I never get mad at my cats.
It doesn't matter what they do that's "bad," I can never bring myself to get upset at a cat for being a cat. My cats make that pretty easy. They're well-behaved, for the most part, and don't get into to much trouble. Now that they're grown, they never scratch at the furniture or pee on stuff or anything like that (so far, anyway)...
On occasion there are problems. One of them will get to a place they're not supposed to be and break something, for example. But... how can that be their fault? More likely my fault for not anticipating the problem and preventing it. If I'm mad at anybody, it should be me.
It occurred to me a while back that if I can't get mad at my cats, shouldn't I be able to translate that passivity to people?
The Trump presidency has caused a lot of anger in me this past year. His dangerous ignorance, utter stupidity, and inhuman ability to not give a crap about people he is supposed to be representing as president... it grates on me like nothing else ever has. I find myself consumed with rage on a near-daily basis because every day it's just more of the same horrendous shit raining down on the world from The White House. Or, more likely, whatever golf course President Trump is occupying this week.
As somebody who honestly believes that anger is more destructive on the person who has it rather than those it's directed at, I know this it not healthy. Not for me. Not for the people I care about. Not for my cats.
And so, after completely unplugging from the world for two weeks in Antarctica and becoming accustomed to not being angry every waking moment, I made myself a promise to try and be more pragmatic, caring, and less angry in the new year. To attempt to let my anger go and focus on positive things so that I can help be a solution instead of being part of the static that divides us.
And then... just as I was making my mind up, it happens. A tweet President Trump unleashed finds its way into my news cycle...
And see... here is why my "letting go" of my anger is so tough. When it comes to my new commitment to setting aside hatred, I've already failed the test. Because stupid-ass shit like this just reinforces how utterly brain-dead and dangerous this fucking asshole actually is for this country and the world, and I can't help but be angry about that.
He has no clue... none... what climate change entails, nor does he care. And yet he speaks as if he's an authority on the matter. This is the same idiot who thought that hairspray quality today isn't as good as it used to be because ozone-depleting CFCs have been banned from aerosols... the same CFCs that he said could never affect the ozone layer because his apartment is "all sealed."
And yet... here we are. And here I am. Right back to where I was in 2017.
There's more stupid-ass tweets to come, I'm sure. There always are. And that's not even the start of it. I'm sure he'll find a way to keep assaulting all the Americans he loathes in short order... the non-Christian Americans, the unhealthy Americans, the Mexican Americans, the gay Americans, the poor Americans... whatever... the list is never-ending. And that doesn't even touch crap like his assault on net-neutrality, something that I am beyond passionate about.
And so... what?
What to do with the torrents of overwhelming Trump-initiated anger that very nearly destroyed me in 2017?
I honestly don't know. I wish I could argue against his fucked-up agenda without getting so enraged about it, but that's something I'm apparently incapable of doing. President Trump is an affront to everything I care about.
And yet I have to try.
I have to do better in 2018.
I could never ignore what's going on in the world in order to make myself be happier. Ignorance just allows ignorance to propagate. But the same could be said for hate.
And so... a plan.
Easier said than done to be sure. But, as I said, I'm going to try. Finding more positive inspirations in my life that encourage me to make the jump will probably help...
And here we go...
I went into work today and lasted longer than I thought I would, cashing out at 3:15. I tried to work when I got home but was feeling awful, and it was easier to watch HGTV and veg out on home renovation shows... then dream about the snow melting in the Spring so I can set up a wood shop in my garage again.
Chip and Joanna Gaines, the hosts of my all-time favorite home renovation show, Fixer Upper (despite some caveats) have decided to stop doing the show after this fifth and final season.
I'm way more upset about this than I should be.
But nobody else even comes close to making a show that matches my creative aesthetic like this one... and I watch all the home reno shows.
And now I'm tired of writing. Just leave me to die here in a pile of mucus while you go on to live out the New Year. Shoo. Just go now.
Jenny came in and woke me up a little after 4am this morning. This is unusual because my cats rarely bother me while I am sleeping. I petted her on the head, she walked to the door and meowed, then ran downstairs. I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.
Five minutes later she was back meowing again.
Thinking this is like Lassie trying to tell people that Timmy has fallen down a well, this time I follow her downstairs to find out what the problem is. Was Jake into something he shouldn't be? Is there another bird in the house? She leads me to the Litter-Robot and meows again. Turns out the Litter-Robot is stuck, Jake took a big dump in it, and the litter level is very low. So I replenish the litter, reset the Litter-Robot, then watch as Jenny waits for it to cycle so she has a clean spot to go to the bathroom.
Now... I wouldn't blame you for thinking I'm making this up. It sounds unreal, right?
Except this is Jenny we're talking about... and I have security camera footage that captures the whole thing.
This is my life now.
Here's Jake taking a dump in Litter Robot at 3:38am...
Here's Jenny going to use the Liter-Robot at 4:02am...
Here's Jenny deciding that she is not using a bathroom that smells like one of Jake's notorious dumps...
Here's Jenny coming up to get me...
Remember that I ignored her the first time. But she persisted. Here's Jenny leading me to the Litter-Robot at 4:12am where, sure enough, I find it's stuck and there's not enough litter in it to cover Jake's poop...
Here's me refilling the Litter-Robot with fresh kitty litter so I can reset it...
Here's Jenny waiting for the Litter-Robot to cycle so she has a clean place to do her business...
And here's Jenny finally having a clean place to go to the bathroom like she wanted all along... while Jake watches her...
Nobody warned me about stuff like this before I got cats.
Remember, I was a dog person before I got cats.
My first screen crush was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. Not from her initial run that started in 1975 (I was 9 years old) but later on when the show was syndicated on whatever cable channel reran old pop culture TV shows in 1981. I was flicking through channels and happened upon what I thought was some kind of military show, until Diana Prince exploded in a burst of light and Wonder Woman appeared on my television.
She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
In every sense that mattered, Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman.
To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I kept watching the show every chance I got... even when they destroyed it by abandoning the World War II setting and had Lyle Waggoner play his own son in "modern times" (while accompanied by a bleep-bloop computer named IRAC and a robot called ROVER).
My Lynda Carter awakening game me an all new appreciation for other shows I was tuning into at the time...
• Erin Gray who played Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
• Pamela Hensley who played Princess Ardala in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
• Barbara Eden who played Genie in I Dream of Genie reruns.
Of these four women who shaped my fantasy life in my developing years, I've only met one of them, Erin Gray...
Note she is just as beautiful now as she ever was. And she was nice!
Other crushes came and went... depending on who was the "it-girl" of the moment on MTV or in the latest TV show or Movie I liked, but everything began with Lynda, Erin, Pamela, and Barbara.
And then came Blade Runner in 1982.
Always looking for the next big sci-fi extravaganza to fuel the fire lit by Star Wars (or, more likely, The Empire Strikes Back), I trudged to the theater to take in Blade Runner, which was a big treat for me at the time.
It was there that I literally had my breath taken away when "Racheal" appeared from the dim recesses of Eldon Tyrell's corporate headquarters...
The cool, detached demeanor that Rachel exhibited throughout Harrison Ford's interrogation was just the icing on the cake. I had just fallen in love with Sean Young.
This meant saving up the insane amount of money to buy a copy of Blade Runner on VHS tape when it was released in 1983 (seriously, it was like $100 or something). It also meant following her career (going backwards to see her first film appearance in Stripes first), which was pretty hit-or-miss over the years. But I always loved Sean. Even when she would play to the absurd, like she did in 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
And so you can imagine my shock when 1982 Sean Young appeared on-screen in last year's Blade Runner 2049 sequel. Looking exactly as she did when I fell in love with her 35 years ago...
Unlike the way they resurrected Carrie Fischer's Princess Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sean Young looked real. So real that I was convinced they must have digitally cleaned up footage from the first movie and reused it somehow. How could it be otherwise, because everything about it Was. Real.
It also lead to a moment of confusion for me when Deckard (Harrison Ford) spoils his reunion moment in Blade Runner 2049 by telling Wallace he screwed up because the real Rachael had green eyes. Except... from my staring into them for hours at a time, I knew that her eyes were actually originally brown, just like the new copy. It's then I had an "ah ha!" moment when I realized that Decker was merely using the eye color line to screw with Wallace by essentially saying he would always know she was a fake.
I had kind of forgotten about this somewhat shocking moment from 2017 cinema until today when I ran across a story about how they actually did recreate Sean Young digitally for the cameo appearance. They just took the time to do an extraordinary job of it...
And here's the VFX reel...
I'm guessing in the next ten to twenty years, the visual effects will be so jaw-droppingly realistic that they can resurrect anybody from any time and bring them to life again on-screen.
I'm not going to dwell on the legal or moral consequences of doing so. But I am going to dwell on the possibility that we'll one day get an "animated" feature film of 1975 Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman.
15-year-old me is counting on it.
Yesterday I had to go to the post office, which is always a guaranteed interesting time here in Small Town America. After a boring wait to buy stamps, I thought I was going to be denied any entertainment until I was leaving and passed a woman (mid 40's?) who kept singing "Hello, Dolly! Well hello, Dolly! La da da da da da da da da da daaaaa!" I stopped to look through my mail as an excuse to see if she knew any of the lyrics other than "Well hello, Dolly" but she did not. It was just "Hello, Dolly! Well hello, Dolly! La da da da da da da da da da daaaaa!" over and over until she left.
Not that I know what the hell the lyrics are. I can't stand Broadway musical type stuff, so she knew as much as I do.
I thought it was an odd song to be singing until I was driving home from work today and saw a banner advertising a local high school production of Hello Dolly! that's happening later this month.
After singing "Hello, Dolly! Well hello, Dolly! La da da da da da da da da da daaaaa!" all the way home, I finally Googled the lyrics. I also Googled what in the hell the play is about and ended up on Wikipedia. The Hello Dolly! article itself is Too Long, Didn't Read... but get a load of the character names! Horace Vandergelder? Cornelius Hackl? Barnaby Tucker? Ambrose Kemper? Ernestina Money? Rudolf Reisenweber? ERMENGARDE?!??
Hilarious. Maybe I need to buy a ticket to the high school play just to be able to hear today's teens call each other "Horace" and "Ernestina."
Just kidding. Sitting through a high school production of Hello Dolly! is what I imagine Hell must be like.
For the record, here are the actual lyrics I Googled...
This is miss Dolly
It's so nice to have you back where you belong
You're lookin' swell, Dolly
I can tell, Dolly
You're still glowin', you're still crowin', you're still goin' strong
I feel the room swayin'
While the band's playin'
One of our old favorite songs from way back when
So, take her wrap fellas
Find her an empty lap, fellas
Dolly, never go away again
I feel the room swayin'
While the band's playin'
One of our old favorite songs from way back when
So, golly gee, fellas
Have a little faith in me, fellas
Dolly, never go away
Promise, you'll never go away
Dolly, never go away again
So... apparently Dolly went away, came back to sit on somebody's lap, now everybody is begging her not to leave again?
I don't know why Wikipedia couldn't have just said that. Would save everybody who doesn't want to go see the play a lot of time.
While I was on vacation, I could have lowered the heat to save money. I absolutely did not. My cats were still home, and they were accustomed to the temperature as it was set. $26 was a small price to pay... and a drop in the bucket compared to how much my vacation cost.
Now that I'm home?
Jake and Jenny spend half the day (and night) wandering in and out of the catio when the temperatures are freezing.
Jake likes to then run back in the house and hop on me in order to get his feet warmed up. And then promptly fall asleep...
Jenny prefers the electric blanket on my bed. Few things make her happier than rolling around on the luxurious warmth from her favorite spot...
Such a cute kitty...
Speaking of "cute"... earlier this week I compiled the nicknames I call my cats...
Nicknames for Jake:
Nicknames for Jenny:
MEOWSTRESS OF DESTRUCTION!
And... no more cat cuteness for you.
It's the first Bullet Sunday of 2018, and it starts... now...
• Discovery! Oh happy day... Star Trek: Discovery is back after a month hiatus. And it's just gone Next Level. It's always had beautiful set design and special effects... sublime characters and acting... plus great plot-driven stories... but now? Utter craziness ensues...
If you love sci-fi (and even if you don't like Star Trek), this should be on your list. Yes, you have to pay for "CBS All-Access" to get it, but it's one of the few shows I honestly don't mind paying extra for. All the money is on the screen.
• Crisis! Speaking of amazing television.. the 4-Part Arrowverse Mega Crossover for "Crisis on Earth-X" (between The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow) was fantastic. Far, far better than Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League put together (which is essentially the television-equivalent of what "Crisis on Earth-X" was)...
The best comic book crossovers always have meaningful consequences rather than being just for kicks. "Crisis on Earth X" has this in spades. All four shows have actual consequences for their respective stories. As if that weren't enough, it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. This just proves once again how the DC movie franchise should be turned over to the television showrunners. What they manage to do with a television budget is squee-worthy comic book fanboy dreamy.
• Legion! Speaking of Supergirl... when it comes to comic books, The Legion of Super-Heroes has long been one of my favorite series of all time. Even when I shifted away from DC to Marvel (thanks, George Pérez!) I never left The Legion far behind. Following them through their every incarnation... for better and for worse (but mostly for worse)... they ARE comic books to me.
Not sure what to think of them in this promo, but you know I'll be watching!
• iPhone X! I've had a few people asking how I like the iPhone X. I waited a week to write my review, so it pretty much sums up where I'm at three weeks later. FaceID is more amazing that I gave it credit for. Any trouble I was having was from my holding the phone too close when my glasses were off. Now that I'm used to not sticking my phone close to my face for FaceID, it's near-flawless. No idea how secure it is, but it's incredible how good it works. Like I said, most of the time I don't even think about it... which is all you could want from a technology. When I heard about it, I imagined that it would take my staring at the phone for a minute for it to activate, but that's not the case at all. A subtle glance is all it takes and it's near instantaneous. Other than that? Still love the camera. Still hate how difficult it is to get to the Control Panel. Still not thrilled with "The Notch" (though I mostly don't notice it). Still not entirely sure it's worth the money. But I do still love it, so there's that.
• All New! Oh yeah... the latest issue of Thrice Fiction was released last week...
As always, you can download it or read it online absolutely FREE over at the Thrice Fiction website.
• iPhone X! For reals. My biggest discovery for 2017 was the Philips "OneBlade" razor. Is it as close as a blade? Hell no. Is it as close as an electric razor? Not really. But holy crap is it an effortless way to groom! Goes through anything, so even if you've forsaken your face for a week like I have, you can still easily clean up WITHOUT trimming first! I haven't replaced my trimmer yet... nor my electric razor... but, this is so handy. When I travel, OneBlade is all I need...
• New School! Well... adapt or die, as they say...
What worked before is failing us now. It's only going to get worse unless people with vision has the guts to step up and initiate change.
• Sparkle! All the hand-power-scrubbers suck. Not powerful enough to clean shit (assuming you have shit all over something) let alone soap scum. Enter THE REVOLVER! Attaches to your drill and has more than enough power to rip through soap scum!
As I was cleaning my shower I kept laughing "MWAH HA HA HA HAAAA!" as everything was getting sparkly clean.
And... back to Bullet Sundays as usual next week!
Jake needs to lose four pounds.
Which is not easy because he will eat every bit of food that I put out as soon as he can get it. Jenny prefers to graze over time, which means the minute she steps away Jake will pounce on her food immediately.
I've gotten a little more proactive in taking food away and putting out smaller and smaller amounts that I can ration so Jake isn't devouring food meant for Jenny.
Jake is not taking his diet well.
Tonight I caught him eating from a bag of dry food I was foolish enough to leave on the kitchen counter. He knows exactly what it is... and apparently knows how to open a sealable bag as well...
I yelled for him to get down, which he did.
Not five minutes later, Jenny hopped on the counter to see if she could get away with snagging a bite or two...
I yelled at her before she could manage it, and she won't look at me now. Even once I called her to come up to bed, she refuses to look me in the eye. Which means I've been getting snubbed and side-eyed all night...
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
If I am killed in my sleep, check for claw marks.
UPDATE: I've been asked how much food they get. Jake and Jenny get three tablespoons of dry food and a tablespoon of wet food twice a day (each). Jenny doesn't know what to do about wet food. She ate it as a kitten, but now she just licks it. Jake will then walk over and polish off her gravy-free wet food before tackling his dry food. So, essentially, Jenny is eating less than a half cup a day while Jake is eating over half cup a day, when it really should be reversed...
I bought some expensive stainless steel bowls that spread the food out while keeping it centered so that they avoid "whisker fatigue"... but my cats don't seem to care, so I still use bowls for their wet food. As they wear out (or break) I've been replacing them with shallower bowls in the hopes that the cats find them easier to eat from.
I've been telling y'all that I'm a stable genius for years.
If I become president on my first try, do you think people will start believing me?
Since it's never too early for a politician to start sucking lobbyist dick for campaign money, let's get this party started, shall we?
While donations to my "campaign" are not tax deductible now, they are a promise that, if elected, I will let you become a giant corporation and not have to pay taxes.
And don't worry what that will do to our economy, I'm totes going to make Mexico pay for it.
If virulently anti-gay pastors and Republicans have taught us anything about their disturbingly homophobic behavior... it's that it's usually driven by they themselves being gay. This asshole's reaction towards a cursory touch by a man speaks volumes. It's so over-the-top absurd that you'd think he was grabbed by the crotch...
So synchronize your watches, folks... It's only a matter of time before Representative Daryl Metcalfe is caught with an underage gay prostitute in a public bathroom.
They always are...
Snow is frickin' dumping down today.
I mean really coming down.
I had to drive to The Big City and back for a dentist appointment and ended up regretting that I didn't cancel it. The roads were plowed earlier in the morning, but conditions worsened since then and there's a pretty big accumulation of snow and slush you have to drive through... even on the highway. Also? People are driving like frickin' morons. One person in a small van thought that they would cruise around us cars driving at a SANE speed for the conditions. I watched as they got sucked into the slush and rammed their vehicle straight into the center barricade. I was laughing my ass off as I passed. Maybe I shouldn't have... perhaps the driver had an emergency... but 99 times out of 100, this kind of thing happens to people who get what they deserve for driving stupid. It's just fortunate they didn't take anybody else down with them.
Oh... and on the way back from the dentist I stopped for lunch. As I was getting out of my car, I heard a guy screaming "OH YEAH! FUCK YOU! DON'T SLOW DOWN, ASSHOLE! I DON'T FUCKING CARE! FUUUUUUCK YOOOOUUUU!" which was subsequently repeated all over again.
Turns out he was shoveling the sidewalk and when cars drove by he was getting totally douched in dirty slush water. He was not happy. Didn't help that he was absolutely not dressed for the job in non-waterproof clothing and was probably soaked down to his tookus. Oh well. Live and learn, buddy. Live and learn.
I honestly don't mind winter weather. I've lived in it since I was 5 years old and learned how to drive in it since I first started driving. No, I don't like having to clean snow off my car, but snow is pretty, and I've grown accustomed to having it around town...
I usually end up hating it from Day One as well as liking it, because people are stupid assholes.
That's true for most things though.
As a wise man once said before the election...
"Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted piece of shit. And electing Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. And that doesn't even address the embarrassment factor of having this ridiculous buffoon representing Americans on the global stage. You think we were the laughing stock of the planet during the Bush years? Try 1400+ days of Toxic Cheeto Jesus."
— David Simmer II, Blogography: No… God, No… Please Save Us…
The old me might have said something like that (or never said anything like that... these days apparently you can deny what you said even if others have heard you say it or the statement is recorded). But my New Year's resolution was to start being less ranty and more constructive so let's work from there, shall we?
This is exactly who Donald Trump is and has always been. Even FOX "News" initially confirmed that President Trump uttered these heinous words (even though the network is backtracking on their confirmation now, of course). Senator Dick Durbin was there and has said that he heard the president say it. Senator Lindsey Graham is reported to have confirmed this was what the president said (and hasn't contradicted any reports stating so).
And so... if I'm not going to rant over what a racist piece of shit* we elected to run this country or how diplomatically stupid you have to be to lob such insults at other countries when you're representing this country... what else is there to say?
Something positive and constructive? On this?
Well... Zimbabwe may not have a Trump Tower, but it's actually a beautiful country and has some amazing people...
There's many a day lately I'd like to escape the "shithole" of Trump's America and return to Africa, that's for sure.
*Racist as in... three guesses as to what the predominant color of the people are in Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries... vs. the predominant color of the people in Norway.
When it comes to cats, I really did luck out. Jake and Jenny are healthy, well-behaved, loving, all-around wonderful pets and I honestly have no complaints. Yes, I wish they would let me pick them up... neither of them (especially Jenny) likes that at all... but it's such a small thing in the grand scheme of things that I don't dwell on it.
When it comes to smarts, they both seem like intelligent cats. Jake has pretty good puzzle-solving abilities and can use process of elimination to find stuff. I was afraid that Carl the RoboVac would choke on Mufasa, a toy lion I brought back from Africa for Spanky which Jake inherited, so I picked it up off the floor and tossed it on the couch. Later that day I checked in on the cats with the security cameras and saw him hunting around the house looking for something. Eventually he found what he was looking for... which was Mufasa...
Once he found it, Jake took Mufasa upstairs, assumably to hide it from me so I wouldn't hide it from him. Pretty smart.
And then there's Jenny.
As far as intelligence goes, Jenny operates on an entirely different level. Not just from Jake, but from most cats I've ever seen. She's super smart. When her brother found her secret sleeping spot in the room I use for comic book storage, she went and found another spot to get away from him. Now she sleeps in the guest room closet. To get in, she has to separate the doors by pulling the door out. Something Jake hasn't figured out how to do, and it drives him absolutely nuts.
She's also incredibly devious and crafty.
One morning as I was working in bed, I realized I hadn't seen my cats in a while. Using the security cameras, I found Jake out in the catio pawing at the door trying to get back inside. I couldn't figure out what his problem was, so I went downstairs to see if the door was broke. It wasn't. Jenny had pushed the scratcher lounge in front of the door, then sat on it so he couldn't push through...
I can only guess this was revenge from when she was asleep on the scratcher lounge and Jake kicked her off of it...
She was not happy about it, and was staring daggers at her brother...
Jake is a bigger cat that Jenny and uses his size to get what he wants. Whether it's the scratcher lounge, the top spot of the cat tree, or whatever. There's times that Jenny is having none of it though. Like the other night when she was chewing on her catnip-infused paper bag and Jake decided he wanted it. She plopped down on it and refused to let him near...
Once he left, she went back to chewing on the thing. Though I have no idea why. Apparently it doesn't taste very good...
If there's one thing Jenny loves, it's ambushing her brother when he least expects it. Usually she does this by running up and smacking him in the face while he's pooping. But sometimes she gets deviously crafty. Like dragging her paper bag in front of the cat door so she can hide behind it and jump on Jake when he comes through...
Like I said... next-level smart. And clever and devious.
I really lucked out.
A cold wind is a blowin, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Copied! "Who says Apple can't innovate any more?" — Oh damn. Here they are, copying an idea from Samsung!
You can read all about it here.
• Ghosts! My photos were used in an article about ghosts in Antarctica by my friends at Paranormal Georgia Investigations! You can read it over at their website: Ghosts at the Bottom of the World. And speaking of Antarctica... maybe I'm wrong about the earth being flat, y'all?
Nah. Just kidding. This woman is obviously lying and a paid shill for the lying liars at NASA.
• Color! As somebody who loves color, world cultures, languages, and cool insight into things we don't really think about, this Vox video is pretty great...
• Guilty Pleasure! I am not ashamed of the things I like. That being said, I am mildly ashamed that I like the new show L.A. to Vegas much more than I should...
It's kind of non-stop Airplane! from start to finish. Tuesdays at 9pm on FOX.
• Krypton! Well, I had my doubts... but this trailer makes me want to tune in to the show...
Looks like they sunk the money needed into making it, which is always a nice surprise.
And... that's Bullet Sunday for you.
And here we are again... Teen Vogue unleashing a healthy dose of reality in a reality-starved world.
Yes, you read that right. Teen Vogue!
"This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we would do his memory justice by honoring all of his legacy. Not just the parts that make white Americans comfortable." — Martin Luther King Jr. Was More Radical Than We Remember
Wishing you an uncomfortable holiday.
Between the weather and my work schedule there's nothing much else going on in my life.
Except for the cats, of course...
Turns out I didn't close the pots and pan cupboard, so Jake and Jenny were climbing all over in there. This is great, because I was dying to wash six loads of metal in the dishwasher, and now's my chance!
Buying a home is much like attaching a boat anchor to your neck and jumping into an ocean of debt. Eventually you'll drown, but for as long as you can manage to keep your head above water, it's nice. I like having a place of my own that I can remodel as I want, design as I want, and otherwise make it mine.
Along with the debt, there's a never-ending (and ever-expanding) list of things to do. Things to clean. Things to repair. Things to change. The number of things on my list is overwhelming. Rather than let it drive me insane, I decided to focus on attacking just one thing every day... no matter how small. Fix a hole in the wall. Put together a piece of IKEA that's been sitting in the garage. Clean out under the sink. That kind of thing.
Today's task was removing the plastic stuck behind my appliance handles.
The former owner of my home kept it clean, but there were a lot of changes I wanted to make. One of them was to buy all new stainless steel appliances. In order to protect the stainless steel finish, everything arrives covered with plastic. Which would be fine... except it's not stuck to the appliances, it's screwed into the appliances. Which means you can't just rip it off. But that's exactly what the installers do. And so you're left with jagged ugly plastic screwed behind all the handles. To get it out of there, you have to remove the handles.
Which is easier said than done.
Every handle has a different kind of "hidden screw" head. Even handles on the same appliance can be different.
Which meant I had to go out and buy a full set of screwdriver bits so I could figure out how to unscrew star screws, hex screws, and other weird-ass screws. Which I found at Home Depot yesterday. Eventually I managed to find the bits that worked perfectly, but I've already lost two of them somewhere.
Adding "Find missing screw bits" to my ever-growing list.
Back in 2009 photographer Chase Jarvis released an iPhone app called "The Best Camera" which was the "Instagram" of its day. It allowed you to do things like crop your photos, apply filters to them, and easily share them on social media... things all the photo apps can do now, but back then it was fairly revolutionary. Along with the app, he also released a book called The Best Camera is the One That's With You. I never read the book, but the title and the philosophy behind it changed the way I look at photography. Essentially Chase was saying that you don't need a big, expensive camera to be a good photographer, and talent will shine through regardless of what you're using.
Until that point, I kind of dismissed the camera on my iPhone. Sure I used it, but never for anything serious. And I ended up missing out on a lot of photo opportunities because of it. "Why bother taking a photo if I don't have my real camera with me?" But after getting "The Best Camera" app and buying into the idea that I could take good photos with it, all that changed. This lead to me getting some spectacular shots that I never would have thought possible with a phone. Like this one...
"The Best Camera" app eventually collapsed into stagnation and was killed (the story of which is an interesting read), but I took its ideals to heart, and it's a philosophy I believe in to this day (thanks, Chase!).
Of course, smart phone cameras are leagues better now than they were in 2009. As is my attitude towards them. I gave up on carrying a pocket camera when I got my iPhone 6 because the photos I was getting were pretty great. Then I started snapping photos of anything and everything.
But mostly my cats.
Before I left for vacation back in December, the last photo I took was this one as I was saying goodbye to Jake and Jenny. Snapping photos with my iPhone is so automatic that I don't even remember taking it...
Then while I was on vacation, the best camera that was with me was not my iPhone... it was my Sony DSLR, which meant my iPhone spent most of its time in my pocket.
And now that I'm back?
The Best Camera is taking photos of grilled cheese and tofu bacon sandwich.
I thought it would be fun for me and the cats to try the Tide Pod Challenge this weekend. Does anybody know which flavor tastes best? There's five different ones.
At first I was going to try Coral Blast Tide Pods because I love the ocean... but then I worried it might have fish in it and not be vegetarian-safe. The Downey April Fresh Tide Pods sound delicious, but this is January, and I don't know if I want to eat something from nine months ago... I prefer fresh-fresh. The Febreze Tide Pods might be the way to go if it will make Jake's poops smell better, but the Oxi Clean Tide Pods would get our intestines all shiny clean. I dunno. Maybe I should just go with the original flavor?
The Tide Pods aisle at Lowes is confusing.
So hard to choose. Couldn't they just make cheese-flavored so I'd know which to buy?
Guess we'll never know.
Oh... and if you're thinking of joining in on the Tide Pods Challenge, here's some things your should know.
And so... Jenny comes running in from the guest room meowing for attention.
Turns out she's tattling on her brother. I go in to see what he's up to... and he's up on the wall shelves where he knows he's not supposed to be. I go to scold him and then... HE SITS NEXT TO THE RABBIT STATUES AND STAYS PERFECTLY STILL. HE IS CAMOUFLAGING HIMSELF AS A STATUE SO I WON'T SEE HIM!!!
Not the most convincing wabbit I've ever seen, and yet... not the worst either. But don't tell that to him. He sat there being a statue long enough that I had time to run and get my phone so I could take a photo.
Eventually he realized the gig was ip...
No idea how he gets up there. But at least I know who is responsible for knocking my rabbits off the shelf and busting them...
Eventually he pretended to be sorry and dropped by to watch television with me...
Just look how sorry he is!
As for Jenny?
Still letting her smarts lead her into trouble. She watches everything I do, and now I'm thinking that she is trying to figure out light switches...
I think she's also taken up Taekwondo. The other night I was rubbing her butt to distract her from the rain falling on the roof (something she really hates for some reason)...
But apparently she didn't want to be distracted, and...
She decided to distract herself by hunting mice...
Nom! Nom! Nom!
I went to bed at 11:00 last night but couldn't get to sleep. Fortunately(?) my cats saved me from a boring night of staring at the ceiling. Since they new I was awake, they took that as an excuse to go nuts. Shortly after midnight I heard them sliding things along the floor. When I looked at the security cameras, it seemed to be wet food packets. They dragged them out of the cupboard before, but the worst they've ever been able to do is bite a few holes in the bags...
Every time they would fail to get a packet open, they would run and get a different one...
After a few packets had been dragged out, I saw that Jenny had managed to get one open. She was chowing down...
As I lay in bed being horrified at the idea of wet food being scattered all over my house, I decided to run down and clean it up before it dried. Sure enough, they broke the bank...
Much to my relief, the packet that Jenny got open was not wet food, but a bag of treats...
Ironically, it was CALMING TREATS I bought for when I take Jake and Jenny to the vet next month...
I'd like to tell you that they calmed right down after eating all those "calming treat," but... not so much. Oh well. At least they didn't look pissed off, like the cat on the front of the package after I put all their food away.
And... what cat antics will tomorrow bring?
Don't let the man get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Otter! YouTube is a never-ending sinkhole of things you would just never think to look for. Last night I watched a video where a baby otter was introduced to water for the first time. He most definitely did not want any part of it... but, since otters are built for water, his attitude changes drastically once he's in...
I thought "Well that was cute" and, next thing I know, I've been watching baby otter videos for an hour. Amazing just how much stuff is floating around YouTube waiting to be explored.
• Elephant! Oh... and once you're done with baby otters swimming, time to move on to baby elephants chasing birds...
Baby animal videos are my Kryptonite.
• Cotton Picking! NEWS BRIEF: Senator Tom Cotton Is Sending Cease and Desist Letters to His Own Constituents. Because of course he is. I mean, seriously, this IS the next step isn't it? A government of the government, by the government, for the government... without those pesky constituents being able to weigh in to their elected officials with their two cents. Why would a politician want to listen to what mere citizens have to say on matters?
People can act shocked all they want, but this is the end game by the people REALLY running this country right here. If you don't have money and power, you don't have a say. So enjoy your "representation in government" (colossal sham that it is) while you can. Soon they won't even bother with the pretense. And if you think I'm being overly-dramatic, just remember that they vote themselves pay-raises without consulting you... they refuse to initiate term limits, despite everybody wanting them... and they don't give two shits what stupid voters think when they can use lobbyist money to tell them what to think on election day.
And left you think this is "fake news"... here's your link. Wake up and smell the lack of democracy.
• FoldiMate! Just what I need to go along with all the other robots in my house... a robot that folds clothes! I hate folding clothes, so this is pretty darn cool...
It's a far cry from just tossing a pile of clothes in the top of the machine and having them all get folded, but... still kinda cool...
What's not cool is the price tag. The FoldiMate is projected to cost a thousand bucks.
• Effie! The only thing I hate more than folding clothes? Ironing them. Which is why this is the robot for me...
Home chores are undoubtedly going to look much different in ten years.
• Fries! I love good advertising. And when companies have a lot of money to sink into advertising, the results can be pretty spectacular. I don't think the latest Taco Bell commercial reaches that level, but it's still pretty well done...
My... God... who would be stupid enough to take on Big Burger? McDonalds... Burger King... Five Guys... those guys don't play. Somebody is ending up dead.
No mo. No mo bullets, man.
I always make fun of the people who say "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???" when they see their finished home revealed at the end of Fixer Upper (the home renovation show on HGTV). I mean, who says that? It's like, the stupidest thing you could say. YES, WE ARE KIDDING YOU! THIS IS NOT YOUR HOUSE!
Then just now I was unloading a box of cat stuff from Chewy. The cats were obsessed with the shipping box... until I opened the cupboard where the cat food is. Then they abandon the box come ripping into the kitchen like they're going to be fed dinner... an hour and a half early! It was then I found myself saying "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???" — And then I realized either
It's probably a combination of both those things. My television is tuned to HGTV 90% of the time. I've seen every episode of Fixer Upper eleventy-billion times. I have all the clients memorized. It only stands to reason that the stupid crap people say on these shows is going to get embedded in my brain.
In many ways, watching shows like Fixer Upper is torture this time of year. I want nothing more than to clear out my garage and set up my wood shop so I can get started on all the projects I've dreamed up for my home this year... but that has to wait until Spring when I won't have to worry about my car being piled over with snow.
The last thing I want to do is walk outside in the morning, find an avalance on my car, and find myself screaming "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???"
I spent an hour last night cleaning the cats' bedroom... vacuuming and mopping... picking up all their toys... washing their beds... cleaning out the vents... upgrading their Litter-Robot... so can you guess where they have decided to unleash a tornado of destruction this morning? Go on... guess.
With all that's going wrong in my life right now, I could use some good news. I found it when I discovered Fridays has become This Close and has been developed by Sundance as a series for their streaming service. This is so great, and I can't wait to see it! Congrats to Shoshannah Stern!
I have been feeling a little beat down in life lately, so cooking is not on my radar. The past week I've been eating a lot of frozen pizza because it requires so little effort. Tonight's meal was a big ol' mess thanks to a paradox I'm calling Schrödinger's Pizza...
17 Minutes: Pizza undercooked.
18 Minutes: Pizza nearly incinerated.
I don't know what's happening in my over at the seventeen-minute-thirty-second mark, but it's apparently pretty serious.
And, on that note, I leave you to consume something burnt that used to be sauce and cheese on crust.
For the life of me, I have no comprehension in any measure for people who give a crap about how other people live their lives when it has absolutely no bearing on them or anybody else.
Today there was a story in The New York Times about two Army captains who are Apache helicopter pilots that just got married at West Point (which I can't link to because it's behind a pay-wall...
Right now most people are probably assuming that one of the pilots is a man and the other pilot is a woman.
Not so much, no.
It's two guys who fell for each other during the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" era circa 2009 and couldn't even go on a date until it was repealed in 2011 else they'd be risking their entire careers...
And, thanks to times being slightly more enlightened than past years (albeit temporarily, apparently), they have indeed just been married at West Point in full ceremony along with the only people who matter at a time like this... their friends, family, and brothers in arms...
Now, you would think that everybody would be all "Congratulations! Best of luck! Thank you both for your service!"
Not so much, no.
I mean, a lot of people are saying that... but, of course, there's a chunk of people who have nothing but venom to offer two men who pay taxes, risk their lives serving their country, and just want their slice of American happiness that everybody here is supposed to be guaranteed by our fucking Declaration of Independence. And yet somehow them getting married is destroying society... the military... this country... and the entire earth?
I'm not much of a romantic, but the Arch of Sabers wedding tradition at West Point is one that gets me every time. I saw it in a movie or television show once, and have been transfixed by it ever since. Not sure if the saber-smack on the rump for the bride is still a thing... or if that's going by the wayside now... but it's all so classy AF (the protocol is online at West Point's official website).
And so... Congratulations! Best of luck! Thank you both for your service!
As I've mentioned a couple times, Jenny loves sleeping on an electric blanket I have under the far third of my bed. She loves it so much that she gets frustrated when she finds that it's not on. More than a few times I've seen her stamping her little foot trying to get it to turn on... or have come home from work and found that she's pulled the blanket away trying to figure out why it's not hot.
Given how smart she is, I thought that maybe I could teach her how to turn it on when she wanted it on. It automatically turns off after four hours, so I thought that might be an easy solution.
I think I'd have better luck teaching Jenny how to turn on the electric blanket if it got hot immediately after pressing the button. But since it takes time for the heat to arrive after pressing it, there's a disconnect there, and her little brain can't wrap itself around the concept. She still paws all around the blanket... stomping her little foot trying to make it be hot, but this may be expecting too much.
Oh well. I still think you're a smart girl anyway, Jenny!
Yes... yes... yes... you're still sexy too.
"You're only as good as your last haircut."
Growing up, I never had to pay for haircuts. Or rather, my parents never had to pay for haircuts. My grandpa was a barber, and he liked me enough that haircuts were no charge...
After my grandpa retired, he still cut my and my brother's hair. He had a barber chair and all his tools in his basement and, since there's few things better than a free haircut, he was forced to come out of retirement every other month.
Eventually, cutting hair was too difficult for my grandfather's eyes and I had to venture out into unknown territory... paying for haircuts. Not that I ended up getting many haircuts at that point...
For most of my life I ended up paying for haircuts until the day came that I desperately needed a haircut but couldn't afford one. I had bought some hair clippers ages ago, but never had the guts to use them... until I had to. And it wasn't no Flowbee like I dreamed of owning either...
No, it was real, honest-to-goodness Whal brand clippers.
And my cut didn't turn out that bad...
The problem with cutting my own hair is that I don't cut it often enough. I wait until it's so long that it's not at all easy to cut.
Such was the case today.
I hadn't washed my hair since Wednesday because it's always easier to cut when it has some stank in it (which meant my Boston Red Sox cap was my best friend for the past couple days). But no amount of stank will give me a flawless cut because no matter how many times I run the clippers over my head, I always miss spots. Which is why I cut my hair on a Friday. That way I have a weekend where I can re-cut and re-re-cut before people have to see me again on Monday.
Hopefully by then all the missed spots get cut.
Interesting to note the similar images that popped up when using Google to find the blog entry where I cut my hair. It's a who's who of Dave doppelgängers...
Yeah yeah yeah... but let's take a closer look at result No. 50...
Google image search thinks I look like Ryan Reynolds!
Yes, I had to suffer 48 photos of Google thinking I look like Captain Cold from The Flash, Jason Statham, Arsenal from Arrow, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Captain America, Paul Walker, Shemar Moore, Justin Timberlake, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Zac Efron to get to Ryan Reynolds... but I totes look like Ryan Reynolds! My hetero man-crush for decades! (so much so that Jake my cat's full name is "Jacob Ryan Reynolds Simmer).
Just when you think Friday can't get any better!
Time for a shower. I'm done with my stank head.
I cannot get over how smart Jenny is.
She's just bizarrely intelligent, and every day she does something to remind me of it. At first she didn't like the anti-itch liquid on her neck because it made her wet. But now that she understands what it does? She knows to frickin' ask me for it. Then, when I spray it on my hand to rub it into her skin, she turns around so I'm not reaching across her face. It's like she comprehends how things work.
She tries different kinds of "meows" until she finds one I respond to (the most pathetic sounding meow, of course)... and then she uses that particular meow until I stop responding to it... then she tries different meows again so she can get her way. She acts all submissive towards her brother, but she also totally manipulates him. It's just gets more and more weird and wacky the more I see what's going on in that little fuzzy head of hers.
As for Jake? Bless his heart.
When it comes to scratching stuff, both my cats are pretty smart though. When they were kittens they would scratch anything, anywhere (my furniture has the marks to prove it) and I was happy to just let it go. As they got older, they learned where they should scratch and where they shouldn't. A part of this had to do with me providing plenty of things that were desirable scratching places. Scratching posts, scratching loungers, scratching cat trees, scratching pads... they've got it all.
And to make sure they don't get bored, I'm always swapping out old, worn scratchers for new ones. The first scratching post they ever had actually wasn't their's... I bought it for Spanky. Needless to say, it's a mess, which is why I've got it out in the catio. The other day I was watching them scratch on it and realized that they like to stretch out vertically on it. Indoors, they don't have anywhere to do vertical stretches, so I decided to buy a new post that was nice and tall.
The cats were scared shitless of the big pole when I brought it in... but the minute I set a toy mouse on top, they were all over it. They love the height, and it's tall enough to even do some climbing...
It's a great scratching post... especially at only $38. Nice and sturdy. Both of them can be climbing all over it at once and it won't tip over.
They love it so much that I'm thinking of buying a couple more. It would be nice to have one in their bedroom. Though I'm still a bit upset that I spent an hour cleaning it and they had it trashed the next day...
The messy little monsters.
Your eyes are not deceiving you, an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• THANKS, OBAMA! As I've mentioned here more than a few times, my feelings on President Obama are rather complex. I liked him personally. I loved his family. I thought he tried to fairly represent the country and his office the best he could. There's no doubt in my mind he's a patriot. But... by the same token, he also completely shit the bed on government transparency, privacy, and other issues that are important to me. Of course, when compared to the raging shit show currently occupying the presidency, it's not hard to romanticize President Obama's two terms. And now Netflix and David Letterman have teamed up for an interview that's worth watching...
I enjoyed the interview quite a lot, as it surprised me in many ways. First of all, they spent some time on his personal life where he was just as charming, touching, and funny as you would expect. Secondly, a goodly chunk of the show focused on The Civil Rights Movement and one of its key leaders, Representative John Lewis (a personal hero of mine) and how that lead to Barrack Obama's presidency. My only criticism is that I wish the interview was longer. The hour was over before I knew it, and I was left wanting more. Probably because it was so nice to remember back to the days when we had such a brilliant, literate, compassionate, leader running the country.
• One Day in Time! And speaking of Netflix... after work yesterday, I thought I'd watch a couple episodes of the One Day at a Time remake. I loved the first season, and was hopeful they wouldn't take a dump all over the second. They didn't. I ended up binge-watching all thirteen episodes and didn't get to bed until after midnight. This show is absolutely fascinating. It's firmly rooted in 1970's Normal Lear style laugh-track TV, but tackles contemporary topics in a way that's entertaining as hell...
The writing and performances are top notch. I've never seen a show that manages to shift gears so often so brilliantly. You're laughing one minute... crying the next... but never bored. After the last episode was over, Netflix started playing the first episode of the first season. I was dang close to watching the whole thing all over again from the start, but had to get some sleep. Highly recommended.
• Future Power! But, by all means... let's keep investing in coal. We're fucking idiots like that...
• Girl Power! "Tonight (it never gets dark this time of year) I skied back to the Pole again... to take this photo for all those men who commented “Make me a sandwich” on my TEDX Talk. I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600km to the South Pole and you can eat it."
Jade Hameister's Facebook post is an epic smack-down on idiots who don't believe that girls can do anything... when clearly she can do more than they can.
• The Mash Report! You may want to take notes...
If only I had regular access to the BBC.
• Guitarz! A very cool video featuring a musician with a three-necked guitar playing Feel Good, Inc. (originally by Gorillaz)...
The artist is Luca Stricagnoli, and his videos are pretty amazing. Here he is crushing The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony on two guitars...
And one more for the road...
And that's it. The end. Bullet Sunday is done.
My favorite musician/band changes regularly depending on what mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm in the mood for classic rock and it's The Beatles, sometimes I need rap and it's Run The Jewels, sometimes I just want metal and it's Slayer, sometimes I want a catchy beat and it's Matt & Kim. The list goes on and on.
But most of the time it's 80's synth-pop bands and I make no apologies for it.
For the longest time, my favorite band was Thompson Twins, and this was well before their breakout success with Into The Gap. Once the band broke up, I gravitated to another long-time favorite, Depeche Mode. I obsessed over the band for decades. Then they changed their sound a bit when Alan Wilder left and my enthusiasm dwindled through the next four albums, then left altogether for their two latest. During that time, my longtime appreciation for The Pet Shop Boys took hold, and they're probably the band I listen to more than any other... and are my favorite band most days now...
Given the massive catalog of music produced by the band, ranking favorite songs is almost impossible. And believe me, I've tried. I've made spreadsheets, listened through every song, shifted them back-and-forth... but then I'll look at it a couple days later and need to start over because I've changed my mind. If forced to choose a favorite, I'd have to pick The way it used to be off of the album Yes. It's everything you want in a PSB song... great beats, clever synths, and amazing lyrics. One of the most beautiful songs I've heard. Sadly, they never released it as a single or made a video for it, so all I can offer is this...
Of course, if you ask me another day, it could be Memory of the Future or even West End Girls that's my favorite, so who knows?
For Pet Shop Boys fans, there's a lot more to love about the band than their fantastic songs. They are highly creative in so many places, as the amazing retrospective book which encompasses the art, print, and media built around their music...
And, of course, there's the videos. Neil and Chris only work with the best, more imaginative artists, and their videos are a mixed bag because of it. But when they hit, they really hit. Once of my favorites being the video for yet another favorite track of mine, Flamboyant...
Needless to say, their live shows are amazing (I've been lucky enough to see them twice, and meet-and-greet them as well). When they were awarded at The Brits, they pulled out all the stops and were very Pet Shop about it...
No. Your eyes are not deceiving you. That's Lady Gaga filling in for Dusty Springfield. Watching this awards show would be the first time I had even heard of her.
As if all that wasn't enough, the band are forever collaborating with other artists. They've made albums and songs with everybody from David Bowie, Tina Turner, and Liza Minelli to Robbie Williams, Blur, and Madonna. Their music has been cited as inspiration from bands including U2, Coldplay, The Killers, Keane, Guns n' Roses, and many others. A true testament to just how good the Pet Shop Boys are and how well they're regarded.
When it comes to their own works, Pet Shop Boys never seem to be content. There are countless demos along with hundreds of remixes... both by them and others. Collecting them all is a bit of a nightmare for true fans because the sheer volume is overwhelming. For the past several years, the band has been making it a bit easier with their "Further Listening" CD sets, which have remasters of the original album along with discs filled with the various demos, remixes, B-sides, and other releases of the time period the album was created...
Please (Further Listening 1984-1986) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Actually (Further Listening 1987-1988) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Introspective (Further Listening 1988-1989) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Behavior (Further Listening 1990-1991) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Very (Further Listening 1992-1994) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Bilingual (Further Listening 1995-1997) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Nightlife (Further Listening 1996-2000) — July 2017
Release (Further Listening 2001-2004) — July 2017
Fundamental (Further Listening 2005-2007) — July 2017
Yes (Further Listening 2008-2010) — October 2017
Elysium (Further Listening 2011-2012) — October 2017
I never bought any of the original 2001 sets (I didn't have the money back then and they are insanely expensive now), but I've been buying all the 2017/2018 remasters and will pick up the March releases and the remainder when they are released later this year (even though I still don't have the money!).
As with so many remasters, I'm of a mixed opinion when it comes to artists messing with their older albums. When remastering is done badly, it's just increasing the volume so you can compete with modern albums that are mastered so loud that any subtlety is lost (casualties of the aptly named "Loudness War"). When it's done well, it can improve on the original tracks by bringing out details that were lost (especially when we made the transition to digital music). The "Mastered for iTunes" program, for example, attempts to compensate for sound compression and unwanted distortion that can leave iTunes purchases sounding much worse than their CD counterparts. For the most part, I've been pleased with the results. Very pleased. It's a fascinating process which makes for equally fascinating reading thanks to this article over at Ars Technica. The results can be pretty staggering, depending on the song (though I'm sure there are those who disagree, as this is highly subjective). I liked Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet better when it was Mastered for iTunes. Metallica's Master of Puppets I did not. Will an iTunes file replace an uncompressed FLAC file ripped directly from a CD? No. But, in so many cases, it's closer to the Real Thing than you'd get out of an MP3 file.
Back to the Pet Shop Boys...
The albums for sale by Apple were not "Mastered for iTunes" when remastered, and I dearly wish they had been. Since they were not, I ended up buying the CD releases and ripping them into iTunes for iTunes Match. The benefit in doing this is that you get the little booklets that come with each set which discusses the music (they are not included with the iTunes as booklets, for some strange reason). The bad news is that you end up having to deal with Apple's shitty, shitty iTunes app to try and get the music sorted. I had to rip Release THREE TIMES before I could get it to show up right, under one cover folio, in order, all while being labeled correctly. After ripping, CDs within the set would be inconsistently labeled, which is not Apple's fault since they are using a third-party service, but the music would then disappear when I merged the CDs into a single folio and labeled it correctly. What an infuriating waste of time. Eventually I figured out that you had to shut down iTunes then restart iTunes after every import/re-label in order for it to "stick" and be added to your catalog. Even then, I could never get some songs on the third disc of Release to be matched in iTunes Match, which means I can't access them on all my devices unless I download it*. How the fuck Apple can't get simple shit like this figured out is just beyond me. They have literally billions of dollars in the bank. They can't spend a minuscule portion of that to fix a bug-ridden pile of shit that their users are having to suffer with every damn day?
Back to the Pet Shop Boys again...
I've enjoyed the "Further Listening" albums I've bought so far (Nightlife through Elysium) quite a lot. Some of the material I already had, but a good chunk of it I did not. I was never as obsessive about collecting all the various parts and pieces for Pet Shop Boys as I was the Thompson Twins and Depeche Mode for some reason. In any event, there's certainly enough here to justify repurchasing the albums again (especially from the Yes era, which is responsible for some of my most favorite tracks.
Of everything I've heard on the "Further Listening" albums that completely escaped my notice, the song Always (a B-side for Home and Dry off of Release) is my favorite. A total treasure...
Beautiful. And I never even knew it existed.
As for the remastering? Overall I'd have to give them two thumbs up. Yes, they are louder than the originals, but not so much that subtle details are getting lost. Some albums benefit from the remastering more than others. You can tell with Fundamental that they made a real effort to pull out Johnny Marr's guitar work, which was appreciated. Most fans absolutely hate the original 2001 remastering of Behavior (featuring two tracks with Johnny Marr!) which I don't have, so hopefully the 2018 remastering will do a better job of it.
So... for the hard-core fan, the "Further Listening" sets are essential album collections to own. For the casual fan, probably not so much.
Though how anybody could be merely a casual fan of the Pet Shop Boys is a mystery to me.
*UPDATE: Eventually I was able to get the third album of Release into iTunes Match, but don't ask me how. I did delete the songs and re-rip them for a fourth time... though that didn't seem to be what did it, as I got a shitload of "duplicates" and "unmatched" icons, at which point I gave up. The next day the icons were still there, but when I restarted iTunes, everything was fine again(?). Well, whatever.
Wow. 2018 is shaping up to be a heck of a year for super-hero movies! Let's take a look at the eight flicks that are coming up this year...
FEBRUARY 16: Black Panther
Black Panther has long been one of my favorites characters, and to see his phenomenal appearance in Captain America: Civil War was almost too good to be true. Getting an actual Black Panther feature film, however? Ordinarily I'd be wary, but Marvel Studios has not had a single misstep, and I'm not counting on this film being its first. It looks incredible. I like that Marvel is also heading in another direction now that they got other sub-genres covered. Tech: Iron Man, Politics: Captain America, Legendary: Thor, Action: Avengers, Magical/Mystical: Doctor Strange, Teen Angst: Spider-Man, Science Fiction: Guardians of the Galaxy... and now for Marvel's take on international intrigue done James Bond style, Black Panther. It's just all so perfect...
I actually prefer the teaser trailer below to the final official trailer above, because it sets up Wakanda for what it is in the Marvel Universe: The wealthiest, most technologically advanced society on earth, and one of the planet's biggest secrets...
APRIL 13: New Mutants
I like the idea of super-hero movies heading into horror territory, but not sure what to think of the trailer for New Mutants, which probably doesn't go far enough to make it worthwhile as a horror film. And quite possibly not far enough as a super-hero film either. But, hey, fingers crossed, as I really like the "Demon Bear" comic book storyline which this is rumored to follow...
MAY 4: Avengers: Infinity War
And here we are... what all the Marvel Studios films to date have been leading up to. I have incredibly high expectations, which I fully expect to be exceeded...
MAY 18: Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool was a pleasant surprise. Wonderfully faithful to the original comic book and starring the most perfect casting yet seen on film, the movie was a mega-blockbuster smash that deserved every penny it made...
JULY 6: Ant Man and The Wasp
When talking about the different sub-genres that Marvel Studios has been running through above, one that I left out was "fun" the original Ant-Man movie was a seriously fun caper flick. The sequel looks to be more of the same, but without the need for an origin story, which means it should be better than the original. I'm certainly counting on it...
OCTOBER 5: Venom
While I generally enjoyed the first two Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, the franchise majorly shit the bed with Sam Raimi's third installment which (attempted) to bring the massively popular villain, Venom on the silver screen. It was done badly, which was a shame. Venom can be an interesting character when handled right. To do that, they brought in director Ruben Fleischer and cast Bane himself, Tom Hardy, in the lead role. Apparently the movie's story will be based on the "Planet of the Symbiotes" comic book stories, which means über-villain Carnage will be making an appearance. I have no clue if this will be any good but, if the reviews aren't tragic, I'll probably take a look.
NOVEMBER 21: X-Men: Dark Phoenix
I can only guess that this is an attempt to make up for the pile of shit that was X-Men 3: Last Stand, which attempted to touch on the seminal X-Men comic book arc... The Dark Phoenix Saga. But the ultimate villain of X-Men 3 was water (yes, seriously, it was fucking water) which was surprising as it was predictable considering it had Brett Ratner's stank all over it. Which, I suppose is a notch above Bryan Singer stank... but not by much. In any event, it would be nice to see a movie which takes the actual Dark Phoenix Saga seriously, though I'm not holding out too much hope given the laughable joke that X-Men: Apocalypse was... and that young-cast Wolverine doesn't seem to be a part of it...
DECEMBER 21: Aquaman
The fact that this is a film by James Wan and not another Zack Snyder shit-fest gives me a glimmer of hope that he'll pull a Patty Jenkins and make a DC Cinematic Universe film that's worth a crap...
And tah-dah. I wish we got four Marvel Studios films each year. Three just isn't enough. Maybe that will change now that the X-Men franchise characters are back in the fold. At least one would hope so. If Marvel Studios started giving the X-franchise the care they've extended to their other films, we're within striking distance of Avengers vs. X-Men.
Everybody: "Did you watch the State of the Union address?"
Me: "Fuck, no."
In an effort to remain more positive in 2018 than I was in 2017, I have made a huge effort to avoid things that will send me into fits of absolute rage.
Which is also why I am no longer accepting babysitting jobs. So please don't ask me.