I had to wake up fairly early this morning to check into work. Once I had some things handled, I had time for a leisurely shower and... surprise surprise... breakfast!
Beside myself with joy at the prospect of being able to actually have breakfast for once, I tried to think of what I wanted to eat. All that came into my head was the Fatburger I had when I arrived on Monday night. It was everything I could want in a meal. I thought I would look up Fatburger's hours to see if there was time to stop on my way to the airport.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only is Fatburger open 24/7... they are serving burgers all hours of the day and night!
Fatburger Veggie Burger for breakfast it was...
It was everything I dreamed it would be.
The weather has been really nice these past couple days. Warm and breezy, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It's almost enough to make me want to stay a couple more days. Almost.
This time around I'm staying at New York New York because it's where my friends were staying. It's also close enough to my work that I could walk instead of taking pricey taxis. It's a pretty nice hotel, even if the rooms are fairly basic. It certainly has my favorite skyline of all the Vegas Strip hotels...
My room was in that light orange tower, fourth from the right. I was actually on the North side facing The Park... something I didn't know until I finally looked out the window this morning...
1) I kept hearing "wooshing" sounds and assumed it was the wind. Turns out it's the roller coaster. The occasional sounds of people screaming were not people whooping it up on The Strip... but people riding said coaster.
2) The Park MGM hotel used to be The Monte Carlo. At the very top there is a "hotel within a hotel" with luxury suites that used to be called "Hotel32." I note that now the "hotel within a hotel" has been renamed "NoMad." I've actually been up there when it was Hotel32 and it was pretty spectacular (seriously, Google for photos of it). I can't imagine what it must look like after the remodel.
And now I'm at the airport waiting to fly home. As if that wasn't good enough news, I was upgraded to First Class for the flight home (which is pretty cool considering I was upgraded to First on the way down too...
And now it's time to head home so I can drive home!
It's not like I can say my life is boring... I have been lucky enough to travel the world, meet interesting people, and do really cool stuff... but when I'm not doing that my life is as mundane as it gets. Oftentimes I question why people read this blog* when most of the time all I've got going on in my life is cats.
Take today for example.
I woke up at 5:30am, which is about average. I then check my personal email, see what's happening with my East Coast Facebook peeps, then check my work email. At 7:00am Alexa alerts the cats that it's breakfast time, so we all go downstairs where I feed them. I then do household cleaning and chores until around 8:00am when I hop in the shower and get ready for work. I am usually out the door around 8:30-ish for my 7-minute walk to the office.
I try to be out of the office at 4:00 (today I left at 4:10) and walk back home.
Today there was some excitement when I spotted an old cat with patches of fur missing walking through several yards until it decided to rest on somebody's porch (no idea if that's where home is)...
Once I got home at 4:20, I worked until Alexa chimed for the cat's dinner at 6:00pm. Since I received a notice from Home Depot that my carpet squares had arrived, I decided to run to The Big City (20 minutes away) and pick them up. Afterwards I wanted to have fries for dinner, but was too tired to make them by hand. I was going to drive to McDonalds, but Sonic was closer so I went there.
I rarely go to Sonic because they don't have vegetarian options. I only go there when they are having an ice cream promo or some kind of drink special. I've never had their fries before. AND I WILL NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN! Holy crap! They were not very fresh, barely warm... AND THEY WERE GUMMY! As in, you had to chew through their saggy, bleak texture in a way that is usually reserved for gummy bears. And then there's my OREO Sonic Blast (AKA a McFlurry). The first third of the cup was as expected. A good distribution of OREO pieces that were large enough that they tasted like OREO. The second third was just OREO crumbs. Just a dust, really. And the final third? NOTHING! NO OREO AT ALL!
How the fuck did Sonic get to be "America's Drive-In?" Their half-assed food is a blight on the entire country!
Anyway... I head home and immediately get to work carpeting my Cat Bannister Tray when I arrive around 7:10pm. The squares were way thin, but surprisingly nice considering how cheap they were. The good news is that I have lots of spares if my cats decide to destroy the ones I installed...
And that was that.
At some point I'll build the cat-stairs up to it so it's safer for Jake and Jenny to get up there... add a shelf under the upper window so I won't go out of my mind with worry when Jenny leaps up there (nearly two full stories above the stairs below!)... and then my project will be completed. At least until I think of something else to add to it.
Around 7:40pm I threw a load of clothes in the wash then finished up a work project a little after 9:00pm.
Then it was clothes in the dryer, catching up on television, clothes out of the dryer, and I was in bed at 11:30pm so I can blog this then start it all over again tomorrow.
Thrilling, I know.
But hey, not every day can be an expedition to Antarctica.
*Yes, people actually do visit this blog. A lot. The interactivity I had from the heyday of blogging is long gone, but my wide variety of topics and daily updates means that Google sends scores of people here every day. Though it's not all search results... most days the number of people coming here directly is fairly substantial. No, I don't know why. You tell me!
Have you heard?
The latest issue of Thrice Fiction has been released! And you can read it online (or download it as a PDF) absolutely FREE! To see a bunch cool stories and terrific art for the bargain price of free-fitty-free, just click here and enjoy!
This issue's cover features our raccoon mascot and was lovingly painted by the ever-talented Kyra Wilson!
As always, I'm going to take a minute to talk about the art that I created for the issue. This may involve spoilers, so it's probably best that you read it before proceeding!
The first piece I created is for the story Convenience by Gregory Wolos. In the story a couple loses their dog "Bark" and all they have left is his collar. Since this happens almost immediately in the story, I didn't think it would be spoiling anything to use that in the image...
This is a stock photo of a collar that I combined with a stock photo of a name tag (which I had to erase then "engrave" myself) that I then Photoshopped on a formica countertop stock photo so I could add shadows. My goal was to have something look fairly realistic so that it reflected the very real stuff going on in the story.
This next piece for the story Last Wednesday by Djanaina Salamon was not something I felt that I should take on myself. It specifically speaks to experiences of a Black woman, and I felt if needed that voice for the accompanying artwork. I tracked down an artist that was a good fit, but it fell through. I tried to get a replacement, but that fell through. And so... the night before we went to press... I pulled out my laptop to paint something myself...
I used Adobe Illustrator and the brush pallet to "finger-paint" the image, which I wanted to look a bit raw and abstract... but still capture a sense of beauty. The idea here is that she's burning with righteous fury over the microaggressions and other daily injustices that would probably drive a white person insane if we experienced even a fraction of it. I didn't want the fire to be actual fire... that just reads as "anger" to me. I wanted it to appear "holy," in a sense, so that it could be interpreted as "righteous." So I decided to make it silver. I also decided to make it be more of a "glow" than wild flames, so it didn't seem like the woman was out of control. There had to be an internal strength there. Originally, her hair was much shorter... but then I got the idea to make an afro which was a perfect circle, like a halo around her head. In the end, I'm happy with the illustration... but I still struggle as to whether it was appropriate for a white guy to try and interpret something he will never have to experience. I really wish I could have found an artist better suited. But I was my only option if we wanted to make deadline. Such is the life of an art director.
For the story Away, Away by past Thrice Fiction contributor MaryAnne Kolton, I wanted to come up with something which illustrated what I perceived to be the essence of the story. It's the story of a woman thought of as weak and inconsequential by her abusive husband... a "dead fish" as he refers to her... who has to find the strength to do the unthinkable...
MaryAnne was specific as to the firearm used in the story... a Phoenix Arms Semi-Automatic Pistol... and I wanted to be accurate in my illustration. A stock photo of a dead fish was easy to find. But I couldn't find the right pistol at the right angle which could be used. So I called my brother, who works at a gun shop in Montana to see if he could help me out. He didn't have one. But a friend of his happened to walk in that did have one, so I had him prop it up against something of fish-height and send me a photo. I then composited them in Photoshop, painted over everything (being sure that "Phoenix Arms" was visible), adjusted the colors to be almost monotone and bleak, then ran it through some filters until I had what I was looking for.
Ali Azar's story A Drifted Sorrowful Soul was dense with imagery I could pull from... but I couldn't get the idea of a young Iranian boy being inundated with images from the television out of my head. At first I was just going to illustrate it like out of a children's book. But I bristled at the idea of taking such a serious subject and reducing it to a kiddie illustration, so I took my drawing and cut out textures as shapes that I could paste over it...
Every piece of the illustration is a texture except the Iranian flag, which is the real deal (but not really, because you can't see the center identifying mark). As you can imagine, this took a long, long time to construct. But the result is what I was looking for so I guess it's worth it. Kinda childlike... but "real" in the sense that the textures are all real.
For Paul Beckmans awesome bit of flash, it was critical to not give the ending away, which is what makes it so great. So I grabbed an image from the front-end of the story of a running dog and used that. In order to throw readers off balance and make it so they couldn't possibly guess what the story was about, yet be compelled to read it so they could understand what was going on in the picture, I intentionally drew something goofy and simplistic...
I then added old-fashioned halftone dots to the image to make it look like something out of a comic book. For no other reason than I love the story and the illustration I came up with amuses me, this is my favorite work in this issue.
For the cross-spread story of Larry, Said a Voice from Inside by Frank Candeloro, I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. The thing that sets everything in motion... a dying cellphone battery...
To match the previous page, I rendered it in the exact same style. Nothing round. All angles. Despite the simplicity, I love how it turned out.
And there you have my artistic contributions to Issue No. 25 of Thrice Fiction Magazine. If you haven't already, please do check it out... it's FREE, after all.
I'm pretty sure that Jake thinks his name is "Where is Jenny" and Jenny thinks her name is "Where is Jakey Bear." Heaven only knows why I keep asking... they never tell me where their sibling is... but I guess it makes me feel like a concerned parent to ask.
Speaking of being a concerned parent... Jake seems to have (mostly) healed from his tumble off the banister. His limp is very slight now, and sometimes disappears altogether. Hopefully the new Cat Banister Tray will prevent this from happening again.
Even if his physical state is getting back to normal, I'm afraid Jake's mental state is not being so quick to return. He is far more jumpy than he used to be. He also is far more clingy than he used to be. It used to be that my cats left after I fell asleep, but now Jake is with me most of the time I'm home... including when I'm sleeping.
He's pretty much stuck to me like glue...
The good news is that Jake is considerably more agreeable to getting Furminated now...
As for Jenny? She's doing great.
She spends most of her time out in the catio chasing bugs and watching birds parade around the back yard...
She still likes to spend time clawing at my jeans...
And she still likes to stare me down each morning until it's breakfast time...
And she still likes hiding in places... even though she's not very good at it...
She also likes to shed a metric ton of cat hair every week... but I'm sure she feels bad about it.
And, lastly this Caturday, I ran across this video and liked it so much I was compelled to share it...
See you next Caturday!
It's Cinco de Mayo! It's also great day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Chewy! Peter Mayhew, most famous for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies passed away this week. He sounded like a wonderful, generous man...
Rest in peace, sir. You crafted a character that captured my imagination and made me love a walking carpet.
• Mattress Wars! This is some shady shit right here...
I never trust online review sites. I rarely trust reviews on any site. Unless it's coming from somebody I know and/or trust, it's just bullshit noise. And yet... I still read them in an attempt to be informed as to my purchases. =shrugs=.
• Boca? Last year Kraft abandoned their Original Boca Burgers and Vegan Boca Burgers. They instead came out with a new "Boca Burger" which is nothing like the original despite still saying "original" on the box. It tastes like shit. The Vegan burger was discontinued entirely. Recently on their Facebook page, they unleashed this steaming pile of bullshit...
Our consumers told us that their experiences with our vegan burger were better represented by a turkey burger. With this new insight, we renovated our vegan burger to better deliver on taste, texture, and flavor under the new “Turk’y Burger” banner.
Vegans no longer want a vegan burger, they want a turkey-tasting burger? Yeah that sounds like it totally happened. Now that Kraft has completely abandoned all the things people loved about the Original and Vegan Boca Burgers, hopefully some other company will step in and make an ACTUAL Original Boca-inspired burger that people actually want to eat. Personally, I think Kraft is run by lying pieces of shit who just wanted to make a cheaper burger, didn't give a crap if it tasted nothing like a Boca Burger, then decided to sell it with outrageous levels of lying. Whatever. Not buying it. Go fuck yourself, Kraft. Why buy Boca Burger if you weren't interested in making Boca Burgers?
• Chalk! I ran across this video on chalk, of all things, and found it more interesting than I thought I could...
I haven't used a chalkboard for decades. But after watching this? I have an overwhelming desire to get me some Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk and write on one! Probably cost me $5 to buy a stick, but apparently it's an experience that needs to be had.
• Deep Sky! I've professed my love of all things GigaPan more than a couple times. But now they've got something really interesting going on. They've combined thousands of photos from a tiny area of sky about the size of the moon in the sky. The result? A Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!
This is so cool...
Yeah, you'll want to head over to the GigaPan site to play with this yourself. It is positively astounding the number of galaxies that can be found in such a small section of our sky. Google says that the average number of stars in a galaxy is 250 billion ± 150 billion.
• Follow the Money! Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows of all time, which is why it's so great that it's getting revisited. First with a movie... now with a new series from Hulu...
Here's hoping that it's the first of many new seasons!
• Boo Pricing! Recently Hulu lowered their prices. Apparently they understand that with so much new streaming competition that they need to be competitive. Netflix, on the other hand, is taking the opposite tact. Recently when I visited their site I was forced to accept their new pricing before they would even let me access the content that I pay for...
Well... let's see... Netflix has canceled all the Marvel shows (the reason I signed up in the first place), so I suppose this is where I tell them to take their price increase and go fuck themselves with it. Except... they do add a comedy special I enjoy from time to time. So I guess my solution will be to drop the service, then pick it up for a month a couple times a year. Maybe if everybody does this, they'll get the fucking message. Because, sure, I love having original content (when it's good) but there's a limit as to how much I can afford to spend on it.
• Thrones! The first part of this episode was exactly what it needed to be... the calm before the storm. And then the storm began. And while the result of the initial encounter was tragic and earlier than expected, it WAS expected. There are a list of things that really must happen before the story ends. And we're almost there. So now it's all about the unknowns. There's things you'd like to happen. Things you'd hate to happen. Things that, hopefully, unexpectedly happen. And two episodes left for it all to happen in. Hopefully in way that makes sense, which the back-end of this episode really did not. Does nobody ride ahead and make sure that your way is safe any more? Insanity.
• It's Not Me It's You! Last Sunday HBO unleashed an episode of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. It was a massive battle that had been building for years, and was an epic sight to behold. At least it would have been had they not filmed it so fucking dark that you couldn't see a damn thing. It was a horrific mess. Even when there was light enough to see something, they filmed it so close that you still couldn't tell what was going on. Needless to say, a lot of fans were extremely pissed off. Now the cinematographer for the episode said that It's not Me, It's Your TV Settings. Which is a load of shit, of course. I have a high-end 4K television and a fiber internet connection. I black out my entire living room when watching. This is NOT my fucking fault... or that of my internet... or that of my television... or that of my viewing environment.
The cinematographer's job was to create media which could be displayed and understood in the way that people would be consuming it. Namely, streaming over the internet with compression, limited gamut, and a normal television. Not in an idealized fantasy theater with Blu-Ray 4K Ultra HD signal and a $15,000 OLED TV. Which means he completely, utterly, and totally failed to do his job. And fuck him for saying otherwise. My hope is that HBO will listen to their customers and spend the money to re-key the lighting, then rebroadcast it so people can actually see the shit. If not? Fuck them too.
And that's all he wrote for bullets this week. Tune in next week when I'll try to find more to complain about!
This morning I put in three hours working at home before I walked to work, so I was already exhausted by the time I left the house. Apparently I'm better driving while exhausted over walking while exhausted because I kept tripping over stuff. Rocks, roots, raised seams in the sidewalk... getting my exercise in today is a dangerous business.
But then, at the half-way mark, I had a heart-stopping moment that caused me to wake right up.
As I started rounding a corner, I saw a rabbit in the middle of the road...
This is a very busy corner and, despite distracted driving laws, I regularly see people driving while texting. Driving while putting on makeup. Driving while eating a bowl of cereal. My instinct was to rush into the street and see if I could block traffic until the rabbit had a chance to get wherever it was going. But then I worried he would get scared and run away from me into oncoming traffic. So I decided to walk around it while recording video... because if some texting asshole were to run him over as I was trying to flag them down, I wanted to have footage I could use to turn them into the police.
And then a bus started barreling around the corner and I held my breath because I had no idea what their visibility might be.
But, much to my delight, the bus stopped. Cars coming from the opposite direction stopped. And the bunny ran back to the (relative) safety of the yard from whence he came...
As I walked along the sidewalk, I scoped out the bushes in the yard to see if I could see him. Sure enough...
I've lived in this town since I was five. I've seen bunnies in the wilds surrounding the town... but I've never seen a rabbit walking around civilization like this. My hope is that this is an anomaly, and he just got lost or something.
I really hope that some asshole didn't buy a rabbit for their kids at Easter then decide it was too much work so they just kicked it to the curb. I read about this happening with bunnies and chicks every year around Eastertime, and have to wonder who the fuck could be that big of an asshole. Probably the same people who want to punish poor people for being poor, which is a reoccurring theme in today's political arena. The prevailing thought seems to be that poor people want to be poor. That poor people are lazy and don't want to work. That poor people live like royalty with their free hi-def televisions and mobile phones. That poor people are to blame for high taxes. That poor people get all the breaks while honest hard-working people get none. That poor people don't deserve healthcare or places to live or food to eat... because they're poor.
Of course these same people tend to be the ones that persecute the shit out of our LGBT communities because of a couple passages in the Bible they think tells them it's okay... while completely ignoring the multitude of passages telling them that ignoring those in poverty is most definitely not okay. So I've given up on trying to apply rational thought to crap like this. But I don't blame myself here. Hypocrisy often defies rational thought.
Over the weekend I noted that G.I. Jane (a 1997 film starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen) was playing as I cycled through TV channels. I've always liked this film and have never understood the contempt that critics have for it. Demi Moore seemed highly dedicated to the role and did a fine job. Viggo Mortensen's contemptible, yet oddly complex Master Chief is one of the better movie characters I've seen. And Ridley Scott's thoughtful direction, hallmark scene composition, and wonderful cinematography is a beautiful thing to behold...
I ended up watching it, of course. Or, to be more accurate, I had it on while I was working. I quickly learned to regret my decision though, because the Ovation TV network is a steaming pile of shit*... but I hadn't seen the film in at least a decade, so I was happy to get to see it again.
One notable thing (for me) about the movie is that it features a poem by one of my favorite poets, D.H. Lawrence. Much like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which features a line from a Lawrence poem along similar lines (Wales Weep Not), it provides a small (yet critical) expansion of the story.
Rumor has it that Viggo Mortensen himself injected it into the film...
This is absolutely remarkable if it's true, because finding out that his speech was a poem called Self-Pity and not just badass rhetoric completely changes everything about the character at the very end of the film in the best possible way...
My guess is that rabbits, discarded and unloved, probably feel no self-pity as well.
It's our job as humans to feel pity for them and we are failing miserably.
But not on my walk to work today, thankfully.
*What a fucking shitty network Ovation TV is. I swear they air more commercials per hour than any other network I've ever seen... and that's saying something. G.I. Jane has a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ovation is taking THREE HOURS to air it. Which means anything you watch on this laughably pathetic network is ONE THIRD COMMERCIALS! And so... Ovation is being deprogrammed from my DirecTV and I'm never watching this bullshit again. It's things like this that make me want to tell cable and satellite television providers to go fuck themselves. FIRST you have to pay a massive amount of money just to GET the channel... then you have to waste your fucking time watching an abundance of ads. Ad-free streaming direct from the source is the wave of the future... like CBS All Access. If I'm going to pay a shit-load of money to watch television, why pay DirecTV to watch ads?
I have two camera systems for my home. One of them is a system of hidden cameras which records locally and has a battery backup. If somebody cuts my power or cuts the internet or whatever, then I will still have then on camera. The cameras automatically disengage when anybody successfully connects to my internet. So if I'm home (or a guest uses my WiFi internet) they go offline. The other system is my NestCams, which are "cloud-based." Back when I bought them, they were the best-quality cameras I tested. They were also the easiest to set up and maintain. Eventually I came to hate Nest because their billing system is shady and shitty, but the cameras are still pretty great. There are occasional hiccups with accessing them via the pricey "Nest Aware" service, but by-and-large they are fine.
Back in 2014 Google bought out Nest.
At first I was excited because I thought maybe... just maybe... the shitty billing system that Nest has in place would be jettisoned for something that actually works, actually lets you know how much you're being billed, and actually maintains a history that bears some sense of accuracy. Nest had none of those things.
But then today the wheels came off of any excitement I might have had.
I got an email from Google saying that "Nest" is now "Google Nest" and they are making some fairly radical changes to how they run things...
Google's reasoning behind this is to make Nest products more secure.
This is complete and total fucking bullshit.
And even if it weren't, it should still be my choice as to how I connect my shit.
Google is making it so other stuff no longer works with their Nest shit because they want you to replace all your other shit with Google shit. As an example (from what I can tell) this means no more Alexa. If you want to voice control your Nest shit, you have to dump Alexa and buy Google Home Hubs instead.
So, basically, the entire reason I bought my NestCams and Nest Protect smoke detectors is gone. No more getting FireTV to display my camera feeds on my television. And no more using IFTTT so I can't interface my cameras and smoke detectors with all my other home automation devices. Which is the entire fucking point of building a SmartHome!
What scares the shit out of me is if Google decides that their WiFi Mesh Network Hubs will no longer allow integration with IFTTT. That's the backbone to my entire system. I would lose at least half of my home automation functionality if they were to do that. There would be no option for me but to replace it with something entirely different.
And it gets worse.
Google is also changing basic functionality of the products. NestCams have a light that glows when somebody is recording or observing the cameras. I've turned this off, because if there's somebody who has broken into my home, I don't want to draw attention to the cameras... the longer a burglar is unaware they are being recorded, the more footage I have for the police. But now Google is no longer going to allow you to do this. The light will be glowing whether you want it to or not... all in the name of my "privacy." Well fuck you, Google. The entire reason I bought these cameras is for HOME SECURITY. If you lessen their effectiveness at doing the one job I bought them for, then you're destroying their whole reason for them even being here.
So now I guess that I hope for a class action lawsuit so I can get my money back and buy an entirely different camera system that works the way I want it to... the way it worked when I bought it... instead of the way Google wants it to work.
One of my favorite shows over the past three years has been Lucifer, which FOX unceremoniously canceled last year. It was unfathomable that such a brilliant, funny, wonderful show didn't attract a massive audience, but that could be true for bunches of shows I love that got chopped.
And then Netflix picked it up for a fourth season and all was well in the world again...
And tonight the ten-episode season dropped and I started binging. Alas, I had to work late so I could start until 9:00pm... but I got five episodes in before 1am!
Such a great show.
Still a great show.
And I can't wait to see where they are going with it.
Thank you, Netflix!
Last night I read and article on ScreenRant which declared that Star Trek: Discover became the most popular streaming show in the world.
When the show first debuted in 2017, I was mesmerized. Here, at long last, was the Star Trek I had been longing for since I first saw the original. I have never cared for any of the Next Generation /slash/ Deep Space Nine /slash/ Voyager /slash/ Enterprise shows. Sure they have their moments, but they weren't Star Trek to me. MY Star Trek has always been Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the gang. Everything that followed was a pale imitation.
But Disco changed all that.
This Star Trek was raw... it was different... it was exceptionally well-cast... it was pushing new ideas, just like The Original Series. And that crazy twist! Holy cats! It wasn't just good Star Trek, it was good television!
A lot of people loved it (obviously) but there were oh so many detractors that hated it. "IT'S NOT STAR TREK!" they cried. Except it so totally was. It's just that it wasn't a continuation of the janky NextGen Star Trek... it went back to when Star Trek was good! Both figuratively and literally! Sure I had some gripes (why reinvent the Klingons yet again?) but, for the most part it was everything I could want in a show... PLUS MICHELLE YEOH!
I was definitely ready for more of that. Then cam Season Two...
Captain Pike? The Enterprise? SPOCK?!???
JUST TAKE MY MONEY, CBS PRIME STREAMING!
While I didn't love it as much as the first season, I did thoroughly enjoy it. And the fact that it (kinda) brought back THE Star Trek was a bonus.
And now for some thoughts on Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery (SPOILERS, obviously)...
And that's Star Trek: Discovery Season Two.
I will probably re-watch it in advance of Season Three premiering, but I'm almost positive I'll be re-watching Season One long before that!
Here's to interesting times in Season Three!
AND GIVE US THE PIKE AND SPOCK ENTERPRISE SHOW WE'RE ALL DYING FOR! This is a big part of why Season 2 became the most popular streaming show in the world!
The Laser Dome at Pacific Science Center (next to the Space Needle) is the largest and longest operating laser dome in the world. It began as the "Spacerium" theater which was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.
It's been many years since I've seen a show at the Laser Dome (I've been to Laser FLOYD, Laser BOWIE, and Laser BEATLES). But there was no way I was going to miss their latest show... Laser PRINCE!
The first thing I noticed that the show was fuller and more colorful than I remember. After a quick check, I found out that they did an upgrade to their system last January and now have nine lasers. This is "the most full color lasers permanently installed in any Laser Dome in America." It would have been nice if they upgraded the sound as well. While it's not terrible, it's far from great.
The setlist was pretty much what you'd expect. All his most popular singalong hits plus a surprise appearance by Sometimes It Snows In April. All I wanted was my favorite Prince track, Raspberry Beret, which was (fortunately) included. So far as laser shows go, this one was pretty good and we had a great time...
Naturally there was a lot of purple lasers used throughout, until the show closed with Purple Rain. Unfortunately YouTube won't let me embed the audio... but if you've got a browser that can play direct video, you might try this crappy low-quality movie that has the sound still attached...
If you have the opportunity to see Laser PRINCE, and are even a little bit of a fan of his music, I would absolutely go while it's playing. Tickets are $14 now (it was only $10 when I went last!)
After you can go up the Space Needle if you want...
As we'd been up it many, many times, we elected to skip it this time.
And that's all for Laser PRINCE.
Hoping to get Laser PET SHOP BOYS some day.
I'm not home with my cats this Caturday. I'm over the mountains spying on them through the security system.
Though I don't really need to spy on them to know what they are up to. Every day is pretty much the same this time of year...
The catio bug-chasing is a huge deal this time of year. Huge.
Both of them love it, but Jenny obsesses over it. Sometimes she will stay out there past midnight chasing them around...
I feel bad when the bugs aren't out yet, because Jenny is out there alone bravely waiting for them to show up...
Sometimes she'll come in to hang with me... but then five minutes later a bug will hit the window and she's on high alert...
Then she's right back at it again.
Jake goes out to the catio often, but a lot of his bug hunting is attempted through the window...
As I type this it's 4:30pm and I'm not home, which means they are asleep...
Interesting that they both brought a toy to bed. Jenny brought her Dr. Seuss Thing 2 mouse. Jake brought Mufasa (of course)... but he's too big to fit Mufasa in the bed with him (or his foot, apparently).
And I guess that's it for Caturday this week.
2019 has been surprisingly accommodating considering the milestones it's been racking up for me.
First year without my mom. First Valentine's Day with nobody to buy flowers for. First Birthday Weekend celebration without my friend of 33 years. And now, as advertising will not stop reminding me, first Mother's Day with no mother.
I will be the first to admit, that last one is proving to be tough.
For thirteen years my gift to my mom on Mother's Day was a new vacation. We traveled the globe, visited all kinds of amazing places, and had fun doing it. Recently I was going through all the travel books I made for her as a souvenir. Starting with our 2002 trip to Europe right up through our 2014 safari in Zimbabwe.
Initially I created books for her at Apple Books. They were nice enough, but I eventually switched to professional printing because I was unhappy with the photo reproduction. On our first trips, I didn't take many photos though. Just a few snapshots here and there. I took so few photos that I was able to combine the first four Apple Book trips into a single professional book (I used the colors of the cloth covers on the original books as borders)*...
The look of the book was nothing groundbreaking, but the graphic designer in me tried to create stylish introductions at least...
Photo presentation was pretty basic though...
As the years went on, I got a little more ambitious. I was designing nicer, more elaborate looking covers, for one thing...
And adding maps, travel routes, and such...
On later trips I was taking a lot of photos and putting considerably more thought into the the images I was capturing. With this in mind, I started buying "lay-flat" books and adjusting my layouts so photos could be as large as possible. I also tried to tell a story to make the content more interesting...
The final book is my favorite for so many reasons...
Every book was always ended with a photo of the both of us...
For 2015 we were going to take a cruise along the fjords of Norway. 2016 was going to be Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. But those trips weren't to be. I thought she might be well enough in 2015 to take a Spring trip that was less ambitious. I booked flights to South Dakota so I could finally see Mount Rushmore and check the only state I haven't been to off my list (North Dakota). But a couple months before we were to leave I realized there was no way that she would be able to travel. Her confusion was far too great and it wouldn't have been a fun time for either of us. And so that was that.
Mother's Day isn't sad to me because I don't have anybody to buy a card and flowers for... after we started traveling, she never wanted me to spend money on that stuff anyway. It's now a reminder that I've lost a friend who explored the world with me. And while the books, photos, and memories are nice, ain't nothin' going to take the place of that.
*Apple Books was a part of the original iPhoto. You could select photos that you had stored there, then have the program automatically build a book for you. For the time, it was actually pretty cool. They had durable fabric covers with a nifty label stuck on the front...
There were issues though. In addition to the print quality, which was fine but not great, the books were kinda small and the layouts had a lot of wasted space and the pages were all one-sided...
By having my books professionally printed, I paid way, way, way more money... but I got to control the layouts, get superior print quality, and print both sides of the pages.
UPDATE: Interesting to note that Hallmark's prop designer used the same stock photo design for the cover of Santa's Naughty or Nice book that I used for my mom's Italy photo book...
My day began at 5:00am when I grabbed my laptop off the nightstand so I could start in on my work emails. Jake, hearing that I was awake, came running in to get his butt scratched, which is fine. What was not fine was when he jumped up to the window perch ten minutes later an immediately began puking up a hairball.
My bad. I apologized to Jake because I went to Seattle for Laser PRINCE instead of grabbing The Furminator and giving him his weekly brushing this week.
Jake was unfazed. He just moved to the other window, pushed Jenny over so he had a place to sit, then went about his business of watching birds fly around..
After catching up on work I got up to clean up the hairball puke only to find that... it was only water? No hairball to be found.
This scares the crap out of me because... A) My cats do not puke often at all... and B) the couple times they have puked and it wasn't a hairball, it was because something was seriously wrong. But Jake didn't seem sick at all, so I made a mental note to keep a careful eye on him for a while.
I tore apart the window perches so I could toss the covers in the wash and noticed that my window sill was filthy. So I ran down to the garage for a scrub brush and bucket only to find that a can in a twelve-pack of Coke had ruptured* while I was gone this weekend. It dripped out of the carton, down the shelf, then spilled out onto the floor.
Where it mixed with the sawdust and formed a gummy syrup that super-glued itself to the cement.
My choices were... A) Leave it and clean up the mess later... or B) Clean it up immediately so ants don't fill up my garage. I opted for the latter because I really don't want ants in my wood shop.
After moving tools and relocating boxes and pulling apart shelves and scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing, I worked up quite a sweat. This made me realize just how badly I needed a haircut... so I grabbed the clippers and went to town on my head. I have started cutting my own hair again because... A) From what I can tell I don't do a half-bad job... and B) I really don't have money to spend at Super-Cuts after getting Jake's vet bill.
By this time it was past 7am and Alexa's alarm had gone off, letting the cats know it's breakfast time.
When I went back into the house Jake and Jenny were very put out that I had dared to allow a haircut to interfere with their breakfast being delivered in a timely manner.
At least whatever was wrong with Jake this morning didn't seem to affect his appetite.
In other news... the bulbs outside my house bloomed while I was away! The ones out front look pretty good...
Whereas the bulbs on the side of the house have already collapsed from their own weight and fallen over...
Irises have to be one of the stupidest flowers. When your design doesn't allow your stem to support the weight of your flowers... how are you not extinct? Oh well. I guess they're pretty while they last.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to put the window perch covers in the dryer and get ready for work.
It's a Monday, after all.
*I couldn't even figure out where the can had ruptured. They are so darn thin any more that you can barely hold onto them without crushing the can. I'm not surprised that cans are leaking at random... any thinner and soda cans will just explode when they feel like it.
So... apparently we're headed towards war with Iran.
I wonder if all the people screaming "YEAH! BOMB IRAN BACK TO THE STONE AGE! MAGA!!" understand that war doesn't work like that anymore. Superior military strength does not insure a victory because advanced technologies are so cheap and readily available. Technology has changed the face of small-scale warfare, given rise to mass-scale terrorism, and redefined what it means to "win" a war.
I have no clue what our Commander in Chief thinks winning a war looks like. My guess is he is he pictures bombing raids obliterating Iranian cities as our soldiers raise the American flag over Tehran. Or maybe his "victory scenario" is distracting Americans from all the heinous shit he's been doing, and bombing a foreign nation is incidental? That's certainly a thought that's entered his head...
But who can say? Even when he attempts to explain his "thinking," it comes out as incomprehensible gibberish, so I honestly don't think anybody can say what his end-game is.
But here's the deal. Even if we manage to obliterate the bulk of Iran's ability to make war and establish a massive military presence in the country, we haven't "won." All we will have done is galvanize terrorists around the globe and create substantially more committed enemies for generations to come. Even worse, if the war is handled badly (it will be, given who is in charge of it) and innocent civilian casualties are huge, we're certain to lose even more of our allies as well. And what happens after we leave? We put some US-approved puppet leader into power who will have no ability whatsoever to fix a broken country, there's a coup out of desperation, and somebody with an even bigger hatred of the USA can come into power... this time with nothing to lose and a philosophy that no risk is too great to do harm to America.
There is no way this ends well for the United States of America. None.
Because Iran is not a technological backwater. Because terrorism isn't centralized. Because biological warfare is easy. Because powerful drones are smaller than ever and can deliver increasingly lethal payloads. Because American citizens travel outside of America and are easy targets. Because US allies are within striking distance. Because there are US interests outside of the USA. Because there are many, many ways into this country. Because a wall will do very little to deter a terrorist or stop a drone. Because you don't even have to have a military to reign terror and destruction upon the most powerful of nations now. Because... because... BECAUSE... this is the world we live in.
Yes, Iran is most definitely a threat. This is nothing new. There are many countries who are a clear and present danger to the United States of America, and they have been for decades (hey, we're "allies" with some of them!). And while war may have been a viable solution to deal with them in the past, there's no way that's true today. Most sane people realize this. Which is why the world put so much effort into the Iran Nuclear Deal. Was it perfect? No. Did it move us away from nuclear annihilation for a little while longer? All indications pointed to yes (despite what President Trump and his propaganda organization at Fox News say). Are there ways to work with Iran so that setting the world on fire is not a desirable course of action for them to take? Well, history has shown that there probably is. But so long as we have an incompetent 2-year-old with anger issues in The White House who won't listen to the people who know how to handle these things, what difference does it make?
The reason that war is a last-ditch effort is because it has to be.
Today more than ever.
Unfortunately the decision as to whether or not we go to war rests with the same person who thinks 1970 economic practices can be applied to the global economy that exists in 2019 (which is why we're embracing socialism by spending billions that we'll borrow from China to give to farmers who can no longer sell their goods to China).
I cannot fathom how this country will ever recover from the massive damage that is being inflicted on just about every possible front by our current government. Not just the president, but the dysfunction of the entirety of our government.
Assuming we can ever recover at all.
War with Iran would just be one more nail in the coffin of the country we are now. We will have to become something entirely different if the USA is to go on existing. Given where we're at now, I can't help but think that this might be a good thing.
Can I please just have a day off from this insanity?
Every time some heinous new political bombshell drops, my brain explodes and I have to pull my head back together so I can get through another day. Whether it's idiot politicians being idiots, ignorant people being ignorant, or the nonsensical being presented as common sense... it seems every single day is another assault on my sanity, and it's getting harder and harder to pull myself through it.
As I've said many times, I do not support abortion outside of special circumstances. But that's my personal belief. This being AMERICA and all, everybody gets to live by their beliefs and for their conscience. I fully, unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. President Clinton said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"... and that pretty much sums it up for me. But in order for abortion to be rare, people must be educated and have free and easy access to birth control. Until that happens, our society endorses "abortion as birth control," and the people who are strongest against abortion seem to be the people most responsible for it. Their only solution is to just make it illegal... problem solved.
Except not really. Because banning abortion isn't going to stop abortion! The collapse in logic here is mind-boggling. No way to get a safe, controlled abortion? Oh, okay... bring on the coat hangers and back-alleys. Then some 12-year-old pregnant rape victim ends up dead because her parents didn't want her childhood (and possibly her entire life) ruined, so they risked an at-home procedure that went terribly wrong. THAT's what constitutes being pro-life?!? Who in the hell are these sadist pieces of shit running Alabama?
Meanwhile, all these politicians and their wealthy backers will STILL have access to safe abortions and suffer absolutely no consequences because of it. As always, the law only applies to poor people.
How the fuck do I get off this planet?
If only I had a portal guns from Rick and Morty. Which, by the way, is finally coming back this November...
Isn't it sad when the best thing you've heard out of the news all day is that a cartoon is returning?
Welcome to life in these United States.
Or on this earth, really.
My favorite cuisine by a wide margin is Italian. So many vegetarian dishes, and almost all of them are amazing. From pasta to pizza, I could eat Italian day after day and never grow tired of it.
Until I actually eat Italian day after day and grow tired of it.
Several months ago I became obsessed with developing the perfect Cacio e Pepe recipe. Italian for "Cheese and Pepper," this is the Official Pasta Dish of The City of Rome and I've been hooked on it since I first had it there back in 2000. It's a deceptively simple dish because it has only three ingredients... pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground pepper. But, in reality, it's tough to get it right.
The first mistake I made was following recipes from popular cooking sites that added all kinds of extra ingredients like butter, cream, or cheeses other than Pecorino Romano. I'd try recipe after recipe and get frustrated because it tasted nothing like what I had experienced in Rome. Eventually I found out why... just like with "Americanized" Fettuccine Alfredo, we fuck it up by adding extra shit that ruins the intended taste.
The second mistake I made was using spaghetti noodles. This is actually not terrible... I've eaten it in Rome made with spaghetti noodles. But, unlike an Italian chef, I cannot get consistent results. What you want are tonnarelli noodles, which are essentially "spaghetti alla chimaera" or "square spaghetti." Since tonnarelli doesn't have the edges rounded off, the noodle has more heft and doesn't cool quite as quickly. This pasta can be difficult to find in smaller markets, which is why I almost always end up using linguine (No. 7) noodles, and they work perfectly.
The third mistake I made was not using fine enough grate on my cheese. You must use the finest grate you have... the cheese should be almost a powder, not shreds.
The fourth mistake I made was not so much a mistake as it was a lesson. I was using plain old peppercorns right from the jar. Ideally you want the larger sized peppercorns (called tellichery) that you toast fresh before grinding. The larger peppercorns are less spicy, but more aromatic, and giving them a toasting before use helps bring out the flavor.
Once all that is handled correctly, you've pretty much won the battle.
After dropping my pasta into water which has come to a full-boil (a little salt is fine, but no oil) I blend the finely grated Pecorino Romano with a little bit of ice water to form a paste.
When the pasta is almost done being cooked to al dente (7 minutes for me), you take some of the hot, hot, boiling-hot pasta water and mix it with the above paste until you get a creamy sauce. The starch from the pasta water along with the heat has weird emulsive properties and you absolutely DO NOT need to add cream.
From there I wait for the pasta to finish cooking properly (an additional 2 minutes or 9 minutes total for me), then quickly drain, toss with the cheese sauce, add freshly-ground pepper (a bit coarse is better), then top with shredded cheese (shredded on top is fine... inside you want it almost powdered).
I like a lot of cheese on my pasta. Like, a lot of cheese. Pecorino Romano has more of a punch to it than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so using a lot of it can be a bit overwhelming. In recent years I've taken to making the same recipe as above, but substituting the Parmigiano-Reggiano so I can use extra and maintain the flavor profile I'm looking for. I also like my Cacio e Pepe to be a bit on the dry-side (too wet and it doesn't stick as easily to the noodles) so I use less pasta water than what is authentic.
After finally getting the perfect recipe, I found that I had been eating so much of it that I was sick of the stuff. Then last night I was suddenly craving it again, and this was the result...
Delicious. Except... there's at least 150 fat calories and 50g of carbs right there.
This is not a healthy dish.But it is tasty. My all-time favorite pasta, as a matter of fact (a close second is Fettuccine Alfredo, which can be constructed similarly to the above, except you use thinly-shaved egg noodles instead of tonnarelli and butter instead of pasta water).
Boy... it's going to take a lot of will-power to not have this for dinner again tonight.
I am currently on my third round of decluttering my life at home. I'm trying to leave as little to deal with as I can once I'm dead, and donating or trashing a lifetime of possessions is how I'm doing it.
One area I haven't worked on cleaning out is my office at work. But I'm having to make room for some new equipment, so I've been forced to go through decades of "stuff" to see what I can live without. I'm always worried to throw things out in case I need them one day, so this has been a massive ordeal. I've got junk piled everywhere!
Back in the late 80's and early 90's I had transitioned my music to CDs (compact discs), leaving me with loads of music on cassette tape that was just sitting in a box. Eventually I bought a small cassette player for my office so I could play them when I was working late or on weekends. The player died probably 25 years ago, but this morning I found the box of tapes...
And you know what's weird?
This is pretty much the same music I'm listening to today!
Adam and the Ants, Bowie, Prince, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys... same music, different decade!
Now it's a matter of going through everything to make sure I have a copy of it digitally. If not, I'll have to see if I can convert it. But how? Do they even sell cassette players any more?
Hope that yellow Walkman I found still works!
I rescued Jake and Jenny to keep my mom company while I was away at work. As her dementia progressed, being alone was not easy for her. I remembered how much she liked Spanky hanging around at her old place and thought kittens would help. But they were feral rescues and spent most of their time hiding under the couch instead. Eventually, they got used to mom being around and were happy to hang out with her. It took another couple weeks before they trusted me.
On Mother's Day I talked about the books I made as souvenirs of our travels. Yesterday I found photos of my mom actually looking at those books.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom didn't seem to notice that Jake was there at first...
Once she did notice, she says "Hey..."
Then... "Don't you chew on my book!"...
And Jake's like, "Well, shit!"...
A heartbreaking, awful time made so much better because of cats. I still don't know how I would have made it through without them.
Earlier this week I was just about to fall asleep when I heard something plastic fall to the floor downstairs. Then I heard the cats batting it around. I am generally very careful about not leaving out anything dangerous, but decided to check the security cameras anyway, just in case. I couldn't tell what they had, but I was certain it was something harmless, so I figured I'd look for it in the morning.
Turns out it's a pencil sharpener.
A pencil sharpener shaped like a nose that a friend gave me along with colored pencils and a Vanderpump Rules coloring book for my birthday...
I put it back next to my pencil cup and forgot about it.
Until Thursday morning when I woke up and found it on my bedroom floor...
A quick check of my security cameras and, yep, Jake dragged it up the stairs at 2:17am...
No idea how he managed to carry it up the stairs, but he did. No idea why he thought I needed a pencil sharpener, but he did. Maybe he just likes bringing me stuff. He does that a lot.
Speaking of Jake.
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, he has not been the same since falling down the stairwell and spraining his leg. I mean, personality-wise, he's the same... but behaviorally he's changed. He's clingy now. Any time I'm home, he's on me. Literally...
For a while he was sleeping on my bed with me, but he seems to have moved on these last couple of nights, so maybe he's healing? How long is a cat's traumatic memory anyway?
Still likes to nap next to me while I work though. Yesterday I thought something was wrong with him because he was sleeping funny.
For reference, this is how Jake usually sleeps...
Awww... who can resist that fuzzy belly...
He was sleeping abnormally like this...
I was genuinely worried. But then he went back to normal...
There we go!
And don't worry about Jenny. She still gets her share of belly rubs too...
Until next Caturday...
Who cares who sits on The Iron Throne... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• No Spoilers! Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Game of Thrones was HBO's most popular show of all time. You just know that money was not an issue when it came to wrapping things up. But apparently David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were tired of their show and wanted to move on, so they just hacked together some of the most mundane and lazy storytelling they could muster, crammed it into six episodes, and called it good. You'd think if they were tired and wanted to move on they would hand the show off to somebody who gives a shit, but no. This is what we got. I'll wait a week before posting my thoughts so as not to spoil things for any latecomers, but dang. Lame.
• Keanu! I know more than a few people working in Hollywood. Not one of them has ever had anything but nice words to say about Keanu Reeves. He's a kind, generous soul and everybody loves working with him. On top of that he has a self-realized wisdom that makes me happy for his every success...
John Wick: Chapter 3 was pretty kick-ass. Can't wait for Chapter 4.
• Represent! When stars like Brie Larson say they are using their celebrity to insist on a more diverse, inclusive group of interviewers, they get attacked by people wanting to keep the status quo of the same voices. I find this absurd. Making room for more is not taking away from who's there now. It's making room for more. And here's the incomparable Halle Berry walking the walk and doing her part...
How can anybody watch this and think anybody is losing here? More people winning doesn't equate to more people are losing, and it's shitty that this attitude continues to be our default. Make room at the table... your dinner party will only get more interesting.
• Again. HEADLINE: Trump Tries to Win Over Midwest Farmers with Socialist Promises. Because socialism is bad when it comes to keeping people healthy or fed or housed... but good when it's used as pathetic compensation to keep your base happy due to your complete failure to understand how global trade works in the year 2019.
• Hypocrisy in Action! HEADLINE: Anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy resigns after report he asked lover to end pregnancy...
Make no mistake... NONE... that wealthy politicians will ALWAYS have access to safe abortions for their mistresses and family. For everybody else? Wire hangers and back alleys, baby. This hypocritical bullshit disgusts me to my core.
• Evolution! Ummm...
It's only a matter of time before they go all Plant of the Apes on our asses.
And, on that apocalyptic note, see you next Sunday!
There are times... not many, but enough... that I think I have my life together. Then I get smacked in the back of the head by reality and realize that I'm about as close to having my life together as I am to walking on the moon.
Not that I'm discouraged or depressed about it though. I'm most definitely not. I'm doing the best I can to keep my head above water (and mostly succeeding) so what else is there? Nothing. And I'm content with that. Perhaps one day I won't be, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Last night I had cashews and crackers for dinner. It was my fallback plan after the frozen pizza I bought was essentially inedible and I could only get through two slices.
Jake, as he does any time I have food, was curious to see what I was eating. Or, to be more accurate, curious to smell what I was eating. Very rarely does he try to actually taste any of it though...
Probably because a boring-ass cracker doesn't even smell like food to him.
Or to me.
I don't know why I continue to buy frozen pizza. It's always bad. But every time there's a new brand that pops up, I roll the dice anyway. This time it was another variation on the "Rising Crust" type pizza. The crust is okay, I guess, but the sauce is pretty weak and the cheese is rubber. I'd throw it out, but the thing cost me $5... so... bad pizza for breakfast... and bad pizza for lunch today.
I have got to save up money for pizza steels so I can work on my own recipe.
Until then? Crackers it is, I guess.
Today is my final charity trip of the Spring!
Thanks to the Trump Government Shutdown, nobody from our group was allowed to make travel plans for the first three months of the year. The concern was that we might end up trapped away from home (and our paying jobs). So instead of having seven trips over twenty weeks, I ended up having to make up for lost time and cram five trips into eight weeks. This was more difficult than I anticipated, but you do what you gotta do.
San Diego travel is almost always a "day trip" for me where I essentially fly down for a critical one hour meeting, then just fly back home. But first I actually have to get to San Diego.
I left home at 6am so I could make my way over the mountains, which are packed with deer on the roads this time of year...
It's not a big deal if you are careful with your speed and stay alert*, but there are always assholes who do neither. When I slowed to let the deer in the above photo cross, a truck behind me had to slam on the brakes to avoid smashing into my rear end. If he had trouble seeing a big blue car, a small brown deer probably would have been roadkill.
I counted nine deer on my way over, which means there were at least that many that I missed.
By far the most dangerous thing on the road this trip was not a deer, but a motorcycle.
Having been a motorcyclist, I can tell you that riding on the highway is pretty much taking your life in your own hands. You have to be on high alert every single minute, because drivers don't pay attention. With this in mind, I was a very cautious rider and still almost ended up plowed into on several occasions.
And then there are riders who decide that highways aren't nearly dangerous enough, and decide to ride stupid.
As I was approaching the left-lane exit for I-5, a rider weaving in and out of traffic cut me off twice. And here he is directly after my close call cutting in front of other drivers... one of whom was just trying to get the hell out of the maniac's way, even though they needed to be in the left lane to exit...
This is phenomenally stupid. Not only did I almost hit him, but two other cars nearly did the same. Which begs the question... what was so damn urgent and important that this rider decided to risk an accident (and possibly his life) to get to?
I probably don't want to know, because it was likely something stupid... like making it to work with enough time for a Starbucks.
Despite this guy's best efforts, I'm here at the airport awaiting my flight, so I guess I'll just count my blessings that nobody died and hope the rest of my trip goes better than this.
*As in stay seriously alert. Sometimes the deer are really difficult to spot, and can dash out onto the road at any moment...
If you are traveling in the mountains (especially this time of year), might want to drive like a deer's life depended on it.
Landed at 1:30 yesterday, was done with work by 3:30, and in my San Diego hotel room chillin' by 4:00. Usually I would just fly back the same day, but since I started bypassing the toxic waste dump that is SeaTac International Airport and flying out of Everett Paine Field, my flight back doesn't leave until tomorrow at 2:20pm (unless I wanted to fly home at 7:45am, which I did not).
With time to kill, I met up with San Diego friends for dinner. Which was awesome.
Then we went out for dessert at Extraordinary Desserts. Which was extraordinary...
I had the "Shangri-La" cake, which was described like this: "White chocolate mousse along with guava mousse and fresh strawberries are layered in between whipped cream and Kirsch infused vanilla cakes. Every girl loves this cake." And yet... I was secure enough in my masculinity to order it because I really wanted something strawberry. It's pretty enough to eat...
Delicious. And that's 24K gold leaf on the strawberry, which is great because I've always wanted my poop to be gold-plated.
As I've mentioned a few times, Jake has been really clingy after his accident, and this is the first time I've left him overnight since it happened. I checked in on him several times to make sure he's doing okay. After spending most of the morning looking for me, he took a long nap right in the middle of my messy bed...
Before I knew it, time had flown and it was time for me to be flown home...
My trip back over the mountains was much less eventful than the drive over, thankfully.
And that was the end of that.
My cats were happy to have me home... especially Jake, who wouldn't leave my side, which was kinda sweet at 10pm...
But kinda scary at 1am...
Probably not great that I decided to take his picture with the flash on. Because, damn. If looks could kill...
And on that ominous note, enough work for the day... time for bed.
I used to watch Project Runway from time to time... not because I'm big into fashion but because I love Tim Gunn. When Gunn and Heidi Klum left after last season in favor of a yet-unknown project for Amazon, I stopped watching. Sure the creativity is fun, but not so much a draw that I want to spend my time watching without Tim.
I'm just not that into fashion.
Which would be clear to you if you've ever seen how I dress myself.
And yet... when it comes to obsessing over a fashion icon, I'm perfectly qualified. And right now the icon I'm obsessing over is Gemma Chan. I've seen her in a few things (including Humans), but it wasn't until her entrance into Crazy Rich Asians that I saw her as the epitome of class and glamor she is...
Hands down one of the best entrances in a movie ever.
But thinking that Gemma Chan can't be fashionable outside of the movies would be a mistake. She's stunning all the time everywhere and is always fashionable...
Image by Getty Images
Image by Hew Hood for Esquire Singapore
Image by David M. Benett / Getty Images
Image by Getty Images
Heck, she even looks amazing blue in her role for Captain Marvel...
Here's hoping we see a lot more of Ms. Chan before China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems start shooting back-to-back next year.
I've mentioned a couple times that I had worked on a comic book project decades ago. I made a lot of headway, but never completed it. The final page count was going to be in excess of 300 pages, and I just didn't have the time to commit to it.
Every once in a while I run across the 50-odd partial pages I drew and wonder what it would take to just finish the dang thing. The problem is that I would have to essentially start over from scratch because I created it in the 80's and it's hilariously outdated. The lead character has a car phone the size of a brick, and there's just no way I can go back and rewrite and redraw those parts. The entire story has to be revisited, because it won't work as a period piece.
But... 300+ pages of work.
Tonight I decided to draw/letter/ink a page of comic book art just to see how long it would take. Here's what I'm guessing is my pace...
I don't even want to think about how much time coloring would take. Possibly as long as 6 hours a page. So I'll put that on hold.
So... 5-1/2 to 8-1/2 hours per page.
Which means 1,760 to 2,720 hours if I can squeeze the story into 320 pages. Assuming I can work 4 hours weekdays and 16 hours on weekends... that's 36 hours a week. Or about 50 to 75 weeks to finish 320 pages.
A little over a year, I'm guessing.
Problem is that this would leave little time for anything else in my life. Like woodworking, which is my favorite thing right now.
So that's when I had an idea...
Maybe I take a character from the story, write a back-story series for them, and limit it to 100 pages or less so I can finish it in a year.
Worth a shot anyway. Maybe.
Jake has taken up golfing!
Well, not really. But he has taken up playing with a golf ball I found by the railroad tracks (don't worry, I ran it with at least 10 loads of clothes in the washer to make sure it's safe to play with).
When I brought it home, neither he nor Jenny wasn't the least bit interested. Then early, early this morning I heard a golf bar drop and roll across my bedroom floor (it was dark, so I couldn't see it, but there's no mistaking the sound a golf ball rolling on a wood floor makes)...
Jake jumped on my bed right after letting it drop, so I knew it was him... but how?
Turns out he can fit an entire golf ball in his mouth...
I would have never thought it was possible, but there's the proof.
Just one more thing he can bring upstairs like he does every day. Though now he's putting it behind the bed, which is nice of him. Less to step on when I wake up in the morning...
In Jenny news... she can open doors now. Only doors that slide (for now) like pocket doors and closet doors, but she's figured out how to poke-poke-poke her little paw at the crack until she can work it open. Another thing I didn't think were possible until I sat here last night and watched her do it...
At least now I know that it's not me leaving all the doors open in this place.
Until next Caturday...
It's a fine day in Westeros... because a special Game of Thrones edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
As I mentioned last week, I thought that the series finale of Game of Thrones was "Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion." And further thought on the matter hasn't changed my mind. The series showed exceptional moments of brilliance for years, then fell apart... badly... in the final act.
So let's talk about that, shall we?
BUT BEFORE YOU PROCEED, A WARNING... I am spoiling everything, so if you have any interest whatsoever in the show and may want to watch it one day, better get on that before proceeding.
Alrighty then. Final warning... because spoilers abound.
I don't know what I expected in the final season, but it sure wasn't this mess. A friend on Facebook called it "...a boring wet fart of an ending," and that kinda sums it up for me. So much time, patience, and care taken to set things up and then... poof... nuthin.
No final showdown between Cersei and Arya. No payoff to Bran's whole three-eyed-raven ordeal. A rushed, shoe-horned, sub-par conclusion to the Night King drama. Characters shoved aside, discarded, then shit on. It just goes on and on.
Right up until the very end I was hoping that something... anything would materialize to salvage this awful season. In the week before Episode 6 I remember thinking... "Say! Maybe the first five episodes didn't happen and it's just Bran looking into the future to see how things turn out? Maybe we'll come back and find that he has decided that Cersei should get the throne because her unborn child will one day bring the lasting peace and prosperity that The Seven Kingdoms so desperately needs? Yeah. Maybe that's how it will go!" But, of course, that was just too much to hope for.
Since the entire show was made powerful by its characters, I've decided to present my thoughts on Season 8 along those lines. So without further ado...
• Tyrion. The smartest character in the show had some pretty dumb moments in Season 8, but remained the smartest character on the show when it came to taking out Dany and laying out the future of Westeros at the end. But I can honestly say that the reason I was okay with how his character closed out the series was not because of how the character was written, it was entirely because of how Peter Dinklage performed the material. I was a huge fan long before Game of Thrones came along, and to see him in a role that will get him the recognition he deserves is the most satisfying thing to come out of this season (or any season, really). If he is not winning all the awards this year, it will be a horrendous injustice.
• Bran. He spent years developing amazing abilities that one assumed would all be leading to something. But they were completely ignored. At the battle with the Night King he warged into ravens and flew around surveying the fighting, but nothing was done with the information, essentially making him a VCR recording events. I kept waiting for him to warg into Drogon and stop the madness of Dany’s brutal attack on King’s Landing, but it never happened. That being said, I certainly wasn’t upset with him becoming king... not just because of all the reasons Tyrion laid out... but because he was one of the least horrible characters left.
• Arya. By far my favorite character on the show, Arya was given years of training and a mission. When she killed the Night King and saved the world, it wasn’t so she could be a hero, it was because the Night King was the way of her revenge. So what happens when she finally gets the opportunity? She is scared away by bricks falling out of a wall. This has to be the most inexcusably, lame, shitty example of lazy character abandonment that I’ve ever seen. Her decision to see what’s “West of Westeros” at the end was about the only sensible thing left for her after she was discarded from the show in such a stupid manner. And don’t even get me started on her being unfulfilled as a character until she slept with Gendry. Really? No women in the writer’s room when this was thought up?
• Sansa. Wants The North to be a separate kingdom she can rule because the Men of the North have kneeled enough and should never be made to kneel again. Then has all the Men and Women of The North kneel as she takes the throne? Sure. Okay. Whatever. I actually liked the way that Sansa’s character progressed. She endured great hardship to become smarter and stronger, ultimately going from naive window dressing to a wise and crafty ruler for her people. I wouldn’t have minded if she ended up on The Iron Throne, but never thought it felt like her destiny. Personally, I was hoping that she would make some kind of great sacrifice in the final season. She somehow gives her life so the people of Westeros could live. That kind of thing. But having the consolation prize of her own independent kingdom is okay, I guess. Seems a bit silly though. If Sansa gets her own kingdom, then why not all the other houses too? The North sacrificed the most in the war against the Night King that they get special treatment? I dunno. Sounds like a forced happy ending so the three remaining Stark kids get happy endings. Lame.
• Jon. Of all the Stark’s, I found Jon’s ending to be the most satisfying. Especially since he was reunited with Ghost at the end (though why the direwolf would want anything to do with him after being so callously discarded earlier is beyond me). Ultimately he pretty much got what he deserved. That he ignored his banishment to the Night Watch to live beyond the wall with his Wildling friends is a curious decision, as that was part of the agreement that kept Grey Worm from obliterating as much as Westeros as he could manage. Wanna bet he also ignores the mandate that he doesn’t marry or father children? Here’s hoping that Grey Worm doesn’t care about keeping up with events across the Narrow Sea, or Bran’s rule may be a short one.
• Daenerys. There are those who say that anybody who didn’t see her complete collapse into madness and violence coming wasn’t paying attention. I could not disagree more. Yes, she was ruthless TO HER ENEMIES and became a cold and calculating ruler... but she pretty much had to be to get out of the situation she was in. And I get that aspect of her character. But to brutally murder the innocent people of King’s Landing in the most gruesome way possible? Really? That goes against everything she was shown to be working towards for seven seasons. And then to twist is at the very end and make her seem like she was PMS bat-shit crazy with her ranting about how Cersei made her kill all those people... after they had clearly surrendered? How many women were in the writer’s room for that nonsense? I never wanted Dany on the Iron Throne. But to have her character be abandoned and shit on like this after giving her the strength to escape from a horrible beginning? Shameful. Not that she would have been a great leader after how stupid they made her. Seriously? No advanced scouts to see what's happening at Dragonstone before you march your entire army back? She deserved to lose yet another dragon and have her army beat to shit for that bit of dumbassery. At least she learned how to fly low then high then low then high to avoid the scorpion crossbows for the rematch, so she's not a total dumbass. But still a pretty big one.
• Drogon. So... smart enough to melt the Iron Throne in a “If mommy can’t have it, nobody can” kinda way... but not smart enough to figure out what happened and avenge her death? Did he think that the Iron Throne stabbed her? Okay then. Still pissed that Bran never got to warg into Drogon (how awesome would that have been?) but it’s implied that may yet happen... COMPLETELY OFF-SCREEN! Blergh.
• Cersei. I read somewhere that Lena Headly got paid $1 million per episode for Season 8. Then they took her character... one of the most complex, tragic, powerful, and systematically evil to ever grace a television screen... and had her stare out a fucking window. Then, as if that weren’t insult enough, they discarded her as an idiot and spineless moron who got buried by rocks. One of the most wasted opportunities of the show. I wanted my showdown between Arya and Cersei where she would have at least gotten some juicy material to go out on.
• Jaime. Why didn’t they just kill him off in Season 7? He was completely and totally wasted in Season 8.
• Brienne. Good Lord. One of the most badass women characters on the show, and yet she suffered the same pathetic fate as all the other badass women on the show... discarded. One minute she’s a brave and fearless knight who is the very definition of a character defying stereotypes... then the next minute she’s a sobbing wreck of an abandoned girlfriend who lost her virginity to a love she could never have. Seriously. Not ONE woman in the writer’s room for this garbage? I guess they thought tossing her a bone as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard would make fans happy. But could fans of her character ever be happy with how things turned out for her? Not even if they made her Queen. Pathetic.
• Tormund. An interesting character with so many possibilities ultimately relegated to background material for Jon Snow to be an idiot. Great. Just great. I know I’m not the only one who hoped that he would end up with The Large Woman. What’s so cool is that they didn’t make him an obsessive weirdo about it though. He wanted to be with Brienne, she didn’t reciprocate, he and his broken heart moved on. You know, like a sane person.
• Melisandre. One of the few women who actually got a satisfying conclusion, her exit from the show was everything you could possibly want. The job she was preparing to take on for centuries was done, what else was there? Free from the dictates of the Lord of Light at last.
• Samwell. To make him such a key background player for so long only to have him be shoved aside after revealing Jon’s lineage seemed like such an inexplicable move. That was what his entire arc was leading to this whole time? That’s it? I mean, sure, as the last remaining Tarly he gets that house, but there’s nothing to indicate he’s going to be remotely competent as a leader. On the contrary, his bumbling and misplaced compassion will probably just lead to even further ruin. Like so many other characters, Samwell was thrown (throne?) a bone that makes no sense at all.
• Gendry. The guy I ultimately wanted to sit on the Iron Throne because I always thought he was the most deserving of it. I guess giving him the lordship of Storm’s End was a nice consolation prize... but the pining after Arya was a silly-ass thing to inject into the character.
• Missandei. One could argue that Missandei was what kept Dany’s sanity in check, and losing her was the last straw leading to madness, but that’s a huge disservice to both characters. Okay, characters needed to die to illustrate that war isn’t pretty. I get that. And so far as deaths go on Game of Thrones, she got a pretty good one. But was she always nothing more than a fucking grenade pin to the writers after all these years? Once again, where were the women writers on this fucking show?
• Grey Worm. His character may have been disappointing, but at least he was consistent right to the end. But then everything changed. It’s as if the writers suddenly realized that there were all these Unsullied and Dothraki hanging around on Westeros, and didn’t know what to do with them. Packing up their shit and headed back to Essos was always in the cards, but it’s as if no real thought went into how that might happen. If you asked me what would happen to Grey Worm in Season 7, I’d tell you that after the war he returns to Essos with Missandei and becomes a great and just ruler for his people. But after Season 8 where he became a psychopath who was “just acting on orders?” I hope to God when he gets back home that there’s a better alternative than him to run things. I mean, holy shit!
• Lyanna Mormont. Of all the characters on the show, this right here is the one that really put my love for all things Game of Thrones over the top. As the ruler of Bear Island, she was wise and brave beyond her years, which was a lot of fun to watch. I actually think her death in the Battle of Winterfell was pretty good, but boy oh boy would I have loved to have her be at that final council to determine the future of Westeros!
• Davos. The best smuggler of the Seven Realms became Master of Ships. Alrighty then.
• Theon. He went out a hero buying Arya enough time to arrive and save the world, so what more could you ask? His life was pretty much at a dead-end and he knew it. That he decided to bravely be where he was most needed even though it was a suicide mission ties up his redemption arc in exactly the right way.
• Euron. Make no mistake... I wanted the asshole dead... but how about in a way that made any sense at all? One minute he’s fighting on the water out in the middle of nowhere, then he unleashes hereunto unknown Aquaman-like swimming powers to make it to shore for a lame battle with Ser Jaime. Hardly the brutal end he deserved.
• Yara. Gets to be queen of the Iron Islands after every man in the way was killed off for her. I’m not saying she didn’t earn it... on the contrary, she was clearly the best person for the job... but once again we have this inexplicable decision to take strong female characters and discard them. How fucking hard is it to let strong female characters keep being strong female characters? How much more satisfying would it have been... how fucking easy would it have been... to establish that some asshole pretender to the throne was in power, and Yara was heading back to the Iron Islands to take the throne she deserves and have that be her final scene? Not one woman writer in the room to suggest sending her off in a way that befit the character? Not one?
• The Hound & The Mountain. They went out the only way they really could have, really. About the only deaths on the show that made total sense to me.
• Podrick. At least Ser Pod got to be a knight. A knight responsible for pushing King Bran the Broken’s wheelchair, but still a knight. I guess.
• Lord Varys. Let’s face it... his death was merely regret fodder for Tyrion and nothing more. And that’s okay. Some characters are there merely to serve as building blocks for other characters. And they gave him a pretty cool “death by dragonfire” exit, so I can’t complain too much.
• Bronn. Apparently got the lordship he was promised... but was also inexplicably made Master of Coin? WTF?!? Oh well. At least we know that the brothels of King’s Landing will be operational in record time.
• Royce and Edmure. Kind of a pointless characters to keep around until the end, but I guess it’s not entirely unexpected that some would make it just because they weren’t worth killing off. Seeing Edmure make a fool of himself at the end-council was kinda satisfying, I suppose.
• Robin Arryn. It took me a minute to figure out that the young guy at the council was, in fact, that creepy kid that was still breastfeeding at 13 years old (or whatever) ages ago. Apparently momma’s milk does a body good, because he actually looked quasi-normal here.
• Beric. I loved the character with his many lives and his flaming sword. And while I was sad to see him go, I thought his end was actually pretty great. Melisandre said he had served his purpose (to save Arya so she could save the world), and that’s as good as it gets.
And that, dear Game of Bullets readers, is the end of that.
UPDATE: This video does a great job of getting into why the ending for Game of Thrones is so unsatisfying. Worth a watch...
I am trying to not let the current state of this country taint what is supposed to be a remembrance of those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country... but it's hard not to.
I keep saying that it is impossible for me to be more disgusted by the grotesque mockery of a government we ended up with, but then a new day dawns.
I never made it out to the cemetery to make sure that my mom got a flag on her grave... really need to remember to do that for next year.
Today was the last day to redeem coupons from Safeway's "Monopoly Shop Play Win" game. Whenever I was asked if I am playing, I always said "yes" even though I never played the actual game. I just wanted the free stuff and discounts from the coupons you get in the game piece tickets.*
And so... against my better judgement... I drove the 20 minutes to Safeway to claim my booty...
A part of me was just going to skip the trip because I did not feel like going grocery shopping after the tough day I had... but... free stuff.
And call me crazy, but the prize I was most excited about getting was not the $10 in gift cards... it was the free bagels.
When it comes to bagels, I always buy the packages of Franz bagels when they go on sale for around $2.50. They are perfectly serviceable and delicious bagels, and I buy extra so I can freeze them for times there are no sales going.
But the bagel I crave is the Ultimate Cheddar Cheese bagel from the Safeway bakery. Not as good as an Asiago Cheese bagel, but I do love them so very, very much. Problem is, they are almost as expensive as four Franz bagels on sale, so I rarely have the opportunity to buy them. And here I am getting four of them for free!
There was no way I was passing up on that!
It was close enough to payday that I could buy my monthly groceries as well. Which goes something like this... 1) Is it on sale or do I get "Just 4U" club card savings? And 2) Is it something I will eat or want to try? If the answer to both of those are "yes" then it goes in my shopping cart. These days I don't buy anything that's not on sale... unless an emergency dictates otherwise (hey, sometimes you have to buy toilet paper, even if it's not on sale).
At the bottom of the receipt Safeway always tells you how much money you saved and I average 20%-30%. Today, thanks to Monopoly coupons, I reached 38%. That's pretty great. Though I should have cashed in all my free stuff on a separate transaction so I could have reached 100% savings. Then I could have framed the receipt.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's double Ultimate Cheddar Cheese bagels for dinner up in here...
*The grand prize is something like $250 million, so I probably should play the main game... but it's such a huge amount of work with all those little pieces, and I never even got a game board to stick them on.
And so I nearly died again.
I cross two crosswalks on my way to work. Once when my sidewalk runs out. And then I cross back after the walk resumes on the side of the street I want to be on. At the first crosswalk a woman in a giant SUV came so close to hitting me this morning that I felt the air move. I honestly thought she was stopping and barely managed to get out of the way.
THEN, as I was approaching the second crosswalk, I saw a man and his little girl waiting to cross. THREE CARS blew by without stopping. And since this is near a school, there is a signal you can press to have blinking lights flash on the "crossing sign." SO THERE WERE FLASHING LIGHTS TELLING PEOPLE TO STOP AND YET THEY STILL DID NOT! The man yelled at the last two cars. I don't blame him. Keep in mind this is near AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, yet people still don't give a fuck.
I guess everybody is in such a hurry that potential pedestrian manslaughter is a small price to pay.
The sunsets sure have been pretty this past week...
And the cats have been out in the catio enjoying them every night.
Every day when I am walking to work I pass a "Little Library" box. Over the years there have been a wide variety of books, toys, and pamphlets crammed inside. Titles come. Titles go. It's a microcosm of what people are reading in my town. I'm not sure why these things are needed, as we already have a very good local library, but I'm in support of anything that encourages people to read.
This is what was in there today...
The Jehovah's Witnesses are forever filling all the Little Library boxes with their Watchtower propaganda. Not the intended purpose of the box, but what can you do? I'd be 100% behind this if it meant that they would stop going door-to-door with their bullshit, but I am fairly certain that they will continue to do this as well.
And I have a serious problem with that.
When my mom was first sliding into dementia, she was perfectly fine being home on her own during the day while I was at work. But every once in a while she would have a bad day and I would have to stay home and try to work from there. On one of those days there was a knock at the door. And there they stood... two women with their kids and a stack of Jehovah's Witness crap. I was just starting to politely tell them that we weren't interested when I hear "Is Pat home?"
Turns out they had been visiting their "friend" for months and just wanted to stop in and say hello.
I was instantly consumed with rage.
At this point my mom had no memory. None. Which means every fucking time these assholes visited her, she wouldn't know who they were. But of course they remembered her, called her by name, made her believe they were her friends, then get invited in for coffee and Bible chit-chat because my mom was confused and thought she must know them since they knew her.
The Jehovah's Witnesses lied to her. They took advantage of her condition. They exploited her trust.
Up until that point I had been politely indifferent to their cult because I thought they were harmless. Turns out they are some of the shittiest assholes on the planet, and I make a point of telling people just what I think of them every time the subject is brought up. I shouldn't have had to call the fuckers at "The Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses" and tell them to never speak to my mother again or I would call the cops, but I did.
I have loathed the Jehovah's Witnesses ever since.
Which is why I am tempted to pull out anything they put in the library boxes and set it on fire, but since they'll just replace it there doesn't seem to be much point in it.
But maybe I could make up a bunch of stickers like this to slap on The Watchtower every time I see one?
It's a URL that redirects to this painful article about one woman's horrible ordeal with the Jehovah's Witnesses cult.
Since they abandon their leaflets in a public space, I don't think it would be illegal.
Though I'm sure their cultists would stake out the library boxes so they could catch me doing it once they realized what was happening. I'd just as soon not have to confront them directly, but I must admit I'd love the opportunity to tell them to go fuck themselves, the lying shitbags.
I am 100% behind freedom of (or from) religion in this country. If you want to join a cult, worship Jehovah, lie and cheat to coerce people into joining your mania, become a homophobic bigoted asshole, and put your faith in a "church" that keeps predicting the end of the world but failing miserably, then go right ahead. That's your right. You do you.
But don't bring your shit to my doorstep and fuck with my family or I'll lash out at you with the burning fury of a thousand suns. That's my right.
Is life worth living?
So long as I'm not indoctrinated into becoming a Jehovah's Witness cultist, it just might be.