Posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2013
I'm so happy I could just shit because I only had to work a half-day today. Of course, a "work day" for me is 16 hours long, which means my half-day is the same as most people's full-day, so I guess I should be as excited as I think I am...
I miss animated GIFs. They seem to be a dying art in the age of YouTube videos. If you're reading this in a feedreader, then odds are that it dropped support for displaying animated GIFs because nobody cares any more. I can only guess web browsers will eventually follow suite.
I was thinking of that this morning when I found a box of VHS tapes filled with awesome television shows that cannot be found on DVD. The VCR I had been saving to play them wouldn't even turn on, so I guess that's the end of that since the alternatives are pretty terrible. Kind of makes me nervous to try turning on my LaserDisc player.
I remember when records gave way to 8-track which, in turn, gave away to cassette tapes. Those, of course, gave way to CDs. Now all music is digital, so I guess it's only natural that video catch up.
The shame of it all being all those terrific television shows and movies that get left behind.
Like animated GIFs in the wind.
Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
Cancel your post-Super-Bowl plans... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Poop! On March 1st, one of the greatest innovations in toilet technology ever conceived will finally be available... THE DIGITAL 2-IN-1 POTTY WITH ACTIVITY SEAT FOR iPAD! Or, as I like to call this stunning testament to genius... the iPotty...
Why this isn't available in adult sizes, I will never know. If you want to order one, Amazon is accepting pre-orders!
• Bowl! I really don't give a crap about football in general, and the Super Bowl in particular, but my love of a good television commercial definitely have me looking forward to the big game. Or, since I don't watch the thing, I guess I should say after the big game... where I rush to see all the ads that aired.
This year was a massive disappointment. Most of the ads sucked ass (that idiotic GoDaddy ad was just fucking gross), and there was only one... ONE commercial that I felt was Super Bowl worthy...
And even that was a bit manipulative and predictable.
What happened to the epic Super Bowl commercials of yesteryear?
• Closing! One of my favorite guilty pleasures is searching the internet for "The World's Most Dangerous Airport Landings." There are several really good lists, and a number of scary videos... all glorifying those airports that are insanely difficult to land at. Later this month, one of those airports... Ecuador’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito... is due to close. I am very familiar with it, because it's appeared on a number of those "Most Dangerous" lists I love, and for good reason. It's right in the middle of a big city, is surrounded by mountains, is plagued by nasty cross-winds, and is at a high altitude...
Having trouble finding it? Yeah... that's just one of the problems...
Photo was uncredited, but I got it from Flying Magazine.
I always thought it would be cool to have bragging rights to have landed at one of these crazy airports. Guess there's one less chance of that happening now. Though I'll bet the people whose homes are surrounding Mariscal Sucre aren't sorry about that.
• Trek! The Lone Ranger, Man of Steel, Oblivion, Monsters University, A Good Day to Die Hard, Gravity, World War Z, Elysium, Despicable Me 2, Thor: The Dark World , Oldboy, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D.... the list of awesome-looking movies coming out this year is nearly endless. But there are two that I am looking forward to above all others. This is the first...
Talk about boldly going where no Star Trek has gone before... Into Darkness looks amazing.
• Metal! And, numero dos... the ramp-up to Iron Man 3 is going to be excruciating. The new Super Bowl ad seems to indicate that the film will hit all the right notes...
Of course, after this installment, I'm just going to be pining away for Iron Man 4, so I guess it's always something.
And... time to take my busted body to bed.
Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
It's been a sucktastic week so far.
I really wish I could go into a com fora the rest of it, but I'll consider myself lucky if I can just get a couple of hours sleep tonight.
And now in a totally unrelated topic... remember when Wheel of Fortune had a "Shopping Showcase" where the winner of a round could take their money and shop for absurd prizes?
Whatever happened to that? Without the Showcase thing, Wheel of Fortune is kinda boring.
Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Another boring February Sunday got you down? Don't despair... because and even MORE boring Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Oscars! Meh.
• Over! By this time next week, Tiwlight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two will have been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. And then it's over, right? I mean, it's the final shitty movie of the shitty Twilight movies based on the shitty Twilight books, isn't it? I won't have to be subjected to any more of this crap... right?
• Overer! And speaking of over... the three internet trends I am so over with this month are...
• Hook! I have to admit that I haven't seen a single episode of Once Upon a Time. I'm not into fables and fairy tales, so the show is not my cup of tea. But I keep seeing these television promos which feature a surprising element...
That's Colin O'Donoghue, who apparently plays Captain Hook. But I don't care about that. I mean, yeah, I guess he's a good-looking guy and all... and I'm sure he's a decent actor and everything... but I'm talking about something more important than any of that...
EYELINER! Or, as I like to call it, "Captain Jack Sparrow Guyliner"...
Apparently it's impossible to be a pirate now-a-days unless you've got eyeliner on. I approve completely. Mostly because I can totally rock the guyliner look...
But also because I'm totally a pirate at heart. The day this goes mainstream, I am so there.
• Suck! I am one of those rare people who believes in paying for the stuff I want. If there's a game I want, I buy it. If there's a movie I want, I buy it. If there's a television series I want, I buy it. If there's a song I want, I buy it. Thanks to Apple's iTunes, most any media I want to own can be purchased quickly and easily, so I pay the price. Until now. I went to purchase the latest season of Archer only to find that FX Network has placed ads in each episode. That's right, I'M PAYING FOR ADS! Well fuck this shit. FX Network is out of the damn minds if they think that I am going to pay for advertising when there are alternatives for getting Archer ad-free.
And now... time to call it a night. Tomorrow promises to be a long, long day.
Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
I am so tired of throwing money away on crap.
I buy a new pair of jeans, and the zipper-pull breaks off the first time I wear them. The landline phone I have at work broke within the first week. My car has been a piece of shit from day one. It goes on and on. As I was cleaning out some old storage boxes this past weekend, I ran across tons of crap that was either broken or not working as advertised. I saved it all in the hopes that one day it might be fixed and become useful so I didn't waste money, but I was only fooling myself.
And it never ends. For the past week when I change the channel to Comedy Central, this is what appears on my television...
It's Stephen T. Colbert! I guess... the sound is all choppy too.
Any time this has happened in the past, the cable company is all "Uhhh... I dunno... it's probably not our fault... maybe you should call Comedy Central."
Really? Why in the hell should I be the one to call? YOU'RE the one that takes my money each month, assholes!
And, of course, they don't provide a credit on your bill for service failures either. Which is irritating, but not nearly as irritating that they just don't give a shit.
Of course, I'm paying them to not give a shit, so I guess it's all my fault in the end. Too bad satellite isn't an option for me. But maybe buying the shows I want to watch from iTunes and dumping cable is.
Posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
My favorite television show of all time is the "original" Cupid starring Jeremy Piven and created by Rob Thomas. A very close second is Veronica Mars starring Kristen Bell and created by Rob Thomas. But even though Cupid is the show I love best, it's Veronica Mars that I miss most. When the show was canceled, it felt like there was a lot more of the story to tell. Story that needed to be told.
There was talk of a Veronica Mars movie off and on, but nothing ever came of it.
With the blessing of Warner Brothers, creator Rob Thomas has opened up a Kickstarter project to raise the two million dollars needed to finance the film.
I donated more money than I could afford, but this is one of those things in life that I just couldn't pass up. I love television, and Veronica Mars is the best of the best that the medium has to offer. The possibility of finally get some kind of resolution for the characters is something you can't put a price on.
Well, apparently you can, it's two million dollars, but still...
If you are a fan (and why wouldn't you be?) you can donate to the cause (and get some nice rewards) by heading over to the Kickstarter page.
UPDATE: As of this moment (2:45pm PDT), the movie is nearly 3/4 funded at
If you have not seen Veronica Mars, this astounding record-breaking Kickstarter campaign should convince you that it's imperative to take a look. The DVD sets are pretty cheap at Amazon. And the show is also available for sale on iTunes (and other digital services, I'm sure). And you don't have to spend a dime to watch episodes for FREE at the official WB website. Nobody I has ever convinced to give it a try has been disappointed. Highest possible recommendation!
UPDATE: Funded IN ONE DAY. Fuck you, television network studio system!
I have to say... the ramifications of this are just massive. The possibilities are very exciting. Now shows which have a dedicated audience may be able to survive outside the studio system. Or... be made and distributed directly to fans outside of the whole television network bullshit system from the start.
We can only hope. I am so tired of watching shows I love getting screwed by television networks who want big money or nothing, and don't give a shit about their viewers.
Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013
Don't go going off all half-cocked... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Cheese! April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and grilled cheese sandiwches just happens to be one of my favorite foods on earth. Sadly, most people seem to think that a grilled cheese consists of a slice of cheese melted between two slices of bread in a skillet. Not even close. Great grilled cheese sandwiches are creative culinary delights that are a little more interesting...
I've already blogged about my "Death By Cheese Sandwich," which is one of my favorite recipes... but lately I've been experimenting with shredded cheese recipes (which melt so very, very beautifully) and adding things like sliced green apples or tomatoes to my sandwiches. The last batch I made had Feta Cheese mixed in, which was mind-blowing. Next up I'm going to try a recipe which is made with potato chips. The varieties of grilled cheese deliciousness are endless. Which is why I want to encourage everybody to take National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month by the balls and seek out a few of the more inventive ways of cooking one of the world's most classic foods.
• Hannibal! Let's just get this out of the way... I feel that Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is one of the most inspired performances in all of cinematic history. It is one of the few times I can use the adjective "flawless" when describing what actors do. With that in mind, I put my expectations into low-gear when tuning into NBC's efforts to turn the character into a Dexter-style television series...
So imagine my surprise when I start watching the premiere episode of Hannibal only to find that creator genius Bryan Fuller wisely decided to sidestep a failed attempt at mimicking the Anthony Hopkins movies. I was riveted as I watched a much more flawed and interesting version of investigator Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) rope me into one of the best homicide dramas in recent memory. As the show continued to play out, I found myself excited at the prospect that this might actually work out.
But then Hannibal Lecter showed up and everything went sideways.
No offense to Mads Mikkelsen, who is a fine actor (he was really good in Casino Royale)... but the guy is horribly miscast as Hannibal Lecter. For reasons that escape me, he's playing the part as about as flat and uninteresting as it gets. I certainly wasn't expecting Sir Anthony Hopkins, but I was expecting to see some of the sparkle and charm that makes Hannibal such a compelling character. Well, there's none of that here. It's the idea is that Lecter is so charming and fascinating that you don't want him to be evil. The fact that he IS a psychotic serial killer is what makes him so terrifying. With Mads Mikkelsen being so eerily lacking in charm, he comes off as exactly what he shouldn't... a psychotic serial killer! I dunno. I'm going to keep watching in the hopes that Hannibal grows on me because Will Graham is so beautifully realized here... but, unfortunately, I can see a day when Lecter's half of the coin pushes me over the edge.
• Bridegroom! "It's not a gay thing. It's not a straight thing. It's a human thing." — I was really happy this Kickstarter project got funded, and I can't wait to see what Linda Bloodworth-Thompson has done with a story that everybody needs to see...
• NIK! When Google bought out NIK Software, I was gutted. They obviously bought the company to get their hands on Snapseed, and I worried that the rest of their brilliant apps would be tossed aside. That may yet come true but, in the meanwhile, Google has dropped the price of NIK's plugin suite to a astounding $149! If you're a photographer who uses Photoshop, scrape together the $149 and RUN, don't walk, to their website and snap it up before Google changes their mind. Color Efex and Silver Efex are sheer magic for punching up your images, and all the rest of the tools are just gravy. If 70% off and my praise doesn't compel you to jump onboard, they have a 15-day free trial available.
• WTF? Seriously. I wants to die now.
• Mini! More and more I have been uploading double-sized photos to my blog, then manually down-sizing the dimensions in the HTML. This makes it so that readers with a Retina Display get a much better quality photo to look at...
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right
The problem is that readers without a Retina Display (or equivalent) are downloading a bigger image file, only to have their browser throw out every other pixel. Kinda a waste of time and bandwidth but, sorry, one day all displays will be "Retina" in quality, and I'm trying to future-proof my images here. To make this as painless as possible, I am using a tool called JPEGmini to reduce the size of my large images (small images don't net much of a savings). So far, it's worked surprisingly well, and my largest images are being reduced as much as half. Yes. Half. But the best part? The image quality is maintained! Looking as hard as I can, I can't spot any difference between the original and the JPEGmini version! It's been working so well that I've taken to compress my camera libraries as well. If you're looking to save some space with your JPEGs, I highly recommend giving JPEGmini a try (there's a free version to check it out, so what are you waiting for?).
• Veronica! If you loved me, you'd donate one measly dollar to the Veronica Mars movie project so it can become the most backer backed project in Kickstarter history. If you don't love me, then you can still donate a dollar and pretend to love me... I'm perfectly fine with that. Just five days left...
And now... TIME TO MAKE FRESH BREAD FOR MORE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES!
Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2013
Don't get confused that bullets are flying on a Monday... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Downey Jr.! Marvel's box office streak continues. Iron Man 3 had the second biggest domestic opening of all time ($175.3 million), second only to Marvel's The Avengers (which bowed last summer with $207.4 million). This is a continuing, shining example of how staying faithful to the source material with popular characters will result in popular movies...
I can't wait to see it! I just have no idea when I'll have time to.
• Gates! Look, I understand that Bill Gates has to continue to support Microsoft even though he's not running the place any more. I get it. The company made him billions upon billions of dollars, and he's obligated to say fantastic things about it no matter what happens. Anything less would be ungrateful.
Look, if I am going to be doing a lot of data entry or typing a lot of text, I'm going to use a computer. But for surfing the web, taking notes, checking and writing email, reading books and comics, and dozens upon dozens of other everyday tasks? I grab for my iPad. It's not the best tool for typing, of course, but it's really comfortable and useful for a lot of the stuff I do on a regular basis. So, no, Bill... I am not a frustrated iPad user. What I WAS was a frustrated Windows 8 user. So frustrated that I took your new piece-of-shit operating system and tossed it in the garbage after downgrading to Windows 7, which was at least tolerable. So... Bill... before dumping all over iPad with your pathetic whining, you might want to take a look at the turd that you're claiming is such a superior experience. Because it's not. It so totally and absolutely is not.
• Rollins! I just tuned into Hawaii Five-0 tonight only to see that it's guest-starring Henry Rollins and Mare Winningham as child kidnappers! Yes... THE Henry Rollins!
As a big fan for a very long time, it was cool to see Henry Rollins playing a bad guy on TV. His performance was pretty darn good given that he didn't have a lot to do... however... there was a problem.
<< SPOILER ALERT >>
At one point, Henry's character has been caught. But he refuses to talk, so the cops decide not to be cops and beat the shit out of him to get the info they need. The first thing to enter my head was "Well this is going to be hilarious!," because the idea of two Hollywood actors beating up Henry frickin' Rollins is absurd. Even if he was handcuffed. But then the camera turns away, which means that the people making the episode also thought the idea of two Hollywood actors beating up Henry frickin' Rollins was absurd. And that made it even more hilarious.
• Restless! So... turns out that "Restless Legs Syndrome" is not the load of bullshit I always thought it was. I've had leg pains for as long as I can remember, but it's always been fairly mild and ignorable. Over the past year, I've been having increasingly odd and un-ignorable "rolling pains" that move up and down my legs. It kind of feels like electricity on the inside that will give me mild shocks in random places, then tingle and go dead. But it only seems to be a problem late in the day when I've been sitting at work... or sitting on the couch... or sitting on a plane... or laying down in bed. But when I move my legs, the weird feeling subsides. This means I am constantly shifting my legs, often-times without even realizing it. So it looks like I now have a neurological disorder. Which makes me wonder yet again "What's going to go to shit on my body next?"
• Riker! HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE THIS?!?
So... bad back... or lifestyle choice?
And... no internet. Again. This is getting silly.
Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2013
Fred Armisen and Bill Hader will be sorely missed now that they are departing from Saturday Night Live. And, given their incredible body of work and the dozens of characters they inhabited, it's hard to see anybody stepping into their shoes any time soon.
But the real damage in Armisen and Hader leaving comes from the astounding number of imperessions they contributed. According to the SNL Archives, Armisen had 98 celebrities in his arsenal, and Hader added another 82. That kind of versatility is tough to come by and a part of me wonders how the current cast is going to fill the massive hole left now that they're off the show.
On the plus-side, appearances by Hader's "Stefon" will hopefully be rare from here on out...
I fucking hate Stefon.
Every time he appears, it's the SAME DAMN SKIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN! Maybe I found it mildly amusing when he appeared the first time, but each subsequent appearance was awful.
And yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, I know people who just love Stefon. To each their own, I guess... but I just don't get it.
Of course, Armisen and Hader aren't the only members of the cast moving on.
Odds are running high that Jason Sudekis won't be returning. That's going to really hurt.
And come next January, Seth Meyers will leave to replace Jimmy Fallon on Late Night when Jimmy replaces Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. It's going to be really interesting to see who takes over the SNL News desk when that happens. There's a peculiar kind of talent needed to pull it off, and I'm not seeing that in anybody left.
In other words, it's not looking very good for Saturday Night Live. Kenan Thompson is the only long-time player left and, while I like some of the newer people, you kinda have to wonder how much longer the show will go on if something big doesn't break soon.
Like Eddie Murphy coming back.
Anyway, farewell to Mr. Armisen and Mr. Hader.
And thanks for the laughs.
Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
One of the few things that will make me set aside my laptop and actually concentrate on a singular event? The Daily Show.
John Stewart is at his best when he's ripping somebody apart for their blatant hypocrisy, and his take-down of Peggy Noonan tonight is among his best efforts...
I wonder if she feels even a modicum of shame for being such a shining example of the very definition of hypocritical asshole
I'm guessing not.
Posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2013
Better switch to decaffeinated... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Gamer. I am most definitely not what you would call a "hard core gamer." I just like to play an occasional video game when I can find time, and am just as likely to be playing LEGO Batman as I am Call of Duty: Black Ops. That being said, I do own The Big Three consoles (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360) along with a Nintendo 3DS-XL, so maybe "casual gamer" isn't the best description for me either. In any event, both Sony and Microsoft have now unveiled their next generation console plans with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively...
Right now, I'm probably a bit more excited for the new PS4. Probably because it doesn't try to add on all the computing and multimedia bullshit, and has Sony solely focusing on the gaming experience. Microsoft, on the other hand, feels distracted by trying to sell you television shows and making you dick around with Windows 8 (which I loathe). And then there's Nintendo's Wii-U, which I just can't seem to get excited about. So I guess time will tell which direction I end up going. Though a part of me wonders if I'm just done with console gaming, so maybe I won't invest in any of them.
• Arrested! Netflix has unleashed the much-anticipated Season 4 of Arrested Development, seven years after it was canceled by FOX. I enjoyed the original episodes, even though they often-times seemed quirky for quirky's sake, but had mixed feelings about the show being resurrected...
The first two episodes were pretty unremarkable. But the third was better... and I just started the fourth, which is better still. So who knows? By the time I get to episode fifteen, maybe it will surpass everything that came before. All I do know is that watching the revival has me now wanting to re-watch the original, which I haven't done in years.
• Square! Square brought affordable, convenient credit card transactions to the masses. Now they're taking on PayPal with Square Cash, which allows you to send funds via email. It's currently in beta and "invitation only," but you can bet your ass I'll be signing up the minute it's available. I fucking hate PayPal after they STOLE MY MONEY with absolutely no explanation, and if there's any company that has a hope of breaking PayPal's monopoly on online payments, it's Square. It's about time.
• Assemble? I was pretty excited that Marvel had new cartoon coming out called Avengers Assemble! After the absolute genius that was Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, it was bound to be awesome, right?
Meh. Not so much. They released a "sneak preview" of the show before its July 7th debut and I was not impressed. The writing feels flat, the look of the show is kind of sketchy and, with the exception of Chi McBride as Nick Fury, the character voices don't seem right. I'm probably just spoiled by DC's amazing cartoons (such as Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited), but boy was I hoping for something more. Guess I'll just have to wait for Whedon to finish The Avengers 2.
• Scouts. And so the Boy Scouts have finally taken a step in the right direction and are no longer kicking out their members just because they're gay. I always thought it was shitty how a kid can join Scouting when he's too young to even know what "sexuality" is... only to be kicked out on his ass once he grows up and discovers he's gay. Yeah, private organizations can have whatever bigoted policies they want, but this kind of discrimination towards kids is pretty douchey. Especially when the BSA gets support from public funds, which they shouldn't be if they're being exclusionary anyway.
Annnnnd... I'm spent.
Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2013
Time to find your happy place... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Blackhawks!!! And so it's the Blackhawks vs. the Bruins for the Stanley Cup...
GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!!
• Hart. Hart to Hart was a staple of my television viewing habits when I was a kid. Not only was it entertaining, but Stefanie Powers and her massive pile of feathered hair was almost too good to be true. Now Adam Scott and Amy Poehler have done a shot-for-shot remake of the opening credits.
And it's absolute genius...
If they were to ever do a retro made-for-television movie I would watch the shit out of it. The idea of a remake is just too brilliant to pass up.
• Crapper First Cracker Jack had die-cast metal toy prizes. Eventually those were replaced with plastic toy prizes. Then they ditched the toys altogether and switched to stupid stickers. And now? They don't even bother with the damn sticker. You get an "online prize" of some kind that you redeem with your phone. Well, unless you have an iPhone...
This blows. Why do they even bother?
• Photoshop! Every once in a while something goes viral on the internet that I actually like. "Photoshop Live"is one of those rare events...
I hope they do more of these... it's such a great idea.
• Miley! Since I hadn't heard anything music-related from Miley Cyrus in quite a while, I naturally assumed she now runs a gas station and mini-mart in Pittsburgh after I saw this...
But then lo and behold, this track is waiting for me when I get home...
I'm diggin' it! I can't stop! And I just don't care!
Early to bed... Early to have the alarm wake your ass up at the crack of dawn so you can drive three hours to work.
Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
I've been working non-stop for the past couple weeks which makes for boring blog fodder.
Luckily, I went out for groceries today.
Suffice to say that a good time was had by all... from the second I arrived only to have a woman put her shopping cart in front of the parking space I wanted... to the minute I was leaving only to have a kid run me over with his skateboard... I couldn't have asked for a better end to my work day.
Then I got home and turned on the television. It was on the E! channel. I don't recall what was playing, but I do recall that they interrupted the show so they could announce that James Gandolfini was dead. I had read about the news earlier but, before I had a chance to be sad about it all over again, the announcer proceeded to say "For late breaking news on this story, be sure to visit E! Online!"
I am still trying to figure out what that means.
Gandolfini might end up more dead?
Gandolfini could come back from the dead?
Exactly what are they expecting to happen? Or is it such a habit to add ""For late breaking news on this story, be sure to visit E! Online!" to everything that they don't even realize they're doing it. Or how inappropriate it is.
Or maybe it's all about the web traffic and they just don't care.
But I have to leave open the possibility that aliens could steal James Gandolfini's body, in which case I will absolutely be tuning in to E! Online because they totally called that.
This image is floating all over the internet, but nobody credits the photographer. Sad.
I don't have to wax poetic about what a brilliant actor Mr. Gandolfini was. Any single episode of The Sopranos would testify to that. He had a presence on screen that was undeniable, and he made even a minor role feel larger than life. He was one of the most memorable parts of Get Shorty, but barely ranked a supporting character. His end scene in True Romance lingers still even though his screen time was small.
It's incredibly sad that he has left us at a time when he was finally breaking free of the mobster role in The Sopranos that made him a household name. There were so many great performances to come.
Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
Don't go getting yourself blinded by the Super Moon... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Animal! I've been too busy to spend much time playing it, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released for the Nintendo 3DS. It's pretty much the exact same game as Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Animal Crossing: City Folk. Basically you run around catching fish, hunting bugs, harvesting fruit, collecting seashells, and other tasks... all so you can earn money to buy cool stuff for you and your house. Except this time the little character you take control of is mistaken for the mayor, so you have other responsibilities as well. It's fun and all... but if you've played any of the other games in the series, you've pretty much played this one...
That being said, it's still an entertaining way to kill some time each day. And the 3-D effects are done very well, which makes it visually interesting as well. If you've never played Animal Crossing before, this would be a good place to start. If you have? Well, if you didn't tire of it before, you probably won't mind playing it again.
• Twikies! And so Hostess has a new owner and is going to start distributing their snack-cakes once again come mid-July. This will mean nothing to me... unless they decide to at least try to have the appearance of healthy ingredients by eliminating the LARD from their products...
A switch to vegetable oil would mean that I can start eating Ding Dongs again after 23 years of avoiding them like the plague. And it might give them a fighting chance of surviving in a slightly more health conscience world where parents are not wanting to feed their kids LARD.
• Devious! I could never get into Desperate Housewives because it didn't really go anywhere and wasn't a very entertaining ride. Now creator Marc Cherry has come up with his next television distraction... Devious Maids. The cast is really good, so I had high hopes that this time it would be worth watching...
Sadly, after watching the first episode, it seems as though it's just going to be more of the same. Somebody's been murdered and everybody has secrets. I'm guessing they're just going to dance around everything for years until the show is so senseless and boring that they get canceled and have to slop together some answers. Again. No thanks.
• Equality! Here's hoping that the highest court in the land remembers what America is all about in the weeks ahead...
If nothing else, we could finally tell the equality opponents to take their ridiculous "arguments" against freedom and just shut up already. Though the parodies of their faux pain over something that doesn't even affect them are almost too good to give up...
Yeah, definitely going to miss that.
• Shiiiiiiiiit! I don't even know what to say about this...
People be crazy. People be crazy.
Annnnd... it's going to be a long week.
Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Probably not a good idea to watch a documentary on germs, viruses, and diseases before traveling.
And... back to packing.
Posted on Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Michael Ansara has died!
The guy has acted in a lot of movies and TV shows, but is probably best known to geeks like me as "Kang" in the original Star Trek and "Kane" in Buck Rogers in the 21st Century (opposite Pamela Hensley as Princess Ardalla!). These were two really good and highly memorable roles...
But the role that will ever define Mr. Ansara to me is his voice work as the tragic villain Mr. Freeze on Batman: The Animated Series...
Batman & Mr. Freeze © Warner Bros. Animation
Mr. Freeze is a complex character, and it's no easy performance. He has to be warm and caring one minute, then ruthless and cold the next. But Mr. Ansara was able to make it seem effortless, and was utterly brilliant every time he appeared...
Rest in peace, sir. Your legendary work made this world a better place to be a geek!
Posted on Monday, August 5th, 2013
Discovery Channel's SHARK WEEK 2013 started today!
And so I plop myself in front of the television to watch their all new shark-tacular Shark Week special... Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives... only to find something that wasn't SHARK EXTREME as expected... but a load of horse shit. Instead of being some kind of scientific exploration of one of the most brutal killing machines that ever lived, it's some kind of fictional Blair-Witch "found footage" garbage which tries to convince people that a mega-shark that went extinct millions of years ago is actually alive and terrorizing people even today. Which explains the odd title of the program.
Wondering what the bloody fuck was going on, I do what I usually do when I want to find out about something happening right now... I turn to Twitter. And there it is, courtesy of Wil Wheaton...
Discovery Channel Owes Its Viewers An Apology http://t.co/8kCqSSpcyD— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) August 5, 2013
Well crap. The write-up at Discover along with Wil Wheaton's comments pretty much sum up how horrible this situation is. What was once a brilliant television channel dedicated to science and education has ended up dredging the gutters of "trash entertainment" in a pathetic ratings grab.
Kind of puts a damper on something I look forward to all year...
On Saturday I spent 20 minutes on my DVR going through Discovery Channel's entire week of programming to record all the great new shark stuff (along with old favorites) so I wouldn't miss anything. I'm not going to dump all that work in some kind of boycott (as a lot of people are doing), but I am going to be watching with a lot less enthusiasm knowing what Discovery Channel has become.
We live in an age of scientific discovery that's both wonderful and fascinating.
But that's not enough to entertain the huddled masses.
Is this what we've come to? Really? Our "science facts" have to be sensationalized with bullshit or else nobody cares?
And I really shouldn't be surprised. We've got "news" channels with very little actual news, "music" channels that don't play any actual music, and now "science" channels that don't feel the need to air actual science.
I suppose the next step is to have science channels denying science.
I weep for the future, I really do.
UPDATE: And... point made. So many people have been passing this crap off as a real story that Snopes had to make an article about it. The huddled masses are so gullible to believe anything on their television... especially something on a "reputable" educational "science" channel... that it doesn't matter how outrageous or crazy the tale. Of course, it's not like anybody ever bothers to verify what they see on TV, even though the internet makes it easy and nearly instantaneous to do so. Unless people start forwarding the Snopes page at the rate they forwarded the Megalodon story, it doesn't make any difference. A giant extinct shark is actually terrorizing the seas.
Posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Very, very few people could have took over for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show for a single episode... let alone an entire summer.
And yet... John Oliver did an amazing job of it.
He did so well that, while I'm happy Jon Stewart will be returning after the break, I will really miss seeing John Oliver cover the faux news on Comedy Central...
I hope that Comedy Central sees this too, because how amazing would it be to have another show developed for John Oliver which covers international news or something like that? I would absolutely tune in for it... and I'm betting a lot of other people would too.
And speaking of international news...
Absolutely horrified by the news coming out of Egypt.
My visit to the country back in 2007 was brief, but wonderful. The people were incredibly welcoming and kind, and I ache to think of them embroiled in such violence. Adding to the hurt is how those Egyptians who make a living from tourism are going to suffer. I fear that this is an industry that will not soon be returning to Egypt... much as it needs to.
Peace be upon you, Egypt.
Posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013
I am not one to get overly-sentimental or fondly reminisce about "the good ol' days." Yes, there are things I can look back on with fondness in my life, but I try to put my energy into my future rather than my past. It makes moving forward so much easier.
That being said...
Finding out that the king of all car dealers, Cal Worthington, died yesterday at age 92 was a real kick punch in the gut for me. Just as much as Captain Kangaroo or any number of other television personalities, Cal and his dog Spot (which never seemed to be an actual dog) are a childhood memory that never seems to fade. His epic commercials and catchy "Go see Cal! Go see Cal! Go see Cal!" jingle are embedded into my psyche in a way I can't possibly understand. All I know is that I very much remember looking forward to whatever crazy antics he would be up to next, and nothing would grab my attention faster than hearing one of his commercials pop up on the television...
Even though Worthington Ford was based in L.A., his commercials ran in Washington State because of a satellite dealership in Federal Way (a city just north of Tacoma, about 20 miles south of Seattle). As a kid, I kinda wanted to visit there just to see if lions, tigers, snakes, bears, goats, and all the other "Spots" were wandering around. And I'm pretty sure that Young Me could find Federal Way on a map long before Paris or Tokyo.
Cal Worthington stopped making commercials in the mid-80's, and there's no reason on earth he should be in my head after all these years. He's a memory I should have discarded long ago.
But how can I?
"Go see Cal! Go see Cal! Go see Cal!" will undoubtedly be stuck in my head until the day I die.
So thanks a lot, Mr. Worthington... and rest in peace.
Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
It turns out that I didn't like the show that I had most been looking forward to seeing from the new 2013-2014 television season: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. At least not as much as I was expecting to.
Now, don't get me wrong... there are elements I liked quite a lot...
But... and here's the hard part... that wasn't enough. I actually fell asleep half-way through the show. I had to rewind it when I woke up so I could find out what happened. And a lot of the reason for that can be summed up thusly...
The good news is that the previews for upcoming episodes look like they're going to be more focused and interesting than what we got tonight. If they can just work on not making every moment be so life-and-death overly-dramatic... tone down the idiocy of Fitz and Simmons... shift towards a bit more action... and take a more balanced approach to the effects budget... the show has a chance with me.
Otherwise this is just going to be a bad retread of Heroes, and something that I won't miss when it's inevitably canceled for boring the shit out of the audience.
Posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
With Breaking Bad, Burn Notice, Happy Endings, and a lot of other television shows being axed, you'd think that I'd be looking to add shows to my schedule... but the opposite seems to be true. I've dropped a good dozen shows from last year, and will probably dump even more by the end of the season.
I'm just not enjoying TV as much as I used to.
And so... here's a look at returning shows that I can't seem to live without...
Usually, I watch every new show that sounds even remotely interesting before deciding on what I want to add to my television habit. This season I'm just getting so tired of television that I'm looking to add as few shows as possible. Here's the four shows that made the cut...
And... that's the end of it. Roughly half the television I was watching last year.
What will I do with all that extra time?
Posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2013
No need to be Sleepless in Seattle... because a boring, coma-inducing Bullet Sunday starts now...
• SALTALAMACCHIA! Well this is bad. You can candy-coat it all you want, but an error in judgement by one of my favorite players, Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, pretty much cost the Red Sox the third game of the World Series last night. At first I didn't even understand what happened... and even after they walked through it, I'm not entirely convinced it was the right call to make... but there's no denying that this is not going to bode well for Salty. The last couple games have not been good for him and, considering they're World Series games, it's tough to see what the upshot might be. I'd be heartbroken if this was the factor that resulted in him leaving the team, but it's not like Boston would be without cause. The good news is that the Red Sox came back in tonight's game to tie things up 2 games to 2... albeit without Saltalamacchia behind home plate... and I guess that's the thing I should be focusing on. But... damn...
• DIMENSION! I've said it many times before... but I loves me a great television advertisement!
Considering how badly most TV ads suck, it's always great to see somebody put effort into creating one that people are actually going to want to watch. With the cost of a national ad campaign being so hideously expensive, I remain shocked that more companies aren't more clever with their money. Especially given the advent of DVRs, where being able to fast-forward through commercials is commonplace. Well played, Honda.
• CURFEW! I used to watch the ending to the Danny Boyle film Millions whenever I needed to crawl my way out of depression. Now I find myself watching Curfew, which feels so much bigger than the little short film it is...
Surprising how something so dark can manage to be so uplifting, but here it is. Totally deserving of the dozens of awards it's racked up... including an Academy Award for Best Short Film. But the best news? You can get it for just $2.99 at the iTunes Store! I can't wait to see what writer/director/actor Shawn Christensen is up to next after "Grandma's Not a Toaster."
• VELVET! I was never a big fan of Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed, but it's tough to deny his influence when it comes to music. Perhaps this was best expressed by Brian Eno who had this to say about The Velvet Underground's first album selling only 30,000 copies... "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!" Keeping that in mind, it was pretty tough to hear that Mr. Reed as died at age 71. He was still making music, and undoubtedly had a lot more to say with his work. Rest in peace, sir, your influence will live on.
• WALLACE! And, ending things on another down note, I was sad to learn that actor Marcia Wallace had died at age 70. Probably best-known for playing Bob's acerbic receptionist on The Bob Newhart Show, she went on to make dozens of appearances... including a reoccurring role on The Simpsons as 4th grade teacher Mrs. Krabappel. It had to be tough coming up with a character that could be so well-liked while also being an adversary for Bart Simpson, but Marcia Wallace was a big part of what made it work. Her many flirtations in early Simpsons episodes was a staple of the show, and I was always upset that they ended up marrying Mrs. K to Ned Flanders... but there's no denying Marcia Wallace maintained her character's appeal despite it all. You will very much be missed.
Annnnd... I'm spent.
Posted on Friday, November 1st, 2013
I started work at 4:00am, which was two hours later than I should have started.
Ultimately, it's not the long hours of work that's wearing on me day after day. it's that I'm having to miss my favorite television shows to do it. My DVR was already full from when I was on vacation, and now old stuff is being deleted to make room for new stuff.
In the case of shows like Grey's Anatomy, I don't find myself minding very much. The show has been spinning its wheels for a while now, and I just don't care. Delete. Delete. Delete.
But in the case of shows like Elementary and Sons of Anarchy? I care quite a bit. Those shows are actually entertaining, and provide a necessary distraction from Real Life. Which is why it's upsetting to see that my DVR is dumping episodes I haven't seen.
Not that it matters. At this rate, I won't have time to watch the newer episodes either.
I suppose that I should just give up on television entirely.
Holy crap my life would suck if I couldn't escape into the much more exciting lives of the people who live in my television.
Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2013
Stop pondering how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Chicken McNugget... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Blacklisted. As a James Spader fan, it was a no-brainer to add his latest television effort, The Blacklist to my DVR. But the previews and ads for the show kind of led me to believe that it was a bad Silence of the Lambs rip-off with Spader as a poor man's Hannibal Lecter, so I kept putting it off (there's already a television version of that running). Well, yesterday I finally got around to watching it... and am completely hooked. Yes, there are familiar elements here, but the show itself is so much more...
But the highlight is Spader, of course. Very few people could pull off this role in a way that's so darkly entertaining yet somehow likable. This... this... is everything the Hannibal television show should have been, but doesn't quite reach. Highest recommendation. If you've been missing it, the iTunes Music Store currently has a Season Pass for the show on sale for $35 so you can start from the beginning (and I recommend you do).
• Lion. If you haven't yet read about the lion cub that was rescued by two guys from the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, here you go!
The TED Talk by the Modisa Wildlife Project's Mikkel Legarth is also worth a look.
• Faith. I... do not... have the... words... God exists, and he's working at Taco Bell...
I'll be trying these bad boys post-haste!
• Visits. Most "States I've Visited" maps are a binary "yes or no" type affair. Jeremy Nixon has come up with an alternative that provides a much better picture...
Red states are those you've barely visited. Orange states you know a little better. Blue states you've spent quite a lot of time in. Green states are those you know extremely well. Cool, huh? You can make your own map over at Jeremy's Defocus Blog.
• Dyslexic. I was very lucky that I was diagnosed early and got help when I was young enough to make a difference in my life. I'm also fortunate that my form of dyslexia is mild and I was able to train my brain to cope with it relatively easily. Still, dyslexia is something I have to deal with every day, so I was really happy to see this amazing project on Kickstarter called "I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic" which features a book that attempts to illustrate what it's like to struggle with reading. They've reached their funding goal, but such a beautiful and educational book deserves to be seen by everybody, so here you go!
• Storm. My thoughts are with everybody in The Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region this past week. The devastation looks horrendous, and they are estimating the dead could top 10,000 people across the country. As I type this, the storm has landed in Vietnam, and is expected to cause heavy rains and flooding in the northern part of the country... including Hanoi, where I was visiting just last month...
Haiyan chart image taken from NOAA.
As if these storms aren't frightening enough, scientists are projecting that things are only going to get worse. Severe storms are going to form more frequently and be stronger than ever before. If science is right, life on this planet is going to have to change quite dramatically over the next century. Whether we like it or not.
See you in seven days.
Posted on Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
I have never been a big Doctor Who fan.
Not for lack of trying, mind you. My friend Howard was a massive fan, and was forever trying to get me interested in the show. He could never understand why I wasn't a fan given my love of science fiction and British television. Indeed, Doctor Who seemed as though it were custom-made for somebody like me. But, alas, it never made much of an impression...
When the show was rebooted in 2005, I decided to give it my best shot. Christopher Eccleston made for an excellent modern incarnation of The Doctor and the stories were okay, but enjoying it seemed impossible given that Howard was no longer around to watch it. And so I passed.
But then it was announced that Steven Moffat (creator of one of my all-time favorite shows, Coupling) would be taking over Doctor Who with the fifth series and I was compelled to give the show another try. Wanting to prepare myself, I watched the entire fourth series. I ended up really liking David Tennant's take on The Doctor, so I had to go back and watch him in the third series. Then the second. And then I figured I might as well watch the Eccleston reboot series that restarted it all. At this point, I was enjoying the show quite a lot.
When Matt Smith took over the role of The Doctor in series five, I didn't care for him as much as Tennant. He was a bit too scattered and goofy for my tastes, but ended up being a part of my favorite Doctor Who episode of all time... Vincent and the Doctor. Over time, he grew on me, and I think his quirky demeanor ended up giving us an excellent Doctor.
And now tonight, after three series' worth of episodes and specials, we get Matt Smith's penultimate swan song on the character with a 50th Anniversary Special... The Day of the Doctor, guest-starring David Tennant!
Given the time-traveling nature of the show and the fact that The Doctor "regenerates" into a new body when he dies, the concept of Doctor Who meeting himself is not new. Heck, for the 20th Anniversary Special, five incarnations of The Doctor appeared in the same episode. But in this case the meeting is far from from a marketing gimmick... it's intrinsic to the story. It's also part of Steven Moffat's effort to bridge the original series with the reboot series via a mysterious "War Doctor" (John Hurt!) while re-writing Doctor Who history at the same time.
The result is one of the best episodes of Doctor Who yet.
The special effects are stellar and the story is good, but things got a little goofy and slapsticky along the way which pulled me out of the show. Given the importance of this episode it would have been nice if they would have kept the silliness down to a minimum, but Moffat seemed to be going for laughs more than anything else and that's a shame. The serious stuff happening on-screen is trivialized in a way that undermines the entire plot.
I'm not going to recap anything here... because if you're a Doctor Who fan, you undoubtedly already know it... and if you're not, you probably don't care. But I will say that if you aren't familiar with the show or have been avoiding it for one reason or another, The Day of The Doctor may be worth your time. Sure, you may be confused (I know I was), but it's a pretty good way to see what all the fuss is about. And to understand why Doctor Who has endured for fifty years...
You can get the 50th Anniversary Special... The Day of the Doctor on iTunes by following this link.
If you are new to The Doctor, I also recommend watching Doctor Who Explained, which will get you caught up.
Posted on Monday, November 25th, 2013
Damn. I'm not going to lie. Few moments in television history have shocked me so badly or hurt me so badly as watching last night's episode of The Family Guy (so, yeah, spoilers and stuff are ahead).
The show is recorded on my DVR every Sunday, but I usually save it for later in the week. Last night I had to stay up until midnight for a time-sensitive bit of work, so I watched it shortly after it had aired... with no warning and no internet spoilers.
Today, of course, the story is burning up the internets.
Which, I suppose, was the entire point of what happened... though I'm sure it wasn't the only reason. And while it's entirely possible that events will eventually become undone, I'd hope that the writers would respect the show too much to actually undo it.
I sure will miss one of the best characters ever to air on television.
Animated or otherwise.
Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013
Time to strike up the band and pour the champaign... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Walker. I was sad to learn that Paul Walker died yesterday. Not so much for his movies (because I'm not that familiar with them outside of the "Fast and Furious" franchise) but because he was a really decent human being whose humanitarian work helped a lot of people. His Reach Out World Wide is a wonderful organization, and I would hope he gets some recognition for all the amazing work he did in founding it.
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one.
Why don't people credit their photos?
Rest in peace, sir. You did good.
• Comics. I don't read many comics any more... I just don't have the time... but Comixology had a sale on some "Avengers vs. X-Men" titles I've been wanting to read, so I went for it. And ran across this...
Now THAT'S some sparkling dialog right there! I know not every comic book can be Watchmen or Dark Knight or whatever... but this kind of blew my mind.
• Maps. My love of maps is well-documented here at Blogography. Over at Buzzfeed they made me love maps even more when they had Brits label American states on a map. The results are fantastic...
You can see the big version of this one (and many more) by following this link. And, because fair is fair, here's an even more fantastic look at Americans trying to name European countries on a map.
• iTunes Fail. I have numerous issues with iTunes. The biggest one being that I can't stream my movie purchases and am forced to download them if I want to watch... when every other company in the digital movie business allows streaming. Incredibly backwards and stupid, but Apple says "no." But even putting crap that iTunes can't do aside, iTunes is frustrating because it has so many problems with what it can do.
I have a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's display capabilities are beyond HD. Way beyond HD. And yet, I still get this ridiculous error message form time to time when trying to purchase HD content...
But even more shocking than that is iTunes occasionally telling me it doesn't support QuickTime... the fundamental video system of every Macintosh computer since video has been on Macs...
Stupid shit like drives me insane. Partly because it's so random, and you never know what's going to cause it... but mostly because it's Apple, and there's no way you can just call them up and have it fixed. Yes, they have "proper channels" you can go through to report problems, but I have never had a problem solved going that route. Hell, I've reported mistakes in Apple's "Maps" application that have gone completely ignored for months (years maybe?). Oh well. It's Apple.
• Nigella. I'm a massive fan of celebrity English foodie Nigella Lawson. She's bright, funny, smart, a heck of a cook, and drop-dead beautiful...
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one. Again.
Why don't people credit their photos?
Lately she's been in the news for some not-so-pleasant things, and it's got me wondering where my breaking point is when it comes to famous people I admire (a more popular American example being Alex Baldwin's recent homophobic rant). Do I care? Should I care? Is it even true? So what if it is? I have the answers to none of those questions. It probably depends on what the issues are and how they affect things I care about. But that doesn't stop the "news" from telling me how I should feel about it. Which is everything "journalistic integrity" is not, but that's where we are now. It's what we erroneously call "being judged by the court of public opinion" when it is, in fact, the media which leads the public to their opinion. And you can be pretty sure that their judgement is going to be on the side of whichever option sells more papers (or whatever). I don't know how we got to this point, but it's been driving me crazy lately because I can't see anything else when stories like Ms. Lawson's hit the newswire. I guess all I can do is grit my teeth, wish Ms. Lawson the best of luck, and hope that she bounces back like Martha Stewart instead of crashing and burning like Paula Deen. I guess. Since all my information comes from the news media on all these people, what do I know?
Alas yon bullets now go gentle into that good night...
Posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
So there I am working while Modern Family is playing on TV for background noise.
Suddenly I hear a voice that sounds familiar. I look up and Claire is trapped in her bathroom with a plumber. I'm thinking the plumber actor played some kind of wiseguy character in a 1980's comedy movie... and it's driving me nuts that I can't figure out who it is.
So I replay the scene.
Yes, the plumber is definitely familiar. But I can't remember from where.
Finally I can't take it any more, so I IMDB the Earthquake episode of Modern Family .
This happens to me all the time.
I see or hear an actor... have a vague recollection of seeing them in something else... can't remember what it was... and end up scouring IMDB for the answer.
And every time I feel the sweet victory of KNOWING... I can't help but think "What in the heck did I do before the internet and IMDB came along?"
I honestly can't remember.
And, unfortunately, there's no spot on the internet to help me figure that out.
Posted on Friday, December 20th, 2013
There have been rumors for years that Apple is developing a "smart television."
I wish they would hurry the hell up about it, because none of the stuff released by Google, Microsoft, or any other companies I've seen have been worth a crap.
And I am so sick and fucking tired of this Charter TV pile of shit DVR that Im stuck with. They had been promising a TiVo box was coming... since January 2011... and yet a couple of months ago they pulled their TiVo test market in Texas and discontinued their TiVo Premiere service. Lying assholes. Sure you can still buy a TiVo directly and shoehorn it into their system, but it's hardly going to be the seamless experience Charter originally promised.
And since TiVo is the ONLY company to have gotten the DVR right, I'm pretty much screwed.
First of all, the Piece of Shit Charter DVR has one of the stupidest fucking user interfaces of any consumer electronic devices in the history of consumer electronic devices. It's ridiculously... almost comically... difficult to navigate their system. And given the eleventy-billion stupid-ass buttons on the Charter DVR remote, it's unnecessarily complex as well. And then there's the ads... fucking advertisements on every damn menu screen! I'm paying for my cable package each month, yet shows still have ads. I'm paying a rental fee for my DVR each month, and it has to have ads too? Assholes! I can't for the life of my understand why a company would want to buy ad space on somebody's DVR... all they do is irritate people and associate their product or service with something people hate.
But the worst thing about the Piece of Shit Charter DVR is that it does a piss-poor job of presenting your television shows. Watching a letterboxed version of a show on a non-HD channel? No option to zoom the tiny little window of programming to fill your screen! This is absurd. Even if it can't be done automatically, surely they could have a one-touch button to do it manually? I mean, the box knows I have an HD television... most people do... so why in the hell is it stuck in the 1990's?
And don't even get me started about how hard it is to find the shows you want to watch in the first place. You can't "hide" channels you don't get or don't want to see, so you're forced to scroll through hundreds of the mother-fuckers anyway. The closest they have to a fix is a "favorites" list... but it's not persistent, so you have to enable it every damn time you go to change channels. It's beyond fucking stupid and useless, but so is everything else to do with the Piece of Shit Charter DVR.
More and more I think about getting rid of television altogether so I can just use Apple TV to BUY everything I want to watch and not have to deal with Charter's fucking awful DVR at all. But I'd rather have a smart television that makes it a moot point.
Save us, Apple... you're our only hope!
Posted on Saturday, December 21st, 2013
Well, I put it off for as long as I could.
I don't watch Duck Dynasty. Before the recent media explosion around the show and its cast, I barely even knew it existed. To me, it was yet another piece-of-shit "reality television" program to ignore, just like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Bachelor, and whatever Real Housewives of... crap-fest is currently playing. No, the only "reality" stuff I watch is in the form of competition shows like Survivor, Top Chef, and Project Runway. But even those are more than I can stand sometimes because people are fucking idiots. And watching fucking idiots is not my idea of entertainment.
I'll just set the "reality" aspect of "reality television" aside for a minute, because I think we all know that it's a load of crap. Well, most of us, anyway.
But I digress...
For those living in a cave somewhere, there's an A&E Network "reality television" show called Duck Dynasty which follows The Robertson family and their real-life business "Duck Commander" which makes duck hunting gear (like duck calls). Where the entertainment factor comes in is that the family plays up the Southern redneck stereotype to the nth degree, complete with ZZ Top beards, guns, and camouflage...
Photo from AP/A&E by Zach Dilgard
And people eat it up. It's one of the most popular shows in A&E Network history.
The recent drama being that the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, made some pretty heinous comments in an upcoming GQ Magazine interview. Most notably, espousing his Biblical-inspired world-view which equates homosexuality with (among other things) bestiality... and that African Americans were perfectly happy living in America under Jim Crow segregation laws. A&E decided this reflected badly on their brand, so they suspended the guy from his own show on their network indefinitely.
Duck Dynasty fans go nuts. The Christian Right goes nuts. Idiocy ensues.
I'd quote the regular stable of talking heads who are crying out for blood over the suspension as "an attack on free speech," but it's all so damn stupid that I just can't. There was no government intervention. Phil Robertson was not imprisoned for speaking his mind. Phil Robertson is free to keep giving bigoted, homophobic interviews in the guise of "his religion" for as long as he wants. Freedom of speech was in no way hindered... and people who think that way need to understand the difference between "freedom of speech" and "consequences of utilizing your freedom of speech." Much like MSNBC jettisoning Alec Baldwin before them, A&E made a business decision in an effort to disassociate themselves from an employee they feel has broken a clause in their contract by being offensive, and that's it.
But that's not it, because it's more exciting if we can make it into something bigger and get people all riled up over it all...
First of all, A&E is being run by hypocritical assholes. They carefully constructed a cast of characters around the "straight shootin' loose-canon Bible-thumpin' redneck" image that was developed for Phil Robertson... then essentially fired him for being everything they wanted him to be... nay, needed him to be...so that Duck Dynasty would be an entertainment success story. I don't care what moral clauses or contracts A&E had the Robertson's sign... they knew exactly who Phil was when they hired him.
Second of all, this is not some kind of "attack on religion" or "effort to criminalize Christianity" or whatever ridiculous "freedom of religion" argument is being drummed up in the headlines. Nobody is being told that they have to abandon their faith. No Bibles are being ripped out of the hands of Christians to be burned. Nobody is being prohibited from attending their church. A&E is simply drawing their (arbitrary) lines as to what moral clauses are being enforced this week (and what they are willing to air on their network), then acting accordingly. Again, I'm not saying this isn't hypocritical... it absolutely is... but it's also not any kind of "attack on religion" any more than prohibiting penises to be shown on your network is an "attack on men." Phil Robertson signed a contract concerning his behavior, then broke it. That contract wasn't with God, it was with A&E, so let's try and remember that.
Thirdly, the fact that society is moving towards tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians means that society is going to tolerate intolerance towards gays and lesbians less and less. I'm sorely tempted to just play the "tough shit" card here, because I honestly don't give a fuck about hurting people's feelings when it comes to their bigotry and hatred... but this is America and, much as I may not like it, people are entitled to their homophobic bullshit (whether they attribute it to their religious beliefs or not). So whatever. You can choose to believe that the earth is flat, the moon is made of cheese, the sun revolves around the earth, two consenting adults falling in love is akin to bestiality, and being forced to sit in the back of the bus is a laugh-riot good time. But don't be shocked when people laugh at you or don't want to hear your antiquated views.
And, lastly, people DO realize all this hoopla is over a fictional version of a real family, right? A family of multi-multi-millionaires exploiting a stereotype for money, fame, and ratings? They call it "reality television" but nobody really believes that. Situations are artfully arranged. Dialogue is meticulously scripted. Images are carefully constructed. Entire "stories" are built to keep things interesting. Which brings us to this recent YouTuber rant which puts the whole situation in vivid relief when he says "Enjoy your fake shit, America... you dumbasses deserve to be conned!"
WARNING! This video is profanity-laden and probably not safe for work...
Ultimately, I don't give a shit about the actual issues at play here because I don't watch Duck Dynasty, don't care that some multi-millionaire got fired for saying bigoted crap, and think a company can make whatever stupid, hypocritical decisions they want to when it comes to employee conduct that conflicts with a signed contract. What I DO give a shit about is all the manufactured drama being built up around A&E's decision to shelve Phil Robertson. Because all this "FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS UNDER ATTACK!" and "CHRISTIANITY IS UNDER ATTACK!" bullshit is yet another round of idiotic propaganda that's dividing society and distracting us from the real problems that actually matter.
So somebody let me know when Phil Robertson is detained by the military for saying bigoted nonsense or is imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for being a Christian... because until then, I've had enough of this idiotic Duck Dynasty drama-fest.
And besides, I'm willing to bet Pigeon Lineage or Grouse House will be coming to A&E any day now...
Posted on Sunday, December 29th, 2013
And now is that special entry where I wrap up MY FAVORITE TV SHOWS OF 2013!
At first I was just going to copy my entry for 2012, because it seems that I'm watching mostly the same stuff as I was last year. But then I actually read my entry from last December and was shocked at how much had changed. So here we go again...
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 The Blacklist
Say wha-?!? I had this show stacked up on my DVR because I knew anything with James Spader would be gold, but didn't start watching until five episodes had aired. I devoured all five and was left hungry for more. This is a mystery inside a riddle inside an enigma that just keeps getting more and more fascinating with each new installment. Mostly due to Spader, who is at the absolute top of his game as former master criminal turned FBI informant.
The chemistry between Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu is better than ever, and so are the mysteries. This show is "comfort food" pure and simple, and yet it's never content to stand still. This season we've gotten Sherlock's scheming brother (played by Rhys Ifans!), a bad situation for Detective Bell, and the impending return of Moriarty. Good stuff.
#3 Breaking Bad
I honestly didn't see a way that this series could wrap up in a satisfying manner, as Walt seemed beyond redemption... certainly beyond forgiveness. And yet... that last amazing episode was so deftly handled and compelling that it made me want to start watching all over again from the very beginning. Congrats to Vince Gilligan and everybody involved in going out on top.
Still a contender for the best show on television. The show is so fully realized... so nuanced... so layered... and so well-written that just about any cast could step in and make a good show out of it. But they didn't get just any cast, they got Timothy Olyphant and a stellar team to bring the show to life. Hardly anybody I know watches this show, and I just don't get it.
This show was really good last season... and, impossibly, it got even better this year. I wasn't into the whole "Moira on trial" subplot that dragged on... but the resolution was good, and the deepening ties into the DC Universe just keep getting better. Black Canary? Deathstroke? A.R.G.U.S.? Ra's al Ghul? Yes please. But the best thing about the show is that it takes no prisoner. Roy Harper getting out of line? Shoot him in the leg! Classic.
Jim Jeffries, an Australian stand-up comic who's rude, crude, and a genuinely horrible person plays Jim Jeffries, an Australian stand-up comic who's rude, crude, and a genuinely horrible person. But not intentionally... that's just the way he's wired. After moving in with his friend Steve and Steve's disabled brother Billy in the US, Jim works on becoming a nicer person. Hilarity ensues. Seriously laugh-out-loud hilarity. Surprisingly there's genuine heart in the show too... usually centered around trying to create a normal life for Billy (played flawlessly by DJ Qualls). If you can handle the crudeness and vulgarity, it's definitely worth a look.
#7 Sons of Anarchy
Holy cats. Kurt Sutter has demonstrated again and again that he doesn't give a shit about the status quo, and he's take the SAMCRO story wherever it needs to go... regardless of what the consequences may be. Characters are dying left and right, and you get a sense that some of those who survived would be better off dead. If you're looking for take-no-prisoners television, here's your show.
Shonda Rhimes creates some messed up television. Many times it doesn't work for me (Private Practice, Off the Map, later seasons of Grey's Anatomy). But sometimes it does. And the dirty politics of Scandal definitely works. Every episode has at least one crap-your-pants moment, and the cliffhangers are lethal.
#9 House of Cards
While it's technically not "television" since it's on Netflix, I just don't care. This is the brutal big brother to Scandal that takes dirty politics to new heights. And while it's a great show in its own right, having Kevin Spacey as the headliner is reason alone to watch.
#10 Dr. Who. I thought I'd lose interest when Amy and Rory left, but Clara Oswald is a companion for The Doctor who is working perfectly. I never needed to have her "grown on me"... I liked her from day one. And now that Matt Smith is turning in the keys to The Tardis, I'm happy Clara will be sticking with the NEW Doctor. Many thanks to Matt Smith for his dedication to the role. I may not have cared for you at first, you you definitely changed my mind!
#11 Hawaii Five-0
After losing me, then getting me back, I was fully expecting for Five-0 to lose me again. It hasn't. The chemistry between McGarrett and Dano keeps me tuning in. And if it weren't for the whole "Kono on the run" subplot that JUST WON'T FUCKING DIE, I probably would have ranked the show higher on my list.
#12 The Walking Dead
I admit it... this show is definitely starting to wear on me. Unlike the comic, it feels like it's "stuck." And I seriously have to wonder if the creative team is ever going to find their way out. More and more I question whether I want them to, because the easiest solution would be to dump it.
THREE MORE WORTH WATCHING...
This modern-day Murder She Wrote still has me hooked. I thought Castle and Beckett hooking up will kill the show for me, but it really hasn't.
Game of Thrones
Still hoping that George R. R. Martin figures out a conclusion to the books before the show catches up, because this is some terrific television.
Orange is the New Black
I never in a million years thought I'd have any interest in a show based on women in prison. But a friend pretty much demanded I take a look, and now I can't stop.
ANIMATION WORTH YOUR TIME...
Still brilliant. Still relevant. Still must-see-television for me.
The most bizarre show to ever air on television is still going strong.
Couldn't possibly love this show more than I do. They just kill it each and every episode.