Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2019
I saw Spider-Man: Far From Home quite a while ago.
But then I got busy and there never seemed to be time to sit down and write up my thoughts on it. So I just kept jotting down notes until I managed to get enough to put them in an entry. Overall I liked the movie quite a lot. Though it hasn't displaced Homecoming as my favorite MCU Spider-Man film, there was still a lot to love...
Needless to say, spoilers will follow...
Spiderman: Far From Home is a pretty great flick. I don't know that I like it better than Spider-Man: Homecoming, because that film was about as flawless as it gets, but Far From Home is a close second. Jon Watts keeps knocking Spider-Man out of the park, and I couldn't be happier about it.
Let's just bullet-point the major talking points here...
If there were no huge surprises to be found in the film proper, there was one heck of a bombshell that dropped in the mid-credits sequence. First they had Mysterio reaching up from the grave to paint Spider-Man as the bad guy. This is straight out of the comics I read in the 1980's. Because in the Spider-Man comics back then (maybe even today), even when Peter wins, he ultimately loses. There's always bad to go along with the good.
Then, of course, Spider-Man's secret identity was revealed. Whoa. I like that Marvel is ditching all these stupid secret identities which feel so antiquated now... but Spider-Man is an actual kid, and this seems like a pretty Big Deal. I am very much curious to know where they go from here.
And now for some random bullets...
And that's a wrap.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
Ant-Man and The Wasp... A-
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Avengers: Infinity War... A
Avengers: Endgame... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Black Panther... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A+
Captain Marvel... B+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Deadpool 2... A
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Fantastic Four (2005)... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Fantastic Four (2015)... D+
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... A
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Justice League... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Spider-Man: Homecoming... A+
Spider-Man: Far From Home... A
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse... A
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
Thor: Ragnarok... A+
The Wolverine... B
Wonder Woman... A
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+
Posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2019
This morning after I fed my cats Jenny started making "yummy noises" while she ate breakfast. It caught me off guard because I've never heard her do that before. It was so subtle I would have missed it if I hadn't leaned over to fill the water fountain... and so adorable that I very nearly fell over laughing.
Not sure what brought this on, but it made my day.
For a little while, anyway.
Because then I decided to have tacos for breakfast and was all "SUCK IT, HATERS... only God can judge me! Wooooooo!!"
About twenty minutes later I spent an hour in "intestinal distress." Apparently God's judgement hath cometh and it cometh for me.
Guess that's what I get for ignoring Fish Friday! Though if the point of Fish Friday is to abstain from eating meat, these were vegetarian-safe tacos, so no harm no foul (no beef no fowl?). Maybe this Wrath of God stuff would make more sense if I had paid more attention in Catholic Sunday school? I dunno. I never found anything about "Fish Friday" in the Bible, so I'm guessing this came from the Catholic Church, much like "purgatory.".
In other news... my measles antibody test came back as 203. Anything higher than 29 is positive for immunization. Which left me looking at the results like... HOLY SHIT, MOM! My antibodies are at 203?!? TWO-OH-THREE?!? EXACTLY HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU HAVE ME IMMUNIZED?!?
It's nice that I'm protected as well as I can be protected from the measles plague while traveling. One less thing to worry about. Now I can focus all my worry on the plane crashing where it belongs!
Just kidding. That's probably the last thing I worry about while traveling. The way the world is going right now, sometimes I think a plane crash is the best thing that could happen to me.
And the second-best thing? Freshly-baked bread for dessert...
I'll take bread and butter over cake and ice cream any day of the week!
My turn to make yummy noises.
Posted on Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
This past week I've been trying to recover from the work trip that badly messed up my sleep routine. I don't sleep much in the first place, but to basically have to stay awake for three day is not something you can easily bounce back from. My solution has been to just sleep when I'm tired and hope that eventually things go back to normal.
This makes my cats happy, because they just love to have a nap buddy. Especially Jake...
It wouldn't be so bad if he would share the bed instead of pushing me to the edge...
I put a cat bed on the couch so that Jenny could take a nap next to me when I nap...
All is well until I shift position and Jenny has to get all upset over it. Here she is doing her best "Might you have any Grey Poupon" look after I accidentally slid my leg under her bed...
For the past couple months, Jenny has been waiting on the small corner-ledge outside my bathroom so she can get petted after I take a shower. She knows that there's no way I can resist, but has taken to meowing to get my attention anyway. This past week I started recording her each morning...
This adds five to ten minutes to my morning routine each day, but it's worth it! Note the cat hair that goes flying everywhere. I can usually keep her shedding under control by brushing her with The Furminator, but she's been resisting it lately for some reason. Don't know if I accidentally brushed too hard or what, but we're taking a break from it for a while.
And don't worry about Jake getting his fair share of pets. He waits for me on top of the cat tower in my bedroom...
And now, since I've had my shower, I guess it's time for a nap!
But before I go...
Jake has discovered that if he pounces on the pet feeder he can knock loose any kibble that got stuck in the release tube...
I suppose it's only a matter of time before they figure out how to open the thing entirely.
At which point I might as well fill a trough with food when I'm gone and just let them eat until they explode. Silly cats.
=yawn= Have a great weekend!
Posted on Sunday, August 4th, 2019
You may think there's nothing good, just, and true in the world, and you could be right... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free 2-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime. We have a white supremacist domestic terrorist problem which reached a crisis point years ago. And if the solution is always going to be to throw thoughts and prayers at it... or blame it on video games... or write it off as mental illness which cannot be solved... it will never, ever go away. And as we approach the age of affordable 3-D printing where space-age polymers will allow people to print assault rifles at home, it's only going to get much, much worse. And that day is coming far faster than anybody seems to recognize. So it's probably past time you ask yourself... do you want to continue to elect political leaders who encourage, escalate, and foster an environment where white nationalism can continue to thrive? Or do you want leaders who will foster a more inclusive society where white nationalism has no place? Because make no mistake, Amazon will be shipping those 3-D printers everywhere... including your state, your neighborhood, and your school district.
• And Then...
alexa show me the unnervingly large Venn Diagram of people who hate immigrants but love to take 23andMe tests to find out exactly what type of immigrant their family once was— Carter-William (@carterwilliam_)
July 25, 2018
• Walt! "In 1955, Disneyland opened. In early 1956, Sherman W. Carter, Jr. took his family to the park and shot this home movie. The video was just uploaded to YouTube on July 1 by a family friend."
I've been a huge Disneyland fan for forever. Seeing it in its earliest, rawest form is mesmerizing.
• Superflat! One of my favorite artists, Takashi Murakami, has written an editorial about his influences over at CNN Style. His work has certainly been an influence on me!
It's a really good read, especially if you have any interest in how art gets to be art.
• Best Life! Washington State may soon allow non-binary persons to use an "X" on their drivers license if an "M" or "F" isn't how they identify. Of course people are 100% losing their shit over it, which is mind-boggling to me. Why do you care what SOMEBODY ELSE has on their driver's license? How does it affect you AT ALL? Nobody is forcing you to do a damn thing on YOUR license. Which is why this Facebook post encapsulates the issue so well...
Be free indeed.
• More Chlorine! No idea how I missed this gem of a story, but it made my day... The Saga of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Bizarre Relationship With a Miami Beach Pool Boy, Explained. This hypocritical bigot deserves to have people crawling up his ass with a microscope and examining every last detail of his life. Especially if articles like this are the result. After all the pain his words and actions have brought to others, it's about time it's returned in kind.
• Club Life! Speaking of hypocritical bigots, this may be my favorite headline of this decade... Mike Pence Fails to Pay $24K Tab at Gay-Owned Club.
Looking forward to another week filled with horrors? Me neither. But see you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, August 5th, 2019
Last week somebody told me that they still find themselves thinking “I need to tell my mom about this!” whenever they see something, hear something, or think of something that reminds them of their mom... even though she has been gone for almost five years now. They then asked if it's the same for me. I had to answer "no" because for the three years before she died, my mom likely wouldn't have been able to understand or process what I was talking about. Thanks to dementia, I had years for that impulse to be driven out of me. Had she died when she could still make sense of stuff you'd tell her, then yeah, I think I absolutely would still have that impulse. As I have for most all of my other friends and family who have passed.
Whenever I run across something truly bizarre and messed up on Facebook, my impulse is to DM it to Grant. He died 2 months ago today.
Whenever I meet up with a mutual friend from "back in the day" and some hilarious memory comes up, my impulse is to reminisce with one of my dearest friends Doug. He died 6 months ago.
Whenever I hear a new song from some artist we mutually liked, my impulse is to message my friend Howard about it. He died 2 years ago today.
Whenever I order a Manhattan I think of my Grandpa and his wife Lois, who made epic cocktails that would blow your hair back. He died over 3 years ago. She died some years before that.
Whenever I eat apple pie my impulse is to run and tell my grandma that she still makes the best apple pie on planet earth. She died nearly 4 years ago.
Whenever I see an example of epic snark in my Facebook feed, my impulse is to forward it to my fellow blogger friend Kaply. She died 5 years ago.
Whenever I see a handmade bracelet that's especially crappy, my impulse is to take a photo and have a laugh with my fellow blogger friend Lisa about it. She died 10 years ago.
Whenever I see anything related to Dr. Who, my impulse is always to talk with one of my oldest bestest friends Howard about it. He died 18 years ago.
Whenever I make enchiladas from my grandmother's recipe, my impulse is to call her and tell her how mine never taste as good as hers do. She died like... 20... 25 years ago, I think?
Whenever I give myself a haircut, my impulse is to run and ask my barber grandfather how good a job I did. He died 29 years ago.
I think it's normal that we still think of people who are gone from our lives as if they are still around. Which is why I'm more than a little sad I can't feel this way about my mom... unarguably somebody I was closer to than anybody listed above. I mean, yeah, I still miss her terribly. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not thinking of her and wishing I could have her back. It's just that the impulse to run and tell her stuff is completely absent, and that's a bitter pill to swallow.
And speaking of dementia...
As we get older, our memory isn't as good as it used to be. And it's weird how that works. The lyrics to some obscure song I liked 20 years ago and probably haven't heard in a decade? Totally remember every word. What I had for breakfast last Tuesday? Yeah, I remember that. But the name of the person I was just introduced to 30 minutes ago? Gone. Vanished. No idea who they are, only that I should know their name.
But that kind of stuff doesn't worry me. Heck, I've been immediately forgetting people's names since birth! It's just that I notice it more now, I suppose.
What worries me... what terrifies me... is something like forgetting to turn the burner off after I've boiled some pasta and not noticing until 20 minutes later. Or forgetting to close the door flap after I've filled my car with gas and not realizing it until 2 days later. All those little things that should totally be ingrained in every fiber of my brain as habitual behavior... but obviously must not be because I've somehow forgotten to do it. Those things are about as unnerving as it gets.
After the whole pasta burner incident this past week, I ran to consult Dr. Google. This is what they say about dementia over at alzheimers.org...
In most cases, vascular dementia itself is not inherited.
However, a parent may pass certain genes that increase the risk of developing vascular dementia.
Sooo... good news bad news then? I guess?
Could be I'm overly-tired because I just can't seem to get my sleep back on schedule after my last trip, and that's the reason for it. Who knows?
If it is a sign of early onset dementia, however, at least I have the consolation of knowing that I'm on my way to not being troubled because I can't still think of my mom as being alive like I do everybody else who's died in my life. That would be great.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
Disney released the pricing details for the new Disney+ service... their absolute must-have streaming channel thanks to their new Marvel Studios and Star Wars shows that are in development. You can get it bundled with ESPN+ and Hulu Basic for $13. Since I will never watch ESPN+, I will go ala carte and save a dollar...
I am mortified that I'll be paying FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH PLUS TAX for my television. That's a stupid amount of money. But TV is one of the few things I pay for where I actually get my money's worth, even at $55. If I divide that by the number of hours I spend watching my favorite shows it's shockingly cheap. Going to movies or concerts is out of control expensive now, so this is a far more economical form of entertainment.
It's also $20 cheaper than the $75 plus tax I was paying for satellite + Hulu + Netflix, so I guess that's something.
It's taken some getting used to though.
Shows on Sling are great because the enhanced "virtual DVR" keeps up with the shows I record exactly like my old DVR did. I can even skip commercials. Hulu is a bit less helpful because I don't pay for their "Live" version that has a DVR... it's and additional $40 a month! A price I'd gladly pay over the $30 for Sling Blue because it has local channels... but it doesn't have Comedy Central, and I don't know if I can give it up because their app is a bit weird on my television.
I gotta have my The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Television may be a pricey indulgence, but it's quickly becoming one of the few indulgences I can afford. I was looking at the possibility of taking week's vacation somewhere and was mortified at the cost of lodging now-a-days. Insane. Used to be you could get a decent hotel for $100 a night or less. Now you're lucky to find something decent for $300 a night. At least at the places I'm interested in going.
Oh well. I'm getting less and less enamored with travel anyway. I do enough of it for work, so maybe that's enough?
Sling Blue comes with The Travel Channel, after all.
Posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019
I don't get it either.
Which only proves I'm sane, I guess.
Posted on Thursday, August 8th, 2019
Like everybody else I have opinions.
Unlike everybody else, my opinions seem to get me into trouble entirely too often. Which is why I should probably just keep my big mouth shut. Problem is, I can't seem to do that.
And there's nothing like political opinions to bring on the rage and hatred.
I get it from both sides because I am not a fan of Republicans or Democrats.
Right now I'm much harder on Republicans because they unleashed this idiotic piece of shit president on us and that's always good from some Right-Wing-based anger. But my criticism of some of President Obama's stupider moves always guaranteed copious amounts of Left-Wing-based anger, so what can you do? Since keeping my big mouth shut doesn't seem to be an option, I guess I'll just have to bathe in the hate. Like my hero Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies*...
One topic that never fails to incite hate from all corners of the internet is talking about gun violence. Regardless of where you stand, somebody will hate your opinion. This is perfectly understandable given how lots of people are dying because of them. Gun violence is a persistent threat to every American, and temperatures are bound to be running hot when you debate how to solve such a problem in a country where gun ownership is at our foundation.
And every time there's another mass-shooting (which, let's face it, is all the time now) a blog post I wrote two years ago titled Second Amendments and Horse Shit starts getting clicks.
And an awful lot of hate.
Eventually I had to turn off comments on the post because it seemed like all the non-regular-readers didn't have anything constructive to add to the conversation (something I'm always in favor of)... they just wanted a place to unload their hate.
What's weird about all this? Back when I wrote that entry I worked hard not to appear biased, and tried to find talking points everybody can agree on. That was likely a mistake, because too much of it can be taken in different ways depending on the biases of the person reading it.
If I were writing the same post today, I wouldn't bother trying to be so careful. I would totally call out President Trump as a racist white supremacist asshole who is constantly inciting violence against immigrants, and must be at least partly to blame when these violent white supremacists keep mentioning him as inspiration when they commit these heinous acts of gun violence. I'd likely also talk about how ironic it is that we are losing so badly to white supremacy when this country fought a fucking world war to end the Nazis. And I'd definitely mention exactly how stupid it is to blame video games for mass-shootings when countries like Japan and South Korea play video games at a far higher rate than we do, but they don't have a violence problem like we do.
I'd also choose a different approach in discussing mental illness as it pertains to gun violence. A part of my thinking was that somebody who picks up a gun and tries to kill a massive number of people must have mental issues. But that's a pretty shallow armchair analysis. During times of war soldiers are convinced they need to pick up a gun and kill a bunch of people, so what about that? I'd argue that killing civilians when you're not at war is a distinction that's hard to miss. But when you've got The Commander in Chief of the United States Military essentially declaring war on immigrants and saying that the "immigrant infestation must be stopped for the good of the country"... isn't that pretty much the same thing? If you agree with what the president is saying and feel it's your patriotic duty to "fight the immigrant invasion," then no mental illness is required... just hate.
In any event, I want to be perfectly clear that I categorically do no believe that all persons battling mental illness or who are dealing with mental problems are prone to violence. That would, in fact, be absurd levels of hypocritical of me. Shallow armchair analysis aside, implying this might be the case was not my intent, and what I said about eliminating the stigma of mental illness and being more proactive when it comes to mental health in this country still stands.
Sometimes when laying out your opinions, mistakes can be made. And while I'll never apologize for having an opinion, I'm definitely sorry about being guilty of unclear, incomplete, or plain wrong statements I make when stating my opinion.
I may be one of the smartest humans on the planet, but I'm still human, after all.
*Apparently Palpatine is going to play a part of the new Star Wars film: The Rise of Skywalker. Assumably in flashbacks since the guy is like... dead... and everything. Or maybe he comes back as a Force Ghost like Obi-Wan? Can Sith Lords do Force Ghosts? I guess we will have to wait and see.
Posted on Friday, August 9th, 2019
This morning while I was waiting for my laptop to render out the project I had been working on for an hour-and-a-half, I grabbed my iPhone to take a look at what's going on in the world. Granted in this day and age that's most always a mistake, but I'm a glutton for punishment.
After glossing over the "news" tab I clicked on the "entertainment" tab because that's always a much happier place to be. One of the first stories was The Movies Directed By Quentin Tarantino, Ranked. I'm a big Tarantino fan, so I had clicked through without even thinking about it. The list (over at Film School Rejects) was an interesting one. They put Inglourious Basterds at the top, not Pulp Fiction, which is usually not how these lists go. Most times I never know if the person making the list puts Pulp Fiction as #1 because they honestly feel that way... or because it's expected of them to have it there. Then I noticed that the Film School Rejects list was a composite list by a group of people, and suddenly everything made sense. Since the list wasn't being attributed to a single person's name, people could vote how they wanted to with no pressure to vote as they feel people expected them to.
While I prefer lists that I can attribute to a single person, I do like the idea of lists that are voted on by multiple people. If, for no other reason, because it feels as though it gives a better barometric of truthiness due to the anonymity of it all.
Then I discovered the website Ranker and fell down a rabbit hole.
Ranker is a site where any visitor can vote on lists of things (and also has regular news stories). Clicking on the "entertainment" tab and I see Every Song in Cats, Ranked by Singability and The Best TV Shows Streaming on Hulu and The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made and Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With.
Then I see the list that compels me to start ranking... The Best Hallmark Channel Original Movies of 2019. ON THIS SUBJECT I HAVE VERY STRONG OPINIONS!
...my rendering finished ages ago and I'm running in danger of being late to work. That's what happens when you feel compelled to vote on things like Funny Names to Give a Chicken (before you judge me, 4,300+ other people were in on this)...
I mean, come on... "Tyrannosaurus Pecks?" "Mother Clucker?" "CLUCK NORRIS?!?!?" Personally, I give the edges to "Sir Clucks-A-Lot" for a boy and "Margaret Hatcher" for a girl, but that's just me.
Also just me? Ranking The Very Best Pop-Tart Flavors... so, if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.
Posted on Saturday, August 10th, 2019
I have never trimmed my cats' claws. I've never had a need to. There's plenty of stuff I've built and purchased for them to scratch on, so they've kept their claws in good condition without any intervention from me. They also groom their nails often, so they seem to be in good shape whenever I examine them. Of course, I have hardwood floors which means there's no carpet for them to snag on, so that probably helps. Perhaps when they get older and are less active I'll have to start trimming, but it's not been an issue so far...
I've never bathed them either. On occasion I've had to wipe off something dirty they've laid on (usually out in the catio), but even that's rare because I try to keep their environment clean. And, again, they are very good about bathing themselves, they don't stink, and so I'll just let nature take its course until I need to intervene...
Cats have self-maintenance as a built-in feature. I plan on taking advantage of that for as long as I can.
This past Thursday was International Cat Day. Which is kinda silly, because EVERY DAY IS INTERNATIONAL CAT DAY in my house!
This is what I woke up to on the 8th, however...
Not a bad start to International Cat Day.
Or any day, really.
See you next Saturday!
Posted on Sunday, August 11th, 2019
You are not ready... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• "You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." I was sad to learn that Toni Morrison has passed away. I read her first novel, The Bluest Eye, after graduating high school. I was looking for new voices to expand my thinking and Morrison absolutely fit that bill. She was a master of the written word, able to construct beautiful prose which can inspire you one minute then destroy you the next. Beloved, her gut-wrenching fictional account of an escaped slave who is haunted by her past, won a slew of awards (including a Pulitzer), and is essential reading. When it comes to voices defining this country, Toni Morrison will definitely be missed.
• Alien! If you love the movie "Alien," you should know that J.W. Rinzler's massive The Making of Alien book is on sale at Amazon for $33... regular $60. It is incredible. Easily on-par with Rinzler's other "Making of" books (like Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back). Absolutely everything that went into making the film is thoroughly covered. So many amazing pre-production design drawings by H.R. Giger and many others... tons of behind-the-scenes photos... all kinds of insights into the production from people who were there... it's all so well done...
Seriously, this book is easily worth $60. It's a downright steal at $33. Love love love it.
• Epidemic Scary as hell... and getting scarier. Big Pharma is destroying us, and politicians sucking Big Pharma lobbyist cock are looking the other way...
Lobbyist payola should be banned. Any politician accepting lobbyist payola should be shot for treason.
• Rookie. Well this fucking sucks. Afton Williamson is a huge reason I love The Rookie so much. This past week she quit the show, alleging that she endured sexual assault and racism while working on it...
WTF is wrong with people? And WTF is wrong with ABC for not creating a safe environment for their employees? This is such a great show and, to be honest, I can't really picture how it can continue without Talia Bishop. It probably can't. At least not for me.
• The Truth is Out There. While I would have preferred to get a sequel to Paul, I will absolutely take Truth Seekers, a new ghost-hunting show from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Amazon Prime seems to be serious about investing real money into some top=shelf talent for their streaming programs, and this should definitely (hopefully) be a feather in their cap.
• Bro! I have been far from a fan of Bernie Sanders. While some of his ideas make sense, he's always been past the "tipping point" on the Democrat scale for me. Then I saw this interview by Joe Rogan where he was given time to actually explain his positions and... I have to say... I'm warming up to him as a candidate. No, he likely won't get to do all the things he wants to do because he has Congressional approval to deal with, but I do think he would move this country in a more healthy direction. He certainly couldn't be worse than what we have now...
In other news? Please let Joe Rogan interview all the candidates. These idiotic "debates" that keep happening are less than useless.
Bye bye bye, Bullet Sunday.
Posted on Monday, August 12th, 2019
This morning I checked the local security camera system and noted that one of the hard drives in the mirrored storage array was reporting a fault. I have a spare drive for just such an occasion, so I swapped it out, rebuilt the mirror, and everything was up and running again in just a few minutes. Easy. Just for kicks, I thought I'd pop the failing drive into my drive dock and see what was on it.
Turns out... quite a lot!
Both the local cameras and cloud cameras are disabled when my mobile phone connects to my home wifi, so there's never any interesting footage to look at... just my cats sleeping and goofing off when I'm not home. But before I moved into my new place, the cameras were running 24/7. And while most of the footage has been recorded over hundreds of times, there are some clips that haven't been. Clips of my house just after I bought it when it was completely empty. Clips of my house undergoing renovations. Clips of my house having appliances and flooring installed. Clips of my house in the middle of the night with all the lights left on (I didn't have a security system or automated lights installed yet!). That kind of thing...
But the real surprise of the morning?
There was oodles of video footage I offloaded from my iPhone of Jake and Jenny when they were kittens! Stuff I had long since forgotten about... some of which I didn't even have backed up! No idea what that was about, but it's definitely backed up now!
And here's the actual video...
And that's not all... there's lots more video clips waiting for me...
Guess I don't have to worry about having stuff for my Caturday posts for a while.
And now... time to pack a suitcase.
Posted on Tuesday, August 13th, 2019
And so here I am back in Las Vegas.
My work isn't until tomorrow, so I came up with a mission to accomplish along the way to picking up some documents.
As you may or may not be aware, I have a separate blog for my Hard Rock Cafe visits called DaveCafe. Back in 2010 I rebuilt the site to run on Wordpress, but ended up losing all my notes and photos when my web hosting company crashed shortly thereafter. I still keep it updated with a list of Hard Rock locations and my visits, but I never managed to find time to put my photos and notes back. Maybe one day.
Something else I lost in the Great Web Host Crash of 2010? My Planet Hollywood fan site.
Oh yes. Along with Hard Rock Cafes, I also visited Planet Hollywoods, All-Star Cafes, Fashion Cafes, Harley-Davidson Cafes, and Motown Cafes. They were never destination-worthy like Hard Rocks to me, but so many times when I visited a city with a Hard Rock there was a Planet Hollywood there as well, so why not?
The (mostly) failed restaurant chain came up in conversation not too long ago, then came up again when I was watching The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis. This got me curious to know if any pieces of my old fan site were backed up somewhere. So I searched my archives and, much to my surprise, the logos I created for the site popped up...
From what I can piece together, these are the locations I visited. The ones with check-marks are confirmed because I found photos I took of the restaurant...
I know I've been to the Washington, D.C. location because I remember the T-shirt I bought there. No idea why I can't find a photo of it. Columbus I don't remember at all, so I'm not sure why I made a badge for it. I do recall there was a "Planet Movies" at Easton Town Center in Columbus, but when I went there it had closed down, so that doesn't count. Maybe they had a restaurant too and I don't remember it? I used to go to Columbus for work, so if they had one, I probably visited it.
And then there's the two Vegas locations. I'm positive I've been to the hotel (I've seen a concert there, gambled there, eaten there, and shopped there)... and I know I ate at the restaurant in the Caesar's Palace Forum Shops a couple times. Yet I can't find a single photo to prove it!
Since these are two of the few Planet Hollywood locations still in operation, I decided to get my photos today. First was the restaurant. I made my way to where it's located and... it wasn't there! This was confusing, because they still have a sign for it outside of Caesar's...
So I asked a security guard about it and, sure enough, they moved to a new location. Unfortunately, the new restaurant is boring as hell. So plain...
The original was funky-cool and interesting inside and out. I sure hope that I can find some photos I took of it. Because this? =yawn=
After walking through the Planet Hollywood casino, the hotel was easy to photograph...
Maybe one day I'll confirm Columbus and find a photo of Washington, D.C. so I can rebuild my Planet Hollywood fan site. There's precious little information on the internet that I can find about this once great chain of theme restaurants, so it seems only right that somebody remember them online. Heck, they don't even have a list of former restaurants on Wikipedia!
Until then, I'll just put my photos in an extended entry so I'll know where to find them when I need them.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019
Like most of the world, I'm a big Janet Jackson fan. So when a friend from work asked me to fill in for him... and the job came with his ticket to see her Metamorphosis tour... I did not need much convincing. Sure I'd be headed to Las Vegas in August, which is essentially a hellscape of sweat, heat, and sunburn... but, hey, JANET JACKSON!
The good news was that she burned through a massive number of her best-loved songs, so you were sure to hear some of your favorites.
The bad news was that in order to keep the concert from being six hours long, most of the songs were abbreviated or worked into a montage. This was perfectly understandable and mostly fine, but for my very favorite songs I was left wanting more. Especially on When I Think of You, which is such an awesome fun song to hear live.
If there was a problem with the concert, it wasn't the performance... it was the venue. The Park Theater stage is massive. It's absurdly wide. Because of that, Janet was completely overwhelmed by any attempt to fill up the space. Janet Jackson and her music is larger than life. But on the stage she just looked so tiny. A lot of time was spent trying to find her. Like here, where she's all the way to the left...
Most of the time she was with dancers though, which made her easier to spot...
And of course they had giant screens on either side of the stage so you could get a good look from anywhere in the theater...
But looking at the stage? Yeah... unless you were on the floor, good luck with that...
Most of the show was really quite good. Janet put her all into her performance from start to finish. Not that there weren't some bizarre parts. At one point they brought a guy on stage, tied him to a chair, then had Janet and her dancers run their hands all over him...
She had plenty of costume changes to keep things interesting...
Assuming you could see the costumes when the lasers were trying to fill up the theater to keep things interesting for those of us in the cheap seats...
The Rhythm Nation section of the show managed to get everybody on their feet...
Until it was time to close out the show...
Good night, Miss Jackson.
Oh... interesting aside here... Hello Kitty has her own pop-up food truck cafe now...
And that's a wrap on my last night in Las Vegas. Stay safe, kids.
Posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2019
With work and Janet Jackson complete, it was time to fly back home. Yeah, it might have been nice to add a couple days vacation and relax by the pool or something, but Vegas is very different when you're alone as opposed to when you're hanging out with friends, and I'd rather just go back home to my cats (no offense, Vegas).
When I landed on Tuesday, my work hadn't gotten a hotel arranged for me yet. This is not entirely unusual for Vegas where pricing changes based on occupancy. Charities try to save money wherever possible, so waiting to see if there's a deal on a mid-week stay is just being responsible. Since I couldn't leave the airport until I knew where I was going, I decided I might as well have lunch. Burger King was right there, so I decided to see if they had the "Impossible Whopper" available. This plant-based burger is apparently the closest thing to a real burger. I dunno about that (I haven't eaten meat in 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days) all I know is that I do enjoy a good veggie burger.
Funnily enough, the wrapper says "100% BEEF" on it, so they kindly put a sticker on it to let you know that they didn't accidentally give you a meat patty...
Sure enough, it looks exactly like a Whopper...
The taste is fantastic. Not sure it's worth $7.89, but I liked it a lot and would gladly order it again.
When I ordered, the lady at the register asked if I was "vegan" because apparently they cook the Impossible Burgers on the same flame grill that they cook their meat burgers. I guess if this bothers you they can microwave it or something? All I care about is that a cow wasn't slaughtered on my behalf, so I had no objections.
After loving the burger, I researched how it was made.
The original was wheat-based. The new "2.0" version is soy-based (making them gluten-free, if that's your thing). This is nothing special, as there are plenty of burgers that are soy-based. What makes Impossible Burger so good is that they use "heme" as an ingredient. From what I understand, "heme" is the red-red component of blood that captures oxygen and is responsible for giving meat its meaty flavor. Obviously they can't use blood in a veggie burger, so they are manufacturing their own Franken-Heme in a laboratory by genetically engineering yeast to have a soy hemoglobin. They then extract the plant-based "heme" from the yeast and that's why their burgers are impossibly good.
So... if you're hardcore non-GMO, then this is not the burger for you.
It totally IS the burger for me, however, which is why I had another one before I flew home, this time with cheese...
And that's that. My plane leaves in and hour and then it's good bye Las Vegas.
But before I go, a look at what makes Vegas so totally Vegas...
My hotel room? $30. The stupid-ass "resort fee?" $35. Why the fuck they don't just be honest and charge you $75 for a room is assholery at its finest. Especially since the "resort fee" is just a scam. It includes access to the fitness center (who the fuck cares?), phone calls (doesn't everybody have a mobile phone now?), and internet access (which I could get for free by tethering to my phone). So, basically, we're paying $35 for nothing. But that's Vegas for you.
Until next time, Sin City.
Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2019
Yesterday on my way back across the mountains I stopped at the grocery store. Braving the crowds while food shopping was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do after five hours of travel, but I didn't have much choice. My cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer were all bare.
Before I went to Maine back in July, I made sure to eat all the food that could spoil so none of it would be wasted. Then I got called to Las Vegas, still didn't want to buy any new food that would go bad, so I just kept eating absolutely everything I already had. The night before my flight, I shit you not, I had pickles and saltine crackers for dinner. Not something I was interested in repeating any time soon. And so... a stop at the grocery store it was.
My shopping strategy is simple. Never buy anything unless it's on sale.
I am not terribly picky about what I eat, so this makes it easy to buy ingredients or prepared meals only when they are cheap. Except... groceries are never cheap any more, so I guess I should say "cheaper than normal." Fortunately my local grocery store has an iPhone app with all their coupons, specials, and discounts, so I also save money by making my list ahead of time and only buying what's on the list. I never "browse" at a store because then I'll just end up buying stuff I want instead of what I need.
And so... I made my list on the plane and was ready to go when I got back home. This time I scored big because a lot of key ingredients I needed were on sale. Flour so I can make bread. Tomato sauce and tortillas so I can make enchiladas. Veggie dogs so I can make veggie dogs. That kind of thing.
Another reason I like a list? It keeps me from buying things I should not be eating.
There I was at the store looking for "Sargento Balanced Breaks" healthy snack packs (on sale plus I had a 75¢ off coupon for club members!) when I saw a package of "break and bake" raw cookie dough. Something I absolutely, positively, should NOT be eating. Usually it's easy to resist cookies... I just avoid that aisle in the grocery store, and am not terribly fond of cookies any more anyway... BUT FRESH-OUT-OF-THE-OVEN COOKIES?!? How could I NOT buy that? They weren't on sale, but the generic brand was so much cheaper than the name-brand version that they were practically on sale! Close enough! And since they are crappy generic, they probably taste awful and I'll just end up throwing them in the garbage anyway, right? Sold!
Tonight I gave them a try. Not so appetizing out of the bag...
But then? OH HELL NO! THESE THINGS ARE FRICKIN' MAGIC!!!
I'm not joking. These things are phenomenal. Probably because I haven't had a fresh out-of-the-oven cookie in a decade or more.
This is terrible.
I'm thinking I can restrain myself by baking no more than three at a time... and only baking them when I already have the oven heated from cooking something else. The loophole being that I can cook up a second batch of cookies because the oven will still be warm from cooking the first batch of three cookies.
At least I think that's how that works.
And now it's time for the new Invader Zim movie on Netflix! I am so psyched I can't even stand it.
Posted on Saturday, August 17th, 2019
Another Caturday... already?
Nothing quite like looking up and seeing your cats staring at you.
This usually happens close to feeding time. I'll be working or reading or something, look up, and there they are...
But lately Jake has been staring at me just to stare at me...
No big deal. I'm a fascinating person, even when I'm doing nothing.
But the other day he actually caught me by surprise. I was getting dressed for work, turned around, and he was... hiding in the cat tree staring at me...
This is a big deal.
My cats have never... not since I first got them as kittens... ever climbed in the little hidey-holes in the cat trees I bought for them. They do not like enclosed spaces and won't go inside of them. Why Jake has all of a sudden taken to hiding in them is a mystery.
In other news... my cats are getting lazy.
A couple days ago I caught Jenny scratching on the scratching post, which is nothing unusual. Except she was laying down while doing it...
Jake is even lazier. He no longer comes up and rubs against me when he wants a belly rub. He jumps on the bed, shows his belly, then grunts until I rub it...
Jenny is a little more subtle but, then again, she always gets belly rubs when she wants one...
And speaking of Jenny... just to put to rest any doubt that she can handle herself when it comes to her brother... this showed up on my security camera yesterday...
Have a great weekend!
Posted on Sunday, August 18th, 2019
Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Falcon Maps! It's interesting how the advent of Google Maps' "Aerial View" has forced Disney to change the way they build their theme parks. Originally, construction was treated like a movie set, where everything is just a big facade. The only thing that was themed is what people see. The best way to explain this is Main Street, where the dozens of little buildings you see on the ground are revealed to essentially be two giant buildings...
They didn't build fake roofs over each building because they didn't have to. Unless somebody chartered a helicopter, nobody was ever going to see it in 1955. But now there's Google Maps that anybody can call up on their phone, so they are more careful that the illusion is complete...
Had this been built in 1955, the fine detailing would likely have been ignored. The only thing they would bother theming would be what you could see from the ground. Personally, I think this is fantastically cool. You can literally see the Millennium Falcon parked at Disneyland, and that's no small thing.
An interesting aside here... apparently Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been a bit of a flop. People are complaining that there's only one ride and the rest of the place is just a giant shopping mall where you can buy overpriced souvenirs and food. That's it. Eventually a second ride will open but, again, that seems pretty lame. Perhaps Disney will add more stuff to make it more worth visiting, but right now it just seems like a cash grab. Another problem? Disney didn't recreate an authentic place from the movies. You're not walking around Tatooine or even shitty Jakku, you're at "Black Spire Outpost" which, let's face it, who cares? This seems like a major misstep, and I just don't get it. When Disney made an Avatar-themed land, they built Pandora from the movies so when you go there it's like stepping into the film. That's what people want to see, and anything less is inviting a tepid reaction. And that's exactly what Disney got.
• ZIM!!! One of the most impossibly brilliant animated series to ever grace our television sets was Invader Zim. In addition to being so brilliantly written, the look of the show was was blew my mind. It's just so beautiful. As if that weren't enough, it has GIR, Zim's robot companion, and one of my favorite characters of all-time...
Despite unprecedented critical acclaim, the series was uncerimoniously canceled by Nickelodeon because network executives are stupid. But now Netflix has revived the show for a new feature called Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus...
The movie has everything that Zim fans could want and, while it kinda-sorta wraps up the series, it also leaves things wide open for more. And I want quite badly for there to be more. Because can you ever truly have enough Zim in your life?
• Passport! I am not even going to spoil this. Just trust me when I tell you to click this link. Genius. Every last one of them is genius.
• Shazam? Ninety-one percent? Shazam got NINETY-ONE PERCENT on Rotten Tomatoes? Really? One minute it's childish and stupid as shit... the next minute there's a demon is biting somebody's head off. So exactly who was this movie made for? Psychotic children?
Even if you ignore the stupid glowing lightning-bolt-that-looks-more-like-a-triangle on his uniform, Shazam was awful. WHAT HAPPENED TO HAVING THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON? THIS SHAZAM IS A FUCKING IDIOT! About the only thing I enjoyed was Mark Strong as Sivana, despite the fact that he was a complete departure from the comic book's Dr. Sivana (and not in a good way, of course). I cannot fathom how this managed to rate 91%. I just don't get it. The only thing that kept it from total disaster for me is that they didn’t have any burp or fart jokes. At least I think the movie didn’t... I fast forwarded through the foster home stuff because all the kids were just so annoying.
• Days of Meat! On my blog entry for "The Impossible Whopper" I mentioned that it has been 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days since I last ate meat. A friend messaged me and asked how I could possibly remember the last day I ate meat. It's actually pretty easy. It was Earth Day, 1986. I remember it because my girlfriend at the time was a vegan and didn't want to kiss me because I "smelled like meat." I had a hamburger for lunch and she got mad because I "couldn't even go meat-free on Earth Day." And so I gave up eating meat right then and there. We broke up a month-and-a-half later, so I was going to go back to eating meat... except I was feeling better than I had ever felt. The allergies which had plagued me since adolescence were gone, so I stuck with a vegetarian diet. I've since learned that many people are allergic to the antibiotics they inject into animals, which probably explains why I was in such poor health my first 20 years.
• Cook Cook Cooking! Yesterday I spent a big chunk of my day in the kitchen making up meals to refrigerate and freeze. I made burritos. I made rolls. I made Mac & Cheese, I made quiche... and I made my grandmother's enchiladas recipe. While not rocket science, enchiladas make a lot of dirty dishes and a big mess (especially when you make the sauce from scratch). It's also time consuming to put them all together. And even though I started three hours before dinner-time, my cats were all excited because they thought they were getting fed. So it went something like this...
THE ENCHILADA WALTZ
Remove tortilla from the frying oil.
Put fresh tortilla in the frying oil.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
Put the filling in the tortilla.
Put the cheese in the tortilla.
Flip the tortilla that's in the frying oil.
Fold up the enchilada and add it to the pan.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
After a full day and two loads in the dishwasher, I flopped down on the couch exhausted. But then it really was dinner time for the cats and I had to get up again. I really wish that ten million dollars would fall into my lap so I could hire somebody to come in and cook for me.
• Visitations! For the first time ever, the number of people visiting my blog on a mobile phone has eclipsed desktop users. Guess I'd better work on a new "responsive" template sooner rather than later. Blogography looks okay on a mobile phone, but it could be friendlier on smaller screens...
The problem is finding time to actually code a new template. The tags and expected behaviors have changed so much since I made the current template that I would have to re-learn Wordpress in order to even begin! That seems like a lot of work.
And I guess that's all the bullets I have for this week.
Posted on Monday, August 19th, 2019
One of my favorite shows of 2018 was the Magnum P.I. reboot. I didn't care for it at first, but the longer it went on the more I liked it. After the back-half of the season aired this year, it ended up being my favorite show on television.
Part of the reason I resisted it at first was likely because I was a big fan of the original series that starred Tom Selleck from the 1980's...
The series was smart, funny, well-acted, and had beautiful Hawaii as a backdrop. But it was the stories that got me hooked. They usually had good mysteries (especially in the the later seasons) and there was a depth to them which made the show more compelling than your average TV private investigator drama. They tackled subjects which were controversial for the day... including the Vietnam War and its veterans (which included Magnum, Rick, and T.C.). The original Magnum P.I. is where the seeds of my MIA/POW advocacy were planted.
This week I started re-watching the new Magnum P.I. to prepare for the start of the new season on September 27th. Half-way through I decided to watch the first season of the original show.
The differences are pretty glaring, as one would expect.
When it started, the original Magnum P.I. didn't have mobile phones, personal computers, the internet, or any other commonplace consumer technology that we take for granted. This made for some very different stories than those in the new Magnum P.I. where technology permeates every scene. Indeed, almost every episode ends up relying on Juliette Higgins using her Windows Surface computer to perform miracles. It's a crutch, sure, but that's the world we live in.
As usual, the new series takes great liberties with what technology is capable of. Some of it's overblown but possible... like being able to track anybody's mobile phone anytime Magnum wants. Some of it is downright nuts, like Higgins being able to remove a fingerprint with cellophane tape, sticking it to her mobile phone screen, and immediately getting a full dossier on the owner. No doubt about it, stories relying on this kind of science fiction crap are annoying. It's just lazy writing. Fortunately the show has redeeming qualities to push past it. Still, it would be nice if the people working on the show could be clever enough to not rely on lazy writing to create interesting stories.
Maybe they should watch the original show for some pointers?
Or maybe I'm just being too harsh.
It's easy to create a show week after week in a day and age when your characters carry the entire world in their pocket. But it's got to be tough to create different stories week after week when your characters carry the entire world in their pocket.
And the new Magnum P.I. does it by focusing on the characters more than the mystery. The new Higgins isn't just the majordomo of Robin Masters' estate who pops up from time to time to chide Magnum for being Magnum, she's an integral part to the stories and her partnership with Magnum is a huge part of what makes the show work. You're not watching for the mysteries or a single character... it's the entire cast...
Photo from Entertainment Weekly
In the original show, Magnum's friend at the Honolulu PD was Lt. Tanaka. He was such a minor part of the show that he only appeared in 26 episodes out of 158 and was unceremoniously killed off for no other reason other than he was expendable and it was a plot point for a new murder mystery. That's a considerable contrast from new Magnum's friend at the Honolulu PD, Detective Katsumoto. He's been in every episode since he first appeared and an important part of the series...
Interesting to note that in the first episode, there actually was a Detective Tanaka (played by Sung Kang)... just like in the original show. He was replaced by Katsumoto (Tim Kang) in the third episode. No reason for the cast change was ever given, but I'm guessing it was because they wanted another regular character to add to the mix, and thought Tim Kang was a better fit.
And they didn't stop there... in that same third episode they also introduced the fantastic Amy Hill as Kumu...
My hope is that the new season of Magnum proves that the revival is sustainable. There are only so many times that you can have Higgins tracking somebody by their mobile phone be the reason Magnum is able to catch the bad guys. Even when you have a great cast of characters to camouflage it.
Posted on Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
Well this sucks.
In what can only be described as a shit-storm of awfulness, Hollywood has dropped two pieces of horrifically bad news on movie lovers today.
First of all, Sony and Marvel Studios can't come to an agreement over Spider-Man, so the character will no longer be appearing in Marvel Studios movies. This is unbelievably shitty, because he's become such a big part of them. Can you imagine Infinity War without Spider-Man? I sure can't. And then there's the beautiful and effortless integration of Tony Stark into the Spider-Man cinematic mythos. The new Spider-Man is heavily rooted in the MCU, and all that is going to have to be ripped away once he goes solo at Sony again. Poor, stupid Sony, who doesn't want to share future movie grosses after the BILLION DOLLARS that Marvel Studios is responsible for them making (their highest gross for a film ever). And if you thought that Sony wouldn't shit all over its fans like Marvel Studios did with their theatrical re-release of Avengers: Endgame, think again. They're bringing back Spider-Man: Far From Home with four whole minutes of extra footage!
Next up? Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are coming back for yet another The Matrix sequel. Now, don't get me wrong, the original film was genius in every way and remains one of my favorite movies of all time... but the sequels were complete and total shit. They were lazy, effects-driven idiocy masking as high-concept art. "GAH! ORACLE, WHAT DO I DO?!?" — "You know what you must do." — "GAH! MORPHEUS, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE, WHAT'S NEO GOING TO DO TO SAVE US?" — "Neo will do that which he must do." — "GAH! MEROVINGIAN, GIVE US THE KEYMAKER TO SAVE US ALL!" — "You see there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth... causality, action, reaction. Cause and effect." — "WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?"
No idea how Neo and Trinity are coming back since they are dead and all... but I'm sure something will be rebooted or turned off and turned back on to make it all possible. Ugh.
In good movie news?
The 25th James Bond film will be titled No Time To Die, still starring Daniel Craig as God intended. And while it won't be helmed by Danny Boyle as originally planned, it will be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, which is an interesting choice. He is the guy responsible for the most excellent Sin Nombre and Beasts of No Nation... and also the writer of the highly successful It movie adaptation. Since he's both co-writing and directing the new Bond, I am hopeful we're going to get something interesting and entertaining... more along the lines of the excellent Skyfall as opposed to the mediocre Spectre.
And in still more good movie news?
It's already been confirmed that Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates, John Amos, Shari Headly, and Louie Anderson will all be reprising their roles in Coming 2 America (sadly Madge Sinclair has passed so we won't have our Queen)... and we know that Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, and Jermaine Fowler will be added. But now we know that Tracy Morgan and Rotimi Boards are also onboard for the Coming to America sequel! Sounds like the cast is on-point, so now we just have to hold our breath for December 18, 2020 to see if the story pans out.
And lastly in good movie news?
A new holiday movie, Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Paul Feig starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michele Yeoh, and Emma Thompson, is hitting theaters this November!
I had no idea this was even in development... let alone ready for release this year! Looks like yet another cheesy Christmas movies I can't live without.
Untill next time, true believers...
Posted on Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
With the new television season a month away, I'm in an odd position of having very little television to watch. Since I like background noise while I work, this means I've been re-watching shows I like or checking off shows and movies I've been meaning to watch but haven't gotten around to.
One of these being Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime...
This was not the first movie which chronicled the downfall of my video-gaming childhood... there was Atari: Game Over which came out three years before... but Easy to Learn, Hard to Master was the one which had the most interesting assortment of talking heads discussing the rise and fall of Atari in the video game arena. Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, Howard Warshaw, Steve Wozniak, David Crane, and more were all interviewed. It also included insight from Manny Gerard and Ray Kassar from the Warner side of the disaster.
The movie was a good watch, even though I didn't learn anything astonishingly new. Atari's meteoric rise and fall has been commentary fodder for decades and is well-known. It did, however, get me thinking about the whole video game revolution that was my childhood. Along with comic books, the Atari 2600 was probably the most important part of my childhood...
As I've mentioned before, I coveted the thing from the minute I was aware that it existed. I think it was being sold at Sears, and my non-stop begging eventually wore my parents down. I finally got one for my birthday or for Christmas or something. And from that moment onward... I was playing video games, saving my money for video games, and begging for new video games at every turn.
I amassed quite a collection.*
Well, not really... I managed to get 32 of the 532 games that were available in North America.
Which brings me to my next movie: Nintendo Quest...
In this movie, a guy named Jay Bartlett attempted to collect all 687 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games that were released in North America... in 30 days... but without using the internet. Nope, he drove around northern North America trying to find them.
To be honest, I was more than a little bored throughout it. The actual collecting didn't have much going on. It was the stuff in-between than made it worth watching. And remembering back to so many of those awesome NES games!
And my last video game movie? A "mocumentary" film that was clearly trying to be the This Is Spinal Tap for video games called Going for Golden Eye...
While nowhere near the level of This is Spinal Tap, I thought it was a pretty good effort. It definitely had some funny moments to make it all worthwhile.
And I think I've had my fill of video game movies for a while.
Until the next one comes along, I'd imagine.
*And here's the Atari 2600 titles I ended up collecting...
Third Party Games...
Posted on Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
I'm just going to put this out there... I had to think long and hard about getting the "Apple Card" credit card because the bank behind it, Goldman Sachs, is a fucking piece of shit. They have been plagued with scandal and are run by assholes. Why in the hell would Apple pick them to partner with? And why in the hell would I touch anything to do with Goldman Sachs?
Well, it's Apple. And the card has some compelling features I wanted to try out.
And I just wanted to have one of the things. There's no fees and it's laser-etched titanium, for heaven's sake...
Except you can't really do much with it. Apple says it scratches easily and shouldn't be stored in anything leather or denim or it will discolor. YOU MEAN LIKE MY WALLET OR MY POCKET? WTF?!??
Not that it matters. You only get a pitiful 1% cash back when you use the physical card. If you buy something with your card via Apple Pay on your phone, you get 2% back. If you buy anything from Apple or Uber using Apple Pay on your phone, you get 3% back. Which is all so unimpressive. I'd rather use my WorldPerks Card or my Alaska Air Card because I earn airline miles, and that's more valuable to me.
There is a unique Apple benefit for the rewards though. Whatever money you get back is added to your Apple Cash daily... immediately after your payment clears! Nice! Most banks make you wait until the end of the month. Like Amazon. But with the Amazon Card I get a whopping 5% back on Amazon purchases, so I ain't complaining.
Applying for the card is a piece of cake. I did it right from my iPhone Wallet in minutes. Next thing I know, I've got a digital Apple Card that changes colors based on my purchase categories...
So... what did I buy to try it out?
Last night I decided to buy one of the gorgeous prints from The Night Sky. You pick a date, time, and place and they draw a constellation map of the sky at that moment...
I picked the night my mom and I were looking at the Milky Way when we were in Zimbabwe, which is the last trip we took together...
To Mom with Love from David was what I wrote in all the souvenir photo books I made for her after our trips, so I thought it was perfect for my print.
The Night Sky accepts Apple Pay via Apple's Safari browser, which means I get 2% cash back on my purchase. With that in mind, I ordered it framed. Sure it doubles the cost, but sometimes you just gotta spend money you don't have for something that will mean the world to you...
If you pay in full at the end of the month then you pay no interest. And here's the weird thing... Apple actually wants you to pay as little interest as possible. When you make a payment they have tools to show you how the amount you pay affects the interest you're charged. That's a very nice feature that seems insane considering every bank on earth is trying their best to gouge you for absurd interest charges.
Apple Card will send you a payment reminder notification, which is great, but I wanted to have my total balance automatically paid from my credit union checking account each month. I am not going back into credit card debt if I can help it. I also don't want to put any more money than I have to into Goldman Sachs' pockets. Fortunately, that's easy to set up...
There are numerous tools on the iPhone app which help you to track your spending, assist you in figuring out where charges come from, report disputes, and get immediate assistance. They also have some smart security features to help minimize credit card theft and fraudulent charges. This is the future of credit cards and I am impressed with what Apple has done here. Very impressed.
The first thing I did when I got the card was click the "message us" link for customer service so I could reject the arbitration clause. Forced arbitration is an abhorrent condition of card ownership which is 100% evil... and obviously comes from the pig-fuckers at Goldman Sachs. I'm surprised that Apple would have a card attached to their name which has forced arbitration, but I guess it's easy enough to get rid of if you know you must get rid of it...
If you want to know how to reject arbitration on your Apple Card... and why you should absolutely do it... here's an article at The Verge for you. And don't forget to do it at your very first opportunity so the scum-sucking bottom-dwellers at Goldman Sachs can't fuck you over more than they have already fucked over this country and everybody in it.
So let's sum things up, shall we?
Ultimately while I love the idea of having an Apple Card, it likely won't get much use. The best reward you can get is 3%, and that's only with Apple & Uber. Everything else is 2% or a pitiful 1%. This is insane. I can get 5% back if I buy my Apple products from Amazon using my Amazon Card! Another reason I'm likely not going to use it is that I don't want to contribute wealth to the gaping asshole crooks at Goldman Sachs. They are a blight on humanity with their many scandals, and the significant part they played in the financial crisis is rage-inducing. I remain flabbergasted that this is the bank that Apple decided to partner with. It's just so utterly mind-boggling and shitty.
But how cool is laser-etched titanium?
UPDATE: I got a notice that my big $2.40 was deposited. Boy oh boy. Whatever will I spend it on?
Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2019
Disney's annual D23 Expo has begun, and even more news has been released for Disney+, the new streaming service that's packed with all kinds of awesome projects (many of which I've already talked about here). Hilary Duff is coming back as Lizzie McGuire, but Miley Cyrus isn't coming back as Hannah Montana... at least not yet.
As for the other Disney+ news? Let's run that down, shall we?
CASSIAN & K-2SO
I actually really liked Rogue One. It felt the more "Star Wars" than we've seen in a while. Now the best part of the entire movie, Cassian and K-2SO, have their own show... which shoots next year. When coupled with the other excellent Star Wars projects in the pipe, Disney+ is essential viewing for fans.
The animated Star Wars efforts have been pretty fantastic. Between Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: Clone Wars, one could argue that the cartoons have done more to keep the spirit of Star Wars alive than any other media. Rebels ended with Season Four. Now Clone Wars is ending with Season Seven.
I have no idea if Disney will develop any new animated shows, but I certainly hope so.
Disney is leveraging their relationship with Kristen Bell from Frozen and Frozen 2 to build a new reality series...
Interesting idea, I guess? But not my cup of tea.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
The only real news here is that Emily VanCamp is returning to the MCU as Sharon Carter. And oh... some guy named Wyatt Russell is coming onboard to play John Walker, which everybody knows is U.S. Agent formerly Super-Patriot formerly Patriot from the comics.
LADY & THE TRAMP
Okay, how cool is it that Disney found rescue dogs to play the lead in their new Disney+ show?
Looks great. Of course I'll be giving it a try...
It's a "remarkably ambition show" is all the new we got. Alrighty then.
This is actually looking more Star Wars than the new trilogy of Star Wars sequel trilogy... and a hell of a lot more Star Wars than the shitty Star Wars prequel trilogy...
With Jon Favreau in charge, I would subscribe to Disney+ just to watch this show...
MONSTERS AT WORK
I find it a bit odd that there's only one Pixar property being developed for Disney+ (from what they've announced), but at least they picked the right property. The city of Monstropolis is ripe for interesting stories, and the fact that Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully is just icing on the cake (after Stitch, Sully is my most favorite Disney character). But the stars of the show will be entirely new characters with the voices of Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler, which could be interesting. They also announced Pixar's Forky Asks a Question, but it's more a collection of shorts than a series, apparently.
As I've said more than once, this is a no-brainer. I honestly thought it would be a new Netflix show before that development dissolved. Early versions of the character were essentially the Marvel Universe's version of Batman. Later versions of the character gave him multiple personalities and delved more into more mystical aspects of Marc Spector, giving him enhanced strength and other powers based on how full the moon is. Regardless of which way they take things, I am very much interested in seeing what Disney comes up with given that we are promised all the Marvel Disney+ shows will be an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
In yet another no-brainer, Disney+ is giving us a series featuring the comic book character of Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting super-powered Muslim teen. I love the comic book, and have high hopes that the live-action show will do her justice. I do worry about how well the more goofy aspects of her powers will be translated visually, but it certainly can't be any worse than the horrific job they did with Mr. Fantastic in the awful Fantastic Four movies.
Yeah, I love the idea of Kermit and The Muppets getting a new show, but I do worry about whether or not they will let The Muppets be The Muppets... or whether they'll do something stupid to try and "update" them when nothing like that is desired or required.
What looks like a mediocre Hallmark comedy film revolving around Santa's sister would be a complete throwaway if not for the fact that it stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.
If nothing else, the leads will make it worth checking out.
Disney says an Obi-Wan Kenobe series has been in development for four years. Which means Disney+ has been in development for more than four years? Really? Well, whatever. All I need to know is that Ewan McGregor is coming back to play the part when it starts shooting next year. One of the few good things to come from the shitty prequels, a series revolving around McGregor's Obi-Wan is good news.
ONE DAY AT DISNEY
The behind-the-scenes at Disney's theme parks must be at least as interesting as the parks themselves. Probably even more so. No idea just how sanitized this three-issue-series will be (my guess: very), but at least we're getting something.
PHINEAS AND FERB THE MOVIE: CANDACE AGAINST THE UNIVERSE
While I loved Phones and Ferb when it debuted, it eventually got run into the ground over four seasons. My hope was that maybe they'd spin off Perry the Platypus or something interesting, but perhaps a new film will prove worthwhile if they try to break from the status quo in even a small way.
In the comics, She-Hulk became a much lighter, funnier character than her brooding, tragic, drama-prone cousin Bruce Banner. In the movies they've taken Hulk in a direction more like comic book She-Hulk, which begs the question... what does that leave for the Jennifer Walters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I guess we're going to be finding out now that she's getting her own series.
Oh Lord. The inspiration for this series is The Dick van Dyke Show? That sounds absurdly self-defeating, but who knows. They did add Kat Dennings as Darcy (from the Thor movies) and Randall Park (from Ant-Man and The Wasp) so I guess that's something. Except... is Disney+ really going to become a dumping ground for third-tier characters? I mean, sure, I like these characters and it will be nice to see the again... but the choices here are just so random. I guess we'll have to wait and hope.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JEFF GOLDBLUM
The only thing that could be better than Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum would be if Jeff Goldblum were playing The Grand Master (from Thor: Ragnarok) in a new series. So, yeah, Disney can just take my money now.
Posted on Saturday, August 24th, 2019
Every once in a while it strikes me just how different my cats are. Jake and Jenny have completely different personalities, but are equally sweet in their own way. Jenny is very smart and calculating. If you aren't petting her in the right spot, she moves so your hand lands where she wants to be petted. She will also complain if you pet her in a way he doesn't like or if you stop petting her too soon. This is the opposite of Jake, who just flops down when he wants to be petted and takes whatever you will give him.
And speaking of Jake...
A friend stopped by to drop something off, which meant Jake was "trapped" hiding out in the catio. After my friend left, I went to the window to tell him that it was safe for him to come back inside (you laugh, but it works). Jake was pissed. SO MAD. He can't meow, but he was acting like he was meowing me a new one. I have never seen him this angry! JUST LOOK AT HIM! (I am on the other side of the window talking to him)...
After this he calmed down and came running inside, but still!
The next morning Jake woke me up at 4:30am. This never happens. My cats simply do not bother me when I'm sleeping unless there's something terribly wrong. I petted him until he stopped whining and crying and fell asleep next to me...
He was still next to me when I woke up. I canceled the Alexa alarm for breakfast so he could sleep in. I thought he'd wake up when the kitty feeder cycled, but he didn't...
A little after 8:00, he woke up and must have realized that he missed breakfast, because he went tearing downstairs to eat.
And speaking of eating...
Both of my cats are always curious about what I eat. They usually come up and smell it, then wander off when they realize that it's "people food" and not something they want. Since I don't eat meat, the only thing Jake and Jenny want of mine is animal products I eat... like cheese, butter, and eggs. If I set down a plate after lunch and there's butter or mayonnaise or cheese on it? They will definitely lick it clean, so I try not to do that because I think dairy upsets Jake's stomach.
A while back I made chip dip, which is pretty much cream cheese, mayo, lemon juice, and garlic. When I got back from putting my clothes in the dryer, Jenny was very interested in it...
It must have been confusing. On one hand... cheese and mayonnaise. On the other hand... lemon juice and garlic. I didn't shoo her away, but instead sat and watched. I figured that if she wanted to give it a taste, I wouldn't stop her. The problem being that garlic is toxic to cats in quantity, so a taste was all she was going to get. But, after a marathon sniffing session, she walked away. Probably for the best.
And lastly today? The very definition of ape-shit... when a tiny mouse goes running by the catio while your cats are out enjoying the sunset...
There I was sitting watching television when they came running into the house, high-tailing it to the bedroom window. A minute later they were running all over the place like crazy cats. I had no idea what happened to get them so riled up... until I went to the security cameras and saw that a tiny little mouse had run by. I guess that's all it takes.
See you next Saturday.
Posted on Sunday, August 25th, 2019
Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... AGAIN because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• The Halcyon! Disney has been making good use of its acquisitions of Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm. Both have been given major plans outside of movies at this year's D23 Expo. Marvel has brought forth "Avengers Campuses" at Disneylands in California, Paris, and Hong Kong which will have new rides, restaurants, and shops. And then there's Star Wars which has not only resulted in new "lands" in Disneyland and Walt Disney World... but a new "2-Night All-Inclusive Adventure" aboard a spaceship called The Halcyon...
It's a brilliant concept. Essentially, it's like stepping onto a Disney cruise ship... and heading into space... without leaving earth. You get into a pod which flies you up to the ship in orbit, then fly around space before returning back to earth. While in space you can visit Star Wars characters and droids, partake in all kinds of activities, and explore the ship for "secrets" (whatever that means). What would be mind-blowing amazing would be if they eventually add a "shore excursion" to some strange world, which would be bonkers mind-blowing cool.
All the cabins have views of outer space, and there's loads of things to see and do onboard. It all sounds amazing. And expensive. I cannot fathom how much it will cost, but I'm betting its thousands for the two nights. Which, sadly, will put it out of reach for most people. Then again, what else is new? But who knows? Maybe if it's successful there will be more of these type "cruises." How long will it be before Universal has a 2-day inclusive experience at Hogwarts for Harry Potter fans with money? And from there it's not much of a leap towards real-life Westworld.
• Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! More news out of D23? Walt Disney World's EPCOT is getting some serious upgrades...
Aside from the already-announced ride for Guardians of the Galaxy, there are two other things that interest me. First is an attraction for Moana called Journey of Water...
And a new restaurant which is kinda like The Halcyon (above) where you get in a space elevator and eat while orbiting the earth...
It would seem that competition amongst theme parks is really ramping up. First Universal Studios announces an all new park in Florida, and now all this. Almost makes me wish I was still working in Orlando every year!
• A Galaxy Far, Far Away! I fully admit to being entirely underwhelmed by the sequel Star Wars trilogy. Sure it's better than the horrendously shitty prequel trilogy, but that's not saying much. The Force Awakens was okay, but that's likely due to the fact that we hadn't seen anything Star Wars for a while and it had original trilogy characters in it. The Last Jedi was so unimpressive that I had to Google the name because I couldn't even remember it. And now there's The Rise of Skywalker, which will close out the trilogies or trilogies...
Details are scarce. About all we know is that it will have old, unused footage of Carrie Fischer's Princess Leia and has some new characters onboard. Including Jet Troopers (with jet-packs!) and Sith Troopers...
About the only thing I'm looking forward to is that it's all finally going to end. At least until David Benioff and Dan Weiss take a Game-Of-Thrones-sized dump on the Star Wars universe when their trilogy comes out. AND the new trilogy by Rian Johnson that's being worked on (apparently Space Leia from The Last Jedi wasn't torture enough?). Ugh. I have Star Wars fatigue and the new projects are years off.
• The Last Post! The digital age is a dangerous place. You never know when you're going to be sucked down an internet rabbit hole. I was watching an old episode of the hilarious Coupling when I made the mistake of thinking "I wonder what all the actors are doing now?" Jack Davenport is on the new CBS series Why Women Kill. Sarah Alexander is on Epix's Pennyworth. Richard Coyle has been on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And Ben Miles has been on a non-stop parade of TV mini-series and series... one of which was called The Last Post which was written by Peter Moffat. Which, oddly enough, appears to be no relation to Steven Moffat, who created Coupling...
The Last Post is a pretty good show which takes place at a 1960's British Outpost in Aden (which is now in Yemen). It's a time of high tension as the region fights for independence from British rule. The series is not only about the military police in charge of the post, but their wives families as well. If you're bored and like historical drama, you can stream it from Amazon Prime Video. Sadly, no second series is planned.
• Cardinal! Another series I discovered by accident is Cardinal, which is currently running on Hulu. The series is an adaptation of the John Cardinal novels by Giles Blunt...
John Cardinal is a police detective at Algonquin Bay in Canada. His past is littered with secrets (of course) and he was removed from homicide because he became obsessed with a missing girl. Years later the girl's body turns up and he's put on the case with a new partner who just so happens to be secretly investigating him. Drama ensues. The show stars Billy Campbell, who I never in a million years thought had the depth and nuance he's brought to Cardinal. I've burned through season one... of three... and a fourth season has been commissioned. Worth your time if brooding police dramas are your thing.
• A Pox On You! It seems every time I look in on the news, there's another story warning people that they may have been exposed to measles. Earlier in the week it was Vegas (where I just was last week) and now it's Disneyland. And for every one of these stories that comes out, you know there are dozens more places that go unreported. Considering you can die from measles, I guess I'm glad that I had an antibodies test to make sure that my childhood immunizations were still protecting me. This is absolute bullcrap, and I'm fucking livid that this anti-vax nonsense has propagated like it has. Thanks to dumbshits like Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy conning people into thinking that vaccines cause autism despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, heaven only knows which diseases are going to come roaring back. Is polio next?
How is it that the more advanced our science gets the stupider people get? Between anti-vaxers, flat-earthers, climate-change-deniers, and whatever new dumbfuckery is currently making the rounds, humanity might as well pack it in and go extinct.
• Michael Davis! I happened across a video of juggling comedian Michael Davis from his appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I had never heard of him, but was surprised at how talented and funny he was, so I tracked down various videos he appeared in. There's some overlap in material, but they all have different stuff and are all fantastic, so I'm sharing them here...
And that's all the bullets for this week. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2019
As I was catching up with email that I had been ignoring all day, my doorbell rang. I guessed it was UPS with a delivery from Apple since that's all I was expecting.
Sure enough, that's what it was. And since you can't put your Apple Card in leather or denim, I guess I need to go looking for a fucking diaper to wrap it in so I can carry it.
Inside a UPS envelope was a plain brown kraft envelope...
On the back is a die-cut zipper pull...
And a pretty white folio with the Apple logo embossed on front was inside...
And there's the card... with a note to activate your card by holding your iPhone up to the folio...
The Apple logo is laser-etched into the titanium and is quite pretty. Alas my name is just printed on the front...
On the back is more laser-etched logo goodness for MasterCard and the pig-fuckers at Goldman Sachs...
Holding my iPhone up to the folio brought up an animation of the folio being opened to reveal the Apple Card that I just opened...
And then an "Activate" button appears...
It was all a very nice experience up until this moment. Apple did a shitty, shitty job with the text formatting for the "Your card is ready" confirmation...
And then you get a request for Apple Card in Apple Wallet to have your location so it can improve your Apple Card experience... or whatever...
And that's that. Now to go looking for that diaper...
UPDATE! I was wondering how the iPhone knows that there's an Apple Card to be activated. I knew it wasn't the card... so is there a chip in the folio? Yup...
Frame taken from a video by Happy Aujla.
Clever! And so very Apple.
Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019
I worked so hard for so long to make relationships work, but eventually came to realize that being in a relationship isn't for me. That was a tough realization to come to after spending my entire life convinced I couldn't be complete without somebody else in my life. But I've made my peace with it. Relationships make me happy in the short run, but being single has made me happier in the long run.
Except when grocery shopping.
After my dentist appointment today I went to Petco for kitty litter... to Burger King for an Impossible Whopper... and to Safeway for food.
The problem with shopping for food while single is that it's more expensive than shopping for food with a family (per person). As an example? I need hamburger buns to go with my veggie burgers. Unless I eat veggie burgers every day, I can eat maybe four buns before they go stale. They come in packages of eight. Which means I have to freeze four and they never taste as good after being frozen. Cost for eight buns? $3.49. Or on sale at two for $5. Some stores will let you buy one for $2.50, but most won't. So do I spend an extra $1.50 for a bunch of buns I'll just have to freeze? That's the question I face every time I go shopping. At least buns can be frozen if I decide to go that route... some things cannot.
Like buns for veggie burgers, cream cheese for bagels is another thing that drives me nuts. They are never on sale at the same time. Fortunately cream cheese usually has an expiry date for 6 months, so I can stock up and wait for bagel prices to drop.
But it's not all bad news.
Because of the way my blood sugar spikes, I need to limit carbs. That's tough for a vegetarian, but I do my best and try to plan around it. It's just making choices. Do I want to spread my carbs throughout the day so I can have bread and fruit? Or do I want to splurge on carbs at one meal and go low-carb the rest of the day? If I have pasta for an early dinner (must be eaten before 6 so I have time to burn it off before bed), that means I am having eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks with hummus and veggies for lunch. It's not science, but it works. My doctor is please with my A1C levels, and that's all I need to know.
And while I have gotten rid of a lot of sugar in my diet, I can still enjoy sweets a couple times a week. My favorite is cake, but if I were to make or buy a cake, it would perish long before I got around to eating even a fraction of it.
Fortunately, there are several companies making microwavable "desserts for one" and they're pretty great (also great are break-and-bake cookies, but I wrote about them last week).
And even more fortunately, Safeway had a bunch of them on sale and on closeout...
That's enough to last me for the rest of the year (there's 4 per box), and most of them were under $3.00! I prefer the Duncan Hines treats (in the red boxes) because they don't have icing. The Betty Crocker "Mug Treats" do have icing, but I always have to toss it out to save carbs.
No, they're not as fantastic as a real oven-baked cake or muffin, but not having to worry about food waste goes a long way for me.
And another thing that's pretty sweet? The upcoming Disney+ streaming service I've been writing about for weeks!
I don't know if this will help anybody out there, but... if you are planning on signing up for Disney+ and don't care about a bundle with ESPN and Hulu, there's a deal to be had by pre-ordering a membership NOW for when it begins in November.
Disney's official fan club is D23.com and basic membership is free. There are higher tiers with more benefits, but they are not necessary to get this offer. So if you are NOT a member, go sign up for a free membership. If you ARE a member, login and go to the My Account drop-down and choose "View My Account." There you will have the option to buy a 3-year Disney+ membership for $140. That's 33% off the "regular" price...
I know three years is a big commitment but, for me, it was a no-brainer. Considering there's exclusive Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic content... all of which I love... I was all over it. Sure I don't have $140 to be spending just now, but the offer expires after the weekend and I wasn't going to miss it (that's less than $4 a month!). Hello credit card debt, it's been a long time!
Despite having a bill to pay off, it's nice knowing that I don't have to worry about paying for Disney+ until November of 2022!
Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019
As I've mentioned more than a few times, I am a huge fan of shitty Hallmark Christmas movies. Never mind that I find romance movies to be horrible entertainment and I don't even celebrate Christmas, there's something about these films that I completely obsess over. I wrote a little bit about it last November. Every year they come out with more and more of the stupid things, despite the fact that they are all pretty much the same exact story. Last year there were 37 (up from 33 in 2017, 28 in 2016, and 21 in 2015)... this year, on the tenth anniversary of Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas there are FORTY of them. And it all begins on October 25th.
Of course I'll be watching every single one of them. It's so easy because I can be multitasking while they're on and never get lost. How could I? They're all the same.
And it gets worse. For the past month I've been catching up on all the non-Christmas Hallmark movies! And, no worries, there's a shitload of them. Hallmark has seasonal movie events which start with Winterfest in January, then go through Countdown to Valentine's Day, Spring Fling, June Weddings, Summer Nights, Fall Harvest, and then we're right back to Countdown to Christmas again. Lucky for me, all of this stuff is repeated endlessly on The Hallmark Channel in-between reruns of The Golden Girls, Frasier, and The Middle. I've build a master checklist on a huge spreadsheet to keep track.
One thing I've learned in watching all these trash movies is just how huge suspension of disbelief plays in buying into the hilarious storylines that Hallmark writers come up with. Romance in real life is rarely-to-never as adorable as a Hallmark movie. In Hallmark-Land, even the bad parts of the relationships are so cute you want to vomit.
And, believe me folks, I am 100% onboard.
Everybody lives in expensive houses, drives expensive cars, and wears expensive clothes... even when they have a business that's struggling? — Sure.
People fly off the handle and want to break up when they feel they were deceived over some mundane or insignificant plot device that no sane person in love would even worry about? — Okay.
Guys hardly ever act in ways that actual guys act except when it's to portray them as guys who are in need of "fixing?" — Whatever.
Without suspension of disbelief, not a single Hallmark movie would work. They're far worse offenders at defying reality than even the craziest science fiction film.
Almost every movie has at least one detail that jerks me right out of the story. One thing that's so outlandishly stupid that my brain would have to go past suspension of disbelief and enter suspension of belief territory. Because the only way to buy into it would be to suspend believing that you're not a complete idiot.
Even in the context of a crappy Hallmark movie, it's just so sad and lazy.
A classic example can be found in the movie I was watching last night... Love on the Slopes from Winterfest 2018...
It stars Thomas Beaudoin (the guy who melted my ovaries in Netflix's The Spirit of Christmas) as an extreme sports photographer who dreams of going to Africa to photograph the wildlife there. After getting involved with a journalist looking to write about extreme sports, he's betrayed when it turns out she was writing a story about him all along. So... even though they were totes falling in love, he broke up with her. To make it up to him, she ends up giving him a ticket to Zimbabwe so he can fulfill his dream...
First of all, Zimbabwe is an entire country. This "Denver to Zimbabwe" ticket is the equivalent of having a ticket that says "Winnipeg to The United States," like there's only one city with one airport here. The main airport in Zimbabwe is Harare. So even if they didn't want to show ACTUAL AIRPORTS for dramatic effect, they should have had it say "Denver to Harare, Zimbabwe." At least they didn't make it say "Denver to Africa" which is not even a country, people... it's a continent.
Second of all, it's a direct flight. Out of Denver. The biggest hub in Denver is United Airlines. If there was any hope at all that there was a direct flight to "Zimbabwe" from there, it would be on United. Except United doesn't service "Zimbabwe," even via a United-coded partner flight. This means that it's a multi-leg, multi-airline trip and could never appear on a single ticket. You would have at least two stops, minimum, even on a major carrier. You might even have three stops given the destination.
Thirdly, this is an "open" ticket. That's a rare, but entirely valid, type of airline ticket. FOR THE 1980's! The most common ticket today is a roundtrip ticket where the departure and return dates are fixed. Less common is an "open-ended" ticket where the departure date is set, but the return is arranged later. But a full-open ticket? I don't even know how that's possible on a flight now that airlines try to fill every available seat on every flight to maximize profit. Let alone a multi-leg international flight. The cost of such a ticket (IN FIRST CLASS, NEVERTHELESS!) is huge to begin with and, like all destinations, fluctuates based on season. Such an "open" ticket would have to be charged at the highest possible cost to cover any conceivable date. The woman won the ticket for writing the best essay for her company travel magazine. But how many travel magazines could afford to expense such a ticket? Aren't magazines dying?
Fourthly, what's shown in this stupid movie is a boarding pass. You can't get a fucking boarding pass until you've checked in for your flight. You REALLY can't get a boarding pass on an open ticket where you don't even have a date of travel yet. But it gets stupider... HOW THE FUCK CAN HE HAVE A SEAT ASSIGNMENT WHEN HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A DATE OF TRAVEL? What is the airline going to do? Keep seat 14A vacant from now until the end of time in case Cole Taylor wants to cash in his ticket that day? And since this trip is three flights minimum, all possible connecting flights have to keep that same seat open as well? What they should have shown was a ticket, not a boarding pass. Except even that's a stretch. Now-a-days you probably wouldn't even get that. The best she could hope for, assuming she could even buy an international "open ticket," would be a receipt.
Fifthly, as if the assigned seat on an open ticket wasn't hilarious enough... they provide a flight number, boarding time, and a gate number. The flight has an IATA code of "DH" which is "Discovery Airways." THEY WERE AN INTER-ISLAND CARRIER OPERATING EXCLUSIVELY IN HAWAII THAT WAS SHUT DOWN AFTER THREE MONTHS BECAUSE IT VIOLATED US LAW! But let's assume that Discovery Airways did, in fact, come back from the dead. Let's further assume they had enough money to purchase a single gate at Denver International Airport. They are assigned Gate C8 which, in itself is bullshit, because DEN only has gates numbered C23 through C50... but let's pretend they were able to pry a single gate away from Southwest, which I think pretty much owns the C Concourse at Denver. Assuming all of that... and further assuming that Discovery Airways has a daily flight operating from Denver to "Zimbabwe"... how in the hell can they guarantee that this flight time will never change? Like... ever? Flight schedules change all the time. Gates are changed all the time. But the most laughable part is that she is counting on Discovery Airways... a dead airline which lasted three months but has been resurrected with absurdly stupid daily flights to "Zimbabwe"... is going to be in business long enough for poor Cole to ever cash this in. Right.
Sixly, boarding pass and ticket "blanks" are often printed in color, yes. But the printers which fill in the blanks are always black ink only (or, more likely, "black" thermal print only). Except here. Where apparently the printer prints in black... AND RED?!? The idiotic seat assignment and "FIRST CLASS" are printed in red. Has the person who designed this prop flown on an airline... like... EVER?!? Have they even seen a boarding pass before? Given that this one is printed on card stock and not some flimsy thermal paper, I'm guessing if they have seen a boarding pass, it was from 20 years ago.
Lastly, this fictional, resurrected dead airline that offers open tickets direct from Denver to "Zimbabe" has a logo... but the NAME of the airline is just "Airlines?" Really? I mean, given the dicey history of Discovery Airways, I understand wanting to go with something different... but Hallmark is so fucking lazy that they couldn't even invent a new name? I'd suggest "Bullshit Airlines." Or perhaps "Fantasy Airlines." Because expecting people to be able to suspend disbelief on an idiotic story element like this is utter fantasy.
Do better, Hallmark! You're already asking a lot of your fans with your movie offerings, but there are some things so over the top stupid that they can't be overlooked.
And can we get a movie starring Autumn Reeser and Thomas Beaudoin together? Because that would be great.
Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2019
I am not one to partake in gossip because I honestly don't care that much about other people's lives. Unless it directly affects me or someone/something I care about, does what other people do in their personal life really matter?
This is not to say that I am above listening to news which features somebody awful having shit rain down upon their head, however. I am all about the schadenfreude to those who deserve it because it usually has such high entertainment value.
In practice, this is not in line with my belief structure, but I am inconsistent and evil that way.
Today I heard something particularly juicy through the grapevine, and it was a doozey. The person in question is a reprehensible excuse for a human being who has caused suffering for people I know, and I was happy to hear that their comeuppance had finally arrived.
"Happy" is actually not adequate to describe my state of mind... perhaps "gleeful" or "ecstatic" would be more accurate? I dunno. I had a smile on my face for most of the evening, so there's that. I mean, it's not that I want this person dead or anything, but knowing that they were having to suffer in a way quite similar to the suffering they had caused was a nice capper to my day.
Another capper to my day?
Netflix finally released their movie Falling Inn Love which has been teased for a while now...
And it's fairly obvious what happened here. Netflix went to MarVista Entertainment, the studio for many of the Hallmark movies, and said "We will give you a budget big enough to out-Hallmark the Hallmark." In their infinite wisdom, MarVista didn't hire famous writers or top-shelf actors... instead they merely took the same old movie they always make and relocated it to New Zealand. Genius! I mean, come on, if it ain't broke, don't fix it... just give it an expensive change of scenery! And also some scenery you won't often find on Hallmark, like some guy with his shirt off...
So far as "Hallmark" movies go, it was pretty good. The actors were all pretty great. But since it's for Netflix, there are some big changes from what you see on everybody's favorite greeting card network. First of all, there's a gay couple who own the local coffee shop. Not "hinted at" gay... but two men who are full-on married and refer to each other as "husbands." Second of all... he's white, she's African Cuban, which is something you rarely see on lily-white Hallmark... and certainly not as the leads. So, from that perspective, Netflix actually HAS out-Hallmarked Hallmark. Good on them.
Now I guess I better watch sports or rebuild a car engine or whatever else I'm supposed to do to assimilate back into our toxic-masculinity-based culture after watching another one of these crap movies.
Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2019
As I mentioned last week, I used my new Apple Card credit card to buy a print from The Night Sky. You tell them the time, date, location on earth, and they will create a star map for you using the design options you choose.
I picked a nice navy blue color with coordinate lines and constellation lines with a dark blue background. Then I personalized the text in remembrance of my mom from when we were looking at The Milky Way while on safari in Zimbabwe.
I also made the big mistake of getting it framed. But more on that in a minute.
My home has a weird, narrow, angled wall leading to the stairwell. Originally, the handrail wrapped along it, but my mom would consistently fall down the final two stairs because her hand would run out of rail and she wouldn't see them (I nearly fell a couple times myself). I solved this by designing a small shelf so the handrail went all the way down.
For the longest time, I filled the space by putting one of my National Park posters from around the corner there. But I always wanted to find something else so my Park posters would be complete again. I thought the star map print would be perfect...
The print itself is pretty great. I've seen other companies that do this, but the design from The Night Sky was the best I had seen. I wanted navy ink instead of black ink because I through it looks more like the sky I remember...
It's an eerily perfect match...
Using the Star Walk app on my iPhone, I've been able to draw in the horizon and The Milky Way so I can see the area of the sky I was looking at that night...
It's printed on acid-free paper with archival inks, has a great design aesthetic, and ships free... so the $60 price tag feels worth it.
The $60 frame that came with it, however? Not so much.
It's not even made of wood and glass... it's some kind of lightweight composite with a thin acrylic sheet. But the worst part? It's garbage. For $60 I'd expect that, AT THE VERY LEAST, would have corners that meet and are filled. But they don't. Even worse? The paint job is utter crap (UPDATE: SEE BELOW)...
They put a Kraft paper on the back, which is nice. There's a sawtooth hanger at the very top and felt feet on the bottom, which is also nice. But the feet aren't thick enough to offset the hanger, so I had to add some silicone bumpers to make the print be truly vertical on the wall...
I cannot for the life of me figure out how they justify a $60 price tag for this terrible frame. I wouldn't have paid $20 for this mess. So now, in addition to the $60 I've already paid, I'm going to have to sand it, fill it, then repaint it so it looks half-way decent.
If you're going to buy a print from The Night Sky, I would pass on their frames and go buy a much better one for much less that's on sale at Michaels or something. Or, if you're like me, you could build a similar one for under $10.
If you want a star map print of your very own, The Night Sky is the place!
UPDATE: After reading my review and my experience with their frame, The Night Sky sent me a replacement. So much nicer! The paint isn't peeling off. The corners actually all meet up. I'm still not sure if it's worth $60, but at least now I don't regret having spent $60 on it. If this is what the quality is usually like, and my bad frame was just a fluke, then it could be worth it to you. The paper backing and hanger certainly add value over what you'd get at a craft store.
Posted on Saturday, August 31st, 2019
My cats are 3-1/2 years old. I just looked it up, and this is the equivalent of 30 in human years. Once I managed to work the lump out of my throat, I started thinking back to when I was 30. I think that's the time I started calming down and getting more serious about life. Who I am now was formed in my 30's. That was the time that my personality stopped changing... instead it just grew in intensity.
If this works the same for cats, then I'm in for an interesting time of it.
Not from Jake, mind you. This is going to be Jake from here on out...
I'm The Dude, dude!
I mean, seriously... this was Jake this morning when I was ready to start my day...
He is so laid back and chill. The only time he is even remotely anxious is when he's waiting for me to dish out his food. Any other time? Unfazed. He might squawk at me if I'm walking by and he wants to be petted, but that's the end of it.
Jenny on the other hand? Entirely different ballgame...
I'M NOT GOING TO BE IGNORED, DAVE!
As she enters into her thirties, Jenny's trajectory has her turning into a demanding, cranky old lady. Which is all kinds of adorable. If she wants to be petted, she will insist you drop whatever you're doing and take care of it. Pet her the wrong way and she has no problem letting you know that she's bitterly disappointed in you. She never used to meow much at all, now she will absolutely meow to get your attention.
Like she just now did after jumping up behind me wanting to be petted...
She's still an incredibly sweet cat, so you can't possibly get upset when she gets a bit demanding... on the contrary, it's just made me love her more... but it's remarkable just how far Jake and Jenny's personalities have diverged.
Jake hops on the coffee table for a nap, and I can slow blink with him for twenty minutes...
Try slow-blinking with Jenny that same night though?
YOU WANT SOMETHING FROM ME, HUMAN?
In 2-1/2 years, my cats will be 40 human years old. They grow up so fast.