The first day of May is here, but I'm pretending not to notice... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• TREK! Early reviews for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are trickling in, and more than one person has said it's the best new Trek in decades. Which would be refreshing. Because while I loved the first season of Discovery, everything that followed has been a whiny mess that I can't even bring myself to watch. And this does look pretty epic...
Finally. Star Trek being Star Trek again.
• KHAAAAAAAN! And speaking of Star Trek, I 1000% AGREE...
Even though special effects have gotten a lot better than this, the stakes rarely seem to hit this level. I remember when I first bought Star Trek II on LaserDisc, I watched the space battle over and over and over again. Still holds up.
• VAX! I'm not a big Biden fan, but he did okay at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And his remark at the 4:00 mark had me howling. Whomever wrote that joke deserves an award...
I've watched this twice, and am just in awe that President Biden has overcome a stutter to be this good at public speaking.
• Trevor! And if you haven't seen Trevor Noah's remarks from the White House Correspondents' Dinner... it's a treat...
A part of me is dying to know how much of that Trevor wrote himself. I'm betting it's a significant chunk. The guy is smart as hell on top of being one of the funniest people on earth.
• Tampons! I love seeing somebody being true to themselves, living their best life, and still having kindness in their heart to think of others in a world where so many are showing them nothing but hate (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@dylanmulvaney Day 12- TAMPONS #trans #tampon ♬ original sound - Dylan Mulvaney
She isn't taking anything away from anybody, so just be happy they know who they are and have found the courage to live their life authentically. We should all be so brave.
• Fairness! And speaking of transgender persons (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick...
@thewarriorphilosopher Reply to @dezsankofa #society #culture #politics #philosophy #lgbtqtiktok #lgbtq #lgbtqia #trans #transgender #transgenderwomen #positivechange #inclusion ♬ original sound - TheWarriorPhilosopher
Some very interesting points made. And yet... here we are.
Hope your Sunday is a good one.
I am tired.
Too tired to think about blogging.
But not too tired to scroll through TikTok while I eat dinner!
A little happy for your Monday... especially if you ever watched Boy Meets World (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@mattmort Getting my #firsttattoo ♬ i - Kendrick Lamar
I feel this to my very soul (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@fu3g0dieg0 That old ditty the flappers used to croon about! It was the bees knees! #genx #gaytok #fyp #fypシ #traderjoes #99redballoons ♬ original sound - DeeEm
Maybe it’s because I had a tough day, but this hit brutally hard. We do have a lot of work to do (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@the_shoe_fits #changetheworld #community #together #parent ♬ original sound - Daniel Black
I should probably go to bed now, but I think I'm too tired to think.
I haven't been all that impressed with Moon Knight. Mostly because the show has barely had any Moon Knight in it. And it's perfectly understandable. They tapped an actor of Oscar Isaac's caliber, so covering him up in a mask for six episodes simply wasn't in the cards. No, the reason they needed Oscar Isaac was to have an actor with the chops to portray a character with dissociative identity disorder, which he delivered. As expected.
And now we've reached the end of the road. The final episode aired tonight.
And while it doesn't entirely make up for the fact that they dragged out this show for far, far too long... I have to admit that the payoff was pretty sweet. I just wish that this sixth episode had occurred at the half-way point, because now I really want to see what they do next...
I'm not going to post any major spoilers (though if you're a fan of the comic books, it's not anything entirely unexpected), but I am going to hint at one: part-way through, a little Egyptian girl says in awe "Are you an Egyptian super-hero?!? and it hits pretty hard. Because representation matters. I hope that Marvel stays on this course, because super-heroes are getting played out, and anything new and different is welcome.
Though I thought the Star Wars prequels were crap, there's some things that came out of them which were undeniably great. Ewan McGregor's take on Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of them (Samuel L. Jackson playing Mace Windu was another, but more on that in a minute).
The official final trailer for the new series was released today in advance of the May 27th premiere, and it looks darn good...
I mean... that's everything you could want from Star Wars, right?
Samuel L. Jackson has straight-up said that he wants to return as Mace Windu. We found out a month ago that he asked Bryce Dallas Howard to bring the character back...
If Samuel L. Jackson is willing... and if they don't give him his own series where Mace Windu is the baddest muthafucker in the galaxy... then Disney+ is just flat out worthless.
I'm just going to come out and say it... Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is my favorite Trek since the original series, and I've only seen the first episode. This is kinda how I felt about Star Trek: Discovery before it went from being phenomenally interesting, exciting, and brilliant in the Season 01 to being a phenomenally whiny, weepy, and dull pile of shit in Season 03. Disco has become so bad in Season 04 that I can't even bring myself to watch it. Such a pity.
But back to Strange New Worlds...
The cast, as we've seen from their appearance on Disco is sublime. The visuals and special effects are absolutely gorgeous. And the writing is whip-smart with a bit of fun. In short, it's absolutely everything you could possibly want out of a TV show.
Finally Star Trek is Star Trek again...
Eschewing the season-wide arcs that Disco decided to adopt, Strange New Worlds is back to episodic television which neatly wraps up the story by the end of the episode. Despite my love of how Disco started out, I think this is the format which works best for Trek.
The debut episode, aptly titled Strange New Worlds, is about a First Contact mission that goes terribly wrong for Number One, and it's up to Pike, Spock, and Co. to make things right. It's not even remotely a spoiler to say that it all works out, but it's how it works out that makes this such good Trek. It's hopeful and inspiring as it was when Trek was new.
Plus it's got Spock in it.
I woke up this morning and seriously thought it was Saturday.
So imagine my surprise when I got to work and my co-workers were there. So much for being able to blast music while I'm on the job. I know this is why headphones were invented, but it's not like I'll be blasting anything in them when I have to worry about answering my phone and talking to people and stuff.
I started out thinking this was a much beter day than it ended up.
It was announced that George Pérez, one of my favorite comic book writers and artists of all time, has died at 67 years old. The guy had been battling for a while now, so it shouldn't have been unexpected... but it still felt that way. Before I started seeing his work in comics, I didn't really think about the art on the books I read. Some of it was better than others, but I just didn't take much note of it. What I most definitely did take note of was when George started penciling The Avengers at Marvel. His hyper-detailed pages were imaginative, brilliant, and thrilling to look at. I was in love with his work from the moment I first saw it.
Then he was on The New Teen Titans and suddenly the entirety of comic book fandom was taking note. Then he ended up on Justice League and it was comic book heaven for me.
Then came Crisis on Infinite Earths, after which he rebooted Wonder Woman, which I remember thinking was a total waste of his talents at the time. Then the book was actually released, of course I bought it because I bought everything George did, and it ended up being my favorite thing that he ever worked on...
Rest in Peace, sir. You and your work will be very much missed.
To all of George’s fans and friends,
Constance here, with the update no one wants to read. George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.
We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.
He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.
Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy - and I hope you all carry that with you always.
Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.
Please keep his wife Carol in your thoughts and again, I thank you for respecting her privacy. I remain available through the contact on the page.
George's memorial service will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It will be open to all. Details to follow.
We will miss him always.
It only seems as though we're descending into a hells cape from which there's no escape, but don't let that get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Water! Looks amazing, as we knew it would...
And no Paparus font to be found!
But the real question is... Will it have a decent story? Time will tell.
• KHAAAAAAN! Couldn't agree more...
It was so masterfully done that few other movies have managed to top it... despite there being a huge advancement in special effects since the movie was made.
• Virgin?! During the boring, irrelevant bits of The Offer (of which there are MANY), I have been running through the latest TikTok meme. It's glorious. They have a bunch of geeks ridiculing their own hobbies and lives with the "ARE YOU A VIRGIN?" sound (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@mattwhets #duet with @jurassicah they didn’t let me show my handmade fantasy map pottery #writertok #fanatsy #booktok #writer ♬ original sound - jurassicah
These are my people! I just love people who have a sense of humor about themselves.
• New Julia! Much to my happiness, it was announced that HBO Max has renewed Julia for a second season. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a series exploring Julia Child's early days as a television star, and it's gold...
This is a show that you really just don't want to end. And now we know that it isn't over just yet.
• Thor Four More Thor! I'll bet everybody who was mouthing off over Natalie Portman not being buff enough to play Thor are feeling pretty silly right now...
This looks fantastic, and I cannot wait to see what Taika Waititi has done this time around.
• Cosigned! Yeah, pretty much this...
It is fucking horrific that Roe vs. Wade is set to be overturned... and this is coming from somebody who personally doesn't endorse abortion outside of cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother being endangered. But, for the millionth time, my personal feelings have no fucking bearing whatsoever on what somebody else chooses for themselves... and neither do the feelings of legislators and members of the fucking Supreme Court.
• BRAINS! Well here's something you should not watch before going to bed...
And, if you did, sleep tight!
And now I'm going to bed. AT LEAST I HOPE SO!
At work we're changing to a new email system. I thought that I could do some kind of export out of the old system and import into the new system, but there's nothing that works like that on a Mac. In some ways it's easier... just drag the emails from the old mailboxes to the new mailboxes... but in other ways it's far more difficult. Because Apple Mail tends to crash when you move a massive number of emails. Which means that I have to select a clump then drag them over in smaller quantities. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except I have thousands upon thousands of emails dating back to 2006 that have to be migrated.
My work emails are just that... work emails. I have no personal corespondence of any kind in there.
Except I kinda do.
Because there's people from years past that were more than co-workers, suppliers, customers, and the like... they are friends. Some of them moved on and were friends. Some of them have passed on and were friends. Gone but not forgotten.
And I'm seeing their names pop up as I grab stacks of emails and drag them from one place to another.
It's like a drive down memory lane. Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. Sometimes painful.
Which is as you'd want it to be, isn't it?
Pantone is now charging people to use their color books in Adobe Illustrator.
I wonder if there's an alternative system, because this is fucking absurd. Designers don't buy inks... we specify inks so that printers and fabricators can purchase the inks from Pantone.
Except now we can't specify jack shit because Pantone wants us to pay $60 a year for the privilege.
If anything, Pantone should be paying ME to specify their inks to my printers! Something I've been doing for FREE for them for decades.
I swear, there are days I just want to take a torch to corporate America for the way that they treat people. I sure hope that somebody who isn't a greedy piece of shit develops a new color system replacement for people who are tired of Pantone's bullshit. I am betting that every designer on earth would hop on board.
Having to pay to promote a company's products when we don't even get a cut of the sale? Are you kidding me? Apparently Pantone didn't learn their lesson with Hexachrome and needs to be taught another.
It's no secret that one of my favorite movies of all time is The Fifth Element.
And this is the 25th anniversary year, believe it or not.
I can't even imagine how many times I've seen this film. At least two dozen. And I love it more with each new viewing. It's beautiful. It's visionary. It's a really good story. And now Milla Jovovich is talking about her part in it all to Vogue...
And now I just want to watch it yet again for the millionth time.
A part of me is glad that they never made a sequel.
A bigger part of me would really have liked to have gotten one.
News was made when astronomers released a blurry photo of the super-massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy.
You've probably seen it.
It's a blurry orange donut shape with three bright spots on it...
Photo by EHT Collaboration
If you take a while to actually read why this is so significant, it's mind-bogglingly amazing.
But if you'd rather have an explanation that won't melt your brain quite as much, Derek at Veritasium has done his usual incredible job of boiling things down to brass tacks...
It's almost as if God is going to show up and say "Howdy!" any minute now...
As I've said every year of the six years I've lived in my home... irises are the stupidest flowers.
They grow up all gorgeous and lovely and tease you into thinking that they're worth having in your garden... then they end up heavier than the stem will support, flop over, get mowed into mulch by the yard care people, then die after a week...
These are already flopping over...
These I tried to kill off two years in a row. They simply will not die and keep coming back...
If you want plants that are immortal (but still so very stupid), irises might be the flower for you!
I have been working minimum 15 hour days, 7 days a week, for at least three months.
Jenny looks how I feel this morning...
And now I'm off to work for a few hours before meeting up with a friend to go on a drive. Finally something to look forward to!
You can't keep a good blogger down, even in the middle of your blog not allowing you to upload images for some reason... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• WAAAAAHH! The bastards at CBS canceled Magnum P.I.. The show's first season was incredible. The second nearly as good. They faltered a bit in the third season, but rebound beautifully in the fourth (and now final) season. What's interesting is that the final episode tied up a few things and answered a question which everybody had since the beginning... will Magnum and Higgins ever get together?
What's so shitty about all this is that Magnum P.I. was a fairly sold performer. Not stellar, but more successful than some of the stuff which gets renewed. Guess CBS is dedicating themselves to another shitty reality show that they can buy for cheap and cancel after a year. Well, duly noted. The entire cast was gold, I can't wait to see where they end up next.
• Lost! Okay... maybe it's the Hallmark fan in me, but I really liked this one! Lost City is funny, adventurous, and surprisingly sweet...
Everybody went all-in on their roles. Sandra Bullock, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, all great... but it was Channing Tatum who completely owned his character. He was unafraid to play dumb as a box of rocks, and I loved it. If you see the movie (on Paramount+, the worst of the worst of streaming services), be sure to watch the credits for a scene that's pretty great.
• Remo! Fred Ward, Star of The Right Stuff, Tremors, Dies at 79. Except Fred Ward will forever be Remo Williams to me...
Though having Joel Grey play Korean will always be cringe.
And he was a big part of why Big Business ended up working as well as it did...
There were other roles, of course. The guy did great work for a long time. Rest In Peace, sir.
• Heartstopper! This actually is hope...
@merrowchild At this point, who's isn't reading #heartstopper ?! #waterstones #shortstory #booksellerlife #aliceoseman #merrowchild #retailstories ♬ Heartstopper - Adiescar Chase
Kids are going to believe whatever they're taught to believe. But access to information is easier than ever, and sometimes the truth wins out.
• Fruit! When I was a kid, my mom used to pack little tins of Dole fruit in my lunch. Now, of course, they've switched to plastic like everything else. But here's the problem... there is no way... NO WAY AT ALL... to open these little containers without juice pouring out everywhere...
I have tried everything. Usually I go to the sink to open them, but when I'm trapped on a call and can't leave, I have to open it here. This is me trying to be my most careful when opening my pears... FUCKERS!!! Now I look like I had an accident in the bathroom or something.
• Moose! YESSSSSS! WHY IS THIS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE US?
Mayo Mousse. Genius.
I'm guessing eventually I'll figure out how to post this. Probably.
Like so many of us, I've spent my share of time playing around with Microsoft's Flight Simulator. It's a nifty way to fly a plane (kinda) without having to spend a lot of time taking classes and tests and... oh yeah... buying a plane.
But even so, the idea of actually flying a real-life plane is something that doesn't even enter my brain. I mean, in an emergency... with all other options exhausted... sure. If my option is to try and fly a plane and live or choose not to try and die, I'm your guy.
This nightmare scenario became reality for a passenger who ended up having to fly a plane after the pilot was incapacitated...
This is the type of person you want with you in an emergency.
People never stop looking for stupid shit to justify their bigotry.
Fortunately, it doesn't take much effort to debunk their bullshit...
@ashlelnok #greenscreenvideo Oh no. The horror. #allgenders ♬ original sound - Ashley
...it never does.
Yesterday morning I was walking out to my car and pulled a hamstring. Right in the middle of the street as I was crossing it. And it wasn't like I was sprinting across... or dancing across... or doing anything weird. I was just walking. And that was enough, apparently.
Getting old sure sucks.
The pain has been pretty excrutiating. I kept it elevated, iced, and took Ibuprofen like you're supposed to, but it didn't make much difference.
This morning it felt fine. Until I walked on it. Or hobbled on it, as the case may be.
Remember when I was young and invulnerable just last week?
I've talked a couple times about my love of all things Max Frost. He's a sublimely-talented musician who has become a bit famous for his band mash-ups on TikTok where he plays every single instrument.
Like this one, which beautifully merges Fleetwood Mac with The 1975 for a song that I have been praying gets a full release, because I've listened to this snippet a massive number of times and can't get enough...
any more suggestions???🤠💜 (reply to @jruizz21 ) ##the1975 ##dreams ##fleetwoodmac @the1975♬ original sound - Max Frost
This week Max held a live event where he went through the creative process for the songs on his latest EP, Flying Machines which was released May 6th. I love the album, so of course I was tuned in to watch. It was absolutely fascinating because he pulled up his Logic Pro files and showed you exactly how his sound was built up. I wish more artists would do this, because it only serves to deepen your appreciation for the songs they create.
If you haven't listened to Flying Machines, you seriously need to get on that, because each track is a banger. And he's got some cool videos coming out as well...
Now. About that Fleetwood Mac & The 1975 mashup...
Wow... my Friday yesterday was like Monday.
I forgot my glasses downstairs (easy to do when I'm starting with contact lenses again) so OF COURSE this is the day that Jake decided to puke up a hairball in the hall. Fortunately, he was like a seeing eye cat who walked around it when I was heading down to make them breakfast, and I followed him because I couldn't see it.
BUT IT GETS WORSE!
When Jenny doesn't have a clean litter box, she will hold it for as long as she can, then find a spot when she can't hold it any more. Little did I know that both Litter-Robots didn't cycle for some reason, so when I saw the blurry blob on the floor while making the cats their breakfast, I assumed that it was a mouse.
I get my glasses and... NOPE! Jenny took a dump on the kitchen floor.
This is only the second time she's done this, and I feel so bad for her that I can't be even a little upset. She likes a clean place to do her business, and I failed her. Albeit unintentionally.
I am upset for me, because this meant I had to haul out the Pine-Sol and steam cleaner to make sure the floor was fully disinfected!
I looked up the security footage, and poor Jenny looked so ashamed afterwards...
My poor little girl. I promise to check the Litter-Robots each night to make sure they're emptied and clean!
The sun may be shining outside where I'm at, but I'm not out enjoying it as I should be... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Breakfast! The season finale of Saturday Night Live was fairly mediocre... despite having Natasha Lyonne hosting and great send-offs for Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Pete Davidson (and apparently Kyle Mooney is leaving as well?). HOWEVER... it introduced me to Japanese Breakfast, a band I never knew existed but fell in love with immediately. This has to be one of my favorite SNL performances ever...
• The Valet! I'm a huge fan of Eugenio Derbez, and his new movie The Valet on Hulu is great. At first I worried that it wasn't taking advantage of his talents, but boy did he bring it in the end...
Worth your valuable time. And we're also getting a second season of his show "Acapulco," which is something else you should be watching.
• Baymax! My favorite animated character since Stitch from Lelo & Stitch and Sully from Monsters, Inc. has his own show...
And how great is it that they kept the other characters from Big Hero 6 to be in it as well?
• Umbrella Academy 3! I've been in awe at just how good the Netflix adaptation of the Umbrella Academy comics have been... actually improving on the material in some ways. And now we're at Season 03 and it's looking as cool and bonkers as ever...
With Netflix being an absolute shit-show as of late, and their tradition of killing shows after 2 or 3 seasons, I'm more than a little worried about getting Season 04.
• She-Hulk! This is what happens when a show looks like it has a very good chance of exceeding your expectations. People of earth, I give you She-Hulk: Attorney at Law...
• Marvel! And now that Ms. Marvel is nearly upon us, Marvel Studios is giving us a bigger taste of what's to come...
I. Cannot. Wait.
If nothing else, casting Tatiana Maslany in the lead is 100% pure win.
• Heartstopper Redux! And lastly, the news I've been waiting for ever since I watched the show... Netflix has renewed Heartstopper for two seasons...
While this is incredible news... had they waited any longer, the actors would be getting too old to play their characters... it's also a bit disappointing. From my estimation, they'll need four seasons to get through all the graphic novel material which has defined Nick & Charlie's relationship, so why not renew for three? And boy oh boy do I hope that they fold in more material for Charlie's sister, Tori (or, better yet) give her a series of her own and adapt Solitaire). In any event, not all the news coming out of Netflix is bad, it seems.
And now I need to get outside and tie up some of my flowers before they take over my yard!
As you may (or may not) have noticed, my blog wasn't updating this past week-and-a-half.
I continued to write as I always do, but when I went to post anything to the site, Blogography returned an error saying that my "connection had been refused." I automatically assumed that my WordPress installation was borked because it keeps happening with increasing regularity.
But this time it wasn't WordPress's fault.
Eventually I figured out that the VPN node I had been using to access the internet was the same node used by somebody trying to hack my blog. When my security plugin on WordPress detected the attempt, it blacklisted the IP address. When I switched to a different VPN node, I was able to post everything that had been stacked up.
What are the odds?
This does have me concerned that people who use VPNs (and, seriously, everybody should be using VPNs) are going to have increasing difficulties attempting to reach content on the internet.
And where would the internet be without Blogography?
Far, far worse off, I'd imagine.
And, oh yeah... the trailer for the new Mission: Impossible movie dropped today! It looks bonkers cool!
This entire franchise has had some great stories. And the stunts are incredible. Can't wait!
I've been watching a series, The Offer, on Paramount+. It's about the making of The Godfather with all the crazy shenanigans that went on behind the scenes. It's a hot bloated mess of a series which has, at most, 6 episodes worth of material that's been dragged out to ten episodes (seven of which have aired). But the stuff that's actually relevant is entertaining enough to maintain my interest, so I endure.
The biggest surprise of the show has been who they got to play Marlon Brando... Alex Karev from Grey's Anatomy! I haven't watched the show since Season 02, so it took me a minute to recognize him, but he did a darn good job in an impossible role... so much respect to Justin Chambers.
Watching the series naturally lead to me to rewatching the entire The Godfather trilogy because I just can't help myself. I've seen them all a dozen times, but they're films I can watch over-and-over, and so I do.
...is a problematic movie featuring time jumps that are glossed over quite badly, resulting in a choppy mess. It also has some violence that's almost comical in implementation. But then it has some of the most mind-bogglingly fantastic performances ever committed to celluloid. Say what you want about Marlon Brando, but he was glorious in his every moment on-screen. And then there's Al Pacino with his riveting, star-making role that culminated in one of the best finales of any film ever made.
The Godfather, Part II...
...is equally problematic in that the dual-narative structure, while ambitious, was better in concept than implementation. That being said, I love it every bit as much as the first film. The cinematography and set decoration create a lush, gorgeous world for the characters to inhabit, and are almost as memorable as the characters. Pacino's cold and calculating take on Michael Corleone is about as compelling as it gets. And De Niro's performance is flawless from the moment he walks on the screen.
The Godfather, Part III...
...in the interest of full disclosure, I was not a fan of this film when it debuted in 1990. Some nutty story beats married to an abysmal performance by Sofia Coppola in a key role plus Robert Duvall's absence left me cold. It was an unsatisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Over the years it's grown on me, however. I love the way the ending harkens back to the first film (with Connie, a character I couldn't stand in the first two films playing a satisfying part), and the way that Michael watches his world spin out of control while he's helpless to do much about it. While I don't think it's in the same league as the first films, it doesn't diminish them in any way, so I've made my peace with it.
There was a rumor that they were planning on picking up the movies again, but focusing on Vincent (Andy Garcia) as the next generation of Corleone. While I think that a film focusing on a hot-headed Don who wanted to watch the world burn could have been interesting, I'm grateful that it never happened though. The time frame for these films had passed and the only reason to go on would be to exploit a great franchise for the money instead of anything creative.
Not that this has ever stopped Hollywood in the past, of course.
Oh look! I've got some tech crap to beef about, and you get to come along for the ride! If you're in a good mood and don't want it spoiled by my ranting, I'd just skip this entry.
But if you're already raging on your Wednesday, this one's for you!
Apple is worth billions of dollars, and yet their Mail app is one of the shittiest fucking user experience for any app ever made. And they keep making it worse! This is not hyperbole, it's absolute fact. Setting aside from the fact that Apple took away your ability to select the outgoing SMTP server for those times you need to do that... and setting aside the fact that the notification app icon badges rarely have accurate information (especially in iOS)... and setting aside that sometimes after reading an email and scrolling all the way through it to get it marked as "read" it doesn't actually mark as "read" until you force it... and setting aside that Mail will not SHUT THE FUCK DOWN when you tell your computer to shut down... and setting aside the fact that account management in the desktop app is a horrific shitshow which is split between two separate locations on two separate apps... the absolute worst part of Apple Mail is that YOU CAN'T FUCKING DELETE AN ACCOUNT... EVER! Choosing "Remove Everywhere" so that the account will fucking die does absolutely jack-shit, because the account is automatically added back seconds later. And it doesn't matter if you make the account inactive on all your iCloud devices. It still comes back, and there's NOTHING you can do about it (except make it inactive). I've read that some people have finally managed to delete and account by turning off Cloud Keychain on all their devices, then deleting the account on all devices, then starting the keychain sync again... but it doesn't work for everybody. So WTF Apple? Why the fuck doesn't "Remove Everywhere" actually remove the shit? Obviously I don't give a fuck if other devices are using it (that I don't know about) because if I want it fucking removed EVERYWHERE that includes ALL MY FUCKING DEVICES! This kind of stupid shit is what drives me fucking insane with Apple and their bullshit. Users have zero power over their own settings.
In the beginning, Alexa was a quirky voice assistant that managed to do very little not very well. But then it started adding capabilities, having better voice recognition, and becoming more reliable in its tasks. At that point it became an essential home automation tool that made "life in the future" so very cool. But over the last couple years, Alexa has turned into unreliable bloatware that pisses me off more than anything. Ask an Alexa device to play a song, the device you spoke to acknowledges the command, THEN PLAYS THE FUCKING SONG ON AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEVICE IN ANOTHER ROOM! How the fuck is this even remotely sensible. I get it if a device in another room hears the command and starts playing there... but that's not what's happening. Then there's the fact that lights will randomly "not be able" to turn off and on by voice command. Then there's the fact that Alexa is constantly telling me about new abilities and features that I couldn't care less about... all while not being able to do the shit that I asked it to do. I have no idea if these many problems are because Amazon no longer gives a shit about Alexa... or if they're concentrating on adding new shit while letting the old shit deteriorate... or the system is so bloated with crap that it's just not able to function. Regardless, I am seriously considering a switch to Google Hub, which has none of these irritating and debilitating issues. At least not yet.
The only way to force a sync so that any new photos in the cloud are downloaded is to QUIT THE APP AND THEN OPEN IT AGAIN! Why the fuck can't Apple just add a little "sync" button to the toolbar so you aren't doing this stupid, backwards bullshit? And what about the fact that dragging photos out of the app sometimes gets you a JPEG file and sometimes gets you a HEIC file? And what about the fact that sometimes you drag images out of the app and they don't bother to export at all... or export only after Photos sits there like a stupid shit for a minute first? Photos is categorically awful for photo management, and Apple does not give a fuck. Another case of a company with billions of dollars sitting on their stacks of cash instead of using it to update their fucking apps.
Worst user interface ever. Okay, that's probably hyperbole, but it certainly feels like it. If you have anything more than 25 movies or TV shows, navigating is an absolute slog. Unlike Plex (or any other decent media app) which allows you to scroll over to an alphabet directory to skip to a section, AppleTV makes you scroll through every last fucking piece of media you own. I've purchased hundreds of movies and shows... which means if I want to watch Zoolander, I am 100% fucked. Not only do I have to scroll through every other piece of media I own, I have to wait for all the catalog images to load because AppleTV doesn't cash them. Couple all this bullshit with the fact that AppleTV isn't even reliable at playing shit, and one has to wonder why the fuck Apple even bothers.
Having TouchID is cool. Not as cool as having FaceID, but still pretty cool. Want to buy something or access private information or enter a password... just touch the fingerprint sensor and your Mac will take care of it for you! Except when it doesn't. Which is often. Despite having TouchID and allowing it to control everything, I still end up having to type fucking passwords every fucking day. When I went to sync my FTP sites just 15 minutes ago, Keychain Access asked me to type my password. Why? What the fuck good is TouchID if it just randomly doesn't work for some random reason? Doesn't anybody at Apple even use a fucking Mac so they can see this? Or do they know about it and just not give a shit?
I am still fucking raw about the home automation company I used, INSTEON, shut down without notice. Luckily I have an independent hub that doesn't rely on their servers, but recently I've found out that all my monitoring devices are randomly failing (this morning I thought that my garage door was open because INSTEON reported it as open, even though it was closed). I understand that you roll the dice and take your chances every time you purchase a cloud-enabled device (may the people behind Feed-and-Go burn in hell for all eternity), but the very least these assholes could do is offer a workaround or give you options so that your devices no longer work.
Boy. My blood pressure is at critical levels and I'm not even half-way through the crap I'm mad about! I'd better stop before I bust a blood vessel or something. As a bonus, I'll have fodder for another WTF Wednesday, if I deem myself healthy enough to write it up.
My nine-year-old iMac computer at work has been dying for years and finally just refused to work properly at all this past January. You could never search for anything. Apps would hang the computer for no reason. The display would black out at random. It was horribly frustrating, but I held on... working partly on my laptop and partly on my home iMac when my work machine was acting up... because I knew that Apple was going to release new Macs at their Spring Event. Which they did back in March.
My guess was that they would release an M1 27" iMac, which is exactly the machine I needed.
My guess was wrong.
Instead we got the "Mac Studio" which was in every way perfect for my needs...
And now for the bad news... the Apple Studio Display that was to go with my shiny new computer hasn't arrived yet. It was actually supposed to arrive before my computer ages ago, but rather than ship it to me, Apple decided to hold off since my computer wasn't available yet. Then the COVID lockdowns hit China and so now the Mac finally arrived but I'm having to use a crappy old HDMI monitor that's so pixelated and low-res that I can barely work on it. Better than nothing, I suppose, but this is more than a little bit frustrating.
The computer itself is quite nice-looking. A minimalist 1/2-height cube with pleasing rounded corners. Kinda like a tall Mac mini...
On the front of the computer is the afore-mentioned SD card slot and two USB-C ports. There was no little "lightning bolt" symbol above the USB-C ports so I assumed that they were not Thunderbolt-4 compatible (as it is on the less-expensive model). I was wrong. They are full-on Thunderbolt, which is nice, and I'm guessing Apple left off the symbol for aesthetic reasons (as they are wont to do). The SD card slot is inexplicably still the older SD-XC UHS-II standard. The much faster SD-UC standard has been out for years now, so this is kinda inexcusable given the massive size of photo and video files now-a-days. My camera is not SD-UC so it doesn't affect me... but if I ever do get a camera with a SD-UC slot, I'm going to be understandably pissed. And... oh yeah... do you want to know what's not on the front of the computer? The power button. Which means if you need it, you are groping blindly around the back. I have no idea why this is the case. Apple could have at least put it on the side near the front if they thought it was too ugly to go on the front.
On the back of the computer is that pesky power button plus all the remaining ports. On my model this means four USB-C Thunderbolt-4 ports, two USB-A ports (helleluja!), and an HDMI 2.0 port (never mind that the 2.1 standard has been out since 2017, Apple is once again using older ports for some reason). Plus
One disadvantage about the computer is that the soft aluminum casing paired with sharp edges is just asking for dings and nicks to appear. Mine arrived with a small ding on the front-top edge, so I can only imagine that it's going to end up a lot worse once I start actually using it...
The fragility aside, I have no complaints. For something that's meant to occupy the space between consumer and pro in Apple's lineup, this is about what you'd hope for.
The computer comes with no keyboard and no mouse included in the price. You get the computer, a power cord, and a black Apple sticker (I thought that the black stickers were for "Pro" purchases, but I guess the "Studio" was deemed worthy...
For pre-configured machines you have a choice of a $2,000 model which has 32GB of unified memory and 512GB storage, plus the M1 MAX Apple Silicon chip with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores for the CPU, 24 GPU cores, and 16 neural engine cores... and a $4,000 model which has 64GB of unified memory and 1TB storage, plus the M1 ULTRA Apple Silicon chip with 16 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores for the CPU, 48 GPU cores, and 32 neural engine cores. My work was nice enough to get me the ULTRA version because I needed the memory. It would have been cheaper to upgrade the entry model, but I was happy to get the more powerful machine.
As to whether the price is worth it? Well... yes and no. I think that the $2,000 model is actually a darn good bargain for what you're getting. That would be enough to satisfy mid-range power-users at a decent cost. The $4,000 model, however, seems overpriced. For that kind of money, you really should be getting the chip with 64 GPU cores (but that's a $1,000 add-on, $5,000 total). I might feel differently if there was a clear speed benefit to the ULTRA chip, but benchmarks show that it's mostly equivalent to the lesser version except in extreme circumstances, so I would have likely been just fine spending $2,000 for the base model and adding $400 for more memory and $200 for more GPU cores. But, hey, as Apple optimizes their "Metal" rendering engine to better take advantage of ULTRA, and app developers hop on board, I might end up being very glad that my employer spent the extra cash.
The hallmark of Apple Silicon is that you get considerable power out of less energy. This is a godsend for portable Macs (my MacBook Pro with the M1 MAX chip can go all day on a single battery charge) but not as critical for desktop machines like the Mac Studio. Conceptually desktop machines will be able to put additional power to good use. But in practice it doesn't feel like more bang for your buck. I ran races between my MacBook and Mac Studio expecting the M1 ULTRA to run circles around the M1 MAX, but that's just not the case. Yes, the Mac Studio is faster, but it's not by a revolutionary amount. This may sound like a complaint... but it really isn't. The fact that Apple has managed to make chips this powerful means that the entire line gets an "A grade" from me.
Everything on my new machine feels zippy. Basic tasks happen near-instantaneously. Complex Blender 3D scenes render very fast when using version 3.1 that's optimized for MacOS X's "Metal" graphics package. Rendering video in Final Cut Pro is ridiculously fast. Needless to day, the Apple Silicon optimized versions of Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator perform amazingly well. And as more work goes into Metal drivers (by Apple) and apps (by developers) the sky's the limit. I was happy to have a working computer. But having one as powerful as the Mac Studio feels too good to be true. Work is so much easier when you have a screaming-fast machine.
Ultimately this is a very nice, very capable machine. And having an option for power-users which doesn't force you into a "Pro" machine that's overkill for your needs is refreshing. I won't get the full benefit from the machine until the Studio Display that goes with it arrives... and developers further optimize their apps to utilize it... but in the meanwhile I am a very happy camper.
Yesterday when I got home I noted that my dogwood tree was fully in bloom. It's an annual event which makes the whole thing worthwhile, and it only lasts for about a week. Then the color fades and the petals drop and I'm left with a nice-looking, albeit 100% green, tree (at least until winter comes).
I made a note to take a photo this morning because morning has the best light for photographing the blossoms because the pink looks the deepest. In the afternoon the sunlight bleaches out the flowers.
When my cats woke me up because there was a small spider on the ceiling, I was aghast to hear rain dumping down on my roof. "Surely the blossoms have all been stripped from the tree!" I said to my cats... who looked at me like I was crazy.
But when I was trudging off to work I was pleasantly surprised to see that not a single petal had fallen...
They were, however, a little bit wet.
It's a Caturday kinda day.
Yesterday morning after my Zoom meeting, I went to check on my cats. I do not know what it is about my awesome "Jungalow by Justina Blakeney" bed cover... but my cats love it. A lot. They would fight over getting to lay on it after I fold it up at night, so finally I just started folding it in two sections so they can both lay on it...
Though sometimes they do like to snuggle on it together...
The other day I dropped some papers on the floor. Jake comes sprinting up and sat on them before I could pick them up. Which meant I ended up having to sit and wait for him to move before I was able to finish my work for the day...
Apparently this is Jake's way of "helping."
I've mentioned how Jenny can never decide what she wants, but now it's happening with increasing regularity. RUB MY BELLY!!
10 seconds later... WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? NO! NO! NO! NO!!!!
But if I don't rub her belly on demand, she gets even more upset.
A three day weekend (for a lot of us here in the good ol' U.S. of A. isn't even the best thing to look forward to this fine Sunday... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• You're Our Only Hope! I was not expecting the world from the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, even though it was focusing on one of the best parts of the shitty Star Wars prequels. But, then again, The Mandalorian proved that it could be good if they wanted it bad enough...
Well, apparently they did want it bad enough, because the show is looking darn good from the first two (or six) episodes which have aired. I don't want to spoil a single frame, as I was careful to not learn too much about it before it started running. Suffice to say that the premise for the series is not what I expected, despite being a very good one (and kinda obvious). Even if you've given up on Star Wars, this might be worth a look.
• More Hope? This past week was Star Wars Celebration, the annual lovefest for A Galaxy Far, Far Away. The most interesting thing to come out of it was the trailer for Andor, which I've been anticipating for what seems like an eternity...
Looks great, doesn't it?
• Mavericky! Top Gun is one of those seminal 80's films that I have seen multiple times since first seeing it in the theater. When they came out with a sequel: Top Gun: Maverick I kept my expectations in check, because it seemed absurd that they could possibly have more to say. Or at least not enough to warrant a sequel. But it was actually quite good despite covering a lot of the same territory. This is largely thanks to very cool practical fighter plane shots which were far better than a bunch of CGI special effect shots could have ever been...
Tom Cruise was... well... Tom Cruise. Jennifer Connelly was good as she always is. And Miles Teller, who hasn't impressed me much in anything he's ever done, inhabited his role as the son of Goose in a way that really made you believe he could be the son of Meg Ryan and Anthony Edwards. Do I think it was risk getting COVID to go see? Probably not. But it should have no problem making my best-of list for 2022 because of the huge dose of retro thrills it provides.
• Thanks, Jims! While there's a lot of attention being focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Top Gun: Maverick, and the return of Stranger Things, I can tell you right now that the entertainment to beat is Shoresy. Based on the unseen (but not unheard) hockey-playing character from Letterkenny, it's a fantastic (and very funny) look at "the dirtiest player in the game"...
If you're a Letterkenny fan, this is a no-brainer. But even if you aren't this is nice diversion from the horrors of the real world.
• Fletch! I was very sad to hear that Andrew "Fletch" Fletcher from Depeche Mode had died. As one of my all-time favorite bands, I've collected all their music and have seen them in concert a half-dozen times. Rest in Peace, sir...
• Less Strange? And speaking of Stranger Things... I'm more than a little disappointed in Season 04. Each episode is bloated in a bad way, focusing more on distraction, filler, and "side-quests" than the show I was hoping to tune in for. And it's like why? Why deviate from what made the show so darn good in Seasons 01-03? I guess everybody wanted a bigger paycheck and the only way to get it was to film more material? I dunno. The show isn't exactly bad... but I'm really hoping they stick the landing in the final two episodes in five weeks to make this time investment worthwhile.
• Subway. This video from Last Week Tonight is fascinating stuff. And you OWE it to yourself to watch the Korean Meatball Drama at the end! Glorious...
The fact that Subway knew that Jared was a kid-raping pedophile and ignored it so he could keep selling their sandwiches means that they can fuck off forever. Interesting to note that Kidfuckers is the ONLY chain restaurant in my small town, which is just further evidence that they do indeed push their franchises to the breaking point and put them everywhere.
Until next Sunday then...
I haven't been back to the cemetery since I buried my mother.
I thought I would go back this year on Memorial Day to see the flag remembrance that they do every year, but I ended up taking a pass. Instead I looked at the photos I've taken from past years.
It's not the same, but it's the best I can manage right now...
A beautiful way to remember those who died in service of their country on behalf of a grateful nation.
A common plot device to many science fiction stories (and more than a few comic book story arcs) is one of an alternate timeline. Something happens... usually involving time travel... which causes established events to veer from their intended path, thus creating a new timeline.
One of my favorite uses of this is in Back to The Future:
Lately I've been feeling like I'm trapped in an evil alternate timeline where somebody has changed the path that we're all supposed to be on. And do you blame me? The amount of horrendous shit happening in the world just keeps escalating, and there really doesn't seem to be any end in sight.
Alas, something tells me that Marty McFly ain't going to show up and magically fix everything this time.