COVID is still here.
Tens of thousands are hospitalized with it and hundreds are still dying every day. Which is a vast improvement over where we were, but it's also frightening that it keeps mutating into new strains that keep this plague ongoing. The good news is that the most recent booster is still effective enough to be worth getting, providing added resistance to these new mutations.
Which brings us to this video.
Horrifying. But also riveting.
This is a good time to plug one of my favorite books of 2022, Immune by Philipp Dettmer If you haven't read it yet, it's worth your valuable time.
It's surprising how many people ask me "Do you miss traveling? You used to travel all the time and now you don't! I guess when you do something a lot, that kinda becomes entwined with your identity. Sometime that defines you to others and, to some extent, to yourself.
The truth is that I did miss it very much at first... for about six months after my non-stop travel ended. I had become so accustomed to it that it seemed normal, and not traveling seemed like things in my life were not normal. It was like I didn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't flying off to Honolulu for a couple days to present at a conference... then flying to San Francisco for an overnighter to see that paperwork was handled... then flying to Vegas for a few days for one reason or another. I was gone for 1/3 of the year, now I'm home 99% of the time.
And yet... two years later now... I am quite happy to stay at home.
Sure there are some places in the world I'd still love to visit, but the drive to actually go there has subsided. Now the idea of spending hours upon hours in airports and in planes just doesn't appeal to me. At all. Maybe once COVID has finally been eradicated I'll join up with another charity to keep fighting the good fight and start traveling again, but the longer I'm going nowhere the more I doubt it.
Maybe it'll just be a vacation here and there.
Though I don't mind saying... the idea of a staycation where I'm just building stuff in my garage woodshop sounds like it would be the best vacation ever.
Yesterday I had a slice of pizza left over from dinner, sitting on a plate next to me on the couch. Without warning, Jake jumps up and walks towards it. I take it away and say "mine." Jake looks up at me, then starts WAILING. And he would. not. stop. And so I was like "Holy shit!" So I gave it to him. He sniffed it a few times, then left. And now I'm like WTF? What were you crying for if you weren't going to at least lick the cheese off of it?
Jake has been acting out a lot lately, and I think he gets it from his sister. He sees how she has me wrapped around her little paw, so he thinks "Why shouldn't I get everything I want too?" And so he's squawking at me just as much as Jenny meows at me... demanding that I pay attention to him or give in to his frustrations when he isn't getting his way.
I am so pussy-whipped.
Take this photo, for example. I was on a Zoom call and Jake came along and sprawled out on the bannister shelf I made so he doesn't fall down the stairwell again. I thought "How cute!" and swiveled my iMac so people on the call could see him. Little did I know that this was NOT Jake trying to be cute... it was Jake waiting to get belly rubs! And when I didn't act fast enough, he was squawking at me... while I was on my Zoom call...
Which was highly amusing to my colleagues on the other end.
Then there was this morning when I woke up and Jake was on the cat tree that looms over my bed looking down at me. I said "good morning" and grabbed my computer to check my email. All of a sudden there was bird commotion outside the window and Jake was riveted...
Then the bird commotion stopped.
And Jake was very upset about it. His entertainment was gone.
So he decided to get mad at me about it.
Squawking and squawking at me... like I was supposed to go wrangle some birds for him, I guess.
Yeah, sorry buddy, but I'm not doing that. There are limits to your demands, and it's better you find that out sooner rather than later.
Be thankful that's all over... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• GoTGv3! Looks like Rocket is going to be an experiment by the High Evolutionary in the MCU, which makes perfect sense. Can't wait for this movie...
I'm sad it's the last Guardians film. But who knows where these characters will pop up next?
• Oh My! I had heard pieces of this story before, but not all together like this...
Epic. And hysterical.
• Balance! Some of the wealth on display here is... staggering...
My checking account is positively anemic by comparison.
• The Mickey Mantle Letter. Definitely NSFW material (in text), so proceed at your own risk... but holy crap!
• Dial of Destiny! Sure looks better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...
And hopefully it is better, because nothing would make me happier than Indy going out on a high note.
• Rogue Wave! It seems odd to me that cruise ships sail to Antarctica. I went on a research vessel that was built like a tank with limited people onboard, and the water got so rough that one person ended up with a compound fracture and others were hurt. Our boat was tossed around like a cork in a blender, and it still feels miraculous that we made it through without suffering more injuries than we did. But a cruise ship?? That just seems like a recipe for disaster. And for this ship it was.
Now I really need to take a long winter's nap.
There hasn't been any new snow... but my street has a bit of snow on it, which means it can be tricky to drive on. I know to keep it slow and steady, but some people do not. When I got home from work tonight there was a car gunning it and getting nowhere. I was more than a little worried that their tires would grip a random chunk of pavement and they would launch towards me.
But it didn't happen, I managed to slip past into my garage while they were still grinding away.
When I went to my window, they had managed to skid another half-dozen yards... but were still flooring it in an attempt to get anywhere. A part of me wanted to run out with some kitty litter and say "Hey, let me thrown some of this down so you can get started, then drive slow and steady and you'll get out of here." But they had seen me driving my smaller, lighter car without issue and learned nothing, so I figured it was probably a lost cause and I would end up getting shot or something.
Ten minutes later I checked again and they were gone.
No idea if they changed tactics or just lucked their way into a part of the road that they could drive on.
I'm just glad that I didn't have to use up any of my kitty litter. Stuff is expensive.
Decades ago when I had work in Seattle, I'd go out with colleagues afterwards and we'd hit up all the wrong spots in town. None of us had money for the right spots, so it was what it was.
One night as we were leaving some dive bar after all our spare change was gone, we ran into a fight. Two women were very drunk, very angry, and very intent on hurting each other. Problem was that they were too drunk to really do much damage to each other, and were mostly clawing at each other without actually connecting. As we were deciding what we might do, a guy standing in a doorway informed us that he had already called the police, and he was keeping an eye on them in case things escalated.
I was reminded of this today when I saw a woman screaming at another woman in the parking lot as she was driving away. Sure neither of them were drunk, but they were actually doing a heck of a lot more damage verbally than the women "fighting" outside of a Seattle dive bar. From what I can tell, there was a disagreement over a recipe.
I think? Apparently they both laid claim to it and that was a point of debate.
Given how they were screaming, I sure hope it was a recipe for Coca-Cola. Or Famous Amos cookies. Or something good like that.
Because I think we'd all be disappointed if it was for Snickerdoodles.
Having nothing you can say about something when there are plenty of things you could say is pretty much my idea of hell. But keeping the peace over being mired in drama is my idea of paradise. And so... looks like I'll be holding my tongue. Again.
I watch television with subtitles always on now. It's not that I'm having trouble with my hearing or anything like that... it's just that I don't want to miss anything. Whether it's because a character is difficult to understand... or the sound mix is awful... or there's information otherwise getting lost.
The most interesting part of subtitltes to me is the music descriptions.
(upbeat music begins)
(music turns darker)
(music growns louder and more intense)
(pensive music continues)
And my favorite... ( 🎵 )
The subtitles for sexytime is something for another post (moaning increases).
The snow has been relatively calm where I live so far.
But all that's due to change. I got a weather alert that late tonight we're under Winter Storm Warning.
I'd really, really prefer that the heaviest snowfalls wait until after the holidays when everything has settled down and I'm not traveling over the mountains. People lose their minds traveling for Christmas, and having tons of snow on top of that invites all kind of horrors to a drive.
As if driving with people who are texting or doing Lord knows whatever wasn't a big enough horror.
Every Caturday I tear apart my cat feeding station and steam clean everything, throw the ceramic cat fountain in the dishwasher, sanitize and clean the feeders, and wash the cat warming pad covers, cat beds, and bedding. It's a lot of work, but I want to keep my cats healthy, clean, and comfortable, so I honestly don't mind.
This morning when I gathered all the pet beds and bedding and tossed them in the washer so I could vacuum under everything, I heard meowing coming from the living room. I knew it was Jenny because Jake can't meow.
I look around the corner and she's upset because she wanted to lay in the cat bed that I keep on the coffee table. But the only thing there was the piece of cardboard that I set down to protect my table... and so that's where she was...
Look at her all prim and proper sitting there in her fluffy winter coat! Such the perfect little lady!
She moved when I hauled out the vacuum cleaning to suck up all that cat hair and dust off the table though.
The vacuum is a cat's mortal enemy, after all.
Regretfully I did not think to write a Bullet Sunday entry before I started my colonoscopy prep.
Needless to say, there won't be a Bullet Sunday post, because I am not blogging from the toilet. See you next Sunday.
When I had big fun at my colonoscopy five years ago, I was disappointed that I'd have to wait ten years for another one.
Oh... I'm totally lying. The procedure itself wasn't terrible at all... it's the prep for the colonoscopy which is absolute agony. You essentially have to completely clean out your bowels over four days of special low-fiber diet followed by liquid diet and something which reams your colon out by causing constant diarrhea. I made the HUGE mistake of scheduling my previous colonoscopy the day after Halloween, which meant I was passing out candy in-between sitting on the toilet.
Then I found out that since I had "pre-cancerous polyps" removed from my last colonoscopy, my doctor wanted me to have another one after only five years. And today was the day.
Except I actually had two things I needed to have done, which gave me a choice... have the colonoscopy with light sedation today, then come in on Friday... OR have the colonoscopy with NO SEDATION today, and have my other stuff done after. Since the worst part of the colonoscopy (the prep) would have to be done either way, I decided to get everything out of the way in one go instead of having to take an extra day off work.
The prep was, as I remembered, horrendous.
The colonoscopy with zero sedation? Not as horrific as you might imagine. Though just about any experience after colonoscopy prep is going to seem like a walk in the park.
There is some discomfort as the doctor drives the scope around your innards... and it hurt a bit when he was going around a corner of my colon... but I have to say that it was fascinating being fully conscious and watching it unfold in real-time on a TV screen while I was chatting with the doctor. I think it was fun for him too, as I am incredibly funny and charming and he had a much better time than if I were fading in and out of consciousness. We talked about all kinds of things... like how fantastic my prep was because there were no seeds or fiber in my colon... and what he was doing and looking at with each step of the procedure. It was... despite minor pain... a great experience.
PLUS I was able to stroll right out of the recovery ward. After putting my clothes on of course.
I then walked over to have my labs done and go my second appointment (which was not nearly as much fun). If I didn't have the second procedure, I could have just drove home. No waiting. No bothering a family member or friend to drive me.
And so... yeah... next time I have to have a colonoscopy, I am going to skip the sedation again. I don't know that it's for everybody (especially if your pain tolerance is low) but the benefits are just too good to ignore.
The great news is that my colon was clean as a whistle. No polyps (pre-cancerous, cancerous, or otherwise).
No idea if I have to get another colonoscopy in five years or ten years. Hopefully I will have forgotten most of the prep ordeal by then, because right now the memory is fresh and I never want to go through it again.
Today I am (mostly) at home and trying to rest up.
This, of course, requires a lot of YouTube viewing (which makes me even more thankful that I paid for YouTube Premium, because the ads would have driven me insane by now).
Of all the videos I watched, this is the one that I found most fascinating...
Maybe it's the nerd in me, but the science of stuff like this never ceases to blow my mind.
I have never understood making fun of somebody for hard work.
This past Summer I was in the grocery store very early in the morning where an aisle was blocked off so that a guy could mop it. As I walked past, there were two women (old enough to know better) who were trash-talking this kid because they wanted something down that particular aisle. The guy, who was thankfully unperturbed by their rudeness, offered to get something for them if they could hold on a minute. Which they couldn't, apparently, as they walked off in a huff.
I thought of this today when I was at the grocery store where something had spilled, and they had it sectioned off for cleaning. And it got me to thinking about all the hardworking people who have to put up with people's shit over what they have to do to make a living.
Now I'm wondering what, exactly, the alternative is supposed to be. The majority of people take the best job they can get. That may end up being a shit job they don't like, but it's what pays their rent and puts food on the table. So what else is there? And why is it that the best they can get worthy of ridicule or abuse?
Somebody has to do the job, after all, and if it's a job which is that distasteful to you... can't you just be thankful that it's not something you have to do and move on with your life? And you just know that a goodly chunk of the people being abusive assholes had their job handed to them on a silver platter or, also a big possibility, have never worked a day in their life.
And can you imagine their reaction if a dirty floor didn't get cleaned up?
After my colonoscopy on Monday, I had some minor surgery which was a follow-up to a tedious problem caused by an older minor surgery.
Ultimately everything went very well, everybody is happy, and I was sent home with pain medication in case the resulting pain was a big too much to handle. And what's weird? No pain on Monday. Only minor pain on Tuesday. But fairly awful pain yesterday and today. It starts once my meds start wearing off around 1:30 to 2:30. At which time I could take another pill, but that may ultimately lead to something worse than pain, so I just get myself as comfortable as possible and let it pass.
The good news is that it seems to be passing more and more quickly.
Right now it's almost 9pm and the pain is practically gone.
The hope is that tomorrow I won't have to take any medication at all. Or, if I do, it ends up only being a half-a-pill or something like that. Otherwise, I think it likely that my recovery will just drag out ad nauseam for another week or two. Something I honestly can't afford... mentally or financially.
which is a darn shame, because I could really go for some hospital chocolate cake.
I don't celebrate Christmas. I haven't in decades.
Back when my grandmother was alive, I put on a good show over it, but since she died there was just no point carrying on pretending. Sure, I still ended up taking my mom to the odd local Christmas event in town or asking if she wanted to tag along on a work trip to Orlando so she could wander around Walt Disney World at Christmas (her favorite time to go), but that was for her. Not for me...
And now that my mom is gone, I really don't have to pretend.
I make my annual pilgrimage over the mountains to have Christmas dinner with my family-friends, toss out a few presents for the kids, then trip right back over the mountains for a post-Christmas nap.
Which, to be honest, is ultimately the best part of Christmas for me now... a nap.
My cats are very upset about the snow that's been dumping down. Very.
Jake will go out in the catio and squawk at it. Jenny prefers to meow at it from the comfort of the indoors looking out the window. Either way, they are having a bad day.
It's different for me.
No matter how bad of a day I've had, coming home to have my fuzzy girl curl up next to me and purr like a motor boat makes it all better...
But then there's Jake, giving me a heart attack when it looked like he was going to jump downthe stairwell...
The last time he did that, I had to take him for an emergency run to the vet.
I need a week to catch up on life before heading over the mountains for the holidays.
See you post-holidays for my annual wrap-ups for 2022.
I don't know why, but Santa cupcakes just taste better...
If Christmas is your thing, hope you're having a good one!
I was supposed to drive over the mountains on Friday. But the forecast called for freezing rain, which makes driving in the mountains crazy-hazardous, so I took a big ol' pass and drove over on Thursday.
There were a few slippery spots along the way, but it was a good drive overall and I didn't have to put chains on, which was nice...
I was due to drive back on Christmas Day (Sunday) but the mountain passes were closed. The one I drove over has no estimated opening date, the other route had decent roads, but there was a semi jack-knifed on the second pass, so that was closed. It was still closed on Monday morning, but eventually opened at 11am. The roads themselves were pretty good. The problem was that there was a lot of people on the road post-holiday, and half of them were either clueless or assholes. Now there's freezing rain all over the place, which makes me very happy I'm not driving in it. Instead I'm in bed with the cats trying not to fall asleep. If I go to bed before 10pm, I'll wake up at 4am and be very cross indeed.
With each passing day I grow more enraged at Apple.
It used to be that they did no wrong. But now-a-days? It's just one shit sandwich after another.
Take for example HomeShit (AKA HomeKit). This technology has been fucking stupid from the very beginning. But everything I read lead me to believe that over the past six years most of the problems have been resolved and it's a very good home automation solution in 2022. And so when INSTEON bit the dust and I had to replace all the smart tech in my home, I went ahead and took a bite of the HomeKit Sandwich. With a caveat. I made sure that the HomeKit stuff I bought was "Matter Smart Home Enabled" so if I wanted to switch to Google Home Assistant or (heaven forbid) back to Amazon Alexa, I would be able to do so because Matter is going to be compatible with everything.
Yeah... HomeKit is still HomeShit.
Nothing is a more glowing indication of this than the fact that Apple just rolled out a new "HomeKit Architecture Upgrade"... then had to immediately delete it because people were having all kinds of crazy troubles with losing their smart home. Some great beta-testing Apple has there. Though I should note that my upgrade proceeded without issue. That I know of. Yet.
And... the upgrade actually seems to have solved a problem where if you edited an automation it would stop working. Mine seem to be working now.
But it's not all a bed of roses.
As I was driving over the mountains for the holidays, I realized that I forgot to turn off the alarms that I have set up on my HomePod minis to let Jake and Jenny know when it's time for breakfast and dinner (I found that by training them to listen for an alarm, they don't bother me when I'm home as it gets close to feeding time). I was not worried though, because I could just turn them off remotely using the Apple "Home" app on my iPhone.
Except, no. Not so much.
For some stupid fucking reason, Apple requires you to be on the same WiFi network before it will allow you to change the alarms. Never mind that I could easily change them remotely when my alarms were on Amazon Alexa... Apple refuses to allow me to turn off the alarms remotely. And I've never been so disgusted with any "smart home" technology I've ever used. Not being able to turn off alarms means that every morning at 6:55am and every evening at 5:55pm, my HomePod minis would have their alarms going off... and they don't fucking stop going off for fifteen fucking minutes! That's fifteen minutes of my poor cats having to listen to an alarm blaring. That's just fucking cruel, and I am so enraged with Apple that I very nearly threw all my HomePod minis in the fucking garbage when I got home. So damn stupid. WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT OF HAVING MY SMART HOME ON MY PHONE IF I CAN'T CONTROL ALL ASPECTS OF MY SMART HOME WHEN I'M AWAY FROM MY HOME?!?
This goes beyond AirDrop file transfers not working.
This goes beyond print jobs failing all the time.
This goes beyond the Mail app being a hot pile of fucking trash.
This goes beyond daily frustrations with bugs in Apple apps that never get fixed.
This even goes beyond the fact that HomeShit automations still failing ALL THE FUCKING TIME...
It's a simple thing that has huge impact on my poor cats having to listen to alarms blaring at them.
But Apple doesn't give a single fuck about crap like this because they're too big to give a fuck about customers. As what has always been the case, you get the shit sandwich that Apple serves you or you eat a shit sandwich from somewhere else. And they're all terrible. Though it would seem that Google Assistant is the least worst, according to tests by Marques Brownlee...
Personally, I'm about ready to go back to having a stupid home. Sure it's not as helpful, but at least you can count on it to work as expected.
Welp, you know what time it is... my annual wrap-up of my favorite films of the year! Or, to be more accurate, my favorite films that I actually saw. Which is still not as many as usual, thanks to COVID, but here we are.
THE EIGHTEEN BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.
#1 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
Well this is kinda a no-brainer for me, isn't it? And that wasn't always a given when you consider that Black Panther himself... Chadwick Boseman... tragically passed before filming began. In lesser hands, this would have been a disaster. But Ryan Cooler channeled that loss into something that was far better than it had a right to be. Oddly enough, that's largely thanks to Marvel finally bringing Namor to the screen... brilliantly realized by Tenoch Huerta. The story is a bit meandering for a while, but once it finds its footing, everything just... works. It helps that the entire cast is fire, from Angela Basset on down. To say anything about the story is to spoil the story. Suffice to say that I hope Ryan Cooler isn't done with Wakanda yet... and they can give M'Baku his own Disney+ series any day now. Just back up a truck filled with money to Winston Duke's front door and get it done.
#2 Wedding Season (Netflix)
Yeah, it's a rom-com on Netflix... but it's an incredibly good rom-com. With a Bollywood ending that is absolutely everything. Funny, charming, sweet, and a good story to boot... this is all you could ask for in a movie. Mothers set up their kids on an on-line dating site, and they both get so tired of it that they decide to fake-date. And then...
#3 Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Whereas Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has the multiverse hammered into it with a mallet, Everything Everywhere All At Once has the concept baked into the core of the movie and shows how a "multiverse" can be more than just a gimmick to introduce more characters and tease fans with "what-if" casting. On top of that you have Michelle Yeoh unleashing her full potential heading up a fantastic cast, and this movie was poised for greatness. And great it is. A woman whose life is in crisis from all angles gets sucked into an inter-dimensional plot to take over the multiverse... and has to battle her way out of it all to find herself. And the result couldn't have been more wacky, interesting, and wonderful.
4 The Unbearable weight of Massive Talent (Lionsgate)
"You're right, that is how you spook a bear. I apologize." I knew this would make my list half-way through watching the trailer, because the whole concept of Nicholas Cage playing Nicholas Cage and skewering his life is the kind of role that every Nicholas Cage fan dreams of. And, as a one-two follow-up to last year's brilliant Pig, I was ready for more Cage. But I didn't really have a handle on just how brilliant Cage's performance... and this entire film... was going to be. "Nick Cage" gets tangled up with a wealthy super-fan and the CIA, and the result is both hilarious and so very, very smart. Along the way we also get Pedro Pascal in a role so good that it makes me almost forget his part in the horrific Wonder Woman 2 debacle (seriously, I had to rewatch him smooth out the pillow over and over because he was so committed to it). I was tempted to put this movie in my #1 spot just because it was so much better than I thought it was going to be, but... Wakanda Forever.
#5 The Presence of Love (Hallmark)
I've decided to stop discounting Hallmark movies just because they're Hallmark movies when it comes to my yearly wrap-up (last year's The Baker's Son deserved more than an honorable mention). I had this movie playing as background noise many, many times... and ended up getting wrapped up in the story every time. This an achingly beautiful film featuring wonderful performances from everybody involved (including the little girl, who is fantastic), and features cinematography that could be set against major studio feature films. So much care was put into every scene to make sure moments are touching and honest without feeling artificial. Not an easy feat for Hallmark... or any studio, really.
#6 The People We Hate at the Wedding (Amazon Prime)
I think I laughed the harder at this movie than any other this year. A woman who's having an affair with a married man heads to England with family for a half-sister's wedding. The result is hilarious in all the right ways... but doesn't sacrifice a good story just for laughs. Where the movie really shines is the cast, which is perfectly realized for every role. Comedic chops for days, but with enough heart to go beyond superficial meandering, this movie was better than it had a right to be.
#7 Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (Marvel Studios)
Doctor Strange comics at their best are when they take the character into weird and bizarre directions. Places other super-heroes can't traverse. In that respect, the second movie (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) is more like the comics I love. He's just made so imaginative and cool... using his powers in really creative ways to keep things interesting. The problem is that the story itself is a bit weak. By forcing the whole "multiverse" plotline on the film, they kinda undermined the character. I really hope that they put an end to the multiverse thing soon so more movies don't have to suffer through it.
#8 Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount)
Given the fact that this is pro-military enrollment propaganda, it's surprisingly smart. Tom Cruise is back to train a team of Naval aviators for an impossible mission... but also has to deal with the ghosts of his past when Goose's son is one of the pilots in the mix. Sure, there's a lot of wacky-ass impossible stuff going on, but the film is incredibly entertaining, which trumps the problems that pop up.
#9 Thor: Love and Thunder (Marvel Studios)
My favorite Marvel Studios movie is Thor: Ragnarok, because it's just such an incredible triumph. Funny, but with real stakes. Entertaining, but whip-smart. I was expecting Taika Waititi to dish up more of the same... and to a certain extent he does... but the smart edge from Ragnarok is completely abandoned this time around, and it's very noticeable. It's almost a parody at points. But still... the characters are great, the story has a point to make, and finally getting a resolution to Jane Foster's story adds up to a good movie.
#10 Confess Fletch (Miramax/Paramount)
I have watched the two Chevy Chase Fletch films more times than I can count. Because despite the fact that they deviate from the books in numerous ways, they were still darn entertaining. Confess Fletch strays back towards the character of the book and ditches the corny disguises that defined Chevy's take. What John Hamm does with the material is, in so many ways, just as funny... but also feels much smarter. This time around Fletch is framed for murder and has to find the real murderer while staying one step ahead of the police (and his new girlfriend). Doesn't hurt that the mystery is pretty good (even though the solution isn't that surprising).
#11 Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple Studios)
Two years ago Cooper Raiff unleashed Shithouse and I became an instant fan. Now he's back with a movie that is better in just about every way. And how he manages to not take the easy or expected route in his films... but still manages to create such satisfying movies... is beyond me. All this and he's actually a really good actor on top of of being an exceptional writer and director. The setup for Cha Cha Real Smooth is like films you've seen dozens of times before... and yet the payoff is so much better because it's not like films you've seen dozens of times before. You end up feeling completely different about some characters at the end than you did in the beginning, and that takes true talent to accomplish because most times when this is attempted it just feels so fake and unearned. I'm not going to say anything about the story, because the less prepared you are the more you'll like it.
#12 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24)
Marcel is a shell and he has shoes on. He lives with his grandmother and he's trying to find his family. The result is heartwarming and brilliant. There's a part of me who wanted to put this movie at #1 just to get people to watch it... it's that good and that deserving... and if I were a little smarter, I would have. Even so, just give it a shot.
#13 Bullet Train (Columbia)
It's an assassin free-for all and the stakes couldn't be higher. What's surprising about this balls-out action flick is that it wasn't dumbed down, as it's fairly complex and has plots within plots. The entire cast was amazing... but Brad Pitt was just beyond. He has a way of making casual characters be capable of carrying an entire movie, which is a rare talent. Bloody fun!
#14 Prey (Hulu)
The sequels which followed the awesome original Predator range from bad to awful, so I wasn’t holding out much hope for a direct-to-Hulu fifth film. Much to my surprise, it’s easily my favorite since the original… and actually surpasses it in a number of ways. A prequel to Predator taking place in the early 1700’s, Prey follows a young Comanche healer who wants to prove herself as a hunter... and stumbles upon the ultimate prey... a Predator. What follows is a very clever reimagining of the original concept that feels completely fresh. Violent and brutal from the start, it’s not for the week at heart, but an entertaining ride despite it all.
#15 Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Disney)
This masterpiece of mockery is hilariously depraved. From ruthlessly skewering Hollywood (including everything Disney) to making fun of more franchises than I can count, everything about this film seems impossible (it’s got E.T. vs. Batman, for heaven’s sake!). How in the heck Disney ever allowed it to be made is a mystery. When their old colleague Monterey Jack is abducted, Chip n’ Dale have to put their contentious past behind them so they can team up and save him. John Mulaney and Andy Samburg were odd choices to voice Disney’s famous chipmunks, but in the context of this film it’s gold. Anything I say past that is a potential spoiler, and that reason alone guaranteed it would land in my Best Of list. If you’ve got Disney+ and can appreciate self-referential humor in high doses, this is essential viewing.
#16 RRR (DVV)
Look, either you will be able to buy into this movie 1000% and enjoy every minute that it is blowing your mind with unreal absurdity... or you won’t. If you can buy into it, you’re in for a Tollywood treat of epic proportions. If you can’t? Well, there’s no hope for you. I’ve watched many a Bollywood and Tollywood movie, so it was easy for me to buy into the men-as-gods theming and a bromance that is about as good as it gets.
#17 The Gray Man (Netflix)
Ryan Gosling has gone from an actor whose films I've avoided... to being an actor which will get me to watch a movie I might have otherwise not bothered with. As "The Gray Man" he's a CIA top operative who comes across information that will blow the lid off of the agency that he's devoted his life to. That's not going to please people in power, so they send assassins after him to make sure that the information never sees the light of day. While I didn't exactly love this movie, I did find its action to be endlessly entertaining with a terrific cast. I don't think that it did as well as expected for Netflix, which is a real shame. This has "franchise potential" written all over it, and I would love to see the character come back for another round.
#18 Glass Onion (Netflix)
Rian Johnson completely reinvigorated the Agatha-Christie-style-murder-mystery with Knives Out, and now he and Daniel Craig are back with a new murder mystery. I'm just going to come out and say it... the mystery itself is not that great. But the cast is frickin' fantastic, and their characters are so mind-bogglingly entertaining as to make the movie worth your valuable time. I will give them credit for literally saying that the murder is "stupid"... within the actual film, and that goes a long way towards me appreciating what was done. Because, yeah, people are stupid.
DIDN'T SEE, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...
OVERRATED BUT STILL GOOD...
TOTALLY SHIT THE BED...
Usually my list is a bit eclectic, including everything from metal to country to trance. But this year I just wasn't interested in straying from pop, and so I didn't. Thus here's my favorite pop albums of 2022 for your listening pleasure (I am next to positive that I'm missing some stuff on here because I lost my list back in November and had to recreate it!)...
#1 Flying Machines by Max Frost
Max first came to my attention thanks to his music mashups on TikTok where he sings a song by one band in the style of another band... playing all the parts himself. Most of them were very good. Some of them were exceptional (singing Dream by Fleetwood Mac in the style of The 1975 was genius). His original stuff never really grabbed me until he debuted Flying Machines which is filled with catchy pop tracks that I listened to a lot in 2022.
#2 Muna by Muna
Muna completely captivated me with their 2017 debut album, About U. Every track was brilliant, and I still find myself listening to it often. In 2019 they gave us Muna Saves the World which was nice, but it didn't hook me the same. Now they're back with their third album and it gets an awful lot right. Really well-crafted tracks that show they haven't lost their touch.
#3 Being Funny in a Foreign Language by The 1975
This is likely my favorite contemporary pop band going today. The problem is that after their debut album... where I obsessed over every track... the results have been mixed. I like maybe half the tracks and can leave the rest. Their latest is maybe sitting at a little over half, which is nice, but it's still missing something for me. Even so, the tracks I like got played a lot.
#4 Harry's House by Harry Styles
I have been awaiting the follow-up to Fine Line for three years and largely found the resulting album worth the wait.
#5 Midnights by Taylor Swift
I don't know what it is with me and Taylor. The holy trifecta of 1986, Reputation, and Lover took her to the top of my list when it comes to music. But then we got Folklore and Evermore which sent her stock plummeting because I only enjoyed a few songs off of each. Now Taylor has made some improvements with Midnights, that's a well-crafted album I've been enjoying quite a lot... just not at the level of past pop perfection.
#6 Fear Fear by Working Men's Club
I was very late to the party with the debut album of Working Men's Club, but I was right on time for the follow-up. Fear Fear is a glorious post-punk, new-wave masterpiece that could have sat comfortably next to Depeche Mode and other acts in the 80's. My favorite track, Circumference has serious vibes from so many bands of that era that it almost seems impossible to have come from 2022.
#7 Crash by Charlie XCX
I'll say one thing about Charlie, she's consistent. She knows exactly what her fans want to hear, then delivers beautifully.
#8 Dawn FM by The Weeknd
My relationship with The Weeknd is complicated. When he has a song I like, I love it beyond measure. But when he's being experimental or trying to make some statement art piece, it's beyond frustrating. This time around he's got some really great tracks sprinkled amongst some oddities which don't track... all while performing under his "Old Weeknd" persona (which is a step above his "Car Wreck Bandaged Weeknd," I guess?).
#9 *Happiness Not Included by Soft Cell
This is band which is completely defined by their debut masterpiece, Nonstop Erotic Cabaret. It was a sleazy, sex-filled romp that dropped track after track on a theme you didn't want to end. Forty years later and the sound is still oozing from your speakers with a sleazy disdain, and that ain't a bad thing. The songs are new. The vibe is not. And what more could you want? How about a collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys? Well, here you go...
#10 The Tipping Point by Tears For Fears
Here we are with another 80's band giving us something new while holding on to the sound their fans are wanting.
#11 The Loneliest Time by Carly Rae Jepsen
I never really paid attention to Carly Rae, only noticing when she had a hit climbing the pop charts. Then came Emotion, and I had a friend gushing about it so I gave the album a shot. It was gold. Since then I've been hoping to hear another album that catches me like that, but 2019's Dedicated wasn't it. Neither is The Loneliest Time, but I'm still enjoying it.
#12 Night Call by Years and Years
While not quite reaching past heights, this is a darn good album with some real treats to be had.
BEST ALBUM THAT WASN'T AN ALBUM: All the single releases from Fly by Midnight from 2022!
This has to be one of the most brilliantly prolific pop bands running. In 2022 they release a seemingly non-stop parade of songs... none of them from an album. Or even an LP! Some bands use albums to tell a story... the songs on it connecting to create a narrative. Other bands just put tracks on the album that are collected for no particular reason, they just want an album out. Fly by Midnight doesn't bother. The just keep going and going. I mean, seriously, JUST LISTEN TO THESE GEMS! If these were off an album, that release would have topped my list.
HONORABLE MENTION: See You in the Stars by The Lightning Seeds
After Cloudcuckooland, Sense, and Jollification I didn't think that things could get much better for Ian Broudie's music project. And I was, unfortunately, right... there was a steady decline as the music just wasn't hitting like it had in those first three albums. See You In The Stars is more of the same, but did provide enough feeling of nostalgia for me to tune into it with fondness.
HONORABLE MENTION: Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson by She & Him
Zooey Deschanel and and M Ward's band has had some pretty great highs in their musical careers. Which is why I'm just not getting the need for an album of Brian Wilson covers. It's not bad... they don't embarrass themselves or anything, and it's perfectly listenable... it's just that this album isn't really needed. The Wilson originals bury the effort six feet under, and I wish they had spent their time on something that mattered.
SINGLE OF THE MOMENT: Loser by Charlie Puth
I have to take Charlie in small doses because listening to an album stacked up has me growing really tired really quickly. That being said, I really loved his track Loser, which is quite a banger.
LATE ADDITION: Wrapped Around Your Finger by Post Malone
I maintain my list all throughout the year, adding albums and songs as they pop up. This one popped up for me two weeks ago! It's the kind of music from Posty that I love, and ended my year of music on a happy note.
And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows that came out this year.
Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of TV shows that I saw which came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of shows I never got around to watching that might have ended up on my list... and (more likely) shows I loved but have forgotten about. This year we had no new Ted Lasso... and Magnum P.I. was canceled... only to be saved to return next year, so there's two slots open. And, boy, there's an awful lot of Netflix on this list. And here we go...
#1 Andor (Disney+)
This should surprise absolutely nobody who has seen the series. The genius of the show is that it takes the familiar Star Wars universe and sends it in a completely different direction. This is a thought-piece in twelve parts that's brilliantly realized and has a depth you just don't expect. And it all could have failed spectacularly if not for the incredible talent that was assembled. Diego Luna has an important transition to make between the first and last episodes, and he makes you feel it happening... bit by bit. Add truly remarkable performance by Stellan Skarsgård, Genevieve O'Reilly, and the rest, and everything is next-level amazing. Not just for Star Wars, but for television as a whole. There is an abundance of violence in the series that was unavoidable... the rebel alliance had to be born of violence to make sense... but it's not gratuitous or exploitative, which is saying a lot in this day and age. Nope, each and every moment is earned and builds on what has come before. The second season will plunge head-first into Rogue One, the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back, and you can bet I'll be watching. After the post-credits scene in Episode 12 of Andor how could I not?
#2 The Sandman (Netflix)
An adaptation of one of my favorite comic book series of all time was bound to be problematic and, to be honest, I’m shocked that it turned out better than I could have hoped. The visuals? Amazing. The cast? Perfect. If there’s a flaw, it’s that some weird choices were made that seriously compromised the pacing. I don’t mind a story taking its time, but holy crap did they dwell too long in parts. The reabsorption of Gregory in the second episode felt as if it seemed to go on for an eternity and didn’t really serve the purpose of illustrating sacrifice as it was intended. Which could have been forgiven if not for the fact that it happened multiple times. I am beyond grateful that we're getting a second season, because the stories only get more interesting from here. But what I really want? An adaptation of Death: The High Cost of Living.
#3 Heartstopper (Netflix)
Young gays in love. But so much more than that. What amazes me about this show is how many opportunities they had to fall into the Hallmark trap of letting a misunderstanding sabotage their relationship, but the both of them were actually more adult about their relationship than actual adults. It's sweet, heartwarming, smart, and beautifully performed. With a few surprises... and a major unannounced guest star... which made this the gift that keeps on giving.
#4 Wednesday (Netflix)
I thought, at best, this would be a clever series about a great character. I had no idea that it would be so brilliantly conceived. It's not just Wednesday wandering around being Wednesday (which would be entertaining enough)... there's actually a very good mystery underneath a very good story, and having Jenna Ortega so beautifully portray the character was just the icing on the cake. And then there's the rest of the cast, which was flawless. Gwendoline Christie? Catherine Zeta-Jones? Luis Guzmán? CHRISTINA RICCI?!? Since this was one of the most streamed episodes of any show on Netflix, I'm confident that we'll get a second season... and I can't wait.
#5 Shoresy (Crave/Hulu)
Letterkenny is a polarizing show that you either get or you don't. Personally I love it, which is why I was excited to see a spin-off of the never-seen hockey player, Shoresy. Imagine my utter shock to find out that it's not only deserving of Letterkenny... it actually surpasses it in a few ways. Hilariously funny, crude, brash, and yet charming despite itself, this is a show I ended up watching all over from the start the minute the credits on the final episode rolled. Because that ending. Dang. There was no more emotional moment on my television in 2022.
#6 The Recruit (Netflix)
This show came late in the game (December 16th!) and caused me to reevaluate this entire list (which has been on my computer for months). Noah Centineo, who is perfectly cast, is a CIA recruit who keeps getting himself into the thick of things... and a mystery that may be the death of him. Frustratingly, the series ends on a cliffhanger, so I sure hope Netflix doesn't screw us over by canceling it.
#7 She Hulk: Attorney at Law (Marvel Studios/Disney+)
This was always going to be a challenging transition from comic book to screen. Especially when they decided to take it into the fourth-wall-breaking direction that John Byrne used to brilliant effect in his series. At first, you think it's just a side-gimmick that doesn't really mean anything to the show at large. But then you get to the final episode... where they lean into the concept hard. The result is great on its own, but getting Charlie Cox back as Daredevil was too good. I am interested in seeing where the character goes in the MCU future. Especially since Tatiana Maslany is so bloody brilliant in the role.
#8 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)
After Discovery started shitting the bed more with each new season after the first one, I didn't know that I was interested in more Star Trek. But there was a bright spot... we got Spock, Pike, and Number One back. And they were fantastic. There was no way I was going to miss a spin-off from this, though I was expecting the worst given where Disco ended up. Boy was I wrong. Strange New Worlds is hands-down the best Trek since the original series, and every episode was beautifully crafted by people who actually GET Star Trek.
#9 Reacher (Amazon Prime)
Finally. Just... finally we get a guy playing Reacher that fits what we've been reading all these years. I mean, Tom Cruise had a couple of good movies... they were fine... but he is so far away physically as to make him an entirely different character. But Alan Ritchson? Yeah, there he is. And the story for the first season was exceptionally well-done. And it was a long time coming. Very much looking forward to Season 02.
#10 Peacemaker (HBO Max)
When James Gunn unleashed The Suicide Squad upon an unsuspecting world, I was overjoyed that there was a DC movie that was worth a crap. No, I wasn't thrilled with the turn that some characters ended up taking, but ultimately that's what should happen in this franchise. One of the most surprising characters to emerge was The Peacemaker. But that in no way guaranteed his series would be worth watching. Except it was. It 1000% was. Getting another season is a gift that I am waiting for with all the anticipation.
#11 What We Do In the Shadows (FX)
This hilarious show has its ups and downs, but it's always, always entertaining. And funny. And the fourth season actually eclipsed the third for me, which was an unexpected treat. Back in July the series got renewed for Season 05 and Season 06, which was about the best news we could have gotten in a cruel Summer.
#12 Abbott Elementary (ABC)
It seemed impossible that a brilliant show about Philadelphia teachers that was darn-near flawless in its first season could keep getting better. And yet here we are. All the characters are so fully realized that you can't help but be invested. While it's nice to see Quinta Brunson finally getting her due... the fact that Sheryl Lee Ralph is getting such recognition is icing on the cake.
#13 Julia (HBO Max)
Meryl Streep did such a phenomenal job portraying Julia Child in Julie and Julia that it salvaged a movie that was half awful. Somebody edited out the Julie parts to create Julia without Julie, and it only made me want more. That never happened, but we did get a series with Sarah Lancashire that was ridiculously good. So good that HBO blessed us with a second season which will hopefully bless our televisions in 2023.
#14 Barry (HBO Max)
It took THREE YEARS to get the third season, but it turns out to be worth the wait. Always funny. Always disturbing. Barry manages to have an edge to it that most shows can never find. Given where we ended up at the end of Season 02, I was wondering how they would find a way to keep it moving forward without imploding. And you find out now that this was never the intent. We end in a dark place with the final episode that has me anxious to know how it will resolve in the fourth (and final) season. Probably nowhere pretty, as that seems impossible now. But I'll be watching.
#15 Letterkenny (Hulu)
Every time I wonder how they are going to keep this show fresh after so many years, they just keep going as if to say "We never stopped being fresh! I mean, the first episode of Season 11 mostly consists of a town meeting where they endlessly debate the merits of the best flavor potato chip (with the answer being obvious to anybody who is familiar what they got up der in Canada). I binged the show in a day and only wanted more. Guess we're not done with Letterkenny just yet.
#16 Reservation Dogs (FX)
Season 02 took us on a continuation of the brilliance that made the first one of the best on television. Watching this series about teens trying to find their lives leaves you questioning what you've been doing with your life... in the best possible way. The show has been (wisely) renewed for another season, but given the ending we just got, you can't help but wonder what that season will look like.
#17 Our Flag Means Death (HBO Max)
Color me shocked. This series came out of nowhere for me to completely obsess over, and answers the question "What would happen if Captain Blackbeard were a gay pirate and finds love on the high seas?" What had me completely mystified is how Taika Waititi found the time to not only star in the show, but write and direct the first episode. The guy has projects stacked to the rafters. And because of that, I thought the show didn't have much chance in being renewed. And then... because it is a beloved show that's worth Waititi's valuable time, it actually was renewed. No idea when they'll find time... but I'm thrilled about it.
#18 Ms. Marvel (Marvel Studios/Disney+)
I was very much looking forward to this show because the comic book was so fantastic. Then it arrived and was mostly faithful. They had to make adjustments to her powers in order to make them work visually in real life, but it didn't diminish who she is or change what she does, so it really didn't matter. Her Muslim background and family life are gold. The problem is that they went far too convoluted in brewing up her origin story, and it hurt the show. There was a nice (but weird) twist in there, but they had to twist themselves into a pretzel to get there, so it ultimately wasn't worth it. I would have preferred that they just came up with a more straightforward super-hero teen angst tale.
MUST SEE TELEVISION SPECIALS AND DOCUMENTARIES...
TELEVISION HONORABLE MENTION...
ANIMATION TO WATCH...
HAVEN'T SEEN, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...
OVERRATED BUT STILL GOOD...
TOTALLY SHIT THE BED...
It seems a little pointless to be recapping all the things I did in 2022 when I didn't really do much except work. Didn't go anywhere notable. Didn't do anything notable. It's an entirely different ballgame than it once was. Thanks to the charity I worked with folding and the pandemic raging, I'm content to stay at home watching TV and hang out with my cats.
Which has me wondering if I'm just done traveling now... even when COVID is dead and buried. IF COVID is ever dead and buried.
I mean, an occasional vacation would be nice... and I still have dreams of visiting some places in the world (maybe)... so a few flights will be in my future, but nothing like what once was. Some years it seemed like I was gone half the year. Pretty sure those days are gone.
Fortunately, the US Government hasn't banned TikTok yet, so I've aways got that to keep me entertained...
🥰🥰🥰♬ sonido original - Ķĺęvēř Ëŕãżø🇪🇨✍💎10⚽️👉?👈💙
Until 2023 then.