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The End of The Hallmark Era?

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2021

Dave!I worked all weekend, so I woke up really early not to get a jump on my day... but to clean my house. The only thing I managed to get to yesterday was steam-cleaning the cat feeding station. That's something I do regardless of whatever else I have going on because I want to make sure Jake and Jenny stay healthy.

But anyway...

As I was scrubbing, vacuuming, and dusting, I had a Hallmark movie playing. The last thing I want is to get behind, because there's like a hundred of these things dropping from Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, Netflix, and the rest. Half-way through the movie I realized that I wasn't paying attention to what was going on. Not that you have to... most of these movies are painfully basic, redundant, and lacking anything requiring critical thinking. It's just that I'm kinda done with them. 95% of them are the same damn thing you've seen a hundred times before, and only rarely is there anything trying to be different. The only reason I didn't turn this one off is because it was starring Katee Sackhoff and I'm a fan.

Do I dare hope that I'm over my Hallmark addiction? Lord, I hope so... but probably not.

Far more interesting was this video that got forwarded to me this morning...

I don't know about you, but this is far scarier than the original Jurassic Park!

And now? I should probably go to work seeing as how it's almost 9:00am.

   

IMMUNITY!

Posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Dave!You guys... YOU GUYS! Kurzgesagt is one of my favorite YouTube channels, and the first book from the channel's creator, IMMUNE, just landed. It is incredible. I swear, I'm only an hour into it and it's one of the most fascinating things I've EVER read. The book seems more like science fiction than science fact because it's just so bizarre and improbable...

If you'd like a taste, they've got the first two chapters as audio on a YouTube video...

But beware... you'll definitely want to buy a copy of the book if you listen to this! It's fascinating and gorgeous. Highest possible recommendation.

UPDATE: I'm loving this book so much that I went ahead and bought the AudioBook as well. The idea of having Steve Taylor read it to me was too much to resist. Now I can listen to the audiobook while looking at the illustrations in the book-book. The best of both worlds.

UPDATE-UPDATE: There's a cool new Kurzgesagt video that's supporting the book...

   

Movie Redundancy

Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

Dave!I was watching an interview with Edgar Wright by Ali Plumb where the very first question was What movies have you seen the most time in your entire life?

The question is a fascinating one, because it's so hard to answer. Back before streaming... heck, back before VHS tapes could be rented... I would watch movies I liked several times because it was the only thing available! HBO and Showtime had a limited number of films available to them, so they would play them over and over again. I watched the 1978 version of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile dozens of times because it was something to watch and I knew I liked it...

The new Kenneth Branagh version has been delayed several times (I think it's been pushed to 2022 now!), so I can't comment on how good it is... but I find it hard to believe that it will replace the Peter Ustinov movie I loved so much (and still love).

   
As for my list though? That took some thought. I watch (and rewatch) tons of movies each year. Eventually I decided to break them down into categories, each with movies I've seen at least ten times each (some by virtue of just having been around a long time but, yes, there are movies from 2021 I've seen already seen ten times that got listed too!)...

• MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIES. No need to list them. I've seen ALL of them multiple, multiple times.

• JUST PLAIN AWESOME FLICKS. These are movies I don't put on as "background noise" but actually want to watch over and over again. And, yeah, I haven't seen the current Dune movie ten times... but I probably will have by the end of the year since I'm already at five times!

  • Atomic Blonde (2017)
  • The Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) (1998)
  • About Time (2013)
  • Blade Runner (2007)
  • Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
  • Cinema Paradiso (1990)
  • Dune (2021)
  • Field of Dreams (1989)
  • The Fifth Element (1997)
  • Galaxy Quest (1999)
  • Gifted (2017)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • The Old Guard (2020)
  • Paul (2011)
  • Sneakers (1992)
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1997)
  • Wonder Boys (2000)

• COMFORT FOOD. Movies I put on when working just to have something nice going on in the background which won't distract from my work because I've seen them so many times.

  • 9 to 5 (1980)
  • 50 First Dates (2004)
  • About Time (2013)
  • Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990)
  • Baseketball (1998)
  • Bedazzled (2000)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • The Bird Cage (1996)
  • Burglar (1987)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • Coming to America (1988)
  • Commando (1985)
  • Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
  • Deadpool (2016)
  • Death on the Nile (1978)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  • Die Hard (1988)
  • Doc Hollywood (1991)
  • Dune (1984)
  • Eurotrip (2004)
  • Fever Pitch (2005)
  • Fletch (1985)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • The Heat (2013)
  • Ideal Home (2018)
  • Knight and Day (2010)
  • Love Actually (2003)
  • Love, Simon (2018)
  • The Lovebirds (2020)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
  • Music and Lyrics (2007)
  • My Cousin Vinny (1992)
  • Ocean's 8 (2018)
  • Office Space (1999)
  • Overboard (1987)
  • Overboard (2018)
  • Popstar: Never Stop Stopping (2016)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Secondhand Lions
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
  • Spy (2015)
  • Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984)
  • Trading Places (1983)
  • Under Siege (1992)
  • V.I. Warshawski (1991)
  • Veronica Mars (2014)
  • What We Do In the Shadows (2015)
  • White Chicks (2004)
  • Wimbledon (2004)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)

• HALLMARK-STYLE MOVIES. These are also "comfort movies" for me... but kind of deserve a category all their own because they are even less of a distraction as background noise (except Bridal Wave, which sucks me in every time). These movies are playing ALL THE TIME while I'm working or blogging or whatever.

  • The Baker's Son (2021)
  • Bridal Wave (2015)
  • The Christmas Card (2006)
  • Dashing in December (2020)
  • A Frosty Affair (2015)
  • Holidate (2020)
  • Like Cats & Dogs (2017)
  • Love and Sunshine (2019)
  • Love at the Shore (2017)
  • Midnight at the Magnolia (2020)
  • My Summer Prince (2016)
  • Royally Ever After (2018)
  • Second Chances (2013)
  • The Spirit of Christmas (2015)
  • Summer Villa (2016)
  • A Winter Princess (2016)

These are far from a list of my favorite movies (all of Tarantino's films would be on here if that were true). They're just the movies I've seen the most.

It would be interesting to revisit this in five years to see what movies get added.

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L’Incal

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Dave!The news of the day? Taika Waititi is adapting The Incal by Jodorowsky and Mœbius.

This is interesting from any number of viewpoints, not the least of which is that Waititi is one of my favorite directors going. Between What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the guy seems incapable of making a bad film. But holy crap... he's already attached to Akira, Flash Gordon, and a few television series... how does he have the time for all this?

But still, The Incal is a fantastic work, and seeing it adapted into a movie or series seems like a no-brainer...

The Incal Graphic Novel

Kinda timely that this was announced on the heels of the success that Denis Villeneuve's Dune movie is experiencing.

Back before the David Lynch Dune in 1984, Alejandro Jodorowsky was working on a movie of his own based on the novel. His efforts were famously made into a documentary called Jodorowsky's Dune that had some truly amazing ideas that were equal parts interesting and bizarre. The documentary is worth a look, if you have a chance to see it.

Anyway... after his Dune movie fell apart, Jodorowsky took his concepts and reworked them into a series of comics called The Incal (Mœbius having been one of his collaborators for the visuals on Dune). I could explain it, but this really good YouTuber did that for me last year...

And for more, here's Jodorowsky and Taika himself...

Probably won't see anything come of this until 2025, but thems the breaks.

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iPhone 13 Pro MAX First Look

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2021

Dave!When I ordered my new iPhone way back on October 9th I was told that it would be arriving between November 10th and 17th. A month away. But, unlike when I ordered my new MacBook Pro, I wasn't dying to get my hands on it. The only reason I was getting a new iPhone was because the camera improvements seemed worth a look, and it seemed silly to not take advantage of The iPhone Upgrade Program which allows me to afford these things in the first place. That's it.

Imagine my surprise when I got a notice telling me that my iPhone had shipped a whole week early! Well, shipped from China, naturally, but it still only took two days to arrive. I sure hope my new MacBook is sent early like this!

The pretty Apple box for my new iPhone with the iPhone 13 Pro MAX right on the front.

So let's take a look at things, shall we?

DESIGN
Other than a bigger camera bump on the back, you'll be forgiven if you don't think the 13 Pro MAX is different than the 12 Pro MAX at first glance. I legit thought that they had accidentally sent me an iPhone 12 Pro MAX by mistake until I turned it over and saw the slightly larger camera bump and bigger lenses. My phone is the "Sierra Blue" model, which is nice. The color is a little more subtle than what you see in the photos on the website... it looks almost white if you have any light on it. But the sides of the phone are absolutely gorgeous. A shiny steel blue color that looks so sharp. I love it but, if I'm being completely honest, I prefer the darker blue from last year (and, if I'm being even more honest, I prefer the dark green from the year before that)...

Shirts in my dark closet.
If you look very close, you can see the ear speaker has moved to the very top in the new model.

Shirts in my dark closet.
The deeper color just has a different "feel" to it that I prefer.

The weight is definitely a bit heavier, and I noticed it the minute I picked it up. It's even more noticeable when switching between hold my old and new phones. It's not going to be an issue. If I really stare at it on-edge I can see that it's a tiny bit thicker, but not in a way that I'm going to be noticing.

SETUP
If there's one thing that Apple has down to a science, it's setting up their devices. Mostly (this was not the case for me, which we'll get to). It's especially simple if you have an older Apple device. When I turned on my new phone, my old phone immediately lit up and was ready to transfer everything. I was given the option of either setting up the new iPhone from iCloud, which would allow me to use it in about 15 minutes because the non-essentials would be gradually downloaded after the essentials had been transferred... or I could transfer directly from my old iPhone and have absolutely everything set up exactly as before which takes about an hour. I wasn't in a hurry, so I opted to do the direct iPhone transfer. Also? I didn't want to risk the internet cutting out half-way through and screwing up the transfer.

Alas, the transfer was not all smooth sailing. Apps kept starting and stopping during the download, which meant it took a lot longer than an hour to complete (even though I could use what was loaded after about 45 minutes). The re-pairing with my Apple Watch failed spectacularly and was a total bitch to get fixed (read more at the end). And while the transfer initially seemed to go well, my old iPhone was stuck on "Time remaining 6 minutes" for at least a half-hour... probably longer. After everything was transferred and complete, I had to force-reset my old phone because it STILL was stuck on six minutes! I don't know why in the hell I should have these problems when Apple has clearly designed the process so people don't have any issues... but here we are.

Transferring data to iPhone 13 Pro Max... time remaining: six minutes!
Stuck on six minutes... FOR ETERNITY!!!

Downloading apps.
The irony is not lost that the first shopping app to load was Apple's own!

iPhone says that Apple Watch was not paired! OH NOES!
And nothing I did would work. Time to factory reset the Apple Watch... AGAIN!

DISPLAY
The size and resolution of the Super-Retina OLED display is the same as last year (2778 × 1284 pixels). The difference being that the newer model has a ProMotion 120hz refresh rate, meaning that scrolling is buttery-smooth and there's no tearing when there's rapid movement being displayed. This is not something that a lot of people will notice right away when upgrading. I barely did. Until I went back to my old iPhone! Then it becomes much more obvious and now I never want to go back! Scrolling is positively glorious now. Running at 120hz sucks more battery power, which is why Apple has delayed using it while other manufacturers were switching to it. Apple didn't want to sacrifice battery life, which is something that far more people would notice. Why we are getting 120hz now is that they figured out how to make it be adaptable. The screen runs at 120hz when there's fast-moving things to view... but drops down to a far slower refresh rate when there's not. The result is a superior display that doesn't hit your battery. That's pretty sweet.

BATTERY
Maybe it's because I just don't use my phone as much as other people, but I haven't had my iPhone run out of battery for years. On the contrary, there were many times that I wouldn't even bother to charge the 12 Pro MAX at night because my battery had barely moved. And now Apple as gone and improved the battery life again. In the day I've been using the phone, it's still at 40%... and that includes the setup, which had to be a battery-sucking procedure! Once I'm done using it constantly as I have been, it will be using even less battery. This is a long way from the days that I had to carry a battery pack with me so I could watch movies on a plane-ride!

PORT
When I first unwrapped the charging cable, I got very excited. "ZOMG! IT'S USB-C!!" But then I looked at the other end, and nope! Apple is still sticking with that stupid fucking "Lightning" port instead of moving to USB-C like they have with their iPads and computers. This is just mind-bogglingly ridiculous, and I cannot wrap my head around why Apple keeps dragging their feet. They claim it's because there are so many iPhone devices which still use Lightning and they don't want their users with many devices to have to re-buy them. To which I can only say "Where was this concern when you dropped the headphone jack?!?" The simple truth is that Apple will probably drop the port completely before switching to USB-C. So maybe their concern is valid. Don't make your users re-buy stuff that they'll just have to throw out in a year or two. Let's look at the math here... they've already got MagSafe for charging, WiFi 6 for transferring data, and the battery life is so good that quick-charging isn't as critical to have... so why keep the port at all? The day is definitely coming, because that would free up some room inside for new gadgets. I'm guessing that Apple's "concern" over customers with Lightning devices will mysteriously vanish then. Probably. All I know is that I'd like to travel with ONE charger and ONE cable before that day arrives. And wouldn't it be nice if Apple would just have one MagSafe standard for everything? Dare to dream.

VIDEO
I don't shoot a lot of video footage. When I do, it's usually for work. I prefer photography for my personal stuff. But there was something new with the iPhone 13 Pro MAX that had me intrigued... the ability to shoot Native Apple ProRes video. Apple ProRes is a codec (encoding/decoding file format) which many professionals use because it offers very good quality at a semi-decent file size. Problem is that you have to purchase a camera to record in it. My Sony Pro DSLRs record in AVCHD. Previous iPhones shot M4V. The iPhone Pro 13 series is my first chance to go with ProRes, so I leapt on it. I was so excited at the prospect that I actually upgraded the storage to 256GB, because that's what's required to shoot ProRes 4K at 30 frames per second (with the base 128GB model, you can only shoot 1080p maximum). Since I edit video in Apple Final Cut Pro (which is built around the ProRes codec) I already knew I could edit the format easily. But then Apple announced the M1-PRO and M1-MAX chips used in the new MacBook Pro would have special onboard hardware to support ProRes video! Which is to say that now I had even more incentive to play around with video on my iPhone. I'll probably post some footage once I've had a chance to play around with it a bit more.

CINEMATIC MODE
Way back in 2016, Apple introduced "Portrait Mode" for photography which would put the focus on people and pets by blurring the background. This is what larger DSLR camera lenses can do naturally, and it's nice because your subject "pops" out of the photo. Given the iPhone's tiny lenses, it was a nifty trick, but didn't always look that great. The edges around people would be blurry or weird. And forget about using it for pets because it just looked so bad. But then over the next few years "Portrait Mode" just kept getting better and better. And the fact that you can adjust the blurriness of the background after you've taken the photo is just icing on the cake. I don't use it a lot (I am mostly fine with the blurriness you get direct from the lens), but boy am I glad to have it available!

But "Portrait Mode" has never been available for video.

Until now. And Apple calls it "Cinematic Mode." It adaptively focuses on subjects to blur out the backgrounds and can even track when somebody looks away to automatically focus on what they're looking at. It's incredibly slick. And you can override the focus point after you've shot the video which is amazing.

Not surprisingly, this new tech not terribly great right out of the gate. But I'm guessing that this new "Cinematic Mode" will improve for video just like "Portrait Mode" did for photos. I've only shot a few videos using it just to see what's going on, but am not so impressed that I am using it by default. It has its uses, but I don't use my phone like that very often. Maybe I will when it gets to be as good as "Portrait Mode" is now?

PHOTOGRAPHY
Ever since the iPhone 11 Pro, I've not felt the need to lug my Sony DSLRs around everywhere. The camera on my phone had become so good that there just wasn't a need. Especially for travel, where not having to carry around anything additional was such a blessing. I still use my DSLRs for serious photo shoots where I require high-quality lenses to get what I need... but the way Apple has managed to use on-phone processing to mimic DSLR quality with such tiny lenses is pretty phenomenal, so I use actual cameras less and less. Now we're two generations later and the photography you can get out of the iPhone 13 Pro MAX is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

First of all, the telephoto lens has gone from 2.5× to a full 3×, allowing you to shoot better long-range photos because it's coming off the lens instead of being digitally zoomed. Second of all, whereas only the main lens had optical image stabilization in the iPhone 12 Pro models, the iPhone 13 Pro models have it for all three lenses. This allows you to shoot better photos while moving and much better photos in low-light. And speaking of low-light, Apple has improved that once again as well. The apertures are smaller so the lens can let in more light. The image sensors are larger which allows them to capture more light. Put these two improvements together, and your ability to capture very good night shots is pretty great. I went into my closet with no lights on, just ambient light from the hallway. The iPhone wants you to make a timed exposure for 2 seconds, so I did that...

Shirts in my dark closet.
This is a 2 second timed exposure.

Then I turned timed exposure off...

Shirts in my dark closet.
This is an untimed exposure.

Given how little light is here, both of these are pretty remarkable shots. The image stabilization keeps the 2 second shot crisp and gives pretty good color representation. The shadows are very deep though. The untimed exposure is a little dead-looking with drab colors, but the fact that you can see colors at all is impressive. A couple seconds in adjustments and you could salvage it fairly well if you don't mind a little grain...

Shirts in my dark closet.
This is a an untimed exposure, with adjustments.

If anything, that's the more realistic option of the three, and pretty much what it would look like if I turned the lights on.

And then there's the ability to shoot macro. This allows you to get as close as 2cm to shoot some really cool close-ups...

Macro shot of my cat Jake's face.
This is a full-width image crop.

Macro shot of my cat Jake's eye.
This is a 100% crop of the original image.

If this were Summer, I'd have some vibrant shots to take. But, alas, everything is dying, so that's what I got. Still... just about anything can be cool when you shoot it close-up!

A dead leaf.

A dying leaf.

A dead leaf.

As mentioned above, Apple uses computational photography to go beyond what such small camera lenses are capable. The iPhone is so fast and powerful that Apple can shoot multiple images, analyze them, then assemble the parts to create a far better image (kinda a super-HDR, as it were). This is especially useful in getting good detail out of a shot...

iPhone computational photography illustrated with multiple images having multiple parts of the finished image.

Something new to the native Apple iPhone photo app (but available from other iPhone apps) is the idea of filters. If you like your photos to have more contrast, there's a filter for that. If you want deeper, more saturated colors, there's a filter for that. Want a warmer or cooler look? There's filters for that too. But Apple isn't just applying a filter over the images when you do this. Instead, Apple is selectively applying them locally. Which means that if you want more vivid color in your images and turn on the "vibrant" filter, any human skin in your shot isn't pushed to weird places, but instead preserved a bit and made less vivid so it still looks like human skin. It's a nifty trick.

GOING NEXT-LEVEL BIONIC
The new A15 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 13 Pro has a lot more speed and power than the previous A14, but you'll hardly notice in your day-to-day use. Apps work pretty much the same. But there are some exceptions. The computational photography abilities and Cinematic Mode video are things that are only possible because of the new chip. And then there's some apps which definitely benefit. FaceID, for example, which was near instantaneous is 100% instant now.

A CASE FOR CASES
You can't really tell from the below photo, but the new Project RED case is a richer red. Less tomato-like. I absolutely love it. At first I thought that my old case looked less rich because it had faded, but I'm pretty sure that's not the situation because I remarked more than once that I wish I had a deeper red color. The the inside was never exposed to light, and you can really tell there. So... wish granted, I suppose. Though it's a bit of a nightmare to pay $50 for this thing...

Two iPhone Cases... One deep red, the other tomato red.
Newer, deeper red case is on the left... old tomato case on the right.

Two iPhone Cases... One deep red, the other tomato red.
Newer, deeper red case is on the RIGHT this time... old tomato case on the left.

CONCLUSION
Camera features aide, this isn't an essential upgrade. I probably wouldn't have bothered if I weren't in the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. That being said, the new cameras are pretty sweet. Not a revolutionary change... but an incremental step that's worth taking if you're serious about mobile phone photography.

But before we go...

ABOUT THAT APPLE WATCH PAIRING FIASCO
Same thing that happened last year. My new iPhone recognizes that I have an Apple Watch. It asks me if I'd like to pair it. I start the process by pointing the camera at my watch face while dots swim around it. A few minutes later I get an error message saying that my watch can't be paired. Then I go to the Watch app on my old phone to unpair the watch only to find out that the old phone can't find the watch to unpair it. Then I have to physically factory reset my watch entirely so I can start all over from scratch, which sucks copious amounts of ass because then I lose all my settings and credit cards and have to start all over again. This is so fucking stupid. Apple maintains the illusion that upgrading your phone is this simple, easy process... which it appear to be. Until it's not. God it's infuriating. Such a monumentally stupid, frustrating experience from start to finish, and it gets to the point where I'm ready to set my fucking watch on fire rather than have to deal with this shit. For the second year in a row! Next time I upgrade I'll try unpairing before transferring. If that works, I'm just going to be even more mad that Apple doesn't tell you to do that in the first place. But shouldn't they really find a way to make this work as designed? And isn't it absurdly embarrassing that it doesn't work as designed in the first place?

And lastly...

CARRIER UPGRADE FEE
Despite the fact that T-Mobile didn't have to do a fucking thing when I transferred to a new phone, they still charge an activation fee (despite it being completely automated). It's a cash grab that all the carriers do, and it's rage-inducing. I don't know what the fee is (I think T-Mobile charges $30... AT&T charged me $50) but anything more than $0 is too much. I know for a fact that I will be screaming "FUCK YOU, YOU ASSHOLES!" at my bill when I get it. Hopefully I remember to go out to my car so I don't scare the cats.

See ya when my new MacBook Pro MAX arrives, fellow Apple whores!

   

Caturday 233

Posted on Saturday, November 6th, 2021

Dave!Saturdays aren't just Caturday on my blog... they're Caturday at home too. It's the day that I steam-clean the cat feeding station... wash down and fill the automated feeders... soak and scrub the water fountain... empty and wipe down the Litter-Robots... and wash the covers of the warming pads. It's nice to have a routine so I know that everything is ship-shape and clean for Jake and Jenny for the coming week.

Not that I could ever forget to take care of them. Whenever I'm home they are always with me. Since hot air rises, I spend much of my time upstairs where it's warmer. The cats never pass up a shot to sleep while I'm working or reading in bed...

Kitties sleeping with me on the bed.

Jake crashed on the bed.

Kitties sleeping with me on the bed.

Kitties sleeping with me on the bed.

Jake crashed on the bed.

They're not always sleeping though. The other day Jenny was trying to give herself a pedicure, but her foot kept slipping away. So I decided to give her a hand and hold it up for her...

Jenny trimming her nails with a little help for me.

And now I have to deal with the worst night of the year for pet owners... the end of Daylight Saving Time, when tomorrow Jake and Jenny will not understand (or care) why their breakfast is an hour late. Lord how I hate dicking with the clocks twice a year. It's so senseless.

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Bullet Sunday 737

Posted on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Dave!I may be dealing with some very upset cats now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, but fear not... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• MEME! One of my all-time favorite memes... if not my most favorite... is the "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme (taken from 30 Rock) by Steve Buscemi. This year for Halloween he went AS HIS OWN MEME, and it's glorious...

Steve Buscemi dressed as his own meme for Halloween.
Photo from @DebraWexler_ on Twitter.

And if, somehow, you've never seen the original context for this meme... here you go!

I've always been a fan of Steve Buscemi. The guy ran to Ground Zero after the 9-11 terrorist attacks to search for survivors. He was a firefighter before becoming an actor and wanted to help out. He's had my respect ever since. On top of that he's a great actor. Every time he pops up, you know his part is going to be interesting... or hilarious.

   
• MATH DUEL, FIGHT! I am not a mathematician. I just don't have the headspace to get into the maths is requires. But the history of mathematics is something I absolutely love. Most all the discoveries and advancements made have some fascinating and highly entertaining stories around them. The Veritasium YouTube channel excels at bringing these stories to life in a way that's interesting even if you have no idea about the maths. This new one is really good...

I mean... come on. There's always been drama since the dawn of humanity. There's drama in The Bible, for heaven's sake. But back before the internet and telephones, it was some truly bizarre shit. And I love it!

   
• 80's TV! I love love love Acapulco on Apple TV+. This is a "behind-the-scenes" video that gives you a taste of what the show is about...

It's actually a sequel (of sorts) to the movie How To Be a Latin Lover, but you don't need to have seen it in order to enjoy this series. Highly recommended.

   
• Pink! I went to watch The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime Video only to find out it's yet another freakin' "zero" non-episode. Then I saw Amazon was recommending a movie I never heard of called Touch of Pink. And it's truly bizarre. Jimi Mistry plays a gay guy who escaped his traditional Muslim family in Toronto by moving to London, England. He's in a relationship there and their lives are thrown into disarray when his conservative mother comes to visit. What makes it different than dozens of other movies following this formula is that Jimi Mistry has an imaginary friend... who is CARY GRANT?!? Played by Kyle MacLachlan?!? It's actually kinda charming, and Jimi's mom is fantastic...

But here's the real surprise.... as I was watching I was all "What the heck ever happened to Jimi Mistry?" Turns out he fell in love with his dance partner from an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and they moved to the countryside to become farmers! The guy hasn't done any acting since 2015! Hope he's happy in his life away from our screens and televisions.

   
• Alexa Say What? Why are we constantly settling for crappy apps that we pay for? All I wanted was to listen to the Kylie Minogue track Better the Devil You Know when I got home. I don't know much about her, but I love this one song. I had INXS on in my car, and it reminded me of the rumor that the Kylie track was about Michael Hutchence. So I tell Alexa to play it when I walk in the door. Instead of just playing the song I want, it starts playing... well... SOMETHING. I'm guessing it's some kind of remix or whatnot, but since the Amazon Alexa app is 100% SHIT, you can't even read what the hell it's playing...

Echo displays an incomprehensible mishmash of chopped text to show what's playing.

After yelling different ways (ORIGINAL! LIVE! OLD VERSION!) I finally just play it via the YouTube music video on my phone. Does anybody on Amazon's dev team actually use their own app? Because surely they would notice this, right?

   
• SCIENCE! So the reason I hate broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts can be explained by actial science! Bitter salad greens like arugula and kale are awful to me. And now we know why. Probably the same thing that makes some people think that cilantro tastes like soap?

   
• Pro! What happens when Apple stops treating the MacBook Pro as a vanity project and actually builds something that has what professionals need to get real work done...

I've been waiting for this for nearly a decade.

   
And now back to our regular Day Light Saved programming...

   

We’re All On The Losing Team

Posted on Monday, November 8th, 2021

Dave!It's frustrating that we have media which is so badly polarized that it's impossible to get an unbiased read on current events. There's painfully obvious bias going on, with the problem being that many people don't seem to realize that. I know folks on both sides of the spectrum who would swear up and down that their news is "unbiased" (or, putting it another way, "Fair and Balanced") and I honestly don't know how they can say that with a straight face. Either they are saying it because they want to believe it, which is understandable... confirmation bias is a real thing... or they are saying it because they actually believe it, which is all kinds of dangerous.

In some ways, I actually prefer it when a news source is unabashedly Right or Left because they're making no pretense as to where they stand on the issues. You know where their pandering is and you can factor it into your thinking as you consume whatever media they're putting out there.

In some cases, there's issues which are neither Right or Left... they just quite simply are... but the only take you're going to get is one from the Right or the Left. It's enough to drive one mad.

Take for instance America's failing power grid.

This is a subject so deadly serious that everybody everywhere regardless of their political leanings should consider it of National importance and an essential thing to be investing in and safeguarding. Yet neither progressive nor conservative talking points address it with the seriousness which it should be taken. On the Right you have "privatization" as the answer (which is laughable given what happened in Texas recently)... and on the Left you have a bizarre mish-mash of wanting to invest in Green energy without understanding exactly why that's not a catch-all solution for every situation (honestly, you can't just shout "GREEN ENERGY" every fucking time the matter of our energy needs comes up and be taken seriously).

Last Week Tonight had one of the best takes I've seen last night despite being hardcore Left in its leaning. It should be considered essential viewing if you plan on using electricity in the future...

Now, there are some issues here that are not fully explored... there's only so much you can fit in a segment like this... but the entire point behind the story is solid. And that is that this country is heading to a major crisis that could have serious impact on all aspects of society.

But how do you explain this to somebody whose viewpoint has been crafted by the media they adhere to for their "news?"

It's virtually impossible.

This is easy to see when you look at the reactions to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was recently passed. Infrastructure has been a ball that's been kicked down the field for decades by Republicans and Democrats. Everybody says they want to do something about our roads disintegrating, our bridges falling apart, and so many other horrible problems... but they don't want the financial blowback attributed to them, so that ball gets kicked down the field for the next guy to deal with. This is such a horrible thing to have happen because it only gets more expensive the longer you put off dealing with it. But now President Biden picked up that ball and ran with it because we're quickly getting to the point that something HAS to be done. As you would expect, Democrats are touting this as something on-par to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ... while Republicans are saying it's clearly a sign that Satan has won, and our country is officially in the grips of Socialism.

Truth be told... it's actually somewhere in the middle.

And while I have loads of things I can be critical of President Biden for, the infrastructure spending is not one of them.

Mostly because $73 billion of that $1 trillion goes towards modernizing the U.S. power grid.

Feel how you want about JaBiden, I honestly don't care. But the fact that he's finally actually doing something about some very serious problems we have ignored for far too long deserves respect. And that's regardless of your politics. Because it was a politically suicidal thing to do even if it was the right thing to do.

We're running out of field for that ball to be kicked down. A goal is iminent. The game is about to be won.

And, in this case, that's not a good thing because we're all on the losing team.

   

Buh Bye, Tomato!

Posted on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Dave!I have many times sang the praises* of the iPhone Upgrade Program. It allows you to make monthly interest-free payments on the iPhone of your choice... then you can either trade it in after a year and upgrade to a new model... or you can finish out your two years of payments and keep it. This really is the best of both worlds. When the next model iPhone comes out, you get to decide whether or not it's worth it to start all over with two years of payments or skip a year and own your phone.I just like that the program means I can afford a top-of-the-line model. Maybe you have $1,100 laying around to go buy one, but I sure don't, so this is the only way I was getting an iPhone 13 Pro MAX.

Today was the day I prepped my old iPhone 12 Pro MAX for return to Apple.

It's been a good phone, I've gotten a lot of use out of it, and I've enjoyed having it, so I'm a little bit sentimental about having to part with Tomato (the name I gave him because of his tomato-red case). Back when I first used the program to upgrade, I Googled to find out what happens to returned iPhones. I found a YouTube video (since removed) which explained that more recent models in good condition have components replaced to get refurbished, then get sold. If your iPhone is too old or too busted to be refurbished, Apple takes it apart and salvages what materials they can so they can turn them into more modern parts for newer models. Pretty slick. And a good investment for Apple, since they can continue to make money off of phones that were already purchased!

My iPhones get slapped into cases the minute I unbox them, so they get returned in prestine like-new condition. I'm relatively confident that they get refurbished and resold, which means somebody is getting a terrific phone at a discounted price. Which is far better than chucking the thing in a cabinet with the rest of my old iPhones to collect dust.

My return box arrives tomorrow. At which time it will be buh bye Tomato.

Hopefully your new owner likes you as much as I did.

   
*WARNING: DO NOT GO TO THE APPLE STORE TO TRADE IN YOUR iPHONE! ABSOLUTELY 100% DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. WHEN I DID THIS, THEY DIDN'T LOG MY PHONE AS HAVING BEEN RETURNED SO APPLE SAID THEY WERE GOING TO BILL ME FOR BOTH PHONES SINCE I DECIDED TO KEEP IT. THIS TOOK *MONTHS* TO GET STRAIGHTENED OUT. MONTHS!!! HOURS OF WASTED TIME TALKING TO APPLE SUPPORT... AND GETTING HUNG UP ON. HOURS OF WASTED TIME TRYING TO TALK TO THE APPLE STORE. HOURS OF SENDING EMAILS. IT WAS HANDS-DOWN ONE OF THE WORST EXPERIENCES I'VE HAD WITH ANY COMPANY EVER! SO UNTIL APPLE STARTS HANDING OUT RECEIPTS FOR TRADE-INS AT THE APPLE STORE, HAVE YOUR NEW PHONE DELIVERED SO THEY CAN SEND YOU A RETURN BOX WITH A TRACKING NUMBER! DO *NOT* MAKE THE MISTAKE I DID!

   

I Am Team Zissou

Posted on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Dave!Wes Anderson has such a unique and wonderful voice when it comes to his films that he's long been one of my favorite writer/directors. He got my attention with his first film Bottle Rocket. I greatly enjoyed his follow-up film, Rushmore. His take on The Royal Tenenbaums showed that his first two films were no fluke and he was honing his craft. But it wasn't until his fourth film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou that I fell in love with Anderson's craft. It was so unique, so bizarre, so wonderful that I didn't have any choice but to love the movie...

It doesn't hurt that the casting was impeccable. The Life Aquatic stars Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, an oceanographer documentary filmmaker who was once celebrated, but has seen his star fallen. The movie kicks into gear as Steve debuts his latest film about the "Leopard Shark" who ate his longtime friend and collaborator while on an expedition. At the premiere of his film, Steve says that his next work will be a "Part Two" where he hunts down the shark and kills it for revenge.

You also get Anjelica Houston as his wife, Owen Wilson as the son he never met, Cate Blanchet as a reporter along to document the documentary, Willem Dafoe as his German shipmate, Jeff Goldblum as his arch-rival documentarian, and Michael Gambon as his agent.

Plus you get Seu Jorge as Pelé, the ship's trubador who sings David Bowie songs in Portugeuse throughout the story, which is as amazing as you'd think it would be.

The thing that makes this quirky film so utterly charming is the wild (and impossible) ocean creatures you get to see. They're colorful, wonderful creations from Wes Anderson's imagination that couldn't exist in Real Life, but seem perfectly at home in The Life Aquatic. But my favorite thing would have to be the massive set of Steve's ship, The Belafonte. Whenever you are inside the ship, you are actually on a set for the entire ship that's been split in half. This means the camera can follow the characters as they walk around the ship. And it's glorious...

It's kinda telling that The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was a bit of a flop at the box office. Critics weren't very kind (it currently holds a 56% "Rotten" crticis rating on Rotten Tomatoes... the lowest of all his films), though the moviegoers who saw it loved the thing (82% audience score). I think it just goes to show that jaded critics lack the wonder and imagination needed to truly appreciate it.

I watched the movie a couple months ago in anticipation of Wes Anderson's next film... The French Dispatch. But then this afternoon I saw an Adidas ad, it reminded me of the Team Zissou Limited Edition sneakers that Adidas actually made for the film, and sold as a promo to go along with it, so I was compelled to watch it again...

The Steve Zissou Limited Edition Adidas Shoes!

Always time well-spent. If you haven't seen this cinematic gem, it's worth a look. I think Hulu currently has it available for streaming.

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WEBSITE NOT FOUND!

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2021

Dave!My website is coming back as "WEBSITE NOT FOUND" half the time... but if I reload, it's all there. I can only guess that it's my cache plugin acting even more weird than ever? The PROBLEM is that when I go to send POSTS to Blogography my blogging software can't find the site either. This is bad when I get an error... very, very bad when my posts seem to go through, but are, in fact, LOST FOR ALL ETERNITY!

So... what to do? Turn off the cache plugin so that I stop having problems... or leave it on because otherwise my blog will go down any time it gets an increase in traffic?

I'm leaning towards turning it off, but I'll have to look into that next week, because my schedule is stacked.

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Bus Boy Shang-Chi Watch Party

Posted on Friday, November 12th, 2021

Dave!I am still not stepping foot into theaters. A part of me wonders if I ever will again. Because I have to say... I like watching movies at home far, far more than I do going to a theater. Like... frickin' MILES more.

Quentin Tarantino recently made a plea about supporting movie theaters thusly... "You have an experience with a bunch of strangers. And at that moment, once the movie gets going, once the lights are down, you become a collective.” And I'm like... yeah, but it's the other people that makes going to the theater such a shitty experience. And that was BEFORE the pandemic! People talking. People texting. People taking phone calls. People yelling at their kids. People putting their feet up on your seat or kicking it. People being assholes. THAT'S WHAT I HATE ABOUT THE THEATER. And since people now-a-days are more awful and less considerate with each passing day, I'll take a big ol' pass at paying a lot of money for a shitty experience. I have a very nice home theater system where there's nobody to ruin the movie for me. Love your movies, Quentin... but... well... sorry. I can wait 2 to 4 months to avoid being tortured.

And while I was tempted to see Shang-Chi in theaters because I wanted to see it so bad (something I am currently struggling with when it comes to Eternals and will struggle with again when it comes to Spider-Man: No Way Home), I held fast.

But I'm still supporting the movie. I bought a copy on the iTunes Store today ($20, cheap!), but will repeat-watch on Disney+ to be sure that it gets my views (besides, Disney+ is showing the IMAX-filled scenes in near-full-screen height, which is an added bonus).

And now we can watch together, yay!

Buying Shang-Chi on iTunes!

Purchased Shang-Chi on iTunes!

Buying Shang-Chi on iTunes!

My spoiler-filled type-along with my second viewing of the film is in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Caturday 234

Posted on Saturday, November 13th, 2021

Dave!The last week has been very hard.

I was giving the cats a small treat at 6:00am... then 6:10am... then 6:20am... and so on until they got over Daylight Saving Time ending and were adjusted to their new one-hour-later feeding schedule. It's had mediocre success... or failure, I guess... which has resulted in Jake and Jenny getting violent with each other. Hissing, clawing, biting, chasing, and the whole deal. Same as it's been for the past four years. When they think that they aren't going to be fed, they take out their frustration on each other, which is SO difficult for me to take since they are usually so good with each other. This photo was taken the week before DST ended, and it's awful that it's not going to possible for a while until they are fully adjusted...

Jake and Jenny looking out the catio door flap together.

Rather than patiently looking around Jenny to see what's going on outisde in the catio... Jake would visciously attack her if it's anywhere near where his feeding time used to be.

For the past couple of mornings Jenny has come in at 5:55am and meowed for a while because she still wants her 6:55am breakfast at DST 6:55am, dammit!

If I didn't have a strict medication schedule which dictates when I can eat... then I would just forget about DST ending and keep the cats on DST permanently (LIKE WASHINGTON STATE HAS ALREADY VOTED TO DO, BUT FUCKING CONGRESS HAS TO APPROVE IT AND WE KNOW THAT THEY DON'T DO SHIT, SO I'M NOT HOLDING MY FUCKING BREATH!). But my eating times have to sync with the cats eating times so they don't want my food, and so it is what it is.

I'm just terrified that their violent behavior will "stick" one year and they won't go back to being the sweet brother and sister they've been to each other from the start.

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Bullet Sunday 738

Posted on Sunday, November 14th, 2021

Dave!I may be dealing with some very upset cats now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, but fear not... because a Very Special Disney+ Day Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hawkeye! So many tantalizing glimpses into this series, which appears to be adapting one of the best comic book arcs of all history... Matt Fraction & David Aja's Hawkeye. The Marvel Disney+ Day Special. I was positively giddy watching the footage. Jeremy Renner just has the character nailed and Haley Stansfield looks like all kinds of fun as Kate Bishop...

If you even like comics a little bit and haven't read through the Fraction/Aja run, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

   
• Moon Knight! This is one of the more complex characters in the Marvel comics, so it was a smart decision to make sure that they got an actor with the talent to make it happen... Oscar Isaac.

From the looks of it, they are totally going in on Marc Spector's multiple personalities and struggles with mental challenges. I cannot wait to see how this unfolds.

   
• She-Hulk! When it comes to characters that don't get the credit they deserve, No. 1 on the list is Aquaman. He's been partially redeemed by his movie, but many people still think that he's a wasted character whose only super-power is "talking to fish." No. 2 is Hawkeye. He's actually an incredible character in the right hands but is perceived as being useless. No. 3 on the list is She-Hulk. Make no mistake... she was pretty redundant and boring in the comics for a long while. But then John Byrne took over her book and completely revolutionized it. You know how Deadpool is always breaking the 4th wall and speaking to the audience because he knows he's in a comic/movie? Byrne's She-Hulk did it first. And the result was just as good. But most people don't know this, so she gets dismissed. Until now...

It looks like they are keeping the whole "break the 4th wall" thing that made her famous. Which will undoubtedly upset the fanboys because they'll think she's copying Deadpool. Oh well. I am looking forward to this show not because I love the character, but because I love the actor playing her... Tatiana Maslany. That promises to be very interesting.

   
• Ms. Marvel! I never know how to feel when a character is changed in the name of diversity. On one hand... are creators so bankrupt of ideas that they can't come up with new characters to add diversity and have to recycle old ones? But on the other hand... recycling instantly establishes a new character in a recognizable role. Ultimately I'm for anything they can do to make comics more diverse (it's just so damn tired that 98% of everything is cisgender, heterosexual, and white). And sometimes it's done so well that recycling is actually successful. They made Amadeus Cho be The Hulk and they made Miles Morales be Spider-Man... both of which were done really well. So well that they eventually became their own thing. But my absolute favorite change in the name of diversity? Ms. Marvel. For those not in the know, Carol Danvers used to be Ms. Marvel before she became Captain Marvel. Then a young Muslim girl, Kamala Khan, (who is a fan of Captain Marvel) adopted her old Ms. Marvel identity when she got super-powers. The comics are fantastic, and now we're getting a series on Disney+...


Kamala Khan will also be in The Marvels movie, so I think the character might be around for a while. Thank heavens.

   
• And More Marvel! All we got for the other series in development were title cards... I am Groot, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, What If: Season 2, Echo, Loki: Season 2, Ironheart, Agatha: House of Harkness, Armor Wars, and Secret Invasion. Interesting to note that a series for Agatha Harkness had only been rumored, but is now confirmed. Can't wait to see Kathryn Hahn unleashed for that!

   
• Ciao Alberto! Few movies have sucked me in as quickly as Luca did. It was just phenomenally beautifully animated, and I spent hours freeze-framing to study it (then bought the Art of Luca book to study it even more). For Disney+ Day, they released a short 8-minute film showing what happens to Alberto after Luca leaves for school...

It's wonderful. And as gorgeous as the film. To get a full series of just this would be fantastic... so fingers crossed this was just testing the waters.

   
• Cars on the Road! It's hard to believe that there's a Pixar franchise I don't like... but it would be Cars. Larry the Cable Guy and Owen Wilson will be reprising their roles in a new cross-country series for the world of Cars which might be interesting? I dunno. I liked the first movie a little, and it's been diminishing returns ever since.

   
• Baymax! My favorite Pixar character is Sully from Monsters Inc.... my second favorite is Baymax from Big Hero 6. Sadly, I haven't liked anything to come out of the Monsters franchise since the original... but it looks like they nailed the new Baymax! series...

Yeah. I'll totally be tuning in to that.

   
• Turning Red! Not only does this movie look really good. It's also stunningly animated. So beautifully nuanced in every single scene. JUST LOOK AT THIS...

AND THIS...

This is Pixar returning to form, and I am here for it.

   
• Tiana! When it comes to the Disney Princess set, it's pretty cool that The Princess and the Frog gave us a hero in Tiana. She was beautifully realized and had some terrific moments. Now she's getting her own movie, but we know precious little about it. Other than it takes place after the movie.

   
• Star Wars! If there's a Disney property that got royally screwed, it's Star Wars and the Lucasfilm stuff. Yeah, we got a charming look at the cast for the Willow series. Yeah, there was a brief check-in on Obi-Wan. But about all we really got was a complete retread of Boba Fett material in a "Special Look" that had new insights from the people working on The Book of Boba Fett series...

That show doesn't arrive until December 29. After that it's anybody's guess as to when we're getting Season 03 of The Mandalorian, Season 01 of Obi-Wan, Season 01 of Ashoka, Season 01 of The Acolyte, Season 01 of Lando, and... the series I most want to see... Season 01 of Andor. I doubt all of them will be released in 2022, so some of them will undoubtedly end up all the way in 2023. That's lean pickings for Star Wars fans.

   
• Prey! One of the 20th Century Fox properties that Disney got in the purchase was Predator. To be honest, I haven't cared much for anything that followed the original Schwarzenegger flick. The Danny Glover sequel was okay, I guess. But Predators and The Predator were pretty weak. The Alien vs. Predator flicks were even worse. Now Disney is shunting a new Predator movie to Hulu called Prey. The concept is solid... it's set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago... but I'm not letting my hopes get too high.

   
• Jungle Cruise! In addition to Disney+ releasing Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, they also dropped the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt movie Jungle Cruise. I thought it was... okay? I mean, it was really well-made. The special effects were great. The casting was perfect. And it was entertaining. It's just that it felt that it needed a story that was a little more streamlined. It was all twists and turns and set-up to a big reveal that ended up being inconsequential. It's like why?

Like I said... it was okay. I don't regret the time I spent watching it. I just wish that the people behind the movies like this would edit themselves a little better. At each point they should be asking Why are we doing this? Does it make the story better? Is it necessary? Sadly, too much of the time in Jungle Cruise the answer is "no."

   
Whew. I'm too exhausted for anyone more bullets!

   

Red Notice Roadshow

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2021

Dave!I love Ryan Reynolds so much that my cat is named after him... "Jake Ryan Reynolds Simmer." He's just sheer entertainment from start to finish, and even though he's basically the same character in all his movies... I honestly don't care. He partnered with Netflix for the great movie Six Underground (which I'm still hoping gets a sequel) and now a new movie, Red Notice with The Rock and Wonder Woman. It was, as expected, highly entertaining...

Red Notice Poster.

Of course the critics gave it bad reviews because they don't give a shit about having fun at the movies, but I really enjoyed it. And it's apparently the biggest streaming debut Netflix has ever had, so there's that.

And now there's this... which might not make sense unless you've seen the movie...

I think the movies left on my 2021 Bucket List are Eternals, Spiderman: No Way Home, and Matrix: Resurrection. Fortunately I can see The Matrix on HBO Max, but I'm not sure if I'll risk a trip to the theaters for the other two.

Maybe?

   

Spicy Bloodbath

Posted on Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Dave!Last night when I got home I was all excited because I was planning on cooking rice noodles with blackened green beans in a spicy sauce and had been thinking about it all day.

So there I was getting all the ingredients out and the Sriracha fell off the counter. It's in a plastic bottle, so I just ignored it while I got everything else out.

THE CAP ON THE SRIRACHA BROKE OFF AND PLASTERED MY KITCHEN WITH A SPICY BLOODBATH OF RED SAUCE!

After 20 minutes of scrubbing down my kitchen, I was like "Meh. Guess a cheese sandwich is good."

I don't even know why I try any more. This is what my life just is now.

Then this evening as I was bending over to put dinner down for Jake and Jenny, I saw that the Sriracha splashed under the counters and I still had more cleaning to do. This time when it's dried and caked on.

I really need to wrap everything I own in bubble wrap. It's the only way I'm safe in my own home.

   

Foxy Opossum Rabbit Hole

Posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

Dave!I'm too tired to function and it's all TikTok's fault. As you might have guessed by the video below, I fell down another TikTok rabbit hole before bed last night.

The look on this opossum’s face kill’s me. “He fainted, so I thought I’d tell you about opossums while he wakes up!”

@fishlikemike PSA: Opossums are not bad (educational video, do not pick them up) #opossum #mammals #marsupial #northamerica #animals #education #hiking #outdoors ♬ original sound - fishlikemike

AND THEN THERE'S THIS...

@andarius1

♬ original sound - andarius

=sigh= I pretty much live for this sort of distraction in thie pandemic world we live in.

   

Walking Tall… and Boxy

Posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Dave!I got a notification that my iPhone trade-in was received by Apple and is in excellent condition, so my Upgrade Program return requirements are now closed and I'm good for another year. So happy that upgrading via mail works so seamlessly as opposed to the TOTAL FUCKING NIGHTMARE that ensued when I upgraded at the Apple Store. Never again.

Today I went to get my snow tires put on. It was an absolute mad-house, because we're supposed to get snow this weekend. I had made my appointment over a month-and-a-half ago, so I was covered... but apparently there was a line out the door when they opened up, so people were mad that all the walk-in appointments were gone.

Turns out that two of my tires didn't have enough tread on them, and the other two had 80%, so I ended up having to spend $268 to get the two replaced. Ouch. But... better to part with some of my sweet, sweet cash than to be unsafe on the roads. Still... ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FOUR DOLLARS PER TIRE?!? I mean, I always go for the mid-grade stuff, nothing fancy, so how?. I could have sworn they were $68 last time, which means they've doubled in price? Yikes. Life is too expensive any more.

I am not somebody who's into fashion. Honestly I'm not. I wear jeans, T-shirts, and maybe an occasional henley or a button-down shirt.

That being said, I want a really nice light jacket and am willing to pay for it. BUT EVERY SINGLE ONE I FIND THAT I LIKE IS NOT AVAILABLE IN TALL SIZES! It's next-level frustrating. I am sick and tired of having sleeves that aren't long enough. And when I do find tall sizes, they usually have long torsos, which look silly. I'd like a fitted light jacket that ends at the waist, has long sleeves that taper, but then flare out at the wrist so I can wear gloves underneath. And I'd really like zippers on the cuffs in case I want to wear heavy gloves. And if it can look nice and not painfully plain and basic, that would be a plus.

Doesn't exist.

Which makes me really, really want to buy some patterns that I could alter so I can design and sew exactly what I want. Problem is, my sewing machine can't sew through thick fabrics... like multiple layers of denim... so I don't even know that I could do that. Even so? I'd like to try. Maybe I could design one out of regular fabric, then turn the pattern over to somebody with a capable machine or something. Because I'm not going to pay a premium price for an ill-fitting, boxy-looking, long-torso jacket any more.

And, last thought of the day... #NotAllMen...

@mortgage_mike Not all men are dumb #men #guys #dumb #millennial ♬ Surrender - Natalie Taylor

Pretty much me, any time I start to think I have a handle on life.

   

Scooby-Doo THIS!

Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2021

Dave!I am not terribly thrilled that Marvel is going the "Multiverse" route with their films. The need to make sure that the earlier Spider-Man movies are a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dragging us backwards rather than taking us forward by cutting them loose. Will it be nice to see Alfred Molina as Doc Ock again? Sure. But at the expense of miring the MCU with the silly idea that Peter Parker looks completely different in the different universes? It makes no sense.

But here we go anyway...

In addition to Alfred Molina, we're definitely getting Willen DaFoe as Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx as Electro. And it looks like we're getting Rhys Ifans as The Lizard and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman... though those could just be CGI additions with no connection to the actual actors.

But it's like... why?

Why not create new versions of these characters that are closely tied to what Marvel Studios is doing now? Does this mean that these characters will never appear in the MCU proper because they are from a different universe? That doesn't seem too smart.

It seems likely all of this is to keep Sony happy, since they have the Spider-Man movie rights tied up and, technically, the character is on-loan to Marvel. The Multiverse allows them to have Spider-Man back for their Venom movies and such while still allowing Spider-Man to move forward with Marvel Studio films. It's a profitable double-dip. Assuming Tom Holland wants to continue on. Though this could also all be a set-up to give us Miles Morales Spider-Man.

They really should have let DC Comics hang on to this bad idea in their The Flash movie and kept moving forward with the success they had been having.

Oh well. Dr. Strange looks to be having a great time in the movie, so perhaps that will be compensation for what feels like a big blunder. But who knows? Maybe Marvel has figured it all out so that it's actually a good thing.

   

Caturday 235

Posted on Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Dave!Jake and Jenny finally seem to be adjusting to the end of Daylight Saving Time. There's a bit more harmony... a lot less fighting, hissing, and chasing. On the contrary, they actually seem to be fine with each other.

When I checked in on them yesterday afternoon, THEY WERE GIVING EACH OTHER BATHS AND SLEEPING ON MY BED NEXT TO EACH OTHER! I stopped making my bed ages ago because Jake likes having a berm to rest up against, and now I know that Jenny does as well...

Jake and Jenny sleeping on my messy bed.

Jenny has also stopped running off with Mufasa (as often), which makes me a lot less worried about leaving for work. It's more than a little heartbreaking looking at the security cameras and seeing Jake wandering around crying because he can't find his toy lion.

Lately I've been setting Mufasa at the bottom of the stairs when I run across him so that when Jake wants it, he will have a place to start looking...

Because if I were to just give it to him every time I find it, he'll just set it down and forget where he put it... so this seems a smarter way to go.

Jake standing guard over Mufasa.

Though, as with most things to do with cats, being smarter isn't always the advantage you'd think it would be.

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Bullet Sunday 739

Posted on Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Dave!It may be snowing out my window, but it will always be warm here at Blogography... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Sweet! Huh. M&M'S USA Sugar Cookie tastes just like a sugar cookie! Weird!

But... cool. And tasty.

   
• Pep! One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of HBO Max was the four-episode Adventure Time: Distant Lands episodes. As a massive fan of Adventure Time, it was so great seeing more from the show after it went away. Every episode was absolutely brilliant, and this last one... featuring Peppermint Butler called Wizard City is my favorite of the bunch...

I really hope that we get another season, because all these episodes did was make me want more Adventure Time!

   
• Simu! I don't know if Simu Liu inspired everybody or what, but last night's Saturday Night Live was one of the best episodes in a while...

The fact that every once in a while SNL is actually good kind of messes with my head. So many times it's mostly not funny and a waste of time.

   
• Man Park! Speaking of SNL, this sketch from last week was about the only bright spot in an otherwise forgettable episode...

I become more and more a fan of Pete Davidson with every sketch he's in like this.

   
• Homeopathy! Welp...

This was really well done (as are all the Kurzgesagt videos) and I like how they actually acknowledge that there are things that can be learned from homeopathy, which is true from many things that are ultimately nonsense. Beneath it all, the nonsense is believed because there's something there being addressed which is not being addressed otherwise.

   
• Gravy! This had me laughing way harder than I should have...

@marcwinski #duet with @justinrileyyy Gravy Sales #joke #share #food #fyp #thanksgiving ♬ Aww just gravy - Justin Riley

   
• Rant Rant! From ScreenRant: Shang-Chi's Ending Repeats A Problem We Thought The MCU Had Evolved Past. — Spoiler Alert... they say that "As mentioned before, many of the MCU's final acts have largely been flashy CGI battles."WELL NO SHIT! THAT'S WHAT THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE UP BILLION-DOLLAR BOX OFFICE RECEIPTS WANT TO SEE! What would you like Marvel to do? Have Shang-Chi hug it out with his dad when the guy shows up at the end and then walk off into the sunset? These are COMIC BOOK MOVIES! Have you ever READ a comic book? CGI has finally gotten to the point where the massively cool battles that we've been seeing in comic books for decades CAN ACTUALLY BE CREATED FOR MOVIES! So why would Marvel Studios not do that? Why fix what ain't broken? The final battle in Shang-Chi was absolutely epic and a blast to watch. The CGI team killed it. Beautiful, thrilling, comic-book-come-to-life, over-the-top action. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WANT FROM A COMIC BOOK MOVIE! If I want emotionally-driven drama, I'll watch something else. And if that's what you're looking for, I suggest you do the same. We've come a long, long way from when The X-Men battled frickin' WATER in their second movie. THEY FOUGHT WATER!!! ACTUAL WATER WAS THE FRICKIN' BATTLE AT THE END! And we don't want to go back to that pathetic crap. Now that Marvel Studios finally have The X-Men movie rights back, I am absolutely dying to see what we get out of the films they're dreaming up. Lord God please let it be massive CGI battles in the sky!

   
And that's a wrap on snowy bullets... they're already melting.

   

MacBook Pro M1 MAX First Look

Posted on Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Dave!And he's here!*

As I mentioned a while back, I had enough Apple Cash saved that I could afford to get a new MacBook Pro M1 MAX laptop (with trade-in). When my base-model iMac with an M1 chip can run circles around my Intel chip laptop, it's a performance gain that I simply cannot ignore. I use my laptop for serious work far too often, and time/speed equals money.

Which is to say he's money and he's pretty...

And let me tell you... this thing is a frickin' beast. Not just for M1-optimized apps, but for all apps... even old apps running under emulation. Which is not surprising. The GeekBench score for my old laptop was 1010/5293. The GeekBench for my new laptop? 1764/12380. That's 75% faster for single-core processes and a whopping 134% faster for multi-core processes. But those are just numbers. The more important metric is that my new MacBook Pro feels faster.

Like, a lot a lot faster.**

And now, because I'm sure you're dying to know my thoughts, here we go...

DESIGN
The look of the laptop is gorgeous... but different that what we've come to expect from Apple in recent years. It's actually looks a bit retro to me because it reminds me of my beloved Titanium PowerBook G4 (which was way ahead of its time)...


2021 new hotness on the left, 2001 retro goodness on the right

Instead of tapering to the edges, the new model is flat all the way out. And while it isn't much bigger than my old 16-inch model, the flatter stylings makes it look a little more "chunky" by comparison. Given my love of the TiBook, I don't hate it at all. I am using this laptop to work, so if the trade-off for ditching a curvy chassis is more battery life and a more powerful machine? WHO GIVES A SHIT?! Yeah, it's a more utilitarian look, but that's the hit for what a pro machine should be. If I want thin and curvy at the expense of performance, I'll buy a MacBook Air. Apple has gotten this wrong for far too long. But whereas the look is fine... the extra weight takes some getting used to. It's not just a hair heavier than my old one, it's noticeably heavier (by nearly a half-pound). But, again, I'll gladly take the extra weight if it means I am getting pro performance and great battery life. 100% worth it. Apple also made the Apple logo bigger on the lid, which is just pure cool points. As you can see in the above photo, it's back to the size it used to be. Note that the name "MacBook Pro" is nowhere to be found on the display bezel like it used to be... it's emboss-stamped on the bottom. Also impossibly cool.

DISPLAY
The "Super-Retina" display on my 2019-era laptop was very nice. I have zero complaints. Vivid, bright, accurate... it's everything I could want. Until I saw the new one. The deep blacks and clean highlights creates a stunning contrast that makes stuff look amazing. The color is full-HDR-native, which means I can edit in HDR colorspace right on the laptop, something that I could only do with a special external monitor before. This thing is gorgeous. It makes my old display look positively dim by comparison. So bright. So rich. So responsive. And that responsiveness is due to the 120hz adaptive display rate which makes things buttery-smooth when scrolling or dragging. I honestly didn't think I would notice it that much, but now I have a tough time going back to a 60hz display. It just feels wrong. The small bezels on the side of the display are great because they maximize your real estate. The rounded corners at the top (which don't eat into the screen because it's in the menu bar) look classy as hell. An interesting aside... the native resolution of the display is so dense that it feels easier to "read" than my old one despite elements being slightly smaller. Things that could get a little fuzzy on my 2019 model are razor sharp now. That's pleasing to my aging eyes. Putting all the other benefits aside, the display alone makes me happy that I upgraded.

THE NOTCH & CAMERA
First of all... whatever. If you really hate the notch you have an option in the Get Info box to force apps to put the menu bar under the notch. Doing so just gives me the same screen ratio I had previously (the space around the notch is actually extra space you can use... it doesn't take away from anything) so no harm no foul. I got an app called De-Notch-ifier that camouflages the notch by turning the menu bar black (since the display has such deep blacks this makes the notch become invisible). But while I am not bothered by the notch, I actually do have a beef: no FaceID is included. WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?!? You have it on your frickin' iPhones, and the MacBook Pro is bigger than that by a country mile. So why the hell did you leave it out? TouchID to unlock is fine, but just using my face like my phone does would have sure been nice. I can only guess that Apple is saving this so they have a "new feature" to sell future generations, but this is not a new feature. It's been on my iPhone for years. Literally. At least we finally get a 1080p camera for video conferencing. It's damn embarrassing that it took Apple this fucking long to upgrade from 720p. All is not golden, however. With the camera on the iPad Pro, Apple has a "Center Stage" technology that can zoom and follow you as you move through the camera's field of view. This allows you to get up and move around while video chatting. Nice! The MacBook Pro doesn't offer this, however, and I don't understand why. This is your premiere laptop and it is less well-equipped than a frickin' iPad? Are you kidding me? Ultimately, the fact that the only thing actually in the notch is a camera is kinda stupid. If that's all that's going to be there... then just punch a camera hole in the top of the screen. Why notch at all?

SOUND & MICROPHONE
At the keynote where the new MacBook Pros were introduced, Apple went on and on about how much better the new laptop sounded due to the new speaker tech they had put into it. My comment was something like "Nice, but they're still laptop speakers, so I'm not expecting the moon here." But then... Apple actually gave me the moon. This thing sounds incredible. Especially the "spatial audio" that attempts to trick your ears into thinking that sounds are playing around you. It's very impressive. Bass response is surprisingly good... not just for a laptop, but for a computer of any kind, really. No, my MacBook Pro not going to replace my SONOS home theater setup, but it does have me thinking that I won't be so quick to reach for my Beats Pro headphones. If I have a criticism, it's that the highlights are not so bright... a little fuzzy... but it's not a deal-breaking by any means. When it comes to the microphone, Apple claims that the new "Studio Quality Three-Mic Array" is vastly superior, but people I Zoom Chat with say that they can't really tell a huge improvement when I bounced between my old and new MacBook Pros.

KEYBOARD
I'm not sure about the black background for the keyboard. It looks very cool, but dust shows up easier and the keys are a little hard to pick out, even with back-lighting turns on. Fortunately I am a touch-typist and don't need to look at the keys in order to type, but on those occasions when I do have to hunt-and-peck, it's not quite as easy as it used to be. AND MAY I PLEASE GET AN AMEN THAT THE STUPID FUCKING TOUCHBAR IS GONE?!? I was ambivalent about the thing when it was introduced... until my TouchBar MacBook arrived and I was forced to deal with its bullshit. Since the layout of the controls on TouchBar is fluid, you can't just memorize where the volume buttons are... you have to stop what you're doing, angle the keyboard towards you, look down at what's where, adjust the volume slider, then put the laptop back to where it was so you can look back up to the display and keep working. How THE FUCK Apple ever thought this productivity-killing crap was a "feature" is beyond me. It's one of those things that sounds cool until you actually experience it. I thought I might use the TouchBar all the time because it could morph into applicable controls. But I used it only when forced because it was just so shitty to deal with. The actual typing "feel" is almost identical to my old MacBook Pro. A good laptop keyboard. Unlike that shitty fucking "butterfly keyboard" that Apple insanely stuck us with for FIVE YEARS. I still get infuriated by that idiocy.

BATTERY
Stunning battery life. Stunning! For much of the time I just kept my old laptop plugged in so that I'd have enough power to get through a long work day. But now? Not even necessary. It may be a different story if I'm cranking out complex renders all day, but for now I only plug it in overnight. I think of how awesome this would have been pre-pandemic when battery life on the road was always a concern and my mind boggles. This is probably the one thing that shocks me more than any other. A pro machine that does pro work on a battery??! No need to plug in so you can get the fastest performance. You have the option to initiate "low power mode" (saves battery) and "high performance mode" (runs the fans more often) but I just set it to "automatic" and let the MacBook figure it out. Performance doesn't seem to suffer compared to when I have it plugged in and set on "high performance." Interesting to note... the battery is reported to be fairly easy to remove, WHICH MEANS YOU CAN REPLACE THE FUCKING THING ON YOUR OWN (assuming you're not squeamish about that kind of thing). That's a pretty huge change, because Apple is fond of gluing every damn thing together.

MAGSAFE 3
When Apple introduced their magnetic-attaching power cable (dubbed "MagSafe") they basically said that the old click-plug-style power cables were stupid. And they were right. Which makes it surprising that Apple would reverse direction and get rid of MagSafe on their MacBooks. They made their laptops stupid... by their own metric! I was furious. Well, it's back. You can still charge via USB-C if that's all you got (cool!) but I'm thrilled that I don't have to. Needless to say, the new standard "MagSafe 3" is not compatible with MagSafe 1 or MagSafe 2. That's understandable given how much more power is getting shoved at the newer machines (the only way to "fast charge" my new laptop is to use MagSafe... it's not available over USB-C). BUT I HAVE A BEEF! To buy a new MagSafe 3 cable so I can use it with my old USB-C chargers costs FORTY-NINE DOLLARS!!! WTF?!? Is it made with diamonds in the cord wrap? Guess my "couch charger" and my "travel charger" will just continue to use USB-C cables. That's frustrating. That cable should be $20 TOPS. This is a rip-off cash-grab of the most egregious kind (and ripe for third party manufacturers to step in and make affordable). But, hey, at least you can replace it. Apple's old pre-USB-C chargers were shitty because if the cable ever became damaged you have to buy an all new brick. AND SPEAKING OF THE BRICK... in every MacBook I've ever purchased, the brick had an extension cord and a plug that you could swap out for the cord to save on space in your bag. I never used the plug. I always used the extension cord because the plug comes out of the wall too easy and the extra cord length is handy for hotel rooms with limited outlets. This new MacBook Pro? No cord. You only get the plug. This is pretty crappy... and Apple knows this because they will sell you the cord for an additional $19. Fortunately I have a half-dozen cords from my old power bricks, so I'm covered. But, damn. This is a computer costing thousands of dollars! They can't toss in a cord that costs maybe $2 to manufacture? That's a weird omission.

WI-FI
Like my iPhone and iMac before it, this new laptop has Wi-Fi 6, which can be over twice as fast as the older Wi-Fi 5 standard. This works nicely with my Wi-Fi 6 router, giving me the highest speed currently possible. And, believe me, I notice. Especially when it comes to accessing my local network storage. There have been times that I've actually trudged upstairs to use my 24-inch iMac just because transferring files to my SSD drive is so much faster. No more of that, so thanks, Apple.

PORTS
My old laptop came with four USB-C ports and a headphone jack. That's it. I had to run out and buy dongles to be able to read an SD card or hook up to a projector. This time around I got three USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. The only way this could have been made more perfect would be if they also had a USB-A port, but I guess you can't have everything. It's puzzling that Apple is using older standards though. HDMI is at 2.1, but the MacBook Pro has 2.0. So no future-proofing there. But it's the fact that you only get UHS-II in your SD card slot that's really puzzling, since UHS-III is standard now (and the newer EXPRESS standard is showing up everywhere). This is really unforgivable, and I have no clue what the reason could be. When it comes to the ports, the headphone jack is the only thing ahead of the curve because it's said to support high-impedance headphones that pro audio mixers use. As for me? I'm just happy there's still a headphone jack at all. I like my AirPods and wireless Beats Pro, but I still have a couple pair of really nice headphones that are corded. Good to know I can still use them if I need to.

FEET & AIR-FLOW
I ordered my MacBook Pro before the review embargo was lifted, so I haven't seen a lot of reactions to it. But the reactions I have seen (or read) mention the feet. They are bigger to allow for a bit more air-flow when sitting flat on a table, but it's not as big a deal as some people seem to be making out it. I don't even notice. And speaking of air-flow... Apple has made some changes to the case in order to open things up and allow the motherboard to vent more hot air more easily. There's slots on the sides just like before... but there's more, deeper slots at the hinge. Apple really wants the fans to run as little as possible. And I'm like "Hey, whatever you gotta do..." because I don't like fan noise. Except the fans aren't quite as bad this time around. And speaking of...

FANS
My 2019 MacBook Pro would kick the fans into high gear whenever a 3-D render was processing. It was annoying, but not overwhelmingly so once I got accustomed to it. But still... distracting. The M1 MAX chip uses less power and runs cooler, so the fans don't turn on unless I'm really cranking through a heavy render. Even then, they are fairly quiet and unobtrusive (and don't turn on for very long). It's as if my new laptop is bored performing the intensive tasks that I give it, and doesn't stress about it. On one hand that's a little insulting to the HUGELY IMPORTANT WORK I DO... but on the other hand, how nice is THAT?!?

HEAT
It will come as no surprise that the M1 MacBook Pro runs considerably cooler than my old Intel MacBook Pro. Even doing minimal work would make the laptop uncomfortably hot sitting on my bare legs. But now? Not a problem. It does get hotter as I do more intense work (like renders), but even then it's not blistering.

PRICE
Look, these are not Macs for the casual user who mostly writes Word documents, watches an occasional movie, checks their emails, and surfs the web. These users will be better served by a much more economical MacBook Air or an iPad. No, these machines are built for power users whose time is money and being able to do more in less time has a tangible monetary benefit. That's precisely me. I am spending money to save money. Or, at the very least, be able to work faster so I don't have to work as many hours. That would sure be nice. All those minutes of waiting around being unproductive add up. I have the M1 MAX 10-Core CPU, 32-Core GPU, with 32GB of Unified Memory and 1TB of SSD Storage which is $3,500. Subtracting my $1,210 trade-in, that's still a whopping $2,290... plus $400 AppleCare plus $223.10 tax... equals $2,913.10. Yikes. But... worth every penny for what I do. Worth more than that to me. People have dunked on "the Apple tax" for years because their stuff is more expensive than non-Apple stuff. But you get what you pay for, and Apple has always delivered value for the money. At least to me. With the 2021 MacBook Pro, this is even more true than usual.

CONCLUSION
In the end, this is a pro laptop that actually feels like it was made for professionals. That hasn't happened in a long, long time (and fuck you, Apple, for shitting on your pro users like that for so long). I don't know if it's because Apple engineers actually listened to what their pro customers were telling them this time around... or whether the Apple engineers were forced to use their shitty "pro" laptops and got so tired of them that they listened to themselves. Whatever the case, I'm very happy to be working on a MacBook Pro that lives up to its name. Powerful, lightning-fast, and possessing the features that professional users need, it's worth the jaw-dropping price tag.

And speaking of that...

When I bought this machine, I lamented that I couldn't get 64MB of memory and instead ordered 32MB because I couldn't afford the $400 price tag (so close to my dream machine!). But now that I've been using it, I have to say that the 64GB isn't really needed for what I'm using this machine for. It's unified (shared) memory, so there's no duplication between the CPU and GPU which helps you do more with less. Also? The MAX chip has super-fast access to the SSD storage, which means virtual memory swaps are very fast.

Ultimately this entire machine is overkill. The new M1 architecture is so good that I could have saved myself more money by skipping the M1 MAX and getting the mid-tier M1 PRO, which would have saved me another $800. The 16MB of memory would be tight when I'm working on larger files, but even without the larger MAX SSD pipe, virtual memory is pretty speedy. Oh well. Live and learn. That's five months of payments I could have avoided, but I know that I will get enough use out of the extra resources to make it worthwhile.

At least that's what I'll be telling myself as I live off of peanut butter and ramen for the last four months of 2022.

AND THAT'S A WRAP!
I'm guessing there will be more to follow as I live with the machine longer. I am especially looking forward to seeing what happens with video editing, something I don't do a lot... but steals huge chunks of time from my life when I am doing it. The M1 Pro chips have support for ProRes video built into the hardware, so I'm sure Final Cut Pro going to be darn impressive.
   


   
*Yes, yes... I know that things like cars, boats, and computers are usually female. But I'm studying Russian at the moment and "компьютер" (computer) is a "male" word, so it's a "he" to me. That way I'm conjugating him correctly in my head (because Good Lord is Russian conjugation a frickin' nightmare!). Hopefully those who are deeply offended can deal.

   
** REGARDING SPEED: Simple things like navigating the Finder are instantaneous. Complex things happen at a noticeably faster clip than with my old MacBook Pro. The most processor-intensive stuff I do is 3D rendering and, while I haven't timed anything yet, I'm not sitting around tapping my fingers any more. With my old laptop I could go to the kitchen, grab a Coke Zero and a bag of Lay's, then go back to the living room and still be waiting for a big render to finish. Now those same renders are complete by the time I've set the laptop down and managed to get my ass off of the couch. Which is to say I can do more work in less time. My cycle of render-tweak-render-tweak-render is a productivity void that has been drastically reduced.

But the rendering package I use (Blender) is (mostly) M1-optimized. What about old Intel apps? Those have to be run via emulation (which Apple is calling Rosetta 2). Surprisingly, most of my most recently used apps (including most Adobe apps like Photoshop and Illustrator) are M1-optimized already. The most intensive Intel app I use is Home Designer Pro, which is a 3D home-building and visualization tool. It's what I use to design all the locations for the comic book I've been working on. And by "use" I actually mean "abuse" because I am using this software in ways it was never designed to be used. I don't just design a home... I design a frickin' estate with two massive homes and a hotel, all in the same scene, all of which have been fully furnished! I've even used it to design space ship interiors because it's just so wonderfully flexible. But anyway, the true test of my M1 MAX MacBook Pro is viewing 3D renders in real-time from Home Designer Pro and, to the shock of nobody, the M1 ship handles it like a champ. When Chief Architect (the company behind the app) optimizes Home Designer Pro for Apple silicon, it's going to be an entirely new ballgame for me. But don't worry... I'll just find new ways to abuse it!

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MacBook Pro M1 MAX Second Look

Posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Dave!The speed of my new MacBook Pro M1 MAX is more than just "fast." It's revolutionary. I know I touched on this yesterday with my "MacBook Pro M1 MAX First Look"... but this machine is just ungodly fast. And I can't get used to it. It's so fast that sometimes I have trouble believing that something happened because I don't see it happen.

As an example... dragging a 5MB image to Photoshop and having the program pop up with the image already loaded! I keep asking myself "Did I already open this image so Photoshop had it in memory when it switched to the app?" Then I'll close the image and re-open it just to see. And, nope, I didn't already have the image loaded... the MacBook Pro is just so fast that it deems like I did.

And I still can't get over how the fan just doesn't kick on except in the most extreme circumstances. My old Intel MacBook Pro would feel like it was on fire and the fans would kick into high gear just watching frickin' YouTube videos!

And that battery!

It's phenomenal how I can go all day without plugging in. And I could probably go even longer if Dropbox wasn't such a battery-draining piece of crap. I am guessing it will improve when they get off their asses and make it M1 native. But they have a lot of bloat in their app, so maybe not. I am going to give Microsoft OneDrive a shot and see if it's any better. They have the features I want (i.e. Smart Sync) without a bunch of crap I don't. It's not native M1 either, but Microsoft it will go into beta here soon and be released in early 2022. If I had to hazard a guess, OneDrive will finally be the cloud storage solution I've been looking for.

I know that I commented that the speaker system on the MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 was pretty great. But the more I listen to it, the most I'm blown away at just how fantastic it is. The sound envelops you. Every once in a while I'll listen to music on my laptop instead of playing through my SONOS system and while it's not the same experience... it is far, far better than expected. Talk about overdelivering on a promise.

After a couple days of use, I have found a negative, however... the bottom plate on the new MacBook Pro is very, very thin. And while it's not a big problem because it's up against internal components and is supported, there are a couple of times I've picked it up and have felt a bit of a buckle. Is it thinner to save money? Dissipate heat? Both? It's not a huge deal because it doesn't seem to affect structural integrity, but it's worth noting.

And so... yeah. This is easily the best computer I've owned... by a wide, wide margin. I have to return my old laptop to Apple to complete my trade-in, but I still plan on doing a side-by-side on some tasks before then just to see how it goes.

   

Worst of the Worst

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Dave!Last night when I turned on the television so I had background noise running while I work, a movie recommendation popped up. X-Men: Dark Phoenix. I was floored. Why in the hell would they be recommending the worst super-hero comic book movie ever made? And then I was like... wait... second worst. Because first on that list is Wonder Woman '84, and no other movie will likely dethrone it from the top spot.

At least I sure as hell hope not.

It got me to thinking about all the horrible super-hero comic book films that got made, so I thought I'd run through those I remembered.

  • Wonder Woman '84
    What makes this horrifically shitty film so painful is that the first Wonder Woman film was so amazing. But this time we get plot holes so inexplicably huge and a story so embarrassingly stupid that it's impossible to believe that everybody who was involved has anything to do with the original. And yet... they were. In addition to one of the stupidest fucking villains with one of the the stupidest fucking powers doing the stupidest fucking things, we also got Wonder Woman pulling powers out of her ass left and right in a way that made you think she can do whatever the hell she wants to do. Plus a bizarre take on The Cheetah which is disappointing enough to put this film on the list all by itself. As if all that weren't enough, there was no internal logic or consistency. Patty Jenkins and the writers didn't give a shit about making anything make sense. So we end up with functional planes being gassed up and ready to go at a museum and scores of other idiotic dumbassery that makes this not even the worst comic book movie ever made... but one of the worst films ever made period.
  • ALL X-Men Films (except First Class)
    Anything that Bryan Singer touches goes to shit, and nowhere is that more blatantly apparent than his grotesque take on the X-Men. At first, I was willing to cut them some slack because technological limitations of the time made depicting all their various powers difficult and expensive. BUT THEY COULD STILL COME UP WILL STORIES THAT WEREN'T SHIT! My God. They just kept getting progressively worse... then there was the bright spot we got with the prequel X-Men: First Class... only to have Bryan Singer come back and take a massive steaming dump all over everything. To add insult to injury, they wrapped everything up with Dark Phoenix, which is about the worst take of them all. Thank God Marvel Studios have the licensing back. I am praying that they manage to come up with something actually good for a concept that has never made great movies.
  • Superman Returns
    Not content to let Bryan Singer fuck up the X-Men, DC Comics wanted to let him ruin Superman as well, allowing him to effectively kill the franchise for a second time. And it was really too bad, because I thought Brandon Routh made a fantastic Superman. But even a group of talented actors couldn't save the shitty story... which was essentially a bad retread of the original Superman. That being said, there is one solitary moment in this film that I thought was incredibly well done. It's after Superman has been taken to the hospital and is dying. Out side is a throng of people waiting for news to see whether he's alive or dead. In the crowd is Martha Kent. Even though she's Superman's mom, she has to wait outside with everybody else because nobody knows that Clark Kent is Superman. It's absolutely heartbreaking, and made you realize that there was probably a good film in this mess somewhere... it's just that Bryan Singer was incapable of finding it.
  • Superman III and Superman IV: Quest for Peace
    The reason these hit so hard for me is that Superman: The Movie and Superman II were so sublimely good. And that was after the Salkinds ripped the movie away from Richard Donner and tried their best to fuck them up. Christopher Reeve was Superman. But, even more important, he was Clark Kent. Then you drop in a flawless Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor... plus some incredibly ambitious stories... and it was absolute magic (then they brought back the Donner cut of Superman II and it was as if every fanboy's prayers had been answered). But then they made two sequels that went beyond bad, and the only thing left was Christopher Reeves. Good as he is, even he can't make something out of nothing.
  • Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman and Justice League
    Zack Snyder had one good movie (300) and one okay movie (Watchmen) and apparently that was enough for DC Comics to hand over the keys to the entire DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The result was an absolute disaster that, in some ways, is even worse than the Bryan Singer movies because at least Snyder had cutting-edge special effects to make his movies work. Unfortunately, he decided that enduring characters which people had been loving for decades needed "improving upon" and put his own spin on things. And apparently his whole plan was to come up with shitty, convoluted stories which revolve around deadly-serious, dreary, boring, films that are utterly devoid of joy... or common sense. And while the casting is mostly good, there were some bone-headed decisions for critical characters (see: Lex Luthor) that were so horribly off the mark that the films would have been sabotaged even if they were actually good. Which they were definitely not.
  • Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four
    How you can fuck up a Fantastic Four movie is a real head-scratcher. But Fox managed to do it three times over. I'm just going to ignore the first two and focus on the attempted reboot in 2015, because it's the one which is really driving this. It was awful. Beyond awful. Not a damn thing made any sense and the casting was inexplicably bad (ironically the casting that was the most controversial, Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch, was the only thing that worked for me). And then there's the fact that the Fantastic Four never even show up until the very end. Lord, what a waste.
  • Catwoman
    Yet another case of flawless casting being utterly destroyed by a horrible story. Halle Berry deserved far better. As did we all.
  • The New Mutants
    Why? Just... why? The idea of a super-hero comic book movie being given a horror slant is not a bad one. On the contrary, it seemed like a good idea for something new. The problem is that they fucked it up from start to finish and it failed all genres that it stepped in. Wasn't scary. Wasn't exciting. Wasn't a comic book movie. Wasn't much of a film. In all honesty, Disney should have just stuck this 20th Century Fox mess in a vault and never let it seen the light of day. Not that it matters. Anybody who ever saw it likely forgot about it within 24 hours. Or wish they had.
  • Green Lantern
    They wise enough to make the decision to cast Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan and Mark Strong as Sinestro... so what the hell went so terribly wrong? EVERY. OTHER. DECISION. Where's the fucking story? Green Lantern could have been a story of cosmic scope that defied belief. But instead they just utterly trashed the character for no good reason. Everything from his hideously bad CGI costume to the gawdawful take of both Parallax and Hector Hammond as "villains" just made this so very, very disappointing.
  • Batman Forever and Batman and Robin
    The first two Batman films were Tim Burton weirdness that didn't 100% work... but they were at least entertaining. And they gave us Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman, so there's that. But then Joel Schumacher took over and gave us these stupid, campy films which had so many poor decisions piled up that there was no room for actual Batman stories in them. It was made doubly bizarre, because the casting wasn't exactly terrible... Jim Carrey as The Riddler? Perfect. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face? Great. Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy? Nice! Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl? Flawless. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Freeze? Weird, but okay. Chris O'Donnell as Robin? Too old, but I get it. And even Val Kilmer and George Clooney weren't terrible choices for Batman. Which means it all comes down to the writing and direction, which was embarrassing in a way that even the 1960's television show couldn't beat.
  • Elektra
    I think had they invested the money so the script could have revolved around an actual story, an Elektra spin-off was a great idea. But instead they cheaped out, leaving us with something that was bizarrely detached from the character that Jennifer Garner created in Daredevil.
  • Spider-Man 3
    The first two Toby Maguire films were darn good. Better than they had a right to be, actually. But then things went completely off the rails. Sam Raimi crammed in too many villains in too many ways with too many bizarre turns for this movie to have any hope at all. But the thing that just dropped this one in the gutter was the way they completely trashed all the characters. Mary Jane was written horribly. Peter Parker (under the influence of the symbiote) became devoid of everything that makes Peter Parker be Peter Parker. And then there's Venom... a villain which was made a laughable shadow of the character that was established in the comics. So many bad choices. They say that the studio interfered with what Sam Raimi wanted to do, which makes a lot of sense. But is inexplicable given the success he had with the first two films.
  • Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2
    After screwing up the Toby Maquire franchise, Sony decided to take another shot at the character and rebooted Spidey with Andrew Garfield. Ultimately you have to wonder why they bothered, because they didn't really do anything new. On the contrary, they went back to arcs that were already explored with the first trilogy, then made things so horribly complicated with Peter's dead parents being spies (or whatever) that it was as if they didn't feel Spider-Man could carry a movie. Which is understandable... Sony had a Spider-Verse to build. Alas, those plans were scrapped when Amazing Spider-Man 2 bombed.
  • Hulk
    Ang Lee taking on The Hulk seems like a dream come true. But the movie was just not very entertaining. There were some ideas that were cool enough... but there just wasn't much going on past that. It was seriously troubling that the script's many problems weren't worked out before filming ever started. The fact that they weren't is really difficult to understand. I guess they just trusted Ang Lee to figure it out, but ultimately he didn't want it to be the super-hero movie that it needed to be and we got this. In truth, the follow-up film wasn't a heck of a lot better, but at least they tried to make Hulk be Hulk.

Yikes. More than I thought I'd remember. It's almost as though I should rewatch all the Marvel Studios movies for the hundredth time so I can have good super-hero comic book movies back in my head.

   

Thank Less

Posted on Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Dave!I have a great deal to be thankful for.

And yet... it's tough to find a way to appreciate it in the middle of a pandemic where there are still people who are fucking things up and dragging everything out. It seriously feels like COVID is never going to end. The virus continues to mutate, and the anti-vax/anti-mask brigade doesn't seem to give a shit. Despite the fact that they are twenty times more likely to die if they contract COVID when compared to those who are vaccinated.

Oh well. All I can do is attempt to remain careful and try not to die from being one of the few breakthrough cases that happen. What else is there?

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On Blackest Friday

Posted on Friday, November 26th, 2021

Dave!As always, I save up whatever money I can scrape together all year long so I can take advantage of the massive sales going on this awful time of year. Alas, I didn't have as much saved up as previous years because I had to pay the first payment and taxes for my new MacBook Pro. Which was money well-spent, because it's easily the best purchase I made in all of 2021.

But anyway, here's my loot for this year's Black Friday...

  • T-shirts and a hoodie from True Classic @ 40% off.
  • Jeans and shirts from The Gap and Banana Republic @ 40% off.
  • A second Google Hub @ 50% off.

And... that's all I could afford.

UNTIL I DECIDED THAT I JUST *HAD* TO HAVE THE MILWAUKEE TABLE SAW THAT I COULDN'T GET LAST YEAR BECAUSE IT WAS SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE IT WAS ON SALE...

Milwaukee Table Saw


Unfortunately it wasn't on sale this Black Friday. But I did get $50 off for opening a Home Depot account, so there's that. I probably shouldn't have bought it, but I just can't take another year of trying to get precise cuts out of my wonky $110 Harbor Freight table saw.

There are three things I've been needing to complete my wood shop. A good table saw. A good drill press. A good planer. So one down, two to go, I guess. Heaven knows where I'm going to find space to put all this stuff when I'm using my garage as an actual garage in the winter.

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Caturday 236

Posted on Saturday, November 27th, 2021

Dave!As I've mentioned several times now... Jake can't meow. He can cry, but any attempt to meow just ends up in a squeak or a squawk. I always react as if he just meowed his head off because I don't want for him to feel bad, but sometimes it's pretty soft and difficult to hear, so I've trained myself to listen for it.

Unlike Jenny, who has an entire menu of meows to choose from. An impatient meow is different from an excited meow is different from an upset meow is different from an angry meow is different from a frustrated meow. And I've gotten to the point where I can apply context and understand exactly what the issue is baed on which meow I get.

But Jenny doesn't meow a lot. Sometimes she'll go for days... maybe even weeks.

Not so with Jake.

My little guy, if he could meow, would be meowing several times a day.

Most of his squeaks-that-would-be-meows are just getting my attention. Squeaks to let me know tha the dinner alarm is going off (in case I didn't hear it). Squeaks to let me know that he wants attention as I walk by. Squeaks to greet me when I walk up to him. Squeaks to greet me when I walk into a room.

It's actually kinda adorable.

Which is nothing new, because I think that most everything my cats do is adorable.

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