Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019
For the past two years, I've named Schitt's Creek "The Best Show You're Not Watching" in my annual television wrap-up. I just watched through all four seasons again to prepare for Season Five, airing on the 16th.
It's most definitely one of my favorite shows going, but it's tough to fit it on a list because I'm always behind while waiting for it to appear on Netflix. Now I see that POP TV is on my DirecTV, so I will finally be able to watch it when everybody else does. That'll be nice, and I anticipate that the upcoming fifth season will land on my Top Twelve at the end of 2019.
If you haven't seen it, the concept is pretty simple. An absurdly wealthy family loses all their money when their accountant doesn't pay their taxes. With no home to their name, they ends up moving to Schitt's Creek... the only asset they have left. It was bought as a joke for a birthday gift and was deemed too worthless by the IRS for them to bother taking it.
In the first and second season, much of the humor came from super-rich people having to adjust to their new life in a new town where the locals are very different from the people they're accustomed to.
I liked the show... didn't love it...
Then everything changed in the third season.
It was at that point that The Rose Family started accepting their new lot in life and began assimilating into the community. That's when the show became total genius and one of my favorite things ever. Since New Year's, I've been rewatching the first four seasons so I can be caught up before the new season starts on the 16th. I finished this morning.
Here's what I love about the show and why you should be watching...
BEST TELEVISION COUPLE: DAVID & PATRICK
I'm not even joking here. This is hands-down my favorite couple on television. When they first meet, Patrick is just another new local who is in charge of approving David's small business loan. And though you know that David is pansexual, their romance comes completely out of left field. And you're there from the very start...
They couldn't possibly be more opposite, but it's just one of the many things that makes their relationship so heartwarming and sweet. One thing's for sure, you'll never listen to Tina Turner's Simply the Best the same way again...
For people who say that they started watching Schitt's Creek but couldn't get into it, I tell them to skip right to the third season. Patrick appears half-way through, and everything about the show changes. The fourth season is even better. After that you'll want to go back and watch the first two.
BEST TELEVISION BEST FRIENDS: DAVID & STEVIE
Their relationship started as disdain... evolved into friendship... blossomed into friends with benefits... then landed on best friends...
David and Stevie end up best friends because it seems unlikely that they could be best friends with anybody else. It's funny, sweet, and just works...
BEST TELEVISION SIBLINGS: DAVID & ALEXIS
Spoiled from birth, they behave exactly as you think they would. For the most part, they seem indifferent to each other, but still make a hilarious team. And Alexis's never-ending stories of horrible situations she's escaped from is always interesting. Almost as interesting? The way she pronounces "David." Which she says constantly. Day-vhed... Day-vhed...
BEST TELEVISION FASHIONISTA: MOIRA ROSE
Catherine O'Hara has long been one of my favorite actors. Even so, nothing could prepare me for her mind-boggling performance as the Rose Family matriarch. She has adopted an accent for the role that's tough to pin down. She grew up "normal" so we can only imagine that she talks the way she does because that's how she imagines wealthy people speak. But it's not her accent that makes the character so insanely watchable... that's only part of it. What really makes Moira appealing is the outlandish wigs and outfits that she's always wearing. Where do they all come from? Who knows? You'd think she would have long since ran out of new fashion, but she's always got outfits waiting in the wings...
BEST TELEVISION EYEBROWS: JOHNNY ROSE
Eugene Levy is positively nuts on the show... even though most of the time it's his reaction to the state of things that's the most rational.
BEST TELEVISION REDNECK: MAYOR ROLAND SCHITT
Chris Elliott could have easily sleepwalked his every scene with this character, but seems to be injecting some genuine decency and sweetness into him. So instead of just being a bumbling, clueless, moron... he ends up being a genuinely nice guy that you want to root for instead of dismiss. His wife, Jocelyn, has a bit more going on when it comes to smarts. But that's probably because she's a high school teacher...
BEST TELEVISION BEARD: MUTT SCHITT
And you don't realize it until Alexis goes nearly catatonic after he shaves it off...
If you haven't seen Schitt's Creek, take a look.
If quirky humor is not your thing, jump to the third season. It's still quirky, but more grounded.
If you aren't in love with the show by the end of the last episode of season three, there's no hope for you my friend.
Posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2019
For the longest time after I got Jake and Jenny, they were completely silent. They didn't meow at me or try to communicate at all. I, on the other hand, talked to them all the time.
Then Jenny started talking back. Jake tried to talk back, but he can't meow for some reason (unless he's stressed out, apparently). He kinda squawks a bit though. Especially if I look in his direction and he wants to be petted. Jenny mostly wants kitty treats when she meows.
They don't talk to each other at all. They chase each other around from time to time, however. Otherwise they just kinda work around each other. Sometimes literally.
Jenny was sitting directly in front of the cat door looking at something outside. Jake then decides HE wants to look outside, but he can't see around his sister. He tries one side... then the other side... then goes back to the other side. And still can't see out. He was not happy...
Finally he figures out that if he twists his head, he can look past her...
He looked outside sideways for several minutes until Jenny got bored and left.
Jenny gets bored easily. Which is why I think she likes watching television so much. Her favorite thing to watch is Rick and Morty. But I was re-watching Isle of Dogs recently and she was totally absorbed...
After a while she decided she wanted to sit next to me while watching the movie, which is what she usually does...
She's too adorable, even if she has a couple floopy whiskers...
She's even more adorable when she decides that the drawstrings on my favorite hoodie are more entertaining than what's on television. It only cost me $100 and I had to fly to the bottom of the earth to get it... but please do chew on my Hard Rock Ushuaia hoodie. It's fine...
Jake never wants to sit and watch television with me. He just climbs on my lap and falls asleep. He does like my computer to scratch his face though. They both do...
With the exception of my hoodie strings, my cats are surprisingly great about not chewing on stuff they shouldn't be chewing on. They are happy to chew on their toys when they feel the need. Assuming they let each other.
After dinner one day this past week, Jake was laying on the floor gnawing on Mufasa. Jenny comes bolting through the room, snatches Mufasa, then goes running to the stairs.
"JENNY! Why are you stealing your brother's toy?" I ask. She then drops the toy, runs up the stairs, and glares at me. I grab my iPhone to capture the moment, at which time she looks away and whistles. Or appears to be whistling. Can cats whistle? I dunno. So guilty!
Jake wasn't too bothered. A minute later he went out in the catio because he saw Fake Jake walk by.
See you next Caturday!
Posted on Sunday, January 6th, 2019
I know that having to skip a Bullet Sunday for my year-end wrap-up was tough, but don't despair... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Bandersnatch! This past week all the internet buzz revolved around Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix's new "Choose Your Own Adventure" movie. As the movie played you would be presented with choices which determined how the rest of the movie would progress...
Any guesses as to which music I picked?
This novelty alone would be pretty lame. Unless the story was really terrific, why would you want to replay it over and over to see how your choices affect things? But this is Black Mirror, and they took their excellence to another level here. First of all, the story itself addressed the idea of free will vs. control... and completely breaks the fourth wall by going meta with the concept in some story branches. It was really well done, and I ended up playing through several different scenarios to see where the story would land. Once I had gotten through the major different branches, the differences became more and more subtle, so I ended it. I'm told there are some other stories that are more hidden, but time time required to find them was too much for me. Overall, I loved Bandersnatch! It took full advantage of the concept, the performances were great, and I was entertained throughout. My only criticism was that I could play on my AppleTV (which was incompatible) and ended up having to watch on my computer. Other than that? Well worth your time to check out!
• Magic! Every once in a while, Disney's magic extends to their advertising. That's definitely the case with this wonderful ad that was airing for Disneyland Paris...
And now I want to go to Disneyland.
• Good News! If you're a little depressed with how 2018 ended up (Lord only know I am), here's the link for you: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018 (And Recent Years).
And for all those people buying into President Trump's claim that the Mueller Probe is wasting tax dollars, here's more good news: Mueller Probe Cost $25 Million So Far, Report Says. It’s Pulled in $48 Million From Tax Cheats. It's paying for itself (and then some) as well as ripping into political corruption. What's not to like?
• Micropenis! I never suspected that Tucker Carlson has a tiny, minuscule, impotent, wee little penis... but here he is telling everybody about it. Study after study has shown that men who are threatened by women who make more money than them have tiny dicks... and who am I to question science?
What a pathetic, sexist, whiny, tragic, little pissant Tucker Carlson is. The amount of sublime ignorance as to how modern relationships work here is stunning. And yet, there are people believing this bullshit and faux science, so I'd imagine Tucker Carlson isn't going to be out of work any time soon.
• SCANDAL! Oooooh! Here it is! A SCANDALOUS video of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was just released from her school years! I wonder what it is? Sex with animals? Doing drugs? DOING DRUGS WHILE HAVING SEX WITH ANIMALS? My gawd... what a totally reprehensible role model. SHE SHOULD RESIGN IN SHAME!!!
Seesh. From they way some conservatives are (over)reacting, you'd think that she grabbed somebody by the genitals without consent... or cheated on her spouse with a porn star and tried to cover it up... or was defending white nationalists... or hiding her tax returns. The hypocrisy is blinding.
• Roller Kingdom! There was a time I wanted to be addicted to roller skating instead of crack too. But times change...
Alas, the local roller rink was torn down ages ago here, so I guess crack it is!
• Portland! Trying to end on a happy note, this is painfully accurate... and funny...
I miss having work trips to Portland. It is really terrific city.
Stay frosty, everybody.
Posted on Sunday, January 13th, 2019
Don't let the long cold nights of winter get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Duck! It's no secret that I love museums. I've made it my mission in life to see many of the world's great (and not-so-great) museums as I can. Which is why I got a big kick out of this article: Museums around the world are soliciting duck pics from each other...
Image Courtesy of The Museum of English Rural Life.
If you're even a little fan of art, this article is a must-see.
• Cars! These Walmart curbside pickup "cars" commercials are phenomenal...
I can't fathom how much money it cost to license all these properties.
• Akeem! One of my all-time favorite movies is Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in multiple roles. It's a great story chock-full of funny situations and had some real heart to it...
There are many other things to love about the film... namely James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Eddie Murphy's parents. But there are also the incredible designs for the country of Zamunda. Make no mistake, Zamunda was Wakanda way before Wakanda was the benchmark for fictional African countries!
And now it comes to light that there is a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as Prince Akeem. Right now, I am deliriously happy about that. But given how badly things could go wrong, I'm also more than a little nervous.
• Again! Again! Speaking of an Eddie Murphy movie getting sequels... apparently Boomerang, another movie I love more than butter, is getting a television sequel...
The show will continue the story with Marcus and Angela's son and Jaqueline's daughter. No word if Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, or Robin Givens will be making an appearance. But I sure hope so. The thing that gives me hope is that Lena Waithe is onboard. As is Halle Berry as an executive producer. Fingers crossed.
• Monument! As somebody who loves travel photography but can't stand people walking through my shots, I was excited to hear about "Monument." This new technology that Adobe is developing will automatically remove moving objects from photos. It's a fascinating idea that I'm anxious to try out. There's a video which takes a look at Moment but Nick Offerman is an idiotic distraction throughout. Why in the hell they couldn't have just presented the tech without the comedic bullshit is beyond me...
It's only a matter of time before machine learning with this kind of smarts gets dropped into all our cameras. As popular attractions become more and more crowded, it will be a handy and very welcome thing to have.
• Puck! My new brown sugar container came with a small terra cotta coaster in the box. I was telling a friend about it and laughing because I don't have any glasses small enough to fit on it. "ARE YOU HIGH? YOU SOAK IT IN WATER AND PUT IT IN THE CONTAINER SO YOUR BROWN SUGAR DOESN'T DRY OUT!" In my defense, there weren't any instructions. Just the little puck thingy in a baggie. How was I to know?
Is this some secret everybody knows but me? Is there some brown sugar conspiracy to exclude me from this magic?
And... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.
Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019
This morning while I was at work, I received a notification from my security cameras that somebody was breaking into my front door. This happens whenever anybody is in the vicinity of the exterior doorknobs. I wasn't too worried because my door locks weren't reporting any tampering. But I was curious. Did somebody leave me a pamphlet or something? Let's take a look, shall we?
Well, that's disappointing...
I love birds. Especially in flight...
And now, if you'll excuse me, the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is here! I loved the first season, so I'm hoping for more Star Trek goodness this time around...
Live Long and Prosper...
Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
I used to love going out to the movies. Then it got ridiculously expensive and you basically end up paying obscene amounts of money to watch people text on their mobile phones... or listen to them talk... or endure their kids acting like idiots. So you spend even more money to go to the VIP theater so the experience is at least tolerable. And that's an expense I'm just not going to make unless it's a movie I'm dying to see (like anything from Marvel Studios).
So, by not going to the movies, I'm saving $12 for a ticket plus $8 for popcorn and a drink... that's $20, which is how much it costs to just buy most movies on iTunes now-a-days. Or, if you're patient, you can always wait and rent it for $5 or see if it shows up on HBO or something.
More and more I'm getting my entertainment from my television, but that too is quickly getting crazy-expensive.
DirecTV is pricey and I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it. I pay $53.57 per month for the bare minimum they offer just to get Seattle-local networks and a bunch of stuff I never watch (the big exception being HGTV). This is better than it used to be. Since I'm an AT&T wireless subscriber, the $53.57 reflects a $25 bundle credit. I remain incensed that I can't just pick and choose the networks I want to see. I will never, ever watch Fox "News," so why the fuck am I paying for it?
The obvious option here is to go 100% streaming...
Interesting to note that Hulu has actually lowered their ad-supported pricing...
What I don't like about cutting the cord is that some networks withhold streaming their shows on Hulu for a while. As an example... Home Town has started its second season on HGTV, but only the first season is available on Hulu just now. For many programs, this wouldn't be a big deal... but for shows I really like, it's an issue.
Right now, receiving local channels from Seattle is worth the cost to me. But eventually my feelings may change. Saving $200+ a year on entertainment is no small amount of money.
Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2019
The Trump Shutdown may be only temporarily suspended, but don't let that get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Vax! =sigh= I was fully vaccinated as a kid, but it's been recommended that I get the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shot again because of a measles outbreak here in the Pacific Northwest. Since it's highly contagious, I never had it as a kid, I regularly climb into a confined metal tube with lots of people, and I only received one shot (not the series that's now recommended)... it's better safe than sorry I suppose. Fun! Thanks, anti-vax parents, for continuing to bring back diseases with gusto that we thought we had dealt with long ago. Polio, anyone?
• Just Die! And... apparently another idiot missionary is rolling the dice. If forced to choose between the death of a tribe of indigenous persons who are not equipped to handle the germs, disease, and overall bullshit that the outside world brings when it intrudes on their lands... or the death of some piece of shit missionary who KNOWS that it's illegal and KNOWS their actions can cause irreparable harm... I'm going to root for the asshole missionary to die. Hopefully in the most brutal way possible as an example to other assholes who might have similar ideas. Except that didn't seem to work the first time, because you just can't fix stupid. In the meanwhile, these Christian groups calling for the tribe to be arrested can go fuck themselves.
• Other Other! When I first heard that SNL alums Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider had a new series coming to Comedy Central, I was intrigued. Shows that fall out of Saturday Night Live talent are hit or miss, but the ones that hit are usually the most interesting and imaginative stuff to appear on television. And now The Other Two has arrived and it is about the funniest thing I've seen in a while...
Yes, that's Molly Shanon as the mom, and she's as good as you'd expect. And, yes, that's Wanda Sykes in there too (Lord, I wish they would find a starring vehicle for her that's worthy of her talent). It's a raunchy show to be sure, so it's not going to be for everybody... but, if you're intrigued, you can watch the first episode for free over at Comedy Central.
• London! I've wondered about London's airports for a long, long time. At last there are answers...
And... part two...
• Out of Network! Regardless of where you land on the health care debate, this is essential reading. Now more than ever you have to be very careful about what care plan your doctor comes up with for you. It's critical that you know to question everything so as to avoid getting blindsided by outrageous medical costs.
• TransBan! The irony is not lost that President Trump (AKA Cadet Bone Spurs), who dodged the draft with a fake ailment, is in charge of deciding who gets to serve their country now (yes, it was fake... the daughter of the physician who signed off on his foot problem came forward). His desire to strongly curtail (or outright ban) transgender persons from serving was recently upheld by The Supreme Court. To those who understand that a strong military requires talents from all sorts of people, this makes no sense. So what is the president thinking? Not surprisingly, there's a series of tweets to explain it...
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
— President Donald Trump
Huh. Looks like our Commander in Chief doesn't know how the fuck our modern military works. But what does he understand? Let's hear what an actual fucking soldier has to say...
"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."
— Senator Tammy Duckworth
Oh, and forgive me for completely discounting his fucking bullshit about the "medical costs" being a disruption to our military. It's not like he gives a shit about the millions of taxpayer dollars our military spends shuttling his fat ass to golf courses around the world.
Have a pleasant week, everybody!
Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019
This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.
This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.
And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...
The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).
So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.
Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.
Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2019
Don't go fretting that you aren't in touch with what's new in life... because a Very Special Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...
• NEW Disco! I tell you what... Star Trek: Discovery has been knocking it out of the part again this season. Even slow, throw-away episodes (like the latest one) have surprising depth. But, then again, any time spent with my favorite Kelpien, Saru, is time well-spent...
There is a campaign to get Doug Jones an Emmy for his work as Saru, and I can't think of another actor more deserving. Jones has flawlessly constructed movement, voice inflections, and mannerisms that feel completely alien, and the skill to be doing all that while completely encased in makeup and facial appliances is remarkable. He had better at least get nominated.
If you like sci-fi and are not watching Disco, you owe it to yourself to take out a free trial for CBS All Access and see what you've been missing. I am a diehard fanatic of Star Trek: The Original Series, and feel that this is the best series to come out in the Star Trek Universe since then. I was not impressed with any of the Next Generation/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise shows, but this? This is great stuff (despite the bitching and moaning from "Star Trek fans" that hate it... which, if that's you, don't worry... you'll be getting your Next Generation pablum when Captain Picard comes back with his new show).
• NEW! Netflix has just unleashed the third season of the One Day at a Time reboot, and it did not disappoint...
If there's a flaw, it's that the show feels the need to continue addressing absolutely every social issue in existence. It's handled really well, but it can still be exhausting. Yes, it's great to see the show address current events, but it's at its best is when it focuses on the people behind the issues. Fortunately there's plenty of that as well, and I'm hoping we get a fourth season.
• NEW Boys! Pet Shop Boys have a new EP that just dropped called Agenda. And it's as relevant and interesting as you would expect...
And then there's thinly-veiled political message, perhaps?
Yeah. Just when we needed it most.
• NEW Ellen! What would it take to coax Ellen DeGeneres to do her first standup special in 15 years? Apparently it's the $20 million that Netflix ponied up for Relatable, which was released back in December...
I just watched it again last night and I gotta say... it's worth the money. Ridiculously funny. Probably my favorite of all her specials so far. Until Netflix lures her back with $50 million maybe?
• NEW Boarding! CGP Grey released a new video this past week on how to best board an airplane. It's an interesting discussion, to be sure...
• NEW Country! With rare exceptions, I am decidedly not a country music fan. Though recently Casey Musgraves has me re-thinking this stance with her amazing Country-Pop fusion, which is some of the best music I've heard in a while. Because of that, I found this analysis on the current state of Country to be a fascinating watch...
The fact that the finger-snapping madness is becoming such a predominant force in music today is pretty disheartening. Time will tell if it's eventually replaced by something even worse.
No more new for you. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019
Don't ask me why, but I watch the Westminster Dog Show every year.
This year my dedication was rewarded with "Winky"... a little Bichon Frise running the agility course. This hilarious pup was in no hurry at all to complete the course, and was happy to stop for applause a couple of times. Needless to say, the crowd loved Winky...
Definitely not the fastest time, to be sure, but my favorite run of the show.
Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2019
Don't let Oscar-mania get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Oscar! I stopped watching the Oscars and other award shows years ago. The movies I like best rarely win anything and, given how little weight awards seem to carry in casting, it seems like pointless endeavor anyway. Just an excuse for Hollywood to congratulate itself in a pricey spectacle that seems to award based on factors outside of actual talent. Suffice to say I want Black Panther to win as many awards as possible (even though it will be passed over for Best Picture by The Favourite or (more likely) yet another white savior tale with Green Book. I am also pulling for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to win for Best Animated Feature. Other than that? =yawn=.
• WAKANDA FOREVER! One bit I did see from The Oscars was this hilarious intro of Black Panther by Trevor Noah...
But it gets better. Not soon after the video was posted, I ran across this...
Xhosa is a fascinating language. And every time I hear it, I think of this video I saw years ago which attempts to explain the sounds...
Things like this makes me love this planet. How exciting is it that there's so much incredible diversity out there waiting to be discovered?
• Whiskey! While I did not watch The Oscars, I most certainly watched Whiskey Cavalier which followed The Oscars...
I was not disappointed. It's kinda a James-Bond-ish spy show with some humor and a darn good cast. Time will tell if they fall into the trap of having to two lead characters fall in love (which is always when things go terribly, terribly wrong). Hopefully if they do jump that shark, it will happen later rather than sooner, because I'd like to enjoy it for a while longer.
• Oh Captain! While I am absolutely dying to see Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, I think I'm even more excited for Captain Marvel to be released next month. Everything about it looks amazing, and the fact that Carol Danvers will play a big part in Endgame is interesting to me. And speaking of Captain Marvel... I really wanted the original one-sheet movie poster that was released, but couldn't find it available for a sane price anywhere. It was Wonder Woman all over again, where I wanted the gorgeous pre-release poster but could only find it second-market for obscene amounts of money. I think they were under printed because "women super-heroes won't sell," which is really a shame. But then I was looking to see if there were any pre-orders available for Spider-Man: Far From Home when I saw that both posters had gotten a second printing! Sweet! Now they're both hanging in my upstairs hallway where they belong...
Such amazing colors in both of them! So happy that they were reprinted at something I could afford.
• Curiosity! The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were incredible feats of engineering that exceeded their projected lifespan or two years by quite a wide margin. Spirit ran for 6 years and traveled nearly 5 miles. Opportunity ran for 14 years and traveled nearly 28 miles. And then there's Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still running. Or so NASA thinks. On its most recent reboot, the poor thing went into an unexpected "safe mode" and engineers had to get that straightened out...
Personally? I think it was a moment of silence to honor the end of Opportunity's mission, which NASA called on February 12th after it had gone silent since June 10th last year. Great job, buddy. Hopefully humans will get to visit you one day.
• Pika! I've never been into Pokémon that much (despite enjoying Pokémon Let's Go on the Switch), but I gotta say... I'm looking forward to Detective Pikachu on May 10th...
Probably because they gave him Ryan Reynold's voice and rendered all the Pokémon so brilliantly. One more interesting-looking movies in a string of interesting-looking movies for 2019. With some exceptions, of course...
Absolutely no idea how Disney's Aladdin is going to pan out. By and large I haven't been enjoying the live-action remakes that much, but this one looks like the diciest translation yet.
And the award for best bullets goes to...
Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2019
Last night the Oscar for Best Picture went (unsurprisingly) to Green Book, yet another "white savior" film where stories detailing the lives of Black people are told through the lens of the white people who "rescued them" from racism and made life better for the entire Black race because of it. It's a trope that's been done to death, but Hollywood just can't seem to help themselves.
Whether it's a story of outright theft, as in The Help where a young white woman "liberates" Black servants in the 1960's by publishing their stories in her best-selling book (the story of which was stolen in real-life too)... or real events being reframed, as in 42 where Jackie Robinson's story is snatched away from him to be viewed from the perspective of the white Major League Baseball executive who decided to integrate the sport (and his white teammates who overcame their prejudices to accept him as a player)... or the unforgivable revisionist history in Hidden Figures where white Kevin Costner rips down a "whites only" sign on the bathroom so Katherine Johnson didn't have to run across campus to pee (something that never fucking happened)... it's a tired trend of making white people the hero in the lives of Black heroes when the actual stories are compelling enough as they are.
In the case of the Oscar-winning film Green Book, we get the story of real-life Black pianist great Don Shirley hiring a racist white chauffeur to drive him for a concert tour. Something which would be a great story, right? Except it ends up being the story of how Don Shirley's driver overcame his racism to build a friendship with him instead, making the white guy the hero of the movie. Because of course he was. Getting a movie about Don Shirley told from the perspective of Don Shirley is apparently asking too much. That film wouldn't get an Oscar for Best Picture because white voters wouldn't have somebody to root for (Black Panther had white Agent Ross, but he was only a minor hero in the movie... if Marvel wanted Black Panther to be a real Oscar contender, they apparently should have told T'Challa's story from the perspective of the white guy and how he saved all of Wakanda).
But I digress...
I'm not holding my breath that we'll get a major motion picture about Don Shirley from Don Shirley's perspective, but tonight on The Smithsonian Channel we did get a documentary on The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which inspired the name of the big budget film that did see release...
Titled The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the documentary is a terrific exploration of the "travel and survival book" for African-Americans who dared to travel during a time when traveling while Black was a potentially life-ending experience. Stay out too late in the wrong city with the wrong color of skin, and it could mean your death. Something that we like to think happened hundreds of years ago in this country... but "Sundown Towns" were still in existence into the 1960's... less than 60 years ago. Meaning that there are people alive today who survived this horrific segregation brutality first-hand (and some of them are interviewed in this program).
If you have the opportunity to see it, The Green Book Guide to Freedom gets my highest possible recommendation.
NOTE: The documentary is excellent, must-see material that's well worth your valuable time. As of this writing, iTunes has it available for FREE and I think other streaming services may be giving it away as well.
NOTE: Another resource I enjoyed was this article from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture which has links to digitized copies of The Green-Book as well as a US map where locations have been mapped out... and even a Green-Book travel planner tool!
The first I had heard of The Green-Book was when I was visiting one of the best museums I've ever seen... The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They explained that away-games for Black players was often a difficult ordeal given that there may not be restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other kind of services available between cities (or even in the city once you got there). Everything had to be meticulously planned, and even then you could still end up in danger if a bus broke down or some other pitfall ensued.
As I was reading about this abhorrent concept, I overheard a couple nearby talking about "The Green-Book." I had never heard of it before, so I investigated further on Wikipedia when I got back to my hotel...
I found out that it's essentially an AAA Guide with a specific audience in mind. Namely, Black motorists during the time of segregation. Inside you get a list of African-American friendly hotels, restaurants, and other businesses designed to make travel safer and more enjoyable...
As explained on The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the books often-times had editorials and articles that went beyond travel, delving into civil rights issues of the day. As also explained on the program, the book was created in the hopes that one day it wouldn't be needed. Ultimately creator Victor Hugo Green got his wish, and the final issue was published the year I was born, 1966. Sadly Green died in 1960, four years before the Civil Rights Act came into being and six years before his book ceased publication.
Not that the end of segregation was the end of segregation. South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster infamously refused to give up his all-white country club membership when he took office... just two years ago in 2017. Not to mention a president who has said white nationalists have some very fine people in their ranks. Apparently to some people, The Negro Motorist Green-Book was not a symbol of escaping oppression but a symbol of "the good ol' days." Which kinds of puts that whole "Make America Great Again" bullshit into proper perspective, doesn't it?
Seek out The Smithsonian Channel's The Green Book Guide to Freedom. You'll be glad you did.
Posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
The King of Pop may be gone, but he's not forgotten... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• WAH! WAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAHH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Walmart has released a new online ad series called "Love is in the Aisle" which is a dating show that takes place in their stores. The second episode features two guys, so naturally hate organizations (like The American Family Association) are losing their fucking minds...
Which is kinda pathetic and sad, but it's not like you can expect anything less from a bunch of homophobic bigots who hide behind their warped ideal of "family" while persecuting actual families who happen to have two moms or two dads. Looks like these assholes are running out of places to shop.
• Porn and Candy. The new HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, has finally aired. It details allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, and a $100 million lawsuit by his estate has already been unleashed...
Photo by Dave Hogan and Getty Images
As you can imagine, it's incredibly fucked up. What's surprising to me is in the way it's fucked up. The sexual abuse was horrific, yes, but the mental abuse was magnitudes worse. One minute you're made the center of Michael Jackson's life and promised the world... the next you've been replaced with another young boy and made to wonder what you did wrong to deserve that. I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, but there are songs of his I like. Until this documentary, I was able to separate the art from the man. But now? There's just no way. I believe his victims. It's entirely too likely that Michael Jackson was a total piece of shit and I'm glad he's not around to abuse children any more.
• Sparkly! "Will she spit or poop?" — A question that always makes date night interesting...
And to think... I had to make do with G.I. Joe when I was a kid.
• Worthy! And lo did Steven Spielberg descend from his throne in Hollywood to decree that films from online studios like Netflix should be exempt from Oscar consideration. Apparently he feels that only films which have a full theatrical run (as opposed to a limited run just to qualify for awards) should be classified as "real films." Or something like that. You know... real films... like Hook or Joe vs. The Volcano.
Ummm... yeah... no.
I love a movie theaters better than most. I love the cinema. I love viewing films where the entire experience, from the size of the screen to the sounds you hear, are all optimized for the best enjoyment of a movie and the way the filmmakers wanted it to be seen. But how often does that happen? Now-a-days, you've got people texting and talking on their mobile phones... people eating and making noise... people letting their kids run wild... people being overall assholes who don't care that they are ruining the movie for everybody else. And that doesn't even begin to cover the reality that many movies could never be made or even get distribution within the major Hollywood movie system. Unlike Steven Spielberg, they are locked out and wouldn't get to tell their stories if not for alternative studios like Netflix. Movies that deserve recognition if they're worthy of recognition.
So... Spielberg can just take a damn seat and shut the entire fuck up. I'd argue that my home theater "experience" is far better than dealing with the constant distractions from assholes at the theater. AND I don't have to pay $20 for a popcorn and a Coke. AND I get to see movies that Hollywood would never touch in a million years. God Save Netflix.
• Flerf! And speaking of Netflix, they've got a documentary on the "flat earth" movement called Behind the Curve. It's mostly ridiculous, but a part of it seems to be advocating for... tolerance? BWAH HA HA HA HAAA! Yeah, right. I am not going to "respect the opinion" of dumbass flat earthers. I have zero problem mocking idiots who deny what can be observed with their own eyes and goes against fundamental scientific truths and irrefutable evidence. Every hilarious "explanation" that flat earthers come up with for things like eclipses, how GPS works, Antarctica, and the curvature of the earth, are so fucking stupid that I can't even fathom how anybody could possibly buy into it. Unless they're fucking idiots as well. These tin foil hat wearing morons aren't even worth debunking... so this documentary doesn't even try. They just present mentally deficient people like Mark Sargent and Nathan Thompson in their LITERAL bubble-reality worldview. It's all more infuriating than fascinating or enlightening. But they do have an occasional moment where they drop actual knowledge (including a hysterical bit at the end), so I guess that's something.
Until next week, stay vigilant, young crusader...
Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Stop worrying your pretty little head over whether Spring is here or not here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free! As I've mentioned more than a few times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of Alex Honnold. He's a world-famous free solo rock climber who recently rocketed into the limelight because of the Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo (sadly, I didn't get to see it in IMAX like I wanted to, and ended up renting it). I first heard of the guy in 2007 or 2008 after he free soloed Yosemite. At first I thought he was a lunatic with a death-wish, but after reading numerous interviews over the years, I found him to be one of the most philosophical, funny, genuine people on the face of the planet. And the most talented athlete on earth...
If you haven't seen free Solo yet, it's absolutely worth your time. It's an amazing film that changed my perception of Honnold yet again. But if you want to see Alex being the Alex that I became obsessed over the past decade, here he is (watch to the end, because it gets better as it goes on)...
It used to be that every year on Christmas as a part of my "End-of-Year Checklist" I would Google Alex to see if he was still alive. Now that he's so incredibly famous, I don't have to. If something were to happen to him I'm sure the entire world would know.
• Zero Stars! When I had to start eliminating carbs, the transition from "regular" to "sugar-free" sodas was a tough leap to make. What made it easier was Coke Zero, which is far and away my favorite carb-free pop (followed by Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet A&W Root Beer, and Sunkist Orange). One of my favorite sodas, Stewart's Orange Cream, has no diet equivalent... which is why I was thrilled to see "Coke Zero Orange Vanilla" at my local Safeway...
Holy shit what a horrendous load of toxic sludge! It tastes nothing like an orange cream soda, but instead tastes like an extremely artificial vanilla cola with a weird orange aftertaste. Really gross, which is why I am mad I bought an entire 12-pack. Looks like I need to investigate adding a hint of vanilla to Sunkist Diet Orange Soda to see if I can get what I'm looking for.
• Life! Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant minds in entertainment, and I'm always looking forward to what he's doing next. Turns out it's the Netflix series After Life, and it's one of my favorite things he's done thus far...
The show has a rocky start because his character is pretty awful. But the 6-episode series is a journey that ends in a very different place, and it's a worthwhile trip to take. With all the horrors I've been facing these past couple years, it's nice to run across something that is saying exactly what I need to hear. Highly recommended.
• Stick! One of my favorite kitchen brands is OXO Good Grips. I ended up replacing almost all my bakeware with their stuff and was happy with that... at first. Then I found out that my "non-stick pizza pan" can't even cook biscuits without them sticking like cement...
Even worse? The bread pans and jelly roll pan are rusting under the folded edges. And so... I guess OXO Good Grips is no longer my favorite kitchen brand. Really sad that I wasted my money on this garbage.
• Billions and Billions! Wealth inequality is something that I don't really think about because there's nothing I can do about it. Obscenely wealthy people own this country and get to decide how things are going to be. The fact that what they decide inevitably benefits only them (and their pocketbook) regardless of how it screws the rest of us... or the environment... or whatever else is in their way, is just our sad reality. Which is why shit like this is so unsurprising...
Thinking that these horrible people will ever have to pay for the lives they've destroyed is laughable.
And, on that note, I guess we're out of bullets...
Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019
It's hard to believe that March is already half-over, but don't let the march of time discourage you... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Queer Happy! Since I have (temporarily) stepped away from social media, I've been pretty much out of the loop. But I did have a news story pop up which mentioned that Queer Eye Season Three had just dropped on Netflix...
Sweet! I absolutely love Queer Eye because it packs one of the most emotional gut-punches you'll find on television. Some of those the Fab Five help out are genuinely good people who just need a little break to be happy, and the guys always manage to come through. And then I read the comments on the story. You think I'd know better. Because the amount of hatred that people have for this show is downright unfathomable and I just don't get it. Seriously... who gives a crap how other people live their lives when it does not affect you? Do these haters honestly think that there is a finite amount of happiness in the world and if other people find happiness in ways they don't approve of it means there's less happiness for them? Gay people aren't allowed to be who they are and be happy because if they are, there's no way anti-gay bigots can be happy? What pathetic, sad, miserable assholes these people are. But I don't care. This is one of the best seasons yet, and I watched all eight episodes back-to-back. I can't wait for Season Four.
• Top Gunn! Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn made some horrific and terrible jokes about rape and pedophilia when we was young and stupid. He subsequently offered heartfelt apologies numerous times, promised to do better, and moved on to become an incredibly talented writer and director. But Disney/Marvel fired him anyway, despite him providing them two incredible hit movies....
This was a rash and idiotic knee-jerk reaction that made me (and plenty of others) pretty mad. How many of us haven't made stupid mistakes when we were younger? The guy was wasn't an actual rapist and pedophile... he just made hurtful and overall moronic "jokes" about the subjects which weren't at all funny (unlike James Carr, who may be completely tasteless and inappropriate, but is really funny about it). His apologies were sincere. He grew up. And now Disney/Marvel finally seemed to realize how fucking stupid they were... probably not because it was wrong to fire him over his bad judgement... but because they couldn't find another writer/director to replace him. Money being more important than manufactured outrage, Gunn was rehired to direct his already-completed script for Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume Three!
So happy about this. I don't believe in second chances for everyone, but James Gunn has earned the support he's gotten to be reinstated.
• BURN! I was raised Catholic. I still have family and friends who are in the Catholic Church. I say this to qualify that I would never recklessly disparage The Church and its followers. Except... The Catholic Church has a history of horrifically problematic issues that have not been adequately dealt with. Big on that list is the seemingly never-ending sexual abuse of children by their pastors and officials. Abuse that The Church has been outright denying or only half-heartedly acknowledging. It is next-level fucked up, and I am outraged that it's still happening and victims are still being ignored or shoved aside. Which is why the Diocese of Brooklyn can seriously go fuck themselves for demanding an apology for this segment on Saturday Night Live...
Pete Davidson has said some truly stupid stuff... and it's not always funny. In this case what he's saying is not only funny, it's also 100% true. Until the Catholic Church reforms... and at this point it can't really be anything except a total reform because we're way, way past second chances for them to do the right thing... I'm done. See how that works?
• Aladdin! For me, the jury was very much out on Disney's upcoming live-action version of Aladdin. The original animated movie with Robin Williams is one of my favorites, and it just seemed... bizarre... that Disney would even attempt to replace him with Will Smith. But now that I've seen an actual trailer, I'm much more hopeful...
Will it take the place of the original masterpiece? Almost certainly not? Can it be an entertaining distraction in its own right? Sure! Guess we'll find out in May.
• Honey Honey! I try to use honey instead of sugar whenever I can. Honey is the only thing I add to my tea, and I'd rather drink it unsweetened if honey isn't available. I do have packets of "Sugar in the Raw" and artificial sweetener for my guests, if they want it, but there's always honey at my home. Over the years I've read some truly misguided comments about honey and people who want me to switch to agave nectar. Finally I've found a couple of people on Tumblr who have summed up why I'll never switch to agave...
Vegans of tumblr, listen up. Harvesting agave in the quantities required so you don't have to eat honey is killing Mexican long-nosed bats. They feed off the nectar and pollinate the plants. They need the agave. You want to help the environment? Go back to honey. Your liver and thyroid will thank you, as well. Agave is 90% fructose, which can cause a host of issues. Bye.
— VampireGirl2345 via Tumblr
Beekeeper here! Just wanted to say that the fact that vegans won’t eat honey is very silly. Harvesting honey does not hurt bees. The invention of modern moveable-frame hives means we can remove a selected frame, extract the honey and return it without killing a single bee.
If we destroyed the colony to harvest honey there would be no bees for next year, and beekeepers are incredibly careful to keep their bees healthy and thriving. We take *excess* honey that they don’t need, and it stops the hive from becoming honey-bound, meaning that there’s so much honey the Queen has nowhere to lay eggs. And if the winter is harsher than expected and the remaining honey store runs low, we feed the bees plenty to make sure they survive. We also make sure that pests are controlled, bees are treated for disease, and the hive is weatherproof and in good repair, all things that wild bees struggle with.
Keeping bees in properly managed hives where they don’t starve or die from preventable disease is much better for them than being left to fend for themselves, and they’re far too important to be left alone. All the fruits and vegetables that vegans *do* eat couldn’t exist without bees, and the hives which pollinate those crops also produce excess honey which the beekeepers can sell to help keep themselves and their hives going.
TLDR: BUY THE HONEY, HELP THE BEES.
— Vertiga via Tumblr
Bats are some of the most beneficial creatures on earth. Trading in a non-existent problem for a very real problem which threatens their survival is not helping.
• Coaster! I'm a big fan of interesting roller coasters and have been on many, many of them. My current favorite is "The Incredible Hulk Coaster" at Universal Studios Orlando. It's not as well-themed as Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland... or as iconic as The Cyclone at Coney Island... or as scary as Wicked Twister at Cedar Point... but The Incredible Hulk is really fun to ride. But for me right now? The coaster I most want to ride is the brand new "Yukon Striker" coming to Canada's Wonderland this Spring...
Yukon Striker will be the fastest, longest, tallest dive roller coaster in the world. It goes up to 80mph, is 3,625 feet long, has four inversions, and lasts three minutes, 25 seconds. And it looks like loads of fun...
Hopefully I can get to Toronto one of these days to ride it!
And that's all he wrote for writing bullets this week! See you next Sunday!
Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019
I am not a huge horror movie fan, but I do like a well-crafted story... in any genre.
For this reason I was exited to see that Jordan Peele has a new horror movie out called Us. I loved Get Out, and the reviews for Us are phenomenal. And yet... I loathe going to the theater so much that I was debating whether or not I was going to buy a ticket or wait for home video...
To help with my decision, I emailed a document to a friend who was going to see the movie last night. In it I wrote what I thought the "twist ending" was going to be. After seeing a couple commercials and clips on talk shows, it seemed pretty obvious to me what was going on.
This morning my friend opened the document and texted me that I was 100% correct with my guess. But he also said that the movie was so great that I really should go see it in the theater anyway.
So I don't know.
I'll probably wait for home video. Having to share the theater with a bunch of rude people makes me long to be watching at home.
And speaking of watching at home...
Apparently Viacom is in a fight with my television provider, DirecTV. While watching The Daily Show and The Other Two on Comedy Central and RuPul's Drag Race on Logo, there's a black box on the screen warning you that AT&T (owners of DirecTV) are going to drop the channel...
At first the box was stationary on the left-hand side. But then AT&T started putting a black box on top of it. So now Viacom is making the box jump around the screen so AT&T has to keep moving their box. Eventually AT&T gave up. It's such bullshit and trying to watch a show where a box is bouncing all over the place is headache-inducing.
All I can say is that if DirecTV drops Comedy Central, one of the few channels I watch with any regularity, I will be dropping DirecTV. As I mentioned previously, thanks to streaming services and such, I don't need DirecTV much anymore anyway.
The monopolies of cable companies and satellite companies are over and I really don't care. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of assholes. They've been forcing bundled channels down our throats that we don't want for decades and karma is a bitch.
Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019
And so The Mueller Report has been completed and turned over to the Attorney General of the United States of America, William Barr. Whether or not anybody will ever get to see the damn thing is anybody's guess. In my humble opinion, it should be available to any American who wants to look at it. We paid for it, after all. And wasn't The Starr Report (which confirmed President Clinton's affair) made public? Why should Trump be treated any different?
Whether The President is guilty of collaborating with a foreign power is kind of incidental at this point. He's done so much fucking damage to this country, does it really matter if he did it for Russia or not?
Well, yeah. Of course it does. Because if it's true, he's guilty of high treason and should be shot.
That being said, if Mueller were to look up the asses of all the politicians in Congress with a microscope for two years, half of them would probably be shot for treason. These are powerful people who don't give a fuck about our country... they just want money and power. Treason is a small price to pay to get it.
Just ask Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Konstantin Kilimnik, Sam Patten, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and all the other people who have already been charged by Mueller.
Guess sometimes a with hunt turns up actual witches.
In other news... The Good Fight has returned on CBS All Access.
It's a frustrating show to watch.
On one hand, it's a brilliant show that has compelling stories, great legal drama, amazing acting, and fantastic production values. On the other hand, it's constantly making up stupid shit about President Trump, his administration, and his family. In the first two episodes we've got Trump paying for a woman's abortion... Don Jr. and Eric shooting Gary Cole's character on a hunting trip... and some shady business to do with Brett Kavanaugh. All of it manufactured bullshit that's been fabricated for entertainment value. Don't we have enough to worry about with all the actual crap our president is doing?
Guess we'll find out once this Mueller thing is unloaded.
Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2019
April is here at last.
This means I have to start traveling again. I get to start woodworking again. I need to start exercising again.
It also means that the final season of Game of Thrones is nigh...
The event I'm most looking forward to in April 2019 is Avengers: Endgame. A close second would be Game of Thrones Season 8. It could end any of a dozen different ways, and there's no telling who is going to end up sitting on The Iron Throne.
For the past three months I've been rewatching all the episodes so I'm ready to go come the 14th. Last night I finished the last one and found myself wishing I had timed it better. Now I've got two weeks to wait before I get more Thrones.
And then there's this...
I knew it had to be a prank... and yet... her reaction was so genuine!
The North Remembers. Or not.
Posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2019
Time to bend the knee... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrones! The much-anticipated premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones has finally come. Since it was just an hour of set-up for the five episodes that follow, it was a bit boring... but did have some interesting moments...
One would hope that they managed to find an ending that doesn't suck... but I've seen finales fail more often than win, so I'm not counting on it. So long as it's a fun ride, I suppose I'll be happy enough. But I really want them to knock it out of the park.
• The Hawk! And so Disney has announced that Jeremy Renner has been signed to a new series for their forthcoming streaming network. I have been begging for a Hawkeye series based on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series for years. It's hands-down one of the best series I've ever read...
No idea if the Disney+ series would go in that directions, but... hot damn. Looks like Disney+ is going to be absolutely killing it with amazing content.
• Only in America! A politician from Texas is so pro-life that he wants the death penalty for anybody involved with getting an abortion. You cannot make this shit up. This is after his tireless crusade to "protect the sanctity of marriage" by opposing marriage equality. He's been married five times. You cannot make this shit up. At some point you'd think that people would get tired of this kind of hypocritical bullshit... but here we are.
• Aurebesh Coke! Apparently Coca-Cola is creating special packaging for Disneyland and Walt Disney World's upcoming "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" lands...
Cool. Except... no Coke Zero? I cannot fathom why people continue to drink shitty Diet Coke when Coke Zero exists.
• Evil! There are few things I'm more passionate about than Net Neutrality. As expected, The Trump Administration killed it. As expected, the Democrats created a bill to restore it. I fully expect that it will be vetoed by the president. This is reprehensible and evil. The reasons given for killing Net Neutrality are all fucking bullshit. And the reasons for restoring it are legion. Which is why it's not surprising that President Trump hates it. Anything which levels the playing field for everybody works against dumbasses who have to rely on their daddy's money to get ahead in life.
• Kerning Fail! Few things freak me out like bad typography...
You'd think that the people in charge of using type would know how. Doesn't happen as often as you'd hope though.
And... that's enough bullets on your Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2019
The Easter Bunny may be bringing you chocolate and boiled eggs, but something better is in store... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Cathedral. It has been exceedingly difficult to gather my thoughts on the fire at Notre Dame. I've visited it all three times I've been to Paris, and loved it more with each trip. Such architectural wonders are a testament to mankind's accomplishments, and it is filled with sublime artistic treasures...
I am relieved that so much of it survived. I am thankful that nobody perished in the flames. I am happy that it can be rebuilt. But I am more than a little disheartened that three Black churches being burned in Louisiana barely made the news while Notre Dame could not be escaped. Yes, three small churches don't have the renown nor the grandeur of one of the most well-known landmarks on the planet, but still... it supports the false narrative that "racism is over" when it's happening around us every day. When something is invisible, people don't care about it. I'm not saying that every incident of racism has to be reported (you'd need dozens 24-hour news channel just to keep up with it all) but three churches being targeted and burned because its parishioners are Black is newsworthy, and people who think "racism is over" need to be reminded that it's not.
• Turkish Delight! While I've been spending time taking care of Jake, I've been running through foreign films on Amazon Prime Streaming. One of the best I've found kinda surprised me with not just how good it was... but with the way it had a bit of an interesting twist to it. Originally titled Kardeşim Benim in its original Turkish, it's listed on Amazon as My Brother (be sure Close Captioning (the CC button) is on)...
If you're not an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can rent it for $3 or purchase it for $6 on iTunes. There's a sequel that was made a couple years ago that looks every bit as good, but I haven't seen it available here in the USA...
Hopefully it gets English subtitles and shows up here soon.
• Dickey! This song is lyrically embarrassing, but the animation and cast of guest voices are pretty great...
Interesting that Lil' Dickey was the one to spearhead something like this, but here we are.
• Oh Boy! I was a bit late to the Garth Ennis comic book The Boys, but found it an interesting and often enjoyable series. Yes, it was filled with gratuitous... well... everything... but in a very good way. When I heard that Amazon Prime was adapting it, I was worried the show would end up being a pale shadow of the source material. Turns out I worried for nothing...
Savage. Needless to say, I'll be tuning into that.
• Trash! Senator Maureen Walsh is fucking garbage from the heart of Redneckistan. She is the one who made an impassioned plea advocating for marriage equality in Washington State because she has a lesbian daughter. We quickly found out that she only cares about marginalized people when they affect her directly, because she subsequently went after trans persons by saying that trans kids invite getting bullied because they intentionally stand out. Now she says that nurses don't deserve workplace protections with guarantees of breaks and time for lunch because they spend most of their time playing cards. Uh huh. Ask any nurse how much time they get to play cards while busting their assess to save lives. Exhaustion breeds mistakes. Do we really want nurses pushed to exhaustion given the job responsibilities they have? Of course not. Which makes Maureen Walsh a fucking dumbass on top of being an asshole. There are few people I regret believing in more than this epic fail...
UPDATE: Yes, I do know the context of what she was talking about, it was still way out of line. You can prove your point about critical care hospitals in rural communities without degrading nurses like this. For me the greater context is that Walsh has consistently voted against things like paid sick leave, guaranteed minimum wage, and other laws protecting workers. So, despite her apology or any context, what other conclusion are people supposed to make when she says stuff like this?
• Mueller? Mueller? I have a lot I could say. Maybe I will one day. In the meanwhile...
Oh. And this tweet right here...
Finished a second read through the Mueller Report. I don’t say this lightly, as a life long Republican, former R Hill staffer, and someone who has worked on every R campaign and pre-transition team for the last ten years. There is enough here to begin impeachment proceedings.— J.W. Verret (@JWVerret) April 20, 2019
I laugh my ass off at the idea that the Mueller Report in any way exonerates the president. On the contrary, it positively reeks with all the things that make him an affront to the office he holds and the country which allows him to hold it.
UPDATE: Here we go...
And 'tis time at last for the bullets to be done this fine Easter Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, April 28th, 2019
I don't mind my allergies splitting my head apart thanks to everything in the valley blooming at the same time... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrones! I may be in the minority here, but I felt that the majority of the latest episode, The Battle of Winterfell, was embarrassingly bad. Everything was filmed so dark that it was almost impossible to see what was happening. Even worse, much of the action was shot way too close, so even if you could see what was happening, you couldn't tell what was going on anyway. They literally could have just skipped most of the episode, had somebody summarize what happened in two minutes, and the result would have been practically the same for me. Disappointing. Though I'll be the first to say that the ending was exactly what I wanted to see. w00t!
• Trek V2. The CGI effect upgrades they gave to old Star Trek episodes back in 2006 are pretty great. Definitely helps then to hold up for modern audiences. Recently I was watching Tomorrow is Yesterday for the hundredth time and found myself forgetting what the old effects looked like. So I looked it up on YouTube and found this...
Right off the bat I found something surprising...
ZOMG! PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY REVISED THEIR VIEW OF THE PLANET BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE THEY KNOW THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT!!!
• Vegetarianism Fail. When I first became a vegetarian back in 1986, eating out was a challenge. Pretty much all you could do was ask for a grilled cheese or try to find a salad without meat on it. Now-a-days it's so much easier. Except at my local "V.I.P." theater. Their big "thing" is wraps. They've got quit an assortment of them. Every last one of them with meat on it. Even the "Veggie Extreme" is SO EXTREME that it has chicken on it! Baller!
Since they didn't have a vegetarian option, I asked if they can substitute avocado for the chicken. Nope! But they can leave the chicken off and charge me $1.25 for avocado though! Fuckers. If you're not going to have a vegetarian-friendly option, at least allow a reasonable substitution!
And so... French fries it is. Except... it literally took them THREE TRIES to deliver my fries. They'd walk in the theater. Wander up and down the aisle. Then leave. Then come back. And then... it was only because I FLAGGED THEM DOWN that they managed to find me, even though I had to give them my row number when I ordered! Needless to say, my fries were cold... not "unwarm" BUT FUCKING COLD... by the time I got them. Pathetic. Some "V.I.P." experience.
• You Spin Me! Most of the time I scan the episodes of Fallon, Myers, Corden, and Kimmel on my DVR for the guest, then delete as many as I can. The only reason I watch is if there's a guest I want to see. Like Paul Rudd. And his appearance on Fallon did not disappoint. Paul and Jimmy remade Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round...
For comparison's sake, here's the shot-for-shot next to the original...
• Let Them Implode. Long ago, back before I started weaving Buddhist precepts into my Path of Life and gave up weapons of violence, I was proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association. This was back when they were dedicated to promoting gun safety and advocated for reasonable restrictions when it came to allowing people access to firearms ALONG WITH defending Second Amendment rights. Now that they are a corrupt organization in the pocket of gun manufacturers who prey on people with nothing but fear and lies, I fucking detest the NRA and everything they stand for. Nothing would make me happier than to have the entire organization be flushed down the toilet like the fucking pieces of shit that they are. And take NRA cheerleader Dana Loesch with you. She's fucking garbage too. Bring back the NRA whose principles were rooted in responsible, safe gun ownership. If we can't have that, then please let the whole fucking thing implode.
• Wall Chowder. Every time I have to listen to bullshit about President Trump's MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE WALL... all I can think of is how drones powerful enough and large enough TO CARRY A PERSON OVER THE WALL ARE CURRENTLY USED FOR CONSTRUCTION! And, like everything tech-related, they are just going to get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Somebody in Mexico could buy a couple and earn a fortune FLYING PEOPLE OVER THE WALL. Make no mistake... Trump's wall is a stupid, STUPID, STUPID, FUCKING STUPID waste of money. Within 5 years it could be rendered obsolete. Or be obsolete within 10 minutes, considering tunneling under the fucking thing IS AS EASY AS DIGGING A FUCKING TUNNEL. And now I'm filled with rage. Again. Forget the horrendous damage to the environment and migrating species that will be severely impacted... WE CAN'T FUCKING AFFORD IT NOW THAT ALL OUR TAX REVENUE IS GOING TOWARDS TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY! Exactly how big of a fucking deficit do we need?
See you on the flip-side, bullet fans.
Posted on Sunday, May 5th, 2019
It's Cinco de Mayo! It's also great day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Chewy! Peter Mayhew, most famous for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies passed away this week. He sounded like a wonderful, generous man...
Rest in peace, sir. You crafted a character that captured my imagination and made me love a walking carpet.
• Mattress Wars! This is some shady shit right here...
I never trust online review sites. I rarely trust reviews on any site. Unless it's coming from somebody I know and/or trust, it's just bullshit noise. And yet... I still read them in an attempt to be informed as to my purchases. =shrugs=.
• Boca? Last year Kraft abandoned their Original Boca Burgers and Vegan Boca Burgers. They instead came out with a new "Boca Burger" which is nothing like the original despite still saying "original" on the box. It tastes like shit. The Vegan burger was discontinued entirely. Recently on their Facebook page, they unleashed this steaming pile of bullshit...
Our consumers told us that their experiences with our vegan burger were better represented by a turkey burger. With this new insight, we renovated our vegan burger to better deliver on taste, texture, and flavor under the new “Turk’y Burger” banner.
Vegans no longer want a vegan burger, they want a turkey-tasting burger? Yeah that sounds like it totally happened. Now that Kraft has completely abandoned all the things people loved about the Original and Vegan Boca Burgers, hopefully some other company will step in and make an ACTUAL Original Boca-inspired burger that people actually want to eat. Personally, I think Kraft is run by lying pieces of shit who just wanted to make a cheaper burger, didn't give a crap if it tasted nothing like a Boca Burger, then decided to sell it with outrageous levels of lying. Whatever. Not buying it. Go fuck yourself, Kraft. Why buy Boca Burger if you weren't interested in making Boca Burgers?
• Chalk! I ran across this video on chalk, of all things, and found it more interesting than I thought I could...
I haven't used a chalkboard for decades. But after watching this? I have an overwhelming desire to get me some Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk and write on one! Probably cost me $5 to buy a stick, but apparently it's an experience that needs to be had.
• Deep Sky! I've professed my love of all things GigaPan more than a couple times. But now they've got something really interesting going on. They've combined thousands of photos from a tiny area of sky about the size of the moon in the sky. The result? A Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!
This is so cool...
Yeah, you'll want to head over to the GigaPan site to play with this yourself. It is positively astounding the number of galaxies that can be found in such a small section of our sky. Google says that the average number of stars in a galaxy is 250 billion ± 150 billion.
• Follow the Money! Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows of all time, which is why it's so great that it's getting revisited. First with a movie... now with a new series from Hulu...
Here's hoping that it's the first of many new seasons!
• Boo Pricing! Recently Hulu lowered their prices. Apparently they understand that with so much new streaming competition that they need to be competitive. Netflix, on the other hand, is taking the opposite tact. Recently when I visited their site I was forced to accept their new pricing before they would even let me access the content that I pay for...
Well... let's see... Netflix has canceled all the Marvel shows (the reason I signed up in the first place), so I suppose this is where I tell them to take their price increase and go fuck themselves with it. Except... they do add a comedy special I enjoy from time to time. So I guess my solution will be to drop the service, then pick it up for a month a couple times a year. Maybe if everybody does this, they'll get the fucking message. Because, sure, I love having original content (when it's good) but there's a limit as to how much I can afford to spend on it.
• Thrones! The first part of this episode was exactly what it needed to be... the calm before the storm. And then the storm began. And while the result of the initial encounter was tragic and earlier than expected, it WAS expected. There are a list of things that really must happen before the story ends. And we're almost there. So now it's all about the unknowns. There's things you'd like to happen. Things you'd hate to happen. Things that, hopefully, unexpectedly happen. And two episodes left for it all to happen in. Hopefully in way that makes sense, which the back-end of this episode really did not. Does nobody ride ahead and make sure that your way is safe any more? Insanity.
• It's Not Me It's You! Last Sunday HBO unleashed an episode of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. It was a massive battle that had been building for years, and was an epic sight to behold. At least it would have been had they not filmed it so fucking dark that you couldn't see a damn thing. It was a horrific mess. Even when there was light enough to see something, they filmed it so close that you still couldn't tell what was going on. Needless to say, a lot of fans were extremely pissed off. Now the cinematographer for the episode said that It's not Me, It's Your TV Settings. Which is a load of shit, of course. I have a high-end 4K television and a fiber internet connection. I black out my entire living room when watching. This is NOT my fucking fault... or that of my internet... or that of my television... or that of my viewing environment.
The cinematographer's job was to create media which could be displayed and understood in the way that people would be consuming it. Namely, streaming over the internet with compression, limited gamut, and a normal television. Not in an idealized fantasy theater with Blu-Ray 4K Ultra HD signal and a $15,000 OLED TV. Which means he completely, utterly, and totally failed to do his job. And fuck him for saying otherwise. My hope is that HBO will listen to their customers and spend the money to re-key the lighting, then rebroadcast it so people can actually see the shit. If not? Fuck them too.
And that's all he wrote for bullets this week. Tune in next week when I'll try to find more to complain about!
Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019
One of my favorite shows over the past three years has been Lucifer, which FOX unceremoniously canceled last year. It was unfathomable that such a brilliant, funny, wonderful show didn't attract a massive audience, but that could be true for bunches of shows I love that got chopped.
And then Netflix picked it up for a fourth season and all was well in the world again...
And tonight the ten-episode season dropped and I started binging. Alas, I had to work late so I could start until 9:00pm... but I got five episodes in before 1am!
Such a great show.
Still a great show.
And I can't wait to see where they are going with it.
Thank you, Netflix!
Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019
When the show first debuted in 2017, I was mesmerized. Here, at long last, was the Star Trek I had been longing for since I first saw the original. I have never cared for any of the Next Generation /slash/ Deep Space Nine /slash/ Voyager /slash/ Enterprise shows. Sure they have their moments, but they weren't Star Trek to me. MY Star Trek has always been Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the gang. Everything that followed was a pale imitation.
But Disco changed all that.
This Star Trek was raw... it was different... it was exceptionally well-cast... it was pushing new ideas, just like The Original Series. And that crazy twist! Holy cats! It wasn't just good Star Trek, it was good television!
A lot of people loved it (obviously) but there were oh so many detractors that hated it. "IT'S NOT STAR TREK!" they cried. Except it so totally was. It's just that it wasn't a continuation of the janky NextGen Star Trek... it went back to when Star Trek was good! Both figuratively and literally! Sure I had some gripes (why reinvent the Klingons yet again?) but, for the most part it was everything I could want in a show... PLUS MICHELLE YEOH!
I was definitely ready for more of that. Then cam Season Two...
Captain Pike? The Enterprise? SPOCK?!???
JUST TAKE MY MONEY, CBS PRIME STREAMING!
While I didn't love it as much as the first season, I did thoroughly enjoy it. And the fact that it (kinda) brought back THE Star Trek was a bonus.
And now for some thoughts on Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery (SPOILERS, obviously)...
And that's Star Trek: Discovery Season Two.
I will probably re-watch it in advance of Season Three premiering, but I'm almost positive I'll be re-watching Season One long before that!
Here's to interesting times in Season Three!
AND GIVE US THE PIKE AND SPOCK ENTERPRISE SHOW WE'RE ALL DYING FOR! This is a big part of why Season 2 became the most popular streaming show in the world!
Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Can I please just have a day off from this insanity?
Every time some heinous new political bombshell drops, my brain explodes and I have to pull my head back together so I can get through another day. Whether it's idiot politicians being idiots, ignorant people being ignorant, or the nonsensical being presented as common sense... it seems every single day is another assault on my sanity, and it's getting harder and harder to pull myself through it.
As I've said many times, I do not support abortion outside of special circumstances. But that's my personal belief. This being AMERICA and all, everybody gets to live by their beliefs and for their conscience. I fully, unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. President Clinton said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"... and that pretty much sums it up for me. But in order for abortion to be rare, people must be educated and have free and easy access to birth control. Until that happens, our society endorses "abortion as birth control," and the people who are strongest against abortion seem to be the people most responsible for it. Their only solution is to just make it illegal... problem solved.
Except not really. Because banning abortion isn't going to stop abortion! The collapse in logic here is mind-boggling. No way to get a safe, controlled abortion? Oh, okay... bring on the coat hangers and back-alleys. Then some 12-year-old pregnant rape victim ends up dead because her parents didn't want her childhood (and possibly her entire life) ruined, so they risked an at-home procedure that went terribly wrong. THAT's what constitutes being pro-life?!? Who in the hell are these sadist pieces of shit running Alabama?
Meanwhile, all these politicians and their wealthy backers will STILL have access to safe abortions and suffer absolutely no consequences because of it. As always, the law only applies to poor people.
How the fuck do I get off this planet?
If only I had a portal guns from Rick and Morty. Which, by the way, is finally coming back this November...
Isn't it sad when the best thing you've heard out of the news all day is that a cartoon is returning?
Welcome to life in these United States.
Or on this earth, really.
Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2019
Who cares who sits on The Iron Throne... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• No Spoilers! Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Game of Thrones was HBO's most popular show of all time. You just know that money was not an issue when it came to wrapping things up. But apparently David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were tired of their show and wanted to move on, so they just hacked together some of the most mundane and lazy storytelling they could muster, crammed it into six episodes, and called it good. You'd think if they were tired and wanted to move on they would hand the show off to somebody who gives a shit, but no. This is what we got. I'll wait a week before posting my thoughts so as not to spoil things for any latecomers, but dang. Lame.
• Keanu! I know more than a few people working in Hollywood. Not one of them has ever had anything but nice words to say about Keanu Reeves. He's a kind, generous soul and everybody loves working with him. On top of that he has a self-realized wisdom that makes me happy for his every success...
John Wick: Chapter 3 was pretty kick-ass. Can't wait for Chapter 4.
• Represent! When stars like Brie Larson say they are using their celebrity to insist on a more diverse, inclusive group of interviewers, they get attacked by people wanting to keep the status quo of the same voices. I find this absurd. Making room for more is not taking away from who's there now. It's making room for more. And here's the incomparable Halle Berry walking the walk and doing her part...
How can anybody watch this and think anybody is losing here? More people winning doesn't equate to more people are losing, and it's shitty that this attitude continues to be our default. Make room at the table... your dinner party will only get more interesting.
• Again. HEADLINE: Trump Tries to Win Over Midwest Farmers with Socialist Promises. Because socialism is bad when it comes to keeping people healthy or fed or housed... but good when it's used as pathetic compensation to keep your base happy due to your complete failure to understand how global trade works in the year 2019.
• Hypocrisy in Action! HEADLINE: Anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy resigns after report he asked lover to end pregnancy...
Make no mistake... NONE... that wealthy politicians will ALWAYS have access to safe abortions for their mistresses and family. For everybody else? Wire hangers and back alleys, baby. This hypocritical bullshit disgusts me to my core.
• Evolution! Ummm...
It's only a matter of time before they go all Plant of the Apes on our asses.
And, on that apocalyptic note, see you next Sunday!
Posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2019
It's a fine day in Westeros... because a special Game of Thrones edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
As I mentioned last week, I thought that the series finale of Game of Thrones was "Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion." And further thought on the matter hasn't changed my mind. The series showed exceptional moments of brilliance for years, then fell apart... badly... in the final act.
So let's talk about that, shall we?
BUT BEFORE YOU PROCEED, A WARNING... I am spoiling everything, so if you have any interest whatsoever in the show and may want to watch it one day, better get on that before proceeding.
Alrighty then. Final warning... because spoilers abound.
I don't know what I expected in the final season, but it sure wasn't this mess. A friend on Facebook called it "...a boring wet fart of an ending," and that kinda sums it up for me. So much time, patience, and care taken to set things up and then... poof... nuthin.
No final showdown between Cersei and Arya. No payoff to Bran's whole three-eyed-raven ordeal. A rushed, shoe-horned, sub-par conclusion to the Night King drama. Characters shoved aside, discarded, then shit on. It just goes on and on.
Right up until the very end I was hoping that something... anything would materialize to salvage this awful season. In the week before Episode 6 I remember thinking... "Say! Maybe the first five episodes didn't happen and it's just Bran looking into the future to see how things turn out? Maybe we'll come back and find that he has decided that Cersei should get the throne because her unborn child will one day bring the lasting peace and prosperity that The Seven Kingdoms so desperately needs? Yeah. Maybe that's how it will go!" But, of course, that was just too much to hope for.
Since the entire show was made powerful by its characters, I've decided to present my thoughts on Season 8 along those lines. So without further ado...
• Tyrion. The smartest character in the show had some pretty dumb moments in Season 8, but remained the smartest character on the show when it came to taking out Dany and laying out the future of Westeros at the end. But I can honestly say that the reason I was okay with how his character closed out the series was not because of how the character was written, it was entirely because of how Peter Dinklage performed the material. I was a huge fan long before Game of Thrones came along, and to see him in a role that will get him the recognition he deserves is the most satisfying thing to come out of this season (or any season, really). If he is not winning all the awards this year, it will be a horrendous injustice.
• Bran. He spent years developing amazing abilities that one assumed would all be leading to something. But they were completely ignored. At the battle with the Night King he warged into ravens and flew around surveying the fighting, but nothing was done with the information, essentially making him a VCR recording events. I kept waiting for him to warg into Drogon and stop the madness of Dany’s brutal attack on King’s Landing, but it never happened. That being said, I certainly wasn’t upset with him becoming king... not just because of all the reasons Tyrion laid out... but because he was one of the least horrible characters left.
• Arya. By far my favorite character on the show, Arya was given years of training and a mission. When she killed the Night King and saved the world, it wasn’t so she could be a hero, it was because the Night King was the way of her revenge. So what happens when she finally gets the opportunity? She is scared away by bricks falling out of a wall. This has to be the most inexcusably, lame, shitty example of lazy character abandonment that I’ve ever seen. Her decision to see what’s “West of Westeros” at the end was about the only sensible thing left for her after she was discarded from the show in such a stupid manner. And don’t even get me started on her being unfulfilled as a character until she slept with Gendry. Really? No women in the writer’s room when this was thought up?
• Sansa. Wants The North to be a separate kingdom she can rule because the Men of the North have kneeled enough and should never be made to kneel again. Then has all the Men and Women of The North kneel as she takes the throne? Sure. Okay. Whatever. I actually liked the way that Sansa’s character progressed. She endured great hardship to become smarter and stronger, ultimately going from naive window dressing to a wise and crafty ruler for her people. I wouldn’t have minded if she ended up on The Iron Throne, but never thought it felt like her destiny. Personally, I was hoping that she would make some kind of great sacrifice in the final season. She somehow gives her life so the people of Westeros could live. That kind of thing. But having the consolation prize of her own independent kingdom is okay, I guess. Seems a bit silly though. If Sansa gets her own kingdom, then why not all the other houses too? The North sacrificed the most in the war against the Night King that they get special treatment? I dunno. Sounds like a forced happy ending so the three remaining Stark kids get happy endings. Lame.
• Jon. Of all the Stark’s, I found Jon’s ending to be the most satisfying. Especially since he was reunited with Ghost at the end (though why the direwolf would want anything to do with him after being so callously discarded earlier is beyond me). Ultimately he pretty much got what he deserved. That he ignored his banishment to the Night Watch to live beyond the wall with his Wildling friends is a curious decision, as that was part of the agreement that kept Grey Worm from obliterating as much as Westeros as he could manage. Wanna bet he also ignores the mandate that he doesn’t marry or father children? Here’s hoping that Grey Worm doesn’t care about keeping up with events across the Narrow Sea, or Bran’s rule may be a short one.
• Daenerys. There are those who say that anybody who didn’t see her complete collapse into madness and violence coming wasn’t paying attention. I could not disagree more. Yes, she was ruthless TO HER ENEMIES and became a cold and calculating ruler... but she pretty much had to be to get out of the situation she was in. And I get that aspect of her character. But to brutally murder the innocent people of King’s Landing in the most gruesome way possible? Really? That goes against everything she was shown to be working towards for seven seasons. And then to twist is at the very end and make her seem like she was PMS bat-shit crazy with her ranting about how Cersei made her kill all those people... after they had clearly surrendered? How many women were in the writer’s room for that nonsense? I never wanted Dany on the Iron Throne. But to have her character be abandoned and shit on like this after giving her the strength to escape from a horrible beginning? Shameful. Not that she would have been a great leader after how stupid they made her. Seriously? No advanced scouts to see what's happening at Dragonstone before you march your entire army back? She deserved to lose yet another dragon and have her army beat to shit for that bit of dumbassery. At least she learned how to fly low then high then low then high to avoid the scorpion crossbows for the rematch, so she's not a total dumbass. But still a pretty big one.
• Drogon. So... smart enough to melt the Iron Throne in a “If mommy can’t have it, nobody can” kinda way... but not smart enough to figure out what happened and avenge her death? Did he think that the Iron Throne stabbed her? Okay then. Still pissed that Bran never got to warg into Drogon (how awesome would that have been?) but it’s implied that may yet happen... COMPLETELY OFF-SCREEN! Blergh.
• Cersei. I read somewhere that Lena Headly got paid $1 million per episode for Season 8. Then they took her character... one of the most complex, tragic, powerful, and systematically evil to ever grace a television screen... and had her stare out a fucking window. Then, as if that weren’t insult enough, they discarded her as an idiot and spineless moron who got buried by rocks. One of the most wasted opportunities of the show. I wanted my showdown between Arya and Cersei where she would have at least gotten some juicy material to go out on.
• Jaime. Why didn’t they just kill him off in Season 7? He was completely and totally wasted in Season 8.
• Brienne. Good Lord. One of the most badass women characters on the show, and yet she suffered the same pathetic fate as all the other badass women on the show... discarded. One minute she’s a brave and fearless knight who is the very definition of a character defying stereotypes... then the next minute she’s a sobbing wreck of an abandoned girlfriend who lost her virginity to a love she could never have. Seriously. Not ONE woman in the writer’s room for this garbage? I guess they thought tossing her a bone as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard would make fans happy. But could fans of her character ever be happy with how things turned out for her? Not even if they made her Queen. Pathetic.
• Tormund. An interesting character with so many possibilities ultimately relegated to background material for Jon Snow to be an idiot. Great. Just great. I know I’m not the only one who hoped that he would end up with The Large Woman. What’s so cool is that they didn’t make him an obsessive weirdo about it though. He wanted to be with Brienne, she didn’t reciprocate, he and his broken heart moved on. You know, like a sane person.
• Melisandre. One of the few women who actually got a satisfying conclusion, her exit from the show was everything you could possibly want. The job she was preparing to take on for centuries was done, what else was there? Free from the dictates of the Lord of Light at last.
• Samwell. To make him such a key background player for so long only to have him be shoved aside after revealing Jon’s lineage seemed like such an inexplicable move. That was what his entire arc was leading to this whole time? That’s it? I mean, sure, as the last remaining Tarly he gets that house, but there’s nothing to indicate he’s going to be remotely competent as a leader. On the contrary, his bumbling and misplaced compassion will probably just lead to even further ruin. Like so many other characters, Samwell was thrown (throne?) a bone that makes no sense at all.
• Gendry. The guy I ultimately wanted to sit on the Iron Throne because I always thought he was the most deserving of it. I guess giving him the lordship of Storm’s End was a nice consolation prize... but the pining after Arya was a silly-ass thing to inject into the character.
• Missandei. One could argue that Missandei was what kept Dany’s sanity in check, and losing her was the last straw leading to madness, but that’s a huge disservice to both characters. Okay, characters needed to die to illustrate that war isn’t pretty. I get that. And so far as deaths go on Game of Thrones, she got a pretty good one. But was she always nothing more than a fucking grenade pin to the writers after all these years? Once again, where were the women writers on this fucking show?
• Grey Worm. His character may have been disappointing, but at least he was consistent right to the end. But then everything changed. It’s as if the writers suddenly realized that there were all these Unsullied and Dothraki hanging around on Westeros, and didn’t know what to do with them. Packing up their shit and headed back to Essos was always in the cards, but it’s as if no real thought went into how that might happen. If you asked me what would happen to Grey Worm in Season 7, I’d tell you that after the war he returns to Essos with Missandei and becomes a great and just ruler for his people. But after Season 8 where he became a psychopath who was “just acting on orders?” I hope to God when he gets back home that there’s a better alternative than him to run things. I mean, holy shit!
• Lyanna Mormont. Of all the characters on the show, this right here is the one that really put my love for all things Game of Thrones over the top. As the ruler of Bear Island, she was wise and brave beyond her years, which was a lot of fun to watch. I actually think her death in the Battle of Winterfell was pretty good, but boy oh boy would I have loved to have her be at that final council to determine the future of Westeros!
• Davos. The best smuggler of the Seven Realms became Master of Ships. Alrighty then.
• Theon. He went out a hero buying Arya enough time to arrive and save the world, so what more could you ask? His life was pretty much at a dead-end and he knew it. That he decided to bravely be where he was most needed even though it was a suicide mission ties up his redemption arc in exactly the right way.
• Euron. Make no mistake... I wanted the asshole dead... but how about in a way that made any sense at all? One minute he’s fighting on the water out in the middle of nowhere, then he unleashes hereunto unknown Aquaman-like swimming powers to make it to shore for a lame battle with Ser Jaime. Hardly the brutal end he deserved.
• Yara. Gets to be queen of the Iron Islands after every man in the way was killed off for her. I’m not saying she didn’t earn it... on the contrary, she was clearly the best person for the job... but once again we have this inexplicable decision to take strong female characters and discard them. How fucking hard is it to let strong female characters keep being strong female characters? How much more satisfying would it have been... how fucking easy would it have been... to establish that some asshole pretender to the throne was in power, and Yara was heading back to the Iron Islands to take the throne she deserves and have that be her final scene? Not one woman writer in the room to suggest sending her off in a way that befit the character? Not one?
• The Hound & The Mountain. They went out the only way they really could have, really. About the only deaths on the show that made total sense to me.
• Podrick. At least Ser Pod got to be a knight. A knight responsible for pushing King Bran the Broken’s wheelchair, but still a knight. I guess.
• Lord Varys. Let’s face it... his death was merely regret fodder for Tyrion and nothing more. And that’s okay. Some characters are there merely to serve as building blocks for other characters. And they gave him a pretty cool “death by dragonfire” exit, so I can’t complain too much.
• Bronn. Apparently got the lordship he was promised... but was also inexplicably made Master of Coin? WTF?!? Oh well. At least we know that the brothels of King’s Landing will be operational in record time.
• Royce and Edmure. Kind of a pointless characters to keep around until the end, but I guess it’s not entirely unexpected that some would make it just because they weren’t worth killing off. Seeing Edmure make a fool of himself at the end-council was kinda satisfying, I suppose.
• Robin Arryn. It took me a minute to figure out that the young guy at the council was, in fact, that creepy kid that was still breastfeeding at 13 years old (or whatever) ages ago. Apparently momma’s milk does a body good, because he actually looked quasi-normal here.
• Beric. I loved the character with his many lives and his flaming sword. And while I was sad to see him go, I thought his end was actually pretty great. Melisandre said he had served his purpose (to save Arya so she could save the world), and that’s as good as it gets.
And that, dear Game of Bullets readers, is the end of that.
UPDATE: This video does a great job of getting into why the ending for Game of Thrones is so unsatisfying. Worth a watch...
Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2019
I've made no bones about the fact that I am profoundly disappointed with AppleTV. The interface is utter shit, it's horribly unreliable, and all too many times I can't get my purchases to stream on the device (despite the fact that I can stream from every other media content provider with no issues).
Coming very soon is tvOS which will (hopefully) change things for the better.
Or, at the very least, have a far better interface so you're not forced to scroll through hundreds of titles to find what you want.
One of the apps that was supposed to make the AppleTV experience better was AppleTV: The App which is a hub that keeps track of where you're at in all your in-progress series and acts as a gateway to all the other apps by allowing your progress in those to be managed as well. It was a great, idea, in theory. The execution was not so great, however.
Ahead of tvOS, Apple pushed an update to The App. Functionally similar, it has a new look...
You know what else it has?
I might as well get this out of the way... IT HAS SHITTY FUCKING AUTO-PLAY TRAILERS NOW... AND THERE'S NO SETTING TO TURN IT OFF! Just like Netflix. I swear, Apple is intentionally setting out to make people hate them. Who wants to try to find something to watch when you're constantly being inundated with videos playing THAT YOU DON'T FUCKING WANT TO SEE? Remember MySpace pages with their autoplay music that everybody HATED?!? Leave it to Apple to bring it back as video autoplay that NOBODY WANTS. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave over Apple's non-stop parade of stupid shit. Apple makes me regret EVER having purchased anything from iTunes. I hope that TV shows get an equivalent of MoviesAnywhere so I can watched my purchased shows ANYWHERE ELSE. Holy shit what a waste.
An example. Let me take a look at the movies I got going on...
When all of a sudden... BAM! A fucking trailer starts playing while I'm looking at what's available...
Absolutely fucking infuriating. ILET ME FUCKING CHOOSE IF I WANT TO WATCH THE FUCKING TRAILER, YOU ASSHOLES! This is rage-inducing bullshit, and I cannot believe this is what Apple has become.
But let's move on, shall we? All screenshots are taken with my iPhone, so forgive me that they're not so great-looking.
The first thing I notice is that Apple has added a "Free Episodes" section to the main screen. No clue where the episodes are coming from though. Banshee is courtesy of Cinemax. Does that mean that Cinemax is responsible for giving us free episodes? Or is Apple paying a license? What?
In the example of Banshee, above, I already own all four seasons, so if I want to watch the show, it's not "free," it's something I paid for. But maybe Apple knows I own them and that's where they are pulling the "free" from? Oh look... they are also available from Amazon Prime Video, which I also have. Again, I pay for it, so it's not really free, but okay? Maybe they are talking about getting a free trial of Cinemax then? Absolutely no clue...
Interesting to note that they are trying to sell me Banshee when I already own it. What the heck is that about? Maybe when I click through it will refresh and show that I already bought it? Nope...
But surely when I click on a season, AppleTV will know that I bought it, right? Nope...
WTF?!? So I call up the series to verify that I do, in fact, own it. And I do. But AppleTV is fucking brain-dead and doesn't seem to understand that when I bought The Complete Collection of all four seasons, I own all four seasons. If I somehow forgot that I bought the collection, Apple was happy to take my money on individual seasons, thus charging me twice. Wow. So the Apple app which is supposed to keep track of everything for you can't even keep track of the shit you purchased direct from Apple. Sounds about right...
Anyway... back to the free stuff showing up which I have no idea where it's coming from...
Ooh! Look! Another Cinemax favorite... Strike Back! This Richard Armitage series is kinda famous for killing off Richard Armitage in the first episode of the second season. They then brought in a pair of new leads (Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton) to take over the show. And that's them right there in the poster image... FOR SERIES ONE, EPISODE ONE?!??...
They didn't even exist in the first season! The first series was all about Richard Armitage! Maybe it was a mistake on the home screen? Surely they have it correct once you click through? Except... nope... they are calling Season One, Season Two, and completely forgetting that there was actually a season that existed before this one...
And that about sums up the latest revision of AppleTV: The App... everything it's SUPPOSED to be smart about... keeping track of what you're watching... knowing what you own and what services you subscribe to so it can give you the best option for watching what you want to watch... and knowing about the shows it manages so you can do amazing things LIKE START WITH THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FIRST SEASON OF A SERIES... it fails at completely.
And so I guess I can just go on ignoring The App as I have been since it debuted then. Except... it still might be handy from time to time because finding the stuff I want to watch is inexplicably difficult using the dedicated "Movies" and "Television" apps. If only there was a way to turn off those fucking autoplay previews! Except... nope...
GOOD LORD APPLE IS SHIT AT JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING NOW-A-DAYS! I hope to God that the tvOS 13 update is better than the AppleTV: The App update. Though that's probably hoping for too much given what we've had to suffer through over the past eight years (R.I.P. Steve!).
Just so I don't have to end this on a sour note. Let me try to find something positive to say.
Something that appears new to me is that "Cast & Crew" links when you pop into details on the series. As an example, here's the awesome TV series Limitless...
Clicking on Jake McDorman's face shows me other stuff he's been in... without having to call up IMDB. Nice...
Of course God only knows whether or not clicking on any of those will encourage you to buy something you already own... so even my attempt at finding something nice to say is an attempt bound to end in failure.
I simply do not understand how Apple can continue to slide like this. Because surely they realize there's a problem, right? Surely they have people working there who takes a look at their crap during development to let them know when stuff is badly designed or not functioning correctly? RIGHT?!?
I'm beginning to seriously doubt it.
Or maybe they do and people like Jony Ivy and Tim Cook just don't fucking listen to them. That would explain a lot.
Until tvOS 13 then...
Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2019
The time for revolution is now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lander! In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing, LEGO has released this amazing new set...
It's pretty dope...
It's also $99, which seems totally worth it, if you've got that kind of money to burn.
• Saga! Speaking of LEGO... they've just announced that LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be released in 2020, combining all nine films in a single game...
I'm guessing that it will be the existing Star Wars games but with new material added at the end to close out the saga. Since it is being released for the Nintendo Switch, I don't mind that at all. I'd love to replay everything from the beginning.
• Lucifer! One of my favorite shows, Lucifer was cancelled, then picked up by Netflix. Apparently it did well enough that they are giving the show a fifth season to wrap everything up...
Time to celebrate...
It's a bit depressing that the show will finally be ending... but at least they have the opportunity to create an actually ending.
• Eighty-Four! Director Patty Jenkins released a teaser poster for Wonder Woman 84 this week. One year to go before we know whether this "Not A Sequel But a Reimagining" is going to be worth a crap...
I'd like to think it will be, especially since Jenkins is back onboard, but it's really impossible to say. Why they would toss away a continuing story for some kind of soft reboot is puzzling. Unless it's because the DC Cinematic Universe was a pile of shit and they wanted to just bury that once and for all? 360-whatever days until we find out.
• Jedi Thrones! Well, this is pretty special...
Given what a massive disappointment the final season of Game of Thrones was, I'm happy to see anything that redeems the franchise, so I'll take what I can get. In the meanwhile, there's this interesting look at how things went South.
• Chase Dreams! One of the biggest surprises of the past year's television season was The Other Two, which was hilariously funny in places, despite kinda sliding late in the season...
Still, if you're bored and want something to watch over the summer, this is worth a look. It's pretty foul and definitely not a good fit for mixed company, but you can stream it for a limited time at Comedy Central.
• Fan! A bit of a different direction for MUNA here...
Can't wait for their new album in September!
Have a great Sunday!
Posted on Sunday, June 16th, 2019
Okay, the time for revolution wasn't then after all, it's now... maybe... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Too! As a huge Miley Cyrus fan, I was very much looking forward to her episode in the new Black Mirror mini-season (just three episodes). I was not disappointed. Not only was her episode hilarious in all the right ways, it was surprisingly upbeat. Usually Black Mirror is about as dystopian bleak as it gets, but Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too? Not so much...
Miley plays "Ashley O," a huge pop star who ends up with a robotic doll that her fans can buy...
I don't know who was responsible for designing that robot, but it is the best thing ever. And it's tough to tell you exactly why that's the case without spoiling anything, so I will stay silent. Except to say that "Ashley O" has released a video for her awesome song On a Roll (a parody on Nine Inch Nails' Head Like a Hole)...
If you're a Black Mirror fan, you've probably already seen this. If not (and you have Netflix), this is the episode to watch. Especially the final third, which is genius.
• Jones! On the opposite end of the spectrum is the third (and final) season of Netflix's Jessica Jones, the last of their Marvel Studio tie-ins...
What can I say? It was 100% crap from start to finish. Instead of focusing on Jessica Jones, it got mired in endless bullshit centered around the supporting characters. NEWSFLASH: Nobody gives a shit about Hogarth, Trish, Malcolm, Zaya, Dorothy, Kith, Costa, or anybody else who isn't Jessica Jones. Especially when they are this boring. SUPPORTING CHARACTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT THE MAIN CHARACTER! The only supporting character who didn't irritate me because they actually had an interesting role that moved Jessica Jones' story forward was Erik Gelden. Surprisingly, they managed to retool the lame "Mind-Wave" from the comics and use him to good effect.
Originally I was sad that Netflix canceled all of their Marvel shows, but this lame-ass season (featuring a laughably absurd arc for Trish Walker) has me reconsidering. If this was what we were in for, maybe cancelation was for the best.
• Park! Welp, the new Jurassic Park LEGO sets are amazing...
Another LEGO mining for Samuel L. Jackson!
• Memorial. I had never seen this before...
Visited the grave of my friend’s father and witnessed a remarkable ceremony. The letters on the white crosses almost disappear in the brightness of the stone, so a soldier fills the indentations with sand from Omaha Beach to bring the name forward. It sent shivers down my spine. pic.twitter.com/e2G8KvvALt— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) June 6, 2019
• America by Gaslight! An essential read.
• Katzenjammers! And now I close out this Bullet Sunday with one of the weirdest things you'll see all week...
Cats don't need any help being weird, but this certainly shows it's possible to make them even weirder than they already are.
And, on that note of the utterly bizarre, I'll see you next Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
My Tuesday felt more like Monday than Monday did.
Today while I was mocking the Democrats on Facebook over their laughably stupid campaign to attract young people to their ranks, I ran across that infamous 30 Rock meme where Steve Buscemi's character is playing an undercover cop in high school (ala 21 Jump Street)...
This caused me to fall down an internet rabbit hole of 30 Rock clips, including the one where the above meme came from...
I mean, come on, it's just so insanely brilliant.
The talent that went into this scene... not only in front of the camera, but behind it with the writing and wardrobe... makes me really miss 30 Rock. What Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Alec Baldwin managed to unleash week after week is about as close to television magic as it gets.
And, on that happy note, good evening to you, fellow kids.
Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019
Somehow I was late hearing the news that Strike Back is getting a new and final season at Cinemax. In celebration, I started re-watching all the old episodes that I didn't have a chance to re-watch before the last season ended back in March.
Strike Back is one of those rare shows that came back from cancelation with an entirely new cast... but somehow ending up being good anyway. Sure, I've got a soft spot in my heart for the original characters, but the show was still so good that I was happy to keep watching with the new ones...
So far as smart high-octane television goes, Strike Back (along with another Cinemax series, Banshee), is one of my favorites. The stories are all wildly implausible and totally insane... but it sure makes for good entertainment!
No idea what's going to take its place. Seems like all the new shows they come up with to replace great old shows that get canceled never measure up.
Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
The weekend's almost over, but there's still reason to celebrate... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• NOKEA! When I was in Seattle last week, I finally took a minute to drop by IKEA and pick up a nightstand for my second guest room so I don't have to steal one from the main guest room whenever somebody needs it. I swear... the quality on IKEA crap worsens with each new purchase. From when I bought these three years ago, they have gotten cheaper and less solid, even though the look is pretty much the same...
But at least they gave me all the right parts so I could actually put the stupid thing together this time.
• Arturo! I thought I'd give Comedy Central's new show Alternatino a try after seeing Arturo Castro (who created and stars in it) on The Daily Show. It's nuts in the best possible way... and so good. And you can watch the entire thing on Youtube!
I have no idea if all the best ideas were put in the first episode and the rest of them are going to be crap, but I certainly hope not! Highly recommended.
• King's Man! The prequel to one of my favorite films, Kingsman (and not so-favorite film Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle), was just announced. Titled The King's Man, they released the logo for it. And the kerning (spacing between letters) is total shit. So I fixed it for them...
It's weird to me how these obvious mistakes keep happening. I mean, is it intentional? Surely they have actual designers working on this stuff... don't they? If so, then why don't they know to adjust the kerning when designing a logo? Or know how to structure it for clarity? I dunno. But it drives me more than a little nuts.
• Just in time for Pride Month! Diane Gramley (President at American Family Association of Pennsylvania) is such a peach. When she's not regularly equating homosexuality to murder, she's unleashing a whole host of bizarre bullshit. Like saying that the police officers who raided Stonewall in 1969 were trying to rescue a young transgender boy. “He was being used sexually and the police were trying to rescue him.”
She's a non-stop lying hate machine. Which begs the question... exactly what is she trying to distract people from in her own life? My guess is that it's putting pineapple on pizza, which is just one step below murder. But probably bestiality. "Everybody! Don't look at me... look over there! Persecute the gays so I can get fucked by this horse." What else makes sense when somebody is this overtly homophobic? So set your stopwatches. And when Diane Gramley gets caught in a stable being fucked by a horse, remember you heard it here first!
• No More Mr. Frosty! Does anybody know if there's a vaccine to inoculate against the bubonic plague and all the other dormant diseases that might be filling our atmosphere as I type this? No? Guess we're all fucked then.
And I guess that's a wrap. Good luck with that bubonic plague thing!
Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019
I have a vivid recollection of when Madonna first started entering public consciousness. My brother was a fan and started buying all her singles and maxi-singles (in retrospect, I think he liked her look more than her music). I didn't think much of her self-titled debut album when it dropped in 1983 and told him that she was a flash-in-the-pan who couldn't possibly last. She'd be yet another forgotten pop-star wannabe on a pile of forgotten pop-star wannabes.
Over the years Madonna has reinvented herself numerous times. Some of her iterations are ones I actually enjoy. I've seen her in concert twice. I own several of her concert films because she puts on a good show. I am one of the few who really liked her song for the Bond flick Die Another Day. I thought she was perfect in A League of Their Own.
And through it all... love her or hate her... the one thing that's been consistent when it comes to Madonna is that she never stops being Madonna.
Never has this been more clear to me than with her recent interview on Graham Norton. There she was, all arogant and detached from reality with her jeweled grills on her teeth and her eyepatch that's not actually covering her eye being all Madonna and stuff, when it occurred to me just how far gone from the rest of humanity she has become...
The first single Medellín (with Columbian artist Maluma) from her new album Madame X is pretty great (I skipped past her weird minute-long intro)...
This time around, Madonna seems to have reinvented herself as a cross between a naughty pirate and a dancing headmistress at a Catholic school. Or something.
But who am I to judge? She's the one who's Madonna.
Posted on Sunday, June 30th, 2019
Grey skies are going to clear up... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hard Rockin'! Life is weird. I'm flipping through channels and see Suicide Squad is on. Not a fan, but I pause when I see Batman chasing Joker and Harley Quinn because they pass by a Hard Rock Cafe. I'm pretty sure it's Toronto (which has since closed) so I Google to find out what's happened to the location. I find an article on CBC talking about it.
I AM INTERVIEWED IN THE ARTICLE...
I vaguely remember somebody calling me, but I gave them a better name to talk to, and thought that was the end of it. Turns out... nope... I'm in the article and didn't even know it.
• Angels! And so they're remaking Charlie's Angels, yet again. First there was the original TV show, then the Drew Barrymore films, then the awful TV show revival, and now yet another series of films...
Meh. Maybe. Seems like the main trio is a little low on star-power for a movie. Interesting that there are three actors for Bosley listed at IMDB: Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs).
• Break! Okay... I am really liking this new show called Reef Break. I expected to like it just because Poppy Montgomery is the star of the series, but it's interesting and well-written on top of that...
I wish they would have just set it in Hawaii instead of some fictional island. But with Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. already there, maybe they were worried about Hawaii fatigue?
• Grand! I like an occasional dip into trashy television, which is why I was intrigued by Grand Hotel... the new ABC show Executive Produced by Eva Longoria...
The first two episodes are pretty decent. Full of mysteries, secrets, and intrigue. The problem is that shows like this usually blow all their best ideas early, then whither away as crappy new ideas are rotated in. I guess we'll see if this one has legs.
• Letterman! Tiffany Haddish, whom I fell in love with after seeing her hilarious role on The Last O.G., is on an episode of David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. She is absolutely fascinating. I had no idea the incredible obstacles she had to overcome to get where she is today... and she's done it all with a humor that is luminous...
Remarkable. I love shows like this.
• Design! Jony Ive, the industrial designer who helped Steve Jobs reinvigorate Apple with such gems as the iMac, is leaving the company to start his own design group. Apple claims that Ive will still have Apple as a client, so apparently he will still be a guiding force in the design of Apple's wares. And that sucks. Ive is so focused on making everything pretty and thin now-a-days that he has forgotten that computers need to be functional. The keyboard on Ive's latest MacBooks is fucking garbage. My hope was that Apple would bring in somebody who gives a shit that you can actually use their products. I guess that's not going to happen. At least not yet.
In another interesting move at Apple, they just hired ARM's lead CPU architect, Mike Filippo. The rumor is that Apple is switching from Intel to ARM as soon as next year. Given how well it's worked out when Apple started designing their own chips for iPhones, iPads, AirPods and the like, this is probably a good move.
• Green! The Oregon "Cap and Invest" bill that Republicans were hiding from this last week is a bit complex. When I was trying to understand what was happening, all the articles I read said that there would be minimal impact on Oregon businesses, because the money collected would go back into helping the same businesses who are having to buy "energy credits" reduce their energy needs or switch to greener options. So it's designed to be a win-win for everybody. There are questions as to whether that would actually be the case. It's not like the corner coffee shop is going to suddenly face insurmountable increases in energy costs... businesses have to be producing 25,000 metric tons of CO2 for it to affect them... but the smaller businesses supplied by larger businesses would have higher costs passed on to them until the energy needs/supply is balanced. That could be a problem (hopefully only in the short-run). It's not the business-destroying Armageddon-painted scenario Republicans are selling (they get loads of money from the energy lobby, remember), but it's also not the cake-walk Democrats are selling. As with most thing, the story is in-between. The only difference being that the fate of all humanity is on the line here. Green energy is the future. The sooner we embrace that, the less painful it will be.
And now... time to draw up plans for a week of fun in the sun. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
I've been consumed with work for the past week and will continue to be consumed by it until the holiday. It's just that time of year.
This is tough for a number of reasons, but mostly because I have no life outside of work for the month of June. About all I get to do is occasionally look through my Facebook feed and see how the other half live.
Today as I was waiting for a project to render so I could move on to the next project, I was scrolling through Facebook and happened across a photo of David Farrier and a cat...
Photo by David Farrier on Facebook
Somehow this awesome cat staring back at me was just what I needed after yet another very bad day. It also inspired me to revisit David Farrier's Netflix show: Dark Tourist.
I mentioned a while ago that Dark Tourist has my favorite opening credits of all time...
If you're interested in the show (and you should be!), here's a trailer...
At least now I have something to watch as I work through the night tonight.
Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2019
It's a glorious day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Seeing as how Mississippi ranks 49th out of the 50 states in education. Perhaps it's understandable that their state government thinks the populace is TOO FUCKING STUPID TO KNOW THAT A VEGGIE BURGER ISN'T MADE FROM A COW. But are they smart enough to know that a veggie dog isn't made from a dog or do hot dogs confuse them too?
• Ski! Somehow I missed this excellent short video on Jim Niehues, the guy responsible for painting so many of those ski run posters you see at all the resorts...
• Dreaming! Any comic book series is going to have its ups and downs. A series which had less downs than usual was Neil Gaiman's Sandman. A complete reimagining of the cheesy DC Comics character...
My favorite thing to come out of the series was Sandman's sister, Death, as she appeared in the mini-series spin-offs by Gaiman Chris Bachalo...
Death: The High Cost of Living is easily one of my all-time favorite comic books.
And now comes the news that Netflix has commissioned a Sandman TV show. Despite the fact that Gaiman himself will be involved, I am more than a little nervous. The series seems all but unfilmable given the visual language of Sandman's world. And the stories are wildly tied to the medium they were created for, and I question how well they will translate to television. I hope it's good. I hope Death makes an appearance...
"A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power."
• German! I ran across one of my favorite Trevor Noah's Between the Scenes the other day...
I mean, they're all good... but his wit is at its sharpest here.
• Mermaids! Disney has found their latest live-action princess when they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. She's incredibly talented and I know of her from appearing in Grown-ish (the TV spin-off from Black-ish)...
Photo by Evan Agostini
Disney, being the savvy company they are, cast who they felt was best for bringing the character to life... regardless of race. She's a Grammy nominee, for heaven's sake. But of course the bigot brigade is all #NotMyAriel because the idea of a fictional half-fish girl being played by a Person of Color is just too much for their tiny brains to process. Time will tell If Bailey will make a good Ariel. Personally I am trusting Disney on this. But holy crap... give the young woman a chance! They haven't even started filming yet! I sure hope she isn't bothered by all this nonsense.
• Plus Plus! Speaking of Disney... as if the Marvel and Star Wars series in development weren't enough reason to compel me to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service when it debuts later this year, now they've got a new series called Life and Deaf in development with one of my all-time favorite actors, Marlee Matlin. Somebody at Disney is very, very serious about competing with Netflix!
Have a great Sunday!
Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2019
I have had Hinterland on my Netflix watch-list for a long time. Tonight I finally watched the first episode of the first series.
It's fantastic. Mostly due to the remarkable performance of lead Richard Harrington. You can feel the wheels turning any time he's on screen...
Granted, I'm only half-way through the first season, but I'm sure liking this show. The atmosphere they've created permeates every scene so the series feels more "real" than most.
What's interesting about this show (other than how good it's been) is that every scene is filmed twice... once in English and once in Welsh (which is called "Cymraeg" in the Welsh language). I did a YouTube search to watch some of the Cymraeg scenes and it's amazing how all these actors have to essentially perform the same show twice. And since Hinterland looks so grueling and demanding of the actors, I can't imagine how difficult that must be...
I'm sure they use all kinds of tricks to make the show affordable. In the scene above where he destroys a kitchen, for example, they were careful to make sure there was no dialogue so they only had to shoot it once. If he had said "I hate my life!" while smashing the dishes, they would have had to buy all new dishes, clean the set, then reset the scene so he could say "Rwy'n casáu fy mywyd!" for the Welsh version.
Here's the trailer in Welsh...
I first learned about Wales and the Welsh language in anticipation of my visit to the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe in Cardiff (Caerdydd). Cymraeg is a fascinating language which is estimated to be spoken by less than a million people around the globe. Most people have probably only ever heard of it on viral YouTube videos where people are pronouncing very long Welsh words...
Before wrapping up this post, I'd be remiss if I didn't post a link to one of my favorite comedy bits by Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert...
Happy Monday, everybody!
Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2019
I'd rather be anywhere else today, but escape is not in the cards... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• MADness! It was announced this past week that MAD magazine will end its original-content run with the August 2019 issue. After that, it's all reprints with new covers that will only be available by subscription or in comic shops. Despite not having picked up an issue in years, this is more than a little sad to me, because MAD was a huge part of my past. I bought occasional issues in the latter-half of the 1970's, but became a MAD addict after the December 1978 issue (the Star Wars musical parody issue)...
I purchased every single issue from No. 203 through No. 250, at which time I went back to only buying issues that had material I was interested in. I also purchased every reprint book I could get my hands on, scouring the local News Agency to obtain as many as I could find by my favorite MAD contributors... like Al Jaffe, Sergio Aragonés, Don Martin, and Dave Berg... and, of course, Antonio Prohías, who was the guy behind Spy vs. Spy. It's not just my favorites that are burned into my brain... contributors like Mort Drucker, Dick DeBartolo, and Jack Davis did a huge amount of work for the magazine and were a big influence on how I saw the world.
• Mushu? A gorgeous trailer dropped for the live-action version of Mulan...
It looks like Disney put some serious money into this remake! But where's Mushu? Is Eddie Murphy coming back to voice Mulan's dragon? Is Mushu even going to BE in the film? I will be sorely disappointed if he is not. Characters like that are what make it a Disney movie.
• Blown Away! I've never blown glass myself, but I love the art of it and I've been to many, many glassblowing shops. Including my idol Dale Chihuly's shop in Tacoma (and many of his installations) plus I've traveled to the "glassblowing island" of Murano in Venice so I could see the famous shops there as well. I love glass and have circled the globe to see the best of it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I learned that Netflix was developing a show called Blown Away...
Fortunately it's a show like Forged in Fire where the focus of the series is on the artistry rather than the shitty manufactured personal drama (ala Ink Master), which makes it fun to watch. The contestants are pretty great... the massive 10-furnace facility they built to host the show is amazing... some of the pieces are truly remarkable.... and the tension and drama from breakage is high. I do have some problems, however... A) Why aren't there enough tools for everybody that they have to wait for somebody to finish at a critical juncture? Also find it strange that they have to share hot-boxes. B) I don't get how the host got this gig. What experience does he have in order to be qualified to weigh in on the judging? According to his site, he's a professional rollerblader and organic chemist? WTF? C) Why can't we hear the judges deliberate? This would go a long way towards understanding their decisions. D) Why the time limit for a GLASS art competition? I'd much rather give them enough time that they can take risks and not be finished if they break late in the game.
Despite all that, Blown Away is still a great show if you love glass... or art... or demonstrations of skill.
• Blank! Netflix keeps blowing up their original entertainment, and Blown Away is not the only thing that's new this week... we also got a movie called Point Blank, a remake of a French film starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo...
The concept is good. Mackie and Grillo are good. And money was spent on getting the action scenes right. Which is why I'm kinda puzzled as to why I feel so "meh" about the film. Perhaps because the most memorable thing about it was some truly bizarre 80's music choices. I guess I'm glad I watched it, but it didn't really grab me as I would have expected.
• Aziz! And Netflix isn't done there! They also released a new stand-up special by one of my favorite comedians, Aziz Ansari...
I'm not going to lie, it was an awkward show to watch. Aziz addressed the sexual misconduct allegations which were brought against him at the very beginning. But not really. He more "acknowledged" it than really "addressed" it. But he does seem sincere about having regrets and having learned something, so I guess that's better than nothing. From there Aziz goes on to deliver a varied set covering a range of topics, and most of it is pretty funny. What's not so funny is his delivery, which is subdued and kinda sad as he sits on a stool and sometimes speaks so quietly you can barely hear him. This is a wild departure from his previous stand-up specials which were crackling with energy... but he has moments of poignancy which wouldn't have worked otherwise, so I guess it was necessary. If you're a fan, Aziz Ansari: Right Now is worth a look. But don't expect what you've been conditioned to expect from him.
• Tacumentary! Last up on my parade of new Netflix shows? Las Crónicas del Taco. A documentary film on one of my favorite dishes... tacos! This trailer is in Spanish, but the documentary series has subtitles in English and French available...
Even though I'm a vegetarian, I still found this meat-based-documentary series to be fascinating. And depressing at times when brief glimpses of the animals are shown, because the conditions they are kept is not ideal. And with six different episodes exploring the history and preparation of six different style of tacos... Pastor (shepherd-style pork), Carnitas (slow-cooked pork), Canasta (basket-stacked tacos), Asada (grilled beef), Barbacoa (barbecue pit-style), and Guisado (stew)... there's more than enough taco here for your viewing pleasure. Worth a look if you're a foodie... or even if you're not, really.
• IN THE NEWS: TRUMP TAX PLAN LEADS TO $54 BILLION DECLINE IN CHARITABLE GIVING. "Many Americans want to give generously to charities, but they may not be able to afford to do so now with the changes implemented in the 2018 tax law." — The charity I work with knew that there would be a hit. Nobody had any idea it would be this bad. What's so horrible is that many charities fill in the gaps for people who are just trying to survive. As more and more people lose government assistance thanks to Trump Administration cuts, the number of people who will rely on charities increases... all while donations to these charities decreases. It's a recipe for disaster. But, hey... billionaires got tax cuts so they could gold-plate the toilets on their private jets, and that's what's important, right?
• Boys from the Dwarf! If the truth be told, Red Dwarf went on longer than it should have. Things started to go downhill with Series VI, and everything that came after that was really hit or miss. But, man, those early seasons are some of my most favorite television ever, so I'm always glad to see "The Boys from the Dwarf" again... even if it's just in a commercial...
And now I want to go back and watch the show all over again.
Bon Voyage, my Sunday bullets.
Posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
I've taken to blogging in the early mornings before I go to work instead of late evenings when I'm done with work. It's not been working out for me. How am I to comment on my day's events when I have barely started the day? And so... I will probably go back to late-night blogging, even though I'm usually so tired that all I want to blog about is how tired I am.
In the meanwhile though? Here was my yesterday!
Last year when I learned I needed to keep my blood sugars intact, I started walking to work so I can still eat bread and pasta. It's a short walk... 7 to 9 minutes... and I've come to really enjoy it. It's a chance to plug and clear my head, which is something that's kinda rare these days. The good news is that switching to Coke Zero and walking has been working for me. I had a great checkup with my doctor, and everything is going well. And so... more bread and pasta.
On yesterday's walk I was assaulted by a rose that was reaching outside its garden fence...
You don't get nice surprises like that driving a car.
But the bigger surprise was later that evening when I made guacamole for the first time. It was Taco Tuesday and a nice chunky guac as a topper was exactly what I needed...
It was phenomenal. And perfectly chunky enough for tacos (and chips!). And easy.
But not as pain-free as I was expecting.
In order to eliminate waste, I've been making a lot of changes in my house. Instead of buying single-use products like plastic wrap, I've been using something more sustainable or learning to live without it. I have one roll of Saran Wrap left and, at the slower rate I'm using the stuff, it should last me the rest of my life. And I've not stopped there. I've bought my last box of plastic straws. I've switched to reusable grocery bags. I'm transitioning from poly to paper wherever I can.
And I've eliminated single-use latex gloves from everywhere except my emergency kits.
The latex gloves I used to wear while chopping jalapeño peppers.
I (foolishly) thought that if I just washed my hands after cutting the peppers for my guac that everything would be fine.
As I found out later that night while falling asleep watching television, things did not turn out fine.
I reached up to rub my eyes and... ZOMG! THE BURNING!!! From the level of pain I was experiencing, you'd have thought that I squeezed a full jalapeño in my face. I can safely say that now I know what it feels like to be doused in pepper spray. It hurt a little bit when my eyes were closed... it was excruciating when my eyes were open. I have no idea why washing my hands didn't prevent this, but now I know better. I had tried some reusable kitchen gloves but they were too thick to work easily, so I guess next time I'll use a towel or a piece of wax paper or something.
One other thing that happened yesterday? The 2019 Emmys nominations were announced. For some inexplicable reason Game of Thrones, on its worst season ever, managed to rack up 32. As you can probably tell from the wrap-up I wrote, I totally don't get it. Seven seasons of brilliant set-up that was rushed to a shitty, mind-bogglingly bad conclusion deserves 32 nominations? INCLUDING BEST WRITING?!? Um. No. About the only category I think they should win is Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, because Peter Dinklage was still exceptional. He was making all the stupid be entertaining right up until the very end. He won last year, so I'm not sure he'll get it, but I sure hope so.
There was a pleasant surprise, however. Schitt's Creek, long one of the best shows on television, was nominated for Best Comedy Series. And the awesome Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy were nominated for respective Best Actress and Best Actor in a Comedy Series. Of course I think they should win, even though this season was not as good as the previous two seasons (when they really should have been winning all the awards). Alas, Emmy voters will probably give it to Fleabag (which probably deserves it) or Veep (because it's the final season) or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which I don't like at all). If Schitt's Creek can't win it, I'd hope for Barry or Russian Doll, but those seem like longshots too.
I was happy to see My Dinner with Herve got nominated for Best Television Movie, even if Peter Dinklage wasn't nominated for Lead Actor in it (which he deserves).
If anybody is interested, I've put my picks for the major awards in an extended entry. If you're not interested, I'll see you tomorrow. Probably tomorrow evening.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, July 26th, 2019
I love television. And I watch a lot of it.
Though "watch" is probably an overstatement. For the most part I have television on while I work or do chores or write in this blog or whatever. It's just passive entertainment that gets a small portion of my attention while I focus on something more important. I record shows like this to my DVR, but don't care if I miss them. If my DVR gets too backed up, I'll delete them.
There are a few shows, however, which deserve every ounce of my attention... these are the shows that I am devoted to and don't want to miss a thing. Computer off. Center of the couch. Fully engaged with my television. I won't miss these shows for anything, and my entire world stops so I can enjoy them.
One of those shows is Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
I've loved magic since I was a kid, and seeing magicians try and fool celebrated magicians like Penn & Teller is everything I want in a television show. And on those rare occasions where a magician actually can fool them? That's my joy. If you've never seen the show, here's one of my favorite segments so you can get an idea about it...
Love love love it.
This past week I remembered that the latest episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us was recorded on my DVR. I put away my laptop. I sat on my couch. I turned up the volume. I was ready to be amazed. I pressed the "play" button. And...
Needless to say, I was enraged. One of the handful of shows I need to see, and there's some kind of price dispute between CBS and DirecTV making it "unavailable."
It's at this point that I realize how these blackouts are happening more and more often. And if it's not blackouts, it's threats of blackouts. Remember back in March when Comedy Central was on the chopping block?
And so... I'm done with this shit.
Not because there's a blackout. Again. But because every time this happens, DirecTV isn't paying the networks who are withholding their channels... BUT THEY ARE STILL CHARGING ME THE FULL AMOUNT OF MY BILL!
So I call DirecTV to cancel my service and the first thing they tell me is that I can get local channels "over the air" with an antennae they'll send me. I explain that I live in a remote area surrounded by mountains and don't get many channels "over the air" and the channel that Penn & Teller: Fool Us is on is NOT a local channel anyway.
DirecTV: "So is there anything I can do to get you to keep your service? Offer you a lower rate? Upgrade your channel package?"
ME: "Short of going back in time and crediting me money on every bill I paid when a channel blackout was in effect... since I wasn't getting everything I was paying for? No. There's nothing you can do."
Of course DIRECTV wants to offer me all kinds of discounts now that I'm cancelling. Where were they with their apology money the LAST SEVERAL TIMES there were channel blackouts? It's insulting that they want so badly to treat me right now that I'm leaving, but not when I was a customer. I will never understand why companies won't work to keep you a happy customer until you want to walk away. What business sense does that make?
I have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu already. I will still get HBO free with my AT&T wireless package. I will be adding Disney+ the minute it becomes available. I just signed up for Sling "Blue" service (with the "Lifestyle Extra" add-on so I can have DIY Network and Hallmark channels). Penn & Teller: Fool Us can stream for free on The CW app for my Apple TV. That will cover 90% of what I watch. I will add CBS All Access when there are shows I want to see. So I'm good. And I'm paying $25 less a month than I was with DirecTV.
Oh... and get this... if I pre-pay three months in advance for my Sling "Blue" service, they'll send me a FREE over-the-air antennae plus an AirTV Player! This allows me to integrate what few over-the-air channels I do get with my Sling service. The player alone is usually $120, so that's pretty sweet, even if I can't really take advantage of it because of where I live.
And so... the magic was gone, but now it's my satellite TV that's gone and my magic is back.
I guess that's a win? I'm gonna take it as a win.
Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
As I mentioned a few days ago, I got a free over-the-air antennae and an "AirTV Play" unit when I pre-paid the first three months of my Sling TV service in advance. I received the unit today and, as expected, I couldn't get any channels to show up. I live in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains, and the odds of picking up anything were slim. No big loss... it's not like the channel report I ran gave me even a prayer of getting a major network like ABC, NBC, or CBS. Just some weird local channels like "NCW Life" which I would never watch anyway, or a FOX affiliate that wouldn't give me anything I can't get streaming...
Oh well, the stuff was all free, so it was worth a shot.
So I guess I'm set.
Some shows on CBS I'm just out of luck on. I will have to wait until Star Trek: Discovery or The Good Fight or Star Trek: Picard is released so I'll be subscribing to CBS All-Access and can binge the archives then. Or perhaps they can be streamed from CBS online for free, I'll have to check...
There's also a few shows I can't seem to get on Sling Blue, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, but think I can stream online from the official websites.
The majority of my shows I can watch via Hulu or Sling Blue (with a couple coming free from the HBO Now which is bundled with my AT&T Wireless). Sling is preferred because I have their "Enhanced DVR" where I can fast-forward past commercials. But Hulu is just fine with commercials (because I don't want to pay extra to watch without them)...
Yesterday I had to make a trip to The Big City to return some things for work... and to drop off my DirecTV receiver at FedEx. As I feared, they completely brick the thing once your service is canceled, so when I checked to see if the last show I had on my DVR was still there, I couldn't even get to the menu. I guess that's only fair. I was renting the box, and my rental contract ended Sunday at midnight, so I shouldn't be able to use it. But... damn. That's cold. You'd almost think it was MY fault that I had channels missing and was forced to cancel.
I guess there's no going back now!
Not that I'd want to. I'm still bitter over the expensive packages that cable companies and satellite companies have forced us to buy for decades... because more often than not they're filled with shitty channels you'll never watch, which means you're forced to pay more than you should. Thanks to the internet we're finally to the point where channels can be purchased individually... or at least in smaller packages... which make more sense. Hopefully in the future our television programming will get to the point where it's 100% ala carte, and you can pay for exactly the channels you want.
We can dream, can't we?
Posted on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
Disney released the pricing details for the new Disney+ service... their absolute must-have streaming channel thanks to their new Marvel Studios and Star Wars shows that are in development. You can get it bundled with ESPN+ and Hulu Basic for $13. Since I will never watch ESPN+, I will go ala carte and save a dollar...
I am mortified that I'll be paying FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH PLUS TAX for my television. That's a stupid amount of money. But TV is one of the few things I pay for where I actually get my money's worth, even at $55. If I divide that by the number of hours I spend watching my favorite shows it's shockingly cheap. Going to movies or concerts is out of control expensive now, so this is a far more economical form of entertainment.
It's also $20 cheaper than the $75 plus tax I was paying for satellite + Hulu + Netflix, so I guess that's something.
It's taken some getting used to though.
Shows on Sling are great because the enhanced "virtual DVR" keeps up with the shows I record exactly like my old DVR did. I can even skip commercials. Hulu is a bit less helpful because I don't pay for their "Live" version that has a DVR... it's and additional $40 a month! A price I'd gladly pay over the $30 for Sling Blue because it has local channels... but it doesn't have Comedy Central, and I don't know if I can give it up because their app is a bit weird on my television.
I gotta have my The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Television may be a pricey indulgence, but it's quickly becoming one of the few indulgences I can afford. I was looking at the possibility of taking week's vacation somewhere and was mortified at the cost of lodging now-a-days. Insane. Used to be you could get a decent hotel for $100 a night or less. Now you're lucky to find something decent for $300 a night. At least at the places I'm interested in going.
Oh well. I'm getting less and less enamored with travel anyway. I do enough of it for work, so maybe that's enough?
Sling Blue comes with The Travel Channel, after all.
Posted on Sunday, August 18th, 2019
Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Falcon Maps! It's interesting how the advent of Google Maps' "Aerial View" has forced Disney to change the way they build their theme parks. Originally, construction was treated like a movie set, where everything is just a big facade. The only thing that was themed is what people see. The best way to explain this is Main Street, where the dozens of little buildings you see on the ground are revealed to essentially be two giant buildings...
They didn't build fake roofs over each building because they didn't have to. Unless somebody chartered a helicopter, nobody was ever going to see it in 1955. But now there's Google Maps that anybody can call up on their phone, so they are more careful that the illusion is complete...
Had this been built in 1955, the fine detailing would likely have been ignored. The only thing they would bother theming would be what you could see from the ground. Personally, I think this is fantastically cool. You can literally see the Millennium Falcon parked at Disneyland, and that's no small thing.
An interesting aside here... apparently Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been a bit of a flop. People are complaining that there's only one ride and the rest of the place is just a giant shopping mall where you can buy overpriced souvenirs and food. That's it. Eventually a second ride will open but, again, that seems pretty lame. Perhaps Disney will add more stuff to make it more worth visiting, but right now it just seems like a cash grab. Another problem? Disney didn't recreate an authentic place from the movies. You're not walking around Tatooine or even shitty Jakku, you're at "Black Spire Outpost" which, let's face it, who cares? This seems like a major misstep, and I just don't get it. When Disney made an Avatar-themed land, they built Pandora from the movies so when you go there it's like stepping into the film. That's what people want to see, and anything less is inviting a tepid reaction. And that's exactly what Disney got.
• ZIM!!! One of the most impossibly brilliant animated series to ever grace our television sets was Invader Zim. In addition to being so brilliantly written, the look of the show was was blew my mind. It's just so beautiful. As if that weren't enough, it has GIR, Zim's robot companion, and one of my favorite characters of all-time...
Despite unprecedented critical acclaim, the series was uncerimoniously canceled by Nickelodeon because network executives are stupid. But now Netflix has revived the show for a new feature called Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus...
The movie has everything that Zim fans could want and, while it kinda-sorta wraps up the series, it also leaves things wide open for more. And I want quite badly for there to be more. Because can you ever truly have enough Zim in your life?
• Passport! I am not even going to spoil this. Just trust me when I tell you to click this link. Genius. Every last one of them is genius.
• Shazam? Ninety-one percent? Shazam got NINETY-ONE PERCENT on Rotten Tomatoes? Really? One minute it's childish and stupid as shit... the next minute there's a demon is biting somebody's head off. So exactly who was this movie made for? Psychotic children?
Even if you ignore the stupid glowing lightning-bolt-that-looks-more-like-a-triangle on his uniform, Shazam was awful. WHAT HAPPENED TO HAVING THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON? THIS SHAZAM IS A FUCKING IDIOT! About the only thing I enjoyed was Mark Strong as Sivana, despite the fact that he was a complete departure from the comic book's Dr. Sivana (and not in a good way, of course). I cannot fathom how this managed to rate 91%. I just don't get it. The only thing that kept it from total disaster for me is that they didn’t have any burp or fart jokes. At least I think the movie didn’t... I fast forwarded through the foster home stuff because all the kids were just so annoying.
• Days of Meat! On my blog entry for "The Impossible Whopper" I mentioned that it has been 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days since I last ate meat. A friend messaged me and asked how I could possibly remember the last day I ate meat. It's actually pretty easy. It was Earth Day, 1986. I remember it because my girlfriend at the time was a vegan and didn't want to kiss me because I "smelled like meat." I had a hamburger for lunch and she got mad because I "couldn't even go meat-free on Earth Day." And so I gave up eating meat right then and there. We broke up a month-and-a-half later, so I was going to go back to eating meat... except I was feeling better than I had ever felt. The allergies which had plagued me since adolescence were gone, so I stuck with a vegetarian diet. I've since learned that many people are allergic to the antibiotics they inject into animals, which probably explains why I was in such poor health my first 20 years.
• Cook Cook Cooking! Yesterday I spent a big chunk of my day in the kitchen making up meals to refrigerate and freeze. I made burritos. I made rolls. I made Mac & Cheese, I made quiche... and I made my grandmother's enchiladas recipe. While not rocket science, enchiladas make a lot of dirty dishes and a big mess (especially when you make the sauce from scratch). It's also time consuming to put them all together. And even though I started three hours before dinner-time, my cats were all excited because they thought they were getting fed. So it went something like this...
THE ENCHILADA WALTZ
Remove tortilla from the frying oil.
Put fresh tortilla in the frying oil.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
Put the filling in the tortilla.
Put the cheese in the tortilla.
Flip the tortilla that's in the frying oil.
Fold up the enchilada and add it to the pan.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
After a full day and two loads in the dishwasher, I flopped down on the couch exhausted. But then it really was dinner time for the cats and I had to get up again. I really wish that ten million dollars would fall into my lap so I could hire somebody to come in and cook for me.
• Visitations! For the first time ever, the number of people visiting my blog on a mobile phone has eclipsed desktop users. Guess I'd better work on a new "responsive" template sooner rather than later. Blogography looks okay on a mobile phone, but it could be friendlier on smaller screens...
The problem is finding time to actually code a new template. The tags and expected behaviors have changed so much since I made the current template that I would have to re-learn Wordpress in order to even begin! That seems like a lot of work.
And I guess that's all the bullets I have for this week.
Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2019
Disney's annual D23 Expo has begun, and even more news has been released for Disney+, the new streaming service that's packed with all kinds of awesome projects (many of which I've already talked about here). Hilary Duff is coming back as Lizzie McGuire, but Miley Cyrus isn't coming back as Hannah Montana... at least not yet.
As for the other Disney+ news? Let's run that down, shall we?
CASSIAN & K-2SO
I actually really liked Rogue One. It felt the more "Star Wars" than we've seen in a while. Now the best part of the entire movie, Cassian and K-2SO, have their own show... which shoots next year. When coupled with the other excellent Star Wars projects in the pipe, Disney+ is essential viewing for fans.
The animated Star Wars efforts have been pretty fantastic. Between Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: Clone Wars, one could argue that the cartoons have done more to keep the spirit of Star Wars alive than any other media. Rebels ended with Season Four. Now Clone Wars is ending with Season Seven.
I have no idea if Disney will develop any new animated shows, but I certainly hope so.
Disney is leveraging their relationship with Kristen Bell from Frozen and Frozen 2 to build a new reality series...
Interesting idea, I guess? But not my cup of tea.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
The only real news here is that Emily VanCamp is returning to the MCU as Sharon Carter. And oh... some guy named Wyatt Russell is coming onboard to play John Walker, which everybody knows is U.S. Agent formerly Super-Patriot formerly Patriot from the comics.
LADY & THE TRAMP
Okay, how cool is it that Disney found rescue dogs to play the lead in their new Disney+ show?
Looks great. Of course I'll be giving it a try...
It's a "remarkably ambition show" is all the new we got. Alrighty then.
This is actually looking more Star Wars than the new trilogy of Star Wars sequel trilogy... and a hell of a lot more Star Wars than the shitty Star Wars prequel trilogy...
With Jon Favreau in charge, I would subscribe to Disney+ just to watch this show...
MONSTERS AT WORK
I find it a bit odd that there's only one Pixar property being developed for Disney+ (from what they've announced), but at least they picked the right property. The city of Monstropolis is ripe for interesting stories, and the fact that Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully is just icing on the cake (after Stitch, Sully is my most favorite Disney character). But the stars of the show will be entirely new characters with the voices of Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler, which could be interesting. They also announced Pixar's Forky Asks a Question, but it's more a collection of shorts than a series, apparently.
As I've said more than once, this is a no-brainer. I honestly thought it would be a new Netflix show before that development dissolved. Early versions of the character were essentially the Marvel Universe's version of Batman. Later versions of the character gave him multiple personalities and delved more into more mystical aspects of Marc Spector, giving him enhanced strength and other powers based on how full the moon is. Regardless of which way they take things, I am very much interested in seeing what Disney comes up with given that we are promised all the Marvel Disney+ shows will be an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
In yet another no-brainer, Disney+ is giving us a series featuring the comic book character of Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting super-powered Muslim teen. I love the comic book, and have high hopes that the live-action show will do her justice. I do worry about how well the more goofy aspects of her powers will be translated visually, but it certainly can't be any worse than the horrific job they did with Mr. Fantastic in the awful Fantastic Four movies.
Yeah, I love the idea of Kermit and The Muppets getting a new show, but I do worry about whether or not they will let The Muppets be The Muppets... or whether they'll do something stupid to try and "update" them when nothing like that is desired or required.
What looks like a mediocre Hallmark comedy film revolving around Santa's sister would be a complete throwaway if not for the fact that it stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.
If nothing else, the leads will make it worth checking out.
Disney says an Obi-Wan Kenobe series has been in development for four years. Which means Disney+ has been in development for more than four years? Really? Well, whatever. All I need to know is that Ewan McGregor is coming back to play the part when it starts shooting next year. One of the few good things to come from the shitty prequels, a series revolving around McGregor's Obi-Wan is good news.
ONE DAY AT DISNEY
The behind-the-scenes at Disney's theme parks must be at least as interesting as the parks themselves. Probably even more so. No idea just how sanitized this three-issue-series will be (my guess: very), but at least we're getting something.
PHINEAS AND FERB THE MOVIE: CANDACE AGAINST THE UNIVERSE
While I loved Phones and Ferb when it debuted, it eventually got run into the ground over four seasons. My hope was that maybe they'd spin off Perry the Platypus or something interesting, but perhaps a new film will prove worthwhile if they try to break from the status quo in even a small way.
In the comics, She-Hulk became a much lighter, funnier character than her brooding, tragic, drama-prone cousin Bruce Banner. In the movies they've taken Hulk in a direction more like comic book She-Hulk, which begs the question... what does that leave for the Jennifer Walters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I guess we're going to be finding out now that she's getting her own series.
Oh Lord. The inspiration for this series is The Dick van Dyke Show? That sounds absurdly self-defeating, but who knows. They did add Kat Dennings as Darcy (from the Thor movies) and Randall Park (from Ant-Man and The Wasp) so I guess that's something. Except... is Disney+ really going to become a dumping ground for third-tier characters? I mean, sure, I like these characters and it will be nice to see the again... but the choices here are just so random. I guess we'll have to wait and hope.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JEFF GOLDBLUM
The only thing that could be better than Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum would be if Jeff Goldblum were playing The Grand Master (from Thor: Ragnarok) in a new series. So, yeah, Disney can just take my money now.
Posted on Sunday, August 25th, 2019
Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... AGAIN because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• The Halcyon! Disney has been making good use of its acquisitions of Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm. Both have been given major plans outside of movies at this year's D23 Expo. Marvel has brought forth "Avengers Campuses" at Disneylands in California, Paris, and Hong Kong which will have new rides, restaurants, and shops. And then there's Star Wars which has not only resulted in new "lands" in Disneyland and Walt Disney World... but a new "2-Night All-Inclusive Adventure" aboard a spaceship called The Halcyon...
It's a brilliant concept. Essentially, it's like stepping onto a Disney cruise ship... and heading into space... without leaving earth. You get into a pod which flies you up to the ship in orbit, then fly around space before returning back to earth. While in space you can visit Star Wars characters and droids, partake in all kinds of activities, and explore the ship for "secrets" (whatever that means). What would be mind-blowing amazing would be if they eventually add a "shore excursion" to some strange world, which would be bonkers mind-blowing cool.
All the cabins have views of outer space, and there's loads of things to see and do onboard. It all sounds amazing. And expensive. I cannot fathom how much it will cost, but I'm betting its thousands for the two nights. Which, sadly, will put it out of reach for most people. Then again, what else is new? But who knows? Maybe if it's successful there will be more of these type "cruises." How long will it be before Universal has a 2-day inclusive experience at Hogwarts for Harry Potter fans with money? And from there it's not much of a leap towards real-life Westworld.
• Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! More news out of D23? Walt Disney World's EPCOT is getting some serious upgrades...
Aside from the already-announced ride for Guardians of the Galaxy, there are two other things that interest me. First is an attraction for Moana called Journey of Water...
And a new restaurant which is kinda like The Halcyon (above) where you get in a space elevator and eat while orbiting the earth...
It would seem that competition amongst theme parks is really ramping up. First Universal Studios announces an all new park in Florida, and now all this. Almost makes me wish I was still working in Orlando every year!
• A Galaxy Far, Far Away! I fully admit to being entirely underwhelmed by the sequel Star Wars trilogy. Sure it's better than the horrendously shitty prequel trilogy, but that's not saying much. The Force Awakens was okay, but that's likely due to the fact that we hadn't seen anything Star Wars for a while and it had original trilogy characters in it. The Last Jedi was so unimpressive that I had to Google the name because I couldn't even remember it. And now there's The Rise of Skywalker, which will close out the trilogies or trilogies...
Details are scarce. About all we know is that it will have old, unused footage of Carrie Fischer's Princess Leia and has some new characters onboard. Including Jet Troopers (with jet-packs!) and Sith Troopers...
About the only thing I'm looking forward to is that it's all finally going to end. At least until David Benioff and Dan Weiss take a Game-Of-Thrones-sized dump on the Star Wars universe when their trilogy comes out. AND the new trilogy by Rian Johnson that's being worked on (apparently Space Leia from The Last Jedi wasn't torture enough?). Ugh. I have Star Wars fatigue and the new projects are years off.
• The Last Post! The digital age is a dangerous place. You never know when you're going to be sucked down an internet rabbit hole. I was watching an old episode of the hilarious Coupling when I made the mistake of thinking "I wonder what all the actors are doing now?" Jack Davenport is on the new CBS series Why Women Kill. Sarah Alexander is on Epix's Pennyworth. Richard Coyle has been on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And Ben Miles has been on a non-stop parade of TV mini-series and series... one of which was called The Last Post which was written by Peter Moffat. Which, oddly enough, appears to be no relation to Steven Moffat, who created Coupling...
The Last Post is a pretty good show which takes place at a 1960's British Outpost in Aden (which is now in Yemen). It's a time of high tension as the region fights for independence from British rule. The series is not only about the military police in charge of the post, but their wives families as well. If you're bored and like historical drama, you can stream it from Amazon Prime Video. Sadly, no second series is planned.
• Cardinal! Another series I discovered by accident is Cardinal, which is currently running on Hulu. The series is an adaptation of the John Cardinal novels by Giles Blunt...
John Cardinal is a police detective at Algonquin Bay in Canada. His past is littered with secrets (of course) and he was removed from homicide because he became obsessed with a missing girl. Years later the girl's body turns up and he's put on the case with a new partner who just so happens to be secretly investigating him. Drama ensues. The show stars Billy Campbell, who I never in a million years thought had the depth and nuance he's brought to Cardinal. I've burned through season one... of three... and a fourth season has been commissioned. Worth your time if brooding police dramas are your thing.
• A Pox On You! It seems every time I look in on the news, there's another story warning people that they may have been exposed to measles. Earlier in the week it was Vegas (where I just was last week) and now it's Disneyland. And for every one of these stories that comes out, you know there are dozens more places that go unreported. Considering you can die from measles, I guess I'm glad that I had an antibodies test to make sure that my childhood immunizations were still protecting me. This is absolute bullcrap, and I'm fucking livid that this anti-vax nonsense has propagated like it has. Thanks to dumbshits like Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy conning people into thinking that vaccines cause autism despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, heaven only knows which diseases are going to come roaring back. Is polio next?
How is it that the more advanced our science gets the stupider people get? Between anti-vaxers, flat-earthers, climate-change-deniers, and whatever new dumbfuckery is currently making the rounds, humanity might as well pack it in and go extinct.
• Michael Davis! I happened across a video of juggling comedian Michael Davis from his appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I had never heard of him, but was surprised at how talented and funny he was, so I tracked down various videos he appeared in. There's some overlap in material, but they all have different stuff and are all fantastic, so I'm sharing them here...
And that's all the bullets for this week. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019
I worked so hard for so long to make relationships work, but eventually came to realize that being in a relationship isn't for me. That was a tough realization to come to after spending my entire life convinced I couldn't be complete without somebody else in my life. But I've made my peace with it. Relationships make me happy in the short run, but being single has made me happier in the long run.
Except when grocery shopping.
After my dentist appointment today I went to Petco for kitty litter... to Burger King for an Impossible Whopper... and to Safeway for food.
The problem with shopping for food while single is that it's more expensive than shopping for food with a family (per person). As an example? I need hamburger buns to go with my veggie burgers. Unless I eat veggie burgers every day, I can eat maybe four buns before they go stale. They come in packages of eight. Which means I have to freeze four and they never taste as good after being frozen. Cost for eight buns? $3.49. Or on sale at two for $5. Some stores will let you buy one for $2.50, but most won't. So do I spend an extra $1.50 for a bunch of buns I'll just have to freeze? That's the question I face every time I go shopping. At least buns can be frozen if I decide to go that route... some things cannot.
Like buns for veggie burgers, cream cheese for bagels is another thing that drives me nuts. They are never on sale at the same time. Fortunately cream cheese usually has an expiry date for 6 months, so I can stock up and wait for bagel prices to drop.
But it's not all bad news.
Because of the way my blood sugar spikes, I need to limit carbs. That's tough for a vegetarian, but I do my best and try to plan around it. It's just making choices. Do I want to spread my carbs throughout the day so I can have bread and fruit? Or do I want to splurge on carbs at one meal and go low-carb the rest of the day? If I have pasta for an early dinner (must be eaten before 6 so I have time to burn it off before bed), that means I am having eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks with hummus and veggies for lunch. It's not science, but it works. My doctor is please with my A1C levels, and that's all I need to know.
And while I have gotten rid of a lot of sugar in my diet, I can still enjoy sweets a couple times a week. My favorite is cake, but if I were to make or buy a cake, it would perish long before I got around to eating even a fraction of it.
Fortunately, there are several companies making microwavable "desserts for one" and they're pretty great (also great are break-and-bake cookies, but I wrote about them last week).
And even more fortunately, Safeway had a bunch of them on sale and on closeout...
That's enough to last me for the rest of the year (there's 4 per box), and most of them were under $3.00! I prefer the Duncan Hines treats (in the red boxes) because they don't have icing. The Betty Crocker "Mug Treats" do have icing, but I always have to toss it out to save carbs.
No, they're not as fantastic as a real oven-baked cake or muffin, but not having to worry about food waste goes a long way for me.
And another thing that's pretty sweet? The upcoming Disney+ streaming service I've been writing about for weeks!
I don't know if this will help anybody out there, but... if you are planning on signing up for Disney+ and don't care about a bundle with ESPN and Hulu, there's a deal to be had by pre-ordering a membership NOW for when it begins in November.
Disney's official fan club is D23.com and basic membership is free. There are higher tiers with more benefits, but they are not necessary to get this offer. So if you are NOT a member, go sign up for a free membership. If you ARE a member, login and go to the My Account drop-down and choose "View My Account." There you will have the option to buy a 3-year Disney+ membership for $140. That's 33% off the "regular" price...
I know three years is a big commitment but, for me, it was a no-brainer. Considering there's exclusive Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic content... all of which I love... I was all over it. Sure I don't have $140 to be spending just now, but the offer expires after the weekend and I wasn't going to miss it (that's less than $4 a month!). Hello credit card debt, it's been a long time!
Despite having a bill to pay off, it's nice knowing that I don't have to worry about paying for Disney+ until November of 2022!
Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019
As I've mentioned more than a few times, I am a huge fan of shitty Hallmark Christmas movies. Never mind that I find romance movies to be horrible entertainment and I don't even celebrate Christmas, there's something about these films that I completely obsess over. I wrote a little bit about it last November. Every year they come out with more and more of the stupid things, despite the fact that they are all pretty much the same exact story. Last year there were 37 (up from 33 in 2017, 28 in 2016, and 21 in 2015)... this year, on the tenth anniversary of Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas there are FORTY of them. And it all begins on October 25th.
Of course I'll be watching every single one of them. It's so easy because I can be multitasking while they're on and never get lost. How could I? They're all the same.
And it gets worse. For the past month I've been catching up on all the non-Christmas Hallmark movies! And, no worries, there's a shitload of them. Hallmark has seasonal movie events which start with Winterfest in January, then go through Countdown to Valentine's Day, Spring Fling, June Weddings, Summer Nights, Fall Harvest, and then we're right back to Countdown to Christmas again. Lucky for me, all of this stuff is repeated endlessly on The Hallmark Channel in-between reruns of The Golden Girls, Frasier, and The Middle. I've build a master checklist on a huge spreadsheet to keep track.
One thing I've learned in watching all these trash movies is just how huge suspension of disbelief plays in buying into the hilarious storylines that Hallmark writers come up with. Romance in real life is rarely-to-never as adorable as a Hallmark movie. In Hallmark-Land, even the bad parts of the relationships are so cute you want to vomit.
And, believe me folks, I am 100% onboard.
Everybody lives in expensive houses, drives expensive cars, and wears expensive clothes... even when they have a business that's struggling? — Sure.
People fly off the handle and want to break up when they feel they were deceived over some mundane or insignificant plot device that no sane person in love would even worry about? — Okay.
Guys hardly ever act in ways that actual guys act except when it's to portray them as guys who are in need of "fixing?" — Whatever.
Without suspension of disbelief, not a single Hallmark movie would work. They're far worse offenders at defying reality than even the craziest science fiction film.
Almost every movie has at least one detail that jerks me right out of the story. One thing that's so outlandishly stupid that my brain would have to go past suspension of disbelief and enter suspension of belief territory. Because the only way to buy into it would be to suspend believing that you're not a complete idiot.
Even in the context of a crappy Hallmark movie, it's just so sad and lazy.
A classic example can be found in the movie I was watching last night... Love on the Slopes from Winterfest 2018...
It stars Thomas Beaudoin (the guy who melted my ovaries in Netflix's The Spirit of Christmas) as an extreme sports photographer who dreams of going to Africa to photograph the wildlife there. After getting involved with a journalist looking to write about extreme sports, he's betrayed when it turns out she was writing a story about him all along. So... even though they were totes falling in love, he broke up with her. To make it up to him, she ends up giving him a ticket to Zimbabwe so he can fulfill his dream...
First of all, Zimbabwe is an entire country. This "Denver to Zimbabwe" ticket is the equivalent of having a ticket that says "Winnipeg to The United States," like there's only one city with one airport here. The main airport in Zimbabwe is Harare. So even if they didn't want to show ACTUAL AIRPORTS for dramatic effect, they should have had it say "Denver to Harare, Zimbabwe." At least they didn't make it say "Denver to Africa" which is not even a country, people... it's a continent.
Second of all, it's a direct flight. Out of Denver. The biggest hub in Denver is United Airlines. If there was any hope at all that there was a direct flight to "Zimbabwe" from there, it would be on United. Except United doesn't service "Zimbabwe," even via a United-coded partner flight. This means that it's a multi-leg, multi-airline trip and could never appear on a single ticket. You would have at least two stops, minimum, even on a major carrier. You might even have three stops given the destination.
Thirdly, this is an "open" ticket. That's a rare, but entirely valid, type of airline ticket. FOR THE 1980's! The most common ticket today is a roundtrip ticket where the departure and return dates are fixed. Less common is an "open-ended" ticket where the departure date is set, but the return is arranged later. But a full-open ticket? I don't even know how that's possible on a flight now that airlines try to fill every available seat on every flight to maximize profit. Let alone a multi-leg international flight. The cost of such a ticket (IN FIRST CLASS, NEVERTHELESS!) is huge to begin with and, like all destinations, fluctuates based on season. Such an "open" ticket would have to be charged at the highest possible cost to cover any conceivable date. The woman won the ticket for writing the best essay for her company travel magazine. But how many travel magazines could afford to expense such a ticket? Aren't magazines dying?
Fourthly, what's shown in this stupid movie is a boarding pass. You can't get a fucking boarding pass until you've checked in for your flight. You REALLY can't get a boarding pass on an open ticket where you don't even have a date of travel yet. But it gets stupider... HOW THE FUCK CAN HE HAVE A SEAT ASSIGNMENT WHEN HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A DATE OF TRAVEL? What is the airline going to do? Keep seat 14A vacant from now until the end of time in case Cole Taylor wants to cash in his ticket that day? And since this trip is three flights minimum, all possible connecting flights have to keep that same seat open as well? What they should have shown was a ticket, not a boarding pass. Except even that's a stretch. Now-a-days you probably wouldn't even get that. The best she could hope for, assuming she could even buy an international "open ticket," would be a receipt.
Fifthly, as if the assigned seat on an open ticket wasn't hilarious enough... they provide a flight number, boarding time, and a gate number. The flight has an IATA code of "DH" which is "Discovery Airways." THEY WERE AN INTER-ISLAND CARRIER OPERATING EXCLUSIVELY IN HAWAII THAT WAS SHUT DOWN AFTER THREE MONTHS BECAUSE IT VIOLATED US LAW! But let's assume that Discovery Airways did, in fact, come back from the dead. Let's further assume they had enough money to purchase a single gate at Denver International Airport. They are assigned Gate C8 which, in itself is bullshit, because DEN only has gates numbered C23 through C50... but let's pretend they were able to pry a single gate away from Southwest, which I think pretty much owns the C Concourse at Denver. Assuming all of that... and further assuming that Discovery Airways has a daily flight operating from Denver to "Zimbabwe"... how in the hell can they guarantee that this flight time will never change? Like... ever? Flight schedules change all the time. Gates are changed all the time. But the most laughable part is that she is counting on Discovery Airways... a dead airline which lasted three months but has been resurrected with absurdly stupid daily flights to "Zimbabwe"... is going to be in business long enough for poor Cole to ever cash this in. Right.
Sixly, boarding pass and ticket "blanks" are often printed in color, yes. But the printers which fill in the blanks are always black ink only (or, more likely, "black" thermal print only). Except here. Where apparently the printer prints in black... AND RED?!? The idiotic seat assignment and "FIRST CLASS" are printed in red. Has the person who designed this prop flown on an airline... like... EVER?!? Have they even seen a boarding pass before? Given that this one is printed on card stock and not some flimsy thermal paper, I'm guessing if they have seen a boarding pass, it was from 20 years ago.
Lastly, this fictional, resurrected dead airline that offers open tickets direct from Denver to "Zimbabe" has a logo... but the NAME of the airline is just "Airlines?" Really? I mean, given the dicey history of Discovery Airways, I understand wanting to go with something different... but Hallmark is so fucking lazy that they couldn't even invent a new name? I'd suggest "Bullshit Airlines." Or perhaps "Fantasy Airlines." Because expecting people to be able to suspend disbelief on an idiotic story element like this is utter fantasy.
Do better, Hallmark! You're already asking a lot of your fans with your movie offerings, but there are some things so over the top stupid that they can't be overlooked.
And can we get a movie starring Autumn Reeser and Thomas Beaudoin together? Because that would be great.
Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2019
I am not one to partake in gossip because I honestly don't care that much about other people's lives. Unless it directly affects me or someone/something I care about, does what other people do in their personal life really matter?
This is not to say that I am above listening to news which features somebody awful having shit rain down upon their head, however. I am all about the schadenfreude to those who deserve it because it usually has such high entertainment value.
In practice, this is not in line with my belief structure, but I am inconsistent and evil that way.
Today I heard something particularly juicy through the grapevine, and it was a doozey. The person in question is a reprehensible excuse for a human being who has caused suffering for people I know, and I was happy to hear that their comeuppance had finally arrived.
"Happy" is actually not adequate to describe my state of mind... perhaps "gleeful" or "ecstatic" would be more accurate? I dunno. I had a smile on my face for most of the evening, so there's that. I mean, it's not that I want this person dead or anything, but knowing that they were having to suffer in a way quite similar to the suffering they had caused was a nice capper to my day.
Another capper to my day?
Netflix finally released their movie Falling Inn Love which has been teased for a while now...
And it's fairly obvious what happened here. Netflix went to MarVista Entertainment, the studio for many of the Hallmark movies, and said "We will give you a budget big enough to out-Hallmark the Hallmark." In their infinite wisdom, MarVista didn't hire famous writers or top-shelf actors... instead they merely took the same old movie they always make and relocated it to New Zealand. Genius! I mean, come on, if it ain't broke, don't fix it... just give it an expensive change of scenery! And also some scenery you won't often find on Hallmark, like some guy with his shirt off...
So far as "Hallmark" movies go, it was pretty good. The actors were all pretty great. But since it's for Netflix, there are some big changes from what you see on everybody's favorite greeting card network. First of all, there's a gay couple who own the local coffee shop. Not "hinted at" gay... but two men who are full-on married and refer to each other as "husbands." Second of all... he's white, she's African Cuban, which is something you rarely see on lily-white Hallmark... and certainly not as the leads. So, from that perspective, Netflix actually HAS out-Hallmarked Hallmark. Good on them.
Now I guess I better watch sports or rebuild a car engine or whatever else I'm supposed to do to assimilate back into our toxic-masculinity-based culture after watching another one of these crap movies.
Posted on Sunday, September 1st, 2019
Labor Day may be tomorrow but the party starts now, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hurrican Dorian. The images coming out of the Bahamas have been terrifying. And now parts of the Georgia coast are under mandatory evacuation...
Map from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Dorian is tied with a hurricane from 1935 for the highest wind speed at landfall... a staggering 185mph. I hope that's the only horrible record that ends up being broken.
• Lover! A lovely video for the very pretty title track off of Taylor Swift's latest album...
And I'm not the only fan of the song. Keith Urban did a beautiful cover while performing at the Washington State Fair...
I think 1989 is still my favorite T-Swifty album, but Lover is a close second. Tracks like this make it so. I know I'm late to the party here (1989 was the first time I had even heard of her), but I never cease to be impressed with her talent, wit, charm, and intelligence...
Such a remarkable person. Continued success to you, Miss Swift.
• Parade! A true leader celebrates all the people they represent. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes that to heart, as you can see from his taking part in this Pride parade...
Meanwhile, our leadership is doing everything they can to strip rights from our citizens. A depressing state of affairs for the so-called "Land of the Free."
• Rowl! Exceptional production values, gorgeous cinematography, beautiful costuming, and mind-blowing sets don't mean shit when your story is bloated and boring. It's like they took a 90 minute movie and stretched it out to 8 mind-numbing episodes. That's Carnival Row for you...
Guillermo del Toro, who was originally going to be working on Carnival Row, dropped out because of his movie obligations. Don't know if it would have made any difference, but his impeccable pacing and storytelling were much needed here. It's like they had the sets and all the costumes and such and wanted to get as much use of them as possible even though there wasn't enough story for that. Pity.
• Frexit! NOT AT ALL REDUNDANT! Unless France pulled a Frexit and is no longer a part of Europe?
I have yet to try any of that Asian style French bread, but I'm sure it's delicious.
• All The Gs! The advent of 5G wireless is going to be a huge game changer once the mesh that's required to have it work seamlessly has been built. That's a long ways away, but it's still an intriguing technology in its infancy. If you don't know what that even is, here's a fantastic video from Marques Brownlee just for you...
Pretty amazing stuff. Imagine having blazing internet available everywhere for all things... and what will come from that.
• Another Day, Another Mass Shooting. My first thought used to be "How many people?" But now my response has evolved to "Where did it happen this time?" Once I realized that this was how my brain was wired to react, I was disappointed in myself. It feels dismissive and disrespectful to those who just lost their lives. I could excuse it by saying "There's already been so many people killed, does it really matter how many more are added to the list?" But the answer is "yes." Every fucking one of them matters. It's when we start viewing the deaths as statistics instead of people that we lose ourselves. Unfortunately for all of us, those who can actually do something are long lost already.
I remember when the NRA was for responsible gun ownership and wanted to make sure that guns didn't get into the hands of people who shouldn't have them. I also remember when President Reagan was an advocate for that ideal. This was before the NRA was overtaken by gun manufacturers with lobbyists who buy politicians and give them an agenda to encourage as many gun sales as possible... regardless of consequences.
I support the 2nd Amendment. I also support the right of people to go through life without getting randomly shot by some toxic asshole with a gun. Going back to the original mission of the NRA... gun safety and responsible gun ownership... would go a long way to help these two things coexist. Alas that ship has sailed. We don't even pretend that human lives are more important than gun manufacturer profits anymore. What's worse is that people don't even seem to care.
Only 23 days of summer left... make 'em count!
Posted on Monday, September 2nd, 2019
I worked late last night so I could work a half day today. For whatever reason I just wanted a small piece of my Labor Day holiday to have no work involved. The rest of my day was reading and watching the Hallmark Summer Movie Marathon in the hopes that there were movies I hadn't seen yet in the countdown.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
My day started with Jake running into my bedroom, dropping Mufasa the Lion on the floor, squawking as loud as he could manage, then running back downstairs to run around with his sister until breakfast.
Since Jenny keeps taking Mufasa away from him and hiding it, I'm guessing that Jake wanted me to watch over his most prized posesstion for him...
Jenny is way more crafty than I am, so that probably wasn't one of Jake's best ideas.
And, yes, I am still on my mission to watch all the Hallmark originals.
The good news is that I was able to check several that I missed off my list. Including my new favorites Love at the Shore and Summer Villa...
These two movies aren't just "good for a Hallmark movie," they're good for an actual movie. Well, assuming you like cheesy romance flicks.
And now it's just a matter of waiting for October 25th, which is when all the new Countdown to Christmas movies start up. As I mentioned, this year there are forty of them. FORTY!
Posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019
Back in July I ditched my satellite television after yet another channel got blacked out (this time it was CBS). I was getting tired of paying for something that I wasn't getting, and was frustrated that cable and satellite companies never give a crap about compensating you... until you threaten to leave. Well, screw that, I was done.
I ended up going the the Sling "Blue" package with the "Lifestyle Extra" package (for Hallmark) and their "Enhanced Virtual DVR" which allows me to fast-forward through commercials.
So... how's that working out for you? you may be asking. Well, I'll tell you how it's been working out...
First of all, the Sling "Enhanced Virtual DVR" is pretty crappy. It's slow, it's clunky, and it even fails from time to time. I'll go to watch something I've recorded on Sling via my AppleTV, get a "Having Problems Streaming This Right Now, Try Later" error message, except it never becomes available. Sometimes I can get it started via their web browser interface, then switch back to AppleTV and get it going... but that's a pain in the ass and it doesn't always work. Even if it did, I still wouldn't be happy. If you delete a show off your DVR, it doesn't disappear immediately. It can take a while. This is confusing when watching a bunch of episodes of the same show you've got stacked up. As if all that wasn't bad enough, the "fast-forward" is complete bullshit. It's not actually "fast-forward," but instead a 30-second jump forward or a 10-second jump backwards. And it can stop working at any time, meaning you have to restart the app in order to get your fast forward back. The web version is even worse... letting you hover over the time bar to pick a spot to jump to... but half the time the time bar doesn't represent the actual show's timeline, so you're perpetually trapped in the first half-hour of a two-hour show and nothing you click gets you to where you want to be. It's incredibly frustrating and desperately needs to be fixed.
On the plus side, I love that I can transition from my downstairs AppleTV to my laptop to my upstairs AppleTV to my phone and pick up where I left off each time (though sometimes it doesn't remember exactly where you were for some reason). This is really convenient. Alas, you have to have a live internet connection and cannot download, but that's the way it goes.
I pre-paid three months of Sling Blue so I could get a free Over-The-Air antennae and control box for my local channels. Alas, I can't pick up a dang thing on it, so I have no local channels. Since Sling offers no other way to get them, you're out of luck unless you buy streaming packages directly from the network. This is unfortunate, but the price of Sling is so nice when compared to what I was paying for satellite that I will still come out way ahead if I pay CBS or ABC or NBC here and there to catch up on the shows I like that they have.
So... to summarize: Happy I got rid of satellite. Happy with Sling pricing. Not happy with Sling DVR (AT ALL). Okay with Sling as an alternative to cable/satellite which has gotten way, way too expensive.
When my three months pre-paid are up, I'm not sure if I will keep going with Sling or give something else a try. Hulu's "Hulu + Live TV" option is a no-go because they don't have Comedy Central or Hallmark. AT&T, Fubo, and YouTube are way too expensive. Philo might be a good option (it's even cheaper than Sling), so I'll definitely be giving them a try.
Or giving up television altogether.
One of those things.
Posted on Thursday, September 5th, 2019
Thanks to my two cats, my home will never be impeccably clean. Their fur is everywhere. Their toys are everywhere. Their kitty litter tracks everywhere. And their cat trees are pretty gross. And yet... I do what I can to keep my house as clean as possible. Partly because I don't want it looking like a disaster area when guests drop by unexpectedly. But mostly because I don't want bugs in my house, and I've found constant cleaning goes a long, long way towards keeping them out.
Carl the RoboVac runs every day to keep my floors mostly clean (I vacuum by hand when needed to get the rest). I steam-clean the cat feeding station every week (Jenny makes a bit of a mess when eating wet food because she licks it instead of bites it). I keep countertops clean and my kitchen mopped. I wipe up or vacuum food crumbs whenever I spot them. I scrub everything with a baking soda wash on a rotating schedule. I do whatever I can to keep my home as clean as possible so bugs don't show up. Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's worth it because it actually seems to help. I am lucky to see few insects in my house.
Lately my cats have been catching giant spiders out in the catio then bringing them inside to play with.
As you can imagine, this has me more than a little freaked out. Nothing quite like spotting something on the floor out of the corner of your eye... going to investigate... then seeing it's a spider that the cats tortured to death.
And here I thought that Jake and Jenny eating bugs out in the catio was the worst thing that could possibly happen. I love my cats more than I know how to adequately express, but this is driving me insane. But what can you do? I refuse to yell at my cats for being cats. When I adopted them to keep my mom company, I knew what I was getting into. Any problems that come out of that decision are my fault, not theirs.
And so... occasional spiders are in my future, I guess.
Meanwhile in TV Land...
Hallmark has finally confirmed their new Christmas movie schedule and I've updated my 2019 movie page so that all forty of them are in my winter television schedule. Hopefully at least half of them are worth a crap. It seems as they increase the number of movies year after year, the overall quality has been declining.
On the bright side, however, this year we're getting A Christmas Love Story starring KRISTIN CHENOWETH and Scott Wolf...
Just when you think that everything that could possibly be said about Christmas from Hallmark has been said... here comes Kristin! So at least one of the movies will be insanely chipper in the way that only Kristin Chenoweth can deliver!
Ho! Ho! Ho! 50 days to go until October 25th...
Posted on Sunday, September 8th, 2019
Summer may be in its last gasp but the weather couldn't be better, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thunder Rolls. Well, the weather couldn't be better now. Last night was an entirely different story. The thunder was shaking the entire house. The lightning was so bright that it was illuminating everything like it was daytime...
The cats were not happy. Jenny came in crying when all the ruckus started. Jake arrived ten minutes later, and I heard him whining all the way up the stairs. I pet them for a while before finally jumping to the window to take photos.
Then today... no clouds and flawless blue skies...
Enjoy it while it lasts, pretty girl. Winter is coming.
• Baked. September is my most favorite month of the year to bake stuff, and I do so often. Something about the combination of temperature and humidity creates the perfect storm for high-rising, wonderfully-textured bread. Today I made some beautiful bread and amazing hamburger buns...
And, let me tell you... homemade hamburger buns are the best! Tonight's selection was a veggie burger with lemon garlic mayo, dijon mustard, thinly-sliced tomato, and pickle on homemade bun...
Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.
• Very Berry. On Thursday when I dropped by the market to pick up some flour, I saw that strawberry cartons were on sale 2 for $5. I bought them on a whim and have been stressing ever since. Fruit usually goes on sale when it doesn't have much life left, so I've been eating them non-stop so I don't waste my $5. I was eating strawberries morning, noon, and night for two days, but I finally managed to power through. I may be sick of strawberries now, but they were some beautiful berries...
Boy does being single suck when it comes to grocery shopping. I always end up having to buy more than I can eat. The good news is that I'm done with strawberries for the year... just in time for the final summer crop to leave us!
• Scary Tech. The trailer for JEXI has been released. It's a comedy exploring what happens when the artificial intelligence on a guy's phone gets a little too smart. It's supposed to be a comedy. But when I watch this trailer I can't help but look at it as a near-future horror story...
I mean, seriously... isn't this the nightmare scenario that's entirely too plausible? Yeah, that's what I thought.
• Hellmark. Usually I don't give a crap about somebody's politics. I am easily able to separate an actor from their work, and do so all the time. Democrat? Republican? I'm neither, so I honestly don't care. But there's no way I'm supporting the career of somebody who is in bed with the toxic waste assholes at the Family Research Council like Dean Cain. Guess I'll have to be happy with watching all the Hallmark movies except the handful he appears in.
And speaking of Hallmark, Flip That Romance was finally repeated today...
This movie is genius. IT'S GENIUS! I've been anxiously waiting seeing Flip That Romance since the moment I found out it exists. The film combines two of my favorite things... home renovation shows and Hallmark movies. And it's good! Funny! Hallmark heaven, as it were.
• Nonstarter. You know... the more I use my Apple Card, the more I absolutely love it. It's just so absurdly easy and the features are crazy-good. So good. The only problem is that the benefits are total shit. 2% back? 3% on Apple products? So lame. I hope that other credit card companies take note of what Apple is doing and step up their game. Or Apple gets with the program and starts offering 5% back like a real card... even if it's just on Apple products (As it is, it's cheaper to buy Apple products on Amazon with my Amazon Card because I get 5% back on Amazon purchases... what sense does that make?). It will be interesting to see if Apple drives change in the industry like it has for so many other things. I would certainly hope so.
Hope your new week is a good one!
Posted on Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
I can't believe the weekend is already gone! But all is not lost, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• FAKE FOOD! Like many large cities, Tokyo has several districts which specialize in various goods. If you want to see electronics, head to Akihabara. If you want Western fashion and high-end restaurants, you need to go to Ginza. That kind of thing. One of my favorite places to look around is Kappabashi Street, which specializes in restaurant supplies. Pots, pans, dishes, utensils... and a staple of Japanese restaurants... fake food. Because most all restaurants have their windows filled with representations of the dishes they specialize in so people will get their mouths watering and want to come inside. Most of the plastic foods you can buy here in the US are crap, whereas in Japan it's a true artform...
Yes most of the stuff has a bit of a high-gloss sheen to it, but once it's wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting dusty it's pretty darn realistic. The above video is a fascinating look at how it's made.
• Goose. After a long time of reading about it being "released in early 2019," Untitled Goose Game is finally here! The object of the game is to be a complete asshole, which is something I can totally do...
I blazed through everything in just one morning, which is disappointing, but it's a pretty fun game otherwise. Nintendo's eShop has it on sale for Switch at 25% off for a limited time.
• Drugs are Bad, Mmkay? This commercial where the girl takes off her seatbelt and runs her car into a dumpster so she can get more Vicodin? More disturbing than any horror movie I've ever seen...
• X-Pan I had no desire... none at all... to see X-Men: Dark Phoenix. For one thing, it's the capper of a slew of shitty X-movies, after which Marvel will be bringing the X-Men to the MCU and completely rebooting it to (hopefully) something that doesn't suck. So it's essentially a wasted effort and makes no difference. And, if this hilarious "honest trailer" is anything to go by, it's a pile of shit anyway...
Maybe if it shows up on Hulu or HBO or Disney+ or something I'm already paying for, I'll invest my valuable time. But buying or renting it? Not even a little bit.
• Name. An interesting article: Names That Are Unfamiliar to You Aren't "Hard," They're "Unpracticed"
My first "real" international trip was to Japan in the late 80's for work. In Japanese, the "V" in my name doesn't exist as a sound. The closest they have is a "B." And yet they made an effort to say the "V" as best they could, even though it was a struggle and unnatural for them. That kindness has never left me, and I feel incredibly blessed that I learned how important a name can be so early in my travels. Which is why I try my very best to listen when I hear names and put my every best effort into pronouncing them correctly.
So many times I've had co-workers, friends, and people I meet who have "difficult for English speakers to pronounce" names who will say their name... then follow it with "But you can call me..." and give either a completely different "English" name... or some butchered version of their name. Whenever I can, I've asked about their actual name, worked with them to get an acceptable pronunciation, then ask if they mind that I use their real name. And the result is always the same appreciation that I felt that first trip to Japan so many years ago.
Your name... whether it's yours by birth or the name you've chosen for yourself... is key to your identity. Endeavoring to respect a person's name by listening, working to pronounce it, and saying it with your best effort, is such a small thing, really. But it means so much.
• Emmys. I do not watch the Emmys. The television I like is rarely represented, so I just don't bother. That being said, I do read the results the next day and have some thoughts...
• SNUBBED! A few nominations that should have been made...
And... I'm spent. See you in a week with more bullets.
Posted on Monday, September 23rd, 2019
In one of those "I'm surprised but not that surprised" situations, I awoke to the news that Thomas Cook has shuttered operations. If you're in the US, you're probably thinking "You mean those little places at the airport where you can exchange money?" And the answer is... not really. I think money exchange places died over a decade ago when ATMs became universally available. No, the Thomas Cook in this case is the world's oldest travel company. They've been wracked with financial problems for years, hence my lack of surprise...
Well-known in Europe, I've actually used their services couple times, but I've never flown their airline. Sadly, a lot of people do, and they now have no way of getting home. Estimates are at 150,000 people stranded. If this sounds familiar, it's because WOW Airlines shut down back in March which stranded a bunch of people too. Or maybe you're thinking of Primera Air or Germania, both of which shuttered in 2018.
Surprisingly, I've never been in a situation like this.
Sure I've been temporarily stranded several times... mostly due to weather... but not once has the airline said "Sorry, we're closed for business, good luck getting home!"
As I watch the crazy number of reactions on social media... or the pandemonium videos that inevitably pop up from airports... I always try to put myself in the same situation to imagine how I would react.
The answer is inevitably... "Meh."
I'm single and nobody relies on me for anything. Even when my mom was still able to be left alone for a while at home, I could always call one of a half-dozen people to look in on her. Right now I've just got my cats. And so long as I could call a sitter and have them add food to their automated feeder, water to their fountain, and empty the Litter-Robot when it gets full, they're good. Sure work could be a challenge, but I could do most everything remotely for a while.
So, no, I would not be one of those people in the videos screaming "BUT IT'S MY HONEYMOON!" or "WHO WILL FEED MY BABIES?!?" or "I HAD BETTER NOT FUCKING MISS THE SEASON PREMIERE OF MAGNUM, P.I.!"
Well, okay, that last one could be me, because I love that show so much but, even then, so long as I have internet, I can just stream all my shows.
My "plan of action" would likely be to call up a hotel immediately so I had a place to stay, keep calling until I find a room, then head to the nearest bar and get completely shit-faced while I wait for the initial storm to blow over and I can make other travel arrangements. Yay, a vacation!
That being said, I really do sympathize with people who have pressing responsibilities back home... or no room on their credit card to book a hotel and new flights. That would be awful, especially if you're in a foreign country.
And if Magnum P.I. was premiering, which is does in four days on September 27th on CBS!
Posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2019
Snow may have arrived but the internets are toasty warm, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• THE END? Years ago I told myself I'd stop blogging after 5,000 posts. Earlier this week I thought to look and see how close I am to that. I've posted 6,124 posts. And so... I guess I'm stopping at 10,000 then. You're welcome!
• Spidey! So maybe Sony isn't filled with buckets of dumbass after all. It was announced earlier this week that Marvel and Sony have come to an agreement for another Spider-Man film to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given how FREAKIN' AMAZING a job Marvel has done with the character, AT LAST!, I'm unapologetically enthusiastic...
Apparently the deal may include bringing more Spider-Man-based characters than just Spider-Man. A part of me wonders if that's a good thing. But if anybody can figure out how to make it work, that would be Marvel.
• Stumptown! And... just like that, I have a new favorite show. Cobie is absolutely 100% bad-ass in every frame of Stumptown and I love it. You can watch the first episode on the ABC app for free without an account. I suggest you do...
Based on the comic book of the same name, it's remarkably faithful while changing enough to make darn good television. And, as if that wasn't good enough, it features a cast with Jake Johnson! Michael Ealy! Tantoo Cardinal! Camryn Manheim! They pulled out all the stops in casting this show. Top shelf all around!
• Flerfer Dumbassery! "IF THE EARTH IS ROUND AND SPINNING AT 1000mph, THEN WHY DON'T I GO FLYING OFF WHEN I JUMP UP IN THE AIR?!? THE EARTH MUST BE FLAT IF WE CAN JUMP UP AND DOWN WITHOUT MOVING!!!" — GAAAAAAAHHHH!!! IT'S SCIENCE, BITCH!
Literally EVERY SINGLE THING that dumbass flat earthers come up with as a reason that globe-earth cannot exist can be refuted with science. Not that that's going to stop anything. Dumbassery is contagious.
• Assholes! NEWSFLASH: Every word Ajit Pai says about Net Neutrality is a lie, including "and" and "the." — Well no shit! Ajit Pai only cares about the Telco lobbyist dicks he has been sucking. He's never given a crap about American consumers. Not even a tiny pebble shit. It's assholes like this who should be strung up and shot for selling out the country. Just like the rest of President Trump's administration of assholes.
• TV! I hate to say it, but here it goes... APPLE'S TV APP FOR MaCOS X IS A STEAMING PILE OF SHIT AND I AM FUCKING EMBARRASSED FOR THE ENTIRE COMPANY FOR RELEASING IT! It's comically inept, buggy, and stupid... and once again has me regretting that I ever bought into Apple's media ecosystem. First of all, it's a crappy experience. You never know what's clickable because the cursor never changes. And when something is clickable, you don't know if your click is registered because the button state doesn't change and there's no feedback whatsoever. This means that you end up clicking again and again and again because you don't know if anything is happening. And the app is so fucking slow that it takes forever to acknowledge when something does happen. Apple essentially developed the modern home computer interface. And they are destroying their legacy with this bullshit. And it just gets worse. Have tons of purchases in your library? Hope you like scrolling! There is NO FUCKING SHORTCUT to get to what you need to be! Want to watch those Magnum P.I.? episodes you purchased? Typing "M" to get there does NOTHING! Just scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll.
Second of all, it's hard to search for the stuff you want to buy. You type in the search box and often times get random shit for an explicit search term. Then, assuming you do all kinds of acrobatics and manage to navigate to what you want, actually buying something is a joke. It's all a bunch of clicking and clicking and clicking because you have no fucking idea if you actually bought it or not because there's no acknowledgement until an email receipt arrives. AND THEN once you finally manage to buy something, IT DOESN'T SHOW UP IN YOUR LIBRARY UNTIL YOU QUIT THE APP AND START IT UP AGAIN?!? Oh... and when you DO quit and restart? It doesn't remember where you were, so you have to navigate back there again.
This is insanity, and I cannot fucking believe that Apple actually let this shit go out of beta. Assuming they even bothered to beta test it at all. I never thought I'd be longing for the original iTunes to come back, but here we are. Fuck you, Apple.
See You Next Sunday!
Posted on Sunday, October 20th, 2019
Don't let the short, cold, grey days get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who Watches? Tonight was the premiere of HBO's new Watchmen series, which is a continuation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I enjoyed the first episode quite a lot, despite many, many. misgivings. Primary of which is using extreme violence against Black persons and the Tulsa Race Riots as entertainment fodder. I always worry that there are people watching not because they find the horror in it all, but because that's what they get off on watching. Anyway... the original comic book series was an epic work of storytelling genius, and having somebody like Damon Lindelhof (who helped turn Lost from a promising television show into a steaming pile of idiocy) was worrisome. But, if this first episode is any indication, we're in for a wild, action-packed ride. But, even better, it seems to be building to... something...
The new series constructs its story around racism and our ever-escalating conflict with white supremacy. While admirable, I'm going to have to reserve judgement on whether it's an effective take until the end. As for the show itself, HBO put some serious money into it, and it shows. On top of getting top-shelf talent like Regina King, Jean Smart (who was oddly absent the first episode), Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, and Jeremy Irons(!)... it looks gorgeous, and the weird world that Moore and Gibbons created feels fully realized. If you have HBO, it's kinda a no-brainer to tune in. But if that's not incentive enough, here's Dave Gibbons drawing Regina King's character, Sister Night...
Eight weeks to go until we find out where this is all going. Hopefully somewhere worthwhile. All we need is for Lindelof to drop the ball at the end like he did with Lost.
• A Mystery. After watching the premiere of the new Nancy Drew I cannot fathom how in the hell the conversation went at the initial meeting. But I'm guessing it went something like this...
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: My plan is to get some of the best talent available to write compelling mysteries with a modern slant. Really push boundaries on excellent storytelling and give viewers some best-of-class television to sink their teeth into.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Or you could just put a bunch of nonsensical drama in it with some gratuitous sex and not give a flying fuck about the quality of the mysteries and stories. Would be cheaper that way.
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit it will be then.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Put Scott Wolf in there. That'll fix everything!
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit with an appearance by Scott Wolf it will be then.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Start the first episode with Nancy really getting pounded... we're talking shaking a cup of coffee off the nightstand kind of sex pounding. But put her on top so we don't get complaints about having a weak female lead.
Nancy Drew is an iconic character who deserves far better than this crap. How it got greenlit is a mystery.
• Shoot Your Shot. I love this series anyway... but this episode with Mindhunter's Holt McCallany is one of my favorites to date...
What a cool guy!
• Nest, Take Two. I have two sets of security cameras... one is hardwired with local storage and the other is a cloud-cam system by Nest (now owned by Google). The Nest cams are really great, but frustrating because their per-camera pricing for cloud storage is way too expensive. Amazon's cloud storage has a far more reasonable single fee which covers all your cameras. I was going to switch in February when my current Nest contract runs out because the cost to buy all-new Amazon cameras would be offset after just one year. And this week I found out I no longer have to do that. Somebody at Google Nest decided to get serious about being competitive and announced all new cloud storage pricing which will cover all my cameras for one fee like Amazon. So that's refreshing.
• Eyeroll Territory. Not content to let their legacy as some of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema speak for itself... two old men insist on criticizing modern filmmaking, and come across as pathetic, jealous, entitled egomaniacs. Just fuck off already. Nobody who loves what Marvel is doing gives a single fuck about your asshole opinions. I mean, holy shit... Coppola acts like he never made "Supernova," one of the biggest pile of shit movies I've ever seen. What a joke.
• Programming. And, lastly, because I just can't help myself... something to read if you're a code-geek like me: The Lines of Code That Changed Everything. It's pretty fascinating. Even moreso if you've ever programmed before.
And... scene. Have a good week!
Posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2019
A busy, busy week for me has ended but I'm just getting started, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Monster. I have been toning down the politics on Blogography because it's just so pointless. Unless you are living under a rock, you already know the horrific shit our president is doing, so there's really no need to repeat it here. But lately it's gotten so bad that my disbelief has escalated to a level I didn't even know I had in me. Fortunately John Oliver was back tonight to put one of the most tragically awful events into perspective...
There really is no bottom. President Trump lives in a fantasy world where everything he does is perfect and everybody loves him for it. Somebody this detached from reality has no business running the country, and I hope that people are really, really scared about what damage could come next.
• Idiocity. And speaking of damage, I saw this headline on The Verge yesterday: Donald Trump wants the iPhone home button back. OH FUCK NO! With all due respect Mr. President, go back to using a flip-phone and leave technology advancements to those of us who know how to form complete sentences which people can actually make sense of.
• Good. When I was at Uluru (which the colonizers dubbed "Ayer's Rock") in Australia, there was a sign saying that it was a sacred place to the people who own it and they ask you not to climb it... despite there being a chain path to climb it. So I didn't climb it. There were also signs posted at a few points around Uluru asking you not to photograph it at that point because something sacred to people happened there. So I didn't photograph it there. I don't understand why it's so difficult to follow the wishes of the people whose land you are visiting. You're their guests, and should be grateful that they allow you to visit their home at all. I know I sure was...
By banning people from climbing on it after the month is over, Australia is righting a great wrong. I hope people respect the new ban on climbing Uluru and adhere to the Anangu People's request. It literally is the least people can do.
• Kangaroo Cats. I ran across an interesting Facebook post this week which was talking about the "primordial pouch" which appears on some cats. I think it’s genetic. Jake and Jenny both have big pouches. When they run, the skin flops back and forth... it’s kinda hilarious, but doesn't seem to bother them at all. For the longest time I just assumed they were mutants. But apparently that's not the case...
Interesting stuff, that evolution!
• Rhinos! Will of Burrard-Lucas Photography is the reason I selected the Antarctica tour that I did. His wildlife photography is the most inspiring and beautiful I've ever seen, and getting a behind the scenes look at how he does what he does is about the coolest thing you'll see on YouTube this week...
Thanks to his BeetleCam invention, nobody does wildlife photos like Will Burrard-Lucas. He amazes me with each new book he publishes.
• Pepper. You really do learn something new all the time. My homemade pizza sauce recipe calls for green peppers. I don't normally eat them because I prefer the sweeter red peppers, but the recipe tastes so good that I do what is called for. On Tuesday I came home from work and was already too tired to cook... but then realized that I actually needed to clean my kitchen before I could cook. Double the horror. It's while cleaning that I notice something strange... WHAT HAPPENED TO MY GREEN PEPPER?!?
It's then that my Facebook friends had to inform me that green peppers aren't ripe and, like tomatoes, they will turn from green to orange to red as they ripen. I honestly had no idea. Until Tuesday, I truly thought that they were all different species of peppers.
• Hallmark Moment. As you can imagine, I am in full-on Hallmark Movie Mode now that their 10th Annual Countdown to Christmas is in effect. I almost never watch live, choosing instead to DVR the movies so I can jet past commercials. But the new movies for 2019 I have been watching live, and this commercial came up...
Well done. Somebody at World Market really knows their Hallmark audience. I don't understand why any company spending the huge amount of money required for a national ad doesn't put this kind of care into creating them. Most ads are just terrible and something you want to skip. Why would you waste money like that?
And now... time to wash underwear so I have something clean to wear to work tomorrow. You're welcome, my co-workers.
Posted on Sunday, November 3rd, 2019
Worried you don't have time to watch all those new Apple TV shows? Well worry no more, because an all new Very Special Apple TV+ Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who Dis? And lo did Apple decree that some of their billions of dollars shall be put aside to create their own media, and it was done. And lo did Apple then decree that all new iPhone purchasers would get a year of Apple TV+ for free, and it was done. And since I had a bunch of work to tackle all day yesterday, I just let Apple TV+ shows run while I was working. There are hits and misses, but most of it is just a "why?" situation. There's nothing so revolutionary here that Apple just had to step up with a pile of money to make sure they were seen. It's pretty much just more of the same.
• The Morning Show. The opening shot of the first episode of this show is Mark Duplass answering his iPhone. The next shot is Steve Carell answering his iPhone. The next is Jennifer Aniston ignoring a call on her iPhone. Reese Witherspoon is too busy putting on eyeliner for me to see her phone, but the guy in back of her in the car has an iPhone. While not unrealistic that absolutely everybody on earth would all own iPhones, it does seem like a ridiculous abundance of product placement and left me wondering if the show was going to revolve around Apple products instead of stories and actors. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. But it was still jarring to see Apple absolutely everywhere when the real world doesn't work like that. And "the real world" is what they're trying to give us: When the co-host of a popular morning news show is fired for sexual misconduct, personal politics and interpersonal relationships are put to the test...
It may be only three episodes so far, but like this show. I like it quite a lot. It's deliciously twisty and appropriately ruthless without being overly-complex, stifling, or boring. The acting talent is impeccable. It's rumored that Aniston and Witherspoon are making TWO MILLION DOLLARS PER EPISODE. This seems wildly excessive. But when they make millions upon millions for movies, that's what it's going to cost to get that kind of talent on your TV show. I'm not saying they're necessarily worth that in the context of The Morning Show, but I will say that they elevate things to a level you probably wouldn't have gotten from many others. And don't discount Steve Carell... his character is equal parts horrifying and charisma, and he's great. Everybody is. That's what $15 million an episode gets you.
• See. "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Or is he? Let's assume that I can put aside the complete lapse of logic which permeates this show. Let's further assume that I can overlook the ableist aspects of the concept behind the show. And let's finally assume that I can dismiss the obvious idea that Apple wanted their own Game of Thrones for launch, and See (featuring Khal Drago!) is that show. Assuming all that... and you can... I still couldn't get into this post-apocalyptic show about what happens when most of the population of earth is wiped out, those two million remaining are blinded, centuries afterwards everybody thinks that sight is a myth which is heresy to speak of, and evolution has brought us to a time when some are being born with the ability to... see...
Each episode costs $15 million. The same as being spent on The Morning Show. And yet... for the life of me I cannot figure out where all that money is going. It's just inconceivable to me that I'm looking at $15 million per installment. Maybe if $10 million an episode was going to Alfre Woodard that would explain things. I dunno. What I do know is that I was bored bored bored by the goofy lameness of it all. High concept needs to have high entertainment value. This just... doesn't. From bizarre crap like the queen's unorthodox method of "praying" to the whole "betrayal among us" trope being the entire crux of future hurdles... it's just so tired. I don't hate the show, I just don't know if I will make time to watch future episodes. Maybe if I'm bored and there's nothing else on?
• For All Mankind. This terrific alternate-history series is just so... pretty. Not just because of the money put into making it look great... but because nothing puts all of humanity into such vivid perspective as our quest to reach the stars. Yes, things start slowing down after the first episode, but it's still pretty good stuff.
I had read nothing about the series, ignored all the "first look" videos, and had no idea what the show was about until I watched. At the time I was anticipating Apple TV+ costing $12.95 a month, so why invest the time in something I won't see? Because of this, the extended opening which defines the entire series took me completely by surprise. In a good way. Hopefully nobody has spoiled it for you, because surprises this finely crafted don't come along that often! For this reason, I am NOT including the advertisement video here. It spoils everything! I'm hopeful this is headed somewhere interesting.
• Snoopy in Space. I actually liked the computer-rendered Peanuts movie. I found it beautifully rendered and fully faithful to both the comic strip and the animated specials. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Apple's first effort with the property was to be traditionally-animated. Though, from the looks of things, it's not so traditional. It's too fine and too clean and definitely looks digitally drawn. Not a good look...
But the real importance here would be the story. How does it live up to what Charles Shultz created? It doesn't. The plot is that Snoopy dreams of being an astronaut and breaks into NASA's astronaut training program so he can go into space. Since the Peanuts universe doesn't have adults you can understand, there's an absurd and annoyingly emotional computer standing in. What follows is mundane explorations into NASA, the ISS, the moon, and Mars. And it's so awful.
As a lover of the original Peanuts strips... a liker of the original Peanuts television specials... this show fell completely flat for me. It's like they took popular Peanuts elements that people would recognize and jammed them together into a NASA-sponsored docu-series. There's no real charm or genuine humor here and the story is both horrible and boring. Especially if you love Peanuts, in which case it's just insulting.
• Dickinson. Needless to say, a teen angst reinvention of Emily Dickinson's early life was not going to be my cup of tea. I don't give two shits about that kind of CW crap. And yet... I was genuinely curious to see where Apple would go with this. I'm a fan of Dickinson's poetry and writings, and their nature is ripe for interpreting her life...
Alas, what we got was a complete mess. It's a period piece injected with thumping modern music and familiar modern tropes, but not in a necessarily edgy, interesting, or clever way. Characters use phrases like "I'm pretty psyched about it!" and "Totally!" and "This is bullshit!" which is somehow supposed to be funny or something. What actually was funny was seeing Wiz Khalifa pop up as Death with his magical coach pulled by ghostly fire horses and Jane Krakowski gliding through her every scene as if she's a Jenna Maroney parody of Emily's mom. Everything else fails to hold together. One minute Emily is baking bread for her father as an apology for getting caught sitting in at an all-male lecture on volcanoes at Amherst... the next she's getting fingered by her brother's fiancé as some words from her poem I have never seen "Volcanoes" appear on screen and images of bread baking in a hot oven pop up. It's like they didn't even try. Just one silly, contrived situation after another ("Let's have an opium party so I can hallucinate dancing with a giant talking bee!"). I made it through four episodes... fast forwarded through the last half of the fifth... then skipped to the ninth and tenth just to be done with it. I'm sure there are people who will love this, but it's sure not me.
• The Elephant Queen. If you've ever seen the show Meerkat Manor which documents the life of meerkats struggling to survive their cruel world, The Elephant Queen will feel a bit familiar. This documentary follows Athena, an African elephant trying to save her heard once they are forced to leave their old watering hole in search of a new one...
Beautiful to look at and nicely narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this is a wonderful but somewhat superficial film. Sure there's tragedy and death along the way. But no mention of poachers despite that being a serious threat and always topical... I mean, come on, even Disney World managed to add poaching into their Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom. If there's a negative here, it would be the unnecessary addition of comical sound effects and some clueless music queues. Even so, it's a compelling film that's worth your valuable time.
• More to Come... Though Apple doesn't have much content, they seem intent of keeping it coming. Up next are a show by M. Night Shyamalan... a show by Rob McElhennrey and Charlie Day... a show with Octavia Spencer... a show with Chris Evans... more Amazing Stories... more Time Bandits... and, of particularly interest to me, a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. Among others. Odds are, they're going to be fairly watchable given the amount of money and talent Apple is dumping on them. We shall see.
And... not a bad start. The only complete misfire was Snoopy (what were they thinking?) and even that might have appeal to some. Whether or not I'll pay $5 a month to keep it going a year from now will entirely depend on what's playing at that time. Another series for The Morning Show would be enough for me to pay a couple months, but I'm guessing Apple will have a lot more in store than just that.
Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2019
Hallmark Channel Christmas is in full swing this Sunday, but I'm making time for blogging anyway, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• OctoCup. I don’t know whether to be happy... or bust out crying because of how we’re destroying this planet with our filth...
Probably both. Poor creatures of earth. Fuck the climate change debate... clean up the planet because we have a moral reponsibility to do so. Humans are not the only thing living here.
• Madalorian. By and large, I've been disappointed with the post-Star Wars offerings. The prequel trilogy was utter crap. The sequel trilogy is lacking. Solo was okay, but not a homerun. And while I did love Rogue One for being the most Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back, it had serious story issues. The final movie in the trilogy of trilogies, Rise of Skywalker arrives in December and looks like it will be a delicious special-effects spectacle. But what I'm really forward to? Jon Favre and Pedro Pascal's The Mandalorian coming to Disney+ on Tuesday...
Boy does that look good. Firmly set in the Star Wars Universe, but giving us something new outside of what the past films are mired in. I sure hope it lives up to the hype.
• AT&T Nickel Diming. Upgrading my iPhone through the Apple Upgrade Program was a mess. Worthy of an entire blog post when I have time to document the horror I went through with Apple. Turns out that the fun was just beginning because when I got my AT&T bill, there was a $30 upgrade fee on it. Even though AT&T didn't do a damn thing. The process of activating and transferring my phone was entirely automated and done by me! This is just another case of AT&T squeezing money out of their customers by nickel-and-diming them to death. When I called AT&T to ask them what in the hell they did to merit a $30 charge, their answer was... all the carriers do it. Which may be true. But AT&T costs considerably more than other carriers. And so... time to investigate a possible change. Free HBO that's a massive pain-in-the-ass to activate via AT&T's pitiful AT&T TV Now service (formerly DirecTV Now) is not worth it. Not by a damn sight. And they're dishonest assholes who still charge you full price, even when they are blacking out channels and not paying for them.
• Rank. Step One of getting rid of our fatally-flawed and totally shitty two-party system stranglehold is adopting ranked-choice voting. And... oh my.. here is something interesting.
• Padded. I have been attempting to use the new Adobe Photoshop on iPad. Except, despite it's name, it is NOT Adobe Photoshop. Not even remotely close to Photoshop. Of course I knew that there were going to be sacrifices (especially in the beginning), but this pathetic effort is so feature anemic as to be laughable. For one thing... no resizing or crop tools. I mean, sure there's a "crop tool" but you can't set a dimension. Your only choice is to "lock current ratio." THAT'S IT! Need a certain size? Fuck you. Need a certain resolution? Fuck you. Need a certain ratio? Fuck you. And... oh yeah... the crop tool doesn't snap to edges! What a fucking joke. It's not like I'm upset because I can't use all my filters and am demanding that every possible obscure feature from the desktop Photoshop be added... but holy fucking shit! CROPPING IS A BASIC FEATURE! IT'S NOT EVEN A BASIC FEATURE... IT'S LIKE THE MOST RUDIMENTARY FUNCTION OF AN IMAGE EDITING PROGRAM THERE IS! Pathetic. Can't believe we waited a whole YEAR for this?
• Wavy. Boy does this bring back memories of crossing The Drake Passage! I always wondered how they managed to cook on rough seas!
There were two times in crossing that dishes were thrown from our tables. Thrown. Which is why the expedition company I went with have to replace half the dishes every season.
• Punch Away. WE LITERALLY FOUGHT A WAR AGAINST THEM!
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled Christmastime programming...
Posted on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
And so Disney+ is finally here.
Unlike Apple TV+, the content you get is staggering. Tons of shows and movies from the Disney archives (some of them having been buried for a long time) plus shows and movies from Disney affiliates (every episode of The Simpsons is right here). And of course the new shows and movies they have been promoting from the very start which will leverage their Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and National Geographic properties. I got in on a pre-purchase deal that dropped the cost to less than $4 a month, and at that price this is a bargain and a half for what you get.
Granted, the Marvel shows that I'm really looking forward to are a ways off yet, but I'd pay $4 a month for The Mandalorian alone, so it's all kinda a no-brainer.
And now, just as I did with Apple TV+ content, I am dropping my thoughts on what Disney+ originals bring to the table, from my favorite to least favorite...
The Mandalorian. The entire reason to get Disney+ from the get-go is right here. And, with the exception of Rogue One, it's better than most of the Star Wars stuff that's been released in the past 20 years. Mostly because Jon Favreau and Co. just didn't care about anything but taking all the cool stuff from Star Wars and doing something truly new with it. Between the mysterious nature of Pedro Pascal's namesake Mandalorian... and a freakin' fantastic appearance by a droid from the IG-88 series (IG-11). If you have even the smallest, most basic interest in Star Wars, here's your show. And reason enough to climb onboard the Disney+ train.
The Imagineering Story. The first of six episodes looking behind the scenes of creating the Disney parks. It's fantastic, featuring archive footage and modern interviews to explain how Disneyland (and everything that followed) came to be. Really cool stuff here... like a look at the incomparable Mary Blair at work. I'd pay the $7 price of admission just to watch this series.
Marvel: Expanding the Universe. A quick 12 minute sneak peak of all the stuff I am dying to watch on Disney+ (AKA the entire reason I subscribed). There's precious little new information here, but it definitely gets you excited for what's to come.
SparkShorts. These independent Pixar shorts are, well, everything you expect from Pixar. The first three (Purl, Smash and Grab, and Kitbull) were excellent, so there was no reason to expect anything less from Float. And it doesn't disappoint. Gorgeous animation about a dad trying to deal with a kid who can... float. It's sweet, heartfelt, and amazing. Interesting to note that Disney+ has added other amazing Pixar shorts like Bao and Piper to the service as well.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum I am not quite sure what this is supposed to be. It's essentially just Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblummiest while looking into a subject through the lens of Jeff Goldblum. The result is pretty great, but not exactly groundbreaking. Other shows have done this kind of thing better. But none of them had Jeff Goldblum, and that's the point isn't it? In the premiere, Jeff gets into the inexplicably cutthroat world of sneakers and the jaw-dropping price that people are willing to pay to get collectible pairs. Along the way we get mini-lessons about where vulcanized rubber came from, how companies like Adidas create sneakers, and other tangents. No mention of sweat shops in Indonesia paying children $1 a day to make the sneakers though. I guess you could call this superficially educational... superficial edutainment? Though Jeff slaps back against flat-earthers and dinosaur deniers, so there's that. Definitely watching this one.
Lady and The Tramp. The live-action remakes from Disney have been a mixed bag. Some of them are amazing (Jungle Book was fantastic), some of them are okay (Christopher Robin has great elements, but kinda flails) and some are just bad (Dumbo was sincerely lacking). The animated Lady and the Tramp was beautiful to look at, but not a favorite. I didn't expect the live-action remake to change my mind. But they pulled out all the stops to create a good film. No, it's not a cinematic masterpiece (and is not as good as the original), but the rescue dog stars they got were great. The casting was perfect (Sam Elliott as Trusty? Come on!). And the CGI talking effects were well-done. This is kinda a perfect example of what Disney+ should be. A place for movies not quite reaching the quality of a feature-film release, but deserving of more than some $9.99 direct-to-video dump.
Marvel Hero Project. If there's a promise for Disney+ outside of the obvious, shows like this are it. Inspiring, true-life stories that find heroes in humanity and showcase how they are changing our world... THEN, ZOMG, MADE INTO A MARVEL COMIC BOOK! The first issue has Jordan, a girl with limb differences, working to make the world more accessible for everyone. There's an awful lot to like about this show... even without the Marvel element... but made oh so much better because of the Marvel element. I mean, yeah, fashioning a "glitter arm" and shooting sparkly glitter at people may seem like a silly idea to build an episode around, but when you see the show you "get it." It will be interesting to see what future episodes will bring.
Noelle. Given my predilection for Hallmark Christmas movies, I thought this would be right up my alley. Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader? Oh my garland! Sign me up! And yet... it's not that at all. Instead it's more like a remake of Elf but not really nailing it. Sure it's cute, clever, brimming with Christmas charm, and has the eternal optimism you expect from Disney... but it's all kinda meh despite incredible production values and a great cast. Santa has retired and his son doesn't have the confidence, skills, or desire to take over, so it falls to his daughter Noelle. Given the date of the Disney+ debut, I suppose there had to be a Christmas movie. And this wasn't bad. Though I wonder if kids will be able to get into it? My guess is not.
Encore! Kristen Bell attempts to revive old productions of amateur high school musical theater... with the original cast! The first episode is Annie with the cast of a 1996 Santana High School production. I don't like musicals, at all, but was fascinated by the concept. And Kristen Bell. They start with a catchup of where all the cast is today... police officers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, and such. Then gather them together with a professional director, music director, and choreographer to stage a modern take on the original. And along the way you get to see them come together and rehash the past and discuss what's been happening in their lives. The result was okay... but ultimately not my thing. Not the personal drama nor the musical theater. And yet... I might keep tuning in on occasion? It's an interesting idea for reality television for sure.
Ask Forky a Question. Cute to see Forky and Ham again, but this first short (What is Money?) was pretty uneventful. Just Forky being Forky and nothing really happening.
Pixar in Real Life. A godawful attempt to bring Pixar into the real world. This first one brings in the control panel from Inside Out to the real world where passerby can control the emotions of two actors. Pointless and not the least bit entertaining. It's five minutes long. I made it to a minute-and-a-half before bailing.
Disney Family Sundays This is some kind of weird-ass crafting show for kids. But a horrifically bad one. In the first episode they make Dumbo's circus tent. The supplies include A PRE-MADE CANOPY TENT?!? WTF? Who has that laying around? Can you even buy that? Then you essentially hot-glue-gun a bunch of garish crap to the pre-made canopy. This is what passes for "crafting" now-a-days? Pathetic. And I just don't get it. First you have to watch the show, then you have to make a massive laundry-list of supplies to go buy (or try to find to buy), then you have to watch the show again as a step-by-step. Lame. I guess I should have expected some cheap "filler" shows to fill in the gaps, but this?!?
High School Musical: The Series No. Won't do it. This is where I draw the line.
And that's it.
Well, not really. Tons of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars content await. Including some stuff from my childhood that I didn't expect to ever see again... like The Love Bug series (including Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes) and The Cat from Outer Space. And stuff I don't own that I'd definitely like to revisit (including Saving Mr. Banks and Hannah Montana).
I've read about people having connection problems with Disney+ but haven't had any major problems. Once or twice I've had an error pop up...
...but after I dismiss and restart the program everything works just fine. And, much to my surprise, the program picks up right where the problem occurred. Nice!
The Apple TV interface is fairly good. The web interface is pretty bad. No navigation within the site... you have to use your browser's back button. But, in both cases, the content played just fine so I can't really complain.
Disney+ is off to a good start. But it's what's to come that has me excited to be a subscriber.
Posted on Sunday, November 17th, 2019
Don't despair that yet another weekend is over, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mando. After only two episodes of The Mandalorian I am prepared to say that it's my favorite thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Or at least tied with Rogue One. I am just completely shocked that they are using their big budget on something more than pew pew space battles. It's all story development... and they are taking their time to get to where they're going. And making everything look 100% gorgeous along the way...
And now I want a Baby Yoda doll. But who doesn't?
• MACLUNKEY! And, speaking of Star Wars, I still can't get over how stunning the 4K remaster of the movie looks. Seriously... it looks like it could have been filmed last week! IT WAS RELEASED IN 1977! I was compelled to watch because I heard that the "Han Shot First" scene which was "reimagined" into a "Greedo Shot First" scene is now a "Han and Greedo Shot at the Same Time" scene...
It's all so damn stupid. Han shot first. It was filmed that way. Any attempt to make it seem otherwise is just fucking embarrassing because it looks fake. BECAUSE IT IS FAKE! Why not just admit that Han Solo had a dicey past but in the end his hero nature prevailed? It sabotages nothing. It changes nothing. And the more you try and play it otherwise, the more you are drawing attention to it. Which is actually more than damn stupid... it's insulting.
• The King. Since the debut of The Impossible Whopper, I've eaten at least a dozen of them. Including the perfect one I had this morning...
For the most part, I absolutely love them. But here's the thing... like any burger, a number of factors go into how good each one tastes. Unripe, tasteless, tough tomato? Not so good. Ripe, flavorful, juicy tomato? Very good. Lettuce core that's tough and rancid? Not so good. Leafy, fresh lettuce? Very good. It goes on and on. Ordinarily, I'd chalk this up to rolling the dice in a game where I'm happy to play and take my chances. But when they cost $7.50 each? For that kind of money I would hope that Burger King would be a little more careful about making sure everything is good. Because... $7.50?!? Still cheaper than so many other vegetarian options out there... assuming you can find them in the first place.
• Axel! And so Netflix not only ponied up what I'm sure is an ungodly amount of money to Eddie Murphy so he would film a standup special... they must have backed up another dump truck full of cash for him to make a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie...
I loved the first two... liked the third one... and am hoping against hope that they will make the fourth one be worth a crap. After the long, long, long time that the franchise has languished in development hell, this is probably our last shot.
• Root Beer. I love Japan and adore the Japanese people. I see videos like this pop up in my feed and it's weird how the language starts coming back to me. I really should make time to refresh my skills and get back to Japan one of these days...
For the record, I love root beer. And A&W Diet Root Beer is fantastic.
• Watching. All-in-all I liked what Zack Snyder did with Watchmen. At least I did until the end where he completely changed Ozymandias's plan and fucked everything up. Which, in retrospect, is no surprise. He has absolutely no respect for the source material and feels as though he can "improve" on everything. In the case of Watchmen, he jettisoned the shock of a giant psychic alien squid destroying New York City, thus depriving us of one of the original series' greatest moments. In tonight's episode of the HBO series, which follows the graphic novel instead of Snyder's film, we finally got to see it in a flashback...
Now, this is not really a spoiler since it already happened back in 1987. And if it is a spoiler, how sad that you never read one of the greatest comic book series of all time before watching the show.
The HBO Watchmen series has been good... very good. And with each new episode I like it even more. But then I have to remind myself that the guy in charge of the show is Damon Lindelof. Talk about somebody who can fuck up an ending. This was one of the guys responsible for Lost. And so... while this series is delicious in all the right ways (mind-bogglingly good scripts and incredible performances) I'm holding onto my final judgement until all nine episodes have aired.
Until next weekend then...
Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2019
Snow may have arrived here, but Blogography will go on as usual, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who's Watching... ... the Watchmen? Welp, tonights episode was genius. As was every episode prior. So long as Damon Lindelof doesn't screw this up at the end (as he has a history of doing) this will easily be my favorite show of 2019...
I love a show that's able to jerk the rug out from under you with each new episode. Watchmen excels at this. Probably because HBO doesn't force a 21 episode season and is happy to let the creators determine how many episodes they need to tell the story they want to tell.
• Mando! And then there's The Mandalorian over on Disney+... which is vying for the No. 2 spot in my "Best of 2019" list. I love that Disney spent the money and got all the right people to make this show work. Friday's episode was filled with action and, of course, more scenes with the terminally-adorable Baby Yoda...
Interesting to note that there's this massive social media explosion going around where Werner Herzog saved Puppet Baby Yoda from going CGI. The truth it more interesting. But, then again, the truth usually is.
• Asshole Implosion. On behalf of my friends and co-workers who died from AIDS/HIV-related illnesses... and all those persons, INCLUDING CHILDREN, who have perished thanks to the inaction of those who came before you... those who wrote off AIDS as "a gay disease" while laughing in the face of all who were left behind begging for action to be taken... fuck you, Donald Trump Jr., you inhuman piece of shit...
You and yours are absolute garbage with no redeemable qualities. Nothing more than a blight on all humanity possessing neither compassion nor empathy while recklessly using your power and influence to diminish, discard, and persecute people... all in the name of drumming up book sales. If there is any justice in this world or the next, then you'll be burning in a hell of your own making. I hope I live to live long enough to see these kinds of people in power implode with their homophobia, racism, bigotry, and general assholery. This reprehensible bastard has had every possible privilege handed to his worthless life and this is what he chooses to do with it? Disgusting.
• Festivo Doble. This year Hallmark is introducing a new Christmas movie which also has Hanukkah in it called Double Holiday. Needless to say, the "Real Christians™®" are having a field day. How dare Hallmark acknowledge other beliefs at Christmastime!! HOW. DARE. THEY! DECEMBER BELONGS TO CHRISTMAS AND NOTHING ELSE!!! My favorite comments are not the outright hate... those are too easy... it's the passive aggressive "Über Christians" who have Jesus as their profile picture. THOSE comments are priceless. This one is my favorite so far. The movie is Double Holiday so they say "We are looking forward to Christmas Holiday!" Just to let you know that they will not so much as acknowledge that other holidays could possibly exist and have no plans on watching a movie that implies otherwise...
How weak these people's faith must be that they feel the need for this kind of nonsense to prove just how "Christian" they are. Well, don't worry. Hallmark developed the movie for a year where Hanukkah is late enough in the season that they'll barely have time to repeat it. This year, anyway.
• Sweetness. And speaking of Hallmark Channel... every once in a while I am completely knocked back by how good some of their movies can be. While eating my Thanksgiving dinner of bread stuffing, cranberry jelly, mashed taters with butter, steamed green beans, baked butternut squash with maple brown sugar, and chunky applesauce crumble, I put on the movie Like Cats & Dogs (from 2017)...
You can read my write-up on my Hallmark Movie Page for 2017, but suffice to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot.
• Later, Tater. And speaking of Thanksgiving mashed taters... that $35 Instant Pot Clone mis-mark that I got makes pretty amazing mashed taters...
Two Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered with a cup of water. Pressure Cook 12 minutes. Drain. Add a half-cup of sour cream and a quarter-cup of butter. Mash... then whip... with a table fork. Add a pat of butter, a little ground salt, and a lot of freshly-ground pepper. Cost me under $1 and is fantastic. The only mashed potatoes I've ever made have been those dehydrated boxed flakes. These are a magnitude better. And cheaper! And, to be honest, easier. Seriously, no need to drag out the hand-mixer. All you need is a fork to mush them up!
And so the snow goes on...
Posted on Sunday, December 8th, 2019
Don't let the prelude to holiday madness get your down, because an all new Very Special Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• WW84. My first instinct is to trust that Patty Jenkins will deliver an awesome sequel to her amazing Wonder Woman movie. But this new trailer... I just don't know. Apparently this is not actually a "sequel" but instead "the next iteration" of Wonder Woman. Which seems like a cop-out... especially since Steve Trevor looks to be alive(?) after dying in the first movie. Or, if not alive, a figment of Diana's imagination? Or something. And while I'm excited at the prospect of Kristin Wiig playing long-time Wonder Woman adversary The Cheetah, I'm a little less thrilled at the idea of Maxwell Lord factoring into all this as some kind of maniacal infomercial villain...
The music and action scenes look stellar. I guess we'll find out if this is a Wonder Woman worth watching when the movie is released on June 5th, 2020.
• Guy. I had heard absolutely nothing about Free Guy until I saw this trailer...
The concept is great. Casting Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi is fantastic. The visuals are amazing. I hope all that adds up to a really good movie. I guess we'll find out on July 3rd, 2020.
• Life? And... tonight was yet another bizarre (yet completely watchable) episode of HBO's Watchmen. And with just one episode left, I am anxious to see how everything comes together at the end. And yet... I'm willing to be that the haunting version of David Bowie's Life on Mars by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from last Sunday will still be stuck in my head...
Because nothing ever ends.
• LEGO! Two guys after my own heart with their LEGO groom & groom decorations! Their story reminds me of the movie Yossi & Jagger. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE THIS AS A HALLMARK MOVIE?!?
I mean, come on... how sweet is this...
Maybe one day nobody will give a crap what other people want for their marriage since it has absolutely no bearing on their life. But, until then, I guess the needle keeps moving.
• Masters. Speaking of LEGO... how in the heck is a competition show like the only just now happening?
It's kinda a no-brainer concept. But that doesn't mean it will make for good television even though it should make for great television.
• Ad Aware. I love a good advertisement, and am always amazed when somebody creates a truly great ad without the help of an ad agency and a lot of money. Case in point...
The ad was created for £100 by the shop owner, his kid, and his best friend... in one day. I've seen million-dollar ads which were far less memorable and even less effective.
And that's probably enough videos for one day. So until next time...
Posted on Saturday, December 14th, 2019
UPDATE: "Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark's intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity. We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades – telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit such as August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín's The Blackwater Lightship, both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding. Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."
I don't know about being a "progressive pioneer"... as I mention below, they barely... and I mean barely... acknowledge that LGBTQ persons even exist in the movies which play on Hallmark Movie Channel. Perhaps now that they will be working with GLAAD, that will change.
All I do know is that I am overjoyed at the thought that bigoted heads are exploding over at One Dozen Moms. The piece of shit bigoted fucking assholes. And here is my original post...
And so... I guess I'm done with Hallmark.
As has been widely reported on the news, Hallmark Channel stopped airing a commercial featuring a same-sex couple getting married once the hate organization "One Million Moms" decided to stage a boycott. Never mind that "One Million" is more likely just a dozen hateful fucking dumbass bigoted pieces of shit with a Facebook group and a website... this was just wrong on Hallmark's part. In their complaint, One Dozen Moms said that Hallmark Channel is "usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore." Because two people are kissing... something that happens all the fucking time in Hallmark movies... is somehow "not family-friendly" when it's between two women...
Well fuck that. You accepted the commercial for airing. To backtrack now is cowardly and shows the entire world that you buckle to hate organizations.
It's insane shit like this that creates a toxicity which causes LGBTQ youth to kill themselves.
And I will not be a part of that.
As you might have guessed from the section of Blogography devoted to my obsession with Hallmark movies, there's no bigger fan of trashy Hallmark movies than I am. Even so...
Seriously. Fuck Hallmark and their culture of bigotry and support of hate organizations.
It's one thing to not feature LGBTQ characters in your fictional movies and programming... it's another thing entirely to say that LGBTQ persons in Real Life are "not family-friendly."
What hurts the most here is not that I won't have Hallmark movies as background noise while I work any more... they're all the same story, so who really gives a shit... it's that there are numerous LGBTQ persons in front of the camera and behind the scenes at Hallmark that deserve better than this. Peter Porte, one of my favorite Hallmark actors (who is in one of my all-time Hallmark movies, Love at the Shore), is gay. He was married to his husband last year...
But now his employer is essentially saying "Your marriage and relationship is not family-friendly."
This kind of bigotry and discrimination is fucked up and disgusting. Same-sex marriage... or MARRIAGE, as I call it... is legal and recognized in this country. But even if it wasn't, it's still pretty fucked up that you would treat the people in your employ, people who are responsible for your success, with this kind of hate.
In all honesty, I thought that Hallmark might be changing. That they had a secret agenda to redefine their antiquated idea of "normal" and slowly... oh so slowly... change the perceptions of their viewer base.
In Road to Christmas, Jessy Schram is trying to assemble the adopted sons of her boss for a television show. One of Chad Michael Murray's brothers is "David" who co-owns a pet shelter with his partner. It is not explicitly stated that they are a gay couple. But you know. In this year's Valentine in the Vineyard, Rachael Leigh Cook and Brendan Penny are at a couple's relationship-building workshop... and one of the couples at their table were two guys. It was such a tiny acknowledgement, but it was an important step for Hallmark. My hope was that eventually LGBTQ representation would gradually creep into more and more movies until we finally got a LGBTQ couple as leads. But having Hallmark cave to a hate group like they have puts any of that in serious doubt.
Fortunately there are other networks producing trashy romance movies I can watch. Netflix has no problem at all acknowledging that LBGTQ persons exist, so that's where I'll get my background noise now.
Because until Hallmark leaves bigotry behind and stops contributing to the toxicity which is responsible for our LGBTQ youth killing themselves... which is responsible for the inequality of LGBTQ relationships... which is responsible for our fellow LGBTQ humans being persecuted and treated like second-class citizens... I won't be supporting them and the hate they support.
Hallmark claims to be "The Heart of TV."
But they've just proven that's not the case at all.
Posted on Sunday, December 15th, 2019
The end of Watchment may be nigh, but Blogography will carry on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who's... Well, that was special. I was a little disappointed that the pre-ending was telegraphed so far in advance that there wasn't much of a surprise there. Though the end-ending was wonderfully in the spirit of the graphic novel ending, and that was appreciated. So... not so much a knock-it-out-of-the-park finale, but one that left me happy. At least Lindelof didn't completely shit the bed as he is wont to do.
Easily my favorite television program of 2019. Congratulations to Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, and everybody else involved.
• ...Watching... According to an article in Variety, showrunner Damon Lindelof doesn't have an idea for a second season. Which I find hilarious, because that didn't stop him when he was working on Lost...
But, yeah, Watchmen was a major success for HBO, so I'm guessing somebody will come up with an idea. Even if it's a bad one. And while that would be a pity... or possibly something actually great... it doesn't matter. This "first season" will endure in greatness.
• ...The Watchmen? In preparation for the finale, I re-watched all the prior episodes this past week. I will likely re-watch them all again sometime soon into the new year. I'm fairly certain that I caught all the connections and groundwork and Easter eggs and nods to the original... but you never know...
Everything was so well planned, thought out, and initiated that I'm sure there's more depth to be found. That's the joy of the series.
• Tracking. So... I really didn't think that I could be surprised by my new MacBook Pro. I was wrong. This weekend I cut my finger trying to get a piece of potato out of my fry chopper. It was bleeding pretty bad, so I had to double-bandage it so I wasn't bleeding over everything. And then I attempted to click on my trackpad. But couldn't. BECAUSE THE NEW TRACKPADS DON'T ACTUALLY MOVE WHEN YOU PRESS ON THEM! That "click" is just haptic feedback which gives you the illusion that you're clicking on something. Naked finger? Click. Bandaged finger? No click. Weird. When I Googled how it works, I got this. Keen!
• Nugget. HEADLINE: Roxette Singer Marie Fredriksson Dies at 61...
This cuts me to the core. I love, love, LOVE Roxette. Not just the debut album, EVERY album. I still have their music in regular rotation to this day. I was so happy when Marie recovered and was able to bless us with her magic again. She had a tough road, but was always positive and loving towards her fans. What a remarkable woman. What a remarkable talent. What a remarkable VOICE. You will very much be missed by me... and your legion of dedicated fans. Rest in peace, Marie.
• Nugget. HEADLINE: Chuy Bravo, Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately Sidekick, Dead at 63...
Yes, he was the butt of many jokes... but he was also very funny in his own right. He was a huge part of what kept me watching Chelsea Lately. You will be missed, sir.
• Once You Pop... IT'S PRINGLE RICK!!!
I love Rick and Morty more than the vast majority of programs on television. Watching them sell out like this fills my heart with joy. It's just so Rick and Morty!
• Hallmark Channel Update. "Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark's intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity. We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades – telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit such as August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín's The Blackwater Lightship, both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding. Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."
I am not willing to forgive and forget just yet. I am still boycotting because this is far, far too important to ignore. But I am totally overjoyed at the thoughts of bigoted heads exploding over at One Dozen Moms. The piece of shit fucking assholes. Priceless. We shall see if Hallmark has learned anything. We shall see if GLAAD is satisfied. We shall see if they live up to their promise of inclusion. We shall see. In the meanwhile? Fuck them. I am just fine doing without Hallmark in my life until they have shown that they are worth supporting again. Promises get broken every day.
Until next Sunday then. Because nothing ever ends...
Posted on Friday, December 27th, 2019
Winter in the Northeast is not as nice as Winter in the Northwest for some reason. For one thing (and I honestly don't understand how this happens considering I live farther North than I am right now) it seems to get darker sooner. Our 4:00pm is their 3:30. Maybe the weather patterns hold the overcast in tighter so it just feels that way? I dunno. But it's pretty depressing.
This morning my entire life was put on hold so I could watch the season finale of The Mandalorian (AKA "That Baby Yoda Show"), which was actually quite good...
It's strange how this 8-episode television series felt more "Star Wars" than just about anything which followed The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps Rogue One is the exception for me (I loved that movie)... but I'll definitely take The Mandalorian over Episodes 1-3 and Episodes 6-9 of "The Skywalker Saga." And I haven't even seen Episode 9 yet.
Hopefully we'll get something a little more ambitious for Season Two. As great as Season One was, it still dragged quite a bit in the middle.
After that was over it was time for my 2-1/2-hour drive north. Which sounds bad, but I'll take it over the 3-1/2-hour drive that I get to make in the Summer when the roads are swarming with tourists. That's travel torture right there.
And speaking of travel torture... now it's time to decide if I want to eat questionable hotel food for the second night in a row... or brave the cold and try my luck at a restaurant.
Either way, it's likely I'm setting myself up for disappointment.
Posted on Monday, December 30th, 2019
And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of TV shows that came out this year.
Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of TV shows I saw that 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 here we go...
THE EIGHTEEN BEST...
These are my favorite television shows from this year that I actually saw.
#1 Watchmen (HBO)
Wonderfully faithful to the comic book in a way that the movie adaptation wasn't, Damon Lindelof's "Don't-Call-It-A-Sequel" sequel is sublimely complex and worthwhile. Absolutely everything comes together at the end like a puzzle which has defined a complete story instead of something incomplete because it's setting up pointless sequels. Which is how all television should be handled. Story? Perfect. Cast? Perfect. Cinematography? Perfect. Special effects? Perfect. Music (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)? Perfect. Television doesn't get much better than this. But, then again, this isn't television... it's HBO.
#2 The Mandalorian (Disney+)
The best thing to happen to Star Wars since Rogue One, this was a launch title for Disney+, and the only excuse you need to subscribe to the service. Taking a member of the elite corps that spawned Boba Fest, pairing him with a "Baby Yoda" and other interesting characters, then treating the whole thing like a lone gunman Western in space is sheer genius... and I am esthetic that Disney let Jon Favreau play in their sandbox like this because it absolutely paid off... especially at the end. Here's hoping Season 2 is just as good.
#3 Barry (HBO)
I liked the first season of Bill Hader's dark comedy about an assassin trying to go straight... but I loved the second season. So many delicious moments, and a cast that knows exactly what to do with them. This show is absolutely nuts and willing to take risks that other shows wouldn't touch. The ronny/lily episode was entirely too good and could only happen here.
#4 Bob (Hearts) Abishola (CBS)
I had absolutely no hope for this show. I am not a fan of Billy Gardell and the idea of Chuck Lorre being adept enough to handle a comedy featuring cultural differences between the US and Nigeria was dicey at best. But... it has Christine Ebersole in it and had Gina Yashere writing (and appearing) for the show to add some authenticity... so I gave it a shot. Surprisingly, it all works really well. It's funny, smart, and doesn't rely on stereotypes for the bulk of its comedy. Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola completely owns the role and it feels more authentic than half the crap on television. Go figure.
#5 Magnum P.I. (CBS)
This is just a fun show with a great cast telling (usually) entertaining stories in a pretty location. I was hugely resistant to the show when it debuted, but warmed up to it pretty quickly given the dynamic between Magnum and Higgins... and the critical role of Detective Katsumoto. Toss in Amy Hill and I'm all in. The second season is not as tight as the first, saddling us with truly terrible "theme" episodes foe Halloween and Christmas that absolutely did not work, but most of the episodes so far have been darn good and something I look forward to week after week.
#6 After Life (Netflix)
Ricky Gervais is an incredibly polarizing talent (currently involved in some social media conflict which does not look good on him at all) and I can pretty much take or leave his entire body of work. But then along comes After Life which manages to be funny, sad, heartwarming, and life affirming all at the same time... all the while exploring what it means to be alive with an interesting bunch of characters. Easily my favorite thing by Gervais, I hope for even more good things out of Season 2.
#7 Stumptown (ABC)
After one of the strongest series opener I've ever seen, there was an adjustment period where things dropped several stories in my opinion of the show. Now I'm comfortably settled and enjoying it for what it is... an opportunity for Cobie Smulders to be one of the biggest badasses on television in stories that are generally a lot of fun to watch. And while usually I like over-reaching show arcs that let each show build to an interesting finale, that isn't really working here and I'm not sure why. It's almost like it's distracting from the "story-of-the-week" in a way that sabotages them both. It's likely that the writers are still trying to find a balance, and they just need time to get it right. A second season should help with that immensely.
#8 The Boys (Amazon)
The hyper-violent comic book world of The Boys seems like something that would be impossible to adapt. But Amazon went ahead and gave it a shot and was mostly successful. Some of the changes from the source material were smart moves... some of them were just plain weird... and their idea for closing out the first season was something I'm not entirely sure worked all that well. And yet... I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and anxious to see how they forge into new territory when it debuts next year.
#9 In The Dark (The CW)
I did not see this show when it first aired since I had been ignoring The CW once I ditched all their DC Heroes shows. But eventually Netflix picked it up and the show landed on my radar pretty quick. A blind woman who stays intentionally distant from people manages to make friends with a young drug-dealer who saved her life. Everything else is just a blur of one-night stands and alcohol abuse. Until her young friend is murdered and she makes it her mission in life to track down his killer. It's compelling, compelling stuff that's brilliantly realized right up until the end. I have no idea how they are going to approach a second season, but I will absolutely be tuning in to find out (even if I end up having to buy it to watch).
#10 The Orville (FOX/Hulu)
This remains nothing more than a classy reimagining of Star Trek: The Next Generation with jokes, but it's done really, really well. The second season wasn't as strong as the first, but still had some really good stories to tell. Next year the show switches from FOX to Hulu which is likely its death-knell. I hope that Seth MacFarlane realizes this and goes for broke... because that is a show I'd like to see.
#11 Living with Yourself (Netflix)
Despite my love of all things Paul Rudd, I did not go rushing to watch this one. I honestly thought it would be yet another clone effort that relied more on special effects than story. And... I was 100% wrong. This was a smart and insightful show that took full advantage of Paul Rudd's talents to turn in a really good show. Wisely, they didn't go full-on crackpot and ruin things... choosing instead to go more of an Arnold Schwarzenegger's The 6th Day route, but with less guns. It totally works and might have ranked higher on my list if they had edited it to be more moment-to-moment for the perspective flashbacks instead of episode-to-episode which got a bit tiring after the first time.
#12 Schitt's Creek (Pop TV)
I don't have access to Pop TV, so I always miss getting Schitt's Creek on my list. This time I ended up buying the series so I could watch in real-time with the rest of the world. Sadly, the fourth season was a pretty big step down from the third... but still wholly entertaining. As we head towards the fifth and final season, I can't help but wonder if they will mire the characters in the same-old same-old... or if they will really take a chance and try to do something new and interesting. We've seen what the same-old got us last season, so here's hoping for the latter.
#13 Young Sheldon (CBS)
I loved the first season, was tired of it all the second, but have fallen in love with it again this third season. It's like they decided to take real advantage of the times that Sheldon and his family are living so they have a unique take on the stories they can tell... instead of just deciding to make Young Sheldon do all the same stuff they had Original Sheldon do when he was on the Big Bang Theory. This makes for a far stronger show, and allows Zoe Perry to have more interesting places to goo with her character than yet another "I'm exasperated because Sheldon is so trying" episode.
#14 The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
As an adaptation of the comic book, I wasn't entirely thrilled with how The Umbrella Academy turned out. As an entertaining show in its own right, however? I think they did a really good job with it all. Smartly cast and written, there are a few too many wasted moments that make for an uneven first season, but I was entertained for most of it. You certainly can't say that about most television now-a-days.
#15 The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
The series went out of its way to show that hypocrisy and corruption by churches ultimately ends with punishment, so why are so many Christians going bonkers over it? Unless they feel their church is hypocritical and corrupt and they don't like being called out on it? You got me. All I know is that John Goodman and crew made an entertaining show with some truly hilarious and priceless moments to savor.
#16 The Imagineering Story (Disney+)
As a kid, I was far more fascinated with how Disneyland works more than anything else. The magic of the place for me was not in the characters and the stories but in the miraculous way that Disney made it all work. And here comes a series which celebrates exactly that! My only complaint? It didn't last long enough. While they did a fine job of presenting a scattershot view of a number of things, so many avenues were glossed over or ignored entirely. I have no idea if Disney is planning on another set of episodes, but they really should. For people such as myself, that's the magic.
#17 Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
The first series of the past-future Star Trek series was fantastic. The story was shocking, smart, and superbly handled. There were some confusing aspects to how this fit in with the continuity of the bigger picture, but it was so good I didn't ask too many questions. Then the second season comes along and tries to answer those questions and all of a sudden we're shitting the bed with a massively convoluted storyline that had me lose interest in the show. Except... we also got an appearance by Spock, Pike, and the gang from the original Enterprise which was sublime. So good that it covered for a multitude of sins that made me dislike everything else so strongly. And now I really, really want a new Star Trek featuring the Enterprise crew... even more than I want a third season of Discovery. Here's hoping that Michelle Yeoh's spin-off is more interesting that what we had here.
#18 The Conners (ABC)
If you had asked me if Rosanne could continue on without Rosanne, I'd have said "no." But then it arrived and worked just fine. Then a second season came and seemed to be even better. Now I'm convinced that what we're seeing is better than the rebooted series ever was. If there's a flaw, it's focusing way too much on Harris and her annoying problems. Yes, I know she's supposed to be the payback for Darlene being Darlene back in the original series... but Sara Gilbert always managed to play her character with a sense of heart and honesty that made her endearing. Harris is just overt awfulness and a drag on absolutely everything else being done so well. My hope is that she will either mellow the hell out or disappear entirely, because I'd love to enjoy another season.
MUST SEE COMEDY...
#1 Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid (Netflix)
The fact that Nate Bargatze is this dang funny is remarkable. The fact that he manages to be that funny without using any swear words is bordering on a miracle. Trading on expectations for The South, this is a far, far smarter and funnier than anything you'll see come from Larry the Cable Guy. Or, dare I say, Jeff Foxworthy. Not only my favorite standup special of 2019, probably my favorite in years.
#2 Ellen Degeneres: Relatable (Netflix)
Thank heavens for Netflix backing up a dumptruck full of cash to Ellen's house so she'd bless us with yet another hilarious bit of standup. It's been far too long, and seeing this just makes me regret that her daytime talk show occupies such a major portion of her time. Ellen really needs to be doing more standup, and all the reasons why are right here.
#3 Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (Netflix)
Look, not everybody is going to "get" Anthony's comedy. He works overtime to be offensive, owns that he's offensive, and builds his entire routine around being offensive. This time he's bringing it just as hard as he always does, but I have to admit it's getting a little tired. But I will gladly keep watching everything he does because I know I'm sick enough to find it hilarious.
#4 Ramy Youssef: Feelings (HBO)
Ramy, AKA "That Muslim comedian that's not Hasan Minhaj" has a show on Hulu that's darn good. But I had never heard any of his stand-up until Feelings. As expected, it's darn good. Really smart, blisteringly funny, and wonderfully relatable. The ever expanding diversity of voices which make us laugh is no small thing. Our humanity is what binds us together despite our differences. What's more human than to laugh? And feel how you want to feel about it, but his final thought in his special is the most powerful thing to happen on your television this year.
#5 Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)
Wanda's earliest specials were like dynamite and quickly propelled her to one of my favorite comedians working. I bought every special she released and laughed over them again and again. As time has marched on she hasn't gotten any less funny, but I am not as enamored with her material. Motherhood and marriage are just not as funny to me. And yet there's a whole lot of hilarity to be found in Not Normal.
#6 Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (Netflix)
Yeah, I put it on my list. No, it's not as smart or insightful as his previous works. Yeah, a lot of people were offended. No, I don't think the material was as horrific as people were saying. Yeah, I respect people's opinion and 100% believe in their right to express their opinion. No, I still found it funny.
TELEVISION HONORABLE MENTION...
SHITTING THE BED...
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN...
And, on that note, here's to all the crap shows that will end up replacing good shows in the new year.
Posted on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019
For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.
Last year losing my mom was the worst year of my life. This year couldn't help but be better by comparison. But I lost one of my oldest, dearest friends right off the bat, so now I'm horrified at what 2020 may have in store. I guess I've reached the stage of my life where it's all tragedy and loss from here on out? Lord, I hope not.
• Took a look at Schitt's Creek, one of the best TV shows ever...
Took a look at the Seattle Tunnel... and the horrible design of the new spaces it will allow.
• Built a magnificent photo wall in my stairwell...
• Experienced Poster Raising with the Amish...
• Converted another batch more DVDs and Blu-Rays to digital... and explained how you can do it too.
• Wished Jarrod Saltalamacchia, one of my favorite ball players, a happy retirement...
• Dedicated a post to Mufasa, Jake's toy lion, his favorite thing in the universe...
• Lamented the fact that SeaTac International Airport is still a shitpile of fail, even when they build something new.
• Watched as my home keeps getting invaded by trash pandas.
• Spent my 101st Caturday taking inventory of the cats in my neighborhood...
• Watched the funniest stand-up of the year with Nate Bargatze's The Tennessee Kid (highest possible recommendation if you have Netflix)...
• Took Jake back to the vet after he ended up sick again. Still amazed that the little guy can't meow ever... EXCEPT when he is in distress...
• Found out the reason Jake was sick was because he fell off the stairwell banister. Absolutely heartbreaking (and more than a little scary), but he recovered like a champ...
• Built a bannister ledge tray to keep my cats from falling down the stairwell again...
• Talked about the series of travel books I made for my mom to commemorate each of the trips we took together...
• Shared my thoughts on the fucking disaster that was the Game of Thrones final season...
• Once again shared a video on how tax brackets work because I am sick and tired of people believing the bullshit lies that are being propagated. I honestly don't know if this is the best way, but if we're going to discuss tax brackets let's at least be informed as to what they are. And with that in mind, here we go again...
• Said goodbye to Grant, an internet friend who will be sorely missed.
• A visit to the Chihuly Garden of Glass, a magical place crafted by one of my favorite living artists...
• Spent my lazy summer days floating down a river...
• Finally cut the cord and got rid of the toxic mess that my satellite television had become.
• Ooh... Upgrades (a process that is ongoing, by the way!).
• I have opinions. And they get me in trouble by all sides.
• Back in Vegas for the third? Fourth? time in 2019 and decided to take stock of my one-time Planet Hollywood obsession...
• Got to see Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty...
• Discovered the total magic of my favorite new thing... THE IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER at Burger King...
• Got myself an Apple Card... an interesting beast to be sure.
• My obligatory Apple Card unboxing entry...
• Total outrage that Hallmark can't seem to ever get the details right.
• Jake and Jenny's cat personality analysis...
• Hell of a Day, Isn’t It? Talked about what happens when you lose that person you share an inside joke with.
• Impressed the internet when I joined in on the SHOW US A PHOTO OF YOUR KITCHEN CABINET meme...
• Shared my brief attempt at being a home designer.
• Put my iPhone 11 Pro through it's paces... and shared my thoughts in it's incredible camera capabilities...
• Took my iPhone 11 Pro camera for a spin in my favorite American city.
• Ranting against changing the clocks because it fucks up my cats like nothing else... and the quail are back...
• Flew to Minneapolis so I could experience Avengers: Damage Control in real-live kinda virtual reality...
• Caring for somebody with dementia involves telling lies and making decisions.
• Disney+ finally debuted with a slew of watchable stuff to occupy time I don't have.
• Get Angry, Then Laugh... same as it ever was... same as it ever was.
• And, oh yeah, I joined the Instant Pot cult!
• Finally replaced my dying MacBook Pro... with a MacBook Pro...
• Let's take a Very Special edition of Caturday to talk about how technology helps Fake Jake survives the winter!
And there you have it... my 2019 year in review.
Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through even the worst of times.
Here's to a good 2020, everybody.