possibly get worse, but then something terrible happened when an eye infection I got years ago in Costa Rica came back to haunt me...

Dave Eyes

Don't worry, I had round-the-clock care...

Jake Kitty Hugs

   

• Things went from terrible to tragic, so I bought another camera lens to distract me from the new level of hell I was consigned to...

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8

   

• Hit rock bottom, but was able to hang on when my kitten's foster parents paid a visit and shared some early photos of my reason for living...

Baby Kitties

The third kitty was a brother who was adopted before I arrived or I would have adopted all three of them.

   


JUNE

• Made it three days into June before my blog broke down. Then something beyond terrible happened and I had to take the rest of the month off from blogging to recover.

   


JULY

• In an effort to escape from my terrible life while I could still function, I went to New Orleans for a concert.

• The trip to New Orleans was nice, but it didn't make my life any better. Something newly terrible happened when I returned and I decided to take a blogging sabbatical because there was nothing left to say.

   


AUGUST

• Still on sabbatical. Continuing to explore new levels of terrible.

   


SEPTEMBER

• Still on sabbatical. What was left of my world fell apart when the worst day of my entire life came and went.

• Found myself longing for the good ol' days when my life was merely "terrible" and spent the second half of September wanting to die.

   


OCTOBER

• Still on sabbatical. Spent the month of October trying to find a new "normal" that I could cling to so I could escape the demons that returned after a 25 year hiatus.

   


NOVEMBER

• Returned to blogging as a way of clawing my way out of The Pit of Despair for the second time in my life.

• Caught everybody up on the past five months. Starting with my cats, who were my reason for living while absolutely everything in my universe was going to shit...

Jake!

Jenny!

   

• Told everybody about building a catio back in September, which allows my kitties to go outside safely...

Catio Building

Catio Building

   

• Started rethinking not killing myself when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America. Ran through the Worst Case Scenario becoming reality.

   

• Took a much needed trip to San Francisco so I could hang out with one of my bestest friends, who happens to be a rock star...

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.

   

• Got Tattoo No. 7...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

   


DECEMBER

We are all fucked.

• No, seriously, we are totally and completely fucked.

Went to Maine for work.

Cold in Portland, Maine

   


And there you have it, the worst year of my life. I still don't know how I survived it (but I'm guessing it was the cats).

I'd say that I'm hopeful for a better 2017, since things couldn't possibly get worse than this... but we elected a total fucking lunatic to run the country, so there's no such guarantee.

Best of luck, everybody.

Tags: ,
Categories: Cats 2016, DaveLife 2016Click To It: Permalink  11 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

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